The Case of the Vanishing Turkeys: A RP stage holidays short
Everyone was invited.
The Bureau Chief of NYPD decided to open his house for all detectives, both NYPD staff and private eyes, to celebrate the holidays with his family. The scent of cinnamon and vanilla candles filled the air, and his three-story Georgian home was decorated from the tip of the roof to the base of the footing in red and green and gold.
"Wow your wife really did a number with this place!" Joseph Zeo applauded, who usually did not give praises to anyone.
"Oh you are too kind!" The bureau chief beamed, knowing they had topped their neighbors once and again this year, "Wait until it gets dark and we turn on the electric fairy lights on both the tree AND the house! It is quite a novelty, I must say!"
Just then, his wife rushed over and quietly talked to the bureau chief in nervous whispers, and they excused themselves and hurried to the kitchen.
Joseph Zeo took the opportunity to chat with some old acquaintances in the lounge. The room was overly decorated to a point he almost run a fake snowman down to make room for others to join in. The scent of food began to drift through the air, but something was missing. Joseph could not pin point what it was until whispers around the halls began to reach his ears.
People spoke in hushed apprehensive tones, "I heard the turkey is missing, and it's not just happening in this household..."
[This is just a RP short for the month of December. Everyone please feel free to take a stab at it, anything goes, and have fun! muhahahahaha....!]
"Now, Mr Zeo, if you'll allow me, I don't think this will be too painful. It's not in too deep. That was quite a fall"
Quickly glancing over the remains of the table, the Professor took a clean napkin and a bottle of schnapps that had miraculously survived both the impact and the attentions of guests. The Professor poured some of the schnapps onto the napkin. Without saying a word, the remaining schnapps he carefully placed out of the immediate reach of Riza.
The Professor took a close look at the glass shard and delicately placed his fingers ready to extract it.
"Get on with it" hissed Joseph, although the Professor sensed some relief in that hiss that it wasn't anyone else taking the honour.
Vulkie in particular had a kind of delighted fascination on her face. Riza looked... hmm... inscrutable.
In a flash the shard was out and makeshift swab applied. There wasn't too much blood.
"You might find it a little difficult to sit down for a while" said the Professor.
"Nnngh!" said Joseph as the alcohol stung the wound.
What with the mess of a thousand Christmas decorations dripping with gravy, a shattered dining table, and the majority of guests left before a non-existent turkey was served, the party was going to be the talk of the town for a while. Probably the Chief didn't see that in a good way.
There were still a few gravy soaked, drunken stragglers in the room. Someone was yelling in the kitchen. Incongruously, the band had picked up again. Well no-one had asked them to stop...
Many who scurried out the door took quick peeks at Joseph Zeo, as if he was the trickster who bought the gravy upon everyone. Well, in a way he was, but Joseph only set it off, as the original culprit probably expected.
The band continued playing an upbeat Jazz version of Jingle Bells but the hall was nearly empty now. As the chief approached Joseph, he was hoping a great man of his status and experience would comprehend that Joseph was not at fault.
"Are you implying everyone here is a roasted Turkey?" the chief fumed.
"A-te-now Chief, you must understand," Joseph stuttered. "I just- I was only trying to figure out what that thing- that apparatus was. I didn't put it there in the first place--"
"Oh is that your excuse? Then who put it there?"
"Quite possibly the person or persons who responsible for the disappearance of turkeys in this town," the Professor induced. Victoria nodded in apprehension.
Riza suddenly slapped her arm around the chief's neck and shoulder as if they were life long buddies, "oh darhling dear, you must exhale and smell the roses, or gravy- or was it inhale- hic-!"
The chief shoved the Riza aside and continued, "I don't care how you'll do it, but your lot better find the culprit behind this- this- monstrosity," the chief eyed everyone in the group, "otherwise none of you, I mean NONE of you here will ever be able to take on any case in this town! I'll make sure of it!" He then stormed off to the kitchen.
Joseph wonder if the wife of the chief realized her anxieties over turkeys was no longer an issue tonight.
As the Chief gave the group a scolding for ruining the party, Vulkie closed her eyes; this was one party she'd rather forget and the sooner the better.
Opening her eyes again, she saw a cloaked figure standing outside of the kitchen window. As soon as the figure saw Vulkie looking, he started to run away from the house, through the back garden.
Barging past the Chief and his wife, Vulkie immediately gave chase to the figure. "STOP" she yelled, but the figure kept on running through the garden. Several detectives stared at the scene, bewildered about what was happening.
Joseph immediately followed Vulkie and had caught up with her, even passing her for a moment.
The figure leapt over an old tree that lay next to the road, where a car was waiting. Before they could reach it, the car was driving away at breakneck speed.
Vulkie grabbed her gun out and started to aim, but Joseph carefully placed his hand on top of the Colt 1911 and shook his head. "They're out of range," he stated, while Vulkie stared into his eyes.
