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The Wearing of the Green


Margaret Elligham lay sprawled across the parquet floor of her house's grand living room, a look of terror upon her face. The Shamrock Charlatan (as he or she had been dubbed by the press) had struck again. This time, however, there had been a twist. Someone had died. The wealthy victim not only lost her jewelry, but her life.

For months the thief had carefully broken into houses in the wealthy part of town, stolen several items of valuable jewelry, and left without a trace. The residents were none the wiser until they found their belongings missing, and the police were baffled. Unfortunately, for Ms. Ellingham, she must have caught them in the act, and the burglary had escalated to murder.

"What's been taken?" sniffed Detective O'Malley, peering over the corpse with his hands clasped behind his back.

A bald, upper-middle-aged man stepped forward, clearing his throat. "Madame's necklace, sir. It was her prized possession. It was so beautiful, too... "

O'Malley cut him off. "Who are you again?"

"Nesters, sir. I am the butler."

Waving a dismissive hand, O'Malley remarked, "Thank you, Nesters, you can give the description to my sergeant."

The butler sloped off toward a younger man in police uniform. They began conferring about what was stolen, and what it looked like. At that moment, a tall, rakish man with a pencil-thin mustache and wearing an ill-fitting suit rushed through the front door.

"My Maggie!" cried the young man. "What have they done to you, my dear?"

"And you are....?" asked O'Malley.

"Charles Tally, and who are you?" the man replied, his head cocked back and his nostrils flared.

The detective announced himself to the man and, through a quick succession of question, determined that Mr. Tally was the late woman's fancy man. It appeared, through further questioning, that Ms. Ellingham had kept the young man in a very comfortable way of life.

"And where were you between nine and eleven o'clock this morning?" O'Malley asked Tally.

"I was at home, sleeping-off a hangover," Tally replied. "Some friends and I went downtown last night. Perhaps we had a tad too much to drink."

"So no one can vouch for your whereabouts at the time Ms. Ellingham was killed and her jade pendant necklace was taken?"

As Mr. Tally replied in the negative, Sergeant Coffer looked-up from his notepad and cocked his head to the left. "Excuse me, sir, but how did you know what the necklace looked like?"

Detective O'Malley turned to his subordinate, his mouth a frown. After a few notable beats, he said, "Well, Nesters, the butler told me."

"No, sir," Coffer said, slowly approaching his superior officer, "he told me."

Flustered, O'Malley replied, "Well then I must have seen it!"

"Yes..... you must have." Sgt. Coffer began to stare down his colleague. "Mind emptying your pockets, sir?"

"Yes, I do mind, sergeant!"

"I'm sorry, sir, but I must ask you to." Coffer's gaze was intent.

Detective O'Malley stood, at first defiant, then thoughtful, then resigned. He began to slowly empty his pockets and, finally, placed a green pendant necklace upon the table before him.

"That's it!" cried Nesters. "That's madame's necklace. It was a family heirloom, from her great-grandmother from Ireland. She loved it so."

Sighing, O'Malley held out his hands. "I guess you'd better cuff me, sergeant. What can I say? They don't pay me enough to be a policeman, and nice jewelry fetches so much on the black market." He looked down at Ms. Ellingham.  "Sorry, lass."

_________________________________________________

The preceding was an original work written by yours truly. A tad experimental, it combines my love of writing fiction (especially detective fiction) with this blog. And, of course, with a nod to Saint Patrick's Day. Hope you enjoyed it.

Copyright (c) 2017 by Matt L. Gladney


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