A Job in the Museum 6

4. september 2013 at 14:57 | Thalia Contostavlos

LAST CHAPTER
Disclaimer: I don't own any recognizable characters
Warnings: none


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......At exactly twenty-eight seconds after eight, Wolfe entered the office to see everybody except Mr. Gravey, who was still stored in our front room, already sitting in their seats, or in Stebbins' case standing by the wall, with refreshments in their hands.
......"Good evening, ladies and gentleman," he began, completely ignoring the fact that there was only one lady in the whole room, "thank you all for coming here tonight."
......There was a chorus of "good evenings" to be heard before Wolfe continued: "I'm afraid I have yet to meet three of you." He looked directly at the museum employees. "You are Mr. Winston, you are obviously Miss Strauss and you are Mr. Cooper, am I right?"
......They all nodded because, honestly, it was hard not to get it right and Wolfe contently sat down behind his desk to ring for a beer. Once Fritz brought it and my employer gulped down half of it, the party started for real.
......"Let me begin with describing the whole situation to you first. Mr. Everson came to me yesterday morning in need of a professional detective work because, as you all already know, the late Mrs. Lincoln's necklace has been stolen from his museum three nights ago and the police haven't been able to find a single thing so far."
......I saw Cramer smirk at that, possibly because it wasn't his police department that has just been insulted, and winked at him.
......Wolfe continued: "After I heard all Mr. Everson had to say about the matter, I decided to accept the case and I sent my faithful assistant, Mr. Goodwin here, to interview Mr. Winston, Miss Strauss and Mr. Cooper right away. To fully comprehend what facts were presented to me, it would serve us immensely to hear the conversations in their full extent. Archie, would you mind?"
......I tried not to show that this turn of events was a surprise to me and therefore that I hadn't prepared any verbatim and had to rely completely on my immediate memory, and nodded. It took me nearly two hours to finish repeating the conversations and that was only because I cut off all the unnecessary prattle Mr. Winston subjected me to that had absolutely nothing to do with our case.
......After I finished, Mr. Wolfe took his word once again: "How precise was your interpretation, Archie?"
......"Ninety-eight percent, I would say."
......"Very well, based on Mr. Goodwin's interpretation, I became very suspicious of one of the museum employees."
......He went on to say something else but was interrupted by Mr. Everson: "One of my people? Impossible, Mr. Wolfe! None of my people would murder anyone, I am sure of that."
......Wolfe nodded. "And however naive I consider that belief to be, you are right in this case. Your employee has merely been an accomplice in a crime committed by someone else."
......Cramer spoke up: "So the employee you're talking about isn't the murderer?"
......Let me explain the presence of Inspector Cramer at this point. Had this case remained a simple theft, Wolfe would've just explained everything to our client, given him all the evidence he had and would've been more than happy to let me handle the police and their interrogations. In other words, he would not invite any policemen into his office so that they could brag about solving the case afterwards. Since this matter turned into a murder case though, Wolfe overcame his usual malice towards the police in general and he himself actually called the inspector to invite him to our party. This didn't mean that our relationship with Manhattan Homicide was any better than with the other departments but Inspector Cramer, despite all of our differences, was considered to be some kind of friend in our household and therefore it was only polite to include him.
......"No, the murderer and the employee are not the same person, inspector."
......Cramer's cheeks reddened. "Then why the hell am I here? You said you had the murderer."
......Wolfe took a sip from his glass. "And I do have him." He motioned to Saul. "Mr. Panzer, if you please?"
......Saul got up from when he was sitting on our sofa, took a key from me and went to unlock the door to the front room. Everybody's eyes were glued to the door, except for Wolfe who used this opportunity to finish his beer and for me. I was watching the three employees for any signs of recognition on their faces when they first see the murderer.
......My observations, however, were proved to be useless because when Mr. Gravey entered the office, all three of the employees immediately recognized him, as they should've, because they all saw him get frisked by the guards and the police right after the necklace was stolen. I admit, I could've realized that, had I thought about it a little, but I was really desperate to find out who's X by this time and common sense was leaving me.
