Case 4 - The Case of the Detective's Death

Chapter 1 - Death

Detective Watson lifted up the police tape and walked into Scarlet Investigations. He walked through the mess of papers, spilled drawers, and tumbled-over furniture that cluttered the floor. At the end of the ransacked room was a desk, where the medical examiner was looking over the body that was sitting in the chair.

Detective Watson addressed him, "Talk to me, doc."

The medical examiner stood up and took off his gloves, "From my preliminary examination, the cause of death was most likely the gunshot wound to her head. No other signs of struggle."

"So either she knew her killer, or she was caught by surprise," Watson deduced. "Thanks, doc."

The medical examiner gave the detective a curt nod and began to pack up.

Detective Watson walked over and began to examine Scarlet's body for himself.

Chapter 2 - The Call

It had been four months since Detective Andrew Watson had spoken with Sheryl Holmes. The two had avoided each other ever since that argument that they had. Telling her that her friend had been murdered was definitely not a good way to start talking again.

Alas, he had a job to do, so he found Sheryl in his phone's contacts list and dialled her number. Hopefully, Sheryl didn't decide to ignore him using the wonders of caller ID.

Sheryl picked up, "Hello, Wat-"

She paused and corrected herself, "Hello, Andrew."

"Hello, Sheryl, it's been a while."

"Yeah... So, what's up?"

"Sheryl, we found Scarlet, dead, in her office."

There was a pause on the other end of the line.

Finally, Sheryl managed to muster up a response, "I'm coming."

Chapter 3 - Four Months

In the past four months, Sheryl had managed to build up a reputation for herself. In fact, alongside Marlowe and Scarlet, she was now one the of biggest private detectives in the city.

Sheryl had received a lot of cases in the past four months, most of which she solved successfully. On her cases, she would sometimes cross paths with Marlowe and Scarlet.

Being already friends, Marlowe and Sheryl got along well, helping each other with cases and even sometimes hanging out after work.

Scarlet was a bit harder to approach. Being the kind of detective that seduced and grifted, she was naturally suspicious of people, but over time, Scarlet and Sheryl managed to form what one would call a "friendly rivalry". They would compete to see who was the better detective, but they would help each other when it was appropriate to do so. Over time, Sheryl saw that underneath all of Scarlet's lies and deceptions, there was a layer of nobility and a sense of justice.

To Sheryl, Scarlet was her friend.

Sheryl carried these thoughts in her mind as she walked into Scarlet Investigations with a heavy heart. She headed towards the desk at the back end of the room where Marlowe and Detective Watson stood, with the body of Scarlet in the chair behind the desk.

Chapter 4 - Reunion

The three biggest private detectives of the city were gathered in the room, and one of them was dead.

As a favour to Sheryl and Marlowe, Detective Watson had delayed the medical examiner from bringing Scarlet's body back to the morgue. After the two private detectives took a look and found nothing that Watson hadn't already found, the medical examiner and his assistant put Scarlet into a body bag and carried her away.

Sheryl somberly looked at the body as it was carried out of her view.

Detective Watson turned to the two and asked them "Do you two know if she had any enemies who would do this?"

Sheryl sighed. Then she said, "Considering the way that she was blackmailing people... lots."

Marlowe nodded.

Detective Watson looked at the two, wide-eyed. "She was blackmailing people?"

Chapter 5 - Extortion

"Alright, you two better tell me what she was doing," Watson demanded.

"Well..., it wasn't bad blackmailing..." Sheryl started.

Watson blinked a few times before asking, "Alright, what is good blackmailing then?"

"Well...," Sheryl begin, "Once, Scarlet found out that one of her clients' husband was cheating on her. The client decided not to confront her husband, for the sake of their kids. So Scarlet decided to blackmail the husband with the threat of revealing the affair to his wife."

"How is that good blackmailing?" Watson asked.

"The money was going into an account that was in the client's sister's name. The money was for the client. Scarlet felt that their divorce would be inevitable, so she wanted to leave her client with some money in case of that event," Sheryl answered.

"I... see," Watson said, "Any other cases like that?"

"Well, there was also the one where she blackmailed the leader of a ring of drug dealers, so that one of the dealers could start his life over again."

"Anymore?" Watson said.

"Lots more," Marlowe answered, "In fact, there is going to be a lot of these deals that we don't know anything about. I suggest we start looking for her files."

"But the place was ransacked," Watson said, "Wouldn't whoever did it have taken all the files as well?"

