Death Takes a Vacation Read to You
By John Rakestraw
Monday Mystery Event Madness
Father Yule Master Detective opened up his case files and reads a mystery to us… one that we can try and solve. All you have to do is follow along with all the clues, red harrings, suspects and motives to figure out the mystery.
Father Yule: Fishing is that elusive perfection, that white whale, that perfect cast, that perfect fish, that perfect fly… it’s the same with being a Private Investigator, always waiting for that perfect case to solve. Just about all fishermen will strive for that perfect spot, the elusive perfect fishing hole. Maybe it is the elusive perfect fishing hole more than anything else that appeals to the fisherman…that quiet space out on the river among the fish and flies that help them attain inner peace.
Like the people who run off to join the circus, I ran off to become a P.I. I helped out a small but good community Police force in a little town in the woods. Tourist trap, sure…. most likely, but the guy who ran the Police force in it liked me and hired me when I needed cash and place to hide from creditors. I learned a lot working with that Captain of the tin can town in the woods. I’m the good investigator because of the time I spent in that little town. I’d gotten so good the Captain would send his newbies out to find me when they couldn’t solve a crime or needed new eyes and ears on a case.
I liked fly fishing in my younger days, hell I even like sleeping on the ground and camping. I got over that stuff as I got older, the ground got harder and lost the joy in killing things from my job as a P.I. Hunting and fishing didn’t have the romantic mojo as the years went on. I still miss the river. There’s a lot of territory one covers, like the river, as they travel through life. Each feeder stream is a primal source that contributes its share to an ever-growing portrait. For me it was a great time to vacation, to refill the soul, the body, and leave P. I. work behind. A chance to concentrate on the currents of the river and the bugs that enticed the fish. The thrill of being out there and waiting for that fish to strike the hook and fight the line and pole. That’s what helps stay off boredom and it second cousin, stagnation. There’s that calling within the water’s flow that becomes ever more audible over time, I used to equate that sound of the river speaking as the souls of murder victims, whose deaths I hadn’t solved. As I sits there by the fire cooking the two trout I caught for dinner, I listens to their demands. At times I swear I could hears them calling my name, something that rarely happens. It’s a woman’s voice…
Pamela: Master Detective—Can you hear me? Sir, I need your help.
Father Yule: Holy Toledo! You’re real. Sorry, I was lost in the sounds of the forest and river. How may I help you?
Pamela: I’m Pamela Moore, sir. I’m a county police officer. My boss, the Captain of Police, said I find you out here fishing. Sorry to step in on your fishing vacation—
Father Yuler: But you must… correct?
Pamela: I’m hoping that you’ll be willing…
Father Yule: Please sit. As my uncle used to say… when you’re by yourself and you cook two trout, that means company is coming. I should have known better than to cook two trout. Fate took care of the rest. Here’s your plate, fork, and—I didn’t bring napkins… I usually just wipe my hands on my pants.
Pamela: When I go fishing, sir, I do the same.
Father Yule: You don’t have to call me sir. Call me Father Yule, please.
Pamela: Father Yule it is, then.
Father Yule: Are you really into fishing or are you trying to butter me up? I know you didn’t walk all the way out here just to have my bacon grease trout and ice tea dinner… though I have to admit, it’s world famous and worth the hike.
Pamela: My father taught me how to fish in these very woods. I even know the best spot for 16 to 18 inch trout.
Father Yule: Pamela—
Pamela: Call me Pam. All my friends do.
Father Yule: Very well… Pam, if you’re willing to show me that fishing hole, I’m willing to hear about whatever police case you came out here to ask me about. Is it murder?
Pamela: I’m not sure if it’s murder or suicide. The woman who was there says that her boss killed himself. I’m having doubts about her story but my chief feels it’s suicide. He wants this case done. I can understand wanting to get this case over with quickly. This week is our town’s big BBQ chicken feed and fiddle contest. We don’t want a murder hanging over the tourist trade.
Father Yule: Doubts… why do you doubt her story?
