5. Lab Rats

by Paddy Killeen

DIDN’T GO THERE TO SOLVE MURDERS

I have to admit I’m an eccentric, I live an eccentric lifestyle and I sometimes use unorthodox methods to solve my cases. If I was a little saner I’m sure the press would probably ignore me but every editor likes something a little out of the ordinary to attract readership, as a result I’ve been featured in a number of newspaper and magazine articles.

Probably one of my most famous cases involved the fornicating husband of a European celebrity. In an effort to gather the information required I actually slept with his mistress, of course, this came out in the divorce proceedings and I made the front page of almost every tabloid in the world. Many said that I had gone beyond the call of duty and sacrificed myself to serve my client, they were not aware that I’d fucked her (my client), as well.

The reputation earned by these sleazy journals not only brought me more clients but I was actually asked to lecture occasionally. One of the invitations to address students of law and order came from the National University of Edythja, a somewhat obscure mountainous republic in Eastern Europe.

One fine Irish Spring morning I boarded an Aer Lingus flight in Dublin headed for Matajova, the capital. However, my final destination was to be the Insul de Vise (Island of Dreams), situated in a massive lake that occupied some fifteen percent of the entire country.

Formerly an internment camp for political dissidents, President Oxana Beredynos, has established a national university without equal. Some of the finest academics in the world have been lured there to enjoy the excellent climate, beautiful scenery, and diverse social amenities. You can watch theater in several different languages, (one at a time of course), dine on everything from bird’s nest soup to sauerkraut, or you can go to a heavy metal concert and eat hamburgers and fries – it’s all there on the Insul de Vise. It’s become an essential part of the country’s economy as students from all over the world go there to study and to visit the brothels, which are legal, and as Edythjan women are considered to be some of the most beautiful in the world, well patronized.

The University’s governing body had offered me a large sum of money to strut my stuff there and like a lot of speakers from politics and business, it was unlikely I would give them their money’s worth. Public speakers tend to tell people what they already know, packaged with a few old jokes and excruciatingly boring anecdotes, tied together with a little name dropping.

At the airport, in the capital Matajova I was met by a delegation with flowers, and a traditional tray of bread and salt, that I had to nibble on, and then we boarded a ferry to the island. The scenery was breathtaking and so were the beautiful young women in national costume that surrounded me as if I was a rock star.

On the dock, there was yet another delegation, garlands were placed around my neck, the Chief Administrator of the university kissed me on both cheeks and then I was taken to a hotel with the flowery name of Zheltern Orchidei (Yellow Orchid,) where I was kissed on both cheeks once again by the hotel manager.

Overwhelmed by all the hospitality, once I got to my suite I flopped on the bed and passed out for a while. It had been a long flight from Dublin, via London and, via Frankfurt, and I was tired.

At around 6 p.m. I received a telephone call, from the cheek kissing manager, telling me that my table was ready and dinner would be served in half an hour. I did a quick shower, changed and strolled down to the dining room expecting to find a quiet corner table awaiting me. However, there was yet another welcoming committee that consisted of the Events Administrator, who had booked me, the Assistant Events Administrator and a gorgeous woman who was introduced to me as Inspector Natalja Sedrova, a member of the National Police Division responsible for law and order on the island. She couldn’t have been more than 25 and she looked lean and mean, and incredibly beautiful.

Fortunately, because the population consists of students and professors from so many countries, English has become the lingua franca; consequently, we were able to have a great conversation during, what turned out to be, a delightful meal.

“I have read a lot about you,” said the sexy inspector, “You seem to have a natural ability to solve difficult crimes but from what I’ve read you didn’t go to college or study criminology.”

“No I’m afraid I went into the police almost from high school,” I said, “we didn’t use much in the way of psychology back then, nor did we do any kind of sensitivity training, our motto was just “Find the bastard who did it.”

Her stern countenance broke into a smile, “Well you’ve certainly nailed a few bastards in your time.”

“Most of those have been since I was asked to leave the Toronto police and returned to Ireland,” I said, “before that, I was on the beat, and my greatest achievement there was giving a Member of Parliament a ticket for jaywalking.”

“From what I’ve read you were too ill-disciplined to be a policeman,” she said.

“I’m ashamed to admit it but I do not respond well to authority.”

“You’re a free spirit,” she smiled, “I admire that.”

I certainly admired her, she was gorgeous, more like a fashion model that a cop. And as if having dinner with her was not reward enough she took my happy index to another level.

“As your lecture is not until tomorrow evening,” she said, “why don’t I take you a tour of the island during the day and perhaps you’ll let me pick your brains. I think I can learn a lot from a man like you.”

I was quite sure that I could learn a lot from a woman like her and so I immediately accepted her invitation.

She arranged to pick me up the next day and after I’d shaken hands with the dignitaries and thanked them for their hospitality, I returned to my room armed with a bottle of local wine. I then tried to make sense of the TV controller and eventually had to settle for Captain America, dubbed in the Edythjan language with subtitles in Russian. Within fifteen minutes I’d fallen asleep.

I had room service for breakfast and then I went down and waited in the foyer for my devilishly attractive tour guide. She turned up wearing a miniskirt and a low cut top, her dark hair flowed freely around her shoulders and she wore a smile that would have charmed birds out of the trees. As we stepped out into the sunshine I caught my first glimpse of her car, a late model Lincoln no less.

