A bit of good news on the personal front – another semester and year gone by in my engineering life, which means vacation time, which means a lot of free time in which to write. As of now, I’m taking a long break and perfecting the art of doing nothing. The other good news is that I will resume my regular posting schedule from June and I’m really excited about that because I have a storehouse of wonderful post ideas. This post brings the second chapter of the (unfinished) murder mystery series that I started in Fictional Fridays #10. Watch out for the next one on May 30th!
The little alarm clock by the windowsill rang its usual chirpy note to herald the beginning of a crisp fall morning. Reyna’s strictly scheduled brain woke her up immediately. One of the perks of being a police officer was having impeccable discipline ingrained into one’s very soul. She said her morning prayers and got out of bed, following her well-set morning ritual. Brush, bathe, dress, eat – simple as anything! Checking for a final reflection in the hallway mirror, she headed downstairs to her brand new unmarked car she had received upon promotion just yesterday. Feeling immensely proud of herself at having become a detective, Reyna wove her worn Ford Crown Victoria through the daytime traffic effortlessly. She loved to drive.
As she walked into the police headquarters, Tracy waved her over immediately.
“Greg told me to tell you to head over to this address ASAP. Your first murder. Good luck!”
“Thanks,” she replied earnestly as she took a piece of note paper from her colleague.
‘118, Crawford Street, Roxbury’ it read.
Eyes shining, Reyna dashed to get her car. 6 minutes later, she stopped in front of the said address.
Cameron, who was leaning on the hood of his car looked up as she arrived.
“Reyna,” he called.
“Hey, Cameron! What happened?” she inquired as the two walked in step and entered the scene of crime.
“Jason Stone, 25, found shot dead with a bullet to the chest. No sign of struggle or forced entry. Neighbour called it in. Said she came to return his cat that had strayed out and found him on his bed already dead. Time of death seems to be early morning between midnight and 3. Should have a clearer window once we get him to the lab.”
Reyna processed it all slowly and methodically. The bedroom had lime green walls and a small bed in the centre of the room. Shafts of lazy autumn sunlight illuminated the dark crimson pattern on the white linen sheet. Her team leader, Detective Greg Dahlen stood transfixed with his gaze on the body. The CSU guys went around taking photos, bagging evidence, dusting for prints and the likes. The coroner was bent over the body, making observations on a small clipboard.
Reyna stepped out quickly. The sight wasn’t disturbing but not pretty either. Cameron followed her with a slight smile on his face.
“That bad, huh?” The smirk on his face grew more pronounced.
“No, not really. My brain won’t work in there though. Why don’t we go interview the neighbours?” Reyna suggested.
“Okay,” he agreed. “But I’m the one asking questions. You’re observing, alright? Neighbour interrogation 101.” He winked at her.
“Alright,” she sighed in acceptance.
A short, red-faced, plump woman answered the door next to the victim’s place. She wore a nightdress and a pink turkey towel was wrapped around her head. She wasn’t pleased at all at being interrupted so many times.
“I already told that officer in blue everything!” she protested. Her accent was a funny mix of German and American.
“We won’t be long, ma’am. Just a few questions.” Cameron put on his best soothing, convincing act.
“Alright,” she huffed, but she didn’t invite them in. Instead, she stepped out and closed the door.
“Your name, please, ma’am?” Reyna ventured.
“Olga Schmidt,” she responded evenly.
“What can you tell us about Jason?” Cameron took over.
“Quiet sort of guy. Very nice. Helpful, you know? Always lending a hand when I wanted it. Worked in a mechanic shop nearby. Educated, but jobs are so damn hard to get these days, they say! Nobody had nothing against him – I can tell you that, Officer! He paid his bills and his rent properly as far as I know. I can’t imagine who’d do this to him! Such a good soul, may he rest in peace!” She crossed herself.
“I see. Did you notice anything strange about him recently?”
Olga took her time to respond.
“No. He seemed the same, quiet and nervous, like one of those guys who don’t go out much, you know? Shy of society, don’t go talking too much or too loudly. A good boy, I tell you.”
“What about his family?”
“He never mentioned them. Nobody visited him and he didn’t go visiting nobody, I can tell you that. Not married and definitely no kids.”
“Any girlfriend?” Cameron’s gaze narrowed as he tried to fish out details that could’ve led to goody-two-shoes Jason’s death.
“He was seeing this girl a couple o’ moths back. Oh, she was one loud creature! They were together for about 3 weeks when she lost interest and ditched him. Poor Jason! He was all cut up for a week but then he pulled himself together. Not seen her since and good riddance, I must admit.”
“Could you give me a name, please, Mrs. Schmidt?”
“Sure. Veronica. Screams loud, doesn’t it? Now her last name was something I always had trouble remembering. It was something to do with flowers, I think. Bloom something or the other.” Her eyebrows knit in concentration.
“Thank you, Mrs. Schmidt. You’ve been really helpful! One last question, if you don’t mind?”
“Do you happen to know where this Veronica stays?”
“Somewhere close here in Roxbury. But I don’t really know where. Oh, here’s something you might find helpful, Officer. Jason told me she’s almost always spends her evenings at the White Lotus. That’s where she met him for the first time too.”
“That’ll be all. Thank you so very much for your cooperation, ma’am.” Cameron finished, smiling sweetly at her.
She smiled back and opened her door to go in. But she turned back for a last chat.
“You don’t think it was Veronica, do you, Officer?” She sounded almost hopeful.
“We will pursue all leads, ma’am. Right now, we have no evidence and can’t come to any conclusions,” was Cameron’s guarded reply.
“Well, I just remembered her name! Veronica Bloomenthal!” Olga’s face lit up.
“Thank you, Mrs. Schmidt. We will certainly look into it.” With that, Cameron turned away and Reyna followed him.
“The ex? I don’t think so. It looks more like a cold, calculated murder than a crime of passion,” Reyna opined.
Cameron nodded, but remained silent.
They each were sunk in their thoughts, leaning against their cars, as they waited for Greg to join them outside. The light breeze stirred up the fallen gold and brown leaves on the payment. A slight scent of the approaching cold lingered in the dying autumn air.
As usual, comments are most welcome. Have a happy weekend!