The next person who I planned to interview was Mary. In my opinion, Mary seemed like a strange person, and there was something odd about her, like she had the character to commit the crime, even if it was her own cousin. When Victoria and I entered the room, I saw Tim and Mary together. I asked Tim to leave for five minutes while I spoke to Mary about this serious matter. He agreed, so the conversation began.
"So", I asked Mary, "the most important thing that I need to know is where you were when Violet screamed".
"I did not actually hear the scream, but just before the murder, I needed to go to the toilet, so I went there".
"Was Tim alone?" asked Victoria.
"Yes. He was alone when I left him. Well, anyway, when I finished in the bathroom, I walked out of the door, walked further along the corridor, and I saw Tim, rushing down the stairs".
"Where on the stairs was Tim?"
"What do you mean?"
"Was he at the top, or the bottom?"
"He was near the bottom. Anyway, I saw Tim, and I saw him run into the basement, so I followed him. When I got there, I saw everybody else there before me".
"Where was everybody stood?"
"Well, if you must know, Miss Douthwaite was leaning over the body, then Margaret was stood there, then I think it was John, then Tim, then me".
"Who do you think killed her?"
"I don't know. I really don't know. The four members of staff all had the motive, so it was obviously one of them. The question is, who?"
"I have already interviewed three of them, and I also need to ask you one more question".
"What is that?"
"Please do not take offence, but how long have you been married to Tim?"
"Just over three years. Why?"
"I just need to know the background of Violet's life".
"Why? I'll tell you the background of Violet's life. This is the house she was brought up in, by her father, and his father after that. When she was 24, she got married, had the child, and watched the close members of her family die, one by one, leaving her alone in this house".
"I know all that already. I just wanted to know everything possible about her".
"There is nothing else tell, really. Anyway, are you accusing my husband of marrying me so he could inherit this place?"
"I don't know. Again, I don't want to offend you, but it is a possibility".
"For God's sake! That is a stupid idea!"
"Can I have a look at several of Violet's personal possessions?"
"Feel free, but make sure you make them useful".
I looked through a few of the drawers, and I noticed something. It was rather strange. It was of Violet, standing next to a mirror, posing.
"She did some modelling when she was young", Mary said, noticing me with the photograph. That all made sense to me now, although I could not understand why she would want to model; she did not seem to be the type of person to do that kind of thing.
My time with Mary was finished for the moment, and it was now Tim's turn.
Mary left the room, allowing Tim to be talked to with only Victoria and I in the room.
The first question, like everyone else, was, "where were you when you heard the scream?"
"I was in the lounge", Tim quickly replied.
"And what did you do when you heard the scream?"
"The scream that I heard was quite faint, so I decided to finish my drink. That took about five seconds, give or take. Then I heard footsteps, so I decided to quickly walk down the stairs to see what all the fuss was about".
"Did you see Mary?"
"No, she went to the toilet. Anyway, when I got down the basement, it looked like everyone was there before me, except for Mary, and yourselves".
"What was everyone doing?"
"Nothing, really. Everyone was looking at the body".
"Now, may I ask you something a little more personal?"
"Does it help to solve the murder?"
"Then go ahead".
"Well, how many years older are you than Mary?"
Tim sighed, and looked at Janet. "If you must know, I am almost twenty years older than her. And before you ask, no, I did not marry her for the inheritance money. I love my wife, and she feels the same way about me!"
"Nice house you have, here", said Victoria, all of a sudden.
"Don't try and intimidate me. It might seem unusual to you, but Mary and I love each other, and that's all there is to it".
"Fair enough, but we need to know, when was the last time you saw Amos?"
"I don't know. Days ago, perhaps".
"And you haven't seen him since?"
"Why should I? He works in the garden, and I spend most of my time in here. I rarely go outside: there is nothing to do, and the typical British weather at the moment means we can't go outside half of the time anyway".
"Alright. The reason I asked you that is because we both think that Amos is the most likely person to be the murderer, since a witness has informed us that he came into the house to borrow a knife to cut some weeds".
"Why would he want to that? I would assume he has his own tools!"
"That's what we thought, which is why we're suspiscious of him".
"Solve this murder and we will make you richer than you have ever been!"
"It's not about the money".
After we had finished with Tim, we quickly went to talk to Amos, who was outside, as usual. When we first approached him, he said, "I have nothing to say to you".
"And why is that?" Victoria asked him.
"Because there is no way in which I can assist the case".
"How do you know there has been a murder?"
Amos paused for two seconds. "Miss Douthwaite informed me this morning", he said. Instantly, I thought that was a lie, but I could always check with Miss Douthwaite later.
"I think you can assist us, Amos. You just don't know you can".
"How can I help you when I wasn't even in the house at the time?"
"Where were you last night?"
"All night I was in my cabin, just over there, like I always am". He pointed his arm towards his cabin. It did not look very big, but Amos seemed happy with it.
"We need to talk to you about the knife you borrowed" I said to him.
"What about it?"
"Where is it now?"
"I can't remember!"
"Can you think?"
"I don't know! You're putting pressure on me!"
"I'll go away and have a look around the garden for a minute. It might ease the pressure a little", said Victoria.
"Alright", I replied.
Victoria was right. Amos felt more relaxed with just me around.
"I think it's in the cabin. No, it is definitely in the cabin".
"Before we go in there, there is something I want to tell you".
"What?" I asked him, eagerly.
"I did not commit the murder, so don't get excited, but there is something that may help the case".
"What is it?"
"It's probably nothing, but years and years ago, when the child was still around, you know, Violet's kid?"
"Well, just before she went, there were these people hanging around the house, and I saw them visit a couple of times".
