(MYSTERY) A Mystery is afoot! Detective Arthur Broon is on the case to figure out who killed Mr. Henry Tish. Four suspects sit before him. A Chef, a Florist, a Musician, and Mr. Tish’s right hand herself. Join me for the ride, and in the end, you’ll also discover how to solve any problem, or any mystery, that life throws at you.
“Hello, everyone… As you might have heard already, I am Detective Arthur Broon, and I’m here to get to the bottom of Mr. Henry Tish’s murder.”
Broon paced from side to side as four pairs of eyes gazed back up at him from various seats in the great living room.
“Yes, we know who you are,” sniffed a bespectacled woman with red, watery eyes, “but why are we being held here like this? Is this even legal?”
“Ms. Vickard,” said Detective Broon in response, “I’d have thought it pretty clear, but I’ll explain. Once we arrived on the scene, the time of death of Mr. Tish was determined relatively quickly. After myself and the other officers interviewed the personnel on the grounds and in the home, it was made clear that two hours ago, at the time of Mr. Tish’s murder, only you four were present in this house. You were all beginning your preparations for tonight’s fundraising dinner. Mr. Charlie Cole prepping the food,” Broon pointed to the portly man with a bushy mustache who was sitting on a couch to his far left. Then, Broon moved around the room in an arc.
“Mrs. Fiona Flanagan,” Broon said as his finger pointed to a woman dressed in athletic wear that was dirty and ripped in places, “was turning the great ballroom into a flowery heaven.”
“Mr. Ryan Rush, of course,” and Broon’s finger landed on a man seated in a chair next to Amelia Vickard. “Was getting the stage ready for his band’s arrival.” Ryan was very good looking and had his hand, which bore several rings and bracelets, upon Amelia’s arm.
“And finally,” Broon continued facing Amelia once more, “Ms. Vickard was coordinating the whole thing as is no surprise being Mr. Tish’s right hand for so many years.”
“In short,” said Ryan, “you think one of us is the killer.”
“Quite astutely reasoned, Mr. Rush,” said Detective Broon and suddenly all four of the people before him were analyzing everyone else in the room.
Charlie’s mustache twitched, and his face turned to a scowl as he raised his finger towards Amelia Vickard. “It was her!” He said. “I saw her coming from upstairs, while I was in the kitchen. She was the only one up there with Mr. Tish!” Amelia’s hand flew to cover her mouth and the rising gasp. Tears welled in her eyes.
“She would never!” Shouted Ryan back at Charlie. “Sure, she was up there, but I was in the foyer, or entry, whatever, and I didn’t see you,” Ryan pointed menacingly at Charlie. “If you saw Amelia, I would’ve seen you. And Henry was stabbed with a knife from the kitchen! It was you and you’re trying to pass the blame on Amelia!” Ryan was standing now, and two Police Officers who were standing around the room moved closer. Detective Broon put up his hand and the officers stopped.
“Enough!” said Broon commandingly, but without raising his voice. Ryan froze in place, staring at Charlie with hateful eyes, as Charlie simply scoffed and waved at Ryan like swatting a disturbing fly out of the air. “I have already heard all of your accounts from the Officers who spoke with you earlier, but I’d like to hear them for myself, as well as pose additional questions. So, here’s what we’re going to do. I will be taking one of you at a time for a private interview to hear each of your accounts. After I’m done with all the interviews, you will be free to leave. This quite amazing room here is more than adequate to keep you all entertained and comfortable for the time being.”
And it was the truth. The living room was probably three times the size of a normal living room, with a full library in one corner, a billiards table in another, and a massive television across the wall Detective Broon stood in front of.
“Also,” Broon continued, “since we know you were working the party tonight, we know there’s nowhere you need to be, so you can spare the hour or so that this will take.”
The room was quiet and Ryan sat back down in his chair beside Amelia who’s face looked stoic and empty now. Detective Broon looked around the room and his eyes stopped on Fiona Flanagan. She hadn’t said a word, nor made much of a facial expression the entire time he’d spoken.
“I think I will start with you, Mrs. Flanagan,” Detective Broon said, gesturing her to follow him. She rose from the couch she was sitting on, followed him towards the exit of the living room and out into the great entryway of the mansion. The massive front doors to their right were guarded by an officer who nodded to Broon. To their left was a beautiful and ornate staircase that wrapped around the sides of both walls to a landing above. Continuing across, Detective Broon opened the door to the ballroom where the party would have been held tonight. Twenty round tables, with white table cloths were spread throughout the room, leaving a small square empty just in front of a slightly raised stage. It was clearly only partially set up, as flowers hung only on part of the room, and only some musical equipment was placed, as the rest sat in boxes upon the stage or in front of it.
Detective Broon moved into the room, pulled out a chair at one of the tables, and gestured towards it with an open palm.
“Shall we, Mrs. Flanagan?”
