Lacerta rubbed the temples of his forehead before repeating himself. “I said… do you believe that we should disregard the witness’ account since there’s a chance it is not authentic?”
“Quite the contrary, the testimony’s relevance remains, but rather, I believe that we approach it with a grain of salt, not full-heartedly accepting, but not condemning either.”
“What are your instincts telling you?”
“They are telling me that the solution to our little conundrum is unlikely to be discovered anywhere inside of this theater, but still, we should look under the stage, if for no other reason than for me to attempt at recreating the scene.” Vulpecula answered.
Vulpecula looked around at the stage, appreciating the scenery; there were no backdrops and so, all the pulleys, sandbags, and props held a novelty to them. V headed uncomfortably one direction before turning to go the next, not entirely sure which side of the stage would take him to where he wanted to be. He eventually sought to stage right behind a white building prop with red hand-prints on the building meant to look like smeared blood. Apus and Lacerta followed him. While trying to find his way down the stairs, Vulpecula almost inadvertently tripped over one of the weighted sandbags but was able to keep his footing. Down the stairs, he beheld the spots dedicated to makeup. On the back-side, there was a row of spinning chairs each standing in-front of circular mirrors outlined by light-bulbs, as well as several cosmetic supplies that Vulpecula didn’t recognize. Beside all of them, there was a door leading to the lobby that Vulpecula chose not to investigate. On the side closest facing the theater, there were racks with clothing, out-of-place ladders, and pieces of plywood leaned against some of the walls.
Finally, Vulpecula found what he was looking for, a small, red push and pull plate door with a sign that spelled out the word “storage”. He pushed open the door and true to the words, there were plenty of boxes and props stored. It wasn’t cluttered though, and the second that Vulpecula walked in, he could see the cushion directly beneath the trapdoor. Vulpecula could tell that the area wasn’t finished as there were plenty of nails jutting out from some of the walls and wooden support beams placed sporadically throughout the area.
His eyes browsed the room frantically, not looking for anything, but merely looking for the sake of looking. He walked over to the cushion lying in the middle of the room. Fittingly, the cushion was a scarlet color and felt like nothing more than a large sponge wrapped in red clothe. Above him, he could see the bottom of the trapdoor as well as the latch that locked it from being triggered. There wasn’t going to be anything of use in this vicinity and that fact seemed strikingly obvious. Footprints and fallen fabric meant absolutely nothing; there were thousands of feet which had walked under this stage and plenty of items which carried no significance at all whatsoever.
There was only one thing left to do in the theater. He directed one of his companions to ready a ladder to unlatch the trapdoor before returning to the top of the stage. He imagined the emotions which might be carried by Molly Louise, there was a play going on before her, only one-hundred or so watching her perform, would she feel anxiety? This isn’t something that he could assume, after years and years on-stage, surely, she had been numb to some of the stage-fright. However, she could still be anxious, if Molly Louise anticipated the happening, she would be worried of being caught. If there were a second individual, perhaps the man witnessed leaving the theater with a woman described as congruent in size and shape to Louise, she might have been worried he wouldn’t unlatch the trapdoor on time. Maybe he’d even unlatch the trapdoor to be triggered by somebody else!
A lot of things to consider, especially if there wasn’t a second-person, she’d have to be swift but not obvious at keeping anybody else from triggering the trap. This is assuming, however, that this wasn’t a straightforward kidnapping. This is assuming that she knew, when in-reality, she might not have.
Her feet stand over the trapdoor, and she is feeling either one of two things. She is feeling relief that everything has gone according to plan. She is feeling astonishment, as well as confusion. This wasn’t in the script … Vulpecula waited what he believed was ample time for Lacerta or Apus to unlatch the trapdoor before stepping upon it. There was serenity to his fall, no swish or swipe at the air, before landing on the cushion. He arose to his feet, lending his eyes to neither of his friends. He looked around, what did she do afterward?
A witness puts her end as entering a vehicle which certainly seems plausible, but he also says that the man was forceful and aggressive. Vulpecula’s eyes looked around as he imagined a man grabbing at him. There was likely an anxiety at this moment, but it is uncertain what it could have been caused by. The witness describes the man as pulling her toward the car which implies that she was conscious. He did nothing to incapacitate her, if he did, he’d never be able to get her out without notice. Did she follow him for a reason, was this extortion or blackmail, a gun pointed at her? She could have screamed. In-fact, in this situation, silence would be essential. Vulpecula walked toward the door and opened it.
