A city is paralyzed by fear after a series of violent crimes that break ultimate taboo: harming infants and young children. The police suspect a pedophile; the media fuel fears of a violent new gang. Meanwhile, a street-smart shrink and a hard-nosed cop defy the focus of the larger investigation to pursue the real serial killer, a raging time bomb who?s planning an ultimate attack on innocents. Based on actual events, this chilling, fast-paced novel pulls the reader into the world of violent troubled individuals?and what happens when we fail to help them.
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|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.66(d)|
Read an Excerpt
An Anger at Birth
By J. E. Mayer
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2014 J. E. Mayer
All rights reserved.
The mix of cold, sweet spring air and conquest filled his lungs like menthol. He felt so powerful that he had an impulse to pull a tree from its roots in this Midwestern marsh. He wanted to yell, Tarzan-like, to announce his majesty to all, but he feared the noise would scare her as she nuzzled contently in his arms, protected from the damp chill.
What a great feeling—a perfect accomplishment! he thought as he cradled his trophy. She wiggled more tightly into his thick arms, as though burrowing into a nest. He looked down at her, and then he looked around from his perch atop a footbridge in the thicket. She was plump, beautiful, and her skin was indescribably soft, so silken that his calloused fingers tingled just from the touch of her. He cradled her head with a hand discolored from the grime of manual labor, staring at the contrast of her unblemished skin framed by his worn hand. An image of his own face, all darkened wrinkles, flashed in his mind. Just the thought of that ugly bloodhound countenance slapped his mood into self-hate; not one part of him was spared his disgust. Another glance at her perfect skin, and his scars flooded his thoughts. The raised patch on his temple from kicks in the head by a father who wanted a more intelligent child. The slashes across his back from a babysitter aunt who was thrilled when her belt left welts all over his naked backside. The worst scar of all was the one he couldn't see, left by a mother so indifferent that she didn't even care enough to beat him.
Then, just as suddenly as the rage had conjured up these ugly images, he was brought back into the moment. He began to enjoy this first time alone with her—it brought beauty and peace into a life of ugliness. She didn't resist his touch; instead she wiggled and cooed as if their being together were some childish game. The sensation of stroking her delicate skin rushed through him like a surge of electricity. The visceral enjoyment of his hand touching the skin of another human, especially someone of the opposite sex, aroused primitive feelings of pleasure that he could only imagine came from being touched tenderly sometime early in his life. Touching her, holding her, brought back feelings he hadn't experienced since that time, whenever it was. That experience was buried deep inside him, below all that life had piled on top of him since then.
He knew that people found him repulsive. He didn't know why, but the hurt stung just the same. Now here was this fragile being who was completely dependent on him; she was all his. The thought was exciting to him. This tender intimacy was the most powerful bond he had ever known. Is this what other people feel? he wondered. He felt a sense of power, control, domination. Those feelings made some sense to him.
Perfect. He couldn't stop that word from echoing over and over in his thoughts. Even the day is perfect, he thought as he swiveled his head about, taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of a woods' awakening after a deep, dark winter. A Midwest spring could be as harsh as the hounds of hell or as gentle as a newborn puppy. Today, spring was the puppy: full of life, growth, and fresh energy, the cold not biting but playfully nipping. Green buds sprouted from the blooming foliage, which was everywhere. He even thought, Perfect, as his nostrils filled with the sweet smells of fresh pine, birch, and oak mixed with the fruity scent of the berries sprouting from the underbrush.
He walked slowly, carefully, but because of the weight of his large body, he sank with each step into the collage of wet natural mulch that blanketed the ground. In his arms, she opened and closed her eyes repeatedly, fighting the sleep that was a given after the combination of physical exertion, excitement, and cold, fresh air. She didn't seem to mind her nakedness, even in the damp, cool woods; his energy and excitement gave off enough body heat for the two of them. Not forgetting his purpose, he couldn't help but take in the moment and bask in the excitement of his conquest. His excitement was heightened by the fact that he really hadn't thought he would pull it off. As exhilarated as he was by the moment, his exhilaration was also fueled by the anticipation of notifying his entire buddy list about his accomplishment. He'd done it! After a life of just looking at the world, now he was a player. Soon he would no longer be watching others have their chances; he was here, with her, and he was just like everyone else. This achievement was his certificate of authenticity, his proof that he now belonged in the world he had always felt so apart from.
As he held her, he whispered, "Thanks for being here for me." She closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep.
