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Crime Mystery Suspense

      The wine glass shattered, and instantly conversations at the table came to a halt. There wasn’t even a dull whisper to be heard, the silence utterly shocking. Nervous eye contact was made between the group until their attention was drawn elsewhere. His body was convulsing as foam began to form at the edge of his lips. The shock in his eyes left unchanged while the pigment of his face turned from white, to red and then horrifically blue.

           “SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING!” his wife shouted, gripping her husband’s shoulders then ravenously ripping at his shirt collar.

           The silence then broke, not into conversation – but the sounds of clattering utensils, and chairs being pushed aside. Two gentlemen rushed to the convulsing man and lowered him from his chair to the ground. The convulsing began to slow then, until it came to a stop. As did his breathing, as well as his heart. One of the gentlemen placed two delicate fingers on the side of the old man’s neck, let out a long sign and shook his head in remorse. His wife began to sob.

           Angelina sat motionless across from her father as he struggled to breathe, without even realizing what was happening. Is this one of his cruel jokes? Some way to make the night memorable in his own cynical way. Just hours ago, Angelina and her father were dancing together. Him in a three-piece suit, her in her wedding dress. Now, he lays lifeless on the floor. Blue in the face. Andrew is gathered with the other men; they whisper silently together. Most likely deliberating on what to do with the body. Julia, her stepmother lays upon her father’s dead chest and heaves enough breath for them both. Angelina is still. She feels the hammering in her chest, the heat rising the nape of her neck. She is processing what is going on around her, on high alert. She doesn’t have the capacity to be hysterical right now; hysterics won’t allow her to justify what has just happened before her very eyes. Her father was murdered.

           As the men gather in the corner, Angelina clears her throat. Every muscle in the room stops and turns in her direction.

           “Andrew, do be a dear and gather Julia please, she needn’t be so hysterical considering she poisoned my father and her husband.” Angelina said so poised, as her chest break out into hives.

           Julia leaps upwards, crashing into the table and rattling the China. Her cheeks are streaked with thick black lines as she begins to scream. She lunges across the table where Angelina is sitting, forcing the gentlemen to leave their huddle and offer their assistance with subduing the events that are about to unfold. Angelina sits unscathed.

           “You retched brat! How dare you say those words and accuse me of such! I will not stand for this in MY house! You unworthy fool!” Julia’s claims come in short stabs as she continues to struggle against the gentlemen holding her back.

           Andrew’s father, Leroy, attempts to calm the situation, “NOW NOW! Let us all take a breath, there is no need to point fingers or make such accusations, we do not know what happened,” he says.

           “With all due respect Mr. Montgomery, my father was brutally murdered in front of my very own eyes, in his very own home and the very day that was supposed to be my happiest,” hisses Angelina, “we shan’t let anyone leave until they either confess of until we can bring the authorities in to decide for themselves, I for one know Julia has been pressuring father to update his will to denounce me as full beneficiary of his estate since Andrew and mine’s engagement,” Angelina is wild eyed now. Her stoic demeanor during the events has dissolved into utter rage. Andrew makes his way to her side; Julia is being restrained by Andrew’s brother and father her sobs have evolved into a low growl. Wolf like, ready to plunge for Angelina’s neck.

           “This is obviously a horrific event, one that cannot be rectified. As my wife is saying, I don’t believe this to be pure coincidence or even an accident at that. We were all drinking the wine tonight were we not?” Andrew asks, the remaining guests look amongst each other and nod simultaneously, “and yet none of us are exhibiting the effects that overcame Mr. Laurence. Poison is not out of the question. Father, please alert the staff of what has happened, see to it they promptly head to town to alert the authorities of this situation. As for everyone else, please meet in the main room—we will gather there until further instruction.”

           Andrew guides Angelina out of the dining area, away from her dead father lying on the floor just feet away.

 “Julia couldn’t have done this,” he whispers so delicately into her ear, “she doesn’t have the brains to go about navigating poison, she’d end up dead herself before she pulled anything like this off.”

Angelina scoffs and whispers back, “This is true, if she were working alone…”


           In the main room, the five dinner guests gather. Leroy enters shortly after, out of breath notifying the group that the stable hand has taken upon himself to ride to town to alert authorities. Henry, Andrew’s brother, works to start a fire. Julia with her now untamed hair and cranberry sauce-stained dress finds a chair in the corner and begins to sob, less hysterically this time. Angelina and Andrew take to the main couch. Elizabeth, Angelina’s cousin rushes to sit beside her,

           “What is going on?” she whispers urgently to Angelina and Andrew, their heads all bow together to keep their conversation low, “you don’t really think he was poisoned do you? That can’t be there’s no way anyone would do such a thing, let alone to your father of all people, and tonight?” Elizabeth is trying to rationalize the events that transpired not even twenty-five minutes ago. A large part of her is feeling guilty for occupying most of her dinner conversation with Henry, how could she not though with those gorgeous eyes and seductive smile—the way he caressed her thigh during the first course.