"Knowing Scarlet," Sheryl said, looking at the empty chair, "she probably kept a copy hidden away somewhere in the office."

Watson sighed, "Alright, let's start looking."

Chapter 6 - The Search

Of course, the hard drive of the computer had been smashed to bits and, of course, there weren't any case files that could be found in the mess of papers. However, that didn't mean that they had searched everywhere in the office.

Sheryl, Watson, and Marlowe scoured through Scarlet's office.

Looking over one of the bookcases, Sheryl noticed a hidden panel behind some of the books. She pulled back the panel, which revealed a safe.

"Hey, guys!" Sheryl called over the other two detectives, "I found a hidden safe!"

Watson and Marlowe came over to inspect Sheryl's find.

"It looks like it hasn't been touched, the perp might not have even noticed it," Sheryl said, "Now..., what would be the combination for the lock?"

Sheryl looked around the room, and declared, "Alright, we're going to have to search through Scarlet's stuff for a clue to the combination lock!"

"That could take forever," Marlowe said, "And since this is Scarlet that we're talking about, she probably just used a random number. Do you agree, Watson?"

"Agreed," Watson nodded, and then he took out his cellphone, "I think I have an easier solution to this."

Chapter 7 - Cases

"Thanks, Gary," Watson said to the safe-cracker.

Gary nodded and left.

The three detectives looked inside the safe and pulled out a huge stack of case files.

"Looks like this is going to take a while," Watson said.

'We're going to be looking through Scarlet's case files,' Sheryl thought, 'A fellow detective's case files, filled with her notes, her thoughts, ... her life.'

"Some of these are marked 'Closed'," Marlowe commented as he picked up such a file. He flipped through the file, "Oh, I see. In this one, the abusive husband that Scarlet was blackmailing was finally killed by the wife."

The three spent a few hours looking through the case files, ruling out the 'Closed' case files, and some other opened ones. Finally, they were left with the two cases that Sheryl had mentioned before.

"Okay, we've ruled out every other case except for these two," Watson said.

Sheryl took note of the cases and commented, "That's... coincidental."

"Alright," Watson picked up the case files, "Let's go see this leader of the ring of drug dealers first."

Chapter 8 - Drugs

"Hello Byron," Watson said as he entered the office, followed by Sheryl and Marlowe.

Byron swung around on his expensive leather chair. On both sides of the room stood two muscular men dressed in black. They just stood there, standing guard.

"Hello Detective Watson," Byron lit up a cigar, "I thought you were in homicide now. Did you miss me and move back to narcotics?"

Watson grimaced, "I don't think I will ever miss you."

Byron chuckled and sarcastically said, "Even after all our run-ins?"

Watson ignored him, "I am here about the murder of a local private detective, known by the name of Scarlet."

Byron raised an eyebrow and said, "Never heard of her."

"You sure? I was informed that you had some..." Watson searched for the correct word, "dealings with her."

"I'm sure."

Sheryl started to speak, "You-"

Marlowe placed a hand on Sheryl's shoulder. Sheryl turned to see Marlowe shaking his head, telling her to be quiet.

"Anything else, detective?" Byron asked in a mock polite tone.

"No, that's all for now, thank you for your time," Watson said.

Sarcastically, Byron said, "Of course, you're always welcomed here, Detective Watson."

Outside, Sheryl said, "He's lying!"

"Of course he's lying," Watson said, "But we won't get the truth out of him that easily."

"We need to get to that drug dealer that Scarlet was helping. Now," Marlowe said, "We just told Byron that he wouldn't be blackmailed anymore."

Watson took his phone out, "Nadir and Wong are probably closer, I'll have them pick him up."

Chapter 9 - Testification

Detective Katie Wong knocked on the door, while Detective Nadir stood next to her.

A man answered it. Upon looking at Detective Wong, he smirked and said, "And to what do I owe the pleasure of meeting such a fine woman?"

Katie smiled and ask in a cute tone, "Are you Simon White?"

"I sure am, but you can call me whatever you want."

Katie's expression changed into a stern one as she lifted up her badge and ID, "And you can call me Detective Wong."

Simon backed up and held up his hands, "Woah, woah. Sorry, detective, I didn't know."

"And I'm Detective Nadir," Nadir said, "Can we come in?"

"Sure, sure," Simon said, gesturing to the inside of his house, "What's this about?"

Nadir and Wong sat down on the sofa in the living room. Nadir started, "A local private detective, Scarlet, was murdered."

