DISCLAIMER: Karen Sisco and its all characters are property of Jersey Television. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks to mrswoman for taking time after a very busy day to beta this one.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
The Naked Guy Killer
Marley leaned against the wall, waiting for the manager to arrive with a pass key. Across the closed doorway, two patrolmen stood flush against the other wall, their guns drawn and pointed towards the floor. The quiet ding of the elevator signaled the manager's arrival, and the nervous man stepped from the elevator and headed directly towards room 211.
"Just open the door and step back. We'll take it from there." Marley nodded towards the keypad and pulled her gun up to her chest.
The manager wiped his sweaty brow with a shaky hand before inserting the pass key. The red light immediately changed to green, and the man stepped away quickly, pulling the key from the door. Marley nodded to the officers as she reached for the handle. Pushing the door open, she waited a beat before she swung around, pointing her gun out in front of her.
"Miami PD, Mr. Walters, come out with your hands up."
The towel-clad man turned towards the door, his surprise evident as he raised both hands, allowing the towel to fall slowly to the floor. Marley released a sigh of relief that the man hadn't tried to flee as she tracked the two patrolmen's move across the room to cuff the man; however, the minute the steel clasped around the man's wrists, his eyes rolled back into his head, and he collapsed to the floor. The nearest patrolman grabbed for his shoulder mike.
"Stevens! Send medical personnel up to the second floor, STAT; room 211. The suspect is down; I repeat, the suspect is down."
Stunned, Marley moved to a nearby chair and plopped down, watching as the patrolmen removed the cuffs and began to administer CPR to her suspect. Her gaze momentarily fell on the bed where a briefcase full of cash sat prominently in the middle; she had the guy dead to rights.
The detective didn't take time to smile at her inside joke or to bother sharing it with her colleagues. If the suspect died, it would sure put a damper on her arrest, not to mention the endless jokes that would follow her for the next month. At least, that's how long it took for them to die down after the last naked perp had died while she'd given chase.
Medical personnel rushed into the room, giving the detective new hope, and Marley watched with bated breath as the two EMTs fired up the portable defibrillator, but her hopes were dashed several minutes later when one of the men checked his watch and pronounced the time of death. Now all that was needed was the coroner to make it official.
Despite the seriousness of the situation, the patrolmen immediately looked at Marley and grinned.
"You can add another tally to your naked man death toll, Detective." The taller policeman smiled broadly, shaking his head as the other three men broke out in laughter.
Marley stood from her chair. "Rodriguez, you can clean up the scene. I'm heading to the station to file the report." Turning, she walked from the room as the sound of chuckling followed her down the hallway.
Karen squinted in the dim light of the bar. Marley had called and left a message for the marshal to meet her at Ginger's for drinks, but a last minute meeting delayed Karen from their 7:00 meeting time. The marshal finally spotted the redhead in a far corner booth, and judging from the empty bottles lining the table, Marley had started without her.
The brunette shouldered her purse and headed straight for the other woman, temporarily forgetting the clientele of this particular bar; she was immediately reminded when a tall blonde stepped into her path.
"Hey there, sweet thing, I don't think I've ever seen you here before."
Karen smiled sweetly, gesturing towards Marley. "It's my first time, but if you'll excuse me, I'm late for a date."
The blonde glanced over at the booth and weighed her options; however, the daggers directed at her from the redhead across the room made the decision for her; she quickly stepped aside and allowed Karen to pass.
"Thanks." Karen offered briefly, lengthening her stride as she walked away. She certainly didn't want to give anyone else the opportunity to stop her. Reaching the table, she slid gracefully into the booth.
"Whew, that was fun." The marshal smiled, reaching out to move the bottles to the far end of the table, pleased that the detective seemed to be mostly sober. "Looks like you couldn't wait. Bad day?"
Marley almost spit out the swallow she'd just taken. "Pffft. Give me some warning next time, will you, Karen?"
"That bad, huh?"
The detective looked down at her bottle, muttering her reply. "Naked dead man walking."
Karen leaned forward in her seat, not certain she'd heard what she thought she'd heard. And, if so, she wasn't quite sure what to make of the cryptic words. Unless...
"No way." Karen leaned back in her seat, her eyes glued to the other woman.
Marley nodded. "Yep, I killed another naked man."
Karen bit her lower lip to keep from laughing; however, the shaking of her body was a dead giveaway that she was clearly amused.
