This story is for todays Ragtag Daily Prompt : Legacy
Legacy means: An amount of money or property left to someone in a will.
Detective Shelly Hobbs returns today. You will remember her from her previous mysteries Murder in the Menagerie and Clear as Tonic Water. Do please click the links and refresh your memory.
Anyway, will join her as delves into another intriguing case.
Detective Shelly Hobbs glanced at her watch 7:15 AM. Climbing from her black Mercedes she yawned and looked at the flint-built church. It was in fact converted into a two-bedroom house these days. Shelly smoothed her black suit jacket down and adjusted her mahogany ponytail. A murder in the morning did not wake a person up as well as a cup of coffee, she realised.
“Morning Shelly, another mysterious case for you,” called Sergeant Jake Klass from within the shadow of the granite arched doorway.
“When you call me, it’s never anything normal – is it?” Shelly walked into the former graveyard and looked about her. “I’m looking forward to the day when you call me for lunch.”
“Maybe one day.” Jake turned and entered through the original oak panelled front door. “Okay, the wife Amanda Tilling noticed he husband Brian hadn’t come to bed. She went looking for him at six AM. Their son Ethan was sleeping in his room next door. That’s the rooms up there.”
Shelly gazed about what used to be the naïve. It was a stunning open plan lounge now. A pine staircase rose to a mezzanine. Toward the original crossing and naïve. She could see the bedrooms had been built into the eaves of the north and south transepts up there, creating a nice seating area in the middle. “Very nice, what happened?”
“Amanda and Ethan ran down here and couldn’t find, Brian. Eventually, they realised he was locked inside his office.”
“Intriguing. Was Brian rich or anything do we know?”
“According to his wife, his only Legacy is the huge number of stories he wrote on his computer.”
“Okay.” Shelly followed him into the kitchen. The white and pine topped island had replaced the altar in the church now. With the cabinetry built around the stunning stained-glass window of Moses and the ten commandments, the kitchen looked a grand affair.
Jake entered the south transept and passed through a small door with a spiral staircase going down inside.
“Where else put an office but in the church vaults,” Shelly remarked.
“Quite weird isn’t it? Unable to get in, they called the police and I arrived with a couple of other officers. We had to use the big yellow key to break the door down.” Jake indicated his enforcer ram still sitting on the stone floor. “When we got inside, Brian was slumped at his desk and his laptop was gone.”
“Thanks, Jake.” Shelly entered the old vault. The walls were lined with bookcases, the old funerary niches contained mammal skulls, African animal statues, a blowgun, and writing artefacts including an old typewriter. The desk was a very old oak affair with a green leather writing top. Brain still lay slumped upon it amid his piles of paperwork and books. A swan feather quill pen stood grandly out from its ink well. “Hello, Rose what have you got for me.” Shelly addressed the red-haired coroner stood in her blue overalls by the desk.
“He appears to have been shot with a blowgun dart. I’d say he died sometime late last night.” Doctor Rose Quinton paused to take check her liver temperature reading. “Most mysteriously, with the door locked on this side, the killer got in, shot him, stole his laptop and vanished.” She indicated a dust-free rectangle on the otherwise dusty tabletop and looked intrigued.
“Interesting. Thanks, Rose. Get him transferred to autopsy for tests and let me know if you find anything.” Shelly looked between the desk and the broken door, no shooting angle. It had a cast iron peephole in the middle of it. No doubt used so the vicar could check nobody was mourning in here before entering in times past. She fiddled with the lock and was satisfied nobody could get through the door if it was locked. The key itself was an old brass type which turned easily in the lock. Scratches around the bow of the key were intriguing. Moving around the room she read the titles of many of the books, classic literature, encyclopaedias, a whole bunch of murder mysteries and adventure books too. Each neatly ordered on recently polished shelves. She put her hand on one large tome and pulled it.
“Expecting to find secret doors?” Jake asked.
“No, we’ll leave that to Jessica Fletcher. Where are the family?” Shelly asked while looking around the desk.
“Upstairs in the wife’s bedroom,” Jake said as Shelly swept from the office.
In the north transept bedroom, Shelly found Ethan and Amanda Tilling looking distraught sat on her bed beneath the stunning oak beams of the ceiling. The dressed stonework had been left exposed to magnificent effect. “Amanda, Ethan. I’m sorry for your loss.” Shelly began to announce herself.
“Thank you. I can’t believe someone killed my husband.” Amanda said looking a sorry sight in her nightdress cuddling her pillow.
“Any reason why they would?” Shelly looked at Ethan. He was perched at the foot of the bed with a picture of his father in hand.
“No, he didn’t even publish his books. Nobody would even know about them,” he said with anger tinging his voice.
“Do you know how they killed my husband and got away with his laptop when his door was locked?“
“Has to be a secret way into the office, Mum,” Ethan answered.
Shelly shook her head, “No, everything in the room was staged. The perpetrator came and went through the door.”
“Impossible its an inch thick and was locked from inside. Not to mention the laptop’s gone,” Amanda argued.
“Please be calm, Mrs Tilling,” advised Jake.
“The laptop is missing. However, the dust-free shape on the desk was faked. The rest of the room was clean and tidy indicating somebody sprinkled some kind of powder about the desk to make me think the laptop was there all along.” Shelly looked between the mother and son as she spoke, “They then put the dart in Brian’s chest slumped him at the desk and left.”
“Yeah, through a locked door.” Ethan reminded her.
“No, I believe they used the spyhole to reach down with some wire and turn the key in the lock. Scratches on the key prove that.”
“But why, detective?” Amanda looked thoroughly confused.
Shelly stepped passed her and picked up a pile of papers from the bedside. She scanned the top one and nodded. “This is why. Brian’s Last Will and Testament has it that should he die his stories are not to be published.” Shelly spun on Ethan. “Did that piss you off?”
“What?” Ethan scoffed, “No, why would it?”
“You’re a smart man. You know the value of novels in the right hands. No good having a legacy of stories from your father if you can’t use them to make some money, is it?” Shelly pushed.
“You’ve gone mad, detective.”
“Have I?” Shelly searched both his and his mother’s faces for clues. “I suspect, your father, Ethan. Died of natural causes. You thought if you made it look like he was murdered, the Will would not be upheld and you could publish those stories. Am I close?”
“Sergeant, I want her out of our house,” Amanda demanded. “I won’t have her accusing my son of murder!”
“I didn’t say he was murdered!” Shelly didn’t care about upsetting people when justice needed doing. She left the room and entered the other bedroom. A quick search of the pine furnishings revealed a laptop hidden behind the wardrobe. Returning to the master bedroom, she held it aloft. “This your husband’s, Mrs Tilling?”
“Oh, no! Yes, it is.”
The son leapt to his feet, grabbed the laptop and barged through Jake in a bid to escape. The sergeant wrestled him to the floor before he made it to the stairs.
As Ethan was led away for question in handcuffs, Shelly got back in her car. “The greed of some people knows no bounds figuratively and literarily or so it seems.”
Have a great day!