Having carried the body of the former police officer upstairs, Flora, Mary and myself laid him out next to the similarly lifeless corpses of Adam Shitebreath and Aunt Ada Doom. The double bed was getting a little crowded.
“If there’s any more murders, we’ll have to start putting them in the wardrobe!” Flora’s voice had a merry tone to it, but I could barley raise a smile.
I turned to my wife and grasped her bony fingers. “Mary, would you help me examine the murder weapons, please?”
She nodded enthusiastically. “Delighted.”
I had taken the blade from the latest victim and placed it on the dressing table next to the other one. Mary crouched down and peered at the knives.
“These two have the same markings on the handles, Johnny.” Mary looked up at me with a grim expression. “They’ve been used by the same person. A left-handed person.”
I rolled my eyes round in my head, trying to focus on the problem. More specifically, I wondered what Holmes would make of it. No doubt he’d be able to see through the fog that clouded my deductive abilities. “Even so,” I ventured, “Anyone could have picked up either of these knives and committed murder.”
Mary shook her head. “To use a baking metaphor, these killings have a leftish whisk action to them – you see dear, the angle of entry in each case shows the stabbing action was made by a left-handed person.”
I cleared my throat noisily. “I hardly think whisking comes into it…”
But my wife was not to be outdone. “I’m not making this up, Johnny – there’s an obvious modus operandi in the killer’s method of attack. Actually, there was a lovely article on that very subject in The Police Gazette last week.” She gave me a rueful smile. “You should read more, dear.”
“Pshaw!” I muttered. “Police Gazette? Codswallop. I wouldn’t wipe my bottom on that piece of trash.”
“I’m afraid I agree with Mary, “ said Flora in a small voice. “It makes the most sense.”
“Oh, I see,” I rejoindered. “Makes sense does it? And the only left-handed person in the house is..?”
Flora pouted. “Well – Adam.”
“Exactly – so how in God’s name do you imagine the man not only killed himself, but then stabbed someone else after he himself was already dead, eh? And that’s assuming that he was the one who killed Ada Doom in the first place.” I waved my hands expansively. “Explain that if you can.”
The two women looked at each other.
I harrumphed and turned to look out the window. “See? You can’t, can you, and d’you know why?”
While I waited for their response, my eyes scanned the farmyard below, where the rest of the family and various workers were gathering in the gloom. As I watched, Judith Starkadder began pointing up at me, gesticulating at what I took to be my right shoulder. Only half-aware she might be trying to tell me something, I nevertheless continued with my train of thought.
“Well, Mary? Got an explanation, have you, dear?” I glared at her reflection in the bedroom window. But even as the words left my lips, I realised my mistake. As Sherlock Holmes himself would say – When you have eliminated the impossible, Watson, that which remains must be the truth. I stared at my wife’s reflection and took in the scene behind her: the naked body of Adam Shitebreath had heaved itself off the bed and was striding towards the unsuspecting women, it’s left hand raised high above its head. Clasped in its (apparently) undead grip, was a large kitchen knife.
I whirled round and opened my mouth to scream, but all that came out was “Oh, fu – ”