Short Story Sunday 166: Explanation (Part Four)

Short Story Sunday: "Explantion" (Part four) | Mystery

DID YOU READ PARTS ONE, TWO, AND THREE?  

Nadine entered the room once more, but this time with the maid right behind her. “Detective,” Nadine said, “this is our maid, Vicky.”

Lilah took George’s lead and stood up once the maid entered the room. She looked the maid up and down trying to get a good read on her before they started talking.

Vicky was on the younger side. She stood taller than Nadine, despite her boss wearing three-inch heels. Her make-up was heavy on her face and her expression claimed boredom.

When George stretched out his hand to her, Nadine stepped aside and Vicky took a step back. George remained where he was waiting, but Lilah had a feeling she wasn’t going to willingly cooperate.

“Well, the pleasure’s mine.” George finally said bringing his arm back down by his side.

Vicky glared at him and Lilah narrowed her eyes at her. George must have suspected her of something, otherwise he wouldn’t have wanted to talk to her. She had a feeling Vicky knew that as well. The only thing was, Lilah couldn’t tell if Vicky was being defensive because she was nervous or if it was because she knew she was about to get caught.

“Could I have a moment alone with the detective, please?” Vicky asked politely to her boss.

“Oh,” Nadine looked over at George, who nodded. After a disappointed sigh, Nadine ushered her kids out of the room and followed closely behind them.

When they were out of earshot, Vicky snapped her attention back to George and Lilah. “Well, get to it. I don’t have all day.”

“Surely you know what I’m about to say.” George replied.

Vicky folded her arms across her chest and held her chin up high. “Whatever you have to say isn’t true. And, I want a lawyer present if I’m going to talk to you.”

“You want a witness, yet you just kicked your boss out of the room?” George commented.

“Oh, please. Nadine can’t help me.” Vicky looked him up and down looking disgusted.

“And why would you need the help?”

“Because you’re asking too many questions,”

“We’ve barely begun.”

There was a sudden standstill. Vicky didn’t have a good enough comeback and George remained calm under pressure as always. Lilah found herself relaxing her shoulders. Vicky didn’t seem to be much of a threat despite her clearly having something to hide.

Vicky drew in a sharp breath. “I want a lawyer first.”

“If you want a lawyer, then I’m to assume you have something to hide.” George remarked.

Vicky narrowed her eyes. She opened her mouth to say something, but Nadine entered the room.

“I’m sorry to interrupt,” she said looking at Vicky, “but there’s a couple of police officers here.” She turned to look at George. “An Officer Florence? He said you called him.”

“Ah, perfect timing. Send him in.” George smiled.

“What’s your brother doing here?” Lilah whispered.

“I texted him. This case is about to be over.” George whispered back.

Nadine stepped to the side and Barney entered the room. He put his hands on his hips and stared at George expectantly.

“Ms. Vicky would like a lawyer before she says anything. Which is perfect since we’ll have to take her down to the station anyway.”

Vicky glared at George again and Barney sighed. “Is this your disappearing and reappearing car case?”

George nodded. “I had a hunch that Vicky had something to do with it, but then, while we were talking to Nadine’s children, I saw Vicky outside the window talking to a woman over the fence in the garden.”

Lilah looked to her left. She didn’t pay too much attention to outside the window, but sure enough, there was the garden. And no one was around there now.

“I had a hunch that I recognized the woman. Vicky, who were you talking to?” George asked.

“My… sister.” She reluctantly replied once Nadine stared her down.

“Does she work here?”

“No,”

“Why was she here?”

“That’s none of your business.”

“Well,” George continued, “why did you guys have to talk in hushed tones over the fence where no one could see you? Why didn’t she come in?”

“Yes, why didn’t she? You know she’s welcome anytime.” Nadine added. Vicky stared at Nadine, but didn’t respond.

“She didn’t want you guys to recognize her right away.” George said. “She was the woman in the video with your car.”

Nadine chuckled. “We all know her very well. There’s no way she stole the car and brought it back.”

“Because she had to boyfriends, husband, friend, whatever you want to call him do it. None of you recognize him, so it would be easy for Vicky and her sister to cover for him.” George explained.

