A Murder in the Kitchen 1

13. february 2014 at 16:27 | Thalia Contostavlos
FIRST CHAPTER
Disclaimer: I don't own any recognizable characters
Warnings: none

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……It was half past six on Friday evening that found me mulling about our feeble bank account balance as I was walking down the West 35th Street on my way back from a pre-scheduled visit of the National Bank of America. I was about two hundred feet away, when I noticed the commotion in front of our brownstone. I didn't know what had happened but I could tell it was nothing good, since our porch was crawling with policemen coming in and out of our home and the sidewalk was full of reporters.
……I noticed a few homicide cops amongst the ruckus and Lon Cohen in the crowd of newspapermen. This could literally mean only one thing and I didn't like it a bit. In the past three years, it's happened exactly twice, that a person was murdered in our brownstone and in both occasions it took days for Mr. Wolfe to recover. First it was Miss Bertha Aaron, a confidential secretary of one of the most respected law firms in New York, strangled with Wolfe's necktie while we were up in the plant rooms discussing whether we wanted her as a client or not. Then it was Miss Cynthia Brown, young girl who had seen her friend's murderer and managed to tell me exactly and only that, before she got offed herself.
……And now here we were again. I straightened up a bit and headed straight for the closest dick to ask him: "So, what happened here?"
……He was curt with me. "I can't tell you that, sir."
……"Sure you can, I live here."
……He didn't budge. "Yeah well, anyone could say that."
……I wanted to give him a little piece of my mind about general politeness, when I noticed Purley Stebbins standing a few meters away and decided it wasn't worth the trouble. "Hey Purley! What's going on?"
……A pleased smirk appeared on his face. "Oh don't you know? There's another dead woman inside your little love nest."
……I knew this was coming but I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach anyway. "You're kidding right?"
……He shook his head amusedly. "I couldn't make this up even if I tried to. I don't have that big of an imagination, Goodwin."
……I opened my mouth to say something else but couldn't think of anything appropriate, so I shut it again and followed Purley into the house. He led me through the hallway and straight into the kitchen. The sight that greeted me in there would've been quite amusing had it been anyone else's house. There, in the middle of the floor, lay a woman with a kitchen knife sticking out of her chest and over her body stood Lieutenant Rowcliffe with smirk on his face, writing in his little leather-bound notebook.
……I couldn't help but remark on it. "Oh dear, I don't know which is worse, the dead body on the floor or you standing over it looking happy."
……He turned to me. "Ah, we've missed you, Goodwin. You murdered this one too?"
……I didn't grace that with an answer since the rightful murderers of the other two girls were currently eating porridge in one of our finest women's prison facilities and I didn't feel the need to defend myself.
……Instead I shrugged as I looked around the kitchen. There were unfinished sandwiches on the counter and pigeons on a tray waiting to be stuffed. I sighed. "Well, at least I had lunch today."
……"I didn't realize murder is something to joke about," he said and I thought it was kind of hypocritical since he was the one smirking just a moment ago. I was just about to tell him that, when I heard the unmistakable voice of Inspector Cramer giving out orders out in the hallway and I decided he might be a tad more pleasant to talk to. I left Rowcliffe to his own business and went in search of the good inspector. I didn't have to look hard because he was standing right outside the kitchen.
……I waved him over and fired at him before he could ask me anything: "I have two questions, what happened and where's Wolfe?"
……He looked me up and down and frowned. "Where were you?"
……I sighed. "Look inspector, I know this is a third time you've been called to investigate a murder in our brownstone and I respect that you're running the investigation here. Right now though, you don't have me to tell you why she was murdered nor do you have any reason to suspect me. Now, I suppose you'll want our full cooperation, so why don't you give me what you have so I can properly cooperate?"
……He sized me up again but found no fault with my reasoning, so he emptied the bag. The victim came to our brownstone at approximately quarter past five and gave Fritz Brenner the name of Sarah Parker. Our cook and an occasional doorman seated her in the front room and went to prepare the French-stuffed pigeons we were about to have for dinner. At exactly twenty to six, Fritz started feeling sorry for the poor woman who was left sitting in our front room till Wolfe came down, so he went to offer her some homemade sandwiches. She accepted his offer but insisted to join him in the kitchen and keep him company. At five to ten, the doorbell rang. When Fritz went to answer the door however, there was no one on the porch nor was there anyone on the sidewalk. Fritz looked up and down our street but didn't see anyone who might've wanted to enter our brownstone, so went back inside. As he passed the back door, he noticed it was opened, so he closed it again and then entered the kitchen. The sight that met him wasn't pretty, it was actually pretty bad. Fritz only managed to call Mr. Wolfe before he hit the floor.
……"The fat genius managed to rouse him with a glass of bourbon, called our office to tell us what happened and went back upstairs to lock himself in his room. He refuses to talk to anyone unless they have a warrant," Cramer finished his tale and frowned at the ceiling as if he could see right through it and glare at Wolfe.
……I made a broad gesture with my hands. "Oh, well then, maybe he'll talk to me."
……I started down the hallway towards the stairs, when the inspector called after me: "Wait Goodwin, I'm coming with ya."
……I turned back to look at him. "Look inspector, with all due respect, if he hasn't talked to you till now, he's probably not gonna suddenly change his mind. So you being there with me wouldn't help anything. I promise that if I manage to talk him into communicating with you, I'll bring him down to the office."
……Cramer sighed but didn't say anything else, so I ascended the stairs and went to knock on Mr. Wolfe's door, announcing myself, so that he wouldn't ignore me. He didn't answer me but there was some shuffling to be heard so I wasn't worried too much. After at least two minutes, the lock clicked and I could stick my head in. I say I could stick my head in, because I couldn't fully enter until I climbed over two bedside tables, an armchair and a wooden chair.
……"Sir? You've actually barricaded yourself in here, you're expecting a cavalry?"
……He scowled at me.
……I went on: "I don't know if you noticed but there's a dead body in our kitchen, Fritz is useless and so are the pigeons we were about to have for dinner, the place is crawling with cops and I'm all alone to deal with it. So if you think you could grace us with your presence downstairs and talk to the nice inspector-"
……"Archie, sit down."
……"Or we can just stay here and chat."
……"I'm not coming downstairs and I'm certainly not going to talk to the police."
……I sighed. "Why is that?"
……Instead of answering, Wolfe pulled out a folded piece of paper and handed it over to me. It was a common telegram paper from Western Union, folded in half. On it was a short message:
……"I wish to consult you today
……evening for I fear for my life.
………………………..….Miss Parker"

