Ed. note: Welcome to ATL’s first foray into serial fiction. “My Job Is Murder,” a mystery set in a D.C. appellate boutique, will appear one chapter at a time, M-W-F, over the next few weeks. Prior installments appear here; please read them first.
Susanna Dokupil can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook.
The elevator opened again, and a flurry of blue uniforms quickly surrounded ken Thrax’s office and began marking it with yellow tape. Class: Fighter.
Tyler was a thinker, not a fighter. He left quietly, not wanting to get involved, especially if that yellow sticky note was one of Thrax’s last acts….
Tyler went down the hall to Katarina’s office. He spotted her head amongst the piles of books and case printouts. She was so engrossed in a volume of Miller’s Federal Practice and Procedure that she hadn’t even noticed his entry. He smiled.
Tyler rapped lightly on the doorframe. Katarina jumped. “Sorry,” he said, suppressing a chuckle. “Want to get dinner?”
“I’d rather know what the standard for secular purpose is in Establishment Clause cases after McCreary,” she retorted. Katarina punctuated her frustration by slamming the book against the table.
“Establishment Clause? What is MakoProphet doing with an Establishment Clause case? Those never make any money.”
“Pro bono amicus brief,” she replied. “It’s good experience for us summers, and no one expects us to be profitable anyway.”
“Ah.” Tyler felt vaguely uncomfortable discussing firm profitability just then, so he changed the subject. “Terrible about Ken Thrax.”
“What? What happened?”
“Didn’t you hear the screaming?”
“Not really. Sometimes when I’m concentrating, outside sounds don’t register.”
“Katarina, he’s dead. His secretary found him slumped over his desk. The police put yellow caution tape across his door. How did you not hear any of this? It’s only around the corner!”
She just shrugged, bemused. Then she stared. “You’re serious, aren’t you?”
Katarina jumped up and ran down the hall.
Tyler leaned against the doorframe and waited. Moments later she came back.
“Ken Thrax is dead!” she exclaimed.
“Yes,” Tyler said calmly, “I know.”
“The detective on the scene says he had a heart attack.”
“Don’t we have defibrillators around here somewhere?”
“Nope. Thrax’s secretary said he decided it wasn’t worth it when they were trying to cut costs.”
Let the punishment fit the crime, thought Tyler, mentally humming a tune from The Mikado. “And no one called 9-1-1?” he asked aloud.
“No one saw or heard him in any discomfort. His secretary confirms that Schlosh met with him at 4:00 p.m., and he seemed fine. Then, Schlosh left around 5:00 p.m. Thrax closed his door, sat down at his desk, and his heart stopped. He never once called for help.”
“Still, it’s odd that no one noticed.
“What if he was poisoned? Cardiac arrest can be caused by digitalis,” said Katarina thoughtfully.
Tyler stared at her. “Exactly how many Agatha Christie mysteries have you read?”
She smiled sheepishly. “All of them.”
“OK, Miss Marple, let’s solve the mystery over dinner. I’m starved.”
Susanna Dokupil is a former appellate lawyer who abandoned regular employment in favor of raising four kids. She wishes to emphasize that the resemblance of any character in “My Job Is Murder” to any actual person, living or dead, is purely coincidental. (Except for the geeky stuff. Appellate lawyers really are that geeky.)
Susanna can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Facebook.
Earlier: Prior installments of My Job Is Murder