“Well, now, can I send for a drink of water before we begin?” Broon said.
“No, thank you dear, but that’s very kind,” Fiona bowed her head slightly. She was one of the oldest of the group, but she was not frail by any means. Her physique was that of a well practiced yoga instructor. Her exercise though was clearly her profession. Broon took another look around at the ladder she would have been using an hour ago to place flowers high along the walls. Crates of flowers riddled the room, and Broon knew she carried most of them in by herself.
“It looks like it would have been a spectacular event, just by the half finished arrangements of your flowers,” Broon began.
“Oh, that’s not half… maybe a quarter… if that. A shame to not get to finish.”
“Right. Ok, I guess I should get to business here.”
“I guess you should.”
Broon combed his hair over with a swipe of his hand, pulled out a notepad with various scribblings already etched upon it. He flipped it to a fresh white page, and wrote, “The Florist” at the top before looking up to Fiona.
“I’d like to start with the basics. From what the officers gathered, you were mostly in this room since 1 o’clock,” and he waved his hands, notepad and all, in a small circle, “roughly an hour before the murder?”
“I arrived just after noon, and proceeded to unload the van. I prefer to get it all inside before putting anything up, you see?”
“And do you always do that by yourself? I’d reckon you’d have help to do that?”
“Well, sometimes yes, but I like the work. Keeps me young,” and she smiled.
“Any relationship with the deceased?”
“Not so much, no. More so with Amelia… Ms. Vickard. I usually work with her even if the parties are mostly for Mr. Tish.”
“You seem unflustered by the whole situation Mrs. Flanagan. Even if you don’t know the guy, surely this has to be a little heartbreaking or a shock at the very least?”
“And yet, you seem equally nonplussed detective. I don’t mean to be unsympathetic, I just live according to different beliefs than most I guess. Death, or tragedy even, is all apart of a grander plan in my view. Mr. Tish, although a great man, a generous philanthropist, a world changing inventor, I still believe that his death will, in the end, lead to a better World in some way.”
“So, you believe that without Mr. Tish in the picture, the World will be a better place? Do you have a reason for this thought?”
“You misunderstand me, Detective Broon. I believe that alive or dead, Mr. Tish, or someone else, whatever results occur, good or bad, will all in the end turn out good. I’ve learned long ago that there is a higher plan, a higher guiding force at play in this World. So I don’t fret over even the darkest details.”
“Interesting. And what made you feel this strongly?”
Detective Broon went to reply, but came up short. His brain extinct of all thoughts or replies. Fiona responded as if his silence was a reply of condolence.
“Yes, I was devastated, but in the end, Thomas and I decided there must be a reason, and decided to trust in it and go about our lives not as if we were missing anything, but as if we’ve gained something. It’s been a very happy 30 years to say the least. So, as tragic as Mr. Tish’s death may seem to you, or to dear Amelia, I know there will be a reason for it. Perhaps not understood for some time, but a reason none the less.”
“Thank you for sharing,” said Broon finding his voice and Fiona nodded. “Now, to the actual time of death. You were definitely in the ballroom?”
“Oh yes, I finished unloading the van at about one o’clock, maybe a few minutes after.”
“And who else was in here with you when Mr. Tish was killed?”
“Depends on the exact time of death I guess. The musician, Mr. Rush was here setting up most of the time, and Amelia popped in a few times as well. But, as you are also aware, Mr. Rush left for several minutes and I was working in here alone.”
“Do you know what time it was that Mr. Rush left?”
“I think it was right around 2 o’clock. Either just before, or just after. I remember checking my watch shortly before he left and that was a quarter to 2. He left maybe ten minutes later.”
“Did anything unusual happen in those minutes you were alone? Hear anything? See anything?”
Silence filled the ballroom again, as Fiona’s face screwed up in concentration. A full minute passed before she said anything.
“I remember some noises is all I can think of, detective. My eyes were quite focused on the task at hand.”
“Creaking in the floor above the ballroom. Over there,” Fiona had twisted around in her chair and pointed to the back corner of the room. “That’s where I was working, up on my ladder, at the time Mr. Rush left the room.”
“Were they of a single person? Multiple people? Moving in a direction or just a few creaks in the same spot?”
“Oh, um,” Fiona thought for a moment longer, this time closing her eyes tight. “Moving,” she said. “Definitely moving, that way,” and she pointed towards the back of the house.
Broon made a note in his book: away from the body. Then, he picked his head up to address Fiona again.
“Last question, if you will. Do you know this girl?” He said holding up a picture on his cell phone. It was a girl of maybe eight years old, and the picture was on a dedication page of Mr. Tish’s charity.
“I know of her is all. Susan Hill. Everyone knows her, and whatever happened to her, as the sort of driving force behind Mr. Tish’s life’s work. A sort of repentance I guess.”
“It just said she died on the website. Any chance Mr. Tish was involved in some way?”
