After chapter of the mystery unfolds, catch up on what’s come before in parts 1, 2, 3, and 4. # I didn’t get much sleep that night. I never do when I’ve got a case.
I didn’t get much sleep that night. I never do when I’ve got a case. Instead, I made a pot of coffee and headed up to the office. Old Man Haskins had let me convert the apartment above Lucky’s. It was bigger than I needed, and not the easiest for clients to find, but it was very conveniently located. I would have preferred the apartment above mine, but “Taser-girl” lived there, and even Old Man Haskins was a little afraid of her.
Fortunately, she was still asleep, and I was spared the sermon on the value of Tasers for women.
I plopped down behind my desk. Lucky had left a handful of sticky notes, along with an empty coffee cup with his name scrawled across it in big letters.
I brushed the cup into the trash and started going through the notes. First was the address and phone number for Richmond Jones. I set that one aside. The address might still be helpful, but the phone number’s probably as dead as he is.
Next was the same information for Virginia Dean, with the word “girlfriend” scribbled across the top.
I glanced at the clock, 7:20 on Saturday morning. Probably too early for an unsolicited phone call. I set that note aside as well.
The third note said, “Toby’s mystery girl?” and had a web-address. I typed it into my phone and it led to one of Virginia’s social media pages. She matched Toby’s description reasonably enough. Dark hair, tall, pretty, and somewhere in her mid-twenties. She didn’t have an occupation listed, but there were a lot of pictures of her in scrubs, so probably something in the medical field.
There were not many pictures of her and Richmond.
New relationship? Or—
My phone buzzed. It was a text from Mrs. Hilsberger, “Any news?”
I winced and started typing. Best to get it over with. “Yes, where can I meet you?”
I parked in the garage behind the Chatsworth Building. The layout was eerily similar to the crime scene from last night, and I fingered the baton in my purse until I was back out on the open street again.
Mrs. Hilsberger worked for the big financial group that occupied the uppermost floors of the Chatsworth Building. We’d met here before, and she’d said that she’d be in her office all day. Probably not after she hears my news.
The big glass doors were locked when I arrived, and I had to bang on them to get the guard’s attention.
He was in his late twenties, broad-shouldered, and sporting a haircut that screamed ‘just out of the military.’ I didn’t recognize him, and it was clear from his stance that he didn’t recognize me either.
He opened the door a crack and said, “I’m sorry, Ma’am, but the building is currently closed. Building hours are—”
Ma’am? I held up my ID. “Angola LaGrange, Jeri Hilsberger is expecting me.”
He spent a little too long comparing my picture and my face, but eventually he opened the door for me. “My apologies, Miss LaGrange. Yes, you are expected.”
“Don’t worry about it. Mr.…” I glanced at the tag on his jacket. “England.”
“Please follow me.” He led me around the reception/security desk, past the giant portrait of Gilman Chatsworth, the owner of the building, and to the elevators. “Mrs. Hilsberger is on the eleventh floor.”
“Thanks.” I got into the elevator and pressed the “11” button.
The guard waited by the doors until they closed.
It was a surprisingly short ride up to the penultimate floor, which didn’t leave me much time to think about what I was going to say. There are a lot of approaches, but none of them take the sting out of “your loved one isn’t coming home.”
The eleventh floor was pristine. Apparently, only Mrs. Hilsberger had come in since the cleaning crew. Outside the windows, the city gleamed in the morning sun; a shining companion to the cleanliness of the office.
Spend too much time up here and you could forget what the city’s really like.
I walked over to the office door marked “Hilsberger” and knocked.
“Come in.” She sounded stressed.
I took a deep breath, reaffixed my somber expression, and opened the door.
She was pacing back and forth, occasionally stopping to tidy up the neatness. At first glance she seemed fairly composed, a smartly dressed business woman. But her eyes were red-ringed and bloodshot.
“Oh, Miss LaGrange, please, have you found my husband?”
“Mrs. Hilsberger, it would be better if you sat down for this.”
“Sit? Sit! How can I sit while Lewis is still missing?” She turned back to re-straightening a bookshelf.
I put a hand on her shoulder. “You should sit.”
When she looked back at it me, it was clear she understood what I wasn’t saying. Tears streamed down her face. “No, no, no. It can’t be.” She let me guide her to a chair and collapsed into it.
I hid my reaction to her pain behind the mask of professionalism. That’s what she needed from me right now: the detective she’d hired, not a shoulder to cry on. “I’m very sorry, by the time I found your husband, he was already dead. The police have his body. I’m sure they’ll be contacting you as soon as the paperwork is finished.”
“The police? W-what happened to him?”
“I’m afraid he was murdered.”
For a few minutes all she could do was weep.
I waited in silence. Nothing I could say would make this anything but the worst day of her life.
Eventually, she asked between sobs, “Do the police know who did it?”
“Not yet. But trust me, I’ll find them.”
My phone buzzed.
I excused myself from the grieving widow to check it. There was a new text from Jim: “Was it you?” followed by a link.
It took me to the website of one of the local papers. “Fourth victim found in parking garage. An anonymous source says the police still have no leads on the identity of ‘The Brain Teaser.’”
To Be Continued…