The Armored Car Incident by HawkeyesGirl
Summary:

Renowned French detective Luca DeMaurier investiagates a double murder and robbery in the city of Bedford Heights, North Carolina.


Categories: Mystery Characters: None
Challenges:
Series: None
Chapters: 4 Completed: No Word count: 4864 Read: 70182 Published: 28 Aug 2012 Updated: 02 May 2014

1. Chapter 1 by HawkeyesGirl

2. Chapter 2 by HawkeyesGirl

3. Chapter 3 by HawkeyesGirl

4. Chapter 4 by HawkeyesGirl

Chapter 1 by HawkeyesGirl

 

The dark night casts a shadow on a man, crouching on the roof of the tall building towering over all the scant homes near a dim alleyway. He is cloaked in the blackness; the only things truly visible are the whites of his eyes and shadows of his movements. As the moon lowers into the horizon, the time is about 4 or 5 in the morning. He moves, bending down to open his large satchel. Pulling out a stumpy tripod, he places it in front of him, so the top is just even with the edge of the building's roof. Also from the satchel, he pulls a dismantled rifle. He locks it in place with skill worthy of the Guinness Book of World Records. Putting it on top of the tripod, he tilts it so that the rifle stays at a straight 170° angle. He attaches a scope to the end of the rifle and a peculiar device to the muzzle. As he gets into position behind the rifle, his eye trained through the scope and his finger kept lightly on the trigger, he keeps perfectly still, as if he had been trained for that moment.

            The distant church bells chime the hour, half past 6. For the man on the roof, his time had come; he tenses the muscles in his left index finger, waiting for the precise moment to pull the trigger.

            An armored car pulls up at the end of the alley, and brakes, waiting for the traffic to subside.

            "What are we transporting that's so important," began the man in the passenger seat, "that we have to bring it ‘round the bank before seven?"

            "I dunno, man," the driver responded, drumming his fingers on the steering wheel. "But whoever owns it must be so damned paranoid. Bank doesn't even open ‘til eight."

            The passenger shook his head. "Who's it belong to anyway?" he muttered, reaching for the manifest in the glove box. "John Smith," he read. "How ridiculous is that?"

            "Maybe it's some celebrity," the driver suggested. "That guy who helped us load the crate looked like a butler."

            "Sure," the passenger remarked sarcastically. "Bruce Wayne wants to give the Commissioner some top secret thing. Get your head on right, Plonky."

            At that moment, a bullet crashed through the passenger-side window, embedding itself in the passenger's head. He slumped forward, his head resting on the dashboard.

            "What the hell?" the driver began, looking at his partner. Before he could do anything else, a second bullet flew through the hole that the first had made and landed deep in the skull of the driver. His head fell to the side; leaning at an awkward angle against the driver-side window.

            Two human figures, clad in all black, approached the scene; each was holding an industrial-sized set of bolt-cutters. They snuck around to the back of the van and set to unhinge the door and retrieve the treasure inside. With the taller one working on the top hinge and the smaller one on the bottom, the process went fairly quickly. Inside the cargo unit was a single wooden crate. The smaller one crawled inside the cargo hold and started to drag the crate out.

            "Lift it up!" the taller one hissed. "You could break it that way!"

            "It's too heavy!" his partner shot back. "I'm just a girl!"

            "You're 29 years old," the taller one said. "You lost the right to call yourself a girl about a decade ago. The term you mean is woman.

            She scoffed and rolled her eyes.

            "Let me get the package," he continued authoritatively. "God knows what'll happen when we meet up with him and something broke."

            The smaller one sighed angrily, but slipped out of the hold and let her partner into the cargo unit. He picked up the crate and made his way unsteadily outside. "Get the car," he told her.

            She nodded and left the alley, disappearing from her partner's sight. She reappeared moments later, driving a black Mustang.

            He tightened his grip on the crate and went to the car. She leaned over and opened the passenger-side door for him so he could slip inside with ease. He pulled the door closed when the crate was securely on his lap. She grinned and pressed her foot on the accelerator. The engine revved with life and the car pealed into the flow of traffic, heading east into the sunrise. As for the man on the roof, well, he had disappeared.

            The scene was not noticed until 45 minutes later, when a group of children from the nearby apartment complex cut through the alleyway on their way to school.

