When Marie came out of the auditorium, it was raining heavily outside. She pulled the black hood of the overcoat to cover her head. The rain had lost the ambient temperature of early fall, freezing and paling her skin on contact.
“Allow me to drop you at your place Marie and, I hope Tanya will get a train from the nearby station.” Jamie politely offered.
Tanya thanked him, but Marie replied, “No, we can drop her first. It may be a little late, but….”
Jamie did not mind, after all, he could spend a few more hours with Marie. Tanya thanked them. It was already late, and the weather was odd too. Jamie drove his car towards Silver vile town and dropped Tanya at her apartment. Then he looked at Marie and said, “What are you thinking about?”
“I am thinking about a striking discrepancy which no one mentioned, but I watched the show for two consecutive days. So, I noticed it.” Marie murmured.
Jamie suddenly broke into laughter. “Miss detective, I know what you are thinking about. The first night, you saw Hugo fired his assistant Alexander and tonight, Alexander fired him. Isn’t it?”
“Yes,” Marie looked at him.
“We also asked the same question, when Mr. Schiffer approached us,” Jamie replied,
“Actually, it changes with every show. If Alexander fires him in one show, then Hugo will fire him in the next one. Last night, we attended the first show of the evening and today, you have attended the second one.”
“It means, in the first show only a toy pistol was used, but in the second show it was replaced, but Alexander must have checked it before the show,” Marie uttered.
“Exactly, but before the commencement of the show, not before the bullet catching episode, because the last game sword chamber and bullet catching hardly had any interval, and, the replacement happened in between the two games,” Jamie explained.
“And, the killer was sure that it would kill Hugo only, not his assistant. So, he was the target.” Jamie added.
“Whom do you suspect, Marie?” Jamie asked again, “there might be a love triangle. Claudia is too beautiful, and Alexander is young enough….”
Marie smiled, “Jamie, revenge may not be the only cause of murder. I am thinking about the pistol. It is a rare Italian pistol, not easily available in our country, especially after the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013.”
“Alexander can smuggle it from Europe. Don’t forget, they all travel across the globe and perform in different countries.” He said.
Jamie’s car stopped before Marie’s house. She got down from the car. Though it was still drizzling, she forbade Jamie to get down, “I can go inside. It’s not too extreme.”
She passed the carefully manicured shrubbery and finally reached the end, parking in the circle in front of the door. Her car was parked in front of the brick steps that lead to a set of red French wooden doors on the front of the house. Thankfully, she did not drive her own car today; otherwise, she could not spend time with Jamie. After thinking of Jamie, Marie suddenly blushed. Chilly raindrops touched her warm cheeks gently.
Marie unlocked the door and went inside. She put off her drenched overcoat, put it on a hanger, and decided to prepare a light meal. It was already late, at half-past twelve. So, she brought out some canned food and started warming them in the micro-oven.
She was thinking about the case. Initially, it looked like a mere accident, but now it appeared to be more complicated. She switched on the television. Crime news was going on on one channel. It was highlighting a recent murder case in Kew Garden’s Private Avenue.
Lisa Mary, a twenty-five-year-old young woman, was killed at her apartment. She was a model as well as a radio jockey. Her dead body was recovered from a secret cabinet inside the flat when her friends Elisa and Sarah came to meet her, and she did not respond. It was assumed that she was killed in the afternoon and the assassin used an imported automatic double-barrelled pistol.
Elisa was talking continuously; her friend had a spoiled affair. She loved an influential man, double of her age, who was actually exploiting her, but unfortunately, they did not know his name. Lisa wanted to expose the cheater, but before that she died.
The camera moved around the room, from where they discovered the body. Marie was about to change the channel, but suddenly she noticed a photo frame on the wall. She scowled and recorded the show.
“What the hell are you talking about, Marie?” Jamie sounded impatient, “Private Avenue murder case is just an ordinary crime. Our Police Department can handle it easily.” He said disapprovingly, “Try to solve Hugo’s death. Do you want to meet Alexander?”
“No,” Marie sounded confident, “I want to visit Private Avenue and the place where Lisa lived.”
“Sorry, a private detective cannot interfere with the police’s work, unless and until I allow.” Jamie looked at her critically and started working on his computer.
“Did not the murderer use a double-barrelled pistol?” Marie asked.
“So?” Jamie looked at her, “Hugo’s pistol is not the only pistol in the US, which has a double barrel. And, smuggled automatic firearms can be found in every state.”
“If I say, it is the same thing, then?”
“Well, if your assumption goes wrong, I’ll never ask you to assist me in the near future. Remember that Miss Claire.” Jamie sounded strict and formal.
“I agree.” She replied calmly.
“Well, let’s go then.” He left his chair and asked her to come. They crossed the Sheriff’s office and reached into the car. Without any remark, Jamie fastened his seat belt and started the car.
They reached Private Avenue within a few minutes, and the apartment was located at the end of the road. It was a skyscraper with small apartments. Most of the inhabitants were tenants, rather than owning.
“Here single persons can hire rooms in relatively cheaper rent. All are studio apartments.” Jamie remarked.
“Did you find any clue regarding her assassin?”
“Marie, sorry, I cannot leak my department’s secrets.” The elevator reached the tenth floor and Jamie came out hurriedly. They walked towards the end of the corridor, where two policemen were guarding the sealed wooden door. They initially surprised to see the Sheriff with Marie.
