Writing Prompt #6

Another prompt, a little earlier today.  This time provided by @smallgayrock!  I actually started at an earlier time today, but it ballooned in volume up to be about twice as long as my longest prompt, which is why it is still technically late.

I think I might want to revisit this character some time.

“Prompt #6: A detective solves a murder with help from a very, very unlikely clue.”

―――

Six people sat in a loose half circle around the coffee table, their eyes darting between each other nervously as a single woman paced in the center of the room.  A seventh person stood by the hallway entrance, dressed in the light blues of a small town police officer.  In the corner, a small green dog whose collar was emblazoned with “Lord Bumbleton” chewed on his kibble in a small bowl. Light came in through the closed sliding glass door, illuminating the peach colored walls of the living room.

“Right, let’s go over the facts again,” began the officer.  “Foggy night.  Victim found dead at midnight in the parlor, wearing his nightie robe.  Multiple lacerations, jewelry box ransacked, all his hunting trophies taken.  Discovered shortly after death by the maid and butler, wife was out all night visiting friends.  Body discovered by dog barking three times from the parlor,” he summarized from his note sheet, before looking up at the room.

“Is this really necessary?” asked the man lounging across approximately half the couch.  Clarence Spencer, third of his name, seemed a noticeable degree more relaxed about the situation when compared to the other five seated.  In fact, judging by his lopsided grin he was having a, quote, “jolly good time,” end quote.

“Have you no shame!” demanded a blonde woman whose face were streaked with tears, looking up angrily from her handkerchief.  Clarissa Spencer, now widow of Jasper Spencer (also third of his name), sat on the small love seat perpendicular to the couch.  Her pink dress was, as always, immaculate, as was her small white hat.

“There, there, I’m sure it was only his usual thoughtlessness,” comforted Grant Richfield, family friend to the Spencers (if by “the Spencers” you meant Jasper and Clarissa). The  tall dark haired man wrapped an arm around Clarissa’s shoulder and patted it gently ― he was seated next to her on the love seat.

“Are you two really doing this now of all times? Unbelievable!” exclaimed Lola Sutcliffe in exasperation, her own face flushing red with anger.  She was another family friend of the Spencers (if by “the Spencers” you meant Jasper specifically and not his wife), and seated opposite of the three people in question ― on the other side of the half circle to be precise ― in a nice, armrest-less wooden chair tht had been dragged in from the dinning room.

“Doing what?” asked Grant, his voice taken aback.

“A-as if you have any right to speak, you harlot!” shrieked Clarissa.

Lola opened her mouth, but was cut off by another person speaking.  It was Arthur Brighton, family butler and now apparently the mediator.  The old English gentleman gestured with his gloved hands, motioning downwards with both as if trying to put a lid on the conversation, from his seat between the two.  His voice carried just how old and tired he was, though maybe being witness to the murder had prematurely aged him another twenty years. “Please, everyone!  I know emotions are running high but―“

In turn he was cut off, “How are you not in cuffs old man, when you’re clearly the murderer!”  Kylie Meyer was the accuser this time.  The maid for the Spencers, still in uniform given how recent the murder was.  The woman was young, perhaps only 19, at least clearly the youngest of the group at any rate.  She glared at Arthur, and the older man clutched at his chest as if he was having trouble breathing.

“W-what?  Miss Meyer―“

“Ay!  I saw you walk right on out of that room and right after I go in there he is, bleedin’ out all over the floor!”

Accusations began to hurtle back and forth, before the officer by the door spoke up ― “All right, all right!  That’s enough from everyone!” but his voice was being successively drowned out.  Daniel Alden was entirely out of his depth here apparently, as absolutely no one listened until ―

“I’ve got it.”

A hush fell over the room, and suddenly everyone’s attention snapped towards the pacing detective Lydia Larson.  The brown haired woman took a puff on her pipe ― “Wait, isn’t that Jasper’s?” asked a nonplussed Clarissa.

Lydia pulled it out of her mouth to examine it for a second.  “So it is.” And then immediately put it back, and continued to puff much to the confusion and consternation of the group.  They waited.  And waited. Seconds passed, and then Daniel leaned over and whispered to her, “The murderer.  Who is it?”

