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Ricky Blair and the Late Call
“My God,” muttered the police chief. He stood at the entrance to the room, staring at the body swinging slowly like a morbid pendulum. “How long’s he been hanging there, Jackson?”
The forensics officer leafed through the papers in his hand.
“Well our best estimate, sir, is that physiological death occurred six hours ago. At least that’s when his heart stopped.”
The chief’s face grew concerned. “Check again. there must be a mistake.”
“I’ll examine him again, sir, but I doubt my results will be any different.” The man walked back to the body and began prodding it, inserting a thermometer into the man’s abdomen, straight into his liver. Reading aloud, he said, “Eighty-three point three degrees. That’s almost exactly six hours. Legal time of death was 2:27 pm.”
“Something wrong, sir?”
“Make sure the room is fully photographed, then cut down the stiff and do a full autopsy.”
“Sir, he died from asphyxiation. A typical banker suicide.”
“I don’t think so. Something’s off about the crime scene.”
“It’s not…it’s not a crime scene. It’s just a suicide, sir.”
“Do a full autopsy after fully recording all evidence from the room.”
“With all due respect, sir, why?”
“He died six hours ago. We only knew to find him here because two hours ago we received a phone call.”
“Plenty of people call in suicides, sir.”
“The call was from him.”
Richard Blair sat by his phone waiting for a call. His small apartment was dimly lit, conserving energy before the electric company shut it down. A couch in the corner was covered with a thin, holey quilt and a lumpy pillow covered in drool stains.
Ricky had been out of a job for months and his two room apartment showed it. An empty bottle of whiskey lay inside a pizza box on the coffee table and soda cans were scattered about the floor. A bag of chips lay on its side, spilling out in a heap. Stacks of bills were strewn about his messy desk.
Pacing slowly around the couch, Ricky gnawed at his nails. He took a deep breath and sat down heavily on the couch, trying to regain his composure. He sat a moment with his eyes closed. All was completely quiet and he began to fall into an uneasy slumber when a loud ringing came from his desk.
“A call,” Ricky muttered. He paused, allowing the phone to ring again, just to make sure it wasn’t a hallucination. Hearing it again, he leapt from the lumpy sofa and lunged across the desk, sending papers and candy wrappers flying.
“Hello?” he answered breathlessly. “This is Richard Blair, freelance detective. How can I-”
“Oh shut it, Ricky. It’s me,” a calm, youthful woman’s voice came from the phone.
“Hey, Dawn. I thought you were a client,” he said dejectedly.
“Nope, it’s just me, but I have good news. There’s a case down in Pasadena. Some guy’s suicide might not have been a suicide. The police are looking for consultants and detectives. I thought you might be interested.”
“That’s a six hour drive.”
“Well if you’d rather-”
“I’ll take it,” Ricky interrupted. “God knows I need a job. A few hours’ drive isn’t that bad,” he grinned.
“The police station is at 207 North Garfield Avenue. Ask for Chief Sanchez.”
Ricky wrote the address down on the back of an envelope, then said, “Are you coming along to get the story? Your boss at the Gate will love it.”
“I can’t,” she replied. “Someone else might catch the story but I have to finish this one I’m working on. I still need pictures of that dad who punched a bear.”
“Well have fun. I’ll tell you all about the case when I get back.”
“If you find anything, that is.”
“Hey, I’ll find something. Trust me. I need to get on the road if I want to be there by tomorrow morning. Thanks, Dawn.”
“No problem, Rickyboy,” she replied. “Hey.”
“Good luck out there, Mr. Holmes.”
“Oh, come on. Don’t compare me to him. Your expectations are too high.”
She laughed, “Bye, Ricky. And really, good luck.”
“Thanks.” He hung up the phone. Sitting still for a moment, he stared at the address in his hand. He leapt from the desk and grabbed his backpack, which was covered in patches and loose threads. He grabbed some clothes and shoved them into the bag. He pulled his sweatshirt off his head and searched frantically for a nice shirt and tie. “Damn,” he muttered, seeing a coffee stain on his only white dress shirt. Ricky pulled on some slacks and his only dress shoes, then grabbing his tie and bag, ran out of the apartment shirtless.
