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Authors: Shannon West


BOOK: CopyCat
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Copy Cat


Shannon West


Copy Cat

Copyright © 2014

Published by Dark Hollows Press

All Rights Reserved



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Copy Cat

Copyright © 2014 Shannon West

Edited by Ashely Kain

ISBN 10: 1940756189

ISBN 13: 978-1-940756-18-9


All cover art and logo copyright © 2014 by Dark Hollows Press

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: This literary work may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic or photographic reproduction, in whole or in part, without express written permission.

All characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.

Dark Hollows Press, LLC Publisher

Chapter One


They were knocking on the walls again last night.

The last few times it happened, I pulled the covers over my head and jammed
a pillow up to my ear, but this time the knocking was so close, I sat up in bed and listened to it for a long time. I thought perhaps there might be voices too, because it occurred to me that the knocking might be a way to get my attention—maybe
tell me something important. Once I thought I recognized my grandfather’s voice murmuring something softly, but it stopped so quickly I couldn’t be sure it wasn’t just my imagination.

Dr. Francis would tell me it was, as she sat in the swivel chair in her office, swinging her leg slowly back and forth as I fixated on that high heeled shoe of hers. She would put one of the ears of her glasses between her teeth and tap her pen slowly up and down on her notepad as she listened to me. That shoe fascinated me, just barely clinging to her toe while she sighed and shook her head like she was disappointed in me.

It’s not real, Gavin. Can’t you see that? Auditory hallucinations, dear,
she’d say sadly
. Not common with your condition, but I suppose something else could be happening with you. A concurrent condition is
certainly possible.
She would mak
e a quick notation on her paper, but in a put-upon, exasperated way, like I was putting her to a great deal of trouble.
Tell me, do you hear voices at any other times? Are you sure? Are you taking all your medications like you’re supposed to? We may have to try something else.

The thing about those auditory hallucinations was that they sounded pretty damn real whenever they woke me out of a dead sleep at three o’clock in the morning.

Stumbling to the kitchen the next morning after a long night, I brewed a big pot of coffee and searched around for my UGA Bulldogs cup. It was the only one I could use for my morning coffee, and I had a tiny little panic attack when I couldn’t locate it at first. I really needed the caffeine after so little sleep the night before. Finally locating my cup right where I’d left it in my studio, I took it to the kitchen to wash it out and fill it back up.

After my grandfather died, people were in and out of the house for days, bringing food and checking up on me. With so much going on, I didn’t notice that someone
had apparently used
Bulldogs cup for coffee and then left it somewhere. I finally found it three days later out on the front porch, stuck up under a rocking chair. No one is allowed to use my cup except for me. It’s a rule.

I was working on a new painting, a copy of
by Degas, and I was having a little trouble with some of the color patterns that made up the vacant expression on the woman’s face, trying to get it just right. The woman in the painting wasn’t particularly happy or sad, and didn’t even seem lost in thought to me. She was simply sitting at a table in a café, thinking about nothing in particular. At least her companion in the painting didn’t seem to care much one way or the other, unlike Dr. Francis, who seemed to get freaked out whenever I got a similar expression on my face. She then insisted on knowing exactly what I was thinking about, even if, like the lady, it was nothing much at all.

I had gathered all my materials for the day and had just picked up my brush when the doorbell rang. The doorbell hardly
rang, so I stayed quiet and let it ring a few more times while I made sure it was real. You know, auditory hallucinations and all. Finally, as it kept tolling away, the loud, undulating
gong, GONG, gong
echoing eerily through the halls, I put my brush down in the can of thinner, grabbed a paint rag, and went to the door, wiping my hands. Through the frosted glass I could see this was no hallucination, but two tall shadows, moving restlessly outside the door. As I came closer, one of the shadows cupped a hand to the glass and peered inside. When the man caught sight of me, he pulled hastily away from the glass and the doorknob jiggled.

“I see you in there, Mr. Winters,” a deep voice called out from the front porch. “Can you please come to the door?”

Unlocking the door and pulling it open, I stared up at two men, one of whom looked back down at me like I was an interesting bug under a microscope. The other one, the tall blond one, was staring at me open-mouthed, his handsome face pale and alarmed. I could understand why—the last time I’d seen that mouth, it had been stretched around my cock.

