Posts Tagged ‘Little mysteries’

2nd April
written by amber


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.

31st March
written by amber


Officer, I not only saw the accident, but I saw what lead up to it.

Yes, I’d be willing to come down to the station and make a statement, but let me phone my husband to tell him he has to pick up our grand-daughter Sally at her after-school place. I was just stopping for some groceries on my way to do just that. No, wait, that won’t work. Marc has a meeting out of town this evening, he’ll be halfway to Lethbridge by now. Sorry, but I really have to run. I’ll be late as it is.

Oh, that would be very kind. We’re trying to get by with just the one car, but it does make life difficult at times. Are you sure they’re done with you here?

My, so young and in charge of all those other men, and that woman too! You’ve done well for yourself, not like that poor young man back there. I was holding his hand, after the accident. Perhaps I should have done more, breathed into him or something, that fellow in the green apron from the grocery store did just that. Pushed me out of the way and breathed into him. But when I got to him, before that, he was talking.

He was saying, “Fuck, fuck, fuck.” Not as angrily as he was saying it when he first rode away on his bike, kind of sadly, in fact. Like he was sorry he’d done what he did.

Oh, can I tell you about it now, even though you’re driving and can’t write it down or anything? All right, but I have to start at the beginning, I have to tell you what happened before he rode away on his bike.

He was in the grocery store, in the line right in front of me, but he wasn’t buying anything, he was talking to the teller. It was obviously a private conversation, but none of us could help but hear it. He was begging her, the teller, to withdraw some kind of charges against him, he said she had to do it today before 5 p.m. because it’s Friday and if she didn’t withdraw them, then on Monday morning a bailiff was coming by to take away his bicycle. And he said he’d just gotten a job, and gotten ‘his act together’ and he would pay her the money he owed her, but he couldn’t pay it now and if only he could keep the job, he’d make everything okay.

I don’t think he was talking about their relationship. Well, maybe in a way he was, but I could sense a resignation about him, that he knew he’d ruined that chance forever, but he wanted to make things right with her, one by paying the money, and two by proving to her that he could straighten himself out. But she was very cold to him, she was angry that he’d come by her workplace, and she would not agree.

I guess he has disappointed her before. “I’ll get my money if the bailiff takes the stuff from you, but I have no guarantee that I’ll get it if I withdraw my claim, do I?” she said.

He offered to write an IOU and he said he’d get it witnessed by anyone she wanted. I offered to witness it, but no one else in the line-up did, and the next teller was glaring at her, so it was a tense situation. She told him to leave. He argued and pleaded a little more, then she picked up her phone and said she’d call Security, so he stormed out, cursing.

I had only a couple of things, so I was out of the store while he was still struggling to unlock his precious bike, too upset to do it quickly, cursing away as I said. I walked by, what could I do? And I didn’t want to have to walk too quickly on my way to get Sally, the concrete is hard on my legs. So I carried on down the street, and I saw him swoop through the traffic, cursing very loudly now, still just the one word.

And I heard the delivery truck, they go so quickly, trying to make their schedules, and it went by me and the young man on the bike just turned his wheel and put himself in front of it. I know he did it on purpose. I know he’d had enough of life.

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.

29th March
written by amber

Last Case

The body lies in an alley, next to an over-flowing dumpster. I’ve been called from some kind of family reunion to oversee the investigation, yet I seem to have no idea of how I’d gotten here.

Am I drunk?

I move closer to the body, hovering above it without touching anything. I recognize the face.

It is mine.

Details about the family reunion return to me – many friends and relatives were there who had died. No one currently alive was there. I had been there, and it felt as if I belonged. Why aren’t I there still?

Is it because I still don’t trust my men to solve a murder case on their own? But how can I help, floating above the corpse (my corpse) as I am?

I have to admit, it is a surprise to me that I am dead. I certainly don’t remember how I got that way. I have no insider information for my men, and even if I do, no way to communicate it with them. It’s true, they are uncommonly insensitive to communications from the living, and certainly not a one of them seems sensitive to communications from the dead.

Here they come now, joking as they always do when arriving on a scene. I used to do it myself, to counteract the dread, to provide a layer of insulation. But, of course, that protective layer is stripped away the moment they see that it is me lying there.

It might have touched me, to see how upset they are, but I have noticed something in the arrangement of the trash around the body. Around my body.

The case we’d been working on concerned an organized crime hit, one bad guy who shot another bad guy, but if we solved it, we would have had enough ammunition to put a major player out of commission for the foreseeable future. Our forensics were good, but we needed our eye witness to clinch the case.

