An excerpt from the novel

All Done With Mirrors

Copyright ©1999 Jim Gabour. All Rights Reserved.

Of course it's my fault. Everything's my fault. Sun comes up, my fault. Earth spins, ditto. Zaza's dead, and bingo, everybody's on the horn trying to drag yours truly down to the Eighth District station. I know what's happening down there, right now.

"The elderly woman who lives next door, one Edna G Valentine, signed a statement that she knew the deceased to be..." the young detective looks at his notes to make sure he gets the facts right for the briefing of his senior officers, "... a female of native Eskimo extraction. My own examination confirms Mongol features, mid-twenties, short, maybe under five foot, dark eyes and hair. Mrs Valentine further said the victim was known to have diverse sexual partners. The victim was not wearing undergarments, top or bottom, when her body was discovered, though the coroner found no overt physical evidence of recent sexual activity on or in the body in his preliminary examination."

There are grunts of recognition exchanged among the all male audience of detectives. They're getting a feel for this case.

"The neighbor also alleges that the victim conspired in Satanist rituals with the Caucasian male who rented the apartment where the homicide was committed." He turns to the next page in his spiralbound pocket tablet and smiles. His comrades will like this one. "The murder weapon was driven directly into the heart through a tattoo that appears to be a large tusked mammal, possibly a walrus, on the victim's inner left breast."

He is right about the effect of that revelation.

"Woo-ooof," the entire NOPD night shift says in a chorus. heads nod with judgement.

You see? My fault, they think. To a man.

But who cares, I mean, really?

Not me.

Because it's not my fault.

I thought the matter might be settled quietly and just go away. That is not the case. The reality is that I do have to run away over this thing with Zaza. She's dead. There's no way around the fact.

It happened like this.

First, Nando calls to tell me the police are on their way. He's heard Mrs Valentine make a screaming 911. He's heard the shouted "Murrdeeerrrr!" and "He did it! The monster did it!". The words of accusation greasily slipping through the three inches of lard saturated air that serves as insulation between their adjoining apartments. Sliding with a hearty schlup into Nando's ear.

I stop and listen to him mimic her on the phone, even though we're supposed to be in a crisis mode that demands immediate action on my part. Nando's good. As he croaks over the wires, I can smell the sour venom of the old hag's breath. I can see the saliva encrusted lips. I can hear her spit out the letters of what she thinks is my name, breathlessly describing what she imagines is my newest offense. The pathetic crone remains an endless font of poison when it comes to me.

I can't imagine why she takes the bother. I try so hard to be absolutely inoffensive.

Some day I'll discuss all this with her. One way or another, we'll get it all out in the open.


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