Murder Mystery Weekend – Chapter 26

– “Until the relationship ends?” asked Eliza. I had succeeded in catching her interest.

– “No. Longer.” I said. “Made that mistake ages ago. A buddy of mine broke up with his girlfriend. The way he described it, the relationship was over. He hated her guts. I waited a week or so, but I’d always been curious about her. So I asked her out. He was furious. It cost me a friendship. And he was right to be pissed off at me.”

– “Somehow I have the feeling that this lengthy explanation will eventually come around to me.” said Ee. “Are you trying to spare my feelings?”

– “I’m telling you the truth, Ee. When we started hanging out together, I would have had to be blind not to notice you. To be 100% honest, I noticed both of you. But …”

– “But?”

– “But Claire is Leo’s sister. I didn’t know how he would take it. Besides, as time went on, I began to realize that Claire wasn’t for me, anyway. She and I both know that. We wouldn’t last as a couple. You, on the other hand …”

– “What about me?” said Eliza.

– “Lovely. Kind and generous. Smart. All that I could ask for in a woman. Except that my best friend confided in me one night, over a couple of beers, that he was madly in love with you. I couldn’t go after you, Ee. Not after Leo told me how he felt.”

Eliza was a smart girl. On top of that, she had a heart as big as all outdoors. She understood all too well what I was telling her.

– “That’s so unfair.” she said. But her tone of voice suggested that she didn’t mean it.

– “Eliza, tell me this: if you were really interested in Craig, but Claire said something first, would you say something to him? Would you try to beat her to him?”

– “What if she tried with him, and it didn’t work out?” she asked.

I didn’t even answer. I just looked at her sympathetically.

– “Aww, fuck.” she said.

– “I would never say ‘no’ to you, Ee. But I couldn’t do that to Leo.”

– “Sometimes I wish that the two of us weren’t so noble.” she admitted.

– “I’m not particularly noble, Ee – as I’m sure Claire told you. But if it was to be you and me, I would want it to start out right.”

– “Alright. I got it.” She sighed. “Now, would you get me a drink?”

I did as she asked, and helped myself to another.

– “You’re not the Falcon, are you?” I asked her.

Eliza swatted me on the arm. “You dirty bugger! Trying to catch me in a moment of weakness, are you?”

– “You’re playing a deep game.” I said. “I can’t tell whose side you’re on. But there are at least two sides. And the time may soon come when you’ll need to choose one. I’m holding the door open. But I’m not sure how long I can do that.”

– “Who’s on your side?” she asked me.

– “I’m more certain about who’s on the other side.” I gave Eliza a brief, edited version of my run-in with Ben and Barbara earlier on.

– “Why is this Bible important?” she asked.

I did my best impression of a sphinx.

– “Fine.” she said. “But that means that Claire told them. I know she gave it to you. She tells me everything.”

– “She’s on their side – even if she doesn’t know it yet. I think Craig is, too. But I’m not sure if sharing the treasure is part of Ben and Barb’s plan. My team still has room for some charter members.”

– “You don’t have a team.” she observed.

– “Which is why full shares of the treasure are still available.” I told her. “Get in early, before all of the best seats are taken.”

That was when we heard four bells from upstairs.

Eliza reached up, slowly, and touched my cheek. “Thank you, Colin, for being honest with me. I’m still not happy – but this makes it easier to accept.”

We parted as friends. My next duty station made me nervous, in more ways than one. I knew who it was.

 

https://lapetitemort17.wordpress.com/?p=312

 

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Murder Mystery Weekend – Chapter 22

Teresa gathered us all in the living room, or on the main deck, as she called it. She handed each of us a new set of clues, which we were allowed to read, but then had to return to her. She would, however, allow us to write down our own copies, if we so desired. Mine looked like this:

– LEO IS NOT A PIRATE, THOUGH HE PRETENDS TO BE

– YOU REMEMBER THAT REDBEARD USED CODES TO PROTECT HIS SECRETS. THE LOCATION OF HIS TREASURE, HE SAID, WAS GUARDED BY ‘THE TWELVE APOSTLES’

– THERE IS A BIBLE ABOARD. IT HAS MORE THAN ONE USE.

I looked around at the others. If Claire had the same clue, she would want her Bible back. But she was eager to meet and join forces with the Falcon, whoever that was – my enemy.

