Donnerstag, 2. Februar 2012

The early Byrd

This was originally a language learning crime story (with vocabulary and exercises) I wrote and it was more than twice as long. I think a lot of its charm got lost cutting it down to 600 words but it quite nicely fit the Story Dam prompt, so I thought I'd share it. I left out the very end to leave it open who the perp was so you can guess in the comments. I'll reveal who it was in the comments later and add a spoiler alert. :D

The early Byrd

“There you go, Inspector,” Miss Fitz handed Inspector Byrd the cup.
“Thank you, dear,” he smiled. Since his retirement, he often visited his neighbour who never tired of his police stories. “What do you say about the post office on Fulton being closed. Isn’t it an outrage?”
Miss Fitz looked surprised. “I hadn’t heard.”
“It was in the papers,” Inspector Byrd said.
 “I haven’t been getting my paper. Wouldn’t you know, it gets stolen right from my letterbox!”
A spark of criminological enthusiasm animated the Inspector.
“Are you quite sure? It would have to be someone in the house! Would you kindly get me a pen and paper? We need to draw up a list of suspects.”
“How exciting,” chimed Miss Fitz.
“Let’s see. Eight parties in the building. Not counting us, that’s six suspects. Starting at the top: Mr Slacker, student.”
“He looks just the type, doesn’t he?” Miss Fitz cut in. “Long hair…and an earring!”
“We need motive, Miss Fitz. Mr Slacker may well have one. Students are always a little short of funds. Mr Khan I think we can rule out.”
“Why is that?” Miss Fitz looked puzzled.
“He’s a newsagent. Kind of odd for him to steal a paper, don’t you think?”
“Why, of course! You are so very clever, dear Inspector.”
He blushed.
“Across the landing from me,” he continued, “there’s Mrs Stenton, single mother.”
“You can strike her out.” Miss Fitz looked smug. “She gets her own.”
 “Which leaves us with the Eldridges and Mr Tyson on the first floor,” the Inspector said, “When does the paper usually arrive?”
“Round about six,” said Miss Fitz.
“That would also rule out Mr Tyson the greengrocer,” the Inspector mused. “He leaves at the crack of dawn.”
“That leaves Mr Sloan, the caretaker,” Miss Fitz concluded.
The Inspector looked up. “If we aren’t mistaken, our count of suspects is down to three.”

Inspector Byrd was roused by the alarm. He scrambled out of bed. Carefully he crept out onto the landing and snuck down the dark stairs. Hiding behind the cellar door he looked out into the hallway.
After what seemed like an eternity, the light went on and steps could be heard coming down. Mr Tyson, the greengrocer, the Inspector thought.
He smiled smugly. It was indeed Mr Tyson leaving for work.
A while later, the paper arrived. Now was the time to be alert. The Inspector grew more and more impatient when suddenly the light snapped on again. He caught his breath peering out from behind the door. Steps overhead. Top floor.
“Mr Khan or Mr Slacker.” The steps hurried down the last flight of stairs; energetic, taking two steps at a time.
“Mr Slacker.” The Inspector was certain.
Indeed, the student’s untidy mop of hair appeared. There! He reached for the paper, pulled it out of the letterbox and cast a glance at the front page. Inspector Byrd was just about to jump out, when the young man neatly folded the paper and put it back.
The house went dark again.
A door creaked on the ground floor. Perhaps Mr Sloan. But…the Inspector looked positively puzzled. How odd - the wrong direction. He waited for the light to come on again. Nothing. Instead, the patter of feet. Bare feet. Now this was peculiar.

Squinting, the Inspector could make out a white form moving down the hall.
Pat, pat, pat.
Most definitely the sound of naked feet on the stone floor. The figure moved to the letterboxes. A scraping noise and the silent rustling of paper.
Pat, pat, pat. Moving closer. But that was…impossible!


  1. Well done. I'm baffled. All I could think of is Miss Fitz herself. Sleepwalking. But then the paper would be in her room.
    Or the single mother. We're two papers delivered?

    1. You're thinking right. I'll post the rest of the story below that explains why the paper wasn't in her room. I'll just have to put up a big fat spoiler alert. ;)


    Here's the rest of the story:

    The figure moved past, gliding towards the back door which creaked open. The silent patter of feet disappeared into the back yard. The clatter of metal. A dustbin ?
    The Inspector crept out from his hiding-place, switched on the light, and peered through the door into the back yard.
    “Miss Fitz!” he exclaimed.
    The old lady jumped at the sudden sound. Her eyes opened wide, she stared incredulously at the Inspector.
    “Inspector Byrd...? Where…? What…?” She looked around, struggling for compre¬hension .
    The Inspector couldn’t help but laugh out loud.
    “What in God’s name is going on here?” Miss Fitz asked, still looking very much befuddled .
    “I think we have found our thief,” the Inspector explained. “It was you.”
    “But…why…what…” Miss Fitz looked down at herself, comprehension dawning on her.
    “Let’s get you back inside,” the Inspector said, offering her his arm, “before you catch cold.”

    Miss Fitz sat on the couch.
    “Dear o dear,” she mumbled. Then she turned to the Inspector with big, round eyes. “You won’t tell anyone, will you? That the senile old cow is slowly going potty , I mean.”
    She sighed heavily. “And to think that I was about to blame that young man from upstairs!”
    “Rest assured , dear Miss Fitz. Nobody will know of this. And I will hear nothing of that ‘going potty, senile old cow’ rubbish!” the Inspector protested. “You were just sleepwalking. And sleepwalking, as far as I’m informed, is not a question of old age.”
    “You may be right,” Miss Fitz smiled meekly . “Maybe…” she paused and blushed deeply, “…maybe I just need someone to look after me a bit.”
    The Inspector smiled back at her and winked.
    “And I think I happen to know just the man for the job, Miss Fitz.”

  3. Adorable! The only thing I could figure was herself or a ghost! I liked the moment when the student picked it up and put it back!

  4. Oh, man! I didn't suspect sleepwalking! I was thinking the single mom's kid! Gah!

    Great job. I loved this story. Having an old detective getting excited for a little mystery... very cute!

  5. I was thinking that maybe one of the men was actually a cross-dresser ;)

    Poor Miss Fitz!

    Thanks for linking this up, and great job at cutting it down to fit the word count. It still gave the 'who done it' effect we were looking for.