Murder in Napa
The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself.
Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891
Irish dramatist, novelist, & poet (1854-1900)
Detective William Monroe Lincoln stepped from his vehicle and observed the flashing lights of police vehicles which had an eerie effect on the domestic tranquility and affluence of Napa. The night seemed darker without the confluence of modern public lights flooding the estate. He walked past the hordes of police officers which had no problem allowing his entrance since anyone who knew the address of this scene was well connected. He entered a door where there was a large amount of human activity. The process of evidence collection had commenced; and, as he observed the scene, Detective Lincoln started walking toward the center of attention.
A large horizontal object, the size of a man, resided on a pristine dark mahogany coffee table. It was totally wrapped in what appeared to be white latex. As the detective peered at the item of interest, he saw it must’ve been a man, a robot, or an alien. The latex gave the distorted image an appearance of a non-human life form. A thin brown cotton blanket was covering the head. The room was immaculate in all other aspects. A baby-grand piano sat nestled in a corner; expensive leather bound books filled numerous book shelves; a refrigerated wine room full of rare bottles was off the kitchen; and expensive eloquent tile ran throughout the living-room area of the house.
Detective Lincoln identified himself to the coroner who was expecting him. The coroner, a middle-aged clean shaven Asian-American wearing conventional glasses pointed to the object of attention and lifted up the blanket. A dead man, with streaked flowing gray hair, stared back at him. The man, with his latex suit covering him, looked like a giant condom.
“Who is he?”
“Dr. Clarence Madison Watson, a distinguished San Francisco psychiatrist.”
“Is this his residence?”
“No . . . this is Dr. Bates’ estate. Dr. Watson was a patient and friend of Dr. Bates.”
“The Dr. Bates with all the famous clients?”
“Yes . . .”
“Where is Dr. Bates?”
“He was here earlier, but is currently headed for the airport. He has an important appointment out of the country.”
“So, what happened?”
“I’ll have Detective Zanny update you. We don’t know too much right now. Chief Wasden was here earlier and talked with Dr. Bates. But then the Chief had to leave. Detective Zanny is in charge.”
It was twenty minutes later before Detective Lincoln met Zanny. Detective Zanny was outside with his men trying to isolate footsteps and examining the premises. Murder rarely happened in Napa and Zanny wanted to gather as much information as possible.
“Detective Lincoln, it’s a pleasure meeting you.”
Zanny looked in his early forties, but had steaks of grey running through his moustache and hair. He had over twenty years on the force and had seen hard financial times for the department on several occasions. His clothes had a wrinkled and worn look and they seemed to have extended to Zanny’s appearance. The Napa detective had had a long day, and it still wasn’t over.
` “What happened here?”
“I can only tell you so much right now. The Chief needs to instruct me on your involvement.”
“I understand . . . Tell me what you can.”
“The victim was a prominent Bay Area psychiatrist who’s a patient and a personal friend of Dr. Bates. Dr. Bates arrived home this evening to discover this scene. He immediately called the authorities. You now know about what we know.”
“Why is the victim dressed in what looks like a giant condom?”
“I don’t know. That’s a Doctor Bates’ question.”
“So, is there any physical evidence of foul play? How did he die?”
“We don’t know yet. Hopefully a medical report will tell us that. In fact, I have to get a report ready for the Chief for tomorrow’s staff meeting. You’re free to stay here as long as you want, Detective. We’ll definitely talk tomorrow.”
“Goodnight, Detective Zanny.”
Detective Lincoln turned away and spent another fifty minutes walking through the estate and observing the environment and the Napa police personnel at work before he left.
At 2:00 P.M. the following day, Detective Lincoln walked into the Napa Police Department for an appointment with Chief Wasden and Detective Zanny. He was escorted to the Chief’s office where Wasden was sitting behind his desk talking with Zanny.
“Have a seat, Detective,” Wasden offered as he briefly stood and shook Detective Lincoln’s hand. Wasden was of average height and presented a very professional demeanor. He was trim and wore thin brown stylish glasses. He had a steely look as he measured the detective before him while strongly gripping his hand. Zanny leaned forward and nodded his head.
“So, what do you have regarding the murder?” Detective Lincoln asked.
Chief Wasden pushed back in his chair while holding onto a manila folder with papers inside. His legs were crossed; he looked quite comfortable.
“The victim may have been drugged. There’re no stab wounds or any other signs of violence.”
“Tell me what you know about the deceased.”
Wasden shuffled some papers on his desk. He took a quick glance at Zanny.
