Friday, January 16, 2015

Appearing in issue #3, January 19, 2015

Title:  What goes up

By Author:  Andrew Armstrong


Tag line:     If the tenants knew what had happened to Mr. Blodgett, they weren’t talking …

Police characters:   Sgt. James Mincher and Det. Gary Gorman

The gist:    There is an apartment building with five floors.  There are four tenants currently occupying the building, the top floor had been recently renovated and was ready to rent.  The building manager, Mr. Blodgett, was found dead, slumped in the elevator, a knife in his chest.  The police noted there was little blood in the elevator indicating he had been killed somewhere else.

Mrs. Rogers, who lives on the 2nd floor, found the dead man.  She was so startled and horrified she screamed when she found the body.

Joe Beasley lives on the 1st floor.  He is the building super, has lived there 15 years, and gets a reduction in his rent.   He said he spoke to Mr. Blodgett that morning to talk about the 5th floor apartment.  Mr. B wanted to know if it was ready for the new tenant who was due to move in shortly.  Joe claimed that he heard Mr. B get into the elevator and head up to inspect the apartment.  He assumed Mr. B left after that but he didn’t see him go because Joe was downstairs in the basement working on the old water heater. Joe claimed that Mr. B was cheap and didn’t give him enough funds to replace items that broke, and Joe always had to try to fix things.

Joe said the man on the 3rd floor was a writer who was having trouble making his rent and was, in fact, two months behind.   Joe said he heard the elevator come back down from the 5th floor and stop at the 3rd floor, and it had stopped for awhile.  Joe figured Mr. B was confronting the writer about his late rent. Joe said although he was in the basement working this morning that his hearing was pretty good, and he said he lived there long enough to know how things worked, and he definitely heard the elevator stop on the 3rd floor.  

A woman lived on the 4th floor, but she was a flight attendant and was often gone for a week or longer.  She was away at the present time.

Mrs. Rogers said when she found the body she went to the 1st floor and banged on Joe’s door and when he didn’t answer, she ran out into the street and got two men to help.  One was a doctor, who saw right away that Mr. B was dead. They found Joe downstairs and told him what had happened. 

The police took a look at the 5th floor apartment.  It was sparkly clean, no sign of any trauma or struggle there.

The police spoke to the writer on the 3rd floor.  He claimed he hadn’t seen Mr. B in over a week.  He said he had gotten a nice advance on a script, so he had caught up on his rent a few days ago by sending in a check.

The police went back to Joe and told him he had heard wrong about the writer.  The police wondered about something else Joe had told them.  

Crime scene:    An apartment building.

Clues:    Joe’s hearing.

Suspects:   The writer.

Red herrings:    None.

Solution:  Joe claimed he had good hearing and heard the elevator stop at the 3rd floor, but he never heard Mrs. Rogers screaming or the commotion with the two men she got help from. Joe and Mr. B had had an argument over the way Mr. B ran the building.  Mr. B threatened to fire Joe.  Joe killed him on the 5th floor, moved the body to the elevator then went back and cleaned up the mess.  After that he took the stairs to the basement to tinker with the water heater to give himself an alibi.

My two cents:    It was refreshing to read a well-written, brisk paced story that had no problems in it. The clue was good and buried well.  No police work problems.  In fact I can’t find anything major to complain about. 

I would have liked to have seen a tiny bit more of a hint that Joe and Mr. B weren’t getting along. And the tag line makes no sense, but that’s not the author’s fault.

Gotta say author Armstrong did a bang-up job.  This one deserves 5 stars.


Tamara said...

This is the story I did a word count on and commented about earlier. The solution was 89 words, which seemed like a lot at the time. Perhaps I think better of that now.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Tamara. It IS a lot of words in my view also. That's why I thought a little hint of trouble between Joe and the manager about Joe's work would allow a shorter explanation.

I went and counted too, after you mentioned it. Yep, it's 727 words. Johnene must like the wiggle room when she demands 700 words.

bettye griffin said...

I haven't read this story (and it's probably too late now), but I figured out the solution from reading this synopsis.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Bettye. I have to say I missed the screaming part. I was concentrating on the 'could he really hear if the elevator stopped on the third floor' part.

And you'd think I'd be sharper by now... :)

Chris said...

I bought into him being able to hear the elevator stop halfway down as it is a mechanical device that goes right through the building. I imagine you'd become familiar with the sound of it going up and down. There'd be clicks or clangs and the whir of machinery, especially if it's an old one. But he's in the basement and the body is found several floors up, so someone screaming might not carry all the way down to the cellar. So I struggled with the conclusion that him not hearing her when he said he had good hearing must mean he was lying. Otherwise, a well written story.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Chris

My take on his hearing story was that he said he could hear everything to set up the writer on the third floor, but the detectives realized he lied, he couldn't hear anything.

Susan said...

My mom lives in a ten story building for seniors. One of the residents has a yappy dog. There have been times that I have been waiting on the elevator in the lobby and could hear that dog barking in the elevator from the fifth floor all the way down. It is an older building and you can hear the bell ding when the elevator stops on each floor while you wait for it. Every noise sort of echoes down the elevator shaft. I sort of wondered why he didn't hear her scream since it appears each floor has one apartment and couln't be very large.
The story was very good and I liked the writer's style.