Honestly, to be accused of a crime I did not commit is really quite insulting. I, Gerald Hesmsorth, have always been and will continue to be an honest man. I have served my master with unwavering loyalty for the past twenty-seven years as all good butlers should. My reputation for honesty and trustworthiness had served me no good use when someone murdered my master on the night of his New Years Celebration.
Ms. Bullsworth discovered his corpse in the Study Room with a knife protruding from the base of his neck. Such an unflattering way to go given how my master was a dignified, respectable, and charitable man. I simply could not believe anyone would harbor so much ill will against him. I must say I was completely gobsmacked when I heard the news of his most unfortunate passing.
Fortunately (or unfortunately, it depends on how you think of things), my master invited his favorite and most renowned private investigator, Detective Chermon (Share-mon). Surely you've heard of him before. Does The Great Mystery of the Transcontinental Express ring any bells? Or does The Mystery of the Panther Jewel sound familiar? You must surely know of The Mystery of Grellows Grove, everyone and their grandmother are familiar with that one. The point being, Detective Chermon was famous, respectable, and adored by everyone. Yes, even I admit I was star-struck when I greeted him at the door that New Year's night. He was the first to arrive at the crime scene and quickly deduced who committed the murder.
His first line of business was to investigate the crime scene. He took note of how the knife's handle was embroidered with a flowery pattern, unlike the knives used for the banquet, which were embroidered with a circular pattern. One trip to the kitchen proved there was one knife missing from the set of flowery pattern knives. To him, this meant the heinous act must have been committed by someone who was part of the staff.
From what the detective could tell, the knife did not have any prints on it. He did, however, notice a set of bloody shoe prints leading from the body, down the hallway, and into the kitchen, where the trail mysteriously stopped. The shoe prints in question were an exact size twelve. Unfortunately, I was the only person at the time to wear a size twelve, so that put me on the detective's radar straight away.
I wasn't too worried though, because I believed my alibi was watertight. My master excused himself from the party at 11:05, and his body wasn't discovered until 11:37. It took a single person about five minutes to walk from the end of the hall to his study. Ms. Bullsworth saw nobody in the hallway. This means that the murder took place between 11:15 - 11:30. During that time, I was in the Billiard Room, handing out drinks to Mr. Robert Styles and Mr. Charles Thormby.
Finally, the last piece of evidence he needed was the bloody shoes found in the kitchen's dumbwaiter. Not only did they match the pair I was wearing, but the only way to access the dumbwaiter was with a key, a key only my master and I possessed.
Once he thought he had enough evidence, he gathered us all into the Lounge Room and accused me of murder! Can you believe that!?! Instinctively I called on Mr. Styles and Mr. Thromby to prove my innocence. Just my luck, the two men were so drunk they could barely spew out a single syllable.
With time of the utmost importance, I went out to look for clues. To make sure I wasn't tampering with the evidence, the detective followed me everywhere I went. I thought his presence was completely unnecessary since all the sober party goers wanted to see what I would find, but I digress.
My first stop was the Study Room and I observed the body, just like what the detective had done. Instead of observing the knife, I brought my attention to my master's belt. He always kept a key chain strapped to his belt, and I wanted to know if he still had his key to the dumbwaiter. To my surprise, his key to the dumbwaiter was missing!
Curiosity peaked, I checked his desk to see if my master was in communication with his killer. I first viewed the papers on his desk, but they were drenched in so much blood I didn't bother to read any of them. I then looked through each of the drawers. They mostly contained pens, pencils, ink, and other odds and ends. I came to the bottom drawer and found two documents that piqued my interest. I took them out, folded them, and carefully placed them in my coat pocket.
"What was that?" Detective Chermon asked.
"My third and second clue," I told him.
My attention then turned to the bloody shoe prints. I found it curious how there was a pool of blood on the desk, a sprinkle of blood on the furniture, and only a trickle of blood running down his clothes. I'm not questioning whether there was blood underneath my master's chair. There was simply not enough blood to leave a trail of fresh and detailed shoe prints. Also, whoever stabbed my master would be covered in blood. Nobody present had a trace of blood on their clothes, which means the killer had to have gotten rid of them. Why weren't they in the dumbwaiter with the bloody shoes?
I asked Ms. Bullsworth if she noticed the bloody footprints before discovering the body or after Detective Chernon saw them.
"Well, when I saw the body, I did see the footprints in the room," she explained. "But I definitely didn't see the bloody shoe prints in the hallway. I wouldn't have made it to the Study Room if I had seen them."
"Out of curiosity, what business did you have with my master? Was it truly necessary to meet with him privately? If so, why tonight of all nights? Why couldn't it have been this afternoon or tomorrow morning?"
"You ask a lot of questions for a butler. And frankly, it's none of your business."
I should have pried further, but at the time, she didn't give the impression she would be giving me any more information, anyway, back to the matter at hand. For Ms. Bulllsworth's story to be true, the killer would have waited for her to pass by before placing the blood prints in the hallway, and would have had to have locked the shoes in the dumbwaiter and had to have vanished before Detective Chermon arrived at the scene.
