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Walla Walla, WA
Friday, December 8, 2023

Shirley H. and the Connected Crimes

November 9, 2023
Cameron Fowler

A Crime without Escape

Cameron Fowler

Shirley had tried her best to remain undisturbed for her afternoon. She invited Hercules, Parvath, and Aimi to her apartment to watch a movie and relax, only for all of them to spend most of the movie covering their ears as construction noises echoed throughout the complex. Shirley thought that Ozzie, Melody, and Angelo were just being overexcited when they promised to get Shirley a gift, and she wished so much that they weren’t serious. 

“How about we go on a walk?” Aimi suggested loudly, earning nods from the others. Together they got up and left the apartment. As they descended the stairs outside, they noticed a long black car parked at the curb. As they approached, a few large men in suits exited and, in a flash, grabbed the four. By pinning their arms, they were able to stuff them in the car and lock it before it took off. 

“Well, well, well, if it isn’t Shirley H., in the flesh.” The four, having shaken off their shock at being kidnapped, looked forward to see who sat across from them. Before them was a young woman in a high-value suit and large hat, as well as a well-dressed man who held a stern look and was constantly writing on a notebook of his. Aimi paled. 

“Y-You’re Clover Strimling, godmother of the Cracked Clubs!” The woman, Clover, gave a semi-malicious smile.  

“Well, I’m glad the cadet knows my name.” She turned her attention to Shirley. “I do so apologize for my, ‘abduction’ of you, but I need to use the best of the best, and since I cannot trust my own family, I sought you out myself.” 

“You…can’t trust your own mafia?” Shirley asked hesitantly. Clover nodded. 

“We were having a special meeting. I was gonna hire someone new, someone valuable for the family. But after a break, one of my bodyguards was found dead. To make it worse, he was found in the meeting room, and it was locked from the outside. One of those locked room mysteries you detectives love so much. Figured I could call on you to solve it.” 

As she finished talking, the car came to a stop. The doors on the outside opened and all departed the vehicle. “Don’t get your hopes up, this is a faux base. We’re in a small underground area that only has two main rooms, a kitchen and the meeting room. In case someone ran, we needed a place to easily catch them.” 

“Aimi, Hercules, you go interrogate the any witnesses that Miss Strimling has,” Shirley asked with a shudder, not being used to being in close proximity with a member of the criminal underground. “Parvath, you should check the body, I’ll go to the kitchen.” With that, the group split up. 

The kitchen was very plain. White floors, beige walls, and very few cabinets and a small fridge were all that was in the kitchen. Shirley guessed that it was because it was used so little, therefore it did not need to be stocked. Something that instantly caught her eye was a giant vent on the side of the wall. It had no grate, and it was not actively spinning. Shirley slowly approached and gently turned one of the blades to gain access through the vents, and then climbed in. Passing by a grate and some screws, she delicately climbed over them and continued her journey. The vent was stuffy, and as she traveled, she began to sweat a lot. The end of her vent journey was refreshing as she pushed against the end of the ventilation shaft, and it opened up to a room and— 

“Shirley! You startled me!” Parvath exclaimed, as Shirley realized she had entered the meeting room. Shirley got out of the ventilation and closed the door she used, revealing that in the meeting room was hidden as a painting. “He was stabbed in the jugular,” Parvath explained, knowing what Shirley was going to ask him. “They left the screwdriver still in there. Apparently, they thought at first he was sleeping, since he suffers from narcolepsy.” 

Aimi soon walked in, surprise on her face upon seeing Shirley. “How’d you get in?” 

“I will explain in due time. Did you and Hercules get your interrogations done?” Aimi nodded. 

“Well, we have Mariko Byrd, who was a hacker they were considering introducing into the family. She demonstrated her hacking skills by remotely locking and unlocking the door to the meeting room. Then her device was gone when the murder took place.” 

“Then we have the captain, Amaro. He is second in command and was also second in command from the last leadership. He was apparently a former pickpocket that had great skills back when he joined. He left during the break to make some tea.” 

“Then we have the consigliere Crowley Giusti; he was the guy that was writing when we were in the car. Clover suspects him because while they were together, he did take a moment and entered the kitchen during the time frame. He confirmed that he saw Amaro in the kitchen.” 

Shirley nodded as she heard all of this. “I think I may have the answer to this locked room mystery. I will admit it’s more of a hunch than a surefire solution, but I am very confident that I have this figured out. 

Who do you think committed this crime? 



  1. Meeting Room. Photo by Pixaby. 
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