by Hy Conrad
Doctor Madori, the “Biochemist of the Century” (according to Time Magazine) often spent fourteen hour days at the lab. In just two weeks, Madori’s prized discovery would be revealed to the AMA: an aspirin-size capsule that would virtually eradicate Diabetes. In its current composition, the drug was highly hallucinogenic, needing a few minor tweaks to the chemical makeup. The Doctor had put Lucille LaBoux, winner of this year’s “Young Scientist” internship, in charge of the task.
Just like all “Young Scientists” before her, Lucille lived in the run-down cottage just behind the Madoris’ home. There was no running water to the cottage, but at least it was rent-free. After all, interns received minimal compensation.
At first, living in such close quarters with her boss made Lucille very nervous. She became an unwilling witness to Doctor Madori’s dysfunctional marriage to Chris, a local elementary school Librarian. In Lucille’s opinion, this marriage was based more on dependency than love.
Shortly after Lucille’s arrival, the Madoris’ marriage began to fall apart. Lucille’s carefree, flirtatious personality invaded their home, turning it into a circus side show. Whenever Lucille needed a glass of water, or wanted to take a bath, she’d glide from the cottage through the house, wearing a scanty piece of lingerie. Madori was certain that Lucille was not the innocent young woman she pretended to be at the lab.
A few weeks later, Lucille began dating a mechanic named Rupert. Rupert was very taken with the striking woman, and tolerated her incessant criticisms of the Madoris’ marriage, which bordered on obsession. Lucille often said that Doctor Madori was going to make a lot of money from some Diabetes cure. She lamented how Chris and the Doctor didn’t belong together.
One evening, Rupert went into the kitchen to get Lucille her nightly tea. As he placed the last tea bag in the cup, and was pouring hot water from the kettle, he glanced outside the kitchen window. Chris was trimming roses in the back yard, although it was well after nightfall. Rupert noticed Lucille at her cottage window, watching Chris’ every move. Finally fed up, he returned to the cottage and placed the tea on the desk. He told Lucille to drop dead, and stormed out.
The next morning, when Doctor Madori did lab rounds, a technician noted that six of the Diabetes capsules were missing. Madori went searching for Lucille to see if she had noticed anyone suspicious in the building last night. But Lucille could not be found. The Doctor telephoned Chris, demanding to know of Lucille’s whereabouts.
“How should I know?” Chris retorted. “Maybe she’s at the beach.”
Madori tried again, “Seriously, Chris, I’m worried. Just check the cottage.”
“Fine, but I’ve got a library lesson to teach in thirty minutes. I can’t be late.” Chris hung up. Madori waited a minute for the return call. When it didn’t come, the Doctor hopped into the car, and sped home.
When Madori pulled up to the house, an ambulance blocked the driveway. Madori ran to Chris who was being questioned by a police officer. Lucille’s broken body lay heaped on the cement walkway.
“It appears as if Miss LaBoux jumped from the roof of the cottage,” the officer explained. “There are no bruises. No signs of coercion.”
“They’ve taken Rupert in for questioning. He was the last one to see her yesterday,” Chris added, wiping away a tear that was welling up.
“It’s possible,” said Doctor Madori thoughtfully, “that Lucille might have been experimenting with drugs. Some capsules with hallucinogenic properties were missing from the lab. Lucille was there last night.”
“We did a search of the cottage and the house for any drugs she may have been using,” said the Officer, “And we found a broken capsule at the bottom of some women’s vitamins.” The officer walked up to examine the corpse and inquired, “When did you last see Miss LaBoux?”
“Last night.” Madori answered. “Lucille and I were working late when the guard called to say that Rupert was waiting to take Lucille home. Lucille was irritated by his dropping in unexpectedly. I left at that point.”
“Did Rupert enter the lab?” Inquired the officer.
“Well, yes, I saw him head in as I was leaving. But Officer, theft has never been an issue at the lab. Lots of people have been inside. Chris has, and so have all the Significant Others of every lab technician in the entire company!”
“Rupert was a jerk,” spouted Chris angrily. “It hurts me to say this, but the girl was always looking for trouble –and she got it.”
“The pathologist should be here soon, and we’ll have the lab results by one,” said the Officer. “Don’t worry, we’ll get to the bottom of this!”