The story so far...Leaving the office, Mark is hassled by a couple of redneck truckers who don't like the fact that Mark is working for company that ships produce from Pakistan. Mark brushes the loudm...
Leaving the office, Mark is hassled by a couple of redneck truckers who don’t like the fact that Mark is working for company that ships produce from Pakistan. Mark brushes the loudmouths off, but after backing up the empty trailer to the loading dock, he opens the doors to find a dead body inside the trailer.
Mark goes for a coffee while the police investigate what looks to be a murder. He meets up with a familiar face in the coffee shop and asks a few questions about the dead man. Was the man really killed by the loudmouths in a racially motivated murder that’s connected to the attacks in New York City?
Seems the police are looking at the two rednecks as suspects, but Mark is sure they didn’t do it. The police also believe the man was killed in the trailer, but Mark doesn’t think that’s right either. In the end the cop chases Mark away, but placates him, saying he’ll let the detectives know about his theories on the case.
Mark left the cop guarding the crime scene and headed for the Ravi Roadways office to do a little investigating of his own.
Along the way, he noticed a couple of detectives interviewing the two loudmouths from the morning, Cigarette and Toothpick. The cops had taken over a couple of the terminal’s offices and were using them as interrogation rooms. From the looks of it, the two suspects weren’t too happy over being questioned about the murder. After one of the cops asked a question, Mark watched Cigarette swing his arms in the air, slap the table top with his hand, and shake his head as if he were insulted that anyone would think he might be capable of murder.
Mark had to agree with the man. Although Cigarette was an asshole, and had probably done plenty of illegal things in his life, he wasn’t a killer. Same went for Toothpick.
The answer to the mystery was a lot simpler, Mark was sure of it.
A few minutes later, Mark was at the Ravi Roadways office looking for the dead man’s brother, Chunder. Mark had expected him to be grieving, but he was on the phone, arranging for other loads and basically conducting business as usual. This time, he also got a better look at the woman in the office, the dead man’s widow. She looked scared by everything that had happened, but one thing was certain, she was many years younger than the dead man. That was another piece of the puzzle that seemed to fit with Mark’s idea about what was going on.
“Will you be taking the load?” Chunder asked when he got off the phone.
“The cops won’t let me leave just yet,” Mark lied.
“They’re really putting those two guys on the hotseat.”
This brought a faint smile to the man’s face. “It will get much hotter for them, my friend. But no matter how bad it is for them, it will only be a fraction of the hell our lives have been since September 11.”
“Yeah, you… and all the people who lost family members in the tragedy.” Mark had done his best to sound sarcastic, but the guy wasn’t getting it.
“People are so stupid here. They taunt us, threaten us, but we aren’t even Muslim. We’re Hindu, but people here are too stupid to know the difference.”
Mark felt himself bristling at the man’s comments, but he managed to keep his cool. “You know, that’s an interesting word… stupid. It implies that you think you’re smarter than everyone else.”
Chunder shook his head. “I’m not smarter… Just angry. I know I seem cold, but I’ve lost my brother, and now I have a business to run. How could I honor my brother if I let the business fall apart without him?”
Mark ignored the man’s plea for sympathy. “You say they don’t know the difference between Muslims and Hindus, but you know… I wonder if you know the difference between fraud and perjury?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Fraud is lying to the police now,” Mark said in a cold and emotionless tone. “Perjury is when you do it later in court under oath, in front of a judge and jury.”
“Who is lying?” he barked.
Mark had to give the man credit. He really looked outraged.
“Those men are racists!” he stated.
“Sure,” said Mark, “but are they killers?”
“What? What are you saying?”
“Your brother didn’t die in that trailer, did he?”
Chunder’s mouth opened in a gasp, but no words escaped his lips. Behind him, the dead man’s wife got up from her desk and turned away.
“Yes he did. He died in the trailer.” He paused to take several deep breaths. “He was sweeping up, working hard like he always did… they killed him, because they hate us.”
Mark shook his head. “They don’t hate you, they don’t even know you. They’re just… confused.”
“Get out of here!” Chunder demanded.
Like before, Mark continued on oblivious to whatever the man was saying.
“I think your brother died somewhere else, like… at his home, or even your home… maybe in the backyard.”
Chunder’s face was a mask of shock and surprise, and all at once Mark knew he’d hit the nail on the head. But, where should he go from here? He had a few ideas about what happened, but they were little more than guesses. But even if he were wrong, he had a feeling that he had enough right to get this thing solved.
“See, he found you, maybe found you with his very attractive younger wife and you had an argument.” Mark shrugged. “Nothing strange about that, it happens all the time.” Chunder shook his head. “No!”
“You’re a lot younger than your brother so you’re quicker to act and you pick up a rock before he can. Then in a moment of anger you hit him over the head with it. You were just angry, and you didn’t mean to kill him, but he dies. Just like that.”
“No, nothing like that happened.” Chunder was emphatic. “Now you must get out, before-“
“Before what? You going to kill me too?”
Mark decided it was time to go in for the kill, so to speak. “See, suddenly you had a big problem on your hand. What do you do with the body of a dead brother? But you’re smart, smarter than everyone else – you said so yourself. So you figure that since he’s a hard working man, you could bring your brother’s body to work and put him in the back of a trailer. Then you throw a broom in there with him to make it look good, and you blame it all on a bunch of loud-mouthed assholes, who you never liked anyway.”
“No!” Chunder was shaking his head as if it were painful to hear all this.
“Suddenly September 11 isn’t so bad anymore right? Sure it made things tough for you, but it was going to get you off the hook for killing your brother.”
“No, I did not kill him. He was my brother…”
“Then how did he die?”
“I killed him,” she said.
“What?” Mark said. He hadn’t seen that one coming.
Chunder turned to his sister-in-law. “Preeti, no!”
“My husband was 20 years older than me. I didn’t want to be his wife anymore. He wouldn’t allow a divorce, couldn’t allow it… But when I insisted, he came at me and put his hands on me, around my neck. So I hit him… not with a rock, but a statue from our garden.”
Mark gave a slight nod, feeling vindicated. Just then the door opened and the young cop was standing in the doorway along with one of the detectives. “That’s the guy there. Hey, the detectives want to have a word with you.”
The detective stepped into the office, saw a woman sobbing, a man with his head in his hands, and came to the conclusion there was something amiss. “What’s going on here?”
Mark gestured to the wife, Preeti. “I think she’s got something to tell you.” He left the room, a tingly sort n Continued from page 35
feeling all over his body, as if he’d just scored the overtime goal that won the Leafs the Cup.
“So, what tipped you off?” the detective asked Mark hours later, after charges had been laid against Chunder and Preeti.
“A lot of things,” Mark said. “The broom seemed wrong, and the brother’s insistence on who the murderers were was just too cut and dried. But the thing that really clinched it for me were the maggots in the dead man’s mouth.”
“Oh yeah, how’s that?”
“See, if the trailer door was closed, it would have been like he’d been killed indoors. But the maggots meant he was killed outside
and left outside for a few hours before being dumped into the trailer.”
The detective nodded. “Not bad at all. That’s about what happened. He was killed around six last night. She called the brother over to the house around eight and they let the body sit until midnight when they put him into the trailer.”
Mark was nodding. “That was pretty much what I figured, only I thought he was the killer.”
“It’s still pretty good work. You ever thought about being a cop?” n
– Mark Dalton will return next month in another spine tingling adventure.