A Cozy Murder

Detective Retired John Johns came to Halcyon Days Township to live his life in peace and quiet. He had had it up to his eyeballs with his days on the Big City Police Force. If it wasn’t one murder, it was another. After putting in his twenty, he decided enough was enough. He turned in his badge, took his pension and headed out to the tranquil pastures of Halcyon Days.

Halcyon Days was a small village. The folks were about as folksy as folksy could be. Never resisting a tip of the hat and a howdy if they met you on the street. And the neighbors cared enough to bring you chicken soup if you were sick

John Johns moved into a two bedroom bungalow and went to work on his hobby, crossword puzzles. Back in the Big C, it seemed he never had a chance to finish a puzzle before a murder dropped into his lap. The first thing he did when he moved into his dream house with the white picket fence was to log onto Amazon and order a hundred or so puzzle books. That should keep him for a while, then he went outside and planted some roses in the front yard.

He had just come back from the Sunday morning services at the little white Church. It wasn’t that he was religious. It was just the place to catch up on the local news. If the sermon was about adultery, he was darned sure there was someone caught in an adulterous affair.

There were seldom any sermons about adultery. The last one remembered was just before the preacher was caught with the church secretary. Shortly after that, both ran off and left their spouses behind. But everything turned out a-okay as it always seemed to in Halcyon Days. The spouses suddenly realized they were in love with each other. If the sermon had been on loving your neighbor, it would have really set the folks’ ears a twinkle.

John Johns was in the middle of boiling a kettle of water for a cup of Rose Petal Tea. Then the phone rang. It wasn’t an ordinary ring. It was the kind of ring that said to Johns there was going to be trouble on the other end. He hesitated but, after the seventh ring, he finally picked it up.

“Is this Detective Retired John Johns?” the phone wanted to know.

“Yes,” Johns answered.

“This is Sheriff Bobby Beaufort. I need your help. There’s been a murder.”

“I can’t help. I’m retired.”

“Seems that there was a sleepover at the Old Fletcher Manor. Six folks stayed last night. One of them folks, Sir George Ruckus, didn’t show up for blueberry pancakes. When he didn’t join the others for bridge, they all figured something was wrong. Sir George never in his life missed a game of bridge.” (Now you know this is a cozy mystery. They always play bridge in these kind of stories.)

“So why are you calling me?”

“I’ve got my hands full with helping the LLBS. That’s Ladies Local Bake Sale for the new comers. They always like a uniform around. Otherwise they won’t think it’s official.”

“Can’t you send a deputy.”

“Don’t have no deputies. There’s never any crime to have a need. So as you can see I’m in a pickle what with the LLBS and all. And the mayor is having a hissy. When the mayor has a hissy, it’s not pleasant. He hasn’t had one in a while so he’s saved up.”

John Johns looked at his cup of tea and really didn’t want to give it up for some wild goose chase. But he had always taken the side of prudence. He said yes and hung up.

Fifteen minutes later he was in his red Ford heading out State Road 1001. He was in his official detective get-up of white shoes, white suit, white shirt, red tie and white hat. It took him six minutes and thirty-seven and a half seconds to get to the Old Fletcher Manor Gate. He made his turn off the state road and drove through the gate toward the mansion on the hill. It took him another twenty-seven minutes and fifteen seconds to drive the curves up that hill to the three-story antebellum white mansion.

The Butler answered the doorbell.

“I’m Detective Retired John Johns and I am here to make inquiries.”

“Inquiries, Sir?”

“Yes. I understand someone got snockered.”

“Snockered, Sir?”

“You know, kaputski.”

“Kaputski, Sir?

“Somebody’s with the fishes.”

“There are no fishes here, Sir.”

“You know. Snuffed, scragged, whacked, annihilated.”

“Oh, you mean decimated?”

“Yes, that’s it.”

“Follow me.” Butler turned and led John Johns into the Drawing Room.

As he followed, John Johns thought he knew who did the deed. The Butler Do-ed It. It’s always the Butler in these kinds of affairs. To be on the safe side, he kept his suspicions to himself.

