Monday, October 19, 2009

Mr Johnson's Demise

She was being smug today. I hate the cliché about the cat who swallowed the canary but every time she spoke I expected cheery yellow feathers to puff out of her mouth to float gently into the air. Her hot pink lips were blindingly glazed. The desk lamp intensified the glare. The interview was almost complete; she had been brought in for a second round of questioning. You know the theory; the one who stands to gain the most when a husband or wife is murdered is the remaining spouse. Her artificial lashes flickered open and shut over eyes the color of fresh grass sprouting in spring. Obviously enhanced by contacts, the shade of green was too bright for hot pink lip gloss that was puckered into a pout.

“I told you everything I know… I’m really going to be late for the salon. I have to look my best for the wake tonight.” sighing she added, “I just haven’t had a moment to fix myself up since it happened.”

She emphasized the pout by tapping a perfectly manicured inch and a half pointer fingernail on my desk. The florid hot pink clashed with the olive drab surface of the metal topped standard issue police desk. I wondered how much she spent each week to maintain this perfected look. How many hours went into her beauty regime? How many people at the salon were kept busy meeting her quest for this perfect look?

His eyes drifted slightly to the right where the photo of his wife resided. Wind tossed hair, makeup free, resplendent in a flannel shirt standing in front of their tent. Some comparison, his wife would no sooner waste her time by allowing others to manipulate her outward appearance. His eyes shifted back to the mask before him with its cajoling voice repeating…

“Look… I told you again and again where I was. Now I really must go.”

“Thanks for your time, Mrs. Johnson. We’ll be sure to inform you of any new developments in your husband’s death but like wise if you think of something else… please be sure to call us.” Extending his hand with his card, she reached across the distance to snap it free. Her high gloss nails closed onto the business card with the speed of a viper striking its prey.

He watched her retreating back saunter down the aisle. Actually so did half the staff… that is the male half. Her trim figure fully encased in a leather jumpsuit teetered on impressive high heals. The effect was hormonally electric; he could practically taste the testosterone level in the office.
“Get back to work….” He called to bring them back to focus. “Richards, what’s new? Bring me what you have.” “Unreasonably tight alibi, not unlike that leather outfit she had on, sir.”

“Well, I guessed it would be but some where there is something to expose… I don’t mean that surgically enhanced cleavage either.”

“Got you, its all to antiseptic: too obvious. No one can know such exact times.”

“Its definitely an inside job. No one saw anything unusual other than the usual spat before he left for the office. I can’t imagine what I’d do if Elaine even went once a week to the salon. Criminy, that woman practically lives there or at the plastic surgeon’s office.”

Maybe… maybe it’s just too obvious. Maybe the answer is staring us right in the face.”

“Well check with the limo driver and salon owner again. Maybe she slipped a fast one over on them as well. The insurance payout let alone the estate value is more than enough reason for temptation but her “remodeling” surgeries must have been costly.”

“Yah, not on my pay check...” Richards turned to follow the scent that still lingered from the expensive perfume that still hung heavily throughout the investigation unit office.

Picking up the phone, Adam punched the number for the Johnson attorney. He needed to know about any recent will revisions. Whatever would nail her for her husband’s murder was right out in plain sight… he just knew if you got past the layers of make-up, designer clothes, priceless jewels, and surgery enhancement.

“No, Mr. Johnson hadn’t recently revised his will. There was no pre-nup agreement, no hint of divorce, no legal problems. Look detective, everyone knew the old man had a bad heart. Christ, he was 81. How long do you think he could keep up with that living Barbie Doll he married five years ago?”

“Well how about the benefits to his first wife or the children? Heck they’re older than their step mother… must be some bad blood there.”

“All that was settled years ago, that’s what is so odd. He set up the boys as heirs to his corporate business. They’ve been running it with little advice for ten years. His daughter is successful in her own right as an artist with a designer line of clothing, house wares, original art that was backed originally by her father. The children seemed to have no bad feelings toward Nanci as their father’s last fling with passion in his old age. Hell their mother has been married three times and the last husband is quite young. Afraid I can’t help you make a motive type connection her from my office.”

“Thanks, attorney Kingly… Just let me know if something comes up that strikes you as odd.”

“As I said my client lived a long full life. What’s it matter now that he’s gone?”

“Someone has to pay for the crime attorney. I can’t turn away: murder is murder and someone needs to be brought in.”

Swinging his chair around to face the viewless window he shook his head. Maybe the Johnson attorney was right; the guy was 81. Probably older than I’ll get with the rate of this job stress and high cholesterol; Elaine was right he needed to chill out and eat better. Eyeing the box of doughnuts, he hesitated only for a moment. The jelly started to dribble down his chin, catching it quickly; he licked the glob of raspberry off of his pointer finger.

Something clicked, he visualized Nanci’s perfectly manicured fingernail tapping on his drab desk top. She said she hadn’t gone to the salon since her husband’s death but those nails held nary a nick. Acting on a hunch, he pulled the file folder on the Johnson murder. Flipping through the file, he located the part of the report about his fingernail scraping, the scratches on his neck and incidental fibers. The autopsy indicated the scratches were feline in nature but couldn’t explain a residue of hot pink flecks.

Calling the cell phone number of Nanci Johnson, he received the typical “not within cell area of operation” message. Dialing the mansion, the phone was answered promptly by Mr. Johnson’s man. The question was simple. “Does Nanci have a cat?”

“Mr. Johnson made her give up her cat due to allergies.”

Hanging up, he grabbed his suit coat. The other question would certainly be answered as he expected. That Nanci had been a nail specialist before her fortunate marriage to Mr. Johnson. He was willing to bet she had done her cat’s claws in a matching hot pink. He only hoped that remnants remained… digitalis dipped nail polish most like had speeded the end of eighty one years of life.


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