“In Black and White”
© D.J. Lutz, February 2011 Disclaimer: this is fiction. Any resemblance to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental. If you object to something, don’t sue me. It’s the old blood out of a turnip thing. Ka-Peesh? Okay. Here we go…
Joshua Green had not planned on dying this morning, otherwise he would not have started that fresh pot of coffee. Now, however, as he lay motionless at the foot of the stairs, his neck broken, the effects of paralysis starting to takes its toll, Josh had just enough life left in him to see the shadow of his killer move away from the landing. Not that he could do much about it now, but he noticed the spit shined, black leather shoes, gleaming in the sunshine that streamed in from the kitchen window. Enjoy your few hours of freedom…dirtbag. Josh eeked out a slight grin, wishing he could be there when his killer met the business end of “Trixie.” With that last thought, Josh Green passed from this world into the next, his death rattle echoing across the dark basement.
It was two hours later when the precinct received the call from the estate. The gardener had called 9-11 in a panic, having just discovered her employer’s body in the basement. By the time the first unit arrived, Josh Green’s staff had been assembled in the study and within a few minutes, the lead officer knew that this had become something more than just an unfortunate trip down a flight of stairs. There were four people in the room, all talking at the same time, some of them raising their voices. Accusations were starting to fly. Fingers were pointing. The officer knew that it would only be a matter of time before things became physical. It was time to call in the Gunner.
Detective Sergeant Anson Brigsby, a burly bear of a man who had answered to the moniker “Gunner” since his days in the Corps, took the call. “Damn it all. Josh Green? Damn it all to hell. You got any suspects?” Clearly not happy with the answer he was hearing, Anson slammed down the phone. After checking the cylinders of his revolver, he holstered his Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 38, saying “Damn, Trixie. No one kills my best friend and gets away with it.” Anson only had a few, carefully chosen people he could honestly call friend and now he had one less. Someone was going to have to fess up or answer the hard way.
The first time that Josh Green and Anson Brigsby crossed paths was under not-so-pleasant circumstances. It was about five years ago when Omicron Publishing House, known in the trade as the OPH, was throwing a book release soiree at Josh’s estate, celebrating what would become his 25th best seller. It was a regular who’s who of local society, along with OPH mucky mucks from their corporate headquarters in New Orleans. There were plenty of press types, as well as several writers from the Boilermaker Club, that hard core, hard drinking fraternity of crime writers, to which Josh Green belonged. It was all fun and games until someone looked out the back window and saw the pretty blonde…floating face down in the pool, blood oozing from a stab wound caused by a wayward corkscrew still dangling from her torn throat. The press was having a field day with the entire scene, prognosticating who might have done it, how Josh Green fit into the picture, that is, until Detective Sergeant Brigsby arrived.
Seeing the pandemonium, Anson took control of the situation by bellowing out commands, herding the intoxicated partygoers back inside. The paparazzi as well as the Boilermakers were already solving the case via their various social networking sites when Anson returned inside, grabbing the president of the Boilermakers, Mitchell Simmons, by the shoulder, lifting him out of his chair with one arm. The room fell silent as Simmons was read his rights, with Anson twisting his arm back in a painful manner, locking the cuffs on the man with one swift motion.
“Carry on, people. Shows over. Go back to enjoying yourselves, but do everyone a favor and stay away from the poolside. Crime scene, you know.”
With those words, the Gunner left the room with Simmons in tow, who by that time was screaming obscenities directed at Josh Green. For months, the two had been shopping their respective novels to Omicron, with Josh eventually taking the prize. There was even talk of a movie deal this time. Mitchell was crushed. His deflated ego could only rationalize that Josh Green needed to be taken down and taken down hard. If only he could pin a murder on Green, it would ruin his party and hopefully cause the publishing house to break the contract. It was professional jealousy at its worst.
While Josh was terribly upset that the woman had been murdered, he stood in awe of the detective that saved his reputation so quickly. He stopped by the precinct the next day, asking how the matter was settled in such quick fashion. Anson pointed to Josh’s shoes. “Pool water does a number on nice leather shoes. Yours still look pretty good. Your buddy’s though…hell, I could still smell the chlorine.”
