Chapter Three: Usually it's the Usual Suspects.
O'Hallahan was staring at the fattest, meanest looking Siamese cat he'd ever seen. The cat was staring back.
He was sitting alone in the personal office of the recently deceased Charisma Ponderosa waiting to interview her husband and taking in the room with an eye developed over years of being an investigator. Judging by the expensive artwork, fancy oak desk and antiques spread about the room he could tell she had liked the finer things. Judging by the cat he could tell she liked cats.
O'Hallahan, on the other hand, hated cats. He absolutely despised them. To begin with he was allergic. Even being in proximity to the plump white hairball on the desk would probably make him break out in hives later.
Then there was their attitude; aloof and superior. It seemed to him a definite luck of the genetic draw that the domestic housecat hadn't evolved into a creature ten times as big as it is now. He was certain without a doubt that being the case we would be on the menu. He believed that when a cat rubbed up against your leg it wasn’t showing affection. It was doing a little pre-meal tenderizing.
This cat in particular had real malice in its eyes. For a second he flashed on the faces of both of his ex-wives. A shiver ran down his spine.
The door to the office swung open and a mustache walked in.
It was one of those giant, brown bushy mustaches of the Wyatt Earp variety. O’Hallahan supposed there was man under the mustache but it was difficult to tell. It had legs and wore a suit. But all he could see was the giant, handlebar mustache.
“George Howell.” said the mustache, “Please have a seat.”
As he watched the mustache move over to the bar and pour itself a scotch, O’Hallahan could just make out the shape of a chubby pink face under the hair.
“Scotch?” Asked the mustache.
O’Hallahan shook his head. “On duty.”
O’Hallahan had nothing against the occasional spirit, mind you. It was just that the history of alcoholism in his family made him particularly careful to limit his drinking to special occasions. Like birthdays or when Ryan Seacrest was on the t.v.
The mustache spotted the giant blob of cat on the desk.
“Snowbell!” he roared. “Get the hell off of there!”
The cat stood, hissed at the mustache, jumped off of the desk and slunk off into the corner.
“Mr. Howell, I won't take up much of your time.” O’Hallahan said. “Do you know of anyone that had a problem with your wife at tonight’s party?”
An amused laugh came from the vicinity of the mustache.
“Problem?” giggled the mustache. “You’d be hard pressed to find one here tonight that liked my wife.”
O’Hallahan leaned forward in his chair.
“Does that include you?”
“Why not?” said the mustache. “This hasn’t been a marriage in years. About the only thing Charisma loved these days was her money and that damned cat over there.”
As if on cue Snowball looked up and hissed at the mustache.
“Back at ya you little fucker.” Spat the mustache. “I can’t wait until the Doctor picks you up tomorrow.”
“You’re getting rid of her cat?” asked O’Hallahan?
“Sold him. Got twenty grand for the nasty little bugger from some Surgeon in the city.”
O’Hallahan whistled. “Seems like a lot of cash for a cat.”
“It’s a show-cat, a champion.” The mustache replied. “He’s probably worth twice that but I don’t care. I hate the damn thing and can’t wait to see it gone.”
O’Hallahan quickly scribbled a couple of notes.
“Besides yourself is there anyone else we should suspect might have something to do with your wife’s ‘accident’ tonight?” he asked.
The mustache took a swig of scotch.
“I dunno.” He said. “Maybe her sister Eunice. She showed cats, same as Charisma. Charisma’s bastard kitty always cleaned her cat's clock. They hated each other. That's why the only thing Charisma had in her will about that cat was 'Eunice doesn't get him.'"
O'Hallahan stood and tucked his pad into his trenchcoat.
"I'll chat with her, then." He said. "Thanks."
As he walked back out to the ballroom he reflected on how hated these heiress murder cases. Heiresses as a rule always had tons of enemies which made fingering the person who actually murdered them complicated. He shuddered at the thought of the mess facing the poor detective assigned the case should somebody ever off Paris Hilton.
What often made it even worse in these cases was that the more he found out about the victim, the more he sympathized with the killer. Heiresses just weren't very likable.
He thought about just saying "screw it" and fingering the Butler again this time. He'd done that on the last three cases. It was always an easy answer and saved him a ton of work.
Although he couldn't shake the feeling that he just might be able to actually solve this case. The answer was right there. He could feel it.
Chapter One: Charisma Hits the Dance Floor.
Chapter Two: Death Punches Back on the Clock.