Mark Terry

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


June 2, 2009


Outside a three-story condominium complex in Pasadena, sitting in Biz’s Mustang, Detective Summer Rain said, “By rights I should have you arrested.”

“Ah, you just want me in handcuffs.”

“And gagged and rolling around in a car trunk on your way out of town.”

“Wow, you are kinky.”

She glared at him. “Okay, I buy your theory. And here I am. What do you want to do?”

Biz said, “I get the feeling you’ll be really good at playing Bad Cop.”

“Bad Cop-No Cop. You’re going to play the Good Cop, Mr. I’m-Not-ACop?”

“I’ve got the charm and good looks. You’ve got the badge. Ready?”

Detective Rain sighed. “Let’s do it.” They climbed out of the ‘stang and approached the door to the condo unit in question. It was a nice building, done in California style, quasi-stucco, vaguely Mediterranean, vaguely Mission, fairly upscale. Biz knocked on the door. A moment later Melanie Potemkin answered. “What are you doing here? How do you know where I live? Who’s this?”

“Invite us in,” Biz said. “Please. We need to talk.”

Melanie’s eyes grew round with apprehension. “What is this? What did you do? I trusted you!”

Biz pushed past Melanie and into the condo, which was quite large by L.A. standards. The carpeting was thick and beige, the furniture expensive, the view out the balcony would have shown mountains if the smog weren’t obscuring them. “Hey! What are you doing? What’s... ahhhh.”

Biz sat down in a lounge chair. He didn’t trust the poofy couch not to swallow him up. It was bad enough being four-foot-four without disappearing into the cushions. He gestured to the couch. “Have a seat, Melanie. We need to talk.”

Summer closed the door behind her and pushed a hand gently against Melanie’s back, gently but firmly moving her into the living room. Biz thought Summer was doing a nice job of seeming menacing. Maybe it was the height and the serious expression. Maybe it came naturally.

Melanie sat. Summer sat on the other end of the couch from her. Melanie looked at her. “Who are you?”

Summer held out her badge.

Melanie wailed. “You promised! You promised you’d keep me out of this.”

“That was before I figured out that you liked to me. That was before I figured out you’ve been jerking me around the whole time.”

“What?” Melanie had a dramatic hand to her heart, but she was a crappy actress and didn’t pull it off. “I never lied to you.”

“Oh, please! Let me guess. The first time I approached you you went and reported it directly to Shala Fontaigne. And she started feeding you information to feed to me. What she was doing. Where she was going. Everything. Right?”

“I-- I--”

Biz thought, Nailed that one. Too bad it made him feel like a total sucker.

Detective Rain said, “You’re an accessory to murder, Ms. Potemkin. You had better cooperate with us.”

“What?! I’m... accessory to murder? What are you talking about? What murder?”

Rain said, “Del Fontaigne. You helped Shala Fontaigne set up her husband’s murder. You forged e-mails between Del Fontaigne and Sid Davenport.”

“I ... I didn’t!” But her hands were clenched in her lap, the knuckles white, and she wouldn’t look at them. She was a terrible liar.

Biz didn’t have to do a thing. Summer Rain moved in like a shark smelling blood in the water. Within ten minutes Melanie Potemkin had confirmed that she had been feeding information to Biz on orders of Shala Fontaigne. That Shala Fontaigne had made her set up a fake e-mail account for Sid Davenport and fed the IPO hints and plots through them.

Biz said, “So last night, Shala Fontaigne made sure that you told me about her and Steven Laud’s planned liaison at the Malibu beach house, guaranteeing that I’d have them under surveillance.”

Melanie nodded. “But ... but ... I’m not sure if that was actually Steve Laud she was with.”

Biz and Summer Rain shared a confused look. Biz, who had the man’s photographs, said, “Who was he then?”

Melanie sniffed, rubbing her hands. “It may have been Chad Laud. Steve’s twin brother.”

To be continued...


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