Black Cat Weekly
#32, April 2022: Opposites attract? Two detectives work
different angles to resolve who murdered a young woman. The stark differences
in how she lived and what they discovered is chilling. But working together
proves to be the better way to settle differences.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
by Wil A. Emerson
If the color of
her bedroom had been pale blue or a subdued yellow, I would not have given its
austerity a second thought. The walls, instead, were painted a cool flesh tone.
Light enough, like skin, to imagine the veins and tendons of the rooms
Pale colors used
to enhance poetic thoughts? I sensed few of sonnets about ones life had
been written here.
The color theme
played out on the down comforter and pillow slips on her queen size bed. Two
dull blonde side-tables were topped with clear cylindrical glass lamps. The
only whimsical features anywhere in the room were the white snowflake crystals
of various sizes that dangled under bland opaque lamp shades. A hint of flare
or a subtle show of dispassion? The bed and tables filled the span of the far
wall and caught your eye as you walked into the room. The room itself was large
enough for comfort, small enough for intimacy.
On the windowless
wall to the left, a porcelain or pearl crucifix about ten inches in height hung
above a frameless full length mirror. Surely the religious token was meant to
be viewed each time an image appeared in front of the silver glass. Next to it,
was a large four drawer chest. Bleached wood with white knobs, the width about
six feet across, stood as a stoic, utilitarian piece of furniture. Nothing had
been placed on its surface.
On the opposite
wall, floor to ceiling, pale beige linen draperies were drawn together. The
dense inner fabric felt like tent material. Were those thick, monotone window
covers installed to hide the outside clutter, confusion of the world or to
contain the secrets of the rooms occupant?
The absence of a
view, the unseasonal warm spring day and a brilliant tangerine sky Id
witnessed shortly before entering the luxury apartment caused me to wonder why
this woman, who was now quite dead, had intentionally denied herself the
daylight. However, it soon became obvious she wasnt a stranger of the
shadows. Secrets, sad songs. One could only guess when it had all started. But
it no doubt had come to a sadistic, unnatural end.
One would expect
by the womans age this should be a bright, spirited sleeping quarter, as
welcoming as the entrance to the modern midtown landmark building. Its
wide glass door, copper and iron chandeliers, purple and green ceramic pots
were filled with ferns and day lilies. The opposite here. So monochromic, it
occupant wanted the room extraordinarily stark. The nude-like quality
reflected, in my quick review, constraints and restrictions. Devoid of emotion.
the atmosphere, told a far more eerie story about a dead occupant than what
dispatch had reported when they forwarded the information about the homicide of
a prosperous young woman who lived on Lexington Avenue. This encounter, what I
now viewed was more than I had anticipated. The location itself was an area of
town where young professionals, lawyers, doctors, stock brokers lived. Safe,
sophisticated and expensive.
Is an address a
lifestyle statement or does it lend purpose to ones life?
I sniffed the air.
Waited for one identifying, significant, lone aroma to ignite a clue as to the
reason why she died here. What were her likes and dislikes? Pleasures, habits.
Wine or whiskey, cigarettes or marijuana, chocolate candy or lemon drops. The
physical act of two bodies, loves peak or the solemn act of loneliness
absent, also. To assess the chemical variances in the air, I had to disengage
my ultra-keen senses and make a consciousness shift to assess the surroundings
at another level of awareness.
I flared my
nostrils, breathed deeply. The scent of Dove* soap from my morning shower
drifted in. Degree* antiperspirant also seeped through my mental filter. I wore
the brands unscented variety but still recognized the distinct properties
of its formula: paraben, alcohol and aluminum chloral hydrate. So I closed my
eyes, took several deep breathes, held them to a count of thirty and then
pushed out stale carbon dioxide to clear my olfactory epithelium and reset my
piriform cortex for unusual odors.
With a certainty,
a cognizance not to be ignored, the occupant of this room had done nothing to
conjure up a rash of emotions for visitors by introducing trigger scents like
musk spray or aromatic candles. Nor were there any antibacterial, alcoholic
purifiers to cleanse the air.
confuse myself, though, or make a rash conclusion until I finished my tried and
true routine of identifying what moved through the air besides ordinary
hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen. So I counted again, reset my mind and took
another full, nostrils- flaring breath. I mentally catalogued blood, its
ferrous, metallic aroma and put it in the insignificant folder of gray matter.
Of course, serum from a victims wound is a compelling factor but not
necessarily an instructive clue as to why or how the victim died.
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