Tag Archives: murder

2032. Raven Mad

(The opening sentence for this story was suggested by Uma of One Grain Amongst the Storm. If you want to join in the fun of suggesting a future opening sentence for these stories, please leave your suggestion in the comments – only one suggestion per person!)

Every time the one-legged raven returned to the village and filled the night with its grating caws, someone died the next afternoon and the skies wept till the funerals.

The entire village was more than aware of this phenomenon. It happened every several months. It wasn’t regular – like clockwork – but it was frequent enough not to be considered by many as a coincidence.

The local policeman had pointed out a few things during a village conflab called to discuss the matter. The victims (does one call them victims?) were all adults. Few had died of natural causes. Most had died as the result of an accident. And then the rain always began soon after. A few practical suggestions were made.

Madeline Clumski suggested that the one-legged raven was possessed. It was the work of the devil. The bird should be shot. In fact people had tried and it always disappeared only to return like Rasputin a month or so later. Madeline was well respected in the village. Perhaps she was right. If the village bank was a bit more generous she could afford to purchase a gun and shoot the raven herself.

Charlie Dalzell considered the coincidence of the deaths to be mathematically feasible. Such things happen. Charlie taught algebra at the local high school, so his understanding of coincidental possibilities was well regarded.

Mickey Dragnet suggested murder. Someone was releasing a one-legged crow, murdering someone for some reason, and running off with crow in hand. There was an outcry over this because it was really a silly suggestion. No one in the village had a pet raven, let alone a one-legged one. Mickey was regarded as a mean man who was a bit if a recluse. He was also the local bank manager. It was suggested that his natural bent for meanness went hand in hand with his profession. No one got away scot-free from owing the bank a penny in overdraft.

Sally Smith said that Mickey Dragnet clearly didn’t know what he was talking about. He had called the bird a crow, and it was obviously a raven. There was a difference, and if Mickey Dragnet was so sure of himself he would’ve known that.

So all in all, the meeting had not solved the mystery. And then it happened again; just two days after the meeting. The victim was the aforementioned Sally Smith. The raven made an appearance and the next afternoon Sally Smith was found hanging from a tree. This time there was no rain.

“Dam unreliable meteorological office forecasts,” muttered Mickey Dragnet, as he poked a piece of carrot into the cage of his one-legged crow.

2031. The open window

(The opening sentence for this story was suggested by Noelle of Sayling Away. If you want to join in the fun of suggesting a future opening sentence for these stories, please leave your suggestion in the comments – only one suggestion per person!)

The sky outside the open window was dark with the portent of a storm. Philomena went over to close it. Several times in the past she had left the window open and a squall had come and blown rain on the furniture. Not much mind you. There was no substantial damage, although she kept a doily on top of the sideboard to hide a small water stain.

The window was on the ground floor. The television news had recently announced the escape of a dangerous murderer from the local prison. “Do not approach”, they had announced. “Things like that never happen to me,” thought Philomena, “but I had better err on the side of caution.”

It would be easy for a lithe man to climb in through the window. She didn’t know if the murderer was fat, thin, or somewhere in the middle. Usually in prison the inmates are fit from spending too much time in the gym with nothing better to do. The television news had not shown a photograph, so she didn’t know if the murderer was handsome, ugly, or somewhere in between. Suddenly a great rumble came from the black cloud. There was going to be a downpour.

Philomena shivered. There seemed more to it than bad weather. She had goose bumps on her arms. She almost felt a presence. “How silly,” she thought. “It must be the combination of a black sky and the news of the murderer.” A blast of lightning forked. She began to count. Thunder came five seconds later so the storm was only five miles away. At least that was the method she had learned as a girl; count the seconds, count the miles.  Another lightning flash! She shut the window tight.

“Rain! Rain! Go away! Come again another day,” chanted Philomena. She turned back into the room. There was an ugly stranger standing behind her.

2024. A couple of cows and a few pigs

When Frank bought his little farmlet (big enough for a couple of cows and a few pigs and room to pursue his special hobby of growing asparagus) he never warmed to the guy who sold it to him. Harvey was the previous owner’s name. Harvey had lived alone, made stupid blunt observations, and couldn’t even crack a smile at any of Frank’s little break-the-ice jokes.

What Harvey clearly needed was a wife to moderate his bluntness and turn him into a human being. (Sorry if that sounds sexist but it works both ways). Having a wife and a few kids might have softened his edges a bit. Anyway, he was single and that was that. On the other hand, Frank was married but with no kids. His wife had certainly made him more open to other points of view. In fact, he had learned over a few years to agree with absolutely everybody about absolutely everything – and especially to agree with his wife. Oh! She could make life a living hell if he disagreed with her.

The small farm (apart from a rather attractive post-card cottage) had a hay barn and a garden shed. The hay barn was filled with hay bales. The hay would last Frank with his couple of cows for two or three years…

It was now his second year on the farm and things were going well with Frank. He would have to get more hay because it neared the end of the supply. Just six hay bales left. And then he noticed…

Sticking out the end of one of the bales were a couple of partly decomposed leg bones wearing bright blue stiletto heels.