Ricky arrived in Pasadena in the early hours of the morning before the sun had risen. He parked and turned his car off, reclining his seat and closing his eyes, catching a few hours of sleep before the day began.
He awoke in a panic, worrying that he had woken up too late. He put on a stained t-shirt and rushed to a store where all he could find was a cheap, itchy lavender dress shirt. Ricky tied his skinny black tie around his neck and fixed his messy blond hair in the rearview mirror on his way to the police station.
“Here I go,” he said to himself as he pulled in front of the large brick building.
Ricky entered the station and stared at the wall coated in Wanted posters. There was a man with a tattoo of a snake wrapped around his neck and an elderly woman with a beehive hairdo, whose crime was armed robbery. What an odd pair, Ricky thought to himself. I wonder how they’ve hidden from the police for this long. They had a reward of $70,000.
He moved on and stood in front of a woman typing furiously at a reception desk. After nearly fifteen minutes, Ricky cleared his throat loudly.
“Ahem,” he shuffled his feet.
The woman didn’t look up from the screen.
He bit his lip, then, “Ahem.”
She smiled and focused on him finally. “Ah, he speaks! How may I help you?”
He blushed with embarrassment. “I’m a detective. I’m here about the suspicious suicide.”
“Are you a private detective? Do they still have those?”
“Yes, actually. I am,” he paused. “Is help still needed?”
“Well since nobody else has come to investigate, Chief Sanchez is getting desperate. Please have a seat over there,” she gestured to a small seating area.
“Next to the witch or the thug?” Ricky nodded toward the two people already waiting.
The secretary glared. “That’s my mother and nephew. I’ll go get Sanchez,” she said coldly.
Ricky looked down shamefully and sat between the two. The old crone next to him held a cake in her lap that read: ‘World’s best secretary.’
He waited anxiously, keeping his eyes downturned.
After waiting a particularly long time, a man in his mid forties came out to greet him. “You must be this detective I’ve heard about. What’s your name, son?”
“Richard Blair. Ricky, if you’d like.”
“I’m Frank Sanchez, the police chief. Aren’t you a little young to be in this line of work?”
“I’ve been doing this for years. I’m twenty-seven.”
“Don’t sweat it, kid. I can use all the help I can get. Come with me.”
Chief Sanchez began walking through the office, followed closely by Ricky, who carefully avoided eye contact with the secretary. They walked past people in little cubicles doing research. Ricky glanced at the screen of a pimply and thin man with a badly tied black tie playing Galaga. Working hard, or hardly working, eh?
The pair entered a room in the back of the office space. A wall was covered in pictures of a man in a suit hanging from a rope, then the same man naked on an autopsy table. “Is this the guy?”
“David Silverstein. He’s a Wall Street banker.” The chief handed him a folder.
“Why don’t you think it’s just a typical suicide?” Ricky asked, examining the pictures. “See here,” he gestured to the man’s neck from an autopsy photo. “The bruising doesn’t suggest anything other than a rope. Since he was found hanging from one, that’s obvious.” He opened the folder and leafed through the files. “No other injuries related to his death. Not even any prints at the scene other than his own.”
Chief Sanchez stood next to him. “See here,” he pointed to a crime scene photo. “This little pool of blood right here.”
“Is it Silverstein’s?”
“It is,” Sanchez nodded in affirmation.
“Wait. He didn’t have any injuries. Where’d the blood come from?”
“We don’t know. There’s no source of blood loss, nor is there any absence of blood in his body to account for what was lost.”
Ricky shook his head and mumbled, “Now I know why you were suspicious of this case.”
Sanchez glanced at Ricky. “And you know something? That’s not even the most confusing part of this case.”
“What? What else is there?” The detective man responded incredulously.
“The time of death for Mr Silverstein here was 2:27 pm on Thursday. We received a call from Mr. Silverstein at 4:30.”
