Case Closed Fan Fiction ❯ Only One Truth ( Chapter 4 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Chapter Four
Only One Truth
Shinichi slipped through the unlocked door of the murderer’s apartment. By the window was a red comfy chair. Behind it was a small groove in the carpet. Shinichi carefully examined the fabric of a chair, and grinned triumphantly when he saw what he was looking for: an almost invisible strand of brown caught in the frayed seams of the chair. “Bingo.
He slipped out of the room again, without being noticed by those gathered just a few doors away. “If I’m right, that person is also the embezzler,” he thought, “and that’s why they killed Adam-san. I don’t know their motive against Charlotte-san, but there’s evidence enough…
His thoughts were cut off as a fist suddenly slammed into his head.
“Brat! Where have you been?!” Kogoro yelled.
Owwww…
“Ah, Oji-san!” he said, trying to sound bright. “I think I found something cool. Wanna see?” He grabbed Kogoro’s hand and tugged him into the murderer’s room.
“Let go, brat!” Kogoro yelled. “Stop meddling- uwahhh…”
Shinichi stepped aside as Kogoro tottered over and collapsed, fast asleep, into the comfy chair, as he had planned. He clicked the lid of the tranquilizer watch closed, and pulled the little speaker out of his pocket, attaching it to the top of Kogoro’s tie, where it was nearly invisible and made Shinichi’s altered voice come out from the region of his mouth. Rearranging Kogoro into a suitably serious- and, more importantly, downward-facing- pose was the final touch. Shinichi pulled his bowtie out and clicked it to the now well-worn setting 59. “Time for the show…
“Okay, oji-san!” he cried brightly as he ran out of the door. He first shot downstairs to the interrogation room to inform the police, Hakuba and Eri that Kogoro had found an alibi, before running upstairs to inform the massed foreigners of the same. Everyone got into the room at the same time. Shinichi noticed that the murderer looked a little pale that the deduction show was taking place in their room. “Gotcha. You don’t want attention drawn to yourself, but if you were innocent, you’d be making a fuss about this, wouldn’t you?
“Mori-san,” Hakuba sad pleasantly, “Forgive me, but all of the evidence points to Charlotte-san. So why are we here?”
“You drew that conclusion before you had all of the evidence, Hakuba-kun,” Shinichi said in Kogoro’s voice. “You missed a few small points. The very literal open-door policy here, for example. Anyone could have walked into Charlotte-san’s room and taken that knife, just as anyone could have walked into Adam-san’s room and killed him at four AM today.”
“That just suggests that it could have been anyone, not that it wasn’t her,” Hakuba said. “Although I’ll admit that, between his records of dating and bullying, and some inherent dislike, there’s few without a motive. Besides, the murderer didn’t walk in. They climbed out of the window-”
“And why would they do that?” Shinichi said. “Think about it. What’s the point to climb the windows when you can wander the halls freely? Because walking out of the door doesn’t leave an escape route that points directly to a subject, that’s why. At four in the morning, no-one was awake, so no-one would have seen the murderer in the halls, and yet they chose to climb out of the window? Leaving behind both a weapon and an escape route that point straight to them?”
“It’s not the brightest thing to do, but you can’t assert that nobody would be dim enough to try it.”
Excuse me?” Charlotte said in incredulous and impeccable Japanese. Laura let out a feral little snarl and stepped towards Hakuba. The rest of them started muttering, the mysterious phrase “English twat” recurring frequently.
“Arrogance is your downfall, Hakuba-kun. You are a good detective, but you have an unfortunate tendency to jump to a conclusion and then stick to it, no matter what the evidence to the contrary,” Shinichi said. “Assuming that what you say is true, then tell me this: if Charlotte-san was so incautious as to leave all of these obvious clues, why would she cover up her tracks by borrowing someone else’s shoes?”
“What?” Hakuba asked, confused. Takagi stepped forward with the shoe-print lifted from Adams’ windowsill.
“If you look inside Charlotte-san’s door, Hakuba-kun,” Shinichi said, “You will find a pair of slippers and half a dozen pairs of Converse All-stars, a brand of shoe not made by Nike.”
“Ah, he’s right, look!” Sato said, indicating the backwards tick logo on the print.
