Copyright 2016 Mario V. Farina
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
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Mario V. Farina
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Detective Godfrey arrived at 1635 Waterview Lane and parked the van on the circular driveway. She noted that there were already three other vehicles there, but she did not believe her car would cause any inconvenience to any other driver, at least, for a little while. She walked the short distance to the front door, tapped the knocker a couple of times, then opened the door and entered.
Inside, there were several members of the Evidence Detail who apparently were just finishing up. She saw several other people that she assumed were involved with the case and looked for the person who, she felt, could give her the information that she needed.
She noted two women formally dressed in red and yellow gowns. The men were wearing dark suits.
She approached the tall, distinguished looking man, and asked, “are you the owner of the premises?”
“Oh no, I’m Sir Anthony Higginbotham, a guest here this evening. I’m from England. The owner is Mr. Trumble.” Pointing to another man, shorter, and more ordinary looking, he continued, “that’s Mr. Trumble there. His wife was just taken to the hospital in an ambulance. I believe he’s getting ready to leave to go there.”
“Thank you, I’m Detective Edna Godfrey,” she said. “I’m with the 16th Precinct. Captain Hughes assigned me to this case about half an hour ago. I’ll be investigating, and will probably be asking you some questions later.”
She hurried to where James Trumble was standing and hastily introduced herself. “I’m from the police. I know you’re anxious to go see your wife,” she said. “But I need to ask you some questions first.”
Mr. Trumble, apparently irritated by the delay, reluctantly agreed to delay his departure. “Tell me what happened,” she asked.
“We were having dinner, the soup had just been served by the caterer. Suddenly, my wife became extremely ill, fainted, and fell to the floor. I called 911 instantly and the ambulance came. At the same time, I noted that there was a strange smell coming from the soup, and I made a second call to 911 while waiting for the ambulance. They said they would send someone. I imagine you’re the one of the people they sent.”
“Yes I think so,” responded Detective Godfrey. “Tell me who was present at the time that this happened, and where they were.”
Mr. Trumble pointed to a long table set for dinner. At each place there were plates containing soup. “I was seated at the head of the table, my wife, Helen, was at the other end. We had invited Janet and David Grant. Janet was to her left and David to her right. Next to David was Sir Anthony Higginbotham, a guest to the United States under the program, CEP, that stands for Citizens Exchange Program. On the other side of the table, next to Janet was the place that had been set for Mrs. Higginbotham. She had been sitting there only a few minutes before she left saying that she was suffering from a sudden headache. She said she would be all right and drove herself home. The man that you see with the uniform is Alexander. He’s a caterer from Bellevue Catering.”
“I see the carpet under the table seems to be soaking wet. Is there an explanation for that?”
“Yes, but I don’t completely understand what happened. The water came from the bathroom which is in the hallway to the right of where my wife was sitting. The kitchen is there also. We had just begun eating, Helen suddenly noticed that her feet were getting wet. She stood up audibly raising an alarm. It became apparent that water was coming from the bathroom. Sir Anthony rushed there and found that the sink had the cold water running full bore. The sink has an outlet, but it’s too small to handle a large flow of water, so the sink was overflowing. He shut the water off and came back to the table. I asked Alexander if he would mind getting some towels to put on the floor so that we could continue eating. He said he would and went off somewhere looking for them. In the meantime, I asked the guests to resume eating while the soup was still hot. It was only a few minutes later that Helen keeled over. Soon after that I noticed that Helen’s soup had a strange, strong odor. The people that came over from the police before you did took away samples from all the dishes. I overheard one of them say he thought Helen’s dish had been dosed with strychnine or some other strong poison.”
“Do you know how the team poison get into her dish,” Detective Godfrey asked?
“No, I don’t.”
“Did you do it?”
“Do you have access to strychnine or any kind of poison?”
“No, ma’am. I’m an electrical engineer. I don’t use anything like that in my work!”
“I may want to talk to you again. You’re free to leave now. I hope your wife will be OK. Am I blocking you in? “
“No, I’m at the head of the line on the driveway. Thanks for asking. And thanks for the good wishes.”
Mr. Trumble left through the front door.
Detective Godfrey approached Sir Anthony. “May I speak to you again for a few minutes Sir Higginbotham,” she asked?
“Not at all, Detective,” he responded. “How may I help you?”
“I understand your wife was with you, but she needed to leave suddenly. Tell me about that.”
