Secrets of the Asylum Ch. 2 Part 1

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File Case 2: Staged Death (Oct. 2, 2009)

I have the most boring job in America, no, I have the most boring job in the world, T.J. Maxwell thought to himself as he crouched over the wheel of his truck, like he did almost every single day of every single week. If anything out of the ordinary would happen then I don’t know what I’d do, I guess I’d be happy, no I’d be very happy.

Maxwell tilted his head to the side to work out a crick in his neck and was rewarded with a small pop, and the feeling of stiffness receding. There’s my excitement for the day, Maxwell thought to himself sarcastically as he turned on his lights, so that he could drive his large truck in the darkness, the darkness that was ascending as twilight was receding.

Maxwell turned on his radio, trying to get his mind off of the fact that he hated his job as a trucker with every single atom in his body. After Maxwell found a station that he liked he felt like he was almost able to relax, but as Maxwell leaned back in his chair a man who had been standing on the sidewalk suddenly lurched into the road!

Maxwell stood up rigidly in the truck, putting all his weight on the break. The man was six feet away from the truck. In a final attempt Maxwell honked his horn, beads of sweat running down his face. Then the distance was closed between the man, and the machine, and with a nauseating crunch the front of the truck slammed into the man's chest, through him to the unforgiving pavement, with a second crunch, the sound of the man's skull breaking.
***

Nick smoothly pulled the yellow crime scene tape above his head, and let it fall behind him as he walked into the crime scene that Captain Steel had asked him to investigate. Jake tried to mimic the action, but although Jake was a fast learner he did not expect the tape to be as elastic as it was. The result was that the yellow crime scene tape hit Jake on the back of his head as he released it less than a second too early.

At that moment Jake heard someone laugh quietly. It was faint and short, feminine giggle. He wasn’t sure at first who had laughed, but when he glanced to his right slightly he was certain that he knew who had laughed. She was a CSI who looked preoccupied with a storm drain that the dead man’s blood was running into and although Jake had never met her he was sure that it was she who had laughed, because she was the only woman that he could see in that direction.

Jake saw the CSI’s black hair, as smooth and flowing as a river made of silk, but as black as a starless night. He saw her green eyes, which were like emeralds without a single impurity.

Jake didn’t realize that he was staring until Nick roughly elbowed him in the ribs. “Last time you said that you wanted to help out more, you can start by listening.”

Jake reluctantly turned to Captain Steel who repeated (also reluctantly) what she had been saying earlier. “The truck driver says that it was a suicide, no question about it. He says that the man was standing on the curb pretending to read the newspaper, but as soon as the truck got close enough the man threw himself in front of him. The trucker then claimed that after he ran over the guy he stopped to see if he was alive. He says that a second man had been standing on the opposite side of the road. The trucker went on to say that the man on the other side rushed over and attempted to perform mouth-to-mouth, but was only able to keep the dying man alive long enough to let our victim say that he was 'only happy to give one final performance.'”

Nick voiced his opinion. “Final performance that sounds like something an actor would say, however it does sound like suicide, so why do you need us?”

“That’s precisely it. The victim here was Benny Kahn, a rising actor at the nearby Fletcher Theater. I don’t understand why a rising actor would kill himself, especially since he has had trouble finding work over the last two years, but was finally getting a stable job, and was about to go to the first practice of the play “Jesus Christ Superstar, ” so I’m keeping this investigation open to see what drove Benny to kill himself.”

Jake had been looking around, searching for the CSI that he had seen earlier, but in looking he had seen something else of interest. “Hey, I see the trucker, but where’s the man who was on the opposite side of the road?”

Captain Steel cast an annoyed look in Jake's direction before continuing. “I was just getting to tell you why that is. The alleged man ran away after he had attempted to revive Benny and the trucker claims that he isn’t able to identify the man due to the darkness, as well as the fact that the man was wearing a baseball cap.”

Nick considered his and Jake’s reason for being there. He realized that that reason was obviously due to Captain Steel’s explanation. “So that’s why you’ve got us here, you want us to find this mysterious man, and possibly find out if this was a homicide.”

