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The Things We Leave Behind

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I would like to thank volunteer editor Tyressia for her time and assistance with this story.

Detective Michelle Dairhart watched them pull the prostitute’s dead body from behind the dumpster. Even in the bad light, the dark bruises on the corpse’s thighs were sickeningly obvious. Silent echoes of her violent final moments. They laid her body in the long, black bag. No one bothered to pull the glittery pink mini-skirt down from around her belly to cover her nakedness. No dignity in life, why should we expect any in death?

She had seen more death in these first three weeks as a detective than her entire five years as a patrol officer. They told her it would get easier, and that scared her. Easier meant she would have to stop caring. No longer feeling the emptiness that comes with knowing that a human being woke up that morning not knowing that this was the last day of their life. Smeared red lipstick and a pair of stunning eyes staring vacantly into nothingness were her last impressions before the zipper slid up the length of the bag.

“Hey Shelly,” Officer DeRizzo’s voice drew her attention away from the body bag. “We got no witnesses, no I.D., no more customers tonight.” He was smiling at his attempted joke.

She never found the jokes funny, but she returned his smile just the same. She knew DeRizzo was only trying to push it aside, like so many of the others she worked with. He didn’t want to take this home with him to his wife and daughter.

“Thanks Tony,” Shelly tucked her notepad away. “Let me know if you run across anyone who can give us a name.”

She made her way past the black van and out of the alley. The strobes atop the squad cars pulsed their blue light across the faces of the small crowd that had gathered. There was always a crowd. She had come to see the crowd as a single voyeuristic organism birthed by the thrill of tragedy. It lives a brief existence of nervous fascination, then dwindles and dies of lingering disinterest.

Shelley reached her car and climbed into its welcomed sanctuary. She closed her eyes and tried to refocus. Her mind slipped easily to thoughts of a hot bath and the weightless feeling of the warm water embracing her naked body. The sharp artificial ring of her phone jolted her back. She checked the glowing display screen. It was Turner, her boss.

“Detective Dairhart here,” she said into the phone, her voice steady and professional.

“You need to get married, Miss Dairhart, and get rid of that last name,” Turner bawled at the other end of the connection. “It sounds like a god damned comic book character.” If you don’t have anything intelligent to say then say it loudly seemed to be his philosophy.

“It’s just too bad you’re already taken, Sir.” She silently chastised herself for resorting so easily to that flirty act he gets such a kick out of. At least it kept her on his good side.

“Don’t tempt me young lady,” he chuckled. “Listen, we’ve got a suicide over at The Shoremont Towers.”

“The ritzy new condos down by the waterfront?”

“Seems some rich yuppie-type had it so good he couldn’t take it anymore.” Turner’s sarcasm left little question about his sympathy for the deceased. “Not much to this one, I just need you to get over there and make sure everything is handled discretely.”

“I understand,” Shelly responded. “Should I check in when I get there?”

“Nah, don’t bother. I’m knocking off early and heading to McNeely’s to catch the game. You should stop by for a beer when you’re done, get to know the guys better.”

“Sure, I’ll try to get over there when I’m done,” Shelly lied.

She thumbed the disconnect button on her cell and checked the street map to make sure she knew where she was going before starting the car and heading for the waterfront. Hopefully this would be a clean one. No guns or razors. Even pills can get messy sometimes. Just get this one buttoned up quickly and quietly and then home to the tub.

The lobby of the west tower was a precisely choreographed display of marble, manicured plantings, subdued light, and money. Lots of money. An architect’s orgasm in glass and stone. The echoes of Detective Dairhart’s low heels alerted the security guard at the reception desk of her arrival.

“I’m here about…”

“Mr. Daniels,” the guard nodded toward a log book at the end of the desk. “Just sign in and you can go on up. Apartment seven-fourteen. An officer is already up there.”

As Shelly entered her name and the time into the book, she noticed the guard looking at her chest. A plain bra, camisole, blouse, and blazer were layered over her breasts, and still they looked. She wasn’t surprised, even when she was in situations that called for a Kevlar vest she would sometimes catch the guys looking.

Some women say this kind of attention is flattering. Shelly just tried to ignore it. After all, she was guilty of checking out the occasional crotch herself. For years she denied the quick thrill she often felt upon catching a glimpse of a suggestive curve or bulge down there, but finally she accepted it and allowed herself to indulge poker oyna without being ashamed.

