Aphelion Issue 293, Volume 28
September 2023
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That's Not a Crime, It's an Ad Campaign

by Robert A. Lawler

Detective Doug Franks got the call at eight-thirty PM. There had been a shooting at the Waterworks restaurant, two victims; the shooter was already in custody. Pretty routine, he thought to himself as he went to find his partner, Detective Bob Pascelli. Together they informed the desk sergeant where they'd be and in less than five minutes were in their car, leaving District 9 station for the crime scene.

"No need to rush." Franks told his partner, who was behind the wheel. "The first unit on the scene arrested the perp without any trouble."

The Waterworks restaurant," Bob returned. "Not your usual bar shooting, much higher class."

It was true; the Waterworks was one of Philadelphia's more elegant, more expensive restaurants, not the sort of place where a bar fight could turn into a shooting. "Still, sooner of later, any place where you get a lot of people is gonna have its share of trouble." Doug responded.

Arriving at the restaurant and parking, Detective Franks could see why it was such a favorite amongst the cities more affluent citizens. Located in the building that had housed America's first municipal water treatment system the restaurant had a magnificent view of the Schuylkill river and boathouse row in one direction, and an equally impressive view of the Philadelphia Art Museum in the other.

Entering the restaurant, the detectives noticed that everything had come to a stop. None of the customers were eating, the waiting staff were just standing around, even the cooks were out of the kitchen, their mouths agape, not knowing what to do. Franks smiled as he thought of some of the other shootings he'd been on where the bartenders were back to serving customers their drinks before the ambulance had taken the victims away.

"Doug, Bob, over here." They heard. Turning they saw the caller was Officer Tony Maletti who, with his partner, Carol Turner, were talking to some of the witnesses.

"Whadda, we got?" Doug asked. "Eh, Carol." He added.

"A woman, fifty-ish, was eating dinner with a man, aged twentyfive-ish, both Caucasians." Tony gestured towards an overturned table where a small amount of blood could be seen on the floor. "A second man, also twentyfive-ish, Caucasian, entered, walked up to them, pulled out a gun, and shot 'em both once. Lousy shot though, he hit her in the shoulder, him in the leg, they'll both live. Then he dropped the gun, sat down, and started to cry."

"Gomez and Burns were first to arrive, "Turner added. "They cuffed the shooter and he's probably already back at the station. The ambulance has taken the victims to Hahnemann."

"Do we have any names yet?" Pascelli asked.

"The head guy here says the woman made the reservation," Turner replied, gesturing at the man she was interviewing. "Name of Cicely Lichtenhahn Frantz, he doesn't know either of the men."

"We'll get the shooter's name off the booking papers." Doug thought out loud. "The other victim's we'll get at the hospital." He paused. "Lichtenhahn... Lichtenhahn publishing?"

"Yes," the Maitre d' answered. "She is one of our favorite customers. The man she was with tonight, I didn't know, but the man with the gun was here with madam Frantz not three weeks ago."

"Oooh," Doug and Carol said in stereo. In detective Franks' mind the incident was pretty much wrapped up. Just two men fighting over a woman. The only unusual thing was that it was two young boy toys fighting over an older, rich woman. For the next half hour, Franks and Detective Pascelli remained with officers Turner and Maletti taking statements before returning to the station to interview the shooter.

Checking the booking sheet the shooter's name was Ryan Bellows. Residence, an apartment overlooking Rittenhouse square. Occupation, model with the Reeling agency. As Franks had guessed, a real life boy toy. The arresting officers had him waiting in an interview room.

"Is he saying anything?" Pascelli asked.

"He won't stop," Officer Gomez replied. "We read him his Miranda rights but he just keeps going on about how much he loved her and how he didn't want to hurt her. Incriminates himself left and right. Oh, the gun we sent to forensics, it's a 22 automatic, looks brand new."

Franks and Pascelli entered the interview room to find Ryan Bellows sitting at the table, head down, still sobbing.

"Mr. Bellows," Franks began. "You've been informed of your rights but I want to remind you that you have the right to remain silent. That you have the right to have an attorney here during our interviews. Now, do you wish to give up the right to remain silent?"

"I didn't want to hurt her, I loved her!"

Franks took that to mean 'yes.' "When did you first meet Ms. Frantz?"

