Meditation and Murder, Chapter 1

Meditation and Murder, Chapter 1

A Chapter by erin
"

When Devin, a widower and yoga enthusiast, discovers a body after her morning hatha class, will she be able to help find the killer and make it out alive--and with her chi intact?

"

Chapter One

 

She ground the cigarette under the sole of her black sneaker and leaned into the truck to grab her yoga mat. From her purse, she pulled out her dry shampoo and perfume, enveloping her head in both mists. Rushing across the parking lot, she pressed her key fob behind her in the general direction of the truck. Two beeps sounded in the dark morning air, and Devin picked up the pace. Ya just had stop and smoke one, didn’t ya? Her breath lightly frosted the air of the parking lot as she ran the last half block. She never parked in front, not where someone could see her. “Bless her heart. Smoking before yoga.”

She huffed into her hot pink cotton gloves, which only saw about two months of wear per year, and rubbed her hands together. This crisp, fall day was a rarity in this town. Usually it was still seventy before dawn come September. Devin made a break for the door underneath the illuminated sign of an impossibly flexible woman sitting in lotus position, but jumped back when she was almost sideswiped. B*****d. The homicidal maniac was driving a long, canary-yellow car. A helmeted head jutted up from the only seat in the vehicle. She’d seen this guy before and his odd contraption. Austin was a city like that. If it wasn’t a man in a sparkly thong riding a unicycle, it was a banana car straight out of a Richard Scarry book. Banana Car veered into a spot right in front of the center. Great. She caught a glimpse of his bumper: “I Brake for Yogis.”   

How generous of him.

Perfectly happy to still be alive, she pulled up her slouchy black leg warmers and opened the front door of YogaForLife, a small ding announcing her arrival.

The tiny lobby was warm, and the trickle of a stone fountain, presided over by a cross-legged, bronzed goddess, made the space even cozier. Sitting down on a thick, wooden bench by a wall of matching cubbies, she pulled off her socks and shoes. The legs of the bench were carved from tree branches, which matched the flat, natural oak seat, both lightly shellacked for posterior posterity. And speaking of, Devin noticed that someone had scratched DEMETRI LOVES SARAH into the bench. Demetri was a rebel, daring to desecrate the holy benches of the sacred cubbies.

Scents of hippy-type spices enveloped her, tendrils of smoke dancing in the air. Mmmm…patchouli. She snapped out of her reverie when she heard the front bell. Banana Man, dressed head to toe in flowing white linen, nodded her way.

She smiled at him and gave a half-assed, Namaste thingamajig. With his long, black beard, Banana Man did look very wise, despite his fruitful and dangerous vehicle choice.

“Devin!” the receptionist called over to her, unfurling her legs from behind her neck. How she sat that way on an office chair was nothing less than Cirque de Soleil. “Here for the hatha flow class?”

“One day I’m going to surprise you, Miriam, and take one of those gong classes.”

Devin walked over to the polished wooden counter scattered with beaded bracelets and incense for sale.

“You’d go insane if you tried to meditate,” Miriam said, smacking her gum, probably kambucha flavored. “And then I’d feel responsible for a mass murder/suicide.”

“You see me for two minutes each morning and you think I’m that crazy?” Devin wasn’t entirely offended. “I will accept that challenge, missy . . . someday. The kundalini class, not the mass murder.”

“I just know gonging ain’t your thang.”

“True enough.” She gave Miriam her membership card and the petite receptionist scanned it into the computer, her yin yang nose ring sparkling with each turn of her sassy red bob.

“Thanks, Mir. How goes the teacher training?”

“Oh my God, it’s fabulous.” She smiled and turned to Banana Man, who had sidled up beside Devin. Dude smelled musky, and not in a good way.

Psycho driver. He was lucky she hadn’t quit smoking again that morning, or he’d really get a talking to from her. Devin walked past the linen yogi wear and colorful mats, and saw several women dressed in white talking to a grey-bearded man. He looked very wise too. Definitely the beard that did it. This was the Kundalini Crowd. Very exclusive. Very spiritual. They’d see right through me.

