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Mystery by P.J. Mann
Remaining alone in the apartment, after Luciano and Giulia left, Maurizio walked toward the couch, waiting for the forensic team to reach the apartment from the garage to continue their search.
He started to analyze some details of the crime, beginning with the discussion he had with the two closest people to the victim. The ex-wife, although she was the one to have a good motive, has a bulletproof alibi, the son didn’t have any apparent reason to kill his father, he ruminated. He remained to live with him after the divorce; if there was resentment or desire to revenge for the offense to his mother, he would have also decided to stay with her. Yet, we need to confirm his alibi being close to the crime scene.
He shuffled on his feet, as he finished writing in his notebook his first impressions. The door opening forced him to return from his thoughts, and Forensic Inspector Leonardo Romizi, leading the forensic team that reached the place, entered the apartment, glancing around. “You haven’t touched anything, have you?” he asked, noticing Maurizio’s hands not wearing the mandatory latex gloves.
“I was here writing in my notebook; I think I’ve done my work long enough to remember that detail.”
Forensic Investigator Romizi shrugged, “Just checking.”
“What are your first impressions? Is there anything interesting about the way Mr. Calvani was murdered?” Maurizio strolled toward Leonardo, placing the notebook in his pocket.
“Yes, and everything seems to point at a case that won’t be easy to solve. He was killed with a single shot to the head from a very close range. We found only one shell, meaning that the gun wasn’t a revolver,” he said, raising the clear-sealed bag which contained it. “We will have to perform the ballistic models to see from which position he was shot, whether the assassin was waiting for him in the car or outside of it. There are so many points on the dynamic that need to be clarified, and hopefully, the surveillance camera installed will for once be helpful to get more information about the killer.”
The rest of the team started to collect samples and items from the apartment, particularly from the studio, where Claudio was running part of his business life.
Suddenly an elderly woman in her sixties arrived, peeking from the door, hesitatingly looking around. “Ma’am!” Maurizio exclaimed, pacing toward her to avoid having an intruder. “This place is restricted now. You can’t come inside.”
“I’m sorry, but I live here on this same floor. You can’t pretend people won’t get interested in what’s going on here,” she protested, exiting the apartment. “What happened? Did you find the man dealing with drugs?”
Narrowing his eyes, trying to understand whether there was something to extract from her question, he walked her to a corner of the stairs. “Mr. Calvani was found dead this morning. Have you heard anything that can help us?”
The woman gasped, bringing a hand to her mouth. She could have guessed everything except something serious like a murder. “Detective, do you think there’s a murderer who can threaten all of us?”
“No, I’m certain this was connected directly to Mr. Calvani. You can be sure nobody is after any of the other residents in this building. But if you heard any noise, something strange, please don’t keep it for yourself, every piece of information can be vital, even the smallest,” he insisted, knowing she could have been the right person who keeps track of every move the people living on the same floor make, if not in the whole block.
“I am a person who minds her own business. I don’t put my nose in issues that don’t concern me,” she said proudly, inflating her chest. “Nevertheless, this morning, I heard Mr. Calvani returning later than usual. When he comes back in the night, the slightest noise echoes like a peal of thunder, and I got awakened by the slamming of the door.”
“Hmm... how did you know it was Mr. Calvani and not his son or someone else?” He knew the answer, but he always loved to tease a bit with those I-mind-my-own-business people who always know everything about everybody. In many cases, they were intrusive presences, but when a crime is committed, they could be a blessing for the Police. They are sometimes better than a surveillance camera because they hold information nobody else knows.
“Look,” she said, pointing at the door on the other side. “Here is Bruna’s apartment. She’s a friend of mine and lives alone. She’s not used to going out for clubs,” Her finger moved to another door. “There, lives the Magliani’s family. They go to work early, and they have two toddlers, so if they were going somewhere at that time of the night, they would have been together for some emergency.”
Maurizio’s face lightened, amused, “Yes, but it could have been Luciano, the son of Mr. Calvani...”
“No-no-no. No, sir!” She shook her head, closing her eyes. “The boy is going to university and goes to sleep early. He was listening to music and then switched on the TV, so he wasn’t the one who returned at the wee hours in the morning.” She got closer to Maurizio as to avoid being heard by indiscreet ears. “He came home at three o’clock, but after a few minutes, he got out once again, after receiving a phone call. I thought he was going to the apartment of the new girlfriend because he didn’t come back, but now that you tell me he’d been murdered...” She signed herself, pursing her lips. “Shall God have mercy on his soul.”
Maurizio remained silent for a moment, and things started to make sense.
