An entry for the Twisted Tales Contest
Plot Checker Calvin Alvin knew immediately there would be something very odd about his new assignment. It was printed on fluorescent green paper instead of the usual mint green. Someone was trying to get his attention. He quickly read the synopsis:
Private Investigator Brillam Witterfield is approached by a blond bombshell with a problem. Her husband has been murdered and she thinks it might have been herself that did it. She doesn't know because she has no memory of the evening. She was stinking drunk and might have been given a drug as well.
Brillam takes the case but the next morning the police arrest him for the murder of the blond! It seems he was the last one to see her alive before she was murdered that night. Brillam's lawyer, Canny Gonzales, is able to spring him from the clink, but only on bond. He is still charged with murder.
Brillam has no choice but to investigate the deaths of the blond and her husband to clear his own name. Then his lawyer, Canny, is murdered and all clues point to Brillam as the murderer!
Plot Checker Calvin Alvin tossed down the bright green paper in disgust. Too many damn murders! You can't just kill off everyone that walks into the scene and think you have a story!
Calvin picked up the plot sheet again to check who was the originator. As he feared, it was the Boss himself. Calvin groaned. The combination of the glowing green paper and his boss's name on it meant that either he fixed it or he would be jobless again.
The first thing to do was to meet with Brillam Witterfield and see if he really did commit the murders.
From Calvin's Journal... Day 1
Brillam lives in a modest two bedroom apartment, apparently by himself. He has turned the extra bedroom into an office. He is an unassuming man with brown hair and brown shoes and khaki pants and a blue cotton shirt. All he needs is a pencil protector in his pocket and he would be your stereotypical engineering geek type.
"No, I didn't kill them," he said. "The idea is preposterous. What would be my motive?"
Frankly, I didn't think he killed them. Although... you never know about these unassuming types. Sometimes they conceal a red heart filled with rage beneath their placid exteriors.
"Your motive," I said, "would be to juice up the story to make it more interesting. You might think the more murders the better."
He shook his head and laughed. "Ha! You think I care about any of that? All I want to do is perform my job in a way that is clean and efficient and makes me proud of myself. I want to be able to say that Brillam Witterfield is a damn good private investigator."
"And be able to charge the large fees that a good reputation would permit?"
"That's an added benefit," he said with a smile.
It was the smile that tipped me off that there might be hidden depths to him. It wasn't an innocent smile; it was a wry, knowing, cynical smile. I decided to withhold a final decision on whether he killed the blond and her husband and lawyer Gonsales until all the evidence was in.
Calvin checked the autopsy reports. All three of the victims had died the same way... strangulation. Most likely by a man with large hands. Calvin studied his own large hands and tried to remember what Brillam Witterfield's hands looked like. So many details to follow and you never knew which ones would be relevant. Come to think of it, his boss had large hands.
So already he had three possible killers. His inclination was to remove himself from the list since he was sure he didn't murder anyone, but you never knew what kind of post-modern, avant-garde hi-jinks the world might be up to these days. It wouldn't surprise Calvin all that much to find out he WAS the killer! Although the explanation for how that could be would surely be a Lulu!
The more he thought about it, the more likely it seemed that his boss was the real killer. After all, why the fluorescent green paper and the insistence that Calvin Alvin handle the plot check? Could it be the boss wanted to deflect suspicion from himself and onto Calvin? The bit about the large hands was certainly suggestive.
The problem now was would it be possible to interview the Boss? Would his request simply be denied? Only one way to find out...
From Calvin's Journal... Day 2
The Boss met me at the door to his office with a hearty handshake. He looks well, not at all like a man under any sort of emotional strain from guilt or anything else. In fact, I've never seen him looking so chipper and in command.
He twirled his mustache with his large sausage-like fingers and roared, "Calvin! My favorite plot checker! You do good work, my boy! How can I help you?"
I felt weak in his presence. He was truly bigger than life. I abandoned my plan for a subtle approach and went straight for the moon. "Why did you kill them, Boss? Didn't you know three murders would arouse my suspicions?"
The pleasant look on his face melted away to be replaced by one that frightened me. I knew immediately it was the face of a killer.
"Me?" he said. "You want to shift the blame for your crimes onto me? I knew you were a scumbag when you first walked into my office, but I hired you anyway. Now I get the payback for not listening to my intuition."
"I didn't kill them, you old fool!" I said. His anger was arousing my own anger and we glared at each other like two bulls. Suddenly he jumped at me and put his hands around my throat.
"Aha!" I croaked. "Just like you killed the others!" I managed to get my hands around his throat and we staggered around the room attempting to choke each other to death.
At that point Brillam Witterfield burst into the room. Where he had been hiding or why he was even nearby I do not know. "Stop it! he yelled. "If you kill each other we'll never know who committed the murders!"
A week later Brillam Witterfield and Calvin Alvin met for coffee at the Centerville Cafe.
"So his plan all along," said Brillam, "was to use you to put the suspicion on me. Thank God you are better at what you do than he thought."
"Yes," Calvin said. "I was always one step ahead of him. By the way, did you know the blond used to be my girlfriend?"
"No!" Brillam said. "Somehow that never came up in my investigation."
"Yes," Calvin said. "We were quite an item at one time until she married that low-life husband of hers. I can't say that I'm unhappy they are dead."
Calvin made a wry smile and Brillam felt a little queasy. "And the lawyer?" Brillam whispered.
Calvin took a sip of coffee and peeked at Brillam over the rim of his cup. "He knew too much."
. . .
WORD COUNT ... 1200