The McDonald Murder Case
Time: 7:30 a.m.
Location: Florida County Police Department
The interrogation room was small and dimly lit by a small solitary light bulb dangling from a chain on the ceiling.
Detective Sergeants Taggart and Sandhu, two of the best on the force entered the small room flanking the arms of their captive. Taggart’s white shirt already displayed sweat stains under the armpits from the intense Florida heat. A clearly demarked package of Marlboro cigarettes was present in his right breast pocket. His collar was undone, blue tie loosely hanging so that the tip caressed his protruding belly.
Sandhu on the other hand was more neatly attired. Wearing his trademark black suit, Sandhu reflected the look of an elite officer proudly serving the police department of the country where he was born and raised.
The captive entered the room, head down and made his way over to one of the three chairs present. He gracefully smoothed the back of his purple velvet cape as he sat down and tried to retain the last shred of dignity he had remaining.
Taggart brashly flipped one the chairs around, back of the chair now facing the captive and sat astride the chair. He tossed a notebook and paper on the small white table. Sandhu opted to stand for the moment.
“Alright,” Taggart began, “Let’s get through some initial formalities here. I am detective sergeant Taggart and this here is detective sergeant Sandhu. He’s nice, I ain’t. We’re gonna ask you a ton of questions my friend and we expect honest, direct answers. You’re in a lot of trouble here and don’t make it worse for yourself. You are looking at some very hard time.”
Sandhu nodded in agreement. “He’s right, you know. The easier you co-operate with us, the easier it is for us to help you.” He casually took a sip of his early morning Burger King coffee, small, milk, no sugar.
Taggart pulled over the notebook. “Okay, so last name’s King. What’s the first?”
The captive raised his flexed neck for the first time and replied “Burger”.
Taggart’s eyebrows raised in surprise. “That’s it? Burger? What, your mama never gave you a proper first name?”
“I never knew my mother.” said the King defiantly.
“Alright King, you have been arrested as the chief suspect in the murder of R. McDonald. You got a legal rep?”
The Burger King nodded.
Sandhu said, “What is their name, please?”
“His name’s McCheese. First name Mayor. He’s Israeli,” replied the King.
Taggart quickly jotted down the information. “Well where the heck is he? Dontcha think he should be here to support his client?”
“He’s in Israel.”
Taggart snorted, “Right, no doubt trying to open some new franchises. These burger lawyers are all alike.”
Sandhu paced around the room in what little space he had. “Wait a minute now…why would you hire a lawyer that worked for your competition? Isn’t that a conflict?”
“I dunno…” stammered the King..”He was referred to me…I was told he was the best.” He placed his hands over his eyes.
Taggart pulled out his pack of Marlboros and started to light one.
The King looked up and said, “I thought it’s against the law to smoke indoors.”
Taggart glared at him and said, “This is my kingdom you’re in bud! These are my rules now.” He held the opened pack out to the King. “You want?”
The King shook his head and said, “No thank you. I get enough heart disease from the food.”
“Huh. And I thought McDonald was the clown.”
Sandhu interrupted and said, “Taggart, put it away. This is a small enough room as it is. Please…for me.”
Taggart snorted and placed the pack back into his pocket.
“Okay King,” he continued, “we’re wasting precious time on my and the taxpayer’s dollars. I wanna know why you killed Ronald McDonald!”
The King turned his head to Taggart and said quietly, “I did not kill that man.”
“Why you smiling then, huh? Wipe that smile off your royal face.”
“I can’t. That’s the way my face is.”
Taggart raised his eyebrows again. “The way your face is? Like are you one of them sickos like the Joker on Batman? Can’t change his expression?”
Sandhu placed his coffee cup down on the table and pulled up a chair beside the King.
“Listen, here’s the facts: Last night we found Ronald McDonald’s nude lifeless body in an alleyway near 5505 Blue Lagoon Drive which is the U.S. Corporate Office of Burger King, is it not?”
The King nodded his head with a melancholy air despite his wide permanent grin.