That gave Frank an idea.

2018. DIY murder

Everything costs money, and when Deidre discovered how much it was going to cost to have her husband murdered she decided to do it herself.

She knew that even a DIY murder was going to cost money. Fortunately she had a little nest egg stashed away which she had built up over time for this precise purpose. This murder wasn’t a spur of the moment thing. Now, where was I?

For starters, she had to purchase a gun. You can’t go and shoot someone using a gun you’ve just borrowed off a friendly neighbour. They might begin to suspect, especially since they lived next door. But Deidre didn’t want to go through all the hassle of getting a licence and goodness knows what. She would have to get her gun from some cheap outfit in a back alley.

Then there was the business of corpse disposal. These professional hitmen had their methods. They had done it many a time. But poor Deidre would have to shove Clive’s corpse into the back seat of her old 1977 LTD Ford and deposit the body in some secluded forest somewhere.

Then there was the cost of having to get the carpet cleaned – if in fact she were to pull the trigger in the living room. Quite frankly, Deidre ascertained, the cost of this DIY murder was getting to be as expensive as a professional job. But as Deidre was fond of say, “I shall stick to my guns”.

Her husband was such a happy person and so obliging. Deidre didn’t hate him, but she had had enough. She didn’t want him to die slowly. Seven years marriage was seven years. One can’t obliterate the memory of it with one bullet shot. Dear sentimental Deidre! She planned a final outing. They would go for a picnic to the lake.

It was while at the lake eating their tuna and lettuce sandwich that they stood next to the most beautiful waterfall. It hurtled down the cliff below them in a most dramatic manner.

“Such power!” declared Clive.

“Such a precipice!” declared Deidre.

She gave him a little push. It was free.

2017. The murderer was blond

It is possible that the day Freda was murdered was probably not the best day of her life. Her day had started so well. Being a famous novelist had its perks; one could work from home at an unflustered pace; one could (especially with money from best-sellers) spend a little on luxuries here and there.

Freda had looked forward to this day for a while. It was the day she was intending to introduce the murderer into her murder mystery. There’s no hurry to do these things; a murderer should be saved and savoured. The murderer was to be a male with flaxen hair; fairly young and athletic; pleasant to the nth degree. It was a ridiculous assumption that inexperienced writers held, to turn their evil characters into wizened, ugly people with a hunched back, and drooling or dribbling at the mouth. How more dramatic it is to have the handsome hero turn out to be the wicked one!

The first thing Freda did (after sleeping in a little late) was to go out for brunch. The guy in the bakery where she purchased her Danish pastry was called Blondie. He was such a pleasant fellow.

“Have a nice day, Blondie,” Freda said.
“You too, Freda,” said Blondie cheerfully.

Freda devoured her purchase as she ambled along the street to the coffee shop. The guy in the coffee shop where she ordered her takeaway coffee was called Snow. He was such a pleasant fellow.

“Have a nice day, Snow,” Freda said.
“You too, Freda,” said Snow cheerfully.

On such a delightful sunny late morning Freda thought she would walk home the long way. There was no hurry. Perhaps she would call her murderer Blondie or Snow. And how best to do the murder? Perhaps the two of them were in league! Now, that was a good idea! And what would be the motive?

Freda arrived home and sat down to write; for the last time, I might add.

2014. A smoking gun

Jude had not been brought up well. His father was an alcoholic; at least he was until he turned up to work drunk and “accidentally” fell down an elevator shaft. Jude’s mother was addicted to quinine and her kidneys had packed up and she too was dead.

Jude had an older sister who took over his care, but she was on drugs and got her drug money in the entertainment business. She worked from home.

When he was fourteen, Jude didn’t “discover” for he already knew, but “realized” that there were easier ways to make money than to work. He’s made a few contacts via some of his sister’s clients. He looked a lot older than fourteen. School had long gone down the drain. He worked as a pimp with the occasional bit of burglary thrown in for luck.

Then his big break came. One of his sister’s ex-clients said he’d give Jude ten thousand if he did his sister in. Jude said he would but what way was it to be done? The guy said he didn’t care, so Jude got a gun and shot his sister dead point blank. It was all pretty easy.

When Jude went to get his money the ex-client turned him in. “This guy murdered his sister.”

Jude got life. The ex-client got off scot-free. He was clever like that.

2004. Innocent of murder

Well, Officer, I didn’t mean to kill him. He was my husband, after all. I dare say some married couples reach a stage where one or the other want to kill the spouse off. That certainly wasn’t the case with my husband and me.

I know we’ve had our ups and downs, but that doesn’t mean to say I wanted to kill him. Murder couldn’t have been further from my mind. As you must be able to tell from my personality, I hardly know one end of a gun from another. So it’s quite silly to accuse me of murdering my husband. His death was an accident.