……As telegrams went, it wasn't very informative nor was it too imaginative. I looked at Wolfe to gauge what he was thinking but he was still scowling at me. "You do realize Parker is most likely not her real name, don't you?"
……"Of course."
……I nodded. "And you don't want the police to see this why? It's not like you could've known she was going to be murdered. She didn't tell you anything."
……"No, but this, this feeble bit of paper is not only insulting, it's preposterous! What did she expect me to do? Find her soon-to-be killer and deliver him to the police before she even visited me? Pfui! The police mustn't know of this. A woman ordering me around. Did you read it? I wish to consult you, she says, what the devil do I care?"
……"Alright, I can understand that. What do you want to do now? You can't play dead for too long, sooner or later the cops will get a warrant."
……He flailed his hands uselessly for a second. "Tell them I'm ill, tell them I went mad, tell them I'm expecting a fit of hysteria, tell them something, anything."
……"They won't fall for either one of that."
……"Well, invent something then, you're good at that."
……I stood up and went over to the door. "Alright, I'll think of something on my way down the stairs. I'll tell Fritz to serve pancakes for breakfast tomorrow, so that he can shove it under the door. You want to stand up and lock the door after me?"
……Wolfe got up slowly from his armchair.
……"Good night, sir."
……I waited for him to lock the door behind me and then slowly descended the stairs. The way I understood things, Wolfe's pride was hurt by that telegram and he didn't want the police to know about it. He couldn't even talk to them because he'd have to mention the fact Miss Whatever-was-her-name expected to get murdered, otherwise he'd be withholding evidence. As it was now, he was pretending not to be withholding anything and it was ridiculous. Especially if he expected to solve the case from inside of his bedroom before the inspector found a way to get him out of there and question him.
……Inspector Cramer was standing at the foot of the stairs, hands on his hips and a cigar in his mouth.
……"Where is he?"
……"He's not coming down. He said to tell you his sensitive mind and his pride has crumbled under the pressure of having a third dead body in as many years in his house and that he needs to rest. Sorry, I tried."
……"Yeah, right," he didn't buy any of it but he seemed to be too busy to argue with me because he just moved his cigar from one side of his mouth to the other and left to talk to one of his sergeants.
 

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