Friday, January 15, 2010


By Rex Weiner

Skull Snyder solved a triple homicide in a Sunset Strip condo and thereby lucked into a West Hollywood apartment with a spectacular view of the city, once they’d finished cleaning up the blood.

He moved in with a couple of suitcases of clothes, bought a new bed. But he couldn’t bring himself to furnish the place. Not even put up drapes or buy a chair for the living room. The apartment stayed as empty as it was the day the tech squad swept up the last minute hair of evidence.

It wasn’t due to squeamishness. Another person might have tiptoed around the stains on the floor, the fresh-painted walls. But a sheriff’s deputy can’t be squeamish. Skull Snyder was just trying to rescue the complications in his life. He’s trying to keep himself streamlined, taut and disciplined. To Snyder’s way of thinking, all that separates the citizens from the crooks is a certain amount of discipline. He was trying to keep it simple…

[for the rest of the story, please order the complete collection]


By Rex Weiner

Willie stepped out of the shower soaking wet. Donna handed him a towel. He stood still while she taped a fresh bandage to the bullet wound in his left buttock. He wasn’t looking out the window or he might have seen a figure in a lopsided wig standing by the driveway with a pistol. The bullet crashed through the glass and entered Willie’s skull (as the coroner would later note) by way of his left nostril, ricocheting inside the cranium until it came to rest in the frontal lobe.

Donna looked up at Willie. She thought she’d heard kids on the street blowing off an M-80. Willie was holding his face, blood seeping through his fingers. He motioned her to get down on the floor. She crawled towards the kitchen. She looked back once to see Willie kneeling on the floor.

In the kitchen she dialed 9-1-1.

“He’s been shot again!” said Donna.

Sheriff’s Deputy Skull Snyder forced his car off the Harbor Freeway over the city line into a neighborhood he didn’t like. The map was covered with neighborhoods he didn’t like. This one, about fifty square blocks stretching from a concrete trough wishfully called Compton Creek East to the dry cement ditch marked the Los Angeles River, he liked least.

He drove by lots where children poked through piles of garbage. Window-high weeds surrounded bankrupt stores. Freight cars rusted on side spurs beside the blackened ribs of arsoned warehouses. Spray-canned wall writing claimed turf in the names of gangs, subgroups and splinters of Crips and Bloods, MS13 and other crews, whose members lurked in houses pressed close together on streets where lawns and trees had long ago given up and died.

On one of these streets, three black-and-whites stood parked at odd angles, lights blinking. People clustered by the curb, released from morning routines by the spectacle of a neighbor’s misfortune. From the yellow-tape cordon they stared at the crew-cut cop in the Brooks Brothers suit as he left his car and walked slowly to the house. He imagined they would have been entertained to know that he had a headache…

[for the rest of the story, please order the complete collection]


By Rex Weiner

The victim lay on the carpet covered by a tan blanket. The wedding guests stood around the room staring. Four LA County Sheriff’s Deputies herded them against the wall. A fifth cop looked up from his pen and notebook to see a man in a charcoal suit walk in.

“Ah. Snyder.”

“What’ve you got, Charley?”

“This lady here shot twice in the chest. A live dude at Cedars-Sinai. Witnesses available. Weapon outstanding. Suspect outstanding. Here’s his name.”

Snyder stripped off his suit jacket, down to his short-sleeved shirt. It was a hot Saturday. He didn’t want to look at the name yet. He ignored the eyes of the people in the room. The cops were looking. The crowd was looking. They were looking at him, at the tattoos on his arms. One was a screaming skull from which hung the scales of justice. Everyone grasped when he jerked the blanket off the dead woman’s body. A girl in a chiffon dress sobbed on a tuxedoed man’s shoulder.

“That was a sicko thing to do,” one of the younger cops said to Charley.

“That’s Skull Snyder,” Charley sighed.

A blanket on a corpse picks up fibers, soaks up blood, creates heat that can alter body tissues. While the blanket served to shield the sensibilities of bystanders from the fact of death, it also tended to destroy the facts of murder. Such facts were Skull Snyder’s business.

“Can’t we leave now?” begged one of the guests. “You have all our names and phone numbers.”

The cop named Charley said he was sorry. No one was allowed to leave. Outside, yellow tape cordoned the front of the house. Neighbors stood in small groups on their lawns. Black-and-whites double-parked by the curb grumbled radio static under flashing red lights.

Snyder walked slowly and carefully in a spiral around the body. He looked for spent casing or anything that might’ve dropped. Finally, he looked at the body. She lay staring past the ceiling. Blood soaked the front of her pink dress. She was this side of thirty, blonde, petite; Snyder thought she might have been pretty, walking and talking…

[for the rest of the story, please order the complete collection]