The box

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Mystery House


Judging off of that evidence and everything we’ve heard here so far, the culprit can be no other than…



Detective Tora Storeide and her assistant Bryan are on the case of who killed archaeologist David Bennett and made off with his box. However, they aren't the only ones working on the case. Who
killed Bennett? And what tragic accident happened in Tora's past?

Submitted: November 27, 2017

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Submitted: November 27, 2017

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The box

 

It was Wednesday afternoon, five o’clock. Detective Tora Storeide was in her office,  grabbing her things to go home when her assistant Bryan walked in.

“Tora, the chief wants to see us.”

Tora didn’t turn around, she just kept packing up.

“Tell him that I’m too busy right now and that I’ll hear it tomorrow.”

“He said it was very urgent.”

Tora stopped packing. She really wanted to go home, but she knew she couldn’t ignore the chief’s request to watch Netflix all night.

“Fine, let’s get this over with.”

Tora walked out of her office. Bryan quickly followed her to the chief’s office.

“Ah, detective Storeide. You’ve decided to free up some of your time, I see.”

Chief Tom Baker was a man who was quite short and he wore square glasses with a black frame.

“What’s up, chief?”

“I just got a call. Archaeologist David Bennett has been found dead in his home…”

“Chief, with all due respect, but that’s a case for the homicide department.”

“I don’t think so. Dr. Bennett’s daughter Carley specifically requested that you take the case.”

“We handle thefts, not murders.”

“Storeide, can you take on the case without causing too much trouble this time?”

Baker was right. If she wanted to keep her job, she’d have to take on cases. It wasn’t like she got tired of her job, she loved doing it. She just had to get over Mitch and accept Bryan as her new assistant.

“Fine. You can let miss Bennett know that I’m on my way.”

“Excellent. I’ll give her a call to let her know that the two of you are coming.”

Right. The two of them. Tora nodded and walked out of the office. She was on her way to the parking lot when Bryan ran up to her.

“Tora, I’ve been working with you for the past two months and you’re still treating me like I’m invisible.”

She was quiet.

“I don’t know what happened in the past, but I’m your assistant now. So can you at least pretend to be happy that you have to work with me?”

“Do you have the address?”

“Yeah, I do.”

Bryan gave her the handwritten note. Tora unlocked the doors of her car.

“You coming or not?”

“Oh, you want…”

“The chief did tell miss Bennett that the two of us would be coming.”

“Right.”

 

Tora and Bryan arrived at the apartment building.

“Well, we’re here.” Bryan said.

“Any idea which apartment’s his?”

“Nope.”

Tora sighed and walked to the front door of the building. She looked at the names listed next to the doorbells until she saw D. Bennett. Just as she was about to ring the doorbell, an old man walked out the door. Tora hated waiting, so she didn’t hesitate to enter the building.

“Hey missy, where do you think you’re going?”

“Inside, obviously.”

“Who do you think you are?”
“Detective Storeide, and that’s my assistant, DC Aviles. And you are?”

“I’m Victor Campbell, the caretaker of this building. What are you doing here?”

“We’re here to see miss Bennett.”

“Miss Bennett?”

“Yeah. Come on, Bryan.”

“Right behind you.”

They went inside the building.

“So did you find out what floor we need to be on?”

“Yeah, I did. We have to be on the eighth floor.”

“Okay.”

They had to use the stairs, because the elevator was out of order. When they reached the eighth floor, Tora knocked on the door of Bennett’s apartment. A young woman with half-long brown hair opened the door.

“Carley Bennett?”

“Yeah, that’s me.”

“Detective Storeide, DC Aviles…”
“Ah, yes. Come on in.”

The apartment was very messy. There were antiques around and about, and a bunch of paper was scattered all around the room.

“Was your father always this sloppy?”

“Yes and no. There was always stuff laying around and about, but it was never this messy.”

“I see. Was the door locked when you came in?”

“Yes. But I just used my key to get in.”

“Did you come here often?”

“Every now and then. He was always too caught up in his relics to clean the place.”

“Now, don’t get me wrong here, but why did you call us instead of the homicide department?”

“Because his box disappeared, and I think the murderer has it.”

“His box, you say?”

“Yes. It was his most prized possession. It was the only object he cleaned himself.”

“What does it look like?”

“I’m pretty sure it has the head of a goat on it, and that it has a brownish color.”

“Pretty sure?”

“Yeah, the thing freaked me out, which is why he cleaned it himself.”

“I see. Is that everything that got stolen?”

“I think so, yeah.”

“Okay, so here’s what we’re going-”

Suddenly, the door swung open and a tall man with black hair and a big mustache stepped inside, followed by a shorter man who was known around the station for his ever empty stomach.