"Go ahead, laugh it up. Everyone else did." Marley took a long swig, guzzling the rest of the bottle as Karen suddenly stilled, becoming mesmerized by the sight of the long, elegant neck presented to her. She continued to watch the liquid slowly make its way down the detective's throat as her thoughts took a confusing turn.
Karen started when Marley slammed the bottle on the table and beckoned for the bartender. "Hey, Trish! Another round!" Looking over at Karen, Marley held up two fingers to the petite waitress leaning against the bar.
The young woman nodded and turned to speak with the bartender. Karen took the opportunity to refocus, deciding to question the detective further.
"What happened? Gunshot?" Marley shook her head back and forth.
"Hit by a car?" Again, Marley indicated no with a shake of the head.
"Fell off a balcony?"
Marley sighed. "Well, he was in a hotel room alright, but he didn't fall from the balcony."
Karen reached out and touched Marley's arm. The detective stared down at the soft hand, forcing herself not to take it into her own. She didn't think she could take Karen's rejection on top of everything else.
"Heart attack. The guys cuffed him, he looked right at me, and then, he dropped like a stone. The EMTs said he was dead when he hit the floor."
Marley glanced up, staring into the other woman's eyes. "Just like I told you before, guy takes his clothes off around me, and he's dead within ten minutes. Only this time, it only took five. Pretty soon, they'll kick off the minute they're naked."
Despite her good intentions, laughter escaped, and Karen immediately grabbed hold of Marley's retreating arm. "I'm sorry, Marley. It's really not funny. I mean, it is, but it's not."
"Well, it was funny the first time and even the second, but around the third and fourth times, it kind of lost its humor. Karen, I kill naked male perps."
A brief moment of silence ensued until suddenly both women burst out in laughter, and neither seemed to notice when their hands migrated towards each other. Fingers interlocked as tears flowed down their cheeks, and a round of chuckles greeted the waitress when she arrived with their beers.
The woman had no idea what the two customers were laughing about, but their mirth was contagious, and she found herself grinning right along with them. Shaking her head, she placed the beers on the table and headed back to the bar. Neither woman had acknowledged her or the beer.
A few moments later, Marley wiped her eyes with her fingertips. "Oh man, I needed that." The detective squeezed the marshal's hand and slowly released her anchor, worried that she'd make Karen nervous if she held on any longer.
Karen patted the other woman's hand before bringing her own up to her cheeks, wiping away the tears that had tracked down her face. "I always find a good laugh cathartic."
The detective reached for her beer. "I find liquor helps, too."
Karen chucked as she grabbed up her own, and the two women sat in silence, quietly sipping their beer. Marley was the first to break the comfortable quietude.
"Why do you think it happens?"
"What? Dead naked guys?"
"Yeah, how come it always happens to me?"
"Well, let's analyze it, shall we? I'm willing to bet that the majority of the men you've seen naked are still alive. So, it seems that the problem only lies with the perps."
Marley looked down at the table. "I've only seen five guys naked before, Karen."
"But, you said that four of your perps have died. So, that means you've only seen . . . one other guy naked? Wow, is he still alive?"
"Yeah, he is my brother; although, James nearly died from embarrassment. Mom told me to call him for dinner, so I walked right into his room. He was standing by the bed, naked as a jaybird. I'd never seen James move so fast." Marley smiled at the memory.
"You're telling me you've only seen five guys naked in your entire life? How is that possible?"
"Um, Karen, that first night we had drinks, you did pick up on the gay part of the conversation, didn't you?"
"Well, yes, but I just thought . . ."
"What? That I'd tested the waters before migrating to one end of the pool?"
Karen shrugged. "That's not exactly how I'd put it, but yes, I just figured you'd slept with at least one man."
"Nope, never had neither the urge nor the desire, I've always known I was gay."
Before Karen could reply, Marley piped up, "Hey, maybe I emit some kind of gay vibe that turns deadly when I see a naked guy."
Karen quickly recounted the empty bottles of beer, wondering if she'd been wrong in her assessment of Marley's sobriety. "Deadly gay vibe? No, I don't think so, Marley. I think it's one of those weird coincidences. I mean, really, what are the odds? It has to be astronomical. Besides, if you did project such a vibe, which would be literally impossible since one doesn't exist, I wouldn't think you could turn it on and off."