......It was Mr. Everson who commented first: "That's impossible. He was properly searched by the police on his way out, there was no way he could've stolen the necklace. The police must be even more incompetent than I thought!"
......Five things happened at once after his exclamation, Cramer winced at the harsh comment, Mr. Wolfe raised his eyebrows, Saul's hand twitched towards his gun, Mr. Unemployed barked out a laugh and the mantel clock chimed ten.
......"Sit down, Mr. Gravey," said Wolfe when the clock finished, waited for Saul to drag Gravey to the remaining kitchen chair and then turned to look at our client, "Let me explain everything. To react to your accusation of incompetence, even though I would normally agree with you, it wasn't the officers' fault that Mr. Gravey was able to steal the necklace for it left the room long before they even arrived at the scene."
......Now it was Cramer who asked the obvious question. "How did he do it then?"
......Wolfe's lips twitched. "It was very clever move on his part, I admit, but still not clever enough because Mr. Goodwin was able to uncover his trick in the first few minutes he spent in the museum."
......Mr. Everson jumped up from where he sat. "He did? Why didn't he tell me, then? I was standing right next to him the whole time."
......I shrugged. "I did tell you, sort of."
......Wolfe frowned at me. "Archie, please." He then looked at back at our client. "Mr. Everson, forgive me. To answer your question, the necklace was taken from its place and brought over to the window, where it was dropped down onto the parking lot only to be retrieved minutes later."
......Instead of appreciating Wolfe's explanation, Mr. Everson looked accusingly at Gravey. "He dropped it from a window? On a concrete? Are you insane, you fool?"
......I stepped in between our client and the thief to ensure everybody's safety, while Wolfe continued: "Calm down, Mr. Everson, please. No diamond is going to break while being dropped on anything."
......People in our office started talking over each other, all excitedly commenting on this turn of events. The voice of police Inspector Cramer rose above all: "Excuse me, but is no one really interested in the fact this man is a murderer? To hell with a sodding necklace! Tell me why he killed the guard so I can wrap it up."
......Wolfe waved his hand patiently. "I will get to that, inspector, if you please. After Mr. Gravey dropped the necklace and subjected himself to two personal searches, he went to the private parking lot expecting to see the diamond necklace on the ground. Instead of that, however, he saw a truck from Western Ceramics co. presumably speeding away with the necklace he so unlawfully considered his. Now, I can't possibly know that with a hundred percent certainty but the course of action he took afterwards fully supports this presumption for Mr. Gravey decided to search for said truck. I am sure he didn't use the same way Mr. Goodwin did and didn't call the company itself but with a little bit of work you will certainly be able to learn how exactly did he go about finding the truck. The truth is, he did find it in the end, parked in the South Street Seaport. That is where Mr. Goodwin found it only hours later with a dead man's body next to it."
......"I know why I wasn't buying the friend story," grumbled Cramer.
......Wolfe ignored him. "Archie, would you please give the inspector what you've found in Mr. Gravey's motel room along with the whole story of how you found it?"
......I pulled out the handkerchief-wrapped gun and passed it over to Cramer along with the whole tale as requested. When I finished, it was already quarter to eleven.
......Cramer looked very satisfied with my job, asking only a few questions along the way and nodding contently at Stebbins. Just as Cramer started to get up to take care of Gravey, Wolfe pulled the other rabbit out of his hat. "Mr. Cramer, there is more than just one culprit as I've already mentioned, sit down."
......The inspector did just that and Wolfe continued. "There is another person that desperately needed money. A person that was also very easy to manipulate as Mr. Goodwin unintentionally found out during their conversation. A person that tried to provide as much distraction as possible, while Mr. Gravey was stealing the necklace. A person you'll have to arrest as well for accessory to murder."
......Mr. Everson got impatient. "Cease the games, Mr. Wolfe. Who is it?"
......Mr. Wolfe shot him a glare, probably annoyed that he dared to interrupt his speech. "The person helping Mr. Gravey in his criminal activities was Miss Strauss."
