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The Loom of Doom Galls Mainly In the Tomb: A Mystery Short Story

IN THE August 1 ISSUE

FROM THE 2015 Articles,
andMysteryrat's Maze,
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by Barry Ergang

This one is more of a pun than an actual mystery, but it is definitely mystery related and fun! It’s what the author calls a groaner and was originally published in the now-defunct e-zine Crime and Suspense in the November 2006 issue.

“This murder is a fishy business, sir,” Detective-Inspector Shad Rowe said. “You’ve been of great assistance to us in the past when it comes to solving bizarre crimes and I hope you can help us now.”

The Sleuth Extraordinaire, a gaunt hawk-faced man with no official status, but possessed of a preternatural faculty for observation and deduction, sat in a chair opposite Rowe’s cluttered desk. He puffed complaisantly on his pipe, adding to the musty atmosphere of the cramped office. “I’m always pleased to help however I can, but you must give me the details. They’re essential.” pipe

“Of course, sir.” Rowe leaned back in his chair and wiped a hand across his plump, ruddy countenance. “The victim is Lady Vera Muckinfutch.”

“The Parliamentarian’s wife?”

“The very one. Her body was discovered early this morning, but the post-mortem indicates she died at approximately half past nine last night. She was strangled.”

“Killed at her estate?”

“That’s one of the rummiest aspects of the case. You see, sir, her body was found in a textile manufacturing factory!”

The Sleuth Extraordinaire’s left eyebrow became a quizzical arch. “Had she ever been there before?”

“As far as her husband, friends and servants are aware,” Rowe said, “she had not.”

“You said it was one of the peculiar aspects. What are the others?”

“The room in which she was found was locked from the inside. The windows were locked, too, but even if they hadn’t been, they’d be unusable. They’re each covered on the outside by a metal grate and none of the grates had been tampered with. Furthermore, it snowed yesterday, as you know, but the snow stopped falling an hour before Lady Muckinfutch was murdered. There were no footprints beneath the windows of the plant. The snow was undisturbed.”

“And the roof?”

“Snow undisturbed,” said a disconsolate Rowe.snow

“How was the room entered this morning?”

“The factory manager has a key–the room in question is enormous; it houses the huge looms used in manufacturing.” Rowe held up a cautionary hand. “But before you ask, we vetted the manager thoroughly. He not only has no connection to the victim, he has an unshakeable alibi for the time of the murder.”

“I see.” The Sleuth Extraordinaire drew on his pipe, discovered it had gone out, and took a moment to relight it.

snow“But that’s not all, sir. Now we come to the oddest part of the business. Lady Muckinfutch’s body was found a few feet away from one of the looms. This particular loom was canted as if it had been shaken loose from its foundation, yet everyone who works in that room swears its position was normal at closing time. An examination showed no obvious signs of tampering and we certainly had no earthquake in London last night. Every other machine in the room was as it should be.”

Rowe paused long enough to emit a heavy sigh, and then said, “Frankly, sir, we’re baffled, and we’re hoping you can make some sense of this.”

The Sleuth Extraordinaire contemplated the pipe smoke that curled among the dust motes in the wintry light slanting through the office windows. “Rest assured, Inspector, I shall give it my utmost consideration,” he said, then looked toward the ceiling and murmured wryly, “Thank you, Vera Muckinfutch, for presenting me with the world’s first rocked loom mystery.”

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

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Barry Ergang is a Derringer winner for the best flash fiction story of 2006, and former editor of Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine. Barry has been accorded the dubious title “Guru of Groaners” by some fellow scribes. “The Loom of Doom Galls Mainly in the Tomb” first appeared in the November 2006 issue of Crime and Suspense, and is one of many groaners available in the collection PUN-ishing Tales: The Stuff That Groans Are Made On, available at Smashwords. Learn more on his website.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Maddy
Twitter: @MadMcEwen?lang=en
August 1, 2015 at 7:58am

Love those names and rhymes and punchline!
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2 Barry Ergang August 1, 2015 at 8:04pm

Thank you, Maddy.

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3 Earl Staggs August 2, 2015 at 9:41am

Good one! I’ve missed Barry’s groaners and was happy to see this one again. I’d like to see him dust off some more classics from his repertoire.
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4 Gail Farrelly
Twitter: @gailfarrelly
August 4, 2015 at 11:51pm

Barry, SO much fun. I really enjoyed it. Thanks!

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5 Barry Ergang August 7, 2015 at 8:24pm

Thanks, Earl and Gail. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

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