A Nero Wolfe Mystery2000

Nero Wolfe:
If Orrie killed that woman, we are not obliged to thwart the agents of justice. If he didn't kill her, I have an obligation I can't ignore. You know I have no affection for him. The question is, is he capable of murder? Did he kill this woman? Fred. You have known Orrie longer than I have. What do you say?

Fred Durkin:
Jesus.

Archie Goodwin:
Oh, that's helpful. Did he kill her?

Fred Durkin:
I say he didn't.

Nero Wolfe:
Is that your considered opinion?

Fred Durkin:
To be honest, no. Orrie has always done whatever he felt like with women, and they've let him. So if this Isabel Kerr got in his way, really blocked it... Well, I don't know. I mean I think I know. He didn't.

Nero Wolfe:
That's hardly decisive. Saul?

Saul Panzer:
No.

Nero Wolfe:
Is that an opinion, or a gesture?

Saul Panzer:
A conclusion. Make it fifty to one. I'm not saying I'm superior to Archie. He's just not conceited enough to see it.

Nero Wolfe:
Pfui. That is flummery.

Saul Panzer:
No, sir. Say he did plan to kill her. That means when he planned the break-in with Archie on Friday night, he was setting Archie up to find the body. There's no way that he would deliberately arrange to sit facing him and frame a deal like that.

Archie Goodwin:
All right, cross it off. Let's say he went there Saturday morning, no matter why. And she stung him. And he flipped.

Saul Panzer:
And he killed her. Okay. He goes back to his tailing job. Mr. Wolfe, did Archie get any phone calls yesterday?

Nero Wolfe:
No.

Saul Panzer:
Yeah. That's what settles it.

Archie Goodwin:
Good. Wonderful. Explain.

Saul Panzer:
What is Orrie's worst fault?

Archie Goodwin:
He pushes.

Saul Panzer:
Exactly. And you called him. If he had killed her he wouldn't wait for you to call, he would have pushed. He would have called you. Damn it, he's not some stranger that we have to guess about; we know him like a book. Mr. Wolfe, if you want to use me, it's on me, expenses included. I have no more affection for Orrie than you have, but I would want to back up my vote.

Fred Durkin:
Me too. I voted no.

Archie Goodwin:
The trouble is, I'm personally involved. But I would hate to embarrass Saul, so I guess I'll have to switch and vote no, too.

Nero Wolfe:
Grrrhhh.

Archie Goodwin:
[voiceover] It was hard to take. The idea of working for nothing.

Nero Wolfe:
So what happens today? Mr. Rowcliff took advantage of the absence of Mr. Goodwin whom he fears and petulantly envies and entered my house by force.

Lieutenant Rowcliff:
That's a lie! I rang - !

Nero Wolfe:
SHUT UP!

Nero Wolfe:
[pauses] He was ass enough to think I would speak with him. Naturally, I ordered him out. And when I persisted in my refusal, I turned to leave...

Nero Wolfe:
[growling]... and he put a hand on me! He then took me into custody, under warrant, conducted me out of my home, and in a rickety old police car, with a headstrong and paroxysmal driver, brought me to this building. I had assumed charitably that it was some major misapprehension that had driven Mr. Rowcliff to this frenzied zeal. But I learned from you, Mr. Bowen, that it was merely a fit of nincompoopery! That you - you think that I have a client. That I know something you don't know and would like to and that you can bully it out of me. Well, you can't! I haven't got it! But you are correct in assuming that I have a client, I do.

Lieutenant Rowcliff:
I knew it!

Nero Wolfe:
As you may know, Mr. Goodwin is not indifferent to those attributes of young women which constitute the chief reliance of our race in our gallant struggle against the menace of the insects. He is also... especially vulnerable to young women who have a knack for stimulating his love of chivalry and adventure. Priscilla Eads was such a woman. Within hours of her eviction by him at my behest, she was brutally murdered. He then bounded out of my house, like a man obsessed, after telling me he was going single-handedly after the murderer. It was... pathetic. But also, thoroughly admirable. And your callous and churlish treatment of him leave me with no alternative: I am at his service.

Lieutenant Rowcliff:
You mean Archie Goodwin is your client?

District Attorney T. Bowen:
All that rigamarole was leading up to that?

Archie Goodwin:
[kicks door open] I'm hungry. I had a soda fountain lunch. I could eat a porcupine with quills on it. Let's go home.

[Wolfe and Goodwin walk to the door. Wolfe taps Archie on the shoulder. They stop and turn around]

Nero Wolfe:
[to Rowcliff and Bowen] A paradise for puerility!

D.A. Mandelbaum:
Did Leonard Ashe say anything else to you? [pause as Wolfe is contemplating his answer] Mr. Wolfe?

Nero Wolfe:
I would like to be sure I understand the question. Do you mean, what he said that day, or on a later occasion?

D.A. Mandelbaum:
That day, of course. But... what other occasion?

Nero Wolfe:
Are you asking me?

D.A. Mandelbaum:
In your deposition, you swore you hadn't met Leonard Ashe before or after July 13th.

Nero Wolfe:
That was true then. We met again.

D.A. Mandelbaum:
When?

Nero Wolfe:
In this building at half past eight this morning.

D.A. Mandelbaum:
You met and spoke with the defendant in this building at half past eight this morning, today?

Nero Wolfe:
His wife arranged to see him, and she allowed me to accompany her.

D.A. Mandelbaum:
Was Mr. Donovan, the defense counsel, present?

Nero Wolfe:
No,sir.

Jimmy Donovan:
Your Honor, I would like to state for the record that I knew nothing of this.

D.A. Mandelbaum:
Don't you know that it's a misdemeanor for a witness for the state to speak with a defendant charged with a felony?

Nero Wolfe:
We didn't discuss my testimony.

D.A. Mandelbaum:
What did you discuss?

Nero Wolfe:
Matters which I thought would be of interest to him.

D.A. Mandelbaum:
What exactly did you say, Mr. Wolfe?

Archie Goodwin:
*narrating* The fat son of a gun had put it over. Having asking him directly, Mandelbaum couldn't possibly keep Wolfe's theories from the jury unless Jimmy Donovan was a sap.

Judge Corbett:
Do you wish to withdraw the question, Mr. Mandelbaum?

D.A. Mandelbaum:
Oh, no, no, no, no, no. I'm absolutely fascinated, you didn't discuss your testimony, what did you discuss?

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