INSPIRED BY TRUE EVENTS
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Inspired By True Events
By Dominic R. Gabriel
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2016 Dominic R. Gabriel
All rights reserved.
AUTUMN WOODS DOWN
It was a cold autumn morning, much too cold for October in Michigan. Light frost covered the colored leaves lying on the ground. The trees in the woods were as bare as an old man's scalp, but the air was fresh — so fresh that even depression could surrender itself. She knew, as she stared into the cold river, if there ever was a right time, it was now.
She stood there naked, as stiff as a board, with one foot halfway in the river. She wasn't bothered by the bitter cold or even the fact she had been badly beaten from head to toe. Dried blood stuck to her thighs, and bruises occupied her entire body. Any normal person would have seen the horror in her appearance, but oddly enough, she was content. It seemed now in this young woman's life she was worry free. Whatever guilt she once felt, none of it mattered now.
Even the blood could not disguise her beauty. She was better than all the rest. That was why she was in the malicious place. Only someone as beautiful as her could drive another person into madness. She was the one who could never get away — dead or alive.
The waterfront was a haunting place with her presence. Her eyes were cold. It was something about her that could make someone wonder, Does she deserve this? Can she have wanted this all along?
There was no sign of movement from her, even with the sound of footsteps slowly approaching. The woman's gaze was unaffected as the person came closer, but suddenly she raised her head. The footsteps had stopped, and the person stood right behind her. The silence she shared with the water was now broken.
A hand touched her shoulder in a soft, welcoming manner, but her reaction showed different — similar to a knife piercing her wounded flesh. Tears built up in her blackened eyes as she cautiously turned her head. A gunshot went off, and the sun rose over a rundown house.
Was love lost, or had hate destroyed him? Maybe he had not yet found true love, the kind of love someone would kill to have. Those could have been some of the questions he was asking himself before lying face down in a pool of his own blood. How could he have been so foolish? All this time she was just like the rest: cold and manipulative, patiently waiting for the right time to strike! He should have never turned his back. The trust he formed was fake and unimaginable. It was all just too soon. Nothing he offered could pass what she already had. An open road with no barriers awaited her. What could she possibly have wanted from someone so pathetic and poor? Loneliness always turned him in, put him down, far from reason.
* * *
The sun shined brightly through the window of the old house where the man lay dead. A woman picked up a gun from the bloody floor and knelt next to him. She shook uncontrollably. Never in her young life did she picture this to be the outcome. She was frail and innocent, nowhere near being a killer. Crying profusely, she looked down at the man and back at the gun. The woman raised the gun to her temple and closed her eyes.CHAPTER 2
On this eerie October morning, melancholy surrounded Rocco. His sorrow was inescapable, and his youth was diminishing. Twenty-four haunting years into his life and the real horror had just begun. He stood in an old cemetery, the kind seen in old black-and-white horror films. The cemetery was right off a dirt road, woods surrounded the grounds, and an old, tall, rusty gate was the only way to get in and out.
He wore a black sweatshirt with the hood up, covering most of his face, worn-out jeans with holes, and dirty sneakers resembling classic Converses. On the ground next to him was his red bicycle. Many years ago this bicycle might have been a well-kept and respected piece of property, but now its color had faded and the chain had rusted, which made it hard for Rocco to ride. The year was 2015. Society was decrepit, selfish, violent, and weak. Different races were colliding, and gun power was rising. It was a terrible world to bring new life into. This old rotted cemetery had more meaning and morals than the living. It was a hard life for Rocco to accept.
He stood before a grave while holding a small canvas. On the canvas was a painting of an island, or maybe just a river. Rocco knelt down and set the painting next to the grave. As he stood, a single tear with a tint of black in it fell down his face. Cold wind hit Rocco in the face, but it didn't bother him at all.
One death after another — it seemed as though every time Rocco found someone he truly loved, she either died or wanted to leave him. His heart was big and caring, but for a while now he had felt completely numb to any affection. How much hurt and deception could one man take before he began to change? It wasn't fair for him to have to mourn this way. He was too young. Rocco just wanted someone to understand him, not to abandon him when times were hard. Loneliness led to a slow and painful death; it was something he wasn't ready for. The longer Rocco kept things the way they were, the longer he felt alive. It was hard when people didn't understand. Not even his immediate family wanted any part of him, unless it was to criticize him and control what he did.
Something approaching disturbed Rocco and took his attention off the grave. A black luxury car with tinted windows slowly drove into the cemetery. He watched, his head halfway down, as the car made its way around the circular driveway and came closer. The car came to a stop about fifty feet from Rocco.