The eye witness was in the wind, but she’d called me late last night to set up a meet. And I went alone because everyone had already put in a long day and I was feeling sorry for them. And because the eye witness said that no one had been following her, so all I needed to do was pick her up and drive her to the station, after which we’d get her statement and see about setting her up somewhere safe until the trial.

We were to meet at a well-lit all-night coffee shop. But as I neared the place, I saw someone pulling her into the alley. She was struggling. I called it in and went after her. And there my memories end.

But I can see that I didn’t die immediately. Blood rings my head, flowing in all directions like a red Medusa, the wound in my forehead from which the blood flowed is an angled depression. Not a bullet wound, but a blow from the proverbial blunt object. A nearby two-by-four is the most probable weapon.

Head injury, memory loss, but time enough to arrange some litter just off the end of one arm, a Pringles can. Hovering nearer, I see my fingerprint in red just below the name of the layered stamped out salty snacks. Pringles is the nickname of our suspect in the hit, the one who had most to gain from killing the witness, from killing me.

But the wind is gusting through the alley and the can is rolling back and forth, already it’s at least a foot away from my finger. All it needs to do is get launched over a shallow dam of hamburger wrappers and gravel and dead leaves, and it’ll be gone to the next block, far beyond the standard search zone of my men.

Look! Look at that can! I scream to my men, but not a one of them hears me.

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.



17th March
written by amber

Don’t Go There

When I arrived on the scene, I saw many police cars surrounding a very large moving van. The crime scene tape surrounded the moving van, so I knew that was where the body would be found.

As I strode toward the moving van, my men tried to block my way. “Don’t go there.” Sometimes they’re too protective of me, but I’m not some fragile female. I can take it.

I couldn’t take it. Inside the van, one of my men lay, his life’s blood forming a red halo around his head.

One of my men. I always call them ‘my men.’ They’re all young, they all have a lot to learn, but they aren’t indistinguishable.

James. The man who died was James.

“Marla.” My captain approached. “You have to stand down now. You can’t investigate the death of one of your own men.”

“I already know who killed James,” I told him.

“That’s impossible. The medical examiner and crime scene people aren’t even here yet. All we’ve had time to do is trace this moving van – it was reported stolen last month. We haven’t even tracked down the owner.”

“It wasn’t the owner. It was the suspect we’ve been looking for, the one who leaves dismembered bodies in trunks on the outskirts of town. Look, Andy didn’t pull this moving van over for any sort of violation. He’s not…he wasn’t a traffic cop. And he probably didn’t know what we see now, that the van is full of trunks. But he saw what I can see – the mud flung up onto the van’s sides. Most drivers keep their rigs cleaner than that. And it’s the same red mud we encountered where the last body was found.”

“But why would he try to take the guy down himself?”

“He wouldn’t. Unless the circumstances were exceptional. There’s only one explanation. He must have found the murderer in the middle of a kill. We know the perp abducted women from ground floor or basement level apartments during the night. If you check apartments around here, you’ll find that someone’s missing.”

The captain shook his head. “He could have radioed it in, got help on the way. It would only take a moment.”

“James wasn’t in his patrol car. See, that’s his personal car over there.” It was parked sideways at the curb, not far behind the moving van. “And you know James, he never remembers to keep his cell phone charged,” I said to my remaining men. They nodded, sober-faced.

“It all took place inside this moving van,” I went on. “He either saw the guy dragging his victim in here, or saw a light coming out from under the door. He probably had his gun drawn as he went in.”

“You can’t possibly know that.”

“I know the way I trained him. He would have been careful.”

“Not careful enough,” the captain said sourly.

“He had to drop the gun.” I pointed to some leaf litter in the gutter, the standard issue police revolver barely visible in the mess. It wasn’t tagged.  No one else had noticed it. “The guy must have been holding the girl like a hostage, she must not have been dead yet. James climbed in because he was ordered to, then the guy shot him, either with a silencer or he shut the door first.”

Everyone stared at me. “No one called it in, right? No one heard shots. Someone saw the body, later, because the back of the truck was open. And it was open because James opened it. After he was shot.”

James was lying with one foot sticking about six inches over the back end of the truck. Smears of blood covered the inside door lever.

“Why would the guy let James open the door?”

