Serial Saturday: All The Queens Men: Part Two by Robert Gabe

  1. Serial Saturday: All The Queens Men: Part One by Robert Gabe
  2. Serial Saturday: All The Queens Men: Part Two by Robert Gabe
  3. Serial Saturday: All The Queens Men: Part Two by Robert Gabe
  4. Serial Saturday: All The Queens Men: Part Three by Robert Gabe
  5. Serial Saturday: All The Queens Men, Part Four by Robert Gabe
  6. Serial Saturday: All The Queens Men, Part Five by Robert Gabe
  7. Serial Saturday: All The Queens Men, Part Six by Robert Gabe

 

 

Part Two

 

A  week later I met with Tanas mother upon her parents request. I step into Tana’s parents home which exudes an aura of timeless sophistication. Their daughter’s presence is felt. In the living room stands a grand piano and on top of it sits a portrait of Tara, her high school photo next to a bouquet of roses and next to that a mahogany bookshelf featuring a number of classics and other books on world history. Framed family portraits lined the walls, all of which feature their only daughter Tana at the forefront of them, smiling innocently as ever. Along with the officer Daniel, an up and coming rookie, who had been the first responder, they wanted to ask me a few questions on my perception of how it all went down. Every day that went by, my memory of said event got worse, as if my mind was trying to eradicate the awful imprint it had upon my consciousness. I told them what I remembered.

“I just remember one second we were all laughing and smiling. Then all of a sudden, I felt Tana pull from me as she fell to the ground.” I say. 

“Did you hear the gunshot?” ask Daniel pressingly.

“No.” I say truthfully.

“How old are you, Vincent?” Daniel ask.

“Twenty-five” 

Tana’s father John Molnar changes the subject back to Tana. 

“She was a victim of bullying,” says Mr. Molnar, blowing his nose. “In her early years she had a hard time. She was told she was ugly by some teacher above all people and I feel that really had an impact on her.”

I…didn’t know that.” I let out softly. The scene of grieving here is so massive I’m afraid to raise my voice in fear that it will cause an emotional uproar.

“There are many things people didn’t know about, Tana.” Daniel says. “That’s why we brought you here today, Vincent. Believe it or not, you were the last man photographed with her.”  He hands me a photograph. It’s Tana, Casey and I. Tanas smile radiates, her pearly whites sparkle. Casey is nearly a match to her. I smile sheepishly in my Tom Ford suit between them.

“Colton, did you know Tana was once committed to a mental facility?” Tanas mother Victoria speaks, she wipes her nose with a Kleenex.

“No. I didn’t.” I say truthfully.

“She had a hair pulling disorder,” She continues. “She was sixteen. She had pulled out so much hair we had her involuntarily committed.”

“Thankfully it regrew. But she did permanently damage the follicles of her hair.” John adds. Tana had been sent to a mental hospital at age sixteen for suicidal thoughts and behaviors. It’s always the people with the biggest smiles who use them to mask their inner-pain. One of the doctors diagnosed her as manic depressive, another bi-polar, another borderline personality. I didn’t put much stock into psychiatric labels. Maybe I was being thick-headed as I couldn’t relate. My moods were always stable. I had no real traumas in my life before witnessing Tana get shot. I was always content.  

“Can I ask what you’re getting at here” I say blushing.

The officer says “You said you saw a black van. Did you get a good look at the  license plate or who was driving?”

“No.” I say “and I think the windows were tinted”

“How much did you and Tana talk?” John asks.

“I only knew her in passing.” I say truthfully. 

“Did she ever tell you about a man named Mr. Henry?”

“Mr. Henry?”

Daniel starts to speak, a rather sullen tone in his voice “When Tana was 17 she met a man in an online chat room who went by the name of Mr. Henry.” He pauses “She never mentioned him in passing?”

“Like I said, I only knew Tana in passing. The only words I ever exchanged with Tana were ‘ Hello Tana’ and ‘Goodbye Tana.’ Like I said we were never really close friends. But I witnessed her from a distance and the power she had over people.” I pause “Tell me more about the man.”

Victoria says “we thought she was doing better. Her mental health struggles were behind her. We thought everything was behind her” she grabs another Kleenex. “We think Mr. Henry is a predator that was watching Tana, maybe for years.”