What would Molly Louise and the assumed kidnapper be seeing, outside of the storage area, it was dedicated mostly to makeup and cosmetics, would there be more witnesses? Likely, and so, why did nobody besides the man identify seeing her? A lot of the performers would be in the lobby, readying themselves to perform or stewing after their performance. There might not have been a lot in the room, but there would have been enough. They might have been distracted, but that doesn’t mean they’d risk it. Vulpecula went back into the storage area beneath the stage, Apus and Lacerta both looking at him in confusion.
Vulpecula didn’t feel the need to explain his behaviors to them; they knew the drill by now. There were boxes and boxes stacked upon one another, neither looked any more peculiar than the other. Vulpecula grabbed one of the boxes and pulled it with all his might, successfully moving it away from the wall exposing … nothing.
He lifted a smaller box and walked it over to the other side of the room. His friends evidently picked up on what he was doing because they began helping him move the boxes until they found what they were looking for.
A small door to the side of the stage, it hadn’t been completely unexposed and hidden, but would be easy to miss if one didn’t know what they were looking for.
Vulpecula climbed over some of the boxes covering it and opened the door. The inside led to a janitor’s closet and from there, the side of the stage. There was an emergency exit on each side of the theater; this would be much more likely than the front-entrance. Vulpecula opened the door and sure enough, it led out the side of the building. The misdirection as well as the confusion would enable to means of escaping inconspicuously, although some attention might be drawn to the exit-door being opened.
Vulpecula admittedly felt discouraged at the rationalizations; there was a lot of assumption that came to the conclusions. Unfortunately, he could see absolutely no way whatsoever how two individuals could escape while everybody else remained oblivious. There was too much risk, somebody would have seen something. He noticed the alarm-system on the side of the door and lent thought to the fact that it didn’t go off. It should automatically go off, if somebody is using the emergency exit for a just emergency, but it didn’t. He walked outside feeling the warm air touch against his skin, but in his head, he was imagining it was raining, just as it was when she went missing.
Feet stamping upon puddles of water while rain dropped on them, they would continue before turning left, Molly Louise would likely remain anxious or fearful. She would either be trying to fight away from the kidnapper or not be. She’d fight back, or she would go willfully, but the man would be in a hurry, and therefore, he would probably be pulling at her hand and trying to make her be swift. Vulpecula walks fourth into the parking-lot. They make it into the car but not before being seen by an older gentleman that faintly sees them in the pouring rain.
Vulpecula walks around aimlessly, knowing that this is the range where the imagination takes over. And so, he falls to a seated position in the parking-lot, looking up at the entrance of the theater. And, all at once, the answer showed itself to him with astounding straightforwardness.
Welcome to McKinley Hall Theater!
Home of the Magnets!
We Are Currently Closed.
"I’ll tell you the truth, V,” Lacerta began bluntly out of the blue while they sat down at the Sidian Inn’s dining hall.
Each eating their usual meals and sitting in their assigned seats designated to them by Vulpecula, who oftentimes found change to be more cluttering than innovative, at least when it came to things of such importance.
“I would certainly appreciate the truth over a lie,” Vulpecula answered honestly, twiddling his fork around his food with little of an appetite.
“I believe that Eric Leon was bamboozled and tricked by Molly Louise. You saw the way that he looked when we talked to them. He was absolutely devastated, and I am assuming that there is a little more behind their ‘partnership’ than he is letting on.” Lacerta explained.
“Are you suggesting that they were lovers?” Vulpecula inquired curiously.
“I am suggesting that one loved the other, I think that Molly Louise met somebody else, or maybe even somebody she knew while in Hardan. The life of a stage performer isn’t very good, and I believe she probably wanted to spare Eric Leon’s feelings. I am thinking that the person that the witness saw with Molly was that ‘somebody else’ and she hesitated because she didn’t want to hurt Leon.” Lacerta explained with a lot of confidence.
“Possible,” Vulpecula said simply, neither agreeing nor disagreeing. “What about you, my feathered friend?” He asked, motioning over to Apus.
Apus looked at him.
“Eric Leon wants to believe that it’s a kidnapping, but this doesn’t necessarily look like a kidnapping to me.” Apus commented.
“Exactly,” Lacerta called out smugly.
“And what do you believe it appears to be,” Vulpecula asked simply, once more seeming neither convinced nor uncertain.
