Rated t for teen
eleventh in the Muppet Contracts series
Disclaimer: anyone you recognize does not belong to me, though I may not be able to give all the legal who’s that do own them.
Distribution: by permission, and with the previous parts of the series.
Notes: Angel Investigations have been working on discovering the killer of acting agent Kent Lanomer. They had no idea what they'd stumbled onto when they started...
Kate Locksley sighed as she stared at the pages of a report on the Lanomer murder crime scene. While this was far from the first murder of an acting agent in the area, it was one of the most appallingly gruesome murders that she could recall hearing about. The blunt facts helped a little, with the time of death, the fact that the people at the morgue were almost certain that they’d found all of the body in those horrible boxes. She tried to comfort herself with the little things; it hadn’t been a child, it hadn’t been a sex and murder combined crime, it didn’t appear to be the first in a series… She still wasn’t comforted. At least that vampire and his people weren’t involved.
“Jack, this is the last time I let you talk me into looking over your case files. Last month it was that prostitution ring. Two months before that it was the councilman’s wife and secretary framing him so they could skip out to the Bahamas together,” Kate tapped the papers against the desk. “This is just…”
“His wife and the secretary looked damn good together too,” Jack tried to smirk at her. “This one’s just… There’s something wrong with the picture, and I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. More than a guy getting chopped into pieces and stuffed into boxes.”
“The twine and wax seals, maybe? That’s a lot more old fashioned than most people use now days,” Kate tried not to think of Angel, shuddered at the memory of his colonial vampire-spawn that had been behind a string of serial killings. “Remind me, were there fingerprints anywhere?”
“Fingerprints everywhere. Most of them belonged to Lanomer, not surprising as it was his office. Prints from eight people that he worked with, arranged jobs for. Prints from his cleaning lady. Prints on the door from two pizza delivery guys. A couple that just didn’t look normal at all…” Jack shook his head. “What you mean is on the boxes. They’ve already been running them in the lab, and they don’t match anything in the files. They don’t even look human.”
“Not human?” Kate looked at Jack, a cold suspicion forming in her stomach.
Jack sighed, and leaned back in his chair. “One of his actresses isn’t human, she looks… and for the love of keeping your teeth don’t say this to her face, but she looks like a short blond pig-woman. But we already checked her prints against the boxes, and she’s been cleared. But it does make me wonder about the other ones…”
“And they haven’t found the murder weapon? OR whatever was used to dismember him?” Kate glanced at the papers again, trying to see if there was a listed cause of death, or if the dismemberment had obscured the cause of death. She hoped to heaven that Kent Lanomer had been dead before he’d been carved into pieces.
“Not yet,” Jack cracked his knuckles as he glared at the pages. “They’ve ruled out a lot of things, tox reports were all negative, we’ve cleared most of the people that he owed money, cleared the exes, and… we’ve got a lot of nothing.”
Kate’s cell phone rang. For a moment, she thought about ignoring it, just letting whoever it was leave a message. But her sense of responsibility nagged at her, as well as the simple fact that some people would just keep calling, letting the ringing irritate her into answering or throwing the phone against the wall.
“Lockley,” she didn’t try to keep her irritation from her voice. Whoever was calling could deal with it or leave her alone, and God help them if it was a telemarketer…
‘Yes, this is Wesley Wyndham-Price, with Angel Investigations. There was a case that we were investigating, and we think we have some information that would be of interest to you,’ the hesitant voice held an unmistakable British accent.
Kate swore to herself as one of the few benefits of this case evaporated. The odds of it being any case less disturbing than this were slim and none. “Kent Lanomer.”
‘Yes. We’ve been talking to various people, and we’re almost certain that we’ve figured out who and why.’
“You have?” Kate blinked, sitting up straighter in her chair. “How did you figure that out? Where are you?”
‘Following up on several interviews with other interviews, and speaking with some very disturbing individuals. I am currently at our office, and if you’d like, we can have copies of our interview transcripts… err, Cordelia just informed me that you will most likely need to ask some of the people questions on your own, for the protocol and official paperwork.’
“I can be there in fifteen minutes,” Kate insisted. “Be sure to give me copies of everything you’ve got, if we can’t use it directly it will help us with our own questions. Umm… is it one of those cases?”
“The murderer set things up in that particular gruesome fashion in an attempt to frame someone else for his crime. I hope that you can get the true perpetrator imprisoned, so that the person he tried to frame doesn’t take matters into his own hands. I’m not quite certain what the real killer is, I know who but not what, but he was trying to frame a vampire.’
“One of Angel’s friends?” Kate snorted, wondering just how many vampires were out there insisting that they had gone to the good side.
‘Not precisely, no. More of an acquaintance of Angel and a good friend of his Grandsire. I assure you that you don’t want the Count to take care of this himself.’
“The Count? What, does this guy think he’s European aristocracy?” Kate snorted before her mind could catch up with her.
‘I’m not certain if he is or if he’s just eaten them,’ there was a pause and a metallic squeal, followed by muffled curses at stupid cabinets and bizarre filing systems. ‘There are times when the fine points of historical accuracy don’t matter as much as how to keep all of your original pieces intact.’
