The Not Exactly Complete Works of Peter Schulman

Circumstantial Evidence

©2010 Peter Schulman
 

 

  Chapter 1  

  Chapter 2  

  Chapter 3  

  Chapter 4  

  Chapter 5  

  Chapter 6  

  Chapter 7  

  Chapter 8  

  Chapter 9  

  Chapter 10  

  Chapter 11  

  Chapter 12  

Chapter 15

Rachel, Lily, and I met at Janet Reedy’s apartment on Rittenhouse Square at ten the following morning. I got there around ten fifteen. The women were chatting, waiting for me. Rachel looked miffed.

Lily whispered, “I’ll get you laid the first time you show up on time.”

“You mean the next time,” I whispered back.

“The next time will be your first.”

I had worked with Rachel before. We had a friendly working relationship. She brought along the case file. That would have been routine had I still been a prosecutor. In theory, it made just as much sense to be available to the defense since we were all working in the interests of justice.

Unfortunately, cases are not handled in theory. Each side is working in the interests of the win. Justice, if achieved, is a coincidental byproduct.

I hoped we could continue to do that justice thing if I dealt with the other side in a respectful, forthright manner. I also hoped it wouldn’t rain when I washed my car.

Rachel was five seven, one hundred thirty-five well-toned pounds. She had black hair, intense, brown eyes, and an infectious smile, but no dazzling feature. Her appeal exceeded the sum of her parts.

She was a good cop. She made detective at thirty-one and had worked in that capacity for three years.

“Did you guys find anything interesting?” I asked her.

“I guess it depends on what you mean by interesting.”

“Anything that tells me who she was; who she knew; what she did; who might have wanted to harm her.”

“Yeah. I’m afraid you’re going to have a field day with this one,” said Rachel.

“This is an awfully nice apartment,” I said. “I don’t know if the art is real, but there looks to be a lot of money tied up in the place. How much did she make?”

“Greater Midwestern Trust says she made forty-seven thousand five hundred twelve dollars last year. Way past that already this year,” said Rachel.

“This is a two-bedroom. Did she have a roommate?”

“No.”

“What’s the rent?”

“Two thousand dollars a month plus utilities,” Rachel said.

“Altogether that has to come to around twenty-seven thousand a year with utilities. On forty-seven five, state, local, Social Security and income taxes come to at least a third. That’s about forty-two already. Does she own a car?”

“New 2001 BMW M3. It just came out,” Rachel volunteered.

“What does that cost?”

“Around fifty thousand dollars for the base model.” Rachel had done her homework.

“What kind of clothes, shoes, bags, jewelry?”

“Designer, and expensive.”

“Doesn’t that arouse your curiosity?” I asked.

“We don’t think it has anything to do with who killed her.”

“Doesn’t that arouse your curiosity?” I repeated.

“Off the record?”

“My word is my bond.”

“I hope your word retains its value. Unofficially, it arouses my curiosity.”

Lily was busily writing down information about the artwork including the ceramic pieces, which looked hand-made and not inexpensive. “Is all of this stuff covered under her insurance?” Lily asked.

“I’ll make you a copy of the policy,” Rachel told her.

“What is the total value of the contents?” I asked.

Rachel hesitated. “Around nine hundred fifty thousand including the jewelry we logged into evidence.”

“Accumulated on forty-seven five a year before taxes? She must have been quite the little coupon clipper. Where do you find the forty-thousand-dollar-off coupon for a BMW? Doesn’t that arouse your curiosity?”

“Yeah, I’m getting aroused,” said Rachel, starting to sound annoyed.

“Perhaps she had a lucrative hobby,” I suggested.

I looked through the closet item by item. She had more evening wear than work clothing. The names on the shoes were familiar - Jimmy Choo, Gucci, Prada, Manolo Blahnik, Ferragamo - though they didn’t reside in most households. I heard them mentioned on Sex and the City.

Just her shoes had cost more than my car. The bags had names I recognized as well - Fendi, Channel, Hermes, Prada. I knew how expensive they were because my second wife used to tell me what they cost before she said, “Oh, I shouldn’t.” And then she did.

Everything was expensive. Even the linens and the bed covers shocked my sensibilities. I moved to the drawers.

“There is something else I’m guessing you'll find interesting,” said Rachel. “She had a collection of, uh, recreational implements.” She displayed no enthusiasm in offering up this information.

When I opened that drawer I said, “You seem to have mastered the art of understatement. I thought you were talking about ping pong paddles.”

It contained dildoes of various sizes, vibrators of various sizes and configurations, a butterfly - I had read about those so I was able to figure out what it was - butt plugs, personal lubricants, some odd-looking contraptions I guessed were nipple clamps - I’m an avid reader - silk ropes, one strap-on dildo and one strap-on double dildo.

