Madame Olatana, Warbut Astrologer, page 16
As soon as the frail client was settled into the best chair, Madame Olatana asked, “Did we have any luck with finding a suitable consort for you, Piev Fallgan?”
“They are both very fine, Madame,” Piev Fallgan answered. “I have invited both of them to move into the house for a few months while I sort out the living arrangements and the responsibilities.”
“Both?” Madame Olatana exclaimed.
“Well, the Warbutian is just the kind of plumber I want,” Piev Fallgan explained. “He has already fixed that nervous tic in the upstairs bathroom’s water.”
“And Olag Nisha, the man from Drintde?” Madame Olatana asked.
“He’s just the kind of man I want in my bed. A really big cock, and he knows what to do with it,” Piev Fallgan said, pounding the arm of the chair with each word. “Takes him about fifteen minutes to finish, but what a time I have while he is pumping!”
“And you are not interested in Geral Otrun romantically?” Madame Olatana asked.
“He’s good in a threesome,” Piev Fallgan admitted. “But he can’t keep me interested when it is just the two of us. He’s too talkative, for one thing. And not enough of a good listener. He never does what I tell him, even when it is for his own good.”
“So you will select Olag Nisha?” Madame Olatana asked.
“Haven’t you been listening, girl?” Piev Fallgan cried, looking curiously at Madame Olatana. “I’m going to keep both of them. I sent them to the tailor yesterday, with instructions they are to be outfitted in suits and tuxedos for various social functions. We three will go everywhere together.”
A few hours later Rondo entered the consulting room and asked, “Did we accomplish anything worthwhile for Piev Fallgan?”
“Oh, Rondo, it is too soon to tell,” Madame Olatana answered as she threw her hands into the air. “Two plumbers who were in serious financial trouble now have new clothes and a roof over their heads for a few months. Their club has lost two mooches, men who paid their dues but ate more than their share at the buffets. And Piev Fallgan thinks she has a virile lover.”
“Thinks she has a virile lover?”
“Men stray,” Madame Olatana admitted. “When the excitement has worn off, plumbing will look better to both of these men. Piev Fallgan has a strong personality, and she will surely run these two to the ground. We may see her again, begging us to find an electrician or a painter.”
“At our same rates?”
7 Frak Fallgan
On the date the Earthlings on Warbut called April 18, 2240, Dapa quietly entered Madame Olatana’s consulting room from the reception area.
“Madame, Frak Fallgan is here for her reading,” the receptionist said.
Madame Olatana sighed. “Give me three minutes, Dapa, and I’ll have my game face ready.”
“That difficult?” the young Warbutian woman asked.
“Not good news. Not for the next star cycle, anyway,” Madame Olatana confided.
“Better to hear it from you than from the police,” Dapa replied.
“I wonder. Better make it five minutes,” Madame Olatana said.
Five minutes later Piev Fallgan’s oldest daughter, Frak, slipped into the room almost without noise.
“Ah, Frak Fallgan, I am pleased you have decided to consult me yourself,” Madame Olatana said. She had placed her darkest and most unbecoming hat on her head in preparation for the meeting with Frak.
“I hope you can help me, Madame,” Frak Fallgan started. “I certainly don’t have any interest in plumbers or any other men, but I have weighty concerns.”
“Yes, I can see that,” Madame Olatana answered. “You have been under the influence of an affliction to your natal Jenld from transiting Nuslen and transiting Nicknard, and I imagine these last two years have been challenging. Nuslen brings troubles from friends, perhaps friends from the wrong side of the tracks, while Nicknard brings troubles from lovers.”
“Yes,” cried Frak Fallgan. “And my siblings are finding themselves in similar positions.”
“Siblings? I understood your mother to say she had only two children,” Madame Olatana replied.
“Mother forgot about the four babies she sold,” Frak Fallgan replied. “She was paid, and very well paid, to have six children. Of these, four were taken at birth by the biological fathers, to be raised in very wealthy surroundings. Only my brother Lenw and I were left with our mother, to be raised with her and her parents. Our fathers visited frequently and sent considerable sums for our care. These monies were spent, down to the last dime, by our mother and her parents on their own amusements.”
“I see,” Madame Olatana said. “But your mother has enough put away to care for the new partners?”
“She has a stream of income for life from six different men,” Frak Fallgan admitted. “When she dies, those plumbers will be out on the street. She has never been able to put aside any money.”
“And do you still live with her?” Madame Olatana asked.
“No, when she decided to finalize the papers with Olag and Geral, I took an apartment close to my work,” Frak Fallgan said. “It seemed it was a good time to leave. My brother lives several doors away from our mother, and he and I are able to look in nearly every day.”