Taggart leaned against the chair, “And it ain’t no secret you two have been rivals for years. Chief competitors and such. I bet you hated him, right? He's probably worth millions more’n you, right?”
The King turned to Taggart angrily and snapped “No..not true! While we were competitors, Ronald and I always had a respect for each other. Tell you the truth, I didn’t know him well at all. Met him at a french fry convention a few years back and we would occasionally e-mail each other through the Happy Meal service provider. I certainly would not have killed him! You have to believe me on this!”
Sandhu quietly said, “Taggart does have a point about the money, though. Greed is always a motivating factor.”
The King flapped his wrist. “Money, shmoney. We don’t own the company. We are merely trademarks. I have a screen actors guild card and we make union wage salary. Ronald did too. Trust me, it’s not as glamorous as you may think.”
It was Taggart's turn now to arise from the chair and start pacing. He tapped the pen against the notebook repeatedly. “So what we got is the dead naked clown, no bullet or stab wounds, no real signs of struggle apart from bruising on his chest. We don’t know at this point if he had anything of value on his person. So..where did ya put the clown suit "Your Highness"? Why did you do him?”
The King yelled and raised his arms skyward. “I’m telling you I DID NOT KILL RONALD McDONALD!”
Sandhu tapped Taggart's arm and quietly said, “Let’s you and I adjourn outside.”
As they exited the interrogation room and stood behind the one-way glass, they observed a fallen man. Once of fast food royalty, now humbled to a criminal facing a hefty prison term.
Sandhu shook his head, “You know, I think he may be innocent. He doesn’t seem to have any of the typical quirks and mannerisms of guilty parties.”
“Quirks and mannerisms?” Taggart yelled, throwing his arms in the air. “The guy’s face is a plastic mask! How else is he gonna appear? I’m gonna throw the book at this guy.”
Sandhu held up his hands. “Wait a minute, here me out. Why was McDonald near the Burger King head office anyway? McDonald’s U.S. Head office is in Oak Brook, Illinois. It doesn’t make sense.”
Taggart ran a hand though his thinning hairline. “Maybe ..I dunno..maybe he was spying on what the competition was up to. You know? Like getting insider information?”
Sandhu stared at him. “The man is a clown in a yellow suit. Don’t you think they would have picked someone a bit more subtle?”
Taggart snapped his fingers. “Wait a minute! I got it.. I got it.. Remember reading in the Miami Herald that this week is the Ronald McDonald House charity fund raiser? He was probably on hand for P.R. Kissing babies and shaking hands.”
Sandhu nodded in agreement. “I think you’re onto to something there.”
Just then a young recruit named Sweeney ran down the hall. “Guys! Guys! Let him go! The King’s innocent.”
Taggart stared at him incredulously. “How the hell do you know that?”
Sweeney caught his breath for a moment. “We just got a confession. Guy’s in the front right now.”
Taggart, Sandhu and the King made their way to the front of the station. The sight they saw before them made Sandhu and Taggart’s jaws drop open. Even the King’s face seemed to change expression somehow.
There in front stood a 300 pound purple mass known to the fast food world only as Grimace.
Taggart said quietly, “Jeez, we’re gonna need a couch for that guy.”
Grimace started sobbing, “I did it! I did it! Ronald always took the spotlight. The kids always liked him better than me! People know that he’s a clown, but no one really knows what I even am!” He slumped down on the floor of the station.
“Do you know what that does to someone’s ego? Ronald gets to be on the bag…..me, I’m somewhere on the cup buried in the background. Ronald is the star of the commercials…. I get a two second cameo. All I did was sit on him…I guess…I guess he had a heart attack. I didn’t mean to do it…it just kind of happened.”
Sandhu put his arm around the purple felon. “Why the clothes? Why did you take his suit?”
Grimace looked up at him with sad eyes and said, “I thought they just might fit.”
And so it was that Grimace was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to community service for the Ronald McDonald House. Taggart was sued by the Burger King who made a press release merely stating, “At least today justice was served ….with poutine.”
© Copyright 2016 Steve Balsky. All rights reserved.