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Crime Fiction Mystery

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

Here we go again, Matthew murmured as he entered the manor house a few hours after they received the call this morning. It was another typical day at the office.

When the phone started to ring frantically at this early time, it was a sign that something big has happened. And when the person on the other end of the line was screaming that he found the lifeless body of Timothy Rogan, the world-famous solar energy businessman, the whole precinct was up in the air.

Matthew hated rich people. Most of the time the police department had to cover for their stupidity in causing scandals and deal with the tabloid journalists who waited for hours outside the precinct for a piece of information that would give them the exclusive they so desperately needed. But this time he braced himself that it will not be like any other time. It would be much worse.

Timothy Rogan was not just a celebrity or a pretty face that sold copies of gossip magazines like crazy. He was a business tycoon, one that belonged among the three richest persons in the world. His presence in the business industry was so heavy that with the slightest wrong move he could affect entire governments or cause stock markets to collapse in a single day.

Letting out a heavy sigh, Matthew put on his dark grey coat and grabbed his car keys from the drawer of his desk before he exits the precinct. The air was extremely chilly, he felt his face freeze the moment he stepped outside. He cursed under his breath as he passed the cars parked outside. There were only a couple of police cars and some fancy saloon ones of his superiors. His car was far on the opposite side of the ‘presentable’ scale, as the captain had once commented. So, he had to park in the other parking, hidden behind a row of tall buildings, two blocks from there.

After two failed attempts the engine was brought to life. The lucky third one. He drove out of the parking lot and took the road heading to Ruda – the ‘paradise on Earth’ as many in town were referring to. It was a long road with fancy houses and villas, destined for the elite of the elite.

When he reached the large golden gates the crowd of reporters with mics at hand and cameras flashing were already outside, pushing against each other to get closer in desperate need to manage to enter the property. When one of them spotted his car he shouted something incomprehensible to his ears and the crowd drifted its attention to him. Within seconds, the reporters scrambled around his car, shouting questions. Matthew just shook lightly his head sideways and pulled out his badge, holding it high in his hand so the guards at the gate could see it. A small team of guards approaches the gate in order to keep the media away as the doors open slowly to let the car enter.

***

The forensics van was already there the moment his car stopped in front of the house. Matthew got out of his car and stood for a moment, looking at the exterior of the house. The man knew for sure to appreciate the classic beauty of the countryside. The building was so grand and imposing on the outside, Matthew was sure that it matched perfectly with Timothy Rogan’s character.  

The huge door opens with a light creak and the form of a tall slender man, dressed in a dark uniform appears in the door frame. He looks sleepless, with huge bags under his eyes and wrinkles that expand across his face. Matthew thought he was way past the retirement age and wondered since when this man was under Rogan’s employment.

“Good morning sir, I’m Peter Gevraux, Mr Rogan’s butler.” He said with a cold tone in his voice, like a talking robot. Matthew wondered how many times he said this phrase. “They wait for you inside.” Matthew gave a nod to the butler and stepped inside. Most probably everyone who’s seen Timothy Rogan for the past forty-eight hours was informed and gathered to get interviewed.

His mouth fell slightly open when he saw the décor of the great hall extending in front of him. The decorations around the borders on the ceiling contained lines of gold and Matthew thought that it was definitely gold leaves up there. The antiques that were filling this huge space could easily be in museums. Peter the butler waited patiently for Matthew to end admiring the area until his face fell on him and motioned Matthew to follow.

He followed the butler, crossing a hall that seemed not able to see its end until they turned and bright light strikes him. It must be a ballroom, that was Matthew’s first impression. And he was right. The room lacked furniture – apart from a piano – but the walls were filled with various paintings of different sizes. Except for one large area with high arched windows that expanded to the side the fourth wall would be. The room was sparkling as the sun was hitting on the massive chandelier decorated with numerous crystals that made the room more bright than the day outside. Under the chandelier, there was a large dark bag, probably containing the lifeless body of Timothy Rogan while the forensics team was scattered around, some taking photos of the evidence found while others were getting samples for further tests in the lab.

“What’s the weapon this time?” Matthew asks Danielle Robertson as she approaches his side.

“Surprise me,” she replies writing something on her notepad.  

Matthew took a brief look around. “I’d say… knife.”

Danielle’s eyes flashed with amusement. “Not bad, not bad…” she smirked. “Letter opener to be more precise. Multiple stabs and cuts on his torso and neck.”

“Any guess on who’s the killer?” Matthew turned to her, taking already his pen and notepad out of the inner pocket of his jacket.

“Oh no!” Danielle backs off lifting her hands in the air in a gesture of surrender. “I leave the good part at you. They are all gathered in the orchard and are ready to eat each other! Good luck with those.” She pats him on the back as she leaves to continue her job.