Suddenly he realized that this moment couldn't stay frozen forever, that being together wasn't enough: they were heading toward a crescendo. They would share a peak experience. Following a command from someplace deep inside his mind, his energy surged in a different direction, and in a grand gesture, he lifted her small body above his head, balanced across his hands. Trusting his every move, she didn't offer any resistance to the awkward position. He lifted her even higher, and still her body lay prone across his palms. Now his thick arms were fully extended and locked over his head. He carefully moved each of his hands so that the tips of his fingers faced backward.
He arrived at this grand position and this perfect spot on a tiny stone footbridge that, long ago, some stonemason had carefully built over the shallow waters of the Kankakee River just outside Wilmington, Illinois. Then, again reacting to urges exploding from some hidden place in his mind, he mustered nearly all the strength in his husky body, tensed the muscles in his arms, and with a single heave, thrust her body downward, toward the gentle, flowing river below.
She struck one of the boulders that protruded from the water, hitting the rock like a sandbag and then sliding down effortlessly to disappear into the river. He stood and watched, mesmerized. He could only guess her age, having had little experience with children—until now, his sole observations of them had been colored by jealousy and contempt—but he guessed she was a little under a year old. For a brief moment he thought how interesting it was that her body had reacted the way it did. Then he looked down at the water below him and felt nothing. He hadn't expected it to be so dull to end a life.CHAPTER 2
Detective Frank Patron swung open the door to his one-bedroom apartment with the same intensity with which he approached everything. The door got out of his way. He hung up his sport coat with a thrust, yanked his tie loose, and sat on the edge of the couch. He squinted at the TV, his elbows on his knees, his fingers intertwined, his brow furrowed.
On the bottom of the screen was a maroon strip on a blue background, with "Special Report" in white, bold letters. Usually Patron would have flipped the channel. This kind of news took away from his downtime, and as with everything else in his life, he liked to have control over what invaded his privacy. But this announcement caught his attention with the first words that came across the crawl: "Child Found Murdered."
Patron didn't move from the edge of the couch as an anchorman read the report. "Officials are scouring the woods outside of Wilmington, Illinois, today after the naked body of child was found on the banks of the Kankakee River. Authorities say almost every major bone in the child's body appears to be broken. The news of this horrific crime has sent a shock wave throughout the community of Wilmington, just an hour south of Chicago. People were particularly stunned by such a heinous crime against a nine-month-old child. They're asking how anyone could have done such a thing. Added to the horror of the act was the fact that the broken body was found by several preteen boys on a Saturday-morning fishing excursion. Their homes have been flooded with calls from local and national media wanting to talk to the boys about their gruesome discovery. We go now to Kerry Smythe, who has exclusive interviews with the boys."
The report cut to Smythe, a correspondent from ABC, who was standing next to a boy standing soldier straight, his body shaking, and his eyes wide. "We're here in Wilmington, Illinois, nestled on the banks of the Kankakee River, where Jacob Pierce and his best friend, Lucas Harmody, both just twelve years old, made a grisly discovery this morning on their way to a lazy day of fishing. Jacob, could you tell us what you found today?" She poked a large microphone into the boy's face.
Jacob's eyes welled up with tears that threatened to pour down his beet-red cheeks any moment. He leaned slightly into the sponged bulb of the microphone and nervously recited what he'd seen, as though he were reciting a poem in front of his class for the first time. His posture was stiff but not frozen.
"We were walking down by Jones Marsh." He paused. "And we saw this colored thing ... it looked like a little animal ... laying there. When we got closer, we thought it was a toy ... a doll ..." His speech became more excited, and short breaths peppered the words bursting from his mouth. "It looked in good shape so we were going to bring it home with us after we fished. Even close up, it still looked like a doll because it laid there all weird like a sack of beans or something. We touched it"—Jacob was pressing on bravely, but the tears started to stream down now—"and we still thought it was a toy, but we tried to pick it up and it was heavy and ... all the inside stuff just bunched up and moved into the bottom, so we couldn't lift it." Jacob looked away and rubbed his eye with the palm of his hand.
The reporter put a manicured hand on his shoulder. "It's okay, Jacob, it's okay ... go slow."
The boy nodded and sniffed. "I got scared then, so I asked ... I asked Lucas if this was a real baby. He said no, then he tried to pick it up, and it bunched up like it did for me. But he said no, it had nothing it was connected to ... but then we rubbed it and it felt like real skin ... it wasn't plastic or nothin'. We got real scared and ran back home. We thought we'd be in big trouble ... We didn't hurt that baby, really we didn't!"
The boy began to cry in earnest, and his mom moved into the shot. She put her arm around his shoulders and pulled him close to her. He buried his face in her shoulder as she smiled mechanically into the camera.
"Jacob, can you show us where you found the baby?" the reporter pushed. After an intolerable dead time, she said again, "Can you point to the area where you found the baby?"
