Episode 18 of Witt Kepler, Private Eye
By the time Witt arrived at the police chief’s house, he found his partner, Guthrie Oaks, waiting for him. As they walked up to the front door, they both commented on the well-manicured landscape, including a statuette of a small lawn gnome dressed as a cop. As interesting as the miniaturized cop walking the fescue beat may have been, the fact there were no other cars in front of the house was more intriguing to Witt.
“Did you get the stuff, Guthrie?”
“Yes, it’s in the trunk of my car. What are we doing, anyway?”
“You’ll figure it out soon. I’ll give you a sign when it’s time.”
Witt rang the door bell. He heard some voices inside, muffled. Approaching footsteps told him that the door would soon open. He could see someone peering through the side window, trying to ascertain who had rung. The door opened. It was the Assistant Police Chief.
“May I help you?”
“My name is Witt Kepler, this is my associate, Guthrie Oaks. We are with the Metro DA’s office. Would it be alright if we stopped in for just a moment, to pay our respects?”
The man hesitated, gave a quick look back at a woman sitting on a sofa, then nodded for the pair to enter. It would have to be a short visit he said, since the widow was still distraught. Witt replied that he understood, saying they would be in and out so fast, it would seem as if they were never there.
The conversation was innocuous. Clichés abounded, with “you poor dear” being said after almost every statement from the woman. To be polite, she offered Witt and Guthrie coffee, which Guthrie readily accepted. Witt, however, declined. H wanted to get a better look around.
“Excuse me, but is there a restroom I may use?”
“Yes, Mr. Kepler. There is one down the hall, on the left.”
While Guthrie regaled the widow and the Assistant Police Chief with tales of Canada, Witt walked into the bathroom. He checked his watch. It was 2:30. Sometime in the next half hour, the boxes of paperwork from the Fraternal Order would arrive. He had to time this perfectly.
Returning to the room, Witt looked around in admiration of the furnishings and décor. He knew such careful attention to detail could only have come from a woman. Few men would have gone to the trouble of making even the toothbrushes match the color scheme of the bathroom.
“Ma’am, I must say, this house has beautiful furnishings. Did you pick everything out yourself?”
“Why, yes. In fact, other than my husband’s closet full of uniforms, everything you see has been coordinated to bring out the best in each room. If it doesn’t fit, it isn’t here. He may have run the department, but I run the house.”
As Witt was about to reply, he glanced out the front window. The squad car had pulled into the driveway. The boxes were right on time. Ready, set, go!
“We won’t bother you further, ma’am. We’ll be leaving now. You know, Guthrie – why don’t you give those boys a hand unloading those boxes. Ma’am? Where would you like those boxes?”
The Assistant Police Chief spoke up. “Everything goes in the garage, thank you. Just keep the boxes with blue labels off to one side. Those are going to storage. The rest are being sent off.”
Witt gave Guthrie the look. Guthrie winked in response.
Ten minutes later, Witt and Guthrie were driving off, leaving the bereaved widow and her consoling friend. Witt was hoping his benefactor, Thurman Ludlow, Esquire, would have a team of accountants standing by.
Thurman met the two investigators in the parking lot. He had three men with him, each equipped with a two-wheeled cart ready to haul boxes. Witt had told Guthrie to buy some moving boxes, and mark them with the word “storage” in blue marker. He surmised those boxes would be filled with incriminating evidence of some sort, and the boxes being sent to auditors would have been filled with sanitized ledger sheets.
“Are you sure these boxes will have evidence leading to an arrest for murder?”
Witt chuckled. “Thurman, I have no idea what is in those boxes. But – the Assistant Chief didn’t want anyone else to know, either. Sounds like something needs to be checked out, if you ask me. And you did, just now.”
Guthrie added that perhaps the chief had been cooking the books and skimming money from the Fraternal Order, and the Assistant Chief found out. He theorized the man may have just been trying to protect the widow.
“Guthrie, Guthrie, Guthrie. Let me ask you a question. What color is your toothbrush?”
“My toothbrush? I don’t know. Blue, maybe? It may be red, possibly green, I think. Why?”
“Everything in that house was color coordinated. She even as much said everything was matched and in its proper place by her own doing. So why were there three toothbrushes in the glass jar on the bathroom vanity? And one of those toothbrushes was purple, clearly clashing with the light green motif of the curtains and bath mats.”
Neither Guthrie nor Thurman had a reply.
“It’s obvious, fellows. Come on! The purple toothbrush belonged to the Assistant Police Chief. He has taken up residence. That’s why his car was in the garage instead of out front. He wasn’t a visitor anymore. In fact, I would venture to say they have been having an affair for quite some time. Remember, he never went to the Fraternal Order meetings -”
“Because he knew her husband would be at them. They had guaranteed “alone” time. The man’s a genius,” stated Guthrie.
“No, but this does give them both motive for murder,” Witt said.
- Justice Will Be Served (djlutz.wordpress.com)