“I don’t think so, but who knows? I look at Mr. Tish for who he is and his past is his business. He’s a genuinely kind man is all I can tell you.”
“Great, thank you Mrs. Flanagan, I think that’s all I need for right now. Come, let me escort you back to the living room.”
“I can’t leave now?”
“I’d prefer everyone stay until I finish, in case I need to firm up some other details I gather from the other interviews.”
Fiona nodded and together they left the ballroom and walked across the grand entryway to the door of the living room. When they stepped inside, all was quiet and the two officers in the room gave detective Broon a face that said, “everything’s been fine.”
“Mr. Cole, if you would?” Broon said and Charlie sat himself up with what seemed like a great effort. Slowly, he made his way over to Broon who studied him for a moment, and then together they walked across to the ballroom. Before they went in though, detective Broon stopped at the door, and then turned towards the front door of the house. “Just a minute Mr. Cole,” Broon called back as he approached the officer standing guard by the front door.
“Officer… Paul, right?” Broon said.
“Yes, sir, Officer Paul Slate,” he said. Broon leaned closer and talked in a lower voice.
“You sent on my request earlier for access to the contents of Mr. Tish’s Will, so first off, have you heard back yet?”
“No sir, but I will call again right now to get an update.”
“Good man, and when you do, please ask for someone to send over this as well,” Broon said as he scrawled a note into his pad, and then ripped the paper off to hand to Officer Slate. “And this too,” he said as he again wrote a note in his pad, ripped the paper off to hand over. Officer Slate’s eyes poured over the note and then gave Broon an understanding nod. “Great,” Broon continued. “They can send it all to my email. I need speed, rather than full files on that first request. Just names and pictures.”
“Consider it done,” said Officer Slate.
‘Thanks,” said Broon and he turned back to Charlie. “Mr. Cole, why don’t we go into the Kitchen for our interview instead? I’ve heard that being where you were can improve memory recall.” Broon gestured with open arms for Charlie to follow him straight and under the landing above. Two large glass pocket doors trimmed with wood accents led into the Kitchen. Broon slid them open, turned back to Charlie and said, “After you.”
Charlie sat himself on a stool at the large Kitchen island. The white quartz countertop matched his bleach-white apron. Detective Broon took a seat on a neighboring stool and faced the man with the bushy mustache.
“Mr. Cole, I think we better get right to the point. Mr. Tish was killed with a knife that seems to be from this very Kitchen. If I’m going to think of the simplest solution being the answer… I’m looking at you.” Charlie scoffed.
“How stupid would I have to be? Better off killing him with a cannon or something? One of them is trying to make it look like I did it, I mean, they could’ve used any knife… but a Kitchen knife, come on?” Broon laughed.
“I see your point. I don’t know about a cannon, but I see your point. So, why don’t you walk me through the events of today. From your arrival please.”
“Pretty straight forward. I pulled up in my car. The BMW outside, and Amelia welcomed me at the front door. The other two… Fiona and Ryan were already there and looked like they were finishing unloading their vans. I had everything food-wise delivered here yesterday. Mr. Tish has a Kitchen made for events like this. As you can see, it’s a restaurant’s Kitchen.” He waved his arms to display the scene before them.
“What did you do from then on?”
“Ah, just simple preparation. I just like to be early to ensure everything was delivered as it was supposed to, and thought I’d handle some of the prep just to pass the time. I began chopping onions, tomatoes, and garlic. Just to get it out of the way.”
“Wouldn’t Amelia have checked that everything was delivered on time?”
“I guess, but as efficient as Amelia is, on event day, this is my Kitchen.”
“Just a hypothetical here, but if you knew for certain everything was delivered fine. What time would you actually have to get here today?” Charlie’s eyes narrowed.
“Same time as my Sou Chef’s or maybe a few minutes before. So, call it 2 o’clock.”
“Interesting, so you arrived an hour early just to ensure the food was all accounted for?”
“If there was a problem, I know I could get the necessary food or a decent substitute here within the hour, or maybe hour and a half. If Amelia made a mistake with the food, I’d still see it as my fault.” Charlie finished and Detective Broon let the silence hang in the air while he studied the Chef’s face. Then, he continued.
“Ok, so then you told the Officers that you saw Amelia coming down the stairs?”
“Yea, as I was finishing things up, cleaning up a bit of my prep, I saw Amelia walking down the stairs and then she was talking to Ryan.”
“You saw Ryan too? I don’t think you mentioned him earlier when you made your first statement?”
“Does that matter? I was telling them the important part. The fact that she was definitely upstairs and I know it was just about 2 o’clock then as well.”
“I was expecting my Sou Chef’s to be arriving soon and wanted to get things cleaned up before they did. So I was aware of the time. She walked down the steps just before 2 o’clock.”
“How did she seem when she spoke to Ryan? Agitated at all? Angry?”
