A Short Story A Day For A Month: Short Story: Luke Miller

 

 

Friday

 

 

It had been three weeks since a 21-year-old year old man Luke Miller had been murdered. He had been found in his flat with a knife through his chest. Detective Jack Danson was going through all the information on the case with his partner on the force Joseph Edwards at police headquarters. They were working long into the night drinking copious amounts of coffee.

There was only three suspects in the mix:

Luke’s wife Bella Miller who lived with him but was away for the weekend when Luke was murdered.

Luke’s father James Miller who was known for violent alcoholic outbursts since the death of his wife and Luke’s mother Catherine Miller from cancer 10 years previously. He was known to have arguments with his son over Luke going to college instead of following in his footsteps into the army.

Luke’s best friend Sam Jones who was on Luke’s engineering course with him. Joseph said from questioning it appeared he was interested in Bella romantically.

“She is a beauty.”, Joseph said of Bella.

“My money’s on the best friend. More coffee?”

“Thanks mate. my insides are going to be filled with caffeine!”

“She’s the type of woman a man would kill for.”

“It’s a good thing I’m skoliosexual so.”, Jack smiled.

“Are you sure even you wouldn’t make an exception for Bella Miller?”

“Um no. Anyways, we have work to do. Don’t be letting Bella Miller’s beauty get in the way. She could have killed the poor fucker.”

“She was away that night.”

“So she says.”

“The father now is another possible option. He was seen arguing with his son only that day.”

“Yeah but fathers and sons don’t get on a lot. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’d murder each other all the time.”

Jack spoke from experience. He and his father hadn’t spoken since he told him he was skoliosexual.

Soon after they called it a night and agreed to re-question their three suspects on Monday.

 

 

Monday

 

“So who are you interviewing first?”, Jack’s partner Brian asked as they had breakfast at the house they had lived together in for five years.

“Questioning. It’s not OK! Magazine!”

“Questioning, interviewing, whatever.”

Jack sighed.

“Sam. Joseph has a gut feeling he’s our killer.”

“Ah no, on the news coverage he seemed such a sweet guy. He doesn’t look the type.”

“I love you but I’m glad you’re not in the police force.”, Jack smiled.

“No plans.”, Brian grinned.

 

Sam was fidgeting nervously as they questioned him at his flat. Joseph went in for the kill.

“Bella Miller is a very attractive woman. You must have noticed.”

“What exactly are you suggesting?”

“I’m not suggesting anything.”

Good cop/bad cop time.

“Sam, we’re on your side here. We know that Luke was like a brother to you. We just want to find out what happened to him …”

“I don’t know what happened to him. But one thing I’m pretty certain of is that Bella Miller had something to do with it.”

“Oh that’s a big accusation …”, began Joseph.

“What makes you think that?”, Jack interrupted.

Jesus Joseph, be professional!

“She knew about his savings. She knew she’d get it if he died.”

“You knew about it too.”, Joseph said.

“But I didn’t stand to benefit from it.”

“Maybe you thought Bella and you would be together. Did it kill you that she loved her husband?”

“At the beginning she did. At the end she was bored and Luke was convinced she’d met someone else.”

“Was that someone else you Sam?”

Oh just shut-up please Joseph.

“Did you have any idea who it was Sam?”

“No. I’m not even sure there was a someone else. It’s just what Luke thought.”

“Backtracking.”

Joseph!

“Well thank you for your time. Call the station and ask for … ask for me if you think of anything else.”

 

 

Bella Miller lay on the sofa smoking a cigarette at her friend Marie’s flat. Jack supposed she was a very attractive woman if he was that way inclined. Joseph was gazing at her in admiration.

The first question is not can I have your phone number Joseph.

“Bella, your friends Beth and Joanne confirmed you were with them on the night of Luke’s death …”

“I still can’t believe he’s gone. And I was three miles away when it happened. I never got to say goodbye.”

“That must have been so difficult.”, Joseph said sympathetically.

Good cop/bad cop time.

“Obviously you couldn’t have been involved … by yourself …”

“How could you even think I could have been involved at all?! I loved him. He was everything to me …”

“And his savings fund?”

“A savings fund? I don’t know about a savings fund.”

“Well we have information to suggest that Luke had a savings fund which amounted to just over £50, 000. Money which his father had put away for him for when he turned 21. Very enticing, isn’t it?”

“Well I wasn’t aware of it. Our marriage wasn’t about money. We loved each other. I’d like you both to leave.”

“This isn’t the last you’ll hear from us.”, Jack said as they left.

 

“James, we understand that you had created a savings fund for your son that came to £50,000 …”, Jack began.

“He was a good lad. I’ve only realised that since he died. That’s the harsh reality of it. He had so many great things he wanted to do with some of that money. He wanted to help people with cancer, the homeless and give towards the work of LGBTQ+ organisations. He had the kindest heart and I was too drunk, too stubborn to realise. It was a very difficult time after his mother died. I haven’t coped well since.”

“LGBTQ+ organisations? James, was your son gay?”, Joseph asked.

