Deal 1282: Typefryer

I was once a strong man. But a lifetime of delivering typewriters to keep prolific authors supplied has left me crippled and barely able to reach the space bar.

Mystery authors are bad. They keep trying out their murders on their actual keyboards, making swift replacement a necessity.

But the worst offenders are cookbook authors. No fine top quality typewriter is happy when doused with flour and sugar. Dipping its keys in batter and then frying them is the last straw.


Deal 1270: No body

The scene was a mess. The spreading pool of blood was still able to flow, so whatever happened here was recent. There was no sign of either a body or a struggle. And yet, there was a lot of blood. Too much blood.

It had been found by the roommate, which was suspicious enough. His alibi was about as strong as tissue, but there were other factors. The largest was that the room was locked until he arrived. The windows were painted shut after too many years of just adding a new coat of paint. There were no other doors, and the door was locked when he got home.

He opened the door to find a pool of blood, and panicked.

The blood was all over the floor, and some was on the chair before the small table where a typewriter stood. A real antique beauty of a typewriter, all cast iron frame, black gloss paint, gold leaf details, and chipped white keys with worn black letters.

There was paper in the typewriter, a stack of blank sheets to one side.

No blood on anything above waist height.

No trail of footprints.

Anyone sitting at those keys who started to bleed would have left a trail as they moved around.

And yet, we have no body. No trail. No footprints. No fingerprints.

The paper was blank.


Deal 1264: Portrait of a gentleman and his bat

There was something a little odd about the portraits I found on the walls. The largest dominated the room, with its many staring eyes, and placement at the center of a short wall opposite the entry, picked out by the natural light in the space. The central figure was clearly not thrilled to be sitting for a portrait. For that to leak through the artist, he was either very much not thrilled, or the artist was taking a liberty that he may not have survived.

The Count was pictured at his prime. While he presented a humble appearance in his pose, clothing, and setting, he was still the primary figure in a portrait on an eight foot tall canvas. Somewhat contradictory messages there. He was posed among his pride and joy, a large family of bats. Somehow, the artist had captured the sense of pent-up nervous energy that even a sleeping bat exudes. These bats are all awake, and their eyes follow you as you walk around the room.

With the bats providing an effective distraction, it was surprisingly hard to see other details in the painting. With effort, I blocked the bats from my mind, and noticed the several ornate typewriters that were also depicted, arrayed near the subject. Each was loaded with paper, and there were supplies of plank paper and stacks of completed pages near each. On such a large canvas, it was possible to read some of what was showing on the pages emerging from the typewriters.

Or at least, it should have been.

Try as I might, I cannot remember what I read. Only that I believe I did read something, and that it almost made sense. Or that it was entirely abject nonsense. I simply can’t tell now.

In fact, attempting to read the pages left me so disoriented that I could swear that the subject was watching me from shadows the entire time I was admiring his portrait.

It’s a shame that that the painting was over a century old.

And that the large ornate urn in a niche near the painting was long understood to contain his ashes.

Or did it really?

The man himself couldn’t possibly be alive?

And why are there bats everywhere I look in this mansion?

That way lies madness.


Deal 1250: Incoming!

The moment was as fleeting as my life was about to be.

For a split second everything seemed to stand still. At long last, my goals were in reach, all I had to do was grasp the brass ring. Literally grasp the ring.

But, as is so often the case, nothing is ever as easy as it seems.

The ring was flying at me fast enough to do some serious damage. My security detail had just realized the what was happening, and were getting ready to take something or someone down. They hadn’t figured on this scenario, though, and were taking a little longer than usual to act.

My mind was elsewhere, as I was paying more attention to the keyboard in front of me than to the world around me. It was their job to do that, and this way I could put my full attention on my work. Most days this was a good plan. I got some work done, and they had an easy afternoon. Today was clearly not most days.

From the speed on the ring, its last bearer must be quite strong. Noticeably stronger than normal. To the point, they ought to stand out in a crowd. I was looking that way, which is the only reason I had seen the ring before it hit. Nothing was out of the ordinary.

Except for the massive brass ring flying directly at me.