As he walked into the Drawing Room, a fly crossed his path. He swished it away. The fly flew over to the blonde in the corner. She didn’t move a muscle. The fly left her and completely ignored the gentleman standing beside her. He had a mustache.

“Madame,” Butler said. “A Detective John Johns.”

The woman with the red wig and powdered nose rose from her chair and greeted the detective. “Thank God. A professional. Not that amateur of a sheriff who’s been playing party pops with the school marm. I am Pamela Wigsley.” (She’s called Wigsley so the reader will remember she’s the one in the wig.)

“I hear you have a murder on your hands.”

“Yes, we have a murder on our hands.”

“Here, Willy.” He handed his hat to Butler. “Treat it with care. It was my great granddad’s.” (Remember the Chekhov rule. If a white hat shows up in a scene, it must be used by the end of the story. So watch for the white hat. It may be important.)

“Yes sir. But I am not Willy. I am Butler.”

“Sure you are.”

With white hat in hand, Butler buttled his way out of the Drawing Room.

John Johns took charge. “Where’s the corpus delecti?”

“In the Library.”

John Johns said, “Of course. It always has to be the Library. Where else would a murder occur? Where’s the Library?”

“Through that door.”

“Through that door?” The detective pointed to the door Madame Wigsley mentioned.

“Yes.”

John Johns went to the door, opened it and walked into the Library. Several seconds later, he came back into the Drawing Room. “There’s been a murder in there. Somebody tea-and-crumpeted his tea-and crumpets.”

“Yes,” Wigsley said. “And it has to be someone in this room who did it.”

“Not the Butler?”

“Of course not. If Butler the Butler was a murderer, I would not have him on my staff.”

“And who found the body?”

“The maid, Daisy Maid Bluebell.”

John Johns went to the Drawing Room door and called for Daisy Maid Bluebell, the maid. “Could you bring me a cup of Rose Petal Tea please?”

Pushing away the tear in her eye, she said, “Yes, Sir.”

Why was there a tear in her eye? he asked himself. Well, it was obvious no one would accuse her of the murder. After all, she found the body. No, there had to be another reason.

Johns scanned the room, taking in each of the six while he awaited his tea.

As they waited for Johns’ tea to come, none of the six spoke. They were very quiet and they were nervous.

Finally the maid returned with the tea and handed the cup and saucer to Johns. She started to leave. “Please stay,” the detective requested Daisy Maid.

“Yes, Sir,” she said, then took her place beside Mustache.

Johns took a sip of his tea, smiled, then complimented the maid on her perfect cup of tea. He sat the cup and saucer on the table and perused the room. A slight smile crossed his face. It was one of his gotcha smiles.

“Well, well, well,” he said to the group. “Let’s see. Wigsley, it’s obvious you did not do the crime. If you had, then you would have gone to the trouble of straightening your wig.”

Wigsley said, “Oh, it’s crooked.” She straightened her wig.

“Yes,” Johns said. “If you had murdered our friend Sir, you would have wanted to make sure you looked perfect. So no one would suspect you.” Then he turned to Fashion Sense, a man in absolutely the nattiest of all the natty outfits you might ever see. “It’s definitely not you. You’re too much a coward.”

“A coward?” Fashion Sense did not raise his voice. He was too much of a coward to do so. “How can you accuse me of such a thing?”

“Anyone with your fashion sense would be way to afraid to get blood on his natty nats, wouldn’t one?”

Next came the Brunette. “I know you didn’t kill him or anyone else.”

“How do you know?”

“If you had done the deed, I wouldn’t be able to ask you out. Are you free for dinner next Saturday evening?”

“Of course,” the Brunette said and smiled. “Finally, I have a date,” she thought. “It’s been years and I don’t have a thing to wear. Now I definitely have a good reason to go shopping.”

Johns moved on to Regina Queensberry. “It could have been you. But no. You and Hector here would have too much to lose. You still have to announce your engagement. So, you would wait till after the Season is over before committing the crime of the century. So that leaves Blondie here.”

