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This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access. Preview Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF. Bibliography De La Torre, M. Davidson and B. USA: Showtime. Santa Muerte from Venezuela?
Accessed 27 July Google Scholar Fraga, L. Google Scholar Gray, S. Google Scholar Lindsay, J. Orion: London. Google Scholar Picart, C. K and Greek, C. Toward a Gothic Criminology. Monsters In and Among Us. Google Scholar Santaularia, I. The Perpetuation of Traditional Masculinity in Dexter. The other times, he just used a handy Dumpster.
This piece ended in the ankle, foot neatly lopped off. I whistled. It was almost surgical. This guy did very nice work—as good as I could do. And it was, even beyond the neatness of the cutting. Nothing moving in there. Almost like with a ruler or something, huh? There was a rumor going around a few years back that Detective Migdia LaGuerta got into the Homicide Bureau by sleeping with somebody. To look at her once you might download into that. She has all the necessary parts in the right places to be physically attractive in a sullen, aristocratic way.
She was hard, ambitious in the most self-serving way, and her only weakness seemed to be for model-handsome men a few years younger than she was. That combination is far better than sex in Miami. LaGuerta is very very good at kissing ass, a world-class ass kisser. She kissed ass all the way up to the lofty rank of homicide investigator. It happens; incompetence is rewarded more often than not. I have to work with her anyway. Easier than you might think. I say them.
I speak Spanish; I even understand a little Cuban. But I could only get one word in ten from LaGuerta. The Cuban dialect is the despair of the Spanish-speaking world. The whole purpose of Cuban Spanish seems to be to race against an invisible stopwatch and get out as much as possible in three-second bursts without using any consonants.
The trick to following it is to know what the person is going to say before they say it. That tends to contribute to the clannishness non-Cubans sometimes complain about. The man LaGuerta was grilling was short and broad, dark, with Indio features, and was clearly intimidated by the dialect, the tone, and the badge. He tried not to look at her as he spoke, which seemed to make her speak even faster.
Where were you? The man looked at the bags of body parts and quickly looked away. Take the key witness and turn him against you. Had she forgotten what I looked like? She really did like me, the idiot. What brings you here? Please, Detective, when will you marry me? I have serious work here. Those assholes will be all over me in another hour. Not because the sight bothered her. She was seeing her career, trying to phrase her statement to the press. Why do I like you?
And it was the head. Nobody saw anything, heard anything. Captain Matthews strolled up in a cloud of Aramis aftershave, meaning that the reporters would be here very shortly. Too many years of writing reports. He winked and put a hand on her shoulder. People management is a skill. Witnesses, that sort of thing. Her father was a damn good cop. All right?
I looked. The Channel 7 News van was rolling in. He straightened his tie, put on a serious expression, and strolled over toward the van. My kind of guy. He was going to be disappointed this time. I felt a slight quiver pass over my skin. Deborah snorted. She got her orders from the captain. So watch your back, Debs.
I shook my head. Even talking about it seemed too private. A detail. Who knows what it means? Not a reverent pause, not like me. Just thinking.
What does it mean? It meant an appreciative chuckle from the Dark Passenger, who should have been quiet so soon after the priest. Who really knows? The cuts are close to surgical. Half of police work is asking the right questions. Nobody knows where yet, Deb. I looked at her. She looked back. I had developed hunches before. I had a small reputation for it. My hunches were often quite good.
I often know how the killers are thinking. I think the same way. Of course I was not always right. Sometimes I was very wide of the mark.
Then what would I do for a hobby? But this one—Which way should I go with this so very interesting escapade? We both turned. Deborah stiffened. A cheap shot. But it missed. LaGuerta waved a hand airily. The important thing here is to keep the press from getting hysterical. Or should I go with I told you so? Me, feeling.
What a concept. I nosed my Whaler slowly out the canal, thinking nothing, a perfect Zen state, moving at idle speed past the large houses, all separated from each other by high hedges and chain-link fences.
Kids playing on the manicured grass. Mom and Dad barbecuing, or lounging, or polishing the barbed wire, hawkeyes on the kids. I waved to everybody.
Some of them even waved back. They knew me, had seen me go by before, always cheerful, a big hello for everybody. He was such a nice man.
Very friendly. I opened up the throttle when I cleared the canal, heading out the channel and then southeast, toward Cape Florida. I found it a great deal easier to think. Part of it was the calm and peace of the water.