When I commented on the vehicle she just shrugged and said she was financially independent and didn’t rely on her police salary.

“My father is a banker,” she said, “Our family is not short of money.”

“But why do you work as a cop?” I asked.

“Why do you?”

“Well … hmm,” I hesitated.

“Exactly – that’s the way I feel,” she laughed.

From that moment on we were bosom buddies, although she had a much nicer bosom that I did. First, we did a quick tour of Oras Universitaer (University City), that housed the colleges and all the supporting businesses and then out across the wooded island that, despite its horrifying history, was quite unspoiled.

After stopping to admire a few beauty spots she took me to the beach where we walked and skimmed a few pebbles on the water. It was just like a date, except there was no holding hand, no kissing or sex.

Natalja seemed to have a surprising amount of information regarding some of my past cases, even some I’d forgotten. She was particularly interested in murder because during her time in Matajova she’d mostly been assigned to theft and burglary investigations. Her transfer to the island just a few months earlier meant she was now responsible for the whole nine yards, and I could see she lacked a bit of confidence.
“Is it true you get a little ping in your head sometimes, like a Eureka moment?” she asked.

“I get little flashes of intuition,” I replied, “but they don’t always work out and they can even get me into trouble.”

The morning seemed to go by very quickly and soon it was time for lunch. She took me to a little Hungarian restaurant overlooking the water. It was a mom and pop style place and the owners seemed to know her quite well. She even spoke to them in their own language. I was most impressed, explaining that I only spoke English and a little Irish.

“I suppose I speak,” she started to count on her fingers, “five,” she concluded.

“You make me feel really dumb,” I said, “even my Irish is hardly understandable. “

“You certainly can’t call yourself dumb,” she argued, “I would give anything to be as smart as you.”

WOW – I think I blushed.

We were just about to get up and leave when she got a call on her cell. She looked very concerned and then told me that a body had been discovered in one of the labs and she had to go over there right away.

“Would you like to come with me?” she asked, “I’d value your opinion.”

When we arrived at the building on Straeda Johannes Kepler, where the lab was housed, we had to wait for the fire department clearing fumes that had accumulated there. A rather dapper looking pathologist called Dr. Alex Constantyn, who was also waiting outside, explained the situation to us.

“Some kind of toxic gas,” he said, “you can see the body of a woman lying there -she may have succumbed to some experiment she was carrying out.”
However, when we entered the cramped room, filled with glass tubes and monitoring devices, he changed his opinion.

“Looks like she has a broken neck and contusions to the back of her head,” he said, “Unlikely she sustained them falling off her chair but I’ll let you know when I get her down to the morgue.”

“We might be looking at murder,” said Natalya, “that’s right up your street.”

“But I’m not here in that capacity,” I replied.

“You won’t be able to resist,” she grinned and then she began to ask my opinion about what happened.

I hesitated because I was truly reluctant to get involved, but then I succumbed to her charm, “I think she was possibly killed somewhere else and brought here.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Looking at her workstation and the distance she fell from her chair, I think it would be almost impossible to sustain a broken neck and I don’t think the position of the body is right.”

We were interrupted for a moment as two men loaded the young woman on a stretcher and took her away.

“ The containers the firemen removed,” I continued, “were clearly labeled sulfur and muriatic acid and it seems very unlikely that she would have purposely mixed them together knowing that they would create a toxic gas,” I paused and looked around, “unless she was intent on suicide of course.”
We were interrupted once again, this time by a Sgt. Novak who filled us in on the victim’s identity.

“Her name was Giulie Caraman,” he said, “she was 25, lived in the college and she was engaged in developing a green energy source.”

“What does that mean – a green energy source?” Natalja asked.

“She was working on an alternative fuel for vehicles ma’am.”

“And who discovered the body?”

“Urie Pinu – the Janitor.”

“Bring him in and let’s have a look at him,” she said.

He turned out to be a short, fat, balding little man with squinty eyes that blinked incessantly. If you met him in a bar it’s unlikely you’d ask him to look after your beer while you went for a piss.

First of all, she asked if he spoke English, he nodded.

“Good, because this gentleman will be asking you some questions – OK?”

He nodded again.

“Now why were you in this area?” she began.

“It’s my responsibility to check all of these corridors,” he said, “you’d be surprised what a mess those student pigs create, they throw their garbage everywhere.”

“Was the door to Lab number 3 open?”

“No – I have a key.”

“Why did you want to come in here?”

“I just smelled all those fumes, I banged on the door but there was no reply so I decided to come in and investigate,”

“What did you see when you first opened up?” I asked.

“I couldn’t see anything at first the fumes were choking me but I did catch a glance of a body on the floor.”

“Did you go in at that point?”

“Are you crazy?” he grinned, “ I just slammed the door and phoned the police and the fire department.”

“So you’re not sure if she was dead or alive at that point?”

He shook his head, “No I suppose not – I just assumed she was dead with all that chemical stuff floating around.”

“What was the deceased’s name?” asked Natalja

“Caraman, Giulie Caraman.”

“So you saw her face and recognize her?”

“Well, when the firemen were in here I looked in through the window up there,” he said, pointing to a small glass panel high up near the ceiling. “You can see in here from lab number 2.”

“Show me how you did that,” I said, and he led me into the other room and climbed up on a bench to demonstrate, “I could see her from here” he assured me, “she was lying on her back.”