Yes I know he was having a torrid affair with that cheap and tasteless woman who volunteers in the Opportunity Shop. You know the one? She wears artificial fur, and tights with leopard markings. And her shoes, when she’s wearing them – goodness me! She certainly undresses for the part. I wish she had been standing next to my husband when he was shot. I just might have fortuitously missed my husband and shot her instead. By accident of course.

No! No! I certainly didn’t mean to kill George. I wanted to fire bullets into his knees and into that area below the belt and above the knees. I wanted him to suffer. I wanted him to suffer like you wouldn’t believe. Dying was not meant to be an option. Murder never! I wanted the agony to be slow, painful, and permanent.

2002. No stone unturned

Fleur had been murdered on her maid’s day off. She had been stabbed four times in the chest. Ironically, she wrote and published murder mysteries. Perhaps a key to her murderer’s identity lay in Fleur’s unfinished manuscript. In the unfinished novel the murdered victim was named Pamela. The description of her bore a remarkable resemblance to Fleur. Perhaps it was a cry for help. The manuscript must be examined minutely, for as the detective said, “We shall leave no stone unturned”.

The first suspect was Olwyn, the teenage student who came to mow Pamela’s lawn every Wednesday after school. It can’t have been her because she was currently away at a school camp.

There was the handsome soldier who “passed by”. His name was unknown, but Pamela referred to him as “My handsome soldier man”. It can’t have been him because he’d been gone a good week when the murder was done.

Perhaps it was Floyd the postman. He delivered mail three times a week: Monday’s, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Except, the postal workers were on strike at the time of Fleur’s murder.

Finally, could it have been Elric, the president of the local Amateur Society’s Glee Club? Not a chance! The Glee Club was away in the big city preparing for their Christmas pantomime production.

What stood out as to why one of these possible assassins of Pamela might also be the murderer of Fleur, was that Fleur, just like her protagonist, had a lawn-mowing teen come every Wednesday. She had a handsome soldier pass by. She had a thrice-a-week-delivering postman. She was super-friendly with the president of the local Amateur Society’s Glee Club. Was this a case of fiction imitating life?

Fleur had been brutally stabbed in the chest four times, as has been pointed out. This caused untold confusion, because Fleur had been stabbed four times in the abdomen, but her body was found in a chest in the attic. So what exactly was meant when the novel said she had been stabbed four times in the chest?

And then Fleur’s notes for her novel were discovered in the chest itself. It pointed to the murderer being Lillian. Not only had Lillian not made an appearance thus far in the manuscript, but there was no indication of who she was or what she did. Obviously Lillian was the one who had done the murder, but her identity was anyone’s guess.

Clearly the unfinished manuscript of Fleur’s murder mystery was of no help whatsoever. Much to the relief of Gillian, the maid.

1996. Poolside accident

To all intents and purposes, said Detective-Sergeant Noseworthy, this swimming pool drowning looks like an accident. An accident? An accident indeed! Ha! Ha! Ha! What some people believe!

Sherry clearly was pushed in and held under. That’s my suspicion. To say she slipped on the swimming pool steps, hit her head on the edge, and subsequently drowned, could be construed as a cover-up.

I have interviewed eleven people at the poolside barbeque and not a single one saw what happened. Yeah right! They were at a poolside barbeque and no one was at the poolside. They were all inside the house getting their plate and knife and fork, leaving Sherry to go for a swim on her lonesome. I find all that hard to believe.

Still, if that’s what the coroner said, then that’s what the coroner said. I’m happy to leave it at that. I can’t say I’m not pleased that Sherry didn’t drown. She was a regal pain in the proverbial and I should never have married her. It was very nice of Candy and Mervyn Parsonage to invite us to their poolside barbeque, but Sherry and I had a huge argument in the car on the way there. She had been obstreperous like that for several months.

I was late going into the house to get my plate and knife and fork, and when I came out the others were already hauling her body out of the pool.

1993. Body in the woodshed

When Dawn saw the dead body in her woodshed she didn’t know what to do next. Clearly the body had died several hours earlier. Rigor mortis had already begun to set in. Dawn had once worked as a nurse so she knew these things. Trying to revive the body was a waste of time. It was as dead as the wood in her woodshed.

Dawn was a practical woman to the hilt. She remained absolutely calm. She surveyed the situation as if she was in a fabric shop selecting a pattern for a proposed table runner. What to do with the body? She shut the woodshed door and went back into the house.

It wasn’t winter. It wasn’t cold. There would be no need for her to get firewood for a couple of months. She had bought an air ticket for her husband to go to Hawaii on a vacation for several months. They did that in their marriage once every decade or so. It cleared the air and they could start afresh. He had left yesterday, so the story would go. Dawn would simply leave the body in the woodshed until winter.

That way the coroner would have difficulty determining the cause of death of her husband. “But I thought he was having a great time in Hawaii.”