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Deadly Nightshade
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M. Lacrimosa
M. Lacrimosa

Feb-1-2021 18:51

He stared directly into her emerald green eyes as he set her plate in front of her. By God, she was beautiful. Her smile was almost everything to him, just seeing her smile would turn a bad day completely around. Her pale skin was as soft as her voice which he compared to summer rains.

A pity, he thought to himself, that she has to die, for in her salad, disguised as lettuce leaves were the leaves of a plant, unknown to her, called the deadly nightshade. It was as nightmarish as it sounds.

Almost cherry-like, but similar instructors to the tomato, he disguised the fruit as blueberries. The dressing on the salad was made from the root of the plant, which he harvested at the end of the vegetation period, when the toxins would be the highest.

He watched with a false, realistic smile as she bit into her salad, closing her eyes to savor the sweet flavor of the toxic fruit. Symptoms wouldn't start immediately, but they wouldn't take long.

Once her symptoms started, she knew she'd been poisoned. First came the sweats and hallucinations, then the shortness of breath and trouble breathing, followed by paralysis and moments later, death.

After she had died, he got up and went outside through the back door into the cool night air. He inhaled deeply, the fresh air filling his lungs, then exhaled. He grabbed his shovel from the tool shed, and stabbed the ground.


Joseph Zeo
Joseph Zeo
Tale Spinner

Feb-2-2021 02:35

Autumn was approaching and the air was getting cooler, just the way how the lanky PI liked it. Joseph breathed in through his stick of Chesterfield and exhaled, white fog dancing up to the heavens. He looked forward to the days ahead when warm breath alone would render the same effect. The chill would cool his head, and God knew he needed that more than plants needed water.

The day was still young but thousands of thoughts invaded the mind of the tired detective. People and places the man wished he could soon forget, but lingered like after images for starring at the sun too long. Joseph’s mind drifted off against his will, and he almost tripped over an elderly couching by his doorsteps. Joseph cursed loudly.

‘Holy Mary mother of—‘ Joseph reigned himself in, ‘I’m sorry, are you alright?’

Joseph helped the small woman back up on her feet. She smoothed her skirt and murmured apologies as well, mentioning that she haven’t slept well for days and dozed off by the steps, waiting for the office to open. Joseph reckoned that the elderly lady would have been gorgeous in her heyday. Her emerald green eyes shone despite the wrinkles and her fatigue, and her pale yellow cardigan brought out the fair complexion even at her age. The unwashed soup stain on her otherwise meticulous attire suggested that the lady had good upbringing, but was recently under great stress. Joseph invited the lady inside and managed to conjure up some tea to soothe her nerves. When the small woman, Mrs. Valente, was calmed enough to speak, she broke down in tears.

‘My daughter Isabella has been missing for days!’ The poor lady wailed.

‘Isabella, is she currently living with you?’ Joseph inquired, his mind converged on what he did best.

’No. She is an accomplished violinist. My baby prefers to head off on her own. She often practices around the clock, so she prefers to have her own home, but she is very close to me. I even have the keys to her house.’

Joseph Zeo
Joseph Zeo
Tale Spinner

Feb-2-2021 02:43

‘Isabella sounds like quite a remarkable young lady,’ Joseph remarked, ‘so I supposed you have visited her place?’

‘Yes, that’s how I knew something was wrong. Isabella was supposed to visit me on Tuesday. When she didn’t show up and never picked up her phone, I went by her home. My heart sank when I saw mould on the bread rolls in her kitchen…’

‘Did you check her closet? Any sign that she packed for a holiday?’

The elderly woman shook her head, ‘no I didn’t think of checking that, but I remember all her shoes were there by the vestibule. Isabella recently just returned from a tour in Europe, so she wouldn’t be travelling again so soon.’

‘There were also the possibility that she had an accident. I can check the hospital records.’ Joseph had contacts at all the important places. ‘Also her friends. Would it be possible for you to write down the names of her close friends?’

By the time Mrs. Valente was willing to leave, the sun was already at its zenith. Joseph stood by the door watching the dejected old lady walk away. He had all the information he could get. It was time to grind.

Just then, he heard a crashing noise down the street.

Guy Mauve
Guy Mauve

Feb-2-2021 15:04

Guy Mauve was in full costume at the Metropolitan Opera House preparing himself to appear on stage in the most vocally demanding role of his life. He was now unsure now about his decision to play the role of Henry Percy in Donizetti’s star-making opera Anna Bolena, but it was upon him now and he had to deliver.

As he warmed his vocals a commotion was taking place.

He asked one of the backup singers. “Everything alright?”
“It’s the orchestra.” She replied coldly. “Apparently they are missing an important violinist. I am sure she shan’t be missed but try telling that to the conductor.”
“A missing violinist? For our final dress rehearsal? Which one?”
“Isabella Valente.” Another singer answered him.

