Unlucky 7s – Short Story

Hello all, yesterday I posted a piece of flash fiction, 2012. Today I’ve decided to post a short story featuring a certain detective who will be making an appearance in more short stories of mine. Next Wednesday I will be posting the “sequel” to this story and so on and so forth. Pardon any small errors, I’ve only had the chance to revise once. If you like, click the share buttons below to share it with more people :)! Hope you enjoy the read

The sky broke open into a sea of rain splashing across the city now dark with the oncoming winter months looming in the threshold of autumn. Lightning escaped from the malevolent clouds; its light catching the reflections of a thousand windowpanes shaking with the thunder of the storm. The people of New York City hurried out of the busy streets; cars honked and an Italian cab driver barked out not-so-pleasant words at the idiot in the Honda who apparently didn’t know the difference between the gas and brake pedals. It was a typical Friday afternoon in the Big Apple, save the immense rains that threatened to sweep away the hordes of yellow taxis, beeping and steadily racking up the pay-rate for the miserable city folk.

Yet several hundred feet away, in an alleyway intersecting 92nd street, something not so typical was happening. Four squad cars and a thick black Lincoln were blocking one of the exits and the officers stood in a semi-circle gazing at the body; no, the corpse of the young woman before them. Once pretty, but now she lay a macabre mess of blood and mutilation. Detective Vincent Gambini stood tall in a trench coat, his hands buried deep inside.

“What do we have here?” His voice came husky, and he retrived a cigarette from his pocket placing it in his lips. “ID?” Vinnie asked one of the officers who was busying himself with preserving the crime scene. 

“19. Female of course, and we think she was a working girl ‘cause of her outfit. No ID though” The officer spoke, and found his way around the detectives to the other NYPD gathered at the trunk of a squad car. They didn’t speak, but stood quiet faces pale and bothered. One of them, a newbie on the force gagged aloud and vomited on his shoes. The others patted him on the back before helping him into the car.

“Guess he couldn’t handle it,” Patrick Finnigan, a rookie detective spoke, keeping his hand not too far from his mouth. He brought his hand nervously through his flaming red hair and cleared his throat.

“Not many can,” Vinnie said. “How are you holding up?” He patted him on his shoulder.

“Alright, alright. Just never seen nothing this bad in Narcotics. Worse I ever seen were some overdoses at NYU; that’s it.”

“Welcome to Homicide” He crouched beside the mutilated body and turned her neck, tracing a finger along her once silky skin. The prostitute wore nothing but a small red dress, which didn’t seem to hide much at all. It hugged her curves but didn’t seem to be bothered, save for the five or six deep incisions below her collarbone that pooled dark blood across her chest. Vinnie turned her neck to the side and brought his eyes to something, a mark or spot, on the crook of her neck.  7. The number was carved into her pale flesh with precision. He had seen the number before.

“Son of a bitch” Vinnie said dryly as he got to his feet.

“Sex related?” The rookie asked half-trying not to look at the poor girl laying at his feet.

He shook his head. “Don’t think so. It’s him again”


“I’ll tell you in the car.”

The two detectives waited until the medical examiner came waddling up the decaying asphalt heaving a brief case over one shoulder. The scene was properly documented, and each piece of evidence was outlined and documented to a T. As they worked, the rain plummeted the officers as they attempted to hide from the illustrious landscapes forming along the flooded alleyways and draining into sewers, which lingered around their feet. Patrick tried to hide behind a small room, which stuck out over a crude door that belonged to some filthy club, or a strip-joint or something of that type. The lightning gave way to pain breaking wind that swept up the now fallen rain and pelted their backs in cold, wet sprays.

Vinnie stood solid. He wasn’t a type of man to be affected by the acts of God; rain, ice or the sixty-mile per hour winds (that proved trivial to some of the smaller officers) couldn’t make him swing or sway. Instead, he stood firm with a heavy scowl on his face; his eyes tracing over the seven on the girl’s neck. The hairs on the back of his neck prickled and his heart threatened to explode in his chest; he had him. Ten years ago, the Unlucky 7 Murderer (who was satirically coined that by some local press) struck the women of Upper-Manhattan; the city was flooded with fear and paranoia. It had to be him.

“You know who did it? Let’s pick him up?” Patrick said as he stepped into the passenger side of the Lincoln, careful as to ruin his coat. Vinnie sighed and lit a cigarette clouding the interior of the car in a thick smoke.

