Tag Archives: murder

1898. The dead tree

I don’t know if you can see the photo of these two old trees. One’s dead, and the other is barely alive. My husband and I planted these trees years and years ago. He’s dead now – the husband. He planted the dead one. I planted the other one, the one that’s gnarled and barely alive. I’ll be eighty-seven this coming October.

There used to be a house roughly where the person taking the photo would be standing. That was our house. The first and only house we had. The two children were born there. It was our dream place; a lovely house, not too big and not too small, set on twelve acres of what could only be described as park land. We planted those two trees (and a number of others here and there) as part of the “landscaping” of our park. Our life was like a perpetual honeymoon.

Jude had built the house himself. And I helped of course, as best I could. I sewed drapes and did the painting and wall-papering and so on. Jude was the one with the saw and the hammer and the screw driver and the muscle. It was like a dream come true!

After the birth of the second child things fell apart. We’d been in the house for four years and we put it up for sale. No one ever bought it and Jude disappeared before any divorce proceedings began. I leased out most of the land to a neighbouring farmer and stayed in the house with the children. They’re gone now – the children. Tony’s a lawyer up in the big city, and Rachel manages a business that teachers adults how to do basic computer things.

My current house gets quite cold in winter, so I’ve asked Tony to come and cut down that dead tree for firewood. The one that’s barely alive has a few more years left in it. It might sound cruel but I’m looking forward to burning logs of Jude’s tree throughout the winter. It’s good he’s serving some purpose at this stage of my life. Apart from building the house he wasn’t much good for much when he was here. In fact he was useless. And mean; really mean. It’s why I did him in.

1892. Damp bath towels

It had been raining for what seemed like weeks. Quite honestly, Leon was running short on bath towels. The first batch of washed bath towels he pegged out on the outside clothesline in the rain. Often it would be fine the day after rain, and having laundry rinsed in the rain added to their freshness once they had dried. But this batch of six towels simply did not seem to want to dry.

It wasn’t as if he was made of towels. He had eight altogether, three red and three grey and two white. After the initial wash he was left with two dry towels that quickly dampened when Leon took a shower.

There were a few other things Leon was trying to dry as well. For example, his wife’s woollen pullover had been damp for so long that he thought it really needed a quick rinse to freshen it up again.

His living and dining rooms were festooned with drying laundry. The backs of chair, the table, even the television, had towels draped over them.

Leon thought of going out and buying a new set of bath towels. But then what would he do with this lot of towels once they had dried? Would he simply throw them away? Why wouldn’t they hurry and dry? These six towels that he had used to mop up his wife’s blood after he’d shot her. The woollen pullover, once dried, he would burn.

1877. The time had come

Murder was what drove Jephthah on relentlessly. The thrill of a murder was exciting enough to last several years, but once such a thrill had worn thin Jephthah would select another victim.

The last victim had been a little old lady who was in a back street looking for her cat. Jephthah had offered to help, and when she turned her back he smashed her over the head with the weapon. What the weapon was perplexed the police. They discovered neither the weapon nor the murderer.

It didn’t greatly matter to Jephthah who it was got killed. It was the act of murder that caused the delight. So far, over the years, he had done five people in. The gap between each victim was getting shorter. Clearly the gusto these days didn’t last as long. Indeed! The time had come! Jephthah seized his umbrella that disguised a heavy metal pipe and set out.

He had to find a lone person in a back alley; preferably a person who was utterly pleasant and happy to stop and chat a little. There’s a little old lady now! Ah! She’s looking for her cat. Same as last time. That would be boring.

There’s a man dressed in a suit and carrying a briefcase. He looks like a lawyer. Now, that could be thrilling!

“Nice day,” said Jephthah.

“Isn’t it,” said the lawyer.

They got talking. The awful thing was that Jephthah couldn’t get the man to turn his back so he could strike him over the head. So Jephthah decided to walk away in search of another.

That was when the “lawyer” walloped a massive blow on the back of Jephthah’s head. What the weapon was perplexed the police. They discovered neither the weapon nor the murderer.

1874. Outside a thrush was singing

Iseult was a novelist. She wrote horror, fantasy and science fiction.

It was raining outside. It was one of those sun-shower days that make you understand why Ireland is called “The Emerald Isle”. The green was translucent.

Iseult gazed out the window. She had been stuck on a sentence for two days now. “Herman raised the axe”. Iseult knew she couldn’t kill off Aoibhinn, the heroine, so early in the novel. It was after all only page 19.

“Herman raised the axe.” What comes next? How could Aoibhinn escape this inevitable fate? Does she bend down to pat the dog and thus escape the plunging axe head? No! No! It’s all too predictable. Simply bending to pat a dog and escaping murder is so gauche. Maybe Iseult had made a mistake modelling Herman on the guy who comes to mow her lawns – he was too much an unexciting character. His personality didn’t advance the plot.