“Now, hold on, Lacerta, because while I think that your theory carries weight, I do have a thought for another. Well, uh, you know how Eric Leon expressed that it was all about reputation and image in theater? Granted, it doesn’t look like a kidnapping, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be one with a different coat of paint. What if the kidnapper had dirt on Molly Louise, or somebody that she was close to like Eric Leon? Her acting might serve as a martyr for containment of something scandalous.” Apus’ voice didn’t carry nearly the same confidence as Lacerta with his theory, and he made sure to add, “I’m just trying to make sure we see all the possibilities,” at the end of his dialogue.
“Thank you, Apus, and extortion or blackmail is certainly a reasonable outcome to expect.” Vulpecula stated warmly, a small but assuring smile on his face.
Silence befell the room, aside, of course, the chit-chatting that occurred outside their social-group, Vulpecula could hear the youthful conversing of a couple of young fellows only a few feet away from them, sitting in a booth. He could also hear teeth chomping down against their meal, an older couple that hadn’t spoken much of a word since sitting down moments earlier. Vulpecula brought in a breath, taking in the aromas composed of various foods being prepared and the scent of the customers, most certainly. In the loving serenity of the environment before him, Vulpecula couldn’t help but feel the callous stares of his acquaintances obviously wanting something that he hadn’t yet gathered.
“Well,” Lacerta eventually mumbled sternly, a little bit of annoyance befalling his voice, as if he had secretly sent Vulpecula the well-deserved power of telepathy.
“I’m sorry, did you say something?” V asked, knowing full-heartedly the answer to his own query.
“Which idea do you think nailed it the most? Do you believe what I said about her running away with a lover or do you believe Apus’ theory about her being blackmailed into an unwitting departure away from performing? You are kind-of the head-honcho on this,” Lacerta asked.
Vulpecula wished Lacerta would brighten his vocabulary in such a way that discarded words such as “nailed,” there was no nailing to speak of in this evening’s endeavors.
“What is your favorite film, Lacerta?” Vulpecula replied casually.
“What!” Lacerta seemed shocked with the rebuttal, “What are you talking about?”
“I am talking about films, commonly called motion pictures, flicks, and about a million other synonyms. I watched The Red Lane Starlet recently, the screen-adaptation, I mean, as much as I would love to see Molly Louise’s portrayal, I have little reason to believe she’ll actually be returning to her role soon.” Vulpecula’s face momentarily wrinkled with despair at the fact, he really would have liked to have seen her portrayal. “There were a couple of minor changes that some critics ranted about upon the release of the film. However, I thought it was rather enjoyable, had a certain light-heart apathy on such heavy subject matter.”
“We were talking about the case!!” Lacerta called out angrily, hence the second exclamation mark.
“Oh, I’m sorry, I thought that both of you had finished.”
“Which one do you think is right?”
“Neither, of course,” Vulpecula answered back honestly.
“Then, what did happen?”
“While I have already concluded, I believe that the answer will come out in due time.”
“What is the answer!?” Lacerta called out. “Vulpecula, I swear, I just, you, …” Lacerta stopped shortly after his ramblings. He couldn’t find the words to verbalize his affection for the white-furred fox. Lacerta let out a breath, rubbing his love-filled temples to keep his infatuation under control. “What is the answer?”
“I’ve already cleared the chalkboard, the answer to the case has been found, and I don’t believe there is any more reason for inspection. Molly Louise will come out of, ahem, hiding in due time.” Vulpecula answered back, neither proud nor dissatisfied.
It was an interesting case to say the least, one with misdirection, flamboyance, showmanship, and intellectual turmoil. Vulpecula sat back in his chair looking at the distraught and dissatisfied Lacerta while also looking at the confusion in the eyes of Apus. He couldn’t remember all of the ties that he found in the first place, once the chalkboard was erased, it was gone forever. He kept notes and information stored somewhere or another, as you are reading, but he rarely found sentiment in them. He kept one fact and one fact alone, the answer to the case was to be revealed by itself.
Eric Leon would find the whereabouts of Molly Louise as soon as everybody else and react with whichever emotion suited him. He’d likely feel hurt or angry, but it wasn’t for Vulpecula to cause. Vulpecula merely took the time to put Eric Leon’s heart at ease, informing him that Molly Louise was safe, and told him to go home and get some much-needed rest.
The Canes Files