It is then that Matthew notices voices, coming from afar. Probably arguing. He turned around and followed the voices, moving across the ballroom until he went out from one of the large arched windows that led towards the orchard. The view was magical. The orange trees had started to flower and a thin coat of snow had covered the bushes around, forming some sort of maze. And when Matthew turned to the left – behind some trees – there was chaos.

At first glance, they all reminded Matthew of characters from Cluedo his favourite board game as a child. A priest, a couple – with glasses and briefcases on their hands – and a young woman around her thirties with multiple visits to the plastic surgeon. They were all talking together shooting death glares at each other. When Matthew approached close enough and they spotted him, the noises suddenly vanished.

“Hello everyone.” He decided to say eventually. Good morning would be far too oxymoron. “I’m detective Matthew Karamanides. So, shall we begin? Who will be the first?”

Everyone stares at him blinking. Matthew scans their expressions in case he notices something out of the ordinary. “We can start together if you want.” The priest finally breaks the sudden silence fallen to the crowd.

“Yes, come with me Father…?”

“Langley,” the priest says calmly. “Father Langley.”

The two men walk further away, where a patio is. They could also go inside but Matthew wanted to keep an eye on the rest of the company as well while he was interviewing each member. If they went inside, someone might attempt to eavesdrop.

“So, where were you exactly at the time of the murder?” Matthew asks with a low voice as he takes a seat on the bench placed on it. The pen flips between his fingers as he waits for Father Langley’s answer.

“I was at the church, making preparations for a wedding we have tomorrow. As you can see the people residing in these areas are quite selective with their ceremonies and everything has to be put in order. They don’t accept anything less than perfection.”

“Do you have anyone to confirm this?” Matthew continued taking a quick note on his notepad.

“Yes, the wedding planner was there with a small team of his associates.”

Matthew took a thorough look that the priest before spitting his next question. Father Langley seemed quite calm and composed personality. If it was him who did it, he could easily conceal it.

“And when did you meet with Mr Rogan?”

Father Langley took a deep breath. “We met yesterday, early morning. Mr Rogan jogs before sunrise and sometimes I jog too before I start the morning mass.”

“I’m sorry to ask this and if you want you can answer my question,” Matthew said trying to appear as discreet “but did you know if Mr Rogan was having problems with someone? Has anything come to your attention?”

Father Langley sighed, his index finger tapping quickly on his lap. “Look son, some things are shared with me during confessions. And this is a very private discussion so I cannot disclose any information on the matter.”

“I understand father, but this is a murder case and I’m sure Mr Rogan is not available at the moment. I’m sure solving his murder would provide a piece to his soul.”

Father Langley’s posture changes slightly. His shoulders got down in relief. Matthew-Father 1-0.

“If you put it that way. I guess you’re right. Well, recently he was having trouble with young miss Darma – the lady in the red dress. They were having an affair that must be kept secret at all costs until her parents learnt about it and came to have a heated discussion with Mr Rogan. When they left, miss Darma screamed at him that he ruined her life and swore to make him pay. That’s all he told me.”

***

“Who do you think did it?” Miss Darma said letting a large ball of smoke as she dragged the cigarette out of her mouth. “The Jacomets did it! Timothy had told me that they came the day before yesterday to his office and tried to sell him a patent, something they’d invented. But it was not worth it at all. Timothy rejected their proposal and they got mad!”

“And how was your relationship with the victim?” Matthew continued.

“Well, we had some ups and downs. Maybe more downs now that I remember. We had some big fights but in the end, we seem to get along well. When my parents found out about our relationship, there was a possibility that I would be pregnant. We came all here and the fight started. I was coming today to tell him the news that thankfully, I’m not pregnant when my phone rang and Mr Gevreaux informed me of Timothy’s loss.” Her voice cracks with emotion as she finishes the sentence.

***

“We are scientists sir, we’re not some cold-blood murderers!” Alec Jacomet spits as he stands up from his seat and starts pacing up and down. “We believed that Mr Rogan was a man that would appreciate an innovative idea. We run many tests with my wife Patricia and we were a hundred per cent sure that this will be a winner. But when Mr Rogan rejected us, my blood boiled. We’ve been given years of our lives in research and development of this and he dismissed us so quickly as we sell him air!”

“I know you also leave in the area. Any idea about an incident or who might have done it?”

Patricia and Alec both looked at each other like they knew something. Finally Patricia decided to speak.

“There were rumours about a video that circulated in some blogs about Mr Rogan and Father Langley in… intimate moments.” When Father Langley came to see Mr Rogan, I’m pretty sure the whole valley could hear their voices. At least, we could hear them and we leave on the other end of the road.”

Matthew rubbed his temples when the interview was over. This is a nightmare, he thought.

So, who do you think did it?

September 30, 2022 21:05

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2 comments

Isabel Jewell
13:56 Apr 09, 2024

A fascinating read! Loved the pave, the descriptions and the realism of it all!

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E. Roux
15:39 Apr 13, 2024

I'm glad you like it, thank you very much for your feedback:)

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