She turned and hooked a right down the hallway and ducked into the bathroom near the biggest of the three studio spaces.

Leaning her mat against the carved wooden chest that held some air freshener and free cards for upcoming yoga workshops, Devin looked in the mirror. Eh. She smoothed back the stray black hairs that had escaped her bun and lamented her lanky frame. Her legs were practically three-quarters of her entire body. Ah, to be short and curvy. Being a string bean usually meant she had to work harder for poses. Touching your toes is way more difficult when they’re four feet away. Most girls would hate her"and have"for even thinking these things, but being six feet tall and thin brought the same number of comments that being fat did. Even more, because people had no qualms about scrunching up their faces and saying, “You’re so skinny,” as if it were some sort of disease. Middle school had been hell.

As an adult, she supposed she should be grateful. She pulled out her wedgie"damn these pants"and reached under her black jacket to adjust the bra strap that was peeking out from her gray tank top. She took one last deep breath, left her temporary cocoon, and went into the large, airy studio.

Floor to ceiling windows would soon let in the sunrise. After placing her mat on the polished hardwood floor, always by the center post, she went to grab a blanket. Her knees were acting their age and forty wasn’t feeling good on the rigid slats of wood. The blanket would give her some support.

There were three other women in the room and one man; the 6:30 a.m. regulars like her. God knew what their names were. Her memory had been s****y ever since she could remember, which wasn’t very long.

She did know that Shelly was the sixty-something bottle blonde who was totally cut. She had a wide smile and if anyone in class ever spoke to each other, she and Devin would probably be friends.

The door opened and in walked Sindra, her tight yoga bum swaying as her angelic feet barely touched the floor. Making her way to the large space at the front of the room, she turned to face her crew. Her hair was in its typical, low ponytail, natural blond waves cascading forward over her left shoulder.

“Good morning,” she said, smiling all yogi-like.

Silence.

“Morning,” Devin mumbled. It was the least she could do.

“So are we feeling good today? Any injuries I should know about?”

Devin began mentally counting her issues, none of them physical.

More silence.

“Okay, then, let’s begin. Stand at the front of your mats and breathe in your place of peace this morning. Feel your energy flowing through your limbs, your head, your heart. Breathe and lift through your pelvic girdle . . . “

Really? We’re bringing in the girdle this early?

“Your bone marrow needs your breath just as much as your brain. Seal your toes, open your hands, and breathe into your lower back and legs"”

Devin couldn’t quite tell if her vertebrae and kneecaps were breathing correctly.

“Now fold forward and take any position that feels right for your body this morning. Find grace in your forward fold and beauty in your toes. Exhale, lift halfway, inhale, fold again and feel your peace.”

Peace? Devin followed the instructions, feeling her shoulders relax and her hamstrings sing.

“Hands back to prayer position and set your intention for the day. A selfless one.”

Call Vivian. Did that count? Devin folded forward again and glanced at the clock through her legs. Maybe I should sneak out early and smoke half a joint.

“Now let’s step back into plank and hold, breathing through the fronts of your arms and legs"”

Devin actually enjoyed being half-baked for this early practice. But she’d been running late this morning. Kneecap breathing required a certain distance from reality. But maybe her whole life was that way. No maybe about it.

The heat in the room kicked on with a loud click and Devin felt her neck and shoulders relax. Finally. She finished up the hour-long class on autopilot, without a thought in her head, which is exactly what Devin needed. With five minutes left, the ten or so bodies in the class lay silently in corpse pose, the sounds of a trickling brook coming through the speakers connected to Sindra’s iPod.  Devin’s eyes were closed, her body sinking into the ground and almost tingling, the warmth from the blanket she’d placed on top of herself soothing any scattered thoughts . . . Heaven..

“Now start to make tiny movements,” Sindra said, “Perhaps wiggling your wrists and ankles.”

Devin complied. A wiggle to the left . . . a wiggle to the right . . . She popped up into a seated position.

