by Guy Belleranti
Bad Timing was originally published in the September 12, 2006 issue of Woman’s World.
The spacious living room had upscale furnishings, but the homicide crew hovering around Sam Kissler’s dead body ruined the effect.
“Looks like that fireplace poker was the weapon, Connie,” said my partner, Detective Danny Dayton. “And that might have held the motive.” He pointed at an antique glass-door bookcase. Its door lock had been forced open, the glass shattered and two of the four shelves were empty.
I moved closer, carefully avoiding the glass pieces littering the marble floor. The grandfather clock beside the case chimed eight p.m. and I sighed. It had been a long Thursday.” Maybe his fiancée knows what was on those empty shelves,” I said.
We’d left her with a cop in the kitchen. She was an attractive brunette in her early thirties, many years younger than Kissler. Her name was Elaine Morgan and she’d found Kissler’s body twenty minutes earlier.
“Sam’s coin collection was on those shelves,” she said sobbing.” I don’t know coins, but Sam said they were quite valuable.”
“I gather Mr. Kissler lived alone,” I said, “but the way this place is kept up leads me to believe he had help.”
She nodded. “Sam used a maid service and he also had a handyman, but he fired him today.”
“Fired him?” Danny leaned forward.
“Yes, the man…he delivered the grandfather clock this morning and then…then he tried to kiss me. It was awful.” Elaine shivered and wiped away a tear.
“What’s his name, address and phone number?” I asked.
“Hugh Castle. And his address and number should be in the address book in that drawer by the refrigerator.” She rose from her chair at the table and found the book just as a weeping cry came from the front of the house.
Danny and I jumped to our feet.
“Sounds like Alma the actress,” Elaine said.
“Who?” Danny asked.
“Sam’s daughter. Calls herself an actress, but she hardly ever works. Sam’s son, Greg, is no better. He’s the laziest man alive. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them killed poor Sam. Neither was happy when Sam announced our marriage plans last Sunday. And they were furious when he told them he was through giving them money.”
Danny and I exchanged glances. The suspects were piling up. “Danny,” I said, “stay with Ms. Morgan and get Castle’s address and phone number. I’ll talk to the daughter.”
I found her in the living room, not far from her father’s covered remains. A uniformed officer named Grove had a grip on one of her tanned arms. “Sorry, Detective Perosi,” he told me, “but she somehow got past both Reeves and I.”
“Where is she?” Alma Kissler demanded, looking up at me.
“Where is who, ma’am?” I asked.
“Father’s killer. Elaine Morgan.”
I opened my mouth then a sound made me spin around. Elaine was charging from the kitchen, and toward Alma. I blocked her path and Danny pulled her back.
“Oh, don’t stop her,” Alma cried. “I can handle her. I’ll –”
“You’ll calm down,” I snapped.
“But she killed Father! I was here this morning when he caught her and Hugh Castle kissing up a storm in the garage.”
“I wasn’t kissing him,” Elaine yelled. “The animal grabbed me.”
“Ha! I saw how you looked at him and his muscles when he wheeled in that grandfather clock.”
Officer Reeves appeared in the doorway and signaled me over. “Fellow claiming to be the dead man’s son is outside,” he told me.
“We’ll be right there,” I said. I rejoined the others and told Officer Grove to escort both women to the kitchen. “If either start giving you trouble my partner and I will be out front.”
“What’s up?” Danny asked as we headed for the door.
“The son’s here.”
Danny whistled. “Suspect number four.”
“Yeah,” I agreed.” You get Castle’s number?”
“Yep.” He held up a piece of paper.
Greg Kissler shoved a lock of long greasy hair out of his eyes. “What’s happened? Where’s my father?”
“He’s dead,” I said.
“Someone hit him with the fireplace poker and then stole his coin collection.”
“Coin collection? Oh, yeah. All that stuff in the case next to the grandfather clock.” He shook his head, then said, “I bet it was her.”
“Her?” Danny asked. “Your sister?”
“Of course not. That gold-digger, Elaine Morgan.”
“When did you last see your father?” I asked.
“You didn’t take the news very well, I understand.”
“Why would I? She’s almost half his age and was only after his money.”
“So were you and your sister from what we hear,” Danny
“Do you know Hugh Castle?” I asked.
“Who? Oh, you mean that big guy who did stuff for Dad? Nah, not really. Met him once or twice but that’s it. Why? Does he figure into this somehow? Do you think he – ”
The front door burst open; the M.E. and her crew came out with their bulky load. Elaine, Alma, and Officer Grove followed. “The women wanted out of the house,” Grove told Danny and I. “Do you want to take them downtown for further questioning?”
“Perhaps,” I said, “but first…” I caught Danny’s eye and the two of us moved several feet away from the group.
“What’s up, Connie?”
“I do want to take someone downtown, but not one of the women.”
Danny’s eyes widened. “Then that only leaves the son, unless you mean picking up Castle for questioning. His being fired could’ve set him off, no doubt about that.”
“Yes,” I said, “it could have. But I’m pretty sure it’s the son who did it. Remember what he said when I told him his father had been killed and the coin collection stolen?”
“Sure. He said he bet the killer was Elaine Morgan.”
“What else?” Danny’s eyes narrowed. “What do you mean?”
“I mean what did he say about the coin collection, about its location in the house?”
“Uh, nothing much. Just something like “Oh, you mean that stuff in the cabinet next to the grandfather clock.” Danny shrugged. “But so what? That isn’t incriminating.”
“But it is, Danny. Greg said he hadn’t been to the house since last Sunday, so how did he know the clock – which was delivered today, Thursday – was standing beside the case containing the coins?”
Danny frowned, thought a moment, then pulled out his handcuffs. “You’re right. He must’ve been in the house today.”
We arrested Greg Kissler on suspicion of murder. Subsequent investigation turned up glass from the broken bookcase door in the sole of one of his shoes and the stolen coins hidden in his apartment.
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