Stalkers, Zealots and Sentries (3)

This is the beginning of the story, as it now stands. For the background, look here, then here. It should be noted that the funeral part will come later: this is just the cold open. This will be a novella-length piece, probably around 25k words.

Alvin Smith died as he had lived: surrounded by guns and the other paraphernalia of anxious masculinity. Detective Diana Siddall looked around the living room of the loft Smith had rented in Atlanta’s West Midtown neighborhood, which in the boom times had been filled with condos for the aspirational, but even five years after the crash was half-empty and mostly rentals.

The place was a case study in what a long-divorced fortysomething woman Did Not Want: a weightlifting bench, a tremendous plasma television, and on the walls posters of football players, of the text of the U.S. Constitution, of Barack Obama eating a slice of watermelon, for god’s sake. The workbench and pegboard held many tools and several firearms, including an assault rifle mounted in the place of honor, and, its grip clamped in a vice, the long-barreled Patriot Arms .44 Magnum that Smith had been cleaning when it discharged, putting a neat round hole in the point of his chin and blowing the back half of his head over the back of the enormous, oversized brown leather recliner that was the room’s sole chair.

Diana crouched down, peered up at the vice. “Removed the clip but forgot there was one in the chamber?”

“Something like that,” said Dave Keller, chief of Crime Scene. “Gun fetishists all over the city are already feeling embarrassed on this idiot’s behalf.”

“Suicide, you think?”

“Inconclusive. His hands test for gunshot residue, but they would either way.”

Diana looked up as her partner Inspector Mustapha Alawi cast a shadow across Smith’s body. “Find anything amiss?”

A sardonic grin underneath his pirate’s beard. “Nothing but porn and gun magazines to read, and he’s only got light beer and frozen hamburger to eat.” He crouched down to look at Smith’s face. “No note, if that’s what you mean. Internet history is what you’d expect: porn, guns, the kind of bloggers who think Fox News is a liberal plant. Door was locked. He’s real pissed at someone named Alice, who I’m going to go out on a limb and say is the ex-wife. You want to put fifty bucks on this one, I’m going to take accident.”

“Yeah? I’m thinking this guy had a moment of clarity looking around this place, looked up his life insurance policy, saw the suicide rider and decided to muddle the issue.”

Keller noticed both detectives were staring at him. “Don’t ask me. I had all night here, I might could find something. But it’s Friday, and it’s ninety degrees outside: I’m guessing we got about half an hour before someone shoots somebody else.”

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  1. Stalkers, Zealots and Sentries (4) | Julian Cage
  2. Stalkers, Zealots and Sentries (5) | Julian Cage

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