“Now slowly, when you’re ready,” Sindra said, “move into a seated position.”

            Already halfway through rolling up her mat, Devin blushed. She froze and tried to stay low as the teacher gave closing instructions. As if she were invisible in her crouching ninja stance. After the final “Namaste,” Devin ran to replace her blanket, grabbed her mat, and rushed to the bathroom. An hour was a long time to wait. She’d get some of the complimentary tea afterwards. She heard the chime of the front door as she made her way down the hall. Hah, I’m not the only one who sneaks out first.

            The bathroom door was open about a quarter of an inch and a sliver of bright light spilled out, an indicator that someone was still in the normally pitch-black space. “Hello?” Devin knocked. And waited. She looked up and down the hallway as students began to trickle out from the studio. She knocked again, and a third time. Okay, I’ve done my part. If I see the goods, it’s your own fault.

            Opening the door wide, she saw his once-pristine white pants, now cast with red, jutting out towards her, his torso and head on the floor next to the sink pipes, face up. Banana man!

            Someone screamed and Devin couldn’t move. Someone screamed again. God, shut up! Oh, s**t, that’s me. Devin clamped a hand over her mouth, took in the red liquid oozing from Banana Man’s temple, and promptly turned around to throw up in the trashcan. She wiped the nasty spittle from her mouth and looked up to see that a yogi crowd had gathered outside the open bathroom door.

            “Call an ambulance! 911!” Devin yelled. “Banana Ma"I mean, this guy’s hurt!”

            “On it,” Miriam cried from the back of the group, running towards the front desk.

“Does anyone know CPR?” Devin asked.

            Sindra brushed by Devin, nearly knocking her backwards in a very non-angelic way, and squatted down on the balls of her feet next to Banana Man. “I think he’s too dead for that,” she said.

            Not a very peace-inducing statement. Devin wondered if she should rethink her monthly membership.

            After what seemed like ages, but was probably only minutes, ambulance lights began flashing through the floor-to-ceiling windows of the lobby and Devin began to see white spots. Not a damn migraine. S**t! Devin realized her meds and weed were in the car, in her purse, the only things that would stop the tsunami of pain that would soon be upon her. She slid down the wall next to the bathroom door and placed her head between her knees. Breathe, breathe.

“Are you okay, ma’am?” a low voice asked. “Ma’am, can you hear me?”

            If this guy didn’t quit calling her “ma’am"”

            “Ma’am, do you need assistance?” Devin pulled up her head and squinted her eyes. A man with a fuzzy face and wearing a white shirt was touching her shoulder. He had on a nametag. Probably a paramedic.

            “No, but I found him. The one who does. Need assistance, I mean. He’s in there. In the bathroom. Can you help him, please?”

            The paramedic’s face became partially clear, his eyes the same color as slate. As the rest of his features became more distinct, she realized that his eyes were the most interesting thing on his face. His voice was kind, though, and she let him lift her to standing. She wobbled and fell into his body.

            “Take it easy. Let’s sit you back down.” She allowed him to lower her to the carpet. Someone had placed her yoga mat against the wall. Did I do that?

            “Is that your husband in there?”

            “Oh, God no, why would you think that? My husband is dead. I mean, before this. Not that dead guy. I mean . . . he’s a yogi. That dead guy in there, not my husband . . . who’s also not alive. He drives a funny yellow car. He almost killed me earlier. I mean . . . oh, God, this is not good.” Starbursts began to pepper her already limited eyesight.

            “Please sit here until we can assess the situation.”

            She was in “a situation.” She peered around the corner into the bathroom, and through her fog, saw an EMT bending over Banana Man, blocking her view. Oh, please, God or Goddess or Universe, please let him not really be dead.

The universe was tending to other matters apparently, because the paramedics soon had Banana Man strapped to a gurney, with a sheet covering his entire body. 

A man in a police uniform"or at least that’s what the fuzzy blue clothing seemed to be"approached her, causing Devin to suck in her breath and jump up from the floor. Bad idea. Now that she could see past the starbursts in her eyes, the ache would come in like a red hot poker piercing her brain. Devin felt her head begin to pound. She swayed for a moment as the throbbing reverberated through her entire body. Lowering her head, she rubbed her temples.

