Detective Mickey Holmes is on the scene again, another stabbing victim, another rich community. But the weather’s brutal and the twist on this one almost does him in…. hope you enjoy a cold weather story to cool you off! NL Quatrano
It was lung-burning. Vicious.
Eight below zero was too damned cold to be hanging around outside. What survives in this kind of howling, grueling cold, anyway?
The body I was standing over hadn’t. Of course, by the way the ice pick still stuck up out of her full length rabbit fur coat, obviously the cold had nothing to do with her death. It would account for the unusually small pool of blood beside her lovely blonde head, however.
“Hey Detective Holmes, we can go in the house, right?” the patrol cop called to me. He’d been standing around for the better part of a half hour waiting for me to get to the scene so he was possibly colder than he’d been in his entire life.
“No you can’t. Why don’t you sit in your patrol car? I’ll do the photos and wave down the coroner.”
He nodded and ushered the dead woman’s bereft husband into the back of his car. Then he climbed into the driver’s seat and started the engine to get the heat running. Folks from Wisconsin or Winnipeg might be acclimated to these temperatures, but people in New Jersey certainly were not.
I pulled the instant Polaroid camera out of the oversized pocket on the inside of my arctic parka and snapped a few pictures of the victim. As fast as my gloved fingers could manage it, I stuffed the photos into my shirt pocket so my body heat would help them develop. When I’d shot the first eight frames, I headed back to my car to load a new cartridge. The wind screamed at over thirty miles an hour, the snow was driven sideways.
I was in the car and had just ejected the spent film pack when my cell phone rang. I glanced at the number and decided I didn’t need any more aggravation tonight. After the third ring, a lovely disembodied voice from the phone company would take a message for me. My ex-wife, Her Royal Pain-in-the-Buttness. It was the third time she’d called today.
I snapped the film into place and pulled the photos out of my pocket to take a look.
Mrs. Daphne Oberhauser was a lovely corpse. Long lashes graced her translucent cheeks like those on a fine porcelain doll. Her lips were full and perfect if not just a touch bluish, her hair thick and shoulder length and the exact color of clover honey, spread out on the snow-covered ground beneath her like it would on a glistening satin pillowcase.
I glanced into the rear view mirror but still no sign of the coroner’s office. I tossed the photos on the seat of my car and headed back outside to finish the body shots. When I was happy with all the angles, I trudged through the snow for the house. The cop in the squad car started to open his door, but I waved him off. I pushed open the front door of the house and stood in the quiet hallway, listening.
I pushed the heavy door closed with the toe of my snow covered boot and pulled off my leather gloves, replacing them with clear latex ones. The foyer was amazing. The lights glistened off the Austrian crystal chandelier overhead, like moonlight on an ice-coated lake. The black and white tiles made me think of Alice in Wonderland. Where was that strange rabbit now? Was Daphne’s husband the Mad Hatter?
To be continued Oct 12….