And another part was that in the best tradition of Miami watercraft, most of the other boaters seemed to be trying to kill me. I found that very relaxing. I was right at home. This is my country; these are my people. Around lunchtime the story broke national. Channel 7 had done a masterful job of presenting all the hysterical horror of body parts in a Dumpster without actually saying anything about them.
There were so many tire tracks in the parking lot that none were distinct. No prints or traces in the Dumpster, on the bags, or on the body parts. Everything USDA inspection clean. The one big clue of the day was the left leg. But the left leg was not.
It was a mere two sections, neatly wrapped. Aha, said Detective LaGuerta, lady genius. He panicked when he was seen. A tiny little thing, perhaps splitting hairs, but—the entire body had still been meticulously cleaned and wrapped, presumably after it had been cut up. And then it had been transported carefully to the Dumpster, apparently with enough time and focus for the killer to make no mistakes and leave no traces.
Either nobody pointed this out to LaGuerta or—wonder of wonders! And if the pattern was brand new, the investigation could seem like three blind men examining an elephant with a microscope. Was it getting boring, simply chopping up the body?
Was Our Boy searching for something else, something different? Some new direction, an untried twist? I could almost feel his frustration. To have come so far, all the way to the end, sectioning the leftovers for gift wrapping. Something is just not right. Coitus interruptus. He needed a different approach. And in my personal opinion—I mean, if it was me—this would make him very frustrated.
And very likely to look further for the answer.
But let LaGuerta look for a witness. There would be none. This was a cold, careful monster, and absolutely fascinating to me. And what should I do about that fascination? I was not sure, so I had retreated to my boat to think. A Donzi cut across my bow at seventy miles per hour, only inches away. I waved happily and returned to the present. I was approaching Stiltsville, the mostly abandoned collection of old stilt homes in the water near Cape Florida.
I nosed into a big circle, going nowhere, and let my thoughts move back into that same slow arc. What would I do? I needed to decide now, before I got too helpful for Deborah.
I could help her solve this, absolutely, no one better. Nobody else was even moving in the right direction. But did I want to help?
Did I want this killer arrested? Beyond this—oh, nagging little thought—did I even want him to stop? To my right I could just see Elliott Key in the last light of the day. And as always, I remembered my camping trip there with Harry Morgan. My foster father. The Good Cop. Yes, Harry, I certainly am. All right, Harry. If you think I should. And he told me. There is no starry sky anywhere like the starry sky in South Florida when you are fourteen and camping out with Dad.
I look away from the brightness of the stars. Determined, unhappy, a little dazed. He was barking all night. I carefully pull at a handful of pine needles and wait for Harry. Our boat is there, moving gently with the surge of the water. The lights of Miami are off to the right, a soft white glow.
But he is my straight-arrow foster dad; the truth is usually a good idea with Harry. Harry nods. Even then, so young but so smooth. Oh for a moon, a good fat moon, something bigger to look at.
My face is hot, as if Dad has asked me to talk about sex dreams. Watching me. Maybe, um. But it seems to make sense to Harry. It makes you kill things. Something bigger than a dog? I clear it. You and Mom. He is looking at me, not blinking. To talk about this?
And even then I knew; needing to kill something every now and then would pretty much sooner or later get in the way of being squared away. I watch the lights on a boat as it goes past, maybe two hundred yards out from our little beach.
Over the sound of their motor a radio is blasting Cuban music. I listen carefully. This is what Harry says when he is giving you a higher-order truth. When he showed me how to throw a curve ball, and how to throw a left hook. Before we took you in.
I was only three. Those things make you what you are. What happened to you when you were a little kid has shaped you. Control it. The wonderful, all-seeing, all-knowing man. My dad. So long ago now. Harry long dead. But his lessons had lived on.
Not because of any warm and gooey emotional feelings I had. Because Harry was right. Harry knew, and Harry taught me well. Be careful, Harry said. And he taught me to be careful as only a cop could teach a killer. To choose carefully among those who deserved it.
To make absolutely sure. Then tidy up. Leave no traces. And always avoid emotional involvement; it can lead to mistakes. Being careful went beyond the actual killing, of course. Being careful meant building a careful life, too. Imitate life. All of which I had done, so very carefully. I was a near perfect hologram. Above suspicion, beyond reproach, and beneath contempt.
A neat and polite monster, the boy next door. Even Deborah was at least half fooled, half the time. Of course, she believed what she wanted to believe, too. Right now she believed I could help her solve these murders, jump-start her career and catapult her out of her Hollywood sex suit and into a tailored business suit.
And she was right, of course. I could help her. There it was. I was in clear violation of the Code of Harry. It was full dark now, but I steered by a radio tower a few degrees to the left of my home water. So be it. Harry had always been right, he was right now.
