The Best of Times Short Story Competition

Autumn 2008 Results

The Pink Teddy and the Dead Body

Copyright © Jo Hamlet 2007

There were three obvious clues.

Firstly, there was an ice pick protruding from the scalp of the deceased. Shorty was at least 6' tall. Ruling out suicide, the offender was either very tall, stood on a chair or had asked the victim to crouch down. Obviously it wasn't an accident.

The expensive lace handkerchief alongside the body was the second clue. You could smell it a mile off. The assailant's or the victim's? If the latter – what was he doing with such a fine piece of frippery? Was he gay? He was wearing dirty rugby clothes, so I tended to disregard this choice. Lace handkerchiefs and scrumhalves don't really go to together. Just a hunch of course, but I’m seldom wrong. By the way, my name's Richard, Richard Head. You can call me Dick if you like. I'm a Private Eye. You must've heard of me. My name gets mentioned a lot these days. Anyway back to work.

At this precise moment, we have a homicide and the offender would have to be over 6' tall to reach the corpse's head. Not many ladies fall into this category, so we have to assume the handkerchief belonged to a very tall gay guy with class.

The third clue was a receipt stuffed in the deceased's mouth for a large pink teddy. An unusual place to find a receipt. Was he ashamed of having bought a teddy bear? Was it for him or a surprise for the murderer perhaps?

So what we are looking for here, is a tall classy gay guy clutching a teddy. Yeah, I know, you’re surprised at my amazing deduction. It's a gift I was born with. Mother always said I should become a detective. What I don't understand, is why the Police Department keep rejecting me. Still it's their loss.

Hello, what’s that noise at the door – someone’s trying to get in. The victim has no intention of getting up, so keeping one hand on the revolver concealed in my pocket, I go and investigate. I open the door and a beautiful young woman in a fur coat totters in, on the highest stilettos I've ever seen.

"Who are you?" she asks as she sways past and nearly falls over the body. She lets out a scream. I introduce myself as I take her arm, and lead her away from the corpse. This is not a sight for such a beautiful young woman. Her perfume wafts up my nose. It seems familiar but I can’t place it. I’m too busy easing her delightful body down on to a seat.

"And who are you?" I ask, hating myself for intruding into her misery.

"Janine, his wife," she replies pointing to the corpse. Tears pour down her beautiful face. I look for a handkerchief but the only one I can find is dirty. "Don't worry," she says, "I've got one." But for some reason she can’t seem to find it.

"Can I get you a drink," I ask. Strong sweet tea can be a blessing at times like this.

"I'll have a gin on the rocks," she says, but then changes her mind, a wistful smile on her sweet face. "Forget the ice."

An hour later and we've finished the bottle of gin. My arm’s around her shoulders; her head leaning on my chest. "Why don't you take off that big coat?" I suggest, preferring to feel the real woman instead of the real fur. Janine slips it off and stands there in the sexiest pink silk teddy I've ever seen. She would have made a perfect picture except for the bloodstains splattered down the front. Too late she realises her error.

"I've always wanted a pink teddy," she sniffs loudly. "I found the teddy hidden under the bed and thought it was for me. I put it on to surprise him. But he was so mad. He ordered me to take it off immediately, and wrap it up again for HER – his secretary. I had to stop him. You do understand don't you? I found it – it was mine and no one was going to take my teddy away from me."

"Of course," I nod. I’m such an understanding guy. "Your husband, I’m sorry to say, was obviously a ‘no good’ womanizer. You were driven to it." As I bend down to pick up the handkerchief on the floor, Janine picks up the empty bottle.

“No,” I shout as she raises it into the air. She’s obviously deaf. I feel the pain as she clobbers me over the head. As I fall to the floor she stands over me. “So sorry Dick Head. I had to stop you. You do understand don’t you?”

“Nice teddy,” I whisper to the corpse, who is the only one left in the room to hear me.