The detective snapped her fingers.  “Yes, quite!  Ahem.”  She took the pipe out of her mouth and stuffed it into her trenchcoat pocket.  C-can she do that? That’s what Clarissa’s expression was asking at any rate, but the question never got a chance to be vocalized because Lydia was already moving on.  “Indeed.  So, it all came to me when I started thinking over the evidence.  It all started when I made myself some coffee…”

Daniel coughed.  “Erm, mayhaps it’d be best if we opened with who did it and then went onto evidence?”

Lydia turned towards him.  And stared.  Then she shook her head once, not blinking.  “No.”

Clarence’s amused grin grow a notch larger and he chuckled, “Could do with a good story you know, a little narrative to punch it up yeah?”

Both Lola and Clarissa looked at him aghast, but Lydia continued.  “So, coffee. Here I am searching for the milk and sugar―” “Did she raid my kitchen?!”  “―and can you imagine what I saw?

Daniel pounded a fist into his hand, his eyes lighting up.  “The murder weapon!” he exclaimed.

“No, I saw they were out of sugar.” The police officer awkwardly deflated, while Misses Spencer looked livid.  Clarence meanwhile just looked more and more amused.  “At any rate, I started walking over the house to see if they had a little cupboard somewhere where they kept spares, and somehow found myself at the crime scene.”  Lydia paused there, and took a sip from her mug before blanching.  “Never did find that sugar, terribly unorganized.”

“I-I do apologize miss detective,” stammered out Arthur.  The woman however just continued with her story.

“So, there I am, stepping over Mister, uh, Shackleforth―“ “Spencer,” whispered Daniel in her ear, “Mister Spencerforth, and I go up to his desk to see if there’s any packets in his desk, and I found―“ Lydia suddenly snatched Clarissa’s handkerchief out of her hands and lifted it to her face.

Immediately Daniel turned, pointing a finger at the widow.  “Her HANDKERCHIEF!  At the scene of the crime, no doubt carrying vital evidence!”  The woman looked mortified, and shrank backwards into Grant’s arms, which he circled around her protectively.

“Hm?  No, just needed to wipe off,” Lydia clarified, dabbling a dry portion against her lips.  Then lifting it to her nose and blowing loudly into it, before passing it back to the widow.  Clarissa daintily gripped it with only the tips of her fingers, as if she were handling toxic waste.

“Besides that’d be impossible!” proclaimed Grant, “Jasper died at midnight right?  We ― I mean, she was out.”

“Yeah they were shagging,” said Lydia offhandedly, taking another sip of her cup.

Again Arthur clutched his chest, “S-shagging?  The Missus and, and…!”  Lola meanwhile cried out, “You little bitch!  Cheating on him?!”  Kylie meanwhile was looking back and forth with an expression saying “Well duh,” and Clarence was laughing his ass off while slowly clapping.

Both Clarissa and Grant were flushed, the widow burying her face in her hands while the man demanded, “I-I hope you have eviden―“

“You left your wallet and condom in her room, also all the nudies on her phone. Speaking of you should really lock your phone when you’re not using it, or at least turn off notifications.”  The two were too stunned and embarrassed to speak after that, sinking into their love seat further.

Lydia snapped her fingers, “Motive, but no opportunity given you were out all night last night at a motel. ‘sides not what I found.”  Lord Bumblington crunched down on the last of the kibble, then trotted his way over towards the water bowl and started lapping at it.

“Anyways what I found was this letter.”  With a flourish of her wrists, she revealed a letter. Neatly handwritten, or maybe someone had downloaded a nice handwriting font.

The crowd gasped, and Kylie asked, “So what is it?”

Lydia answered with a wave of the letter, “Oh this?  Something, something, writing to Clarence about inheritance ―“

“Ah HA!” exclaimed Daniel, slamming his fist into his hand again before wagging an accusing finger at the rapidly paling Spencer.  “So that’s the motive eh?  Little MURDER over MONEY from PARENTS is it?  We’ll see you locked up for―“

“Oh, no, they were going to split it right down the middle,” Lydia interrupted again.  “Heck, the victim actually was giving up stakes in their father’s enterprise to him too, said he wasn’t much interested in th’ factory.”  Clarence blinked in surprise, along with everyone else.  Daniel deflated again.  “There a microwave here?  Been talking so long the damn coffee’s gone ice.”

