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CONTENTS



Foreword



An Innocent Time

Tangled Lights

After the Fire



Deviance Unfolds

Amenities

Karma

Personal Monsters



Appreciation and Information

















A World of Deviant Behaviors

Book 1: Lee



Adan Ramie













































Copyright 2015 Adan Ramie

All rights reserved.





This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, places, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.





License Notes

This e-book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only, and may not be resold or lent to other people. If you would like to share this book, please purchase an additional copy for each person. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your favorite e-book retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author!



Foreword



When I started the Deviant Behaviors series, I had two characters in mind. The detective, Harry Thresher, had already been part of a manuscript I had written for National Novel Writing Month (and then swore that the story would never see the light of day. Yeah. It was that terrible.) The other character was Lee.

At that time, Lee was still just Malena, a girl with an addiction, a painful past, and something wrong inside of her. She was unformed; I didn’t know her at all. So, in an effort to get to know her, I decided to try to write bits and pieces from her life before Maladaptation. What I didn’t realize was just how deep her maladaptation went – into her past, and into the realm of criminal deviance.

These are just a few of those stories. Enjoy.

- Adan



“All things truly wicked start from innocence.”
― Ernest Hemingway





TANGLED LIGHTS

Originally published by This Dark Matter in December 2014.



Smoke curled into Malena’s nostrils as the tell-tale crackle of flames grew to a dull roar. The smoke turned from pale grey to a thick black curtain in front of her. She stood up on socked feet, eyes widening, and watched the fire as it leapt from the plastic tree to the pile of tangled lights in the cardboard box beside it.

“Brat, get in here!”

She turned her head and looked up the stairs at the closed basement door. Beyond it, the cigarette-hoarse voice growled. As she watched, a shadow passed in front of the door, then kept going. She looked back at the flames, and then at the fire extinguisher across the room.

“Where are you? When I get my hands on you…” The drunken woman trailed off, but even the little girl cowering in the damp basement could fill in the blanks.

If she didn’t go upstairs soon, her stepmother would still find her, but the beating would be much worse. She blew out a breath and pushed her dark tangle of hair out of her eyes before heading for the staircase. On the first step, she turned back around and watched the flames as they danced and popped over the old Christmas lights.

“You’re the monster,” she said, then turned around and headed back upstairs. “Merry Christmas, Mother.”











AFTER THE FIRE



The ground smoldered as firefighters picked their way through the remains of the gutted house. Sylvia Hewes let her eyes scan her baby sister's property. The basement was a black swamp of charred carnage; that's where the firefighters told her they thought the fire had started. Her eyes swept over the soot-smeared mason jars and what was once an old weight bench, knowing that everything Cynthia had spent her life building was gone with her.

When her eyes settled on the little girl, she could feel the heat rise up from her chest to her neck and face. The child was staring right at her, those dead eyes burrowing into her soul. To Sylvia, it had always seemed like the girl could look right through a person, see their weakest point, and exploit them for it. It's what she had done to Cynthia and her husband, Robert. She picked them apart and tore them down, made them in to people Sylvia barely recognized.

Sylvia marched over to where the little girl sat in the back of an open police car. A thick blanket turned her into what would have been a precious, tragic sight to anyone else: the poor orphan who lost another set of parents. Her sooty face was streaked with well-placed tears, and her shoulders had a slight tremble.

"Aunt Sylvia, I didn't know you were visiting." Even her voice was shaky.

Sylvia bent down so that only the little girl could hear her. "Don't you 'Aunt Sylvia' me, you little psychopath. I know what you did, and you're not going to get away with it."

The little girl looked past Sylvia to the blackened shell that was once her foster home and watched police officers speaking with firefighters. When she looked back at Sylvia, her eyes were clear, and when she spoke, her voice was devoid of all emotion.

"They were going to kill me, you know."

Sylvia snorted. "If that's what Cynthia thought she needed to do with you, then that's what you deserved. You had no right to do this to this family."

The girl sighed. "You don't care what horrible things they did to me?"

"Is this going to be more of your lies, Malena?"

"Lies?" The little girl sat straighter, and her face contorted in rage. "That bitch let men come into my room at night! She deserved what she got."

Sylvia straightened as a police officer walked their way. Malena's face twisted further, and she started to sob. Sylvia rolled her eyes, then met the female officer halfway.

"Is she all right?" the cop asked.

"You need to be careful with her," Sylvia said. "She'll destroy anyone who gets in her way."

The cop was taken aback. "Ma'am, what are you saying?"

Sylvia glanced back at the crying girl. Another officer, this one a ropey-muscled, thick-necked teddy bear, knelt down in front of her and patted her on the back with a hand the size of a dinner plate. Sylvia deflated. "It doesn't matter. You wouldn't believe me anyway."

