“Come James, you call this tea?”
“I call this America John, but I didn’t call you in for criticism.”
When James heard his friend, part of a famous London detective team would be in LA, desperation compelled him to reach out. Now they were seated in the study of his 1920s mansion once owned by a silent movie star sipping a disappointing Darjeeling.
“My wife has been gone a month and the police are useless.”
“I see.” John noticed that James seemed distracted and kept glancing down. “Are you sure you’re alright?”
“It’s the damned pounding. It won’t go away, John.”
“James, I know you and Mary hadn’t been getting along. Are you sure she just didn’t run off?”
“No, it was foul play. I’m sure of it. Only you can help me, John. Only you can discover…” He stopped talking, picked up his cup and set it down again. He kept staring down at the throw rug and tugging at his ear.
“I agree, James. I know where Mary went now. She never left. Why don’t you lift up the rug and show me how you buried her body under the floorboards.”
“Then you can hear her heartbeat too.”
I wrote this for the Weekend Writing Prompt #40 – Afternoon Tea challenge hosted by Sammi Cox. For prose work, the idea is to use the phrase “Afternoon Tea” to craft a mystery-themed story solved over afternoon tea that is no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.
First of all, I cry foul, because it’s almost impossible to create a credible mystery including clues in a mere 200 words. But since that’s all I had to work with, I felt forced to “borrow” a pre-existing mystery, in this case Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart. I remember having to study this story in Junior High and it totally freaked me out.
I also “borrowed” John Watson as played by actor Martin Freeman in the BBC television series Sherlock which I thoroughly enjoy.
Hopefully you got how my character James murdered his wife Mary and then deposited the corpse under the wooden floorboards of his study in his 1920s spanish mansion in Los Angeles (probably something that looks like this). However guilt makes him continually look back at that section of the floor and has him imagine he can still hear Mary’s heartbeat. John, being no slouch, quickly figures out that James wants John to solve the mystery (it had to be quickly since again…200 words).
This being America, we don’t tend to value our afternoon tea as they do in London.