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One Little Teacup

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Chris was waiting in his office. The sign in front said “Chris Darwin, detective agency.” Let me tell you about Chris. He’s my partner in the detective agency. I’m more of an assistant, but he insists we’re partners. He likes to read when we’re not solving a case, especially weird facts and mysteries. He’s not the biggest guy around, sort of on the small side. Being detectives is pretty fun, but also very serious. We’ve had assault cases, robbery, and even murder. We were fresh out of college when this started. We wanted to look for jobs, professional detective jobs. Instead we found the office. We got a heck of a deal on it. Most of the people in the area didn’t really take us seriously. Until one man, Mr. Alex Merlot got his phone stolen. Guess who found the phone and the culprit. That’s right, we did. I’m not allowed to say who the culprit was. So from then on, the other people started taking us seriously. It was a small case but people we’re very impressed. I drove my car into the parking lot. “What took you so long!” said Chris.

“I slept in, boss”, I said.

Chris said “don’t call me boss, we’re partners.”

“Whatever you say, boss” I replied.

The phone rang. We both stared at it, and then Chris picked it up. “Chris Darwin detective agency, how may I help you”, he said.

He listened then frowned, and said quietly “that’s serious. We’ll be right over.”

He put the phone back, and said “get in the car, there’s a serious crime, I’ll tell you on the way.”

We got in the car. He drove. We were both silent. I was waiting for him to say something. His expression was grim. He finally spoke. “There has been a serious crime committed at the Manchester house. Mr. Maxwell Manchester has been murdered.”

I was silent for a few moments. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know Mr. Manchester very well. I knew he was a rich man with a large family. He was around his thirties. His roots spread back to ancient British knights. I knew he was kind, for he always was donating to charity.

“That’s very sad”, I said. “He was very kind.”

We finally arrived at the Manchester house. It was very grand, with polished black gates in front, and beautiful flowers all around. The house itself was huge. We arrived at the front door and rang the bell. A man came immediately.

“Come quickly, we have been expecting you” said the man. There were policemen walking around, dusting for fingerprints, looking for evidence. He led us into a magnificent living room, with a crystal chandelier in it.
There were five people sitting in the elegantly furnished couches, two women and three men. They were silent. You could feel the tension in the room. An elderly man stood. “Thank you for coming”, he said.

“Let me introduce myself and my family. I am George Manchester. This lovely woman sitting next to me is my wife, Violet. The man to your left is my son, Alexander. Maxwell was also my son. The woman sitting in the red chair is Maxwell’s wife, Sonia. And the man who led you in here is Marlo, Maxwell’s butler.”

There was silence. Chris said, “We would like to talk to each of you separately. Is there anywhere we could conduct our interviews privately?”

“We’ve set up surveillance systems everywhere after the murder, so there’s not much chance of that. But the kitchen’s not bugged you could use that.” said George.

I said “we don’t want anyone near the place of the murder, okay?”

My words were met by silence. We went into the kitchen. Chris said to me, “who should we interview first?”

“Let’s do George.” I replied.

We told the butler to send for George. While we were waiting, we were sitting at a kitchen table. It had a very large cloth on it that reached to the floor. We heard a rustling under it. A little blond head peaked out. “Why hello there”, I said.

“Hi” said the little one.

“I’m Abby. Are you the detectives?”

She couldn’t be older than five. “Yes we are”, said Chris.

“What are you doing under there?”

“I’m having a secret tea party, see”, said Abby, pulling the tablecloth up so we could see.

There were little teacups under there. “Secret tea parties are great fun aren’t they”, said Chris.

At that moment, George came in. “I see you’ve met Abby”, said George. “She’s Maxwell’s daughter.” Now run along Abby, I have to talk with the detectives.”

“What a wonderful child”, George said.

Abby gathered her teacups and left the room. Chris said “tell us about Maxwell.”

George said, “Max was a great son. He loved his wife and his daughter dearly. He was a great businessman, unlike his brother, that lazy, good for nothing Alexander, who only eats and orders us around.”

