A great comical caper, reminiscent of murder mystery who-dunnits from the past - It’s the classic board game Clue meets Agatha Christie meets Fawlty Towers.
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Murder Makes Mischief - Trafford Publishing
What looks like an accidental mass poisoning at a local bank is quickly shown to be a cover for murder. The victim is Cynthia Harmon, a woman who enjoyed making enemies. No one shows much concern with the details of her death. In fact, it is an acceptable solution to many a person's problem. That changes as the investigation progresses and secrets are exposed. The first is missing money: an embezzlement that leads to suicide - or does it? Along the way relationships end, change and maybe star. It's hard to know what to do when anyone could be the murderer. All of which becomes irrelevant when a third body shows up. Only then do the shadows from long ago lead to the truth.
“I’m going to kill her!” Shirley Foster declared and then waited. Waited for nothing. Most mornings in this kitchen, a kitchen geared for laughter and fun, did not start with discussions of murder. She looked across the room to the glassed-in breakfast nook and waited to see if any reaction would come from its sole occupant. She hadn’t really expected a reply but that wasn’t going to slow her down. Picking up her juice and cereal, she moved out of the kitchen area and took her spot at the breakfast table.
“I’m going to kill her!” she repeated. “That’s all there is to it. Next time she starts waving her cigarettes around I'm going to kill her!” With that resolution the pretty young woman picked up her spoon and turned her full attention to a bowl of oatmeal and apples.
“You are not going to kill her,” finally came the reply from behind the Victoria Times-Colonist newspaper that was waving in the air across from her. “You do not murder someone because they smoke.”
Shirley’s face made a brief grimace as she looked over at the tall lanky man, her husband, who was already putting down his paper.
“Don’t be tedious, Stephen! Of course, I’m not killing her because she smokes; I’m killing her because she’s Cynthia. That in itself should be enough. You’d know that if you’d been listening at all. The smoking is just the final straw. Besides, do you think she even cares about smoking? That’s what makes it so annoying. She probably doesn’t even like smoking. She just cares about power, about being above the rules. I bet she didn’t even smoke before it was illegal and only does it now to piss me off. And it’s working! But I’ve had it and I’m telling you the next time, the very next time I’m going to kill her. Not because she smokes but because I hate her!”
Shirley was a petite blonde in her late twenties and although she was the mother of two young boys many thought she needed maternal supervision herself. This impression was partially created by her fluttery dramatics. The delicate features on her animated face only served to reinforce it. However, on closer attention one could see a firm chin and a cold unwavering glance in her dark blue eyes. There was fierce determination and an unflinching will behind Shirley’s energy. Few people became aware of this and those that did very often were taken unpleasantly by surprise.
Her husband, Stephen, knew his wife and enjoyed her. As he knew her roles were but a diversion, her enthusiasm and her games entertained him. A tall brown-haired man of thirty odd years with a calm, natural manner, he was neither attractive nor unattractive. His movements were relaxed and unhurried, as was his life. That was how he liked it. Shirley brought excitement to him, just the right amount and just the right kind.
“You are not going to kill her and you do not hate her.”
“I do!” Shirley insisted firmly.
At this outburst, the Fosters’ two young sons bounded down the stairs from the bedrooms and into the kitchen area demanding, “Who does mommy hate? You said hating wasn’t nice?” Not waiting for an answer, a competition quickly broke out.
“I hate Bobby Thompson.”
“No, you don’t – I do!”
“I do so. I can hate anyone I want. I hate lots of people. I hate you!”
Stephen folded his newspaper and rose from their breakfast table. It was time to bring things back to the real world.
“You do not hate Bobby Thompson or anyone else. Neither does your mother. She is playacting, pretending. Now get your things and get in the car or you’ll have to walk to school because I’m leaving now.” The youngsters went screaming down the stairs towards the front part of the house going nowhere slowly and nowhere quietly.
“I do hate her and I am going to kill her,” Shirley stated once more.
“Alright,” Stephen replied. “Hate her if you must. But don’t kill her. We don’t want you to lose your job.”
“Maybe I could just make her disappear,” said Shirley thinking of new angles.
“That’s it,” Stephen agreed. “Change yourself into a witch and make her disappear.”
“You’re humouring me.”
“Yes, I am,” Stephen said as he bent to lightly kiss his wife before he left for the day’s work. “See you tonight and try not to murder anyone.”
Shirley now was left in an empty family home, a quiet family home. She took what remained of her orange juice, went through the sliding patio doors and settled into one of the chairs on the back deck. This was her favourite spot and this was her favourite time of day. This was when she dreamed or not, but it was always when she planned and she schemed. Stephen was right she did need her job. But she wondered, she wondered
* * * * * * * *
Cynthia Harmon started her day never imagining the amount of discussion she was causing throughout the city. If she had known she would not have minded. For one thing, she was used to it. For another, she was a fighter and a survivor.