Josh thought for minute, drawing on his considerable experience gained from writing crime novels. “I am not so sure that chlorine stains would be enough to prove someone guilty in a court of law.”
“I doubt it, but for some reason he waived all of his rights and opted to confess once he got to the station. I guess he didn’t have a comfortable ride in the back of my sedan. Even with a sharp lawyer, he’ll probably still get 5 to 10 in the slammer.” Josh answered. “Well, that’s 5 to 10 years with one less piece of crap on the street.”
Anson gave a quick chuckle. “A kindred spirit,” he thought. With that simple exchange of words, Joshua Green and Anson Brigsby became fast friends. As jogging partners, twice a year they would take time off to run in the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC. They may have been aging gracefully, but neither man wanted to end up looking like a sloth. Staying in shape was important and running those distance races together was always more fun with good company. Today, that friendship ended with one of them crossing the finish line of life too soon.
Pulling into the circular drive, Anson noticed that the only vehicle to be seen was the marked squad car. He looked up at the corners of the mansion; the security cameras were still in place. My guess is that the killer either came in on foot, or is still inside the house. The cameras might prove otherwise, but he had a hunch, and he valued a hunch over any eyewitness. The local newspaper had once quoted him, writing “People may think they see straight when the going gets tough, but the camera never lies.” As he opened the front door, Anson was met by one of the officers, Senior Patrolman Brandon Gerber.
“Good morning, Brandon, what do we have here?”
“Well, Gunner, looks like Mr. Green took a tumble down some stairs. The M.E. said that barring anything unusual in the tox-screen, the cause of death will most likely be severe trauma to the skull or spine.”
“Hmmm. Too early in the morning for Josh to be hitting the sauce, even he had an eleven o’clock rule. So the mission here, clearly, is to find out what caused him to fall.”
Brandon nodded his head in agreement. “Judging by the characters inside, I would rephrase that last statement to say who caused him to fall.” That last statement made Anson smile. Now for the fun part…
“I assume that his staff is inside? I know some of them.”
“Oh yeah. What a bunch. The gardener is the one who called us. She’s a basket case. Discovered the body when she went down into the basement for some tools.”
“Nice lady. A shame she had to see this. What about the others? Anyone see anything?”
“No one admits to seeing anything, naturally. They all seem too focused on each other. The housekeeper and the butler seem to have it out for each other. He is accusing her of stealing and she is saying that he is beyond greedy, ransacking the house looking for the will before Mr. Green’s body was cold.”
“Never trusted the butler. Shifty, never looked you straight in the eye, has a dead fish handshake, too. If he ends up in prison, he’ll definitely be someone’s girlfriend.” Anson looked down. “I gotta gut feeling…”
Brandon, inadvertently playing the straight man, replied “A gut feeling? You know who did it already?” “No,” said Anson, “my gut is telling me it needs some chow. Is the cook inside, too?”
Indeed he was. Officer Gerber went on to explain that the cook was the only one to remain quiet throughout the entire ordeal. He looked to be of Latin heritage, so Brandon had wondered if there was a language issue at play. The one thing that did stand out was that the cook and the housekeeper had something going on between them. “He’s definitely got the puppy dog eyes for her,” he said. Sex and murder, never too far apart, he thought.
Now inside the study, Anson looked about as the four employees sat, suddenly silent. Josh’s desk was cluttered, but no more so than normal. His laptop was still open, the screensaver hiding what was probably the latest chapter of Josh’s current work-in-progress. Anson stopped, facing the curious quartet.
“So nice to see all of you again, unfortunately under such terrible circumstances.”
The gardener began to cry. The housekeeper, seated next to the cook on the sofa, turned to the gardener and tried to console her. “Come, now. Let’s try to maintain ourselves. It’ll be alright now that the Gunner is here.”
The butler interjected. “Maintain? Maintain? Someone has killed Mr. Green and it very well could have been her. We all know that they were sleeping together. She just wanted his money and she would have done anything to get it. And now look where we are…”
Anson knew that Josh Green had an eye for the ladies and they for him. With all of those international book tours, he certainly had plenty of opportunity to enjoy the favor of beautiful women across the globe. Seeing that the gardener was about ten years younger than Josh, and certainly a looker, Anson surmised that the idea of Josh and the gardener being an item was not out of the realm of possibility.
