Columbo: The Silent Scream
Columbo: The Silent Scream
Amy Fuller watched the sun rise from her bed more times than she could remember. She longed to sit on the patio of her Beverly Hills mansion again, feeling the suns warmth on her skin. Since the accident all she could do was watch. Watch the sunrise. Watch it move slowly across the sky hour after agonizing hour. Then finally watch it set and prepare herself for the next mornings rising.
A tear ran down her blistered cheek causing it to sting. The car accident, almost a year ago, had left her body covered in second and third degree burns and due to inhaling fire she had lost her speech. Unable to move or speak meant she now lived a solitary life, trapped inside her own thoughts, despite being surrounded by relatives, friends and her nurse, Mimi.
Mimi moved to her side checking the saline bags and morphine dispenser were performing their functions. The bags only needed to be changed once every four hours, but Mimi kept constant watch over them to ensure that Amy felt the least amount of pain possible. The morphine dispenser was controlled solely by Amy. Apart from blinking the only bodily function Amy had left that she could perform on her own was the simple movement of her left index finger, which rested on the morphine dispenser button should she need to ease any pain. If it hadn’t been for the built in safety feature, which only let her push the button so many times an hour, Amy would have ended it all years ago. Mimi had noticed that the computerized readout of button presses had indicated that Amy had tried to kill herself on many occasions. Since none of those times had been successful, she stopped trying and just accepted her fate.
‘I’m going to apply your cream now if that’s ok, Amy?’
Amy gave a blink which indicated that it was ok.
Mimi pulled on a pair of latex gloves and took a handful of cream from the jar beside the bed. She started at Amy’s feet and moved slowly up her legs, around her hips, over her stomach, chest and face. Amy winced as Mimi gently lifted her right arm and slathered it with the soothing cream. Mimi stopped at the left index finger and pulled off her gloves.
‘I hope you’ve been doing your finger exercises,’ said Mimi giving it a gentle stroke.
Amy would have smiled at that if she could, but all she did was give a prolonged blinked meaning she was laughing on the inside.
Mimi said she was going to get some breakfast and would come straight back after she had picked up a new jar of cream at the pharmacy.
With the cream achieving the desired effect, Amy had fallen into a restful sleep only to be woken by a noise at her bedside. Looking down at her was her brother-in-law, Xavier. He always had a way of putting people on edge, even if they weren’t bedridden and helpless. Without the help of any facial emotion the look in Amy’s eyes was pure hatred and he knew it, but he continued with his cobra’s smile showing off that set of perfect white teeth.
‘I hear you’ve been making progress with Dr Hoffman, is that true?’
Amy turned her eyes to the window. Xavier moved to block her view.
‘I asked you a question. Have you made any progress with Dr Hoffman?’
‘That sure is a shame, Amy. You know how sorry I am for all this, but I can’t risk you finding your voice and revealing the truth about that night. I have plenty to live for even if you don’t.’
Xavier took a pair of latex gloves from the box and pulled them on. Then he reached over and picked up a pillow from the chair beside the bed. He took it in both hands and held it to his chest.
‘I hope you understand.’
Amy began blinking like crazy as Xavier lowered the pillow on her face. He held it down hard until her left finger stopped twitching then dropped it back into the chair. He was now safe to live his life without any repercussions of his past to come back and haunt him. He was finally free.
‘Don’t worry, I wont miss it. As soon as I’m finished here I’ll drive straight to the bowling alley. I promise. I’ll see you there. Don’t panic. I gotta get to work here, bye. Thanks, Charlie.’
Columbo handed the cell phone back to Sergeant Rice. ‘My wife’s bowling team is in a tournament this afternoon and I got called here with only fifteen minutes left of my shift.’
‘You must really want to watch her, huh?’
‘Not really. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching Mrs Columbo bowl, but that’s not the problem. I got her ball in my trunk so it’s kinda important that I get there in time.’
‘Well, if you want to…’
‘Nah, I’d better take a look now I’m here. Where are we going?’
Sergeant Rice led Columbo through the grand hallway where a painting of Amy Fuller hung. Columbo stopped under the painting.
‘Is that her?’ he asked pointing up at the smiling face. ‘Gee, she sure was beautiful.’
They continued up the stairs to the main bedroom where Mimi was sobbing quietly to herself as the crime scene technicians went about there jobs all around her.
‘Excuse me, Ma’am. I’m Lieutenant Columbo, from homicide. Are you the one who found Miss…erm…?’
