Chuck wants us to post a middle sentence, no more than 100 words, as this week’s challenge. Then next week we write the story round it. There are over 200 entries by now, but I’m not inspired… I stole one from a previous story.
Since no-one seems to have finished my Cluedo story, I thought I might do it myself for the Flash of the day. Then I realised that it would be more fun to take up Rebecca’s suggestion and bat it forward and back adding another 500 words until we solve it! I’m putting in her second part followed by my new part, since I assume you at least read my starter for 500 here three weeks ago. Now read on…
Half a Clue (Parts 2 and 3)
[Part 2, RD]
Scarlett drew in a breath to scream, then thought better of it. A scream would draw the whole household, blustering or hysterical as their personalities dictated. She closed her mouth and rang for Reeves.
She met the butler at the door. “It’s the Colonel.”
“Has he been taken ill, Miss Scarlett?”
“He’s been taken dead.” Surprised at her own calm bluntness, Scarlett stepped aside to reveal the corpse on the library rug. Reeves sniffed his disapproval, of bodies messing up his rugs and of young ladies finding them.
“You go to the kitchen, and ask Cook for tea. I will telephone the police.”
An hour later, Inspector Clueso had them all lined up in the lounge. A pair of policemen, or surgeons, or something, worked over the thing in the library.
Scarlett had blurted out the news as soon as they were gathered, of course. Colonel Mustard was dead in the library, with a revolver at his side. Speculation ran wild. Whose revolver? Had he shot himself? Had someone else shot him, and left the gun to make it look like suicide? Who could have hated the old army man that much? People got annoyed with the Colonel, with his rambling stories and his dogmatic pronouncements, but they didn’t generally care that much what he said.
Scarlett hadn’t mentioned what her quick look at the body had shown her: that the gun had not killed the Colonel. And she very much doubted he had killed himself. Not that way.
The Inspector looked over the household. Mrs. White managed the staff at one end of the room, while Reeves kept the family and guests comfortable in the over-stuffed chairs around the fire. “Is anyone missing who was here last night?”
Scarlett glanced at her mother. “There’s the Vicar,” she ventured. “Reverend Green.”
“But he went home after the pheasant, poor man,” her mother protested. “He said he felt rather ill, and I’m sure he looked it.”
Scarlett avoided looking at Reeves. She was sure the Vicar had felt very ill indeed.
The professor cleared his throat. “There was Mrs. Peacock and her son. They departed rather early, as the senior Mr. Peacock is ill. Young Mr. Peacock is home on leave from France.”
Scarlett glared at him. How dare Professor Plum hint that Russell could have had anything to do with it? She thought of the Colonel’s blustering dismissal of all Russell’s opinions about the war. But Russell had kept his temper so beautifully! And anyway, he and his mother had been long gone before this had happened. Well, the Inspector would have to figure it out. At least so far he’d been smart enough not to mention how the man had really died.
Scarlett glanced out the tall windows that opened onto the garden, and her heart began to pound. Russell Peacock was crossing the wide lawn, his cap pushed back and lips pursed as he whistled a tune she couldn’t hear, but imagined was “A Long Way to Tipperary.”
(Part 3, JP)
“I will need to question you all individually, of course. You will please all wait here while I interview each of you in the …, er?” Clueso looked at Dr Black enquiringly.
“My study, yes of course, Inspector. This way.”
Scarlett’s father led the inspector through to an adjacent room. The company heaved a collective sigh of relief, while Clueso’s assistant, Harris, surreptiously took a seat at a side table behind the sofa, and appeared to study the morning’s paper, already laid out for the houseguests.
The study was lined with bound copies of medical journals, reference works, and his private collection of illustrated works stacked well out of normal reach. The mahogany desk, inlaid with green leather was equipped with inkwell, pens, blotting paper and seals, neatly arranged on the left hand side.
“May I?” asked Clueso as he ventured towards the formal chair behind the desk.
Dr Black neatly sidestepped to pull it out for Clueso.
“Perhaps you would be so good as to place a chair just there… a little more at an angle? Yes perfect!” The morning light now fell on the interview chair without actually blinding the occupant. “Now, Dr Black, what can you tell me about last night’s event?”
Scarlett ‘s father sat on the other side of the desk and explained the routine for a country dinner party at one of the grander houses of the district.
“How long in advance was it arranged?”
“Only one day.”
“Only? Was there any particular reason for the short notice?”
“Young Peacock came home on leave. I like to keep up with his adventures.”
“And your daughter, Miss Scarlett Black? She also…?”
“Likes to keep up with his adventures, yes. They have known each other since childhood. He’s a good type. Shame about his father’s comedown; ruined his health as well as his wealth. Young Peacock made a good choice to join the army.”
“Did you encourage him?”
“He did ask my advice, mainly on the regiment to choose, though. I think his mind was already set. Just wanted to talk it over.”
“I have already gathered that there was an argument between him and Colonel Mustard during dinner.”
“Well, a disagreement, a difference of opinion, rather than an argument. Just over policy. An old soldier’s view of the Hun versus the modern approach, you know the sort of thing.”
“So you do not think Russell Peacock returned after taking his mother home and strangled Colonel Mustard?”
“Good God, no. What on earth would he have to gain by doing such a thing?”
“Indeed. Thank you, Dr Black. Please send in Professor Plum. Oh, and please do not mention our conversation to your guests.”
Dr Black made his exit, and shortly there came a knock on the door.
Professor Plum put his head around the door, sized up the room and stepped forward, sliding into the chair in a movement that reminded Clueso of a lizard he’d once studied on a hot rock in Provence.
(to be continued… I hope)
(c) J M Pett and R M Douglass 2014