The interrogation of Chauncey was finished, and he stood behind the bar as Corey approached. He hurried over, extending his hand. “Hi, I’m Chauncey Avant, the manager of the Green Lantern. Didn’t I see you here last night?”
Corey introduced himself, and Chauncey’s eyes grew wide in surprise when he heard the Psionic Officer title.
“Do you recognize the victim?”
Chauncey shook his head. “I didn’t see his face.” He shuddered at the recollection. “As soon as I saw…him, I ran out of the room and dialed 911.”
“Remember the skinny twink wearing only red gym shorts and the Celtic knotwork tattoo around his right bicep?”
Chauncey searched his memory. “You mean Aiden?”
“Maybe. He didn’t introduce himself to me. Are there many other guys who come in here dressed like that, with that tattoo?” Corey gave him a minute.
“It’s gotta be him, then.” The manager choked a little as he lowered his head.
“I take it he was a regular?”
“Almost every weekend.” Chauncey pulled himself together. He wasn’t trembling anymore.
“Did you know him well?”
“Not outside of the Green Lantern. I only knew him as Aiden. I’m sure there are plenty of guys that know him better.”
Of that, I have no doubt, Corey mused. “I noticed that he was very…popular.” He emphasized the last word with raised eyebrows.
“If you mean ‘slut,’ yes. He was always bragging about how many men he slept with,” Chauncey said, sneering. “I don’t think he ever brought money with him. He always wore those skimpy shorts that obviously didn’t have a place for his wallet. He could get anyone to pay for his drinks. All he’d do is rub that flat stomach and his crotch up against them, and he got what he wanted.”
“Did he ever return the favors? Like he intimated to me?” Corey wasn’t ready to admit he almost fell for Aiden’s game.
Chauncey brushed some imaginary crumbs off the bar. “Yes, and no. Aiden liked to tease the older guys, the uglier ones, the ones he thought didn’t have a chance in hell of getting picked up. He’d make them think they could take him home, but usually, he went after the young, good-looking guys. The muscular, beefy men. Those were the ones he left with.”
Corey realized that Chauncey was simply being blunt and forthright, rather than insulting his customers. “I’m sure some of the men he rejected got mad at him.”
“Yeah, a lot of them got pissed off at him, but I don’t think that anyone got angry enough to do something like this, do you?”
“It doesn’t sound likely, but we have to consider every possibility. Do you have a coat check or some place that he may have left his clothes? I don’t think he came dressed like that, but I don’t remember seeing him come in.”
“We do upstairs, but we’ve already checked, and no one left any clothes behind.” Chauncey leaned up against the bar.
Corey walked to the staircase and called up to Detective Nash. “Have you found the shorts he wore last night? Red with white trim?”
“We’re still searching the building and the surrounding area. If they turn up, we’ll let you know,” came the answer.
Corey finished with Chauncey and walked upstairs to the bar. The flash of the forensic photographer’s camera cast odd shadows on the wall behind the gruesome scene, washing out what little color was in the room. He waited at the top of the stairs, watching patiently until the forensic team had finished taking pictures.
“Can I have a moment?” he asked the man with the camera. Or at least he thought it was a man. Both members of the team wore bio-suits, which masked faces, body shapes and features.
“We haven’t swept for fibers yet,” the man protested. His voice was muffled.
Corey repeated his observation that there were many, many people in the bar last night. The forensic technician removed the headpiece of the bio-suit. “I’d still like to prevent any more contamination.”
“Do you have an extra one of those?”
Several minutes later, Corey, donned in a bio-suit without the headpiece, approached the body, being careful not to step in the blood.
The forensic team left the room but remained in the doorway. Corey closed his eyes and let his mind roam free. He could see images easier that way.
A vision of a hand flashed across his thoughts, the fingers contorting and curling in pain as a nail was pounded through the wrist. He heard screams of agony and angry shouting. He saw a foot strapped to the cross with a rope to keep it anchored to the step while another nail was driven through it. More screaming, crying, and pleading. It was drowned out with angry yelling, but Corey heard more than one voice shouting.
How many were there? What had he done to be tortured like that?
The people shouting in fury sounded like they were reciting or orating. It sounded stilted to him, instead of normal voice intonations. He saw the young man’s face frozen in terror. Then he saw the flash of a knife.
Gasping in horror, Corey snapped out of his visions and recalled his power. As he reconnected with his surroundings, he realized that he had backed away from the cross and was pressed against the wall. He stood there panting and covered in sweat, his pulse racing, trying to calm down from the terrible visions he had seen.
Detective Nash leaned against the threshold. “See anything interesting?” he called out with the slight edge of disdain in his tone.
“Not much more than what you’ve already discovered here,” Corey said, his breathing starting to return to normal. “I think his murderers were passing some sort of religious judgment on him.”
“Murderers? We’re looking for more than one?”
“And what kind of judgment? Kind of like a divine retribution? A warning to gays?”
Corey shook his head as he walked closer to Nash. “No, just him. This was personal, like a jury sentencing him to death. And it may not have been because he was gay, either.”
Nash sighed in annoyance. “This whole setup of nailing him to a cross reeks of religious zealots. We’ve seen it before. Can you tell me something I don’t know?”
The detective’s callousness rankled him. In a lightning flash move, Corey ripped off his glove and grabbed him by the wrist. Before the detective could react, he forced the horrible images he had seen into Nash’s mind, letting him see the gruesome scene and hear the death cries of the victim.
Corey pulled his hand back. “I figured you didn’t know that.”
Detective Nash remained rooted to his spot. The blood drained from his face, frozen in an expression of terror. Corey pushed past him and out of the room.
Learn about author, Alex Morgan:
Alan Scott (aka Alex Morgan) was born and raised in western Oklahoma. He majored in chemistry in college and moved to Dallas to get his master’s degree. Later he received a PhD in analytical chemistry. He now lives in the Baltimore area.
He has been an avid reader, particularly mysteries, after being introduced to the Hardy Boys in grade school. After reading his first Agatha Christie novel, Murder on the Orient Express, in junior high, mysteries have been one of his biggest enjoyments. He has always enjoyed reading comic books and loves the super-hero genre just as much.
Combining these two concepts, he has written four mystery novels introducing gay, paranormal sleuth Corey Shaw. Under the pen name Alan Scott, he has written a novel continuing the paranormal detective series with “Inside Passage to Murder” and the forthcoming “A Faire Day for Murder.” He is also the author of several gay erotica short stories.