"Talk to me, my Miss Yellow Roses, talk to me." I have always found it helps if I conduct an interview with the deceased. And I have found that they usually have a good deal say to those who take the time to listen.
Miss Yellow Roses surely was brought here from another place, a high-class restaurant, a one night rental from a top-end escort service, a professional date gone bad, real bad. Or maybe from one of those theatres in the theatre district, not all that far from here. You know, she could even be an actress sporting a bouquet of roses from some secret and sick admirer.
"No, Miss Yellow Roses, I've just gotta believe you carried those yellow roses with you as some tuxedoed gentleman opened the door of a Checker Cab for you. Promised you a night of dancing and instead, for reasons, I don't yet know, took you here to die. You knew this fellow and you got out that cab and walked right into this low life place, just because ... just because ... dammit, why would you get all dressed up and bed down for the night in a place like this. An affair? Yours? His?"
Another shadow came through the door, parting the uniformed oficers. It was the coroner, old Doc Brewster, retired Army, active drunk. Better doctor than his reputation would have you believe ... merely the product of too many drinks and too many divorces. And besides, it didn't take long to figure out that he would rather deal with dead patients than living ones, any day.
"Hey, Doc, Gotta a pretty one tonight."
"Busy night, MacKenzie. Third call tonight - all in this part of town.'
Out in the hall, I could see two young men, pre-med students probably, holding the stretcher, waiting or Doc to take his look and sign his papers.
"Doc, what do we have here tonight?"
Strangled. I'd say with a telephone cord, maybe. No bruises other than her neck. No alcohol. No sign of drugs. Where's her glasses?"
"Lieutenant, she wore glasses and she wore them all the time. You can see the impressions on her nose."
"No, Doc, no glasses.'
"Dead, maybe four or five hours. Who called it in?"
"Anonymous call to the Main Street precinct.'
'I'm guessing the call was made by the murderer. He must have wanted her found and found quickly. He had to have made the call right after the dirty deed. No sex as far as I can tell. No make-up on the dress so I doubt he dressed her up again."
"Anything else, Doc."
"No, MacKenzie. Check with me about noon tomorrow. Again she's number three. But you're right ... she was a looker."
He gave a nod toward the door and in came the body snatchers.
As they lifted the body, the yellow rose fell from her hair. For a moment, they were going to set her down and pick it up, but I said, "Don't worry about it, fellas. I'll just toss it into an evidence bag.' I never did.
As they left with Doc behind them, I thought, "God, what a dismal job, picking up dead bodies in the middle of the night."
I slipped the yellow flower into the right pocket of my herringbone jacket, a gift from my sister, the lawyer. I gave the sign for the officers and the forensics to come in and finish up there work. As they began sifting and dusting, one took a flash of the yellow roses on the chair, before picking them up to place them into a large, black evidence bag. As they did, a card fluttered to the floor, maybe one of those flower cards the florist provides, possibly a business card.
I snatched the card, palming it before hiding it in that same pocket that kept the rose.
"Thanks, guys. Leave the detail on my desk when you get back to the station. I'm beat. I'm going home." I followed my words with a pitiful thought, "I haven't had a home in years. I've got a room with a key, a bottle of Southern Comfort and a cat named Boo."