Jack Mackerel and the Case of the Perished Pianist
©2018 by S. Seifritz
I decided to head back over to the Dare mansion and see about taking a look inside. Maybe I could find a thing or two that the cops had overlooked.
There was a guard posted by the front gate, but otherwise the house and yard looked deserted. I climbed the fence out back and entered the premises. Luckily, the moon was behind me so I was able to hide in my own shadow. Upon reaching the rear entrance, I took out a little box of tools I carry with me for such an occasion and used them to break a window. Unfortunately, the window I broke was too far from the door for me to reach through and unlock it, so I had to break another window. That one ended up being too high, so I proceeded to kick the door in. It was nearly off its hinges when I realized it was unlocked.
Once inside I used my trusty flashlight to look around. The police had done a thorough job — the entire pantry was bare. I made my way into the parlor, careful not to knock over more than one expensive vase. The beam of my light crossed the oriental rug and there it was, Philip Dare’s last hurrah — a blood stain the size of a medium pizza. That’s gonna be a bitch to clean, I thought.
I moved on to the drawing room and found some mail laying on top of a desk. Nothing too impressive — an invitation from some sheikh, a note from the Queen and a thank you card from the president. On the back of one of the envelopes, however, was a scrawled note. It read simply “9:30 TUESDAY PETE.” Now things were getting interesting. Dare was murdered on Tuesday. Suzanne had said she heard the old man arguing with someone around 10:00. I knew if I could find this Pete guy, I’d find Dare’s killer and probably the missing keys.
I found a phone and called Suzanne at the number she’d given me. She answered on the thirteenth ring.
“Where were you?” I whispered into the receiver. “Out shopping for a new husband?”
“I was washing my hair.”
“If you dames actually washed your hair as much as you claim you do, we’d need an army of plumbers just to unclog the drains.”
“Very funny. Why are you whispering?”
“I’m in your place.”
“How’d you get past the cops?”
“Trade secret. However, you may notice it’s a little draftier in the kitchen than you may have remembered.”
“Did you find the keys?”
“No, but I may know who has them. Who’s Pete?”
“Pete. Your husband apparently had a meeting with someone named Pete the night he was killed.”
“I don’t know anyone named Pete. Philip and I really weren’t on speaking terms for the last month. He rarely informed me of his meetings.”
“You’re sure you don’t know any Petes?
“Positive. I do know a couple of Peters though.”
“Jeez! Pete, Peter — what’s the difference?”
“Listen, Mr. Mackerel, if you ran in my social circles, you wouldn’t have to ask that.”
“If I ran in your circles, I’d fall over and lose my lunch. Now tell me about these Peters you know.”
“One is seven and the other lives in London.”
“How strong is the seven-year old?”
“He’s just a child, he didn’t kill anyone.”
“All right, all right. But I’m not ruling him out just yet. I’m gonna take another look around here. I’ll call you if I find anything else.”
“Fine, but I may be in the bath.”
I searched the rest of the house, with no luck. I couldn’t find anything to lead me to the mysterious Pete. I did, however, find Philip Dare’s concert piano, and it was, in fact, quite grand. It was crafted from some exotic wood and its legs were carved with intricate designs. Even in the dark it was beautiful. I sat down on the bench and imagined myself playing Heart and Soul to an audience of thousands. I could appreciate Philip Dare’s love of music.
As I sat at the piano, I began to feel like I was missing something. I started running the facts of this case through my head. Something didn’t make sense. I decided to sleep on it.
Who’s Pete? Will a good night’s sleep help Jack wrap up this case? Who else has Heart & Soul running through their head now? To be concluded tomorrow!