Thursday, May 29, 2008

Murder on Sorority Row (update)--karyn

As I looked around at the boxes filling my new home I could hardly believe that I would have to live here. The memories of my former life flooded my brain, and then I quickly remembered why I had chosen to move across the country. Kimber. No last name just Kimber. She hired me as a body guard early in her career when a stalker tried to cut off a lock of her hair for a “keep-sake.” I quit when she went big in Hollywood, preferring not to deal with the paparazzi. A chance meeting ten years later sparked an intense sexual relationship that had been enjoyable, but lacked any real substance in my opinion, she felt differently. After trying to burn all of my possessions, including the clothes I was wearing, in an attempt to teach me a lesson, I decided to move. I caught the first plane to the only other place I knew and paid a friend to fed-ex my belongings.

Shaking off these thoughts I continued unpacking the remainder of my meager belongings into my one bath, one bedroom apartment that was located a mere four blocks from the Louisiana State University football stadium. Life was shaping up for me. The apartment had not been by choice but by proximity. Upon returning to my un-glamorous hometown I called the only person still willing to talk to me, Benny Bengasi. Since we graduated from high school he had stayed local, married his high school sweetheart, and became a detective while I hauled ass away from the south. It was he who also got me the job as a private security guard for the school. I started tomorrow. Even if the initials were the same Louisiana was nothing like Los Angeles, I reminded myself that this was the change I wanted as I went to bed using my sleeping bag for a blanket.

As I pulled up to the address that Benny had given to me I thought that there had been some mistake. The house had three large Greek letters on it reading Delta Pi Alpha. Benny didn’t answer his phone, and looking into my empty wallet convinced me to ring the doorbell. When an elderly woman answered the door of the sorority asking if my name was Kraig Thompson I became more confused but confirmed and was quickly ushered in. I walked inside and saw the double descending staircase and expansive living room with three chandeliers but was taken instead into a small side room labeled guest. She spoke in a whispering tone explaining that she was the house mom, known to the girls as Iris, and was in charge of the girl’s well-being. When I asked why she was whispering she gave me a confused look, lowered her voice another octave and said “because of the murder Mr. Thompson.”

I was taken aback for a moment as my mind wrapped around the idea that I was unaware of something so significant. I timidly told Iris that I was unaware of the current happenings in Baton Rouge as I had just moved here two days ago. I ventured to ask her what had happened but the look on her face halted my sentence. She quickly became professional and instructed me to take a seat on the bed while she sat at the small desk to the right.

“Well, Mr. Thompson, the reason you are here is because due to recent events I have deemed it necessary for extra protection around the house. I didn’t want to make this fact public which is why our mutual friend Benny has set you up here. He says that you have had high profile cases before and your discretion is quite necessary in this situation. I take it from your earlier question Benny didn’t bother to fill you in on what would be required, so I will. You will be in charge of verifying the identity of everyone who comes into this house and monitoring the cameras that are placed around the perimeter. Due to your limited knowledge I will allow you three days to contact me and let me know if you are willing to take the job, now Mr. Thompson if you could leave out the back door I would appreciate it, the girls are already jumpy enough. I’ll show you the way out.”

I had barely even heard what she had said; my imagination had been going wild with the possibilities of who had been killed and in what manner. Was the star quarter back strangled by his angry girlfriend for impregnating another girl? Did a Ted Bundy wanna-be sneak into a sorority house? Was it a fencing fight gone wrong? Obviously the killer hadn’t been caught or there wouldn’t be a need for security. Maybe the straight A sci-fi buff was tired of being turned down by girls. I sped home to install my wireless and find out.

I love reporters, anything to sell newspapers; all the gory details of the death were in the article. A white female named Cassandra Stokes age twenty-one had been found in the Sigma Tau fraternity house, room twelve. The occupant of this room, Tim Crawford, had come back from a weekend at home to find the body in his bed. Believing it to be “some drunk girl trying to sleep it off” he ripped off the blanket to find a naked body and bloodied sheets. He then ran for the bathroom and subsequently called 911. His upchuck reflex had been triggered by several stab wounds to the chest with the knife still lodged between two ribs of a girl he immediately recognized. Tim had been questioned by the police but after confirming with his parents that he had been home in Nashville the whole weekend he was released. Cassandra also happened to be a member of the LSU chapter of Delta Pi Alpha. The picture in the article showed a statuesque blonde deeply tanned from the scorching Louisiana summers. I wondered to my self who could be capable of killing this kind of beauty.

Wanting to know more about who was suspected I called Benny again. This time he answered with a chuckle and a “So did you take the job?”

“I’m considering, first tell me what you have on this case so I know what I’m getting myself into.”

