Shirley, Hercules, Parvath, and Aimi made their way to the fountain in the middle of the plaza where the police had decided to keep their suspects detained for the moment. The four had to maneuver their way around the various film equipment from the movie set to get to the fountain. Sitting along the fountain with their hands cuffed was a fit man, a woman with greying hair, and a small girl. Shirley surmised that they must be the suspects: Beau Wulf, Frida Bronars, and Molly Hodges, respectively. Shirley still couldn’t believe that the local police would suspect a six-year-old of murder. As Shirley, Hercules, Parvath, and Aimi approached, one of the cops came up to them.
“Sorry, Miss Shirley, but your expertise is not needed here. Hamview’s police force has got this figured out,” he said with a hint of disdain. Shirley’s eyebrows rose.
“Figured out? Is that why you have a child handcuffed?” Shirley asked, pointing a finger at Molly.
“Ma’am, she was seen entering the premises multiple times. Besides, unless a higher up tells me to, I will not listen to the words from the likes of you.” Shirley could feel her anger beginning to rise at his remarks. She was going to retort but was beaten out by a voice she didn’t really want to hear.
“My oh my, what do we have here?” Shirley didn’t have to look to see who it was but did so anyway instinctively. What met her eyes was the one and only Lieutenant Gloria Puff, a higher member of the Hamview police force and an aide to Shirley in one of her early cases. While she was helpful, Shirley personally found her annoying, especially since she used her thick, fluffy hair to obscure one of her eyes for reasons Shirley couldn’t figure out. Despite how much she personally made Shirley feel, Puff was going to be the only one to help in this case.
“Are you preventing the Shirley H. from helping in this case?” Puff asked as she approached. “I was gone for not that long and you’re trying to prevent someone that could help with this case? If you don’t let her do her magic, I will put in quite the unsavory word about you,” she threatened with a smile. The cop paled before taking a step back, causing Puff to smile. “That’s more like it.” She turned to Shirley before speaking again. “Shirley, dearie, I have someone who might be very helpful to your case!” As she said that, she gestured to the other woman standing next to her. The other woman, who was wearing some of the oddest choices of color, gave a half-hearted wave toward the gathered group.
“Oh my gosh, it’s the famous director, Amanda Whoolery! I am such a big fan!” squealed Aimi in delight.
“Shame we have to meet in such bleak conditions,” Amanda responded. “Your friend Puff over here said I had to answer questions, but could you please make it quick? We have a film to make here.”
“I have a couple,” Shirley spoke. “Mainly, what was the purpose of filming here as opposed to a film studio, and would you have something with a few sharp spikes or prongs on set?” Amanda gave the questions some thought before speaking.
“I always strive for authenticity as opposed to lazy CGI, so I wanted the film to involve the actors actually scaling a tower. Figured the local cityfolk’d allow some scuffs on the clocktower for some time in my film. As for your second question, the lieutenant asked me something similar and I have this,” she said as she produced a manual grappling hook. “We also have a spare hook in case this one breaks. Does that answer your question?”
Shirley smiled. “Yes, and I’m glad to say it confirmed my theory that the killer is, in fact,” Shirley paused for effect, “Beau Wulf, the main actor in your play.”
“Oi!” Beau shouted from the side, “Don’t I get a say in this?”
“We already asked for your testimony,” snapped Aimi, “and all you talked about was how ‘a star as me could never commit it,’ instead of telling us anything meaningful.”
“That makes even more sense,” interjected Shirley. “Someone as prideful as him would feel threatened by a film critic, which our victim was. And considering how much Miss Whoolery cares for her films, the blame could easily shift to her. Since the clock tower was part of the set, you could be seen entering it without any real suspicion. As the main actor, you could’ve lured the victim for a private interview, killed her using the grappling hook, and used it to tie her up in the gears. Then you used the spare hook to descend the outer wall, which wasn’t a problem as you do your own stunts. The only problem is that you ended up damaging the hidden generator in the bushes, which overloaded the clock tower’s power. This explains the shattered glass and the lack of any movement.”
Lieutenant Puff gave a small applause after Shirley finished her summary. “Any rebuttals from anyone?” No one spoke a word, which led her to smile. “Then I say that’s a wrapped case. Boys, take Mr. Wulf away for the murder of Emily Jones. As for you,” she said, turning to Frida Bronars and Molly Hodges, “you are free to go.” As she said that, she unlocked their handcuffs, earning a “finally” from Frida, who began to mutter about how much she disliked the film crew being there in the plaza. She turned up her nose and walked away towards a flower cart with the sign “Bronar’s Briars.” Molly, on the other hand, ran up and hugged Shirley’s leg.
“Thank you, Miss Shirley, you’re the best!” she beamed before running off into a woman’s arms, most likely her mother’s. Shirley smiled at the sweet interaction. As she turned to leave with Hercules, Parvath, and Aimi, a voice called out to her.
“Miss Shirley H., I must have a private word,” Shirley inwardly groaned as she turned to the lieutenant she didn’t want to really talk to now.
“Please make it quick; I have plans.”
“Oh, you wound me so, Shirley,” Lieutenant Puff reacted in a dramatic way. “I only wanted to talk, is that too much to ask?” Shirley rolled her eyes at her antics. She wondered how someone like this ever became a lieutenant. “But all right, time for seriousness. I called you aside because I have a gift for you. I got it to celebrate your past victories and have been meaning to give it to you. Just my luck, you showed up!”
As she said this, she produced an envelope from her pocket. “Inside are tickets to Hamview’s famous band, Cacophony Symphony, who are playing next week. I got you tickets for Sunday, their opening day. Au revoir!” And with that, Lieutenant Puff turned around and left, however she didn’t make it far before she suddenly spoke, “Hey, catch!” and threw an object to Shirley, who caught it in her hand. She uncurled her fingers to reveal a violet lighter with a horse engraved on it. “Found that when I first arrived, figured it might make a nice trophy for you. Now farewell for real!” Lieutenant Puff called out as she turned to leave once more.
Shirley stood dumbfounded as she processed everything that had just happened. She glanced down at the envelope and lighter before tucking them in her pocket. Maybe a break was in order. After all, who would do something crazy on a concert night? Shirley wondered as she caught up with the others, hoping that finally she’d achieve peace for a whole week.
Clocktower Conundrum – Case Closed