Thinking he looked a bit like a peeping Tom type I decided to cozy up to Urie as I figured he was probably a mine of information. I asked him where we could get a coffee and soon we were sitting in the staff cafeteria having a heart to heart talk. This guy knew every bit of scandal from who cheated on their exams to those who cheated on their partners. In particular, he knew all about Giulie Caraman.

NO SHORTAGE OF SUSPECTS

After my intriguing conversation with Urie, I caught up with Natalja again as she was about to search the victim’s room.

“Did you get anything out of Czumbra?” she asked.

“Czumbra?”

“According to Sgt. Novak that’s what the women call Mr. Pinu,” she said, “it means The Shadow, he’s always there when you least expect it.”

“A sort of peeping Tom?”

“Exactly, apparently he’s been reprimanded a couple of times and one of these days he’s going to have to find another job.”

“Well he certainly knew a lot about Giulie,” I said, as she opened the door to her room.

“We’ll go over it later,” she responded, “I hope it’s more interesting than forensics have turned up so far.”

“Nothing I presume.”

“Gosh you’re a good detective,” she laughed, “let’s hope we’ll discover something in here.”

As there were no prints in the immediate vicinity of the crime scene, even those of the deceased, it looked as though the area had been wiped clean. That certainly ruled out any chance of it being an accidental death unless it was a case of Post Mortem OCD.

Although we’d found her laptop in the lab we did not come across a cell phone, and we knew that any self-respecting student would never risk being out of contact with friends and the latest trends, even for a few minutes. I just stood and looked around the room as my colleague rummaged through cupboards and drawers.

“Have you spotted anything?” she asked at length.

“Not much,” I replied, “except there seems to have been a coffee table right there, one with a solid base.”

I pointed to an indentation on the rug.

“Interesting,” she said, “But I suppose that could have been removed some time ago, maybe she just got tired of it.”

“Possibly – but just there close to where it stood the carpet seems to have been cleaned.”

She followed my finger, “Hm – I think you’re right – Holy Shit – you’ve got good eyes for an old guy.” And then realizing what she’d said she apologized, then took out her phone and called forensics to come and check the place over.

Anxious to discover what I’d found out from Czumbra she took me back to her office. It was obvious she’d used her own money to furnish it as it was bordering on the luxurious. After I’d satisfied my curiosity browsing the pictures and awards that were beautifully framed on the wall, we both stretched out on the soft leather sofa and I gave her all of the information I’d gleaned.

“Apparently, Giulie played the field. According to my informant, she’d dated two professors, Alan McKean an American, and Georges Bueri, a native born Edythjan. She also went out with a fellow student named Keith Brown.

“That’s interesting, she smiled, “I wish you weren’t going back so soon, you could help me to interview them and possibly bring this case to a conclusion.”

I hate it when a beautiful woman opens her eyes wide and looks directly into mine. She must have known that I have two disturbing weaknesses, beautiful women and the urge to solve cases I find interesting. However, I did point out that I was only booked into the hotel for a couple of nights and that I had a plane to catch the next day.

“No problem, the airline only needs a phone call to change your flight and as for accommodation you can stay with me on my boat.”

“Your boat?”

“Yes – I have a ketch anchored off the marina and that’s where I live. I’ll provide you with food and lodgings and you get to help me with this intriguing case, and I’ll make sure you get lots of publicity.’

She was a very devious woman and she’d trapped me in my own ego. I went on to give my lecture followed by an official banquet and then I retired for the night. I was awakened at midnight by a phone call from Natalja, “Just wanted to make sure you’re not planning to sneak out on me tomorrow,” she said, and then told me she’d meet me at the hotel for breakfast.

I think this woman had begun to have a strange affect on me because as I waited for her to arrive the next morning my pulse was racing, and when she appeared in the doorway of the dining room and strode towards me like a graceful gazelle, I think my heart skipped a beat. Of course, I’d never worked with an inspector with long slender legs, accentuated with a mini skirt before, and so it was understandable.

She sat down and quickly ordered breakfast as she was anxious to tell me the latest developments.

“The stain on the victim’s rug did turn out to be blood,” she said, “AND, there was no data on the computer, presumably destroyed by a Killer USB, AND,” she took a big breath, “Sgt. Novak’s team has found Giulie’s cell phone in the Janitor’s closet.”

“How does Urie explain that?” I asked.

“They can’t find him; nobody has seen him since last night.”

She was just about to pick up her toasted Danish when her phone rang, “Oh shit,” she said, fumbling in her sweater pocket to find it.

“Alo – Inspector Sedrova,” she answered, and then her face turned quite serious. “OK – voy vi acolo,” and then she took one big bite out of her Danish and with her cheeks bulging lie a Chipmunk, she told me that they’d found Urie’s body and she had to go right away.

She said I should stay and have breakfast but I wouldn’t have enjoyed one bite and so we got into her car and drove out along the beautiful treed Bulevard Franz Liszt and turned off on Straeda Marie Curie. The battered body was lying in an alleyway between two rental storage units.

Alex the pathologist was there and told us that the victim had been beaten to death, probably just with bare knuckles. He figured the perpetrator must have sustained some injuries to his hands unless he wore some kind of gloves.

“Like a cage fighter,” I suggested.

“Quite possibly,” he said, then turning to Natalja he apologized for not getting back to her on the Giulie Caraman autopsy. “ We’ve had some problems at the morgue,” he said, “but she was dead before the gas was released, there was no trace of it in her lungs, and the head wound looks more like an accidental fall that a blow from a blunt instrument.”