Ricky turned to the chief. “So he called you after he died? Can I hear the recording?”
Sanchez turned toward the conference table behind them and leaned forward, pressing a button on a small black box. A recording began playing.
“911, where’s the emergency?” The operator’s voice was covered in a layer of static interference, but was clear enough to hear.
A man’s voice replied, “Come to 972 San Pasqual Street. I’m going to kill myself.”
There was a burst of static, then the operator’s voice returned, “Sir, we’re sending over a car. Are you alone?”
“Yes. I’m always alone.” The man’s voice was cold and emotionless.
“Please wait just a few minutes. We have a patrol minutes from your location,” she replied.
“How long until they arrive?”
“Just a few minutes, sir. What’s your name?”
There was a pause. A beep was heard among a surge of interference.
“My name is David Silverstein.”
The woman’s anxiety was audible. “What a lovely name. There’s a story in the bible about a David, isn’t there?”
“The giant killer.”
“Yes! I remember now. He took a rock in a sling and slew Goliath, right?” she tried stalling him.
“How far are your officers?”
“Four minutes away. Just hang in there, David.”
“It’s too late. Farewell.”
“No! Sir, stay on the line with me! If you can just-”
With a click, the recording ended.
Ricky remained silent, thinking.
Chief Sanchez pulled his cell phone from its holster on his belt. He began dialing.
“Listen to this,” he said, putting the call on speaker.
The now familiar voice of Mr. Silverstein answered, “David Silverstein, Wall Street extraordinaire. Leave your name, number, and reason for calling. I’ll get back to you when I want to.”
“Our linguistics experts have verified, using this voicemail recording, that the call was from David.”
Blood that was Silverstein’s, but couldn’t possibly be. Ricky thought to himself, pacing around the table. A voice that was Silverstein’s, but couldn’t possibly be. Unless...
“Did Silverstein have any family? Maybe a twin?”
Chief Sanchez opened a folder. “He was an orphan and never was adopted. He had a female partner, whose relationship with him is still cloudy. She hasn’t been seen since Silverstein came here and died.”
Damn. No twin. Maybe they were separated at birth?
“Why did he come to Pasadena in the first place?”
“One of his colleagues in New York said that he came for a family emergency.”
“You just said he had no family,” Ricky said, confused.
“I did. We assume David lied to the man who told us. We don’t know his motives for flying over two thousand miles, seemingly spontaneously.”
Maybe to find a twin...
A man opened the door suddenly.
“Sir, we’ve located Mr Silverstein’s lady friend. A certain Ms. Tina Gray. She’s being flown in right now. Her flight arrives in four hours.”
“Thank the New York Department for me, will you, Jeremy?”
The officer nodded and left.
“Well it looks like we have some time until we have a lead. Where are you staying?” the chief asked.
“Well,” Ricky hesitated, “I slept in my car last night.”
“There’s a great Holiday Inn on Colorado Boulevard. They put these little chocolates on your pillow every night. I’ll get you a room as long as you need to stay here. Thanks for you help. You look exhausted, kid. Go to the hotel. I’ll see you in a few hours.”
Ricky smiled. “Thank you, sir.”
The older man’s eyes crinkled with a grin. “Call me Frank.”
“Thanks, Frank. I’ll solve this case.”
“I hope so.”
Hours later, Ricky awoke in a neat hotel room, face-down on the bed. His head turned to the side and he saw a small chocolate laying in the center of a pillow next to him. He smiled and reached for it, unwrapping it carefully and popping it into his mouth, savoring the sweetness.
Ah, this is luxury, he thought.
His little slice of heaven ended the second he saw the glowing alarm clock next to the bed.
“Damn!” he cried out, panicked. He stood hastily and looked in the mirror. His hair was sticking up all over the right side of his head and a crease ran across his whole face where he had slept on it. He cupped some water from the bathroom sink in his hands and splashed it on his face and hair. Straightening his wrinkled shirt, he ran out the door.
