Episode III: Part III - The Case of the Missing Virus
Killing the engine and lights, Matt stepped out of his vehicle. He took a quick look around, allowing the driver’s side door to rest gently against the door frame. It was a moonless night and dark as ten feet down in every direction, the dim light emanating from inside front of the Mitchell home the only exception. Using the light as a beacon, he walked ahead of his vehicle, finally spotting an asphalt driveway that ultimately curved in the direction of an attached side entry two car garage.
Following the driveway, Matt quickly made his way to the front of the garage door. Walking stealthily toward the rear of the house, he climbed a short stairway leading to a redwood deck attached to the back of the Mitchell home. Noticing a sliding glass door on the back of the house, Matt scooted quietly around the usual complement of deck furniture until his back was flat against the wood framed structure, just on the edge of the slider. Vertical blinds on the opposite side of the sliding glass doors appeared disheveled, as if they had been roughly pushed aside. Upon closer inspection, he noticed the sliding door was slightly ajar. Just enough for someone to have squeezed through, Matt thought.
Removing his snub nose revolver from its holster, he carefully edged his way inside, working his way toward what appeared to be the kitchen, its shape and layout made visible by the dim light filtering its way around the corner of a dividing wall. Continuing toward an archway, Matt leaned forward just enough to see around its edge, a small lamp with a low wattage bulb on top of an upright piano, the culprit responsible for the vague lighting. The living room, the front of the home; okay, so why is it on? he pondered.
“Hands up - don’t move,” a muffled voice ordered. Matt felt the hard metal of a gun barrel connect with the middle of his back. The unidentified male grabbed Matt’s short barreled revolver with his other hand, snatching it roughly away. Following Matt after shoving him through the archway, he blurted out, “who are you — what are you doing here?”
“Funny, I was just about to ask you the same question?” Matt replied in a cynical tone, turning his head toward the unknown voice behind him.
“Don’t look at me — and don’t turn around,” the unknown male barked. “Hand me your wallet — and be slow about it.”
Removing the bi-fold id out of the left inside pocket of his sports jacket with his right hand, Matt slowly extended his arm in the direction of the unknown party behind him. Just as he reached for the billfold, Matt allowed the wallet to slip our his hand, the perp focusing on the wallet as it dropped to the floor. One moment of distraction was all he needed. In an instant Matt wheeled around, knocking the gun out the unknown thug’s gloved hand with his left arm, simultaneously connecting with a right hook to the left side of his jaw.
Charging out of a bedroom hallway, another unknown party crashed into Matt like a runaway freight train, slamming both to the floor. A brief struggle ensued. Matt managed to stand, yanking the second perp to his feet before smashing him in the face with a right cross, dropping the assailant like a sack of bricks.
Taking a deep breath and attempting to get his bearings, Matt took a step back; that’s when he felt the thud of metal on the back of his head.
“He’s coming around,” a barely audible voice Matt heard and recognized. “Matt, it’s me, Delia,” she repeated several times, kneeling next to him on the floor. She had placed several folded kitchen towels under his head as she gently wiped his face and forehead with a damp cloth.
“It could have been worse,” another familiar voice blurted. “What the hell was he doing here this time of night? And by himself, for crying out loud?”
Matt strained to sit up, holding the back of his head with his left hand. He squinted his eyes in response to most of the lights inside the Mitchell home being turned on. Tilting his head back slightly, he looked up at Delia and agent Morelli standing next to her. “Don’t tell me ... the GPS button?”
“You're fortunate Delia was up at 2 am this morning, checking on your whereabouts,” Morelli barked, several other agents and technicians searching the house again for evidence.
“What are you talking about?” Matt asked.
“He means I was at the office at 7 pm, waiting for you,” Delia answered. “When you didn’t return by nine, I left and went home. I started tracking your whereabouts. When the GPS indicated you were still at the same location at 2 am, I called Frank.”
Matt stood, helped to his feet by Delia and Morelli. “I just wanted to get a heads-up on the exact location of Mitchell’s home, as well as his neighbor, Susan Caine.” He grimaced, holding the back of his head. Matt pivoted unsteadily, facing Morelli. “I noticed a light on in the Mitchell home, and ……”
“And you just had to check it out — by yourself,” Morelli interrupted, noticeable irritation in his voice.
“How did I know there were three guys inside — none of them Harold Mitchell?” Matt scoffed.
A crime scene technician walked-up to Morelli. “Nothing of any evidentiary value has been discovered. A few cabinets and drawers have been rifled through, but that’s about it. We haven’t dusted for prints.”
“You want find any; these guys were gloved,” Matt disclosed.
“Do it anyway,” Morelli barked.
Matt let out a deep breath. “Like I said earlier, Frank, I wanted to get a heads-up on both addresses. My first thought when I noticed the light was on was that it was Mitchell — that he was home.”
“Uh hmm," Morelli gruffed. "So, how did that work out for you?" he asked, still irritated as he looked around the disheveled room.
“Delia and I will return tomorrow and speak with Mrs. Caine,” Matt answered, ignoring his question.
“I’m afraid that won’t be necessary,” Morelli responded.
“What do you mean it won’t be necessary?”
Delia turned and faced Matt. “She’s dead.”
Click to read Episode III Part IV "MATT DUGGAN - DETECTIVE SERIES"