Self-consciously, I shuffled my bare feet on the cold hardwood floors. I was wearing the same pair of sweatpants I’d slept in the night before and an old t-shirt that had belonged to Miguel. He’d never worn it much, and it was a couple of sizes too large for me, but it still somehow smelled like him, or was I just imagining it?

I brushed my hair from my face. The big blond man standing in front watch me do it, his eyes sharp and bright green and beginning to lose a little of the alarm as he realized I wasn’t going to point a finger at him in virginal horror and start shrilling away like an old maid on her wedding night. That would be pretty hard to pull off anyway after the things we’d done together. His mouth had tightened to a grim line though and his eyes, so warm and vivid the last time I saw them, had gone dark and frigid as an arctic sea.

“Can I help you?” I asked, and my voice sounded rusty before I lubricated it well with coffee.

“Gavin Winters?” the other man said, stepping forward. He was the older of the two with iron grey hair and pale, narrow eyes. He flashed an ID card of some kind at me. “My name is Jim Allen and this is Connor Todd. We’re investigators for the Alliance Insurance Group. Do you mind if we come in?”

I shook my head and stood back, swinging the door open wider. The man who introduced himself as Jim Allen stepped past the blond and inside, bringing with him the scent of cigarettes and Old Spice aftershave. The other one followed more slowly, towering at least four inches over me. I’d forgotten how big he was. I led the way to the front parlor and perched uneasily on the first chair I came to, a hard red armchair with lacy antimacassars on the back and arms. I had bought them at an antique store, because I thought they helped to soften the unrelenting ugliness of the old chair.

I didn’t particularly like visitors while I was working and especially people who looked at me like they’d caught me cheating on an exam, but I sat down politely and tried not to fidget. I noticed the blond man looking down at my bare feet, so I tucked them up under my chair. He looked up at me and frowned before pulling out a notebook and a pen.

“Mr. Winters,” he said. “Thank you for speaking with us. I’m afraid we have bad news for you.”

“Bad news?” I asked, a little chill sweeping over me. The last time I’d heard those words was in the third grade when the principal called me and the special ed teacher to his office to tell me about my parents.

“You have to be strong, son. I’m afraid I’ve got bad news for you.” He glanced up at my teacher, Mrs. Tucker and a look passed between them. “Does he understand me?”
For a moment I could feel again the oppressively hot air of his office and smell his sweat and the cabbage they were cooking that day in the lunchroom. I could hear the
scritch, scritch
of his pen as he wrote something on the paper in front of him.

“Mr. Winters? Are you okay?” I looked up to see Jim Allen leaning toward me.

“Yes. Yes. You said you had bad news?”

The two men glanced at each other and the big one nodded. “We understand you were living with Miguel Santiago up until the time of his arrest?”

“I lived with him, yes.”

“I’m sorry to inform you that Mr. Santiago was killed last night after an altercation with another prisoner in the cellblock.” My heart started to accelerate and slam against my rib cage in slow, painful thumps.
Dead? How could Miguel be dead? He was so vivid, so larger than life.

“How?” I said, my voice sounding so steady, so calm. “How did it happen?”

The older man took his turn speaking. “Well, they don’t know exactly. The fight was broken up by the guards, but he was found on his bed in his cell later that night. He’d been uh…stabbed multiple times. It’s still under investigation.”

Stabbed multiple times.
Males constituted eighty-eight percent of deaths in state prisons nationwide, with homicide accounting for only two percent of those deaths.
Bile rose up in my throat and I swallowed it down. I looked up directly into the green eyes in front of me. Connor Todd, the blond had said his name was. I’d seen that color once in the water the time my grandfather had taken me to the gulf coast of Florida. We’d had a balcony that overlooked the ocean.

“Mr. Winters, we understand you were living with Mr. Santiago for the last two years before he was arrested, is that correct?”

I put a hand over my mouth and nodded. “And you and Mr. Santiago were lovers, is that correct?” Connor Todd had asked that question. I looked up again and found him leaning closer, seemingly intent on my answer. His eyes had softened a little, his mouth no longer the tightly zippered line it had been.


“You were Mr. Santiago’s partner too, weren’t you, Mr. Winters?” The older one said, looking down at his notes. “According to our information, you were arrested at the same time as Mr. Santiago, isn’t that right, Mr. Winters?”

BOOK: CopyCat
11.31Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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