In the elevator, he tried to compose himself, taking deep breaths and rubbing the sleep from his eyes with the palms of his hands. Each time someone got on the elevator, making it stop on their floor, Ricky huffed impatiently.
Finally, he reached the lobby, shoved past everyone and jogged past the front desk. A man stood there checking in. He wore a dark trenchcoat and a widebrimmed hat, obscuring his face. The man turned to glance at Ricky as he ran by. Ricky looked at the man, too, and they made eye contact for a split second.
I know him. Where do I know him from?
The man turned away suddenly and Ricky’s eyes were brought to the huge clock hanging above the desk. He wiped his brow and ran out the door, the man fading from his mind.
The drive to the police station stressed him out even more. An old woman driving next to him suddenly sped up and cut him off, making him slam on the brakes, causing him to get rear-ended by an angry-looking teenager who had been tailgating him. Ricky swore as he ran a red light. He nearly ran over a dog and a little boy, but he swerved around them just before collision. He arrived at the station and, jumping out of the car, he went around to look at his rear bumper. The left side of it was crumpled in, but it was only an aesthetic problem. Ricky swore under his breath and turned away.
He entered the building and skidded to a halt before the secretary he had offended earlier. “Hello, miss. Is Frank, er, Chief Sanchez here?”
She gestured over to the waiting area without a word. Ricky sat next to an elderly man who looked ready to turn to dust and wondered if he was part of the secretary’s family tree. A nod and a smile from Ricky resulted in the man grunting acknowledgement, before coughing all over him.
Nearly an hour later, Chief Sanchez walked through the front door with a bag of donuts clenched in his hand. He went to the secretary and leaned on her desk, speaking quietly with her before she nodded toward Ricky. Sanchez turned and his face lit up when he saw the young detective.
“We’ve talked to Ms. Gray. No leads. Do you want to see what you can get out of her?”
“Sorry I’m late, Chief. I overslept a while.”
“You needed it. Besides, I took the time to go get some coffee and donuts.” He held up the bag and shook it.
Ricky stood and walked with Frank past the secretary toward the back room. The man who had been playing Galaga was now browsing the internet for cat pictures. As they walked by, he switched to another tab about forensics basics. Ricky rolled his eyes.
“Can I talk to Ms. Gray?”
“Right back here,” Sanchez gestured down a hall. “She’s a feisty one. A real New Yorker. She’ll bite your head off if you don’t watch yourself.”
“I got it. No big deal.” Ricky wiped sweat from his palms. Why am I so nervous? It’s just an interrogation. Nothing more, he thought. But what if I can’t get anything from her? She’s our only lead. I need to find out everything. Otherwise this case is done. I’ll have no chance. This is the case that’ll make or break my career. What if I have to use my business degree? I can’t do that!
“You all right, Ricky? You spaced out for a minute there,” Frank put his hand on Ricky’s shoulder.
“Sorry. Yeah, I’m fine.”
They stopped in front of a thick door. It had steel bolts around its edges and the handle was heavy duty. A thin window was in the center, and through it Ricky could see a woman sitting at a metal table, her hands resting on it in plain sight.
“She hasn’t been arrested, has she?”
“No, she’s just a suspect in a murder case. So she’s held here with reasonable suspicion of her involvement. So far, she’s been compliant.”
Ricky grabbed the bag of donuts and entered the room, leaving Frank donutless and confused.
“Hi, Tina. I’m Ricky,” he held out the bag. “Donut?”
She extended her hand and Ricky handed one to her. “You won’t get any information out of me,” she said. “Not that I’m hiding anything. I just don’t know anything of relevance. I’ve already talked to the other cop.”
“First off, I’m not a cop. I’m a private detective.”
“They still have those?”
Ricky sighed, “Yes. Yes they do. I understand that you and David Silverstein were in an intimate relationship. Could you specify what that relationship was?”
Tina held Ricky’s eye contact and said calmly, “He was a nice guy. He was lonely and, well, rich. We met almost every night for dinner and I went to a few formal parties with him when necessary. He gave me his credit card. It was a good arrangement.”