“Not that easy. His name’s Frances Alavera,” He said and backed the Lincoln out of the cluster of squad cars onto a thick stretch of road swamped in the now evening rush. “An old Christian bastard living in North Jersey up near Lincoln Park. Murder fits him perfect; no robbery, no rape, and the number seven: his little trademark. We didn’t find a damn thing at the crime scene. We can’t pick him up; double jeopardy. Unless we have evidence it was him, it’ll be a bitch trying out luck down in Jersey with a crime that fits his MO.” Vinnie flicked the ash of his cigarette out of the window and gave his temple a slight rub.

“You let him go didn’t you?”

“I didn’t let him go. The State of New York let him go, the DA let him go, hell, his idiot lawyer Weinstein let him go; I didn’t let him ago. Ten damn years ago on one of my first runs, the day was just like this; rainy stormy, and generally a shitty day here in the city and we got a call of an attack on a hooker who got stabbed down near a shady night club, known for its rowdy guests.” Vinnie flicked his cigarette out of the window and coughed. “So me, fresh out of the academy, I go and think it’s a business arrangement gone wrong; maybe she didn’t offer the goods, or refused? Hell, maybe he robbed and beat the poor girl? I didn’t know what to expect. I rushed through the crime scene like every rookie in America does with little help from my partner, rest his soul. He was one of the old school cronies down for cracking skulls and busting chops, but everything else was boring to him.

“It wasn’t until the ME’s office that we noticed the seven. Right above her clavicle; it was carved in post-mortem probably like our Jane Doe. Obviously, this victim has no identity, she was off the grid: the perfect victim for sickos like Frances. A week after I finished the paperwork on the case another girl was fond in the parking lot of some office building, six blocks or so from Lugo’s Café. Two weeks later another popped up on the stairs of some bar; still we had no evidence, until the bastard got sloppy.”

“So you caught him?”

Vinne paid no mind to the question he asked. His eyes dazed through the windshield and he fumbled through his jacket pockets for another smoke, when he couldn’t find one he grimaced. “Got a cigarette?”

Patrick shook his head. “Don’t smoke boss”

“You wouldn’t,” He fumbled through the several empty packs crushed into his cup holsters without any applause. “So anyway, I catch the sap knees deep in a dumpster behind some apartment complex. The fool dropped the murder weapon in there and must’ve realized it was a bad idea. He didn’t even try to run when he saw us pull up; we arrested him there and brought him down to the station.

“What were you doing in that dumpster Frances?” I asked him and he grinned at me with a yellow toothed smirk. He was a fat old man with deep cherry cheeks and dark eyes. Frances looked at me and started to laugh and continued to laugh until big fat tears swelled up in his eyes and dripped down his wrinkled face.

“Oh that? I just left my knife in there. Couldn’t leave it for you folks; quite silly of me now that I think about it,” Frances howled out another laugh and brought a heavy hand down on the table. I just sat there awestruck at this pompous ass in front of me. “Whatsamatta detective? Have I startled you? He cackled and brought himself to tears again; I couldn’t didn’t find it funny.

My partner cracked his knuckled and removed his coat placing it on the chair beside me. “I got this,” He breathed like a heavy armed Neanderthal, desperate to beat something.

I waved him away at once. “I got this Done, I got it.” He found his way back against the wall and I continued the interrogation. “Did you kill those three women Frances?” I tried to remain calm, but to be honest I was practically pissing myself. I never had to deal with a sociopath before, but I found one in Frances.

“Sure did. They were whores, each and every one of them. Do you know that lust is one of the deadly sins detective?” I did. “You should have seen the way they acted, lord save me. I’ve never been more disgusted than by these young sinners. They had to learn, so I taught ‘em. There blood was so warm-“ I lost it. Tossing the chair to the side of the room, I grabbed him by his sweaty collared shirt and pulled him inches to my face.

“You’re going away you pig. I hope the boys in Rahway have fun with you,” At first he looked saddened, but than I saw his lips form a menacing smile, his yellow teeth poking through his dried, cracked lips. From between those lips came a deep chuckle that broke into a laugh.