“Walker, what are you doing here?” Tora asked surprised.

“Well, I could ask you the same thing, Storeide. Shouldn’t you and your assistant be checking security problems at the museum?”

“Hilarious. Miss Bennett called us in to investigate her father’s death.”

“Last time I checked, I was the one on the Homicide. Now clear a path, would you?”

Walker pushed Bryan out of the way, and he and his assistant Ethan Blake starting investigating the scene. Tora noticed a train ticket on the table next to her and slid it into her pocket. Before Bryan to say something about it, she gestured that he had to keep his mouth shut, which is what he did. After Walker took a quick look over the scene, he turned to Tora and Bryan.

“Alright, I’ll be taking over this case. So if the two of you could leave…”

“But this is our case…”

“Bryan, come on.”

“But-”

“Let’s go.”

Tora and Bryan left the apartment.

“What the hell, Tora? Are we really going to let that asshole take over the case?”

“No, of course not. We are going to conduct an investigation of our own.”

“Starting with that train ticket, I assume?”
“Yep. But that’s for tomorrow. So go home and get a good night’s sleep, because tomorrow is going to be a very long day.”

“Alright. Good night, Tora.”

“Good night, Detective Constable.”

 

The next morning, Tora was at the train station, waiting for Bryan. If he didn’t get here soon, they’d miss the train. At last, Bryan arrived.

“Tora, I’m sorry. The traffic…”

“Yeah, it’s fine. Come on.”

They rushed towards the train and got on board just in time.

“Well, we made it.” Bryan said out of breath.

“Let’s get settled in and start investigating.”

“Which room are we in?”

“Car three, first room.”

They went into the room. It was a pretty big room for a train. There were two equally big couches and a table near the window, and there was a painting hanging on the wall.

“Damn, the owner of this railway has some great taste.” Bryan said.

“I didn’t know you were into antique furniture.”

“I was talking about the painting, Tora.”

“That ugly mug?”
“Ugly mug? It’s a Picasso.”

“Congrats, Bryan. But take your interest in art and culture when we’re not working. Thank you.”

They put their trunks down.

“Now what?”
“What do you mean, now what? We start questioning people, of course.”

“Well, yeah I knew that much. I meant where do we start?”
“Let’s start by questioning the crew and take it from there.”

“You’re the boss.”

They left their room. Next to the door leading into the second car was the conductor, a young man who seemed to be playing a game on his phone. They walked over to him.

“Excuse me? Can we ask you a few questions?” Bryan asked.

“One sec. Gotta finish this level first.”

“I actually meant now.”

“Yeah, I don’t know a whole lot about this train anyway, so you’d probably be better off asking someone else.”

Tora saw that this wasn’t going to work, so she grabbed the phone with a swift move.

“Hey!”

“After you answer our questions, you can get back to playing… Happy Wheels.” She said.

“Alright, alright. What do you want to ask?”

“Do you know David Bennett?”

“Bennett… Yeah, I met him once.”

“Did you talk to him?”

“Yeah, I think so.”

“You think so?”

“Look, lady. That was nearly a year ago. And I don’t even remember what I had for dinner last week.”

“Okay, so you talked to him. Any idea what you talked about?”

“It wasn’t very long, cause then I would’ve remembered clearly. I don’t do long conversations that much.”

“Did he ask you anything?”

“Yeah, he asked if I knew anything about a relic he was carrying.”

“And what did you answer?”
“That he’d be better off asking the bossman.”

“Do you remember what he had with him.”

“Some sort of box. It was absolutely hideous.”

“Is your boss on the train?”
“Probably, yeah. He’s always looking for something to complain about.”

“Alright. Thank you for your time.”

Tora gave the young conductor his phone back and went inside the next car, followed by Bryan.

“Don’t you think you went a little hard on him?” Bryan asked.

“It worked, didn’t it?”
“Well, yeah. But still.”
“Look, your softy technique didn’t work on him. So I had no choice but to go hard on him.”

“That’s true, I suppose.”

“You’ve got a lot to learn, Aviles. But you’ve got serious potential.”

Bryan’s face lit up.

“Really?”

“Totally. You’re already full of determination. And you definitely have the excitement for it.”

“So where to now?”
“Well, our friend back there said that his boss was somewhere on the train. So that’s who we’ll question next.”

“Do you know who he is?”
“No, I usually spend my free time on the couch instead of talking to train owners.”

“No surprise there.”

They went into the next car. It was a dining car, filled with a few tables(the car wasn’t all that big) that matched perfectly with the art and interior of the car.

“Oh, man. It smells so good in here.” Bryan said excited.

