Ouch. She winced as the image penetrated her brain. Did someone draw that while I was speaking?
Cassandra, or “Cass” as most people called her, tossed the used square in a nearby trash pile. She sighed and looked around her living room. There were little trash stacks everywhere. Some elements of the piles had attempted to escape, leaving crumbs and other bits trailing across tables and hardwood like Hansel's breadcrumbs.
Slowly she bent to the first pile. Six discarded plastic plates, four napkins, and untold amounts of food stains. The group went straight to the plastic bin liner she had so geniusly tied to the dining room door handle.
A loud crash above her made her jump and sent the pile in her hand hurtling toward the floor. Contact spread food pieces in every direction, and a misstep smashed a big chunk of chocolate into the area rug.
Dammit, she thought. But it was really the crash that concerned her at the moment. She was alone in the house, wasn't she? A chuckle pushed the thought aside. She was always alone in the house. Tonight's party had been a very, very rare occurrence. And, as it turned out, a mistake.
Cass had thrown herself a birthday party. She hardly ever indulged, so this was a big event for her, even if it was just a ruse to get her colleagues in one place and ply them with alcohol. Thinking back, she should have known a bunch of professor types wouldn't be interested in her big announcement, her foray away from the fold. Why should people who spent their lives encouraging exploration and education support her move into into a field where she could do just that? What good was all that academic knowledge if she couldn't use it to actually help people?
So the big announcement and handcuff-shaped cake had fallen flat. Sure there was applause and Dostoevsky-linked jibes, but most didn't see why a renowned art scholar would choose to become a law enforcement consultant.
But her problem here had nothing to do with art, and everything to do with what was messing with her house! No cats. No dogs. Cass doubted her fish caused whatever it was to fall over.
Guess I'm getting my first test in detective work, Cass laughed to herself. And wouldn't you know it, my first case is in a creaky, old house!
The 1920s Craftsman house had spoken to her when she first saw it and it was speaking to her now, every aching step of the way. At the top of the stairs, she came to the closed-in upper hall and had to choose. Right to the study or left to the bedroom?
Neither. The source of the crash was right in front of her, in the bathroom.
It was an unusual bathroom. The previous owners had raised the ceiling to give it a more regal look. A strange contrast to the low-slung style of the Craftsman, but appealing in its oddness. The literal high point of the room was the iron chandelier; dark in color and simple in design, with five arms reaching out before turning up at 90 degrees, where each held a glass-shaded bulb.
Cass loved that light, but she wasn't prepared for what hung from it.
Happy Birthday, Cass.