My Job Is Murder

My Job Is Murder.jpgEd. 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 [email protected] 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.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “My Job Is Murder: Of Departures and Denouements”

My Job Is Murder.jpgEd. 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 [email protected] or on Facebook.

The detective hid with Katarina just out of sight, listening, hoping to overhear a confession. But once he realized John intended to poison Tyler, he decided to step in, one way or the other.
“Hold it right there,” he said.
Instantly, he saw he was too late. A golden leg squirmed between John’s glove and Tyler’s mouth.
“Honestly, officer, there’s no need for the gun anymore. The killer is incapacitated. In fact, he’ll be dead in a matter of minutes. There’s no known antidote for batrachotoxin.”
At that, Katarina sprang into action. She e-mailed everyone in the office: “Trapped on MakoProphet roof with Ken Thrax’s murderer! Call police!”
Katarina looked at the time. It was 12:05 p.m. She texted Alex, who regularly got sushi takeout for lunch. “Going to O Bento today?”
He responded immediately: “There now — why?”
“I need you to get me something….”

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “My Job Is Murder: Of Explanations and Escapes”

My Job Is Murder.jpgEd. 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 [email protected] or on Facebook.

“Now, Dick, go back to your office before anyone notices you’re gone. In exactly fifteen minutes, you will leave for a client meeting. You will bring with you anything from your office of value that fits in your briefcase. I will clean up here and meet you out front. We will go to the Colombian embassy, and from there, leave the country for a month. You will explain your absence by telling your secretary that you are checking into rehab — which, by the way, I highly recommend. The other partners are anxious enough for work that they’ll happily cover for you. If the frame sticks, and it is safe to return, we’re back in a month. If not, we’re safe on foreign soil.”
“How will we get into the embassy?”
“Oh, I spent one of my college summers in Colombia working to teach indigenous peoples about sanitation. One of my friends from that is the ambassador now. That’s actually where I learned how to handle poisonous frogs.”
Dick smiled and shook his head admiringly.
“Speaking of which, Dick, I trust you disposed of that little piece of evidence once you missed your chance to plant it in Thrax’s office?”

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “My Job Is Murder: Of Rooftops and Rumpuses”

My Job Is Murder.jpgEd. 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 [email protected] or on Facebook.

Tyler hit the “send” button on his e-mail draft to Carol. He knew his career at the firm was just as dead as Ken Thrax. He wondered how long he had. Days? Weeks? He had no idea what to do next. But he had a sudden empathy for John Tiburon. He decided to go up and thank him for the help on the memo. Fortunately no one was in the men’s room when he climbed up to open the ceiling tile.
As he reached the trap door to the roof, he heard voices yelling. One was Tiburon.
“You idiot! All you had to do was get back into Thrax’s office once his body was discovered and clean that one lousy key before the police started sweeping the office. Your office is just down the hall, and it would have been so natural for you to be first on the scene. It was the perfect crime! Totally untraceable! You plant the frog, and it’s a bizarre freak accident. How could you ruin everything?”
“I’m sorry, I guess I got distracted.”
“Distracted with a bottle of Scotch, more like. Did you muck something up with a client? Is that why Thrax wanted you out?”
“Of course not. I’d never let my, er, hobbies interfere with work.”
“Well, it wasn’t the sexual harassment scandal. We all know you can beat that. You’ve never been interested in a woman in your life.”
Schlosh! Tyler thought with alarm. Gay and an alcoholic? The things he missed by preferring Asimov to office gossip . . . .

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “My Job Is Murder: Of Legends and Legerdemain”

My Job Is Murder.jpgEd. 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 [email protected] or on Facebook.

Katarina, intrigued by Tyler’s phone call, spent a few moments researching batrachotoxin. The poison, produced by phyllobates terribles from South America, is highly deadly, killing a man on contact with only as much as the weight of a few grains of salt. The poison has no known antidote.
She also looked up John Tiburon. A high-level Justice Department appointee, Tiburon had resigned after he had been televised — and identified by name and position — in the audience of a gay marriage rally at a time when the administration was taking a strong line in favor of traditional marriage. He had never revealed his sexual orientation at the office, and he hadn’t sought the publicity. But he had been unhirable for any traditional firm or government position after that.
She kept reading. Tiburon’s biography mentioned that he spent time in Colombia working for the Peace Corps. The Golden Poison Dart Frog, she had just read, is indigenous to certain parts of Colombia.
Curious, she walked down to Thrax’s office, where the detectives were testing for traces of the poison.
“How was he poisoned?” she asked, standing carefully outside the yellow caution tape.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “My Job Is Murder: Of Constables and Clues”

My Job Is Murder.jpgEd. 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 [email protected] or on Facebook.