“Mr. Gunner,” replied the housekeeper, unsure of exactly how to address Anson, “I would like to say that she is the sweetest lady I know. I don’t think she could hurt a fly, let alone a person. It’s not in her nature, I think she’s Buddhist.”
“Buddhist? Is that right?” Anson looked towards the gardener, still wiping tears away from her face.
“No. Actually I am a Methodist. But yes, Josh and I were seeing each other. We loved each other. The only reason we didn’t get married was because OPH insisted he maintain his bachelor image for the women readers. They said that he had to play the part. With a demographic of female, single and married, ages 30 to 65, well that’s the entire book buying market right there. So yes, we did sleep together but we could never marry. He and I have been together for 20 years. He hasn’t had an affair since we fell in love.” The room was so quiet you could hear your own heart beating. These were revelations that no one expected.
Time to throw out the bone, Anson thought. “So…you could claim common law marriage, though. In that case, the bulk of the estate would go to you, wouldn’t it?”
The woman looked shocked. “I would never…” Tears started flowing again, rivers of salt water pouring from her eyes.
The butler had a smug look on his face. “I think you may have something, sir. We can’t find the will, but I am sure she had some sort of undue influence on Mr. Green. With no living relatives, she would get everything!”
“That’s all you ever think about,” said the housekeeper. “It’s always about what you get or don’t get. You’ve only worked here for five years. She’s been here for 20 and I’ve been working for Mr. Green for 10. Unlike you, we owe Mr. Green a lot. He turned our lives around; he took us both out of terrible situations and gave us a safe place to live. Now you blame her for falling in love with the man? What a greedy little man you are…”
The butler, at 5 foot 2, took exception to the comment about being “little,” standing a bit taller. “All the more reason to kill him. You’ve been here long enough; you probably think you deserve his money, and since the master of the house was already taken, you had to settle on dating the cook.”
Anson stood stone-faced, On the inside, though, he was grinning. This was exactly what he had hoped for. One of these four could be a killer, and given enough time, that person would slip up. Time to up the ante a bit…
“Alright, I guess we should start with alibis, although I am sure you all will have one, but let’s just get this down for the record. Officer Gerber here will take notes, but let me advise you that even though you are not under oath…yet…making false statements to a police officer during the course of an investigation is crime unto itself.”
“I’ll go first,” said the butler. “I had taken the Rolls out to be detailed this morning and had returned. I was in the process of brewing Mr. Green’s morning tea when she (pointing to the gardener) came in screaming. The car wash receipt will verify my whereabouts. And to think…how convenient for her to discover the body once I had returned. Hmmm.”
“I’ll be the detective, sir. And I would like to take a look at that receipt. Now how about you ma’am?” Anson was curious to see how the housekeeper would react to the butler’s statements. Would she accuse him again or take the opportunity to let the suspicion rest on the gardener?
“I had finished tidying up the bedrooms and had started some laundry. I was nowhere near the basement.”
Anson looked at her, giving her a nod as if to say he accepted her words. “So, if we look in the washer, we will find freshly washed and probably still damp clothes?”
“Exactly,” she replied. “There are still two more loads to run as a matter of fact.”
“And how about you? You haven’t said a word since I got here. What’s your story, chef?”
The housekeeper clutched the cook by the arm. “He has trouble speaking English. He’s from Spain, you know.”
“Spain, huh? So señor, how long have you worked for Mr. Green? ¿Cuánto tiempo ha trabajado aquí para señor Green?”
The cook looked up at the Gunner, somewhat surprised by the fluidity and ease of Anson’s speech. “Un ano, jefe. Mi madre me envió aquí para trabajar para el señor Green.” His mother had sent him here to work for Josh. Anson sensed that there was more to this story, much more.
“Where were you this morning? Esta manana?”
In halting English, the chef told of how he had taken the service van to the butcher shop, looking to pick up a large order of ribs. Mr. Green had just finished his latest novel and OPH wanted to announce the upcoming world tour with another huge fiesta at the estate. The guests would start arriving Saturday morning, so the ribs would have to start smoking today in order to be ready.
