You Got Played

“What do you mean you believe her? She played me,” Mason said angrily.

The popular quote more specifically mentions being played like a fiddle, as if just anyone can pick-up and competently play a fiddle. You’ll never hear ‘played like a violin’ because of the mental picture it draws. Who would think sitting in any one of the numbered orchestra chairs playing classical music under the direction of a long coat-tailed maniac would be easy? Either one would be difficult, especially because they are the very same instrument.

“Just because she played you like a violin doesn’t mean she tried to have me killed,” I said.

“Please stop saying that! I would never, could never!” she said.

“What? Play me? You can save it, Vince told us everything,” Mason said.

“Again with the play me,” I said sarcastically.

“Okay fine, yes. I was helping him. But you don’t understand. There’s a time in my life when I did things that I’m not very proud of. Vinnie is one of those things. I hoped if I could help him with one more score, that would be it, we’d be done. Really, I didn’t even have to do anything at all. I mean, sure I told him I would tell Alfie if things went bad, but really, it was all him,” Buffy said.

“First of all, to be clear, Alfie is Alfred Meltone correct? Secondly, I have to say that so far you’re not at all what I expected,” I said.

“You mean, who you expected? I get that a lot. Buffy, the dumb blonde stripper right?” she asked.

“For a minute I was thinking Buffy the attempted murderer,” I said.

“Hell I still do. You trust her?” Mason asked.

“I do, but you can bet they don’t,” I said.

I gave them both the heads up to the driveway outside that all of a sudden was piling up with police vehicles. Buffy appeared a little shocked, maybe at a loss for what to do, but certainly not scared.

“I wouldn’t wait if I were you. They’re not shy about taking doors down,” I said.

Buffy hurried to let them in.

“Buffy Meltone?” the policeman asked.

“Yes, can I help you?” she asked.

“Detective Tom Czerneski, I have a warrant to search your home,” Tom said.

Without any further ado, a small army of uniformed police officers as well as a few plain clothes types pushed their way into the house.

“Ah, Philippine, fancy meeting you here. Where’s your car?” Tom asked.

“I rode with him,” I said.

“If you don’t mind, I need a word, in private,” he said.

“Of course,” I said.

“Wait a minute, what’s this all about?” Buffy asked.

“Mrs. Meltone you have the right to remain silent,” he said.

“Am I being arrested? For what?” she demanded.

“Sergeant, would you kindly read Mrs. Meltone her rights while I have a little talk with Ms. Maximine?” he asked.

“Sure boss. Mrs. Meltone, you have the right to remain…”

After more than a word I returned to face a handcuffed and confused Buffy Meltone and a strangely satisfied Mason Owens sipping a morning drink at the bar.

“Is that really necessary?” I asked referring to the cuffs.

“Until I know for sure,” Tom said.

“Mason, would you please take me to my car? Buffy here has her hands full for now,” I said.

“You going to tell me what’s going on?” Mason asked.

“All in good time, all in good time,” I told him.

I didn’t give Mason much to go on, I couldn’t, not yet.

“If not her than who? I’m telling you, no way it was Mary,” he said.

“Listen, I’ll give you a call later. There’s something I have to do first, stay tuned,” I told him.

I had to see my old friend Vinnie again. With Buffy in cuffs and a hole in his pants I had a hunch he was going to be slightly more cooperative. By the time I arrived at the AAPT central offices, it was just about quitting time for nine to fivers.

“Hello Philippine, I didn’t expect to see you. I don’t remember you having any meetings with the boys today. Did you have something scheduled?” Marnie asked.

“Nope, just thought I’d drop-in. There’s a couple things I need to discuss. Hey, could you do me a favor?” I asked her.

“Sure, what did you need?” she asked.

“Could you page your driver? We’re going to need to talk to him,” I said.

“Sure, I guess. Who’s we?” she asked.

“Oh, me and the boys,” I said.

“Well, okay, in that case let me call Wesley and let him know you’re here,” she said.