My palms began to clam up. Tana’s father begins to cry and outside the window I see news journalists beginning to gather outside, a desperate attempt for interviews with the family only one day after the open casket funeral which I didn’t attend. Daniel closes the blinds. 

“My baby.” John blows his nose “I didn’t want to believe it but this is all we have to go on. We think Mr. Henry is involved with the murder of Tana.”

“Wait, I remember something,” I say unabashedly. “When Tana was in my arms her last words were “Dream Rabbit…”

The room all of a sudden took on a new vibe. One of darkness and enigma. I thought for a Moment maybe it was better had I never come. I wasn’t sure what I was being invited to be apart of. Tana’s father looks at Daniel and his face contorts to one of deep despair. 

“Does that mean anything to you?” I add.

Daniel  sits down next to me and puts his hand on my shoulder. 

“Vincent, Tana had a friend named Sarah who she confided in about Mr Henry. She claims Tana often cited the words Dream Rabbit  when referring to Mr Henry.” He continues “We still don’t know the correlation between the two or the meaning of said words, but we know they tend to be consistent with one another when Tana relayed such vague messages to her friend Sarah.

“Why not talk to her?” I say, getting defensive. “She sounds like she has more useful information then I can provide.”

Victoria takes a sip of water and looks me dead in the eye. “She won’t talk to us. We think she’s scared. Scared of who Tana might have been involved with.”

“Vincent..” Tanas father turns to me “Will you meet with Sarah and try to talk to her for us. I understand bringing you here today you have probably known more about all this then you’d ever wish to know, but we are at a dead end. We need your help.”

I looked into the eyes of Tanas mother who was pleading for assistance. They were the eyes of a mother who’d lost everything. Her gaze was hopeless, but she looked at me like I was perhaps some sort of last beacon of  chance. My empathy disables me from saying no despite the fact that I was one hundred and sixty pounds soaking wet and felt impotent in all realms of human endeavor.

“I’ll talk to her.” I nod.

“Thank you Vincent” Daniel says.

“Where can I find her” I add.

“Where she works” Mr. Molnar utters softly.

“Which is?”

“The Rabbit in Silk. Gentlemens club up on route 202. Her stage name is Rose Kay Snow.”

 

A day later I approached The Rabbit in Silk. It was a former house that had been turned into a trashy, rundown strip-club and sat atop a bustling highway. The neon sign of a rabbit with a martini in hand glow casted itself over the otherwise ghostly parking lot. It was eight PM. I approach the club wearing a hoodie and jeans, my face clean shaven which prompts a homeless man smoking a cigarette to insult me as I go to enter the bar.

“Isn’t it past your bedtime, baby face.” He yells. 

I ignore him and enter the club. I’m greeted by a three-hundred pound bouncer who shields my view of a colorfully saturated room full of scantily dressed women.

“Five dollar cover charge.” he points out “Need to see ID too.”

I hand him my ID which he looks over for what seems like ten times fold. I interrupt him as he examines it.

“I’m here to see Rose Kay Snow” I shout over the music. A band called The Sixty

Nine Eyes is playing. I recognize the song: The Chair. “Good on you.” He retorts. “She’s got one more hour before she leaves for the night.”

He points to her and I notice a woman sitting alone in the corner of the bar doing her makeup with a hand sized mirror. She takes a break to receive a text on her phone.

“Thanks.” I tell the bouncer. I walk across the room, past multiple nude women and take a seat at the bar next to Rose Kay.

“Is your name Sarah?” I ask.

“Who the fuck told you my real name?” She responds rather horrified.

“No one did, I mean… My name is Vincent. I wanted to talk to you about something.”

“If you wanna dance it’s forty for one song.”

“Sure. How about we do three songs.”

“If you can pay for it, you can get more than a dance, Vincent.” She says rather sarcastically. “First time here?”

“Yeah”

I follow her up the spiral staircase that leads to a waiting room. One of the girls is arguing with one of the male workers. We ignore them and I’m led into a hallway that breaks off into multiple rooms. As I pass said rooms I see patrons inside handling other girls in provocative ways. We go to our room. It’s lit devilish red and I seat myself on a soft cushion king chair at the far end. There’s a fake fireplace and the top part of the ceiling is covered in glow in the dark stars and Victorian art, a strange hybrid of decor I think to myself. Rose Kay straddles me. “Listen, I’m not actually here for the dance. I wanted to talk to you concerning a friend of yours.”