“Dr. Clarence Madison Watson was a prominent psychiatrist in San Francisco. He was fifty-five years old, divorced, has two children, a son and a daughter, and has been practicing medicine in the Bay Area for almost twenty-five years. He had numerous awards and the respect of most of his medical peers. He has a slightly younger sibling, who is also a doctor, and lives in Australia. We made contact with the brother; he’s flying here tomorrow.”
“Where’s his wife, or ex., and how long have they been divorced?”
“Linda Watson lives in Berkeley, not too far from the campus. They’ve been divorced for ten years.”
“Have you talked with her yet?”
“Just on the phone this morning . . .”
“You said he had the respect of most of his peers. Why wouldn’t he have the respect of all of his peers?”
“Well, I believe Dr. Watson came, so to speak, ‘big time out of the closet’. I suspect some of his peers didn’t share his alleged enthusiasm of that decision.”
There was a brief moment of silence as Detective Lincoln assessed what he had heard.
“You’re saying Dr. Watson was gay?”
“Yes . . . or going gay.”
“Who’s his boyfriend?”
“We heard it’s a guy named Joey Gallo.”
“And who is Mr. Gallo?”
“He’s in marketing. He sells advertising for the local media station. He’s been fairly successful from what we’ve determined.”
“Is there any criminal history regarding Gallo?”
“So far, nothing is coming up,” Detective Zanny interjected.
“And, the obvious, who was the last person to have seen Dr. Watson alive?”
“Right now, its Watson’s secretary, Maria. Dr. Watson called his secretary at noon to say he’d be a half-hour late for his 1:00 P.M. appointment. He made the new appointment at 1:30 P.M. So far, we haven’t found anyone else that Dr. Watson had been with before his death.”
“Isn’t Dr. Bates’ office in San Francisco?”
“Yes . . .”
“How did the doctor come to die in Napa?”
“Dr. Watson and Dr. Bates are friends. They were getting together that evening for a drink at Dr. Bates’ house. From what I understand, Dr. Watson was having dinner somewhere in Napa, and he was going to drive over to Dr. Bates’ house afterwards.”
“Dr. Bates doesn’t know who Dr. Watson’s dinner guest was?”
“Correct . . .”
“And who was Dr. Bates’ guest that evening?”
“He declined to say.”
“Is there a reason he declined?”
“He didn’t want the name of the person disclosed.”
Detective Lincoln was about to ask another question, but decided not to. He would get the name from Dr. Bates.
“So, what’s your next move, Chief?”
“We’ll follow standard procedure. I want to talk to his ex-wife and his family. The brother is flying in late tonight. We’ll be talking with him, the ex-wife, and the daughter tomorrow. You’re welcome to join in.”
“What is my role, Chief?”
“Dr. Bates wants you on the investigation. I’m assuming either he’ll be paying you or the Watson estate.”
Detective Lincoln had not talked directly with Dr. Bates yet. Dr. Bates’ secretary had called to alert him to the situation. It was unusual to bring in an outside detective this early into a case. The body was barely cold and the local police had just started their investigation. Of course murders were rare in Napa, so perhaps this was just a precaution to help the case. Detective Lincoln spent another forty-five minutes with Chief Wasden and Detective Zanny before leaving.
At 5:00 P.M. the following day, Detective Lincoln, Chief Wasden, and Detective Zanny knocked on the door of Linda Watson’s house, the former wife of the deceased. She lived in the Berkeley Hills in an affluent neighborhood. Stately decades-old trees, uniquely designed homes, manicured lawns and expensive cars adorned this exclusive upper scale community. The door opened immediately by a well groomed lady with a modern hairstyle and shapely body. She stood before them, greeted everyone, and then led the investigative team to her living room and offered tea and coffee.
“How long have you and your husband been divorced Ms. Watson?” Chief Wasden asked.
“Ten years . . .”
“How long were you married?”
“Almost twenty years. We have two grown children. My daughter will be joining us shortly and my son is out of town right now. He’ll be back very soon.”
“Can you describe your relationship with your ex?” Chief Wasden asked.
Ms. Watson straightened her back, crossed her legs, and gently sat her coffee cup on the table.
“I thought we had a pretty good marriage until my husband announced that he was gay. That declaration happened approximately twelve years ago. Needless to say I was shocked and tried to keep the marriage together, but it became too stressful. You’d have to know my ex-husband to understand my statement. He was always politically correct, flamboyant, too often aggressive, or shall we just say an alpha male. He too easily put me in embarrassing moments in public and privately with my friends. It was just impossible to remain married to him.”
