Authors: Keta Diablo
Tags: #Keta Diablo, #crossroads, #phaze books, #suspense, #homoerotic, #baltimore
She nodded on a series of sobs.
“Do you know who took him?”
“Not yet, but I’m close. Listen to me now, Emily,
“All right, Frank. I’ll try, but I can’t think
“On the way here, images of bones appeared and next
She shook her head. “My son is gone and you’re
talking to me about saws and bones?”
He slapped his forehead. “Yes! That’s it,
Emily—sawbones. That’s what they used to call a physician.” Frank nearly danced
a jig. “It makes sense, it’s coming to me now.”
“Frank?” she said, drawing her brows together.
“One day, you and I were talking on the phone and
someone came to your door.”
A dazed look crossed her eyes.
“A man, a teacher. He brought Rand’s notebook to
you; said Rand left it on his desk. Who, Em? What is his name?”
“Oh, God, I can’t think…Doctor something. His
anatomy teacher.” She wiped the tears from her face with the back of her hand
and shook her head as if to clear it. “Mc-McBride, that’s it, Donald McBride.”
Hayworth had the phone to his ear, talking some
strange code to a central database only the FBI had privy to. Within seconds,
he scratched down an address, ripped it off the pad, and handed it Frank.
Frank called out over his shoulder and sprinted
toward the Denali. “Send back-up, Hayworth.”
“McGuire, wait, I’ll ride with you.”
“No, you might stop me from killing someone. Call
for back up and meet me there.”
Rand shivered from the cold.
An ether-like odor clung to his
nostrils, and his lips tasted sweet when he ran his tongue over them.
recognized the chemical—chloroform.
He tried to remember what
happened. Hadn’t he been parking the car? Yes, he drove to the back lot of the
hotel, turned the ignition off, and stepped out of the car. Then what? He
couldn’t remember what happened next.
A large ceiling fan with bright lights
circled overhead. Chilled to the bone, he closed his eyes and wished to Hell
someone would turn it off. He wasn’t in the car? He attempted to sit up but
couldn’t move his arms or legs.
He had to think.
Alarm stabbed through the hazy fog. He
turned his head to the left and fear gripped him. His wrists were tied down
with leather straps. He tried to move his legs and felt the pull of the
restraints around his ankles.
His stomach heaved, not from the
aftereffects of chloroform but from raw, potent fear. The serial killer had
him. The truth smacked him in the face and ran through every cell in his body.
A form shifted in the corner and walked
toward him. The man leaned over his torso, but the bright lights blocked out
his features. Rand swallowed, hard.
“Hello, Mr. Brennan.”
The voice, so familiar. He’d heard it a
hundred times, but his brain couldn’t register a name.
“Still watching meadowlarks mate, Rand?”
He blew air through his lips. Chills
coursed over him, and next terror. “Doctor McBride.”
“Ah, so now I have your attention. Pity
you didn’t listen in class.” McBride placed a tourniquet around his forearm.
“Make a fist, please.”
“Because if I stick you outside the
vein, the pain will be immense.”
Despite the gravity of the situation,
Rand couldn’t stifle the ironic half-chuckle half-sob. “No, you dumb fuck, why
are you doing this?”
“That’s of little concern to you.” Anger
came sudden, and now his voice sounded like something out of
Night of the
. “Make a fist. You must make a fist!” His hands went to his
head and he rocked on his heels. “First and foremost, I’m a physician. I’ve
Hippocratic Oath. Now make a goddamn fist!”
He thought about Frank and how lucky
he’d been to have known him, live with him and love him. Frank wouldn’t tremble
in front of this coward. His short life flashed before him like a movie playing
out—his father’s smile, his mother’s melodious laugh, his sister’s blue eyes.
And Frank’s beautiful face.
“I’ll cut you a deal,” Rand said,
resigned to his death. There was no way out now. He’d die like all the others,
but for some strange reason he needed to know the why of it. There must be a
reason a seemingly sane man like McBride took up the part of a serial killer.
Or, was he merely stalling for time, like all who sensed death was imminent?
“I’m not making any deals, you fucking
“So we’ve established one important
thing. You hate homosexuals.”
“Tell me why or stick me.” Rand turned
his head and locked eyes with madman. “Do it!”
McBride paced frantically at the end of
the gurney. He looked at the ceiling, the floor and talked; nonsensical words
Rand couldn’t make out. And a name spilled from his lips, over and over, he
chanted a name.
Long minutes later, McBride returned and
resumed the same place beside him. “All right.” He spat the words. “You’ll be
dead soon, so what does it matter?”
Rand gave him a curt nod and waited.
“They killed David. They killed my son.”
“Who killed him?” Rand whispered.
“The homos. Got him hooked on heroin.”
Rand closed his eyes briefly and opened
them. “You killed five men because David died of an overdose?”
“Don’t you speak his name, you filthy
little bastard! They deserved to die, like you deserve to die. Oh, the pain.”
He pressed the fingertips of his hand to his eyes, so hard Rand thought he was
going to pluck his eyes out. “You don’t understand, could never understand,” he
rambled, his words tumbling over each other. He pounded his fist on the foot of
the stretcher. “Have you ever lost someone you loved more than life?”
“Yes,” Rand mumbled, although he doubted
McBride heard him.
“David walked into the Mississippi. He
didn’t mean to. On his way home to me, he lost his way. The drugs, the stinking
drugs. That’s why.” He ran his fingers down his face and wailed. “He’d be a
doctor now—with me.” He looked at the ceiling and a mournful wail fell from his
lips. “We planned it for years, to start a practice together, work
side-by-side, take the Oath and save lives.”
