Dog 'Em

by Lawrence Christopher

It is an early-morning ride to the city morgue. I feel that the morgue is as good a place to begin my search for my latest missing person case. I want to start the case on a positive note by not finding the person as an unclaimed corpse. Amanda Monroe's aunt called me from Seattle, Washington to have me look into her disappearance.

"I'm an old woman, Mr. Hart, and I can't travel to Ohio."

"Yes ma'am."

"Amanda calls me every week and I ain't heard from her in two."

"Two weeks, ma'am?"

"Yes. The police told me they would look into it, but suggested that I give you a call; A Detective McIntosh."

"Yes mam. He's a good man. I'll do what I can."

I made a note in my electronic organizer to thank McIntosh right after I visited the morgue. I didn't let Amanda's aunt know where I would begin my search. I told her that I would go by Amanda's condo. I didn't.

I tune in to the discussion on the morning radio show while driving to the morgue. The disc jockey has posed a question to his audience and is soliciting a response for a prize.

DJ - "The question once again, who was it who said 'can't we all just get along?' Go ahead caller."

Caller 1 - "It was Reverend Al Sharpton."

DJ - "Naw, man. Next."

Caller 2 - "Was it Mike Tyson? No, no O. J. Simpson?"

DJ - "You people are embarrassing. Now you know why there aren't many black people on Jeopardy. Help me out next caller? (Click) Hey don't hang up on me becuz I'm tellin' the truth. Next caller, I'm going to give you a hint. Though his national plea later became a national punch line in many animations, sitcoms and talk show hosts in the country since, the person who made it was trying to bridge the racial divide after he suffered a brutal beating at the hands of police. Caller, make me proud."

Caller 3 - "Rodney King"

DJ - "Thank you, thank you, thank you. (Click) Hello? Did we lose the caller? Caller, you won an autograph copy of the book 'How to Train the Dog in Your Black Man' by our guess in the studio this morning, Chiquita Ali-Shakir."

I turn off the radio after setting my cellular phone in its cradle. I knew the answer before the DJ's last clue and being a black man, I had no intentions on claiming the prize, let alone reading a book with such a title. I wanted to put an end to the public humiliation of the black race.

Visiting the morgue had become too easy a routine for me. I used to get sick to the stomach every time I walked through the doors. After so many visits to start my search for someone's loved one, my stomach has learned to hold its own. The Medical Examiner and I are on a first name basis.

"Hey Mickey."

"Susan. How's life?"

"If I was keeping score, I'd say losing out to death."

"Any Jane Does?"

"One. If you had a come a minute earlier, I would have had two."

A glance into the stainless steel room revealed a scene of a grieving family viewing a body on a slab. I wonder what they feel more, the grief of losing a loved one or the relief of finding her. Before entering the room, I let them exit without looking at their faces. One woman is wearing a familiar scent that moved me emotionally. It is the same fragrance my mother wears every Sunday to church; Estee Lauder Youth Dew.

Once the group leaves the room, Susan directs me to a drawer. She pulls it open and uncovers the body. It is an African American woman who looked to be in her mid 20s. She fit the profile of Amanda Monroe, but it isn't her. Not according to the faxed picture I had received from her aunt. I turn to Susan's emotionless face and smile.

"It's not her." I inform her.

"That's good, right?" Susan asks.

"Good, right. That's why I start here first. How did she die?"

"She bled to death from injuries. Some joggers came across the body in the park, where it appears she was jogging too."

"Was she mugged?"

"Maybe. But the injuries came from the rape."

"Sad. What about the other woman whose family just left?"

"Same thing. Found in an alley near her apartment in the same condition."

"Whose got the case?"

"Your buddy Mac."

"Really. I have to stop by the precinct to see him anyway. Thanks Susan."