‘Fuller,’ said Rice
‘Oh, yeah, Miss Fuller.’
’I was her personal nurse. I went to collect her medication from the pharmacy and when I got back she
was lying there…dead.’ She held her handkerchief to her eyes.
‘I know it’s difficult, Ma’am, but I will need you to answer a few questions? What time did you leave Miss Fuller?’
‘It was around six. I was going to have breakfast and then go to the pharmacy.’
‘You saw Miss Fuller before having breakfast?’
‘I like to apply her cream before the sun becomes to strong on her skin. Before her accident she was a bit of a sun worshipper, I believe; always outside working on her tan.’
‘Her accident? When did she have an accident?’
‘It was about a year ago, Lieutenant. She was coming home from the opera when she crashed her car and was engulfed in the flames. Since that day she hasn’t moved or spoken.’
Columbo shook his head, ‘Gee, that’s a real shame. Pretty young girl like that, ending up locked in her own world while everything around her carries on as normal. How long have you been Miss Fuller’s personal nurse?’
‘I was hired by her sister the week after the accident when they found out that Amy was completely paralyzed and would need 24 hour care.’
‘So you’re here24 hours a day seven days a week?’
‘There’s a relief nurse that comes in twice a week to give me a break.’
‘Was she here today?’
‘No. She usually comes in on Tuesdays and Thursdays.’
‘And today is Saturday…’
‘Look, Lieutenant, do you mind if we finish later? I would like to lie down for a while it’s been a great shock. If you want to know more about the accident you should talk to her brother-in-law Xavier. He was in the car with her when she crashed.’
‘I will do that. Thank you for your help, Ma’am. If I need to ask any more questions I’ll come find you.’
Mimi gave a gentle nod and stumbled off down the hall towards the other bedrooms. Inside the main bedroom the coroner had just finished his preliminary examination.
‘Hey, Doc. Any ideas on this one?’ asked Columbo.
‘Nothing yet, Columbo. She has sustained so much tissue damage it would be foolish of me to try and give you any kind of idea without a thorough autopsy.’
‘Thanks anyway, Doc. Do you mind if I take a look before you move her?’
‘Be my guest,’ said the coroner moving out of Columbo’s way.
Columbo leant over the body and sniffed. Then he ran a finger gently on her arm and rubbed it with his thumb.
‘Sticky. Her skin’s sticky.’
‘That would be the medication that her nurse administered this morning,’ said the coroner.
Columbo crouched down to his knees and looked under the bed. As he put his hand on the chair to get up he touched the pillow. ‘Hey, this pillow is sticky too.’ He took a sniff of the pillow and held it up to the light. ‘Did you move this from the bed?’
The coroner shook his head.
‘Did anyone take this pillow off the bed?’ Columbo called to everyone in the room. The assembled detectives and crime scene technicians all shook their heads.
‘What was the nurse’s name, Charlie?’
Sergeant Rice flipped open his notebook. ‘Culver. Mimi Culver.’
‘Miss Culver!’ he shouted as he ran to the door. ‘Miss Culver!’
Mimi stepped out of her room. ‘What is it, Lieutenant?’
‘I’m sorry to disturb you, Ma’am. I just need to ask you one question and then you can rest. The pillow that’s in the chair by the bed; did you take it off the bed?’
‘It hasn’t been on the bed today. I change the bedclothes everyday and Amy only has that extra pillow when she eats or wants to watch television. Is it important, Lieutenant?’
‘I’m not sure, Ma’am. Have you already changed the bedclothes today?’
‘It’s one of the first things I do.’
‘So the pillow case on that pillow was put on fresh this morning?’
‘Thank you for your help, Ma’am.’ He was just about to turn away when something occurred to him. ‘Oh, Miss Culver, did you touch the pillow after putting Miss Fullers medical cream on?’
‘No, I wear latex gloves when I administer the cream and take them off as soon as I’m finished.’
‘Thanks again, Ma’am. Charlie, will you bag that pillow on the chair?’
‘Sure thing, Lieutenant,’ said Sergeant Rice taking a large plastic bag from a technician and placing the pillow inside.
As he returned to the bedroom Columbo tapped the machine beside the bed. ‘What’s this doohickey?’
‘That is a morphine regulator. That means the patient can administer a dose of morphine when they feel any discomfort.’
‘What about if they press it to many times? Wouldn’t that give em an overdose?’
