Cut to the Bone

Cut to the Bone by Joan Boswell

Book: Cut to the Bone by Joan Boswell Read Free Book Online
Authors: Joan Boswell
waitress, money would be tight. Did the treadmill mean she was a fitness fanatic or had she bought it after making a January resolution? Hollis had not considered Mary to be fat, thin, tall, or short. Rather, she’d seemed ordinary.
    The computer required a password. Given the coded notebook, Hollis had expected this but it disappointed her. She opened the single desk drawer. A neat array of stamps, name stickers, paper clips, and elastic-bound used chequebooks met her eye. At this point she felt like a voyeur and didn’t remove the elastic to see who and what Mary had paid.
    Instead she moved to the file cabinet. Locked. Again, no surprise. Mary didn’t want anyone trolling through her computer or her files. Was she hiding something or simply acting like a person who treasured privacy? If she harboured an ever-changing series of women, these precautions might be designed to prevent them from snooping in her private business.
    The cupboard, like the rest of the room, revealed little. Mary owned few clothes. An assortment of jeans, none of them high-end, four pairs of black slacks, a number of white cotton shirts, one black skirt, three jackets, two black hoodies, several pairs of shoes, and four purses — not a large wardrobe.
    Without much hope of finding anything, Hollis combed through each handbag checking all the compartments but, as she’d expected, found nothing. Conclusion: Mary Montour, a private person with low-key clothing, kept all personal information stored safely away.
    This expedition marked the fourth time she’d riffled through an apartment looking for clues to lead her to a missing person or to provide insight into a life. The worst had been her search in her murdered husband’s files, where shocking surprises had awaited her. Investigating a home always made her feel sneaky and somehow guilty. As she had in the past, she reassured herself that she’d taken a useful first step.
    Time to move to the second bedroom with its bunks and scattering of brilliant, tawdry clothing. Only a paperback book, splayed open and spine up, lying beside the bed, spoiled the military neatness of half the room. When she picked it up, she realized it was one of thousands of self-help books offering to guide readers along the path to self-actualization.
    This woman was working on her self-image. In absentia Hollis wished her well.
    The other side gave the impression that an out-of-control, over-the-top person lived there. Copies of People and US along with a pile of comic books lay on and under the bed, along with chocolate bar and gum wrappers, empty diet soda cans and chip bags. Amid a tangle of bedding, vivid nylon, spandex, and microfibre clothes added intense colour. The occupant had tossed a black lace bra atop the brilliant mountain. Hollis edged over to the bed and gingerly plucked it from the debris. It was 38DD — this buxom woman with her peacock clothes always would have been noticed. Spike-heeled shoes with run-over heels or platform soles were everywhere. If she had to guess she’d say this was a hooker’s wardrobe. Unlikely that she had worked as a civil servant or a receptionist in a staid law firm. The idea made Hollis smile.
    Chests of drawers next.
    Nothing cluttered the surface of the tidy bureau, and all its drawers were tightly closed. Hollis opened the top drawer. Beside neatly folded serviceable white underwear she saw an arresting, well-thumbed purple pamphlet with red lettering: Methadone Maintenance Treatment — client handbook . Either it was second-hand or its condition revealed how frequently its owner had referred to it. The methadone in the fridge belonged to Miss Tidy.
    Lowering herself to a bunk, Hollis thumbed through the Canadian Mental Health Association booklet. Well-written, frank, easily understood. If only all manuals were like this. As she read through it she stopped on various pages and learned that like her long ago boyfriend, individuals

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