“It was a while later. After the guy finished carving up the girl. See the mess of bloody plastic in the corner – I bet you’ll find the knives and saws in there, and her body in one of the trunks. James must have passed out after he was shot, but he came to eventually. The neck wound was fatal, but it was a slow death. He had time to pull out the gun he wears in a shoulder holster under his shirt.”

My captain challenged, “And what’s your theory about what he did with the gun?”

“He shot the murderer. If I’m not wrong, the guy crawled into a corner of the van to die. That’s probably his blood flowing toward us now. Maybe he’s not even dead yet. Maybe someone should take him into custody. But not me. It’s not my case.”

I walked away. My men followed me.

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.

Thank you to my mother, Mary Bond, for suggestions that inspired this story.

9th March
written by amber

It Happened in a Taxi

The body lay in the gutter next to a service road running under a busy overpass. The service road was not busy. The body had been there for a day before anyone discovered it.

“The homeless guy living in the cardboard box over there says someone threw her out of a taxi last night,” my men told me.

I didn’t bother to ask why the homeless guy hadn’t called it in. I could see that he didn’t have a phone.

“So, who found her?” I asked.

“Social worker. Comes by to check on homeless guy once a week.”

“Let’s go look at the body,” I said.

The victim was blonde and probably had been gorgeous before being pummelled by some blunt instrument.

“Nice clothes,” one of my men observed. “I’m thinking high class hooker.”

“She had a purse,” I noted, pointing at the designer clutch lying not too far from the body. Most hookers prefer to keep their cash and everything else they need in a more secure place than a purse.

“No cards or ID in the purse. Maybe it wasn’t hers,” one bright bunny said. I gave him a look.

The homeless guy shuffled over toward me, the cop who’d been babysitting him yelling, “Hey,” and running after him.

“Leave him be,” I said, and met the guy halfway.

“It happened in a taxi,” he told me.

“You already told us she was thrown out of the taxi,” one of my men said.

“It happened in the taxi.”

I asked, “You saw someone kill her in the taxi?”

My men began to pepper him with questions. “What did he look like? A big man, a small man? White, black?”

His answers were mumbled, rushed, without inflection. “Not big, not small. I don’t know what colour. It’s always dark here at night. He was shouting at her. I was afraid.”

I heard shouting. A beat cop was yelling. It sounded like, “I found the murder weapon.”

I walked down the street to see what he’d found. It was in a dumpster, underneath leaking bags of food waste from a greasy spoon. It was a baseball bat. A very famous baseball bat.

“Do you think he’s the doer?” my men asked.

“Scott Saunders? The baseball player? More likely he’s another victim. Didn’t you hear he was a no-show for the big game today?”

Their blank faces showed me they’re too busy to follow sports. I guess I should be impressed or something.

“Find the taxi,” I told them.


They found the taxi down by the wharves. “No sign of Mr. Saunders, or the taxi driver,” my men reported.

I glanced into the taxi, stepped back and told my men, “Saunders is in the water. Get some divers. And arrest the taxi driver.”

“How do you figure that?”

“You should pay attention to sports,” I told them. “Saunders has been seeing a mystery woman. People said she was a professional escort-”

“A hooker, like I said,” I was interrupted, but I shot the guy a look and kept on, “Yesterday they announced they were going to get married. Scott Saunders to wed Ali Sands. There was a picture in the paper. I would have recognized her sooner if there’d been more of her face left.”

“So how did the taxi driver manage to beat them both to death? Big guy like Saunders.”

“Saunders was shot. You can smell it in the cab.” Faint. The over-powering smell had been blood and death, but the gun powder smell was there.

“Why shoot him and then bludgeon her?”

“It was a crime of passion. Check the taxi driver’s name. Jasbir Sandhu.”

Once again I drew a blank from my men. “Sandhu. Sands. I bet he was her father. You did notice that she had black roots?”

“Surely she knew her father drove a taxi. Why would she get in the taxi if she suspected he wanted to punish her for…what she used to do?” one of the men asked.

Another of the men conjectured, “Or for marrying a white guy.”

“Oh, she knew it was his taxi. They were hoping to make up with the guy. That’s why they brought the gift.”

“What gift?”

“The baseball bat. You think the players carry them around all the time? You fellows need to get out more.”

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.

This story was written with suggestions for a prop, a line of dialogue and a genre supplied by Peggy Shannon. I’m practicing for the script I’ll be writing for the 48 Hour Movie Making Challenge in Calgary on March 30. Peggy gave me: 1. A baseball bat. 2. “It happened in a taxi” 3. crime. Thanks, Peggy!