“Let’s just move on before you start drooling all over the carpet.”

“Wait, I think I see the waiter. I bet he’ll know where to find his boss.”
Before Tora could say anything, Bryan walked over to the waiter and started questioning him. She shook her head. He had potential, no doubt, but he was pretty impulsive. While Bryan was questioning the waiter, Tora took the time to observe the surroundings. She didn’t spot anything out of the ordinary. Luckily Bryan finished up his questioning rather quickly. He walked back over to Tora.

“And? Got any good news?”

“Certainly. The waiter said he’ll let us know when there’s a table available for us.”

“I meant for the case, smartass.”

“I know, I know. He thinks his boss is on the deck at the back of the train.”

“Interesting.”
“Hardly. Our friend highly disagrees, seeing as the staff is hard at work while he’s enjoying the view.”

“Understandable, I guess.”

They went into the next car, where they bumped into Walker and Blake.

“Storeide? What are you doing on this train? I thought I took over the case.”

“I believe you’re correct. But who said we’re working on the case?”

“Well, what else would you be doing here?”

“Taking a day off. Relaxation is very important every now and then, you know.”

“Baker sent you on a holiday?”

“No, I took a day off.”

“And I’m supposed to believe that? In the six years I’ve known you, you’ve voluntarily never taken a day off.”

“Things can change, Walker.”

“Apparently.”

“Look, not that it’s my business or anything, but I heard the conductor talk about Mr. Bennett earlier. Might be worth looking into.”

“Hm. Enjoy your uh… ‘day off’, Storeide.”

“Thanks.”

Walker and Blake disappeared through the door.

“Did you just send them to talk to that young conductor?”

“Yep.”

“Won’t he find out that we already questioned him?”

“Of course he’ll find out. Walker may not be the smartest guy on the force, but he’s not that stupid.”

“I feel like there’s more between you and Walker than meets the eye.”

“He’s still butthurt over that case.”

“What case?”

“I’m sure you’ve heard of it. The murder of Joseph Brown?”

“Oh, yeah. He was a museum curator, right?”

“Exactly. Me and Walker were working together on that case.”

“Because of that stolen painting?”
“Yeah. Eventually, we found out who it was because of that painting. But by the time we were ready to arrest him, he was long gone.”

“And Walker blamed you for that?”
“He thought I was trying to recover the painting rather than to find the killer.”

“Were you?”
“Yes and no. I thought that if I’d find out where the painting was, I’d find the killer. And I did. Just not in time.”

“What became of the painting?”
“We found it in his apartment. But Walker has no right to blame me. I did nothing wrong.”

“I agree with you, you know. You did what you thought was right.”

“You don’t have to tell me something I already know.”

“Still, I mean it. I do have one question though.”

“Ask away.”

“Were you working alone at the time?”
“No, I wasn’t. Mitch was a really big help with the case.”

“What happened? I mean, why isn’t he working with you anymore?”

“I’ll… tell you some other time. We’ve got a suspect to question first.”

Bryan knew he hit a sensitive chord with that question. But at the same time, he was curious about what happened. Who was Mitch and why did he and Tora stop working together?

 

Walker and his assistant Blake entered the third car.

“Do you think a young man such as himself knows anything about Mr. Bennett, sir?”

“Absolutely, Ethan. Conductors are one of the most reliable witnesses on a train.”

They walked over to the conductor, who was still playing on his phone.

“Excuse me, we’d like to ask you a few questions.”

The conductor didn’t bother to look up from his phone.

“Yeah, I can’t help you anyway, so don’t disturb me.”

“Look, kid. If you don’t want to answer our questions here, I can just take you back to the station once we reach the next stop.”

“Station? You two are cops?”

“Yes. Now, here or at the station?”
“I prefer here. Ask away, policeman.”

“Do you know David Bennett?”

“Bennett?”
“Was I unclear, kid?”

“No, no, you were very clear. You don’t happen to be with those tourists, do you?”
“Tourists?”
“Yeah. A guy and a girl. They were asking about that Bennett guy too.”

“Can you describe them?”

“Both of them had black hair, and the girl was wearing glasses. She was a straight up bitch. She just took my phone from my hands. I felt kind of sorry for the guy travelling with her. He seemed nice.”

“Damn it, Storeide.”

“You know ‘em, then?”
“Yes, we know them. Thanks for the help.”

“Uh, no problem, I guess.”

Walker and Blake left the conductor alone.

“Do you suppose detective Storeide sent us wrong on purpose, sir?”
“Well, of course she did, Blake!”

“But why would she do that? She seems so nice.”

“Because she and her little assistant are investigating the case as well.”