Nadine held her hand up as though she was a young kid in school. “But our gardener…”

“Hasn’t been seen since the car was taken, correct?” George asked.

Nadine pressed her lips together.

“You forgot to tell me about the gardener the first time I spoke to you.” George said to Vicky. “I thought it was strange Lilah had notes about her and I didn’t. Now it’s becoming clear why you guys really took the car. You couldn’t do it because you’d be missed. Your sister couldn’t do it because everyone, including the kids, recognize her.

“You had your sister’s friend get friendly with the kids to trick them into letting him in the garage. It looked like a stranger broke in to steal from a rich family.” George explained.

“Why?” Barney asked.

George sighed looking at his brother. “Well, that’s where I pass this case off to you. It seems to me that this has turned into a missing person’s case… possibly homicide.”

Barney sighed shaking his head. He looked at Vicky and took out his handcuffs.

Words: 967

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Short Story Sunday 165: Explanation (Part Three)

Short Story Sunday: Explanation (Part Three)

DID YOU READ PARTS ONE AND TWO?            

Lilah leaned against the railing at the bottom of the front steps of the largest house in town. George stood on the porch waiting for someone to answer the doorbell’s call. The two were silent as Lilah stared at the back of George’s head trying to figure him out. He wouldn’t give her any hints as to what his theory was about the mysterious man and woman who supposedly stole one of cars that belonged to this household.

All she knew was that George was suspecting the two children, but she couldn’t think of any reason as to why that would be.

The front door opened breaking Lilah out of her thoughts. She walked up the few steps to the porch and placed herself next to George as he greeted the woman on the other side of the door.

“Good morning, sorry to bother you at this house.” He said.

“It’s no trouble, Detective Florence.” The woman stepped to the said holding the door open wide. “Please come in. Have you figured it out?”

“Not quite,” George stepped to the side allowing Lilah to enter the house first. When she crossed through the threshold, George followed. “We want to ask a few more questions.”

Lilah turned around and watched the woman, the owner’s wife, and George lock eyes. The lady, Lilah was having a hard time remembering her name—there were so many people who they had talked to in that house—closed the door and absentmindedly shrugged her shoulders.

“Of course. I’ll try to answer anything new you’ve thought of. But I’m not sure how much help I’ll be.” She answered.

George smiled politely. “Thank you, but no. We’d like to talk to your children, if you don’t mind.”

Lilah noticed the woman stiffen, but her face remained unchanged. After a moment, she cracked a smile, awkward smile, and pointed to the couches on their left.

“Sit down and I’ll get them. Would you like me to have the cook make you some coffee or anything?” she asked as she walked away into the other room.

Lilah began to raise her hand, but George pushed it back down to her side.

“We’re all set, thank you.” He answered. The woman nodded disappearing into the other room while Lilah glared at George.

Lilah snorted watching George sit down on one of the couches. “Why can’t I have a coffee?”

“You just had one.” He replied calmly.

“Yeah, like an hour ago.”

“You drink too much caffeine.”

“You’re bossy.”

“Lilah, sit down and be quiet.” George said harshly, but he had a smile on his face.

Rolling her eyes, Lilah obeyed. She sat down in an armchair next to the couch. But as soon as she did, George stood up straightening his dress shirt as the kids entered the room. Lilah too stood up and smiled to greet them.

“Here they are.” Their mother walked them a hand on each of their shoulder.

Lilah looked down at the kids, a boy and a girl. She recalled their mother mentioning that they were twins, but she couldn’t remember how old they were. They looked to be about six or seven years.

“I’d like to stay while you chat with them.”

“Of course, Nadine,” George nodded.

Lilah snapped her fingers. Nadine, that was her name! When she brought herself back to reality, she noticed everyone was staring at her. She cleared her throat. “Sorry, I had just remembered something, but… Don’t worry about it.”

George ignored her and he squatted down to be eye level with the kids. “Hi Tom, hello Angie. How are you both today?”

Neither one of them said a word. Nadine nudged them both after a minute or two and then they both monotonously said in unison, “Hi.”

