Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: TALKATIVE (09/08/16)
By Holly Westefeld
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Paterson's door, and repeated the action after a minute with no
response. After another minute, Morgan peered through the front
window. "Look here, Lawson."
It was not a pretty sight. A woman, presumably Leslie, lay
sprawled on the living room floor near the front door, a dark
stain marring her white blouse. This was the worst possible
outcome for a welfare check. We reported in, and awaited
detectives Dunn and Finnley, and the coroner.
When the detectives arrived, we tried the front door, which was
locked, so we explored the perimeter, planning to enter through
the back door so as not to disturb the scene. That proved easy,
since the back door was unlocked. We stepped carefully over
broken glass on the patio, entering the almost immaculate
kitchen, the single oddity being a rolling pin on the counter.
We announced "police," with no response, and proceeded to check
the residence for any live occupants, of which there were none.
Returning to the living room, we avoided the muddy footprints on
the beige carpet, darkest by the front door, fading toward the
kitchen. We began collecting fingerprints and other possible
evidence, such as the cell phone on the coffee table.
I approached a bird cage in the corner, door wide open, a
gorgeous parrot perched still as stone. Its bright eyes were the
only suggestion that it was real. "You're a pretty bird," I
murmured, but not a feather stirred. "If only you would be a
talkative witness." Not a twitch, 'though perhaps a blink.
The coroner arrived and removed the body. Morgan and Finnley
went to talk to neighbors. Dunn and I went to Leslie's employer,
who had reported her absent and incommunicado, highly out of
character. We delivered the difficult news, and asked if she
knew who next of kin would be. She gave us the name, address and
phone number for Louis Paterson, explaining that they had been
separated for several months. She said he worked from home when
he wasn't traveling, so we headed for his apartment.
We knocked on Mr. Paterson's door, which he answered promptly.
"I am detective Dunn, and this is Officer Lawson. May we come
He stepped back and we entered.
"What can I do for you gentlemen?"
"We are looking in to an incident with Leslie. When did you see
"We had dinner together Saturday evening. Is she okay?"
"Did you have contact with her yesterday evening?"
Louis hesitated. "I received a rather puzzling text from her
about 6:00, but she never responded to my reply..."
"What were you doing from about 5:00 on yesterday evening?"
"I've been here. I have a project under deadline. Is Leslie
"Has anyone been with you?"
"No. What is going on?"
"Leslie did not show up for work today, and we have found what we
believe to be her body. We need you to come to the morgue for
Either Louis was ready for Hollywood, or he knew nothing of his
wife's murder. The blood drained from his face and he steadied
himself on the back of a chair.
Louis confirmed Leslie's identity. Then he asked an odd
question. "Can you take me to the house so I can feed Oscar?"
"The house is an active crime scene... We could bring the cage
to your apartment..."
"I'm sure he is already traumatized. That would make it worse.
We got special permission, and escorted him to the house. We
stayed in the kitchen while he approached the cage.
"Good morning, Oscar."
All of a sudden, Oscar got very talkative. "Good morning,
"Where is Leslie?"
Oscar's voice changed. "What ya doing here, Wally?"
"Wally was here?"
"No, Wally!" Then the bird made the most uncanny sound, very much
like a gunshot. We knew what direction to go next.
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