Issue > Fiction
Barbara Schweitzer

Barbara Schweitzer

Barbara Schweitzer is author of 33 1/3: Soap Opera Sonnets (Little Pear Press, 2008). She has received numerous prizes for her poetry including a Rhode Island merit fellowship. Her plays have been stage-read, semi-finalists, and finalists in Louisville's Humana Festival, the Boston Short Plays marathon, and the Sources Festival in DC.

The Cashmere Victim: A Cyjoe Barker Flash Murder Mystery

Chapter One

Clumps of melting ice like bread crumbs led Cyjoe Barker to the victim in the foyer. The woman had known the murderer who brought in the snow and ice. The circle of a smile still remained on her face, rigor mortis cementing the welcoming gesture. Why did it look so childlike? Cyjoe wondered. This was a married woman. Curious. She counted a thousand cashmere sweaters in the closet. Why had someone needed to snuff out this woman's cozy life, wrap death around her like the too-loud Christmas paper under the tree? Cyjoe noted the color of the living room. Maroon. Color of isolation. Like a woman on an island, marooned. Or on an ice floe, cold.

Chapter Two

The State trooper shrugged. "Just another sad case of domestic violence." He led the hand-cuffed husband of the slain woman away. Cyjoe gleaned the husband's eyes, purple bags under them, baggage of grief. The mother of the victim shivered. The house was 78 degrees. She wore fur-lined boots. Why would she be cold, Cyjoe thought, but said aloud, "Why do you believe he didn't kill your daughter?" "Maybe he did," the victim's mother replied. Cyjoe touched her arm. Her sweater was alpaca, she noted. "Look at Scott Peterson," the mother said. "Yes," Cyjoe said. "You never can tell where murderers lurk."

Chapter Three

Cyjoe's policeman friend got some news to share. "Big three million dollar policy on the girl," he said. Cyjoe recognized that he considered "girl" to be the highest compliment in language. "Want to know who the benefactor is," he taunted. Cyjoe had already calculated who might benefit less from the "girl's" death. Her husband was on suicide watch, bereft in jail. "The mother," Cyjoe said with a false question mark at the end of her voice. She looked at her Blondo leather boots. "How did you know?" the policeman friend asked. "I'm a girl," she smiled. "What a girl!" he said, a slight tremor tenderizing his rugged face. "We just know things," Cyjoe stated.

Chapter Four

"How did you know? You bitch!" the victim's mother screamed at Cyjoe who remained on the stand. "Order in the court," the judge wielded his powerful gavel. "Order! And you ..." pointing at the victim's mother, "watch your language!" It was like an episode of Perry Mason, Cyjoe thought. "She doesn't like cashmere, and the mother-daughter competition for the most sweaters got to her," Cyjoe continued her testimony. "Alpaca is expensive. The mother couldn't afford to keep up, so she snuffed her daughter out for the money ..." Pandemonium swept through the courtroom.

Chapter Five

Cyjoe stepped out of the taxi. Her policeman friend smiled through the plate glass, their table by the window. She walked quickly, enjoying the stretch of her calves in her new red stilettos. She believed high heels make the world a better place. Ancient woman created flexibility in their legs by reaching for apples in the tree branches. Modern women needed fashion for stretching. If ancient women had had time to look over their shoulders, they might have seen the reward for all their strain. Well, maybe not, but now a woman can. Cyjoe waved at her policeman friend who had already ordered her Cosmo. She was tickled pink. Not maroon at all.

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