I pulled out something from the bottom of the drawer. It was, of all things, a ping pong paddle.

“I don’t even want to know what she used this for,” I said.

There were two objects I not only did not recognize, I couldn’t imagine what they were for. Perhaps they had something to do with her insurance practice.

“Maybe she made all that money selling this stuff,” I said. “But she didn’t need all that evening wear to demonstrate it.”

Rachel did not comment.

I popped a root beer barrel into my mouth and stuffed the wrapper in my pocket. “Does any of this arouse your curiosity?” I asked.

“No. I’m pretty set in my sexuality,” Rachel said.

“Your curiosity about Janet Reedy?”

“There is that.”

“Why didn’t you take this stuff into custody?” I asked cheerfully.

“Officially, we don’t think it has anything to do with the case and we have limited storage space.”

“Lily, would you inventory that stuff?”

“How long will this place remain sealed?” she asked.

“Until we can figure out what to do with the contents,” said Rachel. “That’s part of the reason there’s still so much stuff here. Some of it is pretty valuable and nobody has made a claim.”

“This stuff too?” Lily asked without inflection.

Rachel just stared at her.

Janet had some ordinary looking underwear and some extraordinarily sexy looking underwear. Work and play.

We looked under the drawers. We checked distances between the inside and outside bottoms of drawers and doors and walls for possible hidden compartments. There were none.

We looked behind and under the refrigerator. Nothing but dust.

She had an answering machine. There were no messages. She had no computer. She must have been too active to have the time to use one.

Rachel confirmed that any address books Janet had were in the evidence room and scheduled an appointment with Lily to go over them.

“Are you tracking down any of her contacts?” I asked.

“No.”

“Are you tracking down any of her activities?”

“No.”

“Where she got all this stuff?”

“No.”

“I guess I should be grateful you've at least collected the stuff.”

“I’m not the problem,” said Rachel.

“I know. But you’re the only one here to complain to.”

“I know. Are you guys about done here?”

“I think so. Lily, do you have anything else?”

“No.”

“We’re done.”

There is a saying people use after they have searched for something, especially their keys. They say, “It’s always in the last place you look.” Of course, it’s in the last place you look. Why would you continue to look for something after you've found it?

The police often do something similar. After they are convinced they have found the guilty person, what is the point of continuing to look?

Unfortunately, this is not really the same situation. They can’t be certain they have found what they are looking for, particularly when the case depends on circumstantial evidence, so there is value in continuing to search. I've made that mistake myself.

Lily and I walked down the hall as Rachel closed the place up and put the yellow crime scene tape back up.

“This is not good,” Lily said.

“No. It says her killer is rich and powerful. Even if we figure out who he is, he won’t be easy to nail.”

“At least your guy Patrick doesn’t have anything better to do right now.”

“Isn’t it a little early for gallows humor?” I asked.

“It’s never too early,” she said, “as you regularly demonstrate,” and left with a wave.

I walked back to where Rachel was finishing up.

“So how did a nice girl like you wind up working in a place like this?” Flirting effectively requires practice, and I demonstrably needed practice if I had to stoop to a cliché like this.

“I’m not such a nice girl.”

“I thought you might say it wasn’t such a bad place.”

“Sometimes it isn’t. So how did a nice guy like you wind up working as a defense attorney?”

“Maybe I’m not such a nice guy.”

“I've heard that.” she said.

“You could marry me and take me away from all this.”

“I hear that’s been tried before.”

“I was with the police then. Now I’m just a poor, humble defense attorney.”

“You need it more now. But, I don’t think I want to take on that burden,” she said.

“Maybe I can take you away from all this.”

“I like all this.”

“The detective with the heart of gold.”

“It’s a movie classic.”

I was fresh out of trite, ineffectual things to say. “Well, if you find any new evidence, call me any time and I’ll be delighted to come over and personally interpret its significance.”

“If that was a move, I don’t know how you got two women to marry you let alone date you.”

Ouch. “I guess if you wait around long enough some woman will have pity and take the initiative.”

“So what are you doing tonight, cutie?” She had pity and was taking the initiative.

“I have to do some work on an appeal, but I’m free tomorrow.”

“You've got the follower’s part down pretty good. Call me. We'll get together.”

Perhaps I was more appealing than I thought.

 

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  Chapter 13  

  Chapter 14  

  Chapter 15  

  Chapter 16  

  Chapter 17  

  Chapter 18  

  Chapter 19  

  Chapter 20  

  Chapter 21  

  Chapter 22  

  Chapter 23