Simon's face turned into one of panic, "She's dead?!"

"Yes," said Wong, "And we learned that she was... helping you out?"

"Yeah... She was," Simon said.

"Well, it's over now, and we think you might be in danger," Nadir said, "So I suggest that you come forward to the police with what information you may have on Byron Aquino."

"No! No way!" Simon flipped out, "He'll have me killed!"

Detective Wong leaned forward and placed a hand on Simon's, "Look, Simon. The police can protect you, but we can only do that if you're willing to cooperate. Who knows, if you help us, the DA and the judge might be willing to get you a lighter sentence and into the witness protection program."

Simon calmed down. He stopped breathing so heavily and then looked into Katie's eyes, "You'll help me?"

"Yeah," Katie replied with a smile.

Chapter 10 - Marriage

Detectives Watson, Sheryl, and Marlowe walked up to the Hannigans' house.

"So this is the wife who is being cheated on, but refuses to confront her husband about it because of their kids?" Watson asked.

"Yeah," Sheryl replied.

Detective Watson knocked on the door.

A tall man answered it, "Yes?"

"Are you Ivan Hannigan?" Watson asked.

"Yes, I am," then, with an annoyed tone, Ivan asked, "And who are you?"

Watson took out his badge, "I am Detective Watson, and this is Sheryl and Marlowe. We have a few questions that we would like to ask you, may we come in?"

A voice from inside the house asked, "Who is it, Ivan?"

A hand reached for the door and pulled it open, revealing the owner of the voice. It was a woman with a black eye and bruises along her arms.

Concerned, Sheryl asked, "Ma'am, are you alright?"

"Of course, she's alright, why wouldn't she be?" Ivan snapped back aggressively.

"With all due respect, sir," Watson said, "We're asking her. Now, are you alright, ma'am?"

The woman looked at Ivan, who gave her a stern look back. Then, the woman answered, "Yes, I'm fine. If this is about the bruises, I just slipped and fell yesterday."

Of course, Sheryl didn't believe her, but one look told Sheryl that the woman wasn't going to be truthful, not with Ivan around at least.

"Now," Ivan was losing his patience, "What is this about?"

"Well, we are investigating the murder of a private detective who goes by the name of Scarlet. We understand that you have some... dealings with her?"

"I don't know anyone by that name," Ivan said, sternly, "How about you, Stella?"

The woman, Stella, looked up and stuttered, "N-No. Sorry, can't help you there."

Watson looked at the two, and decided that they wouldn't speak with the other around, so he gave them both a card, "Okay, well, here's my card. Please let me know if you think of anything."

Ivan slammed the door before anyone had a chance to utter a polite goodbye.

Chapter 11 - Stakeout

Sheryl sat in the passenger seat of Marlowe's car, looking out at the Hannigan household while Marlowe took a bite out of his sandwich.

"You think something will go down tonight, Holmes?" Marlowe asked.

"I'm not sure," said Sheryl, "But neither of us bought that story about slipping and falling down the stairs. I'm nearly certain that he's been abusing her."

Sheryl tossed a piece of candy into her mouth, "Candy?"

"No thanks," Marlowe took a sip from his soda.

The pair of detectives watched Ivan through his living room window as he read the newspaper.

Marlowe's phone rang as they watched Stella walk into the living room as well. Marlowe quickly grabbed his phone and answered it with a, "Hello?"

"Marlowe, it's Detective Watson."

"Any news, detective?"

"The lab report came in. Scarlet was killed with a .45 caliber handgun. Other than that, nothing that we didn't already know," Watson reported, "How are things going with the stakeout?"

"Nothing so far, the wife just came downstairs after tucking their kids into bed. She's in the living room with the husband right now."

Inside the house, Stella said to her husband, "The kids are sleeping."

Ivan grunted in response and nodded without looking up from his newspaper.

Hesitant, Stella continued, "I guess I will turn in as well."

Ivan suddenly stood up. He gave Stella a stern look and said, "Enough, Stella. Where is my money?"

"W-What do you mean, honey?" Stella said nervously.

Ivan lost his temper. He slapped Stella across her face and yelled, "I know what you've been doing with that private detective! Don't think that I don't know that you two were in on it together! Give me back my money!"

Stella touched the bright red spot on her cheek and whimpered, "I- I don't know what you're talking about!"

"Don't play dumb with me! That stupid Scarlet thought that she could get away with blackmailing me, but look at where that got her. She thought she could hide who she was, but I managed to track her down," Suddenly, Ivan took out a gun, "And then I killed her. Now tell me where the money is!"