“I bet he’s not even here legally,” said the butler.
Anson gave the butler a look that could stop a freight train. The butler, however, seemed too self-absorbed to realize it. The cook reached into his coat pocket. Anson, out of habit, reached behind his back for his revolver, deciding not to pull it out once he saw that the cook had produced a passport, an American passport.
“My father was an American. He made sure that I had a passport to prove I had citizenship here.”
The passport listed the father as “unknown,“ causing Officer Gerber to ask, “So…who was your father? Is he from around here?”
“I did not know him. My mother was from Houston, but was studying in Madrid. She said he was just a traveler, passing through. He was quite, how you say…guapo, very macho, too. All of the women wanted him.”
Anson had a few more thoughts on the matter. “So how did you end up here, at Joshua Green’s estate, as the cook?”
“My mother had become sick. She finally found my father in America and asked him to send money so that I could come here to live once she was gone. The money arrived but she died before she could tell me who my father was.”
“And here?” Anson repeated. “How did you end up here?”
“Mother loved to read and she had all of señor Green’s books. She made me read them to improve my English. I was lucky that my ticket brought me to the hometown of señor Green. He took me in, no questions asked.”
The gardener spoke up. “That’s karma. Josh did not know who to expect, but he told me that he was expecting someone. And then you showed up. He had to take you in. It was the only way to see which way his path would lead.”
“What a bunch of bull,” said the butler. “You all are just trying to cover up the fact that he’s a vagrant and his girl here has been stealing silverware. Go check her room, officer, you will find a complete set of fine silver, hidden under her bed.”
The housekeeper reacted. “You put that there. I would never steal from Mr. Green. I am not a thief!”
“Technically,” Anson said, “it’s not stealing if it’s still in the house, so I think we can move on from that one. Anyone know about a will?”
“I’ve looked everywhere…” the butler said.
“Yes, he has. He has torn this place upside down trying to find it, the greedy little Gus,” the housekeeper threw in.
“You all stay here in this room. Officer Gerber has orders to shoot anyone that tries to leave…” With that, Anson turned away from the four and started to walk out the door, winking to Brandon as he went past. Josh Green was a smart man, Anson thought. He most likely knew that he was marked for death, so he must have left a clue someplace. Josh probably knew that the butler would have ransacked his desk given his untimely demise, so he must have put it someplace that Anson would think to look.
“Come on, Josh. Give me a hint…”
Anson searched the entire house, taking two hours, finding nothing except the smell of overcooked coffee. The only stray papers were on the desk in the study, yet no one had seen any type of last and testament. “Of course,” he exclaimed out loud, “we have been looking for the wrong thing!”
Hurrying back to the study, Anson found the four staff members all in their own little worlds, each trying to figure out what the future held. Only the butler was smiling. The rest of them looked resigned to going back to a life of uncertainty, a life that Josh Green had been so nice enough to have rescued them from. No, it was the butler that worried Josh.
“Did you find anything?” Gerber asked.
“I did not find a will of any sort, but I did discover something else…”
“What is it?” chimed in the butler. He now seemed to be in high hopes of learning how much of the estate would be his.
“Let’s see what is on the desk. I am looking for anything unusual,” Anson said.
“Here we go.” A plain envelope, with the handwritten words ‘Open if I am dead – J.G.’ written upon it, was tucked away into one of the little slots underneath the roll-top. Anson took the envelope out of the slot very carefully.
“Officer Gerber, we need to treat this letter as evidence. Go ahead and bag and tag it, will you?”
“Sure, Gunner. I’ll be right back with the kit.”
Soon Brandon returned with a kit full of gloves, evidence bags, labels or tags, everything that was needed to preserve evidence for a court of law. “Okay, I am ready for that envelope now.”
“Just a minute,” Anson said. “This envelope has been opened and then resealed. Look at how the flap has waves. Tell me, sir, about this letter.” Everyone was looking at the butler.
“Okay, I admit it. I steamed open the letter when I was making tea, but I never lied about that. You didn’t ask me!”
