Mystery and Crime Fiction posted March 17, 2017 Chapters:  ...23 24 -25- 26... 


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Granite finds out more concerning Todd

A chapter in the book The Last Laugh

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by mbroyles2

The author has placed a warning on this post for language.

Background:

Melissa Ozlet visits Matthew Granite in Cincinnati.  Her twin has been murdered but she fears that she is the real target.  She wants to hire Granite to find the truth.  While she is in the midst of doing so, an assassin, known only as the Operator, bursts into the office and kills her, injuring Granite at the same time. The only clues she leaves behind are a key and money from the thirties. 

The Assassin kidnaps Melissa’s brother, Michael and tortures him to give up the location of a mysterious box.  The only information he can get from the brother leads him to search for another sibling, possibly born out of wedlock to Mitchell Ozlet, the father.

The Assassin unsuccessfully hires a villain known as “Gravel Voice” to kidnap Granite.  Instead Gravel Voice kidnaps Matthew’s old partner R.J.

In a rescue attempt, Granite, Marko, and Camille capture Gravel Voice and learn the assassin is in Louisiana continuing his search for the “box.”

Granite’s team heads for Louisiana.

A would be assassin is discovered by Camille and Granite talks to Mitchell Ozlet’s attorney.  Neither cooperate until violence erupts.

The Operator meets with Mutton Chops, the head of the Chamber for a tense discussion.

Marko and Camille visit Melissa’s landlord and receives permission to search Melissa’s home and finds a ledger filled with numbers.

Granite visits the Grilliot home and makes a startling discovery.

 
Chapter 25
 
The hot coffee was black and bitter, like the memories young Todd Grilliot had brought to the surface.

Granite sat at the oak kitchen table, holding the cup with both hands and trying to wrap his head around it all.  His eyes burned from the heavy cigarette smoke that lingered in the room like unwelcome guests.  Marie Grilliot, Todd’s mother, sat across from him with a full ashtray in front of her.  In the time it took Granite to drink a half cup of coffee, she had smoked two Pall Malls.  A third burned between her index and middle finger, as she pinched a small mole on her left cheek.  Her right leg pumped, and she blinked rapidly.  Caesar, the German Shepherd, lay on the pale white linoleum floor at her feet, gnawing on a large soup bone. Occasionally, his ears would perk up, and he'd give Granite a threatening look as if to say:  “Go ahead, make a move, and we’ll have another go, gun be damned.”

On either side of Granite sat Todd Grilliot and James Boeller. The youngster slowly turned a half-full Pepsi bottle on the table.  He stared at it, as if he was discerning the future. His round face had lost some of its color, and his cheeks were the shade of a soft rouge.

“So tell me,” Granite said. “How did you end up in Cincinnati?”

It was the mother who answered. “Right after we discovered that Mitchell was indeed Todd’s father, I broke the news to my husband.  I think he suspected as much because we’d never been able to have other children.  He left me and took off for Cincinnati where his parents lived.  Todd went with him.”

Granite shifted in his seat, and the Shepherd stood, ready to pounce. “What’s with the over-protective mutt?”

“He’s always like that with strangers,” Todd said. “He’s suspicious with everyone.  No one can go near him but mom and me.”

“I see.  How’d you end up at the zoo?”

Again the mother spoke up. “When Melissa found out she had a baby brother she came to see me.  I told her Todd was in Cincinnati with his dad.  She wanted to meet him, so off she went. She took Todd to the zoo so they could get acquainted.”

Granite’s brows lifted. “I can’t believe I missed that.  She was there with you.  I remember each child’s face like it was my own, but I don’t remember her.  That makes so much sense now.  She saw it all.”  He lowered his head, fixing his gaze on the coffee in the white porcelain cup.  It reminded him of a black hole where stars go to die.  October 12th was his black hole, and it sucked up the only stars he had in his life.

“It was a brave thing,” Todd said, snapping Granite out of his trance.  “What you did for us.  I’m so sorry about your wife and son.  From what little time I spent with them, they seemed real nice.”

“Yes.  They were.  You were in Cincinnati.  Did you move back to Louisiana?” 

“When my husband and I got divorced, Todd decided to come live with me.  It was hard on me, Mr. Granite.  We’d been together since college.  He was the starting safety on the football team and I was a cheerleader.  We were happy.”

Happy enough to have an affair, Granite thought.  If she was a cheerleader, time had not been kind.  Both her jawline and breasts sagged. Crow’s feet were prominent around her eyes, and her belly was the size of a small basketball.  She could easily be mistaken for Todd’s grandmother instead of mother.

“If Melissa is dead, why are you still involved?”  James Boeller’s voice cracked when he spoke.  He sounded like a thirteen-year old boy going through puberty.  Sweat ran down his cheeks, and his hands trembled. Granite noticed a faint scent of alcohol. The attorney’s eyes were bloodshot and frequently twitched. This is not the same defiant man, Granite thought, he had met just two days earlier.

“The bastard who murdered Melissa, also tried to kill me and my closest friend.  I don’t like being targeted.  I like it even less when people I’m close to are threatened. I’m going to find this son-of-a-bitch and put a bullet in him. Before Melissa was shot, she handed me an envelope filled with money from the thirties and a funny looking key.  I suspect they have something to do with this box that the Operator is looking for. He’s the wrong guy to be searching for it anyways.”

“Why do you say that?” Boeller asked.

“Because he likes killing too much.  It’s in his blood. I would bet good money that Michael has met the same fate as the twins.  The Operator's careless and that makes him dangerous. When he killed Melissa, I suspect he eliminated the only person who knew anything about this box.”

“That’s not entirely true,” Marie Grilliot said. She crushed the Pall Mall into the ashtray.

“What do you mean?” Granite asked.

“I know what it is.”


 
Matthew Granite       Investigator seeking the assassin and answers to the Ozlet girls' murders.
The “Operator”         The Assassin looking for a mysterious "box" that the Ozlet family has hidden.
Marko                         aka "The Mountain". A private bodyguard hired by Granite.

Camille                       aka "The Shadow". A former CIA agent hired by Marko
Jimmy Daniels             aka "Brown". A computer genius hired by Granite
R.J. McBride                Granite's former partner while on the police force.

Harold Banisek           Granite's business manager
Woody               
           Manager of "Stingrays" a bar owned by Granite
Mutton Chops              The leader of “The Chamber”
 


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