Guy thought twice about this but then shrugged it off and continued to do his vocal exercises.

M. Lacrimosa
M. Lacrimosa

Feb-2-2021 18:29

"Another missing person?" Marc asked out loud, as he reached for his morning coffee. "That's the third one this month.". He frowned at the article. Three pictures of the three missing people. All were young, beautiful women, and as usual, the police didn't have any leads. Typical, he thought to himself.

"What was that?" Pansy Dew asked from the bedroom.
"Another young girl, gone missing." Marc replied. "Probably heading to Hollywood to perdue a pipedream career as a movie star wannabe." He muttered under his breath.

He say the paper down and lit his black clay pipe and leaned back in his chair. He stared at one of the missing girls. Isabella Valente.

He heard the shower start in his bedroom.


Where did he know that name? He read the article. She was a violinist for the orchestra. He'd heard her name before. A damn good violinist from what he'd heard. She was starting to make name for herself.

He looked at the flyer stuck to his refrigerator. A show was being held tonight at the cities theater, and the music was being performed by the New York Symphony Orchestra, the same orchestra Isabella was apart of.

"Coincidence?" Marc whispered.

Missing people wasn't something Marc normally handled. Usually his forte was solving murders and treasure hunting, though he'd looked for missing people ax favors for some of the shady organizations around town. Dirty? Maybe. But it helped pay the bills. In most cases, missing people, weren't truly missing, they just didn't want to be found.

Who could possibly blame some of them? Escaping the annoyance of those breathing down your neck, trying to tell you how to live. But something about Isabella going missing, have him a bunch that she could truly be in danger, if she wasn't already dead.

Marc set his pipe in the ash tray to let it burn itself out. First things first, he walked into the bathroom. "I'm about to get out," Pansy said, talking over the loud running water.

"Why? I'm getting in." Marc said, with a sly grin as he joined her.

Marc found himself on the r

M. Lacrimosa
M. Lacrimosa

Feb-2-2021 18:54

Marc found himself on the road and hour later, after he decided to look into this. Lost in his thoughts, he almost didn't see the elderly lady crossing in front of him.

"Lord, almighty!" Marc yelled as he swerved, just missing her and hitting a parked car.

"Unbelievable," Marc snapped at himself. He got out of his car and slammed the door. "Unbelievable." He said again. "Use the crosswalk next time, you old bat!" Marc yelled, shaking his fist at the old lady who hurried across the street.

Marc took a deep breath and let out a long exhale.

Guy Mauve
Guy Mauve

Feb-3-2021 05:36

Guy came into his dressing room overjoyed and very thrilled still from the standing ovation the troupe got at the end of Coppia Iniqua. He was so proud and thrilled with the performances. Knowing that he had another performance in three days’ time he immediately went into silence for vocal rest. However, after a tap on his door, the stage manager appeared with two policemen behind him. Guy looked up then realised he was not going to be able to sleep as early as he had hoped tonight.


“So you knew her Mr. Mauve?” inquired the inspector.
“Not personally no, Isabella and I, well we... shared a... common friend... she and I.”
“A male friend?” The inspector cocked an eyebrow.
“Yes, a mutual friend.” Guy responded.
“A fellow musician? And is he available for questioning now?”
“No, he isn’t part of the theatre company... he is not someone I knew well I’m afraid. We went out to dinner once or twice and she greeted him whilst we had our second dinner. I recognised her from work. She played the violin wonderfully and was always so impeccably dressed.”
“And who is that man Mr. Mauve?”
Guy gave them the name then said. “Will that be all gentlemen? Opera singing for four hours takes a lot out of you.”
“You’re part English Mr. Mauve?”
“Yes, my mother is English... how is that relevant?”
“We expect you to stay in New York until this matter is resolved.”
“I am not going anywhere anytime soon inspector, not with eleven performance to go.”
“Good... good night then.”

Guy watched the policemen leave feeling very surreal.

Joseph Zeo
Joseph Zeo
Tale Spinner

Feb-3-2021 07:15

The crashing noise was soon followed by car door slamming and a man yelling. It didn’t feel right, given Mrs. Valente’s emotional condition…

Joseph dashed down the street and spotted the shaken old lady right away. Someone was yelling at her, and that man sounded familiar. Joseph squinted in the sun, then cursed under his breath.

“Hold it, hold it!” Joseph interjected as he rushed into the scene of the accident.

“Joseph?” Marc sounded surprised, “I thought you are with—“

“That’s another lengthy story,” which Joseph had no intention of going into. He grabbed the old lady’s arms in a gesture of concern, “are you alright Mrs. Valente?”

“Maybe it’s meant to be, maybe Isabella’s gone and I should go with her!” Large droplets of tear invaded the parched pavement.