Chapter 2 by HawkeyesGirl

 

Chapter Two:

            The first to arrive on the scene was lead detective Luca DeMaurier, a French man who had been transferred to the streets of Bedford Heights from Scotland Yard two years previously. He was a tall man, as polite as the French can be, with evenly tanned skin from the harsh English sun, short dark hair, and a thin goatee which he like to stroke in times that required deep thought. He had come immediately after the 911 call from the most level-headed of the group who found the crime scene. Racing down the St. John Boulevard, he reached the alleyway at precisely 7:30. He took one look at the single bullet hole in the passenger side window and the two bodies, each with a bullet embedded in his head, and recognized the work of a professional, or extremely lucky amateur; the latter being highly unlikely.

 

            "So, what did you see?" DeMaurier asked for the third time.

            The blonde girl trembled under the gaze of the French man. All she could do was stammer unintelligibly.

            The famed detective rolled his eyes. He could crack hardened criminals in two hours, but he could not get an answer from a child. "Do you speak English?" he asked angrily.

            The girl nodded her head frightenedly.

            "Zen answer me! What did you see?"

            "Nothing," she whispered. "Just this." She gestured to the armored car.

            "So you saw no people around, just zee car?"

            She nodded again.

            "Did you hear anyzing, perhaps earlier in zee morning?"

            She shook her head. "I heard a car speeding away around six-forty," she said, "but it was far away, and I could have been imagining it."

            "What is your name, and where do you live?"

            "Sally Rogers," she responded. "In the apartment complex back there. Number 4A."

            DeMaurier received the same answers from the others, as well; all they saw was the aftermath, and some heard a speeding car at 6:40; and all seven of them lived in the Sunnydale Apartments.

            "If you don't mind, detective," the oldest ventured, "then can we go? We're late for school."

            Just then, up drove DeMaurier's bumbling partner, Officer Bill Gehrig.

            "I am so glad you are present, Gehrig," DeMaurier said, when the rotund man approached the detective. "I need you to take zee children to school so zey will not be late." Turning to the children, he added, "None of you must speak of zis to anyone; keep all zee details silent."

            They nodded and scrambled into Officer Gehrig's minivan; the two oldest had a small argument over who would get the front seat.

            As they drove away, DeMaurier turned his attention back to the crime scene. The engine was still running, he noted, as one of the medical examiners opened the doors to

            He circled the armored car, examining the unhinged door and noting that the cargo hold was empty. "Odd," he remarked to the Crime Scene Officers searching for trace evidence and fingerprints. "What were zey transportating, and where is it?"

            He continued his circumambulation of the armored car, stopping at the bullet hole in the passenger-side window. Measuring the size of the hole with his eyes, he concluded that the bullet was most likely a .357. Sniper bullet.  

            "Alloa, Doctor Meeller," DeMaurier called to the pathologist crouched over the bodies. "What goodies have you for me today?"

            Lilliana Miller rocked back on her heels and ran her fingers through her short blonde hair. "I put T.O.D at around an hour and a half ago, give or take some minutes."

            DeMaurier checked his watch. "Seex-zerty," he remarked.

            "Come again?"

            "Your Time of Death puts zem dead at ‘af-past-seex," DeMaurier explained. "Some of zee children noted a car speeding away ten minutes later, at seex-forty."

            "In my professional opinion, Luca," Miller said, "A car was not used in shooting these poor men. I'd say a sniper was involved."

            "Zank you, Doctor," DeMaurier said, and sat on a Dumpster, stroking his goatee, using what he had discovered to formulate a possible theory. A sniper shoots the drivers around six-thirty, then breaks into the armored car and steals the cargo? But that's impossible in ten minutes. So the sniper had a partner. The sniper shoots, and the partner breaks into the car, takes the cargo, and speeds away in his car. Plausible.

            When Gehrig returned to the crime scene, DeMaurier approached his partner.

            "What's the game plan, Sir?" Gehrig asked, pulling out his notepad.

            "We are going to interview zee people in zee apartment complex, to see eef anyone noticed anyzing wrong zees morning."

            "You mean like the murder?"

            "Of course I mean ‘like zee murdre'!" DeMaurier exclaimed. "And zee robbery."

            Gehrig's eyes widened. "Was it the mob, you think?" he asked eagerly.

            "Monsieur Gehrig," DeMaurier began, "Since zee beginning of your career, how many times was zee mob eenvolved?"

            "Well, never," he responded dejectedly. "But I've always wanted to take down a Godfather."

            DeMaurier sighed and shook his head resignedly. "Come along, Gehrig. We've potential witnesses to interview."

 

            "Can I handle this one, Sir?" Gehrig asked. "My wife keeps asking when I'm gonna take the lead."

