Chartan: Coffee with Questions

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(Last week: Brazil and Chartan are talking to the limo owner, Sloan, when Brazil spots detective Grimes by a window. Brazil whispers a plan, sending Chartan to Starbucks.)   

Chartan stopped the Bentley a few feet from Grimes who was by the front door of the limousine service office.  The cruiser that had tailed him was now blocking the entrance to the parking lot. The guru carefully exited with three coffees on a paper tray.

“Mr. Chartan, I have a few questions for you, ” shouted Grimes.

Chartan blinked. “Do you mind if I bring my friends their coffee?”

“Go inside—I’ll talk to all three of you.”

Sloan and Brazil were standing behind the counter, each sporting a big smile.

“Coffee, coffee, coffee,” said Brazil. “Oh, I see we have a visitor.”

“I have a few routine questions,” said Grimes, pulling out a pad from the vest pocket of a sports coat as if he were pulling a sword from its sheath.

“Well, I’m sure we’ll have some routine answers,” offered Brazil.

Chartan turned to Grimes. “Would you like some coffee?”

The detective hesitated and mumbled “not now.”

Sloan directed everyone to his back office after locking the front door. They sat at a round table with a heavily scratched wood top.

“Nervous, detective?” asked Brazil as he took a sip.

“Why should I be?”

“You keep biting your lower lip—it’s bleeding.”

Chartan handed Grimes a napkin. The detective dabbed his lip and inspected the small dot of red.

“I’ll live. Now, I’d like to know why each of you is here.”

“This is my limousine service business,” said Sloan, raising the cup to his lips.

“I’m a limo driver,” added Chartan , lowering the cup from his mouth.

“Okay, Mr. Brazil, what’s your connection?”

Brazil took a few gulps, then straightened up in his chair. “I had some ideas about these three men who died in the limo.”

The detective leaned forward. “What ideas?”

“Have you see Sloan’s security tape?”

“Not much use, I’m afraid,” replied Grimes.

“That’s not how I see it. I’ll acknowledge that the grainy tape makes it hard to distinguish one person from the next. But look at how they entered the limo. Three men put their right foot in first while the fourth, the last one in, used his left foot first. “

Grimes tapped the table with his knuckles. “So?”

“The last one in sat on the driver’s side. He was wearing black sneakers, not dress shoes–he wanted to be make a quiet getaway before Chartan opened the passenger side door.”

Grimes bit his lip. “How did the fourth passenger know the driver would go around the front of the limo to open the passenger door?”

“Simple. He knew Chartan would open the door away from the traffic—that’s protocol for limo drivers in an emergency stop. I assume that someone had been following the limo and picked the fourth passenger up.”

“And the driver never saw this other car?”

“Chartan was in shock over seeing three lifeless bodies.”

Grimes blinked while furiously writing down what Brazil had just told him.

Chartan noticed that Grimes’ lip was bleeding again.

He could use some time playing with building blocks.

To be continued next Sunday…

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