Dr. Roger Stevens was a little bit dismayed. He reviewed the bloodwork for his patient which revealed that there was a large dose of rat poison in his patient's bloodstream. Certainly much more than the instructions on the box would indicate to deal with a rat. Although the amount of poison wasn't anywhere near enough to kill an adult human, he nevertheless knew what he had to do. As is procedure, he called the NYPD's homicide division and reported a possible attempted murder.
THE DEFENSE LAWYER
Jimmy Brogan sat in his makeshift office in a remodeled old warehouse and doodled on his notepad.
His associate Alejo walked in.
"Call for you on my line," said Alejo.
"Your line?" asked Jimmy.
"Yea, I think the new secretary transferred to the wrong line."
Jimmy had hired a new secretary about a week ago. She was fairly competent, but made some minor mistakes once in a while.
"Jimmy Brogan," said Jimmy after he picked up his phone.
"Hey Jimmy, it's Billy from Stuy."
"Hey Billy! Long time no speak, how are ya these days?"
Jimmy and Billy went to high school together fifteen years ago. They kept in touch and both wound up going to law school. Billy was a patent attorney at the midtown boutique firm Eckert, Rice & Richardson.
"Hey Jimmy, I have a favor to ask."
"My wife is being questioned by the NYPD for possible attempted murder. She hasn't been arrested yet, but can you help with this?"
"Yea, sure buddy. Who did she try to murder?"
"Allegedly. And… it was me."
"Dude, are you okay?"
"Yea, I'm fine. It's all just a misunderstanding. I think they took her down to Midtown South. Can you look into this?"
"Yea, I'm on my way."
"No prob, I'll see you later."
"I'm looking for Teresa Lee, she was brought here about an hour ago," Jimmy said to the desk sergeant.
The sergeant flipped a page in her giant notebook and started scanning the names.
"Oh, never mind," said Jimmy. He just caught a glimpse of Teresa walking towards the main doors, coming toward him.
Jimmy walked over to Teresa.
"Hey Teresa, I'm Jimmy. Do you remember me?"
It took a second for Teresa to place him, but she recognized him.
"Sure. You're Wilhelm's friend," said Teresa. She was one of the few people who would never call Wilhelm Lee by Billy.
The two of them walked out of the police station together and started doing down the concrete stairs down to the sidewalk.
"Hey, do you mind talking to me about what you said to the cops in there? Billy is a little worried about this whole thing," said Jimmy.
"Sure, I just told them what I've already told the doctors."
Both Billy and Teresa loved eating cakes, cookies, and basically any kind of sweet dessert. From time to time, Teresa would bake a vanilla cake or chocolate cake for Billy as a dessert. She was a pretty good baker.
On Monday night and Tuesday night, she had baked a small cake and left it out on the counter as she went to the living room to watch some tv. Billy had to work late on both nights. When Teresa went to the kitchen on commercial break, she caught glimpse of a mouse eating the cake. She hadn't seen it the first night, but knew it must've been a mouse because a portion of the cake was eaten up on Monday night. But when she caught sight of the mouse on Tuesday, she was a little bit terrified. On Wednesday night, she baked another cake but laced it with rat poison.
Unfortunately, Billy came home early that night and ate parts of the cake while Teresa was distracted. She immediately took Billy to the hospital where he was treated.
"Welcome to the Phoenix Arms, may I help you?" said the cheery concierge at the front desk. Ace detective Kenneth Christmas looked around the lobby of the luxury apartment building. Not the nicest in the city, but it was up there.
"Detective Christmas, NYPD. Can I speak with the building manager?"
"Sure," said the concierge. She punched a few numbers on her phone and her supervisor was at the front desk within a few seconds.
"Hi. Davis Leonard," said a young gentleman in a fancy suit as he handed his business card to the detective.
"Ken Christmas," said the detective. "I'd like to ask about two of your residents, Wilhelm and Teresa Lee."
"Sure, the Lees. 613. Nice couple, I like them a lot. They're very playful with each other."
Christmas informed Leonard that Wilhelm is recuperating at Jefferson Hospital from accidentally ingesting rat poison. Leonard denies that the building would ever have a mouse problem. Pest control is one of his top priorities.
Christmas noted this, but of course, he also notes that it would be in Leonard's interests to skew the truth about the building he manages.
Kathryn Peale sat at her desk and reviewed some of her files. Her door was open, but one of the detectives from Midtown South knocked on it before entering just to be polite.
"Please come in, detective," said Peale.
"Hey, I wanted to run this case by you," said Christmas.
Christmas sat down in one of the chairs facing Kathryn's desk. He handed her a file which Kathryn proceeded to scan through.
"What does the husband think?" asked Kathryn.