            "Be my guest, Gehrig."

            He knocked on the door to Number 1A. The door opened to reveal a grumpy-looking man clad in a dirty white muscle shirt and boxers.

            "Good morning sir," Gehrig said cheerfully. "I'm Officer Bill Gehrig, and this is my partner, Detective Luca DeMaurier. We're investigating---"

            "The only thing you should investigate," the man snarled, "is why you harass hardworking guys like me before noon!" He slammed the door in their faces.

            "Don't tell Madame Gehrig about zat," DeMaurier said, and reached past Gehrig to rap sharply on the door.

            "What is it this time?" the man growled, opening the door again.

            "Police," DeMaurier stated, showing the man his badge. "Two men were murdered zees morning, not two hours ago. Deed you notice anyzing...peculiar...around seex-thirty?"

            The man scratched his arm. "I told youse; I don't like bein' bothered before noon!" He made to close the door again, but DeMaurier grabbed the side and forced it back open. "And we don't like being obstructed by eegnorant bulls like you! Have you anyzing to tell us about zees morning?!"

            "No," the man said, glaring at the Frenchman. "I was asleep!"

            "Merci," DeMaurier said, releasing the door.                           

            The man shook his head. "Damn Frenchies," he muttered, closing the door.

            "Sorry, Sir," Gehrig apologized. "Guess I messed that one up."

            "Not at all, Gehrig," DeMaurier reassured him. "Have anazor go; give Madame Gehrig a story tonight."

            "Thanks, Sir," Gehrig smiled and knocked on the door of 1B.

 

            "You noticed somezing zees morning?" DeMaurier repeated, holding his pencil over his notebook expectantly.

            "Yes, I did," the little old lady of 3C said. "It was half-past six when I woke up. You see, my hip was acting up again."

            "What did you see?" Gehrig asked.

            "Well," she began, "not so much saw, as perceived."

            "Explain, s'il vous plait."

            The woman rubbed the cross around her neck before responding. "The curtains were bent, so I went to straighten them out. And I noticed something odd going on in the alley. There was this large vehicle - a van, I think - just stopped. Then these two figures approached the van and did something; I couldn't tell what. One of them went in, and took out this large box. The other one left, then a car came; and the first one got in. And the car sped away. It made that awful noise, you know, the noise that means it's going too fast. It went that way." She pointed to the right.

            "What kind of car, Ma'am?" Gehrig asked.

            "A dark one," she replied. "I'm sorry I'm not much help. I've been trying to get on without my glasses."

            "You were quite ‘elpful," DeMaurier reassured her. "'Ave a good day."

            She smiled. "You, too, sonnies," she returned and closed the door.

            "How was she helpful, Sir?" Gehrig asked. "She didn't give any descriptions of the perps, or of the car. She could've made the whole thing up!"

            "Zee car was ‘eaded east at a high rate of speed," DeMaurier explained. "We can get zee camera footage of zee car. And we zat zee killer ‘ad two partners. Let us finish zees interviews and ‘ead back to zee station."

Chapter 3 by HawkeyesGirl

 

Chapter Three:

            "Is zere a cargo manifest?" DeMaurier asked, walking into the evidence room. "For zee Armored Car murders?"

            "I put it on your desk, Detective," one of the officers told him.

            "Zank you, Darla," he said. "Were zere any security cameras around the scene of crime?"

            Darla replied, "I'm working on pulling the footage now, Sir."

            "Excellent," DeMaurier replied, heading for his desk to look through what cargo the armored car was carrying.

            He leaned back in his scarcely cushioned chair and studied the manifest.

Date and time for pick-up: Tuesday, October 15, 2009; 6:00 am

Customer name: John Smith

Customer address: 135 Parkingtin Way

Package destination: Bedford Heights First National Bank, 7183 Grontase Street

Package identification number: 09346298

            "Gehrig?" DeMaurier asked his partner. "Care for anazer interview?"

            "Always, Sir," Gehrig replied eagerly, putting down his notes from the Sunnydale interviews. "Who are we talking to?"

            "Zee owner of zee package being transportated by zee armored car."

            "I thought armored cars were only for bank jobs?" Gehrig asked as he quickened his pace to keep up with the Frenchman.

            "Zee package was ‘eading for a bank," DeMaurier explained. "And it was zee only package being picked up by zat car."

            Gehrig's brow furrowed. "So, he's a rich guy?"

            "By zee name of John Smith."

            "But nobody's named John Smith!" Gehrig argued. "That's always a faked name."