“Okay. Now, could you walk me through the morning before he left?”
The woman shook her head. “I’ve already told the cops everything.”
Ricky sat down across from her. “I’m sure you have, but there could be some little insignificant fact that they missed, or you forgot to mention. So walk me through every little thing,” he smiled.
“All right. Well, we woke up at seven o’clock like every morning.”
“Together? Did you share a room?”
She blushed, “Yes. Can I continue?”
“Sorry, go ahead.”
“As I was saying, we got up at seven and he took his shower. I started making him pancakes. He came into the kitchen and sat in his chair next to the window. We have one of those apartments that overlooks Central Park. It’s like a little slice of nature. He loves...loved...staring out over the trees,” she grew quiet for a moment.
Ricky waited impatiently for her to resume her story. Be understanding. Her boyfriend just killed himself. She’s probably in shock.
Tina recovered quickly. Too quickly, Ricky thought.
“Anyways,” she said, “he took out his laptop to check his emails and check his appointments for the day. He’d already dressed and shaved, but his tie and jacket were tossed over the back of his chair. I put a stack of pancakes on the table next to him but he didn’t even look up at me. He was just...staring intensely at his computer. His face contorted into something awful. I went around behind him and asked him what was wrong. He just grunted and deleted the email before I could read it. Then he got up without a word and started packing like he was going away. He never left on such short notice, so I just assumed he was leaving on business and that’s why he was so grumpy. I never thought he was going to...kill himself,” she gulped.
Ricky put his hand on hers. “Thank you, Tina. You were very helpful.”
She seems off. Something’s not right with her. She doesn’t care about him. Maybe it’s the money. She just used him for that. No emotions. No attachment. Convenient.
“I’ll talk to the chief about letting you go home.”
She smiled at Ricky. “You know, maybe I’ll stay here for a while. I’ve never been to California before.”
“Interesting way of looking at it,” Ricky stood.
“You think I’m a heartless b****, don’t you?”
“I think you don’t care about your boyfriend’s death.”
“Boyfriend. You make our relationship sound so childish. It was a professional relationship. A very mature one. We were...companions.”
“Is that what they’re calling it these days?”
“I’m not a hooker,” she glared at him.
I may have crossed the line. I need to get out before I ruin anything else, Ricky realized.
“I’m sorry, Ms. Gray,” he apologized. “I’ll leave you now.”
“Thank you,” she said coldly, shooting daggers with her eyes.
Ricky made a hasty retreat back into the hall where he was apprehended by Frank, who took the donuts back forcefully.
“Don’t take my food again,” he said, stuffing a donut in his mouth, showering the linoleum floor with crumbs. “What’d you find out?” he mumbled around his mouthful.
“Have you checked Silverstein’s email yet?”
“Yeah,” he swallowed. “But we didn’t find anything.”
“He deleted the email that sent him here.”
This could be it. This could solve the case. It was right in front of us the whole time.
“I’ll get my guys right on it.” Frank strode down the hall, leaving Ricky standing outside Tina Gray’s door.
The police station had a corner dedicated to food. There was a microwave, toaster oven, mini fridge, and a stained coffee pot. Ricky waited next to the coffee, carefully sipping a steaming mug. As he waited, he tried thinking about the case. It still didn’t make sense.
I hope the email helps. It might give some insight into his motives for suicide, or maybe it’ll reveal the twin. How could this happen? Maybe he really is dead. He could have vomited the blood and send the call later. No, he responded to the operator. Okay let’s say a twin killed him. Why?
“My guys found the email. You have no idea how hard it was. Silverstein knew how to delete an email. We had to contact Google and ask for it. They wouldn’t give it without a warrant. Anyway, here it is.” Frank was standing in front of Ricky holding out a piece of freshly printed paper. Ricky took it from him and read:
Sent: Thursday, April 9, 2015 5:12 AM
Subject: I’m back
David, I finally found you. I spent years searching. I finally found the orphanage you were left at. I’m waiting for you at 972 San Pasqual Street in Pasadena. We need to talk.