“You don’t scare me boy. I’m serving God’s will, purging all the sinners one by one. The brute behind me sure has something coming to him: Wrath is against the Lord’s will.” Franced smiled and folded his hands apparently pleased with the rhetoric he was spitting to us.  The brute behind him was not too delighted, and my partner rapped him in the side of the head sprawling him across the aluminum table. With several heavy-handed mementos, the old man’s nose busted open, a red river swimming down his face and pooling at his chin.

Frances lay still at first, his breathing labored and restless until he began to utter something. The something became a heavy laugh that echoed off the table and boomed across the room. “Haha, oh boy, oh boy,” The laughing started again, it built upon itself louder and louder until his face grew scarlet. He pulled himself together and wiped some blood away from his evil smile. “God’s gonna get you. I’m obeying his commandments. Detective, do you know how many times seven appears in the bible? God rested on the seventh day; in Revelations they’re seven churches, seven trumpets, seven spirits, seven vials and seven dooms! Don’t you see? The whole world operates in sevens. The Seven Laws of Noah! Perfection, God’s number!”

“He refused to write a confession, so we persuaded him to. It was thrown out in court and later he was acquitted under Miranda Violations.” Vinnie sighed and brought a fist down on the steering wheel.  “We couldn’t do a damn thing about it, the Judge ruled that pending a psyche-evaluation he was free to go. We lost a murderer due to a technicality. Fucking bullshit.”

Patrick just nodded; there was nothing else to say.


“Jesus, cover her up” Vinnie said blocking his view from the monstrosity on the floor. The officers obeyed and quickly brought a jacked over the victim that seemed to barely cover the bloody mess. “Where’s Patrick?”

“Over there,” One of the officers, a short balding man, pointed to a garbage can that was busy collecting the detective’s vomit.

“Get control of yourself,”

“It’s bad, it’s bad” Patrick gagged out. It was. The victim was indistinguishable; she could have been President Reagan for all we knew. The only indicator to who she had been in a past life was the dress clinging to her back, now torn into red bearing shreds. The poor girl brandished a seven etched across her ebony chest. The crime scene looked identical to the last; Frances’s hard at work.

“Uh, detective?” Chimed a cop crouching beside the victim. “You gotta see this,” Vinnie walked over and squatted down his eyes burning into her skin feverously for a shred of evidence. Instead he found a note onto the woman’s ribs still wet from the blood. It read, Hello Vincent, miss me? He was speechless and his hands gripped at his jacket, palms growing sweaty.

“We’re going for a ride,” Vinnie whispered through a breath of smoke.

“Wh-wh-“ Patrick managed.

“Shut up and get in the car,”

The detective started the car and when Patrick stepped inside, he wasted no time and floored the gas pedal and they were gone. Vinnie was silent, he held his cigarette between his pursed lips and cleared his throat. His feet were cold, and his hands especially clammy as he gripped the steering wheel so tight that his knuckles shone white through his skin. Frances Alavera would be rotting in a high security cell, or in a box in the ground for Vinnie cared. The law only did so much, but justice was always the number one thing to strive for. Anything else along the way is a mere casualty for the cause.

“Patrick,” Vinnie broke the silence, startling his partner. “I can drop you off home, and you can turn a blind eye. If I can’t take him in,” His voice trailed.

“No I understand” And that was that. They crossed the George Washington Bridge and cruised quietly to Northern Jersey, without a warrant or any acknowledgement by local municipalities; career suicide. Though it didn’t matter. The sky turned dark again. Deep, heavy clouds blocked the sun from shining; instead it cast menacing shadows along the sidewalks like demons strolling in for a sin. No rains followed, though moisture collected on his windows. Patrick must have fallen asleep for a half-hour by the time the Lincoln reached an old wooden colonial on the outskirts of a brief stretch of suburbia.

It appeared to be a typical American home; a white fence, green lawn, wooden plank siding, but the car coming to a screeching stop in front of the home must have alerted some of the painfully quiet neighbors, poking their noses out their windows. Patrick awoke and the two of them made their way outside of the hulking car and fixed their jackets. They walked in slow, labored steps quiet as to their approach on the casual residence before Vinnie rapped on the wooden door. No answer. He brought his hand up to knock again, while his hand fastened around the gun in his belt, when the door swung open.

In the doorway stood a plump old man with disgusting yellow teeth, which he turned into an open mouthed smirk. “Detective, what a pleasure” Frances Alavera said. “I’ve been waiting for you,” He laughed.

