This is a work of fan fiction. No infringement on the copyright holders is intended.
WEB OF MURDER
by K. Patrick Glover
Officer Dunkirk stared at the battered old car putt putting its way towards him. Unbelievable. Some people would drive around in anything.He stepped out into the road and held up a hand. As the car pulled to a stop, he walked around to the driver's window. "I'm sorry, sir, this is a crime scene. I'll have to ask you to turn around."
"Oh, yeah, hold on, wait a second....." The rumpled looking, brown haired man patted and searched his pockets until he found a small leather wallet. He unfolded it to reveal a badge and said, "I'm Lieutenant Columbo, from homocide. Where's everybody at?"
Dunkirk felt his face flush. "Sorry, Lieutenant. They're all out back, by the pool. We're still waiting on the M.E., so the bodies haven't been moved."
"Okay." Columbo thought for a minute, then got out of the car. "Park this somewhere for me, will you. But be careful. It's a classic."
The officer looked at him doubtfully, but climbed into the car and pulled slowly away. Columbo watched him carefully, wondering if he should have entrusted his car to the young man. "Well, I'm sure he'll be careful," he mumbled as he started walking up the driveway.
An officer stationed out front opened the door for him and he stepped inside. The house was huge and obviously quite expensive, but unlike many of the luxury homes that Columbo had been in, this one was a cluttered mess. The walls of the living room were lined with bookshelves, but they were completely inadequate for thier task and books were piled haphazardly throughout the room. A quick scan of titles revealed an eclectic collection ranging from Edgar Rice Burroughs to Barbara Cartland, with stops just about everywhere inbetween.
Opposite the living room was a den, which, from all appearances, was used primarily as an office. It was cluttered, of course, much like the living room, but here the clutter was made up of papers and files and computer discs. In one corner was a top of the line PC. As he approached it, Columbo realized that it was on. He looked carefully at the screen.
"Lieutenant?" Sgt. Jeter stuck his head into the room. "We're waiting
for you out back, Lieutenant."
"You know anything about these machines?"
The Sgt. stepped inside. "A little, why?"
Columbo pointed at the screen. "You see what it says here, right across the top?"
Jeter looked at it and said, "America Online."
"I think my nephew was telling me about this. Its one of those internet
services, right? The kind that works through a phone line?"
"More or less, yeah."
"Through the phone lines?"
"Yeah, through the phone line."
"And you have to pay for all this, right? By the hour?"
"And its connected now, right?"
The Sgt. looked more closely at the screen. "Yeah, its downloading something."
"Is there anyway to tell how long its been connected?"
"Once its done downloading. Its set to sign off as soon as its finished.
When it does, a box will appear saying goodbye, and it'll tell how long this session was."
Columbo ran his fingers through his tangled thatch of hair and thought for a minute. "Okay. Where are the bodies?"
As Columbo followed the Sgt. down the hall and out onto the patio he searched his pockets absent-mindedly, pulling out an old, half smoked cigar. He looked back and forth and Sgt. Jeter handed him a pack of matches. He mumbled a thank you and lit the cigar, still looking about.
The scene outside was one of organized confusion. Police officers jostled about with lab technicians in a familiar sort of pattern, seemingly oblivious to the two naked corpses lying on the wet pavement.
"What have we got?"
The Sgt. flipped open his notebook. "The lady's name was Diane Taylor. She lived here with her husband. She's a writer, did science fiction novels."
"Oh yeah? Science fiction? Star Wars, Star Trek, that sort of stuff? I tell you, my sister's boy loves that stuff. Goes to all the conventions, he's got signed pictures of the actors all over the walls in his room. Is that her husband?"
"No. We're not sure just who he is, at this point, but he's definetly not her husband. There are signs of sexual activity in the bedroom, so we pretty sure they were lovers."
"Well, we'll need lab results to be accurate, but it appears that they came straight out here for a swim after making love. They left their clothes in the bedroom, along with two empty bottles of champagne. They brought a third bottle out here with them."
"Did they stop at the computer on the way out?"
"In the nude, Lieutenant? While intoxicated?"
"Yeah, right, that wouldn't make any sense, would it? Cause of death?"
"Appears to be a single, small calibar, gunshot to the back of the head."
"Both of them?"
Columbo scratched his head. "Well that doesn't make any sense. Have the lab boys run tests on the champagne bottles, the glasses....." He looked around. "Where are the glasses?"
The Sgt. shook his head. "I don't see any, Lieutenant."
"Well have the place turned upside down. There have to be glasses around here somewhere. And I want full toxicology workups on the bodies."
"Toxicology? Lieutenant, they were shot..."
"Do you think that computer's done yet?" Columbo turned and went back into the house, leaving Sgt. Jeter to wonder just what was going on in his brain.
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