“Isn’t DC Aviles taller than her?”
“That doesn’t matter, you idiot. What does matter is how they found out that Mr. Bennett took a train trip. And why they think they can just investigate OUR case.”

 

Tora and Bryan walked into the dining car.

“Bryan, I don’t think your good friend has an available spot for us.”

“Won’t hurt to ask.”

He had a point. And Tora was getting quite hungry herself. They walked over to the waiter.

“Ah, monsieur Aviles. You are back right on time. I will clean the table for you so you and madame Storeide can sit down.”

“Thank you.”

The waiter rushed off.

“So, you’re friends with a Frenchman, huh?” Tora said, barely holding in her laugh.

“What’s wrong with French people?”
“More like, what’s not wrong with French people.”

“That’s pretty rude.”

“Can you prove me wrong?”
“Touché.”

The waiter returned quickly and saw them to their table. He took their drink orders before walking away.

“See? I told you he’d have a spot.”

“Alright, alright. I’ll give you that one, Aviles.”

“So, what’s next.”

“It’s simple. We wait.”

“What? Why?”
“We’ve questioned the staff on the train. The next step is to question the people in Atlanta.”

“But we’re not finished here.”

“Who do you think is lying then?”
“The conductor.”
“I doubt it. I took his phone, remember?”
“That’s exactly why I don’t believe him.”

“Hm, good point. Who else?”
“The owner.”

“Ah? Do tell.”

“I just doubt that a man with that much interest for archaeology doesn’t know anything about that ancient box.”

“Hm. We also need to look into that box.”
“Yeah, we hardly know anything about it.”

The waiter got back to the table with their drinks.

“Are the two of you ready to order?”
“I’d like the steak haché with pommes frites and cheat’s Béarnaisse sauce. ” Tora said.

“And for me the steak with mushroom puff tartlets, please.”

“Coming right up.”

The waiter walked away. Not long after that, Walker stormed into the dining car.

“Storeide!”

“Walker. Can I help you with something?”

“Don’t act like a saint, Storeide. Why are you sabotaging my investigation?”
“Because like it or not, Walker, it’s my case as well. Our cases are connected in an inseparable manner. And clearly, you don’t want our help.”

“Oh. You think what you’ve been doing is helping?”
“Look, you’re working on your case and I’m working on mine. So stop being butthurt and get over it.”

“Butt…hurt?”
“Yes.”

“Uhm, sir. If I may…” Blake started.

“Not now, Blake. We’ve got a case to solve.”
Walker stormed out of the dining car. Blake tried to stutter an apology, but Walker called him over before he had the chance.

“Poor guy.” Bryan said when Blake left.

“Yeah, he and Walker are complete opposites.”
“I noticed that, yeah.”

 

By the time they arrived in Atlanta, it was a little past three. The train station was crawling with people, each of them more impatient than the last.

“Ugh. I hate travelling by train.” Tora said.

“Well, look on the bright side. We’re here.”
“Right. Let’s find our hotel first.”

“Where even is it?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never been here before.”
“I have. Once.”
“Really?”
“Yeah. I don’t remember much about it, though.”

“So you don’t remember the location of the Golden Tulip hotel then?”
“No, unfortunately not. But we can ask the guy over there.”

They walked over to a man who was leaning against a statue. He was wearing a red suit jacket, a pair of ripped jeans and a pair of black loafers.

“Excuse me, sir? Would you mind if we asked you something?” Bryan asked.

“Well, you’re already asking me, so I guess not.”

“Do you happen to know where the Golden Tulip hotel is?”

“Just go down this road and take a left. Then you’ll see it.”
“Alright, thank you.”
“Tourists, are you?”
“Something like that, yeah.”

They followed the directions until they reached the hotel. It was a big white building with a golden tulip on a big neon sign. They went inside. The inside did not at all match the impression one would get from looking at the outside of the building. The wooden decorations in the lobby gave it a warm and cozy feel.

“Wow, this place is beautiful.” Bryan said.

“Thanks.” It sounded from behind.

Bryan turned around to find a young lady with long, blonde hair standing him.

“Oh. Hi.”

“Sorry. I couldn’t help but overhear.”

“And who are you?” Tora asked.

“I work here. And since it’s not busy at the moment, I thought I’d greet the both of you at the entrance.”

“I see.”

“Well, that’s very thoughtful, uh…”

“Natalia. I’ll grab your room keys and show you to your rooms.”

“Oh, that won’t be necessary, Natalia. We’ll be fine on our own.” Tora said.

“Oh. Okay. I’ll just go grab the keys then.”

Natalia walked away. Tora did not like her at all. Bryan, on the other hand, seemed to enjoy her company.

