A secretary dashed into the doorway, took one look at the body, and screamed.
“Yes,” I responded, feeling around for a non-existent pulse. “The burning smell is going to linger for days.” The secretary continued to look in horror. “Well don’t just stand there.” I gestured down the hall. “Go find some help. And an air freshener.”
I played the situation over and over in my head. I never even found out what her name was. Lifting her veil, she was beautiful. What a waste. But there was a job to do. I opened her purse to check for money to pay for the clean up. And identification, of course.
Rachel Reshirt. Her name was Rachel Reshirt. I scribbled down her name and address, then shuffled through the rest of her belongings. Nothing unusual, unless you consider a toaster piece unusual.
“Dear Ms. Secretary,” I called out. “Get this body over to Julian. I need a full autopsy as soon as possible.” I could have done it myself, of course, but I had bigger things to deal with.
Watson James was a milkman by day, assistant private-eye by request. He was a good match for me. I was tall, he was short. I had brown hair, he had black hair. I had the eyes of a raptor, he had the eyes of a bat. I played basketball, he played baseball. I was thin, I went to sleep early, I was intelligent, you get the idea.
“You’re ahead of schedule,” I said as I walked up behind him on his route. He paused, then shook his head.
“People just don’t need milkmen anymore. Those refrigerators are driving me out of business. Imagine that.” A heavy sigh, and he got back into his truck, with me riding shotgun. “I’m guessing you need my help on another assignment? I’d die for one. Please tell me this is a good one.”
“Of course it’s a good one. I wouldn’t need you for any other. I had a woman come into my office today, claiming her appliances were trying to kill her. I thought she was crazy, but when she picked up my phone, it electrocuted her. She died instantly.” I looked over at him and laughed. “Why, you look just as shocked as she was!”
His eyes widened even more. “A woman died in your office and all you can do is joke?” I dignified his anger with only a smile. “At least you have the heart to follow through with this. I guess you won’t chalk this up to a bloody coincidence, will you. Of course she was murdered,” he said with disgust. “Of course her toaster tried to kill her.”
“Funny you should say that, James, as I found this toaster part in her purse. In the meantime, I expect you to call in your replacement to finish your route while we check her house for the root of this mystery.”