“Don’t bother, I think I’ll just pop-in,” I said.

I charged past her and directly into Alfred’s office.

“Sir Alfred Meltone?” I asked. “Philippine, Philippine Maximine. I stopped in today because up until this morning, I was wondering why you tried to kill me?” I asked.

“What? Why I never,” he said.

He picked up his intercom and demanded Marnie call the police to have me removed. The look on his face when he heard the reply was priceless.

“Um, they are already here sir,” she said.

Detective Tom knocked as he entered the office. Before he closed the door I could see any number of uniformed officers milling around the other side. It wasn’t a moment before Wesley Meltone also made his way into the room slamming the door behind him.

“Oh, it’s you. Figures you would have something to do with this,” he said to me.

“Wesley Meltone? I’m definitely going to need a word with you. For now, why don’t you do me a favor and have a seat at your desk. Could you do that please Mr. Meltone?” Tom asked.

“I demand to know what this is all about. What is she doing here? Why are you harassing my father?” he ranted.

Tom opened the door and called out into the office.

“Sergeant, could you please escort Mr. Meltone to his office and make sure he stays there until I’m ready for him?” Tom asked.

“Sure thing boss.”

“What is this all about?” Alfred asked.

“Mr. Meltone? I have in my hand a ballistics report. Are you familiar with modern ballistics Mr. Meltone?” Tom asked.

“Yes of course,” Alfred said.

“Well, do you know what it says? It says the bullet fired through Ms. Maximine’s office window,” he paused. “I’m sure you know Ms. Maximine. Anyways, the hole in Ms. Maximine’s window was made by a 7.7-millimeter rifle round otherwise known as a British .303. I have to say, it took my guys a little while to track it down but once they did, it got me to wondering. Turns out that this morning we recovered from your home one immaculately cared for MK-1 Lee Enfield rifle, chambered for the British .303, the weapon of choice for the British army in WWII. Immaculate, except for the fact that it had been recently fired. Now, chance being what it is, I decided to have that rifle tested against the round recovered from the wall outside Ms. Maximine’s office and wouldn’t you know it? It matched. And, it had your fingerprints on it to boot,” Tom explained.

“Of course it had my fingerprints on it, it’s mine. Besides, your story is preposterous. You sir are bluffing. My wife was home, she would have called,” Alfred said.

“And that is exactly what she planned to do, that is until we told her why you fired the shot. Recognize this man?” Tom asked.

Tom was holding an 8 x 10 glossy of Mason Owens, the man Sir Alfred thought was having an affair with his wife. Mr. Meltone took a moment before sitting back down in his chair.

“Yes, yes of course, I recognize the chap, he is my real estate man. But this proves nothing,” he said.

“You’re jealousy got the best of you Alfie, but you were too cheap to hire out weren’t you. War hero like yourself, thought you’d just take care of it on your own. Well, almost. Isn’t that right Alfie? I tell you what Mr. Meltone, I’m going to do something I don’t normally do, because without her, we might never have known. Philippine?” Tom said.

Tom leaned out of the office and spoke to the officer outside for a brief moment before returning.

“I’m not saying another word until I can speak to my lawyer,” Alfred said.

“That’s just fine Alfie, because all I want you to do is listen, let him in,” I said.

“Have a seat,” Tom said to Wesley.

“You see this whole time I was looking for a person that wanted to kill me. At first, I thought it was your driver, Vince, but besides him not really having the brains, he didn’t really have a reason. I considered for a moment Wesley, thinking maybe after talking to Vince and uncovering his little scam, you’re being played by the way, he might want to have me bumped-off. But it turns out that it wasn’t his limo in the alley outside my office that day was it? It was yours. You see, in all the chaos, my cat jumped out the window that day. Yup, right off the ledge, briefly onto your car, and off who knows where? He never came back, but that’s not the point, his footprints were. That’s two things you should have cleaned Mr. Meltone, your rifle and your car. It wasn’t me you wanted to kill, it was Buffy. You found out who she really was thanks to Vince, who was blackmailing you to keep it all a secret. The public embarrassment would have killed every chance at the fundraising you need to keep this place afloat,” I accused.

