C. S. Challinor

Murder in the Raw
Excerpt

St. Martin, French West Indies
Testimony of David Weeks

It is incredible that Sabine Durand is dead. She was the essence of our group, the lingering perfume, if you will. Whenever I evoke Saint Martin, it is always Sabine I conjure up in my memory.

I often saw her walking at dusk along the shore, always alone. Our beach cabana is the last of eight before the promontory of rocks begins on the eastern side. She would have had to climb those rocks to get to the strand of beach beyond, but she was agile enough, I suppose. In any case, there was no other access except by boat. People sometimes dock their catamarans on that side, but since you can sunbathe nude all along La Plage d'Azur, there really isn't any point in going over there unless you want to "do it" au naturel. People, after all, pay big money to be seen in the buff at La Plage.

We've been coming to Saint Martin for ten years now. You end up synchronizing your holiday with other couples. It's always the same crowd in July: Paul and Elizabeth Winslow, Dick and Penny Irving, the O'Sullivans, the von Muellers, the Farleys... Duke Farley has been bringing his new wife Pam the last couple of years, so I suppose it's not exactly the same crowd as before. Brooklyn Chalmers brought a girlfriend two years ago, but not this time around. And, of course, Vernon and Sabine. July is by far and away the best time. August is Swingers' Month and come September you run into hurricane season.

I don't know whether we'll return next year. It won't be the same without Sabine, and I doubt Vernon will come back, poor fellow. He must feel dreadfully guilty. After all, he never accompanied his wife on her walks, though I think she preferred it that way. She was remote and mysterious. I think that was part of the allure. She drew people like moths to a candle. You wanted to protect her from singing her wings, sort of thing. Well, the others will say the same, I'm sure.

Sabine always wore the diaphanous white pareo on her walks. She would have taken it off before she went for a swim, which would explain why part of it was found by the rocks. But she wouldn't have gone for a dip right before dinner. I don't go for the shark theory--she would have known better than to go swimming at dusk. Then again, she never was the sort of person to do what you'd expect. More likely a stalker was involved; actresses often attract that sort.

It must have been just after six P.M. on Tuesday 10th when I saw her for the last time on her walk. We usually all meet at seven for drinks at The Cockatoo. My wife and I sometimes escorted Sabine to the restaurant on her way back, but it was Paul Winslow's birthday, and we didn't want to be late, so we left our cabana in good time. We never saw Sabine again.

Those are my recollections of the night in question.
Signed,
David Weeks

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