Not finding Amanda dead is just the way I want this case to start. A stop at the police precinct would normally be my next visit for answers, but in this instance the police gave me the case. Detective McIntosh and I attended high school together. We brought the state championship in football to our school. He was my center and I was the quarterback. We've remained friends and in contact since. I knock on the door to his office and enter. Mac sits at his desk playing solitaire on his computer.

"Mickey, come in man. What's shakin'?"

"Came by to thank you for the referral."

"No problem. Then you just came from the city morgue. One of the guys in Missing Person's knew we were friends and gave me a call."

"Why didn't your guy keep it?"

"We're short-handed with a bunch of loony cases. I have to pull guys from other departments."

"Susan told me about the rape victims."

"These crimes are making me feel like I'm handling the X-Files like on TV. A serial rapist who's boinking the women to death, if you know what I mean. I got drug addicts leaving their infected needles inside coin returns of pay phones and vending machines, which pokes people and infect them. Some sicko going to clubs and slapping stickers on people, which have needles on them. And the needles are tainted with HIV. The sticker says, "welcome to our world." Man I ask you, what is this world coming to?"

"An end, yet you're sitting here playing solitaire."

"It helps me focus."

My phone is ringing as I approach my car. It is my assistant Verna.

"Mick Hart," I said.

"You're suppose to say, 'Take it to Hart.'"

"Verna, I knew it was you."

"Yeah right. The commercials are running and they are trying to convey the personal approach we give our clients in trying to find their missing loved ones. 'Take it to Hart Detective Agency, and we will too.'"

"Okay Verna. Why are you calling?"

"I found Amanda Monroe."


"Have Mercy Hospital. I have a girlfriend who works there. She said that Amanda has been there for a couple of weeks. One other thing, she's in a coma."

"Thanks Verna."

This is still a good thing in my book. The case is solved, the person is found. That is the measure of my success. It is not my issue, in what state or condition the person is in. I still have to follow up to make sure it is Amanda Monroe before calling her aunt. I turn the radio on and the DJ and his morning crew are fielding calls on the topic of "ways to train the dog in your black man."

DJ - "As you know, we had author Chiquita Ali-Shakir in the studio this morning discussing her new book, 'How to Train the Dog in Your Black Man.' This has sparked quite a debate amongst our callers. Sonia, you've read the book right. What do you think?"

Sonia - "I think some of the advice Ali-Shakir gives is good in some cases. I believe the title and references used in the book take away the focus." DJ - "You mean having the book written as if you are actually training a dog."

Sonia - "Exactly."

DJ - "How about some of the things she has written."

Sonia - "I thought the chapter on 'How to keep your Dog from Sniffing Other Dogs' was interesting. Here she says 'When you let your dog out of the house for the night, make sure to give him a treat, before he goes out to run the streets. Give him some {bleep} so he will be less likely to stiff around someone else's.'"

DJ - "Whoa!"

Sonia - "Now for practical purposes, I understand her idea. It's just the delivery."

DJ - "How about this. I want my female listening audience to call me with ways they have trained their men. Hello caller."

Male Caller - "Men wouldn't be dogs if women weren't bitches."

I turn the radio off, because I saw that coming. Black men aren't going to sit idly by and have their manhood subject to such ridicule by women along with everything else they have to fight against in this society. Now I understand the disc jockey's earlier reference to the Rodney King quote, in trying to ward off the discussion from turning ugly or verbally violent. "Can't we all just get along?" It's too late.

A stop at the front desk at the hospital and I am off to room 317. When I reached the room a nurse is in attendance. Amanda Monroe is a naturally attractive Nubian woman. She has short hair and is without makeup. I feel something as I look at her lying in the bed. The nurse looked at me wryly, before she speak. She is a thick sister from the Islands. Her accent tells me it is either Trinidad or from the area.

"Can I help you?"

"I was wondering how she was doing."

"You her boyfriend?"

"No. I'm Mick Hart, a private detective. I was hired to find her."

"You are Verna's boss, no?"

"Yes. Are you her friend?"

"Yes. We talked this morning. Shame about the girl. So young and pretty."