A direct question seemed to bring Bellows around somewhat. "Four... no, five months ago, she came to some of our photo shoots. She was so beautiful, so cultured; of course, I fell in love with her."

"And you became lovers?" Pascelli asked. Usually Bob played the bad cop but it looked like such games weren't going to be needed.

"Yes, the past five months have been the happiest of my life."

"When did you discover that Ms. Frantz was now seeing another man?" Franks asked.

"Two days ago. She told me I was a sweet boy and I would soon find someone else to love... I love her." the sobbing started again.

"Where'd ya get the gun?" Pascelli tried to keep him on track. "Come on, where'd ya get the gun?"

"Uh, a shop on South Street, bought it yesterday."

Franks and Pascelli liked to alternate questions, so it was Franks' turn to ask. "How did you know that Ms. Frantz would be at the Waterworks?"

"I just tried several of our favorite places. I didn't want to hurt her, but when I saw them together, I wanted to hurt him."

"You didn't try to shoot Ms. Frantz?" Pascelli asked.

"Oh, God, no!" The thought seemed to terrify Bellows. "When I hit her I wanted to die."

Franks motioned to his partner that they talk outside, so the two detectives told Bellows to just stay put and left the room.

Once outside the room, Franks began. "I don't know how much more we need. This guy's pretty much confessed to everything. With the eyewitnesses at the restaurant, we're done once we get the statements of the two victims."

"Well," Pascelli returned. "You call the Hospital to see when we can talk to them. I'll get this guy into a holding cell until he can be arraigned. Can you believe this guy? Head over heels in love is one thing, but this guy's way too much."

"Obsessive to say the least. Guess that's why he started shooting!"

Making a quick phone call to Hahnemann hospital, Franks was told that the victims were both out of surgery but wouldn't be ready to see anyone for at least twelve hours. This being the case, and since their shift was almost over, the two detectives called it a night.

When Franks and Pascelli started their shift the following day they drove over to Hahnemann Hospital to get the statements of the two victims. Arriving, they went first to the male victim's room. The interview was straightforward and to the point. The man's name was Chase Seborg, another male model. He even worked at the same agency as the shooter, although he'd only worked there for the past three weeks. Yes, he'd met Cicely at the agency, he refused to call the female victim anything but Cicely, and yes, they were intimate. Yes, Cicely and Ryan Bellow had been intimate but that was over now.

As Chase gave his statement, Franks and Pascelli glanced at each other in disbelief. Like Bellows the night before, Seborg used fawning praise whenever he spoke of Ms. Frantz. Cicely was the most beautiful woman he'd ever known. Yes, she was older but that just made her beauty more refined. Her style, her artistic taste just added to her desirability. The detectives quickly got Chase's statement and left to interview Ms Frantz.

As they walked down the hallway, Pascelli said to Franks. "I can't wait to see this woman, she must be incredible."

As they reached Ms. Frantz' room, Franks heard what he thought could be an argument going on inside. He grabbed Pascelli's arm and motioned him to silence as they eavesdropped on the voices. One was a woman's, presumably Cicely Lichtenhahn Frantz, the other a man's.

"Steve," the woman said. "Ryan's a grown boy, so is Chase. Believe me, they both know the rules."

"No, they don't know your rules," The Man replied. "They don't know how strong it is. I told you before; you hook them too hard and don't let them down slowly enough."

"But Chase was so eager. I just couldn't resist." Even from outside the room the woman seemed like a vamp.

"Well, you have to let them down more slowly," the man instructed. "They have to be weaned off you. Look, I have to go now, I've a class. Think about what I've said and I'll see you tomorrow."

Since it appeared the conversation was ending the detectives decided to enter the room so they could speak to both the participants. From all they had heard about Ms. Frantz they expected to see a former beauty queen or a well-preserved sex goddess but were almost shocked to find nothing of the kind. Ms Frantz looked just like a fifty-year-old woman trying to look twenty-five. Her face lift was obvious, she wore too much makeup, the gray roots of her hair was showing through the dye job, and maybe it was the hospital blanket but it appeared she could stand to lose a few pounds.

"Excuse me," Franks said upon entering. "I'm Detective Franks of the Philadelphia Police Department and this is Detective Pascelli." The two officers showed their badges. "You're Ms. Frantz?"

"Yes, officer," She looked quite nervous.

"And you are, sir?" Pascelli asked the man.

