Terri Lynn Coop

“From the beginning?” I asked.

Taking Joel’s silence as agreement, I closed my eyes and let the memory flow.


The detective flipped open a notebook I've seen in a thousand cop shows. They must buy them by the shipload. “I just have a few questions. Richard Fleming was here for a psychiatric evaluation?”

“Yes, it was a typical court order for an examination based on his insanity plea.”

“Fleming had eight bodies on him. Why did you interview him alone in your office? He savaged his victims.”

Barely containing my annoyance, I answered, “He was restrained. Not my first rodeo, okay?”

The detective shrugged toward the boarded-up window.

“Fleming was more psychotic than I suspected. Listen up,” I said, starting the tape recorder.

“Doc, Bobo did it.”

I paused the tape. “Bobo is a stuffed clown doll.”

The detective shivered. “Creepy.”

“A big strong gun-toting copper bopper like yourself has coulrophobia? Scared of a widdle Bobo?”

“Play the damn tape.”

“Richard, tell me about Bobo.”

“Everything was fine until Shelley brought it home.”


“She is, I mean she was, my girlfriend. I still can’t believe what Bobo did to her.”

The detective made a chopping gesture, and I stopped the tape again.

“He blamed Shelley’s murder on a clown doll? He ripped her stem to stern and gutted her like a fish.”

“Diagnosing the psychosis includes hearing the story in the patient’s own words without passing judgment,” I said.

"And then you charge the city a hundred bucks an hour. Let's get to the rest of his fairy story."

“Tell me what Bobo did.”

“Weird shit. Stupid doll was never in the same place twice. Stuff was moved. Then the cat disappeared. I know this sounds so crazy!”

“You're fine. Tell me about what happened to Shelley.”

“Not a lot to say. She'd worked a double shift and wanted to sleep in. At ten, it was time to wake her up, and I found her all cut up and bloody. She was dead.”

“What about Bobo?”

“Bastard was on the headboard laughing at me.”

“Did you call the police?”

“Yeah right? Like they'd believe me. I wanted to prove it. I went for a walk and saw Bobo in a store window. Next thing, someone’s screaming that there’s somebody all cut up. Every time I talked to someone; I saw Bobo. And every time, even when I tried to run, somebody died.”

The cop interrupted, "There were five dead on the sidewalks before we cornered him."

I couldn’t control my annoyance. "You don’t say. I read the reports. Do you want to hear the rest or not?"

I took his rude gesture as permission to proceed.

“Do you remember being arrested?”

“I kept my mouth shut so Bobo wouldn’t hurt them. I’ve got nothing against cops. Hell, my uncle’s a cop. Bobo showed up when they made me talk.”

Another chopping gesture from my visitor.

“He killed two a patrolman and a detective. He chewed their throats open.”

“Fleming was insane.”

“Whatever. Play the tape.”

“Richard, I’m opening the bag.”

“No. Don't do it.”

“Remember, these special lights keep Bobo asleep. You're perfectly safe.”

Even the detective winced at the tearing plastic followed by a primal howl and breaking glass.

“When I opened the bag, Fleming went berserk. He tore the Velcro restraints right off the chair arms, grabbed the doll, and threw himself through the window.”


“What part don’t you understand?”

“Doc, we didn’t find a doll, Bobo or hobo, with Fleming’s body.”


“Joel, that’s when the interview ended. The police classed Fleming as a suicide. My problem is, for the last week, when I try to sleep, that damn clown doll is there.  Stress? PTSD? Has my cheese finally slipped off my cracker?”


“Enough of the doctor-heal-thyself rap. Talk to me.”

Turning around, his torn lifeless eyes mocked me. Clawing my ears to shut out the high thin laughter, the gore caked under my nails streaked my face red and black.






Terri Lynn Coop is a recovering lawyer and still surprised that the state is letting her teach high school English. She's been known to blog at and you can find her books, including the Juliana Martin mystery series on Amazon.



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