Hello, Dorian here–the biggest slacker of them all. I’m sorry I was MIA, but seriously, David is right – we’ve been up to our eyeballs in writing stuff and so have the Rogues, but we’re back on track now!! Hope you went out and bought YOUR copy of The Method Writers and Fictitious Fiction! If not – what are you waiting for?? Oh, YOU want the hardcover? Well, you can preorder it at the publisher – and get a free bonus, so get going! July will be here before you know it! (www.clearviewpressinc.com)
Since I still love listening to The Green Hornet on the radio late at night, and the rest of the gang is doing such a great job with their stories, I’m jumping on the serial bandwagon, too. It’s 1990. My character is an aging New York cop who’s left the big city for a sleepy region in southwestern New Jersey. An area of wonderful vineyards, miles of horse farms, and a quieter way of life. Or, maybe not.
Without further ado, I submit for you, part 1 of, The Trouble with Redheads…
I’m an old street cop with a homicide detective’s badge. The name’s Mickey Holmes and I’d rather not get into my mother’s passion for old mysteries. It’s ten-thirty in the morning on the Monday after my brother’s wedding, and I’m in the coroner’s office, with a bit of a hangover. They delivered my vic for autopsy around six-thirty this morning.
“Hey, Doc, what’s the word on Kingston? Any cause of death yet?”
The coroner looked at me with bloodshot eyes. “Did you bring coffee? No coffee, no report,” she said.
I produced the requisite double latte and sat my left hip on the corner of the desk. “Okay, let me have it. Stabbing, right? But what weapon am I looking for, any idea?”
Dr. Macabre winked and slid out of her chair. “No idea, Mickey. Not something I’ve seen before. Homicide for sure and it is a stab wound, but it’s not a knife. It’s also not an ice pick or letter opener. Point of entry was his left ear, however.”
“You’re a big help. Can you give me anything at all?”
“Well, lividity and such indicate he was killed around two in the morning, so he was dead about three hours when you were called. No defensive wounds on the hands, a bump on the head that was not fatal, probably sustained when he hit the floor. I’d suspect a female killer.”
I drained my coffee and tossed the cup in the trashcan across the room. “What makes you think that?”
“The wound was inflicted with an upward thrust. Not a certainty of course, but a woman would be shorter, slighter than Samuel Kingston. There’re also some red hair strands that are obviously not his.”
I had all I was going to get. I needed to find his wife and have a chat with her, then get a warrant to go back into the crime scene, just in case. Twenty years on the force had taught me to listen to my intuition and my gut told me the murder was related to the winery.
“Thanks, Doc. Call me if you dig up anything else.” I waved over my shoulder as I headed out the door and down the corridor.
I climbed in my navy blue Crown Vic and steered into the downtown traffic. Samuel Kingston owned the Corkand Bottle Winery and all five hundred acres of the finest grapes in the State of New Jersey. Two phone calls and I was told Mrs. Kingston was supposed to be at the manor house by the time I got there. I didn’t want to keep her waiting.
Twenty minutes later, I pulled into the Montgomery Township estate and drove up the half-mile long drive that wound through the vineyard. I pulled up to the front door and parked my car. Before I climbed the steps, the door opened and a white-gloved butler appeared.
“Detective Holmes, I presume?”
“That’s me,” I said, presenting my shield and identification for his inspection. He nodded and I put it back in my jacket pocket.
I entered the foyer and looked around at the Impressionist paintings and the Belgian crystal chandelier. Not overly ornate, but it was damned expensive that’s for sure. My ex-wife and her Hampton-bred parents would have approved. The Kingstons’ lived well. Or had lived well. A moment later, the butler reappeared and escorted me to Mrs. Kingston. A stunning redhead with emerald green eyes and freckles.
She rose from behind her gold leafed Louis XIV desk, removed her oval rimless glasses, then offered her hand. I shook it and noticed the firm grip. No tears streaked down her fair cheeks, but not everyone shows grief with tears. I took the seat she indicated. She sat across from me and crossed long, perfect legs.
“I’m sorry to bother you at such a terrible time Mrs. Kingston, but the sooner we get the facts straight, the sooner we’ll catch your husband’s killer.”
She looked me in the eye. “Must you?”
“Must I what?” I asked.
“Must you find his killer? He’s done society such a grand service; it would be a shame to punish him.”
I caught myself before I laughed out loud, but I wanted to. She was a trip. No love lost in the Kingston Empire, I guess. “Murder is illegal, Mrs. Kingston. I’m afraid I do have to find the killer.” I cleared my throat. “You seem to think the killer is a man. Do you have someone specific in mind? A particular enemy of your husband’s?”
She smiled at me as though I was a dim-witted child. “This list would be endless, Detective. I have no idea who may have done this. I just used the male gender at random. I suppose it could have been a woman, of course.”
“Where were you this morning between the hours of one and four?”
She barked a deep throaty laugh and tossed her head back. “I was at the Princeton Hyatt. That’s where I got the call from the police. I’m sure you can check on that.”
“Can anyone at the hotel vouch for you?” I asked, holding her mischievous gaze.
“Yes, someone can vouch for me, though I’d rather not divulge his name.”
I pulled out my notebook and pen. “I can understand that, but I need that name. If the story checks out, the name gets filed.”
A faint blush spread along her fine cheekbones and she looked out the window, breaking our connection.
“I was with Samuel’s brother, David.”
# # #
Part 2: July 6
Happy 4th of July!!! Dorian