Here's the VISUAL Chapter One of CUPID
There was a man in the darkness,
and that man held a bloody bow and arrow.
The bow was carbon, barely three pounds,
and with a leather grip.
Long ago, he’d carved ten lines into the
Each mark represented his kill, and tonight,
he would add two more lines.
Blood always came, when the man drew back his bow.
The arrows were fast and easy to pull, and oh how he loved to make them fly.
He loved to watch the blood drip down a graying corpse, inch by inch, staining flesh and radiating the scent of death.
He loved to watch that crimson liquid pool around dead bodies,
men who’d hurt women for sport,
fathers that raped children,
husbands that cheated on loyal wives,
brothers that stole the innocence
from their sisters.
He loved to watch them die.
And when they did, he crouched down, hummed his mother’s lullaby, sniffed the rotting air, and peered into their lids, to see their mortality glaze over vacant eyes.
That night, the bow and arrow had done everything it had been brought to the rich man’s condo to do.
Mr. Neil Carson, millionaire extraordinaire, lay dead on the kitchen floor.
His mistress’s corpse was sprawled along the granite counter with her bare bottom up, red bra hanging around her tiny neck, and her head resting in the sink. Water dripped from the faucet, wetting her hair and filling the space with a haunting rhythm.
“This was too fast.” The killer frowned. “Too easy.”
Blood dripped from his fingers, spilled red dots onto his polished shoes, and stained the front of his tuxedo shirt. He would have to change before returning back to his mansion.
No doubt he’d scratched his hair due to his restlessness, and got blood on his blonde waves.
At least I can wash this mousse stuff out of my hair.
Usually he wore his strands in disarray, only getting a haircut the few times he had to show his face at a board meeting in his corporation or a news spotlight for some innovative food product his staff had designed.
Earlier tonight, his mother obsessed over his hair, called her stylist, and had his head done up in ridiculous waves.
She’d had him on her eighteenth birthday.
A monster had gotten her pregnant.
But that hadn't stopped her from loving Asher the minute he came into the world. In fact, there was no person, no man who could possess the love she had for her son.
“Oh darling! You look fabulous!” His mother embraced him right as he stepped out of the hallway.
“I look ridiculous.” He patted down his tuxedo. “I won’t wear this thing all night.”
His mother laughed. “Asher, you’ll wear it or I’ll give you hell.”
She slid her hands down his muscular arms as if marveling at his strength.
Asher had been working out more,
testing his speed in the morning during runs, timing the instances he scaled up walls or dashed down a hall without making any sound. He’d been getting better, just for the sake of never getting caught.
He always had to be two steps ahead of everyone—the police, his victims, and the few curious rich folk, who put down their caviar and took notice of all the wealthy men dying around them.
Asher’s mother stopped her hand at his wrists, turned it over, inspected him, and then glared. “Do you have to wear those cufflinks?”
He glanced at them. They were classic steel and oval shaped. On the surface, diamonds outlined skulls. “I like them.”
“They’re ruining the effect.”
“I disagree. The skulls add to the effect.” Nodding at a maid who hurried past him, Asher traveled down the hall and toward the spiral staircase.
The stairs were one of the main reasons he’d bought the mansion. Several film production companies had made them famous and shot numerous scenes from the top view.
Gangsters in mafia movies fell to their death from that level, their legs and arms wagging as they plunged to their descent.
In the few romantic flicks done in his mansion, lovers raced down those stairs—the hero hoped to catch the woman he might’ve lost, the heroine rushed away, yearning to finally be done with the broken cycle.
Directors had documented those spiraling steps, noting the artistry in the carvings on the rail. Tiny angels decorated the inside, where most people placed their hands as they traveled down.
Horned-demons covered the outside.
Asher relished in the demon etchings, pleasured in the wicked grooves that pressed against his fingertips each time he rushed up or took his time going down.
They were eye candy.
When he stood at the top and gazed below. A wild rose of stairs greeted his eyes—this sort of spiraling down of petals made from iron and cream marble.
Tonight, those stairs also served as Asher’s escape from his mother.
“Where are you going?” She trailed behind him. “I haven’t smelled you yet?”
“What?” He scrunched his face up in horror.
“Smelled.” She rushed after him. “I haven’t smelled you yet.”