“I don’t know. Could have been. I couldn’t really see Ryan that well, and Amelia’s face was blocked, but it didn’t look heated. I guess she was trying to play it cool, ya know?”
“Maybe. Ok, and what’s your relationship with Mr. Tish?”
“Hello, nice to see you, good bye,” Charlie replied.
“So, not very close.”
“I don’t think anyone was, not even Amelia, even if she wants to be.”
“Do you know if she was in love with him?”
“Oh, I don’t really know her very well either, but I’d certainly bet on it. ”
“I know you’ve worked at many of Mr. Tish’s events. Have you ever heard this girl mentioned?” Broon said holding up an image on his cell phone. It was the picture of Susan Hill, the eight year old girl pictured on Mr. Tish’s website. Charlie’s mustache twitched in thought.
“That’s an odd question, Detective. What would she have to do with this?”
“It is an odd question, I’ll give you that. Sometimes I just like to throw out a few oddballs. Please answer it, though.” Broon stared at Charlie, and Charlie stared back like they were both trying to understand each other. Then Charlie shrugged his shoulders and answered.
“If you’ve been around Mr. Tish’s events, you’ve heard of Susan Hill. Just the basic details though. That she died, when they were all kids and Mr. Tish is on some sort of quest to do good in this World in her honor or something.”
“Do you know what happened to her?”
“I bet you know more than I do. All I know is what I just told you. I really don’t see how this is relevant?”
“No matter, Mr. Cole. I think I have what I need. Thank you for your time, I appreciate your patience today.”
“No problem. Like you said, I’ve got no where else to be today.”
They both stood up from their stools and made their way to the exit and towards the front doors. Broon stopped at the Kitchen doorway though, as Charlie continued through and towards the living room entrance.
“Officer Slate,” Broon called and Charlie paused and turned back realizing that Broon wasn’t walking behind him. “Can you please escort Mr. Cole back into the living room, and bring out Mr. Rush please?”
“Yes, sir,” said Officer Slate who walked forward and opened the living room door. Charlie walked forward and through into the living room. Officer Slate stepped inside after him.
Detective Broon turned back into the kitchen and headed straight for the door that led to the service stairs. The door was indeed locked, but Broon squatted down so his face was in line with the keyhole. He inspected the lock closely looking for signs of it being picked, but it didn’t appear to be. Then he slid his hand over the wall beside the door handle where some paint seemed to be chipped off. A moment later he was on his feet leaning over the kitchen counters and peering out the windows into the snow covered patio outside looking for impressions in the snow. Nothing. Feeling satisfied that he had all the information he could gather at the moment, Broon turned away and exited the kitchen where Mr. Rush and Officer Slate were waiting.
“Ah, Mr. Rush,” Broon started, “Into the ballroom please.”
“I just want to say before we start,” said Ryan, “That this is all a bit much and it’s taking quite the toll on Amelia. I don’t think it’s fair to keep her here. Or any of us for that matter.”
“Your point has been heard,” said Detective Broon calmly and Ryan’s eyes narrowed as he slunk back into his chair, and folded his arms across his chest.
“Alright, let’s get this over with then,” Ryan said.
“My thoughts exactly,” said Broon. “Now, I’d like to start with the basics. Why were you hired for tonight’s event?”
“Because I’m a musician,” Ryan said clearly not understanding what Broon was after.
“What I mean, Mr. Rush, is why were you hired as the musician and not a million other possible people. What makes your music right for this event?”
“I don’t know if my typical music fits, but I change things up for an event like this.”
“And you have a relationship with Ms. Vickard, yes?”
“Well, yea. She got me the gig, but I’m doing her a favor here more than she’s doing me one. I’m not getting paid, it’s for the cause.”
“Did you offer your services, or were you asked?”
“Sort of both,” Ryan said. “I’ve played a bunch of Henry’s events over the years. It’s a good cause, good people. Happy to be a part of it.”
“What’s your relationship with Ms. Vickard?”
“We’re friends, been friends for.. I don’t know… twenty years?”
“That’s a long time, and how long have you known Mr. Tish?”
“About 15 years then. But, I wouldn’t say I really know him. Never talk to him much, he’s a bit of a loner. Even at his events. Gives a speech, shakes hands and works the room for a while, and then he more or less disappears.”
“Can you describe Ms. Vickard’s relationship with Mr. Tish?”
“What are you getting at here?”
“Just please answer the question,” said Broon calmly and Ryan remained quiet for a moment before finally answering.
“I don’t really think there is a relationship, or not on Mr. Tish’s side.”
“Meaning… Amelia is like the man’s shadow. Does everything he asks, is available 24-7, can’t pull her away from him.”
“And you’ve tried… I mean, to pull her away from him?” said Broon who was watching Ryan’s face rise in heat. Broon’s question seemed to make Ryan finally understand what Broon was after.
“You think… I killed Henry to get Amelia’s attention or something?”