Stella was now in tears, "I- I don't know what you're talking about!"

Outside, Marlowe and Sheryl watched the scene in shock.

Marlowe yelled into the phone, "Watson, he's got a gun!"

On the other end, Watson sprung into action, "Go! We'll be there as soon as we can!"

Chapter 12 - Gun

Ivan pointed his gun at Stella as Marlowe and Sheryl ran towards the house.

Marlowe stopped on the front lawn and took out his gun while Sheryl continued running towards the front door. Sheryl took out her tools and started picking the lock.

Marlowe steadied his aim and fired into the living room.

The bullet broke through the living room window and went through Ivan's hand, causing him to drop the gun.

Ivan grabbed his hand and screamed in pain.

Sheryl picked open the front door and ran in. Quickly she grabbed the gun. Then, she walked over to Stella, who was whimpering on the floor with her knees against her chest and her hands covering her head. Quietly, Sheryl asked, "Are you alright?"

Marlowe walked in and pointed his gun at Ivan.

"Who do you think you are?!" Ivan roared.

"Stay down," Marlowe yelled back.

Stella whimpered, "H-He killed Scarlet!"

Ivan, stunned at Stella taking a stand against him, stuttered, "S-She doesn't know what she's talking about!"

Calmly, Marlowe said, "We'll know as soon as we take your gun in for testing."

"Y-you can't do that! You don't have a warrant!"

The scene stayed still for several long moments, with Marlowe pointing his gun at Ivan, and Sheryl comforting Stella.

Chapter 13 - Sirens

Luckily, sirens broke the silence.

Soon after that, Detectives Watson, Wong, and Nadir walked in.

"Are you alright?" Katie Wong knelt down beside Sheryl and Stella.

"Yeah," Sheryl responded, "But she seems to be in shock."

Seeing Detective Watson, Ivan yelled, "Th-they barged into my house, detective! Arrest them!"

Detective Watson gave Ivan a glare, "Actually, there were several calls about a domestic disturbance here, so everyone here will have to come back to the station with me. Our team will collect what we need for evidence, like that gun."

"B-But-" Ivan protested.

"Are you resisting, sir?" Nadir took out a set of handcuffs.

Ivan stopped and quieted down. Without much resistance, everyone got into the police cars and went to the police station.

Chapter 14 - Reconciliation

It was several days later, and Sheryl and Marlowe were at Watson's desk.

"The test came back and it was definitely Ivan's gun that killed Scarlet. Along with Stella's testimony that she heard him confess that he killed Scarlet and the other evidence that we gathered placing him in the area during the time of the murder, the DA's office is quite confident that they can get Ivan behind bars," said Watson.

"That's good," Sheryl said, smiling, "Good job, team."

"Yeah," said Watson, smiling back.

It had been months, even years if one counted all the pent-up feelings of anger, since the two had been friendly with each other. And it felt good.

"Seeing you work, Andrew... Well, let's just say that you're definitely not Dr. Watson. You're a good police detective," said Sheryl

"T-Thank you," Watson was taken aback by Sheryl's words, "And for what it's worth, Sheryl, you're still not Sherlock Holmes, but you're a good detective."

"Thanks, Andrew," said Sheryl.

In the background, Marlowe, Katie, and Nadir smiled as Sheryl and Andrew finally repaired their friendship.

Chapter 15 - Changing Goals

Sheryl was on the sofa in Marlowe's office as she drank from her cup of coffee.

Across from her was Marlowe, drinking his own cup of coffee that he had brewed for them both with his vacuum coffee maker. "So, what brings you by, Holmes?"

Sheryl winced a little at the name, "I've been thinking, Marlowe. Maybe it's time to face it. I'm not Sherlock Holmes."

"No, you're not," Marlowe said as he sipped a bit of his coffee.

"And maybe I don't want to be him anymore, even though he's great," Sheryl continued, "I think that, from now on, I just want to be a good private detective - on my own terms, and not trying to emulate a fictional character."

"That's good to hear," Marlowe said, "I think that you'll become a great detective, one with your own unique skills."

"Well, I still have plenty to learn, so I hope you'll keep helping me."

"Of course I will, Holmes," Marlowe replied.

Sheryl smiled and raised her cup, "And call me Sheryl. Cheers, Marlowe."

Marlowe smiled back and raised his cup as well, "Cheers, Sheryl."

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