In Hot Soup

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


Detective James Lagan meets his perfect woman in imperfect circumstances.

Submitted: July 01, 2018

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Submitted: July 01, 2018

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She's stunning.  Cheekbones like geometry, eyes like sin…damn, what song is that from?  That's going to bug me now.

 

The bugging will have to continue later, right now an unexpected, smooth bare leg is rubbing deliberately against my polyester clad one under the table.  Unexpected because of our current environment, not because I have any reason to believe this goddess would have hairy werewolf like legs.

 

‘There’s something I've been dying to ask you Nigella. The soup… ‘

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

The soup.  Less than 24 hours earlier I’d stomped across the threshold and over the splintered remains of the front door into her tiny first floor apartment.  The overly excitable trained detector dog and six, slightly less excitable but equally wet nosed uniformed officers preceded me by seconds, the former excitedly barking and sniffing at an inner door, scratching to be let in.  Once opened the warming scent of hearty homemade ham and vegetable broth wafted from a neat little galley kitchen, delighting nostrils human and animal alike. A growl so loud I could blame the dog, and did, bubbled up from my neglected innards.  I'd unconsciously skipped breakfast, again. My last two slices of Pat’s Pan were perched redundantly in the toaster at home, browned, popped but forgotten as I'd rushed around half arsed, performing my morning modern interpretive dance to find matching shoes, unstained tie, keys, the will to live.

 

The planned ambush was brisk, completed promptly due to the diminutive size of the fastidiously neat little home.  The raid for a .380 automatic murder weapon had turned up nothing, not even a hidden laptop or smartphone with an embarrassing Google history.  The woman of the house was as clean as a straight laced whistle, and just happened to be as beautiful as any Hollywood actress I’d ever seen. Face of an angel, with a promisingly shapely figure I could just about guess at, clad as it was in a gaudy oversized frilly apron.  As the disappointed canine and uniformed officers filed out and tramped back downstairs it was my job to remain and apologise for the chaos our search had caused, offer an explanation and a guarantee her door would be repaired or replaced.

 

‘Are you going to replace it yourself?  You look like you might be very good with your hands inspector…officer? Constable? I'm sorry, I've never had dealings with the police before, I've no idea what to call you.’  Her sudden fuschia flushed cheeks had just increased her prettiness, if that was possible.

 

‘Officer Lagan is fine, James Lagan.’  I'd offered her my hand formally, the purple latex search glove encasing it a vivid and mood killing reminder of why I was there.  Unperturbed though, she’d smiled brightly and shook my hand, still holding it as she’d offered tea or coffee. Hospitable, forgiving, good in the kitchen AND sexy.  God’s work here is done.

 

It was right at that moment, in a room filling nicely with tentative sexual tension, that my treacherous intestines decided another loud protest was in order.  And no dog to blame.

 

‘Yes, er no, eh… any chance of a bowl of that soup?  Smells incredible.’

 

I'd contorted my face into a comic wry grimace, rubbing my grumbling stomach in big exaggerated circles, eyebrows waggling hopefully.  Apparently I'd deemed it appropriate timing to break out my inner mime artist. A cringetastic corny one at that. Her pleasant smile froze on her porcelain doll face, replaced quickly by a return of that bonny blush, her plump lips twisted into an apologetic pout.

 

‘Oh Officer Lagan, I'm so sorry, I have it all divided up now, it's in containers in the freezer, but I have some lovely tins of soup… somewhere… ‘.  She’d gestured with mild dismay at the upturned contents of her pillaged cupboards cluttering the countertops.

 

Immediately feeling guilty for the disarray surrounding us I’d quickly reassured her that tea would be perfect.  As the kettle boiled I'd enjoyed a sneaky few moments pressed up close and personal against her warm body, stepping in to help replace everything back into the cupboards, careful not to spill the open packets and pouches.

 

‘Ah, good old pearl barley, split peas…what, no lentils?’

 

‘Oh of course, I just used up the last of them, binned the packet.  Vegetable soup just isn't the same without a good dose of pulses, no?’

 

‘No! I mean yes, yes, it's not the same at all. In fact yours smells pretty much the same-a as-a what-a mamma used to make-a!’  Each word uttered in my criminally bad Italian accent hung in the air like bad farts trapped in a cramped lift.

 

I rambled on quickly in my normal voice, in the off chance she had taken a three second micro nap, or a mini stroke, and hadn't noticed.  ‘In fact ‘mamma' still does, it's a staple on the menu of our little family restaurant in town, Lagan’s Larder, do you know it? Ever been?’.

 

‘Not yet.’  Just two simple words, but packed full of blatant flirtation.  She’d bitten her bottom lip and almost purred, ‘I hate to dine alone, but how can I not go now?  I’d simply love to taste how it compares with mine’.

 

‘A beautiful woman like you should never dine alone.’

 

‘Then don't allow me to, Officer James Lagan...’

 

Back at the station I'd battled hard to concentrate, my mind constantly wandering to the beautiful Nigella and the possible, almost definite, voluptuous curves under her big soup splattered pinny.  Elbows deep in paperwork, sifting through reports, photographs of the crime scene and suspects, when a mugshot of the small-time arms dealer, probable supplier of the murder weapon, caught my eye. He had confessed to his dodgy career choice almost immediately under questioning, keen to avoid being fingered for the more serious charges of murder.  But that look on his face, the snapshot of guilt captured by the camera, I'd seen it before. The panic… It was so familiar… So recent...

 

Suddenly I’d had an instant flashback of that fleeting switch of expression in the kitchen hours earlier, just before Nigella apologised for the unavailable frozen soup.  It hadn't been regret, or even horror at my clumsy attempts at seduction that I had seen in her eyes. It was momentary guilt. Panic.

 

How had I missed it?  The fresh heady scent of still warm soup. The big pot in the sink, steam still rising from the soapy water filling it.  The left over parsley on the chopping board, still freshly flat leafed, no curling. The ladle on the drainer, dripping from its recent use.  Who puts piping hot liquids straight into the freezer?

 

Forensics, having been deployed immediately to bring in the contents of the freezer, had returned with Tupperware of varying shapes and sizes.  Amongst the still not quite frozen vegetable soup were tubs of opaque orange and some vibrant green concoctions. I’d watched impatiently as the masked and gloved up guys set the sealed containers into a big steel bath of hot water to turbo defrost them.

 

The first inorganic ingredient to appear from the melting masses was a spent bullet casing, followed by two more, then the polymer-frame of a .380 automatic pistol, a bay leaf clinging wetly to the handle as little globes of creamy white barley dripped from inside the barrel.

 

Further defrosting and delving uncovered a Wusthof gourmet boning knife nestled deep in a tub of thick heavily scented spiced carrot and lentil soup, a severed pinky finger adorned with a signet ring in another.  A shrink wrapped USB drive, syringes and a number of empty glass vials emerged from a gloopy, garlicky broccoli and blue cheese chowder.

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

‘... the soup.  I can't help but wonder, why bother with the bay leaves, garlic, all those herbs and spices?‘

 

Across the table Nigella halts all pretence at flirtation now and sits forward, her dull silver bangles clanging off the anchored chunky chain.

 

‘Oh don't insult me, Lagan. I might, just MIGHT be a cold hearted serial killer, but I'm no slouch in the kitchen!’



 


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