The continuing adventures of Witt Kepler, Private Eye.
[Witt is hot on the investigative trail of a killer, one who murdered the Westborough Chief of Police, and more importantly, tried to frame his good friend, Kamianka.]
Freshly fueled by convenience store coffee, Witt arrived at the Westborough police station. His goal was a simple one, find out who might want to kill the good Chief of Police. Conversation with the boys in blue here would be touchy. He had no doubt in his mind many officers would still be in mourning, and probably very angry. Must come across as one of the good guys, he told himself.
“Excuse me, I’m with the Metro District Attorney. Could you point me in the direction of the Chief’s office?”
The desk sergeant looked at the rumpled figure of a man standing in front of his station. Witt’s blackish facial hair, tinged with random red and gray bristles, gave him the appearance of someone who needed to check into the drunk tank, not someone representing the city’s prosecutorial emissary. Witt presented his identification card and paperwork from Assistant DA Thurman Ludlow, in hopes there would be no reason to stop him from searching the office. The man remained mute, stone-faced, motioning with his hand for Witt to go back behind the counter and to his right.
As Witt approached the greenish opaque glass door labeled “Chief of Police,” he was stopped by the secretary. Though more than a few years senior to Witt, she still had the command presence of an intimidating gatekeeper. Witt could tell right off that no one would ever get to see the Chief until she allowed it. And judging by the number of vacation trinkets adorning her desk, she had been the Chief’s gatekeeper for many years.
“I’m sorry, but no visitors until tomorrow.”
“Witt Kepler, DA’s office, Metro. I’m working the murder investigation. Look, I’m sorry about your loss. I imagine you two were close, working together so many years. But all I need is about five minutes to look around his office. Maybe there’s a clue in there somewhere, a clue that might lead to his killer.”
“I guess there’s no harm in looking around. And I’m sorry about snipping at you just then. I haven’t been myself since… since I heard the news.”
“Perfectly understandable. How long have you two worked together?”
“Twenty two years. In fact, I’m the only secretary he ever had.”
“That’s a long time to be with anyone,” Witt said. He realized the odds were he would never have a secretary who would last that long. Probably not even a cat.
“And it’s worse for his poor wife. They had been married ten years when he was finally promoted to Chief. Now she’s devastated. Such a shame, his murder. And look, I know about the circumstances. The whole department is talking about the “killer call girl, ” but no one is telling his wife about the details. She doesn’t need to know. The Assistant Chief is with her now, trying to get his papers in order.”
“It’s nice to have someone to help you through the hard times,” Witt replied. “Twenty two years? Man, I think I’d be ready to retire after that much time in. But knowing me, I’d a been walking a beat the entire time.”
“The Chief was planning to retire, actually. He had me purchase tickets for him and his wife to Rio for a month long vacation. He said if it was nice enough, he’d just buy a cabana on the beach and stay.” The poor woman was starting to tear up by this point. Witt offered her a handkerchief.
“I’ll just be a minute. Don’t worry, ma’am. We will find out who is behind this. Justice will be served.”
The door to the Chief’s office was open about a quarter of the way, just enough for Witt to see a crew of two officers loading files into brown moving boxes. A senior man was overseeing the entire operation, carefully logging file names as folders were placed in the box. Witt pondered. A police chief wouldn’t normally be keeping open case files at his desk. No reason to reassign a case he shouldn’t have been working anyway. An upset secretary made sense. This, however, did not.
“Witt Kepler, Metro DA’s office. Who’s in charge?”
The supervisor, a captain, put down his clipboard and looked directly at Witt. “You are who? And why are you here?”
“Witt Kepler, DA’s office. I’m a contracted investigator and I’m here to help with the murder investigation. “
The captain shrugged his shoulders and started to shake his head in disapproval. “Look. The crime took place in your jurisdiction. You boys need to handle it. In the meantime, I gotta ton of paperwork to go through. You see all these file cabinets? All this crap needs to be inventoried, boxed and sent to the chief’s house by 3 o’clock today. So unless you want to keep your mouth shut and pack, I really don’t have a need for you here. No offense Mister DA’s Office.”
“None taken. And I am sure the Metro homicide squad is turning over every scumbag in town, looking for the killer. But I do have one more question. Why do you need to move old case files to the Chief’s house anyway?”
“These aren’t old case files. This is all paperwork for the Fraternal Order. The chief was our local’s president. Now that he’s gone, someone has to maintain control on the business side of the Order and that falls to the vice president until we can organize an election.”
“The vice president, that’s the Assistant Chief of Police by chance?”
“Yeah. Even though no one wants him in charge, by default he gets temporarily promoted to the head of the Order. He just never seemed very interested in the group. Rarely attended meetings. Anyway, he needs these boxes by three o’clock. I guess he has some movers who are putting most of this stuff into storage – although some of it will be needed for the annual audit next month. It’s a big mess trying to determine what is what, I tell you. Now if you’ll excuse us, we really need to get back at it.”
“Sure thing, Cap’n. I’ll see myself out.”
Witt stopped by the secretary’s desk on his way back. “You know, I think I’d like to pay my respects to the widow. Could I trouble your for the address?”
“I think that would be a great idea, Mr. Kepler. But, please, don’t mention the trip to Brazil. The Chief was going to surprise her once he announced his retirement. He had a ceremony planned for the first of the month…” The woman started crying again.
“Like I said, don’t worry. Justice will be served.”
As Witt left the building, his cell phone rang. It was his partner, Guthrie Oaks.
“Guthrie, you old Canadian dog. Where you been?”
“Oh, really? That much duct tape?”
“By the way, can you meet me at the Chief’s house by noon? I’ll send you the address.”
“Great. Oh yeah, one more thing. Can you stop by the store and get something for me? I’ll send the details in the same text as the address.”
“Thanks. And once we get to the house, just go with my story. Not everything will truly be as it seems and we still don’t know who we can trust.”
Witt ended the phone call then reached for a cigarette. Remembering he had decided to not buy a fresh pack that morning at the convenience store, all he could do was hope someone would draw a gun.
- Duct Tape and Handcuffs (djlutz.wordpress.com)