This story, like most stories, begins with a dame. Don’t take offense ladies; dame, noun, reserved for a woman of such great stature, honor, power and grace as to be the equivalent of a knight. From the Latin or Old French domina, meaning mistress. Which, subsequently is also a noun, meaning a woman in a position of authority or control, such as being the mistress of one’s situation no matter how mired with entropy. Other meanings, a female who has taken the position of head of her household, or a woman who is extremely skilled in a particular subject or activity. From the Old French maistresse, meaning master.
So yes, both in terms of gender and the very nature of the word, this story begins with a dame. Unfortunately, said dame happened to be laying on the floor in a more wretched state of affairs. The predominant question at the time, next to who and why, was whether or not she suffered.
“Looks like we’ve got a real psychopat on our ands, eh Byron? Serial killer I bet.” Jayson Pierce half asked me and half told, dropping the H like he often did, his voice thick with a combination Welsh and Jamaican accent. The chief of police with seven years tenure in the position, there weren’t many that would argue his manner of speech. That was, in the ego and sensibilities of most higher ups, a surefire way to ensure you would not be climbing the corporate ladder any time soon.
“…I’m not so sure Jaice; right now you’re only reconnoitering the most obvious traits of the victim’s field.” I posited, slipping easily yet with practiced control out of my long coat. I held the sage green blended, double breasted turn down collar affair out to my assistant, bodyguard and constant compatriot who took it wordlessly. No eye contact was necessary; I was already focused deep on the woman in plum laid so carefully out on the floor. Shi’Sanna Bronsen took my coat, and carefully folded it over one bare, well toned arm before returning to her candy.
“Ow ya figer, Byron?” Jayson inquired, reaching up to remove his derby cap and then thinking better of it. Good man; no sense contaminating the crime scene with loose strands of hair, though his raven would’ve certainly stood out against her blonde.
“This is too intimate for a serial killer.” I reasoned, slipping on a pair of sterile white gloves.
“Ow so? See’s got er digits acked off, asn’t see?” Jayson grumbled, never one to enjoy being told he’s wrong.
“Good way to make sure there’s no DNA to be found under her fingernails, certainly. Still, too much else is off.”
I took a deep breath. She smelled too pretty to be a corpse.
“For one, there’s the perfume. For another, the outfit. The color coding is ludicrously careful, and the care of the arrangement… Look at her heels, the shoes not literal. She’s worn them often enough, and had them restored more than once. Her hair is immaculate, her makeup perfectly sculpted.
“Intimate. Someone knew her and knew her well. Someone wanted her to die in her Sunday best. Favorite clothes, and I bet if we searched her kit we’d find enough of the makeup to hazard a better than average guess that she likes this color and brand a great deal. Then, there’s the room.”
I rose, and nearly drowned in the intoxication of the rich. Sprawled out before me was a spread that would’ve paled only beside Solomon’s. To say that the victim, a one Suzanne Headly, had done well for herself would be an understatement of the magnitude as to say it is cold in Fairbanks, Alaska in the winter.
Everything was designer, none of it off the rag. A good number of pieces were likely made to order, and at least several vases and other such conversation starters had been featured in some museum or other. There were tapestries hand woven or stitched from remote villages with names too difficult to pronounce and reputations too volatile for a pretty white blonde to venture without entourage. The floor to ceiling windows lining the living room wall had a view of the city that was not just enviable, it was beyond decadent.
The colors and set pieces themselves were coordinated to such an obsessive compulsive degree that I doubted Suzanne owned a single piece of clothing that didn’t fit to great perfection. Even so, when you looked at the deceased, eerily resplendent woman on the floor it was clear this outfit matched the best.
“…This is more than just a psychopath’s playground, and deeper than an ordinary crime of passion. The evening may not have begun with murder on the mind, but the act committed was calculated for a very long time. Call it a hunch.”
“Well I, ey’! Wat are ya doin’ Bronsen?!” Jayson suddenly erupted. I turned my head just so. Shi’Sanna was crouched low, lightly touching at a spot on Suzanne’s throat.
“C’mon Jaice, you oughta know this by now. Shi’Sanna can’t get her prints on anything. Can’t leave behind what you don’t have.” I sighed with annoyance. I hated repeating myself and clarifying what ought already be clear.
“I know, but it still might muss sometin’ up!” he began our age old argument. I bit back a bitter retort as Shi’Sanna slowly looked my way.
“The foundation is sloppy. The foundation was applied, and then re-applied, and then re-applied. The marks are not even despite being meticulous. The hand was shaking. Look here; these marks are from choking. These ones are not.” Came her deep, rich voice, her Trinidadian accent somewhat mired by the years abroad.
And, with that, Shi’Sanna stared at her smudged white fingertips, odd against her rich, whipped chocolate tone, and stood. I nodded, and she took my kerchief out of her pocket to wipe them clean. Retrieving the sucker from behind her ear, she returned to staring idly out of the floor to ceiling windows at the twinkling, pulsating night below.
She likely wouldn’t say anything else for the rest of the investigation beyond “Boss”. Some people mistake Shi’Sanna for being slow; she’s just a woman of few words more often than not.
“We’ll obviously want to examine the rest of the flat, but, one thing is certain. Somewhere along the line, love became hate, and someone very intelligent performed a murder tonight nearly ritualistic in its devotion. Though, I could be wrong. Perhaps not necessarily a lover, rather someone obsessed? Too many variables right now. Either way…it looks like I have a rather interesting case on my hands, now don’t I?”
“Mmm, look at you, some kinda super detective ya?” Jayson chided, a familiar spark forming in his eyes.
“…No,” I began slowly as I turned.
“Life has simply provided me a great many years with very little to do save pay close attention to my surroundings.”
My name is Byron Carmichael, and this is the beginning of a murder that would soon be known as a Sinful Lady Innocent.
Come, let’s walk hand in hand down the annals of the hallways of necrosis and despair…