“Can you give us an example, Ms. Watson?” Detective Zanny commented. “We really need to understand what your ex-husband was like.”
“He was a man who understood shock value. One time when my parents were visiting, he invited his alleged male lover to our dinner and kissed him square on the lips, a long passionate kiss, right at the table. My parents are from the Midwest and this was clearly something they didn’t exactly see every day, you know. They were shocked to say the least. Although he was professionally a psychiatrist, he had little patience with people outside of the practice.”
“Who would want to kill him?” Chief Wasden asked.
“Because my ex-husband was so aggressive in his actions and words, there may be several candidates. I don’t know the intimate details of his new life, but I can easily imagine if one of his lovers were jealous, it could be his demise the way he treated others. He liked to get reactions from people and the stronger the reaction the better.”
“Could you have killed your ex-husband, Ms. Watson?” Detective Lincoln asked.
There was a pause before she spoke. She wanted to reflect on her answer before she verbalized it.
“Perhaps twelve years ago, but it’s been too long, and I have a different life now. Plus, killing my children’s father doesn’t sound too family oriented.”
“How do you survive economically?” Detective Lincoln asked.
“I’m sure you know that buying this house two decades ago was a lot cheaper then than now. My husband’s alimony and child support were substantial, and I invested those funds wisely. Plus, I’m a psychologist and I do alright. I don’t make my ex’s income; but, then again, I don’t spend money like him either. You’re free to go through my books to see how I live if you want. I have nothing to hide.”
Seconds later a young lady entered the room. She was pretty, had blond hair, a good shape, and was an inch taller than her mother.
“This is my daughter, Mica.”
Everyone introduced themselves. Chief Wasden was the first to speak to the young lady.
“Mica, can you tell us about your father? What was he like?”
“Dad had a lot of personality. He was smart, inquisitive, aggressive, opinionated, manipulative, handsome, and physically active. He could be a real charmer if he wanted to be or he could be the world’s worst monster. It just depended on what he desired.”
“Was he violent?”
The daughter had to think how to answer that question.
“Well, not to us. I’ve seen him yell at others in public, but I’m not sure if it was real or feigned anger. He might yell at someone who scooted in front of him to get a parking space, but Dad was the type who mostly parked far away from a location in order to get some exercise. So, the yelling was a way to get the person’s attention, but in the grand scheme of things, it was just a parking space. He had the type of personality that he’d usually deliberately do things to get a reaction from someone. He could be in constant ‘case study’ mode. Dad was ‘a trip’.”
“Mica, could your father deliberately hurt someone with his words?” Detective Lincoln asked.
“Easily . . . I have too many examples to deny that. I’m sure my mother can confirm that too.” She looked at her mother for agreement.
“What was your father’s sexual orientation?”
“It appears he had gone gay.”
“Do you fully believe that he was gay?”
“I guess so. I mean, who says they’re gay for fun or sport?”
“Were you ever in your father’s presence when he was with his gay lover; if so, were they demonstrative?”
“Well, only at the dinner when my grandparents were here. Other than that, I could be in a room with one of his friends, but they weren’t physical or anything. I think Dad knew that might be inappropriate around me. But then again, the mere fact that it might shock me is usually the reason he’d do something. On a few occasions I didn’t know my father. He could be a bit edgy at times.”
“Do you know anyone who’d want to kill your father?”
“I don’t think so. But I don’t know his enemies if he had any. And I really don’t know his new gay friends.”
“Did you like your father?” Detective Lincoln asked.
“I loved him.”
“Sorry, but I didn’t ask that.”
“What . . .?”
“I asked if you liked your father. Most people love their relatives, but not necessarily like them. There’s a difference.”
Again a silence lingered within the room. Mica had to think about her answer.
“I used to like him, but for the last few years I started to change my opinion. He was changing for the worse. His comments and behavior were that of an elitist. I didn’t like that. He knew better. He taught us as children that we’re all the same, but he was acting very differently now.”
All of a sudden, the doorbell rang. Ms. Watson stood up and went to answer the door. Before Detective Lincoln could get back to asking more questions he heard Ms. Watson at the door welcoming someone. Instead of continuing the questioning, he decided to wait since the commotion had the attention of the daughter too.
