August was almost over. It had been a long month. Now that the newlyweds are back in town, maybe things will get back to normal for Mr. Raymond Stokes.
Brianna was his only child, and even at thirty he hated to see her marry. He didn’t agree with the saying, ‘you’re not losing a daughter, you’re gaining a son.’ To him she would always be his little girl. They had grown very close after he accidentally burned the house down in eighty-eight killing his wife.
Brianna and her stepmother were never close, so when Leona died in the fire, she made her dad promise not to marry again. He kept a close eye on her over the years trying to be the best father he could possibly be.
Although he didn’t want her to get married, he did giver her and Pierce tickets to Maui as a wedding gift. Once Brianna and Pierce moved into their own home, he would be all alone. Nora the maid would be glad to see them go. She always had hopes of moving from maid to wife, but only made it as far as his mistress. Maybe with Brianna married herself and out of the house, Raymond will finally marry her.
Pierce banging through the double oak doors of the study drew her back to reality. “Raymond! I need to talk to you, right now!” Pierce yelled, “Did you help yourself to a box of my cigars?”
“He’s not here, Mr Anderson.”
“Where is he Nora? I can smell the stink of his cigar. I know how much he enjoys his cigar after dinner. I was sure he would be here.”
“I only put it out before you came charging through the door. I came in to ask him if he would like his tea in here seeing how he hadn’t made it to the sitting room, but he wasn’t here either. He wouldn’t leave a cigar burning and walk away, so where can he be?”
“He can’t be too far. He never leaves the grounds after dinner,” said Pierce.
“Maybe, he joined Brianna in the garden. She was there listening to the birds”, said Nora.
“Figures, people are never where they’re supposed to be. I’m going to the club,” said Pierce, slamming the door on his way out.
Later when the cops arrived at 10 p.m., Brianna knew it was official. Her dad was missing.
“Mrs. Anderson, Detective Forbes is here,” said Nora.
“Show him into the study.”
“Before I forget, Mr Anderson is gone to the club.”
“Thank you, Nora.” said Brianna, he is always running to that damn club, it was so nice to be away from here for awhile; too bad we had to come back three days early.
“Detective Forbes; please, have a seat,” said Brianna, motioning to the large luxurious Italian leather armchair, which her father personally picked out in Italy. “Thank you for coming so quickly.”
“We understand Mr. Stokes has medical problems, so we didn’t want to delay. My men are outside searching the grounds. Now when was the last time you saw him?” asked Detective Forbes.
“At 8:20 when he left the dinner table. He said he was retiring to the study for his evening cigar, which the maid did find still lit at approximately 8:47.”
“Perhaps he went out and didn’t bother informing anyone,” suggested Detective Forbes.
“No. He never leaves the premises after dinner, and our driver was off duty at eight-thirty,” she replied.
“I would like to question the driver to confirm that,” said the Detective.
“His number is 555-0088. Roger doesn’t live on the estate.”
“Why not, that must be inconvenient?”
“Roger is only temporary. Spence the old driver died last week.”
Detective Forbes dialed the number, receiving no answer he tried again after five minutes, but he still received no answer. A knock came to the study door and the maid showed in another police officer.
“Excuse me, Detective Forbes; I wanted to let you know immediately that the limo is not in the garage.”
“Thank you, Peters.”
“Well isn’t that strange. I’m sure Mrs. Anderson that you don’t allow the driver to take the limo home.”
“Of course not, Detective,” snapped Brianna.
“What kind of car does Roger drive?” asked Peters. “There is an old Volkswagen Beetle parked next to the garage.”
“That’s his car,” said Brianna.
“We better mark off this room, and call in forensics,” said Detective Forbes. “Also, mark off the garage and Roger’s Volkswagen.”
“Yes, Sir,” Peters said and showed himself out.
“Do you really think my dad is in danger,” asked Brianna.
“When a schedule as strict as your fathers is broken, we must take it seriously.”
“Roger seems so harmless. He’s barely 19. He took the job so that he could pay his traveling expenses to a University out of state,” said Brianna defending him.
“I’ve seen many innocent faced criminals, who seemed harmless. You can never be too careful,” said Detective Forbes.
“Well, I hope Roger hasn’t harmed my father.”
“Mrs. Anderson, let’s go to the sitting room. My men will be here shortly to examine the study.”
“Follow me. It is down the hall, the third door on the left. Would you like something to drink Detective? It sounds like it is going to be a long night,” asked Brianna picking up the servants phone.
“Black coffee would be fine, thanks” said Forbes. “I want to question all the staff. Will you have Nora inform them to join us here?”
When the knock came to the sitting room door, Brianna thought it was Nora, but it was Peters. “Detective Forbes when we bagged the cigar at the desk, we also found a chewed tip in the wastebasket. There were different sets of prints on the cigar box. Briggs took the evidence to the crime lab. We should have the results before morning.”
“Thanks, Peters. Let me know what you find at the garage and Roger’s Volkswagen.”
