The Butler Did It30 Jan 2019
This short story was written for a Short Story Competition. It's goals were: 1500 words, with the prompt 'no one can know'.
The butler did it. As he opened the door to let us enter, I already knew. I could hear him say: “I murdered Victor DuPont”. The only problem is: he didn’t actually say it.
This morning, it was different. At nine, when I entered the police station, I was greeted by panicking colleagues. The first detective, Boris Walters, sprinted towards me, nearly tripping over a pile of boxes of paperwork that was standing there. He started rambling.
“Have you heard? Victor DuPont was… He was … murdered.”.
I looked at him in disbelief. “Murdered?”, I asked, “Are you sure? Nobody gets murdered here. Also, Victor Dupont, the Victor Dupont? The famous ..”. I stopped talking.
He stared at me, and said: “We have to find the murderer.”. He continued staring at me, and continued: “We should visit the crime scene.”. He nodded, and followed me outside.
We drove to Victor’s house. Well, it was more like a mansion. As we were driving on the driveway, we saw a man leaving the house, waiting for us in front of the door.
He started talking. “My name is David.”, he said. “I am, no, was the butler of Mister DuPont”. He was shaking a little as he said this.
After an awkward silence -I expected my colleague to introduce us- I introduced us as the local detectives. I said: “we are going to do all that is in our power to find out who did this.”.
He nodded. “I suppose you want to see him now?”.
This time my colleague answered: “Yes. First, we’ll want to ask a few questions though, before we enter. The fewer traces there are in the house, the better.”.
“Ask anything you want”, the butler replied.
After a few questions, we figured out there were no signs of forced entry into the building. We also found out that the Butler had found his master this morning, when he tried waking him up. His master hadn’t replied when he had called for breakfast, so he had knocked on his door to wake him. Since Victor was always up early, he didn’t trust the situation. So, after knocking one more time, he entered the door. There he had found his master, still laying in bed. The detectives had interrupted him there, saying that there was no need for him to recall those precise details.
We told the butler that the building was a crime scene, so that it would be closed off during the investigation.
The butler nodded, and said: “I think I’ve told you all I know, but if you have any questions for me, feel free to ask them. I’ll be staying in the small house over there.”. He pointed at a tiny house, about a hundred meters away from them.
We entered the house, closing off the entrance door with police tape after we had entered. Although the house was a maze, we decided not to bother the Butler by having him show us the crime scene. My colleague got out his little notebook, and started writing down every detail he found to be off about the place. He seemed to be going at it very thoroughly. After about ten minutes, I told him that the fact that the encyclopedia was out of order might not be relevant for the investigation. He nodded. We decided to prioritize certain rooms first. Our first priority was to find the victim, and investigate the conditions around him. After a few minutes of walking through the house, we found the bedroom. After we entered, we stared for a moment. This was the first dead person we had to investigate. Our training may have prepared us for it, but years of working in this town did everything possible to unprepare us.
After we regained our posture, we set off to work. Cause of death and murder weapon seemed quite straightforward: Victor was covered in blood, and had a number of stabwounds. There was no sign of a fight; it seemed as though he was killed in his sleep. No note was left behind. We found no more traces. The murder weapon wasn’t in the room.
The butler did it, I thought. But, how do I prove it? There’s nothing really here.
I suggested searching through the rest of the house. “Maybe we should split up? That way we can cover more ground. It will take forever to search this house, saving half of the time would be quite something.”.
My colleague replied: “Half of an infinity is still infinity. Didn’t you pay attention in school?”. I sighed. “Let’s just get to work.”. He nodded, and suggested I would do the ground floor, while he did the first floor. I agreed.
I went down the main staircase. Although it looked beyond what could reasonably be expected of a house, it didn’t have anything useful for me.
The next room I found was the kitchen. I looked for obviously missing items, especially knives. The kitchen seemed well-kept. However, one of the knives was missing from the main knife block. From the size of the slot, it must have been a large knife.I noted it down, and continued looking.
I found a small room. It had a nice armchair, and a coffee table. On the coffee table, today’s paper was laying. It seemed as though the butler made everything ready for the next morning. Obviously a fake trail. I decided to take my chance, and removed the newspaper. Evidence against the truth is not useful as evidence.
The other rooms on the ground floor weren’t of any particular interest, so I went up, planning to see my colleague. However, the staircase went up another floor, so I decided to look at that area first instead. It turned out this area had a study area. Littered with documents was an old desk. I quickly glanced over it, not expecting much of a bunch of old documents. My attention was quickly grabbed however, by Victor Dupont’s testament. Although it had coffee stains over it, it looked legitimate. The letter that was laying next to it said that the Butler was due to own everything, instead of his family. There were no signs of it having been written under stress, but still, it was very strange that there were coffee stains all over the thing.
I discussed my findings with my colleague. Although he had catalogued every little detail, he had found nothing of particular interest to the case. We decided therefore that it was best to talk to the butler again, because he was the most interesting character. He opened the door when we knocked, and I asked if we could come in. He seemed nervous, almost as though he was onto me. I asked him if he minded that we looked around.
He shrugged, and said: “Of course not. What are you planning to find though?”. My suspicions were instantly confirmed; it was almost too easy to read him. So, I walked around, in the end putting the testament on his desk. When I walked through the kitchen, I found a knife that was suspiciously similar to the ones in the knife block. Except, this was one of the size that was missing there. It seemed clean, but he might have cleaned it since.
I took the knife, and showed it to him. “It looks suspiciously like the type of knife that Victor was stabbed with.”, I said.
His eyes showed panic, “What are you saying? I’m not a murderer!”.
I replied: “Then explain the document that is laying on top of your desk.
My colleague interrupted me, saying: “This is enough, we should have a proper team in here. I don’t think we can handle this on our own.”. We left the building, calling the office to get a team on the case.
The forensic experts found three sets of fingerprints on the testament: they found the Victors, David’s, but also mine. They found my ** fingerprints. Immediately I was asked in for questioning.
I said: “I may have accidentally touched it.”.
They said: “Your fingerprints are all over the document. We also looked around in the house, and found a newspaper in the trash, touched by you. When we asked the butler, he said he had put it on the table. Our conclusion is that you have been tampering with evidence.”. I said: “It’s obvious, the butler did it.”.
There was a small laugh on his face. “So, that’s your excuse, really? The butler did it?”. I stayed silent, all too aware of the situation I was in. I said that I wanted a lawyer.
I was fired from my job; the evidence was seen as overwhelming enough not to need to wait for what a judge would say. Besides, no judge would be likely to act in favour of the potential murderer of Victor Dupont. The Butler, by the way, had left the country by this point, not waiting for what the process might bring.