Two minutes later Ms. Watson walked back into the living room with her guest by her side. She introduced him as Dr. Randolph Watson, the brother of her ex-husband. Her ex-brother-in-law stood as tall as the detective and had similar graying hair as his dead brother. He appeared athletic without the pudginess which plagued the sedentary lifestyles of so many middle-aged men. Linda Watson introduced everyone and Bill recorded his name and set up a time to talk. It was a full twenty minutes before Detective Lincoln and Detective Zanny resumed the conversation with Mica in another room of the house.
“Why do you think he changed?”
“I don’t know. I just knew that he did.”
“Do you think it had anything to do with your mother?”
“I doubt it. Mom and Dad have been doing their own thing for awhile now.”
“Could he accept your mother having another man in her life?”
“Well, that’s not easy for Dad. Intellectually he could, but I’m not sure how he faired emotionally. There’re not a lot of men who can do that. They’ve got that territorial DNA thing that’s wired into their brains. Dad was no different because his little comments about the guy were pretty bad.”
“Was he jealous?”
“I guess in a sort of intellectual way if that makes sense. You have to know Dad, though. He was a case study. He could play the game at the top level.”
“Could you be more definitive?”
“Dad could be the ultimate professional with his vocabulary and behavior, and two seconds later he could make a foul comment that totally contradicted everything he appeared to be.”
Detective Lincoln had a better image of the victim now. He still had a lot more information to retrieve, but the personality of the man was starting to form. Bill and Zanny spent another fifteen minutes with the daughter before leaving.
Think like a wise man but communicate in the language of the people.
William Butler Yeats
Irish dramatist & poet (1865-1939)
The following day, Bill knocked on the door of the office of the deceased and the secretary let him in.
“Hello Detective Lincoln, I recognized you from your television interviews from that other big case. My name is Maria Hernendez. I’ve been Dr. Watson’s secretary for five years.”
Maria was in her mid-thirties, of average build, jet black hair modestly styled in a french twist and wore granny-type glasses with the strap that went around her neck and would catch the glasses if they fell. Her pleasant demeanor made up for her relative unattractiveness.
The office was elegantly decorated with handcrafted furniture, lush plants in contemporary planters, beautiful framed artwork, and the most exquisite Persian-like area rug. The décor clearly created an environment which catered to an exclusive and affluent clientele.
“Ms. Hernendez, could you tell me about your boss. What type of person was he?”
“Please, call me Maria. Well, Dr. Watson had quite the personality. He could be loud, fun, and make outrageous comments, or he could be terribly rude. It all depended on the situation. If he liked you he was kind and courteous. But if not, then he could be a bully. He had mood swings.”
“I assume he was nice to you?”
“Yes, very nice . . . He wasn’t the type to bully people who were at a lower station in life.”
“Maria, what was his sexual orientation?”
“Wow, that’s a good question. He was acting, relatively recently, like he was gay. I mean, all of a sudden, he embraces the gay community, and he’s acting like them. He even had a boyfriend or called him his boyfriend. I had never seen him do that before.”
“And what’s that person’s name?”
“Joey Gallo . . .”
“Have you met Mr. Gallo?”
“I met him once, briefly, and I’ve talked with him on the phone numerous times. He’s another one with . . . ‘personality’,” she stated with a slight emphasis on the last word.
“Can you explain your description?”
“Well, just like Dr. Watson, Mr. Gallo is loud, flamboyant and likes being the center of attention. Their personalities are similar in that they’re both quick-witted and talkative. They’re ‘chatterboxes’.”
“When and where did he meet Mr. Gallo?”
“At a party I think . . . about eight months ago.”
“What does Mr. Gallo do for a living?”
“I think he’s in sales. Dr. Watson told me once, but I’ve forgotten.”
The young lady seemed alert and wanted to answer all of the detective’s questions. He didn’t get the sense that the secretary was trying to hide anything.
“Maria, you said it seemed all of a sudden he embraced the gay community. What was he like before this?”
“He was like any other well-off single man, going to parties and looking for women to date. He spent time with one woman you should talk to. Her name is Lolita, and she may be ‘in the business’.”
“What business . . .?”
“I guess the prostitution game or maybe she’s a high end hooker. I’m not sure what the official name is, but he logged in plenty of time with her.”
“Tell me more about Lolita.”
“She was originally a patient and then he started personally hanging out with her. She is very sexual, the type that men drool over. She radiates sex.”
“What was her reason for coming to see him professionally?”
“I really don’t know, but Dr. Watson really liked it when she came. She’s a pretty attractive lady and she knows how to handle a man. After a few months, he claimed she was cured. So she started out as his client, them he became a client of hers.”
“What makes you say that?”
