The drive over to the Pearly Arms had been slow going; a good two inches of snow had fallen in the early hours of the morning. The cold weather really just showed up out of nowhere, but that was par for the course upstate. Steel pulled into the modest parking lot, seeing police tape lining a huge portion of the snow-swept lot, boxing in apparently nothing. Steel got out of his car, and walked the line to Sgt. Lyman, who greeted him with the excitement of a puzzle so immense it overshadowed the crime it contained.
“Rick, this is one for the books, and I’m losing my mind trying to make heads or tails of this. It’s like a friggin’ extra credit question on the P.I. exams, the kind you read over and think, ‘Like hell I’m trying to work THAT out!’ I’ll give it to you as we found it, but first, follow me.”
They walked on the sidewalk to the middle of the one-story hotel, with all the front doors to the rooms facing towards the parking lot. The Pearly Arms housed a number of long-haul truckers from time to time but wasn’t close enough to the city to attract real business and was largely getting by on ‘hourly’ rentals. Still, it was a fine-looking hotel, and the set to an elaborate crime on this morning.
Sgt. Lyman stopped at the door for number 7, which was standing open, a number of crime scene techs scanning the interior for fibers and fingerprints.
“Alright, here’s what we got. This room was rented yesterday evening by a one ‘Steef Lawman’, a man the motel office manager described as ‘panicked and nervous.’ Real charmer, I’m sure. He was carrying exactly one piece of luggage – a small briefcase. We can safely call that ‘exhibit A’,” and he gestured to the single bed, where a brown briefcase lay in open, the sides heavily dusted for fingerprints. Inside the case was a foam cut–out, the center clearly missing the item it once carried.
“I won’t go into the background, but we already determined ‘Steef Lawman’ is a false name, and that this room was actually rented to a prominent anthropologist, who worked at the university, specializing in geology. That’s rocks, Steel. You following so far?”
-From “The Case of The Infinity Ruby” by Mark Gunk
Find out what happens right here: Millhaven’s Tales of Suspense