Was he homeless too Joseph?

“No. If he had of been, that wouldn’t have mattered though.”

“So it was just out of the goodness of his heart then?”, Joseph asked, sarcastically.

“He had his reasons.”

“Thank you for your time. We’ll leave you to grieve.”, Jack said.

 

 

Tuesday

 

Jack was looking over the case at the station when Michael, a veteran policeman, said there was a call for him.

“Detective Jack Danson speaking.”

“Yeah hi, it’s Sam Jones. I, um, wanted to talk to you. I, um need to know that this will go no further.”

“Well that depends Sam.”

There was momentary silence. Jack wasn’t sure if he had hung up or not.

“Sam, are you still there?”

“Yeah … look, the theory about me been interested in Bella in that way couldn’t be true. I’m gay. But I come from a very conservative, Catholic background and …”

“Don’t worry. This won’t go any further. Thank you for telling me.”

“Yeah, thanks.”, Sam replied, sounding relieved.

After ending the call, Jack made his way back to his desk. Everything hit him like an ocean smacking against a rock. And his heart sank.

 

Wednesday

 

“You knew her better than you made out, didn’t you?”, Jack asked as he sat at the station with Joseph.

“Knew who?”

“Bella Miller?”

“I wish!”, Joseph replied, grinning.

Jack wasn’t amused by this act.

“Information came through that you were seen on several occasions with her kissing her.”

Sometimes bluffs were needed.

“She’s admitted to it. Says it was all you though.”

More bluffs were sometimes needed.

“Well if she says that, she’s a liar! I may have killed him but she came back and helped set the scene for the police after she’d got rid of those friends of hers. In any case none of this can be proved.”

Not until now, Jack thought discreetly ending the recording on his mobile phone.

 

That night, Jack entered his and Brian’s house. Brian had just got in from work at the supermarket and Jack instantly broke down in their arms.

“He was my friend. He was like a brother to me. How could he have did that to someone?”, he said, through tears.

 

 

Thursday

 

James and Sam stood by Luke’s grave.

“I loved him. I wish I’d told him that.”, James said with tears in his eyes.

“He knew.”, Sam said softly.

James lay a fresh bunch of flowers on Luke’s grave and he and Sam left to have a coffee and to try to repair their lives the best they could.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Short Story: The Mystery At Hammond Mansion Part 5 (Of 5)

 

 

Emment sat in his car across the road from Alexander’s and Josh’s house. It was half eight in the morning. He waited, sipping a takeaway coffee. Soon Josh emerged from the house with their son. They got into one of two cars. It was clear that Josh was taking Leo to school so Emment stayed put. It was really Alexander’s movements he wished to track. Ten minutes later Alexander exited the house and got into the other car. Emment waited until he had got to the corner and then started the engine.

Emment followed for a short time when Alexander pulled over to the side of the road. He got out and gestured over to Emment to come join him in a cafe. Emment pulled over and reluctantly joined him in the cafe.

“You forget I work in law. I know a cop’s next moves.”, Alexander smiled as he ordered in a coffee.

“That would be perfect for the perfect murder.”, Emment replied, ordering his own coffee.

They sat down by the window.

“So where were you going?”

“Well let me think, 9 in the morning … work.”

“Or to sort a few things out before work …”

“Such as?”

“Well let me think … keeping Samantha Shepherd quiet.”

Alexander laughs.

“You watch too much TV. I had an affair Emment. I don’t go around with a hit list.”

“That affair could have led to a hit list.”

“It could have. But theories don’t always add up to facts. Look, I get it. You’re doing your job but I’m not going to have you harassing me or my family. Neither Josh or I are involved in Marie’s death. And while you are hovering around outside our house there’s a real killer out there getting away literally with murder.”

“Well from where I’m sitting no one else has as strong a motive.”

“You don’t think so … or you’re listening to the wrong people.”

“What’s this whole coffee thing exactly? To warn me off?”

“To tell you to stop harassing me and my family.”

“So you are warning me?”

“You aren’t even on duty yet. You are doing this off your own back.”

“And you’re been defensive about it for some reason.”

“Of course I’m been defensive. I had an affair behind my husband’s back. I don’t want him finding out.”

“This case is a bit more important than your extramarital affairs in case you hadn’t noticed.”

“But they aren’t linked Emment!”

“I’ll decide that. Not you.”, Emment replied, finishing his coffee and exiting the coffee bar.

Emment made his way back to his car and noticed Josh’s car pull up across the road from the cafe. He made his way over to him.

“Josh, hi.”

He looked quite startled.

“Oh hi Emment.”

He had dropped Leo off at school and had clearly went in search of Alexander. Why?, Emment wondered.

“Just doing some grocery shopping.”, Josh said, but it was clear to Emment that he was lying through his teeth.

His eyes looked like they were about to water.

“You ok mate?”

“Yeah, yeah, grand.”, he replied, trying to shake off the threatening tears.

“Come on. Let’s grab a bite to eat.”, Emment said.

Josh reluctantly agreed.