Without hesition, Vinnie drew his gun from his belt and pushed it into the old man’s chest, pushing him through the doorway as Patrick shut the door. The house was eerily simple. Everything was coded; around the kitchen table were seven chairs, and on the table were seven plates, with seven forks and seven knifes of course. In a bookshelf beside his television there were seven rows, with seven books in each row, and seven photo frames above his television. Seven lamps lay around his den and seven windows faced the North side of the house.

“Sit down,” Vinnie pulled the chair out and threw the old man down. He knelt beside him and withdrew a pair of handcuffs placing them on the border of the table. The detective holstered his gun (which took tremendous effort, he fought the urge to get trigger-happy) and began to read Frances his rights, “Frances Alavera, you are under arrest for murder, you have the right to remain silent, anything you say may be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney, if you can’t afford one, one will be provided for you-“

“Wait,” Frances cut off the detective flashing the goldenrod grin. “How is the bottle detective? Does it keep you safe at night?” He began to laugh, the same deep husky laugh that broke into a cackle.

“What are you-“

“You don’t think I wouldn’t keep an open eye on the man who tried to halt God’s work? I’ve been watching you Vincent and quite frankly you are no hero, you’re a sinner yourself. Like the whiskey huh? Like the way it burns your throat when you drink it? Do you like the way it numbs your mind, how it hides me from your thoughts?” He cackled again and it turned into a wet cough. “And you boy,” Frances pointed a shriveled finger to Patrick. “You, you’re an atheist huh? Wrote a paper at Kean about the proof of godlessness huh? What was it called, “The False Image of Spirituality?”

The two detectives stood shocked and glared at the man. “The telephone reveals many things Patrick Finigan, just some calls reveals your sins. So we have a Sloth and a Glutton, and you try to condemn me?” He roared with a laugh until his face burned bright red.

“Do you want to know Vincent Gambini? Of how I hunted those five whores down from their filthy corners and taught them the manners of God? Oh, it’s bittersweet detective the way blood feels on the hand of the righteous, when you appease the Lord and take his word as your commandments. It’s all in the number seven, seven stands for perfection, for divine holiness.” Frances busted into a fit of coughing. “Or shall I tell you of my victory in court, and now I shall be victorious again detectives. We both know that I am not leaving this room today; prison is no place for the blessed,”

Vinnie lifted his gun; he was ready to fire, to take the monster down in one quick movement. The Baretta was cold, and slippery in his sweating hands.

“But, we only found five,” Patrick said, taking a step away from the wall.

“Very acute you are, Patrick. Only five.”

“You do everything in sevens, are there others?”

“Yes,” Vinnie should never have turned his head; he was too focused with Patrick asking the now pointless questions that he never noticed the pistol being removed from the old man’s waist. He was too bothered with the words out of the rookie’s lips that he never saw the finger pull the trigger.  Pop! Pop! Pop! Patrick fell into the wall, his blood spraying from his chest. He stumbled and gasped as his hands pooled in his blood and he fell backwards stumbling over Vinnie, who foolishly tried to catch him. The two-tumbled to the ground and the detective found his partner bleeding out before him. His face now a violent pale as his eyes managed to shut for the last time.

By the time he brought his gun to Frances, he was already busy holding the pistol to his own head. His face was red and cheery and he laughed heavyhearted howls that seemed to shake the room. “No need to worry detective, you’re not number seven. Good-day,” The pistol rang out again and the old man’s head buckled with the force of the bullet, his skull spraying blood and brain matter across the kitchen table. Vinnie dropped his gun and threw himself down to the floor where the young rookie and his killer’s blood swam together on the linoleum floor. He tried to scream but there were no words to express the violent rush swelling in his mind, no words to still the shaking in his hands. His eyes split open into a hollow blue and he punched the wall.

Across from the table with the seven chairs, the one with the seven forks and the seven knives around it; and beside the bookshelf with the seven rows and the seven books per row, there was another shelf on the wall. One of seven. On the seventh shelf there were seven bottles of whiskey. The detective shook, his heart raced in his chest and the hair on his neck refused to falter. He found an old glass on the seventh shelf and dusted it off placing it down on the table, and drank seven glasses before he called it.


About Damian Rucci

D.F. Rucci is a writer, blogger, and a musician from a small town in New Jersey. View all posts by Damian Rucci

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