“It’s a theory, Mr. Rush, and not the first time jealousy and love have been the motives for a murder.”
“I … alright fine… I do love her, and I have for as long as I can remember. And it kills me to see her so enwrapped by someone who doesn’t really appreciate her as I do.”
“So, her actions must have felt like a betrayal of sorts?”
“I guess… but I—” Ryan said again looking confused.
“Mr. Rush, this murder was personal! Mr. Tish was stabbed in the back, and then in the heart. It’s the sign of someone who felt betrayed by Mr. Tish, who felt back-stabbed themselves, and then stabbing him in the heart suggests another underlying pain of a loss of love. All of these qualities you are expressing now. Betrayed by Amelia, your love taken away by Mr. Tish who occupies all her time. Tell me, Mr. Rush, how long were you outside the ballroom before you saw Amelia coming down the stairs? Or how long were you on your own in the house after your conversation with Amelia was over?
“I… no…. I…”
“How long were you on your own in the house with no one able to see you?”
“I wasn’t upstairs at all, ever,” Ryan said flustered now.
“Are you sure? Or maybe you snuck up after Ms. Vickard left the area? To kill Mr. Tish and have it seem like she was the one who did it!”
“No I would never do that to Amelia, or Henry. I, yes I told you I love her, and I feel… I feel like if he were out of the picture she might come around, but,”
“It’s ok Mr. Rush, it’s ok to come clean. There’s a certain liberation for releasing such feelings, and such deeds.”
“I was going to say,” Ryan said through emotionally clenched teeth, “that even with all that, I would never kill someone, not even Henry. He was a good man, and I respected him even if I didn’t like how Amelia fawned over him.”
Detective Broon studied Ryan’s face in silence for a full minute. Ryan’s eyes were watery, and his face red hot. His arms had dropped during their conversation from being folded across his chest and landed limply on his thighs. He wasn’t looking at Broon, but down at the floor.
“Just a few more questions Ryan,” Broon said with a softer tone and Ryan picked up his head as if it weighed a ton. “Can you repeat to me your statement that you gave the Officer’s earlier today about the time around 2’0clock today?”
Ryan shrugged, “Sure.”
“Great, start from your time in the ballroom.”
“I was… I was in here setting up with Fiona. We sort of work the same way. Carry everything in, and then start unboxing things. I was in the unboxing stage of it all, and I realized I forgot something in the car. So, I stepped out to go get it, which is when I saw Amelia walking down the stairs.”
“This was right when you left the ballroom, or when you were returning from the ballroom?”
“Right when I left, because we started talking, and then after a few minutes or so Amelia had to take a call as you already know. I totally forgot what I was supposed to be getting from the car that I just decided to go back into the ballroom. Figured I’d remember again when I come across the same problem.”
“What did the two of you talk about?”
“Nothing much in particular. Nice day for a party, ballroom’s lookin’ nice, that sort of stuff.”
“And you say that you never saw Mr. Cole in the Kitchen? I’m sure you’d have a decent view from the foot of the stairs, but if you were talking to Amelia, would you really have noticed him either way?”
“I’m telling you, Detective Broon,” Ryan said in a much stronger voice. “Amelia was at the foot of the stairs leaning on the railing, and I was facing her with the Kitchen doors in the background. I would’ve seen something.”
“Perhaps, or perhaps you were so caught up with Ms. Vickard that you just missed him, like you forgot what you came out to get? Which was what by the way?”
“I… I forgot a small cable to connect two speakers together.”
“Ok, Mr. Rush,” Broon said slapping his hands together, “I think that about covers it.” Ryan stood up in his chair almost immediately and Broon followed slowly. They walked in silence out of the ballroom and Broon again directed Officer Slate to escort Ryan into the living room and to bring out Amelia. As they entered into the living room, Broon turned to face the staircase that began just past the doorway to the ballroom. They were carpeted in a blue and gold pattern, and the railing was a dark-stained wood with ornate carvings throughout.
Broon suddenly ran up the stairs as fast as he could, and then made a right down the hall which was also carpeted in the same blue and gold pattern. As he reached the end of the hall he moved slower, listening intently. Broon pushed open the door at the end of the hall into Henry’s vast bedroom. He stepped inside and towards the middle of the room where there was a small seating area. Broon paused where a blood stain defiled the beautiful area rug. The floor creaked as he stepped away.
THE RIGHT HAND
Detective Broon sat across from Amelia Vickard in the ballroom as he had done with Fiona Flanagan and Ryan Rush. He had his phone held before his face, reading with extreme focus. Amelia sniffed in her chair as she looked around the ballroom with tear-filled eyes.
“I’m sorry Ms. Vickard,” Broon said looking up, “just one moment and we’ll get started.” Amelia nodded and continued to stare about the room. Thirty seconds later, Broon placed his phone on the table with a thud! knocking Amelia out of some reverie.
