By Deborah Sharp
Author of the Mace Bauer Mysteries
Faint sunlight filtered into a cavernous warehouse. The air was stale; the heat stifling. A white chalk outline glowed dimly on the stained concrete floor. Blood splattered a teetering pile of wooden pallets.
''Okay, who wants to hold the butcher knife?''
Four south Florida mystery authors stared across the crime scene tape at Eduardo Schneider. He lifted the knife menacingly, its long blade coated in blood. What did this guy want from us?
Pictures, it turned out. And the propensity to play along. Sanchez had been hired as a photographer by Boca Raton Magazine to illustrate a feature story on local mystery writers. It was his idea to create a crime scene in a spooky warehouse, and cast us as characters for his photos. Driving to the warehouse through a dicey neighborhood near Miami's airport, I wondered if I'd become the victim of a real crime.
Schneider brought props. New York Times best-selling author James Grippando called dibs on the big knife. He donned real latex gloves, but the ''blood'' was make-believe, a mixture of corn syrup and red food coloring.
James W. Hall, dubbed a ''master of suspense'' by the Times, opted for the evidence bags. Fellow funny writer, Miriam Auerbach, snagged a magnifying glass to examine spent bullet casings.
Apparently, our would-be murderer used both gun and knife to make sure the imaginary victim was really dead.
Miriam commented that the casings seemed small -- probably because the heroine in her ''Dirty Harriet'' mystery series wields a massive .44 Magnum.
Simply grateful to be included in such esteemed company, I rounded out the foursome. For my prop, I settled for a boring, non-bloody folder of investigative documents. I tried to look like I belonged.
Eduardo cautioned us against huge, toothpaste ad smiles: ''After all, somebody was murdered here.''
I aimed for an expression between diligent and inquisitive, all the while raising my chin to avoid an old-lady double chin in the pictures.
I have to credit him for coming up with a creative way to shoot. . . er, photograph . . . us. In my former life as a newspaper reporter, it was a joy to work with a photographer who endeavored to create a killer . . . er, inventive. . . picture to go with my words.
The story and pictures are set to run in Boca magazine later this summer. I'll keep you posted on the outcome, and on whether my neck wattle showed. What's the most creative picture you've posed for? Have you seen pictures of yourself you wish you hadn't seen?