Sunday, August 24, 2008

Creatively Created Creative Writing - Chapter XII

Arianne sat in her car, the engine off, and stared at the Acme Building. She knew that Guy would be up in his office, but she just couldn't get herself to open the car door and cross the street to the building.

And then the pipe exploded.

Arianne stared in amazement as the manhole cover fifty feet in front of her car flew up in the air, borne aloft on a stream of waste. Almost immediately the stench hit her, giving her the impetus she needed to leave the car and head for the front door of the Acme Building. A gust of wind blew some of the airborne shite her way and she got splattered just before she got to the door.

She pushed her way past a group of teens staring out the door, pointing and laughing as people ran from the excretory rain, and headed for the ladies room to clean up. She looked at the empty towel dispensers in disgust, and then stepped back out into the lobby. A quick glance at the news kiosk by the stairs caused her to shake her head. Then she had an idea....

It had been a quiet week in the city by the mountains. Despite their threat, the Cousins Avaricious decided to not contest Dirk's will, and I was in the process of getting all the legal stuff taken care of so that I could take possession of Dirk's estate. The Woody was a real blessing for me. I had already saved twenty or thirty bucks in cab fare, plus people smiled and pointed when they saw it coming down the street. Jimmy had fully recovered from his food poisoning and was back at work at the Five Spot, so my drinks were just the way I liked them again.

The only thing I didn't have was a case to work on, but after the events of the last couple months... I didn't really mind that much. And so it was that I was leaning back in my chair with my feet up on the desk, dozing, when my office door opened and Arianne walked in. At first I thought I was dreaming, but then a ... smell reached my nose. A smell that heretofore I had not associated with Arianne.

Seeing my nose wrinkle, she held up a hand to silence me before I could ask, and said, "Have you looked out your window in the last ten minutes?"

When I shook my head no, still somewhat taken aback at seeing her in my office, she told me what had happened and finished by saying, "...The paper towels were used up and there was no newspaper. I muttered something the kids couldn't hear and started ripping pages from the phone book to clean up the mess. And then I came on up, since I was in the building and, well, didn't want to go back outside."

"Hello to you to," I said, standing and crossing to her. I started to reach out and hug her, but a strange weakness hit me.

His once strong arms felt as though he had been heaving bales of hay onto a truck all day.

I looked at Arianne and said, "Did you hear that?"

"Hear what?"

"That voice... It seemed to be coming from everywhere and nowhere." She looked at me quizzically and I hastily added, "Just kidding. Damn, it's great to see you!" My arms worked just fine this time, so I hugged her tight.

"Oh, Guy, I'm sorry I just ... left before. I was still messed up from the incident with the Samoan lawyer, and dealing with the police and all, and...." she trailed off as I put her head on my shoulder.

"None of that matters now. You're here. And, ummm, you smell like shit." I smiled at her to make sure she knew I was being playful, and said, "Let's blow this office and get you to a shower."

As we started down the hall she said, "Wait. My car's out front, and probably covered with...."

"Don't worry, kid," I replied. "I've got my own wheels now. And it's parked in the back lot." I told her about Dirk leaving me his estate in his will as we rode down to the basement in the elevator.

Freddie the custodian was standing by the back door as we walked out, and asked, "Where are you off to, Guy?"

"It's Tuesday, and that means it's time to wax the cat!" I shouted to him as we got to the Woody. Arianne laughed at his look as I put the car in gear and pulled out of my parking space.

We got to the apartment and while she was cleaning up, my cell phone rang. It took me a moment to realize what the sound was, as I'd only had the thing for a couple days and wasn't used to it, but then I pushed the button to answer and said, "Noir here."

"Hey, Guy. It's Frank Kirby, with the metro PD? I don't know if you remember me, but -"

"Yeah, sure, Frank. I helped you guys out with the DiNozzo case last year. How you doing?"

"I'm doing all right, but my cousin Jim, who works as a detective at the Department over in Waynesville, could use some help. They've got a case that's just up your alley."

"Can it wait til morning," I asked, as Arianne came out of the bathroom wearing only a towel. "I've got something I ... need to look into this afternoon."

"Sure, Guy, just stop by the station over there in the morning and ask for Jim. I'll let him know you're coming by. I owe you one, Noir," he said and hung up.

Arianne walked over to me and reached her arms up to my neck, and the towel fell to the floor....

The next morning, bright and early, I slipped out of bed without waking Arianne, got dressed and drove over to the Waynesville Police Department. I was still getting used to driving and not riding in the back of cabs, which meant I did more looking at scenery than I really should have.

