Julia explodes in the office one morning while drinking her coffee, her big toe landing on a co-worker’s desk. Detectives Silver and Jarwin are baffled. Is it spontaneous human combustion, or murder?
The day Julia blew to smithereens started out pretty much like any other day.
It was 8:30 a.m. Julia’s little red Honda crawled down the busy street lined with industrial buildings. A small, perky redhead in her early 30s (but not so perky as to invite disdain), she was stylishly dressed in a narrow gray skirt and belted deep blue sweater. She took a dainty bite from her lowfat blueberry muffin. A lone balloon drifted in front of the windshield, tapped on the glass and popped.
The light turned red. Julia pulled up next to sporty red Porsche. She glanced over. A blonde twenty-something woman chattered on a phone while applying lipgloss. The car behind her slid into her bumper, and the tube of gloss went up her right nostril. She sneezed, and a cloud of pink exploded onto the dashboard. Julia snickered and looked over at the car on her other side. An elderly woman who appeared to be texting drifted perilously close to the car in front of her. In the car behind her, a distinguished-looking man who looked to be seventy or so played Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” on a saxophone.
The light blinked green, and Julia peeled out.
Arriving in the parking lot of a building painted in crayon colors, Julia emerged from the car and hurried up to the door, which read ”Dolly Balloon Company.” She pulled janitor-sized set of keys from her purse, swung the door open and stepped inside.
Julia strode rapidly past a huge warehouse-type space with a rainbow of colors zooming down a multitude of conveyor belts. She passed a cluster of cubicles.
”Hey Stevie. Having a good morning?” she tossed over her shoulder at a slick, too-perfect-looking type in his twenties. He looked up from his desk with bleary eyes. ”Bite me,” he responded amiably.
”You wish,” Julia said as she breezed past him.
She passed an athletically-built man in his forties standing outside an office door looking down at some papers. He glanced up, and their eyes met.
”Hi, Julia.” His eyes followed her briefly as she continued down the hall. She entered her office, decorated with the same colorful balloon motif as the rest of the building, tossed her purse into a drawer, and hurried back down the hall. Entering the kitchen, she poured herself a cup of steaming coffee, greeting several fellow thirty-somethings milling around the machine. Paula, a slim, stylishly-dressed woman in her fifties, breezed in.
”Hi there. What’s up?” she said to Julia as she filled her mug with “Menopause is Adolescence With a Smaller Bladder” written across it.
”Hiya. Is it hot in here?” Julia pulled a paper towel off the rack and fanned herself vigorously.
”Not really. Hot flash?”
”God, no. I’m not ready for that yet.”
”We never are, honey, believe me.”
They all walked out into the main office. As they passed Steve’s desk, Julia took a sip of her coffee. Suddenly, BAM – she exploded into pieces. A smoldering toe landed with a thud on Steve’s desk. He stared at it, dumbfounded, then leaned over as if in a trance and gently blew on the toe, extinguishing the flames.
Julia’s co-workers all stood motionless, in shock. Slowly, they all looked into their coffee cups, and tossed them over their shoulders onto the lime-green carpet.
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