What Happened at Oggleton

December 18, 2007
By Mikael Schuck, Prairie Village, KS

Mark Stale was just an average, everyday, normal guy. You could see him walking on the street and he would blend in with the crowd perfectly. There was nothing special about him; in fact, he never won any awards in the little village of Oggleton where he lived, or did any distinguishing acts of any kind during his lifetime. He was quiet, but not self-absorbed. He was polite and respectful, but not naïve. He wasn’t exactly a cheerful person, but he wasn’t depressed or moody either. Nevertheless, the town of Oggleton was in a state of uproar when he was found on his living room floor, the TV blaring about the weather forecast, with his throat slashed.

What happened? Everyone in the town knew everybody else-in fact there were only around seventy citizens-and no one thought that anyone had a grudge against him. Yet there he was, his throat cut open like a Thanksgiving turkey, his arms flailed across the carpet. No, there were no flickering lights when his neighbor came over and first saw his body, intent on having a conversation about little Mrs. Picket’s seven year-old daughter across the street. No, there was no swinging chandelier. No, lightning was not flashing. It was one of the cheeriest morning of the year, and the citizens of the town were busily walking down the streets, absorbed in their boring, repetitive lives, completely oblivious to the body of Mr. Stale in the house up on the hill.

Something this horrendous had never happened since the mysterious burning of the church in 1978. No one talked about anything else for the rest of the week. Detectives and police officers could find no clues of any kind-except, of course, his split open throat and the blood that was splattered across the walls and the turquoise couch. The only thing anyone was really sure of was that Mark Stale had put up quite a fight.

Detective Longstreet had been reported to investigate the crime and interrogate each and every one of the citizens of Oggleton-something he was not looking forward to. The same story was being told to him over and over again: “Well, I didn’t know Mark Stale that well, he came in to buy groceries and things every other day,” “Mark Stale wasn’t exactly a friend to me, but I had no grudge against him,” “I don’t know what could have happened. I didn’t know him very well,”…you get the picture.

There were the theorists: “Maybe he killed himself? I always thought that he was rather depressing fellow, always walking around the town like his dog just got ran over…” There were the dramatizers: “I couldn’t sleep at night. This is the most shocking thing that has ever happened to me. I don’t know what to think of this. How could this have happened?” There were the psychics: “I always knew this was going to happen, sooner or later. I just had that funny little inkling…” There were the accusers: “You know, Mrs. Jackson always gets a strange little slant in her eyes whenever she talks to him…then again, Howard who lives next to him liked to go over to his house almost every day, so I don’t know what to think. Oh, also, that troublesome little kid Hank had a grudge, I don’t remember what it is…I’m not pointing any fingers, though!” This was what Longstreet had to deal with, over seventy different times. He was also no closer to solving this when he was done than when he had started.

He could understand why the people of Oggleton were so scared, of course. The murderer could be just right next door to any one of them; yet, he could be halfway across the world by now. And what was the intention? People probably wanted to know that more than they actually wanted to know the killer himself. And yes, I was scared back then, too. I was actually up for the entire night when Mr. Stale was presumably killed. I was watching television, on the exact same channel Mark had his on when his neighbor came and first found his body. I admit that I was as scared as anyone when I heard the news.

The saddest part of this story, in my opinion, was that the murder was never solved. Like the mysterious fire of 1978, the intention was unknown, and the cause was unknown. No matter how Detective Longstreet tried, he never even came close to solving this crime-not even when Mrs. Picket was found in her kitchen, three months later, with a knife in her heart.

After that, the people of Oggleton were in a state of sheer panic. Those who promised to move out of the state after the death of Mr. Stale fulfilled their promise. After three weeks, Oggleton’s population decreased from around seventy to only twenty-two. I was part of that number.

Why did I not move then, after two well-publicized murders? I think it was because I spent the majority of my life in that little town, and as much as I hated to see it get torn up from this, I didn’t want to leave. My decision may not have been entirely rational, but I felt that if I left that little town, my life would end anyway. Detective Longstreet was up to his neck in paperwork, and he was getting even more frustrated than before (I could only assume this, since I’ve never met him, other that the time when he interviewed everyone in the town). He would have interviewed everyone yet again after the death of Mrs. Picket, if only for the fact that he had been strangled to death by copper wire two days after.

After a month of relative peace in Oggleton and continual pleading and begging from my closest friends, I finally said good-bye to that little town where I spent all my life. It was a hard decision, but I thought of the consequences if I didn’t leave. Would I be the next victim of that serial killer who murdered at random? Would I be the next body with a knife injected into me, or with my throat slashed? I didn’t want to wait to find out, so I moved far away.

And life went on. I got a different job, moved into a different house. I never even drove past Oggleton again. I never heard from anyone who lived there again, and I never heard anything about the three murders there ever again. I never spoke about the events that happened there ever again, even though I will never forget them.

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