“Ah, you were wearing Converses at Karaoke, too!” Ran said. “I remember now…”
“She doesn’t wear anything else,” Laura interjected. “Hippy hates wearing leather…”
“So these shoes cannot always have been hers,” Kogoro said, “yet, if you examine the print closely, you can see that the ridge pattern on the bottom of the shoe is rounded and worn. If Charlotte-san has not been wearing them, someone else has. And I believe that if you examine all of the shoes in this building, you will find a match among them.”
“You saying one of us is murderer?!” Emma shrieked. A couple of the others craned over to look at the print.
Lifted a shoe-print off the window? Cool,” Douglas said.
You can do that?” Heather asked in surprise. “I thought it was just fingerprints.
“So your theory thus far suggests that someone else climbed in and out of that window, sneaking past while Charlotte-san was asleep, and wearing gloves to prevent their own fingerprints appearing on the knife,” Hakuba summarized. “If true, that means that Charlotte-san was just an unlucky patsy, but that doesn’t give us a murderer.”
“The murderer did more than just wear gloves,” Shinichi pointed out. “There are a couple of odd little inconsistencies regarding the fingerprints. Firstly, their presence at all. Charlotte-san,” he said, “Your brother commented earlier that you are a dismal cook. Do you cook often?”
“Well, we mostly eat out together,” she said. “When we don’t, Max or someone else who can cook sometimes cooks for everyone. I can’t actually say that I’ve used that much of my kitchen beyond the fridge. We’ve only been here a couple of months.”
“Have you ever used that knife?” Shinichi asked.
“I don’t think so, actually,” she said thoughtfully. “I mean, the few times I’ve cooked for myself, I mostly just heat up some ramen or something…”
“I think it’s obvious she’s never touched the knife,” Alex said, suddenly grinning with the realization that Shinichi- or Kogoro, anyway- was producing his friend an alibi.
“How do you prove that?” Hakuba said dryly. Douglas, cottoning on, pulled her hand up to show to the detective.
“No bandages,” he laughed. “She real clumsy. She handle a knife like that, she lose a finger.”
He has a point,” Hazel said. “I mean, how many times have you fallen down the stairs…?
You nearly cut your finger off with a staple once,” Max said, getting a dig in while it was allowed in the manner of little brothers everywhere. “There’s no way she could have handled a knife without hurting herself.
Thank you for your compliments to my co-ordination,” Charlotte said sarcastically.
“That’s still no proof, however,” Hakuba said, but Shinichi chuckled.
“Takagi-keiji,” he said, “you said you lifted all ten prints from the knife?”
“Um, yes,” Takagi confirmed. Sato suddenly gasped.
“Ah!” She said. “Conan-kun asked me-”
“Yes, I asked him to,” Shinichi said. “Those ten prints are conclusive evidence that the murderer was settling two grudges tonight; one against Adam-san and one against Charlotte-san.”
Eri suddenly reached out and grabbed Charlotte’s other hand, her left one. “You keep fiddling with your left hand,” she said. “And when you picked up your mobile, you put down the teacup so you could pick it up with your right hand, even though your left hand was free.”
“Yes, the motion struck me as odd, too,” Shinichi said. “And when Conan-kun told me about the article about the activities of the Coloradan Liberal Militia “One World”, I realized why. The article mentioned that one of the guards was arrested for unwarranted brutality- firing on the unarmed militia members as they ran. One of them tried to open a door so they could escape and was shot in the hand. They lost two fingers.”
Seriously?” KJ said in surprise, staring at Charlotte’s hand. “Jesus, I knew you were in the hospital, but I had no idea-!”
Prosthetics,” Douglas said. “How you say… Prosthetics?”
“Correct,” Shinichi said. “Reattached false fingers. The medical science behind it these days is so good that you can move them like real fingers. They’re not perfect, though, and I was certain that you had prosthetics when Conan-kun told me of the nickname he heard Adam-san calling you at the Karaoke box.”
Bob Dole,” Ruaridh said.
“What it mean?” Emily asked, sounding frustrated.
“He was a Republican candidate who ran against Clinton in the nineties,” Charlotte said. “He was injured in Nam, like pretty much every American who was alive at the time. His hand was injured. He kept it, but it was disfigured and disabled.” As her various friends mentally translated the Japanese at various speeds, realization began to dawn on some of them. “They work pretty well, actually, but I’m still not too comfortable with them, and I keep forgetting that they’re there `cause they don’t feel or anything. I habitually use my right hand only.”
