By Julia Proud ©2015
Waking up after a night of rough sex, booze and weed abuse wasn’t fun. Waking up after all that and going straight to a crime scene at the outskirts of the city was almost impossible. So impossible, in fact, that Detective Hank Groves felt the need to tweet all about it.
Unfortunately, he couldn’t mention the female body that had been found beside the highway, in the shadow of a thirty-five feet billboard.
“Hey, Stan! How’s the wife?” Hank greeted the officer on the scene.
“I’m not married,” the young officer replied uneasy.
“Good stuff!” Hank winked with a finger gun click in the policeman’s direction as he approached the body.
His partner was already there taking a closer look at the woman sprawled all over the grovel.
“Hey, Nick. How’s the wife?”
“I don’t know. I was too busy fucking yours.” Good old Nick. Always the cheery one.
Hank lit up a cigarette and scratched his head, holding back a yawn. His weary eyes looked over the victim. Her face was froze in an odd grimace, with an empty blue gaze staring into nowhere through the blond locks of hair covering her cheeks. She seemed familiar but he couldn’t quite place her. The red dress and stilettos looked classy but she wore no jewelry. Her legs were smooth and long, a birthmark spotting her right thigh. That also rang a bell to Hank, yet still he couldn’t quite remember where he’d seen her before.
“Coroner’s here,” Nick announced and stepped away from the body.
But Hank approached ignoring his partner. Squatting down, her face was but a few inches away and he finally recognized her lips, the button nose and her tall forehead.
“The fuck…” Hank mumbled and stepped away from the body.
He took out his phone and began to scroll through his Twitter timeline.
“Forgot to update your status to complicated shit head?” Nick asked with a grin.
“That’s Facebook, you asshole. And I think I knew the victim.”
Nick merely perked a brow.
“Fuck. She was my TC,” Hank uttered under his breath and then glanced at the victim before looking back at his phone where he had opened Jane’s last posted selfie on Twitter. “CuteAssSweetness.”
“Excuse me?” the coroner blinked at Hank placing a hand on her waist.
“Not you, cutie. It’s the victim’s Twitter handle.”
The coroner raised her brows staring Hank down for a moment, before she shook her head and got back to examining the body.
“So you were friends?” Nick asked a little more serious.
“Yeah. As much as anyone can be friends with a complete stranger on Twitter,” Hank shrugged and lowered his phone looking back at Jane’s lifeless body.
“What the fuck does that mean?”
“It means I didn’t really know her. I just liked her tweets… And we may have exchanged a few sexy DMs at some point.”
“What the fuck does that mean?”
“It means our victim here was a hot woman on Twitter.”
“I think she’s a jumper,” the coroner cut in.
“Where the heck would-” Hank looked up and realized what the coroner was saying. Jane might have jumped from the top of the billboard.
“Oh, that’s fucked up,” Hank grunted.
The ad on the billboard featured Jane in a red dress, winking playfully. Nick and the coroner also connected the dots.
“Wow. Suicide jumping from your own face,” Nick observed.
Hank looked back down to the victim then at his phone. He looked for CuteAssSweetness’s last tweet. “Block me Tony… so I know It’s real,” Hank read it aloud.
The coroner and Nick exchanged a glance and shared a shrug.
The victim’s timeline was full of subtweets and from what Hank guessed, all of them could have been aimed at that Tony guy. No sign of depression – not that tweets were the most reliable source to assessing someone’s state.
Hank looked back at the body. He noticed her left leg still had a stiletto on and that just didn’t feel right.
“How does she like Green Heights?” Nick was speaking to the coroner.
“Fine. You know how kids are. They don’t tell you much, except when they wanna complain.”
“Sounds like my wife.”
“So you want to kill yourself,” Hank started.
“My wife’s not that bad really,” Nick said with a smirk.
“And you get to shitty I64,” Hank glanced annoyed at Nick, “Just so you can climb a damn billboard with your face splattered all over it, but you leave your high-heels on because they make climbing more exciting? And where the heck is your car? How did you get here?”
The scent of cinnamon and freshly brewed coffee made his headache bearable. Hank scrolled along his Twitter timeline, going back to Jane’s last tweet, over and over again.
“Black, no sugar, no milk, no foam, no…”
“Yeah, that’s what black means,” Hank cut off the guy that was handing him his coffee.