Pamela: I’m going to start from the beginning and tell you the whole thing. Linda Williams was staying in a cabin near the lake here in town. Her boss, Joseph Thomason, was in his own cabin. He had ordered Chinese take-out for both of them after setting up the Funnel Cake booth for this week’s festival. Linda says they ate at his cabin, though her boss, Joseph, hadn’t been in a good mood all day and it didn’t get any better during dinner.
She states that she tried to cheer him up by suggesting they go out and see a movie in town… (Sound fade here, Pamela’s voice fades out and in comes Linda’s voice with a reverb.)
Linda: Come on, Joe, cheer up. Let’s go and see a movie tonight. My treat.
Joe: I’ll get ready and I’ll see you at your cabin, Linda.
Pamela: She say’s that she went back to her cabin and didn’t hear from him for over an hour. She finally decided to see what was taking him so long. That’s when she found her boss dead from a gunshot. She first told us…(Sound fade here, Pamela’s voice fades out and in comes Linda’s voice with a reverb.)
Linda: I came walking towards my boss’ cabin… I could see someone running away from it towards the lake. I thought it was just one of the other vendors talking with Joe and he lost track of time. That’s when I found him lying there in a pool of blood on the floor. There were bloody footprints leading away from Joe’s body.
Pamela: Did you by chance get a good look at this person leaving the cabin, Miss Williams?
Linda: No, it was too dark and they were heading away from me towards the lake.
Pamela: Was there anyone who would want to see your boss, Mr. Thomason, dead. Did he have any enemies?
Linda: He was stepping on a lot of the food vendors’ toes. He was buying out all the spots at the different events and then selling them at a higher price. He made deals with the managers of the different events, he’d run the food courts and give them a nice cut. He would then charge the food vendors twice as much and get a 30% cut of their profits. You either went with his plan or he brought in his own vendors. A lot of the old food carts owners weren’t happy. Many of them were being pushed out of business. My father lost his food cart and a bunch of his friends lost their food cart because of Joe.
Father Yule: So, we have a victim who has made enemies. There’s motive. Did you by chance look to see where those bloody footprints went off to?
Pamela: Yes, I followed them out towards the lake… but then they disappeared. I did find smaller footprints leading back to his cabin.
Father Yule: How did the victim look?
Pamela: That’s when the story gets really interesting… I walked back towards the cabin and examined the victim, Mr. Thomason. He had been shot in the head, near the right temple, and there was gunpowder all over close to the wound.
Father Yule: He’d been shot at close range, so it could have been suicide or murder?
Pamela: That’s when I asked Miss Williams for the gun— (Sound fade here, Pamela’s voice fades out and in comes Linda’s voice with a reverb.)
Linda: Gun? I don’t have a gun! I don’t know what you’re talking about!
Pameila: Your boss was shot up close. There’s gunpowder all over the wound. Did he commit suicide and you’re trying to protect his memory? I don’t believe those bloody footprints were from a person running from a crime scene. You put on a pair of your boss’ shoes and walked them through the blood and then ran towards the lake. You stopped out there and took them off then came back to the cabin and called 911. Where’s the gun, Miss Williams?
Linda: Damn, you’re smart, Officer. I was hoping to save his family the grief of knowing that he killed himself. I hid the gun by throwing it under the porch of this cabin. I didn’t mean to cause any trouble, I just panicked when I found him dead by his own hand. It was awful. I wish I could have stopped him, I feel responsible… I just hid the gun hoping I could help.
Pamela: I understand… it’s not easy finding a person dead, let alone dead by their own hand. Now take a few deep breaths and get control of yourself. What did you really find when you came into this cabin?
Linda: I knocked a few times, but never got an answer. I pushed open the door and found him lying on the floor with the gun still in his hand. I stood there… it was like seeing a movie. He just laid there in that pool of blood, with the gun in his hand and a bullet shell lying near by.
Father Yule: Which hand?
Pamela: She said his right.
Father Yule: Please go on, Officer.
