Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Stiff Hand, Part 2

[Continues from Part 1]

The bobby guarding the door to the private room at the casino let us in, while the other bobby stood watch over the crime scene. Sergeant Natalie Bishop had stopped by my house in Mayfair en route to the casino. "From what I heard about the crime," the sergeant said, "this seemed more up your alley than mine. Her uniform nearly covered her mechanical arm, but I could hear the motors responding to commands to move. I smiled in gratitude - Natalie knew how much I liked little puzzles - and entered the cab ahead of her.

Upon entering the casino, the manager stepped in front of Natalie. Placing a hand on her mechanical arm, he said, "Sergeant, I appreciate the need for the police to investigate my customer's unfortunate death, but I have a business to run. This casino is the first one licensed in Caledon, and we can't have an extended shutdown - or the bad publicity that will come with your investigation. Surely we're on the same side here - moving gambling from back alleys and pubs into a legitimate, licensed business has to be good for the police, too."

Natalie flicked her arm and tossed the manager aside. "Sir, we'll be done as soon as we can, and not a moment before. One of your customers was murdered. Surely," she said, mimicking the manager's tone, "we're on the same side here - you want any murderers to stay out of your casino. Now step aside and let us do our jobs."

Inside the private room, Natalie was all business. "Gentlemen, we have a problem. You all agree that no one has entered or exited the room during your game. Mr. Fallon appears to have been murdered via a quick-acting poison. I'm told the poison had to have been administered within a few minutes of his death. That means that one of the five of you is responsible for killing this man." She stared at each of the men in turn: Jack Newport, the bartender, Morris Skelton, the dealer, and the three remaining players, Mr. Antony Alderton, Mr. Barney Elwood, and Mr. Carl Fursey. Mr. Elwood looked calm and unperturbed at the situation, while his two playing companions both seemed agitated.

I examined the room: the blackjack table, with its four identical glasses lined up at each position; the playing cards, all in pristine condition, save for a small dog-ear on a jack of spades at the first seat and a small dark stain on the ten of diamonds at the last seat; and, in the back of the room, a police chemist examining the liquor cart as the bartender shuffled his feet anxiously nearby.

"Let me try to make this process as short as possible while making certain my companion, Miss Rhianon Jameson, knows what I know. First, Mr. Alderton, we know you're a card counter. If the casino manager knew of your... predilection, he would ban you from playing here. We've heard that Mr. Fallon knew what you were doing and planned to report you this evening, after your game." Antony started to sputter, but said nothing.

Natalie continued, "Mr. Elwood, despite your elegant - and expensive appearance, I understand that you're broke. In fact, not only is your firm in financial trouble, you borrowed a great deal of money from Mr. Fallon in order to keep your business open. It seems unlikely that you could afford to repay the loan. Mr. Fallon's untimely demise is certainly convenient for you."

"Now just wait a minute, young lady..."

"That's Sergeant to you, sir," Natalie replied.

"Sergeant, then. I may have owed Fallon money, but I'm no killer."

Natalie turned to the third player. "Mr. Fursey, I understand that you were Mr. Fallon's business partner." The man nodded nervously. "I also believe that you were embezzling money from the business. Mr. Fallon had discovered this and had already made arrangements for an auditor to look at the firm's books. If this happened, you would be found out, be sent to jail, and be disgraced."

"I resent these unfounded accusations, Sergeant!" Carl Fursey protested.

"You may resent them all you like. If I'm wrong, then you have nothing to fear and you should file a complaint against me after I release you. However, at the moment, it seems to me that all three of you have motives for wanting Mr. Fallon dead." Natalie turned to me. "And now, Rhianon, you know as much as I do about this affair."

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