“I’m afraid I’m the cause of that,” said Sir Anthony. “We had sat down for dinner, and I noticed something that probably meant nothing. My wife and Mr. Trumble exchanged glances that I thought were more than casual. It’s difficult to explain. They seemed to be exchanging secrets through their eyes. I had a sudden twinge of jealousy. I said to her a little too loudly, ‘I trust you will enjoy this tryst with your host this evening!’. It was a foolish thing for me to say. There was probably nothing to it. She took umbrage at what I had said, and suddenly declared that she had a headache and needed to get rid of it. She turned to Mr. Trumble and angrily stated that she needed to leave because of illness. Mr. Trumble looked confused but she was gone before he had time to ask even one question. She did not indicate how I should get home after dinner.”
“Had you seen anything before this that might indicate there was some justification for your jealousy?”
“Not exactly. There were strange hushed phone calls that Annette made from time to time, wrong numbers when she answered the phone at times, nothing else that I can point to. I don’t think there was anything going on between her and Mr. Trumble. I shouldn’t have spouted off as I did.”
“How are you getting home?”
“I’ll probably call a taxi.”
“There was a problem with water,” Detective Godfrey said . “Tell me about that.”
“We had just barely started with our soup, when Mrs. Trumble suddenly stood up with a small cry saying that the carpet was all wet. I, Mr. Grant, and the others at the table were confused, wondering what was happening, looking at each other, and all that. That’s when I noticed that the water was coming from the hallway. I ran in that direction and found that it was coming from the washroom. I went in and saw the cold water running full on. The sink was overflowing onto the floor and flowing toward the dining room. I turned the water off and went back to the table. I announced that everything was all right, nothing to worry about. Mr. Trumble said something to the caterer and suggested we resume eating, which we did. In less than a minute, Mrs. Trumble was lying on the floor apparently unconscious. That’s when Mr. Trumble made some phone calls to 911.”
“How did the water get turned on like that?”
“I don’t know, Detective.”
“Did you turn it on?”
“Did you notice anything about the soup?”
“Yes, it had a pungent smell. Mine was all right. I can’t say about the others.”
“Do you have access to poisonous materials, Sir Anthony,” Detective Godfrey asked?
“Blimey, no. We’re guests in the States. I dare say it would be rude to bring poison with us. I wouldn’t know where to get poisonous materials even if I wanted any!”
“Assuming Mrs. Trumble was poisoned, did you have anything to do with it?”
“Do you know of anyone that might have had something to do with it?”
“Thank you, Sir Anthony. I’m sorry that your visit to our country should be marred by this experience. If you’ll excuse me now, I’d like to talk to Mr. Grant.”
Detective Godfrey approached Mr. and Mrs. Grant who were involved in an animated, and perhaps unfriendly conversation. “I’m Detective Edna Godfrey from the 15th Precinct,” she said. “Do you mind, Mrs. Grant, if I speak to your husband alone for a few minutes?”
“Not at all,” she responded and walked away.
“Mr. Grant, I’ve learned from Sir Anthony that there was a water problem just as everyone had begun eating. Am I correct?”
“Yes there was.”
“Sir Anthony told me that as soon as he learned of it, he ran to the bathroom and found that the cold water was running as hard as it could, and that the sink was overflowing. Did you know about the problem as soon as he did?”
“No I didn’t. I was more interested in what had caused Mrs. Trumble to become so alarmed.”
“I guess that explains why you didn’t go to the bathroom at the same time that he did. Was there a lot of confusion when she stood up as she did?”
“Yes, everyone was wondering what was the problem and they were asking each other questions and looking on the floor and under the table, things like that.”
“Did you know what had caused the problem?”
“No, not until Sir Anthony came back and told all of us.”
“Did you, by any chance, notice anyone tampering with Mrs. Trumble’s soup?”
“No, I was as confused as everyone else, and didn’t have any time for that.”
“You said you were worried about her. It would seem that you would be spending a good deal of the time looking in her direction.”
“Yes I was! But I didn’t see nothing.”
“You are sitting very close to her were you not?”
“Yes, and so was my wife, one on each side of Helen. Maybe my wife saw something.”
“I’ll be talking to her soon. But I need to ask you, during all of that confusion, did you put something in her soup?”
“No! I resent you asking me that! Why would you think I did anything? There were a lot of other people at the table that could’ve done that!”
“Even your wife?”
“Of course! You have no right to suggest I did it. I would never do anything like that. Just ask anybody!”
“Are you saying that there is no reason why I should suspect you?”
“That’s right,” Mr. Grant responded angrily!
“Do you have access to poison in any way, Mr. Grant?”
“Of course not! Why do you think I would?”
