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A Murder Mystery (standard:Suspense, 2627 words)
Author: Ashok GurumurthyAdded: Mar 18 2005Views/Reads: 28412/9600Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A never-heard-of twist in the tale.
 



Bertha was in the kitchen. She was under a platform trying to get the
gas stove to work. So she ignored the telephone's ringing hoping it 
would stop. But it didn't. The old-fashioned telephone kept ringing 
shrilly. Resigning, she slowly extricated herself from the enclosed 
space and cleaned her hands with her apron. The telephone being in the 
adjacent platform—four of them were arranged in a square—, she had to 
turn to pick it up, her back to the kitchen door. Just then a man 
stealthily entered by that door, carrying a common, but long and sharp, 
knife. 

Bertha spoke into the phone ‘Hello? Hello? ... Hello?' but she said no
more because the long sharp knife had pierced her heart. Then it came 
out of her body and got flung onto the floor. The murderer backed away 
and briskly went out the same door, shutting it behind him. His next 
stop was the telephone booth a few feet away, where he hung up the 
receiver. 

*** 

When Tony and George were returning after shopping, they ran into a
crouched figure on turning into the driveway. Their first instinct was 
that it was a burglar waiting for the right time to go in. It turned 
out, however, that it was Edward, looking for a dropped coin. And he 
didn't have a key to the cottage. 

The shopping bags were distributed equally among the three. They
silently walked up to the front door and let themselves in with Tony's 
key. 

On entering, Tony shouted ‘Bertha, we're back'. They did not notice that
there was no reply and settled down on the sofas to watch TV. So it was 
only twenty minutes later that they discovered the body: Edward had 
announced he was hungry and gone into the kitchen; his scream brought 
the others running in. 

They had little doubt that she was dead. Nobody spoke for a minute.
Edward broke the silence. ‘This is a filthy country, full of 
criminals.' He received no reply. 

Shortly Tony stated matter-of-factly that they had to inform the local
police (for surely it was a murder). Edward got up to pick up the 
receiver but was stopped by Tony: ‘We need to protect the crime scene; 
I'll go down to a telephone booth.' And so he disappeared. 

The party of four had flown into Asunción three days before the
incident. They had booked the cottage in advance, and their “vacation” 
was to last one week, or, at least, that is how long they intended to 
stay in the cottage. 

You will realize that the setting for the mystery is classical: a
limited number of possible murderers, facilitating guessing by the 
reader. 

Bertha and Edward were engaged and had been for more than three years,
with marriage not in sight. Tony was her brother and George a cousin. 
Brother and sister ran a small stationery shop in London, but smuggling 
in of electronic equipment was their main source of income. Their 
business was going through rough times, with few people wanting to 
handle the supply end. There simply wasn't enough to do. Each partner 
wanted the other to join some other business, but no agreement could be 
reached. 

They had decided to take a vacation just the two of them—Tony was single
and wanted to remain so—in an exotic place. But, by the time the plan 
was finalized, neither was their holiday spot exotic, nor were only the 
two of them going. 

George was no good at anything, never held a job, and was rather a
spendthrift. For some time he had been begging his cousins to take him 
on as a partner (that was when they had stopped “lending” him money, 
because it never was returned and they didn't have enough for 
themselves). Bertha had flatly refused and stood by her decision, but 
Tony was easily moved by his pathetic appeals—moved enough to consent 
to give him ‘some small job or other', although his veiled threats of 
the exposure of the smuggling activity also helped; only Bertha was in 


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