Blood-smeared words flashed through his memory.

Johnnie Boy was here.

Johnnie Alexander and Marcia Barnes were inside the car, both covered in blood, both dead. Then he saw the class ring. The one he’d given to Marcia. She’d worn it suspended from a gold chain around her neck, though it now hung from the rearview mirror of Johnnie’s Mustang, where it twisted mockingly in the darkness, catching the light of the moon and sparkling like some distant star.


“Pretty fancy jewelry, huh, Elliot? Hey, man, you okay?”

Snapping back to the present, Elliot looked across the top of the Mercedes to see Sergeant Conley, his forehead wrinkled with concern. Elliot surveyed the condominiums. Several blocks of houses had been torn down to accommodate the construction of the two-story brick villas designed with wrought-iron railings and small balconies to emulate something from the New Orleans French Quarter. To the north was a park. A sign proclaimed it to be Centennial Park, though it was still thought of as Central Park by those who knew the place. It’d been nice once, playing host to family barbecues and games of badminton on the grass, but the area had deteriorated over the years and had fallen into disrepair, eventually being frequented by those who hid in its uncut bushes and eased their pain with wine and drugs. Recently, for the benefit of the condominiums, the bushes had been trimmed and the grass mowed. They even renamed it. But the shadowy homeless people could still be seen there, sitting in groups around picnic tables, clutching bottles of wine wrapped in brown paper bags.

A small crowd of neighbors had gathered to gawk at the taped-off crime scene. For the homeless
it was more of a curiosity, another constant reminder of their own mortality; but for those
unaccustomed to such things, like the fresh residents of the newly constructed condos, it was more like a chapter torn from the pages of a horror novel.