"That person KNOWS what happened to those turkeys and we let him get away!" Vulkie bellowed.
"What's the matter, Miss Nouson? Did you manage to catch the perpetrator?" Professor Troof said, while Riza came wobbling towards them.
Putting her gun back where it belonged, she shook her head and admitted their defeat. "We need to get to the bottom of this, soon, or the Chief will have our heads!" she concluded, before walking back towards the Chief's house...
The Professor had not so much as glimpsed the figure at the window, but as soon as Vulkie and Joseph had dashed off, he guessed what had been seen. He followed with Riza to find the outcome of the chase.
Arriving to hear Vulkie vexed and frustrated, she confirmed the missed chance through a dejected shake of her head in response to his question, and muttered disappointedly on the way back to the house.
"Never mind," said the Professor, "we have plenty of clues to follow up."
"Such as?" asked Riza, the cold fresh air slightly sobering her up.
"We should examine the gravy mechanism again for clues, but this time from above" he said, glancing a little guiltily at Joseph.
"Physical evidence really is my forté, so I will head to the next floor to see what's what. You're of course welcome to join me, but we also have a suspect to question", he added, vaguely triumphantly, before continuing.
"The vast number of lights on this house, although not lit, are testament to the Bureau Chief's neighbourly rivalry. Perhaps through sheer jealousy those neighbours have done all this. They have a motive to ruin this party and maybe all the other disappeared turkeys are a mere prelude to avoid suspicion. They probably also had a chance to install the gravy mechanism, or bribe someone to install it."
The Professor paused, hoping this vague theory made some kind of sense to the others. Being relatively new in town, this was the first chance to show his mettle to his peers. Well apart from the Halloween party, of course. That costume HAD been a knockout...
"Who's with me in checking upstairs first?" he asked the others.
"I will," Vulkie happily said, wanting to make up for her earlier mistake of letting the perpetrator get away. As the Professor and Vulkie walked up the stairs, she thought about what the Professor had mentioned earlier.
He had said that the neighbours might've been involved and that wasn't a bad idea after all; but did it really depend on jealousy about having more lights?
"Joseph!" Vulkie yelled, "Go check out the neighbours. They might be involved. Be on the lookout for that car!"
Joseph shouted a small "Okay" and went off with Riza to check on the neighbours, while Vulkie and the Professor took their shot at investigating the mechanism.
Arriving at the door, the Professor grabbed the knob and started to twist it, but found it locked. "Darn it. I don't suppose you would mind going downstairs to fetch..." the Professor began, but Vulkie already rumbled through her purse and found what she needed; her lockpicking set.
Kneeling down, she fumbled a bit around and within 20 seconds, the door had been unlocked.
"They don't call me the master of unlocking things for nothing," Vulkie braggged, before she opened the door. The Professor gave a small smile, before entering the room.
"Now, if my calculations are correct, the mechanism should be right... there" he said, pointing out at the floor. Vulkie was amazed; it seemed the Professor had a great visual memory and remembered the exact spot.
Kneeling down, he felt a bit on the floor and managed to wedge a floorboard loose. As the Professor and Vulkie kneeled down, they observed the mechanism. It was fit with a timer, but Joseph's fumbling had triggered the mechanism earlier - probably a failsafe, Vulkie thought, in case someone noticed and investigated it.
And just there, under a pipe, she saw something. "Professor, would you be so kind to move your hand for a bit?" she politely asked. The Professor obliged. It took Vulkie a few seconds, but she had found something that was very intriguing... a turkey feather!
When the group filed back into the Chief's home, ready to investigate they were confronted with the sight of a very familiar woman standing underneath the gravy spigot.
Molly Maltese stood directly underneath the offending object, gazing up in consternation from under the brim of a truly enormous hat. It may have once been a haute shade of pink, but was now a dejected sort of rust color stained with gravy. Her hands were on her hips, and her entire party dress was mottled in earthen tones by the sauce.
"This is truly ridiculous." She said by way of greeting as the troupe came into the room, each murmuring noises of surprise and greeting. Riza volunteered a hearty hiccup as she crossed her eyes warmly at her dear friend. "What kind of monster dips an entire party in brown gravy?"
"The same kind swiping all the turkeys from the neighborhood, we expect." Vulkie said, a ferocious gleam in her eye. Molly sniffed delicately and pulled a sodden strand of hair from where it adhered firmly to her forehead.
"Turkey for the holidays, how gauche. I'll stick to pheasant thank you. This sounds like a problem of the masses." She said petulantly. "However, I do love chasing down a good criminal, even if they're only a paltry bird-napper."
"Or dare I say, POULTRY birdnapper!" The Professor dissolved in the kind of chuffing usually reserved for academic sorts. Each eye turned to regard him in bemusement, and Molly's eyebrow climbed her eyebrow in degrees.