“So you are not comfortable leaving Piev Fallgan to the care of the plumbers?” Madame Olatana wondered.
“They are very anxious to do what is right,” Frak Fallgan said carefully. “But they don’t worry that her house is not clean and her clothes are not mended.”
“Of course not,” Madame Olatana said, nodding. “But what is happening with your own life?”
“It is just as you suggested,” Frak Fallgan answered. “I have been ensnarled into a claque. My lover has joined a political group, one that wants to change Warbut into a democracy. This group has really only one objective, and that is to rid the planet of immigrants, such as the ones from Earth and the ones from Drintde.”
“Lots of Warbutians are grumbling about immigrants, but nobody has put forth a plan to pay for all the services their taxes are providing,” Madame Olatana replied.
“This group is talking about assassinations of the king and the prime minister, for starters,” Frak Fallgan said. “I don’t know whom to turn to.”
“You have done the right thing in telling me,” Madame Olatana said. “I’ll make sure the authorities know about these plots, and your name will never be mentioned. I have the ear of one policeman who is of a high rank.”
“That will make me more comfortable,” Frak Fallgan said.
“Nevertheless, you need to distance yourself from these radicals immediately,” Madame Olatana advised. “The aspects for trouble are strong in your chart, and I see you need to retreat to a safe place.”
“Safe place? I have my work.”
“Resign immediately and remove yourself to another part of the planet, perhaps to one of those islands King Hutarfe is getting ready for the Lillitzians,” Madame Olatana insisted.
“The Duke of Swemor is here!” Dapa hissed as she closed the door behind the reception room.
“That means trouble, Dapa. Show him in immediately,” Madame Olatana said.
The Duke of Swemor, a modest man who looked not much like his brother, King Hutarfe, slowly entered the consulting room and took a simple chair next to Madame Olatana’s desk. Whereas Hutarfe was tall and very thin, his brother was tall and somewhat stout. Hutarfe was a bundle of energy, and Swemor was, instead, an unrushed and circumspect man.
“Ah, your grace, welcome to my office,” Madame Olatana said.
“I don’t need any of that royal nonsense today, Madame. I’m here as just a policeman, I’m sorry to say. We have another murder for you to solve,” the Duke of Swemor said, shaking his head.
“A murder? I have not read about a murder on the Universal Message Service,” Madame Olatana replied.
“Not out yet. I
“Who is the victim?”
“A young Warbutian woman. Frak Fallgan.”
Madame Olatana gasped. “Oh, no! I told her to get out of the capital.”
“So you know her?” the Duke asked.
“Perhaps you remember that I came to see you several weeks ago,” Madame Olatana said. “About a plot to murder the king and the prime minister. I would not tell you who had alerted me, but it was Frak Fallgan.”
“And you advised her to get out of town?”
“As far away as one of the new islands,” Madame Olatana told the Duke. “I could see she was not safe, but I never saw her murder in her chart.”
“Well, she never left the capital,” the Duke said. “Murdered in her bed in a spacious apartment near the energy company where she worked as a chemist. Essentially decapitated. Not a pretty sight, even for the seasoned police who broke down the door.”
“Who reported it?”
“The energy company was concerned. She was a very conscientious worker, rarely missing a day. When she was absent without notice for three days in a row, the company called us. Her apartment was neat, no sign of any struggle. She was strangled first, according to the coroner, and then her head was sawed off and left on the pillow,” the Duke reported.
“And whom do you suspect?”
“That’s why I am here, Madame,” the Duke said. “I brought the victim’s birth data, but you probably have her chart already in your computer. We have five half siblings, one mother, one absent father, and plenty of colleagues at the energy company. Who else?”
“There is the man on the string, according to her mother,” Madame Olatana said. “I have no name for him. And he was part of a group of reactionaries, people who wanted to throw all immigrants off the planet. They were going to start by assassinating the king and the prime minister, as I told you several weeks ago.”
“So we have quite a number of possibilities, Madame,” the Duke concluded. “If I gather the names of all those people, would that be a good start for you?”
“Excellent, your grace. We ought to zero in on the lover, the man on the string, as her mother said. If you saw no signs of a conflict in the apartment, the murderer may be able to come and go at will. Or, the murderer may be an efficient lock picker, and I will be able to see that in any birth chart,” Madame Olatana said.
“I ought to have all of this ready for your review in another day, and I hope you can delay your work to help us,” the Duke replied as he arose from his chair.
“I will do everything possible, your grace. Frak Fallgan was a client, even though she apparently ignored my advice. I will do everything possible in a timely fashion, even though your department has ignored my invoices for the last six months.”
