Like the relentless heartbeat of some neon god, the red light pulsed over and over again, through the open window in this low rent hotel. Three stories down, the occasional night traffic could be heard splashing through the remains of a just ended downpour. Blocks away came the scream of an ambulance siren, on the way to bad news I was sure. But in this darkened room, there were only the whispers of the two uniformed officers standing guard in the hallway outside the half-opened door and the sound of the lace window curtains flapping in the breeze.
The officers were but backlit silhouettes, shadowed shapes ignoring me; knowing that this was always my time to be alone with what I called the remains of the crime. They knew it would be awhile before the others would be allowed to do their necessary duties, those unnamed souls whose unmentioned work it is to wash away the traces of our human horror.
So here I sit in the shadows of room 312 of the Hotel Ambassador, on a Sunday night in mid-July, in a purple winged-back chair staring down at the dead body of a woman not much younger than my own forty-eight years. She wore a plain black dress with yellow ribbons in her black hair. Her stylish black pumps were neatly set beside the chair across from me, and in the chair, a dozen yellow roses tied with a ribbon of black brocade.
She had been quite an elegant lady in her last few moments, far too elegant for this seedy, worn out place, this place of broken dreams and dreams that never were, this place where bottles of cheap wine met their final end and, at times, the half-empty souls who drank them.
"Why would this woman with her yellow roses end up here?"
My name is Ian MacKenzie, senior homicide detective is this corner of the world. And this is how I spend my life, trying figure out what took place in places like this.