Flash Fiction: The mysterious fire extinguisher
She stared at the man, fumbling for the words to tell him what they’d just found, and before she could get the first word out, he said, “Lemme guess, you found Magda? We’ve been looking for her for hours.”
Hearing this, Tamara fainted. Her feathered-like body splayed itself on the floor. There she lay until the cops arrived.
The strange Oompa Loompa’d man waddled over to Tamara and waved his hands frantically in front of her face. He leaned in far too close to her and then stared intently until she blinked and opened her eyes. Tamara shot up from her fainted state — disoriented — but regained her sense of self quickly. He led one police officer to the area where she was and directed the other to the room the couple reserved.
“Hey! Hey! Name’s Beau. Officer Beau Dibbs. We got ourselves a bit of a situation here. You the one who found the motel’s cleanin’ lady, Magda?”
The strange man stood behind the front desk with a defiant look plastered on his face. He scrutinized Tamara silently while Officer Dibbs attempted to get whatever information he could out of Tamara. She averted her eyes from him and paid attention to Officer Dibbs.
“Ye — Yes, me and my husband found the woman. He — her head. God! Her head was in the bed and her body was in the tub. IN THE TUB!”
Officer Dibbs made note of the delirium spouting from Tamara’s mouth. He perused the perimeter, took photos of the motel lobby, and asked the strange man to escort him to the scene of the crime. Tamara walked along behind them — afraid to touch anything. There was a fire extinguisher on the wall next to their room. Had it been there before? The glass was broken, yet the extinguisher looked to be intact.
“Was that fire extinguisher there when we checked in? I just . . . I don’t remember it being there before.”
“Yup. Gotta have one every hundred feet. City code. There’s one here, then about five rooms down, there’s another. And so on, and you know. City code.”
Officer Dibbs entered the room. His partner, Officer Clive Bends had questioned Tamara’s husband Dale, took photos of the mangled body, the room, and blocked off the area in a 50-foot radius with crime scene tape. Dale was standing in the middle of the room, hovering over their children, and muttering a lullaby. It seemed as though the song was for him more than it was for their children.
“Dibbs. It’s a damn mess. Couple came in expecting a night of rest from a long drive up. They’re headed farther North. From what I got from the husband over there, they hadn’t been in the room five minutes before locating the body. According to him, they don’t know the lady, and don’t have anything to do with this here, um . . . situation.”
The strange man stared at Dale, then at Tamara, then at both officers before speaking up.
“The deceased is Magda. Magda Kowalski. No children. She lives here on site. Works every day along with our other two maids; Daphne and Tess. Last I heard from her was three days ago — hadn’t called in — nothing. This was odd for Magda. She’d be here at 07:00 on the dot every morning. As I said, she lives on site.”
Noting the information given by the motel clerk, the officers gathered their things and headed for Magda’s room. Tamara insisted on following along — she wouldn’t be able to sleep. Not tonight, and definitely not at this motel. On her way out, she noticed the fire extinguisher was on the opposite side of the door.
“Wasn’t that fire extinguisher on the other side when we came in?”
“No, ma’am. Been there the whole time.”
But had it?