The media dubbed him Van Gogh because each of his victims was missing her right ear. They reported that Van Gogh sliced off the ears post-mortem and that none of the ears had been found. His seven victims were women, though no particular type was singled out. One was tall, one short. Black, Hispanic, White, old, young. Women panicked.
Then the media said all of the victims had been prostitutes. Other stories overshadowed the murders, and the murders were relegated to obscurity. So the whores still worked their corners, a little leery, but willing to get into a car if the john looked all right.
Tonight Van Gogh thought he may have found his next victim. An Amazon of a woman with long, supple legs and honey-colored skin. She wore a gold mini skirt slit to her waist, revealing a firm rounded hip, and a black halter top barely covering her small breasts. Her hair hid under a shoulder-length silver metallic wig, which reminded Van Gogh of tinsel dangling from a Christmas tree, and as he drove by her a second time the wind played the tinsel against her head, allowing one large-lobed ear to peek through.
That little peek hooked him.
He stopped the car one store front away from her, blinking his taillights to let her know he was interested, and hoping she’d notice his bumper sticker – “Jesus Saves.”
She leaned through the open passenger window far enough for the wig’s fringe to brush against the inside door, giving him a glimpse of both ear lobes.
“Hey, baby. Want a date?” she asked.
“Yes. Yes I do. How much will it cost?”
She licked her lips. “Well for you baby only 20.”
“Twenty? I-I can give you 40 if you have a room. I don’t wanna do it in my car. It’s my wife’s car.”
She laughed and reached for the door handle. She hesitated. “You ain’t no freak, are you baby?”
“Fr-freak? No. It’s just my wife…”
She pulled the door open and climbed in. The front of her skirt rested between her legs. “You don’t have to explain it to me, baby. Just go ‘round the corner and pull into the parking lot.”
Van Gogh drove to the lot. A sign that read “Roo s by the our” shone over a one-story hotel which looked like several old trailers linked together by the rusted railing running the length of the structure.
“C’mon baby.” She got out of the car. She negotiated the potholes and cracked pavement with her four-inch heels as Van Gogh untucked his shirt to hide the knife he had stuck inside the front of his pants.
He caught up with her. “What’s your name?”
They were silent as they walked past the unoccupied hotel office. Jade pulled out her room key from inside her halter and smiled at him. As she bent forward to unlock her door, her right ear emerged from the fringe, illuminated in the incandescent glow from the parking lot light.
Van Gogh was mesmerized by the exquisite shape of the ear’s helix and antihelix. The concha was deep and dark, just as he preferred. The entire auricle was flawless. Perfect. He almost went berserk right there.
Jade went right to the bed, untying the top of her halter as she walked. “I need the 40 first, baby.” She said.
“Why do you do this?” Van Gogh asked.
“Well.” Jade sat on the bed, the halter hanging from its bottom straps. “I am, what’s the word?” She took off the wig, exposing cropped black hair and two beautiful ears. She dropped the wig into her lap, the fringe covering her thighs. “Promiscuous. I love to screw. So I figure why not get paid for it, right baby?”
She stood up, letting the wig drop to the floor. She stepped on its fringe as she wiggled out of her mini skirt.
Van Gogh watched her, thinking how easy this was for her. How it shouldn’t be. But tonight he would save her. He wasn’t “Van Gogh.” He was the Oracle. The Oracle speaking the divine word of the Lord into the auricles of the harlots.
Jade lay on the soiled blue bedcover, naked except for bright red panties. He straddled her.
“Jesus saves,” he whispered into her right ear. He pictured his ear collection laid out on a mirror in his top dresser drawer. He whispered into them every night. “Close your eyes.”