A Murder in the Kitchen 3

19. april 2014 at 19:31 | Thalia Contostavlos
THIRD CHAPTER
Disclaimer: I don't own any recognizable characters
Warnings: none

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……The next morning my alarm clock woke me up after only four hours of sleep at exactly eight in the morning and I groaned. Nothing remarkable happened, so I tried groaning a bit louder and this time a car down on the street honked. It startled me so much I decided to skip my morning routine of whining about getting up and went straight to take a shower and shave.
……When I finally made it down to our kitchen, there was an unpleasant surprise waiting for me. Apparently I was the first one awake because Fritz was nowhere to be found, M. Wolfe doesn't wake up without our cook bringing him his breakfast at ten past eight and the smell of Saul's first morning cigarette was also missing. I debated what to do for about twenty seconds and then decided that if we are to entertain Miss Townsand at eleven o'clock that morning, we should all get back to our normal routine as fast as possible and with as little confusion as possible.
……It was a first for me. Not that I've never before been in Fritz's room, because there were number of times in the past where I had to not only go inside but also lead in a couple of cops, but it's never happened with Fritz present, let alone asleep. I decided that the safest and least intrusive way to go about this delicate business was to simply call Fritz name and see where it gets me.
……"Fritz?" I tried barely above whisper, and realized right away it's not going to work. I tried again, this time louder. Nothing. When not even my third attempt was successful, I decided to change tactics.
……"Mr. Wolfe decided to use our finest Iberian ham to make some ham and cheese sandwiches!"
……I don't know if it was the tone or the words but Fritz shot out of the bad like a bullet. He went all green for a second, then looked at the clock and turned white. I decided not to remark upon his ability to change colors and went on to remind him of his responsibilities. Don't get me wrong, I didn't mean to be insensitive but I figured he'd be much better off not thinking about what he saw in the kitchen last night and concentrating on what should be in the kitchen this morning.
……When Fritz was finally back on his track, I went upstairs to inform Wolfe that if he wishes to have a breakfast and still be in the plant rooms at nine, he should get dressed first instead of eating in his pajamas as usual. He reluctantly agreed. Reluctantly, because he hates any changes in his daily routine but he did agree, because when I told him what exactly it took for Fritz to get up, he felt sorry for him. I left Wolfe where he was sitting on his bed, unbuttoning his large yellow sleeping shirt and went on to wake up the last occupant of our brownstone. I found Saul snoring in the office on our yellow leather couch.
……I managed to call him a sleeping beauty, kiss him on the forehead and poke him in the ribs before he woke up.
……"You are quite the watchdog, Saul. There could have been a dozen murderers dancing on Wolfe's desk and you would be still snoring away."
……He rolled his eyes. "I woke up at eight when a car honked outside and I heard you shuffling upstairs. I let my guard down."
……Now it was my turn to roll my eyes. "I don't shuffle, I strut, ask Mr. Wolfe."
……"Yeah right, what's for breakfast?"
……"PI lessons for you."
……He snorted and pulled out a Pharaoh cigarette. Before he could light it, I snatched it out of his grasp. "Eggs Benedict, they should be ready in about five minutes," I told him after glancing at my watch, then I tugged the smoke behind one of his considerable ears and with the words "take this outside" I strutted out of the office.
……I was almost in the kitchen when Saul called after me. "I say you shuffle."
……I didn't get time to shoot back anything witty because he closed the front door a second later, so I told Fritz that Saul likes his English muffins real crispy, which he does not, and volunteered to carry Mr. Wolfe's breakfast tray upstairs.
……Wolfe was already dressed when I entered his room for the second time that morning.
……"Good morning, Archie."
……I stopped in my tracks. "Did we not already bid each other good morning?"
……He shook his head as he beckoned me towards him. He sniffed at his Hollandaise sauce. "Didn't you promise me pancakes?"
……I decided not to comment on that and he went on: "No Archie, if I remember correctly , you said something along the lines of 'wakey wakey you fat sunflower'."
……I cringed at his wording. "I'm fairly sure I said large, not fat, sir. And good morning to you too."
……He nodded as he inspected his silverware. "Any news concerning Miss Boots?"
……"Her friend Miss Townsand will call upon us at eleven. She's suitable as a potential client in regards of money, as for her involvement in Isabelle's murder, I can't tell you."
……Wolfe frowned. "What about her husband?"
……I shrugged. "I understand that you'd much rather deal with a male client but there wasn't a peep from him all night."
……Wolfe frowned even more. "Then we shall wait for him to call I don't need another woman frolicking about this house."
……"This is nuts. How many women were already killed in this house? You do realize that people know you hate women? They might start to think that you're killing them all off and then just blaming it on someone else. God knows you're genius enough to pull it off. I say we should take whatever we get at this point."
……He didn't say anything to disagree, and I decided to take that as a victory.
……When I got back downstairs, Saul was already back inside frowning at his eggs Benedict. I graciously offered to trade with him, but he told me he'd take whatever he deserved after his "shuffling comment" and we both finished off our breakfast minutes later.