Ricky finished reading and stared at the paper.
“We can’t make anything out of it. Can you think of anything?” Frank asked.
Ricky paced slowly, the paper still clenched in his hand. “I need you to search for the name Daniel Silverstein. I think our dead man had a twin.” Ricky handed the email back to Frank and walked off briskly down the hall, his hands deep in his pockets, and his mind deep in thought.
“Where are you off to?” Frank called after him.
“I need to pursue a lead.”
Ricky parked his car in front of his hotel. He sat behind the wheel and thought to himself. Okay, Ricky. Think this through again. Was it him you saw earlier? At the desk. Ricky’s mind searched through a recent memory of Ricky’s hasty exiting of the hotel earlier. That man. Was it really Silverstein’s face I saw under that hat? The chances of that...Ricky began doubting his own memory. I could be putting his face on a stranger. I guess it won’t hurt to look.
Ricky stepped out of the car and strode into the building with confidence. He waited at the receptionist desk for a heartbeat before a pimply teen sauntered out of the back room.
“Welcome to the hotel. You want a room?” the kid asked.
“I’m with the Pasadena Police. I’m looking for someone here. Middle aged white guy with a big black trenchcoat and a black hat, too,” Ricky described, holding his arms out to demonstrate the coat, but closer resembling a penguin.
The teen looked slightly worried about police involvement, but he was quickly amused at the man before him miming clothing.
“Have you seen him?” Ricky pressed.
“Yeah, I helped him check in this evening. Creepy guy, y’know.”
“Can you tell me anything else about him? What room is he staying in?”
“Let me see here…” he looked at the computer screen. “Hmm...okay. Right here. Mr. Bob Goldstein. Room five forty five.”
“Thank you. Is there anything you can tell me about him that might be helpful?” Ricky asked. SIlverstein is here. I knew it! I was right!
The teenager shuffled his feet. “Well, he talked really funny. Like, his voice was really raspy and it seemed like he couldn’t get the words out, you know?”
“Like he was in pain?”
“Yeah, I think so. And he had this weird way of walking.” he said as he demonstrated. It was Ricky’s turn to be amused by the other’s antics. The young man was hobbling along with a limp, like a hunchbacked evil lab assistant to a mad scientist.
“Thank you,” Ricky said, looking at the nametag on the teen’s chest. “Ryan.”
Ricky walked quickly to the elevator and waited patiently as it crept downward. Finally, the doors slid open and Ricky waited for a handful of guests to exit. A little girl was being dragged by her mother, and Ricky smiled and waved at her, but she only stared at him with big brown eyes. Ricky rushed into the elevator after everyone was out and he hit two buttons in quick succession: the button for floor five and the one to close the doors without waiting for any other passengers.
Ricky stood facing the doors as he ascended and music filled the room. He hummed along softly, trying to figure out the song; he was sure he’d heard it before. It was an instrumental version of a song but he just couldn’t put his finger on it.
The doors opened and the song left his mind.
The hallway stretched out before him, empty of all people, but a bloody handprint stood out on the wallpaper to Ricky’s right. He must be really hurt. He leaned in to take a closer look and saw drips of blood coming down from each of the fingertips.
Ricky continued down the hall slowly. If he’s injured he could be violent. Hell, he could be violent either way. I don’t know what to expect.
He began counting the numbers on the doors as he passed them.
“Five thirty seven...Five thirty nine...Five forty one...Five forty three...Five forty five. Well here we are.”
Blood was smeared across the door and the doorframe. A particularly large patch of drying blood sat on the handle of the door. I forgot to get a key. Jesus, I’m an idiot.
Ricky swore under his breath and began to return downstairs. Wait. He went back to the door. He gingerly placed his hand against it and pushed slightly. The door creaked inward slowly, stopping as it was blocked by a jacket lying inside the doorway. Thank god. Ricky took a deep breath and stepped over the threshold.
