“Well, when you explain it like that…” Lilah tapped her chin with the back end of her pen. She rolled her eyes up to the ceiling deep in thought taking in the few words George had just explained to her.
George sat on the other side of the room at his desk. He pushed his laptop to the side and folded his hands neatly on the surface of his desk. He stared patiently and curiously at Lilah as though waiting for her to respond.
Lilah glanced back at George. She really had no idea what to say. She hoped he would say something else instead. When she noticed him staring at her, she inhaled and exhaled through her nose sharply.
“I mean, do you really think so?” Lilah asked.
Well, this conversation was going nowhere fast.
“What are your thoughts on the matter, Lilah?” George asked.
Lilah rubbed her lips together and shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know what to think about anything. I think this whole case is nuts.”
George cracked a smile. “Most cases are.” He finally looked away from her and turned his attention to the laptop screen to his right.
Lilah got up from the couch and walked over to where he sat. She stood beside him and looked over his shoulder at the computer screen. “What are you looking at?”
“This is the security footage from the night of the incident.” George explained.
“What are you watching it again for?”
“I want to be sure that my hunches are correct.”
Lilah stared hard at the video on screen. Both she and George had watched the footage from the security cameras just outside the town’s most popular Italian restaurant. They were the only business that happened to have a camera outside their business as well. It just so happened to catch part of the busy main street out front.
A car whizzed by in black and white from the left side of the screen to the right side until it came to an abrupt halt. The front end of the car was off-screen and the passenger side was facing the camera. It was hard to tell who got in and out of the driver’s seat, but one thing was for sure. It was a different person.
After the car stopped, a man stepped out of the driver’s side. He ran around to the front of the car as though panicked. Almost immediately as he ran off screen, a woman came from off screen, where the man ran off to, and hopped in the driver’s side. The car revved off in the same direction the man was originally driving, except he is not seen again.
The owner of the Italian restaurant called the police as he was at home watching the security cameras when the incident occurred. No leads could come from the video, but the license plate was visible at the beginning of the video and it was traced back to a home outside of town.
“You still think that woman there is the maid for the owner of the car?” Lilah asked.
George nodded his head, but he was leaning his head against the palm of his hand. “That has to be the only explanation, isn’t it?”
“I don’t know,”
“You’re usually more helpful than this.”
Lilah sighed rubbing the back of her neck. “I’m tired. This case has had us running around in circles. We can’t tell who the people are and the car has magically ended up back at the house where it belongs. Everyone at the house is accounted for and no one claimed to have been out and driving that day. No one noticed it was gone if it was stolen. The maid claims to have been home all day and everyone says they saw someone at the house that day.”
“Someone, or multiple people, is lying.” George said glaring at his laptop screen, which was paused at the woman getting into the car. Only the top of her head was visible as she stood behind the car, but it was clear that she had long hair tied into a high ponytail.
“That would be the logical thing to think, yes. But how are we supposed to prove that?” Lilah asked with a grunt. She walked back around to the other side of George’s desk and sat down in the client’s chair directly across from him.
George clicked out of the video and shut off the monitor. “I don’t know…”
Both were silent. George closed his eyes pinching the bridge of his nose. Lilah stared at him and waited for him to get out of his deep thought. She knew he was aggressively thinking and didn’t want to interrupt the flow of his thought process.
Or, he very well could have just been resting from all the headache the case has caused both of them over the past couple of weeks.
Lilah leaned backward and reached her arm behind her to snatch her notebook off of the coffee table. She was just barely able to grab it, but she managed to poke it a little closer to her without having to get up. She picked it up and brought it onto her lap. She opened the front cover and flipped through a mass of pages at the beginning, which were notes from the previous case. She grunted looking for the current case realizing that she really needed to start bookmarking her pages whenever they shifted cases.
When she finally got to the page where she first started taking notes on what happened, she stared at the words she wrote. She didn’t read anything, she just stared at the ink-filled page. What exactly was she looking for?
“What are you doing?” George asked.
“I don’t really know.” Lilah said without taking her eyes off of her notebook. She flipped to the next page and continued to skim through her notes.
“Well, let me know if you find something that you’re not looking for.” George replied.
“I wrote down their statements somewhere in here.” Lilah said.
George straightened up. “So did I. What’s your point?”
“You mentioned that someone is lying or multiple people in the house are lying. They’re trying to cover for themselves and some are probably trying to cover up for someone else. But no one is admitting who did it. No one will take the fall whether they were the culprit or someone else was.” Lilah explained.
