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Monster Case

by David Shawn Klein

About the Author: David Shawn Klein stories can be found in the Hudson Review (one a Distinguished Story in Best American Mystery Stories). His novel, THE MONEY (Black Rose Writing 2021) is named Book of the Year by Best Thrillers. His new thriller, WHAT WE OWE THE DEAD is due for publication in 2024.


Catalina D’Amato’s brain oozed onto the courtyard of the Royal Arms where dogs let loose among shoe scuffs and gum droppings. She had lived in what my father called the ass-end of our two-building apartment complex. That he had acquired the powerful friends, IOUs, and embarrassing secrets sufficient to “bring down the fear of hell” on anyone who stood in the way of his dream of expanding from big-time personal injury attorney to master builder was why everyone called him the Mayor of Brooklyn—and why we got to live in the penthouse.

A crucifix sat on Mrs. D’Amato’s palm. Gold rose petals ran up and down the cross, and the Jesus was silvery and shimmered in the sun.

“She jumped,” Mr. Schneiderman observed,

“Poor girl snapped,” a woman added, fleshing out his theory.

“First the accident with poor Manny in the boiler room,” Mitch Green’s mother said, clutching her flowered bathrobe to her neck. “Now Catalina D’Amato. If the Royal Arms isn’t cursed, you explain it all.”

A guy everyone called the old rabbi nudged aside a crumpled piece of paper with an orthopedic shoe. I picked it up, figuring he’d dropped it. It was from a place called Don Corleone’s Pawns and Loans. The handwriting was crude and jerky, but I could still pretty much make it out. “One gold crucifix,” it read, with the word “redeemed” written across it like an arrow through a heart. I was about to give it back, but he glared at me like I’d knocked it out of his hand on purpose, his eyes burning with some weird, mysterious hatred, though we’d never met.

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