What’s Buried Deep
By Dewou Gloria Minza
Desires work in mystifying ways. Actions based solely on these impulses turn back on us in unexpected ways, too.
INT. BROTHEL – NIGHT
Detective Jack and Officer Dykeman stand before the door, waiting for the manager to retrieve Madame Joy’s keys. Even from that distance, the unmistakable stench of decaying flesh wafts through cracks in the wood. Jack lights a cigarette, hoping to overpower the noisome odor.
Madame Joy returns with the keys and her sleeve over her nose.
We don’t know how long she’s been here. It wasn’t until one of our girls noticed the smell a few days ago that we realized something was wrong.
As she opens the door…
INT. SQUAD CAR, PRECINCT PARKING LOT – NIGHT
(lighting a cigarette)
You can’t keep doing this, man. There’s a limit to how far my influence can get me. What’re you gonna do when I can’t protect you no more, huh?
The car starts to fill up with smoke.
(opening a window)
You just worry about what’s in front of you right now, Dyke. Just know I won’t be the only one going down if you fail. You’ve got more at stake than I do, remem—
(slamming the car horn)
Dammit, man! Don’t go around sayin’ stuff when anyone could be listening with that window down.
(throwing his hands up in frustration)
I never said I wouldn’t do it, just that you crossed the line this time. It’s gonna be harder to throw off the investigation with that woman making a mess of everything.
(staring at the blinking lights of patrol cars around them)
Dykeman leans back on the brown leather seat, loosening his tie. He opens his own window to throw out his cigarette and looks back at Jack. In his starched shirt and suspenders, hair swept back, he looks more like a detective than a murderer.
They sit in silence for a while, watching police cars drive in and out of the parking lot. The flashing lights bathe Jack in an accusing scarlet and Dykeman in a deep blue of betrayal.
(clearing his throat)
It’s not good to linger. We best be on our way.
INT. CAR – 2:43 A.M. NEXT DAY
(tousling his hair and mumbling under his breath)
Ugh, why do I needa protect him just cuz of a little secret? Doorknobs, fingerprints, CCTV, witnesses. How am I supposed to get rid of ‘em all? Acid? No, too dangerous. Fire? Nah, same problem. Toss the body? Shit—that just creates more evidence. What, what, what…
No way am I really doing this.
Dykeman exits his car in disguise with his bag and heads to the security room. After breaking in, he cuts all the camera wires and erases a week’s worth of footage.
Body, body, gotta get to the body…
He rushes to the back of the brothel and climbs the fire escape into the crime scene. He slides the screen upwards and shuffles through the window into the grisly room. Without a light to guide him, Dykeman fumbles, letting his eyes adjust to the gloom.
Don’t freak out, don’t freak out, don—
His shoes land on something, and he hears a subtle crunch. Stumbling back, Dykeman’s eyes land on a hand that could once have been described as delicate.
What in the…
A few steps from him, her muted eyes stare beyond him. The girl’s body can only be described as utterly broken: limbs sticking out in awkward positions, nicks and scratches visible through tears in her robe, clumps of hair pulled out. The wooden floorboards are steeped in dried blood.
(covering his nose)
What a sick guy.
INT. DINING ROOM – 8:54 A.M. SAME DAY
Jack pulls out a chair and sits down for breakfast. His wife Clemence fries bacon, her back turned to him. Jack gets ready to take a bite of his pancakes when Clemence speaks up.
Don’t forget to pray.
(letting his fork clatter on the table)
Pray? Why, did you poison the food?
(grunts out an apology)
I went to church this week, Clemence.
They stay in silence, the unctuous smell of sizzling fat wafting around the room. Her back still to her husband, Clemence tilts her head and punctures the silence.
How much do you want to bet he’ll use fire?
(looks up abruptly)
What are you going on—
Why? Don’t you think bacon fries an awful lot like human fat?
The smoldering scent of burning meat replaces the buttery aroma of pancakes.
I don’t like playing games, sweetie. You know that.
Woman, you’re not making any sense.
Really, would it have killed you to pray first…
Girls Write Now On the Other Side of Everything: The 2023 Anthology
Do you know what it’s like to communicate with your family across a salty ocean’s divide? Do you want the sun and moon to enter your home with stories written in embers? Do you seek voices that will punctuate the darkness? Welcome to the other side of everything. It’s the other side of silence, the other side of childhood, the other side of hate, the other side of indifference, it’s the other side of sides, where the binary breaks down. It’s a new paradigm, a destination, a different perspective, a mindset, a state of openness, the space between the endless folds in your forehead, hopes for tomorrow, and reflections on the past. This anthology of diverse voices is an everything bagel of literary genres and love songs, secrets whispered in the dark of night, conversations held with ancestors under the sea.
I find stories with psychological elements to be very interesting, especially when combined with horror and crime. I’ve written horror stories before, so I tried to write it in a format that’s a bit new to me. By writing my story as a script, I was able to focus more on characters than setting and context since most of that is taken care of with stage directions. Writing a short story usually requires condensing several events into a few lines, so I’m glad the story was able to come together without going over the word limit.
Born from the sandy beaches of Lomé, Togo, Dewou long lived a carefree life free from the contagion of deadlines and procrastination. Now a junior in high school, she spends her days daydreaming of the sandy beaches left behind and her nights staying up late to finish assignments. When she needs a break from the stress of everyday life, she finds solace by adding books to her “to be read” list and immersing herself in fictional situations.