Detective Ash paced the room, tapping an unlit cigar on the inside brim of his hat, never taking his eyes off the four individuals crowded into his office.
“Please, Detective,” implored the elder of the two women, draped in pearls and a flashy, black veil. “Do you or don’t you know what happened to my husband?”
Ash cracked a condescending smirk. “I know, alright. And you won’t be too happy to hear it. Because I know every one of you had a motive to kill rich, old Mr. Hughpatrick, and what’s more, you each had opportunity!”
Gasps rang through the room, each saying in a different way: “It wasn’t me!” Ash waved his hat.
“Quiet, now! Consider the murder scene – the drawing room, locked tight. Nobody came in or out till one body did. The man of the house, who was despised by his perpetual guest, a brother-in-law too lazy to make an honest living for himself out in this crazy world. Maybe he thought life would be easier if he placed marbles for the old man to slip on and break his neck!”
Stares and gasps shot in the indicated man’s direction. “But no,” the Detective continued. “He’s too lazy even for that. Could it have been the young maid, tired of watching Hughpatrick lavish his wealth on his wife, when she wanted him for herself, who closed the flue from the next room, choking him to death!”
Further gasps. He again quieted them. “But wouldn’t having sole control of the Hughpatrick fortune be enough motive to poison your own husband’s scotch!”
Gasps. Quiet. “Wrong again. It’s that classic story. The loyal butler, who secretly trained as a youth with the French National Circus in acrobatics and contortion, who could squeeze himself down the chimney, sneak up behind the old man and–”
The phone rang. The Detective answered, listened, and hung up.
“Well, folks, it looks like Mr. Hughpatrick had a common heart attack. You’re all free to go.”
Out went the quartet, each saying in a different way: “I can’t believe this.” Ash ushered in the next group, knowing each must possess a secret desire to have stolen the Maharajah’s Ruby.