......After this statement, all hell broke loose. Miss Strauss started hysterically yelling that it was not true and that she would sue Wolfe the first chance she gets; Stebbins went to stand over her; Gravey started laughing yet again confirming my suspicion he belonged to some psychiatric facility; Mr. Everson leapt from his chair, presumably on his way to throttle Miss Strauss; I went to restrain him while Saul tried to calm down Mr. Unemployed; Mr. Winston and Jimmy Cooper went to refill their glasses with Scotch Whisky and finally Wolfe moved his left hand about an inch to the left to rest it on the armrest.
......It took us about eight minutes to calm everybody down again and Wolfe could continue with his performance. "As soon as I've heard about the theft, I knew it wasn't work of one person. The one who actually performed the theft must have logically been one of the visitors but the accomplice responsible for the needed distractions, lipstick stain on one of the tags, a conversation with the guard, had to be someone else. I first started to suspect Miss Strauss when I heard about the lipstick for only someone working at the museum could've known about Mr. Everson's habit of cleaning the tags and she was the only woman working at the museum who was present in the room. My suspicions were more or less confirmed after I listened to Mr. Goodwin's report of his interview with her. Archie, would you mind repeating what followed after she said Mr. Winston was practically deaf?"
......I nodded. "I asked her, why chat with him then, and she answered with: a girl's gotta do what she's gotta do."
......Wolfe nodded. "Yes, which suggests she was either ordered to chat with him or she felt she must for some reason. There is no rule that says one has to talk to his coworkers, although it does make life admittedly easier, so I inferred that Miss Strauss was ordered by someone else to distract the guard."
......Carla Strauss had to voice her opinion again: "That's no proof, you fool. You have nothing. You can't have anything because I didn't do it. That's no proof!"
......Mr. Wolfe rang for another beer. "I never said it was, Miss Strauss. It merely supplied me with a suspicion about who the accomplice was. You desperately needed some money to leave your mother's apartment and buy some place where you can live with Mr. Gravey. What assured me that presumption was correct was Mr. Panzer's most successful errand. Would you mind describing it for us, Saul?"
......The detective in question shook his head. "Not at all, sir."
......I rolled my eyes at him as he started his very interesting narration of him sending an anonymous note to now not-so-mysterious X. When Wolfe had his beer and Saul finally finished, Miss Strauss laughed bitterly and attempted to stand up only to be shoved back down by Purley.
......"That doesn't prove anything as well, Mr. Wolfe. I thought it was my friend sending me that note. I was very confused when she didn't show up."
......Mr. Wolfe smiled. "The fact that afterwards you went to the exact same motel that Mr. Gravey lived in is however quite telling, is it not?"
......Gravey finally lost his temper: "Ya little hussy! I told ya not to contact me in any way and ya not only came but brought a group of shamuses with ya! Are ya stupid?"
......I let out a sigh of relief and I suspected that so did Wolfe because what we had certainly wasn't enough to convict Carla of anything, no matter how hard Wolfe tried to convince our guests of the opposite. Inspector Cramer however seemed satisfied as he ordered Stebbins to handcuff her and he himself went to Mr. Unemployed. On his way out, he turned to look back at Wolfe and shook his head.
......"You can't just pull the rabbit out of the hat, you have to pull the hat out of the rabbit."
......I laughed at that and went to see him and his captives out. When I returned to the office, Mr. Everson was just handing Wolfe his cheque in exchange for Mrs. Lincoln's diamond necklace, Saul was sitting on the corner of my desk grinning stupidly and Mr. Winston with Jimmy Cooper were on their third glass of Scotch. No one seemed to realize it was already thirteen minutes after midnight and you can't blame me for not having the heart to mention it. I merely motioned for Saul to come with me as I headed for the basement in need of some good old pool game.
 


Comments

1 Akiyama Kara | Web | 5. september 2013 at 17:00 | React

Absolutely enchanting! I can barely talk about the grammar or something, like I do in Czech poetry. But I saw something what is confusing for me. Your story is in past simple, I guess. In English books I red, there was mostly Present Perfect. My english in not really good, but could I ask if it is common? :D

Ps.: Nádherný design! :3

2 Thalia Contostavlos | Email | Web | 5. september 2013 at 17:39 | React

[1]: Honestly, it's up to the author which tense he decides to use. It's just a difference in someone's writing style. It's certainly correct either way :)

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