“Crime and bad lives are the measure of a State's failure, all crime in the end is the crime of the community.” – H.G. Wells





AMENITIES

Originally published in Paper Tape Magazine, April 2015.



“Well, don’t you look pretty?”

Her words echoed in the dark, quiet room, bouncing off of decorated walls and high ceilings. She looked around her, suddenly spooked, as if some specter would jump out of the shadows at her at any moment. She shook her head, let out an uneasy laugh, and ran a hand through her damp hair.

“Jesus, Lee, you’ve got to pull yourself together,” she said aloud and tried to heed her own advice.

She glanced again at the young woman staring back at her from the full length mirror and grinned. She almost looked like a stranger after the much needed shower. Her skin still felt prickly and hot, scrubbed clean of all the filth of the world that poured over her on a daily basis, and she basked in the comfort of the apartment around her. The jeans she wore were already broken in, which was good because she always found it hard to run in stiff denim. The shirt was the closest she could find to a style that would suit her, but it fit, and the cold weather outside called for the long sleeves and the hood that she let hang down onto her back.

She walked across the room and pulled on a pair of socks that had individual pockets for each toe. She struggled to get each one in then laughed at herself as she wiggled her multicolored toes before sliding them into her old, dirty boots. They, along with her scarred leather jacket, were the only things she had on that spoke of her reality; for a moment, if she pretended, she almost felt like someone society would call normal.

Her belly full of cold pizza and questionable Chinese take-out and her body washed and dressed for the elements, she grabbed her bag and hefted it onto her shoulder. Her eyes slid over the apartment again, trying to be certain that everything was in its place. She glanced through the pictures on her flip phone, looking for anything out of place, but everything looked the same.

“You did it again,” she said to herself, more confident this time. “This one will probably never notice.”

She reached for the door just as a key slid into the door knob. For a split second, she froze, watching as the lock slid open, and listening as the young woman outside stopped her one-sided conversation to swear and drop something to the floor of the hallway. Then Lee was moving, ducking out of the hallway into the kitchen and behind the island counter top, her hand over her mouth to muffle her heavy breathing.

The door opened, and the apartment’s owner came in, dropping her keys into a decorative dish on an ornate, wooden stand in the little hallway before walking into the TV room and tossing what sounded to Lee like a suitcase and several shopping bags onto the plush couch. She was still babbling into the phone about something like a fantasy vacation with warm, white sand beaches and drinks with little umbrellas in them on standby. Lee peeked around the corner of the island, through the doorway, and into the living room in time to see the girl peel off her coat, kick off her shoes, and slip out of her tight sweater and denim leggings.

The young woman grabbed a controller off of an end table and flipped on the television, then raised her arms in a long, tired stretch. Lee bit her lip, her eyes sliding down the young woman’s arms to her back, down to her boy-cut panties and her muscular legs. They were about the same size and build, but this girl had a femininity that Lee never had, a grace that she had never wanted to develop in herself.

In another life, they might have met, and Lee could have convinced her that she was better than any guy this girl had dated. Maybe the girl would have accepted and invited her back here, to her cozy apartment, and offered her a glass of wine or one of the beers that Lee had already pilfered. Maybe she would have been invited to stay the night, and they would have spent all night and half the morning in bed together.

The girl said goodbye to the person on the other end of the phone, promising to call again soon, then dropped the phone and the controller onto the table and yawned loudly. She walked back through another doorway toward the bathroom or the bedroom, and Lee took the opportunity to ease herself back into a crouch and make her way to the door. She stopped there throwing one last glance over her shoulder, the breath still in her chest. A toilet flushed, and Lee slipped out, closing the door quietly behind her.



KARMA



The dark office was silent, save for a pen scratching on paper and the purr of an air purifier. Lee stood staring over her lover's head and out at the night sky through the glass wall, her hands in the back pockets of her jeans, fighting the tears pooling in her eyes. The woman in front of her held out a hand, dangling a check, not even looking up. Lee caught a faint whiff of perfume, or lotion, lavender and vanilla, and something uncoiled inside her stomach.

She lunged at the other woman and smashed her fists down on the desk. Her lover didn’t flinch, only flicked her eyes up to meet Lee's with a sigh. "Please don't be theatrical, Lee. We had an arrangement."

"I thought we were past all that," Lee said through gritted teeth. Her hands splayed on the desk so hard her fingertips were white, her face was only inches away, and Lee could see herself reflected in the woman's glasses. "I thought we were more than that now."