Jamie asked them to open the door. They obeyed him. Marie entered the flat. It was a one-roomed flat with a small drawing room and a medium-sized bedroom. The kitchen, bathroom, latrine, and balcony were too small for a family to survive.
“She lived here alone, and the dead body was discovered from the bed room’s cabinet. There was a soiled bedsheet on the bed. We assume that she had intercourse before her assassination that is why we are looking for his boyfriend.”
Marie stormed into the room; she did not look at the cabinet or at the bed but looked at the wall, where she saw the photo frame. Yes, it was exactly in the same position.
She picked up the frame and looked at the photo. It was a couple’s photo. The woman was no doubt Lisa and the man……Marie sighed and asked Jamie, “Do you know this man?”
Jamie looked at the photo and forgot to blink, “Schiffer?”
“Yes, last night when I watched this on the television screen, I decided to come here.” Marie smiled, “Please inform Mr. Schiffer that the pistol was false and someone else fired him from the backstage.”
“What! Hugo’s pistol was false, and someone else fired him?” Schiffer could not believe his ears.
“Yes, it was an old enmity,” Jamie replied, “Alexander knows the assassin, and we’ll soon find him out.”
“Oh, fine,” Schiffer smiled sternly, “Thanks a lot.” He took leave and came out of the Sheriff’s office. He hastily walked towards the car and got into it. He was so absorbed in thoughts that he hardly noticed the shadowy figure watching him.
Schiffer opened the car’s cabinet and brought out a pistol. He loosed its barrels, saw the false cartridges, and murmured, “If the false pistol was with Hugo, then what is it?”
“The real one, Mr. Schiffer,” a woman’s voice replied.
Schiffer turned back; he confused to see Marie, “Ma’am, you are here?”
“Yes, Mr. Schiffer, and I found you with Hugo’s false pistol.”
Schiffer had looked at her for a while and laughed, “So? A toy pistol cannot kill a man. And, Hugo is not the only one who uses a toy pistol.”
“Yes, but Hugo’s pistol is self-made and easily identifiable,” Marie replied.
He shrugged, “I have talked to the Sheriff. The murderer is identified, and Alexander knows him…..”
“Yes, we all know him.” She replied.
“Good, who is he? May I know?” He asked in a cold voice. Marie amazed to see his nerve.
“It’s you, Mr. Schiffer,” Jamie shouted.
Schiffer turned back and froze to see Jamie. But, he recovered himself quickly, “Are you crazy? Do you know what you are talking about? I can sue you.”
“I know that,” Jamie smiled, “but unfortunately, we got your fingerprint on the weapon.”
“See, you may get fingerprints, but I cannot kill Hugo with a toy pistol, right? Moreover, I have no intention of killing him.” Schiffer shouted, “You two are wasting my time.”
“It is true that you have no intention to kill Hugo, Mr. Schiffer; but you wanted to conceal the murder weapon. You saw Hugo’s toy pistol was exactly the same, so, you exchanged them. Did you think that Hugo was a real bullet eater?”
“Whom did I kill?” Schiffer asked coldly.
“Lisa Mary.” Jamie replied coldly, “We have found your photo in Lisa’s apartment, and I want to know your connection with the deceased?”
Schiffer broke down, the toy pistol fell onto the ground and broke into pieces. He knelt and cried, “Lisa was a bitch. She was blackmailing me and….and…I lost my temper. I fired her. The pistol had a silencer, so, no one heard. When I found her dead, I was confused. I tried to hide her body in the cabinet but did not leave the pistol there. I saw Hugo had the same type of Pistol, so, decided to dump it in his bag.
Believe me; I had no intention of killing him. I returned before the second show but knew his assistant check those pistols before the commencement of every show. So I waited. When the sword chamber game began, I thought to keep it in his bag.
Otherwise, I would not get the chance. However, when I reached backstage, I saw Claudia. I had to say something, so, told her hall’s closing time. It was just an excuse. I found the bag unattended when she went front stage to deliver my message.
The jute bag had been already half-opened, and it had six toy pistols, I put my pistol inside and took out one false pistol. I never knew that Alexander would choose that one.”
“It was the last show, right?”
“Yes, Hugo would probably notice it later, but could not work out who replaced. There was little probability of getting killed with the weapon because he had many others. Alexander could choose any one pistol from the six….”
“Sometimes probability maths do not work properly, Mr. Schiffer,” Marie smiled, “You are not a cold-blooded murderer. That was why you forgot to put off your photo from Lisa’s house; you forgot that you are standing in front of the Sheriff’s office and you also forgot that you had mentioned yourself as a gun collector and many other things. I assume many of your weapons do not have a proper license.”
Schiffer nodded, “Automatic pistols fascinate me, I collect them illegally, but never got caught, because I hardly used them.” He paused awhile and said, “Lisa was involved in weapon smuggling. She used to supply me these items at a low price, but…”
“Your relation with Lisa is something beyond business, Mr. Schiffer. Anyway, now we’ll know it during your trial.” Before finishing Marie’s words, the police handcuffed him and forced him to stand. Schiffer walked slowly towards the prison van, and Jamie asked his colleagues to release Alexander.
“Marie, again, you have made magic. The real magician is you.” Jamie said.
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