Jacob vigorously shook his head, moving closer to his mother and almost burrowing into her khaki dress. The mom's face smiled as she realized she was on camera now as well, then she forced a frown as if she remembered this was about a dead baby.
But Kerry Smythe persisted. "Jacob, I know this is hard, and you've been very, very brave. But it is so important to tell everyone what you saw so that maybe we can find out what happened to this little baby." Her voice became firm, as if to emphasize the importance of her role in solving the puzzle. She knew she only had a few seconds to get him to talk. The cameras were rolling, and like any well-trained TV reporter, she was compelled by the producer's voice in her concealed earpiece. She had to press for the money shot: the kid pointing toward the crime scene, which had been cordoned off with the familiar yellow police tape and was now overrun with teams of investigators. "Please, Jacob, this is important ... just point."
After another silence while the cameras still rolled, Jacob dutifully gave her what she wanted. He slowly raised his head and then lifted his right arm, extended a limp index finger, and pointed at the flurry of activity in the distance.
Patron flipped off the television, shaking his head. "Well, that was great TV."CHAPTER 3
The roar of the vacuum and the crash as it was slammed purposely against the hollow-core door made a thunderous racket. Added to this intolerable barrage was the shrill voice of the woman banging the vacuum against the door.
"Get up, you little piece of shit!" she raged. "It's seven-goddamn-thirty and Saturday. You don't have to hide from goin' to school today." She yelled above the loud vacuum. "Mr. Scholar ... don't do shit all week in school ... no reason to relax on Saturday. Now get up—now!" The vacuum hit the door so hard that the motor paused with a loud burp.
Her harangue continued. "I'm cleaning house ... done my paperwork, walked the dog, and made us a treat, a fabulous breakfast. But if you're not out here in ten minutes, I'm tossing it in the garbage. Hear me, you little piece of shit?"
Bang! The vacuum kept hitting the door over and over.
The boy on the other side of the door woke up to this maelstrom of noise, but as if accustomed to the racket, all he thought about was where he had put his stash of marijuana. His mind was still fuzzy. Where's my herb? Shit ... any pills laying around? Do my clothes smell like booze? Where did I put my pipe? What does my breath smell like? I have to pick up some clothes from the floor. Did I piss or puke in my bed? He ran through this mental litany of preparations with a precision that came from a few years of daily repetition. His impulse was to rage against her lunacy, but he held himself back. He knew that any sign of being awake would be an instant invitation to her full fury. If he opened the door even a crack, her craziness would flood through like a tidal wave through a pinhole in a dam.
With computer-like speed, he repeated his checklist. Where's my weed? Can she find it? Any signs of me smoking my nightcap before bed? What else do I not want her to see? His eyes darted around the room, giving it a quick scan.
Still in bed but now satisfied that he had everything in order, he finally responded. "Shut up, bitch! Shut ... the ... fuck ... up!" He struggled to force his throat to make the loudest sound it could.
He followed this greeting with a string of other epithets as his mother's banging and screaming intensified. "Fucking whore-bitch ... get yourself a man! Don't come in here to get a peek at my dick!" He knew exactly what button to press to inflict a wound that would go straight to the core. She was a single mom without a man in her life, and he knew how much that hurt her.
"You little prick! That's it." The next bang against the door sounded like she'd thrown the vacuum against it. Then, true to form, she burst through the door, whose lock had broken long ago during another such scene. She was roaring as loudly as the vacuum she held in her hand. She dropped the machine, hands flailing. The moment was made more schizoid by the intoxicating aroma of cinnamon, bacon, and butter, which followed her into the room like the train of a flowing gown.
She landed two sharp slaps on Scott's face, one from each of her wildly swinging hands. Both slaps made a loud cracking noise, but Scott showed no emotion; he didn't flinch or bat an eye. His mom's verbal assaults were a nuisance, but he was completely indifferent to her physical attacks.
She rattled off a list of chores for him to do around the house. "You listen to me," she hissed. "It's Saturday, and I have to have help with all the crap that builds up all week. I need the grass cut today. Edge it and sweep up the cuttings. And paint the garage door that you and your buddies burnt." Scott smirked at the memory: he and his buddies had been experimenting with huffing ether, and it ignited.
As his mom outlined her demands, Scott lifted his body and slid off the side of his bed, dressed only in boxer shorts that hung off his hips. I've got to get high right now, he thought. I'll get rid of this bitch and fire up. Someday I'll shut her the fuck up for good.
As his mind became more consumed with the thought of getting high, his mom's voice faded into the background, becoming familiar white noise, like the heavy metal and rap that he constantly piped into his ears.
Excerpted from An Anger at Birth by J. E. Mayer. Copyright © 2014 J. E. Mayer. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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