Nick was surprised by Captain Steel’s response. “I know that you think you’ll be doing it alone, but this time you will be accompanied by a CSI.”

Before continuing, Captain Steel leaned closer to Nick and said in a faint whisper, “don't use any of your common methods. ”

With a quick motion Captain Steel beckoned the CSI that Jake had been staring at earlier. “This is Rachel Taylor, a very competent CSI on the day shift. All you two need to do is find this mystery man, any possible reason to why someone might have killed Benny, you tell me, and then I’ll get the warrants I need, and Rachel will handle the science so that we can keep things moving.”

Jake was just barely able to stop staring at Rachel long enough to voice his opinion. “I see why you want us, you want us to track down a random guy who could be anywhere in about a one hundred mile radius by now. That could be a little tricky.”

Nick knew that if he didn’t teach Jake the proper way to approach difficult situations then Jake would learn the wrong way. “Actually, we shouldn’t need to worry about that guy yet, since we’re assuming that the mystery man is important to the case then we should look at the rest of the evidence, gather suspects, and then try to find out if any of the suspects were here last night. I personally suggest that we start by taking a closer look at the body.”

Nick immediately started walking towards the body, knowing that no one would disagree, while Jake took up the end of the procession with Rachel, trying to gain is confidence befpre he voiced his thoughts. “Hey are you doing anything tonight?”




Rachel’s eyes seemed to say I don’t know you, this is extremely awkward. “Actually I’m going to a protest against ruining a nearby park in order to build another mall.”

Jake would have had more trouble hiding his disappointment if Nick hadn’t started commenting on the body. “The tire track marks on his back indicate that he fell forward, and the blood from his mouth indicates that he had internal bleeding, probably caused by being run over, but he might have either coughed it out, or the mystery man forced it out with his C.P.R. What’s this vest that he’s wearing?”

Captain Steel looked more closely at the body. “That’s a stage vest used for stunts involving falling, jumping or flying. In this case the guy was jumping.”

Nick lowered himself even closer to the body than Captain Steel. “Has he ever used it before?”

Captain Steel straightened up. “I would assume so, after all he was going to a dress rehearsal tonight as Judas, in the play “Jesus Christ Super Star,” which means at the end Benny would have hung himself using this jacket to stop the noose from tightening around his neck.”

Nick decided that he had seen enough of the crime scene, and that it was time to branch outwards in the investigation so that he could see the big picture more easily. “I’ll look into the other people involved in that play, it might turn out that one of Benny’s fellow actors drove him to jump in front of a truck.”
***

Jake had no problem with Captain Steel’s statement when Captain Steel called Nick saying that Rachel had to work on a new case that took priority. The truth is that Jake wanted to talk to Rachel more, but he wanted to try to talk to her again using technology so that he wouldn’t feel so awkward attempting to talk to her without staring.

Due to the fact that Rachel was on a different case only Jake and Nick arrived at the Theater. That meant that Nick and Jake had to go through the front door, passing posters for different plays going on, to be going on, or have gone on relatively recently. There was a poster for Evita, which had started off the season on July 1st and gone on until August 30th. After that Little Shop of Horrors, Jesus Christ Superstar, Annie, Bye Bye Birdie, and Funny thing Happened on the way to the Forum were broken up into equal pieces so that there were shows playing on most nights of the year.



“Hello, can I help you two?” a polite young man wearing a smart tuxedo asked from behind the counter that Nick proceeded to walk up to.

Nick replied with equal politeness. “We just want to see the actors, and talk to them after practice.”

“Well the actors are practicing right now, like they do every day from six to eight o’clock p.m.”

Jake knew that most often criminals could be caught due to mistakes in the stories that they told, but he couldn’t help himself from looking over the man’s head at all of the things behind him, a couple of desks, but only one that had anything on it, a testament to the economy, and the resulting layoffs.

If Nick hadn’t been paying attention to what the man had said then there would have been an awkward silence, since Jake hadn’t heard a single word that the man had said. “Fine then, we’ll wait until they’re done.”

