Chapter Eight - A Lesson In Lying Part A
It’s the snap that I like best. I leave chocolate in the fridge, especially in hot weather, so that it gets harder, and when I bite into it it breaks, snapping into my mouth. The sound fills any silence. I know that for Matt, it’s the beeping and clicking of whatever game he’s playing. Or the soft flick of cigarette ash falling to the floor, or an ash-tray, or whatever he chooses to aim at. It distracts. It says more than a silence. It tells whoever isn’t speaking that you’re waiting, and it better not be for much longer.
Today, I am waiting, but there’s no one to intimidate. What with the case over, the rich list probably all know our names, but there’s nothing so necessary to a detective as a crime. No one’s doing anything. This is LA, for fuck’s sake - where are all the bad people hiding? What, they went to San Fran for a vacation or something? I want something to set my teeth into, and I don’t mean another chocolate bar. I need to solve something. I need to do something, I’m fucking bored. Thrashing Matt at tennis and basketball and swimming in our backyard was alright for a while, but I always win. And then Matt gets this look on his face like it’s okay that I won, because he knew that I would win, and he’d been preparing himself for the fall through the whole game. Which pisses me off. Why doesn’t he try harder? He’s not stupid, he’s from Wammy’s House, he could master any of that stuff if he tried. But he doesn’t. I don’t get it. It’s lame.
Anyway, I can’t just sit around here getting my sugar boost all day, so I wander into the corridor and start looking for him. It’s like a goose hunt sometimes. Realising there’s no point to searching manually, I head to the nearest intercom and press the “all rooms” button.
“Matt. Where the fuck are you?” I hiss into the sensor. There’s a pause, presumably as he gets up and heads to his intercom, which feels like an hour.
“I’m in the kitchen, jeez. You were right next to me a minute ago.”
“What?” I stare at the speakers, and then swing round and head back to the kitchen. At first I can’t see a thing, then I hear a tiny beep from the other side of the island. Leaning over it, I see Matt sat on the floor under the shade of an overhanging counter-top, playing a really old gameboy. It looks more like a brick.
“Retro?” I say, nodding towards the device, which would probably be more at home on some sort of eighties sci-fi show.
“Retro.” Matt confirms. “Mario, the first one. I love the little mushrooms. So much.”
“Enough of the mushrooms already, you can wank over them some other time. What’s happening in this town?”
“Oh, you know. Robberies and such. Well, one robbery. We got a call this morning.”
“What?!” I jump over the counter, not bothering to walk round, and crouch down facing him. “You didn’t think to tell me?!”
“Calm, calm, Mells. I just did, didn’t I? Anyway, it’s just a million-dollar necklace, nothing fancy.”
“Just a mi-” I begin to explode, before catching the smirk in his eyes. “That’s not funny.” I snap, pulling his goggles down over his face to rest on his neck.
He blinks a few times, as if disorientated without them. “Yeah, well. We’re going to the victims at one o’clock, right after lunch. I organised a meeting and everything, plus I made a file with what we know so far.” He says, pointing off to the side, where a brown folder rests on the floor.
“Matt?” I say, smiling. He looks up, and I ruffle his hair, half to annoy him and half because he made me cheerful. “You’re useful, you know that?”
“Yes, useful like a cat who catches rats, or one of those spatula things you use to flip pancakes.” He snorts. “Now leave me alone, I’m nearly finished with the last level.”
“Nah. Useful like a friend I couldn’t live without.” I reply, feeling like I ought to be nice to him for once. He glances up and grins boyishly, so I know I said the right thing.
Picking up the file, I read its’ contents, handwritten carefully by Matt even though he could have done it just as easily on the computer:
Two days ago, necklace stolen from house of Ryan Rockaby. Silver chain hung with thirty-three diamonds, as well as one large ruby known as “the Mandalay Ruby”, which was the main cause of its extreme value. Rockaby bought it at auction only a few weeks ago, intending to give it to his wife as a gift, but before he could give it to her it was stolen from his office. Placed in locked drawer, but lock was forced, and all alarm systems had been deactivated. No fingerprints. This is all we know as yet.
I smirk. This one looks like fun.
See, Mello can be sweet sometimes. Sweet like chocolate, I guess, with all the bitterness of the top-quality dark stuff layered on top. Which, naturally, is what he eats.
He drives us to the crime scene, Rockaby’s office, where we get an ID check at the gate, and only allowed through after a guard signs us off on a checklist. Looks like this place is pretty big on security, although clearly not big enough. We park and are met at the doors by a pretty blonde secretary, who takes us up to a waiting room outside the office in question.
“Please wait here.” She says, flashing us a bright white smile. She has a Boston accent, I think. “Mr Rockaby will be with you in just a few moments.”
As soon as she’s gone, Mello snorts and shakes his head. “Well, she didn’t get the job for her typing skills.”
“What?” I reply, taken aback.
“Did you even see her? He’s definitely fucking her.”
“You think that about everyone.” I scowl, my mind working overtime to figure out why I didn’t notice that she was pretty. Her appearance didn’t strike me at all. That could have been a vital clue, and I would have missed it. I need to stay alert, stay focused. I get lazy when I know that Mello will solve it all anyway.
“Gentlemen.” A deep voice greets us from the office door, which has now opened to reveal a tall, broad-shouldered man in a dark blue suit with matching tie. “Thank you for coming. Please, come in and take a seat.”