“Like falling back against a sturdy coffee table,” I mumbled.

They both looked at me and shrugged.

Back at the university, we ate breakfast, which consisted of something resembling an Egg McMuffin and drank coffee from a Styrofoam cup. We then set up the room where we intended to conduct the interviews.

Constable Semplie, who was working with us, lined up the people on our suspect list. All of them were also listed on her cell phone.

Unfortunately, he couldn’t produce two of the most interesting people she’d exchanged texts with. Someone who called himself Lover Boy, and seemed to be quite a disagreeable character and CCCDB who appeared to be issuing veiled threats, and who’s phone we could not trace.

We started by questioning Professor Georges Bueri, an incredibly arrogant man in his fifties, who said he objected to being treated like a common criminal and that he had friends in high places. I looked up reverently thinking he might mean they were in heaven and he was not amused. He wasn’t too pleased that the interview was being conducted in English either and suggested that American’s were too stupid to learn other languages, which as an Irishman I did not find particularly offensive.

Natalja threw the first question, “You and the deceased were close I hear?”

“We had a common interest in biofuel if you call that being close,” he retorted.

“But you did take her out to dinner a few times?”

“Only to talk business.”

“What kind of business do students and their professors get involved in?” I asked, thinking it was most likely monkey business.

“She had a grant from an American company to work on a green energy source,” he explained, “and as I’m engaged in similar research I was trying to get her to work with me – you know – become a team.”

“Did she go along with that?” asked Natalja.

“No – I’m afraid she was a greedy girl – she had dreams of becoming very rich – sharing was not in her vocabulary.”

“And that made you angry,” I said.

“Certainly not angry enough to kill her if that’s what you’re implying,” he snapped, “Now I was conducting a class when I was rudely interrupted and I’d like to get back to it.”

We agreed to let him go and the next one up was her ex-boyfriend, an English kid with a smirk on his face.

“You’re Keith Brown,” I said, as he dragged the chair back and plopped his bum onto it.

“Yeh – that’s me,” he said, showing obvious signs of nervousness.

“You’re English,”

“Well nobody’s perfect,” he jibed, presumably thinking he was being very amusing.

Natalja was not impressed, “listen to me you silly little man, if you want to be a standup comedian in your own time that’s OK but this time is being paid for by Edythjan taxpayers, so cut the crap and answer our questions in a sensible manner.”

Poor Keith still couldn’t resist playing Johnny Cool and leaning back in his chair he mumbled something about being entitled to a lawyer.

“At this moment you’re entitled to fuck all,” she yelled, ‘this is just a preliminary inquiry, you have not been charged with the murder of Giulie Caraman,” she paused for dramatic effect, “yet!”

The color drained from the kid’s face and he became very cooperative and told us that he did go out with the victim a few times but she was more interested in older men.

“Like a professor,” I suggested.

“Yeh – she went out with a couple of them.”

“You’re referring to Georges Bueri?”

“And that American guy.”

“Alan McKean?”

“Yeh – I think that’s his name.”

After Keith, now somewhat demoralized and humble, slithered from the room, we interviewed several students who didn’t have a particularly close relationship with Giulie and then it was time for lunch. Rather than dine with the animals in the cafeteria, we went to a small restaurant she knew that was close by on Straeda Max Planck but even that was packed with students. Every nation in the world was represented from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, but they were predominantly Chinese and Korean.

The food was good but the cacophony produced by so many people, yelling in a dozen different languages, was overpowering. On top of that, every time I tried to sip on a spoonful of borscht someone would squeeze by and jostle me. In the end, there was more soup on my lapels than there was in the bowl. I began to think that the college cafeteria couldn’t have been any crazier.

With lunch over and the front of my jacket looking like a chef’s apron, we went back to the interviews. Alan McKean was the first in line and just like Professor Bueri he said that he hardly knew Giulie. When the inspector told him she’d read his texts on her cell phone he began to shuffle around in his seat and there was almost a look of terror on his face,

Natalja sat back in her chair and gently rubbed her nose up and down with her finger, I’d already discovered that this was something she did before attacking her prey, and so I waited patiently through one minute of complete silence, while poor Alan twitched and licked his dried lips.

“You were fucking Giulie weren’t you?” she yelled leaning over the desk as if she was going to grab him by the collar and drag him over.

As the onslaught continued he started to bite on his lip and then he simply broke down, “I loved her,” he cried, “I loved her – don’t you understand that?”

“How can we understand anything if you hide the truth from us,” she responded to his wailing, “a few moments ago she was just a casual acquaintance.”

“I know, I know,” he mumbled, covering his face with his hands, “It’s just that fraternizing with students, even postgraduate students is against the rules – I don’t want to lose my job.”

“You don’t to lose your job,” mused Natalja, “a beautiful and talented young woman has lost her life and you are worried about your fucking job. Look, professor, we can’t find out who killed Giulie unless you’re honest with us.”

“Are you sure somebody did kill her?”

“No we’re just questioning people because there’s nothing to watch on television,” she yelled, “now tell us about your affair with the victim and don’t miss anything out or I’m going to tear your balls off.”

After that, he just spilled his guts. Yes, he admitted, they had had a love affair, he’d actually separated from his wife with intention of marrying Giulie but then she started going out with another younger man. I asked him if he was referring to Keith Brown?

“No it wasn’t him, I only saw them together a couple of times, he was a big guy with red hair.”

