We’re finally getting somewhere now, Konan thought as he drove through the quiet streets. We now know the weapon used to mark the victims is a double-edged fleshing knife. Konan pulled his phone out and called Lilly.
“Hey,” she said. “Where are you?”
“I’m headed out to Donne’s Funeral Home to make arrangements for Amber.”
“That’s right. I forgot.”
“It’s okay. I found out what the killer is using to mark the victims. It’s a double-edged fleshing knife.” Konan heard Lilly scoff, and then she asked, “What in the world is that?”
“Dunno,” Konan said. “Mind looking it up while I handle this?”
“Nah,” Lilly retorted. “I don’t mind. Can’t have you running around telling everyone you’re doing all the work by yourself.”
Konan laughed and said, “Yeah, that’s true. I’ll head in when I am done here.”
“Once you’re done at Donne’s.”
Konan grinned and shoved another donut into his mouth and sipped some coffee. He had arrived at Donne’s. Konan pulled into an empty parking lot across the street from the funeral home, as if just parking in the lot would curse him and his property. He got out and walked over to the funeral home and pushed the door open.
A small bell attached over the door dinged when he walked in. Konan looked around. Unscented candles burned on various tables and dressers. A long mirror hung outside of what appeared to be a chapel. Soft music wafted from hidden speakers, and a young brunette approached Konan.
“May I help you?”
Her voice was as soft as the music, melodious even, and Konan said, “Yes ma’am. I’m in need of a casket, but I’m waiting for someone.”
The woman raised her perfectly arched eyebrows and gave Konan a professional smile, which is to say her smile held no warmth or emotion of any kind as it crossed her lips. “Excuse me,” she said, as she turned and walked away. Behind Konan, the bell jingled again.
Henri Atoms walked in and stood next to Konan. He wore a hot pink athletic suit with gaudy gold chains draped about his neck, oversized sunglasses, and was chewing gum loudly. The young woman came back in and Henri said, “Do you mind if I have a moment with my partner here?”
The woman gave the men a look and said, “Of course. Just ring the bell when you’re ready to start.”
“Oh, I’ll be ringing,” Henri said, as he gave the woman a small wave and a playful growl. He waited until the woman walked away before he spoke.
“You were to call me this morning,” Henri hissed. “Good thing for me there’s only one funeral home in Fredericksburg.”
“In my defense Henri, I just got here. There were two funeral homes in town, but Lilly and I closed down the other.”
“Whatever,” Henri retorted. “Have you decided on Amber’s clothing?”
Henri crossed his arms and stared at Konan like a disapproving father. He shook his head no, and said, “That will never do. The living wears black to signify grief and mourning.”
“She’s dead. What does she have to grieve? She’s gone on a long vacation and is never coming back. Girl needs to look fabulous,” Henri said, as he snapped fingers and punctuated his statement with an ‘mmhmm.’ Konan shrugged and said, “Okay, Henri. I don’t have ‘fabulous’ budget so….”
“Not to worry, cop. Lorry sent a check to cover the expenses. Said not to spend less than six figures-for tax reasons.”
“Fine then, can we get started?”
“Absolutely,” Henri said, as he picked up the bell. He gave it a vigorous shaking, and the woman joined them. She gave Henri a professional smile and took the bell from him. The sooner we get this over with, the sooner I can go catch a murderer.
“Are you guys ready? How may I help?”
“Yes, we’re ready. We need a traditional, full-service funeral for my baby sister.”
“Please, allow me to express my heartfelt condolences for the loss of your family member,” the woman said softly.
“Thank you,” Henri said. “I’m sure it’s warranted. I’ve never met her. Family drama.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
Henri scoffed and gave her a playful wave. “It’s fine. You know how family is. What are you gonna do? Kill ‘em?” The woman’s eyes widened, but she remained silent.
“Um, I’m not related to the uh, family,” Konan said. It seemed important to separate himself from Henri and Lorry Atoms. “I’m just trying to help out.”
The woman nodded and asked, “How old is the deceased?”
“She was fifteen,” Konan said.
“Oh my. How horrible.”
“Yep, it’s sad,” Henri said, as he checked his phone.
“What type of funeral theme do you want? Religious or Humanist? Are you looking to cremate?”
Henri shrugged and asked, “What’s the most expensive?”
Konan shook his head and mouthed ‘religious’ to the woman. She nodded and wrote it down. “Religious it is. Would you like to provide your own minister or should we provide one for you?”
“Y’all can handle that,” Henri said, as he popped a fresh piece of gum into his mouth. The woman led them into a large room that held various models of caskets. “These are our caskets that we sell. Of course, we can order one specifically for you-if you know what you want-but be warned, it may take some time for it to come in.”
Henri pulled his phone out and unlocked it, and then handed it to the woman. “That’s what we want.” The woman looked at the casket, and then at Henri, and back at the casket. “Um, sir. This is a Victoriaville Mahogany Casket. It’s ten thousand dollars.”
“I’m aware of how much it is. I picked it out.”
“Forgive me for being blunt, or even crass, but didn’t you say you had never met your sister before?”
“What does that matter?”
“Of course. It’ll take a couple of weeks to get the casket in, but once we have it here, we can proceed with the service and burial.”
“Thank you. We also need lots of flowers,” Henri replied.
“How many flowers is that?”
“I don’t know,” Henri said, as he scowled at the woman. “Say thirty thousand dollars worth.” Konan cringed, and the woman looked at him. Konan shrugged and the woman jotted it down. “Do you know what type of music you’d prefer at the funeral?”
“Yes,” Henri said. “I’ve picked out the songs as well.”
“Okay, sir. What are the songs?”
“Six Feet Deep by Geto Boys, and Dead and Gone by M.O.P.”
Konan sighed and sat down on a stool next to a basic wooden coffin. Suddenly, he felt old and out of place in this new, modern world. You can’t even get a decent send off. I bet the obituary will be off the chain. After Henri laid out the rest of the details, which Konan assumed would consist of strippers, stripper poles, and enough drugs to satisfy the most hardcore junkie, the woman left. She wobbled by Konan wide-eyed and visibly shaking.
Henri sauntered over, pimp walked Konan believed was the correct term, and asked, “What’s next?”
“Clothing,” Konan said. “But, I’ve already taken care of that. Thanks for showing up Henri, but I’ve got a case to solve.”
“Anything for the fam,” Henri said, as he pounded his chest twice with his right hand. Konan nodded and said goodbye. On his way out, he stopped by the counter. The young woman looked up, and Konan asked, “When’s the service?”
“Two weeks is the deadline on the casket. We’ll do the preliminary work now and call and set a date and time for the service.”
“Call me,” Konan said, as he handed his card to the woman. “You can reach me any time at that number.”
“Will do, detective.”