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LAce Posted Monday, May 1st, 2006
Style and the Police
Nonnie Augustine

"This one better have something to tell me because I'm sick of sickos and I'm sick of this damn case." Detective Cassavetti typed with his phone wedged between his chin and shoulder. "Nowhere. Nada. No fucking where after three weeks. That must be the super with the tip. This should be good—he already looks terrified of me. I gotta go, Jimmy. Call you soon as I can get some fishin' time together. Take it easy."

"Have a seat. What's on your mind?" Cassavetti turned from his keyboard to give the Hispanic kid his attention."You're Jorge, uh," he checked his message pad, "Alameda, right?"

"The dead model, Sissy something. I saw something. Might help you. Or maybe it's stupid."

"Sissy Petrovna. Spit it out. Time's short."

"I've seen a wall covered with photos of her. Just her. I'm the super in an East Side condo building. I went in when this guy, Edward Wilkins, was at work, you know, to do a check on his heating/air like I do every coupla months, in all the places. He had these new curtains on a wall where I knew there wasn't any window, and, well, I'm not supposed to mess around when I'm in tenant's places, but I looked. The wall's covered with fifty or sixty magazine pictures of her."

Cassavetti leaned back in his swivel chair and considered the boy. He looked twenty-five or so. Dressed in a clean white t-shirt and blue jeans. Black hair in a smooth pony-tail, a good-looking face minus signs of drug use.

"You're young to be a super in one of those East Side condos."

"I did most of my Dad's work when he had the same job. I go to City College part-time. Social Work. What do you think? You gonna look at this guy's wall?"

Cassavetti stood up and put his sport coat on. He and the boy stopped at McCoy's desk.

"Come on Julie. We've got a tip. This is Jorge Almeda. Tell you on the way."

Julie had her jacket on before Cassavetti stopped talking, "Let's go. You sound alive again, something's got you revved."

* * *

Mike and Julie treated themselves to steak two nights later. They'd closed the Petrovna case, and Mike thought celebrating was in order even though, once Jorge had opened the door to Wilkin's apartment, the girl's strangulation was no longer a mystery to either cop. Anyway, Mike felt like a rare steak and getting shit-faced.

Wilkin's had stacks of fashion magazines on every flat surface in his condo, and the curtained wall made it clear that Sissy was a favorite. Jorge hadn't found the other collection in a folio in the bedroom closet.

All the pictures were of models. Models who looked fifteen years old or younger, wearing sheer, sophisticated designer gowns or lingerie, sometimes posed together, legs slung over each other's, arms somehow touching, with heavily made-up faces and expressions that looked frightened, wary, innocent. Pages of half-dressed child-women with the look of victims, some looked like captives. Made Cassavetti sick.

The wall covered with Sissy had her sitting in a dark oversized chair that dwarfed her, dressed in black stockings and layers of gauzy material. Her skin was pale, over-exposed, but her mouth was bright red and her sleepy eyes were rimmed in kohl. She was posed in a corner, stark white walls looming on either side of the chair creating an effect of Alice in Wonderland meets Lolita. Cassavetti knew Julie felt like he did—all the shots played to perversity one way or another.

Julie McCoy, flushed from too many Scotch and sodas, was telling a detective from their precinct about the collar.

"Wilkins caved as soon as he saw the warrant. Started sobbing and saying he was sorry, became totally unglued. And he was a sorry-assed son-of-a-bitch. Obsessed with these teenage models in grown-up clothing. He'd knocked Petrovna out with ether when he snatched her, and then just drove around with her laying in his Benz with her head on his lap. Then, when he stopped in the Central Park, she woke up and started screaming. You know the kid was found in the middle of Strawberry Fields. Wilkins didn't want to strangle her. He wanted to do her. Then keep her somehow. Now Jorge's our hero, Sissy's parents are rich, and Wilkins we hope, will get life. The photographers will keep on keeping on with their creepy pictures of kids. And we can't touch them. The fashionistas. Fuck."

Comments [post a comment]

Posted by fawn p on Monday, May 1st, 2006 at 2:31 PM
Nonnie, wow. Law and Order meets... well, feminism. Hot damn! I'd tune in for at least four episodes in a row of your dramatic fiction!

Posted by kim teeple on Monday, May 1st, 2006 at 3:03 PM
Nonnie, I could keep on reading!

Posted by rich andrews [ jpom22@myway.com ] on Tuesday, May 2nd, 2006 at 8:53 PM
sooo, a tough guy, eh? nice job, non - real NY feel to it. definitely give mike hammer a run for the money. see ya in cj's office

[edit] Posted by on Thursday, May 4th, 2006 at 9:42 AM
Nonnie, your writing is mesmerizing and totally captivating. I want MORE.

Posted by Lauran Strait on Monday, May 8th, 2006 at 9:17 AM
Excellent writing, Nonnie.



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