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The Case of the Lethal Tip, By: Nell Bowen
E.B. Cliftwood, 52, ran a small ad agency from his home. On this chilly, damp November day he had the fireplace going in his office. It was Friday afternoon, and being the creative head, he'd been enjoying his new computer set-up. He had three employees. His secretary, Wanda, was a pretty, young blonde whom he'd hired 8 months ago.Barkley Harris, 64, was office manager for 22 yrs. From his antique walking stick with the gold tip and his black patent pumps, to his costly ties with the diamond stick pin, he was a fastidious, if not eccentric dresser. Dean Randall, 42,attractive and ambitious, had been an accountant with the firm 8 years. Cliftwood's office faced the front driveway. Wanda had the office next to his. Across the hall were the offices of Randall and Harris. At 5:25 Wanda entered Cliftwood's office and found him dead on the floor with a head wound (which, it was established, was caused by a long, narrow, blunt-tipped instrument).She immediately summoned the police who were only blocks away. Arriving in less than 5 minutes, Detective O'Toole politely avoided the 3 spaces reserved for the employees. Upon entering E.B.'s office, he noticed that there seemed to be a dampness on the carpet around the area of the body. He also observed that a glass of liquid had been spilled on the desktop. He went into Wanda's office for questioning. She stated that at 5 pm. the accountant, Dean Randall, hollered goodnight and left. Moments later, the doorbell rang. She opened the door to find Randall standing there in the rain, requesting the office umbrella which he said he'd return on Monday morning. She handed it to him and shut the door. She then took E.B. his usual glass of water, which she always placed on the desk blotter in front of him, in order for him to take his daily pills. Looking out of his office window, she saw Randall's car pull out of the driveway. She went to her office to gather up the day's discards for the paper shredder. At 5:05 Barkley Harris dropped in and told her to have a nice weekend. She heard the front door slam shut. She proceeded to the paper shredder in the back of the house. At 5:20 she entered Cliftwood's office to stoke the fire as she usually did before leaving, and instead discovered his dead body. Detective O'Toole noted a memo on Wanda's desk from Cliftwood containing an apology and stating that instead of the raise he'd promised her, he would have to let her go because his wife had discovered their dalliances. Confronted with this evidence, Wanda broke into tears declaring that she loved him and could never kill him. Back in E.B.'s office, O'Toole stood looking out of the window, hands clasped behind him, mulling the entire situation over. Suddenly, he went out to the driveway, re-parked his car in Harris' parking space, then summoned the two men to return to the office at once. They both arived around 6:30 pm. O'Toole had them give their statements. Dean Randall admitted that around 4:50 pm he and Cliftwood had "words." He told Cliftwood that the expensive computer was too frivolous a purchase given the agency's financial problems. Cliftwood mentioned that with the new computer, Harris' job had now become obsolete and he'd intended to fire him before his retirement pension kicked in, thereby saving the firm a lot of money. He also suggested that Randall "juggle the books" in favor of the company. Irate, Randall refused. Cliftwood subtly suggested that his wife might find out about the elicit affair he and his previous secretary were having. Incensed, Harris said he'd think it over, and left. He got home at 6 pm. only to be told by his wife that he must return to the office immediately. He arrived at 6:30. Barkley Harris stated that the raised voices caused him to enter the hallway but that he'd retreated back to his office within a few minutes so as not to be caught eavesdropping. He'd said goodnight to both Wanda and Cliftwood and departed about 5:05. His parking space was closest to the front door, next to a flower garden. Walking to his trunk to place his walking stick inside, he never saw the heap of mulch at his left rear tire that the gardener left, which had turned into a mudpile from the rain. He stepped directly into it, ankle deep. Disgusted, he promptly went to buy another pair of shoes, then home, where his answering machine directed him to return to the office at once. At 6:30 he noticed the detective's car in his spot, and parked elsewhere. By midnight, O'Toole had finished conferring with the crime lab and was now ready to confront the killer.

  • Wanda - the secretary Dean Randall - the... by Nell Bowen - Jun 26, 98 (#1 of 11)
  • I was so panic-stricken to be in under the 5000... by Nell Bowen - Jun 26, 98 (#2 of 11)
  • Nell~ Good story!.. by Simon - Jun 26, 98 (#3 of 11)
  • Simon: Thank you so much for your kind words... by Nell Bowen - Jun 26, 98 (#4 of 11)
  • Nell~ Sure, you can use my solution as part of... by Simon - Jun 26, 98 (#5 of 11)
  • I'm new to this wonderful site, so I hope I am... by Dana Gerr - Jun 26, 98 (#6 of 11)
  • I caught on to the clue about the damp patch, but... by Spooky Lady - Dec 18, 98 (#7 of 11)
  • If that was your first tme I think that yu went... by Maxi Ge - Sep 26, 99 (#8 of 11)
  • Nell, Good job... by Lucy LaChance - Apr 21, 00 (#9 of 11)
  • Nell, I know it's been a while since you posted... by Maggie Cat - Jun 12, 03 (#10 of 11)
  • Nell - I like the subtle misdirection with the... by Diana Wolf - Jan 16, 04 (#11 of 11)

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     [F] Mystery Net Community  / Writing Mysteries  / Mysteries By Members  / Solve-it-Yourself and Puzzle Mysteries  / The Case of the Lethal Tip, By: Nell Bowen