“Here it goes,” she muttered, “I’m going to go in, tell him I have a case I want study- no wait, that’s too forward.” she paused, thinking of something else. “Maybe something like, ‘I have a friend who was mur- ah, no.’” She looked up, the blue sky reflecting in her brown eyes as she tried to find some inspiration. “If I told him I was interested because of some dream I have been having, he’s going to think I’m insane.”
'However… that’s not nearly as crazy as saying that I’m being sent on a mission by a bossy angel and/or dead girl.' She turned direction and paced again, thinking of what she would say. It was then she got an idea.
She glanced at her reflection in the window. "Claire, are you there? Please answer me!" She lowered her guard, allowing the windows to become covered with the vague images of the dreaming people nearby. Suddenly the imagery was blown away as a semi-transparent Claire appeared in the window with a huge grin.
"You called for me! I could not be happier! What do you need?"
"The child who saw the murder, who are they, and how long ago did it happen?"
Claire nodded, "The child is a young boy who lives near you. The woman was his mother. He is ten now, and was three or four when the murder occurred."
"How should I get more information?"
Claire smiled, "I will jog someone's memory."
Before Océane could ask for clarification, the front door of the station opened. “Is something wrong mademoiselle? Do you need to report something?”
Océane turned to see a gorgeous police lady who was looking at her with honest concern. The teen found herself unable to say anything, wondering how on earth a fashion model ended up as a National Police officer.
“You can come in and talk about it. You have been pacing out here for a while.” The officer said, extending a hand.
“Ah, er,” Océane stuttered, feeling bad she had been the cause of such compassion. “Merci beaucoup.” she agreed and the policewoman escorted her in.
For the first time in a long time Océane insecure about her appearance, beyond the brace. Next to her stood perhaps the prettiest woman she had ever seen, with golden blonde hair pulled up fashionably beneath her hat, classy turquoise earrings, and flawless skin. Océane felt like an ogre.
The officer guided her sit by the coffee machine in the hall then took a seat beside her.
“So, what is the matter?” The woman asked, smiling to reveal, of course, perfect white teeth.
“Umm, well, I-” the girl tried to find what to say, she still hadn’t settled on anything. “Could I talk to Lieutenant Michael Porter?” she asked.
“You know Michael?” she asked surprised.
“Yes, I signed up for his law enforcement course through my high school.” Océane nodded.
“Oh, is that it? You needn’t feel so nervous; we are happy to have any guests who don't arrive in handcuffs. I’ll go see if he’s in.” The woman laughed warmly as her riding boots clapped on the waxed floor. She stopped by a desk and spoke with someone out of view. She looked up and waved for Océane to come over.
Letting out a tense sigh, Océane rose and walked around the corner to the desk where Porter removed his reading glasses and smiled. “Mademoiselle Lafayette, Bonjour.” He stood to shake her hand.
“Bonjour Lieu. Porter.”
The police lady also offered her hand, “Sarah Devareaux.”
“My pleasure.” Océane replied, shaking her hand.
The lieutenant snatched a seat from another desk and rolled it over for her. After she was seated in front of his desk he asked. “Why are you here so early? School is in session isn’t it?”
“I took a day off,” Océane replied, she set her folder in her lap. “I have something important to talk about, concerning this programme.”
His eyebrow raised in interest and Sarah cocked her head slightly, both of them intrigued at the gravity of the youth’s voice.
“Does this “internship” as you called it, allow me to look at cold cases?” Océane asked.
He bit his lip then replied, “I suppose we could use some for reference work, but why do you ask?”
Océane took in a deep breath, reached in the folder and pulled out the sketch of the dead woman. She cringed as his eyes widened in surprise.
“You drew this?” he asked.
Something in his tone made her nervous. “Oui,”
“Listen, girl, this isn’t some time that you get to make yourself feel special and get attention. Stuff like this isn’t funny.”
“No, you don’t understand. I saw this, a long time ago.”
“Hein, really,” he said sarcastically. “Youth these days really are too obsessed with this stuff.”
Océane stood up angrily, the emotion all her dreams had caused her came back in a flood, but instead of invoking fear and sadness they became indignation. “I saw this when I was a child. I'm not sure what happened, but I do know there had to be an investigation..." She sighed and returned to her meek self. "I'm sorry, my tone to you is undeserved. Lieu. Porter, I am telling the truth because I want to put this to rest."
Michael grudgingly looked down at the drawing. Sarah also leaned in to look. His forehead crinkled as he pondered what to say to the delusional youth while still maintaining his professionalism.
Sarah took the sketch from a still glowering Michael. “I think she is telling the truth.”
“How do you figure that?” he asked surprised.
“I have seen this picture before, as a photograph.” Sarah continued. Then she looked at Océane, “Do you know this woman’s name?” she asked.
“No..." Océane looked into Sarah's eyes which had an unusually glassy sheen over them. Claire!
“Do you know where she died?” Michael asked.
“Yes.” Océane nodded. “In the alley by the Frére Francis Barber shop.”