“So you were making tea for Mr. Green, isn’t that what you had said earlier?”
“I was just wondering why you would make tea, when there was a full pot of coffee already brewed? And why were you opening a letter that specifically said ‘open after’ Mr. Green was dead, unless you already knew that he was dead?”
“I knew he did it! You evil man, you!” cried out the gardener.
“Not so fast, everyone. Before we jump to any more conclusions, what does the letter say?”
The butler shrugged his shoulders. “All it said was It’s all in black and white. That’s it. There were no other words.”
Anson put on a pair of blue, nitrile examination gloves. Carefully opening the envelope, he removed the letter and placed it near the exposed light bulb of the banker’s lamp on the desk.
“Nothing. I thought maybe he would use the old lemon juice trick.”
Officer Gerber looked at him, quite flummoxed. “Excuse me? The old lemon juice trick? What is that?”
“Man, they don’t teach anything in the police academy anymore, do they? Old school spies and ten year old boys used to send secret messages to their friends using lemon juice for ink. Invisible when dry, yet browns when exposed to the heat of a lamp. You used to be able to buy pens loaded with this stuff from ads in the back of Boy’s Life. Weren’t you ever a cub scout, Gerber?”
“Must have missed that meeting. So now what?”
“It’s all in black and white. Hmmm. The party this Saturday…OPH is announcing the next tour; anyone know the name of Josh’s next book?”
The gardener perked up. “My god, that’s it! The party this weekend, his next novel – it’s called Black and White. The clue must be in the novel somewhere!”
Anson hopped behind the laptop. Finding a folder labeled “Black and White,” he eventually found the manuscript file. Alright Josh, give it to me. How did you do this?
Anson hit a few keys, then looked intently at the screen. With a look of satisfaction on his face, he stood up and faced the group.
“Officer Gerber, please arrest the butler.”
“I didn’t kill him!”
“Maybe, maybe not, but at the very least you are an accomplice. The charge will be conspiracy to commit murder and murder for hire.”
The gardener asked “Well if he didn’t kill Joshua, then who did?”
“The butler may be greedy, and a bit overdressed with those shiny shoes, perhaps, but I think he is mostly talk and not too much on action. No, I think he’s a little fish that only helped with the murder. The big fish is still out there in the pond. I’ll need some time, but I think I know what kind of bait to use to land him.”
Brandon asked “What about the receipt showing the butler here was at the car wash?”
“Ah…the receipt. Officer Gerber, make a note that we need to check the security tapes here and at the car wash. I believe we will find that the butler here did, indeed, go to get the car detailed, but he most likely was picked up by his financier, and driven back here. He had time to let the killer in, probably through a kitchen window, who then pushed Josh Green down the stairs. They both then drove back to the car wash, where the butler picked up the Rolls.”
A few weeks later, the criminal court heard the case against the butler. The judge, the three remaining household staff members and the growing number of Boilermakers in the gallery were all curious to find out how Anson had solved the crime. Anson explained that the letter said that “everything was in Black and White.” So that is exactly where he looked – in the computer file of the same name.
“The trick, your honor, was to know that Joshua Green was a mystery writer, and a damned good one. He always left clues, for everything. I read through the file; it was short, just a chapter of his book, ten pages double spaced, then realized that I was reading everything in black. I used the shortcut, Control-A, to highlight everything and then changed the font color to black. You see, Josh Green had not used double spacing, he used single spacing but with every other line being written in white. Against the white background of the page, it would appear invisible until you changed the font color.
District Attorney Marcella Jenkins approached the bench. “Your honor, the State submits Exhibit A, a print off of the entire page.”
The judge read through the papers. “Very intriguing. Now what’s this about RFID?”
Onsby continued his discourse from the witness stand. “Of course, your honor. RFID stands for radio frequency identification. It’s the little thin tag that runners use to keep track of their progress at marathons. Josh Green had several from races that we had run together. Retailers also put them into products, like dress shirts, suits…fancy shoes. When you leave a department store and you walk between the two little poles, those poles are trying to read the signature from the RFID to see if you are shoplifting. Your honor, The D.A. is introducing exhibit B, the RFID found in the shoes that the butler was wearing on the day of the murder. Exhibit C, your honor, is the printout from the tracking software that Josh Green used inside his house for security reasons. It will show that the butler was physically at the top of the stairs when Josh Green was pushed to his death.”
