4.5 Gilded

by Matt P.

New money dresses itself up in baubles in an attempt to look like old money; old money doesn’t need to try to look like anything else. That was what occurred to Walter. If someone was dressing their house up with statues of naked babies pissing champagne, they probably wouldn’t have been descended from earls.

Old money was more subtle. It was in the quality and the age of a house, the subtle use of marble. Hell, eve the ivy seemed like it looked down on other plants as it crawled up the side of the expannsive house. Mansion, Walter thought wryly.

He, Andre, and Leah stood in front of a large door painted a deep forest green. The frame was carved with delicate leaves, almost lifelike with little veins of gold painted into them. When he rang the bell it sounded like it was going into the depths of a cavern. The hurrying up done, they proceeded to the waiting to see if anyone answered.

“Let me see the file again.” Walter said as they waited, holding out a hand. Leah handed him the manila envelope, which he opened and began leafing through. It was the file on the previously unidentified victim, now identified due to the efforts of the creepy hat-makers.

“No drugs found, no ligature marks.” Walter said with a shake of his head as he considered the information. “So he basically just stood there and let himself be gutted with what, hot irons?” He asked. “Fireplace pokers that were on fire?”

Leah shook her head. “On the ground. As far as Doctor Winters can tell he was on his back, while he was being killed.”

Both Andre and Walter frowned as they considered the information. “So what on all of God’s green earth would make you lay down and let someone go all Spanish inquisition on you, and would give you the strength to let it happen?” Andre asked, as Walter leaned against the door.

“I don’t know.” Walter said as he considered it. But after a moment his ruminations were interrupted by the sound of cracking from inside the house, as if something was breaking. His eyes shot up as they looked between one another. Almost at once three pistols slid out of three holsters, and three thumbs clicked off safeties. They lined up on the door and Walter reached out to try the handle. With the smoothness of old use and regular oiling it turned, and the door swung open.

They entered the house in good order, moving on silent feet with their pistols out. It was as well furnished as the door had suggested. Dark wood ran in near miles on the floor and the walls and the furniture, to the point where the whole house seemed like it could have been made out of one massive tree. Pictures and paintings on the wall of verdant scenes added to the impression, as did the hunter green carpets and runners.

“Well he knows how to rock a theme.” Andre murmured as they made their way through the house. They made their way down the hallway silently. Leah one-handed her pistol and took her radio off her belt to begin murmuring in to it quietly. “Team 3, Code 5. 10-34 at last location.” The code, used by the Border PD as well as the nearby Wichita force, carried their need for backup and that they had heard a sound in the building. After relaying it she shoved it back in to her belt, never breaking her stride or lowering her pistol.

There was another slamming sound nearby, and a rustling sound. They came to the corner and paused, with Walter gesturing for them before they moved into the next room. At his final signal they moved into the room smoothly. Each of them swept their gun to a different corner, with Walter taking the farthest two since they only had three officers.

“Clear!” They all confirmed. They were standing in what seemed to be an antechamber or reading room, a room suddenly of brick walls with two large fireplaces cold and silent. Besides the door they entered there was a busted open door leading to a large room beyond them, and a small closet with the door having banged open. Walter approached it and leaned in, before he let out a little curse.

“What?” Andre asked, moving over quickly. Walter waved his gun down and pulled a single black feather out of the closet.

“Someone pulled another disappearing trick.” Walter said with a sigh. “Damn, we probably just missed him.”

“Uh…guys?” Came Leah’s voice, from the next room. “You’re going to want to see this.”