|The World in Play: Chapter 8
Author: Lynn K. Hollander PM
In part three, the police invade the suite and discover the body of an unknown man in Pol's room. Is Pol's shock convincing? Or does he know more than he reveals?Rated: Fiction T - English - Fantasy/Mystery - Chapters: 3 - Words: 9,287 - Reviews: 3 - Updated: 08-17-12 - Published: 06-16-12 - id: 3032844
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"WHAT KILLED HIM?" Pol asked.
"I don't want you to know. If you don't know he's dead — and you don't know that yet, do you? not officially— if you don't know he's dead, you can't possibly know what killed him. In this singular instance, ignorance is safer than knowledge."
"Ann? How serious is this really?"
"Not as serious for you as it might have been, but it's still serious enough. When — yes, when, not if— when the police get here don't bluster. Don't be confrontational or argumentative. Answer their questions but don't volunteer information. Legally, you are a minor child; it's reasonable for you to want a parent with you, so you call Lisa. When you reach her and you've told her what's going on, ask if she thinks she should call Mr Halen."
"Why like that?"
"From Lisa, the presence of a lawyer is maternal concern; from you, it might be considered snotty rich kid behavior."
"She may not be answering her cell."
"Then you call me, and I'll tell you to call Halen. Quasi-parental worry, womanly fuss; again any annoyance will fall on me, and I can deal with it."
"And I am not a snotty rich kid."
"Sometimes you are."
"But you're getting better," Ann said. "Is Halen's number still on your speed dial?"
"Yes." Pol paused, then said, "I am worried."
"No reason for you not to be, but we're handling it as best we can."
"And I won't leave until the police arrive or the body's found."
Pol nodded. "OK."
"Now: Tell me what you had for dinner."
"Tell me what you had for dinner." At his confused stare, Ann said: "We can't talk about what we don't know and we don't know there's a body in your bedroom. Tell me what you had for dinner."
Despite his worries, Pol found himself obeying her. He told her what he had for dinner, then, as he relaxed a little, he expanded on the enchanted toiletries in Sundries.
Ann laughed. "Yes, perfume is easy to enhance. The perfumer can either use enchanted materials, or cast a spell on the finished product. A problem sometimes arises when the user carries a pre-existing spell. Interactions with cosmetic spells, since there are so many available, are not only common but also can be tricky to remove... ."
Her voice was warm and amused. She continued to speak softly and easily. He never remembered all she talked about, only that he had a feeling of comradeship and safety.
There was a knock at the door. It had been 27 minutes since Ann had opened the computer room door. Pol automatically got up and went to answer the knock.
There was a maid, carrying towels. "Excuse me. I need to do the towels. I mean, may we come in?"
"Sure," Pol said.
Two men who had been out of sight against the wall brushed the maid aside and entered the suite.
"Hey," Pol said.
"Are you here alone?"
"Who wants to know?"
"Brozzio, SFPD. Are you here alone?"
Pol did not turn around. "Yes."
"This is Logan Turner," the second man said. Pol realized he was wearing a hotel blazer. There was a small tag reading SECURITY on the breast pocket.
"Logan, can we look around?" Brozzio asked.
"If this is about the rhea egg, we have a permit for it," Pol said.
Brozzio hesitated for a brief moment. "Can we look around?" he repeated.
"I'd better ask my mom," Pol said, and took out his cell. The call went directly to voice mail and he left a message.
Brozzio walked into the living room.
"Hey," Pol said. "Just a minute!"
"Did you hear that?" Brozzio asked.
"No," Pol said.
"What was it?" hotel security asked.
"It was down this way," Brozzio said. The detective and the security guard crossed the living room and entered the small hall.
Following in their wake, Pol saw the detective glance at the two doors, then at the security guard, who indicated the right hand door, the door to Pol's room. Brozzio opened the door.
"Here it is," Brozzio said.
"Here what is?" Pol demanded. "Who's that?" he added as he came up beside the detective.
Brozzio watched him carefully. The boy seemed genuinely surprised. As Pol took a step forward, Brozzio put his arm up, blocking the door. "Keep out of the crime scene, kid."
"It's MY room," Pol said. "What's he doing in my room?"
Rich kids, the detective thought.
"EXCUSE ME," the woman said, and somehow she was past the uniformed policeman guarding the the foyer and walking into the living room.
"This is a crime scene."
"And my ward is a minor. Either he comes out or I come in."
She had changed her clothes and her hair and taken off her make-up, but the cool green eyes were the same. "Miss Grove?"
"Mr Brozzio," she said.
