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Rated: E · Short Story · Crime/Gangster · #2120740
A new take on Cluedo , the board game. Fun crime ( if the two can ever go together)
The piercing scream was heard throughout the 10 bedroom mansion , Old Kniveton Court in Axeford , and most likely in neighbouring farms and cottages. Felicity and Frederick Gunn raced from the lounge where they had just finished their early morning breakfast and descended quickly down the stairs that led to the cellar . Stella , one of the housemaids, rushed out , face ashen white and tears pouring from her red, bloodshot eyes. She threw herself upon Felicity weeping uncontrollably.
“ Oh mercy, mercy, Mrs. G. I just came in here to clear things away and tidy up and there he was ma’am , just lying there underneath the table all still and lifeless. “
“ Calm down Stella. What? Who ? “
“ Why, our dear friend Dr. Black. I tried to roll him over , thinking he was asleep and whoaaaa... awful, awful, how could anyone...??.”
Detective inspector Boardman and his team arrived quickly on the scene. Over two days they searched the property thoroughly , looking for clues and taking prints . He lost no time in taking statements from the old couple and their servants, the gardeners and even visitors who had come to Old Kniveton during the past week. Mrs. Gunn said they had been away on holiday the previous weekend, whilst allowing the house to be used for a Murder Mystery evening, which they held there at least once a month. ‘How apt,’ thought Inspector Boardman ironically !
“ Mrs. Gunn we have to determine the cause of death and hopefully the day it happened. In the meantime , perhaps you would be so good as to give me a list of the names of all the people who attended this...errrr, Murder Mystery !”
“ Certainly Inspector. Anything I can do to help. Anything. Oh poor Dr. Black, poor poor man!”
Detective inspector Boardman devised a plan that he believed might be crucial in leading them to the truth. He contacted everyone on the guest list and took the unusual step of inviting them all back to the house for a group discussion. He gathered everyone together in the Ballroom. It was a large room with comfortable chairs . Apart from a large glass chandelier in the centre there were a few family portraits dotted around the walls and a large open fireplace at one end of the room above which was a mantelpiece with a display of trophies, a few vases and a couple of candlesticks.
He had arranged for everyone’s fingerprints to be taken on the morning of the meeting and sent immediately to the lab. , then compared with those on record and those found on objects at the scene.
“ Routine, ” said Boardman . “ Messy”, protested Miss Scarlet who was afraid her beautifully manicured fingers would be spoilt by black ink! Prints were taken and sent off . They all moved into the ballroom.
The Inspector addressed them in solemn tones. “ I know this is very out-of-the- ordinary but I’ve decided that rather than take individual statements, I thought I would first bring you here together in the hope that something or someone might jog your memories regarding the events that unfolded that evening.”
Reverend Green , a smart looking man in dark grey suit and wearing his usual clerical collar, suddenly stood up , as though awakened from a dream. It had just occurred to him that as a man of the cloth, it was his God- given duty to pray before proceedings got under way. His suggestion triggered a mixed reaction, one or two ripples of laughter, others some respectfully silent . Inspector Boardman , not willing to upset anyone gave his guarded permission. After all a bit of help from the Almighty might actually be an asset, he thought!
“Let us all pray,“ invited the reverend, “Oh Lord God, who see-est the hearts and minds of all and whose knowledge is infinite, please be with us now and help us to speak honestly and openly , so that justice may be done, and the true facts about this terrible case revealed. Amen”
One or two shuffled awkwardly in their seats as quiet, muffled amens were offered up, except that is for Mrs. White, a regular at the local parish church, whose loud amen seemed rather too confident for the inspector’s liking !
“ I have a question, inspector.”
“ Certainly Professor Plum, go ahead.”
“ Are we allowed to know where the body was found and how the dear doctor met his fateful end ?”
“ All I can tell you is that the body was found in the cellar. I’m afraid I’m in no position to say any more at the moment, until forensics contact me later. I do have my own notions, of course, about how the man died , but I’ll be keeping that to myself for now. Now I’ll move on . I’d like to ask each individual a few questions. You all arrived about 7.30 pm to make a prompt 8 o’clock start . Am I correct ? “
“ Well that was the general idea inspector,” said Mrs. Peacock , a rather sophisticated lady in her mid-forties , who liked to dress in the finest of clothes and always wore a deep blue fur coat with matching hat. “ Unfortunately I had trouble with my car and arrived slightly late. The bonnet of my car had become loose so I had to drive very slowly. When I went in to apologise and explain, the lovely Colonel Mustard, here, insisted on fixing it. He seemed only too pleased to help and was able to tighten a few nuts and bolts with one of his spanners. Most kind of him don’t you think?“
Colonel Mustard shot a glance across the room towards her . “ Errrrr yes that’s right. You flatter me Mrs. Peacock . It was no more than any gentleman would do !”
Colonel Mustard was a retired army officer who had served in the Royal Engineers during the 2nd World War. He’d always prided himself in the belief that he could turn his hand to almost anything .
“ Allow me then to start with you Colonel. Did you at any time bump into Dr. Black during the evening?”
“ Yes I did bump into him by chance, but not bump off if that’s what you think.”