“All set,” Shelly announced a bit too loudly. His eyes flicked from her chest to her face.

“Either of the elevators on the left.” She wondered if he was even aware he was doing it.

The elevator glided smoothly and quietly to the seventh floor. The fresh floral scent and polished surfaces within the elevator gave the impression that it was painstakingly cleaned after every use. The doors opened almost silently leading Shelly into a dimly lit hallway. Seven fourteen was at the end to the left. The door was slightly ajar, she could hear the faint sound from a television inside. She tapped on the door and went in.

“Hello?” Shelly called. The television snapped off and an officer came into the foyer from a room down a hall. She recognized him but didn’t know his name.

“Can I help you?” He asked. “Oh sorry, aren’t you the new detective? I’ve seen you around the station, right?”

“Detective Dairhart,” Shelly offered her hand.

“Richard, everyone calls me Ricky though,” he shook her hand in that soft way men do with women.

“Did you find a note?” she asked as she walked down the hall to the sparse living room.

“No note. This wasn’t a suicide.” A slight tone of embarrassment crept into his voice.

One wall of the living room was dominated by a wide-screen, flat panel monitor. The few pieces of furniture looked like they were selected more for appearance than comfort. Shelly tallied up how many months rent she could pay with the money that was spent to decorate this room. Fifteen, at least.

“The call said he hanged himself.”

“Well, yeah, but it was one of those sex things, you know?”

“A sex thing? Do we know who was with him?” Shelly did her best to conceal her eagerness. This might turn out to be a real investigation, something that would give her a chance to establish herself within the department.

“It was just the deceased,” Ricky shifted uncomfortably. Shelly recognized the behavior, she’d seen it before. He was struggling to find the right words, not knowing what would offend her. He didn’t know her boundaries and wasn’t ready to test them. “I think they call it auto-asphyxiation.”

“You mean he ended up choking more than just the chicken?” She joked.

“Yeah, I guess that’s one way to put it.” Ricky chuckled, visibly relaxing. “He had some sort of secret sex chamber. That’s a false closet there, see?” Shelly took a look into the closet. The few long coats hanging there were pushed aside revealing a sliding panel left open at the back with a darkened room beyond. “That’s where he was found.”

“Doesn’t leave much for me to do, seems pretty straightforward.” Shelly walked around the living room, taking a closer look at the few decorative items on the walls and shelves. She had to resist the urge to take off her shoes for fear of ruining the immaculate carpet.

“Just waiting for the meat wagon, then my shift is over,” Ricky said with a shrug.

“That could be a while, they’re pretty backed up downtown.” She noticed his gaze go to the big screen. “Missing the game?”

“Mind if I put it on?” He reached for the remote.

“I’ll do you one better. Why don’t you get out of here and catch the rest of it at McNeely’s with the guys. I’ll wait here for transport.”

“No kidding? You sure you don’t mind?” Ricky looked like a kid who just got released from detention early.

“Get out of here. But don’t forget you owe me one.”

Ricky thanked her at least a dozen times on his way out. Shelly stood at the door until she heard the muted sounds of the elevator taking him downstairs. She returned to the living room, and this time she did take her shoes off. Not out of concern for the carpet, but to feel plush softness under her tired feet.

She explored the rest of the expansive apartment. Each room was a potential exhibit in a modern art museum. Even the bathroom was a pristine study in order. Nothing out of place, nothing unclean, nothing to be embarrassed by. Shelly thought of someone walking around her place right now and shuddered.

Once back in the living room she considered the closet and what lay beyond. She finally made up her mind and went to it and tentatively stepped through the concealed panel. The only light came through the row of tinted, ceiling to floor windows along one wall. She noticed when she arrived that they were the type that allowed you to see out but not in. The glittering city in the near distance was like a life-sized mural.

Strange dark shapes were scattered around the surprisingly large room giving few clues as to their true nature. A light switch glowed to her left, but she didn’t reach for it. Her eyes slowly adjusted to the faint light. She picked out the shape of a large bed at one end of the room. A shrouded form lay upon it.

