The Mystery Of The Locked Room
IV. The Truth
After questioning the alibis of everyone, Jack removed his note from his pocket and started scribbling something. Brian was still unconvinced that Jack could’ve solved the mystery. Suddenly in the midst of silence, Jack rose up from his chair and started with his deduction.
“Alright, let me now summarize what I have found.” Started Jack, as everyone looked eagerly at him.
” First of all, this seemed as an impossible murder to all of us, including me. But, some things didn’t fit well into the story that we were made to believe in! Why did a person so wealthy have to participate in an international festival that paid a very little of what he already owned? Even if he had the reasons to do so, why did he have to commit suicide for such a small amount ? Thirdly, the letter which was typed (presumed to be) by him mention about funders? He was a loan shark. If he was short of money, he wouldn’t have loaned his friends in the first place! ” Jack took a small pause to look at his suspects to see if there was any reaction.
“Well, Portland was very enthusiastic about this competition from the beginning. He would always brag about this and tell how rich he was going to become if he wins this competition.” Remarked Mr. Dalton. Samuel and Polski shook their heads in agreement.
“Okay, let us leave that aside then. My second suspicion came on the ONLY drawing left in that house – a canvas drawing left outside his room. If he was so disgusted by the judges’ rejection, why did he leave that painting alone and tore all other drawings he made on chart? I thought there are only two possibilities – first, that painting meant a lot to him or second, he forgot about it!”Paused Jack again.
After looking at his suspects again, he continued- “But, when my suspicions rose and I was convinced that it was a murder, that is when something struck me- what if the murderer was the one who tore the paintings ? Then, since it was canvas, why didn’t he burn this painting? There were again two reasons for this – first, either it was something the murderer was attached to or second, and the most important thing, it didn’t help him in his plan!”
All the suspects looked puzzled and confused. Even Brian started taking interest in this story of Jack’s. Suddenly, a constable came inside the room and asked “Coffee anyone?” “I’ll have one.” Smiled Jack
“Anyone else care for a coffee with me?” questioned Jack as all the suspects dumbstruck, looked at him in disbelief thinking ‘how is this man not nervous at all? Does he really know who the culprit is?’
The constable left as Jack resumed his incredible deduction again- “Where was I? Oh yes! The painting. So there was my second suspicion of this case. My third suspicion came when I saw a very thin line of clean surface on the side of the LCD monitor as if cleaned by a very fine brush! ‘Now, why would someone make a very thin clean line onto the side of an LCD monitor?’ I thought. Trust me, this was the simplest thing that puzzled me till I reached here!” exclaimed Jack.
The four suspects and Brian were all ears to him wondering what he would say next!
“Among the other things that puzzled me was the method the culprit used to go out of the room! It was rather very ingenious of the culprit to think of such a method! I never could’ve thought of it in a moment. The culprit had it all planned out before committing the crime! So, Mr. Samuel and Mr. Dalton were the first to be suspected.” Saying which, Jack was intervened by the constable who came in bringing his cup of coffee.
“Thank you very much. “Said Jack as he took the coffee and slowly began sipping it.
After he finished his coffee, he looked at his notebook and resumed – “Now, how did the culprit go out the room? He couldn’t have used the key to go outside the door and drop it in again as there was no gap between the door and the floor. So, the only option left is the window. Now how did he go out a window at a height of about 10 feet when there were no chairs more than 2-3 feet?”
“He must’ve stacked the chairs and climbed out.” Said Polski emphatically.
“And, how did he place them again in order after climbing to make it look like a suicide?” retorted Jack for which no one had any answer.
“Here is how he did it. Brian, do you remember the chart pieces you found along with the tape?”Questioned Jack as he looked at Brian.
Puzzled as to what he actually wanted, Brian replied “Yeah. But what does that have anything to do with this?”
“It does! Call that constable here. I gave something to him on my way here. I need them now to show you something!”
Brian called the constable back who came in with a big bag of chart papers and some tape inside it! Brian had no clue as to what Jack was thinking. Jack took the chart papers and gave the suspects and Brian, 2 sheets each of about 3 feet in width and 2 feet in height. He said to each one of them to roll them into concentric circles of the least diameter possible.
“Brian, take out the tape and start taping the charts one by one at the middle along the circumference.”
Not knowing what Jack was into; Brian did as he was told. Out of the three male suspects, Polski and Samuel were surprised at something. Jack took note of them but kept silent. After all the sheets had been rolled, first he stacked two of them on top of one another and then, he stacked three of the rolled sheets on top of another and taped them together making it look like a big stack of about 4 feet and 6 feet respectively!