"Professor Steven Frantz, Drexel University department of Chemistry. I'm Cicely's former husband." The professor seemed to keep his cool a little better. A tall, slender man, he seemed to the detectives to have aged better than his ex-wife.

"Ah, professor, you weren't involved in the incident last night were you?" Pascelli asked.

"Oh, no," was the reply. "I was at home all night, but this morning, when I'd heard Cicely had been hurt, I just wanted to stop by."

"Steve and I have remained on very good terms." Ms. Frantz added. "He's always been very protective about me. More so than I deserve." She shook a finger at her ex. "Better be careful or that pretty new wife of yours will be jealous."

"Officers," Frantz said in a commanding tone. "I have a class to teach in about half an hour. I'm afraid I have no more information about the events of last night than what Cicely has told me, so, with your permission, I'll be going."

"Fine, Professor," Franks said.

"Sure," Pascelli added.

With that, the Professor left the room and the detectives turned their attention to Ms. Frantz. They spent the next ten minutes getting much the same story about the events of the previous night as they had from the other witnesses. As they finished, Cicely asked the detectives a question.

"What happens if I don't press charges? What happens to Ryan, I mean?"

"Ma'am," Pascelli answered. "There's still Mr. Seborg...."

"Oh, I can speak to Chase."

"And the restaurant." Bob added.

"I can be very persuasive."

"Well ma'am, that kind of decision is up to the District Attorney." Pascelli concluded.

With that, the two detectives took their leave and walked into the hallway. Halfway to the elevator Doug Franks stopped in his tracks.

"What's up, Doug?" His Partner asked.

"Why did we let him go?" Franks responded.

"Let who go?"

"That professor," Franks shook his head. "Why did we let him go?"

"Well, he didn't have any information pertaining to the shooting." Pascelli told him.

"You sure?" Franks again shook his head as if to clear it. "Shouldn't we at least have asked if he knew either Bellows or Seborg. He said he was home, how do we know that? And those things he and his ex were saying before we came in." He took out his notebook and began to read. "You hook them too hard and don't let them down slowly enough.... They have to be weaned off you... get this one... They don't know how strong it is!!!"

"You're thinking drugs are involved?" Bob asked.

"Maybe, he's a chemistry professor, but still, why did we let him get away?" Franks seemed hung up on that fact.

"Well, some teachers are just good at taking charge."

"It felt that way, didn't it." Doug was still shaking his head. "It felt like we were in school and he was the adult and we were children. Like we couldn't question what he did, he told us what to do."

"Still," Pascelli said. "The Professor certainly wasn't at the crime scene. This does look like a pretty simple case, and with our work load I don't think the captain is gonna let us go searching for something that may not even be there."

"We can get a little time," sometimes Franks could be one of those cops who played their hunches. "I wanna check that guy out."

"Now, remember I've got a doctor's appointment," Bob said. "My rotator cuff ain't gettin' any better."

"Fine, you see your doctor, and I'll do a little background checking." Doug was thinking. "Professor of chemistry at Drexel. He'll have a web page, it'll talk about his research, and it'll list the papers he's published. Let's see what kind of chemistry he does." With that, he tapped his partner on the arm and the two walked to the elevator and returned to their station.

* * *

By four, that afternoon Detective Franks was trying to put together all he'd learned. Professor Frantz was a biochemist who specialized in the chemical excretions, specifically the smells, that living creatures gave off. His current research consisted of trying to artificially manufacture aggregation pheromones for destructive insect species like boll weevils and Japanese beetles to use in ecologically safe pest suppression. One thing seemed certain; Frantz's research had nothing to do with narcotics or other illegal drugs.

Franks had heard of pheromones, and like most people he thought they were all about sex, but he quickly learned how different animals used pheromones for such activities as marking their territory, raising an alarm, marking a trail and, of course, sex. One phenomenon in particular which interested him was the McClintock effect which explained the synchronization of women's menstrual cycles by odor cues from their perspiration. Reading the abstracts of Professor Frantz's published papers detective Franks began to realize these chemicals could be every bit as powerful as any narcotic. Articles with titles such as "Pheromones and human sexual attraction", and "Human social behavior affected by pheromones," seemed to connect to the things the professor had said to his ex-wife. "They don't know how strong it is," Frantz had said. Franks wondered if the obsessive attraction of Bellows and Seborg to Ms. Frantz could be purely chemical. Then the fact that he and Pascelli were unaffected by Cicely Frantz when they met her made sense since, after a night in surgery and a day in the hospital, her artificial pheromones had undoubtedly worn off. Franks was now determined to learn just exactly what the professor and his ex-wife were up to.

