“I remember you now,” Mrs. Pellegrini says to Detective Blisflix. “My husband told me about you.”
Blisflix squirms. The chair Joe Blisflix is sitting in is pinching his butt six different ways. “What did your husband tell you about me?”, he asks the woman.
“I don’t remember,” Mrs. Pellegrini replies. “And you’re better off that I forget, believe me.” Detective Smith coughs quietly on the sofa. Smith and Blisflix are sitting in the living room of Mrs. Pellegrini’s three-room apartment. They’re supposed to be checking her computer.
“About your computer, Mrs. Pellegrini,” Smith asks, “When did your husband stop using it for work?”
“When do you think?”, the woman answers.
“I don’t know, ma’am,” Smith replies. “Could you tell me?”
“You got his retirement date somewhere?”, Mrs. Pellegrini asks.
“So he used it every day until he retired?”, Smith asks with a forced smile.
“Of course,” Mrs. Pellegrini answers. “My husband was no slouch.”
Blisflix sits up as best he can. “Detective Smith didn’t mean to imply that, ma’am,” he says. “We’re just wondering did anyone else use it.”
Mrs. Pellegrini tries to stand up, but falls back into her chair. “Get out!”, she half-spits. “My husband was right about you, you pervert! Thirty-eight years! Thirty-eight years we’re married, no one accuses me of cheating on my husband. Now you,” Mrs. Pellegrini struggles to rise from her chair. “You call me a hussy? In my house?”
Smith and Blisflix stand up. “That’s not--,” Blisflix starts to say, but Smith cuts him off.
“Thank you, ma’am,” she says. “We’ll be going now. Sorry to trouble you.”
“This you call detective work?”, Mrs. Pellegrini says, still wriggling in her chair. “This is investigation? No wonder there’s such crime.”
Smith and Blisflix exit Mrs. Pellegrini’s apartment without another word. When they’re in the hallway, Smith punches Blisflix in the arm.
“What was that for?”, Blisflix asks Smith.
“For whatever Pelligrini told his wife about you,” she replies.
“Different times,” Blisflix says. He heads for the building’s front door.
“Hey,” Smith says, “what’s the rush? Let’s take a look around.” Blisflix turns around, shrugs his shoulders, and follows Smith up the stairs.
Everything is still on the second floor. Smith and Blisflix walk slowly down the carpeted hall past the twin facing doors marked 2A and 2B. Smith points at the door of 2B. “Asian cooking,” she says as they pass it. The detectives continue to the doors for the two rear apartments.
Smith knocks on the door of apartment 2C. She and Blisflix wait in silence. Blisflix knocks on 2D. Nothing. “The place is a crypt,” he says. The detectives turn in unison and head back down the hallway. They take a few steps and stop when they hear a door open behind them.
Karen Mieke pops her head out of the doorway. “Hello?”, she asks.
“Hello,” Blisflix replies as he walks toward her. Smith’s right behind him.
“What are you doing here?”, Karen asks.
“I’m Detective Blisflix, SFPD. This is Detective Smith.” He displays his badge.
“What are you doing here?”, Karen repeats.
“We’re working,” Smith replies, holding up her badge. “On a murder investigation.”
“The moon guy,” Karen says. “Who’s he after now?”
Smith smiles her biggest. “He may have been spotted in this neighborhood,” she tells Karen, her voice full of concern. “Do any of your neighbors keep late hours?”
“No,” Karen answers quickly. “It’s always quiet here. Like a what-do-you-call-it, a monastery. But without the chants.” She smiles at Smith.
Blisflix asks Karen, “Mrs. Pellegrini is your landlady, right?” Karen nods. “She must get some help, keeping the place maintained and whatnot.”
“I don’t know anything about that,” Karen replies. “I need to get ready for work.” She starts to shut her apartment door. Smith stops her.
“Somebody around here has been going out at night,” Smith says. “We would like to talk to whoever it is. Give us a call if anything comes to mind.” Smith smiles and holds out her business card.
Karen takes it. “That won’t happen,” she says.
Karen closes the door. Blisflix and Smith look at each other. “Let’s go see if we can find any other monks,” Smith says. “Chanting or not.”
“What’s with these people?”, Blisflix asks under his breath.
Smith knocks on the door to apartment 2A. “Chilly, I’d call it,” she laughs.
“Nothing,” Smith says as she stares at the door to apartment 2A. Blisflix taps on 2B directly across. “Try the third floor?”, he asks Smith.
“Why not?” Smith replies. She starts up the stairs, then stops and comes back down. “You take three,” she says. “I’ll check the basement.”
The detectives pass at the foot of the stairs. “Watch out for mad monks,” Blisflix says as he heads up.
“Et cum spiritu tuo,” Smith replies.
Locked, of course, thinks Smith as she tries the door again. I could pick it, she smiles, but that would be wrong. She looks left and right.
Thirty seconds later, Smith is heading down the stairs to the basement. She sees what she’s looking for without having to turn on the light. The outline of a back door appears as Smith reaches the bottom of the basement steps. She looks around for a light switch, can’t find one.
Smith takes her phone out and turns on its flashlight. A 30-foot hallway leads to the back door. It’s solid cement, top, bottom, and sides. Smith turns her flashlight toward the front of the basement. She gets a glimpse of stacks of typical basement material: boxes, toys, tools.
Smith shines the light back toward the hall leading to the back door. She scans the walls, ceiling, floor. They’re all the same flat gray shade. Daylight peeks through the outline of the back door. Smith walks toward it, looking more closely at the walls as she passes. Solid cement. When she gets to the door, Smith turns the knob. Locked. No latch to unlock. She pulls the knob. Nothing. She runs her hands along the top. No ledge to hide a key on. Smith heads back down the cement hall, still scanning the walls for any break. She walks the basement perimeter.
There’s no sign of any door or window in the basement other than the back door and the door at the top of the stairs. Smith shakes her head. She turns off the phone’s flashlight and heads up the stairs. She finds Blisflix leaning against the mailboxes in the first floor lobby.
“There’s something weird about this place,” Smith says.
“You’re telling me,” Blisflix replies.
“No one home on three, right?”, she asks.
Blisflix nods and motions around. “Did you notice how clean this place is?”, he asks.
“That goes double for the basement,” Smith replies.
“I wonder if they got any vacancies,” Blisflix says.
Smith ignores him. “I think I’ll show Cece a list of the residents’ names,” she says as she heads for the building’s front door. Blisflix follows her.
“Five days,” Blisflix says as he and Smith walk to their unmarked car.
“Five nights,” Smith corrects him. “And no idea who the target is.”
“I’ll drive,” Smith says when they reach the car. As they head down the Steiner hill, she tells Blisflix, “I got two hunches where he’s been lurking.”
Part 13: Mieke
Part 1: Tim
Part 2: Three's a Problem
Part 3: Ninth Avenue
Part 4: Peru Avenue
Part 5: Toast
Part 6: Mrs. Pellegrini
Part 7: Charlie
Part 8: 2D
Part 9: Smith
Part 10: Cece
Part 11: Quarter Moon
Part 12: Interview
Part 13: Mieke
Part 14: 2D Ex
Part 15: Logs
Part 16: Steiner
Part 17: Number Five
Part 18: Cold
Part 19: Intern
Part 20: Coffee
Part 21: Sloth
Part 22: Tennessee Street
Part 23: Error-correcting Code
Part 24: Villa Lobos
Part 25: Entrance
Part 26: Cloak
Part 27: Meeting
Part 28: Fog
Part 29: Bootle
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