They went to a nearby sandwich bar.

“I don’t have many people I confide in. And some things feel like a betrayal to confide about …”

“Sometimes it isn’t a good thing to keep things on your head either Josh.”

“I guess … sometimes I think I’m going mad … Alex doesn’t even know. Know that I know.”

Emment gave Josh a few moments as he sipped his coffee nervously.

“He was cheating on me with … with another guy. I mean it was a once-off affair as far as I know. But once it does happen. How do you know it’s once? You know what I mean.”

It didn’t take much for Emment to realise that Josh meant with Marie but wasn’t saying.

“The trust goes.”

“Yeah … and then I end up trying to find his car to see if he’s meeting someone. You came out of that cafe where his car’s parked. Did you see him there? Was he with anyone?”

“Yes I seen him there. No Josh, he wasn’t with anyone.”

He looked relieved but then guilty.

“Of course he wasn’t. He made a mistake. It’s my fault. I can’t seem to stop punishing him for it. And I know everyone deserves a second chance. It’s just so hard.”

“You aren’t punishing him Josh. You’re punishing yourself. He was the one who cheated. You are entitled to feel how you want about that.”

“But I love him Emment. I don’t want to think the way I do about him. We have a kid together. No matter what he’s done we have to make this work.”

“How did you find out?”

“The guy he was cheating on me with died in a car crash. His brother told me. Came to see me to tell me.”

“Alexander’s brother?”

“No. The guy who Alex was having the affair with’s brother. He took glee in it to be honest. Nasty twat.”

Marie’s brother?!, thought Emment.

“His brother? Are you sure?”

“I’m thick but I’m not that thick. Yes, his brother.”

 

 

 

At 8 that night, Emment waited in a bar for Patrick Shepherd to arrive. When he did he arrived with his sister Samantha.

Emment wasn’t happy. He had wanted to spare Samantha this. But if this was how it had to be, then this was how it had to be.

“Patrick, you couldn’t bear that your sister had changed, could you? She became an atheist, she had sex outside marriage, she drank, smoked, partied …”

“It was the influence of that Alexander Hammond-Kelly! She was in love with him! He was destroying her purity …”

“And you wanted to be the one to do that, didn’t you Patrick?”

“How dare you?! That’s out of order! She was my sister!”, Patrick protested.

“What kind of a sick mind do you have?!”, Samantha added.

“Oh I’m not the one with the sick mind here. You’ve been in love with your sister most of your life, haven’t you Patrick? And suddenly she tainted the ‘ideal image’ you had of her. You went that night to the Hammond household to have it out with her about her recent affair with Alexander and her desertion of God. But in the process you argued, told her you loved her, tried to kiss her … but you didn’t go alone, did you?”

Emment looked to Samantha.

“You were there too, weren’t you Samantha? Both of you killed your sister? Two blows to the head.”

“And why am I supposed to have killed Marie?”

Emment’s eyes scanned over her necklace.

“She was bringing shame on the family.”

“You can’t prove any of this Emment.”

“How many times have you wanted to get out Samantha? This whole Godliness to this extent, is it really you? It must have killed you seeing your twin sister having the guts you never had …”

“She was a disgrace! Having sex with a man who had sex with men!”

“A pretty sexy man who was gay. I say that from a non-sexual perspective but for anyone into lads Alexander Hammond-Kelly keeps himself pretty well. Suave, loaded, it must have been very annoying for you actually seeing your twin sister involved with an actual physical man while you devoted your life to your invisible man in the sky.”

“Do not talk about God like that!”

“Did Marie say something along those lines before you hit her over the head?”

“She was asking for it!”

“She left the teaching our parents set out. We were doing her a favour. What kind of life would she have had without God?!”, Patrick added.

“What is your problem with religion?! You were made by God!”

“My problem isn’t with religion.”, Emment replied before gesturing to his fellow police officer Kate who was at the bar to come over.

They arrested them.

“You two can’t prove anything!”, Samantha ranted.

Emment took his mobile phone from his pocket where he had been recording their meeting.

“That’s where you’re wrong. I can.”

 

 

Emment and Janet went back for dinner and after-drinks at the Hammond mansion. During after-drinks he joined Josh on the steps for a cigarette.

“You done well with the case.”

“It’s my job … besides you kind of helped me.”

“Unwittingly.”, Josh smiled.

“Yeah.”, Emment grinned.

“How’s everything with Alexander?”

Josh smiles as he looks in at Alexander and Leo playing cards in the living-room.

“We’ve talked. We’re working on it.”

“Good.”

“It might take time.”

“Of course.”

“But I think we’ll be ok. I hope so anyway.”

“Yeah, I hope so too.”

 

The End.

 

 

 

 

Short Story: The Mystery At Hammond Mansion Part 4 (Of 5)

 

 

Emment and Janet sat around the table for dinner at the Hammond household with the family. Gregory stared across at Emment with a mixture of awkwardness and glaring fury.

“So Emment, how is things going with the case?”, Marcus asked.

Greg reached across and took a long gulp of his wine.

