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The Eyes Have It
With the shades down and my hat pulled over my eyes, all I could see was the dim outline of my hands crossed over my white shirt. Slow business, as usual. I was a private eye, the sharpest in the state.
In my boredom, I picked up my revolver from my desk and, without looking, shot the bulls-eye in the dart board. I wasn’t entirely sure why I had a dart board, because I didn’t play darts. I set the revolver back down and closed my eyes.
Then a knock sounded at the door. “Enter,” I said, and in walked trouble. From the sound of the high heels clicking across the floor, blonde.
“Oh, Doctor Drake, I need help.” She sounded depressed, yet I detected the sugar in her voice. Without taking my feet off the desk or looking up, I said, “Okay, sit down.” She sat. “Now, what’s on your mind besides your hat?” She took in a shocked breath and put her hat in her lap. It sounded like feathers and high-quality fabric.
“Doctor Drake, it was so horrible!” she said, sugary voice masked with a poor dose of despair. “What’s your name?” I asked, still not looking up. “Valentina, Doctor. Valentina Daniels.” The name was familiar.
“Well, Doctor Drake, I was out shopping with a girlfriend the other day, and when I came home, I found my father dead in his study! He was murdered!” her sweet voice trembled a bit, but the sugar still poured from her lips.
“How was he murdered?”
“He was shot.”
That’s why Valentina was so familiar. Daniels was the richest landlord in the county. The Daniels Estate was two blocks down and four blocks west of my office, just out of town.
“Hold it right there, dame.” I took my feet down and looked up at her from under my hat. She had blonde hair and green eyes. “If your father is dead, then you inherit his entire estate and fortune. Am I correct?” She gasped again. “Really? I mean, I don’t know. No one has read his will yet. Shouldn’t I say in his will?”
She looked like she was trying very hard to mask a smile. She was a very suspicious character. I had just about figured this case out, but I decided to toy with her a little bit more, see how much she knew.
“All right, dame, I’ll bite. Take me to the scene of the crime.” She nodded, stood, put her hat on and strolled out the door. I put on my jacket and followed her. Strange, I thought, I had always heard that Valentina had blue eyes. Maybe those were just rumors.
We got in my car and she directed me to the estate. My suspicions where she probably murdered her father and then framed someone else.
When we got there, she promptly took me on a tour of the first level, showing me the kitchen, grounds, living room, and dining area. On the way to the library, however, we passed a closed door. As we passed, I thought I heard a scream. I went back and heard another scream coming from behind the door.
“Ms. Daniels,” I called, for she had gotten ahead of me. She turned and came back. “Where does this door lead?”
“It’s the door to the cellar. We have our wine and food storage down there. Why do you ask?” This time, all the sweetness was gone from her voice.
“Do you have a television down there?”
She thought for a minute and then said “Yes, we do! The butler sometimes goes down and watches it whenever there aren’t any chores to be done.” Another scream came from behind the door. “He must be watching a horror movie,” she said quickly.
“Would you please give me the names and a description of all of your female servants?”
She looked shocked for a minute, pondering why I would ask such an odd question. But then she relented.
“There is Ariel, who is a brunette with brown eyes. She is very pretty and before my brother went to college, he he tried to court her, but she liked to play hard-to-get.” She giggled at the memory. “Then we have Caroline, who is blonde with blue eyes and likes to play a match-maker, so you can guess what she did to try and help my brother. And finally, we have Penelope, who is blonde with brown eyes and was once in love with Darwin, the butler. In fact, there she is now.” I looked where she was pointing and saw her going down the hall with a pitcher of water. When she heard Valentina, she turned and said, “Hello MS. Valentina.” She did a small curtsy and went on her way.
Another scream issued from the cellar. “Do you mind if I have a look downstairs, Ms. Daniels?” I asked, reaching for the doorknob. She quickly grabbed my arm and said, “The library is this way, Doctor.”