As Franks was mulling over what he'd found out his Captain, Jim McGurn, came over to talk. Captain McGurn had an easygoing attitude with his more experienced subordinates so it came as no surprise to Franks when Jim sat down right on top of the detective's desk.

"Doug," McGurn began. "I don't know if this is good news or bad, but nobody's pressing charges in your case. Not the victims, not the restaurant. They all refuse to testify against the perp. I thought this case was gonna be easy."

"So did I." Somehow, Franks wasn't at all surprised but he didn't want to give up. "Can't the D.A. still file charges; we have the other witnesses from the restaurant?"

"We can certainly get a misdemeanor weapons charge, but a felony assault charge is gonna be difficult to prosecute. What's a jury gonna think if neither of the victims will testify?"

"Are you closing the case, 'cause I ain't done yet?"

"Look, Doug," Jim said. "I got a shooting and three robberies that don't even have a detective assigned yet. I need you and Pascelli, and if this case is going nowhere..."

"Would you be surprised to learn that Cicely Lichtenhahn Frantz has been in this situation before?"


"Two and a half years ago two men, two very young men, got into a fist fight over Ms. Frantz outside the Villa Roma restaurant in the Italian market. That time it was just a fist fight and it was outside the restaurant so again no charges were filed." Franks paused while his boss took in the information. "I got calls to all the suburban districts to see if she's been involved in any other incidents. She lives out in Swarthmore."

"Ok, Doug, I don't like this either," his Captain agreed. "Smells like collusion or intimidation or something." He paused. "I can give ya another day, but you're gonna have to get me something I can hold pretty quick, ok?"

"Thanks Jim." As his Captain left Franks muttered under his breath. "Smells like collusion or intimidation or something, yea, smells."

* * *

The next morning Franks and Pascelli drove over to Drexel University. Upon arriving, they didn't go to the department of chemistry in Disque hall. Rather they first went to the office of the Provost to find the assistant Provost, Soon Li Frantz. The detectives wanted to start by interviewing the Professor's "pretty new wife."

Entering the Provost's office they quickly found the desk of the assistant Provost. If the appearance of the first Ms. Frantz had been a disappointment, that of the second was anything but. Looking about thirty-five, Soon Li Frantz was a very delicate and beautiful Asian woman.

"Ms. Frantz," Doug began the introductions. "I'm Detective Franks, this is Detective Pascelli. We're investigating the shooting two nights ago where your husband's ex-wife, Cicely Frantz was injured."

The new Ms. Frantz was obviously surprised and not too happy about being questioned by the detectives. "I c-can't imagine how I can be of any help to you officer. I only know what my husband has told me about the shooting."

"We're trying to get some background on your husband's marriage and divorce from his first wife." Pascelli told her.

Soon Li's expression now turned to one of contempt. "I didn't know the Philadelphia police wasted taxpayer's money dredging up gossip."

"Ms. Frantz," Franks interrupted her. "Your husband's ex wife has now been the cause of four violent altercations in three counties since divorcing Doctor Frantz, and I haven't heard from New Jersey yet."

"You've been doing your homework."

"Indeed," Doug continued. "I know that Doctor Steven Frantz married Cicely Lichtenhahn in nineteen-ninety one, they divorced ten years later, due to irreconcilable differences, no children. Doctor Frantz married you two years later in two thousand and three, married now for ten years with two children, aged eight and five. Now, why did your husband divorce Cicely Frantz?"

"Steven and Cicely had been trying to have a baby since they got married. Cicely had several miscarriages; the doctors said she simply couldn't carry to term. Steven suggested they adopt but Cicely went kinda crazy, drinking heavily, having a number of affairs. After a couple of years of it, Steven filed for divorce. Before he met me!" She added emphatically.

"How did Doctor Frantz meet you?" It was Pascelli's turn.

"I was hired on here at Drexel as assistant to the Dean of Science at about that time." Soon Li continued. "I was breaking up with the boyfriend I'd had since college and so Steven and I kinda related to each other."

"And he just swept you off your feet." Franks said, more as a statement than a question.