Lieutenant Swemor looked into the picturephone that occupied a corner of his desk.
“Find anything, Madame Olatana?” he asked.
“Your grace, I have just reviewed the tapes of my sessions with Piev Fallgan, Frak’s mother. There is one thing I found that I did not tell you earlier today. It is that Piev Fallgan said Frak had been unlucky in love.”
“So, Madame, there ought to be a number of former suitors we could find out about,” the busy royal suggested.
“Indeed. I have no names for you, your grace, but Piev Fallgan might know something.”
“If we could get her to talk! She has been essentially incommunicado since we broke the news to her about a day ago,” the Duke said.
“Maybe one of her partners could handle the interface. Or her son. She has no difficulty talking if the situation asks for it, your grace,” Madame Olatana said.
“The son has been most helpful, Madame. It seems his mother’s income is in some ways dependant upon Frak Fallgan. That is, if Frak Fallgan dies, part of the mother’s stipend from Frak’s father disappears. The mother had every reason to keep the daughter alive, I think.”
“Indeed. Well, your grace, I will await your list of suspects. I just wanted you to know that there had been other men, men with whom Frak Fallgan might have had stormy relationships,” Madame Olatana concluded.
“Thank you, Madame. You will hear from me within four hours.”
As soon as Madame Olatana’s plump face had disappeared from the picturephone, Lieutenant Swemor connected the device with Sergeant Iwan.
“Iwan, there are more men. Madame Olatana says the mother claimed Frak had been unlucky in love. No names, but this latest fellow was not the first,” Swemor said.
“We’ll add that to the list of items to investigate, Lieutenant. Now, we have received the report from the scientists about that lock. It is a standard device that stores information about eyes,” Sergeant Iwan said.
“Nearly every apartment of that class has one or two of these,” Swemor threw in.
“This had just one, lieutenant. Four eye patterns were stored in the database for admission. The super, the tenant, and two others. We are looking at the list of entries into the apartment for the period of a week prior to the first absence from work, and we see nobody other than the tenant on that list,” Sergeant Iwan reported.
“So she had to let somebody in, either somebody not in the database or somebody in the database who knocked for admission?” Swemor asked.
“It looks that way, Lieutenant.”
“Well, we have our work cut out for us, Sergeant. More men to find, and two eye patterns to find. Perhaps one of these will be the brother or the mother.”
“Perhaps, lieutenant. The super has no idea since the tenant controls all of that from a device in the apartment.”
“Keep me posted, Sergeant.”
A day later the Duke of Swemor sat in the same uncomfortable chair at Madame Olatana’s desk. He looked discouraged as he slumped over his notebook.
“We are in even worse shape now, Madame,” the Duke confided, shaking his head. “We have managed to gather over three hundred names for you to look at, but we cannot answer your questions about the time of the death with much certainty.”
“Your grace, it is the time of the death that will allow me to pinpoint who is in and who is out,” Madame Olatana said. “I can tell you who is under murderous influences minute by minute, and I will need to do that. Do we have a range of minutes?”
The Duke nodded his head. “Yes, we know when Frak Fallgan left her work for the last time. Her eye pattern was recognized at the exit door. And we know when she did not appear for work on the next day. The boyfriend, a wimp of a fellow who has spent all his time in our interrogation room weeping and drying his eyes with a large and wet handkerchief, says he talked to her on the picturephone three hours after she left work, but we have no record she was the person who actually answered that call.”
“So the Universal Message Service did not store her picture?”
“Madame, the transcription of that call is very blurry. It could have been a number of people. I can’t even tell you the person at Frak Fallgan’s apartment was a female,” the Duke said.
“Can’t you compare the voice on the call to Frak Fallgan’s voice?” Madame Olatana asked.
“I don’t have a verified source,” the Duke answered.
“We ought to have one in our database,” Madame Olatana suggested. “I have something left from the deposit Frak Fallgan gave us, and we should use that to help you solve her murder, your grace.”
“That is very generous of you, Madame. If we could have that sample, it would bring us closer. The Universal Message Service wants fifty dollars in Universal Gold to retrieve such a sample, and nobody at the police department has anything like that amount. Certainly I don’t.”
“Madame, my wife and I live very simply. We have my salary from the police department, and we have a tiny annuity my wife received from her parents upon our marriage. The br
“Well, I have two hundred left in the Frak Fallgan account,” Madame Olatana said. “Consider it available to the investigation, your grace.”
“Don’t you think Frak Fallgan should have followed your advice?”
“I don’t see, your grace, it would have done any good. She was under very adverse aspects for the period that included her death. She would probably have met her end one place or another. Death was waiting for her,” Madame Olatana sighed.