Pamela: Miss Williams kept talking…
Linda: I slowly pried the gun out of his fingers, which disturbed the pool of blood. I then tried to think… what do I do now? Call the police, his family? I sat there not knowing what to do. I finally thought how I would hate to find out that my dad had killed himself and that’s when I decided I needed to come up with a better story for his death. I put the gun and bullet shell in my pocket, grabbed his work shoes. I figured I could say I saw a person running from the cabin. I then put on his shoes, they were a bit big for me—like how you put on your dad’s shoes when you’re young—and walked around the house. I stepped in the pool of blood and made bloody steps heading outside and around the cabin towards the lake. I took off the shoes and threw them into the bushes out there behind the cabin. I then sat down on the porch figuring out my story. That’s when I came up with throwing the gun under the porch, hoping you would believe that a person had shot him and that it wasn’t suicide.
Pamela: You didn’t do anything else? Didn’t play with the gun? You didn’t move your boss to see if he was still alive? Try to give him first aid?
Linda: I saw all the blood on the floor and figured he was dead. After that I was in shock and I don’t really remember what else I did, besides what I have told you, Officer.
Pamela: At that moment, I went out on the porch with my flashlight and a broom and searched under the porch for the gun. I located it where she said it would be. I used the broom handle and brought the gun carefully out.
Father Yule: What kind of calibre was it, Officer?
Pamela: It was a small calibre revolver. It was missing the one of its bullets. I went back inside the cabin with more question for Miss Williams…
where did the missing bullet shell go?
Linda: I threw that under the porch also, it was lying next to Joe’s hand with the gun on the floor. I stupidly panicked and disturbed the crime scene. I know they say on all those crime shows to never mess with the crime scene before the police get there, but I couldn’t have his family know that he shot himself, could I?
Father Yule: There you have it! The final piece of evidence. You can tell the Captain that the big BBQ chicken feed and fiddle contest can go on.
Pamela: The Captain was right… it was suicide?
Father Yule: No, it was murder! You were right to have doubts about Miss Williams’ story, Pam.
Pamela: What part of her story tipped you off, sir—I mean, Father Yule?
How did Father Yule figure out Linda Williams story wasn’t adding up to the truth?
When serving up a Mystery… or trying to solve one, these are the steps I go through…
1) Alway look for every suspects motive.
2) Red herrings are a part of the game and the fun… plus there just might be a real clue inside those red herrings.
3) Have a pencil and paper handy… you want to keep all the storylines clear.
4) Remember means, opportunity and history to help you identify the killer(s)
5) You most likely will get a smoking gun clue somewhere around 75% to 80% through the Mystery… most people miss this clue the first time it appears. Keep your ears and eyes ready for the smoking gun clue!!!
6) Have a brilliant time… have fun.
I think I got it solved… how about YOU!
Father Yule: Well, it would have been nice if your father took you hunting and fishing. There are great courses in crime forensics that the state crime lab does all year. Since your boss has deputized me for police work here in the town, I’ve taken a few of the course. You should look into taking a few of them yourself. They would make you a greater asset to this fine police force.
Pamela: Father Yule—what did I miss?
Father Yule: The calibre you found under the porch was a small revolver and not an automatic, correct?
Pamela: Correct… what’s the difference?
Father Yule: There are many differences, of course, but we’ll stick to the obvious mistake that people make. Miss Williams said that she found the bullet shell lying next to the gun. A revolver normally doesn’t kick out its bullets, but an automatic will. If her boss shot himself and there was all that blood? He couldn’t have gotten that bullet out by himself. Miss Williams was the shooter and she’s the person who took the bullet out. When you find the bullet shell, you will find that her fingerprints are also there. I would also check her for gun powder and see if all the other shells in the gun for her prints. She’s your murderer, though I would pick up her dad, also. You might find that they were working this crime together.
Pamela: It was right in front of me all the time and I didn’t see it.
Father Yule: Murder is a most foul business… and you knew enough to get a second opinion. That’s great police work. We can’t know it all. That’s why we have a police force and not just a town sheriff. Go catch your murderer and be the hero of the force.
Pamela: I’ll have to give you credit for your help in the report. Plus, I also owe you a trip to that fishing hole. I’ll be back in a few days to show you how to best tie those flies and where to catch the best trout on the river.
Father Yule: I’ll be waiting for you.
This is a work of fiction. All events, the character’s and actions depicted in this work are from my imagination. None of this mystery is based on true facts. Any similarity to any persons, living or dead, is coincidental.