“The way he talked to her on the phone. He was always asking if she was available. It just seemed more like a business request than social. After spending a night with her, he’d always want to tell me what they did; I really didn’t want to hear it. Dr. Watson always tried to get a reaction from me with his adventures. He knows I’m a religious person with good Christian values. I’d just walk away when he started to describe his evenings. It was way too much for me to hear.”
“How often did he go out?”
“As often as he could, but he did have a busy schedule at times. Dr. Watson was an intellectual and a bit of a social animal. I’d say he tried to socialize most Saturday nights since he’d want to story-tell me on Monday mornings. Frankly, I tried to avoid him those early hours, but that was difficult since he liked to talk. I’d just give him the waving of the hand to try to cut him off, but that would usually get him going. I think he delighted in trying to make me blush.”
“Did Dr. Watson ever try to take you out?”
“No, I’m happily married. He’d kid around, but he knew better.”
“Do you know of any other patients that Dr. Watson may have ‘dated’?”
“Only Lolita . . . his other patients were not very physically attractive compared to her. Most were well off economically, but they just aren’t that ‘hot’. Dr. Watson would look forward to his visits with Lolita. If you’ve ever seen her, you’d know.”
“I’m sure I’ll meet her in due time. Did Dr. Watson have a regular girlfriend?”
“Not really, he had just started to somewhat change. He was always looking at women and he’d tell me if he had met someone at a restaurant or a party, but once he started hanging out with his new friends like Joey Gallo, Lolita, and others, his routine was different. He didn’t act like the old Dr. Watson.”
Maria went silent and started to think about her next words. She wanted to be fair to Dr. Watson and her last comments could easily be taken out of context. She didn’t want to mislead Detective Lincoln. As she thought about it, Dr. Watson was a more complex individual than most.
“Can you add anything more to your thoughts, Maria? This is helping me understand your former boss.”
“It was like Dr. Watson could now run into women that he might be interested in, but make less effort to pursue them as he had in the past. I guess I’d say he could more so look at a woman now and admire her than to take the next step and actually approach her to obtain her name and number. He had Lolita in his corner, and that satisfied his testosterone surges for lack of a better term.”
“And what about the Joey Gallo connection?”
“Dr. Watson made me feel very uncomfortable talking about him. I just don’t believe in the gay lifestyle. I didn’t want to hear it. The more uncomfortable I became, the more he liked to torment me.”
“He obviously didn’t do it enough to make you want to leave your job.”
“No, it was just to tease and irritate me to the point where he was showing my so called ‘gay’ prejudice. Dr. Watson lived on top of the political correctness soapbox. What he believed was correct; those who disagreed with his view were wrong.”
“What else can you tell me about your boss that I should know?”
“I think you need to question one of his patients.”
“Who’s that and why?”
“A man by the name of Quiver; I’ve never felt comfortable whenever he was in the office. I told Dr. Watson that I would not ever be in that office alone if Mr. Quiver was the only patient and he wasn’t around. The guy gave me the creeps. I don’t know what was wrong with him, but he’s got a problem.”
“What can you tell me about him?”
“Well, a lot of times he’d refer to Dr. Watson in gay derogatory terms. He’d say occasionally over the phone, ‘Is the ‘fag’ in?”
“I’ve told Mr. Quiver that I don’t use those terms, and I won’t listen to others that do. He could be as bad as Dr. Watson, but with reverse ‘political correctness’. He was on the other side of the coin.”
“What else didn’t you like about him?”
Maria took a moment to think about what she was going to say. She wanted to be as accurate as she could. She didn’t want to mislead the detective.
“He just acted abnormal. Sometimes he could act quite ordinary like a regular human being; and, other times, he was moody and brooding. You never knew what was on his mind. I think he got discharged from the military due to his behavior.”
“I really need to see the file on Mr. Quiver.”
“I think you’ll have to get that from the courts.”
“Yeah, unfortunately you’re right. So, do any other patients belong on the list?”
“Just Quiver, the rest seem like your normal people who need help, but don’t seem to possess any type of criminal behavior.”
“Maria, I have to go, but I’ll probably need to talk to you again. Thanks for the information.”
The Argument from Intimidation is a confession of intellectual impotence.
