The Scent of Cinnamon

Posted: March 5, 2014 in Love, Mystery
Tags: , , , ,
Topaz Winters - Ocean of Silence (song snippet)

Topaz Winters – Ocean of Silence
(song snippet)

Justin sat in his patrol car and stared in the distance. Ever since Allison had ended their three-year relationship, he had lost his ability to sleep soundly, he walked around as if in a trance. He didn’t go out with his colleagues any longer, he just wasn’t in the mood for it. His so-called friends didn’t understand him. Being in his shoes, they would have moved on, met a new woman, and wouldn’t bother in the least about the past.

“You choke me,” she had said. “No, not really – it isn’t you. It is the situation. I need my freedom, I cannot breathe here!”

Her suitcases were already packed. She had hidden them in her closet. She laid her ring on the table, grabbed her purse, took the suitcases out of the closet, and left the flat; her scent of cinnamon with a touch of underlying vanilla still lingered in the air. He just stood there, struggling to understand. Their relationship had felt great, he was always happy like a lark. Then this. He just couldn’t get it yet, perhaps he never would. A terrific song by Topaz Winters was constantly running in his subconscious. Especially one snippet perfectly stated how he felt.

A hammering on the side window catapulted him back into the real world. Justin hastily let down his window. Joe, his partner in crime solving handed him his coffee and a cream cheese bagel. They munched in silence. As Joe was finishing his extra-large latte macchiato, the operator sent them to 5a, Riverside to look into a junkie fight with several injured parties. When they arrived the could hear streaming and cursing from a second floor flat. Another patrol car and an ambulance arrived as they were entering the building. Joe immediately went upstairs. Justin wanted to follow him when a draft carrying the faint scent of cinnamon reached him. He inhaled deeply. Then he shook his head and followed Joe. Despite there being only three young boys and/or men involved, it took them an hour to solve the issue at hand. Sorting out the who and why was complicated – as usual nobody had seen anything, nobody talked. The guy who had called the incident in wasn’t traceable.

The ambulance drove off with a boy of about 16. He had some broken ribs and a punctured kidney. Joe and Justin took the less rebellious guy in, their colleagues handled the crazy guy. They handed their culprit over for questioning and headed over to the office; several reports were due that day. Justin went to the restrooms, first. He made sure that he was alone, went into a stall and locked the door. He took a small tracker out of his office. The bright red dot was where it should be – in Allison’s office. She could have been at Riverside and gone back there. He couldn’t be sure as the device had no memory functionality. Right after Allison left him, Justin had gotten hold of some small devices, helping him to know about Allison’s whereabouts. He had inserted a tiny receiver in her cell phone, entering her flat by night, and vanishing as easily from the premises. He had no real intention of getting back together – she had hurt him too much. Over time he had become obsessed with monitoring her life, though. So far, nothing out of the ordinary had happened. She went to her office, to the gym, shopping, home. That was all.

Justin heard someone coming in. He hastily stuck the tracker back in his pocket, flushed the toilet, and left the stall. He joined the other colleague at the wash basins and scrubbed his hands. “What goes?”, the other guy mumbled, grinned, not expecting an answer. They left the restroom and went to their desks. They all hated writing the reports, therefore they always collected several ‘operations’ until they really sat down to get this awful task done. A little more than an hour later, Justin completed his last report for the day. He was about to grab his jacket and leave when Tom Jester, their police force’s second-in-command, looked through the door and ordered all those present to the meeting room.

Tom Jester probably had the most ill-fitting name possible. Gravedigger or Untertaker would have been the most appropriate names. He was impatiently scanning the room while waiting for the last attendee to stumble into the room. His frown enhanced the deep lines in his face. He gravely mustered everyone in the room. “We have a major problem, staff! An informant provided some disturbing news: Captain Jackson, also known as ‘El Capitán’, is going to transact a major narcotics and weapon deal in this town. This will attract like-minded spirits, luring them into our lovely town.”

The room had become eerily silent. Tom Jester looked around with furrowed brows. All he could see were utterly surprised faces. “We are going to set up a task force. They will have to be available 24/7. The others are asked to replace their colleagues on duty as far as possible.”

Tom Jester listed lots of names. Justin wasn’t among them. He didn’t care. He would have cared a lot, earlier. It didn’t really matter any more.

“And,” Tom resumed his speech “Chatham Fields will be our centre of interest. We discussed the possibility of Pulham Acres, could rule this location out, thankfully. And now, everybody who is not part of this task force may leave.” His look practically threw all non-task-force-participants out. Justin’s boss also left the room. He herded the little group to his office to update the shifts. One officer per patrol car, 10 hour shifts, for an undefined time.

The next shift was weird. Justin had never been on duty all by himself. Ten hours instead of eight hours seemed like – a never ending story. He started his car with mixed emotions. After cruising town as usual for a while, it didn’t feel half bad, though. Getting coffee and a bagel was a little tricky, yet manageable. It helped that he could cruise around his favourite coffee shop, wait for the queue to diminish, park right in front of the door, rush in, get his favourite coffee and bagel, hurry back to the patrol car, hop in, and get out of the way quickly. He also realised that he could keep his tracker in plain sight. Nobody would wonder about it.

