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The Muse: A Father’s Day Mystery Short Story

IN THE June 13 ISSUE

FROM THE 2015 Articles,
andMysteryrat's Maze,
andTerrific Tales
SECTIONS

by Gary Hoffman

The Muse is the 2nd place winner of KRL’s Father’s Day Mystery Short Story contest–watch for other entries over the next week, and the first place winner next Saturday. These are all never before published short stories.

“My little green muse took a vacation again.”

“I hate that…. wait a minute. Did you say green?”

“Yeah. Sucks, but they seem to work on their own terms. And it’s green because he claims he’s related to the little green rack monster who forces me to take naps. They both claim they’re related to Kermit. Cousins on my mother’s side, I think.”

“You’re certifiable, you know that?”

“Why not? Keeps all the shrinks and related personnel on the job.”

“Related personnel?”

“Yeah, you know. Guys who make the pads for padded room and such.”

Sam shook his head. “Anything special you’re trying to do?”

“Contest story.”

“They give you any starting points?”

“Yeah, a mystery. And something to do with Father’s Day.”

“What have you come up with so far?”

“Basically nothing. I was going to have the dead guy be a lawyer from Chicago who worked for the law firm of O’Malley, Jones, Rosenberg, Gonzales, and Chang.”

“Trying to cover all the bases, were they?”

“Seemed like a good idea at the time.”

Sam took a long pull on his long-neck of Bud. “You know, I actually know of something like that that really happened. And the murdered guy was a lawyer. But he was from Boston, and I think he worked for a firm called Webster and Kirby.”

“What happened? His kids decided he’d had enough Father’s Days?”

“That’s really weird you should say that. One of his kids was a suspect.”beer

“But not the killer?”

“Nope, the person who really killed him was …”

“Wait. Stop. Tell me the story and see if I can figure it out. Maybe it will get my imagination going.”

“Should I start with ‘It was a dark and stormy night’?”

“You can. I won’t.”

“Well, it really was. Crappy night. If I’m remembering correctly, Father’s Day in 2005 was on June 19th.”father's day

“How the hell would you remember that?”

“It was also the guy’s birthday. Plus it’s the birthday of this really hot chick I used to date.”

“I don’t ever remember the words ‘Sam Fogelston’ and ‘really hot chick’ being used in the same sentence together before.”

“Smart ass. Yeah, I know it was June 19. One of his daughters decided to try and get all of his five kids together at their lake house for a celebration.”

“You seem to remember a lot about all of this.”

“The youngest of his five kids and I were friends in high school.”

“So you lived in Boston at one time?”

“Burbs. West and sorta north. Anyway, the oldest daughter convinces her dad to go to the lake house with her and his wife for the weekend. Then they make up this phony story about needing something from town on Sunday morning. They head into town and meet up with all the other kids, except Sidney. He and his old man had been on the outs for a couple of years, and he refused to show up. So they go into town, meet up all the others, including a catering service, and they form a caravan back out to the lake house.lake

“When they all get there, the Dad is dead on the floor of the living room, and there’s lots of blood everywhere. The whole room is a disaster area, so the cops decided he put up a fight.”

“How did he die?”

“Stabbed. Fourteen times.”

“Sounds like someone was really pissed.”

“That’s what the cops figure. First person they go lookin’ for is the son who didn’t show up.”

“Was he even near the place?”

“Nope. Was in church with his wife. A couple of hundred witnesses and miles away gave him a pretty good alibi.”

“Was there any evidence found at the crime scene?”

“Main thing was a couple of boot prints. Apparently the killer stepped in some of the blood and left two boot prints before he got to a small rug and wiped his feet. Why he didn’t erase the two prints that were left is anyone’s guess.”

“Maybe the rest of the people got back from town earlier than he expected. Maybe he got scared off.”

“That was the cop’s idea, too. Anyway they started talking to the family to see if there was anyone who had it in for Mr. Brand. That’s the guy who was murdered. Well, that list grew really fast. The guy was a criminal defense attorney. Lots of his clients who lost cases might have been pissed off at him. In fact, when the cops got to checking, two of his clients who lost their cases had been released from prison within the past month.”

“Wow.”

“Yeah, wow. Then there was a cop who patrolled the area around the lake. This whole lake area was gated. You had to have a code to open the gate to drive in, and it was patrolled by this retired cop the lake association had hired. He and Mr. Brand had gotten into it when there was a bunch of robberies around the lake. All the thefts were in isolated houses where people weren’t home. If anyone’s house was in an area where people lived full-time, they weren’t bothered. Mr. Brand had approached this rent-a-cop and almost flatly accused him of doing the thefts.”

“That should have given the rent-a-cop some motive.”

“Oh, yeah. Big time. There was only one main problem. The boot prints were a size thirteen. Anyone wearing them would have to have weighed two hundred pounds, plus. This retired Boston cop was only five-six and weighed in at around one forty, probably dripping wet if he still had his clothes on. Little skinny guy.

“The police also found some boot tracks out in back of the house. It had rained the night before and the ground was muddy. The tracks led up into the woods.”

“You mean someone walked in all that way? They really were pissed.”

“Well, there was an old logging road just a few hundred feet behind the house. There was evidence of fresh tire tracks there. None of them were in good enough shape to identify. But, it was not a road too many people knew about unless they spent some time scouting the area.”brush

“How about the guys who just got out of prison?”

“They checked on both of them and found out one guy had a cousin who had a house on the other side of the lake. The guy was staying there until he could get on his feet. Perfect place for him to hide and the cousin would have given him the code to get in the main gate.”

“He have an alibi?”

“Said he was at his cousin’s place the whole evening, by himself watching a movie he had rented.”

“Cops even check to see if he had rented a movie?”

“Oh, yeah. He had. Bought it on pay-per-view.”

“They question him about what was in the movie?”

“They did, and he knew.”

“Hum, he could have seen the movie before that night.”

“Cops thought so, too, but it turned out this particular movie had only come on the pay-per-view two days before the murder happened. There was nothing to show he had rented two nights in a row.”

“So he alibied out, right?”

“Yep. Strange thing was he seemed to be dumb enough he wouldn’t even get his shoes on the right feet, let alone rent a movie over television.”

Ed sat quietly at his desk making circles around old water rings with his finger. He finally looked over at Sam.

“What size shoe did that rent-a-cop wear?”

“Now you’re thinking like a cop. Size seven.”

“Did they determine that the boot prints outside weren’t deep enough to be made by a hundred and forty pound man?”

“Yep.”

“So he put larger boots over his shoes and purposely left the boot prints in the house thinking the cops would figure it was a bigger man than he was. He didn’t think about the ones he would leave outside.”

“Bingo.”

“You know, Sam, you’re a nice guy and all, but I’m gonna kick you out. I’ve got a story to write.”

“Can I grab a beer for the road?”beer

“You walk over?”

“Yep.”

“Then by all means, my little pale muse.”

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section.

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Gary R. Hoffman has published over seventy short stories, non-fiction articles, poetry and essays in over twenty-five different publications, has over a hundred stories in twenty-four various anthologies, and has won or placed over fifty-five of his writings in contests. He taught school for twenty-five years and lived on the road in a motor home for fourteen years. He now resides in Okeechobee, Florida.

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