"What happened? How did she get here?"

"It was a 911 call and our EMS brought her in. They said she would have died if she hadn't been found."

"Died from what?"

"I don't know if I should be telling you this."

"Listen, I have to call her elderly aunt with the news. She's bound to ask me questions. Or would you rather tell her yourself?"

"It's sort of crazy you know. Where I'm from you hear about it from time to time."


"Bestiality. People having sex with animals."

"What? What are you saying?"

"When they brought her in, her vagina was bleeding badly. She had scratches on her back and . . . dog semen in her."

I flash a look over to the young girl lying motionless in the bed. I can't imagine telling Amanda's aunt what has happen to her. Would I have to? I could tell her that I found her and leave it up to the hospital officials to tell her what happened. That wouldn't be "taking it to heart," I heard Verna's words in my head. I turn to the nurse with so many questions pursed on my lips, that they are trembling.

"Are you sure that is what happened?"

"Yes. I have seen some crazy things while working in the ER. Men come in with foreign objects stuck in their rectums, sometimes dead animal. Once a man came with a blanket wrapped around his waist asking to see the doctor. I asked him what was his problem and he insisted on seeing a doctor. I told him I had to know what the problem was.

"At the same time, I hear this low moaning sound coming from beneath the blanket. The man is keeping one hand under the blanket at all times. Eventually, we discover that he has his penis stuck in a cat. The cat was half-conscious and the man had his hands around its throat. The man's legs were all scratched and bleeding. It was the funniest thing we had ever seen. The doctors and nurses couldn't hold the laughing. The man didn't want to kill the cat he said, because he loved it."

"You're making this up."

"Honestly. What you men won't do sometimes for some goody."

"Goody? Apparently women go pretty far too."

I look at the nurse trying to contain my smile. The "how to train the dog in your black man" topic of the radio show comes to mind. Then my thoughts jump to what McIntosh had told me. I did not know Amanda Monroe, but I refused to believe she was capable of bestiality, as the nurse called it. A young woman who keeps in contact with her old aunt wouldn't have such a perverse mind.

"Did anyone check for man's semen?"

"I don't know."

"Was there any sign that she had been raped?"

"The bruises and scratches we assumed came from the dog."

"Do me a favor. Find out if she had human semen in her as well. Here's my card. Call me or Verna with whatever you find." I call Susan at the city morgue as soon as I get inside the car. She isn't in, so I leave a message for her to give me a call. Then I call McIntosh.

"Mac, it's Mick. What exactly did you mean by the 'rapist fucking his victims to death?'"


"You said that this morning."

"The two victims we've found both bled to death from vaginal bleeding. He tore them up."

"Did you have Susan check the semen?"

"What do you know Mick?"

"I don't know."

"Why don't you come see me, then we can talk?"

"Maybe later. I have some stops to make. I'll come by later today or tomorrow."

"Mick, if you know something about the rapes, I need to know now."

"I just remembered seeing the family of one of the victims in the morgue this morning and, ahem, I took it to heart. That's all."

"Yeah right."

"I'll talk to you soon."

Mac's sudden interest in what I know tells me there is something to the rapes that is more than the run-of- the-mill. I drive to Amanda Monroe's condominium and let myself in by picking the door lock. I feel guilty about the violation of her privacy in light of what I knew about her. If what I suspect is true, she had been violated enough.

The condo is well decorated. The rooms look barely lived in. There is a perfumed scent permeating the air, one I can get used to and would like to smell on my woman. I make my way to the bedroom, where I find the only disturbance in the house. The covers are half off the bed; paper is strewn across the room. There is blood on the floor and on the side of the bed. A trail of blood leads to the phone and the answering machine both on the nightstand.

There is definite evidence of a struggle. It doesn't appear that the room's condition came from a woman in the throes of having sex, even if it was with a dog. I pick up one of the papers off the floor. It is a page from the book, How to Train the Dog in Your Black Man. Why would someone take the time to tear pages out of a book and throw them all over a room? Answer: someone who was trying to make a point.

