Writing Challenge #5
On August 5th, Hilary from Positive Letters shared her rendition of this 100-word creative writing challenge in the comment section. Like everyone else, she used the nine words that by now, most of you have probably memorized, lol:
Fly, Magnitude, Timothy, Typography, Death, Closet, Swell, Rena, Jerome. Hilary’s version went like this:
Who done it?
The fly buzzed around Timothy, death was not far away; the swell of the closet curtains in the evening breeze showed the air circulating, keeping it fresh for now.
Rena and Jerome worked happily on with their typography, the magnitude of their father’s project keeping them fully involved – forgetting about his ‘temporary’ absence.
Joe, the typesetter, Amanda, the glyph modifier, Andrew, the art director, worked nearby. Cluedo has a new room, new death and new murderer. Who murdered Timothy in the closet with a typesetter’s lead-based alloy?
A discussion ensued whereby I failed to guess who the murderer was and how Timothy had died in the closet.
Hilary, bless her heart, has since written a delightful “who-done-it” feature to reveal the mystery behind this typographic caper. She has done a brilliant job. This is a longer post than usual, so grab a coffee, sit back and enjoy. Thank you, Hilary. This has been such a treat. You’re a dear.
The Typographic Caper
Mr. Marchant, the old boy from the Gatehouse, seemed to be around rather more than necessary, asking the Cluedo mansion residents more questions than they felt were necessary. They noticed that he too was in and out of the industrial units questioning all and sundry about Timothy’s unseemly death.
Natural causes it seemed to them, but Mr Marchant’s nose was smelling a rat. Had the Cluedo players played too much? Had reality set in?
Marchant was an unknown. He’d been to dinner parties at the Mansion, appearing very erudite and interested in their goings on, while the community activities he quietly participated in. He knew the inhabitants, but they, so self-absorbed, had asked little about him – so knew little!
What had happened to Timothy? Was the typography business a goner as Allison suggested in You’re Killing Me with Typography? Was Jerome covering up for Rena while she escaped for some space?
Marchant, his unfaltering features giving little away, probed and probed. The Detective leading the case began to lean on him. DC Stevens realised lines of inquiry were being followed and Marchant was doing a fine job, leaving him the DC to establish other facts or fiction… or dare I say it, lies.
Colonel Mustard in the Conservatory had the dagger tucked into his belt as always. He stirred his Moutarde de Maeaux to keep the Pommery mustard fresh. He was stingy – no-one was allowed to share. His moustache was twitching just slightly – could anyone notice? He was a jittery fellow.
Reverend Green spent most of his time in the Library reading, researching and refuelling his brain. Most were full of envy about it. It contained so much; a wealth of information. But the spanner, why did he bookmark with a spanner in this day and age? To keep it in his possession? Ah – now that was a question.
Professor Plum, with his bruised and rotting plum-coloured florid face, spent a great deal of time in the kitchen twiddling with his bottles and brews of sloes, damsons, plums. All well slobbered over when the alcohol went in – far too much, but did he admit that – enjoying the slurps too too much. He kept spilling the wax from the Candlestick, so that was forever present.
Ah, now the ladies – Miss Scarlett; she would need the revolver. She was of the ilk that made that instant pull the trigger decision – bang bang and you’re dead – but Timothy didn’t die that way. Bang bang, she was in the billiard room – bonging the balls around, making that dreadful unpredictable noise, buffeted between the ballroom and the hall. A muffled sound perhaps.
Mrs. White the all pristine ex housekeeper who abhorred all dirt, weaved her cleanly ways through life, or was she? The rope she used was always tattered. She unwove it to tie away dirty things, then rewove the rope when she could clear that mess away; she was thrifty, but Marchant felt there was a ‘but’ – she lounged a lot, in the lounge.
Mrs. Peacock; “Now there’s a one,” Marchant thought. All splutter and not much body; certainly not a body like Miss Scarlett, but she was a home-maker. She was always in the Dining Room setting lunch or dinner, ready for carving whatever joint might be served with the dagger at the ready. Ah, but what dagger? Colonel Mustard had the dagger, didn’t he?
Marchant pondered on; Stevens, too. They both checked out the Typographical business. Rena and Jerome were distraught by their father’s sudden demise. Why? Without warning. How? The answers didn’t immediately come.
Joe, the typesetter, was a sturdy fellow, sure in his work. While Amanda, the glyph modifier; now, there was something indecipherable about her. Did she know more than she let on about her craft? And finally, Andrew, the art director, appeared to be managing the project rather than being artistic and, dare I say it, crafty?
Various items from the Mansion were sent away for analysis.
Marchant went into the Library with the Reverend Green and they had long and quiet discursive musings, the Reverend getting up and bringing books to be referred to. What were they looking into?
The modern way of instant research via the Internet seemed the most satisfactory to the industrial unit and similar inhabitant. But to the Cluedo residents, what on earth was going on? The Mansion did not have WiFi, so connection could not be made.
Marchant and Stevens conferred at the Gatehouse, where WiFi was available – everyone was held in thrall. Suddenly a meeting was called to the community hall on the estate. Everyone was rounded up to attend. All were called away, no matter how inconvenient.
How did Timothy die?
The closet was off the Hall in the Cluedo Mansion. Why had Timothy been there at all?
Stevens began by welcoming everyone – to a murder investigation, seemed strange – while Marchant kept a wary eye. Stevens took everyone through the events, then introduced Marchant as “Chief Superintendent Marchant of the Metropolitan Police”. Everyone’s mouths dropped and their eyes widened. Now they knew why he knew so much, but they knew so little.
Marchant summarised and then quietly looked at Colonel Mustard, the man with the feathering moustache that occasionally twitched. Could he see the dagger? Ah yes! A copy from the theatre props.
Marchant suggested that a slice had been taken off the lead pipe – that slice being left in the mustard over the years, causing Timothy a slow death. Colonel Mustard was mean, his Meaux was not to be shared, even on Timothy’s sandwiches. So, the generous offering at Christmas was not generous. It had been a poisonous threat over many years. Timothy suffered as he regularly added Moutarde de Meaux to his lunchtime sandwiches, which Colonel Mustard so generously offered to refill, thus ensuring the poisoning went on.
Where was the lead pipe? Had it ever had a slice removed? We will never know. Joe, the typesetter, said he’d recently been given the lead pipe by Colonel Mustard to make some replacement typefaces and yes, it was about the time Timothy became unwell. The lead pipe had been flattened in the process.
Colonel Mustard started blustering and blabbering, but to no avail. He’d been caught in the end, in the closet with the lead pipe. Off with his head, as the saying goes.
* * * * * * * *
When I asked Hilary what the process was like, this is what she told me:
“I mulled it over a bit as I drove back and forth to see my mother – an hour each way. Then, I just sat and wrote it using the Cluedo characters. I looked up Typography and saw that lead was a major component ‘way back when’ and having researched about the Romans using lead piping, and that glyphs had recently come into a comment on a post, I weaved the parts together.
So I weave fragments of interest together that intrigue and draw readers in – at least that’s my intention! Covering all the disciplines that I have some semblance of understanding.
Cluedo came to the fore, so the nine words became a ‘who dunnit’ in one hundred words. I didn’t want to use my own words, that was defeating the exercise. However, the three names baffled me for a while. I think what Rebecca has done with her biblical story Acts of a Thief and Bishop, is brilliant, on top of which she full kept to the brief and wrote the whole story in 100 words.
I just had to knuckle under and write.”
Fantastic job, Hilary! I really enjoyed this. Thank you :-)
Photo credit: Misocrazy