05. Writing Prompt: A Secret Revealed

I’ve got a bad case of Tuesday brain. It was one of those days when I stopped halfway through and asked myself “What the heck am I writing?!” Well, if nothing else it was good practice for writing dialogue involving more than two people.

“Thank you all for coming today,” the detective announced, tapping the ashes off the tip of his cigarette. “Now, we find ourselves in a rather unfortunate situation. All the suspects assembled here had considerable motive, means, and opportunity. You all claim to have been asleep in your beds at the time of the murder, and upon arising the next day and noting the victim’s absence from breakfast, you discovered the door of his room tightly locked from the inside. Finding the spare key missing, the door was removed from its hinges to reveal our victim, dead in his bed, strangled with a necktie.”

The detective held a loft a necktie for all to see before tossing it back onto a side table and pacing impatiently.

“Let us begin with motive which brings us to…you!” He spun to face a woman sitting with her hands in her lap, her feet daintily tucked under her chair. “The wife of the victim! You were infuriated by his philandering!”

A portly man in a suit jumped to his feet.
“Now hold on! What are you on about, man?!”

The detective took a long draw on his cigarette before answering.
“When we met, you said he was loved by all. A master of –“
“Philanthropy!” the portly man cut in.
“Exactly. Now if you will kindly sit down, and let me finish…”

The portly man lowered himself onto the sofa, extracting a kerchief from his pocket and dabbing at his brow. The detective flicked his cigarette into the fireplace and rolled on the balls of his feet, hands clasped behind his back.

“As we continue our exploration of motive, we must consider…you!” He pointed to a young boy sitting in a high-backed chair. “You are in fact…not his son! Learning this fact, the victim would have been outraged and promptly disinherited you. An outcome you could not allow!”

“He’s adopted!” a cry rang up from around the room.
“Bloody hell!” the portly man exclaimed. “What kind of detective are you?!”

“Please hold your questions until the end,” the detective demanded. “The locked door and the missing key were a puzzle. However, once we ascertained the point of entry as the trellis by the window and not the locked door, our selection of suspects grows to include all in this room.”

“Certainly not the butler,” the wife cut in.
“Aye,” the son agreed. “He’s got a bum leg.”

“Ha!” the detective crowed. “The perfect cover! It seems incredible, and yet surely the trellis would be no match for a man who spent his entire life in… the circus!”

The portly man waved his handkerchief angrily.
“What are you on about, man?! He worked in service not the circus!”

The detective turned unconcerned to the portly man and examined him thoughtfully. “As the victim’s business partner, you gained considerably from his death. Not to mention you, sir, are the only one whose boots were not stained by mud from the torrential rain on the previous day. The same mud tracked into the victim’s room from the window!”

“Because I didn’t go outside!” the portly man argued.
“Or because you are a veritable genius who knew that muddy boots would point to you and so cleaned them thoroughly.”
“Why…why would I do that when everyone else’s were dirty?” the portly man stammered.
“Why indeed? After careful consideration of all the facts, we can only come to one conclusion. A plan hatched by a most devious mastermind. The murderer is in fact…me!”

A gasp of shock rose from the room followed by spatters of exclamation.
“He’s gone completely barmy.”
“Why?!” the wife wailed, sobbing into her hanky.

“While everyone in this room had the motive or means, only one was disgruntled enough to climb that trellis in the middle of the night to do the evil deed, only one who lacked the knowledge of the spare key hidden in the hall clock. Once we have eliminated all possible options, it is the only logical conclusion left to make! Also…that’s my necktie.”

So there you have it. I love a good murder mystery, and part of me always wants the detective to yell “I dun it!” when it comes time for the big reveal. That would be the twist no one expected. Speaking of things no one expects (in this case the Spanish Inquisition), I couldn’t get Monty Python’s Agatha Christie sketch out of my head while I was writing this.

Thanks for reading. More soon!

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