Memento Mori: Book Two
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Date: October 28, 2022
Series: Memento Mori
Cover art: Reese Dante
Genre: Police procedural mystery, romance
It was Tuesday, May 19, 4:57 p.m., and there was a body in a blue IKEA tote bag.
A uniformed officer lifted the crime scene tape cordoning off the stairs to the Fifty-Seventh Street platform, and Detective Everett Larkin ducked underneath. The subway system was over a century old, carved into the ancient bedrock that Manhattan sat upon long before climate control was ever a factor, and the passive ventilation offered little reprieve after an abnormally hot stint for early summer. Coupled with the heat thrown off by 85,000 pounds of steel speeding into the station nearly 200 times a day, and the platform was about as comfortable as a moist blanket.
Larkin had left his gray, glen plaid suit coat in the Audi, a verdict he’d gone back and forth on exactly five times, because the gold pocket square was what really brought the burgundy tie and mint-green derbies together, and without it, Larkin felt his aesthetic was markedly lacking. But the prickle of perspiration already starting under his arms was confirmation he’d made the right decision. After all, he’d just had his dry cleaning done over the weekend in preparation of being given the go-ahead to return to active duty once he’d followed up with his orthopedist that morning, and Larkin had been extremely dissatisfied with the services provided by Carol’s Wash and Tailor. He’d need time to properly research other cleaners in the Village—price not being a factor so much as quality of care. Because if Larkin was going to drop a grand on custom-tailored slim-cut suits due to unabashed vanity and a distinct lack of hobbies in which to otherwise invest in, he certainly didn’t expect some sort of rust stain on the lapels when they returned from the cleaner. He tugged his phone free, opened the calendar, and quickly added a personal reminder about the dry-cleaning situation before returning the cell to his pocket.
Larkin walked along the stretch of platform devoid of evening rush-hour straphangers, crossed the digital information center, which read Service Alert: Uptown and downtown F trains bypass 57 St. due to police activity, and approached the throng of officers and MTA employees hovering around a pair of open double doors slapped with a too-thick and glossy black paint at the opposite end from where he entered. An uptown F train thundered into the station, brakes screeching as it turned too sharply, the faces of overcrowded passengers a kaleidoscopic blur of color as the train didn’t slow, didn’t stop. Hot air gusted toward Larkin in its wake, and with it the summer aromas of garbage and body odor, and along with those, the unmistakable stench of decomp.
He paused midstride.
August 28, 2011, a wellness check on Herbert Langston found him five days dead from a massive heart attack, naked in his recliner, the television on an adult pay-per-view channel. Herbert still had his dick in his hand. Larkin had been a rookie officer, only one year under his belt of walking the beat, and he’d thrown up in the apartment stairwell.
July 2, 2015, Larissa Brown and her two baby daughters were discovered stuffed inside an oil drum out in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey almost two months after they’d been reported missing. Her husband had wanted a divorce and didn’t want to be stuck paying child support. Larkin had cried in the shower until the water ran cold, because he couldn’t seem to scrub the stink of their death from his skin. His tenacity and persistence on that case, one Larkin’s own sergeant had told him to set aside numerous times, had garnered the interest of Lieutenant Connor and earned him a promotion into the elite Cold Case Squad.
April 1, 2020, Beatrice Regmore had been found beaten to death by her son and left to rot in the bathtub for two days. Her skull had been caved in, blood crusted her paisley nightgown; her fingers were curled from arthritis, skin like wrinkled tissue paper. And then there’d been an animalistic roar, the collision of bodies, and Harry Regmore had raised a baseball bat in both hands—
The disparaging moniker shook the associations, the memories, like a house of cards falling apart and every face was the ace of spades.