……The next two hours were busy for both of us. We were trying to clean up the mess we didn't have energy to last night in order to prepare the house for our guest. I'm not going to bother you with a detailed description of all of our chores, it would not only take up a whole lot of space but it wouldn't prove anything other than we were both exhausted at the end of it all.
……The doorbell rang only three minutes after Mr. Wolfe came downstairs and sent Saul to the Front room so he could catch up on some much needed sleep, which didn't give us much time to come up with a good strategy. Well, any strategy that is. And as soon as Sabina Townsand sat down in our red leather chair, it was obvious we could've used one. She was good looking, in her late twenties and had very sharp eyes that gave you the feeling, she could see everything.
……She went straight to the point. "I want to hire you to find Isabelle's murderer. God knows that mingy old man won't give a dime to find out who did it."
……"Mingy old man?"
……"Mr. Boots, her husband, of course. If I didn't know any better I would say he killed her."
……"And he didn't?"
……"He doesn't have the courage nor does he have the brains to do something like that."
……Mr. Wolfe nodded slowly. "And you do?"
……She shook her head affirmatively without any hesitation. "Of course."
……My employer pursed his lips slightly. "Miss Townsand, how do I know that you yourself didn't murder her?"
……I had to give it to her, she didn't even flinch. "I'll tell you this, if it was me, you get to tell the police and you still get paid. Is that guarantee enough?"
……Wolfe frowned and looked at me. "Archie?"
……I shrugged. "I believe her."
……"She didn't kill her?"
……I shrugged again. "I say she didn't"
……"Are you sure?"
……"No," I turned to Miss Townsand, "are you sure you didn't kill her?"
……She gulped and looked disbelievingly at me. Her voice took on a choking quality when she answered: "Am I sure? Are you serious?"
……It was the first time she showed any kind of emotion that morning and I was inclined to believe her at that point. "She didn't kill her," I told Wolfe.
……He nodded with a satisfied expression on his face. "Very well, tell us what you know, Miss Townsand. For instance, did your friend feel concerned about her safety?"
……She frowned. "Why do you say that? Did she tell you anything?"
……"No madam, I have never met her and therefore she couldn't have told me anything. It was a mere question."
……"Yes but why did you ask it?"
……Wolfe scowled. "Miss Townsand, I am the one asking questions here, if you please. It was an innocent one, I assure you. There is a method behind my enquiries, I acquiesce, however those methods are what differs me from the police and presumably why you came to me. Do you agree?"
……I personally thought it was a bit hypocritical of him, since the police had no way of knowing Isabelle felt she needed to fear for her life, but I didn't comment on it. We live off Wolfe's reputation as a genius, so it would do no good to mess with it.
……Miss Townsand apparently felt the same way. "Yes, of course. Pardon me. It's just, Isabelle seemed bit off to me yesterday and I was surprised you guessed it."
……"It wasn't an uneducated guess, I assure you. Your friend came to visit me, therefore it makes sense to assume she was in some kind of trouble. On the top of that, she ended up being stabbed to death. A fear for her life would be logical."
……After that, it took us nearly three hours to squeeze every useful bit of information out of Sabina, which left us with only half an hour to discuss everything before lunch. We found out that Isabelle was considerably happy in her marriage to Henry Boots despite Sabina having her reservations about it. Our victim did have a few relationships other than her husband, though we were assured they were all purely platonic. One of these acquaintances was Mr. Ben Dursley, a stock broker from Jersey who lured a certain amount of money out of Isabelle under the excuse of investing them and bought a very nice car few weeks later. I made a mental note to tell Lily that Dursley sounds nothing like Carry or Barry, as well as to take a good look at said car when I go talk to him. Another one of her purely platonic amoreux was Major Carlos Sanchez, a Mexican soldier who had the opportunity to travel on the Titanic, when he was twelve years old. I felt really pleased that a man twelve years my senior had the same military rank as I did, so I decided to be nice to him when I get around to question him. Wolfe and I also agreed that I should call upon Henry Boots just to see whether he noticed his wife was dead, as well as to ask him if he minded.
……As for what our victim was up to the day she died, we had a pretty decent recount. She allegedly got up at five o'clock because her maid woke her up when she dropped a vase right outside her mistress' room. Isabelle spent the next two hours reading in bed, while her husband was happily snoring away. She then called Sabina to set up a breakfast date and went to her dressing room to get dolled up. We know all this because she mentioned it to Miss Townsand over their breakfast. She then told her she was on her way to check up on her grandfather's grave before she went to the Russian Tea Room to have lunch with Major Sanchez. Mrs. Boots didn't tell her friend what she wished to do after that but since she most likely went to the post office to send my employer the wretched telegram, it wasn't surprising. Isabelle then called Sabina at about four o'clock from the dance club Flamingo, where she wanted to hold her birthday celebration and was sealing the deal with the owner, to tell her she would be a bit late for their evening outing to the Central Park. That's most likely because she knew she was going to be too busy getting murdered to be bothered to come on time.
 

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