|A Murder Mystery (standard:Suspense, 2627 words)|
|Author: Ashok Gurumurthy||Added: Mar 18 2005||Views/Reads: 29306/10024||Story 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 Click here to read the rest of this story (271 more lines)
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