“Things are slightly piecing together …”

“Care to enlighten us …”

“At this stage in enquires nothing is definite so maybe I shouldn’t, um, get your hopes up just yet.”

Emment made a sideways glance at Gregory across the table. He looked uncomfortable.

Good, thought Emment.

“Keeping your cards close to your chest.”, Charlotte smiled.

“Indeed.”, Emment smiled.

 

 

After dinner, Emment and Janet made their ways to their car.

“Emment, can we talk?”

Emment turned around to see Alexander.

“Sure.”

“I’ll be in the car.”, Janet said.

“So, what is this? Defending the brother? I take it he’s told you.”

“You have it all wrong.”

“He’s admitted to an affair.”

“I know he has. But it’s not true.”

“Oh yeah …”

“No, it’s true. He never cheated on Emilia.”

“So he paid her ten grand for nothing, did he? Is that what you expect me to believe?”

He sighs deeply.

“No, of course not. Listen, this whole situation has nothing to do with Marie’s death.”

“How do you know that? An affair behind his wife’s back? Scared of the big reveal? Men have killed for less …”

“Jesus man, we’re not a pack of murdering animals. We don’t just go around murdering people to shut people up.”

“Should I take your word for it?”

“Is that sarcasm? Look, does anything I’m about to say have to go any further?”

“Depends …”

“So it could?”

“I can’t make any promises. This is a murder case Alexander.”

He hesitates.

“Well I haven’t got all night mate so …”

“It wasn’t Gregory.”

“Wasn’t Gregory what? Mitchell?”

“No …”

“Your father?!”

“No Emment … me.”

“Ha?! But you’re gay Alexander! Aren’t you?”

“Yes … it does happen though. Gregory was only looking out for me. He’s always did that since we were kids. It was a mistake. I love Josh and I don’t want to ruin our family.”

“That’s quite a motive …”

“Think what you like. I didn’t kill her. And neither did Gregory.”, Alexander replies, beginning to leave.

“Are you sure Josh had no idea? He and Marie didn’t get on very well …”

Alexander turns back around.

“What are you alluding to? My husband wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

“Under the right circumstances, people are capable of doing things they normally mightn’t be.”

“Under any circumstances, he wouldn’t.”

 

 

“What did he want?”, Janet asked as she started the car.

“He was having an affair with Marie.”

“But isn’t he gay? Well I suppose it can happen.”

“What if Josh knew? He couldn’t have been that blind to it, could he?”

“People in love can be.”

“Maybe … oh I don’t know. Josh doesn’t seem the type but in them circumstances … jesus that Alexander is a twat.”

 

Two days later, there was a knock at the door. Emment answered. It was Samantha.

“There was something I didn’t tell you before …”

“Come in, take a seat. Would you like some te- …”

“I can’t stay long.”

“Ok …”

She stays standing so Emment remains standing too.

“The night Marie was killed she called me to tell me that she was meeting a man … I think they were going to run away together.”

“Did she say that?”

“Not in so many words. But she said he was the one and that her life was going to begin … it sounded like she was saying goodbye to me. She told me to look after the family.”

“Do you know who this man was?”

“No but I knew there was a new man in her life. She had a glow about her. She was … she was close to Alexander but he’s gay so … but there was a closeness there. She spoke about him all the time.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Short Story: The Mystery At Hammond Mansion Part 3 (Of 5)

 

 

Emment lay in bed. He looked over at Janet sleeping peacefully beside him. He wished he could sleep with that ease. She looked so cute when she was asleep that he couldn’t envy her though. The case rattled in his head. His mind oscillated to and fro, and his sense of worry deepened. He tired to circumvent all the snags, went through all the possible suspects.

Soon he was awake and had a light breakfast. A knock came on the door. He went to answer and was surprised to see Josh standing there. He didn’t bother saying that it was a bit unconventional to come to a cop’s house as opposed to the station but he thought better of it. By now he realised that Josh didn’t really do conventional.

“I was thinking about what you said …”

“Well I’m on my way out the door to work so if you’d like to accompany me …”

“Oh yeah, sure. Do you think …”

They walked to Emment’s police car and Josh got in the passenger seat before continuing.

“Do you think it’s Matthew? She recently broke up with him.”

“At the moment, we haven’t really made any definite links.”

“So he is a huge possibility.”, Josh grinned.

“As I said …”

“I know, I know.”

“I wonder if her family could shed some light on Matthew. Although they seemed to love him so it might be difficult to gain any information.”

Josh looked surprised by Emment’s openness.

“Look, I know you didn’t do it. I haven’t been a cop this long and not be able to spot when someone definitely isn’t a killer.”

“Alexander isn’t either.”

Emment smiled. This whole defending the husband thing was sweet but Emment didn’t really know enough to rule him out or into his investigations. So he said nothing.

“Matthew came by the house one time. He has a fierce temper. Lost his head with her. Still I fight with Al all the time – well not all the time – so it’s probably nothing Emment.”

But your husband’s not just been murdered Josh, thought Emment. Everything could mean something under these circumstances.