She didn't seem surprised to see him, although in his cell call, the kid hadn't mention which SFPD were in his room. "Detective," Brozzio said. "Logan Turner is your ward?"
"It's an interesting legal question," Ann Grove said. "While his parents were abroad, I acted in loco parentis. With his mother back in state, but temporarily absent from this suite, and not answering her phone, am I still or am I again? In any case, I have an established legal tie to him, he's a minor, he's alone and he has asked me for support. Pol: do you want me here?"
"They're not listening to me," the kid said.
"Not what I asked," Ann Grove said, shaking her head. "Do you want me here?"
"Yes. They want my clothes."
"Somebody's dead in the computer room. It's sort of messy and they can see I'm not a mess. I don't mean not to cooperate, it's just that I don't want to stand around naked while they do the CSI stuff and they won't let me get any clothes to change into."
"I hate that show," Nick Soudakoff muttered.
"Have you called Mr Halen?" Ann asked. She was paying attention to no one but the kid.
"Yes, he's sending some one over."
"Then I think we'll wait and talk to the lawyer. Do you know where Lisa is?"
"Out for dinner," Logan Turner said.
"Not what I asked," Ann said again, with a small shake of her head.
"Oh." The kid watched her with a frown. "No," he said, and added nothing.
Ann Grove smiled at him and nodded. "So we'll wait."
Damn, Broz thought. She's good. She calmed the kid right down, and told him to shut up. What's more, he did. Damn.
THE LAWYER arrived and proved to be an associate member of Rankin, Gage, Halen, Mandrickson and Smoot. Zeb Williams was in his early thirties and, judging from the Guide to Mushrooms of the San Francisco Bay Area in laminated flash cards sticking out of one of the many pockets in his muddy cargo pants, he had come directly from a mushroom hunt.
Pol and Williams settled into the small breakfast alcove. Ann Grove, still in the living room, walked over to the wall of windows, and used her cell phone. As Broz approached he saw her watching him in the reflections. He heard: "As soon as possible." She flipped the cell shut and turned to him.
He asked, "This is the party you were coming to?"
"Tell me about it: How many people were here?"
He found her story unencouraging: There had been about 40 people present when she and Martin Stevenson had arrived and about 40 people present when the couple had left, just not the same 40 people. Apparently there had been much coming and going. She had not noticed anyone drunk or involved in any quarrels or arguments. "And Stevenson?" he asked.
"We separated while we were here, but since he was surrounded by many of the models and even some of their chaperones, I don't think he managed to get out of the living room until we left."
Yeah, Broz thought. I don't know how the guy does it, but women seem to like him. "And the two of you left when?"
"A little more than an hour after we met you, which would make it shortly after 5 o'clock. We and seven other people waited for the elevator, which arrived carrying about a dozen new guests; as the doors on our elevator closed, I heard the other elevator chime and open and more people arrive."
Yeah, he thought again. Lots of comings and goings. He asked, "The boy's been staying with you?"
"Both his parents were abroad when the house staff quit, and despite Pol's own expressed opinion, I thought he was too young to live alone."
"Broz," the uniform from the foyer said. "There's a hotel porter out here."
"Keep him out."
Ann Grove turned to the newcomer. "If he brought some clothes for Pol, please bring them in," she ordered.
She was polite, but the uniformed sentry returned to the foyer at once. Without even arguing, the detective thought. Or getting permission.
She turned back to him saying, "I assume you really do want the clothes he's wearing?"
Well, I can't very well argue with that, Broz thought, but she sure is bossy. Still sexy, though.
Ann Grove asked: "And does this murder tie in with what brought you here earlier?"
It took him only half a second too long to reply in the negative, but he saw her catch it. She nodded, then walked away and took out her cell again.
The lawyer came away from the breakfast nook and said: "We're ready to answer some questions. I sit in with my client. If that's not acceptable, we wait for Ms Wilson-Turner."
"I want his clothes. Ms Grove had some replacements sent up."
THE KID, the lawyer, Broz, and Nick Soudakoff retreated to the large bathroom attached to the master bedroom. Nick put the replacement clothing on the counter.
"Those? She's kidding," Logan Powell Turner said. "Dammit, Zeb, I can't wear these!"
"Pol," Zeb Williams started.
"No one's going to see them but us," Broz interupted. A little impatience slipped into his voice.
"Get it over with," Zeb advised.
Pol turned his back on Broz and his lawyer and removed his clothes, starting with his shoes. Nick placed them in an evidence bag. The boy continued to disrobe, determinedly ignoring everyone else. He got down to his button fly knit boxer-briefs and stopped.