“Now, look at this.” Said Jack as he attached the remaining stacked roll of 2 feet height to the newly created stacks, thus making it look like a step staircase of 2 feet – 4 feet – 6 feet in height!
“Brian, why don’t you stand on top of it?” exclaimed Jack to which everyone stood puzzled wondering what Jack meant!
“What are you trying to do here, Jack? This is no time to play!” Yelled Brian.
“This is related to the case, my dear friend. Do you remember the chart pieces strewn around the place from the window to the table? This is exactly the technique the culprit used to escape. Try standing on it now. Remember when we were in primary school you used to stand on small cardboard boxes to show that you were taller than me? ” Smiled Jack as he showed the stack to Brian.
Brian hesitatingly tried to go on top of the 2 feet stack. At first, he lost his balance but, later stood on the stack with one of his feet without a problem. And surprisingly, the stack didn’t crumble under his weight!
He slowly made his way on top of the stack now with both legs! The stack bent a little but not more than 2-3 inches! Everyone was surprised at this! No one expected this! As everyone stood stupefied, Jack slowly started “This is exactly the way the culprit used to get out of the window. Quite ingenious isn’t it? Now do you realize why he didn’t use the canvas?”
“Now, once he made his way out the window, he had to get rid of this. So, he tore these to pieces and let them fall near the table as close as possible. Due to the breeze from the window, they slowly spread towards the table. But a question arises here – Why was the key thrown over that place in front of the table? It is in fact related to this window trick!
The culprit had to use the key to get out of the window and once he did that, he had to return the key back to the table. So, he made a very simple use of the LCD monitor! Any guesses? ” paused Jack.
Silence shrouded the entire room as everyone was more than hooked to Jack’s revelation.
“I didn’t get the thin line behind the LCD at first too. But, when I came to the station I accidently bumped into a boy who happened to have a balloon in his hand. It fell off his hands and as I picked it up, that is when I realized that very simple trick. The culprit used a simple thin string around the monitor for support and stretched it till the window. From there, he led the key into the string and let it move down freely towards the table! He then left one end of the string as soon as the key landed on the table. He then had to just remove the string by pulling its other end.
He had to create his alibi, so, he rushed through this step. That is when the key must’ve accidently hit the bottom of the monitor and bounced over the table to the place where it was found! He then had to just let the window fall on its own.
There, done! That is all there is to this MURDER!” remarked Jack as he brought all the people present back to their senses!
Bedazzled as they were, each looking at the other suspects, Mr. Samuel slowly began – “So…who is the murderer?”
“Hmm… well, why don’t you confess now Mr. Polski? “Pointed out Jack!!!
Brian peeled his eyes out to see if this was the Jack he knew all along! Every person in that room had their eyes on Polski who looked stunned!
After a brief pause Polski remarked “Well… well… Mr. Jack, that is one serious allegation you are making towards me. A really nice story you’ve come up with but, as you know I have my alibi. So, even if I have committed the murder, where is your proof?”
“You don’t know when to give up do you? “grinned Jack as he took out his note once again and looked at it.
“I personally verified with your testifiers the testimonies they gave for creating your alibis. Mr. Samuel and Mr. Dalton have a very solid alibi that they visit the shop regularly and they do so at the same time everyday and the receptionist saw both of them walking towards him as they always do. Mrs. Prescot has a similar alibi, getting the groceries from the same store she always goes to and at the same time. But, do you know what I found from the mechanic, Mr. Polski? “Paused Jack as he looked sternly at Polski.
“Although he confirmed you pushed your car towards him at about 7:45, he also said something that sent an impulse within me. He said the engine was tepid when you brought the car to him. As per your alibi, your car broke down just after you left Mr. Portman’s house and you pushed it for about half an hour! Now, why would a car which had barely run a few meters and after being pushed for about 30 minutes in this cold weather feel warm when it arrives at the mechanic’s place?” questioned Jack.
Mr. Polski slowly replied “Well, maybe the distance was not a few meters but a few hundred meters!”
“No. Even if you had run a few meters and pushed for a about 15 minutes, the car should cool down. So, there is only one reason for that. You finished killing Mr. Portman in about 2-3 minutes as he was a tall man. You needed at least 5 minutes to do the charts. Another 5 minutes to go out the window and drop the key hastily. So, you finished the entire dirty work in about 15 minutes and left at 7:30 PM. You then drove the car for 10 minutes and then deliberately did something so that your car broke down and finally pushed it for about 5 minutes towards the mechanic! That way, you not only have created a strong alibi but also, finished your dirty work on time for the maid to discover the room locked.