According to friends Cassandra and her roommate Debbie had left the sorority house around ten thirty pm Saturday night. Debbie stated they first went to a party at the Delta Chi house before heading next door to Sigma Tau. They arrived around midnight and that’s where Debbie’s memory of the night ends. She wasn’t concerned when she woke up and Cassandra’s bed was un-slept in. It wasn’t be the first time she shacked it. The coroner determined that the time of death was approximately three am, Sunday morning. Tim had called 911 around noon. CSI had found white powder in lines and two empty syringes, tests were being run to verify the substances. They had suspicions about a two girls in an opposing sorority who openly hated her for “fucking their boyfriends” but no serious leads at the moment. Her room had been searched and laptop taken for evidence. Currently an officer was sifting through her emails and documents for any clues. Investigators were interviewing other attendee’s at the party, but the level of intoxication at the party was hindering the process. “Here is what we do know” Benny said. “One male noted that she had been dancing on tables around one am and appeared quite drunk. A few people saw her head upstairs alone soon after that, stumbling on several steps. Other than that we won’t have too much until the reports on the drugs and computer come in.”

“Okay,” I said. “I’ll take the job, but finding this psycho is your job, not mine. I’m on door duty only.”

“Just because you caught a few stalkers in your prime doesn’t mean I need your help,” Benny responded. “I’ll keep you up to date though,” and then abruptly hung up.

My next call was to Iris. She thanked me for my quickness and told me to arrive to the house tomorrow at eight am promptly for a tour of the house and an introduction to the girls. She also informed me that I would be on duty in ten hour shifts with another, rotating with another guard. I was less than thrilled to work ten hours at a time, but something about this situation intrigued me and I wanted learn more.

After the tour and introductions I was lead to my new post beside the door. I was confidant that sitting in a chair for ten hours straight would do wonders for my now softening physique. While I might not be growing any muscles I was amazed at the entertainment I had before me. Not only were there cameras showing the girls tanning on the grass in front of the house, but my location was at some strange vertex of sound. I could hear almost any conversation being had downstairs. I imagined my job as an episode of True Life: I live in a sorority house anytime I became too bored.

Apparently life was not so great all the time. In the first week in the house I overheard several arguments break out, mostly over who took who’s favorite dress, but one seemed particularly juicy. “Look this was not my fault and Cassandra did not have this coming to her. Just because you were Suzy High School doesn’t mean that your daughter had to be. She might not have been the pinnacle of perfection but at least she knew how to enjoy life and have fun, something you wouldn’t be able to do even if you pulled that stick out of your ass!”

Holding back my initial urge to laugh I turned my head to see who these harsh remarks had come from. I saw Debbie sitting on a nearby couch crying, her hair cascading down to cover most of her now pink flushed face. I decided to follow my urge and asked her if she was okay.

“I will be as soon as that bitch leaves town,” she said. “I mean Cassandra had always told me what a bitch her mom was but I didn’t think she would do this. She called my parents and told them that it was my fault that Cassandra was doing drugs and partying with a different guy every night of the week. She told them that they better send me to rehab before I get what’s coming to me.”

I didn’t know what to say so I stood up and sat next to her on the couch, trying to put a comforting look on my face. Debbie took this as encouragement to continue talking. “Thank god my parents and I are close or she just might have convinced them. Cassandra used to tell me stories about how her mom would put her nose where it didn’t belong just to make sure that the people she didn’t like would always remain below her. She told me that once her mom rigged cheerleading tryouts to prevent the daughter of a rival co-worker from making the team. We would laugh about how crazy it was to do those types of things but it doesn’t seem so funny anymore.” She tilted her head to rest it on my shoulder and said “It’s nice to know I will have some protection from Mrs. Stokes while you’re around.”

When I got home that night I thought about what Debbie had said and reminded myself of what had happened in the past when I became involved with girls in need of protection. As I feel asleep that night I tried to push the smell of Debbie’s hair out of my mind, that lush fresh tropical smell. I dreamed of the beaches in Tahiti that night.

I had the next morning off so I gave Benny a call and we went to Waffle House for breakfast. As we sat down and ordered I remembered how much I used to love simple food like cheese grits. I could live without the L.A. trend food like wheatgrass shots. My thoughts were interrupted by Benny’s voice. “So we got the lab results and toxicology report back early this morning. You won’t believe what they said.”

“I’d rather not play the guessing game Benny, just tell me.”

“Well, the drugs on the table next to the body, they weren’t drugs. The lines of what looked like coke was baking powder and the syringe had nothing in it, it was brand new. Now I know sorority girls don’t have the brightest reputation, but if I had to guess I would say that the supposed drugs were planted to make it look like the girl was using. Here is where it gets real strange though, the toxicology report did detect benzoylmethyl ecgonine in her system.”

“So the victim did cocaine at some point in the night, was stabbed in Crawford’s room and then someone planted fake drugs to make her look like a druggie. Am I getting this right Benny?”

3 comments:

Chris Newfield said...

this is really coming along, Karyn - keep going. you can cut back a little on the spelling out of the clues, but otherwise its going very very well - Chris

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