“Let us begin, shall we?” Broon started. “I wonder if you can start by telling me about Mr. Tish, and what you do for him?”
“Mr. Tish is… was… a great man,” she said. “Mostly, he’s an inventor, yet he also dabbled in various investments of other start up companies. His charity is aimed at increasing protected lands, national parks and the like, and also preserving wildlife as well.”
“And your role? I hear you’re sort of his ‘right hand.’”
“My official titles are many, but ‘right hand’ would certainly fit. I’ve done anything from brokering deals, setting up meetings, arranging transportation, anything and everything. I help him manage his business, his charity, his investments, and his life.”
“Quite the job! What are your qualifications for all that?”
“I’m a Lawyer, and I also have a Masters in Economics,” Amelia said.
“Such talent, I hope he pays well. I mean, with your background I’d imagine you’ve had thoughts of starting your own business. Maybe your own law firm?”
“Mr. Tish pays me very well, and sure the thought has crossed my mind, but what we’re doing here, especially with the charity, is something I care very deeply for. It’s not about the money. The work we’re doing is changing the World.”
“Money, though, is kind of what we need to talk about,” Broon said and Amelia just stared across to him, waiting. “I’ve just read a brief summary of Mr. Tish’s Will and you stand to gain quite a lot. More than anyone else for sure. Full control of his charity, as well as his entire stake in his other company’s. All together, we’re talking about what? A billion dollars of net worth there?”
“I don’t like what you’re suggesting Detective.”
“Regardless if you like it, it’s very important we discuss it. You’ve worked for Mr. Tish for over a decade, and yet you’ve always been number 2 haven’t you? Perhaps you thought it was time to be number 1? Perhaps you—”
“No!” Amelia interjected. “Mr. Tish left me all that because he knows how much I care about what he’s started and the future of those projects. I care about them just as much as he did. It’s not about the money I would gain. It’s about furthering his vision.”
“That sounds rather nice Ms. Vickard, but really? You expect me to believe you’re not excited about becoming a Billionaire?”
“No… I am not. Not at the expense of his life! His life was worth more to me than any price.”
“This is a personal crime Ms. Vickard. Personal. Stabbed in the back, stabbed in the heart, and who knew him more than you? Who had a more personal relationship with him than you? Maybe it’s like you said, more about the vision, and he was starting to steer things towards more profits. You felt betrayed by him. Years of work on a vision for him to change?” Tears filled her eyes and fell down her cheek.
“You are heartless, Detective Broon. His vision has always been the same. Don’t you dare try to make him out to be some sort of evil money grabber. He was rich, but his work made the World richer around him. I would never kill him. I would never.”
Silence filled the room, as Detective Broon waited for Amelia to compose herself. He knew he pushed her hard, and he had to. He got the answers he needed. After two minutes, Broon broke the silence.
“Just a few more questions, Ms. Vickard. Do you have a key to the door in the Kitchen that leads to the service stairs?”
“The key, Ms. Vickard. The door in the kitchen that leads to the service staircase. The stairs that lead from the Kitchen to the second floor. Do you have the key?”
“No,” she said looking flustered, “I don’t have a key… I don’t think one even exists. That door’s been locked for… for as long as I can remember. Mr. Tish was always firm about it. He’d say that he didn’t want anyone’s hard work hidden. What are you getting at now?”
“Just gathering information. Tell me, what did you and Mr. Tish discuss while you were upstairs just moments before his death?” Broon changed the topic so fast it made Amelia stutter her first few words.
“We di… discussed a business matter that he was waiting to hear news on. I told him I was still waiting for the call, and don’t ask what the business matter was, I can’t discuss it. But I got the call maybe ten minutes later while I was talking to Ryan downstairs.”
“Ok, Ms. Vickard. One last thing, can you tell me please about her?” Detective Broon held up his phone to the picture of the young girl, Susan Hill, from the website of Mr. Tish’s charity. “It says on the website only that she was an inspiration for his life’s work. Can you illuminate the story further?”
“I’m afraid not much,” Amelia began looking confused. “Why do you…”
“Just please indulge me.” Broon said and Amelia didn’t look like she wanted to help Broon anymore in any way, but she answered him all the same.
“He was never open to discussing the matter when I brought it up a couple times so I stopped asking. All I know is that they were childhood friends, and some tragic accident led to her death when they were kids. He simply attributes the event as a turning point in his life. I guess he feels responsible in some way, although I’m sure it was just an accident otherwise some reporter would have destroyed his career over it by now.”
“Good point. Thank you, Ms. Vickard, I think we’re done here.” Detective Broon stood up and offered a hand to Amelia who didn’t take it. She gave him a sharp glance and then walked out of the ballroom without waiting for him. When Broon reached the doorway, she was already opening the door into the living room with a flustered looking Officer Slate glancing back to Broon.
“Sir,” said Slate.
“No worries, let her go,” Broon said.