She eased her head up, a feat not unlike climbing Everest, to see the cop looming over her. He was easily six feet four, and his muscular physique made Devin feel like a china doll. Not an easy feat at her height. Another policeman, shorter and who looked as if he could easily be swept away by a strong breeze, lingered behind his partner.

            “What’s your name, ma’am?” the tall one asked.

            “Devin. Devin Christal DeBrough.” Please don’t say it sounds like a stripper name.

            “Can I get your address and phone number?”

            “For what? I know my rights. I didn’t do anything.”

            “Ma’am"”

            “Stop with the ma’am already!” Devin paused. He’s just trying to help. “I mean, you can call me Devin. Or Ms. DeBrough.”

            “Ms. DeBrough "?”

            “Can I get your name first, officer?”

            “I’m Lieutenant Jackson Henry Bartholomew Mason. The Third.”

            “No, you’re not. Really?”

            “Yes, ma’am, really.”

            Devin stared at him. His blurry face didn’t look happy. Better not get off on this foot.

            “I’m sorry, Lieutenant. I don’t know the, um, deceased? I just found him in there.”

            “That’s fine, ma’" Ms. DeBrough. We just need to get your information and an eyewitness statement.”

            “Please give me a moment, and I’ll be right with you, Lieutenant the Third. I have a horrible migraine and I need to sit down. I think the dying caused it. And the flashing lights, of course.”

The lieutenant gave her . . . was that a glare? She’d chalk it up to bad visibility. She waited until the cop wandered away then grabbed her phone from her jacket pocket and called Janey.

            “Hey, lady,” Janey answered on the third ring. “How’s it going?”

            “Not so hot,” Devin said. “I’m at yoga, still.”

            “What’s up? Man, it’s not even 8 yet.” Devin heard her friend yawn.

            Devin looked at the lieutenant who was standing near the reception desk, chatting with Miriam. She lowered her voice. “A guy is dead.”

            “What do you mean, dead?”

            “Like dead dead. I went into the bathroom after class and this yogi guy was lying on the bathroom floor"”

“Ew, that’s a terrible place to die,” Janey said.

“And we called 911 and the paramedics came and I have a migraine and now the cops are here and I have to give some sort of statement and he drove this banana car . . . What if the Feds lock me up"?”

            “I don’t think the Feds are involved quite yet. Now what the hell happened?”

            “No idea.” Devin dropped her voice even more. “But there was blood.”

            “Oh,” Janey said, and paused. “Well, do you need me to come get you or something?”

            “No, I just wanted to hear a familiar voice. I’m kinda freaking out.”

            “That’s it, I’m coming.”

            “No, no, I’m fine. Honestly. Stay put.”

            Devin turned to look at Lieutenant Jackson Henry Bartholomew Mason the Third, who was now watching Miriam demonstrate crow pose, her butt straight out towards him. He seemed to like crow pose.

            “Look, I gotta go. Thanks for being you.”

“Always here for ya, girl.”

Devin sighed, picked up her mat, and made her way over to Lieutenant the Third. Guess it was now or never. Besides, it had been a whole two years since her last “situation.”



© 2015 erin


Author's Note

erin
I'd love to get your take on character, dialogue, and if you're pulled into the story. Thanks!

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I liked your characters. They were very distinctive and believable. The dialogue was good and flowed fairly well. Early in the story, there were a few sentences where I was not certain if you accidentally dropped a word or it was the manner in which the character spoke. After reading more of the story I concluded it was the latter. I think the story is good. I was curious to see where it was leading. The scene where she hears someone screaming then realizes it is her is great. It really sets the tempo how she is reacting to seeing . . . I won't give it away for those who have yet to read this. It is good. I like it. Good job!

Posted 4 Years Ago



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Added on February 22, 2015
Last Updated on February 22, 2015


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erin
erin

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