“Yes,” Shinichi said, “Adam-san was a friend of the reporter who did that article. The reporter gave him a few details which were not for the release of the general public, and one of them was the loss of your fingers. The report only mentioned “unwarranted brutality”. This is conclusive proof that someone set out to frame you.”
“And how, may I ask?” Hakuba said, getting visibly irritated as his deduction was methodically demolished. It was Sato who answered.
“Ten prints,” she said. “Prosthetics are good, but in the end, they’re plastic. They don’t have fingerprints. Charlotte-san can’t have left those prints. Someone faked them. They must have lifted her prints off of something before she left. They were planning this for a long time.”
“That’s possible, but given what I believe to be the motive, unlikely,” Shinichi said. “Charlotte-san, I understand you lived and worked in Colorado for a year and a half. Are you an American citizen?”
“Born in Colorado,” Charlotte confirmed. “And yes, as a citizen they do have my prints on file. The American government’s been a lot better about civil rights under Obama, but it wouldn’t be surprising if there was someone who’d sell you such details if you coughed up enough green.”
“They said you were a mystery fan,” Shinichi said, “and yes, that’s most likely what happened. The motive against you is, in fact, the “One World” attack against battery farms. In the aftermath, all McDonald’s restaurants worldwide closed temporarily and in some cases permanently. I believe that the murderer lost their job as a result of these purges, which robbed her not only of her income but also broke up the embezzlement scheme she had been running to siphon off what accumulated to millions.”
“Wait,” Emma said. “Wait. You not say… one of us was manager at McDonald’s. You saying…”
The group turned as one to the white-faced murderer.
“Yes,” Shinichi confirmed. “Heather-san… It was you!
What?!
Charlotte gasped and covered her mouth with her hands. Douglas and Ruaridh grabbed Laura by the arms, pulling her back as she screamed a long list of words that even Shinichi wasn’t good enough at English to recognize, but were easy enough to guess. KJ was similarly fighting off Andrew and Alex. Emma was crying and shaking her head, Emily placing an arm around her shoulders. Max had gone purple with anger as he yelled at Heather, Taylor gripping his hand tightly and baring her unsettlingly pointed teeth as she visibly restrained herself from jumping on her. Richard was doing repeated double-takes between Kogoro and Heather. Hazel was going white-knuckled as she gripped the back of a desk chair in an effort to restrain her anger. Takagi was rapidly putting the evidence bags out of harm’s way, Sato stepping in between Heather and the others, prepared to deal out some fast, painful anger management. Heather started backing away, muttering about lies and slander and calling a lawyer. Eri stepped into the doorway, effectively preventing her from escaping.
“Right here,” she said dangerously.
“Well, that’s interesting,” Hakuba mused. Ran stared at him incredulously. “So you have a motive. Do you have hard evidence? Damning as her reaction to your accusation was, you can’t prove anything without physical proof.”
“Allow me to explain how she did it first,” Shinichi said. “Adam-san was blackmailing her over the embezzlement. She agreed to meet him an hour after they returned, when everyone else would surely be sound asleep. Before she did so, she tied the knife- which she had stolen in advance and planted prints onto- to the length of rope, and then tied it to this chair, causing it to dangle just outside of Adam-san’s window. When she entered, he turned on his computer and loaded up the document with the evidence. While he was doing that, however, she opened the window, untied the knife, and slit his throat with it. He didn’t notice the knife before because it was dark outside and, anyway, I doubt he even looked at the window on the way from his room to his computer. She then went to tie the now elongated dangling end of the rope to the chair, which as the police has noted is leaning against the window with the rope tied to it. Adam-san, however, was not dead. He copied the document, which he knew Heather-san would delete. As his laptop was plugged into the wall, it would not run out of power- thus, as long as it stayed plugged in, the files would appear days later, whenever someone pressed Ctrl and V. Heather-san, however, feared that he had sent someone an email- he couldn’t cry out, because on the destruction to his throat, and she couldn’t tell for sure what he had done, because, as Conan-kun told me, he had dozens of windows open. He had probably expired as soon as he copied the document, but, scared, she chopped hastily until he was decapitated. She then deleted the file and, fearing that someone would be coming down the hall at any second, climbed up the rope to her room, where she untied this end and let it drop to just outside of Charlotte-san’s room. If anyone had entered the room at that point, they would have seen the rope dangling outside of Charlotte-san’s room, and not quite still- implying that she had only just climbed down. Heather-san then hid the bloody clothes and gloves among the rubbish which would have been taken away at about 7 AM today- four hours before the body was discovered.”
