W. Slammer, Private Eye
January 7, 2013
You got a problem?
A long night. By my definition, that means I didn’t get enough sleep! The lady talked – I listened – but warthog-napped so often that I often had to ask her to explain what she’d just said.
Then a telephone rings. Telephone? I have one? Ah, now I remember – I put it in the bottom desk drawer so if it rang it wouldn’t disturb my naps. I let it ring nine or ten times. The lady seated at the other side of the desk sits in silence, probably wondering where the phone is.
When it stopped ringing, I gave a little shrug. “Considering the hour, probably a wrong number.”
The lady looked so lost.
“You didn’t tell me your name.” I’m looking for my coffee cup, and then remember that I don’t drink coffee anymore. Caffeine keeps me awake.
“Marlene,” she says, “Marlene Nelson Chamberlain. You must have read the name. It’s always in the society rags … ”
I watch her fuss with that silky lock of hair partially covering an eye. I don’t subscribe to society papers, or any papers. They’d end up in the waste basket along with the rest of the trash, though I did recall hearing the name. It was the talk on the streets a year or so back – something about the billionaire dying – and no cause of death being announced. Heart attack? Murder?
“Ah, that was your father who died last year. William Nelson Chamberlain.” I tip my hat a bit further back on my head. If it were possible, I’d sleep with my hat on.
“She nods and rearranges the scarf about her shoulders. “Yes. My father. This is one of the reasons I’m here, Mr. Slammer. The cause of his death. As far as I know, we were never told the whole truth. The Medical Examiner said he died of ‘natural causes’. What’s that? If it’s a bullet in the heart, isn’t it natural for the heart to stop? No one would answer my questions.”
She is obviously uncomfortable – and fidgets with a dangly earring.
“What do you think?” I lean forward, staring into her shadowed face.
“I think my half-brother and his trophy wife are responsible for his death. They were afraid they were going to be cut out of his will. Father did not approve of the marriage and they knew it.”
“Were they?” I lean back in my chair. The streets are deathly quiet and the neon light across the street continues its mind dulling show on the ceiling. I need sleep. And something substantial to eat. I’m thinking gourmet pizza.
“The Will was read at the attorney’s two days ago. Charles, my older brother, received a pittance. Father did change the Will. That was in the letter. I believe that my brother stole it from me when I wasn’t home – and the map. Much of father’s estate went to charities. He was a true philanthropist. I did receive a substantial inheritance – that’s why I told you that I’d pay whatever you asked to help me find the letter and map before that rat gets to the safety deposit box before we do.”
It’s all making sense. I stand to stretch, my shadow on the wall making me appear quite formidable, which of course I am – when the sound of a single gunshot and breaking glass behind me makes me change my mind about stretching anywhere except on the floor! Someone took a shot at me! A shot in the dark!