A Brilliant Plan

Chapter 28

“WHAT DO YOU think?” Ron asked. We were eating inside the Greek restaurant on Santa Monica’s 3rd Street pedestrian promenade, lots of shoppers and tourists were passing by outside.

“I have two storylines that fit, more or less,” I said, nibbling on a piece of bread. “One—Altward has named Nakamoto as the buyer. Suddenly, a new, higher bidder comes along offering more money for ‘The Max’. Altward is in a spot, does he reject the new bidder or call the deal off with ‘The Japanese?'”

“By coincidence, the gallery is broken in to,” I continued the tale. “Altward uses that as an excuse to tell the world that his Max Jewels were stolen. Secretly, he contacts the new bidder and sells them to him. The Japanese will sit in his Jacuzzi until he is blue in the face.”

“There is one major thing in your story that I don’t like,” Ron said.

“That is?”

“It has nothing whatever to do with the murder at the gallery. The murder is all I care about, nice theory and all,” Ron poked his fork at me. “You may stick to your jewelry and all. But murder is my business!” Delivered Chandler-eske.

I didn’t give up. “OK, this is where storyline number two, the Mundy variation, comes up. Altward has ‘The Max’ ready for sale. Father and Daughter Eastman break-in and steal ‘The Max’. Wally Eastman gets caught either by Altward or by his companion and is killed in a struggle. Phoebe gets away with the jewelry.” Pause for a sip of Coke and some quick thinking. “Phoebe is Altward’s girl, so she may know who the bidders are for the Max. She may even know that ‘The Japanese’ is the auction winner. She contacts Nakamoto; he comes flying into L.A. and waits for her to sell him the Maximilian Jewels. For Phoebe, it is a low-risk business transaction because she doesn’t need any fence and she can immediately resell the stuff for an obscene amount of money.”

“I like that one better—it has a killer.” Without success, Ron used his fork to chase a single olive around his plate, finally conceded, and picked it up with his fingers.

“Which bring us to the question: Why didn’t she already? What takes her so long?” Maybe I could motivate Ron to start looking for Phoebe a little bit harder.

Ron shook his head.

“Still don’t like it?” I asked, crossing my arms, sulking.

“Again, who killed Wally Eastman?” Ron looked around for the waitress to order refills.

“You are no fun,” I said.

Ron’s phone rang; he pulled it out of his jacket and listened for some moments. “Where?” he asked, listened and snapped the phone shut.

“Have to go!”

“What is it about?”

“I have a nice explanation why Nakamoto will shrivel and shrink to the size of a Japanese compact car in his pool, waiting for his jewels,” Ron said.

“Will he tell me?”

“The police have found the body of Phoebe Eastman. Last night she drifted ashore, north of Huntington Beach.”

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