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. 🙂

Short Story: The Pen

Shit, I thought. I really should have got one of those cheap set of earphones from the Euro shop instead of trying to save the two Euros. Well now I’ll just have to stand and stare awkwardly at people while I stand at the bus stop.
Two old women shuffle into the enclosure. They look like they are in their eighties and one lady has a trolley which her friend is helping her pull.
“Oh her grandson said he was some poly-something or other. Honestly these new things the young come up with. Ridiculous, isn’t it Maeve?”
“Oh indeed Maureen. You wouldn’t get any of that nonsense in our day.”
Double shit, two bigots at the bus shelter. Now I really wish I’d purchased those earphones. I have a screaming desire to say the word you are looking for is polysexual but I don’t.
“I mean what would God say? It’s in the Bible Maeve. Someone needs to teach the young the right way.”
“Adam didn’t go with Steve after all.”
Animated chuckles follow.
True Adam didn’t go with Steve but maybe he’d have enjoyed it, I think.
The bus looms in the distance and I feel a gentle sigh of relief exit from my mouth. I decide to go upstairs as the two old women take a seat downstairs. Next they’ll be onto pansexuality and as a pansexual man I ain’t interested in their negativity.

When my stop came I made my way downstairs. I could hear the two women had continued their sexuality-based chat.
“Really Maeve all these new ridiculous terms are just a posh, fashionable way of sleeping around. I mean they couldn’t get married. They wouldn’t be committed to anyone. You couldn’t trust them.”
“Oh god no Maureen. How could you? They’d be picking up all sorts anywhere. They’d sleep with anyone!”
I roll my eyes and step off the bus thinking I’m a pansexual man going to meet his bisexual best friend and we sure as hell are not planning on sleeping with each other!

When I arrive at Matt’s flat I am ready to have a rant about M & M but I soon realise that’s not to happen. He is super excited about something and doesn’t even offer me a beer.
“Sit down Jay. I’ll be back soon.”
Confused I slump myself down on the sofa. I hear him shuffling around in his bedroom.
“Man, are you … ok?”
What I really mean is: is he feeling alright? Has something strange come over him?
“Matt, you haven’t started believing in aliens again, have you?”
He laughs.
“Dude, that was two weeks in secondary school! I was going through a phase! In any case Dylan was into that shit …”
Dylan’s his ex boyfriend. Emo teenager turned banker adult. The world is full of surprises.
“Oh yeah Dylan, how is he these days?”
“Who cares?! Boring! Strait-laced! Up his fucking arse!”
Dylan dumped Matt.
“Yeah, here it is. Got to be careful with this or someone will snatch it. If they knew I had this they’d beat me up for it.”
My alien theory is coming back into my head.
He comes out holding a pen and wearing a cheesy grin on his face.
“Who’s they?”, I ask, trying to hold in the concern for him in my voice.
“Oh everyone mate. This here is gold. It’s the bridging of worlds.”
“Matt, it’s a pen!”
“Oh this ain’t no ordinary pen.”
“It looks pretty ordinary to me.”
“Well it isn’t. This pen can transport someone back in time. To the 1920s.”
“Seriously man you’re pulling my leg …”
“No, I was there last night.”
“What?! You don’t seriously believe that.”
“I know it! I experienced it with my own two eyes! I was just innocently sitting having my coffee while watching Game of Thrones and I was clicking the pen and suddenly I was there!”
Now I’m worried what was in his coffee.
“Man, it was fantastic. The consumerism, the fashion, the jazz. I meant this fantastic-looking chick Dorothy in one of the jazz clubs. She was there with her friend Joseph. You’d like him. He’s proper your type. You know the quiet, gentle, deep type. Dorothy on the other hand she is wild, proper party girl. Does the Charlston into the early hours.”
“Matt, you’ve been lonely lately I get that. Since you and Dylan broke up …”
“Oh I’m long over him! Look I know this sounds mad but it’s true. Come on, let’s go for a trip buddy.”
I decide that I better humour him. Maybe when it doesn’t work we can talk sensibly. So we end up both holding the pen and clicking down on it together.