The lights in the room were off and the windows drawn, making it difficult to see. Ricky reached and felt around the wall, finding the light switch and turning it on. Bloody clothes were strewn about the floor in heaps. Ricky stepped over the hat and a shoe. Hotel towels were covered in blood and tossed every which way. A sockless foot protruded out from behind a wall.
Ricky approached the foot carefully. He turned the corner and there lay Silverstein, covered in his own blood, shirtless, and missing one shoe. A gash was cut into his side right below his rib cage. I swear if he’s dead I’ll kill him. I need to know why he did it.
Ricky knelt next to the dying man and grabbed a towel, holding it against the wound. Silverstein was unconscious, so Ricky slapped him across the face. “Wake up, you bastard!”
The man’s eyes opened slowly.
“Why did you kill your brother?”
Silverstein coughed, wincing in pain. “Straight to the point, eh? I’m dying.”
“Why did you do it?” Ricky asked, the tension in his voice rising.
“Let me die in peace,” he said, closing his eyes.
“No you have to tell me why!”
Silverstein’s eyes opened again, but they were out of focus.
“Talk to me, Silverstein.”
“I can see him.”
“Who?” Ricky asked.
“My brother. It’s time to go, I think.”
Ricky slapped him again, showing no remorse for the dying man’s pain. “Stay with me. Tell me: why did you kill your brother?”
“I almost wish I hadn’t, y’know?”
“I hope he isn’t too mad at me…”
“Yes. Daniel,” he mumbled the last word as his eyes glazed over.
Ricky sat back, letting go of the towel. SIlverstein’s blood now flowed steadily; without a pulse, it was a constant stream.
“Well, s***,” Ricky swore. I was so close. I had him. Why did he do it? Why?
Ricky grit his teeth and pulled his phone from his pocket, careful not to get any blood on it. He paused and realized that he never actually got Chief Sanchez’s personal phone number. He sighed and dialled 911.
“Nine one one, where’s the emergency?”
“Can you put me through to Frank, er, Chief Sanchez? I’m the detective he has working on the Silverstein case. I found Silverstein.”
“I can’t just patch you through to the chief. I’ll inform him that you need to contact him.”
“Ma’am this is an emergency. Silverstein is dead.”
“There was a pause.
“One moment, please,” the operator said. Another period of silence, then: “I’ll transfer you over.”
“Thank you,” Ricky tried saying, but she was no longer listening.
The phone rang one time before Frank answered. “Hey, Ricky. I heard you found him.”
“It’s pretty messy too. I found him alive, but just barely. The room’s covered in blood. I doubt the hotel will be able to use it for a while.”
“Did you get anything out of him?”
“Nothing. Just that he saw his brother right before he died. He never even said why he did it.”
“Come back to the station, Ricky. I have two guys a block away. They’ll handle the, uh, mess.”
“On my way.”
Back at the station, Ricky sat at at a small table in a conference room across from Frank. They were eating donuts and drinking coffee.
“Sorry I didn’t get there in time,” Ricky said to the older man.
“What? You found him. That’s all we care about. There isn’t going to be a trial, so the paper work will be easy. I’ll just say: ‘no known intent’ and that’ll be the end of it.”
“But don’t you want to know why he did it?”
“I don’t care why he did it. He murdered his own brother, for Christ’s sake.”
“Frank, I’ve been thinking. He didn’t have a reason. Unless, he was crazy, Daniel didn’t have a reason to kill David.”
“Of course he did! Finding out he had a big rich brother like David probably made him jealous. He probably wanted to take his place and live a life of luxury. Daniel was a janitor here in Pasadena.”
Look, I thought that, too, but it still doesn’t add up. If he wanted to replace his rich brother, he would have taken his identity, not left David’s ID and phone at the scene.”
“He was crazy, then.”
“He didn’t seem like it. Plenty of people see people they’ve wronged when they’re dying. And something else. He was talking about seeing his brother and I said: ‘Daniel.’ because I was trying to get him to focus. He said: ‘Yes. Daniel.’ back. I think he was seeing Daniel.”