The butler jumped up from the defense table. “That doesn’t prove a thing. All that shows is that I was at the top of the stairs. You can’t pin a murder charge on me just because of that…”
The judge ordered the bailiff to sit the man down and warned the butler that any more outbursts would not be tolerated. Then he turned back to Anson. “Well, Ms. Jenkins, anything else for the Detective? Contempt charges aside, the defendant has made a worthy point.”
“No your honor, not at this time. We will be calling the good Detective back on the stand, soon, however.”
Anson sat back down in his chair in the gallery. He made a careful note of who was sitting around him. The Boilermakers were all around him. He knew things were about to get interesting and he wanted to be ready for anything unexpected. The District Attorney went on with her prosecution.
“Your honor, we enter exhibits D and E. The RFID chip in Josh Green’s shoe that he was wearing on the day of his death and the computer file and print-out of the software tracking program showing that he was there, at the top of the stairs, exactly when the butler was there. Exhibit F is a video representation of the combined RFID tracking program from that day. With your permission, your honor, we would like to play it for you.”
The defense attorneys tried to object, but the evidence was iron-clad. They had seen everything in the pre-trial period and tried to talk their client into turning evidence against his puppet-master, but he would not do it. All they could do at this point was hope for leniency from the judge.
Marcella played the video. It showed two dots, one red and one blue. The blue dot, Josh Green, was moving through the kitchen, towards the basement stairs. Anson stopped the video long enough to show the red dot, belonging to the butler, motionless, hiding in a blind corner. All of a sudden the red dot moved to the blue dot, and the blue dot could be seen bouncing down the steps, coming to a stop at the bottom.
The defense attorneys had one last chance. “Your honor. All of this mumbo jumbo looks fantastic here in the courtroom. But how do we know the validity of the process? Can this really be trusted enough to put a man in prison for the rest of his life? I mean, really. A man’s freedom is resting on a system used to deter shoplifting in department stores? We object to the entire concept. The State’s assertions are ludicrous, based on scientific wishful thinking.”
The District Attorney stood up, awaiting the judge’s answer to the objection. This objection was exactly what she and Anson had hoped for. The plan’s success hinged on the next few words from the judge.
“Before I rule on the objection, can you, Ms. Jenkins, provide the Court with anything to disprove the defense’s claim? If not, I will have to rule in their favor.”
“Your honor, I am prepared to offer a demonstration that will be ever so enlightening. If I may, I would like to call Detective Sergeant Anson Brigsby back to the stand.”
Anson took the stand, knowing that he was still under oath. “Detective, through your discovery of evidence at the scene, we now have the RFID from the deceased and from the accused. Can you demonstrate how the software tracks those RFIDs?”
“Yes, ma’am. Each RFID is coded. In the case of marathon races, each RFID is coded to match each race participant. In retail stores, the RFID’s are coded with the store’s unique identifying numbers. That way, you won’t accidentally set off a scanner when you walk out of a different store.”
The D.A. smiled, opening up the laptop which was still hooked up to the courtroom’s large screen projector system. “So if we enter a code into the program, a scanner could determine if there was an RFID within its signal area? Is that correct?”
“Yes, you are correct.”
“Thank you Detective, you may sit down.”
“Your honor,” cried the defense attorney. “This has not answered your question…”
The judge looked perturbed. “Ms. Jenkins…”
“Your honor, I will demonstrate, based on the information that the Detective has just provided us.” Pointing to a shoebox-sized gray metallic container, she continued. “This is a scanner. I can enter an RFID into the software program and using a floor plan of the courtroom here, the scanner will determine if anyone has an RFID that matches, most likely from the RFID sewn into their clothes by the department store where they purchased their wardrobe.”
Jenkins glanced at the Gunner, who was now back in his seat amidst the Boilermakers. Anson gave a slight nod in return.
The D.A. entered a series of numbers into the software program. There was a subtle din of murmuring when a green dot appeared on the screen. Someone in the gallery was wearing clothing that had an RFID matching the code.