As I drove past the shopping centers, I could sense the excitement in other drivers; the abundance of parking lots with empty parking spots is always a strange thrill in the suburbs. The whole scene was as nice as ever. Nothing ever changes, not ever, out here in suburbia.

I pulled into the police station and walked in. I told the desk sergeant I was there to see Detective Kirby, and he pointed me down the hall. My first take on Detective Jim Kirby wasn't all that good. He was in his office, which he shared with the K-9 unit, and, all things considered, Jim was having far too much fun with the Jiffy-Lam 3000 laminator. The dog looked at him reproachfully.

He looked up from the machine as I walked in and said, "You must be the PI cousin Frank said was coming over. Jim Kirby," he said, holding out his hand. We shook, and I asked him what the case was.

He explained that a Mr. Ralph McMahan had died of arsenic poisoning after eating dinner at the annual Kiwanis talent show. They had several suspects, but couldn't get the goods on any of them. He gave me a list of the names, with addresses, and I told him I'd check them out.

I read the report, including the statement of the deceased's wife, "He said, 'Sure; it was a small town fund-raiser, but that was by far the best plate of enchiladas he'd ever had.'" was about all she could say, and then I left the station to go interview the suspects.

The first name on the list was Dr. Emma Jones, Professor of History at the university in the city, so I called her office to make an appointment to stop by. On my way over there, I tried to come up with an excuse to be seeing a History Professor, as my general process is to talk to suspects without letting on that I'm checking them out. That way I get a feeling of them as a person. My intuition had rarely ever failed me. I was stuck for a bit for a topic to start on, but then I remembered about my great-great grandmother.

I walked into the office and introduced myself, then told the tale of my great-great. She really had died of mysterious circumstances, and the date had been lost for a long time. I told Dr. Jones the story, finishing up with, "The class of 1857's class letters had provided me with a general idea about her death – some time after October 4, 1862, but not more than a couple weeks. I can't get any farther than that, though. Do you think you can help me?"

While I was telling her my story, I had been getting a strange vibe, and the itch just wouldn't go away. She seemed excited to hear my tale, but not in the "oh boy, a history mystery" way. It was more the "oh boy, someone died mysteriously" way. In fact, she was way too excited, and my radar was pinging like mad. But I didn't want to move to fast.

Catching hardened criminals is like landing a fish. Always give them some line, and then set the hook. I learned that from Snappy Leftowitz. About criminals and fish.

So, I left her my phone number and asked her to call me if she found out anything, but that I would check with her in any case in a couple of days. She said that was fine, and walked me out to my car with a gleam in her eye.

By the time I pulled out of the parking lot, I was sure that The professor was the murderer, and just had to figure a way to prove it. So, instead of checking up on the other people on Detective Kirby's suspect list, I headed home to Arianne.

I got there and suggested that we go out to dinner, but she wanted to cook, so we went to the market to pick up some things. While we were out, we went by and got her car and took it to the car wash - and ran it through twice.

I offered to help fix the dinner, and while we were chopping veggies and prepping the meat, Arianne started asking me all kinds of questions about the case. I was still so thrilled to have her back in my life that I forgot all about professional ethics and was telling her all about the case before I realized it. In the Private Investigator biz, there are things you just don't share, but there was no holding back now. I told Arianne all my suspicions and just why I felt the way I did, and how my intuitions were almost always spot on. Not since Snappy had retired had I shared that secret with anyone.

Arianne was thrilled by the whole process, and asked if she could go with me when I confronted Professor Jones. I was going to refuse, but one look in her eyes and I had to say yes.

Two days later, Professor Jones called me, and asked if I could come over to see her, that she had some info on my great-great grandmother for me. I said sure, and she gave me directions to her house, as she had no classes or office hours that day. Arianne and I got in the car and headed over to the address.

We were met at the door by a maid, who led us to the Professor's study. I introduced Arianne, and we sat down while Dr. Jones went through the information she had gathered about my ancestress - all of which I already knew, of course. She was almost finished when we were interrupted by a loud squawking. Arianne and I looked at each other, confusion writ large on our faces, and then a parrot came riding through the study on a miniature tricycle.

As it crossed the room, it said, "Put the arsenic in the enchiladas. He'll never know what hit him! Hahahahaha!"

That was all it took. I called Detective Kirby and detained the Professor while we waited for him to show up and arrest her.

As the uniformed officers were leading her out in handcuffs, I overheard her say, "This is the last time," she said to herself, "the very last time I will let the parrot ride the tricycle."

And so, another case went into my book.

blog comments powered by Disqus