The wait seemed long and pointless to Jake. When he was younger, he had envisioned himself in a trench coat walking down a dark alleyway confronting dastardly criminals, not sitting next to a player piano for half an hour, waiting just as any other civilian would have to in such a situation.

Finally the doors opened, and actors streamed out, causing a sudden symphony of sounds as the actors all attempted to say everything that they had wanted to say during practice, but hadn’t been allowed to say.

Nick had to shout to get everyone’s attention. “Hello! I am Nick Hanson, private investigator. I am here on behalf of Captain Steel.”


The actor’s stopped momentarily, slightly confused, that is until one of them in the back piped up. “Nice try, but I train actors every single day, I think I’m able to tell when someone is acting.”

“Excuse me…” Nick interjected, actually finding the situation slightly amusing. “If you want to talk to Captain Steel then I can let you, she’s on my speed dial.”

The man who had first spoken stepped forward. He was a tall man with white hair that looked similar to Nick’s only it was obviously dyed, since he had brown roots. The man silently scrutinized Nick and Jake for nearly a full minute.

“Alright, I believe you, but you better do what you want to do quickly, after all there’s only so much time in the day, and I need all of it just to get these people to do decently on stage.”

Nick decided to seize the opportunity that had presented itself to him, so he immediately explained his plan of action. “I need to question all the actors that were here yesterday, and anyone who helps the actors in any way.”

“Okay Nick Hanson, you can talk to these people, I’ll give you three hours. After that I’ll be back.”

Nick didn’t hear the latter part of the director’s statement (he was already taking advantage of the limited time that he had, by pulling one of the actors aside for questioning), so Jake replied instead. “Excuse me, sir, but we’ll need to talk to you too.”

The director’s face turned a dark purple as he shouted in an indignant rage. “Why do you need to question me? I have nothing to do with anything! Besides I have a very important meeting with a Broadway producer today!”

Nick had never met a director that he had liked (he had overheard the director’s response, seeing as it had been yelled extremely loudly), so he was thoroughly enjoying the situation. “I’m afraid to tell you that you’ll have to come anyway though, seeing as you’re involved with the cast.”

For an awkward moment the director looked like he was going to spit, yell, or both. Finally the director managed to summon a response and growl it through clenched teeth. “Fine then, I’ll give you everyone’s names, and contact information, mine included. By the way my name is Mr. Shay. Is there any other way that I can help you, o mighty private investigators?”

Mr. Shay started to walk away in an attempt to lead Nick towards his actors, but Nick turned to Jake before he followed. “Jake I have a job for you that doesn’t involve getting a cup of coffee.”

Jake’s interest was perked and he replied enthusiastically. “What’s the assignment?”

Nick managed to keep a straight face, somehow. “Today I need you to get me a mug of coffee, congratulations! You’ve officially moved from cup to mug!”
***

“You have three saved messages.”

“Hey this is Captain Steel, thanks for the leads, I looked into the people, and I’ve got legitimate alibis for most of the people involved in the play, even better I’ve found two people with a motive to kill the victim, but best of all both of those people don’t have an alibi, so I think that all this case needs is for you to question the two men a little bit more, their names are Daniel Shay, and Christian Shay.”

“Hey this is Jake, the store’s stopped careering the coffee that you like, so could you please tell me what kind of coffee you want?”

“Hi, this is Conner, I’ve got a body here with a very strange wound, and I was hoping that you would take a look at it. The wound is on the right arm, it’s got one puncture wound on one side, and another puncture wound on the other side, and both of them apper to be entry wounds, but of course I can only tell you what I’ve found, if you want to find anything else then you’ll have to come over here.”

Nick silently considered how to spend his day, pressing his fingertips together in thought. I guess it would be fun to capture a criminal today and look at dead bodies tomorrow, but I can fit coffee in somewhere.

Nick reluctantly decided to go question the two suspects before picking out coffee blends. But first there was one little stop left before he had to make before going on.
***





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