“Kids, go sit,” Nadine brought them over to one couch and sat down on the other end of it. Lilah and George sat down on the couch opposite of them.

“I’ll get right to the point so you kids can go back and play, okay?” George said. He cleared his throat and then began. “You guys were playing with the butler the other day, right?”

Both kids nodded.

“Hide-and-seek, correct?”

They nodded again.

Lilah kept a steady gaze on both kids though she was wondering what George was trying to get at.

“Do you play with the butler a lot?” George asked.

They shook their heads.

George nodded leaning back a bit. “I thought so… What made you guys decide to play with the butler that day?”

“Excuse me, but are you suggesting Jerry had something to do with my husband’s car going missing?” Nadine interrupted.

George held up a finger, keeping his eyes on the kids. “Please, let them talk.”

Nadine nudged her kids again.

Tom and Angie looked at each other as though they were deciding what exactly they should say. Finally, Angie recoiled back against the couch and Tom sighed.

“They told us to.” He said.

Lilah widened her eyes. She opened her notebook and started jotting down some notes.

“The butler told you to?” Nadine asked shocked.

Tom shook his head. “The other guy.”

“What other guy, Honey?” Nadine continued as though George and Lilah weren’t even there.

Tom shrugged and looked at Angie. “I don’t know. She talked to him first.”

Angie sat straight up glaring at her brother. “Only because you wouldn’t play with me!”

Nadine snapped her neck to look at George, her expression fraught with worry. She stared at him as though he knew exactly what the kids were talking about.

“I believe,” George began, “the man the kids are referring to is the man who stole your husband’s car.”

“But we don’t know that man.” Nadine protested.

“And they’re two young children who apparently haven’t learned not to talk to strangers.” George countered.

Lilah bit her lower lip, her grip on her pen tightening.

Nadine looked back at her kids, her brows furrowed, demanding an explanation.

“I was playing outside when a man came up to the back fence.” Angie said. “He said he wanted to play with me and Tom wouldn’t, so I told him he could.”

Nadine closed her eyes and turned the other way exasperated. Angie put a hand on her mother’s knee.

“Are you mad…?” she asked.

“Keep talking, Angie.” George pressed. Nadine still couldn’t look at anyone.

“He told me he wanted to play hide-and-seek, but no one else could know. He told me to hide first, in the garage.” Angie explained.

Tom rolled his eyes. “You’re supposed to hide in a spot he doesn’t know about and then he has to find you. He can’t tell you where to hide. Don’t know how to play games right?”

Angie shrugged, seemingly unfazed by her brother mocking her.

“Angie, please keep going.” George pressed further.

“He told me to ask the butler to play with us, but not to tell him he was playing. So I asked the butler and Tom, they both said yes. Then I hid in the garage.”

“And did the butler find you?”

“Yes,”

“Did he find you through the garage door or through the door to the house?”

“He opened the garage door.”

George nodded. “Did he remember to close it?”

Angie shrugged.

Nadine covered her mouth with her hand and gasped.

“So you think the strange man knew that would happen and wanted to steal the car.” Lilah stated.

“Yes, and he succeeded.” George said.

“But why bring the car back?” Nadine asked.

“And what about the unknown woman?” Lilah whispered.

“I have suspicions…” George smiled. He looked at Nadine. “May we speak to the maid, please?”

Words: 1,275

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Short Story Sunday 164: Explanation (Part Two)

Short Story Sunday: "Explanation" (Part Two) | Mystery Flash Fiction

Did you read part one first? Find it HERE.

            “You want to go back to the house? Why?” Lilah asked appalled. She was leaning her back against the counter in the kitchen with a mug of coffee in hand. She stared at George from across the room as though he was an alien.

George was sitting at the kitchen table with a glass of orange juice. After taking a sip, he shrugged his shoulders. “I was up late last night thinking. There is definitely something we’re missing and I think we should go there and solve this case once and for all.”

Lilah cocked an eyebrow up and remained silent. She took a sip from her coffee and continued to stare at George as though he had lost his mind.

