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Rated: E · Fiction · Crime/Gangster · #2303615
Episode V: Part XII - The Case of the Nefarious Nephew
Part XII

“So, what do you think of this detective theatre restaurant?” Matt asked, pulling Delia’s chair away from their assigned table, then gently pushing it back as she sat.

Flashing an edgy smile, her manner appeared cool and indifferent. She picked-up a glass of water and took a sip. “The interrogation reception was interesting,” she said, her tone of voice chilly. Checking out a menu placed next to her dinnerware, she quickly gazed over the three entrees listed before tossing the menu back onto the table.

“I think it’ll be fun,” Matt ventured, taking notice of Delia’s lack of interest. “I’m told these murder-mystery dinner shows base their scripts on present-day, loosely based actual FBI cold cases. The actors not only stay in character throughout the evening, a few are seated at the tables and are revealed as the investigation progresses throughout the show. Some guests even become prime suspects. I hear it’s pretty hands-on … keeps everyone on their toes,” he said, smiling and looking around. “I’ve even heard …”

“Hold on a second,” Delia interrupted. She raised her eyes and stared at Matt. “All I want to know is who killed Doctor Lundsten.”

An awkward pause followed. “That’s now the problem of the FBI and MPD,” he answered.

A look of frustration crept over Delia’s face. “As usual, I can’t get a straight answer to a straight question.” Hesitating, she turned again and locked eyes with Matt. “I know you know who did it,” she objected.

“I’ve already gone over this with you, Del,” he replied in an exasperated tone.

“Go over it again,” she insisted.

Matt looked-up, then took in a deep breath. “Both O’Toole and Lauber had motive. According to Shyner, on the night of O'Toole’s psychotic episode, it was Lundsten who had earlier spiked O’Toole’s coffee with an overdose of ketamine. It wasn’t surprising when he was subsequently Baker-acted and taken to Paragon after the incident at the car dealership, a court later extending his involuntary admission. Not only did he lose his job as Chief Medical Superintendent, then, to add insult to injury, he was succeeded by Lundsten. That’s your motive for O’Toole.”

“And Lauber?”

“Lauber hated Shyner because he was a greedy, low-life ambulance chasing attorney scoundrel, and was part of the same conspiratorial plot to court sanction permanent confinement of her client Melissa Barton to Paragon. As additional insurance, the scheme to eliminate loyal family concierge Everett Holland, who, by the way, was a very good friend of Lauber’s, would make it easier for the gang of three to successfully pursue their plan of divvying-up Barton shipping and pillaging its assets … or at least they thought so.”

Delia looked perplexed. “What I don’t understand is …”

"They were both targeted for murder,” he broke in, “except there wasn’t enough time, and Lundsten just happened to venture outside that makeshift office inside the warehouse only moments before the SWAT teams arrived. There was only enough time to kill one. The murderer must have already known Sutton was dead, so he … or she, was going for the trifecta.”

“What was the connection regarding O’Toole and Lauber?”

“You mean based on Lauber’s calling cards that were found in O’Toole’s possession?”

“That and O’Toole’s confession to the FBI.”

“Someone reached out to the other,” Matt reasoned. “Either O’Toole contacted Lauber subsequent to his railroading, or Lauber contacted O’Toole out of a sense of duty and empathy, and the fact her client and Holland were victims of the same perpetrating trio.”

Delia pursed her lips in frustration. “So … who is it?”

“Hey, we did our job,” Matt reminded her. “We located Melissa and Holland, and then led the authorities to the exact location … and before either were physically harmed.” He reached over and touched Delia’s arm, then gave an affectionate smile. “As far as I’m concerned, the best thing that happened was not having to follow through on your idea of faking a mental health crisis for the purpose of admission into the hell hole.”

“You’re about to cause me a for real mental health crisis,” Delia protested.

“You have no idea how worried I was. You’ve got more moxie than most men I know," Matt said, a sudden gleam appearing in her eyes.

“You really mean that?" she asked, a half-smile appearing.

“I really do,” he said, returning a confirming gaze.

Delia beamed her approval. “Okay, so who …”

“It’s Morelli and Blanchard’s responsibility now,” Matt said again, leaning back in his chair. “It’s also their responsibility to unravel all the particulars regarding the conspiracy to commit Melissa and plunder Barton Shipping. The good news is I’m confident Melissa will be up and running her late father’s shipping empire in short order, with a very good friend and fatherly figure guiding and advising her.”

Delia fidgeted, a grumpy look returning and replacing her previous cheerful look. “You’re playing with me, and you’re doing it deliberately. So you’re not going to tell me who Lundsten’s murderer is … are you?”

Hesitating for a moment, Matt looked around the dinner theatre. “Aren’t you curious as to why theatre management allowed us inside just before opening … and before seating the other reservation paying customers for tonight’s show?”

“I assumed it was your way of arranging for the best table,” Delia said in a sulky tone.

Matt shook his head. “I contacted theatre management several days ago while you were at lunch. As part of making reservations, I told them who I was and asked, as part of tonight’s murder-mystery, if they’d be open to setting a scene for a murder based on a scenario known only to to you and I, and that will occur during our evening here ... and to my pleasant surprise, they agreed. Remember, guests are encouraged to interact with each other and the characters to solve the mystery.”

Delia returned a baffled look. “Okay, so what does all of this have to do with the identity of Lundsten’s murderer?”

Matt returned a coy smile. “Everything,” he said. “If you successfully solve tonight’s murder-mystery, you’ll know who the murderer is, but without anyone else knowing. We’ll both participate and play along, but it’s up to you to figure out.”

Delia let out a deep breath. “I can’t believe you’re doing this,” she said.

“Doing what?”

“Making me participate in this playhouse theatre version of Clue to figure out what you already know. We may as well go back to the office and break out the board game. Professor Plum did it in the conservatory with a gun,” she mockingly replied.

Matt chuckled. “Except in our case, it was a pair of metal shearing scissors,” he gently reminded her. “And I might add it’s always been you who suggested we dine or go out for coffee after wrapping up a successful investigation, but this time I beat you to it. I thought this would be fun, and ultimately revealing regarding your question.” Matt paused, then reached over and gently squeezed her hand. “However, if you’d rather not do this, we can leave, but you’re going to miss a great dinner and a great show. Just say the word and we’ll go.”

Delia exhaled a sigh of resignation, then cracked a cheeky grin. “And not know the murderer's identity before the FBI and MPD figure it out?” She leaned forward and looked at Matt. “You know, maybe this will be fun after all.”

“Yeah, it will,” he said, displaying a happy face. Matt turned and pointed. “Look, management is now allowing guests to enter the restaurant. The ushers are escorting everyone to their assigned table." He checked his watch. "The dinner and show will begin soon.”

Scooting her chair closer, she placed her hand on Matt’s arm. “Before dinner and the show begin, can I tell you something?”

“Sure ... fire away.”

“Your friend Morelli is definitely right about one thing.”

Matt gave a curious look. “And what would that be?”

“You’re a ball buster.”

Matt snorted in amusement. “So I’ve been told.”

They gazed at each other for a long moment, the chummy stare-down ending with a simultaneous outburst of laughter.

The End
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