Chapter Five - A Lesson in Betrayal Part A
I gotta hand it to Matt. When he sets his mind on something, he sets his mind on something. He won’t let anything stop him, he’s like a bulldog who’s just smelt a cat.
So here we are in our new, swanky LA residence, paid for out of our joint account, about to begin our new business enterprise, financed by Matt’s computer skills. Who’d ever have thought they would come in so handy? I mean for solving cases they’re invaluable, but to be able to get this much money, too? The man’s a genius. But I didn’t say that if he asks. He doesn’t need an ego.
We have a pool in our backyard. A fucking pool. It’s amazing. The house looks great. And if you’ve got a great house in LA then you’ve gotta have money, right? And if you’ve got money, then a lot of people use your company, right? And if a lot of people use your company, you’re good at what you do, right? At least that’s what people think when they see where we live. It’s working, too, because today we have our first case.
Matt took the call this morning, some rich bitch who lost her Daddy a week ago. We invited her over straight away and she came within the hour. She’s pretty-ish, but I wouldn’t fuck her. She’s like a twiglet, she’d snap if I even touched her. I swear she was wearing a Chanel mourning dress. Makes me sick. She obviously only wants us to help because it will make the news.
So as I was saying, her Daddy, Richie Rich, got topped last week and so far the police have nothing. Not that that’s surprising, I mean just look at the state of the world today. Get some geniuses in the police force, get them solving mysteries, not the street plodders who are only good for the beat. I don’t see Stephen fucking Hawking in a uniform. He could sit behind a desk and solve all their crimes. More money for us if he doesn’t though, and I can’t complain about that.
So about this broad. Daddy dearest was found with a dent in the back of his head from some sort of large object, presumably the heavy lamp laying on the floor next to him; the shapes matched, so the police are saying that’s what killed him, although we haven’t received details of the autopsy yet. He’s some kind of big shot movie maker, I don’t mean he was a director, he just worked with people. Doing what? I have no idea. There was a job title, but I forget. Doesn’t matter.
She was all “Sniffle-sniffle-We only want what’s right for Daddy-sniffle”. Pathetic. I asked her how much she was getting from his death but she claimed not to know. Of course she fucking knows. She’s probably spent half of it already. She had diamonds in her hair. Mourning? What a load of bullshit.
Anyway, so she gave us all the details - time, place, which police officers are involved and so on. Apparently he didn’t have any enemies. Yeah, right. Everyone has enemies. Especially rich people.
So, like, I don’t know, Matt’s organising something or something. Whatever, I leave the details to him, it’s what he does. So long as I get the info and the access, it’s fine by me.
This is going great. Our first case already! As soon as I get the guy’s full name - Richard Appleby - I hack the coroner’s office and get all his stats. Heart in good condition, no cancer, no diseases, lungs healthy, blood pressure slightly higher than is recommended. Apart from that, all there is is a big dent in the back of his head and - and this is the interesting part - a hatpin pushed into the side of his neck. The office, and the police, are assuming it had been left on the floor or on a nearby table and he caught it as he fell. It was in pretty deep.
I make a few more hacks and get some pictures of the original crime scene. It’s not pretty. The girl, Naomi, tells us that everything has been left as it was when the police finished in there, because her and her mother are too upset to go in. I don’t trust her, but she’s pretty. Her wrists are so thin, it makes me think she’s too fragile to be going about the world with a father. But what do I know? I’m just an orphan, right?
She agrees to allow us access to the scene in two hours, and we start to organise payment. I’m not going to give away the details, but it’s a lot of money. If this goes well we’ll be on the way to mega-richness. I can’t wait to see Mello solve it. Because, of course, it will be him, not me. I’m not as good at this as he is.
Man, this is awesome. She’s so desperate that we keep the investigation quiet that she’s paying us above industry average. For our first job. Plus it’s all expenses paid, so she sends us her car and driver to get to the house. Which is big. Really big.
Her mother is this ample old dame with black sequins and a cigarette holder, like something out of a movie. Not a very good movie. These people are so fake.
Matt gets rid of them into another room for a while (I would have just told them to piss off, so he wouldn’t let me) and we examine the room he died in, and his bedroom. The crime scene’s been cleaned out by our friends in the law enforcement sector, but the bedroom is a little more interesting.
He has this big old bedside chest of drawers, and on the other side is a matching one for his wife. Matt takes the wife one because he’s pretty much a woman anyway. So then I’m going through the drawers, and I find something.
“Hey Matt,” I say casually, “You ever hear of a movie man like Mr Rich Boy wearing a pink, flowery, silk scarf?”
“Nope.” He says. “Why?”
“Because he has one in his underwear drawer.” I bring it to my nose. “And it smells like roses.”
Matt comes over and looks at it, and agrees that it’s more than a little suspicious. After a few moments’ discussion I pocket it, zipping it into the leather. They won’t notice. Besides, they hired us, and this is evidence.
We only find one other thing in the room. A white shirt with the faintest little hint of red on the collar. Matt takes some snaps of it with a handheld, and then we go back to Mrs Rich and Little Miss Brat. Matt makes some polite speech about leaving to continue our investigations.
“One more thing.” I cut in, addressing Mrs Sequins. “Do you wear red lipstick?”
“At my age?” She laughs vilely. “No, dear, no. It’s far too bright.”
We exchange a meaningful look (Me and Matt - I’m not exchanging anything with her) and get the hell out of there before we catch something.
Back at the house, I print off the crime scene shots, the pictures of the lipstick, and some of the dead guy at parties and suchlike, and lay them out with the silk scarf. This is our evidence. I print off a copy of the coroner’s report, too. So now we have to figure out who killed him using a lipstick trace, a hairpin, and a scarf. Great.
Together we make a list of things to do. Find closest friends, interview them, find owner of lipstick, find owner of silk scarf, interview her/them. Find murderer. Not much, then. We pore over the photographs and Mells points out the same person in two of them, a man of about the same age as Appleby with a bad toupee and the biggest set of teeth I’ve ever seen in my life.
“Get me him.” He says.
Right. So that means I’m supposed to find out who this guy is, where he lives, get in contact with him and convince him to come round for an interview… all on my own? Gee, thanks, Mells.
No option but to get to work, so I do, while Mello raids the pantry for some more chocolate and starts flicking through some sort of catalogue. Probably Leathers R Us or something. Not that I care about him wearing leather. It must be uncomfortable though. I mean, think about it. And he always stuffs his gun down the front of his pants… I mean… SURELY that’s uncomfortable? And how does it even fit? I don’t… ugh, I’ve got to stop thinking about this, it’s not healthy. Mello can keep his mysteries mysterious. I have work to do. His work. This partnership thing isn’t really working out fairly.
At least he’s not sitting on the roof all night, though, or taking over-long showers. Actually, I’m happy to do whatever he wants me to if it keeps him alive. And he hasn’t even tried to join the mafia again yet. He better not, anyway, because one scar is more than enough. He might start scaring off the customers if he gets too many. Besides, despite the scar he’s still quite good-looking, and he’s got a decent body, so it would be a shame for him to ruin that. Not that I care. What am I saying?
I focus on finding the friend from the picture. The caption gives me a place and a date, and some surfing of the web eventually rewards me with a caption that reveals his name. Arthur Archer.
Fighting back a snort at how silly his name sounds, my attention is distracted yet again as Mells claps me on the shoulder.
“I’m going out.” He says. “See you.”