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Mutual Restraining Orders

written by: Mark Kuglin



A strong aroma of cordite--hanging defiantly in the air-- and the sickeningly pungent, metallic smell of blood assaulted my nostrils before I saw the crime scene. Strangely though, as disgusting as the blood smells were, I'd finally grown accustomed to them. When I was a rookie cop--and for a significant portion of my career as a homicide detective-- the blood smells and other odors of death affected me so badly, I had to wretch before I could investigate.

After I arrived, I stood quietly behind the crime scene tape--for a few minutes-- and took in the activity going on around me. Experience had taught me to start my investigation without any preconceived notions. Although well intended, the thoughts and opinions of the C.S.I. technicians--and my fellow police officers-- skewed my thinking and made it possible to overlook what could be critical details.

As I watched the technicians go about their duties, I did my best to ignore their movements and I scrutinized the view in front of me--first as a tableau and then a possibility filled movie. At a glance, it was obvious that one or both of the victims were very well off. An expanse of highly manicured lawn, filled with tasteful statuary and numerous varieties of colorful flowers, sat in front of a circular driveway--with a Rolls Royce and a Ferrari parked nose to tail at its apex.

Although the grounds and the white multi columned mansion directly behind the driveway were impressive, my eyes locked on an interesting detail--the doors to the Ferrari and the front door of the mansion were open. This development not only intrigued me, it got me moving.

After I ducked under the crime scene tape, I hurriedly moved forward. Along the way, I stopped a technician and asked him--as I pointed towards the cars and the mansion, "Were these doors open when you got here?"

"No sir," he responded. "The driver's side was open, we opened the passenger door for pictures...The mansion's front door was closed...We left it open for access and to air out the place...It's.."

"That's enough of that...Give me the short version on the victims."

"There's two--a male and a female both in their early thirties...They'd been married for ten years but they were in the middle of a highly contentious divorce...There is one strange thing."

"What's that?"

"That they were together...They had restraining orders on each other."

"Ah...Passion and booze...A Hollywood murder."


"Never mind..That'll be all...Carry on with what you were doing."

For the next few moments, I stood in place and ran the most likely scenario through my head. A part of my theory was confirmed after I made a quick examination of both cars. An exotic, flowery smelling perfume was present in both but much heavier in the Rolls. The Ferrari, however, also had the unmistakable aromas of a man's cologne and champagne.

A closer inspection of the Ferrari added several more pieces. Inside, I found an empty champagne bottle and a lacy, highly provocative pair of women's underwear. By themselves, they didn't necessarily mean anything. However, as I left the cars and headed towards the mansion itself, they became significant.

Along the way--as expected--I found one of her high heels. And several feet past it, I noticed his sport coat near the base of one of the columns. As I stepped over the threshold, my trail of clothes and other belongings abruptly ended. I had planned on making a full examination of the mansion's interior before I saw the bodies, but the unexpected detour from my theory--what was looking to be an all too familiar cliche-- piqued my interest.

For a moment, I stood silently in the middle of the mansion's ornate foyer and considered the new possibilities. I was about to let my nose lead me to the location of the bodies but a bullet hole--one I noticed out of the corner of my eye-- saved me the trouble. After I moved and stood next to the wall, I made a slow turn of my head and tracked an imaginary line of the bullet's trajectory. It led directly into an open doorway of a room thirty feet further in.

As I approached the room, I passed under a large chandelier and veered to the left of a grand circular staircase. Along the way, I confirmed two of my suspicions. The bullet had come unscathed from the room. And, with each step, the aroma of cordite and death grew in intensity. I knew both bodies were inside and that it was where all of the action had taken place.

From the doorway, I made a cursory look of the room. Each of its four walls were lined--floor to ceiling-- with shelves of books. On one end stood a massive dark stained, oak desk which matched the color of the shelves and the room's oak flooring. And on the other end, there was an equally sized and stained wet bar.

At a glance, I decided that the room's large size and its decorative touches made it--more than likely--his former library or study. However, what drew and held my attention for a moment was a black leather couch--atop an expensive oriental rug-- that was situated halfway between the desk and the wet bar. If I hadn't known what had taken place, a woman's dress haphazardly thrown on the couch wouldn't have seemed unusual or out of place.

My curiosity now fully aroused, I stepped into the room and took a number of steps towards the large desk. Upon closer inspection, I noticed the disarray and damage of the books on the wall behind the desk. I didn't need to look further, it could wait for now. I knew what I would find. The blood splatter told me everything.

Instead, I spun on my heel and headed in the other direction. A few feet away from the wet bar, I made the same observation--the books behind it were equally damaged and blood splattered. I did, however, walk the remaining distance to the bar and glanced over it. And as I expected, the lifeless eyes of what had been an attractive blonde stared back at me.

Rather than investigate further, I stopped and took out my notebook. I wanted to jot down some notes while the details were fresh in my mind. I had just started writing when the C.S.I. tech--the one I'd been talking to outside-- came up behind me and asked, "What's your take on this mess?"

"It seems pretty straightforward...Both of them had the same idea...They met in a restaurant or a bar...And wanting to appear cordial, they drank champagne...When both of them thought the other was drunk enough, they used the promise of sex as a lure."

"Ok...That makes sense...But I don't understand the bit about the dress...Why did she...?"

"Her dress explains everything...It tells the entire story."

"You've lost me...How does it do that?"

"Simple...To start, neither of them knew the other had a gun...It's just a guess but she probably planted hers recently and his--more than likely-- has been in here for some time."

"Ok...But back to the dress."

"Again, it's simple...It was her ruse...She used it, or at least she thought she did, as a stalling tactic until she could make her way over here to the bar...Unfortunately for her, he used it as his chance to get his gun...After that, it was the gunfight at the O.K. Corral."

"Yeah, you're probably right...But what a waste...Both of them were young, good looking and had everything they could want...What did either one of them have to gain?"

"Satisfaction...They refused to lose to the other...Their egos did them in."

"Massively stupid, if you ask me."

"No...An ironic tie"

"How's that?"

"They gave new meaning to dead heat."

Mark Kuglin

Mark Kuglin

JULY 2018 AUTHOR OF THE MONTH at Spillwords.com
Mark Kuglin is an American expat currently living and working near Ensenada, Mexico. He writes fiction, poetry and the occasional essay. Samples of his work can be found on his website 'Mark Kuglin'.
Mark Kuglin

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