All six of the guests pointed mutely at the hallway.  “Right, just gon’ kip off for a moment.”  And just like that Lydia had vanished.

Clarence leaned back on the couch, the whole situation seeming far less funny now.  “Little Jasps was handing the business over to me?…”  He looked down at his hands, “Always thought the bugger hated me but…”

Clarissa meanwhile was tugging on Grant’s sleeve.  “He can’t do that right?  That was going to pass to me―“

Lola shot her a disgusted look.  “Oh ye fuck his best friend, then get upset you’re not getting everything else?”

Clarissa glared right back at her, “Oh and what about you, huh?  I’m sure you two did nothing but talk all those days I was out.”

Meanwhile Arthur was in the midst of dabbing his forehead sweat away.  “Goodness me, there’s just so much… oh, oh my….”

Kylie was yet to be convinced, “Cut the act.  It’s obvious it was you.”

The old man looked stricken, his graying hair fraying from his once straight comb.  “Why do you believe that Miss Meyer, have I done something to offend you.”

She held up a finger.  “One, you’re the butler.”  Another finger went up.  “Two, you were literally in his room right before he died.” One more finger, “Three, that bloody knife.”

“Bloody knife?!” the room gasped, and Daniel slammed his fist into his hand.  “Ah HA!  So it all falls into place.  The butler stabs him to death in the parlor, makes off with the jewels, gets a little early bonus eh?”  The old man began to breathe hard, clutching at his chest, while Kylie smirked.

Clarissa put a hand to her mouth, “Arthur, no!  How could you, haven’t we treated you well?” Again the maid spoke up, “’e’s been grumbling about how the Master doesn’t even pay him enough for his own home these days.”

“That sounds like motive!”  The others stared at the butler, as the officer began to stride towards him ―

“Oh no, couldn’t ‘ave been him,” interjected Lydia as she stepped back in, sipping at her steaming cup.  “He was too busy taking the money out of the upstairs safe.”  The room froze, and the brown haired woman looked over the assembled crowd.  She wiggled her hands, gesturing with the cup.  “Sorry for th’ wait, got lost in the kitchen.  Uh, all three of them.  Have you considered putting up road maps?”

“What’s this about a safe?!” demanded the widow, “How are you so sure it wasn’t him?”

“Hmmm, yeah, see, Mister Frighton―“ “Brighton,” “―gesundheit, Mister Frighten here left earlier in the day to drop off his cash and then went partying out in town,” the old man in question finally fainted in his seat, “And didn’t get back until right after the murder happened.”

Lydia glanced over the assembled group staring at her.  “What?  Barman id’d his photo before I even arrived.”

Clarence cupped his hands around his mouth and called out, “What about the knife?”

“He was in the middle of preparing breakfast and all―“ “At midnight?!” “―well, he was piss drunk you know. Anyways, dog barks, he stumbles in, then stumbles out to pass out on the couch.”

Frustrated, Kylie slammed her hands down on the side of her seat.  “Then who did it?!”

The detective looked at her in askance.  “I was getting to that, gosh.”  She still paused to again sip at her drink, while the tiny dog started pawing at the door to be let out.

“Anyways, so what happens is I’m there in the study looking for some sugar in the drawers, when I nearly trip over,” Lydia flipped out a little bag holding a―

“His cellphone?” the maid asked.

“’is cellphone, and could you imagine what I found?  All them sexts between J-pop and Lowlow here.” Again, the crowd gasped in surprise (while conveniently ignoring the weird names again), while Clarissa turned red faced towards Lola.

“You bitch!  I knew it!” she shouted, only restrained from leaping out of her seat by Grant’s arms.  Lola meanwhile sneered at her.

“Oh you were always a hag, and you were cheating on him already!”  She sniffled, and leaned back. “Wish he’d figured that out before he died anyways, for some reason he thought you two could still work it out.”

Meanwhile Daniel was already hyped up at the prospect of having finally come to the conclusion.  “Ah HA!  So, there’s the motive.  I bet the victim didn’t want to leave his relationship and SHE―“ he pointed accusingly at Lola, “―was unhappy.  So unhappy she MURDERED him. He probably invited her over for another toss, and then when he refused she killed him.  A crime of PASSION!”

