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Here is a look at Morte Fleurs, France: The sky is rarely filled with soleil, so every day is usually dreary and dismal and gray. On a cold winter’s day, the grand white clouds burst like an obese man who ate too much for supper, and flakes will fall like feathers, only to brush against the ground and melt. It rains very frequently, and the temperature never drops below 30 degrees or above 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The grass is a dull green, and the flowers only show the palest of complexions. As a matter of fact, the whole town of Morte Fleurs looks like it was once a gorgeous painting (Vermeer, perhaps?), but was painted over with gray watercolors. The hills barely rise above ten feet and there are no mountains to speak of.
Detective Chopra and Detective Hochard finished the last of their cappuccino and coffee with cream, carelessly dumping them into the garbage bin. Detective Hochard wrapped her scarf around her thin neck and buttoned her coat. Detective Hochard, or as we shall now refer to her by her first name “Marie,” is a very thin, bony, almost anorexic-looking girl of about 27 years. Her skin is almost as pale as a ghost’s and her hair is short and black, almost boyish looking, yet at the same time, her hair looked like a fairy’s. She had beady blue eyes and a pointy jaw, which somewhat detracted from her attractiveness, but she still managed to be considered elegant and beautiful.
Detective Chopra zipped up his heavy coat and re-laced his tennis shoes. But Detective Chopra, however, had skin as dark as Marie’s coffee. His parents had emigrated from India when he was born, and they had settled in Paris when he was only a few months old. He had black, smooth hair that surrounded his face in curls. He had wide eyes like a frightened doe, and dimpled cheeks. He was just about 25 years old and had graduated from a prestigious college in America. He was fluent in Hindi, French and English, and had the party trick of imitating a Cockney accent. Let’s call him Karsh. Suitable name, don’t you think? And no, there will be no expected romance in this novella. What did you think? It’s a detective story, mind you.
In Morte Fleurs, there had been a recent string of murders. There had been only ten murders, all of them women except one male, which was the first murder victim. The man was identified as Jacques Marseilles, 67. Karsh and Marie had questioned his much younger wife of 50, Lisette, who was strangely not stricken with grief, only to come up with an alibi of, “Oh! I was out with friends that day!” and a tour of the woman’s house with an extended viewing of her prized glove collection. They also questioned the parents and friends of the victims, only to come up with information they already knew except the common statement, “Oh yes. She was seeing someone, I know that, but we never met the man.” from the girls’ parents. The girls were all found sitting in primly in chairs in their own houses, with a clean bullet shot through their foreheads. The girls all ranged from being 45 to 23. They didn’t really have anything in common save for their being female. Half were blonde, two were brunettes, one had red hair, and the last had black hair. The majority were Caucasian, save for the two brunettes and the female with black hair, who were of African origin.
Each of the deceased victims were presumed to be shot on the same day of the week, Wednesdays. One was murdered each week, and the detectives were on their feet, and could have solved the case easily if only there had been suspects. The lack of blood on the ground underneath the chairs where the victims sat lead Karsh and Marie to believe that they had all been murdered elsewhere. And so without any evidence except a long blonde hair that was found at the fifth murder sight, they might as well have been stuck in a decade before DNA analysis.
But on the morning of March 27th, Hochard and Chopra did learn something about the murders. It was a chilly morning, and they were at the eleventh victim’s house, Nicole’s, when they noticed something peculiar. Upon one of her hands was a simple beige glove. It was a leather glove, with “L.M.” stitched onto the lower side of the glove where the thumb would fit. It was only then that Marie requested to view the photos of the other murders. Upon reviewing all of those photos, she and Chopra realized that each victim was wearing a glove with the initials “L.M.” on the lower side of the thumb socket. Perplexed was a strong feeling of the moment, until Karsh realized an important thing.
“’L.M.’ Wouldn’t that stand for Lisette Marseilles, the first victim’s husband?” And at that moment, everything clicked into place. All of the young women “seeing someone,” the gloves, and everything was connected. The detectives quickly drove to Lisette’s mansion, to find her sitting on her couch, drinking a cup of coffee.
“ I’ve been expecting you. Thank gosh you’re here!” Madame Marseilles held out her hands for the handcuffs, which were roughly shoved behind her back as she was escorted to the police car.
“Lisette Marseilles, you are under arrest, and whatever you say can and will be used against you.” Karsh Chopra angrily said.
An hour after Lisette Marseilles was taken to the police station.
“Why did you do it?” Marie outright asked.
“Well, it was fairly easy.” Madame Marseilles started. “You see, I married Jacques, my former husband, when I was twenty three, and he was forty. I did love him very much, despite the large gap in age. Around the time I turned thirty five, we had produced three kids, my sons and daughter, and we had both gone through brief periods of alcoholism and had been to a marriage counselor, but that hadn’t worked, and our marriage was strained. It was around that time that I noticed my husband came home smelling of perfume and had pink lipstick stains on his shirt collars. It wasn’t too difficult to discover he had been having an affair. I’m a quiet sort of woman, so I decided to not confront him about it, just to pray that he would realize his sin and come back to me. But he didn’t. His affair continued for a few years, until I noticed that the lipstick colors and the scents had been changing over the years, and that was the point where I came to the conclusion that he was having numerous affairs. And so I set a date: December 25th, Christmas, of last year. And if he didn’t confess his infidelities to me by then, then I would confront him. You see, I’ve always had problems with my anger…
“So on December 26th, I decided we’d have a talk. He didn’t even apologize.” Lisette grimaced in disgust. “And it was only when he was staring at my hand did I realize I had the pistol in it. I mean, I hadn’t even realized I’d grabbed Jacques’ pistol from his dresser drawer until then, so I decided to take advantage of the pistol, so I raised it until it was level with his head. So I said, ‘Now Jacques, you can apologize to me and never see those women again, or you can get the bullet in your head. So which do you choose?’ I asked. And he only replied with, ‘I could never do that.’ So I fired a warning shot. Into his head.” Lisette waved her hand in the air as if it was a pistol. “We were in the kitchen, so luckily the blood didn’t stain the tile. So I mopped it up with bleach, And I decided that he looked rather messy, sprawled on the floor like that, so I decided I’d prop him up in his favorite chair in his study. Then I called the police, they came and got him, and you know the rest. After that, I decided that it wasn’t completely his fault. There were all those young Lolitas out there, completely willing to destroy my marriage. So I decided something had to be done. I found their names in Jacques’ address book and did the deeds, leaving each one with one of my prized gloves, because they were all anniversary presents from Jacques, but I obviously didn’t know how to dispose of those creatively until the murders. And after all of his mistresses were properly killed, I started to feel the worst kind of guilt. Awful feeling, like an ache in the pit of your stomach. Truly awful. And I decided that two smart, young detectives like you would be able to figure out it was me, so I’d just taken up sitting in the living room, occasionally reading or enjoying a glass of wine, waiting for you two. And now that you’ve captured me, I believe there’s nothing more to say. Except I will leave you with one last tidbit from one of my favorite authors, Samuel Johnson: ‘Cruel with guilt, and daring with despair, the midnight murderer bursts the faithless bar; invades the sacred hour of silent rest and leaves, unseen, a dagger in your breast.’” And with that, Madame Marseilles popped the pill filled with cyanide in her mouth, and bit down.