He stopped at the top of the stairs, checked his watch, and hoped he’d have time to go over preparations for this evening. His gloves, other equipment, as well as his bow and arrows needed to be near his motorcycle that was parked on the far south of his grounds, at the end of a massive garden.
His mother inhaled him.
Shaking his head, he smirked. “Do I smell good?”
“What are you wearing?”
“Soap and water.”
“Good evening, Mother.” He continued down the stairs.
“Where are you going?”
“The party will begin in two hours. I’m sure you want to go over everything with the kitchen staff.”
She paused, looked down at her flowery robe, touched the curlers in her hair, and turned around, rushing back to her bedroom at the end of the hall. “I should get dressed.”
He grinned. “You look beautiful just the way you are.”
“Oh stop it!” She glanced over her shoulder, right before entering her room. “By the way,you look amazing this evening. You look like Jay Gatsby himself, right from the novel obsessing over his beautiful debutante Daisy
Buchanan. . .
. . .I’ve invited many women this evening for your event. There should be tons of Daisies there.”
“Great.” He shook his head.
“Don’t you roll those beautiful blue eyes at me,” she huffed. “Remember. Mother knows best.”
“Sometimes you scare me,” he muttered under his breath and hurried down the stairs.
The killer pushed the memory out of his mind and returned to his predicament.
The only reason he’d been okay with having the party at his mansion this evening was that it provided him an alibi to kill Neil Carson and his mistress.
Now I’ll have to go back.
It’s like eating a bad meal that was huge, yet unsatisfying. I don’t even feel like I've ate.
I’m still hungry.
Do I have time to feed myself some more?
That’s not the way.
I have to be careful, have to plan my kills, not rush into them. But. . .do I have time for one more?
Due to living on Ovid Island, he never truly had time to himself. The area was named after the famous poet Ovid, and catered to the most affluent people in Miami.
The island was south of the city’s coastline.
Residences were exclusive.
One needed a boat to get there, and even then, security checked for written approval and identification before the person could step onto land. For that reason, no one really left the island. Instead, they remained there, partying on their estates and getting into everyone’s business.
Beyond Ovid Island's bustling business district and the breath-taking blue rippled waves - there were rich men and women hiding secrets. No one asked questions. No one wanted the truth.
Even Asher didn’t leave the island to kill.
Along with the boredom, he’d gotten lazy, swimming in the dullness of day-to-day life among the affluent.
I don’t have the time. I should go.
Hundreds of guests would still be in Asher’s mansion, partying well into the morning. They’d expect him to show his face after the fireworks exploded in the sky above his grounds, and all wished each other a happy new year.
Not that his alibi wasn’t secure.
News cameras filmed his New Year’s Eve speech an hour ago. His staff kept all glasses topped with expensive champagne. Some of the men and women were probably so drunk in that moment, tomorrow there would be made-up stories of him and his exploits all over the party.
He gritted his teeth and stared at the corpse in the center of the room. “I didn’t even get a chance to hear Neil beg.”
Silence filled the space.
He flexed his bloody fingers and gazed at the dark figure on the floor, cloaked in shadows and decay. All the excitement of the evening fled from his chest. That hollowness returned, that empty feeling he always felt as he walked around day-to-day—running his corporations, escorting movie stars, and smiling for the flashing lights that followed him everywhere.
Not a good New Year’s Eve at all.
He exhaled. There was nothing else to do in the kitchen, but leave.
That night, he would go home, drink, smoke, fuck a sexy stranger, and do all of the things that normal people did.
Yet in his head,
a blackness would unfurl,
spiraling down into him,
just like that huge staircase in his house,
the one that looked like a black and white rose,
but on some days,
stared back at him like an evil eye.
A gloom would spark in the center of his core and rise up to meet that dwindling blackness.
The hunger would return,
and yank away at his senses.
He would be enraged with blood lust,
similar to a thousand year old vampire that just crawled out of the grave,
after centuries of a deep sleep,
and in need of some young maiden’s ivory neck.
The killer licked his lips at the thought.
In his mind, he saw a young woman, in one of those old gowns with elegant fabric, hooped skirts that dripped with silk, and a stiff corset top that held her bosom up on display.
He could see the lovely maiden with spiraled hair, bobbling as she raced away in a foggy forest, the vampire right on her feet.
“No,” she would scream.
But the vampire would not care.
The hunger was too strong.