Shelly stepped out of the false closet and retreated to the sofa. She sat there on the edge of the stiff cushion contemplating the tingle that ran up her back at the sight of the body. She couldn’t remember canlı poker oyna ever feeling anything like it before. Her eyes kept drifting back to that doorway. What was in there that was so intriguing to her?

Men remained something of a mystery to her. What she knew mostly came from her friends, psychology courses, and observation at a safe distance. Here was an opportunity to literally venture into the secret world of one man. The tools to fulfill his basest desires lay behind that wall. These things were available to her for the first, and perhaps only, time ever. Did she dare violate this private sanctuary?

She suddenly felt very alone. This wasn’t the superficial feeling of being the only one in the apartment. Nor was it loneliness. She just felt inconsolably alone.

The door to the apartment was left slightly open, just as it was when she had first arrived. Shelly quietly pushed it closed. Transport would have to ring the bell when they arrived. Even if they did walk in while she was in the room, she would be doing nothing wrong. She was a detective after all, one would expect her to investigate the scene. Right? She stood at the threshold of the hidden room knowing that she might convince a couple of stretcher-pushers, but she couldn’t so easily fool herself.

Her fingers touched the light switch and a shielded track of lights around the edges of the ceiling responded. The room was imbued with an otherworldly blue glow that reflected off of the high white ceiling, bathing the space in a soft artificial twilight. The mysterious shapes from her first visit resolved into mostly familiar objects. Among the many items were an overstuffed chair and ottoman set in front of another large monitor screen, a telescope on a tripod was at the full-length windows, a computer and desk set in the corner. But there were other items that remained foreign.

A leather covered board standing at least eight feet tall leaned against one wall, shackles and straps affixed to it at various points. A black sling was suspended from the ceiling near the bed. A large translucent latex bag lay in the middle of the floor with what looked like a small vacuum attached to it by a thin hose.

Shelly finally brought herself to look again at the bed. The inexplicable tingle spread across her back and settled pleasantly at the nape of her neck. She moved through the room taking in some of the details. A case next to the screen held several hundred DVDs. Soft porn, hardcore, anal, lesbian, gay, and every other variation seemed to be represented in the collection.

She walked along the windows coming to the telescope. She looked into the eyepiece. It was trained on a bedroom somewhere out in the city. It was empty now. She continued on, feeling exposed in front of the bare windows, but knowing no one could see her.

She came to the bed. It was large, covered in smooth dark sheets, probably satin or maybe silk. His body was draped in a plain beige sheet taken from the linen closet. She noticed the subtle rounded rise in the fabric covering his groin. That tingle again.

She moved around the bed to his side, casting a wary glance toward the door. She stood there considering what she felt so compelled to do. She knew it was wrong, but there was something inside her that wouldn’t otherwise be satisfied. She lifted the sheet.

She didn’t expect to find the clear plastic bag over his head. A large rubber band held it closed around his throat. The inside was coated with condensation so she could not see his face. His body was tanned and athletic. Short dark hair covered his chest and ran in a line down his flat stomach. She could barely discern the outline of his penis in the shadows beneath the sheet. It stood at an odd angle, appearing almost erect.

She dropped the sheet the instant the memory assailed her. She was suddenly back in college, an awkward freshman at her first frat party. She never should have gone to his room, but he was so nice to her. Everything that came after was a blur until she became suddenly aware of someone on top of her. Not just on her, but in her. His naked body slammed against her again and again, his hairy chest pressing into her face. She couldn’t breath, couldn’t scream, couldn’t make her arms push him away.

She closed her eyes and tried to shake the memories away. This was why she couldn’t get close to a man, not even a dead one. She felt her knees weaken and she sank to the floor there next to the bed. Tears filled her eyes despite her efforts to will them away. The futility of her resistance became obvious. She gave in and let the tears come, let it all come. It had been a long time since she allowed herself to cry.

After a few minutes the emotions waned. She felt somehow lighter, and more than a bit foolish. She pulled herself up off of the floor and noticed and open door nearby. It led to a small bathroom with a large shower, a whirlpool, and even a bidet. She went in and rinsed the drying tears from her face.