I find a bookmark amongst the scattered pages. It has a quote on it; "Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." - - T. S. Eliot. Maybe I am wrong. How far has Amanda gone? The telephone rings, startling me. The machine picked up the call after three rings.

"Hey, this is Amanda. Sorry I missed your call. Leave me a message and I will be sure to get back with you. Bye."

"Mandy, it's Morissa. I didn't know if you heard that Tanisha is dead. I can't believe it. I will call you as soon as I learn more about the funeral arrangements. Call me, 555-9274."

I put the number in my palm organizer. I will call Morissa when I get to the office. I write the name Tanisha in my electronic organizer as well. I call Susan again from the car.

"Susan, did you get my message?"

"Yes, then I got a personal visit from Mac. He said not to talk to you."

"What? Why?"

"I don't know. I thought you guys were buddies."

"Me too. You didn't tell me everything about what happened to those women, did you?"

"I told you what you asked and needed to know."

"So what didn't I need to know?"

"Ask Mac."

"Come on Susan. This might be important."

"Sorry, Mickey."

"Can you tell me the name of the woman whose family identified her?"



"Her name was Tanisha Edwards."

"Thanks Susan."

I pull out my electronic organizer to make some entries.
? Two women raped, then murdered.
? Tanisha is a fatal victim from a rape.
? Amanda is in the hospital, possibly raped, hopefully raped.
? Amanda knows Tanisha.
? What do the two women have in common? A friend named Morissa. A dog?

When I make it to the office, there is a note on my desk to call Annice, the nurse from Have Mercy Hospital. Annice confirms my suspicion. There was human semen found in Amanda's vagina along with that of a dog's. If Susan would be as cooperative, I'm sure she would tell me the same thing about her Jane Doe and Tanisha Edwards. Amanda was suppose to die, she must have been left for dead. The question is, does the man who left her for dead know that she's alive.

If Amanda has been in the hospital for two weeks, and the person who did this knew, then an attempt would have already been made on her life. The best thing to do will be to keep it that way. I feel guilty once again. Keeping Mac in the dark might hurt our friendship. I owe him for referring Amanda's aunt to me in the first place. I will go see Mac right after I call Morissa.

"Morissa, my name is Mick Hart. I'm a friend of Amanda Monroe?"


"She wanted me to call about the funeral arrangements for Tanisha. She is too upset to call herself." Morissa gave me the time and day of the funeral. I couldn't ask how the women knew one another. It would be something Amanda would have already told me. Now it is time to call Mac.

"Mac, I think my missing person and your murder cases are connected."


"The girl in the morgue was Tanisha Edwards. She knew Amanda Monroe, my missing person."

"And how do you know that?"

"A message was left on Amanda's answering machine about Tanisha's funeral."

"You're making me sound like a recording. And how do you know that?"

"Other than I heard it, never mind."

"Have we not talked about obstruction of justice Mick?"

"I'm not obstructing anything. I called you with this information, didn't I?"

"Technically, yes."

"Now it's my turn to get information."

"This isn't about one good turn deserves another."

"Mac, you told Susan not to talk to me."

"I know. You handle your business. I handle police business."

"Your victims weren't just raped, they were violated afterwards."

" I thought you said Susan wouldn't talk to you?"

"She wouldn't. You just confirmed my suspicion. That's why you called this an X-File case. There's more to it than just a heinous rape."

"Listen Mick, I'm handling this."

"I'm just trying to help."

"You can help by staying out of it. Look for your missing person."

Mac disconnects the call. It is now time to call Amanda's aunt, a phone call I dread making. I can't tell her what I found out. So I tell her I have a lead on where Amanda might be. Eula Mae Monroe sounded so enthusiastic over the news, and thanked me profusely before we hung up.