“A strong theory, Mori-san, and does explain the footprint,” Hakuba said, “but without hard evidence, we can’t charge anyone- although I will admit that Charlotte-san is certainly cleared. My apologies,” he said, with a courteous bow to Charlotte, who had her arms around Laura’s shoulders as she tried to calm her furious friend.
‘S… All right,” she murmured, shock causing her to revert to English.
“There is hard evidence,” Shinichi said. Then, pocketing the tie, he ran around to the side of the chair and pointed out the strand of brown hemp.
“Is that it, Oji-san?” he cried. “Look, it’s a little piece of brown thread! Isn’t this chair red?”
Hakuba pulled on a pair of gloves as he strode over to the chair and extracted the piece of string. It was wrapped around the headrest, snagged on a loose seam. He pulled it taut, examining it closely.
“Keiji-san,” he said, “can we get forensics to compare this with the rope dangling from Adam-san’s window?”
Save yourself the trouble,” Heather spat out between sobs. “I’m getting arrested, aren’t I? Guess that bastard got what he wanted…
So it’s all true, Heather-san,” Hakuba said. He sounded a little disappointed.
Embezzlement? Heather, why did you bother?” Emma cried. “You didn’t need that money! If you hadn’t done that, he wouldn’t have gone after you-”
I needed that money!” Heather yelled angrily. “Otherwise, they wouldn’t like me…
They? Who’s they?” Laura snarled. “You’re hanging out with them again, aren’t you? That bitch Jordan and her friends. God, why do you care about them?
They’re my friends!” Heather shot back angrily. “They’ve always been nice to me. So I took the money to be nice to them. But then he started demanding most of it from me, and then she- she jerked her head at Charlotte, who was crying quietly- “Took my job from me! They were going to leave me…
Those cows only wanted you for your money!” Taylor yelled. “Dammit, we were kind to you! We were your friends! Damn you! You’ve always been like this!
So once again, I’m sure, we’ve been secretly plotting against you?” Hazel growled. “Yeah, secretly, we all hate you, that’s why we act so friendly. Get a fucking grip. Charlotte wasn’t trying to lose you your job any more than those bitches wanted to be friends with you. Grow up, get over yourself, and learn to know when you’ve got it good.
You shouldn’t be mad at me!” Heather screamed. “This isn’t my fault! You’re all making me the bad guy again!
Shinichi stepped out from behind the chair, putting his bowtie away, and regarded her coldly. “You made yourself the bad guy when you tried to destroy the lives of two of your friends, neechan,” he said. Everyone stared at him for a moment. Then Sato nodded at Takagi.
“Cuff her,” she said. Takagi nodded and led Heather away, reading her rights to her in English. Heather threw a last pleading look back at her ex-friends, but the ones that weren’t crying just glared at her or looked away. Laura and Taylor made obscene gestures. Emma turned away.
“Hmm?” muttered Kogoro, yawning. “What just happened?”
The Scots all stared at him incredulously.
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There we go, guys. So who got it?
Sorry this was late- Senior Hockey Tour to Dublin! I shook hands with a guy who’s been dead for 800 years. (Who am I telling this to? No-one’s reading anyway.)
I do not claim to own any of the characters in Meitantei Conan. They are the intellectual property of Aoyama Gosho. All characters, couples and locations, if Canon, will be faithful to the manga, so if you’re into fics with weird pairings like Ran and Heiji, the back button is at the top there. The fic may not make sense if you have not read up to chapter 679, which you can do at Onemanga.com, but I advise you to buy the official Tankoban novels (up to volume 27 are out in English at the time of writing) so that Aoyama-sensei can afford to continue gracing us with his imagination. Now, I hope you enjoy the fic! (If you don’t, please see my previous comments re the back button).
The Pieces Begin To Move
Perceptions