A Murder in the Kitchen 2

1. march 2014 at 23:45 | Thalia Contostavlos
SECOND CHAPTER
Disclaimer: I don't own any recognizable characters
Warnings: none

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……I was sitting behind my desk, observing the commotion in the hallway, taking short breaks to get rid of the annoying journalists that kept ringing our doorbell while cursing the fact I couldn't disconnect it because now and then it was a policeman trying to get in, and answering questions the uniforms had about the layout of our house, when Purley Stebbins stuck his head through the door. He had a grin plastered on his face and I immediately felt like slapping it off.
……He couldn't help but needle me a bit: "You don't have the murderer yet? I would've thought you'd be investigating somewhere, isn't that what you private investigators do? Investigate?"
……I rolled my eyes, decided to ignore his excessive use of the word investigate and shot right back at him: "Nothing to investigate. I killed her, remember?"
……Purley scoffed at me. "You lazy bum. One day it'll be really you and we'll all think you're just joking again."
……I shrugged. "That's the idea. Have you already found out who she was?"
……He raised his eyebrows and sat down in front of my desk. "Watcha playing at, Goodwin? She told her name to your Brenner."
……"Yeah I know, but even you're not stupid enough to think that Sarah Parker was her real name, so who is she?"
……He stared at me for a while, his mouth slightly agape.
……And I realized he was actually stupid enough. "Oh boy. Oh boy, does Cramer know you're not working on it?"
……He scowled, which told me all I needed to know. Not one to leave a friend in a pickle however, I decided to give him a hand, if only to show off. "Alright, Purley, I think I might be able to help you here. See, I'll call my dear friend Lily Rowan and ask her if she recognizes the girl from a description I give her. If you're lucky, she will."
……"Why do you think your friend will know her?"
……Ignoring the doorbell ringing again I answered: "Didn't you see her clothes? Whoever that lady was, she was loaded. She must've been running in the same circles as Lily is."
……He didn't say anything but he did stop scowling at me, so I decided that was good enough for me and picked up the receiver.
……"Watch and learn," I said as I dialed Lily's number.
……It took us only four and a half minutes to figure out our dead woman was Isabelle Boots, née Carlisle, a twenty-three year old heiress of her grandfather's fortune with a fancy address on East 26th Street. Not even a year ago, she married Mr. Henry Boots, a widower whose late wife disappeared somewhere in the Caribbean four years ago and was proclaimed dead last March, a rich man with a majority share in a financial law firm. Isabelle spent most of her time sitting in Broadway theatres and strolling through Central Park with her best friend Sabina Townsand. She was a nice girl who loved the luxurious life she led but was a bit naïve as to who she associated with. Lily thought that she's gotten ripped off by some stock broker at the beginning of the year but she wasn't sure. She also wasn't sure about the stock broker's name but thought it sounded something like Jay Carry or James Barry. I told all of this to Purley and sent him off so he could brag in front of the Inspector.
……Not even three seconds after Purley left, the house phone rang. I picked it up.
……"You solved it already, sir?"
……There was a rustle to be heard on the other side before a gruff voice said:"Pfui, Archie. Do they already know who she was?"
……I nodded even though he couldn't see me. "They do. Do you want me to tell you?"
……Wolfe made only a soft snorting noise as an answer to my ridiculous question and waited me out till I finally lost my nerve and emptied the bag. I told him everything I've heard the police mention, filled him in on what Lily said and also complained about the constant ringing at our door, getting interrupted in the middle of my speech by said ringing. He listened carefully to everything I had to say, made a few humming sounds during my recount and when I was finished he barked out at me to get Saul to help me before hanging up.
……I frowned at the receiver, suppressing an urge to stick out my tongue, deeming it too childish. You see, my employer never had a very good telephone etiquette but this was boarding on ridiculous. I decided to wait at least an hour before actually calling our favorite operative just to spite Wolfe, I stuck to it for five minutes, got interrupted by the doorbell and then called him right away. Spiting Wolfe be damned.
……I most surely woke up our best operative, for the grunt that encountered me right after he picked up sounded like something between a dying moose and a hiccupping tractor.
……"Sorry, wrong number," I told him, "I thought this was my friend Saul, not old MacDonald's farm."
……"Archie?"
……"Yep, it's me. We have a bit of a situation here. You free for a date?"
……He grumbled something that could've been "I'll be right there" just as "I don't really care" and hung up on me before I could question him on it. I rolled my eyes making a mental note to talk to both him and Wolfe about what is acceptable social behavior and what is not, then went to the kitchen to check on the progress the police was making.
……They were apparently holding a party over the dead woman's body, because I caught Lieutenant Rowcliffe chuckling at something Sergeant Collins said, at the same time as three uniformed officers were chatting at our kitchen table and Purley Stebbins chewing on something he must've found in our fridge. I couldn't help but put a dumper on their moods, because I felt that the idea of them enjoying themselves while Wolfe was upstairs sulking, was preposterous.
……"You do realize you're practically spewing crumbles in her hair, Purley, don't you?"
……Everybody stopped what they were doing and shot me an annoyed look. Rowcliffe was the first to voice his thoughts: "Look Goodwin, the sooner you let us do our job the quicker do we leave your humble abode. So leave off for now and stop bugging us with your so called wit."
……I raised my eyebrows at him, deciding to up the ante: "Do you even know what abode means?"
……The only thing that saved me from Rowcliffe's wrath was, surprisingly, the doorbell ringing.
……"Sorry, I'd love to chat with you but I really have to get that."
……After that, it took another three trips to our front door, shooing the newspapermen away, for me to finally see Saul's face.
……"Well, well, well, you did say you'll be right here after all."
……He gave me an amused look, not seeming to be the least bit tired as he took off his coat. "It took me a while to get through the crowd outside, you think you can bring me up to speed?"
……I thought I could do that, so I told him everything I thought he needed to know, omitting only the reason why Wolfe wasn't coming down.
……We were sitting at my desk, when I finally finished my tale. Predictably, Saul looked intrigued as he leaned forward, keeping his voice quiet. "Alright, Archie. Now tell me, what's really going on with Mr. Wolfe."
……I sighed. I didn't get explicit instructions as to what to tell him and what not but I felt like Wolfe would want to leave the 'feeble bit of paper' to himself, so I gave Saul what I gave Cramer: "I told you, Wolfe's sensitive mind and his pride has crumbled under the pressure of having a third dead body in as many years in his house and he needs to rest."
……He leaned even closer and whispered: "Do you think someone's listening in on us or do you just not trust me?"
……I sighed. "You know I trust you with my life. But this business? Wolfe and I, we have honestly no idea what we're doing here."
……Saul looked as if he wanted to say something else to complain but the phone interrupted us.
……"Nero Wolfe's office, Archie Goodwin speaking."
……There was an unfamiliar female voice on the other side telling me her name was Sabina Townsand and that she would like to meet with Mr. Wolfe. I told her to come at eleven the next morning because I thought there was a pretty good chance the police would be all done by then, she agreed and thanked me for my time, which I thought was nice of her, and we both hung up.
……I looked at Saul, who was currently headed to answer the door instead of me for once, a pleased grin plastered on my face, and thought to myself that we might actually get something out of this after all. For Sabina Townsand was loaded too.
 

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