A Montel Murder
The small, cream colored phone rang on the side table sitting to the left of my bed. Although it was nearly past one in the morning I had been eagerly expecting the call and grasped the receiver rather hastily, nearly dropping it in my hurry.
Putting the phone to my lips I gave no answer, and in putting it to my ear I could only hear breathing. After a slight pause of no more than two and a half seconds my night-long expectations were met with an underlying question.
“I presume, Mr. Montel, that your silence confirms that you are up for the job?”
“Indeed you assume correctly sir,” was the response I gave to the polished, familiar voice. “I will meet you immediately.”
I carefully plopped the phone back upon the receiver, not to avoid noise of course, but, instead, to add emphasis to my light-footed dance of joy that I proceeded to perform about my bedroom. Grabbing my top hat and gloves, I fumbled around on my desk searching for my sketch pad and a pen of with some writing ability left in its ink.
“Here you are sir,” came the voice of my companion, Mildred from behind me. She was holding my sketch pad and a pen which I had classified as lost quite some time ago. “Found it near the oven while I was doing a bit of cleaning,” she gave in response to my puzzled, yet thankful expression.
“Thank you kindly,” I answered trying to choke the excitement from my voice. “I am not sure where I would be without you consistently making up for my lack of organization.”
“Probably much farther along on your way to arriving at this crime scene of yours,” Mildred answered intelligently. “Enough of the silly compliments, heaven knows I don’t need them. Now, be on your way!”
With that I gave the woman a small pat to show my appreciation and perhaps a small apology for waking her at this ghastly hour, and I flung myself out the door.
“I carefully plopped the phone back upon the receiver; not to avoid noise of course, but, instead, to add emphasis to my light-footed dance of joy that I proceeded to perform about my bedroom.
Upon entering the office, the absolutely atrocious smell of death mixed the familiar scent of Bactane met my nostrils. Stripping away an obnoxious piece of yellow crime scene tape hanging in front of my face, I was able to get a first impression of the building.
It was dark, not only because of the time of day, but also because of the lack of windows the exterior of the building contained. There were twenty three cubicles, all lined in neat rows throughout the middle of a large room, and the exterior of the room was occupied by more professional and private offices, each labeled by a glass door.
Voices coming from one of these rooms intrigued me, and I weaved my way through the cubicles towards it, hoping to find my friend, colleague, and entirely awful detective Mr. Matthew L. Kringer.
I found the contents of the office even better than I had wished for, considering that not only did I come across Kringer the moment I entered, but I also arrived on what appeared to be the locations of the crime itself. There, slouched in an office chair behind a desk labeled Miss Praunger was a blonde-haired and once-prestine looking woman, dead and bloodied. In her hand I presume she held the weapons of choice: a short-handled knife with an extremely warped blade and a small, labeled bottle of pills, which I identified immediately as a poisonous medication that I recognized from earlier encounters.
“Montel, glad you could join us,” boomed Kringer’s voice as he peeled off a pair of blue, latex gloves. “You will be happy to know that this case has already been a confirmed murder, not a suicide; I do know how those bore you.”
“Glad to hear it,” came my reply as I approached the woman with a curious expression. “Tell me what you have thus far.”
Kringer peeled back the first page of a clip-boarded document and began to tell me the logistics. “This woman is presumably Miss Praunger, age twenty-six. She works here in this building as a personal travel consultant and was found in this condition by police at approximately half past twelve this past evening. The police were called because a security alarm notified them of a break in, however no damage has been found, and the door in that set the alarm off was locked from the outside. Miss Praunger would not have had the keys to that door, so it is unclear why she would be in the office that late in the night.”
“Hmm,” was my only response to Kringer’s puzzling information and I, instead, knelt to examine the wounds of Miss Praunger. “These wounds do not tell us much,” I muttered, examining the wounds of Miss Praunger. They all appeared to be shallow wounds, greater in quantity than severity. It was almost as if the murderer was either barely able to stab her or was trying to spare her some pain. With the weakness of the stabs, it was impossible to tell whether the murderer was left or right handed, but it did appear that most of the woman’s injuries were inflicted upon her right side. Grabbing a pair of gloves, I rolled up the woman’s sleeve to find the one deep wound on her body. Near her elbow joint, similar to the place in which an IV needle would be inserted, was a wound so deep that it could have been the cause of death. It also appeared as if something had been ripped out of the area, which I was able to decipher from the shreds of skin and tissue left.
“Have any fingerprints been scanned yet?” I questioned, looking up from my investigation.
“We are running them currently,” mentioned Kringer who, seemingly lost in thought, did not look up from his cell phone.
I looked at him, surprised. “How is it then, that you have confirmed this crime a murder and not suicide?”
My friend glared at me as if almost irritated and said, “why would a woman inflict wounds like this upon herself Montel? Also, if she were to have committed suicide, I doubt highly that the bottle of pills she holds in her hand would be closed, sealed,and repackaged again after she had used her last dying breaths to take it.”
Kringer ended his last sentence with a snap, and I assumed he was simply becoming irritable from being in an enclosed room with a dead body: not one of his favorite pastimes. “Very well,” I concluded. I will be very intrigued by the fingerprint results, please make sure I get them.”
“Indeed,” Kringer replied as he followed the medical examiners out the door in rather a rush that seemed unlike him, yet respectable. I stayed and continued to search the room.
The floor was covered with pressed and clean carpeting, absent of stains despite the blood that ran freely from the wounds of Miss Praunger. Filing cabinets lined the walls, but most of these were still locked. I proceeded closer to the desk where Miss Praunger resided and began to examine the small, pull-out drawers. They contained papers, files, and documents that made little difference to me and appeared to be unimportant. As I stood up to leave, I felt a small drip upon my head. Looking up, I was surprised to find the the ceiling tile directly above Miss Praunger’s head was not centered properly, as if it had been removed and replaced with haste.
I stood on the desk and began to press against the ceiling tile. Within less than a second, the entire tile caved in, dropping to the floor. Although I had closed my eyes for fear of insulation becoming lodged in them, I knew what had caused the tile to fall. I opened my eyes and looked at the floor. Yes, there was no mistake about it I had most definitely felt human flesh brush my own, and I most definitely had come across a second dead body.