No one ever looks up (Final Part)

24. january 2012 at 17:26 | Thalia Contostavlos
The second part of my tiny story :)
Warnings: None
Disclaimer: Don't own



.........By 7 o'clock that evening, Mrs. Sonomar was waiting in an interrogation room while I was standing behind the one-way glass. She didn't seem nervous at all - probably thought she was out of it all. She was looking around the room and - if I didn't just imagine it - she even sneered a few times in my direction. It was two minutes after seven when Cramer and Stebbins came in. Cramer carried the tape, black recorder and a large paper folder. He sat down and Purley went to stand behind Mrs. Sonomar.
........."I'm Inspector Cramer and this is Sergeant Stebbins, Mrs. Sonomar. We would like to ask you a few questions."
.........The lady nodded.
........."Where were you at the time your husband was murdered?"
........."And when was that, Inspector?"
.........Cramer smiled. "Half past ten to quarter to one."
........."Oh, I was clothes hunting."
.........Cramer frowned. "Clothes hunting?"
.........That was when Stebbins butted in. "Looking for some suitable clothes, boss."
.........Cramer nodded. "So you were out shopping, right? And where exactly were you shopping, Mrs. Sonomar?"
........."I was in some boutiques, I assume you don't know them. Balmain Paris, Céline, La Boutique Fantasque, McCall's and so on."
........."You're right, I don't know them, but that can be rectified. And after returning from the shops, you've found your husband lying in the dining room, correct?"
........."Yes, that's right. It was about quarter to two. I called the police right away."
.........Cramer nodded and took the recorder in his hand. "Can you tell me what do I have here?"
.........She didn't answer, but only stared at him with unblinking eyes.
.........Cramer pressed a button, and sound issued forth from the speaker. It was a pair of voices, neither speaking, but only making noises of passion. One of the voices belonged to Mrs. Sonomar. The other was not her husband's.
.........Cramer was watching our suspect very intently. Her face struggled to find a shade of white more pure than the last. I thought that she might faint.
........."Care to tell me what that's all about?" Cramer asked.
.........She opened her mouth, but nothing came out.
.........Cramer rewound the tape and played the same part again.
........."Where did you get that?" she whispered.
.........Cramer paused the recorder and instead of answering her question, he asked: "Want to hear what happens next?"
.........The pupils of her eyes grew large and her complexion changed from pallid to rosy. She took a deep breath and then said with a steady voice: "I think I need a lawyer."
........."Mrs. Sonomar-"
........."I need a lawyer!" she bellowed.
........."As you wish," growled Cramer and left the room with Purley hot on his heels.
.........I caught up with them in the hall. They were glaring at each other and Purley was just talking: "… she asked for her lawyer. We can't ask her any more questions without her lawyer present, or anything she says would be inadmissible."
........."I know that. But what can I do? She clammed up."
........."Oh she did, didn't she? You didn't even try to interrogate her any further."
.........The Inspector came to stand just a few inches from his subordinate. He towered over him and growled: "She clammed up. Don't doubt me, Stebbins."
.........Cramer then turned to speak to one of the officers. "See that Mrs. Sonomar gets her phone call. I'd like to wrap this up today."
........."Sure thing," the officer said.
.........The three of us went to Cramer's office, but Purley didn't let his problem go. "Once she gets her hands on her lawyer, she'll be harder to crack open than the gates of hell."
.........I just had to ask: "How hard is it to crack open the gates of hell?"
.........Cramer laughed secretly and waved his hand. "Goodwin, who's your client, if I may ask?"
........."You may, but I won't answer. It's confidential. Let me call Wolfe and I'll tell you if he approves."
.........He scowled. "Oh come on, it's an open and closed case. Nothing for you and that fat genius."
.........I shrugged. "Let him be the judge of that. It's not as easy as it seems. We know who murdered Mr. Sonomar, hell Mr. Wolfe knew it before I even left the office, but we can't wrap her up in the box and send her to the DA just yet. We have no proof."
.........Cramer clenched his jaw and shook his head. "I know. Our only chance is to get a confession out of her."
.........I nodded in agreement. "Exactly, and it's a safe bet that Mr. Wolfe would be more able to get it than any of your brilliant tactics."
........."How?"
........."Oh by gum! How should I know? I'm not a genius."
.........Cramer shot me a very frustrated glare. "We'll call him then."
.........And so it was that the whole party moved to number 912 on West 35th Street - the residence of the famous Nero Wolfe. I was sitting behind my desk, notebook in hand and watched the other occupants of our office. Inspector Cramer sat - as always - in the red leather chair, which left Miss Clarkson with one of the yellow ones. Mrs. Sonomar and her lawyer - a young chap called Abbot, who certainly failed to meet my expectations of an excellent attorney - were sitting next to Cramer and Sergeant Stebbins stood right next to the big globe, leaning against our bookcase. The tape from Sonomar's mansion was just being played.
.........I watched as Abbot's face went through every shade of red until it came to rest on a hue that would best be described as 'fire truck'. I half-expected steam to start blowing out of the man's ears. The lawyer slammed his fists on the table.
........."Enough!" he yelled. "This isn't my client, and you couldn't prove it if it was! All you're doing is harassing her!"
.........Cramer narrowed his eyes at him. "And who else would that be? A ghost?"
.........Wolfe held up his hand to stop Cramer.
........."Mrs. Sonomar hasn't done anything wrong. Even your tape indicates that she acted in self-defense."
