Detective Gray had been called out of deep sleep at 2am. His pager and phone were both chiming to separate tunes and annoying his slob filled slumber. Detective, he heard the man on the other side begin, it appears we have a jumper. Gray crawled out of bed and into a quick shower as he contemplated what he was going to see. He thought of many instances where this had happened, from jilted lover to drug overdose. There were infinite possibilities and only the clues would give him the final answer. He dressed himself and with a quick swig of gas station coffee, he eventually arrived at the scene. It had been taped and secured. The initial witness was sitting on the curb finishing his story.
It seems the first person on the scene was college kid, Timothy, coming home from a frat party. He had been drinking large quantities of vodka and rum so his friends had taken his car keys. He was way too drunk to be operating a vehicle. Apparently he had not liked their intervention and started acting out yelling at his buddies and calling names. They retaliated to his foolishness and made him walk back to the dorm. It was the events of that night that sobered him enough to dial at least one of them so he could get home. As he was walking to his dorm he followed the traffic through downtown Jacksonville. The large buildings and a pizza parlor caught his eye. He decided to grab a bite to eat to soak up some of the liquor. Little did he know he wouldn’t be holding it in for long. After his post drunken feast, he continued walking until he reached a tall office building. That’s when Jake Killyam became a part of his life. Timothy, Tim, as he was called by his friends was about to cross the street to board a bus when Jake fell 35 stories onto the concrete sidewalk, naked as the day he was born. The kid loss his snack and his buzz. He dialed 911 from his cell.
Detective Gray, now at the scene, was in the middle of a what appeared to be a suicide. But it didn’t make any sense. Why this building, why now and why was he naked? This was one of the more prominent areas in the city. The well to do had created their own little Brigadoon in the middle of a bustling, crime ridden town. The man event looked to be well off. Although the file had taken its toll, immediately there were no signs of drug use but there was one thing that caught Gray’s eye. He would examine it more during the read through. But the fall had taken its toll in other ways. The scattered bits of skeleton and brain were now floating into the drainage system because of a misty rain that started to lightly drench the crime scene. Forensics technicians scurried to collect all the evidence they could before it washed away. The body’s impact against the concrete had totally obliterated most of the sturdiness at the skeletal structure level. As they attempted to lift the body, it sagged over like a sack of broken glass. They could hear and feel the bones creaking as the skin literally held the structure together. Once in the bag it would be easier to examine later. For now he traded his nice BMW and restored vintage home for an ambulance and a large metal storage at the county morgue.
As sunrise began to dawn, even more bits of the puzzle came to light. Jake was not only ketchup on a one sided concrete sandwich, but he was also a successful real estate broker for Morrison and Company. He could sell a cardboard box to a millionaire for top dollar. He was friendly, handsome and very well educated. He had been hand picked straight out of college, a hot shot with a GPA and a killer smile to match. He worked hard and sometimes late into the night to assure that deals went as planned and that top dollar was achieved at every deal. Detectives Gray and Parker had been assigned to this case. They started interviewing his coworkers as they arrived for work trying to make heads or tails of his life.
Grey was let into the deceased’s office. As suspected, it was also the best room in the office. Not only was it on the top floor, but everything about it said “top achiever.” From the large cherry wood desk and matching bookshelf, oversized flat screen TV and stand to the large leather chair and Italian suit. He loved himself and his way of life. Even his wall was covered in the many accolades he had accomplished in his 10 years at the job. No family pictures, no wife and kids, just friends and a string of ladies that were simply a body for the lonely. But none of them offered any answer.
Grey sat in the comfy chair at the massive executive desk. It shined and sparkled under the recessed lighting. It had been cleaned and polished recently. They had a cleaning service that they contracted with to do the job of straightening up the day’s lot. There was laptop in the middle of the structure. It was placed just so and the leather desk calendar blended in with the furniture as if it was molded into it. Gray carefully perused the pages trying to find some reason or clue. He asked Parker to carry on with his most recent appointments to see if there was anything there motive or otherwise. They came up empty.