“Sir, you should have that case file now. And I’m told your other request, with the pictures, will be to your phone shortly.”
“Thank you, Officer Slate,” and Broon opened his phone to pull up what he was looking for. The old case report for Susan Hill’s death. It definitely looked like an accident, but as he scanned down the file on his phone a detail jumped out that made his heart leap. It still didn’t mean anything, but it meant the possibility was still open. This whole thing could be about Susan Hill, or about a Billion dollars, or about jealousy and love. “Keep them busy for a few more minutes,” Broon called to Slate who stepped into the living room to join the other Officer’s. Broon could hear some of them starting to complain about how much longer they were going to keep them?
Detective Broon turned away from the squabbling adults and ran back up the staircase on the right side of the entryway, and back down the hall towards the scene of the murder. Just before the bedroom door, to the left, was the door that led to the service stairs and down to the Kitchen. He opened it. There was no lock on the door on the second floor and Detective Broon’s mind raced with possibilities. He flicked a light on, and walked down the simple wooden stairs. When he reached the door at the bottom, it was locked as he knew it would be. A simple turn of the small lock on the round knob and he was able to turn the knob and enter into the Kitchen. Then, another idea struck him and he stepped backwards into the service staircase. He turned the lock again and then brought the door towards him. Without being able to turn the handle now, the door didn’t shut easily. Broon gave a great heaving pull and the door finally slammed closed as the final gear clicked into place in his mind.
Detective Broon was making his way back towards the living room when his phone buzzed in his pocket. About time, he thought, and sure enough, as he opened his phone, the email he’d been waiting for had arrived. Broon paused just outside the doors to the living room as he brought up the email. Then, with a flick of his thumb he shuffled through picture after picture, and lifeless eyes stared back at him. Broon’s eye’s widened as he stared at the picture he had been hoping to find, expecting to see. He was already willing to arrest who he thought the killer was, but this would be enough to get him all the warrants and access he’d need to put Mr. Tish’s killer away for good. Smiling, Detective Broon put his phone back in his pocket and opened the doors into the great living room.
Ryan was playing pool by himself in the nearest right corner, and Fiona was reading in the corner beyond that. Charlie and Amelia were sitting in the same seats as before.
“Can we get out of here now?” Said Ryan, putting his pool-stick down on the table.
“In just a moment,” said Broon. “Please, Ryan and Fiona, come join us back over here.” Broon gestured to where they were all sitting previously and where Charlie and Amelia sat waiting.
“Do you know who did it, then?” Amelia asked.
“I do. Officer Slate, and ahhh I’m sorry guys, I’m forgetting your names,” Broon said to the other two Officers in the room, “but please come over as well. It’s time to make an arrest.” The two other officers in the room joined Officer Slate in encircling the four suspects across from Broon. “I’d like you to arrest Mr. Hill here,” Broon said staring at Charlie Cole, and the three Officers closed ranks around him.
“Mr. Hill?” Said Amelia with wide eyes.
“Yes, it seems that there have been two murders today. I thought that one of you might be an imposter of sorts, here to gain access to Mr. Tish. And I’ve just seen that an unidentified body was found earlier today who resembles Mr. Cole very much. DNA testing will confirm it I’m sure. Which makes this Mr. Cole here a liar.”
“This is a mistake!” Shouted the man in cuffs. “I’m Charlie Cole, I’m not a… a Mr. Hill.”
“He certainly looks like Charlie…” said Fiona softly.
“Yes,” began Broon, “he has been planning this for some time. It’s probably no secret that Mr. Tish has hired Mr. Cole for many jobs in the past.”
“I am Charlie Cole!” The man shouted again.
“The game is up Tyler,” Broon said to him. “I studied Mr. Tish’s background on my way over here today, and I of course came across Susan Hill’s picture. Your eyes looked so similar I thought you could be twins. But I also thought it could be a mere coincidence. So, I sent out for Susan’s case file to learn more just in case. Then, during our little interview, I noticed a few things. Your apron was too white. If you’d really been dicing and slicing tomatoes, I should be seeing some splatter of that on your apron, but nothing. I imagine when our forensic team digs through the trash here, they’ll find another apron splattered with tomato juice and blood.”
“He, he really did it?” Amelia said, standing up and looking at the man in cuffs with hatred. She began to move towards him, but Ryan held her back.
“Don’t, Amelia,” Ryan said and she didn’t fight him.
“How, though?” Amelia said. “You said you checked, and you asked me about that service door in the Kitchen. It was locked and no one has the key.”
