Title: Murder in the neighborhood
By Author: Martha Freeman
Appearing in issue #38, September 23, 2013
Tag line: Jenny Mason’s new neighbors definitely weren’t the friendly type, but there was no law against that …
Police characters: None of any importance.
The gist: Okay, bear with me here. There are a lot of details. Jenny Mason was a woman of regular habits, one of which was to return her trash can to its proper place as soon as the trash crew was done. This morning she walked down to get said trash can at 8:30. On the back of the trash truck was a former student of Jenny’s, Matt. He waved to her. Jenny noticed that the trash truck had skipped her neighbor’s house, the Colfax house, because there was no barrel at the curb. A few minutes later Jenny hears sirens. When she looks through her window she sees police cars and an ambulance at the Colfax house. Claiming that she isn’t nosy (hah!) but that maybe the police might want to ask her something, Jenny hurried outside. Jenny had lived in this house for 25 years. Jenny remembered that the Colfax house had been vacant for a while before the new neighbors came. Jenny had brought over some baked bread the day they moved in but Anne Colfax was rather cold to Jenny. Jenny had a friend, Leo, who told Jenny that Bill Colfax was in financial trouble and that the marriage was rocky. Jenny appreciated the fact that the Colfaxes always kept up their property and they even employed a cleaning service and landscapers. Also Bill spent hours in his garden every weekend. Jenny noticed a red car parked in the Colfax driveway that hadn’t been there at 8:30. Then she saw two EMTs come out of the Colfax’s front door carrying a litter that had a sheet covered body on it. A man in a business suit was trailing the EMTs. Just then a police officer appeared and started giving the man in the suit his Miranda rights. A second police officer, Danny Whitson, also a former student of Jenny’s showed up. Jenny was chit-chatting with him, asking about when he joined the police force. She asked him what happened but he wouldn’t tell her. Suddenly a car screeches to the curb and Anne Colfax gets out screaming, “What have you done to my husband? I warned Bill about you, you murderer.” The man claimed that Bill was dead when he got there. Anne said he was a liar and that her husband was fine when she left for yoga at 8:15. Jenny asked Anne if she and her husband were away this past week. Anne called Jenny a busybody and said, “You know we weren’t.” Jenny said, “Well, in that case I think you’re lying and the police have the wrong suspect.”
Okay, that’s it. That was exhausting to get through. I think I need a nap.
Crime scene: The neighbor’s house.
Clues: I have no idea. The trash not being out, I suppose.
Suspects: The wife or the business partner. (Or maybe busybody Jenny did it…heh heh.) Or maybe the trash guys. Or the cleaning service people. Or some random robber. Maybe Bill killed himself to get out of this awful story.
Red herrings: Good grief. It was all such a mess…
Solution: Jenny noticed the Colfaxes hadn’t left their trash out for pickup. Unless they were on vacation, house proud Bill would never have failed to do so. Anne killed her husband before she left for yoga. Knowing that her husband and his partner had an appointment to meet that morning and that there were financial troubles, Anne planned to frame him.
My two cents: There were WAY too many people in this story. Why did we have to have the trash man wave at Jenny? Why did Jenny have to know one of the cops? I think the wife screaming at the business partner that he was a murderer was over the top. I think the wife would not have stated that “Bill was fine when I left for yoga at 8:15.” Who says things like that when your husband was just killed? Why did she come screeching up? How did she know there was a problem? Did she even know her husband was dead? Or maybe I should ask, How did she know her husband was dead? This wasn’t a clean, well-staged story. It just went on and on and on with details that we didn’t need to know, like the fact that the house had been vacant for a while before the Colfaxes moved in. Or that Jenny has lived in her house 25 years. Or that the trash guy used to be a student of hers. Or that Bill liked to garden. Who cares? What does all that have to do with the price of bananas? Yet we don’t get the important clues. Clues like Bill was as fussy with his trash as Jenny was and would never not take it to the curb on trash day. That was pretty important. Or how about telling us that Bill had a meeting with his business partner that morning? That little tidbit was just thrown in the solution to tidy up a loose end. Why was the cop giving the business partner his Miranda rights? That guy was the 911 caller. By the way, we know the names of a lot of people, even the guy on the trash truck, but we don’t know the name of the business partner who is the accused in this story. How odd.
This week's trash story is a stinker.
This week's trash story is a stinker.