Mac will have me followed if I know him at all. A police tail wouldn't be a bad idea if I did run into trouble. I will keep Amanda's whereabouts between Verna and me. Verna will keep tabs on Amanda's condition through her friend at Have Mercy Hospital. Three days later, there is no change in Amanda's condition.

The next thing on my itinerary is to attend a funeral. I sit in the balcony of the church watching the people file in. Funerals and weddings are both the same to me. I normally only attend them if I'm in them. The church fills very quickly. Tanisha must have been well liked. Where the grieving family is sitting is a group of attractive women. Morissa has to be one of them. The ceremony is long, with several selections from the choir, a number of speakers have kind words to say and children read poems. I stand outside before the church begins to empty. I ask around and have Morissa pointed out to me. She is a dark chocolate colored sister, who embodies the spirit of black beauty.

"Morissa, I'm Mick Hart. We spoke on the phone."

"You're Mandy's friend. Where is she?"

"She couldn't make it. I'm sorry about your loss."

"When was the last time you saw Tanisha?"

"It was at our book club meeting about three weeks ago. Mandy was there." "How many are in your book club?"

"There's just five of us. Mandy, Veronica, Fana, myself and, well, Tanisha."

"Did you tell the others?"

"I called Mandy. Fana called Veronica. I haven't seen Veronica. There's Fana. Oh Shit!"

Morissa points in the direction of a woman who appears to be arguing with a man. Fana is beautiful. I know the word is sometimes over used, but it is right on point in this case. Even in a fit of anger Fana maintains her beauty.

"Who's the guy?"

"Her boyfriend. Ex-boyfriend, Eric."

"He doesn't look happy."

"You should have seen him a few weeks ago. He came to our last book discussion to confront Fana. It was pathetic. We all had to step to him before he would leave."

"Do you know why they broke up?"

"Yeah, the dawg tried to hit on Mandy. How are you going to hit on your girlfriend's friend? Mandy told Fana and she asked him about it. He didn't deny it. So Fana gave him the boot."

"Doesn't look like he's taking 'no' for an answer. Excuse me."

I walk toward the couple arguing in the parking lot. They had started drawing attention. I outweigh Eric by several pounds. So I am not worried about him stepping out of line with me.

"Excuse me. Is there a problem here?"

"Not unless you want to make it one. I don't think this is any of your concern."

"Eric, this isn't the place to talk about this. I just lost a good friend. I don't have time for this right now," Fana said.

"You never have time for me anymore. It's always them before me."

"Eric, it just didn't work out between you and me."

"Eric, I think she wants you to leave her alone," I interrupted.

"I told you . . ."

Eric pushes me, catching me off guard. I grab him and we wrestle onto a car. The car's alarm sounds as we tumble to the ground. I am able to get Eric in a position of submission before the security guards came to break us up. We are separated and asked to leave the premises before the police were called. We are escorted to our cars by security. Morissa becomes a part of my escort.

"Are you all right?"


"He's crazy. We told Fana he wasn't trainable."


"Yeah. The book we just read, 'How to Train the Dog in Your Black Man.' That was the book we last discussed."

"Did Eric know this?"

"I'm sure he did."

"Do you know Eric's last name?"

"Taylor. Why?"

"Just in case I want to file assault charges."

I ask Morissa if I could stop by sometime and talk. At first she is apprehensive until I assure her I am just a platonic friend of Amanda's. She knows that Amanda has not mentioned me before, so there could not be that much between us. We agree to meet later tonight around eight.

I call McIntosh to give him Eric Taylor's name. He isn't at the precinct. I have the desk sergeant transfer me to Missing Persons. The officer taking calls has a Veronica Morgan on his list. I told him, "check the city morgue. It's a great place to start." It is 6 o'clock; I have time to pay a visit on Amanda Monroe at the hospital. When I approach Amanda's room, I see Verna and the nurse standing outside.

"Mick, I tried calling you but your phone was off. Amanda has revived."

"Has she said anything?" "No."

Amanda is barely moving any more than when she while in the coma. I step to the side of her bed.