I would help Deb. Some drivers slowed down on the slick roads. At the LeJeune on-ramp, a huge dairy truck had roared onto the shoulder and hit a van full of kids from a Catholic school. One kid was airlifted to Jackson Hospital. The others sat in the milk in their uniforms and watched the grown-ups scream at each other. I inched along placidly, listening to the radio. Apparently the police were hot on the trail of the Tamiami Butcher.
I stopped at a doughnut shop not too far from the airport. I bought an apple fritter and a cruller, but the apple fritter was gone almost before I got back into the car. I have a very high metabolism. It comes with living the good life. The rain had stopped by the time I got to work. Deb was already waiting for me. She did not look happy this morning. Of course, she does not look happy very often any more.
Too much time on duty trying not to look human. It leaves their faces stuck. I put the crisp white pastry bag on my desk. Soon those frown lines would turn permanent, ruining a wonderful face: deep blue eyes, alive with intelligence, and small upturned nose with just a dash of freckles, framed by black hair. Beautiful features, at the moment spattered with about seven pounds of cheap makeup.
I looked at her with fondness. She was clearly coming from work, dressed today in a lacy bra, bright pink spandex shorts, and gold high heels.
She hated to wear anything but clean, pressed blues. Deb likes to unload on me. She opened my doughnut bag and looked inside. Like the captain said. She missed. She made an awful face: rage and disgust competing for space. I looked up. Vince Masuoka was smiling in at us. He smiled bigger, that bright, fake, textbook smile.
Vince nodded at the crumpled white bag on my desk. Where is it?
See you later. Deb believed that every now and then I got hunches. Usually my inspired guesses had to do with the brutal whackos who liked to hack up some poor slob every few weeks just for the hell of it. She had never said anything, but my sister is a damned good cop, and so she has suspected me of something for quite a while. The last living thing on the earth that does love me. This is not self-pity but the coldest, clearest self-knowledge.
I am unlovable. Something in me is broken or missing, and sooner or later the other person catches me Acting, or one of Those Nights comes along. Animals hate me. I bought a dog once; it barked and howled—at me—in a nonstop no-mind fury for two days before I had to get rid of it. I tried a turtle. Rather than see me or have me touch it again, it died.
Nothing else loves me, or ever will. Not even—especially—me. I know what I am and that is not a thing to love.
I am alone in the world, all alone, but for Deborah. Except, of course, for the Thing inside, who does not come out to play too often. And does not actually play with me but must have somebody else. It is probably not love, but I would rather she were happy. And she sat there, dear Deborah, looking unhappy. My family. Staring at me and not knowing what to say, but coming closer to saying it than ever before.
You DO have something! The left leg. Somebody must have. After he was interrupted? All right, Dex. The wrapping-up part was more important than the cutting? Four left legs cut perfectly. How should I know? Maybe he only needed four left legs. To me it was so clear. Just the opposite.
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I poked at the white paper bag. There was nothing left inside. Just like me: a clean, crisp outside and nothing at all on the inside. I folded the bag and placed it in the trash can beside my desk. It was routine stuff, a double homicide that would probably never go to trial, but I like to make sure that whatever I touch is well organized. Besides, this one had been interesting. Even in Miami you would think someone would have heard something.
Two people being hacked up alive with a chain saw, in an elegant and expensive hotel room, and the neighbors simply turned up their TVs. The professional reasons for this are obvious, but not quite as important to me as the personal ones.
Perhaps someday a psychiatrist retained by the state penal system will help me discover exactly why. But I had persevered and done a very neat piece of work. Why would I want to do that? No, I do my job to make order out of chaos. To force the nasty blood stains to behave properly, and then go away.
If I am ever careless enough to be caught, they will say I am a sociopathic monster, a sick and twisted demon who is not even human, and they will probably send me to die in Old Sparky with a smug self-righteous glow. Every day at work I understand Harry a little better.
Date night in Miami. And believe it or not, Date Night for Dexter. Oddly enough, I had found somebody. What, what? Deeply dead Dexter dating debutante doxies? Sex among the Undead? Has my need to imitate life gone all the way to faking orgasms? Breathe easy. Sex never entered into it. Rita was almost as badly damaged as I am.
Married too young, she had fought to make it work for ten years and two kids. Her charming life mate had a few small problems. He beat her, the brute. Broke furniture, screamed, and threw things and made threats. Then raped her. Infected her with some dreadful crack-house diseases.
