Blood Of Angels
floor of the only Victorian building left in a street of concrete oblongs. One of the things Nina watched was the people who came and went from the bar in the late afternoon. She was always intrigued. You saw all types. Businessmen in suits who walked in as if they had a meeting there, but who sat in the window alone, and not for long. There were the old guys, too. You only ever saw them go in, or come out. The length of time between the two was too long to wait. It might be years. They wore thick coats and moved with slow deliberation and had grey stubble on their chins. There were also guys who were not so old but not businessmen either, who came and went from the bar like busy birds. It was hard to imagine what they did when they were not inside. Slept, maybe, or did whatever it was that meant they had just enough money for another beer.
    And there were the women. Not too many, but some. After a while Nina came to recognize one of these.
    She first saw her when she was about eleven, and then on and off for the next two years. Nina first noticed her because she looked a little younger and prettier than the other women who went to the bar, the majority of whom were, frankly, dogs. She had a lot of brown hair and wore tight jeans and a sweater without any sleeves. The second or third time Nina saw her, the woman noticed her back — and winked from across the road. Occasionally men spied the young girl sitting on the bench opposite, and looked at her, and when they did it made Nina flush. She didn't like it. But when this woman winked, it was okay. It made her feel a little grown up.
    They never spoke. The woman never crossed the road, or waved. But maybe twenty or thirty times over the next few years, her and Nina's gazes interlocked. Over that period Nina watched the woman change. Nina never saw her too close up, so perhaps she had never been as young as her clothing suggested. But she got a lot older, and fast. It was like each time you saw her something irrevocable had happened in between. She put on thirty pounds. Her hair went blonde and then red and then blonder and then back to something like brown, but not in a good way. Parts of her face went rosy, the others pale. The only thing that stayed the same was her walk, the way she approached the bar as if this was the first time she'd been there but she'd heard good things about it and was confident of a fine time within. She looked that way even when it became so that she was generally staggering a little even when she arrived. By this point Nina didn't really like to see her any more. It was like watching someone whose life was running on faster film, as if every step this woman took counted for a thousand of ours. But still now and then the woman would notice her, and wink. A slow wink, that just said, 'Hi, I see you, and you see me, and that's okay.' On the last few occasions Nina actually wondered whether the woman could still see her at all, or was just doing it out of habit. Still, it happened.
    Meanwhile, bodies were being found.
    Three in two years. Then a fourth, and a fifth. Men's bodies found in parked cars, dead of gunshot wounds. Men who started the night looking for something cheap and easy, and who saw in the next day minus their wallets and their lives.
    Three weeks before Nina's thirteenth birthday, a woman was arrested. When Nina saw the news report, sitting with her parents on a Thursday night, her mouth dropped open.
    It was the woman.
    The woman who winked.
    It was a big story, Wisconsin's prequel to Aileen Wuornos, Florida's more notorious man-slayer of a few years later. They called Janesville's killer the Black Widow, though she was neither black, a widow nor a spider. They found out how she had been abused as a child, by at least two family members. They heard how in recent years she had been passed around by men at parties until she lost consciousness, and then passed around some more. They hinted at what she would do for little more than a

Similar Books

Face of Death

Kelly Hashway

Distract my hunger

X. Williamson

In the Blood

J. A. Kerley

The Rosetta Codex

Richard Paul Russo

Borden Chantry

Louis L’Amour

Three Short Novels

Gina Berriault

Game Without Rules

Michael Gilbert

Deadly Storm

Lily Harper Hart