Outside the window a thrush was singing its heart out in the rain. Now there’s a sentence, thought Iseult. “Herman raised the axe. Outside the window a thrush was singing its heart out in the rain.”

Iseult typed the new sentence. At least she was one sentence further on. It’s fun, she thought, that what I type is actually happening! Outside the window a thrush was singing…

Herman raised the axe. Outside the window a thrush was singing its heart out in the rain. Iseult bent down to pat the dog.

(The real Iseult blogs HERE. There she reviews many a book. Her own novel – “7 Days in Hell” – is available on Amazon. Sometime ago, in the comments on my blog, Iseult expressed a mild desire to be a “victim” in one of my stories! Hence today’s gentle, though callous, plot.)

1864. An unsolved murder

The murder of Octavius Snickenbough was in all the papers. It was in all the papers not because it was a murder (goodness knows, murders are so common these days they could hardly be considered newsworthy) but because of who Octavius Snickenbough was.

Octavius Snickenbough was the local vicar who, despite having being married to a lovely wife for many a year, had singlehandedly fathered three children on the one night, all born in the same local maternity hospital on the same day, and all registered by different mothers with the information on the father recorded as “Octavius Snickenbough, Vicar”.

It had turned Octavius overnight, on the one hand, into a folk hero, and on the other hand, into a fiend. And now, several weeks after the births his body was discovered lying murdered in the sands of the local beach. The beach was in a sheltered bay and most popular over the summer months. The sand was a mass of hundreds of footprints going in all directions, so the murderer’s footprints going to and from the body were indecipherable.

Clearly, Octavius Snickenbough had been chopped to death by a tomahawk. In fact, it was patently obvious because a tomahawk, the kind used to split firewood kindling, was still protruding from the crown of his head.

Naturally, the three mothers of the three new-borns were questioned by the police, as indeed was Octavius’s wife. None could offer any information that caste the slightest light on the situation.

This all happened several months ago, and the police are no closer to solving the mystery and making an arrest. The closed beach has subsequently reopened, and parishioners seem to rejoice in the appointment of the new vicar whose homilies are considerably shorter than those once offered by the late Reverend Octavius Snickenbough. Rather fortuitously, the new vicar has his own house, so Mrs. Snickenbough is more than welcome to continue to live in the old vicarage. After all, why should it remain empty when it is warm and welcoming, and suitable enough for a lone widow to live comfortably? The potbellied stove in the kitchen is a little old-fashioned but Mrs. Snickenbough doesn’t mind that – once she gets a new tomahawk to split the kindling.

1855. Fate deals the cards

Olga stumbled across a free online webpage that would interpret the four tarot cards clicked on. The entire deck of cards was spread out, face down. Things hadn’t been going well for Olga recently and she was searching for something positive to cling to. She had been threatened by strangers several times in the past week because she had been seen going into a fast food establishment that was no longer considered woke.

Olga clicked on four cards, even though she thought that such things online were bogus hocus-pocus. The four cards when clicked on turned their faces up. An interpretation of the selected cards was proclaimed by a computerized voice.

The first card shows that you are insecure and do not know whether or not to accept a recent invitation to a birthday party. Go! Go to the party!

That’s true, thought Olga. I have been invited to Elaine’s birthday party at the solstice and I wasn’t keen to go.

The second card indicates what sort of gift you should bring to the birthday party. Nothing too expensive; nothing too ostentatious. Just a pleasant gift that the person would enjoy.

How right that is, thought Olga. I am so pleased I bought Elaine a simple peace lily in a lovely pot.

The third card indicates someone else at the party whom you meet for the first time. It could be a person of the opposite sex. The card indicates that they will become a significant person in your life.

That is so exciting, thought Olga. I’m well into the marriageable age and have yet to find Mister Right.

The fourth and final card indicates…

It was then that Olga’s phone rang. Hello. Hello, said Olga. It was Elaine. Could Olga email her the online address for party games she had told her about? Sure she could. She would do so immediately.

What a shame that Olga never heard the reading for the remaining card she had selected. Otherwise she may not have been murdered at the party by “Mister Right”.

1853. Goldfish pond murder

The murder had been a long time in coming, but it was well worth the wait. Dale’s third wife, Damaris, had tragically drowned. One minute she was sitting in a wheelchair in the sunshine reading Margaret Mitchell’s novel Gone with the Wind and the next minute she herself was gone – floating dead in the garden goldfish pond, wheelchair and all.

Husband Dale was distraught. “I never knew wheelchairs could float,” he gasped at the policeman. People in morning sometimes say the silliest things. Later he added something about “fortunately she didn’t get the book wet.”