And that is the gist of this Locked Room Mystery.” Stopped Jack.
“These are all speculations which you are putting towards me Mr. Jack. Where is the proof, the solid proof that I was the one who did this?”Retorted Polski.
“He is right Jack. Even if we accuse him of this murder and even if we prove he used this trick for creating his alibi, these are all circumstantial evidences. Where is the Conclusive evidence that he was the one who did this? Even someone from outside could’ve done all this to frame someone here, right?” replied Brian.
“My dear friend, you are so naïve.” Smiled Jack as he now looked towards Polski and added “You looked flustered when Brian taped the stacks of sheet. Why was that Mr. Polski?”
“Well… I thought he was doing something very childish…..that is why…” prolonged Mr. Polski in a slightly worried voice.
“You are lying. You noticed it didn’t you?” asked Jack.
“What do you mean noticed Jack? Am I missing something?” asked a bewildered Brian to which Jack replied “Yes, You are missing a very important fact. Tell me something, how do you tape something around? ”
“Well, you first peel the tape off and then move it around the object to stick it together.” Replied Brian.
“That is where the trick is my dear friend. You see, you cannot use a glove to remove the tape as it would be very difficult and cumbersome to PEEL off the tape without your nail. So…” paused Jack.
As if Brian was struck by something very valuable, he smiled and said “I see. So, that is why he looked at me in such a manner. He should have removed his gloves and used his fingers to peel off the tape thereby letting his fingerprints on the tape surrounding the stacks!”
“Ah! Finally you understood something!” sighed Jack as they both looked at Mr. Polski.
“Even if he used his gloves to tear the charts later or even to roll the charts into stack, he must’ve left fingerprints on the charts somewhere while taping them!” Jack added.
Mr. Polski sat down with his face buried in his hands. Slowly he started “What a fool I’ve been! I thought I could get away with this, only to have overlooked such a simple thing!”
“Why Polski, why did you do this? “Questioned Dalton as did Mr. Samuel.
“You all know that my wife died a few months back, right? She died trying to collect funds to repay that bastard back. She overdid herself and couldn’t prolong anymore as she was already sick from respiratory problems. After she died, I approached that SATAN. He threatened to give back the money else he would file a case against me and my family. I was good at sketches and have participated in several competitions and won prizes at city level. So, I gave my most precious drawing to that mongrel saying that he can have this till I get the money somehow. I didn’t know he would use this to get into an international competition to get more money! Unfortunately, that was rejected in the first round itself.” Polski said in a quivering voice.
In an acerbic voice Polski continued “He then threatened me again saying that I had to pay him double for the disgrace he faced by my drawing else, he would make my son work for him! My son was the only one I had left and he is currently doing his higher studies abroad. I didn’t want to lose him too to this inhuman creature! That is why I planned this. I killed that animal so that no one else would suffer the same as me. The rest is as Mr. Jack explained.”
The room remained silent for a while. Jack broke the silence by saying “I knew that the stork’s drawing was not drawn by Mr. Portland. He drew everything on chart papers, not on canvas! I can understand how you feel but still…. that doesn’t suffice murdering a living being even if it was inhuman.”
Brian called in the constables to take Mr. Polski out as the other people were made to give their details before being let out.
Jack waited at the station for Brian to return. When he returned Brian went near him, put his hands on Jack’s shoulders and whispered “I am glad I asked you for help.”
Jack smiled and said “Remember the time we used to play hide and seek when we were young? During that time I used to be short and there used to be a storeroom near our playground. So, when you used to hide in there, I used to use the paper rolls staked on top of each other to look into the window of the room to find you hidden inside. That is what helped me in this case. So, it is actually you I should thank”
They both smiled at each other; “It’s going to be my treat this afternoon, alright?”Said Brian with a glitter in his eyes.
“I was going to say the same myself” winked Jack as they left the room with the chart paper stacks and made their way towards the restaurant next block.
Jack Turner and Brian Chester will be back with a bang in yet another mystery soon. And this time it is going to be a bit different. Please look forward to it.
A special Thank You to my dear friend Rachita Choudhari for editing the mistakes in my story especially the heights as well as for the hilarious comments. Thanks a lot Rach
All characters in this entire story are purely fictional. Resemblance to any real life person or thing is merely co-incidental.
The methods discussed in this story are for pure fictional purposes and are not to be imitated in real life. The author does not hold any responsibility for the same.