The woman leaned back and pulled her glasses off. She took in a deep breath, rubbed the bridge of her nose, and let the air out slowly through her teeth. "We talked about this. It was fun, but I told you this wasn’t real, and it definitely can't be forever." She trained her steely green eyes on Lee, who quivered with anger. "I warned you about those feelings of yours."

Lee's mouth dropped open, and she stepped back, then slid down into the leather chair behind her. She closed her mouth and slid her head into her hands. "You told me you loved me," she whispered.

The woman sat up and slid her glasses back on. “That was part of the fun. I told you, I can't leave my husband. Do you think he would pity me if he found out?” She closed her leather-bound check book, then stood with it and walked it over to a file cabinet. She mashed in the code, opened the drawer, and plopped the book unceremoniously into it. The drawer closed with a muted thump, and she turned around to look at her scorned lover.

"I thought you were different," Lee said, looking up through the hair dangling in her face with tears in her eyes. "You said I meant something to you." She dragged herself up and held out a hand. "You mean something to me."

The woman rolled her eyes as she pushed away from the file cabinet. She passed by the outstretched hand. "And I thought you were different. We're finished, Lee. You need to take what you can get. This check is going to buy your food and pay your rent for more than a few months." She sat down behind her gleaming mahogany desk, tracing her manicured fingers along the hand-carved design. "You should be thanking me."

"It wasn't about the fucking money!" Lee said, and kicked the chair behind her. She slid her fingers into her wavy, unkempt hair and grabbed two handfuls. "Don't you have feelings? Did you ever care at all?"

Her former lover looked over her, standing emotionally naked only feet away, with a look of mild boredom. "No, I don't." She pulled her open laptop closer to her on the desk. "And no, I didn't." A flick of her mouse brought the slim machine back to life. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have work to do."

Lee's arms dropped to her side, then she bent down and snatched the check from the hardwood floor. "Heartless bitch," she muttered.

The woman smiled, and Lee suddenly felt like a bucket of chum on the deck of a boat. "True to the old saying." Her eyes strayed back to her computer screen. "You can show yourself out," she said, then her smile dropped off. "Or I can have someone assist you."

Lee folded the check and slipped it into her coat pocket. She took one last look at the woman she had spent the better part of a year loving, then turned and walked to the door. Hand on the knob, she turned back one last time. "Karma, why?"

The businesswoman laughed, a hollow sound that Lee knew came from an angry, lonesome place. "You asked for it."

“I can’t believe I let you do this to me.”

Karma Reese, the young wife of an old Congressman, stared at her computer screen. She gave the mouse in her hand a click. “Let this be a lesson to you.”



PERSONAL MONSTERS



“I know everyone talks about being afraid of the dark, and I can understand that. The darkness holds secrets: the kind of powerful whispered fantasies and nightmares that can bring down everything from a trembling sapling to the largest oak. But have you ever heard of someone being afraid of the light?”

She tapped a bottle – not really a bottle, but a plastic canister meant for holding undeveloped film – out onto her palm, and two little peach pills landed there. She gulped them back without a glance at her super-sized soda, then turned her eyes back to me.

“It might seem weird, and I get that, but let me ask you this. Have you ever considered our lives out here? All of us have something on our heels, something we ran from, something that’s going to catch up to us if we don’t keep turning our heads, looking behind us; we are all the proverbial half-naked girl running barefoot through the woods with a monster slowly gaining in its serene and immutable horror.”

As she speaks, she taps the canister against the marred Formica table and scans the room through the slits of her eyes. You can see her insomnia – if you can even call it that, being self-induced – built up around her eyes in dark smudges like war paint. She chews on the inside of her bottom lip, and whether you want to or not, you find yourself imagining the oozing sore that might lurk there.

“So, we go about our days in this proletarian existence, pretending that we’re not afraid. But none among us doesn’t look over her shoulder to wonder when our own personal monster is going to snuff out the transitory fizzle that makes us who we are, what we call the self.”

She smiles, taps the canister one last time, and tucks it back into an inside pocket of her worn, black coat. Her hands come back to the table, fingers trembling as she starts to peel at one weak fingernail. The nail bed is dirty, like the rest of her, and you might wonder the last time she’s had the luxury of a warm bath. Maybe you start to think back to your last bath, not too long ago that you could forget what it felt like, and something inside you clicks. You don’t want to be here anymore.

“What’s your story?” she asks you, swinging her head around and turning dilated pupils in your direction. “What makes you afraid?”



DON’T GO YET…





I appreciate you for taking a chance on my work, and want to ask you for a quick favor. Could you leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or the retailer where you bought this book? Books like mine live and die by reader ratings. Thanks!

– Adan



Adan Ramie is a Texas native who lives with her wife and children in a town not unlike Andy Griffith’s Mayberry. She loves coffee, cats, and binge-watching Netflix.



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