So I immediately did two things. First, I wrote some notes on the paper Teresa had provided. But I did not copy the clues she had given me. Instead I wrote down the pirate recognition signal, the fact that Claire wanted to be a pirate, and then my own piece of fiction: that the Scar intended to betray the Falcon. It was a lie, but only I knew that. Later on today, I might ‘lose’ my secret clues, or leave them lying around where someone else would find them.

The second thing I did was to sneak back into the den, and hide two pieces of paper. One was Claire’s Bible. The second was my paper that said ‘Pistol’. Upon reflection, I didn’t want to be caught with it; since Redbeard had been killed by a bullet, if anyone knew that I had a pistol, they might suspect me.

It had begun to rain, softly, and the dark clouds did not look promising. Teresa took me aside, to ask me a favor.

– “Would you organize a table tennis tournament? And perhaps billiards as well? Mix up the teams, so that everyone has a chance to play with everyone else.”

– “I can do that. Will you be participating?” I asked.

– “No, thank you.”

Teresa then announced that because of the weather, we would not have duty stations. “This afternoon,” she said, “will be devoted to games. Able seaman Colin will draw up a schedule. To add a little incentive, the winners of the table tennis and billiards tournaments will be granted a special clue concerning the whereabouts of the treasure.”

I drew up the teams in no time, and then designed a quick round-robin formula. Five teams, to play each other team, best two records meeting in a playoff final. If Teresa could play matchmaker, then so could I. First team: Craig and Claire.

Leo would kill me if I paired him up with Eliza so obviously. Also, he was a pretty weak ping-pong player. He wouldn’t want to embarrass Eliza, who had to be pretty decent – it was her table, after all. So I put Eliza with Eric, one of the most uncoordinated, un-athletic people on the planet. Leo could have Sheila for a partner, because I had seen her play once, and she was pretty good.

I would take Lena as my partner. Hopefully, she would feel more comfortable with me. And I had promised Teresa to look after her. That left Ben and Barb for the final team.

It was surprisingly entertaining. Claire was obviously nervous, perhaps distracted by having Craig for a partner. He played reasonably well, but Eliza simply returned every shot right at her best friend, knowing that Claire would squeal in panic, and either miss completely, or hit the wall, a spectator, the fridge … you name it. I should mention that we all played in costume, so it was fun to watch, too. Especially the way Ee’s breasts threatened to leap out of her shirt when she smashed the ball.

Ben and Barb then took on Sheila and Leo. I had to make a rules call. I decided that costumes count, and that Barb therefore had to play with her eye patch on. Didn’t matter; she and Ben narrowly edged Sheila, who was virtually playing alone. Leo produced a pretty funny running commentary, but it might have helped his teammate a little more if he had returned a shot or two. I decided, privately, that watching Barb’s tits jiggle was the real highlight of the match.

Lena and I then played Claire and Craig. I’m not sure if ping pong is popular in Slovenia. All I know is that Lena had never played it. You would think, with her incredible wingspan, that she might be effective. But she had the reflexes of a three-toed sloth. It was a race to see who could make the most unforced errors. Craig and I had our share of those, too, because we were both laughing so hard.

In the end, Lena and I managed to finish 4th, with a win and 3 losses. Claire and Craig were winless, while Eliza and Eric split their games. Barb and Ben, undefeated, were in the finals, against Sheila and Leo, who had lost only one game. They played an epic match, with Sheila practically standing on her head, but Ben was too much for her.

 

https://lapetitemort17.wordpress.com/?p=304

 

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Murder Mystery Weekend – Chapter 13

“Wonderful!” said Teresa. “Let’s get started.”

We all made space, and ceded the centre stage to her.

“We are playing fast and loose with history here. Imagine a time when women could be pirates, and just as bloodthirsty and ferocious as the men – if not more.” That got a hoot of agreement from the ladies, and when Sheila chimed in with a deep-voiced ‘Aaargh!’, everyone laughed.

“You can all use your real names as an alias.” continued Teresa. “Everyone here has a secret identity. One of your tasks is to find out everyone else’s secrets, without giving away all of your own. Everyone here is in disguise. That might explain why you will not recognize former shipmates, or even old friends. Later on, there will be a murder, and you will try to discover the identity of the killer among you. Finally, there is that rumour about a treasure …”

“Last rule. Everyone must return their character instruction sheets to me. I will keep them safe, and you can return at any time to consult your own instructions. You may also, if you wish, write down any piece of information on those sheets – but you can’t keep the originals.”

