Some Live, Some Die

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The Fourth Party: Investigation

“The victim is Countess Ethel Crawley,” Adrian told the Chief Police. “One of the backstage hands discovered her body hanging above the artificial lake which also doubles as the circus ring.”

“What baffles me the most is how did the countess hang herself?” pondered the Chief Police, “Further examination of the body will eventually give us the answers we need.”

The artificial lake had been mechanically reverted back into the circus ring, and Countess Crawley’s body lowered back onto the ground. Adrian approached the body and knelt down to give a quick examination. Aside from the rope marks around her neck, Adrian noticed that the victim’s lipstick had smudged slightly. He knew that it could not be from the champagne glass she drank earlier, nor there were any lipstick stains on the white gloves she was wearing. Turning the body slightly over, Adrian felt through his gloves the slight dampness of the countess’ clothes from the back.

Glancing around the circus ring, Adrian noticed the other end of the rope tied to a large dumbbell. He remembered seeing it being used for the weightlifter’s performance earlier tonight. Following the rope that lead directly to the noose around the countess’ neck, he spotted what had been used to suspend her body on one of the static trapezes. It had been securely looped around the bar handles, supposedly to add leverage.

“This is definitely is not suicide,” he told the Chief Police. “Countess Crawley simply could not have hung herself. This is murder. Whoever killed her knew how to operate the machinery to transform this circus ring into the artificial lake, and was very meticulous on how to display the countess.”

“Could it have been one of the backstage hands?” suggested the Chief Police. “They would know how to operate all this machinery.”

“I highly doubt it,” replied the detective. “I already questioned the backstage hand who found Countess Crawley. He said that most of the staff who operated the machinery for the circus tonight had gone for drinks in a nearby pub. Only he went back because he had left something behind.”

“So how do you think the murderer managed to hang the countess above the artificial lake?” the Chief Police then asked Adrian.

“First,” began Adrian. “The murderer must have somehow drugged the countess. This is because the countess shows no sign of any struggle. She was already unconscious when the murderer brought her into the circus ring. The killer then took one of the dumbbells to use as a weight, by tying ends of the rope to the hand bars of this trapeze. The rope was then looped around the trapeze bars before the noose was placed around the countess’ neck. They then turned on the artificial lake and whilst the platform was being lowered, the water gushed out and dampened the countess as shown on the back and ends of her dress. The tension of the ropes increased the leverage of the victim, hoisting her above the artificial lake.”

“You mentioned earlier that there was a party organised by Mr. Hange Hurston,” said the Police Chief. “Here in Blackpool Tower. The event started off with the performance in the circus ring, and then dancing in the Tower Ballroom. So any one of the guests could have snuck out of the ballroom in order to kill the countess. Do you have any suspects in mind?”

“I do indeed,” replied Adrian. “It was Countess Crawley’s companion, Miss Felicity Heathfield who reported the countess’ sudden disappearance. According to the other guests, the countess’ brother, Benedict Ketterwell and his son, Simon, along with Miss Heathfield left the ballroom not too long after the countess.”

He then made way for the policemen who came forward to remove the noose that had been around her neck before bundling it into an evidence bag. The countess was then placed on the stretcher, a white cloth draped over her lifeless body and carried out of the building. Some of the guests who had seen the police activity had gathered in the main hall. Among them were the suspects that Adrian had identified.

At that moment, one of the police officers hurried past the stretcher and accidentally stepped on a loose corner that had been dragging on the floor. This caused the white cloth to fall off, revealing the Countess Crawley’s body. Some of the female guests swooned and shrieked in shock, particularly Felicity and Benedict.

“Oh Ethel!” exclaimed Benedict when he saw Countess Crawley, “Who could have done such a horrendous thing?!”

“Calm down father,” sighed the countess’ nephew, Simon Ketterwell. “Dear old Aunt Ethel certainly had it coming. The old hag.”

“Simon!” shouted Benedict crossly and tearfully, “Show some respect for your aunt!”

“Mr. Ketterwell, and Simon,” said Felicity as she made an effort to diffuse the situation. “Please don’t make a scene! Or otherwise that detective is going to suspect you both-”

“Indeed I do Miss Heathfield,” interrupted Adrian as he approached the trio. “We have many witnesses claiming that they saw you three leaving the ballroom not too long after the victim. So, if you do not wish to cause any commotions, I’d advise you all to cooperate.”

Turning to the Chief Police, Adrian instructed him to escort the suspects back to the circus ring for interrogation. As he made his way to the powder room to retrieve a crucial evidence, Leslie came running up to him.

“Adrian,” she exclaimed. “Is it true that Countess Crawley was murdered? I overheard the guests talking about it just a while ago.”

“I would rather not fill you in on the details of the case,” replied Adrian. “However, you could help me by remaining in the ballroom with the other guests until further notice.”

He then turned and headed towards the powder room while Leslie watched on. If I recall, there were some powdery remnants in the countess’ champagne glass in the powder room. Recalled Adrian. More would be told once the evidence was properly analysed by the forensics team.

“Please have the forensics examine the contents of the champagne glass,” Adrian told a police officer as he handed him the countess’ champagne glass that had been carefully bagged. “And have the glass dusted for fingerprints as well. We cannot allow things to go amiss.”

The police officer nodded and hurried away with the evidence. As Adrian turned to head towards the circus ring, a thought suddenly occurred to him. Aside from the backstage hands who had access to the mechanical equipment, who else would know how to operate the machinery? He wondered.

Adrian then spotted the backstage hand who had discovered the countess’ body heading towards the building exit. Hoping to find more answers, the detective hastily approached the backstage hand.

“Excuse me sir,” said Adrian. “This may sound like an odd question, but did anything happen before the guests arrived at Blackpool Tower?”

“I don’t know much since me and the other staff had been running about all day,” replied the backstage hand. “Though now that you mention it, there was someone who arrived before the other fancy people showed up. I didn’t catch a glimpse of that person, but I did overhear the manager giving them a backstage tour. It may not be of help to you, but that is all I remember.”

“Thank you very much,” said Adrian. “You have been a great help so far.”

The detective then hurried to find the manager. He managed to find him in his office en route to the circus ring. The manager clarified with the detective about the backstage tour requested by the early arriver. Adrian was surprised to learn that the early bird to Mr. Hange Hurston’s fourth party was none other than Mr. Benedict Ketterwell. The countess’ brother.

“We do not usually give tours backstage, but Mr. Ketterwell was very eager,” the manager told Adrian. “He claimed that he wanted to know how to operate our machinery in order to understand the development of technology.”

“Well, Mr. Benedict Ketterwell runs a automobile business,” said Adrian. “Though how would the machinery here in the circus ring help with his research?”

“I’m sorry detective, but I’m not the type of person to pry into other people’s businesses,” replied the manager. “It is best to ask Mr. Ketterwell himself.”

The manager then hurried off to grab a smoke on his cigar. Satisfied with the development of the case, the detective returned to the circus ring where the suspects were waiting rather impatiently.

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