the school murder case (part twenty-five)

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"To summarize," Jan Sleet began, "either someone tried to kill Pete, which seems unlikely, since it appears that the only person who had the opportunity was Roger and he ended up getting poisoned himself. Or else someone poisoned the cup later, when it was sitting on the table, and why would anybody do that when there was a very good chance that nobody would ever touch it?

"So, it's a bit of a conundrum, but here are two more facts which are very suggestive. One is that the drinks were served in a very particular way. Roger came out and, rather than holding out the tray for each of us to take a cup of soda, he balanced the tray with one hand, which was obviously not easy, and handed a cup to me, and then one to Marshall. We both drank from those cups, and we know the soda in those cups was not poisoned. Then, still balancing the tray in his other hand, he handed the third cup to Pete, who put it down on the table. Then, Pete took a cup for Daphne, and we know that cup was unpoisoned as well. From then on, people just took cups, there was no further attempt to–"


"Wait," she said, silencing Carol. She stood up slowly, her face stern. She was not only a detective about to reveal an attempted murderer, but also also an official of the government, and she was not going to be interrupted again. She started to walk slowly around the table as she spoke.

"As I said, that was suggestive, but certainly not definitive. But this, the second fact, is incontrovertible. Based on an analysis of the remaining soda, and considering the amount that Roger drank, it would seem he exaggerated his symptoms, and the speed with which they came on. In fact, he began to exhibit symptoms before he would even have felt any effects from the poison, and how would he have known–"

This was, as my employer would have called it, flummery, since the nurse had arrived with a lifesaving kit, not a chemical testing lab. But, as she is fond of pointing out, people expect things to happen as they do in movies and books. So, if you give them that, they tend to believe you. And Roger apparently did believe her, because he jumped up and ran for the door.

I was there before him. He aimed a kick at my shin, but I managed to dodge it (mostly) and it left him off-balance so I knocked his other foot out from under him, grabbing his wrists. I was about to drop him to the floor and fall on him when I saw a movement out of the corner of my eye. Someone else was moving at me, quickly, so I twisted Roger's right arm around behind his back, yanked it up between his shoulder blades, hard, and swung him around so he bore the brunt of the attack.

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About Anthony Lee Collins

I write.
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