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It was the 11th of Jimi, 1973. The Byrds were singing, the sky deep purple and doubt had just entered my trousers.

The Lilac bellbottoms or the flameburst flares?

I thought about it for a drum beat or two - tat-ta-tat, tat tat, tat tat, tat tat - miming the drum intro to Five Years. The Divine David at his holiest. Ziggy Stardust, track one.

And decided to go with the lilac. It felt like a lilac day so I climbed onto my five-inch tan and beige platform shoes, scooped up my police badge from the dresser and clipped it to my extra-wide braided leather belt.

With my chocolate and gold tie-dye shirt, a hint of foundation, a circle of glitter and spiky red hair, I was a dude dressed to detect. Major Thomas Starr, Chief of Police.

The phone rang. It was Twig, the medical examiner.

"Tom," she said. "About that body on Hendrix. It wasn’t suicide. It was murder."

The words took some time to sink in. Murder? I’d never heard the word outside of a song title. Suicides we had in abundance. As the Divine David says, ‘who wants to stay alive 'til you're twenty-five?’ But murder?

"Are you sure, Twig?"

"Believe me, Tom, no one would choose this way to go."


Ten minutes later I was cruising down Hendrix, striding out on the metal walkway, walking tall and exuding law enforcement. A few Heads looked my way, squinting through bleary eyes. Heads were like that - up all night, dead all day. All that metal shit ain’t good for the brain. A few guitar riffs wailed out from open windows, heavy on the blue notes, squeezing and bending those strings as far as they’d go. Further down the street there was the beginning of a small crowd - a few quartets, a trio or two. Mostly Heads, well, this was Head Town - Fourth Level, Hendrix and Winwood - can’t get much Headier than that.

I pushed past all the denim and unwashed hair. And that Pituli oil haze that hung over Head Town like a stoned smog.

No such concerns about Twig’s perfume - top-shelf Kay West, costumier and perfumier to the fashionably enlightened. As were her clothes - not so much sprayed-on as chemically bonded at the molecular level. There are tight clothes and there are tight clothes. These were tight.

"Name’s Carlos," she said, pointing at the body by the Dumpster. "Been dead about six hours. No one saw a thing."

Which, seeing as this was Head Town and the stiff wasn’t holding a guitar, was hardly surprising.

"What makes you think this was murder?"

Twig paused while she edged her rectangular shades back up the bridge of her perfectly formed nose. "Easy," she said. "The guy’s been exsanguinated."

I looked down at the death-white face, Black Sabbath T-shirt and faded blue jeans. There wasn’t a mark on him, not that I could see. And no blood anywhere.

"Could he have bled to death elsewhere and been dumped?"


"What about a simple suicide in a bath of hot water. Someone came home and found him wrist-slit dead and dumped his body in the nearest place they could find?"

"That doesn’t explain this."

I could tell by her tone that ‘this’ was not going to be pleasant.