The tension had been killing Mustache. He couldn’t stand it any longer. So he confronted Johns. “What about me?”

“No, I don’t think it was you. Of all the cases I have investigated, never has a man with a mustache–or a woman, for that matter–committed murder. Grand larceny, yes. Fraud, yes. Bank robbery, yes. But not murder.”

“You’re wrong,” Mustache said adamantly. “Very wrong. I could have done it too.”

“No. You don’t have a motive.”

“I do too. Sir George was sleeping with Daisy Maid Bluebell, then he was going to throw her over for Blondie when he got the chance. It was just a matter of time. I couldn’t stand seeing my Daisy Maid hurt like that.”

Daisy Maid turned to Mustache and hugged him. She was crying. “I didn’t know. Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I thought you would just laugh,” Mustache said. He was crying now.

“I would never laugh at you, My Darling. The only reason I went off with Sir George was because you didn’t ask me out.”

Johns stepped forward, removed Daisy Maid from his arms and cuffed Mustache with his handcuffs. He retrieved his white hat from Willy. (Sorry to mislead you readers about the white hat. That’s called a red herring. Makes the reader think that somehow that white hat had something to do with the crime.)

With Mustache cuffed to the backseat, Johns drove straight to the jail. As he drove, he hummed, “Another one bites the dust.”

So there you have it. No blood. In fact, we don’t even see The Victim. For all practical purposes, Sir George was the McGuffin of the piece. Just the reason for John Johns to show off his stuff.

 

 

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Short Story Wednesday: The Blue-Haired Boys

Short Story Prompt: “The Red-Headed League” by Arthur Conan Doyle

I sat in the apartment of Mr. Shyrlick Homes, watching the Great Detective admire himself. How did I know he was the Great Detective? He had business cards printed to prove it. As a reminder to me, he showed me his card every time I came to visit him in his boudoir.

I know the word “boudoir” applies to a woman’s private quarters. Unfortunately Homes insisted on calling his apartment his boudoir. When I objected, he said, “Tut, tut, tut. Now, D. R., one mustn’t abuse the language, you know. The word for my quarters is boudoir.”

Why did he call me D. R.? you ask. That too was a misunderstanding I had given up correcting. I have on my card “Dr. Henry Wotsun”. He mistook the Dr. for D. R.

“My dear fellow,” I would retort, “I think not. I think the OED is quite clear on the definition of the word ‘boudoir’.”

“I have taken up the matter with the Word Committee at OED. They assured me they will make the correction with the next edition. Until then, old chap, you will have to take my word for it, will you not?”

“Of course,” I answered, resigned to the absurdity.

Why did I choose to join Mr. Homes in his “boudoir”? It was a good way to while away the afternoon. I needed entertainment after a long morning of patient after patient wanting their buns tucked, their breasts syliconized, their lips botoxed. One more pouty mouth and I swear. Well, you get the photograph.

So there I was, observing Homes admire himself in the mirror for a good fifteen minutes. It was such amusement to watch him stroke his chin and make faces, then turn to his left side and give his face the eye. Then it was to the right and more eye. Finally it was a full face. He turned to me and asked, “I need your professional opinion on my appearance.” I am a plastic surgeon so I do have a certain expertise in these matters.

“Yes.” I knew that I should tred lightly in supplying an opinion on such a delicate matter as Mr. Homes’ face.

“I am thinking of having my hair dyed. What say you, old fellow?”

I was flabbergasted. “You have such a marvelous head of black hair. Why would you want to do such a villainous act?”

“I want to die my hair blue. What say you, old chap?”

“This is madness.”

“Will you do it?” he pressed.

There was no convincing my friend once he had set his mind on a thing. What choice did I have? “Yes, I will.”

Homes grabbed me and hugged me and raised me in the air, then spinning the two us. Finally his enthusiasm exhausted itself and he dropped the two of us to the floor.

“I will,” I said, “if you will share with me the reason.”