If he received a call, it might be possible it was the assassin. Immersed in his thoughts, he drifted back in the apartment, leaving the woman waiting on the corridor. He came in, took off his jacket as the telephone rang... He walked once again outside the door.
Whoever called him asked him out with a whatever excuse, yet this implied his intention was to be back within a few minutes, without going anywhere specific; otherwise, he would have brought the jacket with him. I need the telephone and the call log of the last few months, but particularly last night.
He glanced at the woman who remained to observe the coming and goings of the detective from the apartment.
“Mrs....” Maurizio hesitated.
“Moretti, Berenice Moretti,” she replied, almost standing at attention.
“Mrs. Moretti, I wish to have you available for any questions I might have about what you remember of the previous night,” he commenced, hoping not to be too intrusive into the life of a bystander.
“If you fear I might miss any detail, I wish to inform you that I have a perfectly functioning memory, and I won’t forget anything, but if you prefer to question me right away, I’m more than available when it comes to serving justice.”
“I need to take care of some other details, but I might come back this afternoon if you don’t mind,” he proposed.
“Well, I’m a bit busy today, but if you come after four in the afternoon, you will certainly find me here. I will brew coffee,” she winked.
“How can I refuse to have a cup of coffee?” He chuckled sarcastically.
He returned to the apartment and looked around, searching for Forensic Investigator Romizi, “Leonardo!” he called.
“Found anything interesting?” Leonardo arrived from the bedroom.
“Maybe, one of the neighbors has heard Mr. Calvani returning this morning. According to her testimony, he had a call that forced him to return to the car. I’m going now to the precinct trying to make sense out of those preliminary information bits and brainstorm,” he replied, starting to create a list of things to do in his mind before returning there to question Mrs. Moretti. “This afternoon, I’ll come here again to ask some questions, but particularly I want to know something from the person who holds all the information about the entire neighborhood.”
“Perfect, we’re almost finished here. We might return tomorrow after having analyzed the data we’ve obtained. Do you have the keys to this apartment?” he asked.
A grimace contorted his face. “I’ll have to ask the son.”
Leonardo grinned from ear to ear, “Or maybe we can use these ones,” he said, swinging the keys in the air. “These were in Mr. Calvani’s pocket.”
There had always been a mocking relationship between Maurizio and Leonardo, that started since the day they met. Their friendship was founded on a solid basis, but they always felt the need to remind each other of their flaws; like in a marriage, that was the way to keep the relationship alive and interesting.
“Well, good to know you won’t be left outside. I’m going to my office anyway, and I’ll be waiting for your report this evening.”
He turned on his heels and left the apartment without waiting for a reply. As he was outside, he scanned the road. Parioli was one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Rome, and he believed its residents would be shocked by a murder.
Of course, this could have happened anywhere, but in this case the victim is a person with high visibility in the community. Moreover, the brutality of the crime is rather to be expected in poorer zones of the capital, where people can’t afford the costs of private security.
The victim wasn’t a saint and depending on who you ask, you might get different answers. According to Ms. Martini, and supposedly those around her, Claudio Calvani was a perfect jerk, who cheated on his wife. Others might have described him as a sympathetic, funny, and easy-going person – nevertheless, not a criminal or a violent man. He lit a cigarette, still glancing around, searching for some other clues to be investigated so to reconstruct the last day of Mr. Calvani’s life, as well as the happenings in the last three to four years.
Something told him the divorce might have some connection with the murder. The first hypothesis could be jealousy, but his wife wasn’t in the city at the time he got killed, and she would have been the most accredited person to have a jealous reason to kill. Another can be the girlfriend, perhaps she thought he was still in love with Ms. Martini, but in this case, I suppose she would have killed Mrs. Martini. Why kill him? Maybe she found out he was also seeing other women, and the only way to have him for herself was to kill him?
He threw the cigarette away and walked to the car; he needed a plan to follow, and from the details he would have gotten time by time, he hoped to reach the solution of the mystery.
As he arrived at the office, he shut the door behind him and hoped nobody would disturb him. That was a mere hope because he already knew that having the door closed was a clear invitation for the entire precinct to come in and ask him questions.
He sat down at his desk, and for a couple of minutes, his eyes stared at the door, holding his breath, waiting for the first officer knocking or rushing in, with the most impossible issue.
Nothing happened, and with a surprised grin, he switched on his computer, as the most surreal feeling of something not going the way it should, grabbed his mind. Despite this detail, he started to write a plan. That was the way he worked. Without a starting list, he was completely stuck into the vortex of the thousand questions swirling in his mind. A list of priorities was a way to put his thoughts into a precise order.
A couple of hours went by and raising his glance to the clock on the other side of the room, he had the confirmation that the world had finally stopped, and a catastrophic event was on its way.
