A case of prosperity
When I came home from my daily walk in the park I meditated in my armchair for half an hour, as usual. A man like me has got to find a balance between thought and relaxation, or he will soon find out that his thinking process is hampered by constant strain. When that happens, mistakes come. This is what drove many men mad. I am not gonna let that happen to me. I learned this from my past, when I messed up easy cases by wanting too much too quickly. Frankly, I should be glad to still be here. Never again will I let my surroundings hurry me, or change my ways. My scars will remind me the rest of my life to take it easy.
After my meditation I was empty again, ready to roll. Today I felt like upgrading my knowledge on plants, especially the poisonous ones and what effect they had on a human being. Subjects like these might sound boring to most, but without an extended knowledge of the world it is often hard to establish a direction in which to find a solution for a specific problem. This is where most policemen go wrong, they have to start from scratch and mess up, of course. When their shift is done, they go home and grab a beer. An effective policeman should get time to develop, but governments don't want to pay for reading, so they pay with unsolved crimes.
In three hours I finished the book. Of course I didn't read the whole thing, I was only interested in certain parts. This way I could gain vast amounts of information every day. In the study I was surrounded by books on just about every subject I could think of that had any value in solving cases. Most of them I had in my subconscious, waiting to be exhaled at the 'moment suprème'. When I read all important books I simply ordered a new wave to keep my eager head going.
When the phone rang I was still thinking about what book to read next.
"Hello Sam, Jim here. You saw the papers lately? We need your help on this matter."
"Ah, Jim, I was wondering when you were gonna call me. If it was for the police, every rich man in the world would be grounded right?"
"This is no time for jokes. We are under pressure to find the killer. After informing the most likely next in line on the hitlist he wanted to have you on the case too, as we didn't solve the first two murders."
"I will come to the station right away."
I hung up and got my cane and coat. I checked my gun to see if it was loaded as a matter of routine. People scare easier when your gun has bullets in them. I drove to the police station and was looking at Jim Groves fifteen minutes later.
"Sam, come with me. I'll show you what we got so far."
"You never learn manners, do you? Get me a cup of coffee, so we can sit and relax for a minute and smoke a cigarette. A stimulated brain does twice the work of a rushed one. Ah, you didn't get that at the academy, right?"
Jim opened his mouth to reply. Then he saw my smile and shut it.
"Barbara, get us some coffee in the smoking room."
"Ah, bad coffee as always," I said, "but at least my cigarette tastes right. Of course it helps if you take your own with you, but I am not a fan of bringing my own coffee."
"My apologies, we are on a tight budget," Jim said, "you know how it goes."
"So, tell me about what happened so far," I said.
"There were two murders. The killer must have a list of who are the richest persons in the world, as it can't be a coincidence that he shot the two wealthiest men in the world in the right order."
"Yeah, yeah. The murders were committed in broad daylight, which is out of the ordinary. We found one bullet each time that went straight through the heart. The two come from the same gun, which is likely an M170 .50. We searched the areas around the houses where the crimes were committed but we have no name in sight yet, nor did we find the weapon. It is likely the killer used a silencer, as nobody heard the shots. From where he shot is not clear, we are working on that.
The families of the deceased will give you full cooperation. I think it is best we visit the sites so you know where it happened. We can take a plane tomorrow if that is ok with you. For now, you can study the report on what we got so far."
"Ok, let's fly tomorrow, I'll bring Gunther along, as you probably would have guessed," I said.
"Yes, of course."
"Call the person you think is next and tell him not to leave the house under any circumstances."
I studied the report for an hour and said goodbye to Jim.
"You already read the whole report?" Jim asked.
"Do you look at every object in a crimescene?" I replied.
Jim kinda hated me for being smarter, but he long learned to also respect it. So he forced a wise smile and said goodbye.
I drove home through the last daylight. I was home at seven PM and asked miss Parker, my housekeeper, to fix me some dinner. I really hate the hassle of keeping my house clean and cooking. If it wasn't for her, my house would be a mess. Besides, she is twice the cook I could ever be.
After a tasty and healthy meal I called Gunther to inform him of our new adventure. For him, it is always a good reason to get away from his novels and writing. One day, he may be a great writer. If you ever see a novel by Gunther Hundscheid you will know he got there. Ever so often one can only wonder what people were thinking when they named themselves. They sure didn´t think of their family!
Next day I picked up Gunther and drove to the police station. Jim was already waiting for us. We got into a policecar and drove to the airport, while Gunther was reading the report. Throughout the flight he finished the report so he was up to date when we landed. We were picked up by a police officer and driven to the widow of the first victim.
"My condolances, miss R.," I said.
"Thank you. This way please."
We followed her to the garden where her husband was shot.
"Where was he when he was shot?" I asked.
"He sat in this chair," she said.
"Was he actively talking and moving?" I asked.
"He was sleeping."
"The chair has not been moved since?"
I sat in it and looked around.
"Jim, I need the coroner's report."
Jim sent the cop that was with us to get it as soon as possible. When he was back I studied it for a while. I sat down again and made the angle in my head. I only saw one building capable of making it.
"Which building is that?" I asked the widow.
"Hotel Brookes Lane."
"Figures," I said.
"What do you mean?" Jim asked.
"It would be strange if he was shot from a private building, that would be kind of obvious," I replied.
"Why do you think he was shot from Brookes Lane?" Gunther asked.
"The coroner's report says the bullet entered at an angle of fifteen degrees from the left. So when I sit here I look fifteen degrees to the right. The killer must have a clean shot, so he must be in a high building. Do you see any other high buildings there?"
The widow looked annoyed at the policemen as if they were responsible for the case so far.
"We are done here, miss. I am sorry to have disturbed you," I said.
