Karlson seated me at the far end of the wooden table. That put me in perfect alignment to be watched by anybody on the other side of the one-way mirror.
He leaned next to the mirror. Moments later, Karlson's partner sauntered in carrying a yellow legal pad and a sheaf of papers. The collar of Greenberg's knit shirt was so big that he looked as if he didn't have a neck. I knew that the two of them liked to play good cop/bad cop. Today, I had no intention of playing the victim's role. The Princess's face was already a mainstay in my dream life.
Karlson whispered something to Greenberg, then moved to sit across the table from me. I had been so busy examining his mother that I hadn't noticed what Odin was wearing. The baby blue button-down shirt and navy pinstriped suit were the same clothes he'd worn the first time we met. I smirked remembering that I'd called him an asshole only minutes after meeting him. Oh, my prophetic soul.
Greenberg handed me a typed sheet, then stood behind me. I took only a minute to read through the statement and affix my signature to the bottom. Now the real fun would begin.
I turned to Karlson. "Can I go now, Lieutenant?"
When he pushed my spare set of car keys across the table at me, I almost ran for the door. But nothing was ever that easy.
Greenberg started. "Describe for us what transpired between you and the victim the day she died?"
I beamed politely.
"I did. All right there in my statement," I said. "I repeated it at least five times to three different witnesses at the scene of the crime minutes after I found the body. There's really nothing more I can add. . . .Gentlemen."
I put a heavy emphasis on the last word. Angelina's boy knew all about being a gentleman. And grilling me all afternoon wasn't part of the code. But which rules governed Karlson? Did he live by those learned in childhood from Mama or those learned in the Academy from cops?
Karlson stared at the table.
"But we haven't heard from you, Ms. Goddard," Greenberg said, "directly from you."
I sighed and launched into the story for the umpteenth time. I didn't want to talk about or repeat or remember anything that had happened the day before yesterday because I was ashamed of having allowed my anger to get the best of me. Somebody was dead. It was karma rearing her ugly head.
When I finished my retelling of finding the body, Greenberg started the serious questioning, as I knew he would. Suddenly the room felt chilly, and I was glad I wore a suit jacket.
"Describe the experiment again," he said. "Who came up with it? Mr. Dolan?"
I nodded. "The idea was to leave only one or two sheets of paper in the copy machine and see what the Princess would do. We had to wait the whole afternoon, but eventually the Princess came downstairs to use the copy machine."
Greenberg interrupted. "Didn't anyone else use the copy machine?"
I nodded again. "Constantly. And every one of them used the two sheets and refilled the machine again."
"And you would?"
I sighed because this was the part that made me sound like a vengeful harpy. "We would unload all the paper, leaving only two sheets in the machine for the next person."
"I unloaded the paper, but Becky and Jimmy were in on the joke. Becky answered the telephone upstairs, so she alerted me when somebody came down. And Jimmy ran interference downstairs in case somebody . . . . "
". . . Saw what you were doing."
Great. I repeated myself so much that cops were now finishing my sentences.
"Then what happened?" Karlson spoke at last, the place in the script where the Good Cop was apparently supposed to join in.
"When the Princess came downstairs, I pretended to be deeply involved at the computer," I said. "Her back was toward me when she used the copy machine, so I could sneak looks at her without her seeing me."
"Where was Mr. Dolan?" Greenberg was back on point. He pulled a metal chair out from the table on my right side and managed to make it scream across the floor. Then he sat on it, kitty-corner from Karlson. Both of them stared at me.
"Jimmy's office is in the corner on the other side of the room away from the bathrooms. He told me he watched her from the door of his office."
"And Mrs. Sharp?"
"She was upstairs and didn't see any of it."
I tried to give Greenberg a dirty look for leading the witness, but he merely blinked at me with no change in facial expression. Not that I would have been able to distinguish anger from humor anyway on his doughboy face.
"The Princess made two copies. Then she tried to make more, but the machine was out of paper. She contemplated the flashing light for a second, tapped the print button five or six times, then ran upstairs as if the Devil himself were after her."
"She didn't add any paper?"
I shook my head. "She didn't even open the paper drawer. I doubt she knew where it was. She didn't ask me to add paper or alert me to the fact that the machine was empty. The selfish little baggage ran upstairs and left the problem for somebody else to solve."
"Then what?" Karlson spoke again, repeating himself.
"I called Becky, and she made some excuse to come downstairs. I told her what happened, and the three of us stood at the bottom of the stairs and laughed our asses off."
"Because?" Greenberg didn't even blink this time.
"Because the experiment was a complete success, and the Princess was a complete bitch."
"What did Mr. Dolan say?"
"That's what was so funny. Jimmy was trying to keep a straight face, but he couldn't. He kept trying to quote a line from the movie Cool Hand Luke, but he'd only get one or two words out before he'd crack up."
"What line?" Greenberg wanted to know.
Karlson said in a monotone: "'What we've got here is failure to communicate.'" Then he glanced at me for confirmation. I stared at him, and I'm pretty sure that my eyes bugged out. How the hell?
Okay, so Papa Karlson also watched movies with little Enzo.
YOU ARE READING
Death and the MotherlodeMystery / Thriller
You can contact the AUTHOR at firstname.lastname@example.org. Paulette Goddard lives in a world of contradictions. For example, Paulette is a feisty, size 24, smart mouth, while her best friend and gal pal is a blond bombshell who goes home at the end of the...