“If you don’t mind, I would like to have a look downstairs first,” I said, trying to shake her off, but she held on firmly. “Trust me, Doctor,” she said smoothly, the sugar returning. She pulled herself closer. “You don’t need to investigate a cellar.”
“Ms. Daniels, please let go so I may investigate. It is part of my job,” I said, again trying to shake her off. But she started pulling me toward the library. “Come this way,” she almost whispered, sugar dripping from her lips. “There is much more to see in the library.” I decided to investigate the library and come back to the cellar later. I let go of the doorknob. “That’s it,” she said softly. She kept her body close to me as we went to the library.
She pointed across the library. “Through there is my father’s study.” I walked across to it, Valentina close on my heels. The first thing I saw was the blood stains on the desk. A bullet lay on the floor near the window. The desk faced the window. I assumed the assassin shot Daniels from behind. I went over and investigated the bullet. It looked like one from a pistol.
I got up and looked at Valentina, who was standing by the door. “Well, I am done investigating here. Now I shall go take a look at the cellar.” I started out.
“You really don’t need to do that!” Valentina said, catching up with me. She tried to grab my arm and stop me, but I shook her away and opened the cellar door. Another scream pierced the air. I went down faster, Valentina on my heels, protesting all the way.
I got down and saw a girl with blonde hair and blue eyes tied to a board leaning against the wall by her wrists, waist, and ankles. When she saw Valentina, she cried “You!” and struggled against the ropes.
“Who are you, dame?” I asked her.
“She’s a fraud! I’m Valentina!” I looked to the girl standing behind me and back to the girl on the board. “Then who is she?”
“She’s Caroline! She killed my father! Ask him! He’s her accomplice!” I looked to where she was looking. Someone was hiding behind the bar. I took out my revolver and shot a wine bottle above him. He came up with his hands raised. I put my hand in my pocket and pushed a button that called the police.
“Why’d you do it, Caroline?” I asked, gun pointed at the butler, eyes on Caroline.
“I didn’t shoot him! She’s the liar! I don’t even know how to shoot a gun!” she cried, stamping her foot.
I handed her my revolver. She aimed at a wine glass. She pulled the trigger and shot a box instead of the wine glass. The jerk you get when you shoot a gun pushed her back against the wall, which ruined her aim. She handed it back. “See? I told you!”
I looked at Valentina. “Who shot him?” She shook her head. “I don’t know. I wasn’t present at the time. I was out shopping with a friend of mine.”
I looked back at Caroline. “I told you, I didn’t shoot him!” she said.
“Then why is she tied up with him watching her?”
She looked at the butler. “Darwin, tell him!” Darwin looked at her and then back at me. “She tricked me. She tricked me into her plan with promises of love and wealth. And I fell for it. If I hadn’t, I might still have my Penelope.” A sad look came onto his face. Then it turned to anger. “It’s true. She can’t shoot. She made me do it.”
Caroline let out an anguished scream and tried to run at him. Before she could get her hands on him, the police arrived and grabbed her.
Caroline here tricked the butler and impersonated Valentina Daniels. She thought she could get away with it because the only difference between them is their eye color. She thought she could get Michael Daniels’ wealth through Darwin, kill the real Valentina, get rid of Darwin, and have the whole mansion to herself. But Valentina’s screams were the giveaway. There is no television down here,” I explained while the cops but cuffs on Darwin and Caroline.
One went and untied Valentina. She immediately threw her arms around my neck and kissed and kissed me.
“Oh, thank you so much, Doctor Drake! Without you, I’d probably be dead!” She kissed me again and then smirked at Caroline, who snarled back and kicked Darwin in the shin.
I tried to pry her arms off myself, but she held firm. So I said, “You are welcome, Ms. Daniels. Just be cautious of future schemers.
She nodded and kissed me again and again. “Control yourself, please, madam!” I said when she was done. She nodded again and kissed me once more before leading the way up the stairs.
When I got back to my office, I logged away the case. Another mystery, come and gone. I put my feet up, pulled my hat down, and prepared to wait for another case to shoot my way.