"Well, suppose it does exist, and its trigger just happens to be naked guys."
"Marley, if that were the case, then your brother would be dead, too."
"Hmm, I hadn't thought of that . . . Hey, I was pretty young when I saw James naked, maybe I hadn't perfected it yet."
"Perfected? As in, it has always been your intention to kill off naked guys?"
Marley frowned. "No. Even though I have no desire to see a guy naked, I don't think I'd wish them any harm; unless, they had some intention of using their nakedness against me."
"What?" Karen counted the bottles again.
"You know, if they expected me to get naked with them." Marley shivered. "Ew, just the thought of it makes me want to kill myself."
"Well, there you go then. Your gay vibe would rather you off yourself instead of the naked guy. So, you can't be held responsible for their demise." Karen could hardly believe she was discussing gay vibes. Marley always had the marshal slightly off center with the vibes she'd projected every time they got together.
"Huh? I hadn't thought of it that way."
The waitress returned, interrupting the rather strange conversation. "Can I get you two ladies anything else?"
Marley motioned towards the newly emptied bottles, and the woman smiled and retreated to the bar. Karen was surprised at the jealous feelings that coursed through her when Marley smiled as she watched the swing of the waitress' hips when the young woman walked away.
"So, bad luck then?" Karen jumped back to the conversation at hand.
"Huh?" The detective's focus was still on the lovely ass that had just departed.
"Dead naked perps, just bad luck; kind of like black cats crossing in front of you or walking under a ladder. They're just bad luck for you. You need to avoid them at all costs."
Marley counted Karen's one empty bottle. "Um, yeah, I guess so, but it's not something that I can very well foresee coming my way. I don't know how to avoid a situation that I've no idea will occur. Take today for example; had I known the perp was naked, I'd have let the other officers lead the way, but if he was armed, I'd have felt guilty for sending someone else into a dangerous situation while I stayed in the background."
"So, you admit that you had no control over what will happen. I say just accept things as they come."
"Yeah, well, try telling that to my colleagues. I'm seriously considering taking my vacation this week to let things die down some. I can only listen to so many dead naked perp jokes, you know?"
"There're dead naked guy jokes?"
"Oh yeah . . . hey, did you hear Marley killed another perp? Yep, she caught him with his pants down. It's like one of those game shows. If you don't pass mustard with Marley, it's curtains. I have to wonder exactly what criteria she uses to judge. Maybe she uses the metric system, and it throws the contestant for a loop, a dead loop."
"You'd think guys would prefer the metric system. It sounds much more impressive, number-wise, that is."
The waitress returned with their beers, grinning at Karen's words. "Yeah, then they could lie in centimeters." She placed their drinks on the table and chuckled as she turned to leave.
This time, Karen grabbed Marley's hand, keeping the detective's focus on the table instead of the retreating waitress.
"See, Marley. I think that's the root of the jokes. Guys are so obsessed with their um . . . length, that's all they focus on. Forget the fact that the perps were caught in a compromising situation and chose to run, or in this last case, the guy was so scared about being caught, he had a heart attack. It has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with them."
Marley swept up her cold beer, taking a healthy swig. "Well, I just wish the perps would keep their damn clothes on."
Karen smiled and reached for her bottle. Something Marley had said earlier crept into her thoughts. "Hey, Marley? Were you serious about taking vacation this week?"
"Yeah, I was. I'm really not in the mood for any ribbing from the guys."
"Well, it just so happens I'm off starting tomorrow. I'm leaving in the morning for Jupiter Beach. I've rented a cabin for the entire week; just surf and sand and solitude. Care to join me?"
"I'd love to." Marley didn't hesitate to answer; she'd been hoping for the opportunity to spend some quality time with Karen. Their light, flirting banter intrigued her, and she'd always wondered where it might lead should the pair have time to explore the boundaries of their relationship. She'd have sworn that Karen had been jealous of the waitress, and the smile the marshal had given her when she'd first walked into the bar seemed much more than just a friendly type of smile.
Karen graced her with yet another of those smiles. "Let's finish our beers, and we can make our plans."
Marley nodded, returning the wide smile. Her gloomy thoughts of naked dead men no longer held her focus. She now had a whole other image to concentrate on.
Karen in a bathing suit became her new focal point, and what a very lovely focal point it turned out to be.
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