She had learnt very early that life was a struggle. Her youth had been spent in Belmont Park, the military housing just off the Colwood junction. You didn’t live in Belmont Park without becoming a fighter. You fought to fit in, you fought to be different, and you fought to survive. Her first goal had been to get as far from the military world as possible. Her longer-term goal was to never endure the side affects of poverty again. She intended to have so much money that no one, not even herself, would remember the home she had left.
Her first goal had been reached by marrying at the very first opportunity. The marriage only lasted as long as it took Cynthia to discover that a man married to her was not as profitable as a man married to someone else.
One man after another was one step after another for the completion of her next aim. She no longer had any contact with her family. She had obtained a nice pile of possessions and a comfortable stash of funds. But it was not enough to stop the memories. She had grown to realize it would never be enough. She didn’t mind; she now liked the game. She liked the power, the intimidation, and she liked her greed.
At twenty-eight, Cynthia Harmon was a warrior. Her life was one of control, discipline, and power. She ruled the staff at work. She ruled her lovers. She controlled those who considered themselves her friends. Her life ran according to her wishes and she designed it down to the smallest detail.
Cynthia’s day started with an early morning swim in the pool of her Windsor Park condominium. After her swim, her grooming procedure began. To an average office worker, this would have been an elaborate production saved for special occasions but Cynthia knew her assets and used them. She had never been a Girl Guide but she did like their motto, “Be Prepared”.
To see the finished product, a magazine perfect woman with full blonde hair and green cat eyes, one sensed not only beauty but also money. In fact, Cynthia’s world smelt of money. Cynthia lived in a four-storey condominium half a block from the Oak Bay Beach Hotel, the heart of traditional “old money” Victoria. In any other harbour city, this area would be packed with high rise buildings but not Victoria. After a couple of towers were built over James Bay way back in the 60s, the city had quickly passed bylaws prohibiting high rises. The priorities were to prevent the congestion created from such buildings and to protect the view for as many as possible. The priority was not development. Things did not change much in Victoria and the by-laws remained. Cynthia’s front window overlooked the Oak Bay Marina. A marina that year round was fully occupied with sailboats. This was a sailor’s dream – a climate where you could sail any and every day of the year.
There had been sailors when Cynthia was growing up - navy sailors, military men, living with their families in Belmont Park. Her father. She had left those people, left that world and was determined to fit into the one that she saw around her. The distance from her old life to her new one was much greater than the physical miles she’d traveled. She was never going back, never looking back. She enjoyed how far she’d come and she wanted more. Everything that had happened so far had just been the first step but a pretty good first step.
Inside Cynthia’s apartment the picture of elegance continued. Good taste was everywhere. It looked just like a photo layout from a decorating magazine. It was all very obvious that a large number of dollars had been put to work. But somehow it didn’t seem real; it was all too new, too protected. Cynthia had not yet managed to attain an air of unconcern for her expensive objects. For anyone aware of Cynthia’s paycheck, it would also be clear that Cynthia could ill afford the costly toys she now enjoyed. And Cynthia did enjoy. Each day she rose counting her good fortunes.
Once fully dressed, she had a half-cup of coffee. All stimulants in moderation. She had seen the results of too little moderation with her father and alcohol. She had her half-cup of coffee and no breakfast. To her, it served no purpose but as a delay of the day. It was a time-out in the action.
After her coffee, Cynthia went down to the building’s car park and unlocked her new BMW. This was one of her special treats. Just getting into the little car made her smile. She would never forget the look on the face of the man who had accidentally scratched her car door in a parking lot. He would never park beside a silver BMW again. What a fool! Parking too close to her, he had opened his door right into her car while she getting ready to drive away. She had been at her most calm as she got out of the car and walked towards him. He had started to bluster but stopped quickly when he saw the hardness in her face. It ended quickly with another cheque, ostensibly for damages, in Cynthia’s hands. No, he would never park near a silver BMW again! She laughed at the memory; but she hadn’t laughed then, no sir!
Cynthia was not a person to let the world slip by her. No matter how many thoughts whirled around her head, she took time to cloak herself in as many pleasures, large and small, as possible. That was why she took the same route to and from work each day. This was definitely frowned on by security experts, but she’d like to see someone try to kidnap her! Besides Cynthia had decided on the most aesthetic route and that was the route she took each and every day.
She turned onto Oak Bay Avenue and drove slowly down the row of Tudor shops. Once the car reached Richmond, Cynthia turned left onto the narrow road lined with trees and old well-kept homes. The homes were the reason she drove this street. No two were alike yet all exuded care and privacy. Where Richmond meets Fairfield, the car knew to turn right and to increase its speed. This road was a favorite. In spring, the trees blossomed and the street became a pink postcard. Today, though, was October and Fairfield Road offered a different pleasure. At certain speed, without interference from tourists, the bumps and curves of this street created a gentle but stirring roller coaster ride which brought Cynthia to the bank’s parking lot, eager for the day.
Small pleasures? Yes, but Cynthia’s main interest in life was taking care of Cynthia and in that no concern was too small. She was self-indulgent, she was self-centered, she also was happy. Not many around her were, which added to her joy.