‘I can see what you’re thinking, but that is totally impossible. The morphine is regulated, hence the name regulator. If the patient presses the button too many times the machine automatically stops issuing the doses until a certain amount of time passes; usually an hour.’
‘What’s this screen for?’ asked Columbo tapping the display screen on the front of the regulator unit.
‘That’s an electronic display to show the nurse when and what time the patient administers a dose.’
Columbo read the read out. ‘Would you take a look at this, Doc? Looks like she went a little over the top here.’
The coroner examined the display. ‘I agree, it looks like she began pressing it more out of panic that pain relief.’
‘Hmm, I thought her nurse said she couldn’t move. How did she press the button?’
‘Her left index finger was the only part of her that wasn’t injured in the car crash. As you can see there are no burns there.’
Columbo shook his head, ‘Poor girl must have been in agony for all these months.’
‘She was, Lieutenant,’ said a voice from the door.
They turned to find Xavier Reed looking on sullenly.
‘And you are?’ asked Columbo.
‘I’m Xavier Reed. Amy is…was my sister-in-law.’
‘Xavier Reed? The actor? My wife used to watch you in that soap opera. Affairs…or something. It’s all she talked about at home. All I remember is you had a twin brother who killed you to take over the family business. It’s difficult to remember that kinda stuff because when Mrs Columbo gets excited about something she talks so fast you can hardly keep up.’
‘Secret Affairs. We don’t call them soap operas; they’re daytime dramas.’
‘Gee, I’m real sorry, Mr Reed. I didn’t mean to offend ya.’
That cobra’s smile spread across Xavier’s face, ‘I’m not offended, Sergeant. I would have been surprised if you had ever watched Secret Affairs.’
‘Lieutenant, Sir. I’m Lieutenant Columbo, Homicide.’
‘Homicide? Why would a homicide detective be investigating a natural death.’
Columbo scratched his head. ‘You think Miss Fuller died of natural causes?’
‘To be honest, Lieutenant, Amy has been dying since the day of the accident. The doctors gave her no more that a week to live…’
‘And yet she lived for nine months.’
‘Amy was always a strong girl. She would never give up without a fight and this just proves it. Nine months of non-stop pain and suffering were just too much for her. I’m sorry she’s dead but I’m happy she’s no longer suffering.’
‘I know what ya mean, Sir. I had an uncle who was diagnosed with cancer and the doctors gave him a couple of months to live; two years later he died. He was kinda stubborn.’
‘I’m sorry to hear that. Well if there is anything else you need, Lieutenant, don’t hesitate to ask.’
‘I do have a couple of questions, if you don’t mind.’
‘Miss Culver, your sister-in-laws nurse, said that you were with her when she had her accident. Is that right?’
’It’s a night I will never forget, Lieutenant. Amy and I were coming back from the opera, Phantom of the opera, when Amy lost control of the car and we ended up embedded in a tree. I managed to free myself and was about to pull Amy clear when the car burst into flames. Luckily there were some truckers close by who helped me drag Amy from the car before it killed her. I wish I had left her that day.’
Columbo looked shocked. ‘You wish you had left her to die?’
‘Only because I have seen what pain and suffering she had to endure everyday since then. I would never wish her dead, but it was horrendous the first few weeks. All Amy did was cry and that caused my wife and myself as much pain as Amy suffered.’
‘I can see how difficult it has been for you, Sir.’
‘As I said, if there is anything I can help with don’t hesitate to ask.’
Xavier turned to leave but before he could take a step Columbo called out.
‘Mr Reed, I do have one question. What time did you get here this morning?’
‘I live here, Lieutenant. Amy, my wife and me.’
‘So you’ve been here all morning?’
‘That is correct. Is it important?’
‘It’s just for my report, you understand,’ said Columbo flipping open his notebook. ‘The Captain insists that the I’s are dotted and the T’s crossed.’
‘I understand, Lieutenant. I’ll get out of your way.’
As soon as Xavier left Columbo raced over to the Coroner. ‘Hey, Doc, can you do something for me? Is there a way you could tell if Miss Fuller had been suffocated?’
The coroner gently opened Amy Fullers eyes and looked closely at them. ‘There’s definitely petechial hemorrhaging here. It’s a possibility, Columbo. What made you think of that?’
‘That pillow had residue on it. It smelt the same as the medication the nurse had covered Miss Fuller’s body with. In the light I could see what looked like the shape of a face on the pillow. Now with evidence of the hemorrhaging I’m sure that Miss Fuller was murdered.’