........."Ah," Wolfe said, leaning over the table with one finger raised in the air. "But to make that case, you'd have to admit that it is, in fact, her on that tape. And you decline that. And then there's the matter of your role in trying to cover all this up."
........."I don't understand," the lawyer began.
.........Wolfe scowled and looked over at Cramer. "Inspector, would you be so kind and read Mr. Abbot his rights?"
.........Abbot snorted. "Are you serious, Mr. Wolfe? I've done nothing!"
.........Mr. Wolfe smiled. "I wouldn't be so sure about that, Mr. Abbot. I believe that you are not the kind of lawyer who deals with the matter of murder too often, right?"
........."I am not, but how does that-"
........."Then how can you possibly explain your presence here? Do you mean to tell me that a woman like Mrs. Sonomar would hire a man like you to defend her in case of the violent death of her husband? Don't interrupt. The only reason I can think of is that you are somehow involved in this."
........."You still have nothing."
.........Mr. Wolfe wiggled his finger again. "Archie, didn't you say that there was a fingerprint on the wooden floor of the living room - right under the edge of the Persian rug?"
.........I think it should be cleared up that I didn't say such a thing and that Wolfe was only bluffing. If Mr. Abbot had paid greater attention, he would've realized that Mr. Wolfe should've asked Cramer about that, but since his mind was set on something else, he let it slide. I cleared my throat.
........."Yes, that's right. Anderson said that he wasn't able to match it to neither Mr. Sonomar nor his wife."
.........Wolfe nodded. "Then I suggest you compare it to those of Mr. Abbot. I am quite confident in saying that they would be a perfect match."
.........Abbot jumped up. "Alright, what do you want?"
........."Just to satisfy my client, who wishes to find the murderer of Mr. Sonomar. I suggest you both plead guilty. You and Mrs. Sonomar that is. There won't be a trial, and the DA's office will keep the whole proceeding quiet."
.........Abbot gulped and slowly sat back down. "Alright, alright. I'll talk to the D.A."
........."No need." Wolfe reached into one of his drawers and produced two forms. He set one in front of each of his our two suspects. "These are your plea deals, which I got straight from the DA's office. They're, of course, the reduced-fat charges."
.........The lawyer picked his up and read it. He tossed it back onto the table. "This just isn't acceptable. I'll lose my license; my client's reputation will be ruined. You need to come up with something better."
.........Mr. Wolfe raised his eyebrows. "Mr. Sonomar lost his life. I don't hear him complaining about a bad deal. Take it or face a jury."
......... "Damn you," said Abbot. He took a pen from his briefcase and held it over the paper for a moment. He looked up at Wolfe, then shifted his gaze to look at me and after deciding that I am not going to help him either, he looked back at Wolfe. He sighed and finally stabbed the paper, scribbling so hard that I got the impression of a savage trying to engrave his name into the tabletop.
.........He then passed the pen to Mrs. Sonomar. She merely looked at it and sat motionless.
........."I'm not signing anything," she said.
.........Both Abbot and Cramer shot her a look. "What?" they said in unison.
........."I haven't done anything wrong, so I won't confess to any wrongdoing." She shoved the paper and pen away.
........."Evelyn, you can't..." Abbot began.
........."Shut up, George. You're supposed to be the lawyer here, and you caved in. He manipulated you. He couldn't prove anything until you gave him an admission. You're fired."
........."Evelyn, you killed your husband! You have to take the deal, or they'll hang you."
........."Fine, you rat," she spat at him. Turning to Wolfe, she spoke again. "Yes, I shot my husband, after he caught me committing an adultery with Geoge here. He came in with a gun, raving and psychotic. Under those circumstances, I was completely justified. I committed no crime."
.........Cramer took over the role of an interrogator. "You lied in your statement. The information you gave then shows you had direct knowledge of the clean-up of the murder scene. At best, you're complicit in a conspiracy. At worst..."
.........Like a switch had been flipped, she changed from stone faced to sorrowful in an instant. Tears flowed free down her cheeks and great heaving sobs shook her whole body.
........."My husband is dead!" she shrieked. "I loved him, and now he's gone! Don't you understand?"
........."Oh I do. You just can't comprehend the idea that your actions have consequences. You're so used to getting what you want when you want it, you just expect it to happen." He was antagonizing her.
........."How dare you?" she said, still crying. "You have no idea what I'm going through, or how hard this has been. I'm a widow, for Christ's sake! Have you no shame?"
.........Cramer was watching her stream tears for a moment before looking over at Abbot.
........."How would you like to testify against her? You'll get a deal, of course, just a few years. Eight?"
.........Mrs. Sonomar glanced back and forth between them with open-mouthed horror. "You can't do this," she said.
.........None of the men paid her any attention. "I suppose, I could," said Abbot.
........."George," she said, "you can't do this to me. Please? I love you!"
.........But Abbot had already made up his mind. "I'll take the deal Inspector."
.........This time, Mrs. Sonomar was crying for real.
.........Wolfe slid the pen and paper back in front of her. "Ten years, Mrs. Sonomar. Ten year against a lifetime."
.........Several minutes went by, with all of us sitting in silence while Mrs. Sonomar cried her guilt away. At last, her breathing slowed, the sobbing subsided, and she raised her head.
........."I swear," she said, picking up the pen and signing the form, "I will make you pay for this."
.........The instant she was finished, Cramer snatched the paper away and immediately stood up. "Purley, take them in," he said walking out of the room. I went to bolt the door behind them and returned to the office in time to hear Miss Clarkson saying: "That was unethical, Mr. Wolfe."
 

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