“You mean you think David Silverstein was the killer? He has even less of a reason to kill his brother.”
“No he had more of a reason.” Ricky’s eyes lit up and he leaned forward. “Listen, Wall Street guys kill themselves all the time, right? Why?”
“Well, to escape, just like all suicides.”
“Right. To escape. Well what if...what if there were another way to escape. Say a deal went wrong, or you were about to be found breaking the law, but then you find out you have an identical twin?”
“But what’s the point?”
“Don’t you get it, Frank? If David killed Daniel and took his place, then left all his money to Daniel, he could get his own money back and avoid any charges and loss of reputation. Then in a few years time, Daniel could begin investing that inheritance. It’d be brilliant.”
“A little too brilliant, don’t you think?”
“Where did Daniel work as a janitor?”
“What? Um one of the local schools.”
“If he worked at a federal institution, they’d have fingerprints on file. If I’m right, Daniel’s will match the Silverstein present at the crime scene, not the one in the hotel.”
“They’re identical twins. Their fingerprints are the same.”
“Fun face: identical twins are identical, but they have different fingerprints. That forensics elective in college paid off.”
“I’ll get the file,” Frank said. He stood and left quickly.
I hope I’m right. I just started talking out my ass to the guy who’s paying me. No I have to be right. It’s the only thing that makes sense. Reasonable men don’t just kill their siblings. And Wall Street guys have to be cutthroat. I’m sure a little bit of sociopathic tendencies wouldn’t hurt in the climb to the top. Poor Miss Gray. She wouldn’t get any money. There’s no reason for her too. She would serve no purpose to Silverstein.
Ricky ate another donut. This has been a crazy first case. I bet Ray would love to hear it. I should call him. I’m such a lousy brother. It’s been at least six months since I talked to him. How’s that story he’s writing coming? Maybe he got it published. I’ll have to ask him.
Ricky’s thoughts were interrupted by Frank reentering with three files. He handed them to the young detective, who opened them up. Two were forensics reports and autopsies. The other was a public school employee file. Ricky took out the papers with fingerprints and compared them. Sure enough, the janitor matched up the the hanged man.
“Look at that. Daniel was hanged.”
“Well I’ll be damned. You were right. Our victim killed our suspect. And they were twins.” Frank shook his head. “I’ll throw a party tonight. You’re welcome to come, of course.”
Ricky stood, then looked back at the picture of the man hanging. “I should head home. It’s a long drive.”
“Are you sure? It’ll be fun!”
“I’m not really one for parties.”
“All right, Ricky. If you’re sure.”
Frank stepped forward and pulled Ricky into a manly hug reminiscent of bears and lumberjacks. “Been good working with you, kid. We couldn’t have done it without you.”
“Thanks, Frank.” Ricky smiled.
Frank released him. “How much do you charge? This is your job, right?”
“Yeah it is. Forty dollars an hour.”
“That seems a bit cheap. How about fifty an hour and I’ll get the city to throw in a bonus. Maybe even something from New York, eh?”
“Sounds perfect, Frank.”
“Are you leaving now?” the man asked.
“I guess so. I’m not really needed here, am I?”
“I guess not. Last chance for the party!”
“I’ll have to decline.”
“Well It’s been a pleasure.”
“Yes it has.” Ricky held out his hand and Frank firmly shook it. Then, Ricky turned and began to leave, but as he opened the door Frank stopped him.
“I have a friend up in Sacramento. He’s not a cop, but his daughter went missing last month and he thinks someone he knows took her. I’ll give him your number if you want to help him.”
“Really? That’d be great, Frank. Thank you.”
“No problem! I’ll call you if I need some world class snooping done around here.”
“Seeya around, Ricky.”
Ricky sat in his car driving down the highway back home. He began humming the song from the elevator. It’s a Beatles song. He hummed it louder.
Oh. I do know that song. He smiled. Yesterday.
Rice Lake, Wisconsin
Deep River, Connecticut
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