Patrick Deudek wore the Luna Food Center apron he had on when he was arrested. Eventually, Moonbeam would process his clothes. Deudek leaned back in his chair on one side of the metal table in the interrogation room. I sat on the other side. Mike took his usual position, leaning against the wall off to the left and slightly behind the suspect. On the table were two plastic bags. One had a rose and the other had a small candy heart.
“Patrick, Patrick, Patrick. You have been a bad, bad boy.”
Deudek glared at Mike. “I know my rights. I want a lawyer and I have a right to remain silent.”
I smiled. “Oh, we don’t want to ask any questions. We just want to tell you what happened. Then we will tell you how you can help yourself out of what I suspect has become a desperate situation.”
“It was a smart plan really. But you made a huge mistake.”
“His mistake was getting involved with Brainfreeze in the first place. Nasty stuff. Sure it gives a great high, but it is almost instantaneously addictive, and it is so concentrated that overdoses are not just common, they are inevitable.”
“Wouldn’t know. I’m just a clerk in a grocery store.”
“You are more than just a clerk. You are the buyer for the largest supermarket on the moon. That’s how you stumbled on the perfect cover for smuggling.”
I picked up the bag with the candy heart. “We had this tested. It is 99 percent pure Brainfreeze. This little heart alone can be cut into 100 hits. One box is worth 25,000 loaves or more to the drug dealers in Tranquility*. You accidentally spilled the box during your last assault and you missed this candy. I’m guessing you put the wrong box out on the shelf. People were buying your drugs for party favors and gifts for employees.”
Deudek sat up in his chair and leaned forward.
Mike stalked across the room and leaned down next to Deudek’s ear. “I’ll bet your suppliers and your wholesale customers would not be very happy. Not a good time to be the middleman stuck in the middle with a missing box of product.”
“You can’t prove any of this.”
“We can’t prove the drug angle directly. At least not right now. However, the assaults are another matter. See that rose. It was a brilliant delivery system for the sedative. Who can resist a rose? You chose ones filled with thorns. It’s almost impossible to pick one up without pricking yourself.”
I picked up the bag with the rose. “Your perfect delivery system, though, was your undoing. No matter how careful you are in preparing five roses, you had to prick yourself at least once. A speck of your blood was found on this rose. A quick DNA test was all we needed.”
“That proves nothing. We sell those roses. I could have pricked myself while setting up the display.”
“Sorry, you may not know this, but roses raised for sale on the moon are grown in hydroponic facilities. That produces a special type of plant chemistry. This rose was grown in lunar soil. That is a whole different chemistry. We took some clippings from the roses in the garden at your house. I am guessing plant DNA will match this rose to your rosebush.”
Deudek looked down at the rose, licked his lips, then suddenly looked up defiantly. “Okay, I’ll cop to the roses. It was a prank. No one was hurt. I’ll take my year or two in a rehab on O’neill.**”
“So you just happened to ‘prank’ five women, who in turn just happened to buy candy hearts on the same day and have nothing else in common. That is a pretty big stretch.”
“You prove otherwise.”
“Okay, we will.” Mike opened the door. Moonbeam walked in with her handheld.
“Would you please hold up your hands?”
As Moonbeam passed the handheld near his hands, we heard the distinctive clicking we heard earlier that day.
“The frequency is the same as what we found at the crime scene and on the candy.”
“Nanotransmitters. They are perfect for tracking objects surreptitiously. We used them in the bureau to track ransom money in kidnapping cases. It was how you were able to track down who bought the candy. However, the stuff sticks to everything including your hands. We found trace amounts of tracking powder on the doorknob of the last victim. It was also on the candy. Now, it is on you. That not only places you at the scene of the assault, but also places you touching the drugs.”
“Carolyn, whattaya think? Five years for the assaults and another 25 for drug trafficking. All of it spent in the asteroid belt with some mining ship.”
“I would say that is about right. If you survive, you would be close to 70 before you saw freedom.”
“Hey, is there anything I can do to help myself?”
I walked around the table and sat down beside Deudek “I don’t think you wanted to hurt anyone. I think you got greedy and got in over your head. You’ve probably been scared every minute that someone would overdose.”
“I have. I have.”
“Well, here’s our problem. There are twelve boxes of candy hearts missing from that display. We found five victims. We can track them with the nanotransmitters, but that will take a long time. We need to put out a warning to potential victims. You can start digging yourself out of this mess by telling us how to recognize the boxes.”
“Sure, Sure, no problem. They are just like the others, except they have two hearts in the upper left corner of the box. The real candy has only one.”
“I’m on it,” Moonbeam said as she hurried out the door.
“Okay, that is a start. Now, when you attorney arrives, the prosecutor will be wanting to talk to you as well. You co-operate fully giving them the names of everyone you know who is involved in the smuggling operation and complete details on how it works. If you do that, you might just be able to get out of this with sentencing to a rehab facility instead of a mining ship.”
When Mike and I left the interrogation room, Deudek was frantically writing out complete details of the smuggling operation. I imagined the city prosecutor almost salivating over breaking a major drug smuggling ring on two worlds. Personally, I was just glad it was over. I could get back to my classes.
Mike loved these little excursions into criminal investigation. Me, I prefer the classroom.
“Wait here!” Mike said as he ducked into a room at the security station. He emerged carrying a large pink box with a bow.
“I wanted to get you a Valentine’s Day gift, but I figured after today candy would not be appropriate.”
At that he opened the box. Inside was a heart-shaped cheesecake. I love that man.
Did you enjoy this story? Well, you can read other stories at http://www.darksideofthemoonnovel.com
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*Tranquility is the commonly used name for a recreational area that grew up around Tranquility Base where man first set foot on the moon. It rings the historical preserve area and is home to theme parks, casinos, hotels and most of the unsavory side of Lunar life. As they say in the brochure. What happens in Tranquility, stays in Tranquility .
**O'neill refers to the O'neill space habitat located at L5. That's the point in space where the gravitational pulls of the Earth and the moon cancel each other out. It has been around longer than the lunar colonies, and has a low-g prison (rehab facility) used to house the less serious lunar offenders. Serious offenders are sent off to mine the asteroids. It's a hard and dangerous life. Few survive more than 10 years "in the belt."