The driver shut off the engine, and Rocco looked away. He tried his best to ignore the car, but for some reason he felt like he had been followed.
After a moment of silence, Rocco looked up. No one got out of the car. It just sat there parked as if it had been driven by a ghost. Rocco couldn't stand the feeling of whoever was in the car sitting there and watching him. He grabbed his bike and began to walk away from the grave, making his way toward the exit of the cemetery.
As he walked, he looked back one last time at the black car. It still had not moved. He couldn't tell who the driver was because of the tinted windows. Rocco got on his bike and rode out of the cemetery and onto the dirt road. The car stayed in place.
Rocco rode his bike quickly past the dirt road, worried that the black car would leave the cemetery and follow him, but it never did.
He ended up in the village of Romeo. Romeo was a small town in the state of Michigan, also known as "the murder mitten" because of its shape and extreme occurrences. This year Detroit topped the list again as the leader of most homicides in the United States. An average of forty-five out of one hundred thousand people were slain. The cities of Flint and Lansing were also high in ranking as the most dangerous cities with fewer than two hundred thousand people. But Romeo was the complete opposite. Murder was almost unheard of here. It was a nice place to live, especially for those who had retired. Some people chose to live in Romeo once they had settled down and planned on raising annoying, unappreciative kids for the rest of their lives. Since Rocco was just twenty-four, he planned on doing neither, but Romeo was peaceful, and it was exactly what he needed — somewhere people would leave him alone, and he could focus on his work. Also, he really enjoyed the trees there.
In the fall Romeo stood out from any other town. No one could deny how beautiful the leaves were this time of the year — colors and more colors. The houses looked similar to what Norman Bates would live in: old, historic, Victorian houses from the late 1800s. It really felt like Halloween all year long, and the people of Romeo did their part to keep the Halloween spirit alive.
They had their annual zombie walk, where locals dressed up as the undead and roamed Main Street. They even had a famous street, Tillson, where residents decorated their homes with the most elaborate Halloween decorations anyone had ever seen. Rocco usually avoided going on Tillson due to all the local media and admirers, but today he changed his mind and decided to be an admirer as well.
Rocco didn't hate Halloween, but he didn't love it, either. Some memories around this time were too much for him to bear, but at the same time it reminded him of the things he had loved and lost. Anywhere was better than the slowly decaying city of Roseville where he grew up, just two miles north of Detroit, on the east side. Rocco hated Roseville. The only memory he cherished was the time spent with his best friend, Kevin. They met in kindergarten and were friends all the way up to middle school. Kevin was a small kid and suffered from asthma. He was bullied often. Rocco defended Kevin as much as possible, but one time he wasn't around to help.
One day, A couple of bullies chased Kevin after school. He ran as fast as he could to avoid getting beat up, but he wasn't fast enough. Before they caught up to him, he fell to the ground and began to have a severe asthma attack. The two kids snatched his inhaler from him and ran off, leaving him in the backwoods behind the school where no one could see Kevin to help him. A couple of hours later a teacher found him, but Kevin was already dead.
After Kevin died his family upgraded and moved to Shelby Township when he was fifteen. It was a much quieter city, with not much to do, more country than city, about ten miles north of Roseville and four miles south of Romeo. Rocco approved of the move — anything to help him get over the loss of his best friend. He enjoyed the country feel and hoped to make some new friends. But on the contrary, no one seemed to like him. They were all pretty stuck up.
Rocco came to a sudden stop at the corner of Tillson and Main. There were multiple police vehicles parked on Tillson, and officers roamed the street. Teenagers dressed in costumes ran down the street in anticipation of the big day. Rocco turned his bike around and rode back down Main Street.
Main Street wasn't as busy as usual. Something was keeping people indoors, and Rocco knew what. He knew why the police were on Tillson and why the sidewalks were empty. Today was October 30, "devil's night" — the night before Halloween. It was the night where anything could happen and everyone was stared upon. Rocco hated devil's night; it put him on edge.
In other parts of the United States it was referred to as "mischief night," but a true Michigander always called it devil's night because Detroit was where it all started. Back in the 1930s kids engaged in little pranks, minor vandalisms such as toilet papering trees, egging cars and houses, and leaving burning bags of dog shit on a front porch, but eventually things escalated. In the early 1970s people started to burn down houses in Detroit. Suburban communities were affected by the arsons as well. In 1984 devil's night saw its peak with more than eight hundred fires in the inner city. Now, in 2015, some people said it was a dead holiday and no one participates in it anymore. They even tried to change the name to "angel's night," but only old people and religious freaks call it by that name. Like it or not, it was a tradition, and devil's night was here to stay.