He looked at me with a deadly seriousness. “I am joining The Blue-Haired Boys.”

“The Blue-Haired Boys? No, Homes, you can’t. I won’t have it.”

“You have no choice.”

He was right. I had no choice.

“Why?” I asked. The Blue-Haired Boys were the most dangerous gang of thugs in London.

“I have been invited to join. I will have you know. And join I shall.”

“But why would you want to join that gang of thugs?” Every crime in the city of London since The Great War could one way or another be traced to the Blue-Haired Boys. That was what the newspapers said. That was what the police said.

“Now, now, now,” Homes said. “Their reputation is simply a matter of bad public relations. Which I shall rectify once I am a member in good standing.”

Finally I agreed to the dying of Homes’ beautiful hair. I gave him the full body treatment. Not one hair on his chinny-chin-chin would be another color. All the while thinking that once you’re true blue, you cannot return to your former tincture.

Several days later I visited Homes in his “boudoir”. Once again, he stood before the mirror. Once again he admired himself quite extensively.

Finally, he said to me in his cheerful way, “Well, D. R., I am off to the races. The game is indeed afoot.”

“What are you up to, Homes?” I was becoming concerned that my friend might be getting into deep water. I am speaking metaphorically here, of course. What I meant was that he might be getting in over his head.

“The Blue-Haired Boys have accepted me as one of them. I am indeed True Blue, as we say in the trade.”

“So what dastardly path are you about to set out upon?”

“I am bound and determined to show the world what nice fellows my new comrades-in-arms are. And I shall do this one alone.”

In the past, I had accompanied Mr. Shyrlick Homes on each and every investigation. I was actually the detective, solving the crimes he received credit for. I liked it that way. It kept me in the shadows in the public’s mind and gave me a certain ability to move about unchallenged. But now Homes had decided to do this one alone. His very life could be in danger. With this in mind, I followed my friend.

He walked to the waterfront and to a certain ship whose name shall be nameless. No use accusing a ship when it may very well be totally innocent. It was the Blue-Haired Boys headquarters. For many months, I suspected it. Now I had proof. Mr. Shyrlick Homes was taking his blue hair there.

I left the shadows and rushed to the nearest telephone. It was in a pub called the Rotten Smelling Egg. It was a smelly place if ever there was one.

Sergeant Roughed answered the line, “Scotland Yard at your service.”

“This is Wotsun,” I said to the Cop Shop. ” Dr. Henry Wotsun. Give me the Top Cop.”

“Wotsun, sir?”

“It is indeed.”

“And you say you want the Top Cop in the Cop Shop?” As you can see the sergeant was not the brightest bulb in the room. No wonder the Blue-Haired Boys had escaped so many times before. But not this time. I had them and I was not about to let them escape. Besides Homes might be in a bit of the way. His very life could be in danger.

“I do indeed want the Top Cop in the Cop Shop. And get on it chop-chop,” I said amazed at the slowness of the man’s brain.

“Did I hear you correctly, sir? Did you say that you were about to chop the Top Cop in the Cop Shop? That’s illegal, you know, sir. I will have to report you to my superiors.”

“Look, Pop, hop to it. Chop chop. Get the Top Cop in Cop Shop. And don’t slop, please.” My nerves were beginning to fray. What could I do to convince this dodo bird that my call was serious.

“Well, sir, if you insist,” the other end of the line said.

I looked at my watch. It said fifteen minutes till seven. Soon it would be six forty-five and the Blue-Haired Boys would be getting away.

The other end of the phone finally said, “Detective Scheister. May I help you.”

I related my story. Before you know, a battalion of London bobbies had arrived and arrested the world famous criminal, Blue Berry Pi, and his gang of Blue-Haired Boys.

And, of course, Mr. Shyrlick Homes got all the credit. But that is the way I want it. It is the way of we Incognitos.

Next Wednesday’s Prompt: “Rita Hayworth And the Shawshank Redemption” by Stephen King.

What do you do with a dead body?

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…”

“Yes?”

“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.