Short Short Story - By Jane Genova
That's how Horst Merkel's former administrative assistant sized up the man she had worked for 27 months.
She was Maria Carlucci. Who was questioning her was FBI agent Harry Houdini. That was his nickname. His birth one was John Smith IV.
The latest murder victim on the Gold Coast of Connecticut had been a Superior Court Judge-Rebecca Blackstone.
One of Merkel's management-consulting clients had lost a case in front of her. Because of that development, the client stiffed Merkel's firm.
The Blackstone killing and the three other murders all had the same MO. Knife wounds to head and the torso, followed after death by beheading.
Yes, a serial killer was on the loose.
"I quit not because Merkel scared me. Or even got to me. I would have put up with all that for the money. But he was cheap."
Houdini's magic came from his ability to pick up on what others couldn't. Consequently, he could help a community escape fear. The people of Greenwich, Darien, and Westport had passed from angst to hysteria.
"That's what I'm interested in. How cheap?"
Houdini milked that detail.
"He had me go to the Italian bakery in the Little Italy section of Bridgeport. The cannoli pie with excess almonds was $4.34 less there than around here. Then he blew up that I took too long."
Merkel was Roger Ailes/Chris Christie fat. In a region of lean fit professionals, that was his F__You signature.
"He is an angry guy?"
Carlucci was silent.
Then came the "Yes and no. A lot of us who had once worked for him concluded the rage was theatrical, staged for intent. He was totally strategic, like Donald Trump."
With Merkel, Houdini was less direct.
What he wanted was for the guy to just talk too much. The guilty tend to do that. They try too hard to position and package themselves as being helpful.
"'Criminal Minds' has certainly given the FBI an amazing brand."
The Fat Guy chuckled. The guilty want to create bonds with law enforcement. It's a game. The guilty's downfall is their assumption they have the upper hand in the game.
When it came to discussing the first victim, Merkel's left eye twitched, just a bit. She had been the travel agent-Candy Waterfall-who hadn't worked hard enough to dig up the best deal for his business trip to China. Or, that's what others Houdini had interrogated claimed.
Perhaps struggling for street cred, Merkel did observe, "Candy had disappointed my firm. We were sorry to not to able to use her services again. As you know, travel agents have become dinos."
Within 185 minutes, Houdini had connected the dots.
His superiors agreed that they could legally issue a search warrant.
It was a carpet knife. It was under the passenger floor pad in the Merkel's maintenance man's truck.
Houdini got yet another promotion.
Carlucci was shook that she had the guy all wrong.
The Gold Coast of CT communally agreed that they knew it all the time: The Fat Guy had never fit in. That's what mattered in Greenwich, Darien, and Westport.
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