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Walla Walla, WA
Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Shirley H. and the Connected Crimes

January 26, 2023
Cameron Fowler

The Speakeasy Sorrow

Cameron Fowler

Spring days were well welcomed in the city of Hamview. The city was beginning to get back into the bustling nature it was known for, and Shirley H. couldn’t be more excited and bored. To the average person, Shirley would appear to be a perfectly ordinary lady, but the people of Hamview, however, knew her as a great detective. Coming from a large family of brilliant minds, she made a name for herself in the city for her deduction and investigation that helped in solving a few major crimes that befell the city during her first three years there.  

Unfortunately, the job of being Hamview’s brilliant detective had begun to stagnate. There were no major cases, and anything brought to her attention boiled down to being trivial and just a waste of her time. This is why she was partially excited about spring; post-holiday crimes often opened the door to theft and swindling, and while they may not be totally brain-stimulating, they were still a massive improvement over the old lady across the hallway asking to find her tabby, Mr. Cuddles, for the eighth time. 

As she was sitting at her desk still deciding how to spend the day, she heard her phone ping. A quick glance at the notification made the corners of her mouth turn upwards in a smile. The text was from Hercules P., her first acquaintance in Hamview and her neighbor down the hall. He was one of the few to not view her differently for her intelligence and skills. This, and his own brand of assistance on some cases, ended up becoming her “logic partner,” as she described him. She picked up the phone and went to read his texts. 

It read, “There might be a case for you. There was an incident last night in Bear’s Belly Bar, you know, the one themed around the 20s. One of the staff was found dead in the back. I can fill you in more on your way here.” Shirley’s eyes widened at the news. A murder in Hamview was just as common as a murder in other cities, but for one to require Shirley’s input must mean it was more interesting than usual. Since the bar was within walking distance, she didn’t make that much of a hurry, allowing her to read more of Hercules’ texts. 

“I just asked for more info for you. The ‘Saffron Speakeasy,’ as it’s known by regulars, had a performance on stage. One of the dancers, Aphrodite, never came back from the changing room in the back. When they found her, she …” Hercules’ message cut off, as if he was trying to find a nice way of talking about it. 

“It looked like she took the easy way out?” Shirley texted, making a guess at what was stalling Hercules. She received a “yes” in response. 

“The boss doesn’t buy it and says one of his workers must have killed her and framed it up. If you’d like, I can go inside while you talk to the others. Parvath is here for the autopsy. We could all convene after we’re all done, get the work done faster.” Shirley sent a thumbs up and continued on. 

Getting by the police was easy since they were familiar enough with her to let her through, though it didn’t stop her from holding out her credentials to be let in. Opening the door and stepping into the bar felt like stepping into a whole different world. It was 1920s-themed, with old-fashioned posters, wallpaper, and furniture all around her. Shirley took the time to survey what was before her. The floor was filled with tables and chairs, there was a main stage in the back, a bar on the side, and a few doors leading outside the room. Since it was daytime, all the chairs were flipped on the tables. Due to the circumstances, a few chairs were seating some of the staff. Shirley noted that they were spaced out, probably intended by the boss. He believed that one of them committed the crime, so separating them reduced the chance of crafting a false alibi. Upon a closer glance at their faces, they didn’t seem open to talking. Shirley decided to only ask a few of them and approached the ones closest to her; the barkeep and the cook. The bartender wore a nametag that read “Dionysus” and the cook wore one that read “Ambrosia.” 

“Hello, I’m Shirley. I’ve been asked to investigate the death of your coworker. Can you tell me anything?” 

“We had a busy day,” Dionysus said. “Ambrosia never left the kitchen because she was making food and I was constantly making new drinks. Made it difficult to guard the keys.” 

“Anything else?” 

“After we closed, one of the dancers came up; they like to chit-chat. I was busy and told whoever it was that we couldn’t talk. They came back a while later and I said the same thing, and they left again.” 

“And who’s that big guy sitting in the corner?” 

“That’s Atlas; he carries the crates and kegs around and ties up the ones we don’t use. He always stays inside the storage area. He’s a bit dull – will believe anything you say to him.” 

“The man in the other corner?” 

“Hermes. He runs the blackjack table in the other room. He had a bad player and needed a rootbeer from me shortly before the performance ended.” 

“The crying woman?” 

“Psyche. She led the main stage until Aphrodite came along. Must be taking the death hard, she’s been crying nonstop. She’s the one who found ‘Dite. Said she took too long, grabbed our attention and we unlocked it.” 

Shirley thanked them before heading towards the lobby where she received more texts from Hercules. 

“Changing room looks normal, except the AC was on and there was a costume ribbon in the trash. It appeared to have some kind of plastic stud design, but its damaged now.” 


“Marks across the width of the neck. There was rope around the neck, but they didn’t line up with the marks I just mentioned. No signs of any other harm.” Shirley thought for a moment before texting. “How does the lock work?” 

“It locks from the outside. Why?” 

“Nothing, just a bit of confirmation I needed. I think I know who did it now.” 


Who do you think committed the crime? 

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