Garland entered the room, notepad in hand, ready to survey the crime scene and solve the case. As a recent graduate of the Acme “Anyone Can Be a Private Detective” Course, he was sure this murder would be solved in short order. The multiple choice quiz at the end was not as easy as it looked, but Garland passed with flying colors. The entire populace of Possum Hollow had laughed when he put out his shingle, but they would see – he now had the chance to prove them all wrong.
With no criminal activity for decades, the town had opted to let the old constable retire with no replacement. Now, with the mayor lying face down, dead on the Legion’s kitchen floor, and a knife sticking in his gut, someone had to investigate and that someone was Garland. People had already started to speculate that one of the Smithfield clan had murdered the mayor since he was a Klemmer. Tensions were starting to run high and Garland hoped no one really wanted the feud to reignite. The fate of peaceful Possum Hollow rested on him. This was not the way the town’s holiday celebration was supposed to end.
The mayor had been in the kitchen to restock the hotdog cart. It was a simple cart, with a bin for the wieners and some side pans for chopped onions, relish and the usual condiments. Walking right up to the corpse, Garland observed the scene, starting with the dead body turning blue-white with rigor mortis setting in. There was the knife, and a small pool of blood by the wound. After taking a few notes and consulting his mail order instruction book, Garland looked up and said “It’s obvious.”
Once outside, Garland stood amongst the crowd. People were sure it was time to get a rope and find the nearest Smithfield, but the card-carrying private detective raised his hand, halting everyone in their tracks. Taking a deep breath, Garland made his findings public.
“There was no sign of struggle and no one heard any yelling or fighting. No one was seen with the mayor and no one was seen leaving the kitchen. The only obvious fact is the mayor was found face down with the kitchen knife stuck in his gut. He did not bleed to death, however. Not enough blood on the floor. I was momentarily flummoxed, then I found the clue I needed to solve the case.”
Everyone was frozen, waiting for the amateur sleuth to solve the biggest crime that had ever hit this tiny mountain burg. Someone interjected. “Well, who did it?”
Garland put his notebook back in his pocket. “No one. There was no murder. Look, the mayor’s lips were purple. He choked on a hotdog and passed out, falling on the knife that was in his hand. He died of asphyxiation before any massive blood loss. This, my dear townspeople, was an accidental death.”
At the next town council meeting, a proclamation was made honoring Garland for solving the case and averting another feud. As he accepted the scroll, he was handed a small box by the town clerk. Inside the blue velvet jewelry box was a new badge.
Constable Garland smiled. He had been right – the Acme course had indeed paid off.