Ayn Rand, The Virtue of Selfishness, 1964
US (Russian-born) novelist (1905-1982)
The next day Detective Lincoln had two appointments, one with J.R. Battle, the boyfriend of Linda Watson, the divorced wife of the deceased, and the other was with the famous Dr. Bates. The body had been found at Dr. Bates estate. Detective Lincoln had not talked with the psychiatrist that evening because Dr. Bates had left earlier to fly out of the country for a meeting; he had now returned. Bill had briefly worked with Dr. Bates once before on another homicide. In that case, Detective Lincoln and the police had trapped a killer in a Nevada house and the murderer held hostages. The suspect had already killed several victims, and there was an uneasy standoff. Dr. Bates arrived to assess the situation and had done a remarkable job in analyzing the killer. Bates’ judgment determined how Detective Lincoln and the police handled a very delicate circumstance. The detective was looking forward to meeting Dr. Bates again.
At 1:00 P.M. Bill knocked on the door of J.R. Battle’s house located in Hayward, CA; a city nestled next to Oakland. Hayward had become a working class town, and it was a perfect location for a Union boss. J.R. displayed the customary large forearms from a life of physical labor. He had been born with a medium sized frame, but hard work had given him the muscles making him a formidable physical specimen. Although he no longer did physical work, he did maintain an adequate exercise routine to keep himself in good shape.
“You’re Lincoln. . .?”
“Yes, and I assume you’re J.R. Battle?”
“Right; come in . . .”
J.R. led him to a large television room where he spent most of his ‘domestic’ time. An elaborate model airplane was in the process of being assembled on a desk. It was a complex project and whoever was putting the model together had to have extensive experience of working with models.
“What can I do for you, Detective?”
“Did you know, Dr. Clarence Watson?”
“You know I did.”
“What was your relationship with him?”
“I’m going out with his ex-wife. I’m having a great relationship with her, giving and getting the sex that her husband couldn’t or wouldn’t give her.”
The boldness of the statement automatically told Bill that the two men profoundly disliked each other. Here was another alpha male; his bright colorful peacock feathers showing boldly.
“I assumed the two of you were not friends?”
“If the man was laying in the gutter bleeding like a pig, I’d walk right past him. In fact, I might just give him a little kick, just to let him know I was there.”
“Why did you dislike him?”
“Why does the sun come up each morning? It just does . . .”
“Did you kill him?”
“And potentially waste my life in jail for a piece of crap like him? No thanks . . .”
“Then tell me this . . . have you ever gotten physical with him?”
Suddenly, J.R. had a little smile on his face before he responded.
“I once grabbed him to let him know I wasn’t one of his subordinate playmates he could verbally abuse or his left wing liberal friends. He can talk his intellectual rhetoric around his flunkies, but he knew better than to mess with me.”
“So you intimidated him?”
“I stood up to him, got in his face, and dared him to do something. He likes talking down to people, but he didn’t have the guts to get physical with anyone, at least anyone who could knock him down and not give a damn about doing it. In fact, one might say I’d get a great deal of enjoyment of physically knocking him down.”
“Where were you the night he was murdered?”
“I was home. I was picking up Linda later that evening for a date.”
“Can anyone substantiate that you were at home? Anyone call you or did you call anyone?”
“No . . .”
“Is there anything that you think I should know about you regarding this case that I don’t know?”
“Like what. . .?”
“Do you have a criminal record or have you ever been charged with anything?”
“Detective, if I had committed a crime against someone else, it would have nothing to do with this issue. If I killed Joe Blow, then Joe Blow and I had a problem, not anyone else.”
“But killing another person would give us some indication of your nature and how you might deal with adversity in your life.”
“Maybe with other people . . . not with me. I stay focused on a problem.”
J.R. didn’t suffer from attention deficit disorder. His eyes stayed directly on Bill while they were talking. He wasn’t distracted. Bill wondered how he dealt with Union men who disobeyed his rules?
“How do you deal with Linda if she disagrees with you?”
“I don’t know of any woman who totally agrees with a man on everything.”
“I think you know what I mean. Have you ever gotten physical with her?”
“Ask her . . . I have nothing to hide; just like my record.”
“I’m asking you. I’ll ask her too.”
“Women are not men. I don’t have to get physical with them. If we disagree, then we disagree. I don’t believe in physically intimidating women. That’s not my style. My mother didn’t bring me up that way.”
“Do you know if Dr. Watson had any other enemies?”
“You may want to ask Linda. I don’t know the man’s friends. In fact, if they were friends of that guy, I probably wouldn’t like them anyhow.”
“What’s your opinion of homosexuals?”
“Hey, as long as they don’t bring that stuff into my face, then so be it. I don’t agree with it, and I don’t condone it.”
“Are any of your Union guys gay?”
“No . . .”
