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A Summer Mystery Part 4: The conclusion


September 1, 2011

Detective Brown wanted them all there by 3:30 p.m. sharp. Some had grumbled that they would have to get out of work early. But they all said they would be there.

Brown arrived last but had sent his partner ahead to secure some evidence and keep the peace. He suspected that tensions could be running high.

Brown swished his iced coffee and surveyed the room. The neighbor Tom and Mrs. Johnson were deep in conversation. Eddie, the doorman, talked to the young couple from 5B. Brown’s partner sat observing quietly, pretending to root through his notes. Brown waited until they all noticed him.

“Good afternoon.”

“I suppose you’ll tell us what this is all about?” Tom asked quickly.

“If all goes well, we are going to solve the murder of Mr. Johnson.”

“All of us, together?” Mrs. Johnson asked.

“If all goes well,” Brown smiled as warmly as he could. He knew this might be tough on her. He began.

“We know that Mr. Johnson returned home at 11:30 in the morning. It’s clear that something happened to him here in this apartment. Obviously, he was not alone.”

“You heard nothing?” Brown turned to Tom.

“Nothing,” Tom said.

Brown spun toward the boyfriend. “You heard ticking.”

The boyfriend jumped back, startled. Brown tried to suppress a grin.

“I heard ticking,” he said after steadying himself. “I think it was around 2:30 p.m.”

Brown crossed to the far side of the room and picked up a chess clock. He placed it on the table. He ticked each side back and forth and looked at the boyfriend.

“Could have been,” the boyfriend said. Brown nodded and crossed to the front door.

“Mr. Johnson was taken downstairs. Very conveniently, the back staircase is accessible from this apartment. It’s obvious that the killer knew about it.” Brown swung opened the door to the stairway leading downward.

“I think everyone knows about it,” said Mrs. Johnson nervously.

“Will you please lead the way?” Brown said to Eddie.

“Certainly,” Eddie said and started down the stairs, followed closely by the couple, Tom, and then finally Mrs. Johnson. Brown hung back and whispered a few things to his partner, who stayed behind.

The stairs were steep and it was slow going.

Brown continued, “Eddie, you arrived at what time?”

“4 p.m.”

“And when does Santiago leave?

“5 p.m.”

They came to the lobby floor.

“The killer obviously couldn’t have taken the body through here.” Brown pushed open the door to the lobby and there was Santiago standing there. “Afternoon, Santiago.”

“Good afternoon.”