“It’s part of my job. I have to ask everyone these questions.”
“Well, I don’t like being accused of anything that I didn’t do!”
“I didn’t say you had done anything, Mr. Grant. I think I have asked you everything I need to. I’d like to talk to your wife now.”
“Well, I’ll be here in case you need to know anything more.”
Mrs. Grant was standing at the other end of the table. Detective Godfrey walked to where she was and said, “your husband was very cooperative. I’d like to ask you some questions. Do you mind?”
“Not at all. What can I tell you?”
“During the time there was confusion at the table, what were you doing?”
“I was confused like everyone else. I was wondering why Mrs. Trumble had cried out like she did. I could feel the wetness on the carpet and I was trying to see what had caused it.”
“What was her husband doing?”
“I don’t remember he was doing much of anything. He was sort of glancing around the room, I think. But I wasn’t thinking of him so much as I was wondering what was going on.”
“Do you or your husband have access to poisonous materials?”
“Of course not!”
“Do you and your husband have jobs?”
“Yes, were both nurses at the same hospital where Helen was taken.”
“In your jobs, do you have access to dangerous chemicals?”
“Yes we do, but we don’t ordinarily use them in our work.”
“How long have you and your husband known the Trumbles?”
“Oh, at least half a dozen years. We’ve often met for dinner at each other’s homes.”
“Were you always are couple when you went to see them, or when they came to see you?”
“Of course, at least, so far as I know.”
“So far as you know? Why do you put it that way?”
“Well, I know that the answer is correct so far as I’m concerned, but if the answer weren’t the same for my husband, I would know about it, would I?”
“Women have a way of knowing what they’re not supposed to know at times. Don’t you agree, Mrs. Grant?”
“Well, not this time, Detective Godfrey. My answer stands as I said it!”
“Did you have anything to do with putting poison in Helen Trumble’s soup? I’m sorry but I have to ask you that.”
“No I didn’t.”
“Do you know of anybody that did?”
“Thank you, Mrs. Grant. If I need more information, I’ll get back to you. I’ve talked to everyone except the caterer. I don’t think he had anything to do with any of this, but I do have to interrogate him.”
She began walking toward the kitchen.
“Wait!” It was Mrs. Grant’s voice. Detective Godfrey turned and walked back. “You have something you’d like to add,” she asked?
“Yes, my husband was seeing Helen on the side. I was having it out with him about this when you came to interview us.”
The two were suddenly joined by Mr. Grant. “Don’t believe anything she says,” he yelled, as he arrived. “If you have anything to ask, Detective, ask me!”
“Why is that, Mr. Grant,” asked Detective Godfrey? “Would your wife be lying to me?”
“No, she wouldn’t be lying. She simply don’t know nothin’ about what happened!”
“We’ll see,” responded Detective Godfrey. “Mrs. Grant, tell me what you know. Mr. Grant, don’t interrupt!”
“When David and I arrived here about an hour before dinner,” Janet Grant began, “Helen, that is, Mrs. Trumble took me aside and told me that she and my husband had been seeing each other secretly for a number of years. He kept promising that he would divorce me and marry her, but was taking no steps in that direction. It seemed to me that he wanted the cow as well as the milk!”
“Some weeks back,” she continued, “Helen informed him that if he didn’t hurry up and bring this to a head, she would tell me about their affair herself. He still didn’t take any action, so she decided she was going to do that tonight. And she did!”
“Apparently, David, my husband, did not know that she had done this. Coincidentally, he had planned to poison Helen at the dinner tonight so that she would never be able to tell. He had gotten the things he needed at the hospital. He is the one that turned on the water full blast in the bathroom knowing it would overflow. He believed that, because of the confusion caused by this, he would have an opportunity to drop some stuff into her soup. Which is what he did!”
“I didn’t tell you the truth when I said I had not seen him putting something in the soup. I actually did! I didn’t know what it was and was thinking of warning her before she collapsed. I don’t know whether she’ll be all right, but I just couldn’t let this go without saying something.”
“Lies, all lies, shouted Mr. Grant.”
Detective Godfrey’s eyes bore into his like drill bits. “It appears we’ll need to have a court decide that,” commented Detective Godfrey. “I’m afraid I’ll have to take you to the station to decide what charges would be appropriate in this matter.”
There had been a poisoning at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Trumble. Detective Edna Godfrey from the 16th Precinct had been assigned to investigate. The crime had occurred during a dinner party. Detective Godfrey solved the question of who had apparently committed the crime. This story takes you step by step through the investigation. Can you solve the mystery before the answer is revealed?