The dining room was lit by that purgatory sepia that comes when the sky hasn’t quite decided to empty its bladder on you. Some asshole accelerated needlessly in the residential road outside as four separate senior citizens peeking out of their synthetic floral curtains, watching to make sure nobody parks in front of their house for more than the 1 hour parking limit, simultaneously flipped the bird at said asshole. Moments later a pigeon flew into a window. Nobody averted their gaze from the recently emptied tin perched on a slightly tea-stained doily atop a waxed mahogany tabletop.
Twas the 14th hour of the day, edging on 15th, and five fairly elderly people stood evenly spaced around the table, sizing each other up and each holding – with various degrees of sturdiness – handguns. What many people might call a Mexican standoff, and what few might call a capsicum stroganoff. It could have been that one of them had just released the most despicable wind in history, but the position of the fan would have led to a quick resolution of the culprit by some basic deduction of air flow in the room.
No, it was not flatulence that had these friends reassessing each other. It was something far more sinister. Like a crime scene from Sesame Street, there was an assortment of crumbs littered around and inside the tin, as if someone had scoffed the final member of the gourmet cookie collection all too hurriedly. There was, at this stage known to the occupants of the room due to some preliminary investigation: a strand of strawberry hair, a tuft of white wool, and a shred of pyjama bottoms.
A middle-aged man dressed in a “Reginald Peabody’s Club of Gentlemen” golf sweater, looking as if he was disgruntled about the others’ lack of formality, put forward an idea after a lengthy period of silence and gun-pointing. His chrome revolver was dead steady, held firm in the direction of the elderly and silver-haired Lassie McGee, who looked rather nervous in her red and blue spotty silk pyjamas.
“Don’t toy with us Lassie. Take off your pants. We’ve all seen you naked before anyway.”
Lassie’s favourite game was strip poker and she often hosted impromptu poker nights, not-so-subtly electing to adorn herself in the most minimal attire she could justify. She was wearing pyjamas this fateful afternoon because she had prepared early for the evening poker tournament that was to be held before things took a turn for the worse. Lassie didn’t feel the urge to go full monty in this particular instance due to the threat of imminent death by gunshot.
“I don’t need to show you my pants – I think we can all agree that red and blue patch of excellent craftsmanship can belong to none other than myself. That does not, however, indict me. I merely concede that I am myself, arguably more suspect than the two of you that do not have any visible evidence of treachery atop this crime scene. Notwithstanding, foul play cannot be eliminated from the realm of possibility.”
Selma chimed in with an objection. She was clearly one of the two being accused of framing, given her lack of a white woolen clothing item (Reginald was alone in this) and dark brunette hair (Ignatius was the only bearer of cranial pinkness in the party due to his chronic eyesight problems that had lead him to purchase Salmon Supreme Instant Dye).
“Nonsense. Any member of the Oakberry Book Club would know that we swear an oath of honesty as part of our pledge, and therefore cannot be guilty of such atrocious schemes.”
Daphne West-Jenkins II stood firm. Known for her gossip since outing Reginald’s fur fetish six months previous, she was adamant that she was incapable of keeping things quiet, including guilt. Instead of protesting her innocence, she attempted to gain favour by picking at Selma and the book club she wouldn’t shut up about.
“The only thing the book club swears is that they won’t tell anyone the only book they read is Fifty Shades of Grey.”
Ignatius’ semi-automatic pistol gradually repositioned itself with a smoothness that could only come with confidently wearing a head of pink hair at 73 years of age. Reginald would argue that he would prefer a head of pink hair to the expensive but poorly chosen toupee that had been glued to his head by his Parkinson’s afflicted ex-wife fifteen years ago.
Selma gasped as she saw the odds turning due to a simple jab at her Sunday morning group of closet sado-masochists.
“You defy logic by turning your gun on me due to irrelevant allegations! How do the guilty pleasures of my book group bring any light to this situation?” Selma stammered before quickly realising her error.
“Selma, Selma, Selma Bluebottom. Guilty pleasure is exactly the motivation for this cookie theft. We all agreed the last one would be divided equally after our tea and dominoes, but you just weren’t satisfied with a fraction of chocolate chip perfection, were you?” Daphne again attempted to shift the blame to whom she saw as a weakening and easy target.