He would capture her in his arms, slip his fingers along the curve of her neck, push his fangs out of his gums, and pierce the beautiful flesh.
“Neil!” a woman yelled in the condo and shoved the killer out of his daydream. “Neil!”
Who the hell is that? No one was supposed to be here tonight.
And then the kitchen door opened.
A woman’s voice filled the air as she yelled out the dead man’s name again, “Neil?”
The word came out like a melody as if she’d intended to sing Neil’s name, and changed her mind, once it left her lips. "Neil?”
Who is this?
“Neil?” Her voice drummed through to the killer’s bones.
He bit his bottom lip and squinted to get a better look of her. It was too dark, too black and hard to see.
No one else was supposed to be in the condo tonight. Not Neil’s wife, personal assistant, and even his staff. Who is this? Wife or someone else?
Inhaling the air, Asher blended back into shadows. His heart battered against his chest. Plans had changed. The urge to kill more itched in his gums and sparked in his fingers as he tightened his grip on the bow.
Yet, did she deserve to die?
No. Not by my hands, at least. Who knows what she’s done to another? Women can be evil little creatures. Mother taught me that.
“Neil?” The woman appeared in the opened doorway. Light glowed around her.
She was a black woman. That much he could tell. He couldn’t make out the features of her face nor the color of her eyes or the fullness of those lips as she called Neil’s name again. Long, wavy black hair hung past her shoulders. He couldn’t see much else, yet her silhouette kept his attention.
Neil, you lucky bastard. Who is she? This can’t be your wife.
Asher’s research on the man had been lackluster. Instead of taking weeks to follow him around, he decided to kill Neil based solely on island gossip. Everyone had called him an emotionally abusive man-whore, yet when they spoke of his wife, they did it with respect in a sort of sadness, like they felt bad for the poor women would been shackled to the beast.
I should’ve at least broken in a few times while he was home with his wife. Like I did with the others. Watched them sleep. Checked out their hidden secrets.
Is this his wife or another mistress?
“Neil?” The woman had a lush frame—curves and softness.
Part of him craved a closer view.
The rest of him tensed in fear of being caught.
If she spotted him, then she would die.
There would be no question in his mind, if the moment came, he would draw back his bow and hit the target on her chest in seconds. Sometimes, he let a few women go, if he deemed them innocent. Tonight, he didn’t have the time to judge her.
Turn around. Leave.
Unease crept up his spine.
“Never leave witnesses behind.” His mother would always say as she held him close to her bosom, rocked his small body, and sung that lullaby over and over. “Kill them all. It’s only us in this world. No one else needs our protection.”
The kitchen door squeaked as the woman pushed it open wider.
What made her call Neil’s name over and over, and stay there peering at the shadowed kitchen? Did she feel something? Was she not scared or nervous? Did she sense the terror around her?
Death pricked at the average person’s skin, whether they knew it lingered around them or not.
It was hard to ignore.
She should’ve sensed the morbid situation around her, and been forced to back away.
“Neil?” she said into the darkness, but didn’t enter the kitchen. “Neil, are you in here? I don’t feel like any of your games tonight. If you’re hiding and plan on jumping out at me, as usual, then you’re in for a very violent surprise.”
She placed her hand on the wall next to the door way, slid it up and down, flipped the switch, and gasped when the light didn’t turn on.
This is when you run.
She froze right there, not moving her finger or the rest of her body another inch. Thoughts must’ve spiraled around in her mind.
What are you thinking? There’s no light in here, yet the rest of the condo’s lights work. Tonight is not the time to investigate. Tonight is when you turn around and leave. Tonight you escape a destiny that wasn’t meant for you.
She stood there, silent. Besides the dripping from the faucet, quiet continued. A sweet perfume traveled into the room and journeyed to the killer.
What scent is that? Vanilla or something flowery? Roses. It must be roses.
Hiding in the shadows, he gripped his loaded bow and inhaled her fragrance some more.
Turn around, sweet one. Tonight is not your day to die.
She cleared her throat and stepped inside. “Neil? I’m serious. You told me to meet you in the kitchen, but. . .”
So Neil had asked his wife or whatever to come to the kitchen? Why would he do that when he was having sex with his mistress? Had he hoped she walked in? This must be why others gossiped about him being a manipulative douche.
She inched in further. “I swear on everything. I don’t have time for more of your fucking mental games.”