Tyler slowly awoke to the sounds of the drones coming to work in the hive. He dragged himself to the men’s room, looked at the closed ceiling tiles with a smile, and straightened himself up. He planned to read his draft again, give it to Carol, and go home to get some sleep.
On the way back to his office, he saw Mark.
“Have you heard? Thrax was poisoned!” he said.
“Poisoned? How?”
“The medical examiner found batrachotoxin in his bloodstream.”
“Batracho-what?” Tyler asked.
“Batrachotoxin. The stuff in the skin of poison dart frogs that makes them poisonous.”
“Weird. Was there a frog in his office?”
“They’re in there now, checking everything for traces of the poison,” Mark replied.
“Hmm. . .” Tyler said sleepily and staggered back to his desk. He had to send that draft.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “My Job Is Murder: Of Beetles and Batrachotoxin”

My Job Is Murder.jpgEd. 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 [email protected] or on Facebook.

Despite his experience on construction cases, Tyler knew very little about actual construction. But he was fairly certain a rope ladder going up two stories to the roof was not standard for office buildings. He reached the top, pushed open a trap door, and climbed out onto the roof.
Not twenty feet away, Tyler saw a small tent and a rather well-dressed man sitting in it. He sat cross-legged, working on a laptop computer.
The man looked up. “Can I help you?” he asked.
“Uh, who are you?” asked Tyler.
“Name’s John Tiburon, attorney at law.”
Tyler gasped. “John Tiburon? The John Tiburon?”
“The very same.”
John Tiburon was a MakoProphet legend. Class: God who walks among us. Graduated summa cum laude from Harvard, clerked on the United States Supreme Court, published an article he wrote as a student in the Yale Law Journal, and argued in every federal appellate court in the country, including the U.S. Supreme Court (more than once), by the time he was thirty-five. And he had never lost a case.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “My Job Is Murder: Of Prodigals and Prodigies”

My Job Is Murder.jpgEd. 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 [email protected] or on Facebook.

Back at the office, Tyler said goodnight to Katarina and returned to his desk. He checked his e-mail while he ate his sashimi. CLE presentation on electronic discovery. Maintenance on the air conditioners tonight. Recruiting event next week at Carol’s house. He marked his quest calendar accordingly. Post-lunch summer associate evaluation form from Mark. Tyler completed it perfunctorily.
Firmwide announcement regarding the death of Ken Thrax. Standard Corporatica chronicling his achievements, condolences to the family. Information on funeral services to be announced as it became available. No mention of cause of death
Tyler looked at the clock. 8:30 p.m. He sighed, pulled out his pile of cases on parol evidence, opened his document, and got to work.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “My Job Is Murder: Of Partners and Parol Evidence”

My Job Is Murder.jpgEd. 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 [email protected] or on Facebook.

Katarina grabbed her oversized purse and tossed a long red scarf around her neck. Tyler noticed a copy of Atlas Shrugged peeking out of it. Alignment: Libertarian. And geeky. Only true bookworms manage to slog through all 1000+-pages of Ayn Rand’s magnum opus.
“So what kind of law do you want to practice?” Tyler asked as they walked. He groaned inwardly for asking such a stock question.
“Litigation, probably appellate,” she replied. “I’m especially interested in constitutional questions.”
Tyler sensed a liberal arts background and good grades in law school. “And what was your college major?”
“Archaeology. I have my master’s degree in Near Eastern Art and Archaeology from the University of Chicago.”
Precisely, thought Tyler.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “My Job Is Murder: Of Sushi and Succubi”

My Job Is Murder.jpgEd. 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 [email protected] 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?”

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “My Job Is Murder: Of Death, Detectives, and Defibrillators”

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