“The reason for that is very simple: you could easily prove to someone that you’re telling the truth, just by showing them your secret instructions. This way, you will have to convince them, without any paper to back you up. No one, except me, of course, will ever know if you are truly trustworthy …”

I saw heads nodding around the room. There were gamers among us, who certainly appreciated Teresa’s little ploy.

“Then … we are ready to begin.”

– “Wait.” said Ben. “Who’s been murdered?”

– “No one.” said Teresa. “Yet …”

She gave us one hour to circulate, and to talk to other players, while dinner was being prepared. Leo and I got barbecue duty. We were going to cook up shish kebabs, cubes of beef or chicken on skewers, with green and red peppers, onions, zucchini and so on. By some sort of unspoken agreement, neither of us mentioned our characters, or the mystery roles. There were too many people hovering around.

– “I’ve got this.” said Leo. “Go talk to people. Or get me another beer. Or both.”

I took the hint, and moved away. Ben was standing by myself, so I approached him. He was the person I least wanted to talk, so I decided to get it over with early.

– “Great costume.” I told him.

– “Thanks. You look alright, too.”

– “What do you think, so far?” I asked him.

– “Are you kidding? Did you see Barb? Or Claire? Shit, all of them look incredible.”

– “I hear you. Lena, too. She makes me wish I was six foot four.”

– “In your dreams.” he laughed. I was barely 5’10”.

Then he transferred his beer to his left hand, and raised his right hand to scratch his ear. Ben looked right at me, and touched three fingers to his ear lobe. It was the recognition signal for Redbeard’s crew. For a moment, I considered replying in kind. Instead, I played dumb.

Ben narrowed his eyes and looked at me suspiciously. I’m not sure if I passed his scrutiny, but he gave it up and changed the subject.

I moved off, and settled next to Eric, who was cradling a rum punch while he looked out over the lake. I guess the beard was itching him, or maybe interfering with his drinking: he had pulled it down so that it circled his neck.

– “You look like an Amish pirate.” I said.

– “An improvement, then? Never mind. I gladly accept your compliment.” he answered.

– “Is that you speaking, or your character?” I asked.

– “Why can’t it be both?”

Just for the hell of it, I used the recognition signal that Ben had tried out on me. Eric didn’t even flinch.

– “You’re not a pirate, are you?” I asked.

– “Depends.” he said. “Are you the Falcon?”

Interesting. That was one name I had to fear. “No. I have to watch out for him, too. Or her.”

– “So you’re the one called the Scar?” Eric asked me.

– “Nope. Not me either.”

– “Cool nicknames, though.” he said. “I’m glad you invited me. This could be a lot of fun. So then you’re here to rescue Redbeard?”

I shook my head. “No. Far as I’m concerned, he can stay right where he is.”

– “Really?” said Eric. “And you’re not the Falcon?”

– “Said I wasn’t.”

 

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Murder Mystery Weekend – Chapter 9

It was the first time up here for all three, so Eliza eventually took them on a quick tour of the outside of the house. I went inside to change into jeans and a t-shirt. I found everybody gathering in the kitchen. The guys had brought food, which had to be unpacked, and no one objected when Leo suggested a round of drinks.

I did notice one thing: there was a piece of paper taped to the kitchen wall. On it were listed the names of everyone who was participating in our weekend. Curiously, they were numbered. I was struck by that, and by the order we were in.

1- CLAIRE

2- ELIZA

3- LEO

4- CRAIG

5- BARBARA

6- BEN

7- ERIC

8- SHEILA

9- LENA

10- COLIN (me)

Curious – why had Teresa left herself off the list? Why was I last? Teresa had not compiled this list when she first told me about her idea; if she had, Sheila and Eric would have been the last two names. Teresa didn’t do things ‘by accident’. There was a clue here.

Sheila arrived next. I went out to greet her with Eliza.

– “You found it OK?” asked Eliza.

– “GPS got me close, but your directions were spot on.” replied Sheila. I should mention at this point that Sheila has the deepest, gruffest voice I have ever heard from a female. People usually do a double-take the first time they hear her speak, and then they still turn their heads the second time they hear her. Her voice is also raspy, which is part natural, and partly the consequence of years of heavy smoking.

Sheila has short, punky hair, which she likes to style in spikes, or absurd waves. She also likes to dye it; today’s color was green. It’s a bit funny, considering that she’s a high school English teacher. Apparently the School Board doesn’t object to spiked purple or orange hair, or to tattoos either – Sheila has seven of them, two of which I have not seen.