"And who on Earth are you?" she asked, producing a silk handkerchief from the depths of her handbag and mopping at her ruined eye makeup.
Riza’s beautifully fuzzy warmness was slowly dissipating, and each passing second brought a greater awareness of her surroundings. She glanced around the gravy-covered room. By the look of things, it would be a while yet before she would get the chance to take a shower.
While the Professor introduced himself to Molly, Riza stepped outside the front door and grabbed a handful of snow. She rubbed it all over herself in an attempt to wash off most of the gravy before the smell permanently sunk into her leather clothing.
As Riza mashed icy snow into her jacket, her thoughts turned to the Professor. He was a quick one. Calm under pressure and highly rational, just the sort of person needed to temper the overeager nonsense of others. Riza decided that she liked this fellow.
Upon returning, she found Vulkie moping slightly off to the side, while the others were engrossed in conversation. She was probably still upset over the window lurker escaping. Riza walked up to Vulkie and heavily patted her on the back. “There, there.” Riza paused. What did people usually say in moments like these? She wasn’t sure. “Don’t worry. I’m sure if you lost some weight then next time you’d be able to--”
Molly cleared her throat loudly. “Riza, darling, why don’t you come over here? We were just discussing how everyone should split up for the investigation.”
Oblivious to the glare boring its way into her back, Riza walked over and joined the rest of the group standing in a semicircle underneath the pipe, from which errant drops of gravy occasionally dripped.
Professor Troof and Vulkie went upstairs to check on the gravy mechanism, to Joseph's relieve. He dreaded getting too close to that sauce spitting beast after the incident.
Under Vulkie's suggestion, Joseph headed out with the two ladies to check on the neighbor. The quiet neighborhood were dotted with stately homes much like the one the Chief of the Police Bureau had. The grey stone structure across the street seemed bare and unadorned. The one with red bricks on the left of the Chief's home was over decorated much like the Chief's, and Joseph could hear loud music coming out from the small house with a green roof on the right.
The three decided to split to cover more grounds, and Joseph decided to head for the green one, knowing someone was home. He knocked and waited, but the music was probably too loud for the people inside to hear him. Joseph had no choice to bang on the door. Someone inside turned off the phonograph, and slowly a lady with a sharp nose suspiciously peered out from the crack of the door.
Upstairs in the Chief's house, Vulkie had just pulled out a feather from underneath a pipe: dark and light striped, it was unmistakeably from a turkey.
"Well done, Miss Nouson!" exclaimed the Professor. "Whoever installed the gravy mechanism must also have handled turkeys! But there are more clues here, I'm sure," he added, eyes twinkling.
There was a timer on the mechanism. The Professor surmised that it released a valve in the pipe to which the gravy-sprinkler was attached, the same valve triggered when Joseph had pulled from below. The Professor wondered when the timer was set to go off, and considered extracting the whole lot to try and find out, but thought better of it - they had messed up the house enough already.
He stood up, and glanced down at the floorboards underneath which the mechanism lay, stroking his chin.
His eyes traced a path from the gravy sprinkler along the pipe, all the way to the wall where a travel trunk was positioned, looking for all the world like it hadn't been moved in years. In that respect it matched the rest of the room, which seemed to be used as a storage space.
The Professor walked over to the trunk and gingerly opened it.
"As I suspected," said the Professor, "this is where the gravy came from." The inside of the trunk had been lined with thick glass, so thick that it looked like the whole thing had been turned into a heatproof container. Traces of gravy gradually dripped towards a hole in the bottom, which connected to the pipe.
"This could have kept the gravy warm for some time, and did not need to be filled at the same time as installing the pipe," he continued. "Certainly a lot of planning has gone into this."
Someone had been able to get a lot of things into that locked room without anybody noticing, but with the amount of to-ing and fro-ing going on at that house putting up Christmas lights, taking deliveries of fake snowmen, organising a party ... maybe not too difficult after all.
"I'll take the one across the street," Riza announced, and proceeded to quickly jaywalk over to the stony edifice. Behind her, a few words drifted into the night, among them "that goddamned turkey" and "lack of propriety". Riza paid it no mind, instead intently focused on scouting out the premises.
The lights appeared to be on downstairs, though the curtains were drawn. Riza gave the door three swift raps and stood back to wait. A moment later, the door swung open to reveal a stout man with a scowl.
"Can I help you?" He eyed Riza with suspicion, taking in her attire. She wasn't the sort of woman usually found around this type of neighborhood.
"Good evening. I was wondering if you'd heard about the recent turkey thefts?"
"Heard about 'em? 'Course I have. Everyone's going nuts about it." The man threw a glance over his shoulder.
"Are you a victim?"
"Can you elaborate?"
"No. Look lady, I ain't got time for yer stupid questions." The man began to swing the door shut, but Riza quickly stuck the heel of her stiletto in between the door and the jamb.
"I'm not done talking with you," Riza stated.
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