Monday, August 31, 2015

Old Money

The woman laid in the middle of the street, blood covered and torn clothes.  She had been knocked out of her shoes from the impact.  Police flares and lights lit up the area as detectives searched for clues.

“Hey, Sherlock what’s your take on this hit and run?”

A white haired gentleman stood outside of the barricade looking in.  White plumes of smoke rose from the pipe clenched between his teeth.  He wore a hunting jacket, opened with a gold pocket watch dangling from his pocket.  

“Funny Harry.  Are you going to play my Watson?”

“Just ragging you Bill.  Everyone knows you have a nose like a bloodhound.  Captain called you in for this one I noticed is all.”

“Well, it is a bit uncommon to find a well-dressed lady of upper crust lying on a very deserted dirt back road, obviously run over.  How did she get here?  Who hit her and why?  Just a few of the questions I’d say.”

Bill stepped under the yellow tape, crouching close to the woman’s head.  He glanced from there down along the torn red silk blouse, the linen skirt and the torn silk stockings.  She was definitely a looker . He glanced over to the woman’s heels now broke and dirty.  

“No purse Harry?”
“None found Bill.  You think it was a robbery gone wrong?”

“Not likely, she has over a thousand dollars in jewels hanging off her.  More likely, whoever did this didn’t want her identified too soon.  Gives them a chance to get away or establish an alibi, you see.  Check the calls on missing women within a fifty mile radius please.  I don’t think whoever killed her traveled too far.  Just out of their comfort zone most likely.”

Bill tapped then pulled on the pipe to stoke the fire.  A full bodied smoky aroma lifted into the night breeze like leaves burnt in autumn.  He glanced up the road a piece then down the other way.

“I believe there may have been an argument and she got out to walk.  You can see her high heel marks in the dirt for quite a ways.  I believe the person she left in the car became very angry with her and gunned their car.  Once she went down, they backed over her, turned the car about and left."

“A jilted lover?”

“Maybe, but I doubt it.  This looks like a crime off sudden anger.  As if the person had this building inside for a while and snapped.  I’m betting on a sibling or a near relative.  Probably a woman I would gander.  She left the jewelry but picked up the purse.  A man wouldn’t want to be caught with a purse on him but a woman could get away with it.”

“Just a moment, central calling back in. Yes Sandy.  Her husband you say. Good, send me the coordinates.”

 “Her name is Dolores Houston.  Comes from old money and married to Henry, who owns Sport’s Car International.  He called her in as missing when she failed to come home for dinner.  Let’s go have a talk with him and see what we can find out.”

Bill tapped out his pipe, crushing the embers in the gravel.  Placing it in his jacket he retrieved his watch to look at the time.  It was precisely 8:00 PM.  Most people have dinner before seven so the husband was very prompt.  This seemed quite odd to report her so quickly.

They arrived at a large estate built with solid stone and beveled glass windows.  The front door was opened by a butler who escorted them to the library.  Standing by the fireplace was a young man with his tie undone and his hair mussed from raking his fingers through.  Also in the room was a lady sitting in a large chair wringing a hankie in her hands.  She wore a light green suit with glasses hung around her neck.  Her complexion blended into the upholstery as if she dressed to hide from sight.  Her hair was gathered tightly behind her neck and not a touch of makeup anywhere.

“Detectives, thank you for coming so quickly.  I’ve been told of my wife’s demise but I can’t figure how this could have happened.  Shelby stated that Dolores went shopping this afternoon but promised to be home by five because we were to entertain this evening.  Shelby called me at six because she hadn’t heard from Dolores."

“Miss Shelby, you are?”

“I’m her sister-in-law.  It is so unlike her to be late, I just knew something must have happened to her.”  She cried into the hankie.

“Where were you this afternoon?  Were you their expected company?”

“Oh no, I live here.  I’m not married.  I went out for a bite to eat at lunchtime and came back to start the dinner plans.  Dolores always leaves the menus to me.

“Miss Shelby would you mind handing me your identification please?”  Startled by the request she reached down and pulled up a bright red bag.  She looked at Bill and then at her brother.

“That is not your purse is it Shelby.  It belongs to Dolores.  It’s the one she was carrying when you ran her down.  You picked it up and brought it back with you.”

“Shelby, why?  Haven’t we treated you fairly?  Let you live here with us and join in our gatherings?”

“It was always Dolores everyone noticed.  No one ever noticed me when she was in the room.  I used to be somebody when we were growing up but now I’m just the ugly spinster.  Today we went for a drive and she told me she wanted me to move out.  She said it was about time that you both had a life of your own.  Kicking me out of my own home.  The one I was raised in.  Never.”

With that Harry lifted her from the chair and secured the cuffs.  She looked back but her brother had already turned away.