By Eeshan Jhingran
Two men conversed softly over a coffee and muffins in “Angel’s Cafe.” The store was new, situated on Burke Street; ever since it’s inauguration it had been popular. People all over from Melbourne came here to drink; it was aimed for business people equipped with free Wi-Fi and printer; although the two men who were engaged in conversation in the small corner booth weren’t business men. They were friends, but one of them meant serious business. “So Tom, I’d better get going or else we won’t make it to work on time.” “Yeah, I haven’t seen you for a while, it’ll be nice to catch up with the rest tomorrow.” replied Tom whilst shaking the other man’s hand. Tom felt a slight prick but shrugged it off. As the men left the cafe, a little boy looked across the road and saw his father leaving with an old friend. The boy tugged his mother’s coat and told her to look and say ‘hi’ to dad and his friend, but by the time she turned around, the two men were already disappearing quickly walking down the steps to Parliament station. A few hours later, the little boy wrote into his journal all the events that had occurred that day including the incident of witnessing his father and who he had seen his father with that morning.
* * *
The next day, Tom walked out of his house at 11am for the last time. He took a train to Flinders Street station and from there, he took the 96 tram to Albert Park. He was happy; he was going there to meet his old friends, though he had met one at a cafe yesterday. A man in a black suit and a green cashmere scarf which covered a large part of his face eyed Tom coldly; a tear ran down his cheek and dripped off his chin onto the trams’ floor. As the tram came to a halt, both he and Tom tapped off with their Mykis. The man produced a small bottle from his suit breast pocket and unscrewed the lid. He bumped into Tom and a small amount of liquid splashed onto Tom’s left thumb, ‘sorry’ he mumbled; Tom made a quizzical look, the voice of the man sounded familiar, but it couldn’t be, he didn’t know who this was.
As both he and Tom put their Mykis back into their wallets, the man rushed forward and grabbed Tom’s wallet. He sped off, it took Tom a minute to realise that his wallet had just been snatched, but he recovered and ran after the snatcher. The snatcher jumped a fence and ran past Bob Jane stadium and into Albert Park. He was in a thick suit, not made for running, however, Tom was dressed casually and he had nothing holding him back from catching up. The snatcher quickly turned into a place where the pathways split into three and he then hid behind a tree. Tom caught up and stopped at the diverging paths. He took a deep breath and tried to guess which path the snatcher took. The snatcher seemed to be athletic, he had ran for at least three kilometres straight and Tom was out of breath. As he thought, he raised his left hand and rested the tip of his thumb on his lips. This was a tic of his, whenever he thought he did this. The thief in the suit watched from behind a tree, he was sweaty and tired from running too; but when he saw Tom raise his thumb, he smiled to himself. In a matter of seconds, Tom fell down onto the dirt footpath.
No-one was around, the man walked up to Tom like a concerned witness; he lifted Tom and pretended to help him by dragging his body towards the toilet block. However, it was pointless; Tom was nothing but a cadaver. The man produced a gun from his pocket and shot the dead man in the forehead. The man positioned the carcass upright, leaning on the wall. Then, he put the gun in Tom’s right hand and curled his motionless warm fingers around the grip and trigger. He left Tom’s motionless body on the floor of the men’s toilets, sitting against a wall in a pool of blood. The man took off his suit as he was wearing jeans and a t-shirt underneath. He threw the suit in a garbage bag and walked out of the toilet block smiling. He dumped the rubbish bag in a garbage bin on the roadside. Then he walked back into the park.
* * *
Three friends were waiting for an old friend named Tom; they had not seen their good friend for a few years and today was supposed to be their reunion. They were meant to meet at the shed near the lake at 12pm sadly they couldn’t find him. After hours of waiting, one of the friends, Oliver needed to go to the bathroom. Two minutes later, he came rushing back to his friends who were lazing around on a bench. “Tony! Jack! Call the police! I have found Tom!” The two were surprised and followed Oliver back to the Male toilet block. Leaning against the wall was a dead Tom, gun in his hand, bullet wound on his forehead and a pool of crimson blood bathing the dead man.
Police were quick to arrive at the scene. They were soon taking statements and had closed a portion of Albert Park. A well known police inspector Jameson and his partner detective Franky were examining the body and taking photos of the dead man. Grief-stricken Oliver, James and Tony were crying. “Sir, I think there has been some foul-play. This looks like a suicide but there are a few points that say otherwise.” exclaimed Franky.
“I believe your right Franky, but what are your reasons?” replied Inspector Jameson.