"The shorts, too," Broz said.
The boy growled something, but stuffed his shorts into the clothing bag. Then he pulled on the new clothes: Sweat pants and a souvenir T-shirt. The pants were too big and the shirt was too small. His feet were engulfed by the baggy folds of the pants and the shirt was tight across his chest. He pulled the sleeves, which were cutting into his arms, to stretch as wide as they could go.
BACK IN THE LIVING ROOM, Duke Ligh had returned from talking with hotel management. Ligh said, "The concierge says he made a reservation at the French Laundry for four, and arranged a limo for Wilson-Turner and three others."
"Yountville, Napa, about 50 miles north. White tablecloth and four stars."
"Yeah. When did they leave?"
"About 7:15, while the cleanup crew and the kid were here."
So everyone was away for the murder, well, probably away for the murder, Broz thought. TOD may change after autopsy.
"And, given travel time, they're probably in the late service," Ligh went on, "which means they won't finish dinner until 12:00 at least, then travel time back. So do we wait around or shut the suite and come back early this morning?"
"Nick isn't finished. We'll wait. Any of the waitstaff around?"
"They went off at 8:00," Ligh said.
"Ann!" came a voice from the hall.
"Just a minute, Alice," Ann Grove said. She was standing with the kid and the lawyer, listening to the boy's complaints. She turned to Detective Brozzio. "It's past Pol's usual bedtime, and he has school tomorrow. I've arranged a room for him here. If you wish to keep tabs on him, send an officer with him for the night."
"He answered all your questions," Williams said. "He has an alibi; he's not a flight risk. I see no reason why he can't go to school tomorrow or go to bed now."
"Yeah," Turner said.
"Where's this room?" Broz asked.
"Up on 9," Ann said.
"All right," Broz said. "Ligh, go with him. I'll send someone to take over."
"OK," Ligh said.
There was some confused movement. The kid wanted his school supplies, and after Nick did the luminal/black light tests, Broz released the notebook computer, the books and the other objects on the breakfast table. At one point, Ann Grove gave the kid a hard stare, then glanced at the lawyer, a quick flick of those frosty green eyes. The boy gave a sort of jump, then shook hands with Zeb Williams and thanked him for coming. She smiled at the boy, then at Zeb and also shook hands with him. The kid, the lawyer, Ann Grove and Ligh straggled out the door past the uniformed guardian.
IN THE HALL, the lawyer walked past a young woman, carrying a suit case and a backpack. She watched him go, then glanced at Pol and Ligh. She nodded to Ann.
"No problems," she said. "Zomas had the case ready by the time I got there."
"Is that for me?" Pol asked.
"Yes, night gear and clothes for tomorrow," Ann said. "Alice, this is Duke Ligh, of the SFPD. He'll be watching Pol until relieved tonight. Mr, Ligh, Alice Kearny, of the Kearny Agency. She'll be sharing the watch with you."
"What's she for?" Ligh asked,
"She's mainly to reassure Pol mother," Ann said.
She was so smooth and plausible, Pol knew she was lying. The oddly assorted group entered the elevator.
ON THE NINTH FLOOR, Pol's new room was a three room suite halfway down the hall. Ligh eyed the living room, then went to the bedroom, saying as he went: "I'll just check this out." As he disappeared, Ann flicked a finger after him.
Suddenly, Pol couldn't hear the detective moving.
"So what's going on?" Alice Kearny said.
"There was a body in Pol's bedroom," Ann said. "More immediately important is the stasis spell that was cast on the room."
Pol gasped as memories suddenly flooded his mind. "I, I...You..."
"Yes," Ann said calmly, "I changed your memories. My apologies. That's the first and last time I'll do that without asking you. Now I've changed them back. Be quiet and listen." She turned back to Alice: "And we don't know who the victim is or if he was the intended victim and not just killed because he was in Pol's room. Pol may be a person of interest to a fairly powerful human magic user who also can use a knife. The SFPD don't know about the spell or that we know about the knife, so forget all that when you're talking to Ligh."
"OK," Alice said, matching Ann calm for calm.
"Is there anything you need?" Ann asked.
"I packed fully," Alice replied, "but Pol may need some explanation and instructions."
Ann nodded. "Pol, Alice is a practicing licensed private detective, a non-practicing member of the California bar and a talented witch. She's your bodyguard for the night. Don't give her any trouble and that includes doing exactly what she tells you. Any questions you need to ask?"
"No, I guess. No," he ended more firmly. "Not right now."
"Good," Ann said, and flicked her finger at the bedroom again.
Ligh came out of the bedroom. "OK," he said.