Richard Butler, PI – Chapter 8 (a close second)

Richard Butler wandered uneasily through the hallways. He had, until a few moments prior, thought himself to have reached the end of this case. The path was straight, his view was clear, and the murderer would soon be caught. However, after a slight detour thanks to the navigational prowess of Inspector Bagley, Butler now found himself lost. Now all that he needed to do was to find himself found. He needed to get a bearing, a direction; a lead. Butler searched through his mind. He still suspected Mrs. O’Connor (or, almost equally, Gertrude), but now he was convinced he needed to find out who opened the safe.

Butler found himself in the game room. He would have preferred to find himself in a focused state of mind with a lead, but this was acceptable too. A close second. He sat down in one of the armchairs near the pool table, the kind of armchair that you tend to sink into and causes you to lose any thoughts which clash with the desire to sleep.

But Butler would not let the comfort of this chair prevail against his need to get back on track. Only a moment after taking a seat in the oversized armchair, Butler came to his feet. Things were beginning to make since; clues began to come together to form something somewhat resembling a case, a case whose image was almost complete enough to warrant cracking.

“Of course!” he exclaimed to the empty room. The importance, Butler now saw, did not lay in the safe but in the content of the new will. Almost anyone could have opened the safe, but if the person who opened the safe was one and the same with the murderer, then the motive would have been gained by the revelation of the will.

This thought, unfortunately, was cut off just as it was going somewhere. Butler heard two loud voices coming his way.

“Oh please, please help me out! Help out your favorite uncle, you know I’ve always been good to you!” the first voice pleaded.

“Listen, can we talk about this later? My father just died, I’m not in the mood to be discussing business on a day like this!” the second voice reasoned.

The voices, correctly deduced by Butler’s keen detective ears to be Albert O’Connor’s brother Joel and his son Al Jr., entered the game room. The two O’Connors, aware of but not acknowledging the presence of the private investigator-slash-manservant, made their way over to the pool table as Joel picked up and began to chalk two cues.

With this gesture, he asked “pool?” Al Jr. gave him a look as if to lump games in with business in the “activities we don’t do today” category. Joel tossed him the pool stick anyways and said “come on, it’ll take your mind off things.”

After a moment’s hesitation, Junior threw a faint smile, signaling his entrance into the game. He leaned over the table and stabbed the white ball, sending the pool balls flying in their separate ways. After sinking two balls, Junior made a slight slip-up and gave the turn over to his uncle.

“That was pretty good, boy,” Joel taunted, “but let me show you how the game is really played!” Joel sat up on the edge of the table, leaned far over, and lined his pole up behind his back. Butler observed that this shot could have been made much more easily, had it been approached from a different angle. The detective almost said something to correct Joel’s error, but it was more in his nature to detect than it was to coach. Instead, he decided to sit and watch where this was going.

‘Where this was going’ turned out to be a wasted turn. Joel’s pole had, undoubtedly due to the awkward angle, only grazed the edge of the white pool ball, sending it dawdling over to the side.

“Well,” Joel muttered, “you get the idea.”

The two O’Connors continued their game of pool, with the elder of the two surprisingly winning. While Joel O’Connor was not, by any means, a natural at the game of pool, junior was just absent-minded enough to begin losing miserably. Naturally, the uncle’s unmistakable domination over his nephew in the realm of games did nothing to calm the junior O’Connor’s qualms. When his next turn came up, instead of pointing his pole at the ball to strike, Junior set it on the table and sat down.

“Uncle,” he said, “thank you for attempting to calm my nerves, but I regret to say it’s not working. I need a plan B.”

“Coming right up!” Butler said as he leapt into action. He had been working as a private investigator all night, and it seemed a good thing to, if only temporarily, switch back into manservant mode. Butler darted to the game room bar and poured a glass of wine, which he promptly brought over to the pool table.

“Here you go, Master O’Connor, let’s see if this helps.”

Junior grabbed for the glass and took a long drink. At this moment, young Junior gained a new sense of confidence. Perhaps it was being referred to, for the first time, as “Master O’Connor,” or perhaps it was simply the plan B, but Albert Brain O’Connor IV was now ready to play some pool. He straightened his back and lifted his chin. Junior had returned to the table with a new sense of composure, and a better posture.