"He thinks it's an honest mistake by his wife. Although he has never seen a mouse in the building, he trusts his wife. He doesn't believe she would try to harm him. It's possible he's just in denial. I don't think there ever was a mouse."
Kathryn looks through an interview report with one of Teresa's friends, Angela. She states that Teresa loves her husband very much, but lately has suspected him of cheating on her instead of working late. He had been constantly working late nights and even half days on weekends for the past three months. But his case had recently ended. Teresa was sure Wilhelm would cut back his hours at the office. Angela recalls that on Monday night, Teresa was sad that Wilhelm had to work late. Angela was talking with Teresa on the phone and recalls that Teresa was eating parts of the cake she baked for her husband.
Another friend, Jennifer, recalled that Teresa recently looked up the word "zaftig" after overhearing two of Wilhelm's friends mentioning that word. It turned out to mean a woman who is "pleasingly plump or buxom."
"That's so mean."
"Eh, she could lose at least 5 pounds."
"Ha. That's like two meals."
"Well, I said 'at least.' I was being polite."
"Girls. You guys focus way too much about weight. Terry is supercute and fun to be around. That's all that matters."
Teresa had often been a little self-conscious about her weight. Eckert, like many other law firms, tended to hire support staff who were more attractive than the average person. And although Wilhelm loved sweets as much as Teresa did and maybe sometimes ate like a vacuum cleaner, Wilhelm was a relative stick figure.
After thinking for a few moments, Kathryn put down the file.
"I usually trust your instincts, Ken, but I don't think there's enough here for this charge," said Kathryn.
"Yea, I was thinking that. It's just I don't think this was some weird accident."
"Keep digging. If you can find evidence of an affair and that the wife knew about it, we'll go forward."
Ken picked up his file folder and walked out of Kathryn's office.
In the back of the ambulance, Teresa was holding Wilhelm's hand and hoping that he would be okay. She was sobbing and barely able to breathe. The paramedics were optimistic that once they got Billy to the hospital, the doctors would be able to pump the poison out.
It was lucky that Teresa stopped Wilhelm from eating any more of the cake after he had eaten about a third of it. Earlier that night, she was feeling a little bit despondent. She was sure that Wilhelm wasn't working late at the office. She tried to swallow some rat poison, but her reflexes immediately kicked in and she spewed it back out. The only way she was going to be able to down the stuff was to mix it into the cake batter. She made it extra sweet to mask the poison.
After the cake was done, she let it cool on the counter. For some reason, she decided she wanted to be well dressed when she died. She went into her bedroom to pick out a nice ensemble. To her surprise, Wilhelm had come home early this night. When she came out of the bedroom, he was surprised as well.
"Dressed up for lil ol' me?" asked Billy.
"I thought you had to work late tonight," said Teresa a little timidly.
Billy sensed that his wife was a little sad for some reason.
"Nah," said Billy. "Signed the contract earlier this afternoon."
Billy reached into his messenger bag and took out a portfolio. It had pictures of a new sailboat he just purchased. The past two nights, he had been inspecting the boat.
"I'm naming her the Noble Barney," said Billy. For the past eight months, he had been working on an intellectual property case involving the entertainment company that produced the Barney the Purple Dinosaur series, among others. It was a big win for his firm. He was going to be elevated to partner.
"I've got the next week and a half off," continued Billy. "We can go sailing for a week." It had been several months since the couple took a trip anywhere.
Teresa's mood changed. She was very excited for her husband's new promotion. Although she wondered whether it would keep him busy at work, she was elated that he wasn't cheating on her, and that they would spend some free time together on their new boat.
Then, her mood changed again. She was horrified to see that Billy had eaten some of the cake she left out.
"How much did you eat?" said a suddenly concerned Teresa.
"Just like three or four bites. It was super-vanilla-y," said Billy. He was smiling. He loved vanilla. He didn't sense yet that there was any trouble.
Teresa immediately called an ambulance and then poison control.
JIMMY & KATHRYN
Kathryn was working late preparing for trial the next day. To her surprise, her old friend Jimmy came for a visit.
"Oatmeal Chocolate Chip," he said as he waved a clear plastic box of cookies.
He opened it and the two of them started snacking on the cookies.
"Do you think Teresa really tried to kill your friend?" asked Kathryn. She wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt, but she had seen many attempted murders in her young career.
"Doubt it," said Jimmy. "There was no affair."
"Yea, but that doesn't mean she didn't think there was one. Don't ever cross a woman, Jimmy."
"Don't plan to," he said with a smile.
"Your friend make it out of the hospital okay?"
"Yep. In tip top shape. He's sailing on the sound as we speak."
"With his wife? Hope he doesn't mysteriously fall overboard."
"I have a feeling those two kids will be together for a very long time," said Jimmy as he chomped into a cookie.