"Well there was a bit more to it than that." Ms. Frantz countered. "Steven was so sweet and although he may be older, he's still very handsome."

As he listened to Ms. Frantz, detective Franks noticed the excessive praise she used to describe Doctor Frantz, "Steven was so sweet" and "he's still very handsome", just like the way Ryan Bellows or Chase Seborg described Cicely Frantz. Doug was almost certain he knew what was going on here. The time had come, he felt, to confront the professor.

At this point, the detectives thanked Soon Li Frantz for her cooperation and walked across thirty-second street to Disque Hall, were the chemistry department had its offices, and quickly found the office of Professor Steven Frantz.

As they entered his office the Doctor was just finishing a conversation on his cell phone. "I had a feeling I'd be seeing you again, detectives," Frantz said. "But was it really necessary to bring my wife into this?" He gestured with the cell phone to emphasize the last point.

Detective Franks was in no mood for Frantz's acting like the victim. "I guess that depends on when you and your ex-wife started using your pheromone sex potion to improve your love lives."

The doctor kept his cool and answered quite calmly. "Actually, Soon Li and I began using our scents together after we'd been married about two years. About the time I perfected the... recipe let's call it. I didn't think we were breaking any laws."

That wasn't the answer Franks was expecting and he was left momentarily speechless, fortunately, Bob Pascelli had a question he wanted to ask. "Why are you keeping this a secret? You could make a lot of money with this stuff."

"I plan to," was the answer. "I already have a licensing agreement with a major manufacturer, we hope to begin marketing in a year or so although there have been problems in production." The professor seemed to be going into lecture mode. "The biggest problem is that everyone has to have their own pheromone, it can't be mass produced!"

"Why?" Pascelli asked.

"Pheromone's are as individual as fingerprints. Boy, there's a cliché, but really, if you wear someone else's pheromone, you'll get a very negative reaction; your own dog might attack you. You see, you do give off natural pheromones, and adding a different scent causes confusion and irritation in anyone who smells them both. That's literally true; those who know you best will have the strongest dislike. You wife might react the same as if you were covered in sewage."

Detective Franks now tried to get the interrogation back on track. "You can't be thinking of selling this to the public, it's uncontrollable! Look at the trouble your ex-wife has caused."

"Pheromones are powerful, but not as irresistible as you seem to think." Frantz answered. "At least half the men Cicely has tried it on have remained uninterested. There needs to other attractions as well that the pheromones can enhance. They seem to work best when the two people are interested in each other anyway." Again, the professor went into lecture mode. "Quite frankly, I think the best use of pheromones will be with committed couples to strengthen their relationship. I can only tell you that when Soon Li and I use them together our passion is unbelievable. Partly because of the pheromones, I simply cannot imagine being with any other woman. By strengthening marriages this way pheromones may actually help reduce the divorce rate."

Franks remained unconvinced. "Professor, you can't really think that's how they're going to be used. You have to admit that these pheromones of yours can be abused, causing a lot of trouble."

"The same can be said about any brand of liquor." The Professor countered.

"Boy, professor," Pascelli shook his head. "When this gets on the market you are really gonna shake thinks up!"

"As did the birth control pill, as did Viagra." Frantz seemed to have all the answers.

Franks wasn't ready to give up just yet however. "You gave these powerful chemicals to your ex-wife, who has obviously abused them. I could charge you with reckless endangerment."

"Since you've been checking Cicely's legal troubles I'm sure you know about her three DUI's from over six years ago." Frantz countered. "I gave her the pheromones only on the condition that she stick with rehab and stayed off alcohol. I thought it was the less dangerous alternative. Now, if you want to try to charge me go ahead, but I think you'll have a hard time convincing any jury I actually did anything wrong. They'll probably be more interested in getting some pheromones themselves. After all, what did I do? I invented a fragrance that drives the opposite sex wild and even makes your own sex respect you. That's not a crime, it's an ad campaign!"

There was nothing either Franks or Pascelli could say in response. A long minute passed before Pascelli finally asked. "So professor, will we get this stuff over the counter or are we gonna need a prescription?"


© 2015 Robert A. Lawler

Bio: Mr. Lawler's background is in Physics and he works as an RF engineer. He has had several technical articles published, but this is his first published piece of fiction.

E-mail: Robert A. Lawler

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