Murder Behind The Lines

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John Howie

It was a hot, bright day as Detective Hunt sat opposite John Howie,

“So John,” Detective Hunt began, “You wrote a report on Colonel Jefferson’s stay in Singapore.”

“That is correct Detective,” John agreed. The Detective brought out the paper and laid it in-front of John,

“It says here he came to you with a complaint about the house every morning at 8am” The Detective said.

“Yes he did, at 8am precisely. He would knock at the door then walk to the front of my desk before saying a word. He said that I had to move him and his family and that there was something very wrong with the house but would not say what it was when I asked him. He was scared though, and he looked as if he hadn’t slept for weeks. Although in the army and navy that is common.” John replied.

“Why didn’t you move him from the house?” The Detective questioned.

“I got the house at a good rent, very good rent for the size of it. It was big enough for his family and unless he told me what was wrong with it there was nothing I could do. It is remarkably hard to find a house big enough for nine people,” John stated.

“Cheap rent you say?” The Detective inquired.

“It’s not uncommon in this part of the world, and the owner was overjoyed when I offered to rent it from him. I mean, the house is hardly in it’s best state.” John replied simply as the Detective wrote something on his notepad before continuing, “You called in Major Jones and Father Miles. Why?” The Detective said.

“Well as you said yourself. He is a high ranking officer and with his family moving out I decided to do something.” John paused, “Looking back I should have done it earlier, but when his wife told me about his sleeping disorder I thought it odd why they left,” John finished.

“What did his wife tell you about his sleeping disorder?” The Detective asked.

“She told me about his sleeping pills to control the nightmares he had after being lost at sea. She didn’t want to delve into it too deeply but she did say ever since they came to Singapore it had been getting worse,” John said.

“Worse?” The Detective asked,

“Yes, I thought that was maybe why they left the house but if it was him that was troubling them, they would have said something. So I could see then it was truly about the house and not just about the officer,” John stated bluntly.

“Were you doubting Colonel Jefferson’s word before this point?” The Detective inquired.

“I had no reason not to doubt him. It was one man’s word who had been out at sea with not a whisper from his family behind him. I thought it could have been the sudden change from cabin to bed,” John defended.

“Would that really drive a man to clockwork insanity?” The Detective asked curiously.

“He’s a naval officer. He is used to orders and rules and living where no man steps out of line,” John said immediately.

“Being a high ranking officer, surely he would have been more clear in his complaint?” The Detective asked.

“You would have thought so.” John agreed.

“On the day he didn’t arrive. Why call a cleric?” The Detective proceeded.

“The man was confused,” John told him.

“What did you find at the house?” The Detective asked.

“We arrived and went onto the veranda. The sun was very bright and we saw an open window to the lounge, we attempted to open the door but it was locked from the inside. We forced our way in, as you said yourself, and there he was. Lain upon the floorboards as if he was fast asleep,” The Detective nodded as he listened to John. Then satisfied with the information, he stood up and shook John’s hand,

“Thank you John your information has been most helpful. If you could leave now that would be magnificent.” The Detective addressed him. John nodded respectively then he turned and walked out the door. After John left the Detective proceeded to pick up the phone, “This is Detective Hunt, I wish to speak to Major Jones immediately.”

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