The House Jack Built

It was nine in the morning when he approached the walkway. He got the call on the wire before breakfast. Homicide. The victim was a titan of finance. A billionaire by the name of Jackson Pembroke. He built his empire in the credit industry. In his prime he could end presidential campaigns with one phone call. He was, in every sense of the word, untouchable.

And now he’s lying in a pool of his own blood.

The cause of death was accidental-at least that’s what the wife was saying-and his children were lawyering up before Detective Stone even got the damn call. So there he was, standing outside the door of a fallen titan, waiting to start his day.

He could hear the son arguing on the phone as he entered the hall. “I don’t care what he says,” he went on. “Just get it done! And don’t stop until every last cent is…” he trailed off upon seeing Det. Stone standing in the hall. After composing himself he ended his call with a terse, “Get it done” and tried his best to hurry back to the main foyer.

Stone hurried after him. “Excuse me,” he said once he caught up. “Are you Miles Pembroke?”

Miles Pembroke was not known for mincing words. Today was no exception. “I’m quite busy right now, sir.”

“It’s Detective. Detective Stone, at your service.” Miles stopped walking and took the time to give Stone a glance from head to toe. Although the detective did get a little sleep the previous night, he was far from presentable. His clothes were rumpled and unkempt, covered by a wet, ill fitting coat. His hair disheveled from leaving his apartment in such a hurry he forgot a hat. More importantly, Miles noticed this detective did not have a badge pinned to his coat pocket. ‘This man must be an imposter’ he thought to himself.

“My family is dealing with a great loss right now,” he went back to being terse. “We have no time to hire a private eye.”

“I’m not a private eye,” Stone reaches into his left pocket and produced his badge. “Now can you tell me where you were at the time of the murder?”

“My lawyers will tell you everything you need to know.” Miles turned and strode up the grand staircase near to the hall. “Now if you don’t mind I have my mother to tend to.”

He then turned stiffly and walked up and away. What’s the rest of this family like? Stone wondered. And with that, he sought out his next witness, the daughter Eve.

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