Everyone, this has gone on long enough. Too long, in fact. Really, this shouldn’t have been going on at all, if you think about it. Or… maybe that’s the problem: You’ve been thinking about it way too much. The solution has been right before your eyes the whole time. I did it. I killed the host of the dinner party we all attended last month. Not only that, but I killed him at the dinner table. During the fish course. When we were all in the room and the lights were on… by shooting him multiple times with an unsilenced pistol… after announcing, “I’m going to kill our host now” (although I might be paraphrasing here). It’s kind of ridiculous that there would be any “mystery” about the incident…but I suppose that once the freak storm caused the blackout at our host’s remote mansion and all lines of communication to the outside world were cut off and we were trapped together for the remainder of the weekend, the natural thing to do was become suspicious of one another and try to solve the pseudo-whodunit. Even though I’d done it, and you’d all seen me do it.
I really wasn’t subtle about it, either, and I’ve never denied it. If I recall correctly, when I arrived at our host’s home that Friday evening, the rest of you were already there, having cocktails and mingling with one another. It seemed that even though each of us knew our host, none of us knew anyone else, nor why our host had invited us all to his stately manor outside the city. Nevertheless, despite the fact that you were all strangers to me, when I was shown into the parlor by the butler, I introduced myself: “Hello. My name is Michael Slaughter. You can call me Mike. I’m 39, a Pisces, and someone our host has been blackmailing for years. Oh, and I’m going to murder him. Tonight. During dinner.” Then one of the women said it was nice to make my acquaintance, and one of the other men offered me a drink. A gimlet, I think it was. It was delicious, and I made a mental note to reward myself with another after I’d killed our host. I might even have mentioned this idea to one of you.
When the announcement was made that dinner was being served—and that our host awaited us in the dining room—I realized that I had left my own gun in my coat pocket, which was silly of me, since I’d brought my gun specifically to kill our host with, that night, which is the only reason I’d accepted the odd, cryptic, unexpected dinner invitation in the first place. Indeed, when I’d sent back the RSVP card, I’d written on it, “Mike Slaughter will gladly attend, but only because I’m planning to shoot you when I get there, although not necessarily as soon as I arrive, because it’s a long drive to your secluded mansion from my apartment, and I’ll probably want to freshen up some first. So probably during dinner.” Does anyone remember that our RSVP cards were arrayed on an accent table in the foyer? And on our way into the dining room some of us paused there to chuckle at what we wrote?
At dinner, I was seated between Captain Moustache and Miss Chiff. After some small talk with the former, during which he explained that he was not a superhero but an actual commissioned officer of the Army, I turned my attention to the latter, specifically to ask if I could borrow her steak knife, with which I would stab our host (I volunteered), being that I’d foolishly given my Beretta 21A Bobcat to the butler. Overhearing me, Captain Moustache generously offered to lend me his service revolver, a Smith & Wesson Model 10. “Just don’t point it at anyone,” the good captain admonished me, placing his sidearm into my hand. “Not to worry,” I assured him, loudly enough for all in the room to hear. “Only our host, whom I’m going to shoot with it. I’ll pay you back for the bullets I use.” I think he guffawed, although my offer was genuine. Bullets aren’t cheap!
It was when our host eventually rose from his chair at the head of the table and clinked his oyster fork against the side of his then-empty water glass, to get our collective attention, in order to reveal, finally, why he had called us all—Captain M.; Miss C.; Mr. Graves; Mrs. Pepper; Professor Hall; and myself—to his isolated estate on the eve of a weekend that threatened to be particularly wet, dark, and otherwise eerie, that I interrupted him—before he’d really even had a chance to do more than clear his throat—and, pointing the captain’s firearm at his (our host’s, not the captain’s) torso, squeezed off all six rounds. Mr. Graves muttered something about the excessive noise, which prompted Mrs. Pepper to give me a knowing, sympathetic smirk. A maid named Molly offered me an extra cloth napkin, presumably to use to wipe my fingerprints from Captain Moustache’s gun, but I demurred politely. Professor Hall amused us with a story about a time when he had attended a dinner party and murdered the host, himself, an event of which he was reminded just then.
After dessert—sorbet and cordials—I had the butler direct me to our host’s study, where I pried open the wall safe with the tire iron I keep in the trunk of my car and returned to myself several tens of thousands of dollars in cash, remarking to the butler, “Your boss won’t be needing this, now that he’s dead, thanks to me.” The butler commented, “Yes, sir,” or, “Indeed.” (If I had a larger regular income, and a larger apartment, I might have considered hiring the butler, a very pleasant, discreet man, now that he was out of work, being that I killed his last employer. Instead, I just tipped him generously.) I ran into the maid again later that night, as she was dusting a lamp, and I joked that she should make sure not to rub off the gloss like I’d earlier rubbed out her boss.
So, perhaps you’ll understand if it seems a bit…strange to me that you spent the rest of the evening and all of the following day trying to determine, in what can only be described as the most convoluted manners possible, exactly who had murdered our host, and where, and how. Why, moreover, each of you not only allowed yourself to be detained by the authorities and interrogated at length about the events of the weekend, but at no point in the wholly unnecessary “investigation” mentioned that I’d shot and killed our host, is beyond me. To the contrary, when I was asked by Detective Fox if I knew who might have a motive for the crime, I told him—point-blank, the same way I’d shot our host—that I had a motive—namely, that our host had been blackmailing me for years. I also had the means—a gun—and the opportunity—the fish course. I also provided a signed and notarized confession. Detective Fox thanked me for my cooperation but asked that I not leave town, because he might have some more questions for me.
Matthew David Brozik is the author of the books Whimsy & Soda and Taking Ivy Seriously as well as numerous (mercifully) short pieces of humor and fiction. Read more at imdb.name. Follow him on Twitter but plan to be disappointed.
The Humor Section features a piece of original humor writing each week. To submit your work for consideration, send it here.