The Oxygen Murder

The Oxygen Murder by Camille Minichino Read Free Book Online Page B

Book: The Oxygen Murder by Camille Minichino Read Free Book Online
Authors: Camille Minichino
Tags: Fiction, Mystery & Detective, Women Sleuths
Revere. In our short time in New York, she’d already picked up two Coach-like bags and a pair of chenille mittens, both from sidewalk vendors.
    In the overheated café, I pulled off my cardigan and added it to the jacket over the back of my chair. The outside air had grown colder over the weekend, but no more rain was in sight.
    “I’ve been thinking about Amber, wondering if she has any family around here,” I said.
    Lori took a long breath and shook her head. “They’re all still on this wheat farm in Nashville, Kansas.” She paused. “Not Tennessee. Kansas. It was such a stereotype, I couldn’t believe it the first time I went there. Even her name. You know,
waves of grain, that’s what her parents named her for.” Lori stared off at a distant spot in the café, as if she were trying to see all the way across to Kansas. A small smile took over her face. “Her brother, Billy, literally had straw in his hair. He and Amber argued all the time about big city versus small town. He was very hot, though. I could have had a thing for him if he were a tiny bit older and willing to leave the farm.”
    Lori stopped abruptly. I gathered she hadn’t meant to say as much as she did.
    “Do you know what Amber did, specifically, for the PI agency?” I asked.
    “Gloria!” The very buff young counterman in a long-sleeved black tee sang out my name.
    My second cappuccino was ready.
    I’d hoped that catching Lori off guard about Amber’s moonlighting might loosen her up and evoke an unfiltered response.
    “I’ll get it,” Lori said, rushing toward the counter. She seemed relieved to be leaving me, even for a few moments.
    Lori came back with my drink plus a plain coffee and a croissant for herself. She had her answer ready.
    “Amber did just routine work, you know, like background checks and taking pictures of the scene of an accident, like for an insurance company or some lawyer.”
    “Did she follow any unsavory types?” I asked.
Wink, wink.
Just an old retired lady looking for a vicarious thrill.
    Lori stirred a packet of sweetener into her coffee. “Only if you think it’s unsavory to cheat on your wife.” She winked at me, as if to tell me, gently, that she saw through my attempt at casualness. “You know, what I’d really like to know is the exact way that too much ozone hurts you, and the way that CFCs destroy the ozone layer. What happens, atom to atom, if that’s the right way to ask?”
    When had I not wanted to talk about science to anyone who would listen? Here was a person seriously interested in hearing me expound on the mechanism of ozone depletion. Instead of reveling in the idea, I was intent on reminding her of what was likely the most traumatic event of her life. I owed Lori my best expository powers.
    “That’s just the right way to put it,” I said. “Ozone is generated as a side product in a lot of industries. Arc welding is one of the main culprits. The ozone is created in the high voltage of the arc.”
    Lori shook her pen at me. “We’re looking into a welding company. So it would be great if I can get this straight. I know that ozone has three atoms, and it’s not very stable—it wants to give up one of the oxygen atoms, to take it back to a stable two-atom state.”
    “You’re halfway there,” I said. “The ozone is ready to react with anything in its way in order to return to that stable state.”
    “And if it happens to be our lung tissue that’s in the way, ozone will eat it up.” Lori snapped her fingers.
    There went a lung,
I thought.
    “You certainly are a quick study, Lori,” I said, and meant it. “Was Amber able to help at all with this? Did she have a technical background?” Not to be too subtle.
    “No more than I did, with our liberal arts degrees. You know, chemistry for journalism majors. No physics at all, I’m afraid. Not required.”
    “You’re breaking my heart.”
    Lori gave me a comic sheepish look and turned the page in her

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