“Valente?…. Isabella?….” Marc muttered under his breath.

“Rest assure I’ll find your daughter, Mrs. Valente, but let me take you home first.”

“But my car!” Marc piped.

Joseph tossed Marc his office keys, “You should watch where you were going Marc, you almost killed an old lady! Call the garage and take care of it. I’ll come back to pick you up in a few.”


Forty minutes later Joseph briefed Marc in his car on what he’d learned so far, “and on our way to her home, Mrs. Valente entrusted me with her daughter’s house key. We may pick up a clue or two from her home later.”

The day was becoming quite warm, not to Joseph’s liking. “First thing first, I’m heading to the Cornell Hospital to check on any Jane Doe admitted this week. I know someone there who can help me go through all the major clinics in the area.”

“Can you first drop me off at…” Marc examined the theatre flyer, “Metropolitan Opera House?” Marc explained about his lead.

“Good catch Marc!” Joseph nodded and took a right turn, “The theatre is on my way. I’m not sure how long I’ll be at the hospital, it really depends on whether I find anything, but I’ll meet you back at the Opera House as soon

Joseph Zeo
Joseph Zeo
Tale Spinner

Feb-3-2021 07:16

but I’ll meet you back at the Opera House as soon as I can.”

Joseph stopped at a red and took out his note pad. “While you’re there, look for a…” He flipped the page to see what Mrs. Valente wrote down, “Margaret Goodman, a cellist. She’s a close friend of Isabella at the New York Symphony.”

Marc hopped off in front of Metropolitan Opera House as Joseph headed for Cornell. Joseph felt that fortune had rained on him for running into Marc. The missing person case seemed straight forward enough for now, but a little alarm bell at the back of his mine cried otherwise. Something was not right but Joseph couldn’t put his finger on it, yet.

M. Lacrimosa
M. Lacrimosa

Feb-3-2021 11:32

If there was ever a word for Opera, it was boring. Marc was able to sneak in and score a seat without being seen, and without a ticket. Those tickets were expensive. Four dollars a ticket. His heart nearly stopped when he saw the prices.

Sneaking in the back wasn't exactly a walk in the park. The standing ovation at the end did provide the best cover.

Behind the stage was a maze of hallways and dressing rooms, racks with clothes, musicians, and photographers. Marc did all he could to make sure the press never saw his face. Last thing he needed was to be seen snooping around.

He found a dressing room with a gold star on the door, etched with the name Guy Mauve. He reached his hand to knock but stopped.

"This way, follow me," a man said. Marc saw him coming, followed by two detectives.

He opened the door to the next room and quickly surveyed the room. Empty. He waited and listened. Both officers stepped inside the room and closed the door. Marc looked around and snuck up the door, pressing his ear against it to listen. The voices were muffled from behind the door.

A hand grabbed his shoulder and she jumped. "Jesus!" He half whispered and half yelled.

"Can I help you?" She was young, not beautiful, but she was lovely.

"I'm looking for someone, by the name of Margaret Goodman."

"I'm Margaret," she said. "Is this about Isabella?"

She pulled him into the empty too next to Guy's.

"Have you found her?" She asked.

"I'm not with the police," Marc quickly explained. "I'm a private investigator looking into this, I'd like to help.".

"She's one of my best friends."

"When was the last time you saw her?"

"A week ago, or so, we were here rehearsing for this opera."

"How was she? Did she say anything to you?"

"No, she was fine, happy as always, but she said she was going out to meet someone. A man."

"Did he have a name?"

"I don't know. But I know she's really good friends with one of the actors here, Guy Mauve."

M. Lacrimosa
M. Lacrimosa

Feb-3-2021 11:37

That explains why the police where there questioning him, Marc thought to himself.

"We're they intimate with each other?"

"No, but they shared mutual interests, and some other mutual friends. They got pretty close. I must be honest, I was a bit jealous of them spending time with each other.


She froze, as if she spoke to much.

"If you know something that might help us find her.."

"It's not that." Margaret said. "I...I wanted to be more than just her best friend."

Marc raised an eyebrow.

"It's complicated, I need to go." She started for the door.

"You loved her."

Margaret stopped and hung her head down. She turned and faced Marc, tears flooding her blue eyes.

"She didn't have the same feelings for me as I had for her, but she still called me her best friend. I never understood. I'm sure I know what you're thinking about me…"

"I don't frankly care about sexual orientations," Marc said. "I'm more worried about getting her alive, before it's too late."

"Guy Maybe." She said. "He was the last one to see her alive."

"How do you know that?"

She hurried out the door. Marc went after her but she disappeared. Marc wasn't a stranger to odd things happening. But this was different. An uneasy feeling sat in his stomach. He ducked around the corner and listened as the two police officers exited Guy's dressing room.

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