At least every five minutes, Justin eyed the tracker. In the early afternoon, Allison left the office, moving down James Street. As Justin was already in the vicinity, he left his usual route to get at least a glimpse of her. A minute later, he watched her entering a beauty parlour, presumably to have her hair done. First she turned to the nails section, though. Nails? Allison had never cared much about her fingernails. He had to stop wondering when the operator sent him to the central station. A drunken woman who didn’t want to buy a ticket had hit the bus driver full in the face. Justin arrived two minutes later, cuffed the drunken woman. The bus driver’s nose was broken. All witnesses told the same story. The bus driver was led to the ambulance and another bus driver took over the bus. Justin had to manhandle his drunkard on his own. The woman cursed and spit. He was lucky of sorts as the woman vomited in front of the police station, after getting out of the car.

The office was quiet. The usual buzz had been transferred elsewhere – wherever the task force had been sent to. He wrote his report, regularly checking the tracker. Allison was at the gym when he finished his report. No action required. One of the other not-task-force members came in. He also reported a rather uneventful shift. How long would their luck last? Thirty minutes later, Justin left the station and drove to the mall to buy some groceries. On his way out he passed one of his colleagues, Teresa “Terry” Lawrence, handing over a fourteen-year-old girl to her parents. It was the second time that this girl had been caught shoplifting. She was in for a therapy session, now. His colleague accompanied him outside. She had still half of her shift ahead of her. Suddenly, a bullet buzzed through between them. They took cover. Nothing happened. Apparently the culprit had gone. What was this – a warning?!

“Are you all right?” – Terry Lawrence – still pale – nodded. Justin went with her to her patrol car, she informed the operator. Due to the task force, there was no one to come for support. They summoned her back to the station. He regularly contacted Terry to find out how she felt. They even went out for a beer, once. They talked, found out they had a lot in common. He felt no longer compelled to regularly check Allison’s whereabouts.

A week later, on his way to the station, Justin checked the tracker. Allison had apparently left the office, did not drive home, though. When he stopped in front of the station, he realised that she was right between Chatham Fields and Pulham Acres. Inside, the station busted with activity. The task force was on its way to Chatham Fields. Everyone else was to stay on full alert, ready to join. When he checked the tracker again – Allison was in Chatham Fields. He couldn’t help it. He called over to Terry and asked her to come with him. They dashed through the town until they reached a dark alley behind Chatham Fields. By then, Terry knew all about the Allison situation. They sneaked closer to the nearest building when hell broke loose. After the gunfire, the present chief of operations checked the situation: Three task force members had suffered minor injuries. ‘El Capitán’ and his team were dead. Among them a beautiful young woman enveloped in the scent of cinnamon.

Image courtesy of Photography by BJWOK /

Image courtesy of Photography by BJWOK /


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Ruth Viridis inspired me to write this short story. Thank you so much, Ruth!  :-)

The song snippet by Topaz Winters is just perfect for this short story – The Scent of Cinnamon.

Please visit her awesome blog and find amazing content.  :-)

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  1. […] over at her blog In A Small Compass, included a song snippet of mine in her latest story! 😀 Check out the first couple of lines from the bridge of Ocean of Silence here, and be sure to comment and let Karen know how awesome her story is. […]

  2. What a captivating story. I really like the usage of the scent of cinnamon through the story. It reminded me of a novel I’m writing in which the character (a detective also ) is obsessed with his ex and sprays her perfume on his pillow. Scent can play a very powerful role in literature. Think of Suskind’s Perfume, The Story of a Murderer or Kathleen Tessaro’s The Perfume Collector.
    Cinnamon suggests sweetness and comfort so it was a great scent to use.
    It was also interesting how you handled Justin’s obsession. You carry the suspense throughout the story and even leave us in a mist of mystery at the end. What was Allison doing there?

    • Karen says:

      Thank you very much, Carol. I considered a certain scent as a perfect medium to emphasise Justin’s hurt feelings. This is something that people may have felt at some point in their lives.
      For the ending, I debated with myself whether to provide a reason for Allison’s presence. I know that open ends can be tricky. This was something that didn’t seem too frustrating. Every reader can easily find a plausible reason.
      I grew very fond of this story, and my decision regarding the ending seems appropriate. 🙂

  3. Aquileana says:

    Karen.. Great story… I liked how you handled the thick progression of silence here …
    Appearing like a sort of subtle presence which leads us to that overwhelming ending.
    The gunfire and the scent of cinnamon covering the scene. Such an excellent literary effect.
    Thanks for sharing, best wishes, Aquileana 😉

    • Karen says:

      Aquileana – thank you very much!
      I started the story, about two paragraphs. Then I just saved the draft, let it linger for about two days (musing about different scenarios), and – let the story flow. Thanks to Ruth’s wish (couple, she broke up, he wants to monitor what she does) and Topaz’ awesome song snippet I could let my imagination do the rest.
      Best wishes, Karen 🙂

  4. […] stories over at her blog In A Small Compass, included a song snippet of mine in her latest story! Check out the first couple of lines from the bridge of Ocean of Silence here, and be sure to comment and let Karen know how awesome her story […]

  5. Topaz says:

    What a heartrending story, Karen. Thank you so much for including my song snippet; it’s an honour to have it here.

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