“Yes, that’s true, but Tyler here only went down those stairs, never up them. He had a great view of everyone’s comings and goings from the Kitchen, and he must have simply walked up the main stairs and found a hiding place somewhere to wait. We’ll have forensics look a little closer at the service door on the second floor, or other rooms near the bedroom. But, he hid, and waited for you, Amelia, to come upstairs and leave Mr. Tish’s room. Then, he went in after you and killed him. He knew you were heading downstairs at that time which he was able to tell the Officers, but he didn’t know that you also met Ryan there. He only learned that from hearing you all talk to each other in here. After Mr. Tish was killed, Fiona heard his footsteps creak in the floor away from the bedroom. Again, I know it wasn’t Amelia, because Ryan met Amelia as soon as he left the Ballroom, and Fiona heard that creak in the floor over a minute later. Tyler went down the service stairs, unlocked the door and entered the Kitchen. Then, he locked the door from the side of the stairs, and he had to slam it shut which chipped the paint in the door’s frame.”
“But, why?” Amelia said, still glaring at Tyler.
“Because,” Tyler Hill said in a voice very different from Charlie Cole’s, clearly accepting that the game was up, “That monster killed my sister! It was his idea to go climbing that day, and he uses her as some sort of tool to gain sympathy for his charity!”
“That’s not true at all!” Amelia shouted back. “He only ever wanted to honor her. To make up for his mistakes.”
“Oh, Mr. Hill,” Detective Broon cut in. “Let’s not pretend this is all about some righteous revenge. If that were the case you could have shot Mr. Tish in the middle of the street. Instead, you killed an innocent man, grew a mustache and gained maybe 50 pounds to take his place. Even worked to change your voice as well! That sounds like a man with something to gain, and a few million dollars I believe was the sum in Mr. Tish’s Will.” Amelia gasped in horror.
“You don’t deserve a dime!” Amelia said.
“I think that’s all, Officer Slate,” said Broon and the three Officers escorted Tyler Hill from the premises.
“Well, I guess I can go home now?” Said Fiona and Broon nodded to her. Fiona walked over to Amelia, and put a hand on her shoulder. “I’m very sorry dear.” And Fiona left the room.
Amelia sat down in the chair and Ryan knelt beside her consoling her.
“Goodbye Ms. Vickard. I am sorry for how harshly I questioned you, but I felt it necessary to be sure of the truth. I hope you find solace that we now know the truth. Good day.”
Detective Broon turned away and left the living room before anyone could say anything in response. He closed the living room doors and left Ryan and Amelia in peace.
“How did you figure that out Sir!” said Officer Slate who was waiting by the front door.
“With enough information, enough hunches followed, the pieces are bound to click together.”
Thank you all for listening to today’s mystery and my experimentation with character voices! I hope it made things interesting… or even a little funny. And guess what, you can let me know what you think. Join me on Instagram or Facebook to give me feedback, cast your votes on polls I post, or participate in helping me create the next story.
Now, I love mysteries. I love detective stories, and I think it’s because I love problem solving. Any problem, I love finding solutions to it. From packing a car in the perfect way, to the steps I want to take in my life. It’s what made me good at Math and Science. It’s what makes me good at writing as well. It’s all about finding the solutions to the questions we pose to ourselves, or the questions others ask.
And I think the same applies to any area of our lives… it’s all a matter of solving problems. Now, I don’t mean that life is a constant series of problems, but it’s a constant puzzle for sure. What to do next? Where do I start? What college Major should I choose? What if I hate that major? What if I hate my job? What if I don’t know what I want? The answer to all of those questions is the last line of our story, spoken by Detective Arthur Broon. Here it is:
“With enough information, enough hunches followed, the pieces are bound to click together.”
We need to gather enough information for one. We need to experience as much as life has to offer, as many of our talents and hidden talents. We need to explore without fear, and without expectation. I have explored, and I will keep exploring. Even when you find your passion, or passions, keep exploring. There’s just so much out there, how could I ever say writing is the be all end all for me? I’ll keep writing, but I’ll also keep exploring.
We need to follow the hunches too. Those gut feelings, our intuitive hits. Take the path that makes you excited for unknown reasons. It’s truly amazing how I even came up with the idea for this podcast. I’d never listened to one like mine before, and it never crossed my mind if there are others like it that exist or not. There was a TV show that gave me a nudge, there was the desire to write, and play music. And then, [snap] “Oooo, that’s an idea… a podcast of short stories… let’s explore.”
I told myself, I would try it for a year, and see how it goes. If nothing comes from it, so what? If I hate it… I could always stop before a year. If no one likes it? That’s ok too… as long as I liked it I would continue for a year. As long as it filled my day with something good.
And so, I’m at the mark. It’s been a year… or just about. And you know that I’ll be continuing with it. It was an experiment that has turned out to fill me with excitement and happiness. It led me to write my first novel. It’s given me new dreams, new ideas, new things to explore like character voices. lol.
What’s beyond this Podcast? What’s next? I don’t know. But, I do know that I will continue to explore without fear, to gather information, follow my intuitive hunches… and the pieces are bound to all click into place.
Thank you all for listening, and I hope you have an amazing day, week, month, and so on. See you all for Season 3!