Thursday, November 08, 2007

Chapter Twenty-Three

The first report of the murder of Lillian Petulengro aired on the 11:00 PM news on Friday night, but Stuart Jaffe didn’t learn about it until he read the Washington Post on Saturday morning. Jaffe knew it wasn’t the first time Carl had resorted to violence to solve one of his problems but the knowledge that his lack of restraint had now resulted in a second death disturbed him. First Victoria and now this. The article did not include any specific details, just that the body of Lillian Petulengro was discovered when the police responded to a breaking and entering call at her tattoo parlor on 13th Street, NE.

“Police are have detained a person of interest, identified only as a woman in her mid-fifties, who was on the premises when the police arrived.”

Jaffe pushed the paper aside and was reaching for the telephone when it rang. It was Carl. “Boss, have you seen the morning paper?”

“I was just reading it.”

“I think we need to talk – in person. Is now a good time?”

“I’ll be waiting, Carl.” He didn’t have to wait long. Sometimes Jaffe wondered if Carl even had a home – of a life of his own. The strange little man always seemed to be available at a moment’s notice. It occurred to Jaffe that he really didn’t know anything about Carl. Jaffe had been away at the University of Oregon when his father hired Carl as his driver. While he never understood exactly what Carl did for his father, it was obvious that his duties were far more diverse than a chauffer. When he was home he noticed Carl never seemed to be far from his father. The two were virtually inseparable. Carl was a peculiar companion. His father usually surrounded himself with men who were like him – physical men whose activities centered around fishing, football and first-rate whiskey. Carl was a pocket-sized man. That’s how Jaffe described him to his best friend.

“The guy gives me the creeps. It’s like my father has adopted Rumpelstiltskin or something. He never says anything. Just follows dad around like a troll. Wears the same black suit all the time”.

“Why does this guy bug you so much, Stu? He’s just a driver.”

“You don’t get it. He’s more that a driver. He has the eyes of a killer.”

“Now you’re talking crazy. Since when does your father need a killer on his payroll?”

Jaffe still didn’t know what Carl really did for his father. The few times he had asked him his father had always given him the same answer. “He’s a good driver and he keeps his mouth shut.”
Jaffe had to admit his father had been right. Carl did keep his mouth shut. He’d inherited Carl from his father, just like he’d inherited the mill and the impressive house on River Street. Stuart had mortgaged the house and used the money to finance his first campaign. He didn’t want to run a mill. He had bigger plans.

The doorbell rang. A few minutes later his housekeeper showed Carl into the breakfast room where Jaffe was re-reading the story about Lillian Petulengro’s murder.

“Was this the only way to handle it, Carl?”

“It was the best way to handle it.”

Jaffe was in no mood to argue with Carl. “You said we needed to talk?”

“I talked to my someone in D.C. close to the case. There may have been a witness.” He paused – not for dramatic effect but because as far as he was concerned he had delivered the bad news and all that remained was for him to deal with the consequences.

“A witness? For God’s sake, Carl. I was in that shop. If there was someone there you would have seen him.”

“Her. Apparently not. My source told me there was a woman sleeping in a curtained off area. The police have detained her. They found her standing over the body with my knife in her hand.”

“Well that’s good, isn’t it? They’ll stop looking.”

“I don’t like loose ends. She has told the cops she doesn’t remember anything, not even her name. I’m worried that if she starts remembering, she might remember something she shouldn’t”



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home