It must be stated clearly from the beginning that Damaris didn’t need to sit in the wheelchair. She was perfectly well in all respects. Her visiting sister, Brierley, was using the chair because she had sprained an ankle while messing around with Dale in the garden. Brierley had gone inside the house “to have a rest and put her foot up” and Damaris was sitting in the wheelchair because it was convenient and she liked to watch the fish. Suddenly the unbraked wheelchair went whizzing into the goldfish pond, and although Damaris was a reasonable swimmer she couldn’t untangle herself from the chair.

The deed was done! It was a tragic accident. As soon as they can dry the wheelchair Brierley will be making a fast entrance down the aisle of the nearest church. Let’s hope Dale doesn’t try any funny business with his latest wife. After all, Brierley has secret, perhaps handy, photographs of Dale holding Damaris under water.

1847. It pays to check

When Clyde got out of bed that morning he had no idea (who does?) how his day would end.

There he was in early afternoon innocently sitting on the window ledge of his girlfriend’s new apartment when suddenly Tracey pushed him out the seventeenth story window.

As she pushed him suddenly out she was heard to exclaim, “Die you selfish toad. I love Shane now and I do this for Shane.” What Tracey didn’t realize was that her accommodation unit was set in the middle of a high-rise rooftop garden. Clyde fell no more than three feet onto a soft paving.

Clyde got up, brushing a little sandy gravel off his knees. He was half bemused and half shocked. It was the last thing he had been expecting.

Tracey had jumped out the window herself when she realized her murderous plot had backfired. She turned her shock and agitation into concocted horror. Naturally she pretended it was a practical joke. She was merely playing around. Of course she didn’t love Shane; she didn’t even like him. Shane was a creep. Everyone knew that the window seventeen stories up opened onto a rooftop frequently used for barbeques.

Clyde didn’t believe her for one minute. The rooftop was surrounded by a safety balustrade. Clyde picked up Tracey and threw her over it. She almost floated down to splat amongst the ant-like figures busy about their business way, way in the street below.

It certainly pays to check before throwing someone from a great height. That got rid of Tracey. Now there was no one to come between Clyde and his boyfriend, Shane.

1840. Census records

How exciting it was after all these years of research to discover there were three murders in the family tree. Goodness! It had been staring Desirée in the face all this time.

Great grandfather Freddie was married to Irene and they had eleven children under the age of fifteen. During the census of 1918 Irene and her sister and mother were at an address at Brighton clearly having a break at the beach resort. The nanny looked after the children – according to the census records. Freddie wasn’t there. The address the census gave him was miles away from where he lived.

Irene, her sister, and her mother never returned from that beach address. They all died in the same weekend. A month later, Freddie remarried; to a widow called Fifi who lived at the address that Freddie had been visiting during the census.

Murder! It was so obvious. The death certificates of the three murdered women stated that they died of influenza. Yeah right! There was no inquest because every second person in that year died of the Spanish Flu. But clearly Freddie had poisoned them in order to marry the flirtatious Fifi.

Fifi was French. At least, the name looked French, which sent Desirée the researcher into a spin. She apparently was descended from the liaison between Freddie and Fifi. Not only murders in the family, but French blood! Let those who are not impressed eat cake.

Desirée shared her findings with her close relatives. How wonderful it was to be descended from a murderer with French connections.

And then something even more exciting happened. Desirée began to suspect the children’s nanny was doing a little more than cleaning up after the children. Desirée put her findings online.

History is so absorbing when people share the facts they find. The internet is riddled with such facts.

1826. Knitting needling

It had gone on for twenty-seven years. Clack clack clack. Clack clack clack clack. Clack clack… Need I go on?

Dora was knitting. Twenty-seven years ago Dora’s husband, Sven, had rather casually said during the evening meal, that her pickled turnips were nice but not exactly his favourite dish. Dora had taken offence, got out the knitting needles and entered into a knitting-pout. In fact, these days there was no conversation at all. Just clack clack clack. Clack clack clack clack. Clack clack… Need I go on?

Initially Sven had relished the lack of conversation. He could read the evening newspaper undistracted. But for these last seven years the clack clack clack of the needles imposing itself upon the silence was driving him nuts. The volume was growing by the day. It was loud and demanding. It was thunderous.

Only the other day Dora had fallen asleep in the armchair while halfway through knitting a complex row. Her jawbone almost hit her chest. Her mouth was agape. Sven thought he need only grab a knitting needle and plunge it into her heart and all would be over. As easy as that! He half rose.

Dora awoke. She began counting the stitches. Where was she up to in the pattern? And then…

Clack clack clack. Clack clack clack clack. Clack clack… Need I go on?

It was Sven’s turn to doze. He never woke up.