‘Why would anyone want to murder a woman in the victim’s condition?’ asked the Coroner. ‘Unless it was a mercy killing.’
‘That’s something I gotta figure out, but I’ll tell you one thing…this wasn’t a mercy killing!’
Columbo pushed open the door to the patio and peered out. Xavier was lying face down on a massage table wearing only a white towel. A tall blonde woman kneaded his left shoulder with some force making Columbo wince just thinking of how painful it looked. He gave a small cough to try and get Xavier’s attention.
‘Who’s there,’ said Xavier.
‘It’s me, Sir. Lieutenant Columbo.’
‘Come on out here, Lieutenant.’
Columbo shuffled across the marble floor admiring the view of the hills. He stopped beside the massage table, smiled at the blonde and leant down to Xavier’s ear.
‘I’m sorry to disturb you, Mr Reed, but I have to pass along some bad news,’ he whispered. ‘It would seem that Miss Fuller didn’t die of natural causes.’
Xavier’s head shot sideways so he was now face to face with Columbo.
‘What are you talking about, Lieutenant?’
‘It was Miss Fuller’s eyes. She had partical hemorrhaging. That indicates suffocation.’
‘You mean Petechial Hemorrhaging? That doesn’t necessarily mean suffocation, Lieutenant. I worked on a reconstruction on an episode of CRIME ALERT and the police were working on the assumption that a murder victim was suffocated, but in truth he had suffered a severe coughing fit before he was killed which left hemorrhages in his eyes. So really that proves nothing.’
‘I guess so,’ said Columbo flicking through his notebook. ‘But the pillow tells another story.’
‘Some of Miss Fuller’s medical cream was found on the pillow which was impossible because her nurse had put a fresh pillow case on there this morning. I think someone used it to cover Miss Fullers face.’
‘Wouldn’t it also make sense to say that maybe Mimi picked it up after she had administered Amy’s medication? I can understand you would believe it was murder; you deal with things like that on a daily basis and would assume the worst case scenario, but I think it’s clouding your judgment.’
‘There’s the pattern on the pillow as well. Sorry, I forgot to mention that. There was a definite pattern of a face in the medical cream on the pillow. There is no doubt that someone held it over Miss Fullers face. It doesn’t matter how you look at it…she was murdered.’
Xavier was silent trying to find some kind of fault in Columbo’s theory. As far as he could see Columbo was making sense. He finally gave in and accepted the story.
‘I can’t believe it. Do you have any idea who would do such a thing, Lieutenant?’
‘There is one possibility I can think of. If someone couldn’t bear to see Miss Fuller suffer anymore they might…’
Xavier waved the masseuse away. When she had left he continued. ‘The only person who would do something like that to ease her pain would be Mimi. She wasn’t just my sister-in-law’s nurse; she had also become her friend. If you’re looking for an angel of mercy that should be your first suspect.’
‘That would be impossible, Mr Reed. The screen on the morphine regulator tells us that the last time Miss Fuller pressed the button was seven thirty two. At that time Miss Culver was waiting at the pharmacy for a jar of cream. The Sergeant tells me they have her on a security camera. Mimi Culver has an ironclad alibi.’
‘Is it not true that sometimes after death the body can shudder? Could Amy have pressed the button after she was dead?’ Xavier knew it sounded unrealistic but he had to make this cop look somewhere else and fast.
‘It might have been possible but the button pressed too many times for that to be the case. I think Miss Fuller was pressing the button in a blind panic as she gasped for breath.’
‘What a terrible way to go.’
‘I’m sorry, Mr Reed. I’m stopping you from your massage. I’ll see my self out.’
Columbo’s heels clicked on the marble as he strode from the patio with a certain confidence in his step. That didn’t sit well with Xavier. This cop was asking too many awkward questions. As he was about to call his masseuse back Columbo popped his head back around the door.
‘I’m sorry to be a nuisance, Sir, but I couldn’t help notice how that young lady was working your shoulder. I thought massages were supposed to be relaxing.’
‘This is no ordinary massage, Lieutenant. Bridgett is a physical therapist who is working on my injured shoulder. It was an injury I sustained from the accident. The car crashed with such force that my seatbelt almost pulled my shoulder from its socket, but without it I wouldn’t be talking to you today.’
‘Reminds me, I need to get a garage to take a look at the seatbelt in my car. I don’t drive fast you understand, but it wouldn’t look good for a cop to be driving around in a car that was faulty. Anyway now I’m definitely going.’
As Columbo disappeared from view Xavier gave a loud sigh. This guy was becoming irritating.
‘I can’t believe it, Lieutenant. We were making progress beyond my wildest dreams.’
Dr Stanley Hoffman sat on the stone bench in the garden almost in tears. He was due to start a new therapy with Amy that day that would have had her talking within two months. He had put her in for an operation on her vocal chords (it was one of the wonders of modern medicine) and was almost near to a breakthrough with her. Sadly it had all been for nothing. Columbo had been listening to the good doctor for about ten minutes when he cut in.
‘Are you saying that Miss Fuller was near to getting her voice back?’
‘She could have sung like a bird, Lieutenant. I was amazed at how quickly she had recovered. Any other subject would have taken years, but she had taken nine months. It was as if she had a story to tell; something that needed to be said. And now we shall never know what her first words would have been.’
‘I think it might have been what she would have said that got her killed.’
Dr Hoffman was stunned. ‘What makes you say that?’
‘Miss Fuller has been laying there for nine months yet as she is about to speak again she is killed. Someone didn’t want her to speak. Someone didn’t want her to reveal a secret that they thought would be kept in silence forever.’
‘I’m real sorry about your sister, Mrs Reed.’
Felicity Reed buried her head in her husband’s chest. She had been at the recording studio all morning putting the finishing touches to her latest album. It turned out that she was a favorite of one of Mrs Columbo nieces who had every CD and music video she’d ever done.
‘What happened to her?’
‘I’m afraid she was murdered, Ma’am. It looks like someone suffocated her with a pillow.’
Felicity couldn’t believe what she was hearing. She came home to a houseful of police and now she finds out her sister was murdered.
‘Who would do something like that?’
Columbo looked sheepishly at the floor. He thought he knew but couldn’t prove a word, it was all speculation. He needed proof.
‘It’s an ongoing investigation, Ma’am. I hope you understand that sometimes these things take time.’
‘I’m sure you’re a very capable police officer, Lieutenant.’
‘What can you tell me about your sister? Anything that could have a bearing on her death.’
‘I don’t really know what to say. She was always favorite with my parents; I got into some trouble with the law a few times. They kind of disowned me after I had a run in with the police for drugs. That was the last straw with my father. She was a real daddy’s girl, our father doted on her. When he went fishing she was the one he took. He taught her Morse code so when he was out night fishing they used an old static radio to send messages to each other. Excuse me, please.’
Felicity race off up the stairs to her room. The sudden realization of her sister’s death had hit her and rest would be the best thing for her now. Xavier turned to Columbo.
‘I would appreciate you leaving my wife alone for a while, Lieutenant. She needs time to let the shock of what’s happened sink in.’
‘I won’t bother your wife again, Sir, but I would like to ask you a question.’
‘Did you kill your Sister-in-law?’
Xavier’s jaw dropped. He couldn’t believe what he had just heard. His hands turned into fists beside him, his knuckles turning white with rage.
‘How dare you!’ he bellowed. ‘Who the hell do you think you are? I’ve done nothing but try and help you Columbo and all you’ve done is wander around like a lost child and ask stupid questions about Amy. I want you to leave this house immediately and tomorrow I’m going to call your superior and have you reprimanded.’
‘I will go, Sir, but first I need to look at one last thing in Miss Fullers room.’
‘Do what you have too and do it quickly!’
Back in the bedroom Columbo scanned the rows of bookshelves. There had to be something here somewhere. Then he saw it and it was his turn to smile.
‘Can I ask you one more thing, Mr Reed?’ asked Columbo running along the corridor
‘Whatever you have to ask can go through my lawyer. I’ve had it with you. I want you out now.’
‘Then you’ll have to come with me, Sir. I’m arresting you for the murder of Amy Fuller.’
Felicity, Mimi, Dr Hoffman and Sergeant Rice joined them. Xavier didn’t even break a sweat. He knew Columbo didn’t have any proof. He ran over the whole thing in his head again. He wore latex gloves so he didn’t leave any skin cells on the pillow and he had burned the gloves with a lighter. He hadn’t been seen and Amy wasn’t about to be telling tales anytime soon. He was in the clear. It was perfect.
‘I have witnesses here Columbo. You’ve just made a big mistake, buddy.’
‘I don’t think so, Mr Reed. You see I have an eye witness to the murder. I have a statement that names you as the killer.’
’You’re crazy. I didn’t kill anybody and if I was going to kill someone I wouldn’t do it in front of an audience.’
Columbo frowned. ‘The witness couldn’t help but see the murder. The witness had to be at the crime scene at that exact moment or there wouldn’t have been a murder.’
‘Who is this witness?’
All eyes turned to the Lieutenant. ‘Amy Fuller.’
Xavier couldn’t help laughing. This guy was funny. Dumb but funny.
‘Are you saying that Amy was the witness to her own murder? Of course she witnessed it; she was the one being killed.’
‘Miss Fuller told me the name of her killer. She told everyone’
‘Sorry, Columbo. Amy couldn’t speak. You’ll have to try harder than that.’
‘Miss Fuller literally screamed her killers name as he was murdering her. She knew she was about to die so she screamed his name for everyone to hear as loud as she could.’
‘With a pillow over her face, don’t be ridiculous. Even if she could speak the pillow would muffle any words she said.’
‘That is true, but she spoke the only way she knew how.’
Columbo pulled a length of crumpled paper from his pocket. He flattened it out on a side table. ‘This is a printout from Miss Fuller’s Morphine regulator. Do you see those peaks there?’ He traced along the paper with his finger. ‘And the lines here?’
Everyone peered over his shoulder, but couldn’t understand the meaning of these “peaks” and “lines”.
‘What does it mean, Lieutenant?’ Dr Hoffman finally asked.
Columbo pulled a book from his pocket and handed it to Sergeant Rice.
‘What are you up to now, Columbo?’ asked Xavier
‘That book tells me you killed Miss Fuller.’
‘I thought Amy told you.’
’The book and Miss Fuller told me. Without the book I wouldn’t have got the proof I needed. Thanks to Sergeant Rice Amy’s voice was heard. I knew you had to be the murderer because Miss Culver was at the pharmacy and your wife was at the recording studio. You were the only other person in the house at the time of Miss Fuller’s death; the last time she pressed the button told me that. As you killed her all she could do was blink and press the button of her morphine regulator. And that was your fatal mistake. As Miss Fuller pressed that button she knew she was going to die and anyone knowing they are about to be murdered would try and leave the name of their killer behind for the police. This book is all about Morse code and if you treat every peak as a dot and every line as a dash then it spells out something very interesting…Sergeant, if you would.’
Sergeant Rice slowly unfurled a copy of the printout from the regulator. Each section of peaks and lines were sectioned with a marker pen. As the printout was revealed Columbo explained.
‘You see the first section here, still counting peaks as dots and lines as dashes, is Morse code for an X. The second section is an A. The third is a V, fourth and I and the last part is the beginning of an E. This is where Miss Fuller died.’
Felicity threw herself at Xavier punching and kicking him. Sergeant Rice pulled her away and she fell into a heap on the floor. Xavier just smiled at Columbo. That non-wavering, irritating cobra’s smile. He wasn’t beat yet.
‘That sounds plausible, Lieutenant, but what was my motive. You can wave your codes and printouts around all day long, but you must realize that I didn’t even have a motive to kill Amy.’
‘You already told me your motive. You didn’t want her getting her voice back and telling everyone that you were driving the car on the night she was injured.’
Xavier’s smiled faded. ‘What are you talking about?’
‘You were driving the car when it crashed and burned your sister-in-law. If she revealed that it would put an end to your career. So you killed her.’
‘Did she right that on her little machine too?’
‘Oh, no, nothing like that. You told me yourself that you were driving that night.’
‘I did? I’m not listening to anymore of this.’
Xavier was halfway to the door when Columbo called out, ‘What shoulder did you injure on the night of the crash?’
Xavier stopped. Damn! Not one person had questioned that fact until now. He turned back to Columbo with a sinister scowl.
‘The only way a seatbelt could injure your left shoulder is if you were sitting on the left…the driver’s side. You were driving that night. You crashed the car in the accident that left your sister-in-law paralyzed, burned and almost dead. When you learned that she was about to start talking you killed her.’
‘You’re good, Columbo. I hope your wife will enjoy my trial on court TV.’
‘I’m sure she wouldn’t miss it for the world…oh geez, Charlie what’s the time?’
‘Ten after twelve, Lieutenant.’
‘Will you call my wife and tell her I’m on my way,’ said Columbo running for the door. If he was late Mrs Columbo would never forgive him.