Ed. note: Welcome to ATL’s first foray into serial fiction: “My Job Is Murder,” a mystery set in a D.C. appellate boutique. This is the final installment; you can read prior installments here.
Susanna Dokupil can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook.
The loud whack-whack-whack of a helicopter blade caused John, the detective, and Katarina all to look up. It was the police. Someone downstairs had called, Katarina thought excitedly.
“You’re going in for questioning. One way or the other, you assaulted this guy with a poison frog.”
The helicopter landed on the roof.
John panicked and looked over the edge. No sign of Dick. He grabbed his rolled tent and quickly looped its ropes around his body. As John jumped, the detective marveled at how he had made it into a parachute — but it wasn’t effective enough for such a sharp drop.
John landed, but did not move. Clever, but not realistic, thought the detective as he called 9-1-1.
Alex burst through the door of the roof up to the stairwell. “Katarina! Katarina! Where are you?”
“Over here!” she shouted.
He ran toward her.
“Did you get the puffer fish?”
“Yeah,” he said, holding up a plastic bag with a ball of a fish inside.
“Quick, get a knife – we’ve only got about sixty seconds to save Tyler!”
He presents a pocket knife which she uses to cut chunks of meat from the fish’s belly. She shoved them in Tyler’s mouth and forced him to chew.
“Aren’t puffer fish poisonous?” asked Alex.
“Yes, but that’s exactly the point. Tyler was exposed to batrachotoxin, for which there is no known antidote. Tetrodotoxin, the poison found in puffer fish, is also highly toxic, but it works on the body in the exact opposite way. So, Tyler’s one shot is for me to reverse the reaction with an equal and opposite poison, so to speak.”
After a few moments, Tyler moaned in pain.
“Oh, thank goodness, he’s alive!” said Katarina.
“Very impressive,” said Alex.
“What happened?” asked Tyler.
Dick Schlosh sat in a quiet, pale blue room with two detectives. “And so John and I decided to push Thrax out of the way to save our careers,” he said as he signed a piece of paper. He pushed it toward them. “I wish I had taken responsibility for my drinking a long time ago. But now that I am, I want to make amends.”
The police cuff him and escort him out.
Tyler tossed another pile of case printouts into the recycle bin. Although he had recovered from his bout with batrachotoxin and tetrodotoxin within a few days, he had returned from the hospital to find that, in fact, he was still laid off. Tyler found it shocking that after three years at MakoProphet, he only had about one file box worth of souvenirs from his legal career.
He checked his e-mail one last time. A note from Katarina: “Good luck! Stay in touch!” He responded, “Dinner at O Bento soon?” and included his mobile number.
Then, Tyler looked at the letter from FlashFamous publishers on top of his “keep” pile and smiled at the big number in the top line. Enough to live on while he wrote his book about Ken Thrax’s murder – as long as he lived as frugally as John Tiburon.
Tyler picked up his single file box, left the blackberry on his desk, and, without a word to anyone, walked out of the dungeon forever.
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