“Okay…” she looks confused..

“Tana Molnar.”

She immediately gets up “Security!” she yells into the hallway.

“No. Don’t!” I shout. “Please just listen to what I have to say.”

The bouncer pokes his head in the room frantically and for a moment I’m terrified but Rose Kay snaps her figures at him and he disappears as soon as he comes.

“What about Tana?”

“You were friends with her?”

“I worked with her.”

“Where?”

“Here, silly.”

“Tana worked here?” I ask in disbelief.

“Yeah but her name wasn’t Tana. She called herself ‘Night Nocturne’ a little overdramatic if you ask me. Most of the girls have names like ‘Vixen’,’ Darby’ ‘Rosa’

“But your Rose Kay Snow” I retort.

“Yeah, well I’m high class ass. I’m the smokeshow of this shit hole. You got a problem with that?”

“No.”

Rose Kay Told me more about Night Nocturne. She would scam the patrons. At age twenty-three, she began doing escort work. Tana was selling herself out to early on to club members, but later became a high end call girl. During said time she left the strip club to be a hostess for the Casino which was right down the street.

“Is that where she met Mr. Henry?” I ask Rose Kay freezes up.

“I’m not sure I want to continue this conversation any longer.”

“Listen, Tana was murdered as I’m sure you’ve heard. Her parents are devastated. They sent me here to talk to you hoping you could help us.”

Rose looks at me puzzled. “Tana’s parents sent you here?” she laughs.

I grab both her hands, pleading. “Tell me about Dream Rabbit.”

She puts a finger to my lips to quiet me.

“Meet me outside in the back alleyway in fifteen minutes. I want to talk to you in a more secluded place.”

I leaned up against a wall in the back alleyway thinking she would never show up. Thirty minutes later, she did dressed in a rich fur peacoat. She waddles towards me

and my first intuition is to back up in fear, but I let her caress my face as she inspects me, smoking her clove cigarette.

“Mr. Henry is Dream Rabbit?” I say.

“Good work detective, but that’s about as far as you’ll get.”

“Why’s that?”

“Mr. Henry is the manager of this place. Well, he owns the bar. But I’ve never actually seen him in person. I don’t think he’s ever set foot in the place as far as anyone who

works here is concerned.”

Stray cats call out in the middle of the night as I walk with Rose Kay through a deserted backstreet, the air hanging heavy with a scent of decay and the collective trauma of a murder pageant winner. Overhead, rusty pipes drip rhythmically amongst fire escape exits. I see a young man in a T-shirt that reads “DARKTHRONE” leaning up against a garage bin. I ask him I can bum a smoke and he abides. Rain in the distance. I pull my hood over my head and turn an alley way onto a cobblestone streets, worn smooth by countless footsteps. There stands a picture of Tana with a crown of flowers at it’s base reading: 

JUSTICE FOR TANA. GONE BUT NEVER FORGOTTEN. 

Rose Stares at it.

“She wasn’t even that pretty.” She says 

“Have some respect.” I retort. 

“If you wanna get along with my Vincent you’re gonna have to come around to my sense of humor” She continues “I feel bad for the poor girl, I really do.” 

I told Rose Kay I’d walk her back to her apartment whereupon she revealed to me that Mr. Henry was not normal. Tana spoke of him is if he wasn’t even human. She claimed “He was not of this realm.” And Tanas day time image of her helping disabled kids and volunteer work starkly contrasted her ice cold persona of ‘Night Nocturne.” Before dropping her off at her place she gave me a little black leather book with the initials “N.N” on it.

“Look I don’t know much of anything, and I’m not willing to jeopardize my safety for some chick I barely knew. But here’s her client list.“

I take the book and put it into my back pocket.

“You look lonely. Why don’t you come up to my place?”

I get flustered. “I ugh, I don’t know does it cost anything?”

“You can pay me next time you come to the club. You’re very handsome. I’ll give you a discount.”

