Episode 11 of Witt Kepler, Private Eye. After learning one of his favorite female acquaintances was being set up for a murder one rap, Witt decides to take the case.
The next morning, Witt met with Assistant District Attorney Thurman Ludlow and Canadian at-large, Sgt Guthrie Oaks of the RCMP. The goal was to receive payment for services rendered in the banishment of one Ivan Vetski.
“Well, Thurman, it looks like our loss will be Canada’s gain, so to speak. We lose a loser and Canada gains one. Two, if Vetski keeps my ex-wife with him. But then again, even a mobster like Vetski has a pain threshold. What do you think, Guthrie?”
The red-uniformed sergeant straightened his patent leather belt, saying “With luck, a polar bear will get him. As for the woman, even bear have standards.”
After a good chuckle, Witt sat down, instinctively reaching for a Lucky Strike cigarette.
“None of that inside the building, Witt. You know the rules,” Thurman said. Everyone knew smoking had not been allowed in government buildings for several years, Witt especially. He had been a young boot, a rookie cop, when the smoking ban took effect. Drawing the short straw, which was probably planned the more he thought about it, Witt was required to go around to the old veteran’s offices, removing the ashtrays. It would be a long time before anyone did him a favor, or even said hello.
“Sorry. Habit. Bad habit, I guess. My neighbor has a plan to help me quit. I’ll have to give her a call sometime.”
“Witt, are we sure that Vetski went to Canada?” Guthrie asked.
“I think so. He could be laying low, I suppose, but I think the allure of diamonds and gold will be too great to resist. If we don’t see him around the next few days, I would say he has gone. Plus, look how many crimes were reported last night. Very few. Without Vetski paying cash money, thugs don’t seem as interested in causing trouble.”
Thurman smiled, saying “Yes, but with our luck, they will all file for unemployment benefits. The city can’t win for losing, I guess. But you two earned your money; the diamond merchants have already called, thanking me for getting rid of the strong-arm gangs.”
Taking the envelope being offered, Witt felt the weight of it, as if he could count the cash without looking.
“Meets with your satisfaction?” Thurman asked.
“Definitely. I might stop by the store and buy some extra groceries now. Maybe even a ten dollar bottle of wine instead of the usual quinine additive.”
“Quinine?” the Mountie asked.
“Isn’t Canada part of the Empire? Come on, Guthrie. Quinine – it’s in the tonic water. Helps prevent malaria I hear. Pairs well with gin…from what people tell me.”
“Got it. For a private detective, you seem to have amassed quite the impressive vocabulary. You must read voraciously.”
“Actually, I saw it in an old movie. Don’t care much for books. Too many words.”
As the odd couple of unofficial law enforcement started to leave the office, the assistant DA motioned for them to stay. He turned his computer monitor on, then sat down in his own black leather chair, leaning back.
“Before you leave, I’d like to show you a little video clip. Something I received anonymously this morning. It’s a bit racy, so you might want to ask your parents if you can watch.”
The DA clicked his mouse, starting what was very obviously a security video from inside a hotel room. The trio watched as a man and woman enter the room, quickly removing their clothes, and then proceeding to the queen-sized bed. The activity was so graphic, so intense that all three men blushed. Witt realized that his partner and Ludlow were slightly embarrassed by the unexpected porno flick, thusly causing their red-faced countenance. He, however, was blushing because he immediately recognized the woman. It was his house guest, Kamianka.
“Here is where is gets really interesting,” the assistant DA said.
“What? Does another woman come into the picture?” Guthrie asked, hoping for a juicy story to tell the boys back north.
“No. Just watch… right about…now.”
The silent movie vixen quickly jumped out of bed, moving out the picture frame, toward the bathroom. The star of the show remained in bed, motionless.
“I guess he had his fun, then hit the snooze button. Man, that happens to me all the time,” Guthrie remarked.
“You may want to think twice about that next time, Sgt Oaks. Check out what happens next.”
The female moved back in front of the camera, blocking the view of her partner. When she moved to the side of the bed, bending over to pick up her clothes, all three voyeurs made audible gasps. Witt looked around, making sure no one saw them acting like college boys.
Thurman continued. “Show’s over, boys. Now, look at the man’s neck. See the syringe? I think she stabbed him while he was sleeping.”
Witt started tapping his cigarette on Thurman’s desk. His other hand was itching to flip open the Zippo. Once Witt’s private detective brain started churning, there was no stopping him.
“So where’s this guy? If he’s dead, surely we must have found him, right?” Witt had no intention of dropping a dime the size of a manhole cover on his friend, Kamianka. Still, he needed to play along with the DA’s office, which he figured just might help keep her out of jail, or at least off of the electric chair.
“We received a report an hour ago from the Townsend Hotel. Dead guy is actually one of the good guys. He’s a police chief here for the big law enforcement convention.”
Witt put the cigarette in his mouth.
“Sticking a cop. That takes some guts. Any clues yet?”
“Preliminary tests show he died from heroin overdose, probably the stuff in that syringe, but the ME is running a full screen, plus the usual autopsy will be completed. It’s way too early to tell anything conclusive.”
“Other than a police officer being murdered,” Guthrie said. “ I would guess that once word gets out to the others in the convention, there will be no stone left unturned until the killer is found.”
“You are absolutely right, Mountie. This killer’s days are numbered,” Thurman replied.
“I am sure you are right,” Witt said, “but can I have a copy of this video? Something isn’t adding up here, but I can’t tell you what it is yet. I think we may have ourselves a new mastermind in town.”
“You think someone, a woman, this woman, has seized the opportunity to replace Ivan Vetski as Metro’s newest crime kingpin?” The assistant DA was starting to fidget, rolling his number two yellow pencil back and forth on his desk.
Witt slammed his hand down on the pencil, stopping it in its tracks. “I don’t know what we have yet, sir, but if you want to hire me and my Canadian friend here, we will find out.”
Guthrie spoke up. “Um, I’m already on the pay-“
“Done deal, for the usual fare,” Thurman replied. He put his pencil back into the coffee cup he kept on his desk. He carefully positioned it so the pencil fell into the right order, by height, with the other writing instruments.
“Great. Guthrie, old man? Let us repair to the nearest pub and see what we have so far.”
“Witt,” the Canadian replied, “It’s only ten o’clock in the morning.”
Flipping open the old Zippo, Witt lit his Lucky Strike, saying “Your point will be taken under advisement. We’ll have the receptionist be our designated driver.”
As the two preeminent ratiocinators bounded down the hallway, the receptionist held up her hand like a crossing guard outside an elementary school.
“This is a school zone, gentlemen. No running. Keep your hands inside your own bus and remember – your stop is down the hall, one past get-the-hell-out street.”
Witt laughed. “Don’t worry, Guthrie. I’ve got some fine gin at home, and if we are lucky, your next ex-wife might be there.”
- The Perfect Crime (djlutz.wordpress.com)