Sherlock Home; The Case of the Mysterious Trespasser

Submitted into Contest #72 in response to: Write a mystery where the detective realizes at the last moment that they have the wrong suspect.... view prompt


Adventure Crime Bedtime

Detective H. was returning home after an arduous day at work. Luckily for him, the holidays were just around the corner and so he had the slightest skip in his step and the widest grin on his face. His break from crime was finally here! As he walked he hummed some carols under his breath and made up some lyrics of his own. He had just finished conducting a version of “The days they are dull and dreary… Yet the criminals do not grow weary…” set to the tune of “Merry Christmas” in his head when he looked up and saw his wife standing in their doorway, one hand on her hip and an angry scowl etched across her face. In an instant the tune on his lips died away and the aforementioned skip moved from his step to his heart. With a remarkable speed born from experience, he hastily wiped the smile off his face and rearranged his features so that he looked drained of all energy and then cautiously approached the house.

“H’llo my dear. What’s the matter?” he asked, in what he hoped was a relaxed manner. She launched into a tirade immediately. Clearly the issue had been stewing in her mind for a while. After about five or seven minutes of an angry rant Detective H. managed to figure out the crux of the matter. Apparently for the last week or so someone had been breaking into the garage and vandalizing the place. Paint cans had been tipped over, several old vases that were stored there had been broken, and for some odd reason all the garbage cans had been rolled outside, rubbish was scattered over the front lawn and significant amounts of it was simply missing. His wife wanted to know why he couldn’t solve the crimes in his own backyard before he gadded off to solve other people’s problems. His mild protests that this was the first he heard of the whole incident was fobbed off, she didn’t want to bother him, but this was the “fourth time in a week and quite frankly the last straw.”

“Okay m’dear. I’ll take a look at it right after dinner and I am sure the whole thing will be sorted in a few minutes” he said placatingly but it turned out that she had already cleaned up. “Are you sure it wasn’t the kids’ idea of a prank?” he asked. “After all they have pulled this kind of thing once before. Remember when they tracked wet cement into every room after plowing through the lawn?” His wife shuddered at the memory. “I asked but they categorically denied it. Plus, I had my eye on them all of today so it can’t be them. Do you think someone is taking revenge on you?”

“Sure, dripping paint all over the freshly cleaned tiles is pretty criminal behavior but it hardly rises to the level of revenge don’t you think? Probably just some neighborhood kids messing around.” Then he headed inside to mull the matter over.

As Detective H. helped lay the table and dish out the stew he was suddenly struck with a brilliant idea. Why not rope the kids into the whole process? They’d be thrilled at the thought of being able to catch some “criminals”, they could all spend some quality time together and with some luck they might even solve the case. He broached the subject at dinner and as predicted, the kids were practically jumping with excitement, although their faces did fall considerably after finding out that mommy had wiped away the “evidence.” They spent the rest of the night drafting a plan of action. The older one meticulously wrote down every idea with a red crayon in painstakingly neat letters while the younger one coloured the corners of the paper. However, they reached a consensus before bedtime; tomorrow they would go shopping for cameras and also do some investigative field work. Perhaps the trespasser left some paint fingerprints behind? Or a cigarette stub? All the criminals in detective novels seemed to specialize in that sort of silly mistake.

The next day Detective H. was woken up at the crack of dawn by screams of excitement. The kids had woken themselves up (a first) at an ungodly hour and, armed with a magnifying glass they had snuck into the lawn to do some snooping where they discovered that the garage had been visited during the night. The mess the unwanted guest had left behind was a sight to behold. Heaving a sigh, he went inside to brew a strong cup of coffee while the kids hunted for clues. Once they tired themselves out, Detective H. had a look around. There were no signs of forced entry. In fact, the doors were still padlocked when he first came to inspect the scene. The only reason the children were shouting was because they discovered random items scattered across the lawn.  Puzzled, he spent the next few hours cleaning up.

Later that morning they drove to the mall to pick up some cameras. To get into the spirit of the game Detective H. bought three deerstalkers and a box of chocolate doughnuts. The hat was a size too big for the younger one and sat in a comically lopsided fashion on her head. As is wont to happen on shopping trips, he decided to pick up some paint cans to replace the ones that had been destroyed and instead found himself saddled with a bunch of groceries, a bath mat they absolutely did not need and a steel colander.

The afternoon passed in a riot of laughter. The children found it hilarious when Detective H. wobbled and then fell off the ladder as he was setting up the cameras. (He escaped with just a small bruise.) Then they decided that the cameras made the garage look like it had googly eyes and spent over an hour giggling about it. There were french fries at dinner to ensure that the smiles stayed on and, finally, they went to sleep highly anticipating the next day when they would be able to catch the “bad guys”.

There were squeals of excitement when the next morning found the garage in a state of utter disarray and a rush to look at the camera footage. However, to everyone’s bafflement, nobody approached the garage doors all night. At about 2 a.m. a half-filled garbage bin rolled around the corner spilling garbage in its wake but nobody seemed to be responsible for it. “Darn those neighboring kids. How did they manage this one now? And why can’t their parents reign them in a little? Just wait till he caught them, he’d make them clean up their mess for a change.” Detective H. decided that tonight he would stay up and catch the trespassers red handed. The kids, who were convinced that this was the result of a haunting, begged to be allowed to stay up and see the “ghost.” It took a lot of wheedling and cajoling before he relented, allowing them to watch if they promised to run back inside at the slightest hint of danger. Not, of course, that a bunch of irritating children are likely to pose a threat.

That night, around twelve, under the cover of darkness, with deerstalkers perched on their heads, all three of them took their position behind a tree. (His wife had been invited but had declined the offer. She didn’t want to ruin a good night’s sleep just to catch some children.) It was going to be a long wait so he had made sure both kids wore jackets and stuffed their pockets with biscuits. They were given stern instructions to “take a bite out of a cookie every time you feel like whining”. In spite of this contingency plan the biscuits lasted a little over an hour and the whining then proceeded to oscillate between complaints about the long wait and complaints about the lack of biscuits. As Detective H. listened to them arguing in loud stage whispers he wondered if perhaps the best course would be to just head back in. He was preparing to break the news to the kids when there was a terrible banging and clattering of tins in the garage. He stiffened up immediately, all senses on alert.  

It so turned out that the neighborhood kids, who were at that very moment sound asleep in their beds, had been grossly slandered. In the pale moonlight, as a tiny, gloved hand emerged from behind the garage wall Detective H. realized who the actual culprit was! Dressed in an elegant fur coat, with stylish black eyepatches, the master criminal sauntered out from a hole in the wall. What they were watching for with baited breath was a mother raccoon who suavely led her family into the woods with a disdainful glance at the three figures doubling up with laughter behind a tree.

December 19, 2020 04:06

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The Rookie
20:02 Dec 22, 2020

I just took out a random example but I think the same can be applied to quite some parts of the story - a lot of times, you TELL what happens, but don't show it OFCOURSE, sometimes it can be really beneficial to skip over and tell certain scenes, but since you asked me to I've taken some time to write this (maybe shitty looll) example of how to show instead of tell too much. ............................ He broached the subject at dinner and as predicted, the kids were practically jumping with excitement, although their faces did fall conside...


S Houette
04:35 Dec 23, 2020

Makes a lot of sense! Thank you.


The Rookie
09:10 Dec 23, 2020

no problem! Excited to see stories from you, the tension in them is great:)


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