I offer today a short story in the genre of “murder-mystery”. I hope it is to your liking.
* Midnight Confessions *
The boom of the clock echoed twelve times in the still, silent room. Detective Charlie Fraud slowly paced the floor like a lion stalking its prey, watchful blue eyes scanning the room’s six other occupants.
“Mr Andrew Black,” Charlie drawled, his voice shattering the quiet of the room. He ran his fingers along the frayed edge of his coat as he circled his audience. “Thirty-two years old. Three point four million dollars to his name. He asked you all here for a simple discussion regarding his will… Yet now he’s been murdered.” He smirked at the absolute stillness around him, as though everyone in the room was holding a simultaneous breath. He brought his arm up and pointed viciously to each person in a sweeping arc. “The murderer is with us, here in this very room!” He paused for dramatic effect, his smirk widening. “And I know who that person is.”
Charlie gazed around the room, a hand running through bristled blonde hair with an airiness that seemed out of place in the tense atmosphere surrounding him. He lowered himself leisurely to kneel beside the chair of his first victim, speaking with the casualness of a man enquiring about the weather.
“It could be you, Miss Lily Diamond,” Charlie said softly, resting a hand on top of her own finely manicured fingers. “You had motive. You loved him. He promised you the whole world, just you and he together… And then he left you for another. Betrayal like that leaves a mark, doesn’t it, Lil? With a burning, festering scar that like, it would have been all too easy to convince yourself to break into his desk drawer, steal his gun… Pull the trigger.” He gently stroked her cheek with the back of his hand; a gesture that, in any other circumstance, would be comforting. Lily, however, remained deathly still, and with a final chuckle, Charlie rose and turned to the opposite side of the room.
“But the same intentions could lie with Ms Rebekah Lee Rose, no?” He skulked closer, pausing for just a moment to admire her quiet beauty; her long black hair covered her delicate face as she slumped in her chair, seemingly trying to make herself as small as possible. “You won the battle with dear Lily, but you lost the war, didn’t you, Bek? You sacrificed it all for him; your house, your friends, your family. You moved to the other end of the country to be with him, but then he grew bored and threw you away like yesterday’s trash. Because of Andy, you became a leper in a town you didn’t know. Couldn’t blame you for wanting a piece of revenge…” Charlie trailed off, his unspoken words undeniably clear: You knew where the spare key was. You knew where the gun was hidden. All it took was one shot, one bullet, one moment…
Rebekah remained wilted in her chair, never once lifting her head. Charlie spun on his heel with shocking precision, bringing him in front of the eldest of his audience. The couple were pressed against each other on a sofa that was far too small, yet they seemed ignorant to the world as they rested greying heads against one another. Charlie towered over them, his manner darkening ever so slightly.
“But perhaps it wasn’t about broken hearts or severed romances. Perhaps it was about a son refusing to do what he was told, hmm?” He lifted his chin but kept his gaze locked on the elderly couple as he announced to the room at large, “Mr Thomas Black, and Mrs Marjorie Black… You loved your son, no? Wanted to protect him from the cruelties of this world; wrap him in cotton wool until the day you died… Or until the day he died.” He smiled winningly as he stepped closer, revelling in the fear upon their faces. Thomas’s eyes were swollen with alarm, though he wasn’t meeting Charlie’s gaze. Marjorie, by comparison, had clenched her eyes closed, hiding in her own cocoon of darkness as Charlie spitefully continued.
“Was it a case of, ‘if I can’t have him, no one can,’ Maggie? You were losing your little boy piece by piece, and you couldn’t stand it, could you? So you put an end to it… Or did Tommy do the deed?” He fixed his piercing blue gaze back to the elderly man’s stony face. “Yes… I think it would be Tommy. Daddy dearest standing up for his family; Andy was tearing you apart, undoing all your carefully tied connections, and apparently a father-son chat just couldn’t hack it.” Charlie clicked his tongue with mocking sympathy. “Such a shame, wouldn’t you say, Barty?”
Charlie leered as he stepped toward his final victim, his shoes clicking loudly against the wooden floor. He took note of the clenched fists and stiff shoulders with a wicked grin. “Mr Bartholomew Tyes. You were dear Andy’s best friend, weren’t you? Childhood mates, and all that. You were like brothers; it takes years to form a bond as close as the one you two had… But you got greedy, huh, Bart? You knew Andy had left a very generous amount of money for you in his will, and you couldn’t wait to get your hands on it. Suddenly, those decades of friendship didn’t mean much, did they? It’s amazing how easily bonds can be broken. How easily people are thrown away…”
His voice broke on the final word; taking a deep, shuddering breath, Charlie once more surveyed his silent, unmoving audience. Sapphire eyes rose to the heavens, and he spoke in a soft whisper. “We call ourselves acquaintances… friends… brothers…” He clenched his fists tightly, vaguely feeling the sticky sensation of blood pooling around his knuckles as his fingernails pierced deeply into the flesh of his palms. “But when it comes right down to it, every friendship, every connection has a limit. Belonging is just an illusion!” he spat fiercely. Heart hammering painfully, he looked back to the motionless crowd around him. Not one had moved an inch. Their breaths had long since stopped. Their hearts had long since fallen still.
Tears threatened to spill from his eyes as he turned to the sixth person in the room. Blood trailed sickeningly from the single bullet wound in his chest and his dull blue eyes stared at nothing from his position on the floor. Charlie knelt beside the prone figure of Andrew Black.
“Everybody had a motive, Andy. Every single one of them.” He glared around him, but no threat remained. Lily was propped deftly in the chair, appearing so at peace that if it weren’t for the slit throat, she’d appear to be sleeping. Rebekah had slumped forward the instant Charlie had placed her on the sofa, black hair dripping red. Thomas’s face was forever frozen in a final portrait of fear, and Marjorie eyes would never open again as she remained unmoving in her husband’s lifeless grip. In death, Bartholomew’s air of superiority was shattered, as the steady drip… drip… drip… of blood began to fill the silence. Charlie looked down upon Andy’s spread-eagled form, eyes staring into nothingness. He reached down and pulled the limp body into his arms.
“I could see it in their eyes, Andy,” Charlie whispered into his ear. “They never cared for you, never loved you. There was only ever me. I had to keep you safe from them. I wasn’t going to let them hurt you like they hurt me.” With a gentle, red-soaked hand, he stroked the blonde hair from Andy’s cold forehead. “You belong to me, Andy. You’re mine… I’m sorry you couldn’t see that.”
Later that night, people around the nation would be horrified as they watched the news: Six people murdered, five stabbed and one shot; they were each killed throughout the home, yet all found in the lounge, positioned as though alive and well… It was like a cruel parody of a family enjoying each other’s company before bed.
The police were now searching for their only suspect: Thirty-two years old; he had a twin brother, but was adopted as a newborn; Detective Charlie Fraud.
Formerly known as Charles Black.
- Love The Bad Guy