Rocco pedaled quickly down Main Street. He arrived at the intersection of Van Dyke and Gates. A nasty old motel stood at the intersection. It had the look of an old crack house, the perfect place to take a whore. Seeing the motel always put Rocco in a bad mood; it just didn't fit in Romeo. He continued his ride down van Dyke for about a quarter mile, until he made a right turn on 33 mile. Thirty-three was a dirt road with little residency, with vacant land surrounded by endless woods.
Rocco came down a long hill and turned left shortly after he turned right. He was now on the street he lived on, Brinker. It was also on a dirt road with only one house, the old white farmhouse Rocco lived in. He arrived close to home, got off his bike, and walked it the rest of the way.
The house stood on five hundred acres, with a large garage in the back. The garage could easily fit three cars. It was white, like the house, but the paint had faded over the years. The property was perfect for Rocco. All around were trees, big open fields and never-ending woods. In front of the house stood a large old tree. The branches hung down almost like a gigantic wood claw.
Not many people drove down the road, just the way he liked it. The most annoying time for him was when school got out and all the kids passed his house to get to where they were going. The school bus dropped them off just a block from his house, and unfortunately, today was a half day for the children, so they would be out earlier than usual.
Rocco put his bike in the garage. He walked up to the side door of the house and unlocked the door, which was fairly new. The landlord had just replaced it. Before Rocco moved in, the landlord and his wife had lived here. It was a perfect place for them, because there were no neighbors around to complain about all the fighting they were doing.
His landlord never admitted to Rocco how the lock had broken in the first place, but Rocco was convinced it happened after one of the landlord's "temper tantrums." His wife probably locked him out of the house one night after he had come home from the bar late and wasted, and he more than likely had kicked the door in. The landlord was known for domestic violence. He did some time in Macomb County for punching his wife in the face multiple times after she caught him sleeping in their bed with another woman. I guess he was fed up with his wife always complaining it hurt during sex because she was going through full-blown menopause.
"Bitch is all dried up," was what he always said about her. Rocco contacted him when absolutely necessary; they didn't get along — and to make things worse, the house he currently lived in was just half a mile down the road.
Rocco walked in and locked the door. He took off his hooded sweatshirt and threw it on the floor. Underneath the sweatshirt Rocco wore a purple and red striped long-sleeve flannel shirt with a black T-shirt underneath. Rocco's hair was dark and shoulder length and looked like he hadn't washed it in a week. He looked like he could have been a fourth member of Nirvana, or better yet Alice in Chains — pretty much any band from the '90s.
He made his way past the kitchen and into the art gallery. He took a seat at a long table he used for his work. Portrait painting was his business, and business these days wasn't so good. He also did paintings of landscapes, but the little credibility he had was definitely for his portraits. He rented this house a little more than a year ago and turned it into his art studio. Painting was something Rocco had been doing since he was a teenager, and he was pretty damn good.
The walls of the art gallery had been painted white and were entirely covered in Rocco's paintings, all of which were portraits, with maybe a few landscapes. There was one large oval mirror hanging next to the window and just left of the staircase, which led upstairs into his art studio. It was a tidy room, and everything was placed accordingly. On the table was an old rotary telephone and a black planner. On the floor sat a small garbage can.
Rocco opened the planner and skimmed through it, aggravated. Each page was blank, with no appointments set. He shut the planner and threw it in the garbage can. Rocco furiously grabbed his hair. He stood up and walked away from the table and passed the hanging mirror. Rocco took a couple of steps back toward the mirror and stared at his reflection.
He was wearing woman's makeup. His entire face was covered in concealer; his mascara and eyeliner had run down his face from all the crying he had done, and his lips were blood red from the lipstick he was wearing. The look on his face showed complete disgust.
Suddenly, a loud noise startled Rocco, a loud BANG! coming from the window next to him. He walked over to the window and saw nothing, and then again BANG!, only this time it hit the window. Rocco ducked. The sound of kids laughing was heard from outside. Rocco got the courage to stand and see what happened. He saw a splattered egg all over the outside of the window and a couple of his kids running away.
Rocco slowly ducked down again and closed his blinds. It looked like devil's night wasn't dead after all. It was eleven in the morning, and it had only begun.
Rocco paced the gallery, looking at all the work he had done over the years. He passed a portrait of a young girl with blonde hair. She had been killed in a car accident on highway 94 a few months ago. Her father intentionally crashed his car into a highway barrier, killing them instantly. They said he lost custody of the girl and couldn't handle being away from her for long periods of time.
Excerpted from Concealer by Dominic R. Gabriel. Copyright © 2016 Dominic R. Gabriel. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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