Super Short Story: Stiff Stenk

When Davis first arrived at Victor Stenk’s house he could see the front door taken off it’s hinges. Davis finished the last bite of cheeseburger, put on a pair of latex gloves and got out of the car.

Once inside the mansion, Davis saw a trail of chaos. Tables knocked over; lights smashed, photographs knocked off the wall. Davis looked at some of the pictures that littered the ground.

In one of the photos, Victor Stenk was standing with Jacob Fields. Jacob was one of the most dedicated enforcers in the Boston underworld. Always finding a way to go above and beyond for whoever was footing the bill.

You wanted someone dead, not Jacob that was too simple. You needed someone’s whole family tree cut down; now you had Jacob’s interest.

Jacob was cheap, but what he lacked in business skills he made up for in brutality.

Davis held the photo closer to the light. Jacob looking up unblinking, unmoving unliving, as the real Jacob had done four days ago.

Photo Jacob looked different from real Jacob, fewer grey hairs, skinnier and his throat was in tact.

Davis noticed in the photo how Victor had pulled Jacob in close.

The posture told Davis what many already knew; Victor Stenk owned Jacob.

Victor Stenk was posing with the recently deceased Mayor Aiken in another photo.

Victor posed with mayor Aiken the way he did with Jacob, big embrace, pulled in close. That similar grip, Victor’s arm halfway up the mayor’s.

There was a third photo. Stenk on the steps of the courthouse, arms up, big smile on his face.

Davis was there when that photo had been taken. Davis was set to take the stand that day, but the case collapsed just as he arrived.

In the photo, the courts had just acquitted Victor. According to the courts Victor had nothing to do with the murder of Tanya Plimpton.

Victor’s lawyer, Richard Bartlett, stood beside him. Richard was a good lawyer to his client.

Richard had a jury return a verdict of not guilty to hurt the chances of a retrial.

Richard had a lot more limbs in the photo compared to when Davis saw him a few days ago.

Davis continued along down the hallway past an open door. Stenk’s mother was sitting on a bed, shaking, talking to a uniform.

Davis watched her for a moment; she looked up at him. Davis made eye contact with her, turned and then walked into the kitchen.

Davis saw his partner standing slumped over a black granite kitchen counter.

Davis looked the room up and down for something to leap out at him, but there was nothing.

Davis looked at Victor’s remains.

“They’re stiffing us Virgil”, said Davis.

“We’re homicide, stiffs are our business,” said Virgil.

Davis sniffed strong hints of coconut and paprika.

“That smells delicious,” Davis said.

“You already ate”, Virgil said.

“You don’t know that,” Davis said.

“Sure I do, you got cheese and breadcrumbs all over your collar.”

“I may have a problem,”.

“Chief hanging us out to dry like this, fifth whodunnit in a week and no one knows anything. Yeah, you have a problem alright”.

Davis opened a cupboard that only had a slight splattering of blood.

“Bingo,” Davis said taking a big bag of potato chips from the cupboard. “These are fancy ones too,” he said opening them, “These are no different from store brand,”. Davis shoved a handful of chips in his mouth.

Davis walked across the room, spied a pot on the stove.

“Did you check the pot for any leftovers, it could be important evidence” Davis said.

“No, all gone, greedy dumbass,” Virgil said.

“Victor was no dumbass, think about all the times he walked when he should have stayed put,” Davis said

“A dumb person can hire a smart lawyer,” said Virgil

“You could argue that it takes a certain amount of intelligence to be able to pick those lawyers.”

“Well if he’s so smart, how come he’s dead?” Virgil said.

“Look at how the blood covers the table; the first blow was heavy, came from behind. That is why you don’t sit with your back to the door young Atredies.” Davis said.

“Not everyone reads obscure science fiction, some of us have, you know, lives.” Virgil said.

“It won the Hugo and the Nebula, hardly obscure. You know what, I’m not getting into it. Tell me what you see.”

Davis walked the perimeter, careful not to let too many chip crumbs contaminate the scene.

“Get’s hit in back, goes to ground, attacker turns him over, that’s why the hands are over him like that. Trying to shield himself. He’s facing up like the rest of them.” Virgil said.

“You’re seeing a pattern emerging”

“All the victims.”

“These guys aren’t victims” Davis interrupted.

“The, murdered have all been facing up. Now I’m not a mind reader but to venture forth a theory. Whoever was doing the killing wanted them to know who was doing the killing.”

“Could have been old lady Stenk, she was cutting his pork for him That pesky Parkinson’s got her all carried away. When she looked from man to pork, it was impossible to say which was which” Davis said. Virgil rolled his eyes.

Davis crumpled up the packet and threw it in a bin.

“The strength required to do that amount of damage would be something else. I mean think about it, you gotta hit Vic quick, hard and repeatedly.” Virgil said, putting down the notepad. Virgil’s eyes narrowed, he cupped his chin. “I’m thinking a man at least six five, weighing two seventy.”

“You’re saying a woman couldn’t do that amount of damage? That’s sexist my friend”

“I’m not saying it couldn’t be a woman.”

“Fuck, I am. Think you or I could do that much damage, look at poor Vic. Well, not poor Victor. I mean, fuck Victor. Like, I’m getting tired even thinking about the effort it would take to do that. To make a man two dimensional, we’re looking a big guy, big-big guy.” Davis said.

“I guess.”

“You know I was wrong.”

“Takes a big man to admit his mistakes.” Virgil said.

“Those chips were much better than store brand.”

“Get on with it.”

“There’s something that doesn’t make sense, not who the killer was, that’s Derrick Plimpton.”

“Tanya Plimpton’s father, the reenactment guy.”

“That’s not important, it’s what I came into, the front door, the hallway was all messed up, but Victor gets it from behind. If someone were rioting in your hallway, making that kind of mess, you’d hear it. You would turn round, hell you might even investigate it. I’m sure Victor was a good cook, but no one cooks that good”

“I see,” Virgil said.

“He was let in.”

“Stenk’s mom?”

Davis stood at the opposite side of the counter from Virgil.

“We put it on her” Davis said

“They’re not going to like that,” Virgil said.

“It’s not about them liking it; it’s about what we bring them.”

“Plimpton?”

“The system failed him letting Victor Stenk walk on a technicality. The system can stand to fail him again.”

“This isn’t going to look good.”

“Murder never looks good.”

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