“Are you with me, Lilah?” George asked after the elongated silence.

Lilah shrugged peering into her now empty coffee mug. She walked over to the sink and rinsed out her mug. “I’m just confused, I guess. We’ve been humming and hammering over this case for weeks; we tried to finally piece everything together last night and failed. So, after I went to bed, you stayed up and magically figured everything out?”

George grinned and nodded.

Lilah rolled her eyes. She was sick of this case and hoped that George had indeed figured it all out, but he didn’t have to be cocky about it. Plus, she had a feeling that whatever he figured out was too good to be true.

“I tried to go to bed the same time you did, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the case. I felt as though we got so close last night that I wanted to continue trying to piece everything together.” George explained.

“Sometimes that helps, but sometimes that just makes everything worse, George.” Lilah said. She turned back around from the sink and leaned against the counter again folding her arms across her chest.

“I agree,” George said nodding, “but I feel as though it helped this time.”

“So, what have you got, then?”

“I realized that we talked about every single person in that house trying to figure out if they could have been the culprit or not, but we forgot two people that also live in the house.” George stated.

He paused for which, Lilah assumed, was for dramatic effect. She leaned her neck forward a little trying to coax him to continue without trying to encourage his cliffhanger.

“The two children,” George said quietly.

Lilah narrowed her eyes at George and then she threw her head back and began to laugh. “What are you talking about?” she asked through chuckles. She lifted her head again to look at George with a wide smirk on her face. “You think the two kids had anything to do with a stranger stealing their car and then a strange woman doing something the man and then bringing the car back to the house?”

George leaned back in his seat and folded his arms across his chest. He shrugged, still with the smirk across his face. “We’ve tried everything else and suspected everyone else in the house. I don’t think asking the kids a few questions would be a bad idea.”

“But they’re just kids, George. How old are they?” Lilah asked.

“I’m not entirely sure.”

“Well, they’re too young.”

“What makes you say that?”

“They were playing hide-and-seek with the butler. I think they’re pretty young.” Lilah scoffed.

George stood up from his seat and headed for the door. “Well, I’m going to go back to the house and ask to speak to the children about it. You can come with me if you want.”

Lilah opened her mouth to reply, but George had already stepped out into the hallway. She dashed after him and followed him down the hall and through the front door of their house.

“I’m with you, of course. But I still think this is very far-fetched.” She said.

George closed and locked the front door as soon as Lilah stepped down the front steps. He then walked off the front porch and stepped in front of her, Lilah following closely behind.

“It is, but it’s the only explanation I can think of. And trust me, it will all make sense once I explain everything to everyone.” George stated.

“Why can’t you explain it to me right now?” Lilah asked.

They made it to the sidewalk and George looked both ways down the street. As a tazi approached them, George waved his hand in the air and the yellow car pulled over to the side of the road. George opened the back seat door for Lilah, stepping aside to let her in first.

“Tell you now and ruin the big reveal? I wouldn’t dream of it.”

Words: 789

READ PART THREE HERE!

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Short Story Sunday 163: Explanation (Part One)

Mystery Month Short Story: "Explanation" (Part One) | Flash Fiction

            “Well, when you explain it like that…” Lilah tapped her chin with the back end of her pen. She rolled her eyes up to the ceiling deep in thought taking in the few words George had just explained to her.

            George sat on the other side of the room at his desk. He pushed his laptop to the side and folded his hands neatly on the surface of his desk. He stared patiently and curiously at Lilah as though waiting for her to respond.

            Lilah glanced back at George. She really had no idea what to say. She hoped he would say something else instead. When she noticed him staring at her, she inhaled and exhaled through her nose sharply.

            “I mean, do you really think so?” Lilah asked.

            George nodded.

            Well, this conversation was going nowhere fast.

            “What are your thoughts on the matter, Lilah?” George asked.

            Lilah rubbed her lips together and shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know what to think about anything. I think this whole case is nuts.”

            George cracked a smile. “Most cases are.” He finally looked away from her and turned his attention to the laptop screen to his right.

