Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sterling Silver Scissors

Let’s go with a piece of flash fiction for this post. Hope you enjoy.


The sterling silver scissors reflected ambient light as I circled the body. The six-inch tangs had penetrated Oliver Swinson’s torso between the fourth and fifth ribs. Oliver, himself, lay sprawled across the Persian carpet in his opulent study. A teak cabinet in the far corner was filled with examples of good origami.
“The vic’s a back-east financier who recently retired out here,” Sgt. Munroe said. “His nephew, Binky, found him this morning. The only other people in the house were William Halston, who’s visiting from back east; Mary Blane, the housekeeper; and Joseph Blane, the butler.
“Okay, let’s go talk to them.”
The four people gathered in the living room had arranged themselves according to social status. Halston, a haughty, thirties-something man, perched on the divan. The eighteen-year-old nephew slouched in a recliner. A pile of reddish brown knitting yarn beside him morphed into a shaggy dog. Mary Blane, as broad as she was tall, stood against the back wall. Her husband, a cadaverous shadow, hovered at her elbow
“My name’s Detective Williams. The sergeant has taken your statements, but I have a few questions.” I glanced down at the nephew. “Do you use the study often? Nice origami, by the way.”
“Thanks. Uh-uh. The place was UO’s private reserve.” The kid hovered somewhere between handsome and pretty, but a studied nonchalance detracted from his image.
“Uncle Oliver.”
I asked a few innocuous questions of the Blanes before returning to the nephew. “Hand me that ash tray on the coffee table, please.”
Managing to look bored, he passed over the Baccarat crystal.
“Mr. Halston, what’s the purpose of your visit?”
“Purely social. Oliver and I go back a long way.”
I considered his voice and cadence a moment, after which I dismissed everyone. The Blanes bustled off to the kitchen. Halston headed for the stairway. Binky rose gracefully. The multi-hued dog plodded along in his wake.
“That’s it?” Munroe asked.
“That’s all I need. I know what happened.”
The sergeant’s eyes widened.
“Did you notice the kid handed me this ash tray with his left hand?”
“Those scissors in Swinson’s chest are left-handed.”
“They have left-handed scissors?”
“Sure. Each scissor—and it takes two to make a pair—is asymmetric. That’s because human hands are asymmetric. Left-handed scissors are constructed to accommodate this phenomenon. I’ll wager that pair belongs to Binky. He uses them to prepare paper for his origami art.”
“And from this you know he offed his uncle?”
“Binky probably wasn’t Swinson’s nephew. He was his ‘boy.’”
“And he just up and killed his sugar daddy?”
“He did after Uncle Oliver passed him over to Halston last night. Halston was probably one of Swinson’s boys before he got too old.”
“You’ll play hell proving that.”
“Oh, I don’t know. Lean on them the right way, and we’ll make the case.”


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