“Two hours...” he muttered, surprised. “The door has been closed for two hours, and nobody knocked! Either everybody is dead, or they’ve learned the meaning of it.”
He stood up and keeping the most religious silence, he tried to focus on the noises from the corridor and the other offices. Indeed, it sounded like work was going on regularly, but nobody had anything to ask.
“Then, there’s nothing else to do but to acknowledge that my colleagues understood, after 9 years that when my door is closed, they need to keep themselves out of my sight.”
An amused smile relaxed his face, smoothing the creases on his forehead, and returned to sit at his desk. Glancing at the list he wrote and the comments at the side of each point, he considered himself satisfied, and after having the sheet printed, he went to pay a visit to his old friend Leonardo. The first point on his list was to obtain the data to be extracted from Claudio’s mobile phone. He knew before he would have been granted access to it, a full scan of the fingerprints, organic material, and any residue that could have given an idea of the places the phone has visited, was required.
Coming outside the room felt like being immersed once again in the world, after endless confinement in solitude. With a grin, he peered around with the same expression of a man who returned to a place he hadn’t visited since his childhood.
“I was expecting you to arrive earlier,” Leonardo observed, seeing Maurizio appearing from the laboratory door.
“Something happened since I returned this morning. I could finally work without being disturbed. I’m not used to this, and a couple of hours were spent going through the preliminary data,” Maurizio explained, still failing to believe that miracle that happened. “This means I have my list, and I’m going through the points on it. So, you found the telephone in Mr. Calvani’s pocket? When will I have the chance to go through it?”
“You won’t need that,” Leonardo grabbed a folder from the desk. “Here’s the call log and the preliminary results of the general analysis performed on its surface. For a more detailed one, or to have my permission to hold the mobile phone with your grubby hands, you’ll need a couple of days.”
Maurizio grimaced at him, and grabbed the folder, snapping it from Leonardo’s hands. “I guess this can be enough for the moment. Do we have any other details?”
“Not yet, the coroner is working to establish the time of death, trying to extract as much information as possible on the body of the victim. We’re working on the possible weapon, analyzing the shell we’ve found, and on every trace, we can find on the car. I will send you the preliminary report this afternoon before leaving. I can’t go any faster. These things require time and patience if you want to have something that is even closely reliable.”
Maurizio lowered his gaze eyeing the folder he got. For every murder case he predicted the onslaught of a lot of headaches and sleepless nights. Story of my life…
Glancing back at Leonardo, he sighed. “There’s still much to do, so better to get started at least from something. I’m going to check those call-logs and try to find who the girlfriend is and have her interrogated.”
The girlfriend was probably the last person to see him alive, and her testimony could give information about the last hours of his life. The mysterious call was also of crucial importance because that was coming from the killer.
Maurizio sat down at his desk, hoping to still enjoy the blessings of being left alone for the rest of the day.
“So, let’s see what number called him last,” he muttered, opening the folder. He was surprised to see that whoever compiled the log, also cared to make a search of the most important numbers, and the last one was completely inconclusive as it belonged to a Russian prepaid sim card. He took note of that number and continued checking the log.
“This is a number I might call, it belongs to a Madlen Fazekas,” he said, getting on his feet. “Here, there’s also her address, so rather than give her a call, I might want first to see whether she’s home at the moment. I bet she’s the girlfriend.”
Grabbing his jacket, he paced out of the precinct, determined to reach her home, and perhaps also gathering some information about her from her neighbors. The apartment was located in a prestigious location. Maurizio remained open-mouthed as he parked the car outside the building. I’ve chosen the wrong profession. He walked to the entrance and searched on the video intercom her name.
“Hello,” a seductive female voice answered.
For a moment, he found himself surprised by her deep and warm tone; one he wasn’t expecting to answer the interphone.
“Good afternoon, this is detective Scala. Am I speaking with Ms. Madlen Fazekas?” His voice was a bit shaky as he hesitated to ask, still caught off-guard by her tone. A short pause of silence fell between them as if she were expecting a call from the Police or had too many reasons to be afraid.
“Y… yes, that’s me...” she finally answered in a lower tone of voice.
“Ms. Fazekas, would you please open the door? I need to have a chat with you about Mr. Claudio Calvani.”
A familiar buzz and the clicking of the lock of the main door informed him she agreed to meet him. “I live on the fifth floor,” she replied with an apprehensive shade in her voice. He walked inside the hall of the building and reached the elevator. He wasn’t sure whether it was normal for a stripper to be able to afford to live in such a building; he had no certain idea of the price to buy or rent one apartment there, but he knew for sure it was out of his reach.
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