"Not at all. I have a feeling you will solve this. I will be so thankful if you do," she said.
I took her hand and said: "I will do my best."
Jim asked the grunt to get the melons and for another police radio. Gunther stayed behind. Me and Jim went to the hotel.
"Does the police own a M170 gun?" I asked.
"No," Jim replied. "It is an army gun, why?"
"We will need one when we go to the hotel. We will also need someone who is a sharpshooter with it."
Jim called the local police chief to help him out. When the two were arguing, I stepped in and explained why it was needed. Half an hour later a sniper with the gun joined us. We talked to the hotel manager for assistance and a few minutes later it was time for shooting melons.
"Put a melon in the chair as high as his heart would have been. Just use a rope or so."
The sharpshooter shot the first one.
"Put a tag on it now, Gunther, that says: fourth floor. Measure the exact length, width and height there, while it is still hanging. Then tell me how much the angle differs."
Gunther looked at the coroners report.
"My measurements show you need to go up and to the right."
"Don't you just love a guy who can handle mathematics?" I said to Jim.
We moved up two floors and shot another melon.
"I'd say one more floor up."
We moved one more up and got one part of the angle right.
"Do you mind if we disturb your guests for this occasion?" I asked the hotel manager.
"No, this is important enough," he replied.
In the end we cut down the rooms from where he could have been shot to three.
"Come to the hotel, Gunther, we are ready."
I asked the manager to get a guest list and wrote down three names for the day of the murder. The sharpshooter was thanked for his cooperation.
"Do you know these guests?" I asked the manager.
"Only one. Archer is a regular guest here."
I put that note to his name.
"Do you have surveillance cameras installed?"
"In the lobby and in the elevators."
"Do you still have the tapes from the day he was murdered?"
"Yes, do you need them?"
"We probably need to watch them later on together. I need a face to the name."
We were drinking coffee in the lounge when Gunther arrived.
"Good work," I said, "join us for some coffee."
"Thank you, Sam. I'd be glad to."
After we finished we packed our gear as there was nothing left to do there. We flew home and I asked Jim to run the names we got through the police files to see if they were ringers or law abiding citizen. Gunther joined me for dinner at my place and left. He knew I was bad company if I was on a case. In the evening I thought my next moves over, but they were so clear to me that it was a matter of doing it when the time comes. So I read up on who the two victims were and the next in line. I could see why some people might be mad at them. The motive became pretty clear to me.
The next day we flew to crimescene two, where we did the same things, of course. We found a range from where he was shot and compared the names to the ones we got. It was obvious the killer used a false name, as expected. In each case we were stuck with a fake name only. Now we had to start looking for a face to it. Both hotels we visited had surveillance cameras. One hotel manager recalled the guest as somewhat strange and if he would see him he would recognize him. That's how we got the face. We looked for the same face on the tapes from the other hotel and surely, there he was. So we took a third trip to meet a live trillionaire.
A butler in livery let us in. It is funny, how the 'aristocrats' long for the good old days, when they ruled the world. You see it in every aspect of the houses they live in. Paintings from their family, painted throughout the centuries. Ancient furniture, gold and silver everywhere, they still think they are better than us. And how they try to get the old days back! God knows, if they could bring back the kings to rule us, they'd do it. It was so much easier to bribe just one person.
"Hello, mr. R., how are you doing?" I asked.
"Still good," he smiled, "but staying inside is not my cup of tea. How much longer do I have to?"
"That depends on how long it takes for us to get the killer," I replied. "Of course I'd like to have a wage for my services, as you can imagine."
"Very well, how much are you thinking of?"
"Oh, just a million."
"A million? That is a bit much."
"I knew you would see it my way. The price just went up to two."
"But you must be out of your mind! Two million to solve one case?"
"I read about how you run your companies and how you treat people. Your way of making money isn't my cup of tea, but if people ask me for help I will do it. It's not that I'm greedy, but if I ask you for a sizeable amount I can do other cases for free, you see? So, just to show my respect for you I'll make it ten, and that's my final offer. You can always ask the cops to help you, you know how well they protected the other victims."
Jim opened his mouth to say something, but I quickly put my finger on my mouth. Mr. R. looked at me like he must do to others many times in his life. I just smiled. I wasn't gonna move an inch for this man. When he saw he had no choice he agreed. He wired ten million to my account.
"You are too good for this world!" I said to him, with my most cynical smile behind it. "Stay inside while we are still hunting our man."
We already looked around to see which buildings have a view on his property. Now it was a simple case of visiting them one by one. We showed the video capture to the hotel managers and got a hit along the way. I asked Jim to get a search warrant for his room and to bring along something to shoot a bullet into. Armed with these things we went into his room, after establishing he wasn't there, of course. We found his gun and shot a round into a small test tank. After that we quickly dispursed.
When the bullet was tested against the other bullets it was close to 100% sure that they all three came from the same gun. We called the hotel manager to inform us when he was in his room. Three hours later we were drinking tasty coffee in mr. R's home, while our suspect was drinking the coffee cops are famous for. That will teach him!
"So, mr. R., aren't you glad you called on me? You can roam the world in your regular fashion again," I said.
"I sure am, much obliged. I still think you overcharged, but one cannot put a price on liberty."
"Yes, liberty is a great good for the rich and a nice dream for the poor. Good day, sir!"
This is how I managed to buy three consecutive houses in the better part of town. One for all people I care most about in this world. Gunther to the left and my housekeeper to the right. I would not know what to do without them, I would probably just go insane for lack of conversation and go ill for lack of nutrients. I also finally got Jim out of his second hand poor man's car. You should see the smile on his face, when he rides around town in his brand new car.