“Tora?”

“Yes?”

“Are you jealous?”
“What’s there to be jealous of?”
“Not ‘what’, Tora.”
“Alright, let me clear this up for you. I don’t want you drooling over a hotel receptionist during our investigation.”

“I am not drooling over her.”
“Oh please. You would’ve jumped her if I wasn’t here.”
“Now that is just not true.”

“Whatever. Hey, what is she doing here?”
Bryan followed her gaze to the front door.

“Isn’t that-?”

“Carley Bennett, yes it is.”

Carley quickly walked over to them the second she saw them.

“Carley, what are you doing here?”

“I…”

She was quiet. It wasn’t very hard to see that she was nervous. But what for?

“Are you here to check if we’re doing our job?” Bryan asked smiling.

“No, of course not.”

“You need a quick break from everything, don’t you?” Tora asked.

“I… Yeah, that’s exactly it.”

Tora felt sorry for her. But something didn’t feel right.

“Right, I’m going to check in.”

Carley walked about.

“Well, that was… weird.” Bryan commented.

“You can see that again.”

Natalia returned and handed them their keys.

“Here you go, detectives. I’ll be right here if you need anything.”

Of course you will, Tora thought.

They took the elevator to the second floor, which was where their rooms were located, and each dropped their luggage in the room before meeting back in the corridor.

“So, do we start by questioning the hotel staff?” Bryan asked.

“Heh. You’d like that, wouldn’t you? No, we’re going around town first. And maybe grab a bite to eat along the way.”

“You really do hate Natalia, don’t you?”

“Well, I don’t really know her, so I can’t say I hate her, but I don’t really like her so far.”

“Says the judgmental one.”
“When have I ever been judgmental?”
“When have you not been?”

“Fine, whatever. Let’s just get going.”

“To where?”
“To find Walker.”
“Walker? Do you mean I-like-to-be-an-ass-to-everyone-Walker?”

“Who else?”
“What do you need him for?”
“I don’t need him, I need his evidence.”

“Oh, okay.”

They were about to leave the hotel when Natalia caught up with them.

“Detectives. There are two people who want to talk to you.”

Natalia led them to a quieter corner of the lobby where two familiar faces were waiting for them.

“Walker.”
“Storeide.”

It was quiet for a moment.

“Natalia, could you leave us alone for a moment, please?” Bryan asked.

“Oh, yeah of course.”

Natalia disappeared into an adjacent room.

“Walker, good timing. We were looking for you.” Tora said.

“Well, Storeide, I’ve been thinking…”

“That’s new.”

“I’ve been thinking about what you said on the train, and you’re right. Our cases are inseparably connected.”
“Hm. What do you suggest?”

“I was thinking about sharing evidence. No assumptions or hypothesis, but cold, hard evidence.”

“Alright. I’m all ears.”
Tora and Bryan sat  down on the small couch. Walker tossed a small book onto the table.
“What’s that?”
“Bennett’s journal.”
“His journal? Interesting.”

“Hardly.” Walker said while Tora was flipping through it.

“So this is how you found out he took a train trip.”

“How did you two find out?”

“We found a train ticket.”

“We didn’t see any train ticket. Not for the trip here at least.”
“Of course not, I took it.”
“You took it?”
“Yes. It’s evidence. I put it in the file so I wouldn’t lose it.”

Both Bryan and Ethan Blake were a bit concerned about the current situation. Walker was fuming with anger, while Tora was reading the journal as if it were a magazine.

“Storeide. That ticket could’ve contained important prints.”
“I already checked. There were 3 sets of prints. Mine, Bennett’s and his daughter’s.”

“Yours?”
“Yeah, I didn’t have time to put my gloves on before you interrupted. Which was rude and uncalled for, by the way.”

“Uncalled for? This is still a homicide case, you know.”

“Yes, you made that clear on several occasions.”

“Uhm, Tora?”
“Yes, Bryan?”

“Don’t you think we should continue our investigation?”
“Oh, yeah. We should head out.”

Tora and Bryan left the hotel.

“Did you really have to upset him like that?”
“How could I have known that he’d get so upset? I was straight with him, just like he wanted.”

“You could’ve been a bit more subtle.”

“Right. Or I could’ve kept it to myself. I don’t need you to tell me how to do my job, Bryan.”

Tora stormed off.

“Tora! Wait up!”

It was no use. Tora didn’t listen and she ran off too fast. He tried to think of somewhere she could be going. But he’d only been to Atlanta once, and he didn’t remember anything about it. He soon spotted the same guy who had helped them earlier.

“Excuse me?”
“Oh, look who it is. Where’s your girlfriend?”
“She’s not my girlfriend. But have you seen her?”

