Tag Archives: murder

2076. A street of murders

There had been three murders on the street in as many weeks. Constable Carrington said they were unrelated. They have nothing in common with one another, and besides, we have arrested three individuals, one for each murder. What would he know? He spends most of his time down at the Archery Clubhouse practising archery.

 Another factor pointing to their disconnectedness was that each murder had been quite different; one was a gun shot, one was a knife stabbing, and the third was poisoning. So it was disconcerting for Constable Carrington when there were yet a further three murders, all in the same household at the same time; one from gunshot, one from stabbing, and one from poisoning. It was as if a single, as yet unarrested murderer, had heard the news of three different murder methods and performed all three at the same time.

Mrs Audrey Swineheart seemed to be the one able to glean the most information. She was the street’s gossip. Somehow she had an ear to the wall, and could furnish everyone (even those who pretended not to be interested) with details of each killing; in some cases with details that Constable Carrington hadn’t mentioned. For example, how did she know that Mrs Deidre Plonk had been shot just as she was whipping cream to put between two layers of her recently baked sponge cake? “You should have seen the blood in the whipped cream,” said Mrs Audrey Swineheart. “Apparently it looked exactly like she had whisked red food colouring into the cream.”

Then there was the case of Mr Dennis Druskovich. He had been stabbed in the back by a carving knife that his wife had given him for his birthday that very morning. “The handle still had its plastic on,” said Mrs Audrey  Swineheart.

“I have no idea how she knows so much,” said Constable Carrington. “One wonders how much else she knows.”

The street was living in fear. Who would be the next victim? Tension grew. Then it happened. Mrs Audrey Swineheart was found lying dead in her passageway with an arrow in her back shot from an archer’s bow.

Constable Carrington called for a street meeting. “Mrs Audrey Swineheart’s death is a terrible tragedy as is any death. However, I’m happy to announce that there will be no more murders on the street. The sole murderer involved has been permanently disarmed.”

2074. Evening classes

When Melba took evening classes in gardening it wasn’t exactly so she could learn how to pull out a weed. It was so she could devise a plan to rid herself of something noxious in her garden, namely her husband. He was more than annoying; he was a downright pest. Melba never got any rest from his bragging stupidity. For example, he couldn’t stop going on and on about the evening classes he was attending. That’s what had given Melba the idea to attend evening classes herself.

Specifically it was the section on organic weed killers that interested her. It would be a lot easier to construe death by organic weed killer as accidental. “Oh I had no idea, Officer, that that was poisonous. I thought it was an antioxidant.”

And indeed! Melba learned that a sturdy dose of toxicity would be enough to rid herself of her garden pest. Her course finished next Friday. She would perform the deadly deed on Saturday!

Her husband’s course finished on Thursday, just a day before hers, so he would be home and available for dosage.  His favourite part of his evening classes on Rifle Shooting was “How not to miss your mark”.

2058. Nest building

Norma had a saying which she oft cited: I’ve buried three husbands you know.  If the truth be known, all three had died unnatural deaths. They had all been murdered.

Norma was exceedingly rich. She lived in a big house (these days alone). Her sole interest appeared to be her two pet canaries. She had a yellow canary and one with bits of yellow but it looked more like a sparrow. Only the yellow one ever sang, and usually with a melancholic air.

Norma had tried to breed them but she wasn’t sure if she had two girls, two boys, or one of each. Whatever the case, neither had made any attempt at making a nest.

Norma belonged to the local Caged Birds Association. There she met and befriended Gordon, mainly because she thought he might know how to sex birds. He did, and so Norma invited him to her house. Well! One thing led to another, and before you knew it they were married, and Gordon’s two pet canaries went into the same aviary as Norma’s two. In the blink of an eye one of Norma’s and one of Gordon’s were creating a nest together.

Norma was delighted with the success of her breeding program! So interesting! There were four fledglings! All grew into a bold yellow and sang with a melancholic air. They were a great consolation to Norma when she came to bury her fourth husband.

