Back on Monday, Peter Damien put up a Writing Prompt on Facebook. He said, “Your short story begins with that last line in the article, by the way.” And he had the following link: “Floods Victoria | Yarra River rescue as sex toy bucks rider.”
It seemed like a fun thing to do, so I ran with it (by the way, if the link is dead by the time you read this, the last line is also the first line of my story). So here, without further ado, is my writing prompt result. I hope you enjoy it.
The Fate of the Inflatable Dolls
by Ed Wyrd
“The fate of the inflatable dolls is unknown,” said Senior Constable Wilson.
“You mean,” said I, “that you have no clue as to their whereabouts, Wilson?”
“That is my meaning exactly, Troute,” he replied. “They have disappeared without a trace.”
“I beg to differ. The evidence is here for the seeing.”
As usual, the dimwitted Constable simply sneered. “I declare the case closed. There has been no foul play. There are no victims.” He turned to the bobby standing next to him. “Tell the witnesses they are free to go.”
Everyone in the room rose to make for the exit, all except one elderly woman. She remained sitting in her comfy chair, knitting.
“Witnesses?” I said. “Hardly witnesses. More like suspects.”
“Suspects? Of what?”
“Murder! Murder most foul.”
A murmur went through the assembled throng, family members who all had motive, and opportunity.
“Murder? You’re accusing them of murdering inflatable dolls? For what purpose?”
“The inheritance, of course.”
“Wilson, were you not paying attention? Lady Mildred died and her will, which they just read this morning, left all her millions to her inflatable companions. Her family never gave two shakes for her well-being while alive, but they sure came out of the woodwork after her passing in the hopes that she had left them some of her money.”
Wilson took a glance about the room. No one met his gaze. Although Uncle Jed made a sort of snorting sound, then said, “Pish posh. No one is guilty of murder. The dolls weren’t even alive.”
I tsk-tsked. “They were alive to Lady Mildred.”
“She was a senile old quack!” That from the Lady’s niece, Millicent.
“The love in the room would fill a thimble and leave enough room for your thumb,” I said. “Wilson, whether or not you believe a real murder has occurred, a murder has occurred nonetheless. A murder of faith, a murder of trust, and certainly a murder of family concern.”
“But they were not alive,” Wilson reiterated. “They were inflatable dolls. They can’t inherit anything.”
“If that were true, then why didn’t the family have the will contested? Because they couldn’t.” I pointed to one of the seated family members. “Ask Cousin Arnold. He’s a probate lawyer. His law firm deals with administering the estates of the deceased.”
Wilson turned his attention to Arnold, who began to squirm in his seat. “Well?”
Arnold cleared his throat and was about to speak when the lights went out and there was a scream.
“Get those lights back on!” Someone hit a switch and Millicent screamed. Arnold was dead, his shirt had a hole in the chest by his heart and blood was soaking through.
“What ho!” cried Wilson. “Now it is murder. But who could have done it?”
He was at a complete loss, but he puffed out his chest as he paced in front of the family.
“So. What are the facts as we know them?” he asked. “Two blow-up sex dolls are dead, er, missing. And now, Uncle Arnold is dead. We can’t speculate at this time on what happened to the dolls, but as far as Arnold…” He gave Millicent and Jed the eye. “Either of you could have done it, seeing how you are sitting next to him.”
“But how?” Millicent asked. “We have no weapons.”
“And how would we have turned out the lights?” Jed asked.
Wilson stabbed his finger at them, opened his mouth to say something, closed it, opened it, then let his arm fall to his side.
He turned to me. “Do you have any theories?”
“No, no theories,” I said. Wilson deflated. “I have the answer.”
“What?” The word burst from several throats at once.
Wilson said, “You know who killed Lady Mildred? But how?”
“Elementary, Wilson, elementary. Who had the most to gain from Lady Mildred’s death?”
Wilson looked the family over, then turned back to me with a shrug.
I rolled my eyes. “Who is the only member here directly related to Lady Mildred?”
The lightbulb went on. “Her sister, Margo.”
“With the dolls out of the way…”
“She’d be the direct heir.”
“Do you have any proof?”
“She’s holding the murder weapons.”
“The knitting needles?”
“There’s blood on the yarn of the sock she’s making.”
“It’s a scarf!” she said. “I thought you knew everything.”
“I know that the hole in Arnold matches the holes we’ll find in the two inflatable dolls.”
She sneered at me.
Wilson asked, “If she murdered Arnold, how did she turn off the light?”
I walked over and reached behind the table lamp. The cord was unplugged and the prongs were bent at right angles to the plug.
“She yanked it out of the wall.”
“Amazing, Troute. But the inflatable dolls. What about them?”
“I’ve known where they were since almost the beginning.”
“I noticed when you said everyone could leave the only person who didn’t get up was Margo. She remained seated.”
“That the inflatable dolls will be found under the cushion of her chair.”
Wilson approached Margo. “If you would be so kind as to rise from the chair, ma’am.”
With a snarl, Margo lunged at Wilson, trying to stab him with the knitting needles. He stumbled backwards and the fact that he tripped over his own feet was the only thing that saved him. He fell back and I was able to grab her wrists and hold her until the bobbies cuffed her and took her away.
I lifted up the cushion and there, sandwiched underneath were the two poor inflatable dolls, the dear sex companions of Lady Mildred, one woman and one man.
The family was taken away also on a charge of conspiracy to swindle the inheritance.
Wilson collected the dolls and turned to me. “Thank you, Troute. I don’t know what we’d have done without your help.”
I smiled. “Think nothing of it, Wilson.” I pulled out my pipe, tapped it down, and lit it.
And thus was solved the fate of the inflatable dolls.