That coffeehouse was Jane’s favorite, or so her morning tweets suggested. But aside from an uninterested ‘Yeah, I think I’ve seen her around here,’ Hank had gotten nothing useful out of the staff.
The apartment was small and cozy – the type you’d expect a single young woman would be living in. Her clothes were all over the place, but he’d seen that before in her selfies.
“Blood spatter here and here.” The crime scene technician waved his UV light over the wall and on the side of Jane’s dresser.
“Enough to suggest repeated blows to the head?” Hank asked placing a cigarette between his lips.
The tech took his cigarette away with one swift move. “Yes. And these damn things will…”
“Kill me?” Hank cut him off with a smirk.
“No, stupid. They just make for a messy crime scene.”
Hank lit his cigarette once he was standing in the street. He looked around and found that the pleasant city neighborhood gave him the chills. These people were way too happy for his line of work. He tweeted that insightful nugget and texted his partner, sharing the latest case developments. He got an update back from Nick’s side of things.
‘Talked to the boyfriend. Viable suspect. Shady alibi. Oh, and your mom called.’
‘What’d she say?’
‘She found my underwear in her sofa & wants u to bring it back to me.’
‘It’s alright. You can use mine. It’s under ur mom’s pillow.’
Hank finished his coffee and was about to throw it when he’d noticed the scribbling on the side of the cup. ‘Tony XoXo’.
Nick was still working Jane’s case, grilling the boyfriend, one Ben Stills. Hank didn’t think the boyfriend would have gone to all that trouble – dressing Jane in that exact red dress and dumping her body by that specific billboard. It just didn’t fit. So, after interrogating the distraught boyfriend, Hank just gave up on that lead and let stubborn Nick do his thing. Besides he was in demand.
Only three days later, he got called to another murder scene.
Hank stared at the pale face.
“Are you trying to hypnotize her?” the coroner asked unnerved.
He knew the dead woman. Hank had been following her on Twitter for over a year. Miranda. She had a sexy food blog. Hank looked around the produce flee – one of those all organic, bio only markets. It was now closed on account of the dead woman at the entrance, but he recognized the place, even without the swarming crowd of costumers.
Every morning Miranda posted selfies with the best produce she was going to use that day to cook one of her vegan recipes. Hank had been using her tips on healthy eating every time he had decided to give up on booze, cigarettes and the occasional weed. That happened at least once every three months.
Miranda had even offered to cook for him at some point – and by ‘cook for him’, well, Hank would rather not think about her that way, now that she had been carved open with a kitchen knife.
* * *
Hank got some IT guy to hack into Jane’s Twitter account.
“Jack Daniels. None of that vodka crap,” the IT guy explained to Hank what his going rate was.
“Just get me into the account. Today.”
Hank spend the next couple of hours browsing through Jane’s timeline. Nothing really stood out aside from the subtweets and her last tweet. He returned to his own timeline with a yawn. Scroll, scroll, scroll until Miranda’s avi popped up at him. Her last tweet: ‘Plot Twist: Tony twists the best plots. Don’t you think?’
Hank coughed out his surprise and read the tweet again. That was one big ass coincidence.
Another bottle of Jack Daniels.
As soon as he got access to Miranda’s account he counted the Twitter folk that both Jane and Miranda had in common. Two thousand and thirty one, including his own Twitter persona. So, one of two thousand and thirty accounts belonged to Tony. And Tony was in all probability, a serial killer targeting women by their Twitter accounts.
“What you up to?” Nick asked the moment he sat at his desk facing Hank.
“You a fucking bird?”
“I’m a fucking angry bird,” Hank said and was about to tap the tweet button.
“Isn’t that a game? My niece plays it, yeah…”
“Don’t ruin my moment. I’m about to piss off a deranged serial killer.”
Hank drew in a deep breath and tapped the tweet button.
‘Plot Twist: Hey, thanks for the coffee! But I’m gonna get you, motherfucker! Hank XoXo’
This short story has been selected by BNBS to appear in a collection of crime/thriller short stories. To support this project you can pre-order a copy here: https://britainsnextbestseller.co.uk/index.php/book/index/TheGoodGirl
All author royalties go to charity.
Thanks a lot!
Julia Proud was published before in Helios. See her story WHISPERING DESIRES at https://heliosliterature.com/?s=whispering+desires. She is also a frequent contributor to Scriggler, https://scriggler.com/Profile/julia_proud and is found at Wattpad at http://www.wattpad.com/stories/search/?q=julia+proud&ref=1