“Well sir, firstly this man has a gun in his hand and a bullet wound that matches where he would’ve shot, however, if he had put the gun to his head, then, there should be a burn mark on his forehead.” Franky reasoned. “Also, the examiners found traces of potassium-cyanide on his left thumb and lips. But, this isn’t it, the blood splattered on the floor are very small droplets, only 5cm wide. But, the other ones are 10-15cm wide. This indicates that when the man had been shot first, he had fallen onto the floor, but he was later sat upright and the droplets indicate this as they are wider in some areas. The greater the height from ground that a blood droplet falls, the wider it is. And these droplets have no consistency. Finally, he has no gun powder residue on him. If he had shot himself, there should be gun powder residue on his right hand and arm. So, it is safe to assume that this body has been either tampered with, or he was murdered.”
“Well done Franky, your skills are catching up to mine. But, have you thought ahead. If he was murdered, then who would the suspects be? According to the rigor mortis, he’s been dead for 6 hours, its 2pm now; he must have died at 8 am. We’ve sent officers to his house, I found an ID in his wallet, his name is Tom Curtis, age 34, business owner of a new cafe franchise called ‘Angel’s Cafe’, he has a wife and a 8 year old son. I don’t know why he was killed but I’ll find out for sure.” said Jameson.
“Ok sir, I haven’t thought of the suspects yet, but should we check the people who found him?” questioned Franky.
“Yes, that’d be wise.” sighed Jameson as he walked out of the toilet block.
The two police officers walked towards the saddened friends of Tom, they were still sitting on the bench. “Hello boys, I’m sorry about the unfortunate events, but, I’ll need to question you.
* * *
“We aren’t any close to finding the killer, even after questioning the man’s friends. They don’t seem to know if Tom had any enemies, probably because they haven’t met him for years.” said Jameson.
“But sir, didn’t you get an odd feeling from them. I’m not sure which one in particular, but I have a feeling that one of them could be the killer.” said Franky.
“No Franky, they were all at home at the estimated time of death. Tony was at his apartment in Ivanhoe at 8am, and Oliver and Jack were eating breakfast at a McDonalds in Blackburn, none of them could’ve killed Tom. However, Tony didn’t have a witness, but when Officer Hughes looked through the security footage of the apartment, it shows that Tony was still there at 8.” replied Jameson.
Jameson’s phone was ringing; he picked it up and listened. His jaw dropped. His officers had gone to Curtis’ home in Kew and they found out that Tom had only left the house at 11am. This meant that the rigor mortis was wrong. But, this wasn’t possible, rigor mortis was always correct. Jameson rushed out of the police station office and to the crime lab, Franky followed. Jameson took out the photos of the body; he looked at the pool of blood and grinned. “What sir? Have you figured out who the murderer is?” asked Franky. “Yes, I think so, but first, we’ll have to visit Tom’s home so that I can be absolutely sure.” replied Jameson.
* * *
Once again Tom’s family and his friends were gathered at the police station, Jameson began his deduction. “Tom Curtis, age 34. He was murdered quickly and painlessly, this was because the murderer was his friend! Isn’t that right Tony?” said Jameson. Tony was stunned; he was being stared down by the teary friends of the victim. He shook his head and said “What! That’s absurd, why would I kill Tom? He was one of my best friends? How dare you even suggest that! Do you have any proof?” Tony yelled back. Jameson laughed, “If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have called you here;” he said calmly, “Tom had gone out to see someone yesterday. This person was the murderer, I don’t know the exact reason why he was killed, but I can tell who did it and how. Yesterday, Tom had seen his old friend for the first time in years. He had talked to his friend at ‘Angel’s Cafe’ he had probably said to them what time he would leave the house tomorrow (meaning today). Then, when Tom left the house at 11am, this person had followed him on a train, in a disguise of course, this disguise was a scarf and a suit, and we found this in a garbage bag 500m from the toilet block. Then, he would’ve applied potassium-cyanide to Tom’s thumb, by bumping into him. After this, the murderer will have stolen something of Tom’s, forcing him to chase after him. Then, the man would have hidden behind something, and it appears that Tom had a tic to put his left thumb to his mouth. Is this right?” Tom’s wife and friends nodded in agreement. “Tom would have died after this because of the cyanide and then, the murder took him to the toilet block where he set it up to look like a suicide. The intense physical activity threw-off our way to check rigor-mortis. If someone does intense physical activity before death, then it will make the time of death to seem like a few hours before it actually happened. So, Tony knew this and he put it to his advantage and set up his alibi. Any objections Mr Murderer Tony?” said Jameson triumphantly.
“Yes, how can you just guess that I was the one Tom met?” said Tony spitefully. Jameson produced a small book out of his coat. Tony’s sons’ eyes widened, “that’s my diary!” he said. Jameson nodded and flipped to the page dated with yesterdays date. He read out a line, “Today, I saw Mr Tony and Dad leaving dad’s cafe.”
Tony sunk, he had been found out, he confessed to his crimes and said that he murdered Tom because Tom had stolen his idea for opening up a cafe on Burke Street. Tony was cuffed and spat on by Tom’s family and Oliver and Jack. He cried his eyes out as he was lead into a jail cell.
By Eeshan Jhingran |