            Lilah got up from the couch and walked over to where he sat. She stood beside him and looked over his shoulder at the computer screen. “What are you looking at?”

            “This is the security footage from the night of the incident.” George explained.

            “What are you watching it again for?”

            “I want to be sure that my hunches are correct.”

            Lilah stared hard at the video on screen. Both she and George had watched the footage from the security cameras just outside the town’s most popular Italian restaurant. They were the only business that happened to have a camera outside their business as well. It just so happened to catch part of the busy main street out front.

            A car whizzed by in black and white from the left side of the screen to the right side until it came to an abrupt halt. The front end of the car was off-screen and the passenger side was facing the camera. It was hard to tell who got in and out of the driver’s seat, but one thing was for sure. It was a different person.

            After the car stopped, a man stepped out of the driver’s side. He ran around to the front of the car as though panicked. Almost immediately as he ran off screen, a woman came from off screen, where the man ran off to, and hopped in the driver’s side. The car revved off in the same direction the man was originally driving, except he is not seen again.

            The owner of the Italian restaurant called the police as he was at home watching the security cameras when the incident occurred. No leads could come from the video, but the license plate was visible at the beginning of the video and it was traced back to a home outside of town.

            “You still think that woman there is the maid for the owner of the car?” Lilah asked.

            George nodded his head, but he was leaning his head against the palm of his hand. “That has to be the only explanation, isn’t it?”

            “I don’t know,”

            “You’re usually more helpful than this.”

            Lilah sighed rubbing the back of her neck. “I’m tired. This case has had us running around in circles. We can’t tell who the people are and the car has magically ended up back at the house where it belongs. Everyone at the house is accounted for and no one claimed to have been out and driving that day. No one noticed it was gone if it was stolen. The maid claims to have been home all day and everyone says they saw someone at the house that day.”

            “Someone, or multiple people, is lying.” George said glaring at his laptop screen, which was paused at the woman getting into the car. Only the top of her head was visible as she stood behind the car, but it was clear that she had long hair tied into a high ponytail.

            “That would be the logical thing to think, yes. But how are we supposed to prove that?” Lilah asked with a grunt. She walked back around to the other side of George’s desk and sat down in the client’s chair directly across from him.

            George clicked out of the video and shut off the monitor. “I don’t know…”

            Both were silent. George closed his eyes pinching the bridge of his nose. Lilah stared at him and waited for him to get out of his deep thought. She knew he was aggressively thinking and didn’t want to interrupt the flow of his thought process.

            Or, he very well could have just been resting from all the headache the case has caused both of them over the past couple of weeks.

            Lilah leaned backward and reached her arm behind her to snatch her notebook off of the coffee table. She was just barely able to grab it, but she managed to poke it a little closer to her without having to get up. She picked it up and brought it onto her lap. She opened the front cover and flipped through a mass of pages at the beginning, which were notes from the previous case. She grunted looking for the current case realizing that she really needed to start bookmarking her pages whenever they shifted cases.

            When she finally got to the page where she first started taking notes on what happened, she stared at the words she wrote. She didn’t read anything, she just stared at the ink-filled page. What exactly was she looking for?

            “What are you doing?” George asked.

            “I don’t really know.” Lilah said without taking her eyes off of her notebook. She flipped to the next page and continued to skim through her notes.

            “Well, let me know if you find something that you’re not looking for.” George replied.

            “I wrote down their statements somewhere in here.” Lilah said.

            George straightened up. “So did I. What’s your point?”

            “You mentioned that someone is lying or multiple people in the house are lying. They’re trying to cover for themselves and some are probably trying to cover up for someone else. But no one is admitting who did it. No one will take the fall whether they were the culprit or someone else was.” Lilah explained.

            George nodded his head. He opened his own notebook and flipped through a few pages to find the statements he took from the tenants in the house that owned the car.

            “So the man who was originally driving the car disappeared once that woman hopped into the driver’s seat. We don’t know where he was driving to or why he got out of the car.” Lilah said.

            “My first thought was maybe the woman stopped him and she stole the car from him.” George replied. “But then he’s never seen again so I wonder if she did something to him.”