            "Monsieur Gehrig," DeMaurier began, starting up the sedan and pulling into traffic, "zat is precisely zee reason we are paying him a visit."

 

            Gehrig was silent for a few minutes during the car ride; deep in thought. "Sir?" he began tentatively.

            "What is it, Gehrig?" DeMaurier asked.

            "Well, Sir, I was just thinking, about the interviews at the apartment."

            "What about zem?"

            Gehrig bit his lip before responding. "Mrs. Latimer, Number 4C, she said that she was out walking her dog early this morning, and wasn't home."

            "I remember. Does zat bozer you?"

            "A bit, yeah. I thought I saw a "No Pets" sign outside on the building. Did you see it, Sir?'

            "I did not notice one," DeMaurier admitted. "What do you propose to do?"

            "After this Smith feller, perhaps we can swing by Sunnydale and re-question Mrs. Latimer?"

            DeMaurier nodded and smiled. "You are thinking like a proper copper, Gehrig. Good job."

            "Thank you, Sir."

 

            DeMaurier pulled up in front of a vast, empty field and parked the car.

            "What are we doing here, Sir?" Gehrig queried. "I thought we were going to that Smith guy?"

            "We are," DeMaurier replied with a furrowed brow. "Zee address was 135 Parkingtin Way, was it not?"

            Gehrig nodded. "Think so."

            "And zees is 135 Parkingtin Way, is it not?"

            The officer looked out of the window and turned his gaze up and down the deserted street. "Looks like it." Turning to DeMaurier, Gehrig continued, "What d'we do now, Sir? We can't interrogate someone at a place that doesn't exist."

            "What I'd like to know," DeMaurier said thoughtfully, "is how the armored car drivers made the drive from here to zat alleyway in about twenty minutes."

            "They couldn't," Gehrig supplied. "Even if no-one was on the road, it would take them at least thirty-five."

            DeMaurier smiled. "And what do you make from zat knowledge?"

            "They came early?" Gehrig guessed helplessly. Suddenly, his jaw dropped open and his eyes widened in realization. "Or the package was picked up somewhere else!"

            "Monsieur Gehrig," DeMaurier began, clapping the other man on the shoulder, "we'll make a proper DS out of you yet."

            "A what, Sir?" he asked.

            "Detective Sergeant, Monsieur."

            Gehrig looked at the Frenchman curiously. "Isn't that a British thing, Sir?"

            "Oui," DeMaurier responded, starting up the sedan again and turning around to head back to the station. "Don't you Americans have somezing like zat?"

            "Don't think so," Gehrig told him.

            "Strange," DeMaurier commented.

            Gehrig spoke up, "Don't forget about Mrs. Latimer at Sunnydale."

            "Why would I forget such a possibly important clue, Gehrig?"

            "Just making sure," Gehrig replied quietly.

 

            "There it is!" Gehrig exclaimed pointing to the large orange sign pasted to the side of the apartment complex. "‘No Pets Allowed' all in big block letters."

            "Very good, Gehrig," DeMaurier complimented. "Let us go and speak with Madame Latimer."

            The two men took the three flights of stairs at a run, and approached Number 4C.

            "Shall you, Monsieur?" DeMaurier asked, gesturing for Gehrig to knock on the door.

            "Ar-Are you sure?" Gehrig asked. "Remember what happened last time?"

            "Zees is your lead, Gehrig," DeMaurier told him forcefully. "You can do it."

            "Okay," Gehrig nodded, taking a deep breath and knocked on the door.

            The door opened seconds later, to reveal a middle-aged woman with long dark hair. "You again?" she asked in a bored tone of voice. "What happened this time?"

            "Mrs. Latimer," Gehrig said, lapsing into a Cockney accent and flashing his badge quickly, "I'm DS Gehrig of Scotland Yard, and I have a follow-up question or two for you."

            She raised a thin eyebrow. "You weren't British this morning. Do you change nationalities after every meal?"

            Gehrig ignored her comment and continued with his faux-accent. "You said this morning you were out walking your dog during the time in question. But you don't have a dog, do you?"

            "Of course I do," Mrs. Latimer responded sharply. "Why would I lie about that?"

            "There's a sign, outside your building, that expressly prohibits the having of pets, Mrs. Latimer," the officer explained. "How are you in possession of a dog to walk?"

            "You caught me in my own web of lies, Sir," the woman said flatly. "I wasn't walking my dog, because, as you so aptly pointed out, pets are not allowed."

