Death By Carrot

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic
Murder at an amusement park and the weapon is a carrot? A short story a tad on the long side.

Submitted: March 14, 2016

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Submitted: March 14, 2016

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I am Bernard Lagetty and I am the night watchman, oops, night watch-person, here at Hoppy-Land. 

Hoppy-Land is the name of this theme park and Hoppy is the nic-name of the owner of the park, so it seemed fitting that he lends that name to the park that he created.

Rabbits, that is what started the idea for Hoppy-Land. Mr. Elmer Fuddleton Hoppeilstein, aka, Hoppy to friends and employees alike. The town's folk call him Happy Hoppy because of his jovial nature.

I've been told that it all started at the age of seven, Elmer's grandparents gave him a rabbit for Easter.

"It will give the child a sense of responsibility," said Pop-Pop.

"He needs a pet to love and to play with," countered Nana.

From the very first time Elmer laid eyes on that rabbit, it was love of all things rabbit. That would last Elmer's, Hoppy's, whole life through. It did not matter what kind of rabbit it was, Hoppy loved them all.

I say Hoppy's whole life because he died some days ago, under very mysterious circumstances.

Hoppy-Land was built around the original Rabbit Coupe that Hoppy's father built for his first rabbit, Wiggles.

The family home remained on the premises and has been refurbished over the years; that started occurring after Hoppy's parents passed away. 

In the wee hours of March 13, I think it was a Friday, with the Blue-moon hanging high in the exiting days of Winter's sky, Hoppy died a horrific death. He was stabbed repeatedly with a steel carrot and a suspected weapon was found at the murder scene.

The painted carrot-castings are used all around the park as garden decorations, along with cast-iron Cabbage, green-painted leafy vegetables, and many flowers. 

It was a gruesome situation, Mr. Hoppy collapsed and bled-out on the Indian rug that took up central place in the den's floor. But strangely enough, the murder weapon was found in Hoppy's own hand.

The doors and windows were all locked from the inside, reminiscent of other past fictional murder mysteries, but on careful inspection I found a secret way to enter, or exit, the house without being detected. A Rabbit Hole, of sorts, just a few steps from where Hoppy passed on.

No, the passageway was not behind a bookcase, or a fireplace, as one might suspect; after all, this is Hoppy-Land. It was a hidden staircase beneath the Bunny-chair. All one needed to do was to push the back of the chair foreword and as it tilted up and foreword the floor slipped to the side, reveling a staircase, which lead to a tunnel, which lead to an opening that was concealed behind the park's water fall.

I found the Rabbit-hole while waiting for the police to arrive. I called Mrs. Cynthia Hoppeilstein Sidestep, Hoppy's only sister, and the police as soon as I discovered the body.

I had been notified by the night park maintenance supervisor, who, in turn, was alerted by the janitorial service representative who took a report from one of the cleaning maids; she had heard a crashing noise and then moaning as she passed by the house.

Mr. Hoppy was a private man and at times would have his lady friend, Bunny Sweetcorn, sometimes known as Ms. Bubbles, staying overnight. So the maid did not dare investigate the sounds herself, instead she sent the report up the ladder, so to speak.

Homicide Detective, Abel Bodice arrived about the same time as the uniformed police did, so I let them all in the main gate.

Their Sergeant assigned one uniformed officer to watch the gate, keeping any unauthorized people out until the investigation was ended. That was a big load off my mind, my shift was over in ruffly four hours and I had no intention of hanging around.

I have breakfast with Bert and the guys down at the dinner every weekday morning at 8:00 a.m... and I hate missing my breakfast; "it is the most important meal of the day," so they say. Besides, the guys would love to hear this tale of murder and intrigue.

I unlocked the house so that the police could get in; I had locked it while I went to open the main gate.

After they had secured the murder scene, Detective Bodice

called me into the house and asked me several questions, that is when I told him about the Rabbit Hole that was under the Bunny-chair.

We walked the tunnel together and discovered the waterfall exit door, but we found no blood trail in the tunnel.

We concluded that Hoppy was not stabbed in the tunnel, nor did he come that way after being stabbed, that was for sure. So evidence was still pointing to the stabbing happening in the house.

As we arrived back at the house the Medical Examiner was bagging the body.

" Hay Carmen!" Detective Bodice greeted the Medical Examiner with a hug. "How is Hector doing?"

"Oh, he should be back to work in a week or two, as soon as the doctor releases him. The bullet wound healed quickly, just a little soreness left, but that's no real biggie. Thanks for asking," said the Medical Examiner.

"Have got anything for me Carmen?" Detective Bodice queried.

She responded, "Well Abe, he was stabbed three times in the back, two are superficial and the third was much worse, about five, maybe six inches deep and near the kidney. Everything is pretty well straight foreword, but then it gets weird, the deepest wound is low on the body, not up high like the other two. Both the victim and the assailant would have had to completely change positions right after the second entry wound was made."

"Maybe they fought over the weapon," I blurted out, being caught up in the moment.

The Medical Examiner smiled and replied, "Maybe so, I'll have to withhold judgment on that until I get a better look at the body."

It was at that time that Cynthia Hoppeilstein Sidestep arrived, escorted by one of the uniformed officers.

"Hi Mrs. Sidestep," I quietly said as she walked up.

But the detective interrupted. "Cynthia Sidestep, you are the sister of Elmer Hoppeilstein?"

Cynthia nodded, yes.

"I'm very sorry for your loss, but I'm afraid I will have to ask you some questions."

