Take a word chosen at random and write something about it. Simple? Maybe not.
The evidence was obvious and overwhelming, at least to me.
Poor John “Buddy” Boddy’s braincase had been cracked wide open by a baseball bat wielded by none other than Jonathan “Jack” Mustard, legendary gridiron great turned sportscaster The murder took place in the observatory of Buddy’s Hollywood Hills party home as he peered through his 150mm Maksutov-Cassegrain during the wee morning hours. The dumbbell never saw it coming.
I was sure that I had more than enough evidence to take Mustard off the air for the rest of his life; but Buddy’s body was missing, and the other five overnight guests hadn’t a clue. I knew that I had no choice but to roll the dice and play the game if I was to come out a winner.
Who am I? My name is Victor Plum. I’m a billionaire software designer, and I’ve got “game.”
Let’s start with the party guest/suspect list. In addition to myself and Mustard, we’ve got Kasandra Scarlet, leading lady and consummate casting couch cover; Jacob Green, a man of murky occupation who, a couple of hundred years ago, would have been a highly successful snake oil salesman; Diane White, a child film star whose grip on the present is tenuous, at best; and Eleanor Peacock, a woman so filthy rich she can only marginally relate to lifeforms beneath her caste.
We had all received the party invitation, which had included an intriguing addition. Buddy had scribbled a note to each of us that he feared for his life and hoped that his true friends could help.
“True friends” was a stretch. To me, Buddy was, at best, a frequent associate; but who could resist a note like that?
We all arrived fashionably late and were met with enthusiastic greetings by our host. Dinner and drinks filled the night. We all asked Buddy about his strange note. He had no real evidence to support his fears, only a sense of being watched and a vague feeling of dread.
As the party wound down, we all bid Buddy good night and retired to our rooms. By morning, he was gone.
While the others buzzed about the shocking but not unexpected development, I quickly gathered my evidence. I knew that Buddy was dead, but I wanted to make sure I had what I needed to implicate the killer.
I had been around the board enough times to know that jumping into a room and announcing the perpetrator right up front would not work, so I bowed to tradition and let Scarlet take the lead.
She quickly sashayed to the spa and declared that Green had done the deed in that very room with a wrench. She couldn’t have been more wrong.
Buddy was about as handy as a thumbless Tim Taylor. He had wrenched his back several years ago attempting to do a cartwheel after six margaritas, but any wrench Buddy had owned was left behind when he moved from his old mansion to his new home in 2008.
Green was livid at the accusation. Buddy was his best bud, he said — an unquestionable quid pro quo kind of guy. He wasted no time in naming the real culprit. Without a doubt, he said, White had offed Buddy by whacking him over the head with a lead pipe in the library.
I stand corrected. Scarlet could have been more wrong. Not only was Buddy’s home too new to incorporate lead plumbing, the library had been remodeled into a theater not long after video had replaced print as the world’s primary source of entertainment.
White, although she said that she was flattered by being cast in such a central role in the intrigue, could not claim credit. She nominated Peacock for the honor, adding that she believed Peacock clubbed Buddy to death with a baseball bat whist he was spying on the neighbors from his observatory.
Whaaat? Right location, right weapon, wrong perpetrator. Had she actually seen something?
Peacock frostily replied that she would not dignify the accusation with a response.
It was Mustard’s trip to the plate. The man sputtered something about Buddy having no enemies and expressed complete amazement that any foul play could befall the man.
Mentally, I rubbed my hands together in glee. Everyone had taken a shot, so my turn had come.
I dismissed the clueless Scarlet and Green in short order — no wrench, no lead pipe, no library, no supporting evidence. White was another story.
I questioned her and was able to determine she had only seen a shadowy figure in the observatory with Buddy when she looked out her bedroom window during a bout with insomnia. The baseball bat was pure conjecture because she had seen one in the hallway umbrella stand when she arrived for the party but it was no longer there. “Evidence” like that would not hold up in court.
I produced the bat, decorated with Buddy’s blood and Mustard’s fingerprints. Solid evidence establishing the bat as the murder weapon and Mustard as the culprit. Then, I led them to a large trunk in a storage room just off the observatory, opened the lid and produced another essential piece of evidence in the case — Buddy’s body.
Mustard was still proclaiming his innocence as the cops cuffed him and took him away. I knew he would. Despite all the evidence against him, Mustard did not kill Buddy. I did.
Back in my office, I removed the incredibly lifelike mask I had worn to the party and resumed my true identity — Professor Plum. Yes, I had killed Buddy for the sole reason of framing Mustard and taking him out.
I knew that Mustard, as an ex-jock, could not resist the urge to swing that bat sitting in the hallway when he arrived for the party, leaving a nice set of fingerprints. The rest was easy.
Victor Plum had been my first victim. I had primed Buddy’s paranoia by following him for weeks.
Next on my list is White. She came a little too close to derailing things this time. I’m not going to give her a second chance.
Nothing is going to get in the way of my master plan. In the end, nobody in my game will have a first name.