“Great party, Bertie,” roars the Chief Superintendent.
“Here, here,” cheer the other men as they celebrate the successful conclusion to the Bishop Burton Murders.
Bertie, cradling a large brandy, leans against the old grandfather clock and absorbs the praise.
“Cigars?” asks the host.
The men nod with excitement. Bertie picks up the box of cigars, the most expensive in the shop, and passes it round along with his cream marble lighter. All in the room spark up and savour that first toke.
“I have a confession to make.” The room falls silent, all eyes are on Bertie. “I don’t think we go the right man.”
“Tosh, my dear Bertie. Your reports were exemplary as usual and we got the bastard to court. The judge and jury did the rest my dear Bertie, and they found him guilty.”
“So true, so true,” echo the rest of the room unconcerned by the statement; they all know about his wicked sense of humour.
Bertie takes a long drag on his cigar and blows smoke rings across the room before the final exhale fires a gust that annihilates them.
“What if I told you I lied to frame the man?”
The room laugh.
“Oh, Bertie. You are mischievous.”
“What if I told you I could be the killer?”
The men almost choke with laughter at the twisted yarn.
“Okay, I confess. I was the one who poisoned each of those people. I took advantage of being the only forensic scientist in seventy-miles and wrote what the hell I liked and framed him.”
The room applaud Bertie’s ludicrous tale. A loud “cheers” to the host and the four men down their brandies.
“My dear Bertie, why have you decided to tell us now?” asks the Chief Superintendent.
“What, a form of guilt that you didn’t feel while committing murder, but you do towards a local pest the village despises?”
Bertie takes a sip of brandy and reflects on the Chief’s question. “Yes.”
“Do you feel better?”
“I have a sense of relief. So, yes, I guess I am feeling better.”
The Chief Superintendent looks across the room with narrow eyes and takes a long drag on his cigar. The smoke exhales from his mouth as he speaks. “Should this be true then we will have to take you down to the police station and question you,” a smile breaks across his face. “And Bertie, we couldn’t possibly lose our great host.”
“Here, here,” cries the rest of the room.
“If only I knew that earlier.”
“How so?” asks the Sergeant.
“I’ve laced each of your brandies with the hemlock I always use and not the cyanide I reported on. Death will be imminent.” Bertie rubs his chin. “Just for good measure I’ve loosened a gas pipe, on my way out I’ll switch the gas back on and your cigars will go…BANG”!”
Everyone jumps and then roar with laughter.
“Bertie, Bertie, I love you. We all love you,” scoffs the Chief Superintendent.
On the opposite side of the room the Chief Constable starts to wobble. He tries to grab the back of the chair but misses and hits the floor face first.
One by one they fall.
Bertie, leaning against the grandfather clock, enjoys the rest of his cigar and their demise.