Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Mystery · #521973
A detective cracks a case thanks to a parrot
| Danny Norrish tapped his pen to his slicked back grey hair or what was left of it from the ravage of years. Comfortable in his blue jeans and St. Lawrence Isles Police t-shirt, he leaned back in his chair and silently reviewed his notes again. |
Patricia's Goylin's aunt, old Amanda Medders, and Keith Heiland, the thirty-two year old executive of MacTough & Abrams... Two bodies on the same day at the exclusive Docklights Hideaway Resort. What had triggered this monstrosity? Manager Michael Herdman had said he couldn't believe his eyes as most of his distinguished guests left one by one.
It had been forty-eight hours since Amanda Medders' body was found. Michael had rushed into the cottage when he had heard Patty's screams. Both murders were the results of strychnine poisoning according to the autopsy reports. What a painful way to die, Danny thought in remembered horror. A year ago, while vacationing in Australia in Brisbane, he had taken a couple of headache pills and had doubled with spasms as the result of someone's tampering with the pharmaceutical company's products for blackmail. He shook his head as if to shake off the bad memory of those nasty convulsions.
An empty bottle of sleeping pills was on the nightstand in Amanda Medders' room, but no barbiturate remains were found in the two bodies. Jimmy, the busboy who took coffee to Keith Heiland's cottage, was the last person to see him alive. Traces of strychnine were found in all the coffee cups the victims had used.
"Dan, the second lab report is here!"
He rushed over to the chief's desk and leafed through the pages.
"Nothing new here, Dan."
"You're right, Chief. I'll go interview their staff again."
In her office, where an annoying parrot kept babbling on its perch, Danny questioned Patty Goylin. Patty, unsure of what she had testified to before, changed several details of her previous testimony. Her aunt had come to meet Michael Herdman, her boyfriend and boss, she said nervously.
"You have an address in town, Patty. Right?"
"I share a two-bedroom apartment with three girls, a little crowded there. When Aunt Amanda also came, Mike gave her one of the two-bedroom cottages." Then, she pointed to the bird. "Mike hates this parrot. It's Aunt Amanda's. Pets aren't allowed inside the main building, but for the cottages they are allowed."
"Your aunt was here for three days."
Michael Herdman repeated his preceding testimony exactly.
"I admire precision," Danny said. "Most people cannot remember what they did an hour ago."
"I have a good memory," Michael said, handing over a card to Danny. "I'm a Mensa member. Here's my card."
Danny asked Michael about his relationship with Patty.
"No big deal," Michael shrugged. "Soon I'll quit working here and that'll be the end of it."
As Danny stepped out the door, Michael began, "Old King Cole was a merry ole' soul..."
Danny turned startled.
"Nursery rhymes. A habit from childhood. Never mind me."
How had strychnine gotten into the coffee leaving so little trace while killing people? What was the motive behind the murders of these two unrelated people? Was Patty the murderer ? For the aunt she could have a motive, but what about the second victim?
A day later, Danny went back into Patty's office. Patty wasn't in.
"Three blind mice see how they run,
They all ran after the farmer's wife..."
As Danny turned in amazement to the parrot, Patty walked in.
"Does Michael like the parrot better now?" Danny asked.
"Oh, no. Mike doesn't come in here because of him. Anyway, the parrot shuts up when he sees Mike."
At the department, Danny asked for a more thorough check into Patty and Michael's backgrounds.
Two days later, Danny found a fat envelope on his desk. Exactly what he was looking for. In a few hours, he was on the grounds of Docklights Hideaway Resort, with two police cars in tow.
Michael Herdman and Patty Goylin were in their offices.
"Isn't this a mistake?" Patty rushed in as Danny was reading Michael Herdman his rights.
"No," Danny answered. "Were you aware Michael had worked under Keith Heiland at MacTough & Abrams?"
"No, Michael never worked for lawyers."
"MacTough & Abrams is a chemical lab, not a law firm. Michael's a chemist, graduated "magna cum laude". In his first job he developed a concentrated form of rat poison without authorization. Although his innovation was an important one, he was let go by Keith. After he left, Keith filed a report about Michael stealing some lab equipment. The investigation was dropped due to lack of evidence. Unfortunately, Keith got killed for running into Michael and telling him he'd write to Hideaway Resorts Inc. about his background."
"I checked Heiland in, not Michael." Patty said, throwing an irate glance after Michael as the deputies took him to the car. "But they must have run into each other, because Aunt Amanda came here to my office and told me that Heiland had warned her about Michael. Just then I got called for a delivery problem. We never finished that conversation. Oh, I've forgotten something else."
"A maid told me Michael took Aunt Amanda's lunch tray from her and delivered the tray himself."
"Why wasn't I told of this?"
"Michael told everyone, for the good of this place, only to answer your questions and volunteer no extra information."
The parrot had to have memorized the nursery rhyme from Michael as he watched Amanda Medders perish, Danny thought. As to Patty, she was a flake. Did she have any part in this? Danny didn't believe so. But that was up to the DA. Danny Norrish had his guy and that's what mattered to him.