Soon I find myself in the middle of a street. Two girls are flying by me in flapper dresses and there’s an advertisement at a cinema for The Thief of Bagdad. As a film buff who constantly watches old movies on YouTube I’m now freaking out. I turn around to find a wide-eyed Matt. He smiles at the surprise on my face.
“Told you.”, he simply says.
Either we are both off our rockers or this is actually 1924.
“Come on, let’s go find Dor. She said she’d meet us at The Velvet Cat.”
“She knows I’m coming?”
“Oh yeah, just one thing. I never said how I got here. Just pretend you are from this time. Saves a lot of explanations.”
“Matt, how the hell are you taking this in your stride? We’ve just time-travelled!”
“It’s a little unusual I admit …”
“A little unusual. Who gave you that pen?!”
“The old man with glasses in the bookies …”
“What old man with glasses in the bookies?!”
“Dicer … well Phillip Dice but we call him Dicer. Picks a good few winners …”
“I don’t care about his gambling expertise!”
“I was doing a bet, the pen wouldn’t write. He gave me a lend but when I turned around he wasn’t there. Hasn’t been since. Anyway who cares? This is amazing. We are living. Loosen up. You are never going to get Joseph’s trousers off if you are going to be this uptight.”
“I’m not trying to get his trousers off! We need to get back to 2016 and find this Dicer fella …”
“You’re forgetting one thing.”, Matt says, starting to move away from me a bit.
“Oh and what’s that?”
“I have the pen.”, he stays and starts to run off.
“Dude, this is childish! Get back here!”, I shout, rushing after him with visions of been stuck in the 1920s in my head.

I follow him into The Velvet Cat. He joins a woman and a man who I presume are the wild Dorothy and the quiet Joseph whose trousers I’m supposed to be trying to get off. Matt is kissing Dorothy and Joseph is sitting across from them with his back to me. I reluctantly approach the table with one focus in mind: getting that pen.
“Jayden mate, pull up a chair.”, Matt calls out and I involuntarily roll my eyes.
Joseph gets up to let me get past to the free chair and that’s when I almost choke.
Oh my god, he’s beautiful. Maybe I would like to sleep with him.
And then he smiles. You know that incredibly endearing warm smile that introverts do when even hello is hard to get out of their mouth. I’m swept away with dizziness and before I know it I’m sitting down. Joseph offers me a cigarette and I forget and ask him where the smoking area is. He looks puzzled.
“The smoking area?”
Matt intervenes.
“Jay’s got this mad idea that there should be smoking areas in bars and clubs. Health of non-smokers and all that.”
“You don’t believe that surely darling? That’d take away all the fun!”, Dorothy purrs.
“Well …”, I begin.
“He believes what he believes.”, Joseph smiles.
“Surely Joseph sweetie you don’t think that we should be forced out to another area with our fags like some sort of bar outcasts?”
“I didn’t say I did Dor. But it’s an interesting take on it.”, he says beginning to light up his cigarette.
He stops and turns to me.
“This doesn’t offend you, does it? Because I don’t want to.”
“No, no, of course not.”
He lights his cigarette.
“It’s just I have this friend Sue and she’s a vegetarian. It upsets her when someone eats meat in front of her.”
“Sue’s a drama queen! She saves insects from been stood on!”, Dorothy whined, wrapping herself around Matt.
“She likes animals Dor.”
“Well I’ll agree on that Joesph. After all she was with Wilson and he was a beast. I should know! But that was before I met my little Matty boy!”
They begin a full on kissing session while I think this is the 1920s! I’m not the most traditional or a prude but weren’t things took a little slower back then? Back now? Oh I’m confused.
“So Joseph, what do you do?”
“I’m a railroad worker. Oh and I write poetry on the side.”
“Anything published?”
“Not as of yet. What about you?”
“I’m a barman.”
“Where?”
“A long way from here.”
“Must be. I haven’t seen you around before. And I’d remember if I did.”
Our eyes meet. It’s a few seconds. It feels like an eternity. A wonderful eternity. His hand is holding his drink. I reach across to place my hand on top of his and he pulls it away instantly. There is terror on his face and he gets up.
“I have to go Dor. Splendid night.”
He rushes out and I rush after him. When I catch up with him I begin talking very fast.
“I was told you were into guys. I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable.”
“Will you keep your voice down?! What are you trying to do?! Get us killed?!”
“I’m sorry. I forgot.”
“Yeah, well you wouldn’t want to forget too often, would you?!”
“No, I guess not.”
His voice softens.
“I’m sorry. It’s just … it isn’t right, is it? But it’s the way it is. And it’s never gong to change. So I suppose you just got to get on with things. I’m gay and I’m completely happy been but other people will never come around to just seeing people as human beings and not putting people in boxes in a quest for power.”
“Things will change. There’ll come a time when people will say they are gay and people will say so what? Well the majority will anyway.”
“You’re very positive for a gay man in the 1920s.”
“Well technically I’m not gay but I know what you mean.”
“You’re not? I’m confused.”
“I’m pansexual. I can fall for men, women or non-binary people.”
“Non-binary?”
“Someone who is both genders or neither.”
“I have a friend Charlie who feels like that. But I’ve never heard the word.”
“Well you know, as time moves on people, if they feel they want to, do find words to describe what they feel.”
“It’s like you know all this stuff I don’t.”
“Likewise. Like don’t put your hand on a guy’s hand when homosexuality isn’t legal. I forget sometimes.”
Joseph took Jayden’s hand and brought him behind the wall. He cupped Jayden’s face in his hand and began to kiss him.
“Isn’t this dangerous?”
“Sometimes it’s good to have a bit of danger. Besides we’re hidden. I don’t usually kiss someone this quick.”
“Neither do I.”
They began kissing again.

