The Oxygen Murder

The Oxygen Murder by Camille Minichino Read Free Book Online

Book: The Oxygen Murder by Camille Minichino Read Free Book Online
Authors: Camille Minichino
Tags: Fiction, Mystery & Detective, Women Sleuths
brain cells to spare,” he’d said.
    I knew another reason was that his job brought him up close to the effects of excessive drinking. He’d often moralized about the large percentage of crimes that could be linked to alcohol—domestic violence, child abuse, vehicular homicide. Meanwhile, Rose and Frank were perfect examples of responsible wine imbibers. For years Rose had tried to tell me what I was missing in the taste of a good wine.
    “I don’t need one more thing that will add calories to my diet,” I’d told her.
    Her confused look could only come from one who had trouble keeping her weight above a hundred pounds so she could donate blood.
     
    Lori and I had agreed that I’d call her when I had an address for our meeting. She picked up after three rings.
    “Looking forward to talking about oxygen, CFCs, and all that cool stuff,” she said.
    “And I’m looking forward to getting to know you better,” I said.
     
    Losing Rose was easier than I thought it would be. She wanted to go to church with her husband.
    Frank never missed a chance to stop in at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue, to visit the shrine of St. Francis of Assisi, his patron saint.
    “You might say he was the world’s first environmentalist,” Frank had said at dinner, as if to entice me into devotion to St. Francis, based on his proclivity toward science. “The protector of animals and the environment, he’s called. All of God’s creatures were drawn to him. He fed the birds, wrote hymns to the sun and the moon, that kind of thing. He even had a prayer for pets. ‘May my pet continue to remind me of your power.’ Good stuff.”
    “You don’t have any pets,” I said.
    Frank shrugged. “Even so.”
    “MC may get a puppy,” Rose said, bringing her only daughter and my godchild into the conversation. She smiled and folded her arms across her chest, as if she’d just cleared everything up.
    “I’ll bet St. Francis would have been on the enlightened side of CFC issues,” Matt said. Always the one to bring us to the present, peacefully.
    “Right you are,” Frank said.
    “You don’t mind if I go with Frank, do you, Gloria?” Rose asked. “It’s not that he goes to church that often.” She poked her husband on the arm. “Only if it’s the biggest one in the country.”
    Frank reached into the pocket of his Italian silk jacket and pulled out a brochure from our hotel’s pamphlet rack. He put on his glasses and read to us, in a sermon-like tone. “The
Pietà
in St. Patrick’s is three times larger than the one in St. Peter’s in Rome. One of the altars was designed by Tiffany.”
    “And we know God cares about these things,” Rose said with a grin.
    We all knew that Rose, the only one of us still a practicing Catholic, prayed regularly for our souls, most often at St. Anthony’s Church in Revere.
    “You go along with Frank,” I said to Rose, magnanimous friend that I was. “I’ll just be doing some boring Internet searches.”
    She gave me a look:
Right.
     
    I kissed Matt good-bye as he left for his conference, secretly hoping he wouldn’t get out early, and walked toward Coffee And, between Fifth and Sixth on West Fiftieth. Today’s “and” for me would be a chocolate croissant, I decided, always thinking ahead to the next sweet. The sidewalks were teeming with tourists on their way to and from the enormous Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, the lighting of which Rose watched on television, religiously, every year.
    I remembered her critique of this year’s show, aired just before we left for New York. “I don’t know many of the performers anymore,” she’d said.
    “Except for Tony Bennett,” Frank added. We were all glad for the familiar voice, now representing a whole past generation of Italian-American crooners.
    The brisk air, the animated pedestrians, and the noisy traffic energized me, and I reached the café fifteen minutes before Lori was due. Enough time to order breakfast, log on,

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