the vampire murder case (part fifty-two)

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Jan limped to the lectern, hooked her cane over the lip, raised the microphone, and started to speak. "My name is Jan Sleet. I am a reporter by profession, I solve mysteries as a hobby, and I play a role in the U-town government, as you probably know. This is the first, and almost certainly the last, public meeting here to talk about vampires.

"When this first became an issue, some people thought that I should get up here and say that there is no such thing as a vampire. That's what conventional wisdom says, after all. But conventional wisdom (which is a contradiction in terms, by the way, in a way that 'common sense' is not – but I digress) would also tell us that U-town itself could not exist. And, of course, it does. So, we cannot use 'conventional wisdom' to rule out the existence of vampires.

"And, even now, I am not going to stand up here and tell you that there are not any vampires anywhere in the world. But I am going to tell you that there is no evidence of any in U-town, now or ever, and the 'evidence' that did exist was deliberately created, in an attempt to confuse and mislead all of us.

"The attacks on the woman known as Åsa of the Jinx were self-inflicted, to create and feed the idea that there are vampires among us. This was to provide a cover for a murder which she committed, against a fellow member of the Jinx who was blackmailing her. To be honest, in general my sympathy is with Åsa, since he was using a secret that he knew in order to extort sexual favors from her. But she lost my sympathy when I realized that her solution was to kill the blackmailer and then to frame someone else, an innocent man who was desperately in love with her.

"In addition, she attempted to implicate Isaac Ashford, a local poet. He is, as we all know, an eccentric, but he is not a vampire, much as he may like to play at being one. Also, for all that she tried to make it appear otherwise, he only ever met her once, long before the murder.

"These facts are all known and they are not in dispute.

"Now, if you were fooled by any of this, I encourage you to examine the logical processes which brought you to your conclusions. There was a period of time in this case when I did not know the answer, and, as I said, I thought that vampirism was one possible explanation. But there is a big difference between thinking of that as a possible solution, and deciding that the existence of vampires is a proven fact. If you came that the latter conclusion, then your reasoning was faulty, because the evidence did not support that conclusion."

Later that night, as we got ready for bed, I said, "I have a question."

She hung up her vest and her tie, then she turned toward me and started unbuttoning her shirt. She could tell from my tone that this was too serious for guessing games.

"Sometimes," I said slowly, "at the end of a case, there's some piece of information that you know and I don't, and I won't ask and you won't tell me, but this is different. I think I know the answer..."

She nodded thoughtfully. "I see," she said. "You're right. You want to know if I suspected what Åsa was going to do, and let it happen because I was so appalled by what Spence was doing to her. The answer is that I didn't know. I was pretty sure the romance was phony, but my main thought was that Dr. Lee might have set it up for some reason. I was sure Ashford was a fake – anybody who's read his poetry could have figured that out – but I didn't know the rest. If I had, I'd have stopped it. For one thing, if you think about it, there was a possibility that it would have played out differently and Åsa would have killed both Spence and Lloyd, and staged it as if they had killed each other, out of jealousy.

"No, I didn't tell you everything I was doing, but I didn't conceal any conclusions from you."

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About Anthony Lee Collins

I write.
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