“It was as if I saw it happen in slow m-m-m-motion.” Recuerda Villa, her eyes wide, recalled what she had witnessed.

What she had seen, though Recuerda wasn’t close enough to see it quite so clearly, was this. Jolene’s right arm, hanging motionless at her side, rose up and forward, then left across her chest and slightly back toward her body. Her right hand stopped just short of her left ear, then her arm sprung like a coiled snake, the back of her fist smashing into Lavender’s left cheek with an audible “crack!” Lavender’s eyes snapped shut and her head jerked back with the force of impact. She stumbled backward four steps until the back of her knees hit the low table next to the deck railing. Her knees buckled, and the force of movement thrust her downward until her back was parallel with the deck. Momentum thrust her across  and over the railing. She tumbled upside down toward the ground below.

Recuerda Villa, sunbathing on her dock a few houses away, saw the event, she told police. “It looked like the women were fighting, but I’m not sure. Women don’t fight here, not in Hot Springs Village.”

Maybe not. But, as the police would uncover during the investigation, the brief interchange between Jolene Shaw and Lavender Boudreaux certainly had all the trappings of a fight. A fight to the death. Lavender’s death.

Several people were much closer to the scene. Among them were ten women just inside inside Jolene’s house. A couple of them reported they thought they heard a scream, but didn’t think much of it. After all, one of them said, “It’s not unusual to hear someone in a gaggle of tipsy knitters shriek with laughter at a tawdry joke.”


[No idea where this is going. I’m not much of a mystery writer, but this vignette seems to “have all the trappings” of a mystery. At least some of the trappings.]

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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