Author: kerlin PM
[casefile] A murder in a museum related to one of Las Vegas's first families has the team walking on political eggshells.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Mystery - Chapters: 17 - Words: 32,901 - Reviews: 32 - Favs: 4 - Updated: 01-30-04 - Published: 01-12-04 - id: 1683574
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Summary: A murder in a museum related to one of Las Vegas's first families has the team walking on political eggshells.
Spoilers: Given that I had only seen up to "Justice is Served" when I started this, there won't be any past that, and you can consider this set in late first season.
Disclaimer: Not mine, just borrowing. I'll put them back when I'm done.
Author's Note: Huge, huge thanks to elishavah and buggs for the beta and the continuity stick.
Walter Green slid his glasses upward and pinched the bridge of his nose, spreading his fingers out from there to run a palm over his face. The glasses dropped back down to the tip of his nose and he pushed them into place with an exasperated gesture, dropping his pen and leaning back with a creak in the leather chair.
He glared balefully at the sheet of paper for a few seconds and then leaned forward to tap a button on the phone to the right of the desk blotter.
"Holly," he said when the speakerphone clicked on, "has Tom finished running the projected banquet costs yet?" His eyes snuck back to the aggravating columns in front of him while he waited for his secretary's answer.
He didn't have to wait long. "Not yet, Mr. Green. He hasn't gone home yet; I'll tell him that you're looking for them."
Walter opened his mouth to thank her, but changed his mind when the digital clock on the phone display flicked to a new minute. "It's past ten o'clock. Tell him to go home and that I'll be looking for them in the morning." Tom Daley had a new baby at home. The entire staff had been working until nearly midnight every night, and while Walter had nothing more exciting to go home to than a nightcap of Scotch and late-night television, he understood that most of the dedicated men and women he worked with had been suffering under the strain.
Only a few days more, he told himself, as Holly acknowledged his message for Tom. Setting the budget sheet aside as the speakerphone clicked off, he pulled another document onto the blotter and uncapped a red pen.
...leaving behind her a collection of objects and documents whose value...
He paused and struggled for a word. Something else was missing. Ah - he arrowed in the word "historical" in front of value and nodded to himself.
...whose historical value is beyond measure. On February 15, 2004, the 90th anniversary of Ms. Galliard's arrival in Las Vegas, our museum will open its doors to the public with a day of...
A day of what? The only phrase that came to mind what the staff had been referring to it as for weeks - the Big Day.
"I hate press releases," Walter muttered to no one in particular, and squinted at the blank line, trading his red pen for a black one to pick up where he had left off the last time he had tried to finish the release. Procrastination time was over; there were two dozen news organizations that would be looking for the final copy to appear in their fax machines by noon tomorrow to make the weekend highlights.
Celebration, he decided, and made a strong mental note to run the text past Holly before sending it out to the newspapers in the morning. She had an English degree, didn't she? Or comparative literature. Or something like that. Either way, he was very sure she would be able to come up with a better word than celebration.
He was crossing the t in the word with a quick gesture when the shot rang out, and he started so violently that the fountain pen blotted out the rest of the word. He didn't notice - he threw the pen down and ran out of the room, finding Holly already standing with her mouth open.
"What was that?" he asked, because there was always a chance that it wasn't what he thought it was. The sound of a gunshot was something that didn't belong in the administrative offices of a museum.
She didn't answer and shook her head, her eyes wide and lips still forming an o. Walter pushed past her small desk and out into the hall.
"Tom," he said in surprise. The younger man was dressed in his overcoat against the chill of a desert night, and holding a briefcase in his right hand. He swallowed convulsively.
"I was down in the Blue Room, I wanted to run a final checklist on the interactive displays," he explained in a rush. "Please tell me that wasn't what I thought it was."
Walter shrugged and spread his hands apart and realized in that moment that if they were going to go find out where a gunshot had come from he didn't want to do so unarmed. He looked around and came up with nothing but the umbrella just inside of Holly's anteroom, which in the cramped confines of the museum's office space doubled as a copy room and coat closet, just as she served as administrative assistant for all senior staff.
He would have felt more than slightly foolish if he hadn't felt an overwhelming sense of fear, and nodded at Tom, who set his briefcase down. Together, they went down the hall, checking rooms as they went. Laura had brought her work home to tend to a sick child, and her office was dark and undisturbed. The small kitchen and break room was open and lit, but that was to be expected. No one was in the room and Walter doubted anyone had been there since he had poured himself a cup of coffee from the nearly empty pot half an hour ago. Geoffrey's office was closed and locked, and Walter knew it would be before he even tried the handle.
The final door in the hallway was slightly ajar, and his pace quickened, Tom behind him, as he reached the end of the hall and pushed it open.
Louis Cavrel lay face-first on the floor, his blood seeping into the thick carpet. Walter felt the bile rise in his throat as he stared at the body. A small part of his mind remembered the crime dramas he watched on midnight reruns and decided that the back of the skull - or what was left of it - must have been the exit wound. He had never imagined brain matter could...explode like that.
Behind him, Tom gave in to his body's revolt and emptied his stomach contents in the hall, but the noise was tinny and far-off in Walter's ears. The umbrella slipped from his nerveless fingers and fell to the carpet with a dull thud. He swallowed hard against his gag reflex, determined not to vomit as well, and was finally able to tear his eyes away from Louis's body.
"Holly - call 911!"