“Your honor, this system even allows us to enter a code into an archived program file. For instance, permit me to enter the same code into the file taken from the estate of the deceased, Exhibit E.”
The D.A. quickly entered the code. With the floor plan of the estate back up on the screen, the entire courtroom let out a gasp as they saw a green dot appear, outside of the house.
“Your honor, what kind of theatrics…” The defense was scrambling, trying to figure out what was going on.
Before the judge could answer, Marcella looked at the defense and said “Pipe down, this may just go in your favor. Your honor, permit me to play the entire file.”
“Go ahead, this has finally become very interesting.”
Marcella pressed play. The file clearly showed a green dot coming across the yard, entering the house by way of the kitchen window. The red dot moved through the kitchen, meeting the green dot as it entered. Both dots moved to the blind spot, waiting for the blue dot – Josh Green.
To everyone’s surprise, the green dot was the man who pushed Josh Green down the stairs. The red dot, the butler, had only watched. The D.A. turned to the judge, saying “Your honor, the State wishes to reduce the charges against the accused to conspiracy to commit murder and accessory to murder.”
“First things first. I overrule the objection. Now, I remand the accused to the Sherriff’s detention center until his counsel can prepare a defense against these new charges. Now, didn’t we just see that the person who actually did push the deceased down the stairs is here in my courtroom?”
Marcella Jenkins looked at Onsby. Now was the time.
“Yes, your honor. You see, the code I entered into the program was the RFID code used by the clothing store at the state prison. The person who killed Joshua Green is someone here in the courtroom, someone who must have been recently released from prison, someone who is still wearing the suit given to him by the warden as a parting gift for serving his sentence. Your honor, that person is…Mitchell Simmons!”
From the ranks of the Boilermakers seated in the gallery, a man jumped up. “That’s ridiculous!” It was Mitchell Simmons, the man who had been seated directly in front of Anson.
Simmons started to make a break for it, but Anson had him by the shoulder, lifting him up off his feet and then slamming him back down into his chair. “You’re not going anywhere, Simmons,” Anson announced. The killer tumbled out of the chair, falling to the floor. Anson, seeing that Mitchell was reaching for a gun hidden in an ankle holster, reached behind his back, retrieving his trusted revolver, Trixie. With its built in laser sight, Trixie was able to get a deadly accurate bead on Simmons, who saw immediately that one shot would be enough to put him down for good, Mitchell Simmons gave up.
The courtroom took several minutes to calm down. The butler was back in a holding cell, awaiting transfer to the county lock-up. Mitchell Simmons was in cuffs, being led down to processing. He had a look of disappointment on his face, since his plan, a plan that had consumed him for 5 years, was now null and void. He knew he was going back to prison, only this time for the rest of his life.
As the judge was leaving the bench, he asked if Anson and the three members of the estate’s staff could join him in his chambers.
Once they were away from the cacophony of the courtroom, the judge, holding a copy of Josh Green’s Black and White, said “So, Gunner. Have you told everyone what the rest of this page says?”
“No, sir. I thought we could save that for the probate hearing.”
“Fair enough, but I think they deserve to know what they are in for. May I?”
“Absolutely, your honor.”
“Alright, who is the gardener?”
The petite woman stood up. “Here I am, your honor.”
“Well, by the laws of our fair state, you are Joshua Green’s wife by common law.
You are one of his two next-of-kin. Now who is Jose Delverde?”
The cook stood up. “Si, your honor.”
“Your mother, may she rest in peace, sent you to live with your American father, and whether you know it or not, you have been doing so for the past year. Joshua Green was your father. That makes you the other living next of kin.”
Anson looked at the trio, saying “Looks like you two will split the estate!”
The housekeeper hugged Jose, flashing the engagement ring he had given her a few days earlier. All was ending well for the faithful servants of author Joshua Green. And for the unfaithful one? When Detective Sergeant Anson Brigsby was leaving the judge’s chambers, he saw the butler and Mitchell Simmons being led from the holding cells down to the Sherriff’s awaiting van. As they passed by, he looked at them and said “Crime doesn’t pay, boys. And that’s a fact…written in black and white.”