The interviews with the partners and coworkers were repeats. Jake was a fun- loving extreme sports kinda guy. He hung out with guys and chased after a number of girls. He never tied down with one, but he bedded as many as he could. But about 6 months ago things changed. He stopped hanging out as much. Sometimes he seemed to be in a lot of pain and moved slower. There were other days when he avoided phone calls and any other contact. His absence was noticed at work. He used a number of sick days and was had started taking off early on Fridays. He would even be gone for days and no one would know where he was. He would of course return with a doctor’s note for an ailing back. Some of the team noticed he him stooping when he walked, but he would recover in a few days and be back to normal. The team simply added it up to too much of the good life taking its toll on the young exec. Detective Parker was still unimpressed. He secretly harbored bits of jealousy for such a lavish lifestyle. He felt that some white collared work was just spoiled rich kids who fell in with a certain crowd and were handed their lives on a silver platter. As far as Parker was concerned he was another spoiled brat with a possible drug problem and gambling debts. But Grey thought differently, he saw a man who had a life and somehow was pulled into a different world that eventually killed him. The key was what happened 6 months ago. Gray sat at the desk with no new answers and a ton of questions. He decided to go to the morgue to see if there were any answers there, but what he would find would make his case even more interesting. He left Parker to find and question the members of the cleaning crew.
Kelly had been prepping the body since it arrived. Jake’s body was being held together by the skin that surrounded it. She had to be careful in the movement and cleaning of the body. She carefully made the “Y” incision and began to remove the internal organs.
“Amazing what the pressure of such a fall can do to a body.” She spoke softly as she conducted her dictation. The organs had been jolted about and now delicacy was needed in order to collect samples. Most of the brain had been smattered about on the ground but what remained was taken and samples were drawn for further testing. But there were two other interesting pieces of information that was gathered. The first was the penis. It contained seminal fluid that was filled with sperm. Apparently he was in the middle of intercourse or had been stopped suddenly causing his ejaculation to cease. Then there was his back. When Kelly and her assistant turned him over the real story was about to be told. There were scars, plenty of scars and all in different stages of healing. He had no defense wounds, no marks on his arms no skin under his nails, but his back was marred with marks as though he had endured constant beatings. Grey had not seen anything like this on a man. He had seen women beaten to within an inch of their lives, but never a man. His ankles were scarred as well with a square shaped purplish mark. It appeared that he had been shackled and later released.
“So, this young man was into pain and lot so of it.” Kelly remarked. “We will run toxicology tests to see what turns up.”
“Is it possible that someone beat him and then threw him from the office building?“ Gray asked quietly.
“No, he jumped. There are no signs of thrashing, no defensive marks. Go find me the reason and we can finish piecing this together.”
The toxicology tests would be released later that week. He had a small amount of codeine in his system. This had been prescribed by his doctor for back pain. But it wasn’t a lethal dosage and there were no other findings.
Parker interviewed everyone in the building and met with the cleaning crew. Everyone checked out. The cleaning crew was more tight-lipped, but he equated that to their position. They were not as close as the immediate office workers, besides none of them really talked with the office staff. They were hired help and treated as such. But those that knew Jake said that he was a nice person and that he would at least acknowledge their work and leave little thank you notes from time to time. But there was something off about the arrangement. Jake‘s office was on a separate cleaning schedule. The office manager said it was because he was in the office so little that it did not require the every other day cleaning like the others. Plus he was very neat person. Gray‘s instincts were telling him that there was something he was missing.
After completing another long day on this case, Gray finally attempted to get some sleep. It was midnight on what was approaching day three. He did not dream but tossed and turned through most of the night. When he finally dozed off, his sleep was filled with images of the dead man and the scars. He dreamed of a woman they had found in that similar condition. She had been hired as a dominatrix but the job was to be a submissive. The police had been called to her aid when she arrived at the emergency room in bad shape. Gray awoke the next morning as though he had not slept at all. But there was something new nagging at him about Jake’s office. He got dressed and headed over to the scene. He arrived there around 10am and immediately began going over every book and DVD. There was nothing there. He sat at the desk once again. He had been granted access to his desktop and all his files. Everything seemed to be in order. But after taking a second look, he noticed that his calendar on his computer did not match the one on his desk. Every other week there was one appointment extra, but it had no name, no number and it was always on a Friday afternoon. It was simply marked as “DATE.” Grey looked through the thick leather padded calendar again but he was right. Whoever or whatever “date” was, it was not listed for everyone to see. He moved the massive phony schedule and was once again surprised by what he found. Carved deeply in the top of the cherry desk were two words, “the whip.” He could tell where someone had tried to cover it up with a marker kit, but it was too deep. The detective now had his start. But when he approached his captain, he did not share his enthusiasm. No defense wounds, no drugs, just a lot of bruises and scars. He was a troubled rich kid who committed suicide and did not need to take up any more of the department’s time. The case was boxed up and labeled “solved.” This didn’t sit well with Gray but he had to go with it. Months passed and the travesty of Jake Killyam would be reduced to office gossip and water cooler chatter. A new hot shot was hired in his place and the inscription on the desk had been sanded away, but Gray had taken pictures with his digital camera and the words were etched in his head.