“Did you hear what it was over?”

“A bit of it. He just basically thought she was growing away from him.”

“He told me as much himself.”

“As I said probably nothing.”

“How did she get on in her interactions with the Hammond family?”

“Just ‘Can I get you anything else?’ It was all work-related really.”

“So you just wanted to tell me it was Matthew then?”

“Advise. I’m a helpful citizen.”, Josh smiled.

That night Emment buried himself in the news reports on the internet about the Hammond family. And there was a wealth of material available. Mostly posh gala functions with the family in fine attire and pictured with people Emment had never heard of but seemed to be influential in whatever fields they were in or were socialites or possibly hangers-on. It looked all very grand.

Janet came over, placed her hand gently on his shoulder and peered at the screen from behind him.

“So who’s who?”, she asked.

Emment enlarged a group photograph.

“Going from left to right that’s Mitchell beside Charlotte …”

“I love her dress. Mind you, I’d say it cost a fair bit. It looks like a Ralph Lauren.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, that very classical, timeless style.”

“And next to her is her husband Mitchell …”

“He’s the doctor?”

“No. That’s the eldest son Gregory that’s the doctor. They own a restaurant together.”

“Oh yes, the restaurateurs. Seafood, is it?”

“Tapas. And next to them is the daddy Marcus with mama bear Mary-Anne. Then we have the doctor Gregory …”

“In Agatha Christie it’s mostly the doctor.”

Emment raised his eyebrow and smiled.

“Jan, it’s not Agatha bloody Christie!”, he laughed.

“Next to him is his wife Emilia, she’s a professor …”

“Of what?”

“Psychology.”

“Brains as well as beauty I see.”

“And next to her is Alexander …”

“The other man?”

“Ha?”

“The other man in yours and Josh’s bromance?”, Janet grinned.

“Shut-up!”, Emment laughed.

“And he’s a judge?”

“Not quite. He’s a lawyer. And then that’s obviously Josh beside him.”

“Can you spot the killer amongst them?”

“There mightn’t be a killer amongst them.”

“That’s true I suppose. But you think there is. Otherwise you wouldn’t be spending half the night poring over all this stuff.”

“Possibly.”

Emment’s eyes were getting more and more blurry as the night went on. He’d seen enough glasses of champagne to last him a lifetime. He was becoming so tired that he almost thought he was seeing things in the background of one of the photographs of Charlotte and Mitchell. He rubbed sleep from his eyes and looked again. It was unmistakable.

There was Marie Shepherd in an expensive-looking ballgown talking angrily to Gregory Hammond. Jeez Jan, maybe it is the doctor after all, thought Emment.

He enlarged the picture and noted the worried face of Gregory. Things were certainly beginning to get more and more interesting.

Well, well, well Gregory. Were you playing away from home with Miss. Shepherd?

The next day there was only one stop. Gregory’s and Emilia’s house. A large remote house with a large garden. Emilia was away teaching in the college so it was the perfect time to catch Gregory on his own.

“Would you like some tea? This visit is rather unexpected. How’s the case going?”, Gregory asked as he let Emment in.

“I think I best just get down to what I came here to talk to you about.”

Gregory looked puzzled.

“Well ok, take a seat.”

They sat on the sofa.

“I’m going to cut to the chase. I noticed in the background of one of the photographs from the Cancer Awareness Ball a curious scene. You and Marie Shepherd. And it appeared like you two weren’t on good terms.”

His face falls.

“So what if she was there? Means nothing.”

“What were you arguing over? You looked somewhat worried.”

“I don’t need to answer these questions.”

“Was your marriage going well at the time?”

“How dare you?! I want you to leave this house immediately!”

“Gregory, right now you are making yourself look very guilty indeed …”

“So what if I was having an affair with her?! It doesn’t mean I killed her!”

“So you admit to having an affair with her?”

“Yes!”

“And that night …”

“She was blackmailing me. Told me she’d tell … told me she’d tell Emilia.”

“And did you pay her?”

“Yes.”

“How much?”

“Ten grand. And she promised me the problem would go away.”

“Just like that.”

“She kept to her word.”

“Likely …”

“It’s the truth. Now, if we’re done here …”

“We’re done for now.”, Emment replied and saw himself out.

Short Story: The Mystery At Hammond Mansion Part 2 (Of 5)

 

The next stage of Emment’s investigations was to go and see Marie Shepherd’s family. In contrast to the huge house that was the Hammond mansion, Marie Shepherd’s family home was a small but comfortable house in a council estate. Emment parked the police car outside the house and got out. A group of teenagers were loitering sitting on the wall of the neighbour’s house.

“Sergeant, are you here because the Shepherd one snuffed it?”, one teenage boy shouted.

