By Donna Easto
As soon as Maddie arrived, the quartet set out for the Duggan homestead. Dark was descending, but the route to the property was short and well-travelled. Once the horses were into a comfortable rhythm, the conversation swung to the matter at hand.
John turned to the young policeman, “Now Constable Brown, tell us what it is about the murder scene that has you so skeptical? Most folks believe it’s a simple case of murder-suicide. What leads you to question that?” John was known across Canada for his dogged pursuit of the truth in criminal matters. The young constable’s refusal to accept easy answers impressed the seasoned detective.
“Please, sir, call me Reggie. When we get to the farmhouse, I’ll show you, but I’m almost positive that Sly’s gun did not cause the wounds. And, something is bothering me about the angle of the shot that killed Mr. LaForest.”
“Interesting observations young…Reggie… I’m open to sharing my insights with you. Ah, here we are already. Where are our guards? There’s a light in the kitchen. Blast! Did those two fools go inside?”
Reggie and John dismounted, rushing directly into the kitchen. Angus paused to help Maddie dismount – even though her sensible riding habit did not impede her movements in any way. The couple entered the kitchen to angry words from John and Reggie and the unfortunate lads scrambling to hide something from sight.
“Great Caesar’s ghost,” thundered the Great Detective, “have you no brains? You are in a crime scene, one that I tasked you to keep people from! Getaway with you both!”
“Now John,” Maddie countered, “they’ve done a stupid thing, but they’re not trained officers like you and Reggie.” Turning to the red-faced offenders, she scolded, “I’m disappointed in both of you, liquor at a crime scene! What’s done is done; however, before you bolt off home, did you see anyone or anything unusual?”
“Well,” blurted Norman, the elder of the two,” there was something.”
“Spit it out, lad,” John demanded gruffly. He was not in a mood to forgive and forget. Norman saw his chance to recoup some dignity.
“You have my attention, son, continue. What did you see?”
“Don’t get angry; we were chilled to the bone standing outside. Mike and me thought to light a small fire in the kitchen stove.” He moved away from John, hands raised, as though expecting a blow. When John simply nodded, he continued, “we threw in some kindling before we saw it.”
“A bit of burnt paper like the kind you see legal documents on.”
Reggie and John demanded in one voice, “where’s the paper now?’ startling the young man.
” St-st-st-still in the stove. No way we’d touch it. We’re not stupid!.”
“Okay, lads, Maddie’s right, I may have overreacted. Thank you for taking on guard duty. You’re a brave pair. Off home with you now. But, the corn liquor stays here.”
John, Angus, Maddie and Constable Brown rushed to the stove. “It’s paper, alright,” Maddie confirmed. Just a fragment – too burnt to be of much use. Ideas, gentlemen?”
“Let’s put that aside while Reggie and I examine the bodies. Reggie, show me what makes you suspicious of the murder-suicide theory.”
Reggie, still nervous in the presence of the formidable detective, began haltingly, “Look at the bullet wounds, small calibre I’d say. Sly’s gun is an old Ranger.” Emboldened by John’s positive body language, he pointed to Sly’s body, “look at the angle and location of the wound. He could not have shot himself!”Maddie’s voice broke the silence, “Constable Brown, I believe you have uncovered both a mystery and murder most foul!”
NEXT: Murder Most Foul