“How would you know?”
J.R. faced Bill with a somewhat disbelief look. He really thought the detective must be kidding.
“Let me rephrase that, there’s nobody walking around the Union yard that has any gay tendencies what-so-ever. They might dress up at home like a fag, but not in the yard. Do I make myself clear, Detective?”
“Very . . .”
“And if one of the guys showed up one day in ‘gay’ attire?”
“They won’t . . .”
“Can you be sure?”
“Would a black man show up at a Klan meeting in the heart of the deep south during the days of Jim Crow?”
“I doubt it.”
“Then you understand my answer.”
“Thanks for your time, Mr. Battle.”
“The pleasure was all mine, Detective. And call me J.R.”
At 7:00 P.M. later that evening, Detective Lincoln pulled up in front of The Bird House restaurant in San Francisco. It was a typical Bay Area evening with a bright cloudless sky and a need for a light jacket to fight the slightly cool air coming off the water. Human activity was buzzing on the streets and many people appeared to be out for shopping or some evening entertainment.
The valet took his car and he walked inside. An attractive Asian female hostess took him to a male server who would escort him to Dr. Bates’ table. The interior was high class. A Taiwanese family owned the business and in their culture the men serve the customers and the women handle the money. Soft music poured out of the expensive speakers and beautiful Asian artwork adorned the walls. The women up front all wore exquisite silk dresses of Asian tradition and all the men were dressed in black suits. No males wore earrings or funny haircuts and nobody had tattoos. The staff attire was conservative and traditional.
Detective Lincoln would have preferred to be alone with Dr. Bates for their discussion, but this was not to be. Dr. Bates indicated he had limited time and his only time to speak with the detective in the near future would be here at dinner. Bill had accepted the conditions.
As Detective Lincoln approached the table there was a beautiful lady sitting with the esteemed psychiatrist. Her hair fell to her shoulders, her dress was immaculate, and she had the figure to make any dress an eye catcher. They were sharing a laugh when Bill approached.
“Detective Lincoln, please sit down,” Dr. Bates stated. “Let me introduce my friend, Ms. Daphoney Coldburn.
Bill stepped over and shook the hand of the woman who had white gloves on. He didn’t know why she had gloves on, but they made her look even more elegant.
“Detective Lincoln, it’s a pleasure to meet you. Dr. Bates has told me even more about you than I’ve read in the papers. He said you do good work.”
She had a lovely smile. A single pearl necklace hung from her neck and her soft perfume floated in the air.
“Thank you Ms. Coldburn. Is your father the author Milton Coldburn?”
“Why yes . . . You’ve heard of him.”
“I read two of his history books. He’s a master of details.”
“Father spends all day with his head in books. I think he knows more about Russia than most Russians. His theories are quite interesting though.”
“And he backs up those speculations with fascinating facts. Have you followed in his footsteps?”
“I’m a writer, but I don’t do history. That’s too boring for me. I like politics, mysteries, and psychoanalysis. I’m trying to do a biography on my friend Dr. Bates if he’ll let me. He’s being very coy though.”
Bates immediately entered the conversation.
“Detective, you simply must try the Chardonnay; it’s a vintage year. The body and flavor are simply delightful.”
Dr. Bates simply raised his hand and a waiter was automatically standing before them pouring Bill a glass of wine.
“And try some of the appetizers. Those are pisco sour, hse made kimchi topped with a cracked egg, mutton akhni, black peppercorn fried eel, wu xiang fen, ground chicken with fenugreek and coriander seeds, cape duck dried mandarin peel and gestoofde patats. Your taste buds are going to explode with delight,” Dr. Bates stated in a persuasive manner laced with knowledge and experience of unusual foods.
Detective Lincoln followed the psychiatrist’s suggestions and sampled the food. It was delicious. He didn’t know what he was eating half the time, but the quality and texture was undeniable. This was food prepared for the upper class.
After twenty more minutes of various conversations spanning the vast arena of human experiences, their meal was served. Detective Lincoln didn’t know how much time they had for dinner, but it was time to direct the conversation to the subject of Dr. Watson’s murder.
“Dr. Bates, why was Dr. Watson at your house the day he died?”
“Dr. Watson was my patient, as well as a friend. He was in the area that evening, and I was coming back from an important engagement. I was scheduled to take another trip that evening on a ‘red eye’. Dr. Watson was simply coming by to say ‘Hello’.”
“It wasn’t about his problems, whatever they might be?”
