You put it in a mystery, of course, and then hope that somebody stumbles over it. However, and there’s always a however, at least there is most of the time; however, if it is a Hitchcock who has you stumble over the body, it will be “The Trouble With Harry”. The trouble with that Harry is that nobody notices the body. When they do take notice, they are not concerned with finding out who did the deed. Mostly they do not want to trip over a corpse. It is such an inconvenience.
There is no chance that the body of Marvin Winkleheimer will not be tripped over. He falls nine floors and thumps onto the awning over the front door of the Westchester Arms Apartments, then bounces off. Considering that his corpse flops onto middle of the sidewalk, it is bound to be tripped over. And tripped over it is by some little old grandmother walking her dog, Mr. Peepee. She lets out a scream and faints and people rush to attend to her with smelling salts. They see Marvin with his Errol Flynn good looks, lying face up. In his left hand he holds a king of hearts, and he is waiting for the cops to show and ask, “Perhaps this was a suicide, huh?”
“It’s amazing that he committed suicide,” Maude Findlay, one of his neighbors in the Westchester Arms Apartments, says when asked by the uniformed policeman.
“People say he had a lot of girl friends?”
“Floozies is what I’d call them. A different one every night.” There was anger in her voice. “Some in the building call him the King of Hearts.”
“Perhaps,” the cop says, “he’d run out of his Viagra and was having a rough time keeping it up.”
“Well, it’s just too bad he fell off his balcony,” she says. deciding to make nice and check her anger. Her voice goes soft. “It must have really hurt when he stopped.” Going through her motherly mind is the thought that standing there in front of her is a nice boy. He would make a good husband for her divorcee daughter. After all, he is not wearing a wedding ring. “You know you should meet my daughter. The two of you would make a good couple.”
“Yes, ma’am,” he says, writing down everything she tells him for his report later. The officer, whose name is George, is having none of this blind date business. He walks away from Maude’s apartment, shaking his head. He just broke up with his wife and is suing for a divorce and is not about to become involved with another woman. Especially one who’s mother is a witness to a crime scene. A one night stand, yes, but he is in no mood for a new relationship. At least, not yet anyway.
But the cops are starting to have suspicions about Marvin’s demise. Things just aren’t adding up to a suicide. Ole Marv had way too much going for him.
“Could Marvin have been murdered?” George asks his partner Ned, who is also getting a divorce. “Everybody says he was a happy man and a good neighbor. Except for a few indiscretions.”
“I sure would like to have his indiscretions,” Ned says. “Guess we’d better contact homicide.”
“Everybody liked him,” another elderly female neighbor tells the lieutenant, standing in her doorway. “He was such a nice man.” The neighbor’s name is Jessica Fletcher. She is a mystery writer and she is “Murder She Wrote” famous.
“Mmmmm,” says Lieutenant Colombo, finishing his chocolate-coated almond bar. He wads the candy paper up and stuffs it into his pocket and wipes the melted chocolate onto the side of his trench coat, smearing it with brown spots. He is the homicide man assigned to the Marvin-splattered-all-over-the-sidewalk case. “Guess he had his troubles though. Jumping off the side of the building like he did.”
“You just never know.” Mrs. Fletcher is grossed out at the sight of Colombo’s chocolate-stained coat and watching him picking at the almond stuck in his teeth.
“You don’t happen to have a toothpick, do you?”
“Yes. Let me get you one,” she says and rushes off into the kitchen.
She returns to the living room with hand wipes and a box of toothpicks in her hands. He is fingering the papers neatly stacked on her desk. She cringes, and runs over to him, almost stumbling as she does, and grabs his hand.
“Didn’t your mother tell you not to touch other people’s things?” She hands him a hand wipe to clean his hands and the box of toothpicks.
“So,” he says as he wipes his hands off, “this is where a world famous mystery writer solves all of her mysteries?” He drops the wipe onto her desk. “By the way, Mrs. Fletcher, my wife loves your books. She keeps telling me that I might learn something from them. So I went out and bought one.” He pulls a paperback book out of his trench coat pocket. “Would you mind signing it?” She picks up the wipe by its edge and puts it into the garbage can by her desk.
“Why, yes,” Mrs. Fletcher says and thinks, “Anything to get you out of her.” She takes the book from the lieutenant and, of course, it has chocolate stains on its cover. As she looks at the book, her hand meticulously avoids the stain. “Oh, it’s The Corpse Danced at Midnight. That one brings back such pleasant memories. It was my first book. Such a hard one to let go of and give to the world. Who shall I make it out to?” She doesn’t know that Colombo is the world famous television detective, who bumbles his way into solving every case he is assigned to, and he does it in ninety minutes too. How could she know? She does not have a television. She has no time for such foolishness, what with all the writing and the travelling and the murder-solving she does.
“You’d do that for me?” He takes a toothpick out of the box, sits the box onto the desk and starts picking his teeth.
“Of course,” she says, trying to hold back her disgust as she picks up a pen off her desk. “Who shall I make it out to?”
“Well, I am thrilled,” he says, still picking his teeth, studying the apartment room, eyeing the hundreds of books on the shelf behind her desk. “So this is where it all happens. My wife is not going to believe this. She just will not believe this.”
“But who shall I sign the book to?” Her voice rises with impatience.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Detective Colombo says. “You can make it out to my wife.”
“What is her name?” Mrs. Fletcher is frustrated. How can I get rid of this vulgar, vulgar man? I have a deadline and I need to get back to my book and he is so annoying picking his teeth like that and rifling through my papers the way he has. God only knows where those scuffed up brogans have been and they are filthing up my carpet.