            Lilah shuddered. “Well, if he was a man who lived in the house, then someone should have said that he was missing, right?”

            George shook his head. “Not if everyone was in on it.”

            “There are too many people in the house. How could they all be against that one man? Besides, as far as we know, everyone is accounted for in the house.” Lilah said.

            “I know. He probably doesn’t live there. Which means he must have stolen the car,” George stated.

            “So we don’t know the man’s identity, why he had the car, where he was going, and why he stopped and got out in the middle of the street. And we have no idea what happened to him after that.” Lilah said as she wrote it all down in her notebook. She was sure it was written down somewhere, but it helped her to remember. When it was all down on the paper, she looked back up at George.

            “Wow, we really have figured nothing out on this case, have we?”

            George scratched the top of his head. “Well, no one is giving us anything to go on.” He flipped over to the next page in his notebook and pointed to a line near the middle. “I spoke to the maid the other day and she told me that she, the butler, the cook, and the chauffeur were home all day the day of the incident.”

            Lilah scanned her pages for the statements that she copied down. “What about the gardener?”

            “What about him?”

            “Her,”

            “What?”

            “The gardener is a girl.” Lilah said looking away from her notebook.

            “I didn’t know they had a gardener.” George stated and then he rolled his eyes. “Geez, you would think that these people lived in a mansion and were the most important people on the earth.”

            “They have a lot of money. Why not use it?” Lilah shrugged her shoulders. “Anyway, when I spoke to the maid, she told me those same people were accounted for, including the gardener.”

            George sighed. “Well, I might have forgotten to write down the gardener’s name or the maid didn’t mention her at all. I don’t think I knew there was a gardener.”

            “So that may be an inconsistency right there.” Lilah pointed to her paper. “The maid might be covering for the gardener. The woman who got into the car after the man got out could have been the gardener.”

            George nodded his head. He took out another piece of paper and wrote that down. “What else do we have?”

            “That’s not enough?” Lilah sighed.

            George shook his head. “No, of course not,”

            “We can’t just go in there and point fingers at people at this point? We’ve been at this for weeks…”

            George sighed. “I know, I’m frustrated too,”

            “Especially since no one cares because as far as they’re all concerned, everyone is innocent and no one left the house and the car was in the garage all day long.” Lilah said grunting. She leaned back in her chair shaking her head slightly.

            “Let’s keep going down the list of what everyone said to us.” George suggested. “The cook told me that during the time of the accident he was in the kitchen preparing lunch for everyone in the house, which included the owner of the house and his wife, their two children, the maid, the butler, the gardener, the chauffeur, and himself, the cook.” George shrugged. “Apparently I did know the gardener… I don’t remember speaking to her, though.”

            “I have the same thing.” Lilah agreed. “So both the cook and the maid claim everyone was home at the time of the incident. But no one mentioned about whether the car was in the garage or not.”

            “I don’t think they would check on the car, though. It was in the locked garage and one would hear the door open and close as someone took the car out, wouldn’t you think?” George said with a smirk realizing that he was making a valid point.

            Lilah nodded in agreement. “So what in the world happened then?”

            “According to the butler, he was playing hide and seek with the two children. I asked the kids and they confirmed that he was a very good hider.” George said.

            “How long did he hide for?”

            “Not long enough for people in the house to realize that he had disappeared. The kids certainly would have said something, I’m sure, if they weren’t able to find him after a while.” George explained.

            “Or they could have just gotten bored with searching and ran off to play with their toys. That’s what I used to do with the neighbor kids when we played hide-and-seek.” Lilah suggested.

            “Good point, but I don’t think so. These two kids seem to have high spirits and are energetic. I believe they were search for the butler until the very end.” George chuckled.

            “What’s so funny?”

            “Are you sure the neighborhood kids just didn’t feel like playing with you?”

            Lilah glared at him. “Oh, you always think you’re funny…”

            “I thought that was a good one.”

            “Well, did you hear the one about the detective who couldn’t solve anything?” Lilah asked.

            George sighed, still smiling. “Touché,”

Words: 2,053

READ PART TWO HERE!

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