2054. Lucas’ connections

Lucas had never been popular. At primary school he had tried to buy friends by giving them sweets and cookies; all without much success. At secondary school his attempts at friendship became more expensive; it was sodas and cigarettes.  Later he resorted to drugs – not big time drugs – but bits of stuff here and there.

These days he’s rather rich. He’s twice divorced. He drives a fancy car and lives in a fancy house. The house has a tennis court and pool. He neither plays tennis nor swims but who cares? Who cares when you have a gardener and a couple of servants? No one knows exactly where his money comes from.

He still doesn’t have any friends. He says he doesn’t need them. His favourite saying, as he gads about in torn shirt and comfy jeans, is: When you’re as rich as I am you dress how you like.

All that was last week.

This week he got shot in the head. Police said they thought he had mafia connections. They’re not doing much about it because nobody cares. Few attended his funeral. Who would want their name taken down  by an undercover agent?

2049. Bernice’s murderous plots

Bernice had spent ages (possibly years) plotting the undetectably best way to murder her brother. You see, their mother was old. And rich. Exceedingly rich. Bernice wanted it all.

Their mother – whose name was Hilda – lived in the most beautiful house on a beautiful hill with a beautiful garden and even more beautiful view. Bernice’s brother – whose name was Jules – had his eyes on the house. “You keep two thirds of the money and I’ll take a third of the money plus the house.” On the surface Bernice agreed, but… Bernice wanted it all.

Things were getting urgent. Hilda was all of fifty-nine – which to younger people seemed old. She still lived alone and managed well, but all it would take would be for an epidemic to sweep the world and she’d be packing her bags for eternity like there was no tomorrow. The urgent murder of Jules would not only cover Bernice in good fortune but would in all likelihood provide enough grief to finish Hilda off.

Jules was unmarried – in fact totally unattached. There would be no spouse or partner or kids challenging Bernice’s windfall. Then Lady Luck stepped in. Jules took ill and died without any prompting whatsoever from Bernice.

Mother Hilda was grief-stricken. But would Hilda die? Oh no! Bernice described her mother as “that old cow who was no good anymore for milking but who wouldn’t kick the bucket.”

Then the worst happened. Oh tragedy of tragedies. Some things are on a par with catastrophic viruses. Widow Hilda got married; this time to a man much younger than herself.

“Is there no justice in the world?” screamed Bernice. “Do I not matter? Under no circumstance will I ever consider that usurper to be any sort of stepfather. Great balls of fire, he’s about my age and riddled with covetous ambition.” She loathed him with a vengeance.

Bernice began to plot.

2038. Edna’s unsuccessful foray into murder

Edna wasn’t exactly made of money, but she could get by well enough in her old age. She still had her independence and lived in the same house she and her late husband had bought many years ago.

The only problem was that the garden, although not huge, had become too large for Edna to manage on her own. She figured that if she made a few adjustments on her grocery bill (for example, who really needs fabric softener in the washing machine every time?) she could afford to have a man come around once every couple of weeks and tidy things up in the garden.

Edna had been a keen garden and was especially proud of her raspberries. She had cared and fostered them for at least forty years. The harvest of raspberries each year was a phenomenon to be admired.

And then the very worst happened. The man pulled out her raspberries and threw them away. He was “tidying up”.

In her youth Edna had read a story by Guy de Maupassant (about a fisherman dozing on a riverbank being hit over the head with a spade and his brains seeping into the creek). She wasn’t a spring chicken (Edna) and had gone to school in the days when they were made to read proper books.

And then she saw her opportunity. The man she hired was kneeling down weeding the garden where the raspberries had been. There was a spade stuck in the soil next to him. Edna went out and spontaneously grabbed the spade.  She raised the gardening implement high.

An old lady (or man) doesn’t have much strength but the weight of a heavy spade should do the trick and slice off the top of his head.

Edna missed. She hit him fairly lightly on his arm. It caused more of a bruise than a scratch.

The man packed up his gear and said he wasn’t coming back. That was that. Enough was enough.

To some people murder comes natural; others need a lot of practice. One can’t blame Edna for missing; it was her first attempt. Maybe she’ll have better luck next time.

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.