            "Then where were you?"

            She sighed. "I was with my lover. From six last night ‘til half-past seven this morning when I came back here."

            "And he'll back up your tale?"

            "Only too happy to do so," she replied.

            "Mr. Latimer doesn't know about this lover?"

            She smirked. "There hasn't been a Mr. Latimer since 1992. He died."

            "I'm sorry for your loss," Gehrig replied. "I couldn't imagine losing my wife like that."

            DeMaurier cleared his throat loudly.

            "Oh, right," Gehrig fumbled for a new page in his notebook. "I need your lover's name and address, Mrs. Latimer."

            "Jo Plonkinstein, 572 Rongdise Lane."

            Gehrig scribbled the information in his notebook. "I think that's it, Mrs. Latimer," he said, slipping his pencil behind his ear and closing his notebook. "Nope, I have one more question: Why did you lie about your whereabouts and your lover? You've only implicated yourself."

            "My lover is married, Officer," she told him. "I didn't want to cause any more trouble."

            "Have a good day, ma'am," Gehrig said.

            She replied the same, and closed the door.

            "How did I do, Sir?" Gehrig asked DeMaurier as they left Sunnydale.

            "Lose the accent, Monsieur," he informed his junior partner. "You sound like a far-too-happy chimney sweeper."

            Gehrig nodded and resumed his normal speaking voice. "But besides the accent?"

            DeMaurier nodded. "Very nice, Gehrig. Straight, to zee point, and trés informative."

            "Shall we go and question the lover?"

            Before he could answer, DeMaurier's cell phone rang out.

            "Is that La Marseilles?" Gehrig asked.

            "Oui," he responded proudly. Pulling over to the side of the road, DeMaurier answered the call. "Alloa?"..."Ah, oui?"..."Merci, Doctor. On zee way."

            "What was that about?"

            "Doctor Miller has finished zee postmortem on zee armored car drivers," DeMaurier responded. "And she ‘as some information for us."

Chapter 4 by HawkeyesGirl

            “Welcome, to Lilli’s Stage Production!” Doctor Lilliana Miller announced dramatically as DeMaurier and Gehrig entered the mourge.

            “Doctor,” the Frenchman said, “you are zirty years old. Don’t you zink you sound a bit puerile?”

            Miller grinned. “Not a bit,” she responded. “Do you want the run-down, or not?”

            “Oh, please,” DeMaurier replied.

            “Alright, we have two dead bodies, each killed by a gunshot wound to the right temple. Your passenger was a Mr. Rodney Martonel, aged 34. The driver was a Geoffrey Plonkinstein, aged 36. No trace of any type of ---”

            “Plonkinstein?” Gehrig interrupted. “You said the dead guy’s name was Plonkinstien?”

            “Please have some decorum, Gehrig,” Miller admonished with a slight smile playing about her lips. “We are talking about diminished human life.”

            “Sorry,” Gehrig chuckled lightly. “You said the cadaver’s name was Plonkinstein?”

            She nodded. “After I found the ID in his pocket, I had Darla prepare the wife to identify the body."

            “What address had he, Doctor?” DeMaurier asked.

            Miller wrinkled her brow. “I sent the ID up to Evidence; I didn't look at the street. Does Plonkinstein matter?"

            “An important clue, Doctor Miller," DeMaurier replied. "Shall we, Gehrig?"

            "If I may continue the postmortem?" Miller suggested tersely.

            "My apologies, Doctor," DeMaurier said. "Please, go on."

            She nodded. "As I said, there were no signs of any trauma, excepting the bullets so expertly implanted in thier brains. Nothing of any sort to break the case for you."

            "And you called us here to tell us you have two guys shot dead?" Gehrig asked impaitently.

            Miller glared at him. "Yes," she replied sarcastically. "I called you back because I determined the deaths were entirely obvious. Of course I found something good!"

            "Sorry," Gehrig said meekly.

            She raised her eyebrows warningly at him and continuned. "During the autopsy, I found these odd markings on thier scalps. Have a look." She reached over on the desk and pulled a file, opening it to reveal a set of images.

            "Deep markings," DeMaurier said, using his finger to trace the crosses embedded in Martonel's head. "Any particulates found eenside?"

            "Iron ore," Miller supplied quickly.

            "That makes no sense," Gehrig said. "How would iron ore get there?"

            "You're the detective, William," she replied evenly. "That's your job."

            DeMaurier put his hand on his junior's back. "Come, come, Gehrig. Home for zee night, zen off to zee grieving widow first zing in zee morning."