From the shadows and with smooth precision, the killer pointed the arrow at her chest. If she took one more step inside the kitchen, he’d release the wire and let the arrow glide through the air. Knots built in his gut.
Turn around, sweet one.
A sigh left her lips. “I’m done playing your games, Neil.”
She ran her fingers through her hair and stepped back. “You couldn’t even give me tonight. Could you? What’s the point of being your wife, if I see you less than all of your mistresses, and get absolutely no respect!”
The kitchen door slammed behind her.
Asher leaned forward and patiently listened for the sounds of her departure—footsteps pounding away, keys jingling, doors creaking open and shutting back.
Don’t worry, sweet one. Neil’s gone. You won’t need to play those mental games with him anymore.
Minutes passed. She made a few more noises here and there in the apartment, yelling out his name from time to time. Another few minutes went by.
Finally, the condo’s front door slammed, and Asher guessed that the sweet-scented woman had left and he was finally alone.
He returned his attention to the dead man on the floor and crouched low to get a good look at the corpse in the darkness.
Pulling out his tiny flashlight and turning it on, he studied Neil’s face. “You had a beautiful wife. What made you decide to have her come to the kitchen tonight, while you knew, you would be fucking your mistress from behind? Was your wife supposed to see that? Did you think it would be funny?”
Asher winked at the corpse. “Now who do you think will be laughing, once tomorrow’s morning news reports your dead body found with your slutty secretary in a secret apartment that was paid for illegally by your company’s investors? Poor Neil.”
Asher inhaled the space. A harsh odor radiated from the stiff’s flesh.
There was no other fragrance that left a bigger imprint in most people’s minds.
When one smelled death,
there was no way of getting it out of their head.
in the crevices of the brain where gloom clung to cells and veins,
and where nightmares were birthed,
and horror fulfilled.
Yet, he inhaled it all.
death mingled with childhood memories,
and taking one’s life released the tension from his shoulders.
Blood warmed the coldness in his chest,
just for a few seconds,
before his core returned back to an empty cave made of ice.
What was her name?
He walked over to the dead mistress’s naked body that was slumped over the counter.
Asher thought back to the moment, right before he surprised the evil pair. Neil’s pants sat at his ankles as he barreled his pecker into his mistress.
“Let’s make her cry,” the mistress had groaned. “Show her how you make me scream your name.”
At first, Asher wondered who the mistress had been talking about. Who had she wanted to make cry? For that reasoning alone, he didn’t give her the chance to escape. Making people cry wasn’t really nice after all. She got an arrow in her back, and then Asher gave all of his attention to Neil’s shaking frame as he pissed on himself, right in the kitchen.
“Let’s make her cry.”
“Now it all makes sense.” He grabbed the arrow sticking out of Neil’s chest and yanked it away. “You wanted to hurt your wife for whatever reason. Maybe it got you off, added to the orgasm. Fucking another was no longer enough. Now you needed the games.”
Asher wiped the arrow’s tip on his pants. Blood smeared on the material. He’d planned to burn everything he wore once he got to the back of his grounds.
“I get it, Neil. Boredom makes us do wicked things.” He rose and headed over to the mistress. “Too bad your wife couldn’t have seen me kill you. Would she have liked it? She smelled so good. A woman that smells like that would use logic. Mother always said, a female that could master all of a man’s senses around her, is one that’s using the maximum power of her brain.”
Laughter fled his lips. He pulled the arrow out of the mistress’s back and wiped it off.
Okay, Asher. You’ve had your fun.
But for whatever reason, he didn’t rush away like all the other times he’d killed. For some crazy reason, he remained there, breathing in everything.
Soon, he’d have to sneak out of the condo, jump on his motorcycle, speed through traffic, and enter the back of his mansion, hide his tools, clean himself, and rush off to party until dawn.
Soon, he’d have to dive into meaningless conversations with faceless people whose names always blurred together, with the intoxication of the wine, and the artificial feminine giggling that lingered afterward.
Soon, he’d have to shift from killer to Asher Bishop, heir to the Bishop multi-millionaire food empire.
Releasing a long breath, he stared to the rich man’s corpse for a few more seconds, but that time, he didn’t sing his mother’s lullaby, as he did with all the others.
That time, he stood over the dead body and thought of the fragrance of roses.