She’s handsome, rather than pretty. She sounds like a man, and could probably pass for one. Her face is all sharp angles, and she is completely flat-chested. She has no hips to speak of, and she prefers loose, shapeless clothing, so I couldn’t tell you anything about her ass. She shops in second-hand clothing stores, and finds unusual bargains.

It may sound odd, but I had a crush on Sheila through most of first year (before I met Teresa). See, Sheila is a sweetheart, as generous as she is smart. She also has amazing green eyes, and a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’, as the French would say. I can’t explain it.

– “Nobody’s dressed up yet?” she asked.

– “Not until everyone’s here.” I told her. “Teresa has plans, but she won’t tell anyone anything.”

– “This is going to be such fun!” said Sheila. “Thank you for hosting us, Eliza.”

– “My pleasure.” said Ee. “Let me show you around.”

 

https://lapetitemort17.wordpress.com/?p=266

 

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Murder Mystery Weekend – Chapter 2

As I expected, Eric had no plans for Thanksgiving weekend. He found the whole concept a bit twisted. He understood the appeal of trying to solve the mystery, but not the costumes.

– “You mean people dress up to do this shit?” he asked.

– “They do indeed.” I told him. “And so will you.”

– “Alright. Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum. There will be rum, right?”

Sheila was a lot more enthusiastic, when she answered my phone call.

– “And we get to dress up? Like pirates?” she asked.

– “That’s the plan.” I agreed.

– “I don’t have to be a saucy wench, or a watery tart?”

– “No.” I laughed. “That’s Monty Python, as you well know. This is Teresa we’re talking about: women can be pirate captains, and swashbuckle like the men. If that’s a word.”

– “What part do I get?” Sheila wanted to know.

– “Teresa will be letting us know once we’re all aboard.” I said.

– “Ooh – ship puns. Or is it that shit puns?” she said. “I better start practicing.” She held the phone a few inches from her face, and let loose a loud ‘Aaaaargh, matey!’ With her deep, mannish voice, it sounded awesome. “I love the idea, Colin. You can tell her I’m in for sure.”

I called Teresa with the good news.

– “Perfect.” she said. “Thank you, Colin. We’re almost ready to start. I’ll send out the introduction and the character descriptions. But I’d like to use you as a guinea pig, if you don’t mind. Can I show you what I’m planning to send the others, and get your feedback?”

– “I would be glad to help.” I told her.

We met at the cafe again. Teresa greeted me warmly once again, and then turned her laptop around to show me the screen.

– “Here’s the intro.” she said.

For more than three decades, the dread pirate Redbeard terrorized the Caribbean, plundering and pillaging far and wide. No one was safe: Spanish, Dutch, English and French ships and towns were all targets of his insatiable greed and bloodlust. In the course of his far-flung depredations, Redbeard was said to have accumulated a considerable treasure hoard. According to legend, the old pirate was too paranoid to bury his ill-gotten gains on some deserted island. Instead, he carried them with him, aboard his pirate ship, the notorious Sea Demon.

Finally, justice caught up with the dread pirate. An anonymous tip led the Governor of Jamaica’s soldiers to the Mouldy Maggot, a dockside tavern where Redbeard and members of his crew were drinking and roistering while the Sea Demon rode at anchor in Kingston harbour. Thoroughly inebriated, Redbeard was easily overcome by the redcoats, and captured. His erstwhile crew scattered to the four winds. The Governor loaded the dread pirate with chains, and confiscated his ship, the Sea Demon. The vessel was appropriated by the Royal Navy, and re-christened HMS Retribution.

The Governor has ordered Captain Teresa Fairwind to transport the prisoner to Bermuda, where he will face a swift trial and public execution. Captain Fairwind has been given the Royal Navy’s newest vessel, HMS Retribution. A new crew was swiftly recruited from the experienced local sailors and sea-dogs.

YOU are a member of the crew.

Read the description of your character, and dress appropriately. Further instructions will be made available upon arrival.

When I had finished reading, I looked up at her.

– “What do you think?” she asked.

– “Honestly?”

– Aren’t you always honest with me?” she asked, with that bewitching half-smile. It had been one of our favourite ‘pet’ phrases when we were dating.

– “It’s cute.” I said. “A bit melodramatic, a bit campy – like an old Errol Flynn movie.”

– “That’s fine.” she said. “Kind of what I was aiming for.”

– “And you’re the Captain?”