Emment didn’t respond and went to knock on the door. A young woman in her early thirties appeared with a cross with Jesus around her neck. She had a striking resemble and Emment realised she was Marie’s identical twin Samantha. Her eyes were red and tired. She greeted him and led him inside where the Shepherd family were seated in the living-room. Marie’s mother Sally, a warm woman in her late fifties, offered Emment tea as Emment surveyed the final members of the family, Marie’s father Michael, early sixties, in a wheelchair and looking angry and her brother Patrick, mid-twenties, a mechanic with an uninterested face and Patrick’s girlfriend Kate, early twenties, prim looking.

“I’m very sorry for your loss.”, Emment began.

“That’s all very well son but what are you doing about it?”, asked Michael.

“Well, um … we’re gathering a list of sus … of who was there in the house that night and questioning them on what they seen.”

“And how long will that take?”

“I just have the people who worked there left to speak to …”

“It’s that son-in-law. The gay one.”, Patrick said.

“This is what happens when someone hasn’t God in their lives.”

A religious fanatic, thought Emment. Great, that’s all I need!

“Was Marie seeing anyone?”

“Not that we knew of. She was seeing a nice chap Matthew who did missionaries with the Church. But it ended recently. He was very hurt as he was very fond of our Marie.”, Sally said.

Interesting, thought Emment.

“Where could I find Matthew?”

“Oh but Matthew would never hurt our Marie. He’s a sweet boy.”

“No, I’m sure he wouldn’t Mrs. Shepherd. But I’d still like to speak to him if I could just to see if he knows anything about who could have done this to Marie.”

“Of course.”, Sally replied uneasily and supplied him with Matthew’s address.

“Was Marie enjoying her employment at the Hammond house? Was she having any problems that any of you knew of?”

“Oh she was very happy with the position. It paid well. And with just the two parents there there really wasn’t much problems that she had to deal with.”, Sally said.

“It was just of a Sunday when the rest of the family came over for dinner that she did. That gay fella would go on about atheism and obviously it’s not the kind of thing any decent young woman would want to hear.”, said Patrick.

Patrick was actually beginning to irritate Emment. He hadn’t been reared to describe people by their sexuality and he silently wished he’d say Josh but knew it was clearly too much to ask.

“And what about the other members of the family? Did she like them?”

“She did, yes. She didn’t know them too well. But they were all otherwise quite charming.”, Sally said.

After Emment left the Shepherd house, he went to speak to Matthew. He lived in a small flat overlooking the local Catholic Church. He seemed surprised to see a policeman at the door but he greeted Emment pleasantly with a strong handshake and offered him some tea. They sat down in Matthew’s kitchen.

“I understand that you and Marie Shepherd had been dating. But that recently the relationship fell through.”

“She left me. Told me she wanted more from life than I could give her.”

“And how did that make you feel?”
“I didn’t kill her.”

“We just need to eliminate everyone …”

“I was angry and hurt. But I wouldn’t hurt a hair on Marie’s head.”

“Ok … was it a sudden change? Did she previously feel like she could have the life she wanted with you?”

“I believed so. She was a sensible, steady girl. Not like these crazy modern girls you see. She wanted a home life and a family. She knew I was going to be able to provide for her. Once that seemed enough for her. Obviously working in that big house gave her big ideas.”

Matthew paused.

“It was a pity. Because I loved her. She was the girl I was going to marry. You need to look into that Josh fella officer. More than once she had arguments with him.”

Afterwards Emment went over to Hammond mansion. There he interviewed a butler called Jeff who said she was ‘a bit of an airhead’ but he ‘had no reason to want to kill her’, a cleaner called Eimer who said ‘she kept to herself and read the Bible a lot’ and a chauffeur Mark who said ‘she was a pretty girl but too in love with the Almighty for my taste’. Finally Emment got to speak to someone who actually knew and liked Marie, housekeeper and cleaner Annette.

“She was a bright girl. The impression I got was that she wasn’t used to using her mind. Everything had been almost decided for her. Get a decent job, marry a nice Catholic boy and have a family and she didn’t question it which was a pity because she was bright enough to do so. Maybe she was beginning to live her life more her way having left that Matthew chap. Sadly she never got to Officer. She was a nice, quiet girl.”

“And she got on for the most part with everyone?”

“Everyone bar Josh Kelly-Hammond. Look, it was a clash of personalities. Josh is an intellectual and to be honest Marie was so sheltered that it was a bit of a culture shock. A real pity really as I often thought they were quite alike despite their differences.”

“In what way?”

“They both had brains Officer. Not that the other members of the Hammond family don’t. But they don’t really go into anything. Marie and Josh did. But Marie was afraid to go too far. A real shame.”

When Emment left the Hammond mansion, he went over to Josh’s and Alexander’s house. It was a Georgian-style townhouse in Dublin City. Emment knocked at the door and Josh answered.

“I have a few questions to ask you Josh.”

“I thought you might.”

Josh let Emment in.

“Leo, keep watching the cartoons there. You need anything buddy, just holler.”

“Noted Dad.”, Leo replied, sipping down some coke.

Josh led Emment into the kitchen.

“Alexander’s at work so …”

“That’s fine. It was you I wanted to see.”

“Ok.”, Josh replied and for the first time Emment noted nerves in his voice.