“At what time was the murder committed?” asked Chris.

“Sometime yesterday, we believe”, answered George.

“Who was in the house at that time?” asked Chris.

“Me, my wife, Sonia, and Marlo, and of course little Abby”, replied George. “Does your son Max live in this house?” I asked.

“Yes.” said George.
Chris said, “What did you do yesterday?”
“I was at this house, in the office preparing Max for his speech. He was to give a business speech later that day, Sunday. I left to go to the bathroom and when I came back he was laying there, in the office.” replied George.

“Thank you, that is all. Send for Violet.” said Chris.

George left and Violet came in. She was sobbing uncontrollably. We tried asking her questions, but that made her sob even more. We told Marlo to take her to her room and give her something calming, and to send for Rick. “What do you want?” Rick said rudely.

Chris gave him a hard look, and said “to know what you know”.

Rick said “Max was murdered in the office. Don’t worry about checking the cameras; we set them up after the murder. Dad was the last to see him alive. Max was always dad’s favorite. He always gave him the chances to succeed. I never got any chances. Max got the business, the money, and the attention. He became uppity and arrogant.”

His face was scowling. Chris said, “Where you were yesterday?” “I was swimming in the pool out back. I don’t like to be around when dad is coaching Max for his speeches. The butler came to me and said to come to the office. I went in and my family was in hysterics, and on the floor there lay my brother.”
I said “that is all, send in Sonia.”

Sonia’s face was tearstained but she seemed resolved not to cry. “Where were you yesterday?” I asked her.

“I was in Abby’s room, cleaning up her toys. I heard Max’s mom scream. I went downstairs, and then…”

She started crying. We dismissed her, and then asked to see George. He came and Chris said, “We would like to examine the scene of the crime.”

George took us there. We were led into an office. Policemen walked out of the room. There were little yellow signs marked with numbers next to important evidence. Max was lying facedown on the floor; his neck was bleeding heavily, and a knife lying next to him. A couple of lamps were broken. There was a small round table with a table cloth reaching the floor. Chris and I put gloves on and started examining everything. Chris looked under the table cloth and asked “has anyone been here since the crime was committed?”

“No”, George answered.

Chris came back up from under the table with a tea cup in his hand. Abby’s tea cup. Chris said, “Abby saw who committed the crime.”

George looked a little sweaty. Chris said, “We will ask Abby who the murderer is.”

George said shakily, “let me talk to her about……. about……. taking this seriously.”

Chris said, “You have five minutes.”

George left hurriedly. We asked Marlo to take us to the surveillance control room. When we got there we saw George and Abby on the screen. They were in the basement. I asked Marlo, “I thought there weren’t cameras in the basement.”

“I installed them” he replied.

Abby seemed very scared. George said “Abby, I didn’t mean to hurt dad. It was an accident! You don’t want grandpa to go to jail! Daddy wouldn’t listen to me, he kept arguing. I couldn’t control myself!”

I was shocked. Chris wasn’t. I told Marlo to get the police. They came quickly and went into the basement. They came out with a bewildered hand cuffed George. “There must be some mistake”, he said to me and Chris.

“Tell them!”

“There was no mistake.” I said. “And we have the evidence to prove it.”

George gave me a confused look. “There were cameras in the basement”, Chris explained.

George gave us a death stare. Abby’s tea cup was in Chris’s hands. “I borrowed this from Abby when she was under the kitchen table.”

George’s face looked confused, and then it dawned on him. “Abby wasn’t at the crime”, he said quietly.

That’s when it hit me too. The things Chris can do for a confession. George’s face was now red with anger, shouting obscenities at Chris. The police dragged him into their car. Chris said, “Case closed”, and headed for the car.

I followed him, it was eight o’clock. Darkness was setting. When we got to the car I asked, “Why did you tell George about Abby not being there?”

We got into the car. “To see the look on his face!” he said and burst into laughter.

George’s face did look comical, like a raging bull. I joined in the laughter. When we finally stopped laughing he started the engine and we drove away, leaving the Manchester house in the distance.

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