Her face had healed by now, of course. And broken arms and ribs are routine for Miami physicians. Rita was quite presentable, just what the monster ordered. Ah, the mysteries of the human mind. Somehow, somewhy, dear Rita had decided to date again. She was quite sure it was the Right Thing to do—but as a result of her frequent battery at the hands of the Man She Loved, she was completely uninterested in sex.
Just, maybe, some masculine company for a while.
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She had searched for just the right guy: sensitive, gentle, and willing to wait. Quite a long search, of course. She was looking for some imaginary man who cared more about having someone to talk to and see movies with than someone to have sex with, because she was Just Not Ready for That.
Did I say imaginary? Well, yes. Human men are not like that. Poor Rita had married too young and too badly to learn this valuable lesson. And yet—I could imitate all those things perfectly.
And I actually wanted to. I had no interest in a sexual relationship. I wanted a disguise; Rita was exactly what I was looking for. She was, as I say, very presentable. In fact, sweating was one of our favorite activities.
We had cycled through the Everglades, done 5K runs, and even pumped iron together. And best of all were her two children. They would be, of course. Children whose parents frequently attempt to kill each other with the furniture tend to be slightly withdrawn. Any child brought up in a horror zone is. But they can be brought out of it eventually—look at me.
I had endured nameless and unknown horrors as a child, and yet here I was: a useful citizen, a pillar of the community. Perhaps that was part of my strange liking for Astor and Cody. Because I did like them, and that made no sense to me. I know what I am and I understand many things about myself. I like them. They are important to me. They matter. Other people are less important to me than lawn furniture. I do not, as the shrinks put it so eloquently, have any sense of the reality of others.
And I am not burdened with this realization. But kids—kids are different. I was okay. I remembered their birthdays, report-card days, holidays. I could come into their house and would do no harm. I could be trusted. Ironic, really. But true. Me, the only man they could really trust.
Rita thought it was part of my long slow courtship of her. Show her that the kids liked me and who knows? But in fact, they mattered to me more than she did. This Friday night Astor answered the door. Her red hair was pulled back in two pigtails and she had no expression at all on her small still face. For her, two words were a long conversation. I stepped past her.
Cody was standing behind her, just inside, like he was backing her up, just in case. I handed him a roll of Necco Wafers. He took them without taking his eyes off me and simply let his hand drop to his side without looking at the candy.
A joke. I stared at him. What next? Would he sing someday?
Tap dance in the streets? Address the Democratic National Convention? Rita rustled in, fastening a hoop earring. She was rather provocative, considering. She wore a practically weightless light blue silk dress that fell to mid-thigh, and of course her very best New Balance cross-training shoes.
The enchanting creature. Cell phone number. Emergency number. What to do in case of accidental poisoning or decapitation. Cody and Astor still stared at me. I nodded. She made a very small sour face and I felt a tiny glow of accomplishment. Bedtime at nine. High-stakes poker.
Winner gets to keep the horses. Now good night, kids. Be good. In spite of living in Miami for most of her life, she still thought South Beach was glamorous. Perhaps it was all the Rollerblades.
Or maybe she thought that anyplace so full of people with bad manners had to be glamorous. In any case, we waited twenty minutes for a small table and then sat and waited another twenty for service. I enjoyed watching good-looking idiots looking at each other.
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A great spectator sport. We strolled along Ocean Boulevard afterward, making pointless conversation—an art at which I excel.
It was a lovely night. One corner was chewed off the full moon of a few nights ago, when I had entertained Father Donovan. A winking red light caught my eye and I glanced down the side street. Crime scene: the yellow tape was already up, and several cruisers were nosed into a hurried splay. I might have stopped anyway, to show off Rita. The whole point of wearing a disguise was to be seen wearing her.
But in truth, the small irresistible voice yammering in my ear would have made me stop no matter what. And I had to see what he was up to. I left Rita in the car and hurried over. He was up to no good again, the rascal. There was the same stack of neatly wrapped body parts.
And there is still nothing for you here.Right now she believed I could help her solve these murders, jump-start her career and catapult her out of her Hollywood sex suit and into a tailored business suit. I would also like to thank a number of people who made some very helpful suggestions, especially my wife, the Barclays, Julio S. The telephone rang and I almost jumped out of my skin. Dearly Devoted Dexter. I guess Deborah in both mediums was the best thing about Dexter, a pure joy.
What was even more exciting? Harry nods. And I knew I should be wondering about that, and perhaps feeling disappointed that I had just destroyed my disguise after a year and a half of hard maintenance.