104 Needles and Pins

Martinelli considered Georgia a very attractive divorcee. He had never understood why husbands left dishy wives. Mrs. Martinelli had never, ever been close to dishy, probably why she married him, an equally plain man. She did have a great sense of humor, though. Maybe, in the long run, humor trumped dishy. Watching Georgia in the lobby, he’d been curious as to what she and Mrs. James had to talk about head-to-head, until the penny dropped and he remembered that the kids Mrs. James looked after were Georgia’s and Greg’s, her ex who’d given up his wife – for Kitty Doyle. Martinelli shook his head and sighed; dentists didn’t have to cope with this.Chapter 104 Needles and Pins

In the garage, Martinelli was getting another good look at Georgia. Martin was busily calling her shots, directing where she should stand, or sit, to take her photos. He was being very thorough, collecting  evidence. Turned out, she had taken no pictures in the garage prior to this, only some of the exterior and the entrances.

“The other thing I saw from this garage plan,” Martin observed to Martinelli as Georgia went through her paces, “though I didn’t want to say it upstairs, is that gauging from the angle, the picture was taken from somewhere between the elevator and Kitty Doyle’s parking space.”

“Of course, why not? Here we go again with her.”

“I’m beginning to feel like Mrs. James.”

“How’s that?”

“I’ll have to go back and look at my notes. Find out what time Doyle said she was in the garage that night.”

“Wouldn’t matter, anyway. Anyone with access could have taken it, whether her car was there or not.”

“I suppose. Holding a camera at arm’s length, you mean, out over where the car hood would be. One other discrepancy, though what with all the moves on tap I guess there will be more changes soon, one of the penthouse units occupants, Baybeigh, Jayne E. is crossed out and changed to a Thuss, Rod A. but the unit is deeded corporate.”

“And?”

“Whatever happened to Baybeigh Jayne?”

“Uh…we’re waiting ’til they make the film?”

  • * * * *

“Let’s see what the trainer’s got to say for himself, now.” Inside the gym, they requested to see Peter. They were referred instead to the manager, who complained that full-time memberships were dwindling, just like everything else in this economy except for trouble. Still plenty of that to go around and our city soon full again of flabby people. He was sorry that he’d had to let some of their trainers and other staff go and Peter was one of them, a while ago now, it was. He’d been paid in full on his last day. He was keeping Peter’s info on file for when business picked up again, and when did they think that would happen. No he didn’t think he could share that info with the police. He’d have to check on that first with his human resources department. His franchise was a national chain and there would be a procedure to follow, for sure.

“That guy could talk your leg off. You wouldn’t have to exercise it at all.” Martinelli disliked references to flab. It was no better coming from the manager than from his wife.

“So much for comparing Peter’s and Hans’ stories.”

“Maybe we can extract the Peter story from Hans?”

“I’m going to check out Georgia’s pictures, then our file notes, then try Hans, again.”

  • * * * *

Hans arrived home to the unwelcome news that the cops wanted to see him. He didn’t know what they wanted or how to put them off, worried about being caught in their web, or worse, of contradicting himself. He couldn’t really remember the details of the previous interviews. Why hadn’t he written down everything he’d ever said to anybody about all of this? Up until now, he was fairly sure he hadn’t actually lied. Why, when he’d had no part in this, should he feel like he was turning into a liar? He’d never thought of himself as anything but honest and direct. He wasn’t vain about his character but he thought he knew who he was, at the very least.

He’d come to terms with Peter’s character after some time and space away, persuaded himself that some of Peter’s story could have been fiction, contrived in the jealousy that was Peter’s defining style. There was no need  to repeat any of that hearsay. If he couldn’t tell if it were true, he shouldn’t pretend to anybody else. Rusty could have ended up how he did in any number of other ways. No dilemma – at all – for Hans. He had a new lease on life to protect at the POPS, and an established clientele.

And in spite of the fact that it was Kitty’s threat that had first compelled him to buy her unit, that had all turned out rather well due to his considerable savvy and negotiating skill.  At very little expense to himself and in the same building, he would soon acquire the larger space that he craved, rid himself forever of that woman, and sell his own unit to his new, close friend. His eastern view might someday be impacted by new construction but he was less concerned than were others at the POPS about the immediacy of that happening. Kitty’s threat to send in a picture she said she’d taken but that he had never seen, apparently hadn’t materialized. He assumed she had made up the whole story just to get what she wanted at his expense – a way out – and she was crazy enough to say or do anything. He was surrounded by fools.

His doorbell rang. It was Martin.

“I have some questions.” Hans waved him in.

“Just to confirm what you told us previously,” Martin had done his homework, “you were out of town the night Mangold died and can prove that.” Hans was relieved at this proffered refresher course and resisted the temptation to start taking notes for his own records. “You invited no visitors to your unit while you were away. You live here alone, own a parking space but have no car and you’re not renting it to anyone. You are buying Miss Doyle’s unit and are selling yours to the Cabots.”

“Sounds right.”

“Explain this picture.” Martin held out a color copy of the original. “It shows a car in your space on the night you say you weren’t here.” Hans’ eyes flew to the imprinted date stamp glowing vaguely yellow, a warning in the corner; he tried to conceal his horror at the image laid before him, an unwelcome offering from an unwanted donor. This was undoubtedly Peter’s car, in his designated garage space. This was too awful a proof, his pious self assurances a thin sham. His thoughts tripped, reverberating over the heckling voice of Kitty Doyle. What had she done? After he’d done what he’d done?

“I can’t.” Hans heard his own uncertain voice say. It was not what his internal, inaudible voice was screaming.

An attached garage is seldom accessible directly from a condo unit but occupies one or several floors in the building. A typical exception is the townhouse style of condo.

An attached garage is seldom accessible directly from a condo unit but occupies one or several floors in the building. A typical exception is the townhouse style of condo.

“Do you recognize the car?”

“Yes.”

“And do you know the person who owns this car?”

“Yes.”

“And did this person used to live here with you?”

“Yes.”

“But that person, let’s call him Peter Pentalent, moved out some time before Rusty Mangold died here?” Hans had to locate his lost breath before replying.

“Yes.”

“And Peter was Rusty’s trainer at the gym, and brought him here that Sunday night, and killed him?”