Otto's Mistake: A Tale Of Two Pizzas
"Wouldn't you rather talk to Danny first?" gulped Otto as he led Rachel and Barry towards the heavily guarded prison quarters.
Danny preferred to keep the few traitors and dangerous criminals in his custody close for easy access. This didn't give Otto much time to think. If Charlie told them the full story, the master spies were sure to connect the dots.
"If they figure out that I tried to kill Danny and frame Charlie for it, I'm so dead... Even if I can get them to wait, eventually they will question him. And unlike Danny, those two will know exactly how to get to the bottom of it. Why couldn't the Predas have taken care of them..." thought Otto, furiously.
"No. I want to see Charlie first. Then I'll have a little chat with Danny Rupert." Rachel said, with iron in her voice.
"Fine, but I will make it clear that I allowed it under protest."
"I don't care what you say. This isn't about you." growled Barry.
"I need to get out of here, fast." thought Otto, realizing that his plan to become the next Baron had unraveled before his eyes.
Two men stood in front of a steel door. It had a small slit for delivering meals, and a heavy duty metal grill for a window. Rachel and Barry recognized the guards at once. Vance and Ken, two brothers whom Danny had rescued from an orphanage when they were small children.
He had been visiting the Port Baron, who prided himself in each child having a roof over their head and food in their stomach. The two children had run away due to poor treatment by the staff, and hid in the trunk of Danny's car. Danny reported the incident to Dutch, and the people responsible were fired immediately. But the children begged for freedom.
Otto was visibly sweating. "Take as long as you need. I'm sure Danny won't mind. He wanted me to question Charlie, but we both know you two are vastly more qualified."
"We will do just that." said Rachel with an icy glare.
Relieved, Otto quickly slipped away. Unnoticed by either party, Vance and Ken followed Otto at a distance. Ken went his own way a short time later, while Vance continued to follow Otto.
Rachel and Barry each hugged Charlie.
"I've missed you two so much! Tell me what you have been up to."
"First we need to know what happened. You need to tell us every detail." said Rachel, now almost in tears.
Charlie's face fell. "I am so ashamed of myself. I thought this young kid was going to take my place."
"You aren't saying that you actually poisoned Danny?!?!" Rachel asked, incredulous.
"Never, nothing like that. You know how I feel about him, even though he almost gave me a heart attack with the Feast Of 10,000 Pizzas."
"Yes. Then what did you do?"
"I was alone with the pizzas... I could tell Frankches had the better dough. So I switched them. But then Danny went on about how both pizzas would be mine. I became ashamed at my jealousy - and also realized that he would know the difference between the old and new recipes. I wanted to switch them back, but I couldn't."
"Was anyone else alone with the pizzas?" asked Rachel.
"No, just me."
"Did anyone else handle them?"
"No... Just Otto and myself and Danny. Unless someone tampered with the ingredients before we began."
"Did Frankches have any access to your pizza?" she asked, trying to look at the puzzle from all angles.
"No, once we started we didn't leave the room. At least until I was able to switch the pizzas." he said, hanging his head low.
"You said Otto handled the pizzas? Why?" asked Barry, suddenly excited.
"Oh, he sliced them and put the pieces on plates. He insisted that Frankches and I sit and rest. Odd now that I think about it. He never showed any interest in doing this in past tastings, or even being present for that matter. I guess it was the excitement of the contest."
Barry and Rachel looked at each other. Without a word, they went to the door. The guards were gone. On a hunch, Rachel tried the door. It opened easily.
Rachel looked at Charlie. He was a shadow of his former self. "Charlie, we are going to have to go find Otto. And when we do, I have to lock you in. But we will be back, I promise.
"I'm fine in here. I just want my name cleared. I would never do anything to harm Danny..."
Rachel and Barry didn't waste another second. They sprinted down the corridor, and almost knocked Danny and Ken over before they could skid to a halt on the highly polished oak floor.
"We have to stop Otto, he's a traitor!" roared Barry, having completely forgotten about his sore ankle.
"What are you waiting for? Get to it." Ordered Danny sharply.
The two master spies resumed their sprint, not caring if any unlucky bystanders might become bowling pins. It appeared that Danny already knew, or at least suspected the truth.
"I should have enough time to grab the tablet, and get Danny's car. I just need to stay calm. Ah, there's the kitchen."
Otto grabbed the tablet, and took a long look at Frankches, who was busy stirring a delicious smelling sauce. He knocked him hard in the head with the stone tablet, then dumped him and the tablet into one of the carts used to take the fresh pizzas to the delivery vehicles. He threw one of the heavy wool blankets used for insulation over it, and rolled it out.
Otto made it to the car without being stopped. The kidnapper loaded his nephew and the tablet, then covered both with the blanket. As he shut his own door, he saw Rachel and Barry less than ten yards away.
Word count of story, 992
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