“Who?” he asks. He takes the toothpick out of his mouth and it falls to the floor. “Finally. That was one hard nut to crack.” He laughs as she picks up the toothpick with a Kleenex she pulled from a box on her desk. She throws both into her desk can.
“Your wife, what’s her name?”
“Oh, my wife.”
“Yes, what is her name?”
“Mrs. Colombo’s name,” he says, “you want that?”
“Yes, what is her name?” She wants to scream, “You idiot”, but she doesn’t.
Finally he gives up the name. “Just sign it ‘To Mrs. Colombo.’ She’ll get a kick out of it.”
Mrs. Fletcher scrawls her signature onto the page and thrusts the book into the detective’s hand.
He hands it back to her. “’My number one fan please.”
“My God, man, will you please…” she starts to say but holds back. She quickly scribbles the epithet and shoves the book into the lieutenant’s hand. He puts it back into his trench coat pocket.
“Now, if you don’t mind,” she says, pushing him toward the door, “I have a novel to write.”
“I know, you writers have your deadlines.” The policeman, his hands in his pockets, turns to leave.
“That’s right.” She goes to close the door.
He stops and faces her again.
“By the way,” he asks, “you don’t happen to play cards, do you?”
“Yes, I play bridge. Why do you ask?”
“We found this in the dead man’s hand.” Colombo hands her the card found in Marvin’s hand. “It’s a King of Hearts.”
“I can see that, Detective.”
“Call me Lieutenant. You wouldn’t have any idea why a King of Hearts would be in his hand, would you?”
“Not really. We played some together. Even partnered from time to time. He wasn’t very good, you know. But I can’t think why that card would be on him. Unless…”
“I don’t want to arouse any suspicion. But Maude Findlay down the hall, I once overheard her call him the King of Hearts. You don’t think she had anything to do with his death?”
“Can’t say. I doubt it though. She doesn’t seem like she’d be involved with a sordid thing like this. But they never do seem like the sordid type, do they, Mrs. Fletcher? Oh, well. I have to get back to my paperwork at the station house. You know, there’s always a lot of paperwork when these suicide things happen. More than when it’s murder. Never understand that. Call me if you can think of anything else.”
“I will,” she says.
“You promise?” he says. “Don’t go off and poke your tiny nose where it doesn’t belong the way you do in your books.” He pats his pocket. “It could be dangerous.”
“Oh, I won’t, Lieutenant. That’s only for my books.”
“Well, good day.” Colombo turns and walks toward the elevator.
Mrs. Fletcher closes her apartment door. Then she realizes she still has the card in her hand. She turns the doorknob, then stops herself. She drops the card on the table by the door and returns to her desk and her writing.
She writes, “The woman looked at Jessica, Jessica looked at the woman.
“’So, you did….’”
The doorbell interrupts her concentration.
“Oh, shit,” she says. ”Did I just say shit?” She giggles. She never says shit. She is much too too fine a person for that word and so are her characters. Even the murderers. They may do nasty things, but they would never talk nasty.
The doorbell rings, insistent this time.
She rises from her desk and goes to the door and opens it. Standing there is the trench-coated bumbler who had just left.
“Lieutenant, don’t you ever give up and leave a person in peace? I didn’t push Marvin off his balcony, so go away. I have a deadline to meet and you’re intruding with that.”
“Excuse me, madam, but I forgot the card,” He reaches over and picks up the card. “And here it is. But did I hear you correctly. Did you say Marvin was pushed? And off his balcony? I don’t think I ever brought up where he was pushed. Or that he was pushed.”
“Oops,” Jessica Fletcher, mystery writer and solver of murders extraordinary, walks over to her sofa and falls down onto it. She is dazed at the information she just revealed to this bumbler of a detective. If she’d only watched “Colombo” on tv, she would have been on her guard.
Lieutenant Colombo follows her into the apartment.
“So you did kill the King of Hearts?”
“Yes, but it was an accident. Such a horrid accident. You see, he had been cheating at bridge. And you don’t do that. You just don’t cheat at bridge.”
“But people cheat at cards all the time?”
“Not at bridge,” Mrs. Fletcher says, her face in her hands. “When I confronted him, he laughed. ‘Don’t take it so seriously,’ he says to me. ‘It’s just a penny ante game.’ That wasn’t the point. It was bridge.”
“You mean, you murdered him over a game of bridge?”
“He cheated and it wasn’t murder, Lieutenant. It was an accident. I was so angry I pushed my umbrella into his stomach. ‘Now hold on,’ he says. But I keep pushing on my umbrella. It was bridge and he needed to apologize. Not just to me. But to all of us who play in the building. So I push more and he keeps objecting. Soon he is through the French windows and out onto the balcony. He laughs and says, ‘You know you should see the look on your face when you talk about bridge. It’s priceless.’ I pushed one last time, thinking this will teach him a lesson. He went over the balcony and that was the last…the last of the King of Hearts.”
Jessica Fletcher looks up at Colombo with tears in her eyes.
“Do you have to handcuff me? I’ll go peacefully.”
“No, ma’am,” Colombo sticks out his arm for her. She wipes the tears from her eyes, takes his arm and stands up. As he escorts her out of the apartment, he says, “This should put you back on the bestseller list, Mrs. Fletcher. But my wife is going to be so disappointed.”
This is a bit of fan fiction, not for profit but simply for the fun of writing it.