The young man had to be from the street, hell his clothes looked like they came from the Salvation Army or worse. What he was doing sitting on the polished hard wood floor of Jasper Corneleus Willingham the Third's office no one knew, but the 357 magnum in his hand the pool of blood all over the floor and the broken window through which the night whispered told them something wasn't right.
Crossing the room with heavy steps echoing each time his polished black shoes hit the floor, Calvin McCalister studied the situation if he was right a murder had been committed right here on fiftieth floor of the building, in the law offices of CW3 and associates. Something told him he had ten questions to get to the bottom of things.
-----1. Is that thing loaded? McCalister asked. (Always a good first question when the suspect still has the gun.)
The young man looked up, dark hair covering his face. "No," he said. "Not anymore."
McCalister felt a wave of relief at that. He moved closer to the kid.
-----2. How about you give that to me? (Not a bad second question in case the suspect lies about the first.)
The young man looked at the gun as if it were foreign to him. He shoved it and the weapon slid across the floor like a beer heading down a polished bar to a thirsty patron.
McCalister picked the gun up, checked to see if it held any bullets and was pleasantly surprised to find that it didn't.
-----3. What happened here kid? McCalister asked. (Reasonable given that the evidence so far is only circumstantial.)
"I didn't mean to do it if that's what you mean."
-----4. Do what? McCalister asked - so far as I can tell there's no proof anything's happened here except someone broke a window and made a mess.
"CW3 went crazy," the kid explained. "I couldn't stop him. He'd been hounding me, threatening lawsuits, threatening violence. I came down here to try and talk some sense into him.
-----5. Sense about what? (McCalister didn't really want to ask this question but he had to know what was going on.)
My name's CW the 4th," the kid said.
(Ha, McCallister thought - I didn't have to ask that -the kid gave one away for free - Cha ching! saved myself a question.)
"I've been fighting with him over money, and an inheritance. I tried to explain to him what I had a right to what I deserved but he wouldn't listen. So I had to act."
McCallister knew that CW3's recently divorced wife had also become his recently deceased wife. He wondered, could it be connected?
---- 6. "Did you want him to give you some money?" (Might as well see if there was any motive.)
"What?" the kid said. "No. He wanted money from me. CW3 lost it all in the divorce for fooling around with his secretaries, a neighbor, two judges and a monkey. The money came to me and he thought he deserved at least some of it."
---- 7. "Why?"
McCalister slammed a hand over his mouth as fast as he could but it was still too late - he'd wasted a question, just out of spontaneous reaction. It was stupid, it was foolish - he didn't care about that particular "why" - "why" didn't matter. He would have to be more careful.
"Because he figured the stress that he caused helped send momma up to the big Gold digger ranch in the sky. Figured he'd earned some of the money that way. I came down here to tell him no, in no uncertain terms.
"And he pulled the gun." (McCallister didn't count that one since technically it was a statement, not a question. See - no question mark at the end.)
"Exactly," the kid blurted out. "We fought over it and then it accidentally went off 15 times pointed right at his chest."
That was kind of a bad break, McCalister thought. Eight or nine accidental shots to the chest could be explained but fifteen - that's a pattern.
He stood and looked around, the pool of blood was in front of CW3's desk but CW3 was no where to be seen. McCalister walked to the open window, he could here sirens now, police, ambulance, possible homeland security. He also thought he heard an ice cream truck which made him realize he had a craving for a Bomb Pop or an Italian Ice. But then he saw what he was looking for, straight down from the window, sprawled out on the concrete was the body of CW3.
---- 8. "I wonder how far down that is?" McCalister mumbled. "Damn," he said. "Another wasted question. Only two left.
As police swarmed from the squad cars and surrounded the body, McCalister knew he was running out of time. He saw some of them storming into the building. He had to act quickly and be precise.
---- 9. "You're rich then, huh kid," he said turning back to CW4.
"Yeah that's right," CW4 said - "I got fifty bazillion dollars in the bank."
That made it easy.
---- 10. "Then how'd you like to hire yourself the former second best defense lawyer in town, who has recently - very recently aparently - moved up to number 1?"
McCalister smiled his best snakeoil salesman smile, he found clients hated sneaky lawyers, until they needed on that was. He stuck out his hand. "Something tells me you're gonna need me."
And then once they'd shaken hands, McCalister asked another equally important question. So important he figured it didn't really count in the ten questions.
11. "You do know, I only accept payment in advance, right?"