           “Julia has to be behind this,” Angelina whispers back to Elizabeth, “she’s always been after father’s money and now that Andrew and I are officially married, she wants the whole lot for herself,” Angelina pinches the bridge of her nose, trying to gather her thoughts, “Had she been this desperate for the money I would have relented, I’d rather have my father alive than his estate.”

Andrew takes her hand away from her face, and entwines her fingers with his, “the authorities are on their way, we’ll come to a resolution.” He reassures her.

Julia stirs from her spot in the corner, “Leroy, was that not your bottle of wine you shared with the rest of us tonight? How generous of you,” The sarcasm comes off like a knife, and ever so slightly Leroy begins to perspire.

Julia continues, “and did you not uncork the bottle yourself? A way of thanks for the marvelous and expensive night Mr. Laurence threw for your son and now daughter. You took Mr. Laurence’s glass yourself to fill, denying the wait staff.” Everyone’s attention turns to Leroy.

“Yes, I did bring the wine, uncork the bottle, and pour Mr. Laurence’s glass, but I swear I did nothing of the sort to bring him any harm—I can assure you all that!” Leroy dabs his face with a handkerchief.

“Father would never do such a thing Mrs. Laurence,” Henry interjects

“Absolutely not, what would be his motive?!” Andrew is standing now, creating a barrier between Julia and his father.

Ever so quietly, Elizabeth utters, “unless the poison wasn’t meant for Uncle,”

Andrew turns to face Elizabeth, “Elizabeth, what do you mean?”

“Well, remembering now, it didn’t seem like an issue at the time—I had come into the dining room first, all the glasses were askew and various heights. There was no reasoning for their placement. I took it upon myself to arrange the wine glasses from tallest to shortest starting from the left side…” She gasps and places a hand to her mouth. Her eyes widen with a realization, “the glass I moved to Uncle’s placemat was sitting at Andrew’s seat.”

The room is still, quiet. No one says anything, no one engages in eye contact. As if everyone were looking at their own individual particle of dust on the ground. Invested in everything else but each other. Where do their fingers turn when the victim of the incidence has entirely changed? The victim who is standing in the center of the room, his head bowed and hands on his hips. His potential murder amongst them.

           Angelina stands and makes her way to her groom; she takes his hands in hers and faces him towards her. She slightly strokes his cheek, “Darling, is there anyone you know of that would want to hurt you? Who would do this to you? On our wedding night?” Exhausted, Andrew leans into her, he encircles her waist and embraces her. He lowers his head to rest on her shoulder and says in her ear, “I have no idea, but I am certain we are no longer safe here.” Angelina gives a faint nod into him as her eyes scan the room. Elizabeth on the couch, Leroy leaning in the entryway to the main room, Henry standing by the flames watching them dance, and Julia staked in the corner her face turned toward the window, watching her own reflection. She holds Andrew more closely, her thoughts are broken as the stable hand’s son comes running into the main room, the head maid behind him. Both are out of breath,

           “One of the wait staff has stolen a horse from the stable Mrs. Laurence! I tried to stop her, I did, I told her 'no she couldn’t take him', but she did anyways!” the stable hand’s son exclaims, he is barely the age of ten years old.

           “Who? Who took the horse?” Angelina breaking from Andrew and rushing towards the young boy.

           “It was Priscilla! When we tried to stop her, she pulled out a knife!” The maid adds.

           “She must have been the one to put the poison in Andrew’s cup!” Elizabeth shouts

           “Yes certainly, but why? What is the motive?” Julia seems calmer now adding to the conversation, “Why would a young girl so full of life, from a humble family, poison a groom on his wedding day?” Her head turns to face the group, her eyes narrow onto Andrew.

           “Andrew, you don’t even know Priscilla, why would she target you?” questions Angelina.

           “I haven’t the slightest idea, clearly, she is unwell to have done such a thing. Something so drastic.” Andrew replies, shock in his eyes.

           “But,” the stable hand’s son looks at Andrew confused, “you do know her, I’ve seen you both together. Late at night entering the stable—but you never take the horses out and you always come back picking hay off each other…”

           Julia breaks into her hysterics again, but instead of sobbing this time-- she’s uncontrollably laughing.

