A Case for Billie Occasion
by Bertil Falk
Part 1 appears|
in this issue
Billie shook hands with Dennis Kent. He was not a very good-looking man. Almost ugly! But he was charming. He showed her to a room, where the walls were covered with weapons; all kinds of knives, daggers, machetes, bayonets and swords. He was a bald man.
“You collect rapiers and knives,” she said, scanning the wall with her eagle eyes. A few artifacts were missing. She saw the dark spots where they had been. “How come?”
“And scalpels,” he said. “I am a surgeon and my collection of scalpels is famous.” She realized that he did not answer her question.
“Anthony Gensten was murdered with a bayonet,” she said.
“You think I killed him?” he replied. “I can’t blame you. The homicide squad was very suspicious about my collection.”
“You had a reason to kill him?”
“On the contrary. He had a reason to kill me.”
“Dorothy preferred me to him. He pestered her.”
“How was he?”
“Actually, he was a little bit strange. And very well informed. Mostly he knew things that happened in New York before anyone else. I guess that he listened to the radio.
“He was a good professional, but very lonely. Dorothy, Dennis and I were his only friends. And we were not that close. He always had his eyes on Dorothy. However, I think that I was the main suspect in the eyes of the homicide investigators.”
Steve Hooper made a gesture towards the missing weapons on the wall. “The bayonets.”
“Why did you take them away, and where are they now?”
“Me... oh, I didn’t take down the bayonets. The detectives took care of them.”
* * *
Dorothy Weaver treated her to a cup of tea in her parlor. “Anthony could be very kind, but he became very trying. He wanted me to marry him. That was of course out of the question. I was not attracted to him. I’m engaged to Dennis Kent.”
Billie found Dorothy Weaver homely. Her apartment was cozy but not very original. A painting of a uniformed man dominated the room.
“That oil on the wall. Who is he?”
“My maternal great-grandfather. He was a French officer on the Western front in 1916. Come, take a look at his things.”
There was a show-case in the adjoining room with a lot of military paraphernalia, medals for valor, a dented helmet, an empty sheath, threadbare shoulder-straps, worn buttons, badges of rank and many similar things.
“You know, there are people who collect this kind of things. But I am not a collector. This is a part of the family history.”
“Your fiancé collects knives and scalpels.”
Dorothy Weaver laughed. “If you think that he will marry me in order to lay his hand on my great-grandfather’s things, then you don’t realize that there is nothing among these things that fits into Dennis’ collection.”
“I can see that,” Billie said and looked at the sheath. “But what about Steve Hooper?”
“What do you mean?”
“Wasn’t he a good friend as well?”
“He certainly was. And he still is. It was different with Anthony. He used to stick to us as if we were a kind of safe haven. We didn’t ask him questions. We just let him be together with us. Then he developed that interest in me. It was annoying.”
“Was there anything about Anthony that you would call strange or remarkable?”
“He was very lonely. Sometimes he seemed to be absent-minded, but... No, I can’t say there was anything specific about that.”
* * *
Steve Hooper was difficult. He came out of his house and talked to her on the pavement. He was a good-looking man, really handsome. Billie could not resist comparing him with the almost ugly Dennis Kent.
“Are you a private eye or something like that?” he asked her and looked very serious.
“Regard me as something like that,” she said, adding,”rather than a private investigator.”
His sullen face broke into a broad smile and for a moment it was as if the ice was broken. But Steve Hooper turned serious again.
“What do you want?”
“I want to find out the truth about Anthony Gensten. You did not by chance kill him?”
“Unfortunately not. Someone else beat me to it.”
“Why did you want to kill him?”
“Because he was a pain in the ass to Dorothy.”
“And what is your relationship to her?”
“Just a silent admirer. She will marry Dennis.”
“How do you feel about that?”
“What about Anthony Gensten?”
“There was something fishy about him. One day something happened that I can’t forget. I was going to New York. I left the hospital, where one of Anthony’s patients was to be operated on for some cancer problem. Anthony was not the main surgeon. He just assisted. The operation was supposed to take a long time. I went straight to the airport and a few hours later I was at my hotel in Manhattan. In the lobby I ran straight into... you won’t believe me...”
“Into Anthony Gensten. Yes, I believe you. Did you talk to him.” “How do you know? But yes. It was him. I was astounded. Yes, I talked to him.”
