Poker Face — part 3

This is not suitable for young readers.

The experimental whodunnit goes on. The text is hot off the ‘pen’ with minimal editing. Part 4 follows soon. I hope story-line ideas will flow from readers (and writers).

Part 3

Staring eyes - Poker faceIt’s an absolute fact … someone dunnit.

Question 1
: who-dunnit?

Question 2: do you really want to know?
Question 3: are you prepared to risk your life to find out?

(part 1 is here) (part 2 is here)

‘… blood squirts from wounds and sprays around. Other gore is thrown from a bloody weapon as it’s wielded.’

‘So, some comes from the inside out and some splashes around from the act of striking.’

‘Precisely, ma’am: sprays and splatter …’ A sharp, howling female scream interrupted his answer.

The door handle rattled as a person struggled to open it. Wild sobbing caterwauls of distress, rising and falling, and punctuated by a slobbering, breathy chewing sound. With a triumphal shriek, the door burst open.

Inspector Wilcox nodded to the Constable. A wild woman dressed in jodhpurs, riding boots and a checked cotton shirt, tail hanging out at the rear, charged into the room. ‘Where is she?’ Here eye caught the stiff leg propped against the chair arm. She leapt forward, stopping suddenly as the Constable caught her waist. ‘Let me go.’ Her rage punched out through clenched teeth.

‘Hold her man.’

‘I must go to her.’

‘No, not yet, it’s a crime scene.’

‘Let … MEEE … go!’ She squirmed, slapped and scratched at the policeman’s face. The Inspector pulled out his whistle and blew hard. Almost immediately two more dark uniformed men entered.

‘Take her to the doctor, lads.’ He turned to Lady Jayne, ‘perhaps he’ll sedate her.

‘She’s looking pretty wild.’

‘Indeed. Who is she? Daughter?’

‘No,’ Lady Jayne’s alluring face stilled for a moment, ‘her lover actually.’ Beautiful hazel eyes posed a question.

‘How contemporary.’ The Inspector half-smiled and tapped his nose. ‘Discretion guaranteed ma’am … now where were we?’

‘The doctor tells us she took some savage blows. Judging by the fireplace, the blows spattered blood about—as we’ve just discussed.’ She took a breath, as if about to speak. He held up his hand and silenced her. This time she nodded, dutiful. ‘We’ll get to it in a minute. First, let’s finish our thoughts on her fall over the chair.’

‘Enlighten me Inspector.’

‘Where on the walls do you see blood splatter.’

‘There isn’t any on this side of the chair.’

‘Correct. Where does it start?’

‘There isn’t much above the level of the mantlepiece.’

‘Does it look like spray?’

‘No. More like it was thrown from a paint brush.’

‘And your conclusion?’

‘She went over the chair and landed on the hearth.’ Lady Panmure said.

‘I agree and she was conscious … at first.’

‘How can we tell?’

‘If I’m right, the body will provide confirmation. Let’s start with the hands.’ The corpse lay on her back, face covered by dense black hair. Her left arm started straight out from the body, twisted and broken where the shard of bone extended from the break in the forearm. The hand clutched empty air. Two nails were partially torn off, and the index fingernail hung by a small piece of skin. ‘First confirmation of our hypothesis, ma’am.’

‘Tell me more, Inspector.’

‘When a body falls, conscious, there are signs of consciousness, Injuries cause by instinctive defensive behaviour, grabbing at things and so on.’

‘And unconscious?’

‘It’s almost like the flow of water as it follows the path of least resistance. Everything flops. When she fell she didn’t flop, at first, as she went over the chair.’

‘It’s on castors but it didn’t move.’

‘It moved until it hit the hearth edge. See the castor scores on the floor?’

‘Oh yes. And by the looks of things, it bounced back.’

‘Probably slid from under her as she fell onto the chair arm nearest the fire. And that explains the crumpled rug. As she was pushed, she fell backwards with the chair which suddenly stopped and then rebounded as her weight pressed it backwards and she fell vertically on to the hearth-edge.’

‘You think she fell vertically?’ She said.

‘By the looks of things, straight down, head backwards.’

‘There isn’t much blood spray.’

‘Something killed her. Let’s check the wounds and see what they tell us.’ He turned to her, appreciating the respect in her eyes. ‘Are you sure you want to see this?’ He made a few notes in his pad.

‘It’s hugely interesting, Inspector, I want to know.’

He pulled the victim’s hair gently aside. A sharp sucking of aristocratic breath made him consider stopping, but he pressed on locked in the process of discovery. He envisaged a frenzy. Half of the woman’s face lay almost serene. The other half carried the massive distortion of wild violence: temple, cheek, eye-socket, mouth, jaw-line and neck all re-shaped by demented savagery.

‘Oh! … God!’

Oh to be innocent again, new to the horror, perhaps able to choose another career … ‘Her eye is missing.’

‘… Awful …’ He didn’t mistake her gulping breaths and strong efforts at self-control.

‘In some crimes we follow the money. In murder, we follow the blood.’

They both looked along the congealed, blackening splatter trail.  ‘There, the carriage clock,’ she said, ‘the handle.’ An eye with strands of tissue sticking to the brass stared lonely from it’s ornamental position.

She made a gargling sound.

He turned. ‘Spare the crime scene ma’am.’ He seized her by the waist and hauled her to a bay window. Two buttons sprang from her blouse as he tugged her. She retched. Her elevenses splashed across his Oxfords and over the wooden floor. She clung to him as he pulled out his hanky, her silk encased cleavage impossible to ignore. ‘Here, Lady Panmure.’

She mumbled thanks and wiped her mouth. He could feel her balance returning, but she still clung to him.

‘Jayne,’ she said. ‘Do you always stare at aristocratic breasts?’

‘Every chance I get, ma’am … err … Jayne.’

‘The brutality …’ she said.

‘The rage. We have a maniac near at hand. No one is safe.’

With a crackle, the lights flickered and went out. Outside a winter sun descended behind the trees.

Mac Logan

What do you think?