"Hi Amanda. Your aunt asked me to find you." Tears begin leaking from her eyes. "Can you tell me who did this to you? You don't have to say anything. Just nod yes or no. Was it Eric Taylor?"

Amanda begins weeping at will, which gave me my answer. I kiss her on the forehead and tell her a half- truth, that she will be all right. The nurse replaces me at the bed. My first call is to Morissa. There is no answer. I look at my watch. It is close enough to 8 o'clock that she should there. I called McIntosh's precinct and told the officer who took my call to have Mac paged. I tell Verna to stay with Amanda and find out as much as she could. I was heading for Morissa's.

I pull in front of Morissa's home. I see the lights are on inside. I call Morissa's number from the car phone. Still there is no answer. I decide to walk to the front door and ring the doorbell. A scream comes from inside the house. It takes me several attempts until I kick open the door. Another scream comes from upstairs.

"MORISSA!" I call out.

I run for the staircase. After taking the third step, I look up to find a huge Rottweiler showing me his teeth with a snarl announcing his presence. I freeze in my tracks. Walking up behind the canine is Eric Taylor, with one hand around Morissa's throat and the other holding a knife to her breast.

"Well if it isn't the hero of the day. You seem to be everywhere," he says.

"Eric, don't do this. Let Morissa go."

"This bitch ain't going anywhere. If it wasn't for her and her friends, I would still have Fana."

"Come on Eric. It wasn't their fault. You messed up."

"No. It was these bitches who messed up. All I wanted was to be with Fana."

"What about Mandy, Eric? Did you want to be with her too?" "Not at first. When Fana and I had a fight, I wanted to show her that other women wanted me. I wanted to show her what she was about to lose. Mandy went and told Fana. I was going to tell Fana that she came on to me."

"Is that why you raped her and tried to kill her."

"What are talking about?"

"She's not dead Eric. The police know about the others too, Veronica and Tanisha. It was you who killed them." Morissa starts screaming.

"They tried to come between me and Fana. They kept telling her I was a dog, that I was no good. But I would have been good to Fana, if she would have let me. But they kept filling her head with that bullshit from that book."

"Let Morissa go, Eric."

"No. If I'm a dog then they are bitches. They deserve to be treated like bitches in heat, and get fucked."

"By you and Fido here?"

"Yeah and because you want to be a bitch hero, you're about to get fucked too. Kill!" he commanded the dog.

I see the scene in slow motion as the Rottweiler jumps from the top of the landing. All I can think to do is brace myself for the vicious attack. Suddenly, I hear a loud bang. It is a gunshot. The dog lands on me chomping at my forearm. He locks on to my arm, then collapses into dead weight. I pull my arm free of the dog's jaws. He is still breathing. McIntosh is standing with his revolver drawn and pointing at Eric. Eric releases Morissa, and she runs to me.

"How did you know I was here Mac?"

"I've been tailing you. I knew your sleuthing would lead me to who was responsible for the rapes and murders."

"You could have come in sooner."

"I didn't want to get in the way. You know, like when we played football together. I blocked, you got all the fame and glory."

"Nice block on the Rott."

Mac took Eric Taylor into custody. DNA testing was performed on him and the Rottweiler. There was a positive match to the semen found in the murder victims and Amanda Monroe. At the trial Eric was convicted for both murders and on all counts. Both animals were put to sleep. Amanda Monroe fully recovered with therapy. She moved to Seattle to live with her aunt. Mac and I met in the courthouse corridor after Eric's sentencing.

"Mickey, love for a woman will make a man do strange things. And your boy Eric Taylor couldn't handle the rejection. But to attack and kill innocent women," states Mac. My correction to him, "You wouldn't understand Mac. It wasn't about the rejection so much. Black men are under attack from all sides of society. When it comes from our own women, it's worst of all. Then I recited a familiar quotation: "Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." Just don't dog 'em.

Dog 'Em by Lawrence Christopher

© Copyright 1999. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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