Chapter 8 - April 2, 2003 - Episode 6Listen to podcast
This time Mark gets through to the coroner’s office.
“Hal, this is Mark Cohen. Why the fuck didn’t you return my call?”
“I’ve been very busy. Lots of people dying without explaining why.”
“You’ve been busy talking to The Post, you asshole. Some reporter give you blow-jobs there? That’s why you tell them things before you tell me?”
“Hey, come on. You were the first to know. I IM-ed you.”
“You didn’t say anything about mushrooms.”
“Too hard to type on those little phones. I had a hard enough time getting ‘alpha-amanatin’ in.”
“So you’re responsible for everyone else who dies.”
“Huh? Whatdaya mean?”
“The poison came from mushrooms, right?”
“Yeah, the poison came from the mushrooms. There were still some in his stomach. So what?”
“And the mushrooms came from the pizza, right?”
“Yeah, where is this going, detective?”
“And the deceased probably didn’t cook the pizza in his own little pizza oven in his office, right?”
“So the pizza probably came from a pizza parlor, right?”
“Not necessarily. Could have been one of those microwave jobs.”
“No. Crust was too thick. I’d guess Dominos but don’t quote me on it.”
“It’s not me that quotes you, asshole, it’s your girlfriend at The Post. So you gonna call her and explain why you didn’t do anything to find out who’s selling pizzas with poison mushrooms and so now it’s too late to pump the stomachs of hundreds maybe thousands of people who’re gonna die?”
“Whaddaya mean? Have there been other reports of poisoning? I haven’t heard any.”
“You wouldn’t have because it’s a slow acting poison and people just get sick, then they get better for a while, then they die. They woulda thought they ate something bad, but they wouldn’t be dying yet. That’ll come later.”
“How do you know all that? All I know is this is one of the poisons we test for so we tested for it and he had it and he didn’t die from it because he shot himself first. I was thinking maybe the poison gives him hallucinations so he shoots himself. We gotta get on it right away, track down where he got the pizza. You’re the detective, you should do this. Shoulda been doing it already instead of harassing me. You shoulda been on this soon as I told you about the poison.”
“Stop covering your ass; I’m all over it,” Mark says. “Why don’t you get the full autopsy to me fast; send it in email.” He gets a call-waiting tone and hangs up without saying good by.
“Okay, Mark, good news; we’re not gonna have an epidemic of mushroom poisoning,” says the new caller.
“Great. How do you know?” Mark asks.
“Talked to the guy Wong that did the pizza run. Asked him where he got it and who else had mushrooms. He tells me that that the deceased didn’t order mushrooms.”
“But he’s fucked up. There were mushrooms and pizza in his stomach and…”
“Yeah. Wong says that Lazard is a mushroom nut, okay? He likes pizza with pineapple and mushrooms. Used to order that all the time. But he gets rich and he turns into a big-time mushroom collector; now he only eats the mushrooms he finds himself. So they just order pizza with pineapple, and Lazard adds his own mushrooms from his own stash. So last night he just got pizza with pineapple and did his own extra toppings like usual. He—”
“So we gotta find that stash,” Mark interrupts.
“Calm down, ace, we’ve got it. Everyone in the office knew what shelf he kept it on; it’s in a big bottle. You want it sent to the lab?”
“Right,” says Mark. “Good work. Yeah, let’s get it to the lab right away. Got to make double sure it’s the same stuff that was on the pizza. Thanks.”
He hangs up and Googles “Lazard mushrooms”. There are a wealth of URLs returned by the search engine. Some deal with an announcement from the Central New Jersey Mycological Society of a generous gift from Louise and Larry Lazard which will enable the society to introduce underprivileged youngsters from Newark to the joys of mushroom hunting in the Jersey Pine Barrens.
The other URLs are from a blog Lazard had been writing about his mushroom hunting expeditions. The most recent entry is from September 26.