“Again! Preposterous. Anyone who knows me can tell you unequivocally that I do not drive. I’ll also have you know that I love my wife very much,” he said.

“Yes, I’m sure you do Mr. Meltone, or at least, did. Tom?” I said.

Tom opened up the door and let Vince in the room with the same instructions he gave to Wesley.

“Let me introduce my old friend, Vince Botoni.  Seems you two have a lot in common. Huh, who’d guess?” I said.

“Anything this man says is not to be believed. Why, he is a common criminal,” Alfred said.

“Oh don’t worry about Vince, he’s only here because I wanted him to hear this. I’m well aware that you weren’t driving the car Mr. Meltone, nor was Vinnie, or even Wesley here. The person driving the car is the same person who stole Mary Owens’ Jaguar, although be it temporarily. She left her scent all over it. This person also met with and hired a group of killers. This person has access to your money. Tom?” I said.

“The person who saw you pull the trigger from the moon roof of the limo, a person you love, a person who wished she was in Buffy’s spot and the person willing to kill to get there. I remembered her fragrance. I remembered the first time I smelled it; it was unique. It was the day she walked into my office looking for her lost brother. Ms. Marnie Fankowski,” I said.

The sergeant led Marnie into the room in handcuffs.

“Ms. Marnie Fankowski, taking advantage of the limousine lunches of Mary Owens and Wesley Meltone, stole Owens’ car so as not to be trackable, and with access to the company checkbook hired a group of men to assassinate me at all costs. One of the men who I did not manage to kill, but only wound escaped that day. However, detective Tom informed me this morning during the search of your house Mr. Meltone, that a suspect was apprehended and in exchange for certain amenities, was more than willing to talk,” I explained.

“That’s enough of this nonsense, Ms. Fankowski has impeccable credentials and…” Wesley said.

Wesley saw the look on her face as her head hung low.

“You lied about my brother, you took my money and lied. All that bullshit about being a hero. You and that damn kid, you got him to lie too. For all I know you never even went looking for him. You deserve to die for putting me through it all again. Why do you think I recommended you to the sicko in the first place?” Marnie exclaimed.

“Sicko? Why I never…” Wesley protested.

“And finally that takes us to you, Wesley Meltone. As it happens, I know exactly why she called you that. You see the real reason I wanted Vinnie here wasn’t just to hear the evidence, or her confession. Alfred was right, he’s a common thug. Whether you know it or not Mr. Meltone, Vinnie here was in the process of blackmailing you. Well, you and Mason Owens that is. Him and his beloved ex Buffy were going to take half of everything you scammed off the old man. She was just hoping to get Vinnie off her back once and for all. Yeah, sorry Vinnie, truth hurts. Vince here was hoping for the big score. Too bad he was too stupid to pull it off. That, I’ll leave up to the detective to handle but not you Wesley. Because this time, it’s personal. Your father’s house wasn’t the only home searched this morning. Nobody was at your house. You’re not married are you Mr. Meltone? I wonder why? I thought nothing of it when Detective Tom told me they didn’t find anything incriminating, that is until he finished his sentence. ‘Nothing but an out of place old gray pair of sweatpants.’ We both found that to be a little strange. So this afternoon, purely on a hunch I called Vinnie here and for some reason he was far more cooperative than he had been in the past. He told me about a strange habit you have of being dropped off at a large strip mall parking lot, one with a laundromat where consequently, you like to put your dick on the windows of women’s cars you sick, son of a bitch,” I said, angry.

“I spent the afternoon collecting all the evidence they’ll ever need to give you some quality time with men of equal values. I admit, I didn’t recognize you. After all, I wasn’t really concentrating on your face, but it’s not your face I’m going to have to ID is it now Mr. Meltone? Detective Czerneski? They’re all yours. If you’ll excuse me, I have a few clients to attend to, and a window to wash.”

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