While the pool table itself sat firmly lodged in its place in the room, it would have been clear to any bystander that the tables had turned. As his playing improved, the duration of Junior’s turns grew longer and longer. Had they been measured in feet and inches rather than minutes and seconds, they would have reached nearly to the moon. Throughout this, Joel became nervous and sloppy. His hands shook, his knees trembled, and soon this game they played became one-sided.

Butler watched this game with fascination. It didn’t require his finely tuned detection techniques to notice the tension between the two O’Connors. The tension was so thick that no knife-metaphor could cut it. This tension had nearly reached its climax when Joel surrendered.

“I think I’m about done… you had some good shots, I had some good shots… can we call that even?”

Butler chimed in, “well, I hardly think that’s truthful.”

Joel, with his face flushed and his fists clenched, rigidly set the pool cue down on the table and marched out of the room.

“Uncle, wait!” Junior cried as he followed after Joel. Butler overheard one small, yet crucial, piece of their conversation as they left the room.

“Uncle, I’ll help you out. You can have some of the money, you know I got more than enough.”

Upon hearing this, all the clues and pieces of evidence Butler had obtained up until this point raced through his mind. Only two seemed to be of particular importance: the falsified suicide note and the will, and he now knew of two suspects who knew of the latter. Butler moved swiftly and silently, determined to tail his suspects — a skill any good detective should be proficient in — and finally reach the end of this case. However, as Butler turned the corner, he was abruptly stopped by the former piece of evidence.

“Clancy!”

“Butler, I’ve found it!” the sidekick said with glee as he retrieved Butler’s ledger from his bag. “It wasn’t easy,” he continued, “but I managed to get it back from Bagley!”

“Great work Clancy,” Butler affirmed, “but I don’t think I need it; I already know who our culprit is. New evidence has come up, and my deductions tell me — almost for certain — that we need to catch Al Jr. However, it’s good that you came now. This ledger should only confirm my suspicions!”

Clancy opened the ledger to the most recent entry and handed it to Butler, who took the suicide note out from his coat pocket. He observed the sloppy, jittery handwriting on the note, a handwriting which could only match —

“ — Joel O’Connor?” Butler realized, with a hint of befuddlement, before regaining himself and saying “well, that was… a close second.” Butler slammed shut the ledger and pushed it into Clancy’s chest, prompting Clancy to grab ahold of and carry the evidence lest it fall.

“Come, Clancy,” he said, “let’s catch ourselves a killer.”

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Advertisements

Longer (a real conversation)

Me: Hello?

Woman: Hi, I’m looking for the family of Jesus Gomez.

Me: … they don’t have this phone number anymore. You should probably get that changed in your database.

Woman: Oh, I’m sorry, how long have they not had this number?

Me: … a while.

Woman: A couple of weeks?

Me: Longer.

Woman: Months?

Me: Longer.

Woman: A ye —

Me: Longer.

Woman: Longer than a year?

Me: … yeah. Yeah, longer than that.

silence

Woman: … sorry.

click.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Richard Butler, PI – Chapter 7 (a will and a way)

Wow, been about three weeks since I’ve written anything… I blame it on finals. But those are done now. Anyways, this author’s note is already too long.
—————————————
Butler fished his keychain from his pocket and searched for the one fitting this door. Enough keys occupied this ring to make up a small archipelago, but Butler knew his way around and found the one he needed. He carefully turned his head, putting the detective nose-to-nose with Inspector Bagley, who had been looking over his shoulder.

“I assure you, Inspector, there’s nothing to see here.”

“My hunch says otherwise, so open the door!” Bagley replied angrily. Bagley never appreciated anyone questioning him.

Butler sighed, “no, I was referring to the keys. A little personal space, please?”

Embarrassed, but not so much that anyone not trained in detecting could tell, Inspector Bagley shied a few steps away from the private detective, who proceeded to open the way into the room, which Bagely thought to be the way to solving this case. Butler, of course, already thought he had it solved — although he was not closed off to other possibilities.

