Mary Had A Little Lamb: Chapter Eight
An Ah-Ha Moment for Yours Truly
It happened while I was out feeding the quail.
The final direction of this story.
And most of you won’t be pleased with it.
This story will be Part I of a book . . . a book with some title like “The Magician’s Cape Casts Its Shadow” or something like that.
I’ll let you chew on that for awhile. Meanwhile, there will be a few more chapters here online to whet your appetite.
Clueless in Olympia
“We have no evidence,” Dawn said over coffee at The Spar Restaurant. Outside the restaurant, storm Number Three in a series of summer storms was hammering the sidewalk traffic, making life miserable for mothers with strollers and the homeless with nothing. “We don’t have enough to get the prosecutor to charge Briton or his friends with anything. We’re dangerously close to a harassment charge. Hell, we don’t really have enough to even pull them in for questioning, and we sure can’t get a judge to issue a search warrant. We are officially screwed!”
She was right! We had suspicions. Our gut said that Bitron was our man, but Mister Bitron had five solid alibis, and one of those alibis was from none other than Thomas Braun, a rather famous criminal attorney in Olympia with considerable social standing. If we pushed much harder, Dawn and I would find ourselves at the wrong end of a harassment suit, and that would ultimately lead to a loss of our detective shields.
The rain continued to fall.
“Not screwed, Dawn,” I said between bites of my omelet. “We do the screwing, partner. The bad guys don’t get that luxury. I think we should politely ask Mister Braun if he and his client would be so kind as to come in and answer some questions.”
“Why would they do that, Bill? What possible reason would they have to take that risk?”
One of the mothers, pushing her stroller, flipped off a bus driver outside.
“Because I think they are dying to do so, Dawn. I think their egos are demanding that they face off with us. They want badly to show us how clever they are, and they want to laugh in our faces. This is all about ego. This is all about them declaring to the world that they are smarter than any of us, and they can do whatever they want with immunity. Yes, for sure, I think they will meet with us. Hell, let’s find out.”
I pulled out my phone and called Braun & Braun Law. I asked the saccharin-sweet receptionist if I could speak to Thomas Braun, explained who I was, pressed upon her the importance of the call.
Ten seconds later I had the great man on the phone. One minute later I had a promise that he and Bitron would be happy to speak to us at one p.m. in our office.
My first reaction when they walked into our office? I wanted to pull out my department-issue Glock 19 and squeeze off two rounds. Five-and-a-half pounds of pressure on the trigger would send a nine-millimeter round out of the barrel at eleven-hundred feet-per-second. The City’s problems would be over in five seconds with just the clean-up to follow.
They were smug.
They were annoyingly polite.
I was positive they were guilty.
We shook hands and I invited them to sit. Dawn left for a moment and then returned with coffee for all.
Bitron was in a warm-up suit, like we were interrupting some workout. Braun was power suit all the way, Brooks probably, an easy grand in threads.
“Thank you for taking the time to talk with us, gentlemen,” I started. “We won’t take up any more of your time than necessary. The last time we saw each other there was a gathering at Mister Bitron’s home. May I ask what that gathering was about?”
“Certainly, Detective,” Braun said. “We all meet once each week to discuss magic. We are, I guess you could say, amateur magicians. We try out new magic tricks on each other at our meetings. I’m sure others would find it a bit boring, but for the six of us it is really quite enriching.”
“Magic or illusion?” Dawn asked.
“Very good, Detective,” Bitron responded. “Very good indeed! Is it magic? Is it an illusion? The chicken and the egg, syndrome, perhaps? Magic is the production of an illusion, is it not? And an illusion is a misdirection of the mind creating a false reality. Which do you think it is, Detective Robie?”
“I think it’s murder,” my partner said, smiling sweetly.
“Accusations, Detective?” Braun asked. “I thought we were just having a lovely chat.”
“Conjecture, Braun,” I said. “Let me give you a scenario and you tell me how a magician, or an illusionist, might create that scenario.
“A young girl disappears from her bedroom. She next appears in a mudflat, thirty feet from hard ground, no footprints, no sign of any disturbance to the mud, just a body where a body shouldn’t be. How would one do that, Mister Bitron?”
“Are you sure it was mud, Detective? If, as you say, it was impossible to deliver the body to that area without disturbing the mud surface . . . if it was impossible . . . then the muddy surface must have been staged to draw your eye to that conclusion. That is the work of an illusionist, to make you see what he wants you to see. Really rather elementary, Detective.
“Now, if this were my trick, I would prepare a substance that looked like mud, like brown plastic sheeting, or something similar, and I would drop off the body and then spread that sheeting over my footprints as I returned to solid ground. When the tide comes in it covers the sheeting, and when the tide goes out, the sheeting goes out with it.
“To the untrained eye, it would all look like a pristine layer of smooth mud leading to the body, when in reality there was a clear path of footprints leading out to the body. And since we’re just playing with scenarios, I would surmise that those footprints were from a size eleven boot.”
He was enjoying himself. I noticed my hand had slid to my Glock and was resting on its handle.
“So, the six of you, you sit around, shoot the shit about magic, try out some new tricks, maybe have a few beers, and then call it a night? Is that about it, gentlemen?”
“That’s about it, Detective,” Braun said. “Oh, on occasion, we might go out for a beer, or catch a movie, something like that. Certainly nothing sinister in that, is there, Detective?
“Now, if you don’t mind, my client and I have a performance to give at the Boys Club in two hours and we need to get prepared. It’s been a lovely chat, and I do trust we won’t be hearing from you again on this matter. Unless you have solid evidence of a crime please, please, refrain from bothering my friends.”
“You think you’re pretty clever, don’t you, Braun?”
“I don’t know how clever I am, Detective, but I do know I’m more clever than you. Good day to you both. We’ll find our way out.”
Our guests did, indeed, find their way out, leaving Dawn and I seething in their wake.
“What do we do now, Bill? More surveillance? That’s going to be a tough sell with the Chief.”
“I guess we keep trying to gather evidence, and while we’re doing that, hopefully the murders will stop. Surely those six wouldn’t risk another murder while they’re under investigation.”
But even as I said those words I thought to myself that’s exactly what I would do in their place. Their egos would not allow them to stop. They for sure considered this the ultimate challenge to their skills, to commit the perfect murder while being investigated. I expected a new body soon.
SEE YOU NEXT WEEK
One or two more chapters and then we’ll put it to rest until it’s time to write the book. Sorry, folks, that’s the best I can do for you.
2017 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)