November 3, three years earlier.
On the Battery fronting the harbor a half dozen boys shivered in unsuitable summer coats in hopes of meeting the right companion to escape and, perhaps, secure money after quick sex.
Abel Erikson, good-looking and dark-haired with a thin mustache, stumbled at the top broken step up High Battery which descended onto Low Battery at the tip of the peninsula and where Murray Boulevard divided into two traffic lanes by a median of palmetto trees. Under neon glow lamps Abel squinted to see the boys all lined up against the seawall like juvenile delinquents. It was the black boy with an overstuffed backpack he noticed more than the others and decided right then he would have the black one for himself before the other men parked in shiny cars along the street could proposition him.
“Do you have a light?” he said with a cigarette cocked at the corner of his mouth.
“Sure,” the boy who was already puffing a cigarette struck a match to light Abel’s cigarette and saw that his eyes were hazel like murky fish water. Behind the flame there was a harshness in his eyes that compelled the boy to shake out the fire immediately and back up with smoke rushing through both mouth and nostrils.
Abel swirled smoke around his mouth studying the boy’s physique. He wasn't necessarily skinny but full-bodied like a strong field hand. In his bulky clothes he carried himself well and didn't look fat at all. As smoke billowed from his mouth Abel leaned back with his elbows finding the seawall and grinned moving his tongue playfully over the upper lip from right to left. "Cold out, don't you think?" he said.
“Yes,” the boy nodded dropping his cigarette butt and mashing it out with the tip of his boot.
“What are you looking for?” Abel said.
“I’m looking for you,” the boy said.
“My car is parked just up the street on East Bay,” he grabbed the boy’s hand and squeezed it firmly. His hand cold but soft like a girl's. “Would you like to warm up?”
“Why not," the boy said.
Inside Abel's black Mercedes the boy offered a warm can of malt liquor beer he pulled from his backpack, and they shared it along with one more cigarette.
As a full moon rose higher in the black sky changing into a dazzling white, Abel finally leaned over and kissed the boy on the mouth and the loneliness of the empty night was gone. He felt himself sinking, slipping into platinum white leather seat, losing control and wanting it.
This kiss, the helpless way it made him feel, captivated him so, leaving him no hint of the dark machinations yet to come, no hint of the relentless downhill spiral that would eventually lead to murder...