“Nah,” interjected Lydia.  “She was out visiting her mum, see?  Family photos in the back of these nudies just before midnight.”  The detective held up the phone, and Lola immediately leapt out of her seat to snatch it away.  “H-hey!  Those are private!” Surprisingly though, despite balancing her hot cup of coffee in one hand and the phone in the other, Lydia was more than capable of dodging the lunge.

Meanwhile however the other guests started to consider what all this meant.  Clarissa and Grant had a, ahem, shared alibi, Arthur was a criminal but for a different crime, and Lola was at her mother’s place.  Which left…

Everyone turned expectantly towards Kylie.  “What?”

Daniel slammed his fist into his hand, paused, then shook off his hand.  “Ow…” After a second he looked up from his palm and looked right at the maid, and wagged an accusing finger.  “So it was YOU!”

“Me?!”

“Her?!?”

The officer nodded his head.  “Of course!  Process of elimination.  You were here, I bet you weren’t being paid much by old Jasper Jasps―“ Clarence slapped a hand to his face, “Don’t call him that…” “―JASPY JASPS just like old Arthur here.  And more than that!” He leaned in close to the young woman’s face, Kylie sinking back into her chair as he towered over her.

“Awfully SUSPICIOUS how you kept trying so hard to pin it on old Brighto―“

“Nah,” Lydia interjected again, one foot on Lola’s face and pushing her away from the phone she was desperately scrambling to get.  “Midnight grocery shopping.  Receipt was on the counter in kitchen number two, store’s five minutes away and she bought at three minutes before the murder.”

Each person’s expression was perplexed, the mystery now seemingly unsolvable.  The tiny dog ceased scratching at the door and let out a huff, wandering back into the kitchen.  Lydia meanwhile continued brazenly scrolling through the phone’s text conversations before ―

Her cheeks puffed up, and she started laughing. “Oh, this is fantastic.  This yours Daniels?” she turned the phone to show off a picture of the aforementioned man’s abs in glorious fullscreen, along with the text “xoxo bby” beneath it.

The officer in question froze.  Clarissa shouted angrily, “My, my Jasper was NOT one of the gays!”  Grant looked at her, “’My Jasper’?”  Lola for once was nodding her head in agreement with her romantic rival.  “He couldn’t have been gay, he was such… such a vigorous lover.”

Kylie chimed in then, “Maybe he’s a bi?  Pretty certain that’s a thing people can be.”

But already Clarence was now slamming his own hand into his fist.  “Ah HA!  So it was mister copper here who did it!”  Everyone turned towards the paralyzed man and ―

Lola slammed a fist into her hand, “A crime of PASSION!”
Clarissa slammed a fist into her hand, “A crime for WEALTH!”
Kylie slammed a fist into her hand.  A second passed, and the others looked at her.  “Oh, sorry, I thought that was just a thing we were doing now.”

Grant meanwhile stood up, and waggled his finger at Daniel, “Detective, arrest this man for―“

“Nah, he was also sending nudies from home at the time of murder.  See there?  Dan boy’s cat right there.”

Silence fell over the room, and each person turned to each other.  “Wait but ― that’s everyone ‘innit?” finally spoke Clarence, with the group turning nonplussed expressions towards the detective.

“Well, you keep interrupting me…”  All of the people sat down defeated, including officer Alden.  Lydia cleared her throat, took a long sip of her coffee, and then sat her cup down on the counter as  (which had managed to get up onto the counter at some point) trodded by.

“Now then, I tripped over the cellphone, which was right interesting and all, but the real key…” the group leaned forward, “Was actually…” they were all on the edge of their seats, “This!”  The detective pulled out a little plastic baggy from her coat and ―

It was just a strand of green hair.

The seven people stared at it, and it was the maid who spoke first.  “Aint none of us have green hair lady.”

Lydia shrugged.  “That’s true.  But the dog does.”  The whole attention of the room shifted right over towards Lord Bumblington, who was trying to paw at the sliding glass door’s handle.  He too paused, and turned his muzzle towards the group.  “Arf?”

“This is absurd!” declared Clarence, throwing his hands up.  “That’s it? The dog did it?  I mean of course there was hair in there, it was the dog’s barking that drew people to the scene right?”  The others nodded, anger and annoyance forming on their feagtures for having been led along for so long.  “Arf,” the dog agreed.