Grey had moved on to other cases but this one seemed to stay in his mind. The pictures would play over and over again with the words captured in bold letters. He went to the evidence room and gathered the box and took it to his home. He quickly opened it and rummaged through the contents. At the very bottom was a paperback book. It had been recovered from his home. It was the only thing that tied his death to something sensible. It was the story of a man and his lover whom he shared a very special relationship. He picked up the small paperback and began to read. The words glided over his tongue and into his memory. He was able to complete it in one night. He read it cover to cover and in the wee hours of the morning he understood. He had to find Jake’s Venus. He took a picture of Jake out of the evidence box. It was a picture from the annual company luncheon well dressed and clean shaved. He was in the midst of friends, who had no idea of who the real Jake was or his temptation. With the new evidence and renewed steam, he looked at everyone in a different light. He looked deeper into their personal lives. His first run through had been very standard. But when the case was forced to close there was no more to be done. But still everyone seemed pretty normal. But then there was Jake’s best friend, Kent. He seemed to be mimicking the same actions as his friend. Gray followed him around for a couple of weeks and uncovered some strange behavior he also felt that Kent was protecting someone.
Kent had sat on the front row at the funeral and cried for the loss of his friend. He had an alibi and was nowhere near, but was very evasive about the new Jake. All he said he knew was that he had gotten quiet and just pulled in. He wasn’t talking about it and that was that. But Kent had another story and it was told on Friday nights. Gray trailed Kent late one Friday afternoon. He went for dinner and later his home. But around 10pm he left his home with a black tightly packed duffle bag. He jumped into his beamer and headed south. He took I95 to St. Augustine. He would reach his destination in about an hour and a half. He maneuvered through traffic quickly as if on fire. When he arrived at the beach house he moved quickly. Gray trailed him and parked up the street. Kent jumped out of the car and moved quickly inside the lavish beach home. He ran a check on the address and sure enough it had once been owned by Jake Killyam. It was later purchased by Kent Romoloff. Kent entered the house and went on about his business. The detective crept around to the back side of the house. Through the dark curtains he could see shapes and here the muffled sound of a voice. Kent was on the phone with someone and he seemed frustrated. He was starting to get loud and begging. He seemed to calm down and hung up the phone. As Gray moved in closer he was able to find a break in the material. Kent was in a black robe sipping wine and sitting on a bar stool. But what caught his eye was the large black leather table with shackles built in for the hands and feet. The opening for the face was small and cushioned. At that moment he realized that Kent had not told them what he really knew. The doorbell rang and Kent rose quickly to meet his guest
Gray moved closer to the window to get a look. His heart raced and mouth began to water with anticipation. He had to see her, well he presumed it was a her. When she stepped into the light she was like nothing he had seen before. Her face was painted elegantly, she was tall and slender. The fur coat she wore slipped easily to the floor to reveal a leather corset and thigh high stockings. From her head to her toe she was sensual and sexy, even her footwear seemed to beg for his attention. She wore 4 inch patent leather, steel reinforced heals shined to a high gloss. They were the perfect finishing touch. He took a deep breath and moved in closer.
Kent produced the black bag to her as he laid down on the leather bed of torture. She strapped him in and immediately pulled a long black whip from the bag. Gray dropped to his knees in the sand as the he watched the whip break the air and then Kent‘s precious skin. He flinched and screamed in agony as he begged her to strap him again and again. For the next twenty minutes he watched as Kent was beaten by the stacked beauty. He felt himself aroused and shamed by the event. When it was over she helped him out of the contraption and dressed his wounds. He lay on the sofa face down and completely drained. She would watch over him for the rest of that day. Cleaning and dressing his wounds and administering the codeine to comfort and ease the pain. Gray had continued his stake out from the safety of his car. It wasn’t until Sunday afternoon that Kent left the house and went back to Jacksonville. Gray had ran the woman’s license plate and got a name and address. Once again another clue was revealed. What caught his attention this time was her name, Kimaya Sutton. He raced back to Jacksonville to review the employee list. He knew he had seen the name somewhere but she was not on the employee list. But she was one of the custodial staff for the cleaning company. And she was assigned to clean Jake’s office as he requested. She still received full pay but he would request her and only her to clean his office. Since his death, she had been pulled to clean Kent’s office at his request. She was due to work on that Wednesday. Gray decided that he would be waiting for her. He did not want to see Kent. He knew he would lie. The real truth rested with Kimaya.