The private detective and the police detective entered the room that, until recently, Albert O’Connor had called his office. Papers littered the desk, filing cabinets overflowed to the ground, and books stacked from the floor to ceiling. Various iterations of his final disposable water bottle habited the shelves, and other unfinished inventions filled the room. The room was a mess.

The two detectives slowly walked into the room, carefully observing their surroundings. Bagley spoke up:

“Seems like he was in the middle of something big before he died.”

Butler, never one to pass up an opportunity to best Bagely, suggested “or maybe… he was looking for something. That would explain the overturned files and papers. He was looking for something — something incriminating — and then he couldn’t find it, it was too late… he got killed.”

Bagley took Butler’s deduction and raised him a piece of evidence, asking “well, that doesn’t fit in too well with this suicide note, now does it?”

Butler laughed at the absurdity of Bagley’s suggestion, “you don’t really think O’Connor wrote that, do you?”

Bagley stared at Butler, raised his chin, and squinted his eyes as if to say ‘no, what, do ​you?’ He then proceeded to actually say it: “No… what, do you?”

Butler turned his head slightly, took Bagley’s squinting and raised him a lifted eyebrow.

“So,” Bagley suggested, with only a hint of questioning and a dash of faux-confidence, “we both don’t believe O’Connor wrote that…”

“Yes…” Butler confirmed, matching Bagley’s tone precisely. The two investigators stood there for a full minute, staring at each other in contemplative silence, both preoccupied trying to determine what the other was thinking. Both inspectors thought themselves to be playing the other. Bagley, deep down, wondered whether he was the one being played. Butler, of course, knew he was doing the playing.

Simultaneously, they looked away and began to individually inspect the room. Inspector Bagley walked over to the desk and began inspecting the many objects that took residence there. Butler made his way over to the closet, which held O’Connor’s spare suits and his safe. He was nearly ready to leave this scene, after finding nothing of note in the closet. But then he noticed something.

“Someone’s opened this safe recently,” Butler declared as he pointed to the handprints in the dust where it had been gripped.

Bagley seemed to take little interest in Butler’s revelation. Without turning around, he continued his searching and simply asked “is that so?”

Butler once again took his key-ring from his pocket, this time to open the safe. He came back from the closet with a single item: O’Connor’s last will and testament.

“Well, what do we have here?” Bagley raised his question playfully. Butler was about to brag on his finding, until he saw the smug grin on Bagley’s face.

Bagley stood, arm outstretched, displaying his own prize. He brought it up level with his eyes as he read the label. The small capsule was nearly empty, but it did have a small layer of pills lining the bottom.

“Flunitrazepam,” he read, before asking “now why might this be here?”

“That’s… not important!” Butler stammered as he regained his composure, “O’Connor suffered from insomnia, that’s probably just his medicine. Nothing else to see there.” Bagley’s face sunk into a snarl before he put the capsule in his coat pocket. Butler continued, “but this, this you’ve got to see.” He held up the will and pointed aggressively, “O’Connor changed his will — he’s giving everything he has to his son. Even better, the safe was opened recently… someone found out about this!”

Bagley laughed, “yeah, well how do you know that wasn’t just O’Connor opening?”

“Check the prints on the safe if you want, they’re much too fresh for this. This will was signed months ago!” Butler countered.

“Yeah, okay,” Bagley retreated, “so someone knew he changed his will. That doesn’t necessarily mean they would want him dead. People loved O’Connor!”

“Is that what they’re telling you?” Butler asked, astonished. “I can tell you, from experience, that’s not exactly true. Not to speak ill of the dead, but I worked for him… O’Connor was not the most pleasant guy.”

“Alright, do what you want,” Bagley said, “I’m following up with Dr. Steinberg on this Fluni… medicine.” Bagley looked at the label before trying again, “trazi… flunitraz…” Finally, he just shook his head and left the room.

Butler waited until Bagley was just out of sight before saying, to no one in particular, “there’s one nuisance gone… time to go find another.”

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine