Shilo answered the door.
“Yes,” she said bluntly to the well-dressed detective. Artie’s coat was open to show his detective’s badge displayed on his belt strap.
“Hello, my name is Detective Artie Cutter.” He pulled out his card from the inside of his coat and handed it to Shilo. “I need to speak with Patrick Valdez?”
“And may I ask the matter of this visit, Detective?”
“I need to ask Mr. Valdez some questions about the Gavin Martin’s case.”
“Please come in,” she said stepping aside. Artie walked in and thought his drive up to the house was impressive he was astonished by seeing the inside. Shilo took Artie to the sitting room that had two leather recliners on an angle to one another facing a fireplace. An Indian rug laid out in the middle of the room and a view of the front of the house through the large panel window. It was very comfortable and the size of his apartment. “Please wait here while I announce you, Detective Cutter.”
“Fine.” Shilo calmly walked away returning to the library. Patrick was there alone pouring himself another cup of coffee. His mother excused herself to go freshen up.
“Pardon me Mr. Valdez.”
“Yes Shilo?” he said spooning in sugar.
“There’s a Detective Cutter here to see you.” Patrick dropped the small silver spoon and rose to his feet in alarm.
“He said he needed to ask you questions about the Gavin Martin’s case.”
Patrick had a bad feeling and didn’t want his mother to know the detective was there.
“Where is he?”
“In the sitting room sir.”
“Alright I’ll handle him stay here and tell my mother I’ll be right back, but don’t tell her the detective’s here I don’t want him bothering her.”
Patrick hurried to the sitting room and found Detective Cutter looking at his notepad. He entered the room and shut the door behind him.
Artie looked up at the young man and saw the feminine features in his cheeks and lips from the picture of the Geisha. But also saw suspicion in his eyes. Patrick didn’t carry himself like a female he unquestionably behaved like a male Artie supposed Patrick kept that part of him concealed from his parents.
“Hello, Mr. Valdez, I hope this isn’t a bad time?”
“Well, I was having lunch with my mother.”
“This will only take a moment.”
“Fine. You have questions?”
“Yes. Do you mind if we sit?”
“Be my guest. Can I have someone get you a drink, coffee, tea or something stronger?”
“No on all, thank you.” Patrick sat as Artie joined him with notebook and pencil ready. “Well, first I like to ask why you returned to Mr. Martin’s apartment last night.”
“Well, the officer at the graveyard told me it all might have been a prank. I wanted to talk to Gavin.”
“Why, he was clearly in on the prank?”
“To be honest, I still believed Gavin was dead.”
“So why go back to his apartment?”
“I just wanted to. That’s not a crime.”
“It is if you wanted revenge on the man who pushed you too far.”
“Pushed me too far, what are you talking about?”
“The store below Mr. Martin’s apartment, have you been in it?”
“What did he use it for?”
“He sold art supplies on the internet he used the space to store his merchandise.”
“Why is there a stage in there?”
Patrick realized where the detective was taking his questioning.
“Why is that important?”
“Are you aware there’s a backroom behind a false wall in said store?”
“And we found photos—of you—and other men.”
“Okay, so I took pictures with men so what?”
“So many pictures we found down there and upstairs—all of you—with men.” Patrick tried to hold his composure when the realization that the pictures he destroyed weren’t the only copies Gavin had hidden. “Funny place to hide pictures in a large manila envelope taped under a box spring. There must have been at least a hundred photographs maybe more of you and other men.”
Patrick rose from his seat and walked over to the window pushing his fist into his pants pockets. He wanted to scream and curse Gavin’s name.
Artie remains in his seat as he continued talking and watching Patrick. He glanced at Patrick’s right hand that no longer had a bandage.
“How’s your hand?” asked Artie. Patrick looked back at him seeing confused then remembered his right palm and brought it out of his pocket. The dressing the EMTs put on him helped with the pain and the cut healed overnight. “The Hells Gate is a wicked piece of work.”
“It’s fine, see.” Patrick presented his hand and pointed to the spot that had a small red blemish from where the cut was. “Already healed.”
“That’s great. Too bad it wasn’t last night.”
“Why’s that detective?”
“Well, you left behind a little blood. You know where we found it?”
“In your murdered boyfriend’s spare bedroom closet, right on the rail. I’m curious, how did it get there? The closet appeared empty. What were you getting out of there or looking for?”
“Why does it matter detective?”
“Gavin was blackmailing you wasn’t he. He realized how wealthy you were and started collecting these photos.”
“It wasn’t like that,” said Patrick not believing his own words.
“Then what was it? You willingly let him take those pictures of you?”
“No—at first—it was just us then he wanted me to start Cosplaying for his friends and then things started to go weird.”
“You’re saying he started prostituting you off to his friends?”
“He threatens to sell the pictures if I didn’t. The scandal would have damaged my family’s reputation.”
“So you got help.”
“Wait what?” said Patrick. Artie pulled out the picture of Patrick dressed as a Geisha standing in the middle with Gavin on one side and another male on the other.
“Can you tell me who these people are in this picture?” he rose and approached Patrick holding the photo out in front of him.
“The Geisha’s me and the one on my right is Gavin.”
“And the other male?”
“I’m not sure…”
“Maybe you’ll be more sure downtown.” Patrick looked at the detective whose cold stare informed Patrick he was serious.
“You’re arresting me?”
“I’m taking you in for questioning.”
“For what, watching my friend die and nearly getting raped?”
“You burned evidence in Gavin Martin’s sink.”
“I burned tasteless photos of me taken by Gavin; that’s all.”
“Or you burned photos of you and your accomplice.”
“Accomplice—you think I killed Gavin?”
“I need you to come with me.”
“I want my lawyer.”
“You can call and have him meet us there.” Patrick needed to think fast. He didn’t want to go with the detective.
“My lawyer’s here. He’s with my father in his study.”
“Fine have someone go get him.”
“I’ll do it I don’t want the help to know my business.”
“Look all you’re doing is…”
“If you’re not arresting me Detective Cutter, I can freely go get my father and lawyer by myself. But if it would make you feel better you can follow me there.”
“Fine let’s go.” Patrick led the way praying they don’t run into any servants. They reached the door, and Patrick took a deep breath before turning to Detective Cutter.
“What game are you playing?”
“I’ll leave the door ajar I just want to tell them myself first.”
Patrick opened the door and entered, leaving the door cracked, as promised.
“Father I need Philip’s help.” Patrick seemed to be speaking to no one. Artie did not want to barge in, in case Patrick's father was there, but he needed to be sure. He saw a maid headed towards him holding linen.
“Excuse me,” he said stopping the female in her tracks holding a folded tablecloth.
“Yes sir?” she said meekly.
“Is Mr. Raoul Valdez and his lawyer here?”
“No sir. Mr. Valdez is in town and Mr. Gomez his lawyer just left and hour ago.”
“Fuck!” Artie pushed through the door and scanned the room finding it empty. He ran to the four paneled window they were locked from the inside. “How the hell did he get out?” the maid watched in confusion as Artie turned to her. “Where is it?” Artie yelled at the worried maid.
“Where’s what sir?” she asked clinching the table cloth and napkins she was taking to clean.
“The secret door!”
“I don’t know about any such door sir.”
“Detective,” came the voice of Shilo approaching stepping in front of the maid. “You may go Vicky,” the female hurried off.
“So you’re protecting him?” Shilo stepped into the room and walked over to the side of a fireplace and pressed a switch a small door opened close to the floor. “I believe this is what you’re looking for, detective.”
“There’s no way he went through there; it’s just big enough for a child.”
“He can and he has, detective; it's the only other way out of this room."
"Where does it go?" asked Artie.
"It's exit is beyond the gate through a false tree trunk on the west side of the property.”
“How long would it take him to reach the exit?”
“Damnit, I suggest you tell his father and his lawyer that a warrant is going out for the arrest of Patrick Valdez.” Artie didn’t wait for a response from Shilo as he stormed out of the house driving away. Shilo walked back to the library where Drusilla was drinking her coffee who glanced up when her butler entered.
“Is that dreadful man gone?”
“Good, Patrick you can come out now.” Another conceal door opened by the fireplace and Patrick entered the room.
“Thank you, mother and you too Shilo.” Shilo only tilts her head in a bow towards Patrick.
“Don’t be silly, we are family we protect our own and what is best, is you leaving the country. I’ll call…”
“No mother please I have to prove my innocents and I think I know how.”
“Patrick you are not going to risk your life on a premonition.”
“I’m not, I’m going to get help from Adam Potter.”
“What can he do?”
“He saved my life twice last night and I believe he will clear my name as well.”
“What should I tell your father?”
“Tell him the truth but not about my feelings towards Adam.”
“So you’re going to him?”
“No, I’m going somewhere safe and have him come to me.”
“And you’re sure he’ll come?”
“Shilo will take you to where ever you want to go. Won’t you dear?”
“Yes of course madam. I’m at your service Mr. Valdez.”
“Thank you, come on I’ll tell you on the way.”
Patrick kissed his mother as he and Shilo went through another secret passage behind a wall portrait and headed in the direction of the kitchen.