Hey there all you blokes n’ sheilas,
Time for a bit of the old weekly segment on m’current work in progress, “Is It not Midnight?” It’s your standard Hungarian demon hunter short story.
If you haven’t been reading along so far. You can catch up here:
They stepped through the opening and into the lighted interior. Winslow’s sensitive nostrils were greeted by a rich floral scent mixed with the brothy aroma of soup. The shelter was preparing for dinner and neither detective had eaten for several hours. They paused and drank in the bouquet. It certainly beat the smells they had encountered at the other shelters.
“It’s lavender.” said a voice.
Both detectives returned from their olfactory reverie to see the voice was attached to a young, visibly pregnant, black woman. She wore a white, peasant-style shirt that fit loosely over her protruding belly and a multi-colored skirt. Winslow guessed she might be on the young side of twenty.
“Lavender,” she repeated. Frankel snapped into action and introduced himself.
“Hi, Lavender. I’m Detective Frankel and this is my partner Detective Winslow. What smells so good?”
“No,” she chuckled “it’s lavender you smell in the air. My name is Alisha. Alisha Coates. Ms. Glinden likes to create a calming atmosphere. It’s her secret blend but it’s mostly lavender oil. Can I help you gentlemen with something?”
“We’re hoping you could identify this man,” said Winslow. He handed her a photo of the John Doe.
“Richard!” she exclaimed. Her eyes went wide.
“You know him?” asked Frankel.
“O-only a little bit,” she stammered. “What’s happened to him?”
“He was found in an alley downtown with his throat cut in the early hours of Monday morning,” said Winslow.
“Oh that poor man,” said Alisha “He was new to the city and he’d been coming here since we opened our doors a few weeks ago. He was always friendly. Wilson. Richard Wilson was his name. I should’ve known something like this was going to happen.”
“Excuse me?” Winslow’s eyebrows attempted to make contact with his hairline.
“It’s nothing,” she averted her eyes. “I have bad dreams sometimes.”
“Did he ever have trouble with anybody around here?” Frankel waved his hand in an expansive gesture to encompass the dining hall.
“Oh no. Richard was real friendly with everybody here.” she replied.
“When was the last time you saw him?” asked Winslow. He was scribbling notes in a little pad.
“I, I’m not here every day,” she sat down unsteadily. “But I know he spent the night here on Saturday night. I wasn’t here on Sunday. Ms. Glinden always makes sure I have Sundays off.” She appeared a little relieved to put some distance between herself and the gruesome event.
“And who is this Ms. Glinden? Your boss? Is she here tonight?” asked Frankel.
“Why, she’s more than my boss. She runs the New Church of the Golden Age.” she replied. “Some of that stuff is a little goofy, but they mean well. Ms. Glinden took me in when I had nobody. She says she likes to look after the innocent.” Her hands rested on her rounded belly.
“Could we speak to Ms. Glinden?” asked Winslow.
“She ain’t here tonight.” Alisha said. “But if you give me your information I’m sure she’d be delighted to speak with you all tomorrow.”
Frankel produced a card; Alisha accepted.
“What did you mean when you said you had bad dreams?” Winslow asked.
“Oh,” she smiled weakly. “It’s nothin’. Carryin’ a baby make you silly in the head sometimes. I have a dream every once in a while. I’m layin’ in my bed and I hear an awful scraping, scratching sound. Like an animal. I want to get up and see, but in the dream I’m paralyzed. Ms. Glinden thinks it’s trauma from a past life. I think it’s more likely all the pickles I’ve been eatin’.”
“And you had this dream again Sunday night?” Winslow had stopped scribbling notes.