            "Good luck, you two," Miller said as they were leaving. "And let me know about the iron ore. I'm dead curious."

            "But of course, Lilliana," DeMaurier turned his head to flash her a winning smile. "Gehrig will e-mail you a copy of zee case report."

            "Do I have to?" Gehrig asked in a whine when they had exited the mourge and were on the way to the parking lot. "I get the feeling that Doctor Miller doesn't like me."

            "She likes to," DeMaurier began, stroking his goatee to find the correct word, "play. I am sure she does not hate you."

            Gehrig frowned. "You better be right. An investigating officer can't not be on good terms with the medical examiner."

            In the parking lot, the two men parted ways. "G'night, sir," Gehrig said, opening the door to his car.

            "Bon nuit, monsiuer," DeMaurier replied, getting into his own car.

 

            The next morning, Gehrig got to the station fifteen minutes early; he used the extra time to go over the camera footage that Darla had left on his desk last night. The ATM on the corner of St. John Boulevard and Morningside Avenue had caught a picture at just after twenty to seven of a black Mustang headed east down the boulevard. The speed of the car was apparently so great that the image was too blurred to make out the occupants or the liscense plate.

            "Darla?" he called out.

            "Yessir?" she replied across the station.

            "Is there a way to clean up this image?" He waved the ATM picture in the air.

            She got up and made her way to him. "I'll bring it to the techs, see what they can do."

            Gehrig smiled and handed her the photograph. "Thanks, Darla. Get us a copy, though. I don't want the Inspector to think I let an important clue disappear."

            "Yes sir."

            Darla left Gehrig's desk just as DeMaurier entered the station.

            "Good morning, Gehrig," the Frenchman said, standing over his junior partner's desk. "Are we ready to pay a visit to our grieving widow and meet this mystery lover?"

            "Yes, sir," Gehrig put the camara footage back in the envelope and followed DeMaurier to the car.

            "I stopped off at Evidence, to find the exact address of Madame Plonkinstein," DeMaurier said. "572 Rongdise Lane."

            "The same address of Mrs. Latimer's mystery lover," Gehrig replied, consulting his notes. "So, the victim lives with his wife, and his brother, and the brother's wife? And all the while, the brother has an affair?"

            "Pehaps it is a big 'ouse," DeMaurier guessed, unlocking the car and getting into the driver's side.

            They drove to a house situated with vacant lots on either side.

            "No neighbors to question," Gehrig commented ruefully. "I wanted to verify Mrs. Latimer's alibi with someone other than her lover."

            "Unfortunately, we must sometimes have coffee sans cream, Gehrig."

            "What's that?"

            "We can't always get what we want."

            "Right."

            The two men exited the car and knocked on the door.

            A young women answered the door. Her face was red and stained from crying. She clutched in her left hand a gob of tissues. "Yes?" she asked in a shaking breath.

            "Mrs. Plonkinstein?" DeMaurier asked gently. When she nodded, he continued, "I'm Inspector DeMaurier; my partner, Officer Gehrig. We'd like to ask you a few questions about your late husband, if you don't mind?"

            She nodded and gestured for them to go inside. "I saw Geoff yesterday, to ide--identify his body. When I woke up, I forgot he was gone. I had had a nightmare, and I wanted him to comfort me." She sniffled, pressing the tissues to her eyes.

            "Did your husband ever talk about his work as an armored car driver?" Gehrig asked.

            "He told me what he did," Mrs. Plonkinstein affirmed, "but never said anything about specific jobs. 'All confidiential' he impressed on me. I knew when he had to leave, but not the cargo, locations, or his partner."

            "What do you mean, 'his partner'?" DeMaurier asked with a frown.

            "There must always be two workers in the car with the cargo, that's the rule. According to Geoffy, the supervisors put a rota in place, so that the drivers and the guards would be able to work with everyone. He never told me who he was driving with, just in case. His favorite was...um...Rodney. Rodney Martonel. I tried calling him when I heard, but he didn't answer. This would just kill him."

            "I'm afraid---" Gehrig began, but stopped from DeMaurier nudging him in the side.

            "I'm afraid that we have another matter to ask of you, madame," DeMaurier finished. "Is there a Joe Plonkinstein at this residence? Or did your husband go by 'Joe' at times?"

            "Jo's here," Mrs. Plonkinstein told them.

            "May we speak with him, please?" Gehrig asked quickly.

            She chuckled. "It's me, Josephine Plonkinstein. What's this about?"

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