Again, Lydia shrugged.  “Yeah, nah, it’s the dog.”  In a flash, her pistol was in her hand and a shot echoed through the room.  The guests (and officer) jumped in their seats, Clarissa shrieking, Lola scrambling behind a seat, Grant  tripping over himself trying to stand up, Clarence fell backwards in his chair crashing to the floor, Arthur continuing to be passed out, and Daniel ducking beneath the coffee table.

The dog’s head was left with a large hole in it, the now shattered glass door on the other side visible through it. But ―

There was no blood.

The dog blinked with his one remaining eye, and then the hole closed up.  “Damn, how did you know?” he asked, his voice a surprisingly deep baritone.

Lydia again shrugged.  “Pretty obvious really.  Three barks, late night, green fur.  Might as well have just called yourself ‘Lord Cu Sith’ and be really on the nose.”

Lord Bumblington bared his teeth, and started to grow.  “Very good, for a human.  Most of your kind are too foolish to even know what I am.”  His fur bulged as thick muscles formed beneath his flesh.  The guests were busy having the proper reaction to all of this: namely, all their faces were painted with a “what the fuck” expression.

“But, did you think ahead to what happens next?” Lord Bumblington chuckled deeply, it’s jaws opening slightly as fog poured from it’s breath like drool.

The detective meanwhile took another sip from her coffee.  “Mmm, that’s good stuff…   Yes, actually, though.  Yeah, I did.”

A long howl escaped from the Cu Sith’s lips, rattling the whole mansion, before lunging at the detective.  She twist to the side, her trenchcoat fluttering in the wind as she managed to remove it in the midst of the dodge. The green monster barreled through and crashed into the wall, his eyes covered by the coat.

He growled, as he shredded the offending article, and turned back towards Lydia ― who was now wearing a black trenchcoat.  In the exact same style.  But now it’s more stylish because it’s black… Was she really wearing that under anothercoat this whole time?  “Now see, I’m supposed to read ya Fair Folk your rights and some rot but ―“ she ducked a swipe of one of Lord Bumblington’s paws, which splintered the counter behind her, “―really seems like a waste of time innit?”

“Foolish mortal!” the towering canine declared, his tail crashing down on the coffee table while Daniel barely managed to scramble out from underneath it.  “I am the servant of the Court!  I answer only to the Lady herself, all who live here are of her domain!”

Lydia waggled a finger at him in a manner very reminiscent of the police officer.  “Now now, 1814 your Lady too signed the agreement.  No more diplomatic immunity for you Fae types in exchange for proper citizenship.”  Lord Bumblington howled again, the plates next door rattling out of their cupboard and shattering on the floor.  The coffee mug even exploded into shrapnel, which the detective dodged by tilting her head to the side.

But then the canine was already on her, leaping across the gap to take advantage of the chaos.  Again she slipped under him, the tips of his paws raking her trenchcoat.  He crashed through the opposite wall again, exposing the room to the outside.  “No mortal has ever survived hearing my howl three times!”

What had once been a sunny day had become dark, and fog stretched all the way to the horizon.  No stars, no moon, nothing to guide one in the night.  Another ethereal howl sounded, the room shaking and ―

In a flash Lydia was out the door, and the guests heard a strangled yelp as the Cu Sith was cut off midhowl.  And equally fast the fog and darkness lifted, to reveal the detective had a, uh, what could only be described as a claymore, buried into the canine’s throat.  It wasn’t dead mind you, make no mistake, but it struggled to even move like this.

“Cold iron,” Lydia said nonchalantly.  “Lord Bumblington, you’re under arrest for murder, attempted murder, and assaulting an officer.”  She tugged, and the dog whined but followed the motion as the detective began to lead him out.  The woman paused then, and glanced over her shoulder at all the stunned guests.

“Right, could you lot forget all this?  Thanks.” And then she continued to march the Cu Sith away.

Daniel crawled out from under the couch, along with Clarence. Clarissa crawled out from under her chair.  Arthur remained unconscious on the floor.  The fridge door opened and Grant peaked out.  “What the fuck just happened?”

Kylie stared out the window.  “I’m in fucking love is what happened, ay.”

———

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