“He recognized you?”
“He certainly did. ‘Hi, Steve’, he said. ‘She will survive. We just finished the operation. See you later.’ He went through the revolving doors and disappeared on the Avenue of the Americas, leaving me stunned.”
“What happened next time you saw him?”
“That was back in LA at the hospital. He didn’t say a word about the incident. I wanted to ask him about it. But I never did. And then... one day he was killed. Murdered.”
Nina Hagen was still vomiting “Der Spinner.” Billie Occasion took away her thumb and her forefinger from her tear glands and opened her eyes.
“So they were all from Los Angeles and they attended a medical congress in Las Vegas together,” she said to David Olsson. “I’m not sure who killed him, but I think that it was one of them. You know that Dennis Kent collected knives and scalpels and similar things?”
“The squad in LA thought of that. The bayonet was not one of his. They took all his bayonets and compared them with the murder weapon. Do you think it was him?”
“No. I think it was she. I don’t know for sure if she did it, but a bayonet is missing in her house. It belonged to her great grandfather, who was an officer during WWI. His bayonet-sheath is in a family display case in her home. But it is empty. There is no bayonet in it. Ever heard of that before?”
“No,” he murmured.
“I think that you should pick up the trail from there. The murder weapon may fit into her empty bayonet sheath.”
“Maybe it was her, but it doesn’t explain the real mystery.”
“I can’t tell you for sure who the murderer was. You and your colleagues have to investigate. But I can solve what you call the real mystery. What you have experienced is a very rare phenomenon. Actually, it is common among saints.”
“Saints, holy people. Well, even some other people possess the ability of bilocation, but it is, so to speak, a more common phenomenon among saints than among us ordinary people. It is fair to say, that from a statistical point of view saints are more able to bilocate than others.”
“And what is this bilo... whatever you call it.”
“Bilocation! I’ll give you an example. On September 17, in the year 1774, a certain Alphonse de Liguori was in his cell at Arezzo in Italy. One morning he awoke and said that he had been at the deathbed of the Holy Father, Pope Clement XIV. And lo, people had seen him there. In other words: bilocation is the ability to be at two places at the same time.
“Nandor Fodor, a practicing psychoanalyst and a parapsychologist who once lived here in New York City, defined it as ‘simultaneous presence in two different places’. When Anthony Gensten was murdered in Los Angeles he was also murdered on Fifth Avenue here in Manhattan. He possessed the power or ability to bilocate. He was a gyneacologist in LA and a computer freak here. When he was murdered, the bayonet remained in his body in Los Angeles, but there was no bayonet in his body here in New York City.”
“Because bayonets are not likely to bilocate. Neither are clothes.”
“That’s bull. There was a bayonet wound in the back of the body on Fifth Avenue.”
“Of course there was. The reason for that is that there was only one Anthony Gensten. Anything and everything that happened to his body in LA happened to it here in New York as well, simultaneously. This was not a murder that took place in New York City and another that took place in Los Angeles. This murder did not take place. It took places. It took two places at the same time.”
David Olsson stared at her. He shook his head. “I think it’s time for me to go,” he said. “How much shall I pay you?”
“I don’t want anything from Evelyn’s brother. Give something to the Salvation Army. They used to be on the sidewalk outside this building at this time of the year. And please give my regards to Evelyn.”
“It was interesting to talk to you.”
“But you don’t believe me?”
“How can I?”
She smiled at him. “You will — soon,” she said.
The last thing he heard before she closed the door behind him was Nina Hagen squeezing out “New York, New York.”
Inside the elevator David Olsson pondered on the fact that Billie Occasion had known about Dennis Kent’s collection of sharp-edged weapons and scalpels. How was that possible? That part of the investigation had not been in the news. And what about Dorothy Weaver’s family showcase? He had never heard of it before. Puzzled he walked out of the elevator on the first floor.
Stunned he looked at her as she swept by him into the elevator. He turned around and stared at her black figure with that lilac touch on her cheek and snow on her shoulders. She gave him a warm smile. Her black lips opened to reveal snow-white teeth.
“I told you that you would believe me soon,” said Billie Occasion.
And the elevator doors closed under his very nose.
Copyright © 2008 by Bertil Falk