“Is this guy that bad? And if he is, why on Earth would anyone try to frame him?” the questions slipped out, and Kate couldn’t be certain if she really wanted to know or just needed to know before not knowing got her shot, stabbed or killed. Glancing at Jack, she offered, “Private detective agency, this guy said they’ve been looking into Lanomer, and he thinks they’ve got something. He thinks they know who and why.”
‘Yes, he is that bad, and as for why frame him… Insanity has been mentioned. Presumably, everyone is to take the obvious answer without prying beyond the ugly surface and then be killed trying to deal with the Count, and meanwhile he goes about his merry plan unhindered. Angel spoke to the Count, who was most displeased that someone ahhh…. Yes, here’s the transcript, and I quote, ‘You dare suggest that I vould insult the numbers like that? That I vould be so limited as to not give each little piece their own number and the proper respect due to the counting?’ We took that to mean that it wasn’t the Count, and that life in prison or execution by the state of California would be the preferable options for Mister Scooter Dee.’
“Any suggestions?” Kate shivered as she put a folder over the reports. “Such as silver bullets or wooden stakes?”
‘Take backup with you when you go after him. He’s possibly insane and has already killed Mr. Lanomer in pursuit of his ambitions. I can’t recommend any particular weapon, though he certainly does raise the hairs on the back of your neck…’
“Right, I’ll see you soon, and I’ll have backup with me,” Kate ended the call, and gave Jack what should have been a smile. “So, ready to find out what they’ve got?”
End part 1.
It didn’t take long before Kate and Jack reached the office of Angel Investigations. Jack had asked her a few questions about the people they were going to see, but Kate had tried not to give much information. A private investigation agency that tended to get some strange cases, though she refused to explain what ‘strange’ could mean. The man who called was British, there was a woman who made the strongest coffee that Kate had ever encountered, and then there was Angel…
She really hoped that they wouldn’t run into Angel tonight. Dealing with him always left her stomach in knots and a sour taste in her mouth. Attempting to explain him would only make Jack question her sanity.
Fortunately, the only one they encountered was Wesley.
“These are copies of what we have, with various notations and comments in the margins. Unfortunately, we don’t have sufficient evidence to charge Mister Dee, though there are more than enough things to support an official questioning. I can not stress enough how carefully this should be handled,” Wesley spoke as he handed over the freshly copied papers.
“What’s his motive?” Jack asked, peering over Kate’s shoulder at the top page.
“Previously, Scooter Dee and Kermit Frogg ran a theater. Several of the people who were once part of that theater became clients of the late Kent Lanomer. It turns out that Scooter Dee has been attempting to reconvene the theater, with himself in charge. Now that Lanomer has died, his clients will, in the words of Mr. Dee, have to return to the theater, who else would hire them? He said that everything was in order and the theater could open immediately,” Wesley shook his head.
“Immediately?” Kate glanced over the pages. “Opening anything takes time to organize. Permits, paperwork, connections and hookups… Hiring the various staff.”
“He said immediately,” Wesley paused. “Cordelia agreed about the various requirements and delays for a theater. Combine that with the timing, and it does seem a bit suspicious, doesn’t it?”
“Have the people from that theater been in regular contact?” Jack looked over at Wesley. “Can you be sure the rest of them weren’t helping things go faster?”
“Some have remained in contact, others not as much. Miss Piggy said that she hadn’t heard much from Scooter and couldn’t give a current address, though he insisted that they’d been in regular contact. None of them besides Mr. Dee mentioned anything about reforming the theater.”
“None of which is a sure sign that they might not be in on it,” Kate murmured, flipping through the pages. “Everyone does seem worried about this Count person remaining on his medications.”
“Yes, we did notice that,” Wesley’s voice was very dry. “They seemed quite intimidated by the idea that he might have stopped taking them. One might even say terrified.”
“Does this Count have a history of violent behavior? Is that why he’s supposed to be on medications?” Jack asked, glancing at one of the pages. “Wait, did that say a cannon, and something about chickens?”
“Yes to all of the above. Gonzo’s building contained a cannon and chickens. The Count has… a very colorful and violent history, the medication is supposed to help prevent such things from happening again. Before you ask, I don’t have a detailed history on the Count’s behavior before he was put on medication, and I don’t know what sort of medicine he’s been prescribed.”
Wesley shook his head, “It seems what happened to Kent Lanomer reminds people enough of the Count that there may be similarities. The Count denies killing Lanomer, as he insisted that each piece should have been individually numbered. But if everyone thinks he may have been involved, would they look elsewhere?”
“That’s his comment? Each piece should get a separate number? Are you sure he’s still… that’s the reaction when he’s on his meds?” Kate looked at Wesley, and sighed. “I definitely don’t want to go talk to him.”
“A good point about the timing,” Jack agreed, taking some of the papers from Kate. “And diverting suspicion to someone else is a classic move. Especially if it’s a believable someone else.”
Kate looked for the address for Scooter Dee, getting the feeling that this was going to be a long and unpleasant night. “Thanks, Wesley. Let’s go, Jack. I definitely don’t want to knock on this guy’s door alone.”
End part 2.
End MC11: Calling Kate.