“So now you take them instead.”
McBride slapped him across the face.
“Make a goddamn fist!”
Rand drew a deep breath, made peace with
his Maker, and clenched his fist. Pain seared his arm when the needle went in
and he felt the hot liquid run through his veins. He wondered if dying from
drowning came quick. Would he be incapacitated from the drug or would he fight
tooth and nail to live? He felt lightheaded and blissful. Alice must have felt
similar to this when she tumbled down the hole to Wonderland. Maybe he stood at
the Pearly Gates already and didn’t know it.
In the back of his mind, he heard a
noise. Someone had entered the room. McBride turned abruptly and charged like
an enraged bull. Rand lifted his head to see his savior.
His savior and his alone. Frank.
Bodies rolled and tumbled around the
room. Men, groaned, grunted and cursed and Rand floated on a peaceful cloud.
Someone knocked the overhead light out. Glass shattered and covered his body in
prisms of white, blue and silver. Oh, God! What a sight!
A dull thud reached his ears and a spray
of blood flew through the air, showering him with crimson droplets. He turned
his head and saw Frank standing over McBride with a baseball bat, smashing the
man’s skull in. Again and again.
Feebly Rand called out to him. A little
louder this time, but the effort took all his strength. Frank stopped the bat
in mid-air and turned to him, his eyes burning with the fire of a wild beast’s.
“How many times you gonna kill the
bastard?” Rand asked, his voice calm and measured.
Frank ran to him and released his legs
from the leather straps and next his wrists. “He injected you already?”
“Yeah, I wouldn’t have argued about the
fist thing had I known.”
“Never mind. You missed it,” Rand said
aware of distant sirens blaring in the distance.
“We’ve got to get you to the hospital
Frank scooped him from the cart as if he
weighed no more than a leaf and ran from the room. Outside, red lights flashed
and men in uniforms raced toward the house.
“No ambulance?” Frank said to a man
rushing toward them.
“Should be here soon,” the strange voice
“I can’t wait. I can get him there
His mind and body floating in outer
space, Rand smiled when Frank buckled him into the Denali. “Wow, I’m high,
Frank. The world is rushing by—a Ferris Wheel on fast forward.”
“Enjoy it while is lasts,” he replied
sarcastically. “They’ll give you something in ER to counteract it.”
“Opioid anta—” He slurred the words.
“Don’t talk now, Rand, just relax.”
“If I was anymore relaxed I’d shit my
pants.” Rand looked out the window as the lights sped by. “Frank.”
“Thought of you while I laid on that
gurney. I accepted death, but told myself if I had one more night to live, I’d
want to spend it with you.”
“I’m not a kid anymore, McGuire, wish
you’d realize that.”
It seemed forever before he answered. “I
realized it a long time ago.”
The next morning, Rand went home to his
mother’s house when they released him from the hospital. The dose McBride
administered wouldn’t have been fatal, but nevertheless proved too much for
Rand’s system, and his intolerance for the drug didn’t help. A week passed
before Rand returned to classes. During that time, Frank called several times
to speak with his mother, but never once asked to speak to him.
Misery and despair accompanied Rand
wherever he went. He saw Frank’s face in the plate glass windows while walking
the streets of Baltimore. His deep blue eyes appeared in the orange-yellow
flames of the fireplace at night when his mom started a fire. When he closed
his eyes in bed, he remembered riding the waves of pure bliss beneath Frank’s
body and the hoarse cries from his throat as the man brought him to the brink
of heaven and back.
He knew Frank hadn’t called him because
of the careless words he’d tossed at his head before the craziness all came
down. He’d gone over their conversation a thousand times, and it always came
back to his threat to return to his mother’s house for good if Frank sent him
packing. He could wait until Hell froze over and Frank wouldn’t ask him to
return. Prideful bastard.
The situation called for drastic
measures by the end of week two. Tired of jacking himself off while Frank’s
face floated before him, the time for action had come.
Shit or git
that’s what his dad always said. The word
when it came to Frank
didn’t happen to be in his personal dictionary—hadn’t been since the day he
watched his dad and Frank joust with barbeque utensils in the back yard. Rand
had just turned fourteen, and until that day thought of Frank as a beloved
Frank moved like a fine-tuned machine,
and with every thrust and parry of the elongated fork in his hand, Rand became
unbearably aroused. His stomach tightened and an alien feeling overtook his
young body. The sensation so acute, he jumped to his feet and left the backyard,
certain if he watched Frank’s ripped body much longer, an intricate system of
hard muscle and powerful sinews, he’d explode in his jeans.
The shame of his sexual fantasies and
adoration for the man became the bane of his existence for the next several
years. When his father died and Frank fled the scene shortly thereafter, Rand
learned how to hate. He floundered in a world of confusion, drowned in a
cesspool of agony, and wondered day after day who or what he was. His questions
were answered when Frank returned to his life, and he couldn’t imagine one more
day without Frank.
Rand grabbed the townhouse key from the
hook on the wall in the kitchen and left a note for his mother on the table,
to see Frank. Don’t worry about me. Love, Rand.
* * *
Unlocking the door to the townhouse,
Rand walked in and glanced around the familiar setting. God, how he’d missed
it. Missed Frank. He walked into the bedroom and rifled through the dresser
drawers until he found what he searched for. He slipped the black hood over his
face and peered into the mirror above the dresser. A perfect match to the black
sweatshirt and matching jeans he’d donned before leaving his mother’s house.