Cynthia just said, "Not a problem, but when you are done asking questions you are going to feel certain that I am a primary suspect."

"And why is that?" The detective asked.

"Because I have no alibi for my whereabouts tonight, I was home alone because my husband is out of town on business. I talked to no one except for Mr. Lagetty, from park security, and he called me on my cell phone; I could have taken that call from anywhere.

Detective, my brother was crazy, rabbit wise, and has ruined my early life with his rabbit mania.

The theft of property would give many a person ample reason to want to kill someone. This house and property should have been split down the middle when our parents died, or at least Hoppy should have been paying me rent on my half all these years. But no, he had to buy it from me by having me sign a bill of sale, which I thought was a funeral arrangement agreement for our parents. No, he had to have it all for his precious rabbits!"

"Did you kill your brother Mrs. Sidestep?"

"No, I could never kill my brother, I loved him despite his craziness with the rabbits. I suppose I could take a lie detector test if that would help, but like I said, I have no alibi.

Detective Bodice took Cynthia's cell-phone number and address, and had an officer walk her back to her car.

After she left the detective turned to me and asked, "Is what she said true, the stuff about her brother taking the property?"

I replied, "It is pretty common knowledge around the park that he tricked her into signing the bill of sale, but from what I've heard, he paid her top-dollar for her half. Hoppy was a bit nuts when it came to his park and the rabbits, but I do not ever remember anyone saying that he cheated them; other than she.

Another thing detective, what I am about to say is not going to help her get off the hook, as far as being a prim suspect. And this information comes from Hoppy's own secretary, Janet Hare.

Hoppy has willed everything to his sister should he pass away before she does. She cannot sell the place, or tear the park down, it will be overseen by Mr. McGregor, the park manager. But Cynthia gets all net profit from the operation of the park and she will have rights to view the books and will get copies of the tax records each year."

"Thanks, I'll check into that," Detective Bodice said as he walked away.

 

Well, Bert and the guys were sad to hear about Hoppy. There wasn't anyone in town that had not taken their children and/or grandchildren to Hoppy-Land at some time or another.

However, they all wanted all the dirt, every Dot and

Tittle that was done and said while I was there. We didn't get out of the dinner until after 11:00 a.m...

When I did get out of there I remembered that I had left my coat hanging on the fence near the front door of Hoppy's house. So I went to retrieve it, if it hadn't already disappeared.

As I grabbed my coat I saw Dock Fisher, one of the parks yard keepers, he was sitting on the porch talking to himself, or so it seemed.

"What's up Dock?" I asked, but really didn't think that I wanted to know.

He looked up at me with great big alligator tears in his eyes and said, "I killed Hoppy!"

"Woo, you did what?" The words just rolled out of my mouth.

"I killed Hoppy! I forgot to close the lid on the garden waist ben last night before I left.

Hoppy is always snooping around at night, checking this, checking that, leaving me notes for thing he wants me to do the next day; like I don't know my job after fifteen years.

Sometimes Hoppy climbs up on the side of the Rabbit Coup Ride to get a bird-eye view of the park. I told him a thousand times that that wasn't safe at night, it's not very secure in the daytime let alone at night.

Anyway, I think he fell and killed himself!"

"Don't be silly, Hoppy died in his house, not in a recycle dumpster," I said trying to calm the poor guy down.

He got up and told me to follow him, then I would see what he meant.

We walked around the corner and along the narrow, wet, maintenance walkway that runs between the buildings. 

When we arrived at the Rabbit Coup Ride, Dock lead me into the groundskeepers service area that is behind that building. Dock walked over to a trash-dumpster size ben and opened the cover.

As I walked over to look, I saw lawn waist in the dumpster and two flattened cardboard boxes smashed on top of the waist. In the boxes were steel garden ornaments just like the one Mr. Hoppy had in his hand.

Some of the steel carrot's pointed ends were facing skyward and there was blood on the carrots and inside the bin. But there was no blood outside the bin because the graveyard maintenance crew had hosed down all the walkways and service areas, as they do every day before sunrise.

I called Detective Bodice and he showed up with a few people to take pictures, take fingerprint samples, and to remove the boxes and carrots.

He told me that the Medical Examiner had found eleven wounds on Hoppy's body, a total of six were puncture wounds, others were cuts and scratches.

The detective figures that Hoppy fell from the building, landing back first onto the boxes of discarded carrots.

With wounds not disabling but potently fatal, Hoppy headed to the house to call for help. When he entered the house, he may have instinctively locked the door. He tried but never made it to the phone in the den, instead he collapsed on the rug and bled out.

The maid must have happened by just after Hoppy entered the house, just one minute earlier might have meant his survival. As for the carrot in his hand, he may have pulled it out of his back and just hung onto it. Who knows?

Then came the maintenance crew washing down the paved areas and the poorly lit walkways, as is done every morning before Sun-up; thus the blood trail disappeared into the drains.

If Dock had closed that lid on that dumpster without looking in it first, if he had not noticed the bloody carrots, the smashed boxes, then the trash truck would have gobbled up the vital evidence and no one would have been the wiser.

And poor Cynthia Sidestep would have been suspected of her brother's murder from that day foreword. After all, by her own admission, she was the only person who had a believable motive and no alibi.

This case would have been one of those cold-cases that might stay on some dusty shelf forever.

JEF  ---  03-13-2016


© Copyright 2017 D. Thurmond, aka, JEF. All rights reserved.

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