Can you solve this mini-mystery?


By Mark Murphy

"Sorry I'm late," Lt. Bill Lloyd muttered as he strode into the dead millionaire's study. "Cell phone wasn't working."

"It's OK, sir," Sgt. Wenderlich said. "Did you see the body as they were taking it out?"

"Yep." Lloyd scrutinized the dead man's desk. "Doc told me Mariposa was found slumped over his desk after he was stabbed in the back."

"And he apparently left us a clue." Wenderlich held up a plastic bag containing a piece of paper. "This note was on his desk."

Lloyd squinted at it, then frowned.

"BID," he said. "Looks like that's all he wrote. Anyone know what it means?"

"Not yet. So far we've found no connection between Michael Mariposa and auctioneers, auctions — even eBay. What's even more weird, he was holding a paperweight on top of the note."

"Where's the paperweight?"

"Being processed. Want to see it?"

Lloyd sighed. "Yes, at some point." He looked around the room. "Why'd he use a paperweight? No windows, no fan, nothing to blow the paper away."

"Beats me. Also found this in his appointment book." He held up another plastic bag, containing a piece of paper with four names: Diana Mariposa, Paul and George Diario and D.I. Armbruster.

"The maid says all of them had appointments with Mariposa today. They were loud appointments, too — though she couldn't make out the words."

"Somebody rounding them up?"

"Already done. They're in separate rooms."

* * *

Diana Mariposa stood in front of the kitchen sink with her arms folded, glaring at Lloyd.

"I didn't kill my father!"

"Didn't say you did. Not yet, anyway," he said. "Pretty name, Mariposa. And if I remember my high school Spanish, it means some kind of insect, right?"

"Yes. It means 'butterfly.' I treasure my heritage — unlike my father. He used to be Miguel Mariposa. That was before he was a big businessman."

"With a big will that was about to exclude you."

"I'm his daughter! I have a right!"

"And you also have a rap sheet. It's all petty stuff, but still..."

She took a couple of steps toward Lloyd, her arms still folded, her eyes still glaring. "Cut to the chase. Am I under arrest?"

Lloyd smiled at her. "Weren't you listening? I said 'not yet.'"

* * *

The Diario brothers — Paul and George — were sitting on a couch when Lloyd turned the TV off.

"Hey!" said Paul, the tall one. "We were watching that!"

"Now you're going to watch me," Lloyd said. "You guys were building Mariposa's new complex, right?"

"Yeah," said George, the short and dumpy one. "So?"

"So I hear you two and Mariposa were arguing today."

"The construction costs went up," Paul said with a shrug. "It happens. Mariposa didn't like it."

"Maybe he didn't like kickbacks, either. I've been doing some checking on you boys. Rumor has it — "

"Hey!" George said. "Be careful what you say — there's such a thing as slander!"

"There's such a thing as murder, too." Lloyd turned the TV back on. "Enjoy — for now."

* * *

In the billiard room, D.I. Armbruster hit the two ball into a side pocket.

"Me and Mariposa went way back. Knew him when he worked behind the pharmacy counter at his first store."

"Then you teamed up for all those shopping centers and malls, until he bought you out," Lloyd said, taking a cue stick from the rack. "But today he wouldn't give you a loan."

Armbruster looked at the rug and shook his head. "The Mariposa I used to know was the kind of guy who would have given you the shirt off his back. Then he became the kind of guy who'd make you grovel for a collar button. I wasn't asking for all that much, compared with his vast fortune. What an ingrate — I made him what he was!"

"Maybe." Lloyd aimed the stick. "But the question is, did you make him what he is now?"

The eight ball slid into a corner pocket.

* * *

Back in the study, Lloyd wearily rubbed his forehead. Four suspects, all with motives, but no real clues except for whatever Mariposa meant by "BID."

"Hey, Lieutenant!" Wenderlich said. "Got that paperweight!"

He held up another plastic bag, containing a small bowl that contained a small, heavy stick.

"Odd kind of dingus," Wenderlich said.

"That 'dingus,' as you call it, is a mortar and pestle. Pharmacists used to use them. Mariposa used to be a pharmacist."

"Kind of a memento."

"Yes." Suddenly Lloyd was alert. "And the clue we've been waiting for."


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