THE CASE OF THE OPEN WINDOW


They drove in silence downtown - Lance behind the wheel, his captive sitting sullenly in the passenger seat, smoking.

“Guess you figure me for the job, huh.”

“I do.”

“You ain’t got anything, bud. I don’t even know why I’m comin’ with you. My lawyer’ll have me out in a song.”

“Maybe.” Lawson stared straight ahead. He hated this part. They were such morons. The pleasure of telling them how he’d snared them, how he’d caught them in their thin little lies, had long since evaporated, leaving him only with the bitter and familiar flavor of human mendacity, spread thick.

“What do got? You ain’t got shit.”

“Oh, I have my suspicions. You said he’d been shot through the open window.”

“Well, he had been. That’s the way it happened.”

“Right. Well, there’s about a quart of blood and a pound of brains on the wall, so unless he was shot with a cannon from someone standing on the sill, I’d say you shot him in the head with a .357. The blood on your hair tells me you were bending down, too, as if to tell him something. And you reek of cordite. You wouldn’t know that, because you’re a smoker, and you can’t tell. But the room stinks of gunplay. An hour after the shooting? No. But that’s not all.”

The suspect stared at Lawson, eyes wide.

“Your chin is pointy. It’s certainly pointier than mine. See? You have a pointy chin and a pointy nose. Birds like you are always guilty. You’re going to be surprised when you get to prison, because most of the guys look like you. Us square-jawed guys, we behave; we play by the rules, we get the dames, we live it up, we get to carry badges. You pointy-faced guys are a whole different breed. Makes my job easier, I’ll say that; if I walk into a crime scene, and there’s a pointy-faced guy, well, snap on the bracelets and walk him to the judge, ‘cause there’s your man.”

Lawson stopped the car and pulled on the parking brake. The prisoner looked around, confused. “Wha - this isn’t the cophouse. This is a parking lot for a hash joint. Where -”

Lawson pulled a case out of his jacket pocket, and extracted a silver dental pick. He checked his watch; in the distance, a train whistle wailed, growing louder.

“Hey -” the prisoner eyed the dental pick, and backed into the corner of his seat. “Hey, what kind of a cop are you?”

The car began to vibrate as the train grew near.

“Who said I was a cop?” said Lawson. He felt the blackness growing around the edge of his vision; he shook it off, and turned to his prisoner. Then train and the whistle drowned everything.

Solution: if he'd been sitting in the chair, rigor mortis would have made him stiffen in a sitting position.