“How young?” I asked.

“About her age, I should think,” he sniffled with more tears welling up in his eyes.

After a few more questions we let him go back to his class. He’d just closed the door behind him when I had one of those little pings in my head.

“Perhaps she was going out with a red-headed cage fighter,” I said.

Natalja looked at me in amazement, “That’s a bit of a shot in the dark isn’t it?”

“Well, we know that Urie was beaten to death. That would take a lot of strength and possibly a certain amount of skill.”

“But why would he want to kill Urie?”

“Perhaps he saw our cage fighter near the scene of the crime and tried to blackmail him.”

“And you’re suggesting that this guy could be Lover Boy?”

“Well look at that last text again,” I said, “he was obviously pissed off over something and he did say he be round to see her – that message was sent less than two hours before her body was discovered.”

“OK let’s look for a red-headed love struck cage fighter – but we’ll do it tomorrow – let’s go home.”

NATALJA UNDER PRESSURE

I was looking forward to seeing the boat that would be my home for the next few days. It sounded quite romantic.

We stopped by the hotel to pick up my bags and then drove out to the opposite side of the island to the Padiry Marina. I must say it turned out to be a very handsome craft, but what else could I have expected from such a classy lady.

As we stepped on board she turned to me in an effort to destroy any illusions I had regarding our relationship.

“If you have any thoughts about getting into my knickers you can forget them right now,” she said, “OK?”

I told her she would never know what was in my private thoughts. She just laughed and said she knew already.

Down below it was a bit small but very comfortable. The main cabin contained the kitchen, dining and living areas all in one and further towards the pointy end (I’m not familiar with nautical terms), there was a bedroom with bunks either side and then a toilet and shower beyond that.

She insisted that I sat down and relaxed while she prepared dinner but she did let me open the wine. After a delicious meal, we just sat there and talked. She asked me about my failed marriage and said that the job made it difficult to maintain relationships.

“That’s why I intend to stay single,” she said.

Everything went along smoothly until it was time to retire; she didn’t wear much when she climbed into her bunk. Needless to say, I did not sleep well.

The next morning we arrived at the college to find that Lover Boy, aka Andrei Vessi had been arrested by another inspector named Balan, it was just a lucky break but Natalja was not happy, it appeared the inspector was a rival.

“That son of a bitch will be gloating right now,” she fumed, “he’s been dying to put one over on me since the day I arrived here.”

Heading for the police department we found that Balan had done some preliminary questioning and the suspect, faced with incriminating evidence, admitted to the murder of Urie, but emphatically denied any involvement in the death of Giulie.

“I went to see her because she was supposed to come to the fight the night before but she didn’t show. When I got to the lab where she worked I could smell gas of some kind seeping under the door, I peeked through the glass slit in and I could see her lying on the floor, I tried to go in but it was locked. It was then that the janitor arrived and he had a key.”

“So did you go in to check if she was dead?” I asked.

“No – the fumes were so strong I was about to pass out.”

“So what did you do?”

“We just got out of there – but Urie saw her cell phone on the floor just inside the door and he picked it up.”

“Then what?” Natalja inquired.

“Well – I panicked – I knew there were messages on there from me – I thought it might incriminate me.”

“So you did suspect she’d been murdered?”

“I’d no idea but it didn’t look good, I’ve spent some time in jail and so I don’t like to get mixed up in things,” he said, presumably not taking into account that he was already in deep shit.

“And then what happened?” I asked.

“Well, I wanted him to give it to me but he just took off with it and locked himself in the lab next door. I tried to get him to open up but I saw some people coming down the hall and I didn’t want them to see me and so I just left.”

“Where did you go?”

“I went back to my place.”

“And I suppose he contacted you later and offered to sell it to you.”

“Yeh – I arranged to meet him and then he didn’t have it with him – he wanted me to give him the money first – so I roughed him up a little.”
“More than a little,” Natalja said, “you’re going to be charged with his murder.”

He shrugged his shoulders as if he already knew that. We just asked him a few further questions about Giulie but he didn’t seem to know much about her except that she was good in bed. Constable Semplie took him away and Natalja suggested that we should go and see the man in charge of the victims’ department to see if he could shed any light on her work and her associates.

The fact that her cell phone was found on the floor seemed to suggest it fell out of her pocket when she was being carried into the lab, confirming our theory that she actually died in her room.

The department head, Vadim Golban, turned out to be a very well-preserved 60-year-old with sleek gray hair and a rather impressive military mustache. He greeted the two of us warmly, ordered his secretary to bring tea and assured us of his fullest co-operation.

“I knew Giulie quite well,” he said, “I actually helped to get the grant to do her research. She had this idea that she could turn agricultural waste into a biofuel. I’m not sure if anything would have come of it but she certainly made a supreme effort. She was a bright girl and it’s a great loss to us all.”

“Do you think she might have been killed because she was close to a breakthrough?” Natalja asked.

“I’m not quite sure what you mean,” he replied, “Surely you’re not suggesting some conspiracy by big oil companies are you?”

“We’re not suggesting anything in particular, we’re simply trying to establish why someone would have wanted to kill her – and now a man who gave us a lot of information on the victim is also dead.”

“I don’t think you can rely too much on the ramblings of Urie Pinu, I don’t like to speak ill of the dead but the man was an insatiable liar.”