“Tea? Coffee? Beer?”, Josh offered.

“Coffee’s fine. I’m on duty.”, Emment replied, sick of having tea all day.

“Oh yeah, sorry.”, Josh grinned, making Emment tea and grabbing a beer himself.

He’s nervous about something to be drinking, thought Emment.

They sat down at the table.

“I’ve spoken to three people today and your name came up. Josh, what aren’t you telling me?”

“In what way?”

“You knew her better than you let on, didn’t you?”

“Marie?”

“I haven’t time for this, of course Marie.”

“Ok, ok … maybe. More at the end maybe. She, um, she wasn’t that bad at the end.”

“Wasn’t that bad at the end?”

“I mean she was still Catholic and she believed strongly in that and that was grand. But she … she wasn’t as vicious about it. She seemed to understand at the end that people felt differently and she understood the angle to why they might. The night before she was killed was a Sunday. We always went over for dinner of a Sunday. And as I left she came over to me and I remember that her words were ‘I finally get it, this whole atheism thing. I watched an interesting documentary about it.’ I got to explain to her that I didn’t believe in God but it didn’t mean I didn’t like Catholics, heck I’m married to a Catholic and my son is Catholic and I left the house that night thinking we could maybe be friends. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be.”

“That’s convenient Josh …”

“It didn’t happen overnight. Gradually week on week she was becoming easier to get on with. I think she was probably a nice girl beneath it, just … just a bit brainwashed to not like people.”

Short Story: The Mystery At Hammond Mansion Part 1 (Of 5)

 

 

Picturesque. That was the word that the locals used to describe Hammond Mansion. And it was quite a splendid establishment. Regally standing on the hill alone. It was a feast to everyone’s eyes including Inspector Emment Corrigan as he arrived following the murder of a woman Marie Hughes who worked as a housekeeper at the house. The family was assembled in the living-room awaiting his arrival. He scanned the room, accepted a cup of tea from a female worker at the house and made pleasantries while inwardly sizing up the suspects. There was father of the house Marcus Hammond, late 50s, walked with a cane and had rosy red cheeks that Emment guessed must be high blood pressure, drink or a combination of the two, mother of the house Mary-Anne Hammond, mid-fifties, extroverted to the point of irritating with an apron with printed granny smith apples, eldest son Gregory Hammond, late thirties, a very serious-looking man whose profession was a doctor, Gregory’s wife Emilia, late thirties, very prim and proper and whose profession was a professor at a prestigious University in Dublin, the only daughter of the family Charlotte James, early thirties, homely and bubbly and owned her own restaurant, her husband Mitchell James, mid-thirties, jolly-looking and owned the restaurant with Charlotte and youngest son Alexander Hammond-Kelly, late twenties, very proper and assertive and whose profession was a lawyer, his husband Josh Kelly-Hammond, late twenties, introverted with a sincere smile and whose profession was in question but Emment was sure he’d seen the name before somewhere.

“Who lives in the house?”, Emment asked.

“It is only Mary-Anne and myself since everyone flew the nest. It has been a massive shock to us all. The woman had been here just a few short months. She had great references and all. We think it may have been a burglary that went wrong or something of the sort …”, Marcus answered.

“Nothing was taken Mr. Hammond.”

Marcus Hammond went pale.

“Well I can’t think what this man could have been after. Maybe she was seeing this chap and he was a violent sort.”

“Was there anyone with a grudge against …”

“I have no idea. We didn’t know the girl that well. She just worked here.”

“No, Mr. Hammond, I was going to ask if there was anyone with a grudge against any of you?”

At this question each member of the family paled.

“But why would this man kill the girl if they had a grudge against any of us?”

“I don’t know. It’s just a theory. Maybe this man came with the idea to kill … someone else and Marie Shepherd interrupted him.”

“So you’re sure it’s a man?”, asked Josh.

Emment hadn’t really considered this. Statistics-wise most killers were men. He had just assumed they were looking for a man.

“Well … come to think of it, no.”

“So it could be a woman or a non-binary person?”

Non-binary? This was all new to Emment. Alexander rolled his eyes.

“Josh, non-binary only exists on Tumbler.”

Josh rolled his eyes.

“No Alex, it doesn’t.”

“Well in any case, has anyone a grudge against any of you?”

“Inspector, we are a very respectable family …”, Mary-Anne began and looked sideways at Josh.

“For the most part in any case, we have excellent breeding. No one could possibly have a grudge against any of us. This incident is simply unfortunate but we know nothing to help you in your investigations in that line.”

Josh looked like he was about to say something but stopped himself.

“Well Marie then, could I have a list of her references?”

“Of course.”, Mary-Anne replied walking over to a cabinet and taking out Marie’s CV and cover letter.

She handed them to Emment and he briefly scanned his eyes over the contents. Very well-qualified but appeared just like any CV or cover letter. He thanked Mrs. Hammond and made his exit ensuring them he would find out who did this.

As Emment stood on the steps he looked at the CV and cover letter. Josh came out and lit up a cigarette. He offered Emment one but he declined as he didn’t smoke.