Michael turned to the computer in front of him and typed in the location and the gender of the victim. He clicked the only result. As soon as the page changed and he scrolled down, his eyes widened, he compared the sketch to the photo.
“Sarah, this was never released publicly, correct?” he asked, pointing at the crime scene photo which eerily resembled the sketch.
She shook her head, "We never had a suspect, so the evidence was never brought to court and made public."
He beckoned to Océane, “Come look at this.” he ordered.
She tread around the desk then exhaled heavily at the sight. Michael raised his hands to support her but she caught herself. Sarah rubbed the girl’s back comfortingly.
Océane nodded finally, saying through choked breath. “That’s the woman, that’s the woman I saw.”
Michael’s face finally donned a sympathetic face. He had initially figured this was a bored teenager who had watched too many crime shows. But instead this was a girl who was haunted by painful memories.
“Why didn’t you report this?”
“I was nine or ten, I don't think I was supposed to be there, and I just remember being scared.” she replied. "I had forgotten it until a few months ago. I want to find out what really happened that night.”
He smiled suddenly and said, “Do you want to take the case, Inspecteur Lafayette?”
The girl looked at him, a determined glint in her eyes, "Oui!"
“I’ll get you a temporary pass, I’m sure the captain won’t mind. This case is six years old.” The lieutenant left for a few minutes, entering an office at the far end of the room.
Océane waited patiently and skimmed over the activity of the rest of the station. One of the police officers noticed and smiled back. She quickly turned her attention to her knees, feeling awkward for staring. It felt strange being surrounded by all these working people. Unlike youths at school they were not as apt to let their thoughts wander. No day dreams were strong enough at the moment for her to notice, but it was only a matter of time. She tried to block out as much activity as possible, and focused on a corner of the desk in front of her.
Michael returned smiling, “You’re approved, we just need to take a photo, print a card and you will be a short-term gardien de la paix stagiaire.”
After a quick photograph, and tiny bit of paperwork, Océane found herself in the filing room.
Sarah turned to leave Michael and Océane. “I’ll be at my desk, so just ask if you need me to hunt down anything.”
“Oui, thank you Sarah.” Michael replied with a shy smirk .
Océane raised an eyebrow at his smile. It looked so incredibly awkward and goofy she nearly laughed. Sarah nodded and left.
Michael then coughed and turned his attention to a piece of paper, which he held at a distance to read the directions. “Shelf b7 is it?” he mumbled and walked down one of the rows, avoiding others who were also retrieving files.
Océane followed, gazing at all of the numbered boxes and folders. She heard some shuffling in front of her as Michael pulled out one of the boxes.
“Voilà!” he exclaimed, holding the plain brown box before her. “The case of the murder of Jacqueline Monet.” He raised an eyebrow inquisitively. “Name ring a bell?”
The only name that went through Océane’s head was ‘maman’, so she shrugged while trying to conceal her discomfort at the thought.
“Let’s bring it out there,” Michael suggested, nodding to the door. He placed the box on the desk then went to fetch a collapsible table from the closet.
Moments later they had the contents of the box spread out on the small card table. They were mostly small plastic bags filled with small items, ranging from trash to a bloody piece of clothing. A grubby handkerchief caught Océane’s attention. Michael simply watched as she investigated, curious what she would pick out.
She started to open the bag.
“Oh don’t-!” he said when suddenly both himself and the brunette girl had to jump back holding their noses, tears welling in their eyes from a suppressive chemical stench.
“What is that!?” Océane cried, her voice flat because of her pinched nose.
“It smells of ammonia.” Michael coughed and held his breath as he closed the bag again. “Don’t open bags unless I give you the go ahead in the future.”
"Ammonia..." Océane muttered, "Sorry, I was hasty."
Porter hummed a bit as he looked through the file. "Says here that the victim's hands and face were doused in ammonia post-mortem. Probably in an attempt to hide the evidence."
"Sandalwood," Océane muttered.
"The fumes smell like sandalwood after it spreads around, my father likes to wear sandalwood fragrance."
Michael cocked his head curiously. "The smell of sandalwood is mentioned, but the investigator thought it was the woman's perfume... but I think you're right, it's the ammonia."
"Why would someone mix sandalwood with ammonia?"
"For cleaning, but normally it's lemon scented," Michael grinned excitedly, "Sandalwood is a rather bizarre scent to use, don't you think? Maybe a custom mix?"
Océane spotted the gleam in the Lieutenant’s eyes. Reflected in his reading glasses she she could see a little boy obsessed with mystery novels and glued to the news. She averted her gaze. It was rude of her to look inside him like that, stripping away his outer layers to see the motivations within without intending to. She decided that Lieu. Porter was someone she could count on.
At his desk he grabbed his laptop and handed the folder of sketches back to her.
“What are we doing?” Océane asked.
“We are going back to where this mystery started.”
“Oui monsieur!.” Océane said in military fashion, relieved in his change of countenance.
Michael glanced over his reading glasses and flashed a playful grin, “You don’t have to be that formal, just call me Porter.”
Océane grinned back, "Will do."