“No, I rarely do business after work hours. Once you start, it never ends. Psychiatry work can be maddening because we simply know very little about the mind. Why does one kill while another seeks diplomacy over the same type of infraction? The same remark to different woman may be viewed as a compliment or an insult. It just depends.”
“I assure you gentlemen that I know a compliment when I hear one,” Daphoney intervened.
“I’m certain you receive your fair share,” Dr. Bates offered. “But the lines of demarcation are not clearly identifiable for many. The normalcy range for any trait will capture eighty to ninety percent of the population, but those who fall outside the range are usually the subjects of study.”
“What did Dr. Watson suffer from?” Bill asked.
Dr. Bates took a sip of wine and sat his wine glass back down.
“I’m afraid that’s doctor-patient information’ which I can’t disclose.”
“Dr. Bates, your patient is dead.”
“I’m aware of your astute observation, Detective.”
Bill didn’t appreciate the subtle sarcasm, but he had to admit to himself that he had stepped into that one.
“Dr. Bates, how did Dr. Watson get into your house?”
Bates was quiescent. He was sampling delightful hor’dourves of bruchetta with a white bean puree and Russian caviar.
“When Dr. Watson called to say he was going to be in the neighborhood, I was out visiting at the time; and I just had my maintenance guy, Manuel, open the door of my house. Clarence has been there before. I gave Clarence the code to the gate. That’s all he needed to get in.”
“So, Manuel didn’t see Dr. Watson and the person who was with him.”
“That’s correct. I asked Manuel and he confirmed what I just told you.”
“Do you think if Manuel had seen the other person that Manuel would be alive today?”
“That’s an interesting question, Detective, but I don’t have an answer. I don’t know. There’s no evidence suggesting an educated guess.”
“Dr. Bates, who do you think killed your patient?”
Bates had a fork in his hand and was sampling one of the dishes. It met his culinary approval. He nodded to Daphoney that she should try it.
“Detective, I believe we have several avenues of interest. My friend’s lifestyle was adventuresome, to say the least. He had shed the conventional norms of social pretext and was delving into the uninhibited frontier where only the brave and few dare venture. That is one street. And I think you need to tread the familiar terrain of most killings, that of revenge for broken love, sibling rivalry, or severe social insult. The possibility of a medical mix-up may also be present. I believe you have your work cut out for you.”
“Dr. Bates, could you elaborate on the last point?”
“But of course . . . Detective, suppose Dr. Watson’s patient accidentally read his own medical file or that of another patient and incorrectly became confused over what was happening to him. He may have thought a conspiracy was being waged against him. This false belief may have prompted him to act.”
“That’s an intriguing theory, Dr. Bates. Do you know any of the patients that Dr. Watson was seeing?”
“No . . .”
The dinner conversation went back and forth for another forty-five minutes before Dr. Bates had to leave. But before he left, Detective Lincoln asked Dr. Bates one more question.
“What does the body wrapped in what appeared to be a giant condom suggest, Dr. Bates?”
“Well, Detective, I’d say it may be a sign of sexual frustration or sexual fantasy. The mind is the reservoir of all our sexual data. Our behavior is established there and the roots of our sexual responses are wrapped within the various layers of beliefs, suspicions, tales, education, and indoctrinated opinions of all of our associates over the years. Individuals have been told how to respond to various stimuli, but what we truly believe is anyone’s guess. What turns you on sexually, Detective, might be totally different than the average Joe. What turned Dr. Watson on might be in a different category than most. It’s just speculation right now.”
“You were his doctor . . .” Bill stated to remind Dr. Bates that he had a vital role in this investigation.
“I was not his psychiatrist for that long. We had just started our doctor-client relationship. We hadn’t reached any breakthroughs. Well, we must really go, Detective.”
Before they left, Bill directed the question to Daphoney.
“Ms. Coldburn, what’s your interpretation of a man found dead dressed in a giant looking condom?”
“Well, Detective, I’d say that sounds kinda kinky to me.”
“If your boyfriend called you and said he wanted you to come over and when you did you found him dressed in a giant condom waiting for you, what would you do?”
“First, I think the quote by British Judge Geoffrey Howard is needed here; he said, ‘I have long lost any capacity for surprise where sex is concerned.’ And second, as to what I would do under the situation you proposed; well, I think I’d have to know you a little bit better to give you my response. Goodnight . . . Detective Lincoln.”
Ms. Daphoney Coldburn, complete with white gloves and a luxurious mink, walked out with the esteemed Dr. Bates and left Detective Lincoln sitting in his chair.
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