We left wondering if the charming Dr. Golban was covering something up and as we started down the corridor I looked back and notice the lettering on his door – it read: Czef de Departamentul de Bioinginery, in other words – CDDDB. When I mentioned it to Natalja she raised her eyebrows and said we would follow up on it later.

I had the feeling that she was getting very frustrated, she kept sighing as we walked aimlessly through the college seemingly heading nowhere in particular. Eventually, she suggested we take our notes and go to her boat, “We’ll pick up some food on the way and we’ll open a bottle of wine.”

It seemed a very civilized way to review the evidence and we were soon heading out to the Marina. About half a mile away we stopped at a Deli. I went in with her for the experience. The man behind the counter seemed to know her and he was soon slicing up meat, wrapping up goats cheese and scooping three different kinds of salads into containers. It looked enough to feed an army.

Once on board the Apja Copei (Water Baby), she soon spread out the buffet and I opened the bottle of wine. We then took our notebooks and began to discuss the case between bites.

There seemed to be a connection with Giulie’s work and the rather terse messages from Professor Bueri and CDDDB, (who could quite possibly be Dr. Golban). We threw out different ideas until our brains were numb and eventually she put down her book and said, “Fuck it, I need a break.”

She then threw me a real curveball, “I don’t often do this with men I’ve only known for a short time – but would you like to go to bed with me?”

Her lips were only six inches from mine when she said it and so I gently put my hand on her arm and drew her a little closer. As our tongues flirted with each other I ventured to rub my hand across her tits. Her body gave a little jolt, and then she sighed as I moved it up inside her top and made contact with her smooth warm skin. I was about to rub my palms over her hardened nipples when she pulled back and slipped out of her blouse, and then she stood up and wiggled out of her skirt and panties.

“Are you going to make love with your clothes on?” she asked, looking down at me.

The problem was I was awestruck; I was like a kid who’d been given permission to help himself at the candy store. After taking a deep breath I got to my feet and disrobed while she watched my every move with a faint smile on her face.

When my underwear came off her eyes dropped to my cock that was sticking out like a barbers pole. She touched it, just with her fingertips and then she caressed my balls before sliding down to her knees for a closer inspection.

Knowing that she was going to take it between those gorgeous full lips at any moment made me tense up and when she lightly kissed the end I couldn’t help calling out “Oh fuck.” At that very second, as if I’d said the magic word, she plunged it into her mouth and started to suck. My dick has passed many lips in its time but none more sensuous or more skillful than those of Natalja Sedrova.

She didn’t let me cum in her mouth, I somehow didn’t expect her to, but when I did give her warning of an impending blowout, she took it in hand and worked it until I shot my load all over her pretty face. While still trying to get my breath back I reached for the tissues on the table and helped her to clean up. As I wiped it from her finely sculptured cheekbones her big blue eyes looked directly into mine, and they almost melted this hard heart of mine.

Laying her down on the couch, I knelt over her and began to suck and fondle her tits, she whimpered a little and stretched her body as if in complete surrender. I let the end of my dick touch her neatly trimmed bush as I licked the areolas around her protruding nipples. Slowly I worked my way down her body until my face was wedged between her thighs.

She gasped when I flicked my tongue across her flower, and then again when I parted the lips with my fingertips and began to lick up and down one side and then the other. Grabbing on to my hair she begged me to make her cum and moved her ass in a steady rhythm as if to facilitate it. When she did climax she went almost hysterical for a couple of minutes, heaving up and down and swearing like a trooper. Holding her still I parted her thighs and I drove my cock into her with one swift move. She went rigid for a moment as though she’d been shot but soon came to life and wrapped her legs around me as I rammed it in fast and furious.

When I came I kept pumping it into her until I figured my balls must be dry, even then she didn’t want me to take it out. We lay on that cramped seat side by side until she suggested we go into the bedroom and do it again.

Later, still naked, we sat around ate supper which consisted of the leftovers from lunch plus another bottle of wine. Natalja, now seemingly relaxed, began to tell me something about her life.

“I had a very privileged upbringing,” she said, “after attending finishing school in Switzerland daddy was expecting me to marry a rich man, arrange flowers and give him grandchildren.”

“But you wanted action?”

“Well, to be honest, I wanted to be a detective, from being a little girl I read all the Sherlock Holmes novels, watched all those British detective shows on TV and I believed I could do the job and enjoy doing it.”

“And here you are – a detective inspector.”

“You probably think I made inspector so quickly is because my parents have influence – well it’s true – but I have worked very hard since the day I joined the department and I was top of my class at the academy.”

She paused for a while and then she put her head on my shoulder,

“This is my first murder and I’m as scared as hell Paddy, everybody is expecting me to fail, especially Balan.”

“Don’t worry, I’m going to help you crack this one,” I said.

The next morning I was awakened by the phone ringing. She answered it and then told whoever was on the other end that she would be right there.
“Dr. Golban had been murdered, she said, “Soon we’ll have no suspects left.”

It certainly seemed that my thoughts on him being CDDDB were right. In retrospect, we should have given him a more severe grilling but I could understand her being cautious with such a senior member of the faculty. Unfortunately, Balan had got there before us, he took the call from the good doctor’s secretary.

The inspector looked very smug as he gave us the lowdown, “I found the office ransacked and the body was lying on the floor with a paper knife stuck in his chest. I dusted the handle for fingerprints – I couldn’t see any but forensics might find something. There are no witnesses, no clues, no nothing,” he smiled, “so I’ll leave it up to you guys to sort out.”

