The Curious Case Of The Dead Bridesmaids - Part 1
What a beautiful venue, she thought looking up at the golden globular hanging lamps. There were hundreds of them dangling in rows from invisible electrical lines, lighting up the thousand white chairs under the starry night sky. Melissa looks gorgeous!! How lucky she is, she thought as a quick twinge of envy hit her, watching the bride perform her first dance to Eric Clapton's 'Wonderful Tonight'.
She felt a slight nudge that stole her away from her thoughts. "We go next", said her groomsman. The makeup around her cheek creased as she smiled. With that, her pangs of jealousy were gone. As the night progressed, the crowd got merrier, dancing to the tunes the seven piece band crooned, the booze flowed freely and with every drink of Gin and Tonic, her words got slurry and inhibitions weak. All the while she noticed him stealing glances at her. When she was on stage by the bride, when she was swaying to music on the makeshift circular dance floor, when she was at the bar. He would always lock eyes with her for a second and look away. Classic move. She gave him equal indications that she was interested, but he didn't approach. Oh well, it was her last evening before flying back to her monotonous life and she wasn't going to waste it wondering will he won't he.
Stop ringin sonofabitch, was all he could muster in his delirious state, when the punishing rrrings woke him up at 6 in the morning. In an era where a ninety year old grandpa uses an Iphone to text his seven year old grandchild, he was probably the only one who considered phones mankind's worst invention. A visa to disturb anyone at will. There was no seclusion left in the world, no corner untraceable. And so his grunt followed by the bellow was justifiable.
He squirmed around for a bit on his cheap linen bed sheet, praying the rings would stop, hopefully never to return. Stop they did, but only for a moment before a fresh batch ensued. Oh well, for an atheist to expect a miracle was down right hypocritical. He moaned and reached for his silver Motorola, almost knocking down the lamp in the bedside table. It was Rebecca, Inspector with the east division police department. Her pretty face and straight, jet black hair did a good job of masking the fact that she could break a man's femur with a single kick. From experience though he knew the call was coming from Chief Inspector Liam who always used Rebecca as a shield when dealing with him.
"To what do I owe the pleasure, inspector", he said yawning.
"Noel, there's been another murder. We need you here ASAP", came an urgent yet composed reply.
He closed the flap without a goodbye. There was no need for pleasantries. Leaving the comfort of his warm blanket he walked into the bathroom for a cold shower. He never made the bed. The blue blanket would remain strewn on the single bed until sundown, when he would return to tuck himself in. He wasn't disordered, he just believed in expending energy only where required. It was going to be a long day. He smiled in anticipation, revealing a single dimple on the left cheek.
Noel Foster was a freelance detective. He was shrewd and arrogant, a combination that kept prospective clients away. But he had a knack for looking beyond the obvious and spotting clues in what others considered regular. He also had an uncanny skill with stitching events together to make a coherent scene, and this coupled with unemployment made him a valuable resource for the East Division police department.
He stared at his reflection in the wall mirror. At five feet eleven, with a skinny frame and short, neatly parted hair, he wasn't what you'd call attractive. He buttoned up his black blazer over the white shirt. If it were up to him he'd visit crime scenes in his pajamas but apparently maintaining appearances was important. He never did understand the ways of the world, but he did, somewhat reluctantly, comply.
Noel walked in to room 201 with a Starbucks styrofoam cup in his left hand and a maroon Louise Vuitton bag slinging from his right arm. Like energy, he spent money only where it was required. Inspector Rebecca, Chief Liam, and forensics expert Garter were present, each pretending to inspect a corner of the room but in actual avoiding small talk until Noel arrived.
"Bring me up to speed chief", Noel said taking a sip of coffee and placing the bag on a chair. He pulled out and wore a pair of rubber gloves before extracting the only device he would need, a magnifying glass.
Liam walked to the far side of the room and gestured Noel to follow. He pointed out at the large open space that was visible from the spotless window. There were men taking down decorations. Clearly a venue for celebration.
"The wedding of William and Melissa was held there yesterday. Ten rooms across this resort were booked for specific guests. This room is one of them. Haley was one of the bridesmaids at the wedding, she landed in from Hong Kong and checked in to this room three days ago. The body on the bed is her's."
"At four this morning we got a call from the resort manager. Haley had a 7 AM flight back and the previous night had asked the manager to send coffee at 4 AM. When she didn't answer after repeated knocks the service lady opened the door with a master key and walked in to find her sprawled naked on the bed with a chord around her neck. She called the manager, who called us."
"We have checked everything we can. The night staff is very limited, there was one manager and two service members on duty. One of them saw her walk in with a man but didn't see him long enough to give us any details. The resort prides itself in privacy which means no cameras, incidentally working against us. We have no leads", the Chief stroked his moustache as he ended his succinct summary.
Noel kept the cup on the window ledge and walked to the bed. He circled it for a while, eyes darting in all directions. "The profile fits the other 2 murders. A wedding, a lonely bridesmaid, a romantic rendezvous, a chord and no witnesses." he said in a low raspy voice, more to himself than his audience. The three leaned against walls ready for Noels astute yet brilliant microscopic observation.
"Just like I did with the others, I believe the murderer was invited and did not break in. They seem to have known each other and most definitely indulged in sexual intercourse. There was no fight because nothing seems out of place, but to be sure let's check with the staff later. It looks like some time in between sex the murderer pulled the telephone chord from the side table and strangled her."
After a few minutes of silence it was obvious Noel had nothing more to add.
Liam was disappointed. He was used to Noel making some sudden revelation, a clue he spotted on the carpet or a lipstick smear on a corner everyone else had missed. This time even he seemed stumped. This was the third murder this month and the public were getting furious with the officials' inability to nab the killer. They needed a ray of hope, some news to feed the public, and if anyone was going to find it, it would be Noel.
Noel slowly turned the girls face and squinted. This is a bit odd, he thought and pulled out his right glove. He gently placed the tip of his finger on her cheek and and stroked it. The body is already stiffening and the cheek is cold, except for this tiny little patch here.
"Chief, from what the staff saw we know it's a man. Let's get a list of all attendees at the three weddings and compare to see if any common names pop up", Noel suggested.
Again, Liam was disappointed. This was the obvious course of action and was already underway. "Alright, we'll keep you informed", Liam said as he walked to the bed and pulled a sheet over the naked body, indicating the investigation was over.
Noel walked out with his coffee. He had seen something out of the ordinary but he wanted to be sure before he mentioned it. The skin on her face was dry except for a tiny patch that was oily. The oil was definitely not secreted from her facial pores. It was extrinsic. He couldn't figure out if it meant anything but his gut told him it was a clue, and Noel Foster had impeccable intuition.