My ex-wife lay cold and lifeless on the bathroom floor of a rat-infested motel.
I had been tracking her down for more than a week, and I had come close to finding her several times, but my pursuit had always come up agonizingly short.
Though never formerly divorced, we had been separated for a number of years due to a conflict of interests and irreconcilable differences. I still loved her, but on most days I just didn’t like her much. For a while I thought it was the changes she had gone through since we were married, but in the end I decided it was the company that she kept.
Gloria had turned forty that month, though she still looked no more than twenty-five.
She was naked and covered in dried, caked on blood, her body curled into a fetal ball, arms wrapped around herself. Her long blonde hair clung to her body and the floor in brilliant red clumps and her face had a look of contentment; or maybe even satisfaction, that nearly buckled me over. There was no way of telling how long she had been there; hours or days.
I peered through the smoke stained venetian blinds into the parking lot just a floor down, looking for anything suspicious; knowing full well that in this part of town, everything looks just that way. The sun had just dropped below the Western horizon, inviting the magnesium street lights to flood the empty streets of South Memphis with it’s pallid greenish glow.
I turned back to the room and gave it another look. Except for the dead man sprawled out across the plain white sheets of the king-sized bed, there was no other sign of a struggle.
While her clothing was in a neat pile at the foot of the bed, the dead man still wore most of his clothing in one way or another. His dress slacks, along with his silk boxers were pulled down to his ankles and his button-up pressed shirt appeared to have been torn open. His white t-shirt was pulled up to his chest and the unfortunate soul still wore his shoes.
I started sifting through her clothing, in an attempt to gather some info on where she might have been.
“What do you want?” She was still on the floor, but now lay on her side with her head resting in the palm of her hand. Every curve was striking, covered in blood or not.
I gave her a quick glance and then turned back to the bed where I could still smell the sex from the night before. “Who was he?”
“You’re all ‘just curious,’” She replied as she rolled over and got to her feet. She walked over to the sink and began checking herself in the mirror, admiring her blood-caked hair.
Her gaze adjusted to my reflection and she frowned. “Never did get his name. He thought he was an artist.” She shrugged and continued to mess with her hair. “But he was really just a sad man who had a thing for little girls.”
“Glad to see you still hang out with only the finest.” I had walked over to the emptied remains of a man and pulled his wallet from his pants. I leafed through the contents, stopping on a small photo.
“Would you rather I feed on school teachers and nuns?”
I looked at the dead man’s photo, a typical Sears portrait of himself, his wife and two children. It was a recent photo. “I would rather you didn’t feed on anyone. It sets a bad example.”
I tossed the opened wallet onto the bed and made my way to the door.
She glared at me through the mirror. “What did you want?
I opened the door and stepped half way through. “Your daughter wants to see you. It’s her birthday.”
I didn’t wait for an answer.
It wasn’t always that congenial between us. We had spent years trying to kill one another, finally settling upon a simple separation in lieu of a divorce.