As he left he called back to us, “the Commissar of Police is not going to be very happy about all these murders.”

His secretary, who found the body said that some files were missing but when I asked about the content she claimed she didn’t know. Apparently, he kept them in his desk drawer that had been forced open.

“He usually dealt with those files in the evenings, when he was alone, I didn’t have access to them.”

We couldn’t check his computer because that had been stolen, probably because the killer didn’t want to take the time to copy and destroy. It was a sign that they were now in a panic and hopefully, they would begin to make mistakes.

Later in the day, the techie guys managed to trace the origin of the CDDDB messages. They were coming from a protected number that was registered to Golban, although the phone itself could not be found.

I regretted that Natalja had treated my suggestion, regarding the possible connection between the name on the door and the text signature, so lightly. There was a distinct possibility that this murder could have been avoided if we had acted on it there and then.

Natalja seemed a bit depressed with the way things were going as her reputation was on the line. She’d been on the job for just a few months and now she was faced with three murders, and apart from the killer of Urie – who a competing officer nabbed, we were batting zero. We didn’t even know if the person who‘d stabbed Golban through the heart was the same one responsible for Giuli’s death – it was as frustrating as hell.

We returned to the incident room, ordered up a pot of coffee and went through every detail bit by bit. The statements of all her friends and associates, taken by Sgt. Novak and his team, were doubled checked, including those of our three remaining prime suspects Brown, McKean, and Bueri, none of whom had cast iron alibis. She instructed the sergeant to keep asking questions, while the two of us searched the lab, Giulie room, and Golban’s office all over again.

Natalja didn’t want to go for lunch but I slipped out and bought some sandwiches. I know from experience you can’t think straight with an empty stomach. In the late afternoon, we did get a report on Keith Brown that was interesting; he had once been on a manslaughter charge in the UK. We got a warrant to search his room, much to his chagrin but we didn’t find anything incriminating except for a small amount of Weed and we weren’t interested in pursuing that.

In desperation, she applied for warrants for the living quarters and offices of McKean and Bueri but the judge turned her down, they were respected professors he said, he needed more than mere speculation to authorize a search. At six o’clock Natalja were called into the office of the Comisar de Politi and warned that if she didn’t produce something in the next two days the case would be turned over to Inspector Balan.

He’d stressed to her that the university was an important part of the economy and it could not afford any bad press.

“Nobody is going to finance their kids to attend a college where people are getting bumped off every day,” he’d told her, “now get off your ass and get something done – I don’t want any excuses.”

When she came back to the incident room she looked completely deflated.

“Maybe I should have married a rich man, she said, “I could be arranging flowers now instead of taking shit from everybody.”

She flopped in a chair, sifted through some papers for a few minutes and then perked up and suggested we should go back to the boat and consume a large amount of wine. We did get a little work done but then we felt we had to relieve our tensions. This time she stripped off and leaned against one of the bunks with her beautiful ass poised for immediate penetration. I quickly removed my clothes and snuggling her back, I put my arms around her, grabbed onto her tits and slipped my dick into her. When my balls began to crash against the cheeks of her bum she started to call out how fucking wonderful it felt. There’s nothing like a bit of praise to get you excited and I just drove it into her as fast and as hard as I could. When I came she pressed her ass hard against my groin and I kept hold of her tits and left my dick embedded for a good five minutes.

We did a reverse cowboy later that night and fell asleep in each other’s arms. It was around seven the next morning when we awoke. Once again she looked in much better shape than I did – I guess it’s an age thing.

SPOOKING THE PRIME SUSPECT

Like always I started the day with a cold shower, after which I had a cup of coffee and a buttered roll and I was ready to go back to the university. I’m not sure if she was quite as anxious as me but for some reason, I had this feeling that we were about to crack the case.

When we arrived she suggested I should go and find Bueri to see what I could get out of him while she checked some other avenues. I found him in Lab number 6, he wasn’t pleased to see me but once I’d stroked his ego a little he couldn’t stop talking about his achievements.

“In some ways, my fuel source will be superior to the one she was working on,” he boasted, “ referring to Giulie, I’ve done several tests with remarkable results and I did it without the kind of financial backing that she had. This kind of research does cost money – lots of it – but I’ve shown that I was able to find a solution by simply using my brain.”

“And will you be rewarded handsomely if you succeed?”

“That’s putting it mildly,” he retorted, “one gets lecture tours, publishing contracts and quite often lucrative job offers.”

“And how does the University profit?”

“It adds to their prestige and that leads to more backing for further research projects.”

Leaving him glowing in his own accomplishments I went to find the incinerator. I thought that Golban’s killer might have burned some of the files there. With Urie relieved of his duties, as it were, I thought if anyone was trying to get rid of papers they might not be as efficient as he was, but I was wrong – there was nothing to see.

In my mind, I was convinced that Bueri had murdered Giulie and Golban but I didn’t have a shred of evidence. They say that desperate situations demand desperate measures and so, with my bosses approval, I accessed the professor cell phone number and I began to send him brief cryptic messages like, “I know where it is,” and “I know what you’re up to.” I signed them CDDDB, hoping that I could spook him.

Two plain clothes officers were assigned to monitor his movements, and we installed a tracking device on his car. After that, it was a waiting game. We knew that if we didn’t nail it in the next thirty-six hours both her career would be on the line and Balan would have gloating privileges for the rest of his life.

