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