As I observed the shoe prints more and more, I began to notice something rather peculiar. Unlike the blood on the desk that was already drying up on the desk, the blood from the shoe prints was still wet and had not lost its color. Going against the norm, I placed my finger on the bloody shoe print, picked it up to my lips, and licked it. Many of the guests became queasy and downright revolted by my behavior, but it needed to be done. I licked the roof of my mouth once, maybe twice, until I realized why the red liquid tasted so familiar.
It was raspberry, raspberry punch to be exact, the same punch used for the evening's festivities. That's why it wasn't drying as quickly as the blood on the desk and my master's clothes.
At last! The pieces were finally coming together. I only had one hour left, but I wanted to check on one more thing before making my case.
My investigation brought me back to the study, but I had no interest in observing the body a third time. Instead, my attention drifted over to the bookshelf to the far left of the room. I caressed the spine of The Complete Works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and yanked the book straight out. Like clockwork, the gears began to turn as the thick book retracted back into the shelf. I took a step back while the bookshelf turned around, revealing the secret passageways which lead to every room in the mansion, excluding the bathrooms and bedrooms, of course. Before I revealed this secret to all the party members, the secret passageways were only known by three people; my master and the person I suspected of his murder.
I walked further into the passageway. It only took me a minute or two before coming to a wall. To some, they would think it was a dead-end, but I memorized the entire layout, so I knew if I simply gave the wall a push, I would be in the kitchen's closet. The people following me were amazed at how it only took half the time to reach the kitchen than traveling down the hallway. In the corner of the fake wall, I saw something crumpled and balled up. I picked the object up, and I chuckled to myself. At last, the final piece of the puzzle settled into place. It was time to make my move!
I came back to the Lounge Room and announced my findings to not only the detective but to all the party-goers as well.
"Ladies and gentleman," I began. "Detective Chermon is a respected, honored, and cherished individual. Why shouldn't he be after all? He's brought countless nerdowells to justice and solved many mysteries that not even the authorities could solve by himself."
I looked around to see most of the guests were annoyed with my introduction and were praying I just skipped to the point. Meanwhile, Detective Chermon crossed his arms as he already came under the assumption my conclusions were all rubbish.
"However, tonight, he has made innumerable errors, some on accident, others on purpose."
That got everyone's attention. Even Chermon's bored glance turned to that of surprise.
"The first mistake was not observing the crime scene thoroughly. He did not check the documents within the desk itself, nor did he try. The second mistake was not checking with me about whether my master was missing anything from the keychain strapped on his hip. The third mistake was not making sure the blood shoe prints were a forgery or not. Finally, his fourth mistake was leaving this in the secret passage only a short distance from the scene of the crime and only inches away from the alleged blood-stained shoes!"
With that, I plopped the crumpled and balled up a white shirt to the ground. The shirt was caked in blood, and it matched the same shirt Detective Chermon was wearing right then and there. Not only that but inside the pocket was a key. It was the dumbwaiter key that was missing on my master's keychain!
"What? This is preposterous!" he shouted. "Are you accusing me of murder?"
"Like how you accused me of murder?" I said to him. "Only my master and I knew about the secret passageway through the bookshelf, oh, and one other person, you! You were also the first guest to come to Mrs. Bullsworth's aid when she screamed for help. Speaking of which, where were you when my master was murdered?"
"I was in the Lounge Room with everyone else," he said without hesitation.
"Is that true?" I asked.
All the other guests mumbled amongst themselves. Some half-heartedly backed Detective Charmon up, while others came out and said they weren't sure one way or the other.
"It doesn't matter if I have an alibi or not," the detective said as if his intelligence was insulted. "I didn't have a reason to kill him, you, on the other hand…"
"Please," I said, aware I was rudely cutting him off. "Everyone here knows that I served my master with respect, loyalty, and goodwill. The only reason I would kill him if I had gone insane. As for you, detective, I have your motive right here."
It was time to send out the final blow against the detective. I held up the two documents for all to see, the same documents I found hidden in my master's desk. I adjusted my spectacles and began to read.
"Dear Detective Gregory Jonathan Chermon," it began. "I regret to inform you that I can no longer find the willingness to prolong your manipulative fantasies. Therefore I have no choice but to immediately cancel our partnership from this moment onward."
"Manipulative fantasies?" Ms. Bullsworth asked, perplexed. "What in the devil does he mean?"
"It means, Ms. Bullsworth, that Detective Chermon is a fraud," I announced. All the guests gasped in horror. Detective Chermon was about to yell out his defense, but I cut him off by taking out the second document. It was a bill listing all the actors my master had hired to commit crimes in order to make Chermon appear to be a heroic detective.
"You knew my master was going to sever ties with you, so you murdered him, didn't you?" I asked Chermon.
He stuttered, but he couldn't get an answer out.
"But why fake being a detective?" Ms. Bullsworth asked.
We all waited for Chermon's response, but he never did. I could only speculate why he wanted to fake being a detective, maybe it was his dream, or maybe he wanted to do it just for fun. Whatever the case, each of the guests looked at him with complete and utter disgust.
The police came soon afterward and arrested Chermon without a word of protest.
Everyone congratulated me for solving the case and even offered to hire me as their own private detective. As much as I would fancy living a life solving crime, I am happy with being a simple butler who only wanted to seek justice for my master.