“I did see a girl going inside that antique shop over there. Don’t know if it was her, though.”

“Alright. Thank you.”

Bryan went inside the small antique shop.

“Good afternoon, young man. How might I help you?”
“Have you seen a girl here? Black hair, glasses, bit shorter than me?”
“Are you talking about my sister?”
“Your sister? N-no, I don’t think so. Thanks anyway.”

“No problem. If I see her, I’ll let her know you’re looking for her.”

“Thank you.”

Bryan left the shop.

“And? Did you find her?” the guy asked.

“No, I didn’t. But thanks for the help.”

Bryan walked away. While he was looking for Tora, a little girl walked over to him.

“Are you looking for something, mister?”
“Yes, I’m looking for my friend. Maybe you’ve seen her?”
“When I lose something, my mommy says I should look for it at the place I last saw it.”
“Yeah, I’m afraid it not that simple. But I appreciate the effort.”

“Maya.”

A woman walked over to them. She had dark brown hair, tied up in a messy bun. She was wearing a black pair of jeans and a red top.

“Who are you?” she asked.

“My name is Bryan Aviles, detective constable. Have you seen a girl with black hair and glasses? She’s a bit shorter than me.”

“Actually, I have.”

“Really?”
“Yes. She passed by here not too long ago. I believe she was headed north. She didn’t look very happy.”
“Thank you so much.”
“Is she a suspect?”
“No, she’s my partner.”
“Oh. Well, good luck then.”
“Thanks.”

Bryan followed the directions and found Tora sitting on a low, cobblestone wall, which was looking out over the water.

“Hey. Mind if I join you?”

“Guess not.”

He sat down next to her.

“I owe you an apology. I said some things that I shouldn’t have, and I’m sorry about that.”

Tora scoffed.
“You shouldn’t apologize for that. You were right.”

“Still. I didn’t mean to upset you.”
“It’s fine.”

“Was what I said earlier the only reason you ran off?”
“No. I needed some time to think.”
“About?”
She sighed.

“I’m quitting my job.”
“Say what now?”
“After this case.”

“But I thought you loved your job.”
“I do, but… Ugh, I should’ve just quit three months ago.”

“What happened three months ago?”

Tora was quiet.

“Does it have anything to do with Mitch?”

She looked down at the water beneath her feet.

“Who is he?”

“Mitch was my assistant. He was my best friend. We even dated for a while.”
“But you broke up?”
“Yeah. It was going really well, so we started living together. And that’s where it went wrong.”

“What do you mean?”

“We drove each other crazy. But we always remained friends.”

“So what happened three months ago?”

“An antique got stolen out of some rich guy’s house. The moment he saw us, he made a run for it, so we chased him down five blocks. And then a big station wagon came out of nowhere. He died on the way to the hospital.”

“That’s terrible.”

“You know what the worst part is? The fucker wasn’t even working for himself.”
“So he stole the antique for someone else?”
“Yep. And I still haven’t figured it out. The thief won’t give his name.”

“Not even for a reduced sentence?”
“Nope. Not that I was going to give him that, even if he did confess.”
“Sorry to hear that.”
“It’s fine. And don’t worry, I won’t leave before the case is solved.”
“Where will you go after resigning?”
“Probably back to Norway.”

“Who’s going to be your replacement?”
“Guess you’ll just have to see.”

It was quiet for a moment. Both of them just stared at the water beneath them.

“Alright, enough sitting around. We still have a case to solve.”

Suddenly, a weird noise filled the air around them.
“What was that?” Tora asked a little startled.

“That… was my stomach.”

Tora burst into laughter.

“Let’s grab a bite to eat then before we head back to the hotel. Then maybe we can still question some of the staff.”

“And then we’ll start the real investigation tomorrow, right?”
“Right on, Aviles.”

 

The next morning, Tora knocked on the door of Bryan’s hotel room. They were supposed to meet in the corridor ten minutes ago, but Bryan hadn’t shown up yet. After knocking another time, he opened the door. His hair was messy and he was wearing a robe, which was half open.

“Good morning, sleepyhead.”

“Yeah, I can explain…”
“Who’s at the door, Bryan?”

“It’s Tora.”
“Is that Natalia?”
“It might be.” Bryan said.

“Really, Bryan? Just hurry up and get dressed. We’ve got work to do.”

Bryan closed the door. About fifteen minutes later, Natalia ran out of the room, followed by Bryan.

“So, you and Natalia, huh?”
“Don’t give me that look. Her visit was strictly professional.”

“Is that why she slept over?”
“Okay, so one thing led to another. But I did get some useful information.”

