Short Story Sunday #62

SSS Mystery Man Three


(Read Part One and Part Two)

            Lilah got down on her four knees and lifted up some blankets hanging off the bed. She took a peek underneath the bed and shook her head. She stood back up shrugging her shoulders to George on the other side of the bedroom.

“Even under the bed is spotless. There’s not one dust bunny.” Lilah said in amazement.

“So they like to keep a clean house. You do, too.” George opened the closet door and stared at all the clothes hung up neatly and wrinkle-free.

“Yeah, but I’m not that good. They must clean multiple times a day.” Lilah folded her arms across her chest and wandered around the room looking for any clues.

George pushed parted the clothes and looked behind them and in the back of the closet. “There’s absolutely nothing in here… just clothes.”

“That’s what closets are for, buddy.” Lilah replied. She stood by Joshua’s dresser and lifted up a picture frame. She stared closely at it in confusion.

“Yeah, but I use my closet for storage as well. It’s just empty in here.” George sighed closing the door.

“Does this picture look odd to you?” Lilah turned around stretching out her arm to hand the picture over to George.

George took the frame in his hand and stared at it closely. He tilted his head to the side and then held it away from him. “Is he putting his arm around someone?”

“That’s what it looks like, doesn’t it?” Lilah muttered.

Joshua had one arm stretched out as he held the camera back to take a picture of himself. He was smiling happily and his other arm hung in the air as though it was wrapped around someone’s shoulder, but he was the only one in the picture.

“He looks like he’s at the beach. That’s the ocean behind him, isn’t it?” Lilah stared at the picture.

“I think,” George shrugged. He put the picture back down on the dresser. “That’s just weird.”

“Joshua was an artist. He liked to take pictures; especially of himself.”

Lilah jumped in surprised and both she and George turned around. Abigail stood in the doorway of Joshua’s bedroom. She had the same composure as she did when they first arrived at the house. She stood still and tall, her eyes burning into Lilah, but still with no emotion behind the stare.

“We can see that.” Lilah replied cautiously.

“Who is in the picture with him?” George asked. Lilah looked at him with uncertainty. They just discussed that no one else was in the picture with him. Lilah wondered if George was just trying to figure out how crazy Joshua—and Abigail—were. They sure were a strange family.

“His friend, James.” Abigail replied with no hesitation.

Lilah turned back around quickly and squinted at the picture. She still couldn’t see anyone else present, though.

“Have you ever met James?” George glanced at Lilah before looking back at Abigail.

“No,” Abigail said shortly.

“Can you point to him in the picture?” Lilah wondered.

“No,” Abigail shook her head and took a step back so she was no longer standing in the doorway, but in the hall.

Lilah and George exchanged confused glances when a police officer poked his head into the room. “George, Lilah? They’ve finished looking at the body. You should probably come down now.”

“Thank you,” George replied leading the way out of the bedroom. Lilah followed closely behind.

“After you,” George motioned for Abigail to go first. Lilah let out a sigh of relief. She did not want Abigail to be walking behind her.

Abigail obeyed and led them down the stairs and back into the living room. She stood by the doorway and George and Lilah pushed past her. George stopped and stared at Abigail.

“Why don’t you come into the room and sit down?” he pointed to the couch.

“I don’t like being in the living room. I only like being in my bedroom.” Abigail replied dryly.

“Can we say crazy…?” Lilah whispered.

George shushed her before anyone could hear.

Lilah shrugged and then turned her attention back to the scene. Her stomach flipped over when her eye caught Joshua. The forensics team drew a white line around his body, but then flipped him over to examine his wounds more closely.

Joshua laid on his back, his eyes rolled to the back of his head, and a steak knife sticking out of his heart. She didn’t realize someone could die from a knife as small as a steak knife, but she supposed if it was sharp enough and pierced directly to the heart, then it was possible. No wonder they couldn’t tell what the wound was when he was lying on his stomach; he was lying on the knife.

Lilah shuddered and looked the other way at the forensics man.

“As you can see,” he began to explain, “Joshua Coops, 34, died of a stab wound straight to the heart. He most likely died instantly, as the wound is deep into his heart.”

“Was he murdered?” George questioned.

Lilah glanced behind her and looked at Abigail. Her head was cocked to the side and she stared deeply at the knife stuck inside her uncle. Lilah still couldn’t read her face. She would have assumed a 13-year-old would be mortified at seeing such a scene. Yet, she seemed to be completely unfazed by it all.

Abigail made Lilah feel uncomfortable and made her wonder if Abigail had anything to do with her uncle’s death; despite her denial when they first arrived at the house.

“Yes and no.” the forensics man tilted his head from side to side.

“What is that supposed to mean?” Lilah piped up. She hugged herself trying to wrap her head around it all while not looking at the body at the same time.

The forensics man looked Lilah in the eye and explained. “The fingerprints lifted off the knife are none other than Joshua’s, but he wasn’t the one who put the knife through himself.”

6 thoughts on “Short Story Sunday #62

Let me know your thoughts!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.