After the night, Jayden and Matt returned to their time.
“He’s a great kisser.”
“Now, you’re happy you made the trip.”, Matt smiled.
“It’s such a pity it can’t last.”
“Why not? We can go back as much as we like.”
“There’s a reason why that guy gave you that pen though.”
“I know but who cares?”
“Joseph’s life was back then. Mine’s now.”
“Would you stay in the 1920s for him?”
“Yeah.”
“Ah would you? How fucking soppy! It’s like the real life gay version of Romeo & Juliet.”
“You’ve never even read Romeo & Juliet … look think, when this guy gave you the pen did he say anything?”
“He just gave me a docket with the words The Velvet Cat on it. And tomorrow’s date only in the 1920s. 8pm.”
“Why didn’t you tell me that before?”
“Because you’d get all serious and then it would have been no fun. Besides it’s tomorrow or tonight now but it wasn’t last night’s date.”
Jayden sighed.
“Ok, tonight we go back.”

The Velvet Cat was quiet when Jayden and Matt entered. Two men and a woman sat at the bar. The barman was an older man with glasses. A violent dispute broke out between the two men for the woman’s affections. One man suddenly took out a knife and stabbed the other man. The woman rushed out. A newspaper cutting fell in front of Jayden and Matt. It read:

Man Killed In Bar. No Reliable Witnesses

Robert Mitchell (28) was killed in a stabbing incident in a bar. However his death has been deemed unsolved at an inquest today. Mr. Mitchell was having a drink in The Velvet Cat Bar at 8pm last Saturday with the only witness present been the barman Jimmy Dice (72). Mr. Dice identified a young man in his 30s as been the person who stabbed Mr. Mitchell. The man can not be named for legal reasons. At the inquest it was deemed that Mr. Dice could not be certain of his identification due to poor eyesight. According to police the case is now closed.

“This is ridiculous. They’ll think it’s us Jay!”
“What have we got to lose? We just click the pen if things go wrong.”
When the police arrived, Jayden and Matt backed up Jimmy’s story. And Jimmy said they had been sitting over the other side of the bar. They agreed to make it to the inquest.

After the inquest, a trial followed where William Nolan was found guilty of murder. Matt went to say his goodbyes to Dorothy and Jayden went over to Joseph.
“Now we can live happily ever after.”, Joseph beamed.
“I really wish you didn’t say that. Look this is going to sound nuts but I should have told you this from the start. I’m from the year 2016 …”
“What?!”
“Just hear me out. Matt and me came to right a wrong. Well at first we weren’t sure why we were here. But it became apparent. The pen time travels.”
“Look if you want to break up with me you don’t have to make up some stupid elaborate story. Just be a man about it.”
“I love you. But you have your life. I have mine. This is coincidence. This isn’t what’s meant to be.”
Jayden kissed Joseph passionately.
“The world’s really in 2016 …”
“Yeah and I hope I meet someone as wonderful as you in the present day.”
“So I’ve already died?”
“I don’t want to think of that but I’d imagine so.”
“Well I hope I met someone as wonderful as you before I popped off.”
Jayden kissed Joseph again before walking over to Matt. They clicked the pen one last time and returned to the present day.

Back in 2016, Jayden felt something in his pocket. He took it out. It was a rolled-up piece of paper.
“What’s that?”, Matt asked.
“A poem.”
“From Joseph?”, Matt smiled,
“I’ll go get us two beers in the kitchen. Give you some privacy to read it.”
Jayden began to read the poem:

There is something about you,
I can’t put my finger on it.
You are caring,
Understanding,
Real.
Before I met you love was fiction,
It was in books,
It was what I wrote
But never felt.
You are filled with strength Jay,
Filled with love,
Bursting with it.
That’s what makes you everything,
Everything to me.
Don’t ever lose that,
Don’t lose that beauty inside.