“About the case or about Natalia’s preferences?”
“The case. Anyway, Natalia remembered Bennett pretty well. Said he was a weirdo.”
“Really? Do tell.”

“So he came here with a box, matching the description we’ve received from Carley. And he asked if they had a safe place to keep it.”
“A valuable antique, makes sense.”

“Yeah, but that’s not all. So Natalia told Bennett that he could give her the box so she could put it in the safe.”
“But he refused?”

“Yes. He said he couldn’t trust anyone with it, so he ended up keeping it himself.”

“Indeed. He was a weird one.”

“Anyway, where to first?”

Tora took the journal out of her pocket.

“Okay, so our friend first visited an antique shop after checking into the hotel. So we’ll head there first.”
“Alright, it’s just down the road.”
“How do you know that?”
“I went there yesterday, looking for you.”
“I see…”
They went into the antique shop.

“Good morning” the proprietor said. “I see you’ve found the person you were looking for.”

“Good morning, Mr…”

Bryan was looking for a name tag, but he couldn’t find one.

“Please, call me Dawson. No need to be so formal, you know.”

“Right.”
“How might I help you?”
It was only now that Bryan noticed the slight British accent in Dawson’s voice.

“We’re trying to find information on a box…”

“Let me guess: Bronze-brown color, a few gems and the head of a goat on top of it.”

“How do you know that?” Tora asked, a bit suspicious of the proprietor.

“You’re the third party asking about that box.”

“The third?”

“Yes. Yesterday afternoon, two cops came by, asking about it. And yesterday evening, right before I closed up shop, a young lady brought in the box fitting the description.”
“It’s here?”
“Unfortunately, no. She asked for an assessment of the box. After I told her it’s not worth that much on the legal market, she got disappointed, took the box and left.”

“What does she look like?”
“Quite cute, to be honest. Although she seemed to be in a hurry…”
Dawson then started talking about her big brown eyes and how tense they looked.

“Alright. Thank you, Mr. Dawson.” Tora said, and she and Bryan left the shop.

“You’d think he has a crush on the woman with the box.” Bryan said laughing.

“I just wish he’d given us a clear description.”
“You think she killed Bennett?”
“I don’t see how else she’d have gotten the box.”

“Okay, so we’re looking for a young woman with big brown eyes. That only describes half the population of the states.”

“And who’s to say she’s even from the states?”
“Okay, so what’s next?”
Tora grabbed the journal and opened it. Before she had a chance to say where they were going next, a picture dropped out of it. Bryan was just in time to catch it before it hit the ground.

“What’s that?” Tora asked.

“Looks like a picture of the box we’re looking for.”
“I must’ve missed it last night.”

“Which page was it on? Perhaps there’s something interesting to find.”
Tora flipped through the journal.

“It’s not there.”
“No traces of glue anywhere either?”
“No, nothing.”
“Mind if I have a look?”
“Go ahead.”
Bryan took the journal and flipped through it slowly.

“There’s a double page here” he said after a few minutes.

“Really?”
“Yeah. Looks like it’s glued together.”

“Then how did the picture fall out of it?”
“Probably through here.”
Bryan carefully pulled the two pages away from each other.

“Well?”
“They’re-They’re empty.”

“Empty?”
“Yeah, look.”

“But that doesn’t make any sense. Why would he glue together two empty pages?”
“Maybe he needed a spot for his picture?”
“No, I don’t buy that. There must be a different reason for it.”

“Like what?”
“I don’t know. But let’s leave it for now and move on to something else.”
“Okay. Where to?”
“Let’s see…”

Tora grabbed the journal and flipped to a different page.

“The museum.”
“Alright.”

 

That evening, Tora and Bryan arrived back at the hotel.

“What a wasteful day.” Tora said.

“You can say that again. You’d think they would remember an oddball like Bennett.”

“Or his strange box.”

“Then again, it was over a year ago, so…”
“That’s true, I guess.”

They took the elevator to the second floor.
“Bryan, one more thing…”

“Yeah?”
“No Natalia tonight.”

Bryan laughed.
“Sure. Goodnight, Tora.”

“Goodnight.”

Tora entered her room. She sat down at the desk and turned the light on.

There must be something on those pages, she thought.

She went over the pages again. And again. Until she noticed something odd…

 

The next morning, Tora and Bryan stepped into the hotel lobby.

“Ah, Storeide. Right on time.”

“Right on time for what?”

“We’ve solved the case.”
“Oh?”

“So why don’t you sit down and watch as I arrest the culprit?”
“Of course he’s gonna make this into some big show” Tora whispered to Bryan.

“What was that, Storeide?”
“Nothing. But this should be interesting, so let’s hear it.”