“ Nothing was further from my mind. All I wish to do is establish the facts. Where do you believe he was heading ? “
“ He seemed to be heading down the corridor. Yes, that’s right. I saw him turn into the lounge. That was the last I saw of him. I entered the billiard room where I met Professor Plum. We had a few glasses of wine and played billiards until roughly 11 o’clock.”
“ Do you concur Professor?”
“ I do indeed. I much prefer snooker but I thought I’d have a stab at billiards. He won nearly every flippin’ game. Damn good. .. . .”
“ How well did you know the deceased , Professor ?”
“ Dr. Black had been a close personal friend for many years. We’d gone to the same medical school together. He left and became a GP whilst I went on to take a PhD in neuro-science . I then became a lecturer and lost touch with him for a number of years. We met up quite by chance one day and after a long discussion, he suggested we join a pharmaceutical company . It sounded all so feasible. You could say I just got roped in. We were on the same board together but...“ he hesitated
“ But ?” interjected Boardman.
“ Well Dennis made some very unwise business dealings. We all lost a lot of money and after 2 years had to wrap things up.”
“Did he owe you money?”
“ Yes, quite a lot?”
“Hundreds? “
“ Several thousand , but he promised to sort things out adn we remained friends”
“ Let me turn to you miss Scarlet.”
“ Yes , “ she flicked her long mascara laden ,black eyelashes towards him. She was a rather young ,attractive woman, he thought, but he tried not to let this distract him.
“So You were the culprit, the murderer !”
“What? What do you mean Inspector ?” she replied, taken aback .
“ I’m referring , of course, to the completion of the game you took part in ! “
“ Oh, oh , yes. You’re right of course .”
“ And Dr. Black had been the one to come to the correct conclusion? The winner . Is this correct? “
“ Yes, that’s right inspector.”
“ You knew him quite well didn’t you? Very well in fact . You had been ‘seeing him’ shall we say, for a number of months if not years !”
“ What about Reverend Green, inspector ? I think it’s only right to question him too, don’t you ? “ suggested Mrs. Peacock.
“ Of course, of course, I was just coming to him next now you mention it. What light can you bring to the situation Reverend ? “
“ After we’d finished I made my way to the study where I spent the rest of the evening preparing my sermons for the next day. I never saw Dr. Black again. I may be known by some as a Bible-basher but I wouldn’t harm anyone ! I didn’t move anywhere else.”
“ Miss Scarlet I understand you knew him quite ? Very well in fact . You had been ‘seeing him’ shall we say, for a number of months if not years !”
Miss Scarlet looked daggers at him. “ Of what relevance is this to anyone? We were good friends, yes. And I.... I... will miss him terribly. “ She snatched a handkerchief from her handbag and covered her face trying hard to hold back her tears.
“ And you Mrs. White, what about you? Did you know Dr. Black?”
“ Yes, he had been our family doctor since arriving in the village a few years ago . Very kind man he was. He visited my husband frequently after his operation even after surgery hours when my husband had been in so much pain. He would administer pain killing injections occasionally. We couldn’t have coped without him. I often left them alone talking together. Sadly , It was just after his last visit that my husband passed peacefully away ! ”
“ And you Mrs. Peacock. We haven’t heard about your movements yet. Have you any thoughts why Dr. Black should be found in the cellar?”
“ I’m sorry . I haven’t a clue. We all believed there was a stash of wine in the cellar somewhere. We knew there were stairs that led down to the basement. Perhaps he simply fell down those hard concrete steps , banged his head at the bottom and then staggered across the room before collapsing .”
“ An interesting theory , Mrs. Peacock. Fell or pushed ?“ the inspector fixed her with a stare. She recoiled and avoided his penetrating gaze.
There was a knock on the ballroom door . Sergeant Willis stood there waiting . Inspector Boardman waved him in. “ May I give this to you sir. It’s from the lab. “
“ Certainly what is it? “
“ An envelope . I was told it contains important information which has immediate bearing upon the case. “
“ Thank you !” Inspector Boardman took no time in tearing it open.
“ Ahhh as I suspected. Mrs. White , in the ballroom , with the candlestick .”
“ No. No. Not me .... how could I have....”
“ Mrs. White. I am arresting you on suspicion of murder . You are not obliged to say anything but anything.... “
“Preposterous. I was very fond of Dr. Black as I’ve said. Anyway , you couldn’t possibly expect me to drag a body as far as the cellar . I’m not strong enough . Besides I would have been seen. “
“ You’ve been to this house before . You knew exactly where the secret passage way was, hidden, over there , behind that panel , and that it led directly down to the cellar. Easy enough then for someone of moderate strength like yourself to drag a body down the stairs . I suspect that those visits by Dr. Black to your house were more frequent than you let on. I believe you and Dr. Black had actually planned or speeded up your husband’s death. You had a relationship with him . After the ‘dust had settled’ you and he were going to use the insurance money, a considerable amount I gather , to begin a new life together. When he said he wasn’t prepared to leave Miss Scarlet you resented it !“
There was a gasp from Miss Scarlet.
“ You argued and in a fit of jealously picked up the candlestick and struck him over head with a mighty blow. Then you panicked and dragged him down the stairs !”
Mrs. White slumped across the settee.
“ Mrs. White I’m afraid the Game’s Up !”

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