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2nd April
2012
posted by amber

Hairpin

My former sister-in-law phoned and begged me to go to the accident site.

“I can’t work the case, Joanne,” I told her. “I’m the ex-husband, for god’s sake.”

“They’re saying it was an accident,” she wept.

“She always did take that corner fast.” It was a hairpin curve leading down from the fabulous cliff-top house we’d shared, bought with money she inherited from her father.

“Just go look, please. She and Barry weren’t getting along.”

I went and I looked. The car was 200 feet down the cliff, the front end smashed up so badly they still hadn’t been able to get her body out.

The police at the scene weren’t my men. My men work homicides and this was considered an accident.

“This isn’t an accident,” I told them. “Get someone from homicide in.” I named some names. Not the names of my men – we wouldn’t be given this case.

The police conferred, they phoned. Finally some people from homicide arrived, with Nola McCartney in command. She’s not a big fan of mine.

“Christ, James, it’s 7 p.m. We were about to go off shift. Night time is your call.”

“She’s my ex-wife, Nola. And she was murdered.”

“The responding cops didn’t seem to think so. And it looks like an accident to me.” She leaned into the crumpled Volvo. “It smells like a brewery in here.”

“She didn’t drink – I think blood alcohol will confirm that. And she would have had to be quite the alcoholic to be drinking so early in the morning. She’s been here since 9 a.m. – look at when her watch stopped.” A pretty little gold watch that I’d given her for our fifth anniversary. It touched me that she still wore it.

I pointed into the back seat. “She was killed by someone who knew her well enough to know that she drives in flats and brings her heels along to put on when she gets where she’s going. But he didn’t know her well enough to know that she would never ever go out with those in her hair.”

“What?” Nola asked.

I indicated the hairpins securing her curls around her forehead. She kept a special tin in a drawer by the front door. The last thing she did before going out was to take out the pins and put them into the tin. It must have been two or three years into the marriage before I began to notice it – usually I was already in the car at that point, impatient to leave. By all accounts, her new husband was also an impatient man, and worse, an angry impatient man.

There would be other clues, I was sure, but it wouldn’t be me who found them.

It wasn’t my case. I walked away.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line or topic suggestions in the Comment section of any story.

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