“No, neither do any of them.”, Josh smiled.

“Apparently it’s a very working-class trait.”

Emment just smiled. He had already worked out that Josh was working-class in a way of each class knowing one from their own class almost instinctively.

“What do you do? If you don’t mind me asking …”

“No, of course not. Inspired by Frankie Merlo I’ll say I sleep with Mr. Hammond-Kelly.”

Emment looked confused.

“Like Frankie Merlo said about Tennessee Williams to John Warner I sleep with Mr. Williams …”

Realisation dawned on Emment.

“You’re a writer?”

“Well I say writer, technically to everyone else I’m unemployed.”

“A Youth Took Over By The Church?”

Josh looked chuffed.

“You read it?”

“It was very good.”

Emment would have said so even if he thought it wasn’t but in reality he had found it a very good read and mentally he instantly put Josh down as incredibly opinionated and incredibly modern.

“How did you get in with Alexander?”

“Someone like me?”, Josh smiled, taking a drag on his cigarette.

“No, I didn’t mean …”

“I know you didn’t … well do you remember the Murphy/Barry case?”

“Vaguely.”

“Well Adam Murphy was accused of murdering Lucy Barry …”

“In her Dublin flat?”

“Yes, my blog followed the case with major interest and Alex was representing the prosecution.”

“So yous’ sided together and love blossomed?”

“No, not in the slightest. The man was sentenced ten years ago but he didn’t do it. There was no evidence bar the Barry family, rich as fuck, insisting he was the last one to see her alive.”

“So who do you think done it?”

“I don’t know but it wasn’t Adam Murphy.”

Emment almost asked how he could be so sure but refeigned. Asking a writer that was like asking if the sky was blue. Instead he tried a different tact.

“Do you like the Hammond family?”

“I adore Alex obviously and our son Leo. Otherwise they don’t like me, I don’t like them but we co-exist and tolerate each other.”, Josh replied, matter-of-factly.

“Your son?”

“Yeah, he’s 8. We adopted him three years ago. Everything’s great expect he’s in a Catholic school but hey, you can’t have everything.”

“The Hammond family is Catholic?”

“Yeah. I get it, I was raised Catholic but I became atheist must be coming on eight years ago.”

“And the woman who was killed …”

“Was Catholic.”

That hadn’t been what Emment was going to ask but it was interesting to him that Josh knew this. He must have knew her better than the rest of the family to know her religion. He had been simply going to ask if he’d seen anything suspicious.

“How … how do you know that?”

“She was a writer too. Wrote all these rousing Catholic yolks on the internet. Not that I killed her, I believe in freedom of speech. But on the other hand she might have done me in long ago.”

“How?”

“Well she told me, while holding a knife mind, that I ‘better stop with my ramblings’. I continued on with my ramblings.”

Although Josh was firmly establishing himself as the prime suspect, been a police officer for almost ten years taught Emment that a killer tended not to incriminate themselves. On that basis he was taking Josh off the suspect list. If anything he could help him in his enquiries. He didn’t stick to the ‘everything is wonderful with the Hammond family line’ and he seemed a nice guy who you could have a drink with. He was down-to-earth and Emment hadn’t felt a lot of that at Chez Hammond.

Josh stamped out his cigarette.

“Josh, what were you going to say earlier?”

“I was just going to say that a murder is not an unfortunate incident. Marie and me, though we didn’t like each other, had one thing in common. We were both working-class. Her death is more than an unfortunate incident.”

He bid Emment farewell and went inside.

Emment entered his flat where he lived with his girlfriend Janet. She made them both a cup of tea as they settled down to talk on the sofa.

“So are they snotty buggers?”, Janet asked.

“Well yeah. Except Josh. He’s our background.”

“The youngest lad’s hubby? Wow, he done well.”

“He waffled on about non-binary at some stage. That was the only highfalutin reference he made …”

“Highfalutin? Sure that’s only both gender or neither.”

Emment raised his eyebrows.

“You think I’m thick, don’t you?”, Janet smiled, sipping her tea.

“I didn’t know what it meant.”

Janet said nothing.

“Well I know what it means. Anyways, who looks likely to have done it? And don’t say Josh. I like him already. Didn’t he write that thing?”

“A Youth Took Over By The Church?”

“That’s the one. Fabulous.”

“Well no, I don’t think he did it. But otherwise I’m none the wiser. They are very tight together. The mother, she’s telling they are a respectable family and have no enemies.”

“Oh well in that case they have loads!”, Janet laughed and Emment secretly agreed.

My Short Story The Oldcastle Murder Club Is In This Week’s Woman’s Way!

 

 

My short story entitled The Oldcastle Murder Club appeared in this week’s Woman’s Way. It is a murder mystery with the setting been where I grew up, Oldcastle. I never had written a story that I got published in Oldcastle so it was nice to get to. I loved writing it and I loved the characters especially Clara, Oisin and Cillian.

 

The story will be on sale until the next issue comes in on Tuesday. 🙂