We enter the messy apartment and Roses body pushes against mine as we embrace. I take off her pea coat and throw it to the bed and grab her ass feeling the

garter belt alongside her thighs. She fumbles for my jeans and tells me me don’t need a condom and that’s she’s disease free. Later in the night Rose sleeps next to me and I smoke one of her cloves that I fished from the pack on the nightstand. I flip through the black book. I notice the first name belongs to an auto mechanic who lives no further then a few blocks down from Tanas parents house. I make note of that. I see a black leather jacket on the hanger of the door. I take it and assume Rose is alright with me doing so.

The next day I got a cup of coffee at the nearby diner and looked over the black book. To my amazement there were fifty clients. Tana was indeed a busy girl. The waitress who knew me as a regular has been giving me the eye and I finally humored her.

“What is it?” I ask.

“You look different, Vincent”

“How’s that?”

“You have facial hair now. Less of a boyish look. I like it.”

I don’t know how to respond.

“The charm will come too. You just have to grow into your own.” She says. I made my way to the auto shop. The place sat on the outskirts of town and was mostly abandoned aside from a guy named Bill who frequented the place. Apparently it was his business. I walk through the front door and the place is a mess. Dust everywhere, papers scattered, a half eaten sandwich sitting next to the old Macintosh computer at the front desk, whereupon flies were swarming. I’m startled by a man who puts his hand on my shoulder from behind.

“Can I help you?” he says. 

“Jesus, you scared the shit outta me.” I say. “Yeah I’m looking for a man named Bill Smith?

“That’s me. Who are you?”

“My name is Vincent. I work for… ugh..”

Pause.

“I wanted to talk to you about a girl name Tana.” I continue.

“I don’t think I know any Tanas.”

“You spent a night with her at a motel six a few years ago.”

“You’re gonna have to be more specific.”

“She was a prostitute.”

“Oh, is she dead now? I had nothing to do with it.”

“No. Listen, I’m not a cop. She was just a friend of mine and I wanted to see if I could ask you some questions.”

“Shoot. I’ll see what I can recall from my memory. Problem is, I already got a bit of the old dementia going these days.”

I told him all about her altered persona Night Nocturne and that she worked at The Rabbit in Silk. He seems to not remember her until I started describing her features. Blue eyes, about five-ten. During all of this this I couldn’t get past how Tana, one of the most beautiful women I had ever laid eyes upon had lowered herself into sleeping with a man, for lack of a better way of putting it, resembled a horrifically obese monster. He was greasy and bald and from the smell of him had not showered in days.

“She was so nice to me. You see, I am not a handsome man. But Night was good to me. She made me feel at ease. She told me she wouldn’t laugh at me or make fun of my body. She put me in a real heavenly state of mind.”

“What else did you talk about?” I ask.

“Not much. I would’ve thought she was a drug addict the way she chain smoked.”

“Did she ever mention anything about a so-called “Dream Rabbit?”

“Why yes, I do believe she did.”

“What did she say?”

“The poor girl seemed scared— Terrified really. I thought she was schizo or something the shit that was coming out of her mouth.”

“Go on.”

“She claimed she knew of an ‘immortal being.’

“I don’t understand.”

“The chick sounded like she had been in the loony bin her whole life or something. She was going on about some immortal being named ‘Mr. Henry’ and how he was someone who, in her words, could lead girls out of the worlds dark crevices and into a new realm that consisted only of the world’s best earthly pleasures.”

“Such as?”

“Earthly pleasures… You know. Food, Sex, Wine. She kept using big words I didn’t understand like hedonism and other fancy words.

“How many times did you see Night?”

“Once and never again.”

The guy seems clueless for the most part and I can’t think anything else to ask him so I thank him for his time and I’ll be on my way. He offers me food but I’ve already eaten at the diner this morning and the look of the place has me questioning the credibility of anything he can offer me. I close the door behind me and start walking towards the empty lot. The rain is coming down hard now. As I’m walking with my leather coat over my head he calls me from the office.

“One more thing.” He mutters.

“Yeah?”

“She had the ass of an angel.” He says grinning.

I smile back at him sheepishly but inside feel a mix of envy, resentment and disgust.

 Seeing Rose Kay at the club had awakened something in me. The night we slept together I did not know how much I needed her until after the fact. I felt stronger because of it. More competent, less fearful of any death that was surrounding me. I had seen death up close and I was no longer afraid to leave this world. Tana had left it already. Maybe I was marching toward my demise as well.

 

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