Last time on Jane Crow, the warning alert carnelian given to Jane by Tex Catlipoca went off, giving Jane a vision of an elderly woman opening an envelope with one of the missing fortune cards. Jane and Chivas arrived at the scene to find the woman dead.
The scene was much as I had seen it in my vision, but I had only seen her in close-up. I hadn’t seen the room around her. It was knick-knack heaven. And not just Precious Moments or glass cats, no, this was obviously a collector’s living room. A witch’s living room. While I didn’t recognize any of the artifacts littering the wall-to-wall shelves, I knew what a magic collection looked like, and this was it.
Chivas was kneeling next to the woman, trying unsuccessfully to find a pulse. The pug kept leaping up around him for attention.
As I slid my latex crime scene gloves on, I scanned the scene looking for the envelope or the fortune card that had been in it. I spotted the envelope under a mug on the side table. There was only a little tea left inside the mug, and it was cold.
“Blue lips,” Chivas said. “No pulse. No obvious wounds. I’m calling the field office to get their coroner on this… it could be another woundless stabbing and he did a good job on Goering.”
I took the envelope and set the mug back down. “Blue lips, that implies anoxia, not traumatic death.”
Chivas nodded. “Still, with as many alternate methods of murder available to a paranormal unsub, I want a full workup on the body.”
“This is the envelope she mentioned getting,” I said. “Think it’s safe to look inside?”
“From what you’ve said, if she already read the fortune then its magic has been spent. Your call.”
“She said she had read it, she just didn’t tell me what it said,” I lied. “I think it’s going to be okay.”
Carefully, I slid the fortune card out of the envelope. This time I didn’t feel anything from contact. I held the card up to the morning light from the window.
“COUNT AUGUR SAYS:” said Count Augur, before switching to Abner’s handwriting. “A mistake from the past will return. When it does, you will betray your most deeply held belief.”
“Wow,” I muttered. “Abner was kind of a downer. Look at this.” I handed the card to Chivas, who read it over slowly.
“Hm,” he said, frowning with thought. “It’s oddly general. I would think that most people could fit this. I mean, mistakes from the past return all the time, and not to be cynical, but…”
“But a lot of people don’t walk the walk.”
“That was essentially what I was going for. But again… this doesn’t seem enough to make a person kill themselves.”
“We don’t know that it was suicide.”
“I’ve been doing this for too many years, Jane, trust me. We’re going to find that she’s overdosed on sleeping pills… well, some kind of pills.”
“I did read that death can actually preempt an augury. Maybe she did it to avoid the fortune coming true.”
“Seems a bit extreme,” Chivas said, “but let’s keep it in mind. I’m going to call this in now, so do the weird stuff before the CSI team gets here, okay?”
I picked up another envelope from the mail pile. It was addressed to Edith Harewicket. It only took a minute to find her purse on a console table by the door and confirm her identity with her driver’s license.
The “weird stuff,” as Chivas put it, was to search for any Yellow Center red flags before muggle agents started milling about giving us the stink eye. In this instance (the AUGUR card already having been bagged and tagged,) I thought the most important thing to do was to give the witch’s collection a quick inventory. I wasn’t sure yet whether or not to bring up to Chiv that our victim was a witch… it was probably something Vassey would want me to run by her first.
As I’ve said before, I’m no diviner. Heck, I never even got the hang of true sight or aura detection. That meant that I had to spend a lot of time actually studying magical artifacts and, you know, using hard work and my steel-trap brain to identify things.
That was how I was able to tell from a glance that Edith Harewicket’s collection of magical geegaws was missing a piece.
Ignoring the sound of my partner on the phone, I opened the glass curio cabinet. It was unlocked and the left door ajar. On the second shelf down was a row of porcelain Disney salt-and-pepper shakers, each one of the seven dwarfs from Snow White. Between Bashful and Dopey, though, like a gap in a goalie’s smile, there was an empty space.
Sleepy was missing.
Okay, when I said “hard work and my steel-trap brain,” I might have been exaggerating a bit.
“I think we’re not just looking at a suicide,” I told Chivas, pointing at the empty space. “I don’t think she was the only one here tonight.”
© 2013 by Douglass Barre, All Rights Reserved.