Staring at herself in the mirror she saw the thirty year old woman she was, not the younger girl internet casino she felt like inside. Soft lines showed where once there was only smooth skin. She always believed she was pretty in her own way, but she couldn’t bear for anyone else to think so. Her hair was pulled back tight and pinned behind her head. She reached back and removed the unadorned black combs letting her hair fall down across her shoulders. It didn’t make her any younger, but it was an improvement.

Back in the room, she spotted a chest of drawers against one wall. Next to it was a rack with lingerie on hangers. She flipped through the teddies, sheer jumpsuits, and frilly gowns. Shelly became conscious of the fact that she never had any real lingerie. A red bra was her raciest piece of underwear she currently owned. She went next to the dresser.

A sculpture of a reclining nude woman rested atop the dresser. The sleek lines and glossy finish gave her a sensual aura. Shelly opened the top drawer and found a collection of dildos. They were pink, purple, black, and flesh-colored. There were long ones and short, bent and straight. Some were just smooth shafts, others shaped like a real penis. Shelly remembered getting a dildo once as a gag gift. She tossed it out without trying it. She regretted it a few days later when realized she kept thinking about it, but she was too embarrassed to buy one for herself.

The next drawer down was full of panties. All different colors and styles. Some were crotchless. She lifted a pair out and held them up. These would probably fit. She folded them and put them back. The bottom drawer held some odd harnesses. One of them had a dildo attached to it.

“So this is what a strap-on looks like,” She said aloud.

She closed the last drawer and straightened up. She noticed again the statue of the nude woman. The scant details of her face gave the impression of satisfaction following intense ecstasy. Shelly opened the top drawer once more.

She lifted a pink rubber shaft from inside. The smooth end tapered to a soft point, the sides were covered with small nubs. It was heavier than she had expected. Shelly twisted the black cap at the bottom and it began to hum. She quickly turned it off, feeling a ridiculous flush of embarrassment.

She turned it on again, feeling it vibrate in her hand. She briefly touched it to her cheek. How silly is this, she thought. She slid the vibrator down the side of her neck, across her shoulder and to her chest. Alright, maybe not so silly after all.

She gently played it across her breasts, touching it fleetingly to each of her nipples. She could feel them stiffen under her clothes. She slipped her jacket off and let it fall to the floor. She noticed the vibrator now felt warm in her hand as she absently strolled toward the windows. She squeezed each of her breasts with one hand while giving them each firmer attention with the buzzing dildo. She regretted not discovering this sooner.

She could see her ghostly reflection in the window superimposed over the cityscape. She watched herself lower the vibrator down across her stomach and between her legs. She let out a soft groan of pleasure and pressed it harder against herself. She turned around and leaned against the giant plate glass window opening her legs a little wider. Shelly rubbed the dildo against her crotch pushing down against it. She was past the point of idle curiosity, she had to cum.

She opened her eyes and noticed the ottoman by the chair. More memories came to her, this time they were pleasant. She was watching cartoons by herself on a Saturday morning that first time. The Christmas tree was blinking in the corner, and she was wearing her favorite pink flannel pajamas. She was lying on her belly on the ottoman and then slid off to go to the bathroom. She felt this wonderful sensation as the corner of the ottoman rubbed between her legs.

Shelly walked across the dimly lit room, turning off the vibrator as she went. She looked down at the ottoman. It was leather, rather than cloth like the one she grew up with, but it looked to be about the right height. She couldn’t remember the last time she did this.

She lowered herself onto the corner of the ottoman, feeling the familiar pressure nestle between her legs. She started turning her hips in small circles, grinding herself into the corner of it. She was transported back to a time when this feeling came without guilt or shame. Shelly pressed harder, feeling the fabric of her pants and underwear pushing against her pussy. She was warm and safe in her living room again.

That image quickly faded when she opened her eyes. There he was across the room, under the sheet. Her eyes automatically went to that bulge. She couldn’t get a good look at it before, and now she wanted to see it. She stood and walked to the bed.

She lifted the sheet from the bottom this time, planning to just fold it over his waist. As she moved it, the sheet slid to the side and the whole thing fell to the floor. His body lay there before her naked and perfectly still in the soft blue light. His large penis glistened with lubricant. A thin black strap was looped snugly around the base of his testicles pulling the skin tight, another was around the base of his shaft. Maybe that was why he still seemed to have a partial erection.

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