“Yes! Sir,” said Peters holding the door for Nora on his way out.
“Thanks everyone for coming,” said Brianna. “This is Detective Forbes. He is here to ask you a few questions.”
“This is all the people you have on staff?” asked Detective Forbes.
“Seven counting Roger,” said Brianna, handing him his coffee. “If you are suspecting it to be one of the staff, I can tell you right now, you are wrong. For the exception of Roger, the rest of have been here for over twenty years. This is Carl, the gardener, Frederick, the butler, Rachelle, the chambermaid, Nora, the servant, and then there are Susan and George, from the kitchen.”
“I have to ask you a few questions. You may have seen something that at the moment you might not have thought was important, but once questioned you will see the situation in a different light.”
Suddenly flashing lights drew them to the window, a cruiser was following the limo up to the house. Brianna ran to the door expecting to meet her father, but it was only Roger. Peters already put him in handcuffs.
“What did you do to my father?” she yelled, striking him across the face.
“I didn’t do anything to him,” said Roger, “He is at Victoria Memorial Hospital. When I was going off duty, I saw him in the garden and he wasn’t acting at all like himself. He told me to get the car right away and take him to the hospital. By the time I got back with the car, he had passed out; so I didn’t want to waste any time getting him to the hospital.”
“Did the doctor say what is wrong with him? Why didn’t you call from the hospital?” asked Brianna.
“He said that Mr. Stokes had an epileptic seizure, but he was waiting for test results to figure out what triggered them. I came back to bring you to the hospital,” said Roger. “The doctor said for you to come in immediately. Can I get these cuffs off now?”
“Not until we confirm that Mr. Stokes is actually at Victoria Memorial,” said Peters.
“I will make that call and find out,” said Detective Forbes.
“How was he when you left the hospital?” asked Brianna, dreading the thoughts of losing another parent.
“He was still unconscious.”
“Peters, take off the cuffs. He is free to go,” said Detective Forbes. “The hospital was about to call the house. I’m sorry, Mrs. Anderson, your dad died at 11:45.”
“NO!” screamed Brianna. “Roger we’re going to the hospital. Dad was fine at dinner. I need some answers.”
“I’ll take you to the hospital, Mrs. Anderson. I have to speak to the doctor to make my report,” said Detective Forbes, turning to the staff he added, “Thank you all for coming so promptly to the sitting room, but it looks like I may not be questioning you after all. Keep yourselves available in case that changes, that means no vacations and no leaving the country.”
“Okay everyone, you heard the news. Now, please get back to work,” Said Brianna.
On the way to the hospital, Detective Forbes got a call from the police lab. He never would have suspected what they had found in the tip of the cigar. He decided he would wait until he got to the hospital to see what the doctor said was the cause of death before he mentioned it to Mrs. Anderson.
Dr. Miller was waiting for her at the emergency entrance to take her to see her dad. “This way Mrs. Anderson,” said the doctor, and then he noticed Detective Forbes and asked, “Is he with you?”
“Yes, he is. I call the police when my dad went missing. It was so out of character for him to leave the grounds after supper that I felt I should.”
“It is a good thing you did, Mrs. Anderson. Your dad died from a seizure caused by an overdose of ecstasy,” said the doctor.
“Ecstasy, are you nuts my dad was sixty-eight years old. What would he be doing with ecstasy? You must be wrong. I want that test run again.”
“That has already been done. I also questioned the lab test, but the results are still the same.”
“Mrs. Anderson, the doctor is right. The call I got on the way over here was from our crime lab. They found enough 3, 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine for a multiple dosage of ecstasy pills. What I would like to know is how they ever got into the cigar?” said Detective Forbes. “Do you know where that cigar came from?”
“Maui, my husband Pierce and I just got back from our honeymoon. He has a club downtown and he gives cigars out to his favorite customers. He said it is good for business. When he was giving instructions to the pilot of his private jet, I put a box of cigars in my overnight bag for my dad. I meant to tell Pierce about them, before he took the rest of the shipment to the club. With all the excitement of seeing my dad I forgot. They were a thank you gift from me, for giving us tickets to Maui for our honeymoon.”
“Can I go see my dad now?” asked Brianna. “I have lots to say to him, even if he can’t hear me.”
“As soon as you give me the name of Mr. Anderson’s club,” said Detective Forbes.
“It’s the Brews ‘N’ Blues Club on Main and Fifth: now I’d like to go see my dad.”
“Okay, but I will be sending Peters to escort you back to the house, and stay with you until I get there.”
“Thank you,” said Brianna.
Detective Forbes pulled into a parking spot half a block from Brews ‘N’ Blues Club. His charcoal grey unmarked car shouldn’t attract any attention. He didn’t want the muscle at the door warning Pierce. A long line of customers waiting to be carded crowded the sidewalk. Forbes knew he’d have to wait. He had no worries of fitting in, the ages of the crowd varied from teenagers to seniors. He didn’t think teenagers would be interested in the blues crowd. What could they possibly be blue about? The man with the thick wallet and a gorgeous blonde clinging to his arm likely had a reason to be blue. Pierce couldn’t help but overhear their conversation.