Tora and Bryan sat down on the couch. Across from them were Carley, Natalia and a few other hotel employees.

“Now, a few days ago, archaeologist David Bennett was murdered in his home, and the culprit made off with a valuable box after killing him. By looking at the evidence at the scene, we discovered that about a year ago, Bennet made a train trip to Atlanta, and he stayed in this very hotel. Judging off of that and the other evidence we have, the killer must be… you there!”

Walker pointed at Natalia, who was clearly startled by the accusation thrown at her.

“Me? But I don’t even-”

“I don’t care about your excuses. You’re under arrest.”

“Sorry to disappoint you, Walker. But I’m afraid you’re wrong.” Tora said.

“Excuse me?”
She put her coffee on the small end table next to the couch and got up.

“As much as I hate to admit it, Natalia can’t have killed Bennett. She has an alibi.”

“An alibi?”
“Hate to admit it?!”

“Your whole charade has a negative effect on your logical thinking, Walker.”

“So you think you’ve got the right culprit in your head, then?”

“Oh, yes.  And I’m quite certain.”

“Well, surprise us.”

“With pleasure. I’ll save myself the trouble of explaining the case again. However, there was a mistake in your reasoning.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“You said that the box taken from Bennett’s apartment was valuable. However, recent investigation showed that the box isn’t as valuable as it seems.”

“But the proprietor of the antique shop told us that the box was likely to be very valuable.”

“That’s because he hadn’t seen the box at that point. You see, had you been a day later, you would’ve known what we know. Namely that in the evening, right before closing time, a young woman entered the shop with the box. The proprietor made an assessment of the box on her request, but it turned out that the box wasn’t all that valuable.”
“And what did that young lady look like, then?”
“He was too busy drowning in her eyes to see that. But luckily, I made a very interesting discovery in Bennett’s journal last night. Judging off of that evidence and everything we’ve heard here so far, the culprit can be no other than… Carley Bennett.”

“The victim’s daughter?”

“One and the same.”

The people in the room started discussing. Only Carley and Tora remained silent. Tora was done with the noise, and she took a deep breath.

“Everybody shut up!”

They all went quiet.

“Miss Bennett. Do you want to explain your motives yourself or shall I do it in your place?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Oh, how original. You killed your father so you could take the box and sell it. But little did you know that the box was almost worthless.”
“You have no proof for that.”

“Is that so? Well, I beg to differ. You see, your father seemed to know that you were up to something. He even wrote about it in his journal…”

“Now hold on, Storeide” Walker interrupted. “I’ve checked the contents of that journal thoroughly. I didn’t find such a message.”

“Oh, but he didn’t write it in plain sight. He knew she was snooping around while cleaning, so he hid it. In a pretty clever way, I’ll give him that.”

“Well, don’t keep me in suspense. Where did the old man hide it?”
“Between two pages, of course. He glued together two seemingly empty pages.”

“But why would he glue two empty pages together. That doesn’t make sense.”
“That’s exactly what we thought. Why would Bennett glue together two empty pages? The pages weren’t empty.”

“He wrote with invisible ink?!”

“Oh, don’t be ridiculous, Walker. He put a sheet on the page, wrote his message and threw the sheet out afterwards.”
“So only the indications of the writing would remain.”
“Precisely. He had to be certain that our dear Carley here didn’t find it.”
Carley got up and started running. Walker didn’t hesitate to follow her. Blake was following close behind. Bryan got up and walked over to Tora.

“So, we solved the case, huh?”

“Yep. We certainly did.”

“Bryan.”

He turned around. Natalia was waving him over.

“I have to end it, don’t I?”
“That might be for the best, yeah.”

“How do you think she’ll take it?”
“Only one way to find out.”

Tora watched as Bryan made his way over to Natalia. Although she couldn’t exactly hear what they were saying, it was clear that Natalia was very angry. She ended the conversation by punching him in the face. Bryan walked over the Tora.

“That didn’t go according to plan, did it?”
“If anyone asks, I got into a fight with a dude of 6 foot 3.”

She laughed.

“Sure.”

 

“So that’s it then?”

Tora had just finished packing the stuff in her office.

“Don’t be sad, Bryan. Besides, there’s some good news to it as well.”
“How?”
“You’re getting promoted.”

“I am?”
“Yeah.”
“But I don’t understand…”
“I recommended you as my replacement. And the chief agreed.”

“So then that means…”
“Yep. This is your office now.”

“Thank you so much, Tora.”

“Thank yourself. You’re made for the job, detective Aviles.”

“That has a pretty nice ring to it.”

“Yes, it does.”


© Copyright 2018 Fleur Petersen. All rights reserved.

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