The first hour of my day is pretty much always the same: up, bathroom, kitchen, kettle, coffee, then a quick “Cheers” to my Mum and Dad. Their ashes sit in matching urns on the mantelpiece of my little house on Burnaby Mountain, in British Columbia. After two coffees I’m pretty close to being human, so I return to the bathroom, where I approach the scales with caution. They usually accuse me of weighing 180lbs. Apparently, standing on tip-toe doesn’t make this number change at all.
Now forty-eight, I have discovered three key truths in life: good undergarments are a necessary investment for those of us who possess an ample bosom; manufacturers of “long-lasting lipstick” and hairsprays that “hold and give volume” are being less than truthful; I do not need expensive miracle creams to erase my wrinkles—I just take off my reading cheats, and they disappear.
Breakfast is usually a banana, gobbled down while driving to the University of Vancouver, where I’m a Professor of Criminology. I enjoy zooming about in my red Mazda Miata: I’m only five-three—five-four on a tall day—so a small car suits my needs, and keeps costs down. I frequently arrive at my cramped office ten minutes later than I’d like, despite pushing the speed limit to our mountain-top campus, passing dozens of middle-aged, health-nut cyclists who labor up the steep incline in sweaty, neon spandex. Personally, I view carrying arm-lengthening piles of graded papers along endless corridors to be a perfectly adequate exercise plan.
How the rest of my day goes depends on the semester—sometimes I teach a lot of classes, other times I get to focus on my research into how psychological victim profiling can help with criminal cases. It’s controversial stuff, but I truly believe in what I do. Occasionally, I miss the days when I was hired as a consultant to BC’s Integrated Homicide Team, because now everything I do is purely academic. That said, I have been known to get into some sticky situations involving an all-too-real homicide when I’ve needed to apply my theories under considerable pressure. Thankfully, that’s not an everyday occurrence.
Research, teaching, grading, meetings: that’s the order of preference for my daily activities. I’m not very keen on mixing with people, nor am I blessed with the best of social-interaction skills, so I find Faculty meetings a real challenge. I like to entertain myself with a little game: observe and deduce. Last week I focused on a departmental newcomer—Fred Winterton. The first time he and I met, I was stung by his unkind comments about my Welsh accent. Even though I’ve been in Canada for more than a decade, I know it’s still noticeable. However, I didn’t think there was any need for him to be so critical: most people find it pleasant, in a sing-songy way. Upon our second encounter, I decided to give him the eagle eye, and noted several telling facts:
- Hideous clothing, all un-ironed; unkempt, greasy hair and beard; scuffed shoes.
- Left-handed, with fingernails on his right hand much shorter than his left; callouses on the tips of his right fingers.
- An inescapable aroma of stale patchouli.
- Frequent scratching of the lower back.
- Constant foot tapping.
- Dancing eyebrows and unconscious, fleeting smiles.
From these observations I deduced him to be a single man, an avid guitarist who’s thinking of music all the time, suffering from a skin complaint, probably psoriasis or eczema. I raised these factors in casual conversation after the meeting, and he accepted them as accurate inferences. He looked uncomfortable when he left, and seemed to be grumbling about me to our head of department. Poke fun at a Welshwoman who belongs to Mensa and reads people for a living? “That’ll teach him!” as my Mum would have said.
My favorite days are those when I spend time with my significant other, Bud Anderson. Bud headed up the Integrated Homicide Team, where I consulted on his cases. We became more than colleagues after the tragic death of his wife, and have now been dating for almost a year. But it’s not easy. It seems that whenever we escape Vancouver and its environs, which are full of remembrances of Bud’s late wife, I seem to to trip over a corpse. So far, I’ve managed to solve every puzzling death.
I wouldn’t have dared hope to find someone who loves me at this point in my life—my only other serious relationship resulted in my ex-boyfriend ending up dead on my bathroom floor, and me being arrested for murder. I should probably mention that I was never charged, and was completely exonerated.
If Bud comes to my place in the evening, I’ll cook. Cooking’s my hobby, because I love to eat. Bud’s always accompanied by Marty, his affectionate, tubby black Lab, who loves to lick our used plates as we curl up in front of something good on TV. And, frankly, that’s all you need to know about how my days end.
I love my life. If I had to sum up the attitude with which I face every day it would be: if life gives you lemons you should make yourself a good, strong gin and tonic . . . or a lemon mousse. Or both. Yes, definitely both.
You can read more about Cait in The Corpse with the Golden Nose , the second book in the “Cait Morgan” mystery series. The first book in the series is The Corpse with the Silver Tongue.
Meet the author
Welsh Canadian mystery author Cathy Ace is the creator of the Cait Morgan Mysteries, which include The Corpse with the Silver Tongue and The Corpse with the Golden Nose. Born, raised, and educated in Wales, Cathy enjoyed a successful career in marketing and training across Europe, before immigrating to Vancouver, Canada, where she taught on MBA and undergraduate marketing programs at various universities. Her eclectic tastes in art, music, food, and drink have been developed during her decades of extensive travel, which she continues whenever possible. Now a full-time author, Cathy’s short stories have appeared in multiple anthologies, as well as on BBC Radio 4. She and her husband are keen gardeners, who enjoy being helped out around their acreage by their green-pawed Labradors. Cathy’s website can be found at www.cathyace.com or you can “Like” her author page on Facebook and you can also follow her on Twitter.
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