Thursday, September 13, 2012

Murder Most Inconvenient



Murder Most Inconvenient

until every suspect was gathered again in the parlor.
    Inspector Brimley, recovered from his encounter on the stair with his would-be assailant, stood poised by the fireplace calmly gazing at the framed painting of the victim. The fire crackled by his feet as Frisky, the manor cat, curled up in a ball on a pillow near the roaring flame.
    “Why have you gathered us here...again, Mr. Inspector? “ Remington asked, reclining on the divan and lighting a clove cigarette. “Certainly by now you know that none of us had anything to do with poor Aunt Maggie’s death?”
    “Oh, I beg to differ, Mr. Remington,” Brimley responded, his gray mustache bobbing up and down. “I wanted to inform each of you that I have just received the coroner's report, which clearly shows Mrs. Denborough's exact cause of death.”
    At the word “exact” Brimley slammed the thick manila envelope containing the coroner's findings upon the antique coffee table. The dramatic sound, along with Brimley's dire statement, made everyone gathered emit a shocked gasp.
    “As we all know,” Brimley began, producing his signature pipe and tobacco pouch, “twenty four hours ago, in this very room, Mrs. Margaret Denborough met her untimely demise...”
    “We know this, Brimley,” Remington interrupted. “All of us were here when it happened.”
    “Which is why you are here now,” Brimley snapped, giving Remington a cold stare. After a moment, Remington broke the stare and seemed to find something interesting to look at in the elephant's foot umbrella holder that stood in the corner.
    Harrumphing, Brimley continued.
    “It was twenty four hours ago, when all of us here were gathered, that Mrs. Denborough was murdered. It happened as the lights, quite conveniently, went out and just before, as it happens, she was just about to announce her sole heir and successor.
    “At first, I admit, I was most perplexed. 'Why would anyone,' I asked myself, 'want to “do in” such a sweet, even tempered old lady?' But, as I dug into Mrs. Denborough's past and current dealings, the reasons became quite clear.”
    Brimley paused a moment to light his pipe. Let the bastards squirm a bit, he thought.
    “Mr. Remington!” he said, loudly enough to cause the man to jump a bit off the divan. “We all know that 'Aunt Maggie' didn't exactly approve of your....lifestyle choices. The fact that your first wife died under mysterious circumstances, an allergic reaction I believe, certainly caught my interest. The coroner happened to find an ample amount of cinnamon in Mrs. Denborough's system at the time of death. That she was severely allergic, I gathered, was a fact that only you seemed to know.”
    Remington sputtered for a moment and Brimley watched as Desiree, his newest wife, recoiled a bit from him.
    “But, the coroner gathered, the amount found was insufficient to be the cause of death,” Brimley announced. Remington sagged in the divan and his young wife, cautiously, took his hand. Brimley decided to drop the tiniest of bombs. “Though I did find, in my investigations, a small container of cinnamon in your wife's jewelry box. 'What a strange place to keep spices', I remember thinking.”
    The two eyed each other with suspicion.
    “Moving on,” Brimley swept his gaze to the other occupants of the parlor. Each of them fidgeted under his scrutiny. “Miss Hampton, have you seen the silver candlestick that was once on this mantlepiece? I could have sworn there were two...”
    “Oh!” the maid jumped a bit at having been addressed. “I think it may be getting polished, you would have to ask Mr. Smithers, sir.
    “I have asked Mr. Smithers. He hasn't seen it since the night Mrs. Denborough was murdered. In fact, the last time anyone saw it was just before the lights went out on that fateful night.”
    Brimley lifted the sole remaining candlestick and hefted it in his hand. All those gathered could see that it was a weighty object. Certainly heavy enough to bash in an old woman's head.
    “I remember!” Desiree shouted. “She was standing right where you are now, Inspector Brimley. When the lights went out and Aunt Maggie was killed she was straightening that very mantle.”
    Several members of the group agreed, heads bobbing in affirmation. Miss Hampton managed to look both betrayed and scandalized by the accusation.
    “And according to my report, the damage to Mrs. Denborough's skull matches this stick precisely,” Brimley continued, replacing the candlestick. “Yet, it turns out that that particular blow was not the cause of death.”
    Miss Hampton swooned with relief as the rest of the suspects began eying each other suspiciously, yet again.
    “This brings me to you...” Brimley says, absently wandering the room before settling in front of the parlor's ornate bookcase. He paused, seeming to peruse the leather bound volumes, before spinning and pointing an accusing finger at his target. “Mr Voorhees!”
    The large, hockey mask wearing zombie on the couch jumped in surprise, nearly dropping his martini. His one eye rolled behind the mask, looking about the room in a near panic.
    “It's well known that Mrs. Denborough held the lease to that campground you are so fond of and that she had been thinking of selling the property for some time,” Brimley said. “In fact quite recently, a land developer had shown some interest in putting a mall on that land. If this deal went through, you sir, would be homeless.   
    “Another intriguing detail were the numerous machete wounds found on the body. If I remember correctly a vast number of teenagers that visited your Camp Crystal Lake also happen to have suffered similar wounds over the years. Quite the coincidence, wouldn't you say Mr. Voorhees?”
    Jason Voorhees stood up, revealing a large, swampy smelling wet stain he had left on the couch, and raised his hands. A faint groan could be heard coming from behind the mask. Everyone waited for him to begin explaining himself, but Brimley cut him off.
    “Though, again, I'm afraid these wounds were not the cause of death. For that, we have to turn to our attention to you.....Murdertron!”
    The Robot Built For Murder had no reaction, instead turning his red-glowing eyes toward the window. Those gathered could see that he had closed his vicious claw hands and hid them behind his back.
    “One had to wonder,” Brimley mused, puffing thoughtfully on his pipe. “why a hired assassin robot was invited to one of the most exclusive soirees of the year. Though it didn't take much digging to find that the late Mr. Denborough had made use of your....services...on quite a few occasions. In fact, one may wonder if a balance had been due....”
    “Murdertron will be paid,” came the robot's flat response. “Murdertron will get his due.”
    “I also noticed that you have quite the strong looking claw on the end of your arm. Such a claw would be more than sufficient to cause the extensive damage that had been done to the neck of the victim. The coroner said that it looked as if the poor lass had gotten her head caught in an industrial press.”   
    “So he did it,” Miss Hampton said, sounding like a drowning woman begging for a life preserver. “That solves that!”
    “It would,” Brimley said wearily. “If that crushing grip hadn't been applied to a woman who was already dead!”
    Murdertron's head swiveled toward the Inspector, but Brimley had already turned away.  The detective continued his lazy walk around the room.
    “No, poor Margaret had already met her maker. Though it I have to say I found it quite alarming that her entire lower body had been incinerated by atomic fire. Don't you find that intriguing....Godzilla?”
    The one hundred and seventy foot lizard-monster let out a roar of rage at the accusation that shook the entire mansion and destroyed every piece of cookware in the kitchen.
    Brimley stood, nonplussed.
    “Simmer down, old boy,” Brimley said as if chastising a naughty child. “Again, those burns were inflicted on a body already dead. For the true, absolute cause of death we have to turn to the least likely, most overlooked suspect of all.
    “Isn't that true....Frisky The Cat?”
    “Mrowr?”

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