"Can you describe them to me?"
"I always thought it was a bit odd, the way that they dressed. They always wore colourful clothing".
"And what has this got to do with the case?"
"Like I said, probably nothing, but then again, isn't it strange how the child goes when they arrive? It's something to think about".
"I will", I said, turning round to go to the cabin.
When we got there, I noticed that the inside of the cabin did not contain many things; it was just the basic needs.
"You might think this place is crap, but I enjoy this life", said Amos, searching for the knife.
It did not take long for both Amos and I to search the cabin for the knife. When we had completed the search, I found that the knife was not there. At that point, I was certain Amos had done it, so I ran out of the cabin, found Victoria nearby, and ran into the house, where we both ran upstairs together to dicsuss possible murderers.
"It has to be Amos!" Victoria yelled, running into my bedroom.
"Not necessarily", I said, "Amos could have left the cabin for a minute, and the murderer could have took the knife from the cabin".
"Do you think that's likely? I mean, who would want to raise suspiscion like that?"
"I think Amos has raised enough suspiscion".
"Have you asked him if he left the cabin?"
"What's the point? He's only going to say he did. If he did not leave the cabin, he is the only person who could have done it".
"I suppose so. Anyway, bearing that in mind, who do you think killed Violet, now that we have established where everyone was?"
"To be perfectly honest, we are not that much further forward. Any one of the six people could have killed Violet".
"If it was Miss Douthwaite, John had to be involved, and if it was John, Miss Douthwaite had to be involved".
"That's true. Miss Douthwaite could have took the knife from Amos' cabin, snook down into the cellar, killed Violet, remained there, and made it look like she had just arrived there before Margaret. John could have realised that she had no alibi, so he gave his fiancee and himself an alibi by saying they were together at the time. John, on the other hand, could have killed Violet, ran quicker than he makes out up the basement stairs, waited for Margaret to run out, and ran behind her, pretending that he was just behind her".
"What about Margaret?"
"Margaret could have covered Violet's mouth, killed her, ran to the top of the stairs, screamed to give the impression that it was Violet who was screaming, and then waited for Miss Douthwaite to run out so she could follow her down".
"And what about Tim?"
"Depending on how long it took for Violet to get the wine, Tim could have snook down the stairs, opened the window before killing Violet, killed her, and quickly climbed out of the window which leads to the floor of the garden path, ran round the front of the house, looked through the window to see when John went into the basement, quickly opened the door and ran to the stairs, where he could have waited for Mary to come out of the bathroom, where he could have quickly turned his head back round, making it look like he had just come down from the stairs".
"That's quite a detailed explanation. When did you come up with that?"
"I'm just considering the mind of the murderer. If it was Tim, I think that's what I would do".
"And what about Mary?"
"Mary could have pretended to go to the toilet, but when she left the lounge that Tim was in, she could have quickly crept down the stairs, snook past all of the servants who were busy doing something else at the time, covered Violet's mouth, and killed her. This would give her enough time to climb out the window where she could scream into the basement when she climbed out. This would have gave her the opportunity to run round the front of the house, look through the window of the front door, wait for everyone to go down there, and arrive last. Nobody seen her at any time between when the murder took place, and when she arrived in the basement, so she could have been carrying out her plan then".
"Quite simply, Amos could have taken the knife, killed Violet, opened the window and jumped out, making his escape before Miss Douthwaite could get in".
"You see, here lies the problem. How did Amos know about the window?"
"He works in the garden, remember? He could have spotted the window one day from the outside".
"That fits. But the thing is, the killer would have to be really fast, wouldn't they?"
"This murder was probably pre-medidated. The murderer knew exactly where everyone else was at the time, and they had planned their escape".
"So, what else can you say about the murderer?"
"They had to know that Amos had the knife, and they would want to implicate him. Otherwise, why go to that much trouble to get that knife when the murderer could have simply took it from the kitchen?"
"I don't know, but it is definitely that knife?"
"It's the only one that's missing".
"That means another thing".
"The murderer had to know that Amos had taken the knife from the kitchen".
"Good thinking. You and I make a good team".
"However, that does not exactly rule anyone out. Anyone could have looked out of the window and saw Amos with the knife".
"What we have to think is who had it in for him".
"I don't think anybody would confess to disliking Amos".
"Neither would I. There is also another thing. If the murderer got out by the window, how could they take the time to shut it as well?"
"That is a good point. It would be very risky for them to do that, in case they were spotted".
"Exactly, which means that the murderer probably left the room by the door. So, it is unlikely that Mary, Tim or Amos could have done it. It still does not rule them out, though".
"It's just a shame we got there later than the others".
"I know. If only I could see the order the people arrived. I don't know why, but it's just a feeling that I got when I entered the room. The way everybody was arranged had something to do with it. I just have a feeling about it".
"What do you mean?"
"I don't know. Maybe it's the way Miss Douthwaite was stood kneeling over the body, maybe it's the order everyone was stood in, or it might be something else".
"All this stuff is frying my brain. It's just too much to take in; I can't think straight!"
"I think it's time to hit the hay. Goodnight".
"Goodnight. Lock your doors".
When Victoria left the room, I went straight to bed. About an hour later, while I was still awake, I heard quiet footsteps walking along the corridor. It was about ten o'clock, so it was quite late. Then, the person put a piece of paper through the bottom of the door, and I heard them walk away almost silently.
After they had gone, I crept towards the light, with the door still locked, and switched it on. I picked up the piece of paper, and I did not know what to think when I saw what was written on it:
"I saw the murder.
I saw him put the knife in her back.
The murderer is Amos".
© Copyright 2017 declan mckimm. All rights reserved.
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