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EST. May 2000 (AD)

 
 

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Murdered for Mandrake Essence: the Seamy Side of Aromatherapy

By Elizabeth Hanes

Editor's note: When aromatherapy expert Marcia St. John was found murdered in her research and development lab, her best friend Lexie Altair, hard-hitting anchor woman of top-rated TV news magazine "The Past 20 Minutes in Review," knew the official pronouncement of "accidental overdose" was not the true cause of death. Here, she gives us a rare glimpse into the highly competitive and oft-sordid business of aromatherapy.

I just knew Marcia hadn't O.D.'d. Sure, like any of us, she sometimes spent a little too much time inhaling pungent citrus oils to keep her energy level up, but she would never let it get out of control. She loved her kids too much for that.

Her aromatherapy business had started going through the roof. She spent hours in her kitchen concocting new scents, carefully mixing precise quantities of essential oils to effect just the right change in brain chemistry when the scent was inhaled. Her aphrodisiac potion had the neighborhood dogs baying outside her door for weeks! I noticed it had the same effect on men in bars when I wore a dab of it on the inside of my elbow.

Shortly before she died, she phoned me on my cell. "Lexie, I finally did it!" she crowed. "I found the secret ingredient that's going to take my aromatherapy line to the next level." We made plans to meet, but Allan insisted on taking me away for a ski weekend in Aspen instead. We had a fantastic time schussing through waist-deep powder and gathering around the hot tub for après-ski festivities. Regrettably, I never saw Marcia alive again.

Arriving at the crime scene, I flashed my press credentials and pushed past the uniformed officers blocking the entrance. They knew better than to try barring Lexie Altair from the scene of a murder! One word from me, and the hot light of bad publicity would rain down upon the entire police force.

I gasped when I saw Marcia because I glimpsed my reflection in the stainless steel refrigerator door behind her and finally realized what a bad perm this really was. As I poked through the pots, pans, and glass carafe thingies on her counter, I noticed an empty space on the counter top between two ceramic canisters. Flour, sugar, tea. The coffee canister was gone! Could coffee have been the secret ingredient Marcia referred to? Had someone murdered her over 100% Columbian?

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