We follow him into the office, and I sit down in front of the desk, Mello choosing to wander around the room while I talk.
“Sir, if you could, tell us your exact movements the last time you saw the necklace.” I prompt immediately, wanting to get the ball rolling.
“Well, I had a look at it, to check it was still there, and to admire the ruby.” Rockaby replies, sitting down on the other side of the desk. “It was enfolded in a black velvet pouch, and this was then placed into a box made of thick ebony wood, inlaid with cherry. Please, take a seat.” He adds the last part in Mello’s direction, obviously not used to talking to the backs of people who are examining his ornaments.
“No, do go on.” Mello says without turning. “I’m fine.”
Rockaby clears his throat, uncomfortable with this refusal, but carries on nonetheless. “I made sure the box was fastened properly, with a little silver clasp towards the bottom, but did not lock it, because the key was in my pocket and I didn’t think there was any need to, since it was going into a locked drawer.”
“The box was unlocked?” Mello repeats, as if to be absolutely clear.
“Yes.” Rockaby says, and pauses before I motion to him to continue. “Anyway, I placed it into the drawer and locked it securely, then checked the drawer. There are only two keys, one of which I keep on my person at all times. The other is on the ring of spares belonging to the guards, which is kept under their eyes at all times.”
“Where, exactly?” Mello cuts in again.
“I’m sorry?” Rockaby says.
Mello turns to look at him, for the first time. “Where do they keep it?”
“You saw the shed on the way in, at the gates?” Rockaby says, and at Mello’s curt nod he continues. “There is one guard in there at all times, and one on the gate. Inside the shed is a communications desk, with which they can contact my office, my house, my secretary, the police, the fire service, or the ambulance service at the touch of a button. Under the desk is a hidden compartment, which, when removed, reveals the keys hanging inside.”
“How often do they use these keys?”
“Not often. The last time was around Christmas, I believe, when I left my own keys behind.”
“And they were there after the crime?”
“Yes, and during, the guards assure me. There was no sign of them having been tampered with.”
There is a pause, in which Mello sweeps a finger along a shelf and holds it up, as if inspecting for dust. He pulls a chocolate bar out of his packet, unwraps the top corner, and snaps a piece off. Chewing, he approaches the desk, and leans forward, engaging Rockaby in eye contact without flinching.
“Then how would you suggest the thieves got in to the drawer?” He asks, in a tone that is at once delicately questioning and menacing.
“Copies.” Rockaby says. “I believe they made copies of my keys at some moment of vulnerability, or else used some sort of method of getting in with a hairclip or some such.”
Mello stalks around the desk, and points to a drawer. “That the one?”
Rockaby nods, and Mello squats down in front of it, holding the bar in his mouth as he takes a close look at the lock.
“Well,” He says, standing up. “The only way they got in was with a key. Any other method would have become obvious. Check your friends, your associates. One of them may have copied the keys.”
He makes a beckoning gesture to me, and I get up, following like the puppy I am, having had almost no input at all. I’m pretty much just his Supporting Character, aren’t I? His Dr Watson, his Robin, the dependable-but-not-quite-as-good one. I should be used to it, it’s what I’ve always wanted, really. It’s all I’ve ever aimed for, to be Mello’s number two. But now I get here, I can’t help thinking that it was supposed to be a bit more than this. I can’t explain it. Maybe it’s the way he is with me. I don’t mind other people seeing me that way, but I know that that’s how he sees it too, and he doesn’t do anything to hide it. In his eyes I was never going to be anything more than this - but I could have been. I just chose not to. It would be nice if once in a while he would acknowledge that I gave up my own chance at being a somebody to support him.
I don’t know what I did, but Matt was silent all the way home. As soon as we got in the door, he pulled his goggles over his eyes and pulled a PSP out of his pocket.
“Don’t need me any more?” He said quietly, gesturing towards the PSP as if looking for my permission.
“I was thinking we could go over some theories.” I reply, shrugging.
“I don’t have any.” Matt says, adjusting his goggles slightly at one side and not looking at me. “Besides, you don’t need me for that.”
“Yeah, I do. I could have missed something.” I say, frowning.
“No. You never miss anything. Just come get me when you want me again.” He says, heading down the corridor. He goes into a room before I can stop him, and I hear the door close.
Frowning, I head into the kitchen and get some new chocolate. I don’t understand Matt lately. He’s quiet and serious, always working and never wanting to have fun together any more. I’m telling the truth when I say I need him. He sees things differently to me, he understands feelings that I don’t. He’s almost innocent, the way he refuses to believe that anyone could be immoral until given proof, like with Twix Bar’s affair and that secretary. It’s cute. I wish I could keep him that way forever, but already he’s changing, seeing all of it happen. That’s why I didn’t take him to the Mafia with me. That’s why I didn’t let him get too close to the Kira case. Near and me, we’re different. Near’s calculating, I don’t think he even has a heart, and while he acts like a little boy he really isn’t. As for me, I’m the kind of person that would kill an old lady to save myself, no matter whose grandmother she was. Matt, he would probably just let them shoot him instead. I see a hardened gangster, he sees a father. I want him to stay as far away from the cases as possible, but at the same time I couldn’t do it on my own. He’s my best friend and I need him close to me. That’s why I try to push him into some sort of supporting role, like how Holmes always goes undercover without telling Watson. It’s less dangerous. If he was hurt and it was my fault, I would never forgive myself.