Wednesday night she went about her business cleaning Kent’s office. She polished and vacuumed and disinfected the space as she had done with Jake’s office. When she finished, she worked her way through the building spot checking the work of other custodians. She reached the elevator and whizzed down to the parking garage. As she loaded her twin cab truck, she heard heavy footsteps behind her. It was Gray. She was startled and asked what he was doing there. He told her what he had witnessed and that he needed to talk to her. At first she did not want to say anything to him. He begged her for a few moments. He really needed to know what had happened the night of Jake’s death. She finally agreed but wanted to be in a place where she felt safe. He agreed and took her to a nearby all night restaurant. When they arrived he bought her a coffee and a slice of pie. She was so different from what he had seen the other night. It was like she was two different people. Just moments ago she had been vacuuming floors and dusting desks and counters and a few days earlier she had commanded a man’s attention via a long black whip and corset. Tonight she was dressed in a beige pant uniform and wore orthopedic shoes. Her hair was pulled back in a ball and she wore no make- up and carried no method of torture.
His hands were shaking as he asked her the first question. “Why? What did you do to him?”
She knew instantly what he meant as she forked away at slices of the delicate apple pie. She began to answer.
“You said you watched me, so you should know. Some people have so much control that they have to lose it every once in a while. All that feeling of power and responsibility is too much for some. Then there are people like me. There is no control, my life just rolls along and I am stuck watching it happen. My job is dead end and my life is pretty boring. I want to be more. And he gave me that.”
“So you beat men? Where does that come in?” Gray asked. “I saw you with his best friend the other night. I thought he knew more, I was right. I now know it was you he could not live without. How does that happen?”
“I have to take you back to the beginning to get to the end. We met at a company function at the beginning of spring. It was a barbeque. I was sitting at one of the tables that we the “undesired” occupy. At these events we really don’t mingle. No one cares to talk to the hired help. So this time, I had brought a book, Venus in Furs. Well, Jake was different. He came over and started talking to me. I mean really talking to me asking me about my life and if I went to school, if I had family. Some said he was just being nice because he wanted to screw me. Kent told me that he talked to every girl like that so he could fuck her. If he did, it worked. We talked about the book I was reading and he asked if he could borrow it. Within the next few days after finishing the piece he asked me out. We became lovers within a few weeks. Kent was growing a little jealous. He did not like the idea of Jake getting so close to the “help.” But it wasn’t what Kent thought. You see, Jake wanted his own Venus. The first time he approached me about dressing up and beating him I said no. I was so afraid that something would go wrong. But he was persistent. He had bought the beach home in St. Augustine and prepared everything so I could feel safe. The first time, I was so afraid. His thin white skin cracked and bled beneath the whip and I stopped and cried, but he wanted more. I continued and soon I craved it just as much as he. When it was over and his cries died down, I cleaned his wounds and tended to him. Once he had a night or two of sleep, I would go back to my real world. He would pay me in cash so there was no paper trail. He hid the transaction through a dummy account. He wanted to make sure we were both kept from the scrutiny of others. It was the perfect setup and no one knew. But Kent, like you, got curious and followed him one night. He waited in the bushes after I had left and confronted him about the meeting. He saw the marks and begged Jake to tell him the whole story. And he did. Then one day I got a call from Kent. He wanted to hire me but I said no. He got pissed and told Jake all kinds of lies about me and that I was a whore. They got in a fight. It was more verbal and no one knew about it. And no Kent didn’t kill him. I met with Jake the night he died. It was my night to clean his office. He had wanted to see me before then, but the confrontation with Kent was so ugly that I had just steered clear. He wanted me to move in with him and start a real relationship, but I said no. Knowing where we had begun in this thing and where it was going, I could not see it working out. He grabbed me and kissed me and began to work on me so he could make love to me. We almost did. But I pulled away and left. I couldn’t be with him. All I could see was Kent making his life hard and mine hell by spreading lies. I had finished cleaning so I went home. The next morning I found out he had jumped. The next night I got a call form Kent and this time I said yes. I beat him for Jake, to remind me of Jake. It was my revenge.”
Gray’s mouth was open and he was speechless for a moment. He now had his answers and could finally lay this case to rest. But he was one who too had so much responsibility that he felt the need to ask her yet one more question. Would she take another customer for Saturday night? He had been drawn in by the whip just like the others.