“Come on, Roy. Let’s just go to your place. We can have a drink there.”
“No Barb. We have to stop here first. It won’t be much longer. I told a guy that I’d stop in tonight. I’ll be quick.”
“Okay Roy, but you better keep your promise of a great night.”
“Barb, it’ll be a night you’ll never forget.”
The muscle opened the door and people flocked in including Barb and Roy.
Detective Forbes entered the bar with the next flock of people. Two teenage boys from the last crowd that went in were already on their way out and excited about some house party. The music was blaring and the crowd was elbow to elbow. Flashing lights bounced around the room making it hard to focus on anyone in particular. Then he spotted Barb and Roy in a discreet corner. Roy was dropping something into Barb’s drink. Forbes squeezed through to the crowd, “Barb, don’t touch that drink. Roy just dropped a pill in it, and my guess it’s ecstasy. Call yourself a taxi and go home.”
Roy sprang from his seat; knocked over Barb’s drink; and pushed his way towards the door. Forbes wasn’t there for the little guy, so he let him go. He was more interested in what Pierce was doing in his office. Forbes saw the office door on time to see one of the bodyguards going in to see Pierce. Forbes knew from experience if Roy shot his mouth off to the muscle outside the door, Pierce wouldn’t be coming out through that door.
Forbes made his way back outside, pass the preoccupied muscle at the door and to the alley where a black sedan was idling. Pierce came out the door closes to the car and never noticed Forbes behind the door. “Police freeze!” yelled Forbes.
Pierce ran for the car carrying a silver briefcase. He managed to get into the driver’s seat but he wasn’t going anywhere. Detective Forbes shot out the front tire before Pierce could get the car in gear. Forbes walked over to the car with his gun raised, “Pierce Anderson get out of your car and put your hands on the hood.”
Pierce surprisingly did as he was told. Forbes handcuffed him “Pierce Anderson you are being taken to the station for questioning.”
“About what, I didn’t do anything?”
“I wouldn’t be so sure about that,” interrupted Biggs, who had just entered the alley. “I was waiting on this search warrant for your club and car, when the call came in about a shot being fired in the alley. “So let’s see what your car can tell us for starters,” Biggs put on gloves and reached into the sedan and pulled out the silver briefcase.
“Look at this Detective Forbes, an interesting find, cigars, ecstasy, and bundles of cash.”
“Well Anderson, looks like you have lots of questions to answer,” said Detective Forbes. “I’ll take him to the station and start the interrogation, said Biggs. “I already called the tow truck on the way here to haul his car to the impound yard. The club is closed and our men are inside conducting that search warrant.”
“Once they pick up the car, I have to go back to see Mrs. Anderson at her house,” said Forbes. “I left Peters with her at the hospital.”
“Come on, Anderson, let’s go. I have a room for people like you,” said Biggs grabbing him by the handcuffs. “You wouldn’t believe how many so called innocent people sat on that very chair.”
Forbes couldn’t help but chuckle at Biggs sense of humor.
“Good evening, Detective Forbes, Mrs. Anderson is in the sitting room,” said Nora, “I will show you in. Would you like a cup of coffee, I’m making one for Mrs. Anderson and Officer Peters?”
“No, thank you. Once I speak to Mrs. Anderson, Peters and I will be leaving.”
“Okay, right this way, Detective.”
Nora wrapped lightly on the door and entered, “Mrs. Anderson, Detective Forbes is here to see you.”
“Thank you, Nora,” said Mrs. Anderson. “Now, that Detective Forbes is back, you can forget about making coffee. I’m sure this won’t take long. You can retire for the night and I’ll see these gentlemen out when we’re finished.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Anderson, Good night.”
“Sorry, I’m so late getting back, Mrs. Anderson. I went to the club as planned to talk to Pierce and he was leaving out the back door to the alley, with his silver briefcase. One of my Officers showed up with a search warrant for the club and his car. Upon searching his briefcase we had enough evidence to haul him down to the station for questioning, where he will be facing a lot of charges and many years in jail. If you have a family lawyer, you might want to call him first thing in the morning.”
“We used the same lawyer my dad did. Pierce will have to find his own lawyer. The honeymoon is over and so is the marriage. I’ll be calling the lawyer in the morning to file for a divorce.”
“Sorry for the loss of your father, Mrs. Anderson,” said Detective Forbes.
“Thank you Detective, if we are done here, I’d like to get some rest.”
“Yes, that is all I can do until the investigation is done. Here is my card. If you think of anything that I should know don’t hesitate to call. We can show ourselves out. Goodnight.”
“Goodnight. Thank you, Officer Peters for staying with me. ”
“You’re welcome, Mrs. Anderson. Goodnight,” said Peters.
On the way back to the station, they picked up coffee. It was going to be a long night.
(c) Linda Kuno