Karen flicked through the pages of the murder book. No one had ever seen it, it was her own private book of the dead. It reminded her, as if she needed reminding, that life was unfair and that life was breathtakingly, brutally brief. All those cliches and poems and songs, they were all true.
The itemized progress report just inside of the blue ring binder had halted at the first entry. The first entry was a photograph of the girl as she had been. Before life dealt her that hand. And what a hand. The second entry was one she had managed to procure, without asking. Stole it, she knew. A photograph of the girl as the world had last viewed her, twisted and contorted in a pile of straw. Dead.
Rule Number one: The House always wins
But Karen kept on playing. The game might be bent, but she never cashed in her chips. She would never fold.
The dead woman’s phone rang. It was him. The Angel Maker. Karen answered the call but did not speak. She knew he knew, so she just waited for him to talk. He wanted to talk. He wanted her attention, craved it. He would make the same mistake they all made. His desire for her would lead her to him.
“I’m coming for you,” he said, “no matter how much heat the Feds bring down on me. I’m gonna get you.”
She laughed, her breath fluttered in his ear. He could almost feel it.
“Heat?” she whispered, “there’ll be so much heat on you you’ll think a solar flare hit you right between the eyes.”
It was his turn to laugh. “You know nothing, Karen, you don’t know what I can do. All this was just a sideshow. Just a sideshow. The main event, that’s what I’m talking about. That’s you, baby. And I am gonna get you.”
“See, that’s where you’re wrong. I know everything about you. I know about your father. I know about your mother. I know about Afghanistan. I know everything little thing about you. But go on, keep on fooling yourself, keep on telling yourself the same old shit to justify what you’ve done. But you know, deep down in the black hole you call a heart, that it’s me who’s going to get you. And that’s what you want. Isn’t it? Baby.”