George nodded his head. He opened his own notebook and flipped through a few pages to find the statements he took from the tenants in the house that owned the car.
“So the man who was originally driving the car disappeared once that woman hopped into the driver’s seat. We don’t know where he was driving to or why he got out of the car.” Lilah said.
“My first thought was maybe the woman stopped him and she stole the car from him.” George replied. “But then he’s never seen again so I wonder if she did something to him.”
Lilah shuddered. “Well, if he was a man who lived in the house, then someone should have said that he was missing, right?”
George shook his head. “Not if everyone was in on it.”
“There are too many people in the house. How could they all be against that one man? Besides, as far as we know, everyone is accounted for in the house.” Lilah said.
“I know. He probably doesn’t live there. Which means he must have stolen the car,” George stated.
“So we don’t know the man’s identity, why he had the car, where he was going, and why he stopped and got out in the middle of the street. And we have no idea what happened to him after that.” Lilah said as she wrote it all down in her notebook. She was sure it was written down somewhere, but it helped her to remember. When it was all down on the paper, she looked back up at George.
“Wow, we really have figured nothing out on this case, have we?”
George scratched the top of his head. “Well, no one is giving us anything to go on.” He flipped over to the next page in his notebook and pointed to a line near the middle. “I spoke to the maid the other day and she told me that she, the butler, the cook, and the chauffeur were home all day the day of the incident.”
Lilah scanned her pages for the statements that she copied down. “What about the gardener?”
“What about him?”
“The gardener is a girl.” Lilah said looking away from her notebook.
“I didn’t know they had a gardener.” George stated and then he rolled his eyes. “Geez, you would think that these people lived in a mansion and were the most important people on the earth.”
“They have a lot of money. Why not use it?” Lilah shrugged her shoulders. “Anyway, when I spoke to the maid, she told me those same people were accounted for, including the gardener.”
George sighed. “Well, I might have forgotten to write down the gardener’s name or the maid didn’t mention her at all. I don’t think I knew there was a gardener.”
“So that may be an inconsistency right there.” Lilah pointed to her paper. “The maid might be covering for the gardener. The woman who got into the car after the man got out could have been the gardener.”
George nodded his head. He took out another piece of paper and wrote that down. “What else do we have?”
“That’s not enough?” Lilah sighed.
George shook his head. “No, of course not,”
“We can’t just go in there and point fingers at people at this point? We’ve been at this for weeks…”
George sighed. “I know, I’m frustrated too,”
“Especially since no one cares because as far as they’re all concerned, everyone is innocent and no one left the house and the car was in the garage all day long.” Lilah said grunting. She leaned back in her chair shaking her head slightly.
“Let’s keep going down the list of what everyone said to us.” George suggested. “The cook told me that during the time of the accident he was in the kitchen preparing lunch for everyone in the house, which included the owner of the house and his wife, their two children, the maid, the butler, the gardener, the chauffeur, and himself, the cook.” George shrugged. “Apparently I did know the gardener… I don’t remember speaking to her, though.”
“I have the same thing.” Lilah agreed. “So both the cook and the maid claim everyone was home at the time of the incident. But no one mentioned about whether the car was in the garage or not.”
“I don’t think they would check on the car, though. It was in the locked garage and one would hear the door open and close as someone took the car out, wouldn’t you think?” George said with a smirk realizing that he was making a valid point.
Lilah nodded in agreement. “So what in the world happened then?”
“According to the butler, he was playing hide and seek with the two children. I asked the kids and they confirmed that he was a very good hider.” George said.
“How long did he hide for?”
“Not long enough for people in the house to realize that he had disappeared. The kids certainly would have said something, I’m sure, if they weren’t able to find him after a while.” George explained.
“Or they could have just gotten bored with searching and ran off to play with their toys. That’s what I used to do with the neighbor kids when we played hide-and-seek.” Lilah suggested.
“Good point, but I don’t think so. These two kids seem to have high spirits and are energetic. I believe they were search for the butler until the very end.” George chuckled.
“What’s so funny?”
“Are you sure the neighborhood kids just didn’t feel like playing with you?”
Lilah glared at him. “Oh, you always think you’re funny…”
“I thought that was a good one.”
“Well, did you hear the one about the detective who couldn’t solve anything?” Lilah asked.
George sighed, still smiling. “Touché,”
I hope you enjoyed part one of this mystery story! Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.