She nodded. “I thought it would be easier than coming up with complicated instructions for one of the players. Speaking of which: here are your instructions.” Teresa spun the laptop around, opened a new file, and then turned it back to face me again.

You are NED MULLIGAN.

– “Ned Mulligan?” I asked her. “Really?”

– “Remember that time you took me golfing?” she reminded me.

I did. Like most novices, Teresa missed the ball completely several times, but she also managed to knock three golf balls into the water, and hit two golf carts and a vending machine. She was able to laugh at herself, and enjoyed the outing, but she found the whole concept of a ‘mulligan’ fascinating’.

– “You mean I get to hit it again?” she wanted to know.

– “Yeah. Go ahead and tee it up again.” I said.

– “And it doesn’t count as a stroke?” She looked at me sideways, squinting, as if suspicious that I was trying to trick her.

– “That’s the whole idea.” I confirmed.

– “Isn’t that cheating?” she asked.

– “You wouldn’t do it in a tournament, or if you were playing for money. But it’s only a friendly game, and I’m the one inviting you to take a mulligan. A do-over.”

Now she just smiled at me. “Keep reading.” she said.

As a young man, you were a pirate, and a member of Redbeard’s crew. You were brave and clever, so that Redbeard made you one of his lieutenants. But he grew too bloodthirsty for your taste, and also promoted some unsavoury characters alongside you, including the Falcon, and the Scar.

You chose to leave his crew, and jumped ship at Tortuga, taking a bag of doubloons with you. Redbeard swore revenge, and offered a bounty for your head. Both the Falcon and the Scar vowed that they would earn that bounty. The Scar, in particular, promised to drink a toast from your skull. You have been on the run ever since.

You were in Kingston, Jamaica, and horrified to learn that the Sea Demon was in port. But you were equally delighted to learn of Redbeard’s capture – serves him right. You hear the gossip in the dockside taverns: Redbeard’s crew are all over the place. What if one of them recognizes you? The ship HMS Retribution is leaving for Bermuda. Is Redbeard’s treasure still hidden aboard?

You sign on as a sailor …

YOU HAVE – A PISTOL

YOU KNOW:

– THERE IS A PLOT TO FREE REDBEARD AND HELP HIM ESCAPE

– THE FALCON IS ABOARD, DISGUISED AS A MEMBER OF THE CREW

– THE TREASURE IS HIDDEN SOMEWHERE ABOARD THE SHIP

– YOU ONCE CAUGHT A GLIMPSE OF A LETTER BELONGING TO REDBEARD. IT MAY HAVE CONTAINED THE SECRET OF THE TREASURE’S LOCATION. UNFORTUNATELY, YOU ONLY SAW ONE LETTER … IT WAS THE LETTER ‘C’

– “There’s a treasure, too?” I asked. “Or is that instead of a murder?”

– “Both.” said Teresa. “I’m going to space out the murder mystery clues, so that no one can solve it on the first day. But I thought a treasure made sense. This will keep people searching. Plus, we can have multiple winners – solving the mystery, or finding the treasure.”

– “Very clever.” I told her.

– “How about the character description? What do you think?” she asked me.

– “Couldn’t I be ‘Wicked Ned’, or ‘Lusty Ned Longsword’?”

– “You’re Ned Mulligan.” she told me, firmly. “Get used to it. If it’s any consolation, that’s your secret identity. Until somebody else guesses or uncovers who you really are, they’ll only know you as Able Seaman Colin. Everybody will use their real name as an alias.”

– “How many letters are there in the treasure code?” I had to try.

She wagged a finger at me. “No more clues for you. Seriously, Colin – what do you think?”

– “I love it. The description gives me enough of an idea to base my character on. And I’m all pumped up to go out and get a costume. How does the pistol work? Do I have to get a replica pistol?”

– “No.” she said. “I’ll put the items on pieces of paper, so that people can hide them in a pocket, or wherever.”

We discussed the mechanics of the game, without getting too specific. Knowing the people who were participating, I thought it would work well. I was more than looking forward to it: I was ready to start that very day.

Teresa and I discussed the weekend and the game for a long time. We both had two large coffees, and were beginning to feel the effects of too much caffeine.

– “Walk me home?” she asked.

As we walked, we continued to discuss her ideas. She seemed quite taken with some of my suggestions, but wouldn’t give me any hints about whether she planned to use them or not.

– “And you’ll help people get costumes?” she asked, again.

– “I promised.” I reminded her.

– “I’ll hold you to that.”

 

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