Daphne’s gun shifted to Selma. She had been saving the gesture until this moment for maximum impact. It had previously been aimed at Ignatius, mostly because of his hair, but also his Monopoly moustache. Selma felt the pressure.
“Times like these the explanation is often the simplest. We have three incriminating pieces of evidence on the table. As much as it pains me to give weight to Daphne’s innocence as well as my own, I must point out that were either of us to frame someone, we would have implicated a single person overwhelmingly, or at least significantly enough to avoid this awkward situation. You all should know that my literary preferences are theatrical only, and do not represent my intelligence. Believe me when I say that I would have done a far better job of foul play given my appetite for it.”
A few expressions of disgust were heard as vivid images of a sexually ravenous pensioner being tenderised with a ping pong bat filled their minds. Her reasoning swayed them however, and after some changes in suppositions, Reginald found himself to be the newly favoured suspect. His unfaltering resolve was admirable, but still waters run deep.
“The window of opportunity was small. A few minutes at most, I would surmise. We were all absent from the room at some point in that period due to the wavering grasp we all have on our bladder control” suggested Ignatius. Such frank talk was not normally his style, but the stakes were higher than that time he accidentally mowed over Daphne’s friendly tabby after mistaking it for a patch of weeds. To this day she still believed he had been mauled by a squirrel – a fate believable knowing both the ferocity of the neighbourhood squirrels and the placidity of Mop the fluffy tabby.
A shuffling was heard from above.
“It couldn’t have been your father, could it Lassie?” asked Reginald quizzically, attempting to divert as many muzzles away from his not-quite-overweight-but-slightly-gelatinous body as he could. Lassie’s father Horatio was 99 years old and was capable of dribbling away his hydration so quickly they had an emergency drip stashed in his bedroom cupboard. He was still barely capable of walking without aid, but his grasp on reality was slightly less firm than the grasp he nearly permanently had on his genitals. He rarely ventured out of his room, preferring to watch Jersey Shore and shout obscenities about today’s youth, before regurgitating and throwing his half-chewed food at the TV. Lassie had the screen laminated to facilitate cleaning.
A buzzing sound accompanied by some muffled flatulence indicated that Horatio had decided to journey downstairs on the stair lift. The buzzing stopped and some more shuffling was heard. As the occupants of the dining room turned to watch him enter, they half expected him to die of a heart attack seeing the plethora of weaponry on display. Lassie knew him better and wasn’t worried.
Horatio’s decrepit frame hobbled around the corner to reveal an unusually joyful expression on his face. An acrid aroma drifted from the old man across the room as the fan hummed away. Noses turned up in the order of distance from him. He rarely bathed more than once weekly and it seemed he was overdue. A stream of congealed saliva hung from the collection of facial pubes decorating his chin. The audience watched and waited for it to drop.
Horatio peered at the tin on the table, smiling with malice shortly after seeing that there was an absence of cookie.
“So which one of you ate the last one? I hope it tasted extra sweaty – I rubbed my balls all over it!” Horatio announced, followed by severe laughter interspersed with coughing and spluttering. Ignatius wailed in disgust and quickly began to gag.
The ball of drool detached from its mucusy support and plummeted toward the ground. The house was filled with a cacophony as all the firearms roared in succession. Ignatius started firing, and Horatio took one in his wrinkly man-boob. Lassie shot a chunk out of Ignatius’ hair in vengeance. Ignatius spun his arm around to shoot Lassie but a second shot from Lassie to his head caused his finger to clench the trigger and a bullet whizzed through Reginald’s golf sweater and his gelatinous body into the cupboard of silverware behind him. Reginald’s final moments were accompanied by Barry White’s “You are the first, my last, my everything” and as he exited his body he laughed as he realised the final stage testicular cancer that had been itching to kill him can go fuck itself.
Another shot from Ignatius’ rigor mortis glanced off the fireplace and pierced Daphne’s heart in every way that Ignatius’ romantic advances hadn’t. Lassie had a sudden stroke as the heavy smoking she had engaged in during her youth caught up with her at a dramatically appropriate time. As a seizure took hold of her body, Lassie’s finger sealed Selma’s fate, with the first bullet piercing her femoral artery.
The now-spherical drool bomb splashed on the ground, inaudible beneath the thumping of bodies hitting the floor.