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Authors: T. L. Haddix

Shadows from the Grave (46 page)

BOOK: Shadows from the Grave
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When their voices faded, Cangemi sat her down on the leather couch in reception and had her recount her morning and her routine. In at 7:30 five days a week, six or seven days per week before a show. She left when she could, clocking fifty to seventy hours a week, depending on the time of year.

“And for this, you make how much?” he asked.

“Less than you, but nobody’s shooting at me,” she replied.

He smirked. “And you’re a designer, or what?”

“I’m a patternmaker.”

“You do the flowers and stuff on the fabric?”

It always amazed her that people wore clothes every day, but nobody had any idea what went into making them. “Did your mom ever sew anything for you at home?”

“Yeah. An Easter suit when I was seven. Light blue. Dumb-looking thing.”

“Before she sewed it, she had to cut the fabric, right?” She didn’t wait for him to answer. “Likely, she laid pieces of tissue paper down onto flat fabric, pinned them down, and cut. Well, the tissue paper was in the right shape, and it was in the right shape because a patternmaker drew it that way.”

“You make shapes,” he said.

“That’s right. I make the shape right so the garment fits. If it doesn’t fit, you’re screwed.”

He looked at her for a second as if to say
‘That’s a job?’
then got back to the business at hand. “This morning, tell me exactly what you saw when you walked into the office.”

“Okay. So, I put in my code and—”

“You got your own code?”

“Everyone does.” She tried to look at what he scratched into his little black pad. “And the lights were on, so I knew Jeremy was in, because Renee turns them off when she leaves at six.”

“Did you notice anything else out of place?”

“There was a napkin in the trash. A brown one from HasBean, where Jeremy gets his coffee.”

“Then, you went to your desk?”

“Right, and then I went to his office.”

“Why?”

“To thank him for the coffee.” She tilted her head, ready to say ‘Duh,’ but caught herself in time. “And so she was lying there, and Jeremy was there, too, all freaked out.”

“Describe ‘freaked out.’”

“He was standing there like…” She stood and mimicked Jeremy’s position.

Cangemi looked her up and down. “His hands were just like that?”

“Yeah.”

“In fists?”

“Yeah, like this.” She held her fists out and bent her elbows, just like she’d seen Jeremy do, as if flying a plane.

“Anything in them?”

“Zebra fabric. A long header.”

From Cangemi’s blank look, he didn’t know what a header was, so she explained, “Fabric salespeople, like Terry Distorni, who’s our major supplier, want you to use their fabric on the line. So they send you little pieces of what they have. They’re called headers, or swatches, depending on the size, and you get like a few hundred a season. And you design your line with those fabrics, or not. But a header is like a sample of what they can make for you in production.”

“And Jeremy had one in his hands when you saw him?”

“Yeah. He said he took it off her. To see if she was alive,” she added.

“And?”

“And, I checked her pulse. I mean, I put my fingers on her neck, and it was cold. There was no pulse, if I was even looking in the right spot. So then I called you.”

Cangemi sat back in his chair and flipped through his notes, leaning his left ankle on his right knee. He wore argyle socks. The left sock drooped like the elastic had been stretched.

“You shouldn’t do that to your socks,” Laura said, pointing. “You put them in a ball before you put them in the drawer, and it wears the elastic on one and not the other. Or both, if you’re not organized.”

“My girlfriend’s pretty organized.” He smiled, but there was no warmth in it. “Did you know the victim? And did you notice how she arranged her underwear drawer?” That time, he smiled like he meant it. He wanted to be the one making the jokes. Fine.

“She was Jeremy’s backer, Gracie Pomerantz. The money.”

“She usually here this early?”

“She comes in the weeks before a show, but no, not this early, and she’s never in the design area. She usually hangs around the showroom and the fancy office over on that side.”

“When did you see her last?”

“About fifteen minutes ago.” She smiled wanly, getting nowhere with the guy. “Okay, kidding. Last night, we were all here until about seven, and she came in at about… I don’t know, ten in the morning or something, and she and Jeremy were in the front office for hours. I have no idea what they were talking about.”

“What time did she leave?”

“I want to say two o’clock, but I was really busy. Could have been later. She said some really bitchy thing and walked out. But that’s normal for her, so, whatever.”

He nodded once, making eye contact, an expression meant to tell her to be more specific without actually nagging her. He probably learned that at the academy, too.

“I was working on this dress, and it was on the mannequin. She came by, and said ‘That looks like a potato sack, Laura. If you’re not going to do the job right, we can find another kid right out of school to do it.’ Which she said because Jeremy hired me right out of Parsons, and she didn’t like that. Anyway, I could like, feel the stress coming off her, so I said, ‘Do you mean the waist is too big, or is the length wrong, or what do you think?’ She grabbed my pins and started pinning all over, thinking she’s doing it right but instead, she’s making this terrible mess. So I just let her finish, and when she did I said, ‘Oh, okay sure, I can make it like that,’ which by the way, was a disaster, but I didn’t say that. She put my pins down and walked out. The whole thing was weird, except, you know, she always kind of acted like she could do my job better than me because she used to sew from Butterick patterns.”

“Did she say anything to anyone else before she left?”

Laura replayed those moments in her mind, imagining Gracie walking away from her. She had been wearing a lavender suit that fit like plastic surgery and matching stilettos that would surely necessitate actual surgery.

“She said something to Jeremy I didn’t hear. And he said, ‘Don’t you dare go.’ I couldn’t hear the rest. They were at each other’s throats all day, about what, I don’t know.”

“You’re very frank,” Cangemi said. “I like that in a witness.”

“Thank you.” Unable to resist, she continued like a vaudevillian, “And don’t call me Frank.”

He nodded, acknowledging the joke, but not the fact that it was hilarious. Cangemi closed his little notebook and promised more questions as they arose. As she walked back to her desk, she passed what used to be Jeremy’s office, but was now a crime scene. Camera flashes blazed. Handheld radios buzzed. Tall men shouted orders. A lady in a blue uniform slid Laura’s paper scissors into a plastic bag.

“I need those,” she cried.

Cangemi saw her distress. “You’ve got only one pair of scissors?”

“I have fabric scissors. If I cut paper with them, they’re ruined.”

He looked at her as though she had lost her mind. She tried to remember he wasn’t a cutter. He lived like the rest of the population. Scissors were tools you bought at Target while you were there for something else, then lost immediately, and found in a drawer a year later. To her, they were an extension of herself. She wanted to ask him if he’d use just any gun he found in the back of the drawer, but she needed her scissors and didn’t want to risk out-joking him again.

“They were on the scene,” he replied. “We gotta log them in.”

“I can’t work without them.”

“What were they doing in here?”

“I was drying them off. They had coffee on them.”

“You spilled coffee when you got here?” He made a note.

“It was already spilled.” She pointed in the general direction of her workspace.

When Laura saw Cangemi make another note, she knew she’d just opened up a world of trouble.

Dead Is the New Black

 

Available at:

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BN

 

You can visit Christine DeMaio-Rice’s blog at
fashionismurder.com
or email her at
[email protected]

BOOK: Shadows from the Grave
12.69Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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