I kept sending the messages about one every half hour while Natalja kept going over the evidence to see if there was anything we’d missed. The atmosphere was extremely tense but around 2.30 in the afternoon we got a break, Bueri, who apparently seemed in a panic, had left his lab and was heading out for the car park.

We gave him a few minutes and then with the monitor in hand we climbed in Natalja’s car and followed the signal. He’d turned into Straeda Johannes Kepler and was about half a mile ahead of us, five minutes later he turned down Bulevard Victor Hugo and kept going until we were out in the countryside.

“It looks like he’s on his way to the marina,” she said, “perhaps he has a boat there.”

She was right, when we caught up with the car it was parked near a motor launch and we saw Bueri just disappearing below deck. I suggested that he might have Golban’s computer hidden on board and that he could be planning to sail out into the lake and dump it.

“The only problem is he may not have it, he may not even be our murderer and we could be in the shit,” she responded.

I decided to volunteer to go on board and find out what he was up to.

“Nobody can do much to me,” I said, “except deport me or throw me in jail and if worse comes to worst I can always plead insanity.”

She told me in no uncertain terms that I was not going on board that boat, so I just slipped out of the car and did exactly that. I left my shoes on shore and climbed quietly onto the deck. Before I could peek down the hatch to see what he was doing I heard him heading back to the steps and I had to quickly move alongside the cabin and get my head down.

When I heard the motor start up I have to admit I nearly shit myself. I couldn’t imagine what Natalja was thinking as she saw me slowly sailing out into open water.

Cautiously I switched off my cell phone, even though the boat’s motor was quite loud I didn’t want to take a chance it might ring and give the game away. After about twenty minutes out into the lake, Bueri cut the motor and went back down below. He re-appeared with a desktop computer.
Looking around furtively he was just about to toss it into the water when I emerged from my hiding place and made a flying tackle for his legs. Falling heavily onto the deck he banged his head but he was still conscious and a look of terror appeared on his face as I took the line used to tether the boat, wrapped it around and around his body and secured him to the rail.

I don’t have much nautical experience but I took over the controls like Captain Kidd and headed back to shore. Before I reached the berth a police boat ran alongside and there on deck was Inspector Sedrova shaking her finger at me menacingly. However, when I stepped back on shore she actually gave me a big hug and a kiss, much to the amazement of some of her fellow officers.

Bueri, who looked pale and shaken, was bundled into a police car and we headed back to the incidence room at the university. A Japanese student was recruited to help us to break into the computer and we discovered the reason for all the mayhem that had taken place over those last few days.
Although Golban had been committed to the green fuel project, in the beginning, a large oil company had made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. They were prepared to give the University a brand new facility for developing more efficient conventional fuels, along with substantial funds to carry out research. However, they saw the work being done by Giulie and Professor Bueri , as being in conflict with their goals.

Not wanting to divulge the real reason for his decision, Golban just gave the two researchers three weeks to finalize their projects, saying the department was reassessing its priorities. Bueri seemed to think that if the two of them combined their efforts they could publish their findings before they were forced to close down, and went to her room on the night before the body was found to reason with her.

During questioning, he said that a bitter argument had ensued and at one point he’d grabbed hold of her.

“I just meant to shake some sense into her,” he said,” but she began to fight like a wild cat. In a panic, I pushed her away – probably a little harder than I should have done, and she fell backward and cracked her head on the coffee table. I certainly didn’t mean to kill her.”

“But you did download her data onto a flash drive and then destroy her hard drive?” Natalja reminded him.

“I didn’t think she would have wanted those big oil companies to stifle what she’d accomplished,” he replied, almost wanting to sound benevolent.
He went on to describe how he carried her body to the lab in the early hours of the morning when nobody was around. Using her key, he struggled to open the door. Because he was holding on to her laptop at the same time it made it more difficult, and that’s when the cell phone must have slipped from her pocket unnoticed.

By mixing the chemicals and creating the toxic gas he thought the police would immediately come to the conclusion that it was an accident. He then went back to the room, washed the rug where some blood had dripped and then for some strange reason took the table to his car, as if he was hiding a murder weapon.

After all, he’d gone through, when he informed Golban that he’d have his research completed and tested within the timeframe he’d been given, he was told there were bigger issues at stake and that he’d have to close down his project immediately. Professor Bueri lost his cool, picked up a paper knife and plunged it into his boss’s chest. Once again he tried to conceal all the evidence.

It was insane for him to imagine that he could get away with it but academics, who we usually think of as super-intellectuals, often had very little common sense. To make matters worse they’re inclined to look upon the rest of us as being stupid.

Natalja was congratulated by the Administrator of the University, and by the Comisar. Even Inspector Balan said, “Good work,” although she was sure he was seething inside.

She was on cloud nine that night, and back below decks we drank lots of champagne, and although we were not suffering from tension, we pretended we were.

“Paddy Killeen,” she whispered in my ear, “you have saved my career and I will always be grateful to you.”

When I was in the Toronto Metropolitan Police the brass always told me “don’t rock the boat,” but sometimes a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do! THE END

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LEGAL
Copyright 2016 – 2017 Paddy Killeen
The characters portrayed in my stories are, for intents and purposes fictional and any similarity to persons living or dead is purely a product of your imagination.
You may not sell, license, sub-license, rent, transfer or distribute any part of my stories or images in any format, or claim ownership.

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