September 29, 2022 19:05

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22 comments

Sage Tyra
23:53 Dec 08, 2022

hi

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Antonio Jimenez
16:52 Dec 01, 2022

Well done. This is like if Clue became a short story lol. I enjoyed it from beginning to end and the finish was great. I would love it if you could check out my profile and leave some feed back on my newest story. Thanks!

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Eliza Troy
01:14 Oct 07, 2022

Quite an entertaining story, Anne. Well done. Loved the ending.

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Anne O
13:12 Oct 07, 2022

Thank you for reading, Eliza!

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Delbert Griffith
10:36 Oct 06, 2022

Wonderful story. A few grammatical errors, but the story is quite clever. One word really doesn't belong: “SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING!” his wife shouted, gripping her husband’s shoulders then ravenously ripping at his shirt collar. "Ravenously" is the wrong word choice here. This word deals with a hunger to satisfy an extreme appetite. I think you have a great, great story here. Possibly a novel, if you cared to expand it. Good job!

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Delbert Griffith
10:36 Oct 06, 2022

Wonderful story. A few grammatical errors, but the story is quite clever. One word really doesn't belong: “SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING!” his wife shouted, gripping her husband’s shoulders then ravenously ripping at his shirt collar. "Ravenously" is the wrong word choice here. This word deals with a hunger to satisfy an extreme appetite. I think you have a great, great story here. Possibly a novel, if you cared to expand it. Good job!

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Anne O
17:34 Oct 06, 2022

Delbert, thank you for reading and for your feedback! I appreciate the time you took to read and offer helpful advice.

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21:16 Oct 05, 2022

I was riveted to this story and the twists and turns are excellent. I especially like the husband trying to worm out of not knowing the girl. " “But,” the stable hand’s son looks at Andrew confused, “you do know her, I’ve seen you both together. Late at night entering the stable—but you never take the horses out and you always come back picking hay off each other…” Julia breaks into her hysterics again, but instead of sobbing this time-- she’s uncontrollably laughing." superb ending!

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Anne O
21:53 Oct 05, 2022

Thank you, Kathryn!

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Marty B
05:36 Oct 04, 2022

Oh very twisty! I like the resolution- ..." Late at night entering the stable—but you never take the horses out..."

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Anne O
19:42 Oct 04, 2022

thanks for reading and for the comment!

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Philip Ebuluofor
18:12 Oct 02, 2022

Things like this happen in Nigeria during weddings too. In the 90s, then, it is so common that it was nearly monthly news. 3 submissions welcome to the show.

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Anne O
19:43 Oct 04, 2022

Thanks for reading and for the comment! Happy to be here on reedsy, I've been enjoying it so far

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Philip Ebuluofor
17:55 Oct 12, 2022

Welcome.

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Murray Burns
23:07 Sep 29, 2022

Interesting and entertaining. It reminded me of an old Charlie Chan movie where the ace detective has all the suspects in one room...."but you never take the horses out"...nice way to reveal the real bad guy.

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03:31 Sep 30, 2022

Funny comment, reminding you of an old Charlie Chan movie, you have quite a variable library of references to pick from. I really haven't seen much of old Charlie Chan movies but I know Quentin Tarantino uses them as reference points for his movies, I believe. But loved the story and, actually would read more about the family in a longer story, maybe a starting point here for a book, with a little more of a beginning past where you started. Thanks for a good read

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Anne O
18:26 Sep 30, 2022

Thank you for reading and for your comments! They mean a lot

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Mary Lehnert
21:11 Sep 29, 2022

Bravo Anne. You’ll get there. I’m new to this as well. Maybe put those descriptive lines on a diet. Let’s keep in touch . I am learning so much from writers like Kathleen Fine and read that wonderful piece Last time I was beautiful

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Anne O
18:27 Sep 30, 2022

Thank you for reading and for your feedback! I appreciate it

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P. T. Golden
19:55 Sep 29, 2022

I was so tempted to write on this prompt too. But then started multitasking on multiple projects, and didn’t get back to it. This is excellent. Not perfect, but excellent. I too am new to reedsy, but not writing, or writing from prompts (two from prompts made it in my upcoming book) I’m going to follow you and encourage you. I may have some follow-up notes after fully absorbing this.

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Anne O
18:27 Sep 30, 2022

Thank you so much for reading and for your feedback!

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P. T. Golden
18:50 Sep 30, 2022

Keep up the good work.

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