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Eagle Chronicles 11: Gang Aft A-Gley

Title: Gang Aft A-Gley
Series: The Eagle Chronicles.
Word Count 1039
Summary A man has been murdered and Steven was the last to see him alive so of course he is the prime suspect




11 Gang Aft A-Gley



January 1946

The Body lay in a contorted position in the chest. The detective could see the knife's point-of-entry and the dried blood that was caked on his clothes. The coroner was on his way and would be able to narrow down the time of death. The detective went to question the maid who discovered the body. "I know it's a terrible thing to happen, but I have to ask these questions. Do you feel up to answering them?"

"I'll try, sir," she said as she wiped her eyes.

"Good. Now, when was the last time you saw him alive?"

"After dinner, sir, which was close to 7:00. He asked not to be disturbed, except when a certain man came to see him. I can't remember his name now, but it is somewhat common."

"Please try to remember. It could be important. Can you describe him?"

"He was of medium height with either dark brown or black hair. I remember his eyes distinctly because they were such a bright blue. He walked with a limp."

"You're very observant. What time was it when you found the body?"

"It was close to 12:00. I came down to check the doors and turn out the lights. Before I went upstairs, I saw that the light was still on in his study. I knocked on the door, but there was no answer. I opened the door and didn't see anyone. Just as I was about to turn out the light, I saw that the chest was partly open so I went over to shut it. When I got close to it, I saw him...lying there." She started to cry again. The detective gave her a handkerchief. She nodded her thanks. "Right after that, I called the police."

"Thank you very much." He left her when the coroner came. "It's right in here. We haven't moved it that much."

A half-hour later, the verdict was in: he had died of a knife thrust through the ribcage, which pierced the heart. Death had occurred between 11:15 and 11:45 and was instantaneous.

As the maid went upstairs, she paused and turned around. "Detective, I just remembered the man's name. It was Steven Taylor." With that, she continued up the stairs.

The detective couldn't believe it. Steven Taylor was back on the prowl. Now he would finally be able to nab him. What a great day that would be! "Dawson, I want you to go pick up Taylor at his home in Greenwich. Take Merrigan with you."

Officers Dawson and Merrigan visited the offices of Chief Haskins when they first arrived in Greenwich later that morning. He was surprised that they asked about Taylor. "What do you want him for? All past charges have been dropped and he's been pardoned."

"He's wanted for questioning about the murder of Anthony Read in Stamford. He's not under arrest, mind you. So if you could just tell us where to find him, we'll be on our way." Haskins hesitated at first, and then told them.

They found Steven working in the yard of the boarding house. "Are you Mr. Steven Taylor?"

"Yes."

"Come with us, please."

"I haven't done anything. What's this all about?"

"A murder. You're wanted for questioning."

"Murder? Who?"

"Anthony Read, last night."

Steven was shocked. "Okay, I'll go with you, let me tell my family."

Dawson and Merrigan waited for him by the car. They were not sure if they could trust him, but all fears were put to rest when he reappeared a few minutes later. When they arrived in Stamford at the Read estate, the police had already closed off the house. As they were in a police car, they were allowed in. The two officers led Steven to the room where the body was found.

The detective dismissed the two men and motioned Steven over to the chest against the wall. Inside was the chalked outline of the body. "I'd like to see you work your way out of this one, Taylor. You were the last one to see him alive."

"Yes, I did visit last night, but I wasn't the last one to see him alive." The detective raised a questioning eyebrow. "It was the murderer."

"Oh, come off it, Taylor! You can't be serious!"

"Don't be so anxious to pin it on me just because I came on a peaceful visit. Do you have proof that I did it?" The detective said nothing. "Just as I thought, you don't."

"That's where you're wrong. The maid saw you come in. You're the only one who did."

"I left at 10:00 and Anthony was still in the best of health. When did the coroner say he died?"

"Between 11:15 and 11:45. How do I know you're telling the truth?"

"Read always kept a record of his visitors; who they were and the times they were here. He usually left it in his top drawer."

They walked over to the desk and Steven opened the drawer from underneath so as not to remove any fingerprints. The detective saw what he was doing. "Don't worry. The only prints found were those of Read and the maid."

Steven found the list and located his name at the bottom. It said he left at 11:00. "If you look closer, you can see that the time underneath was erased and the '1' placed over it. See how it leans to the left? Look at the '1' next to it. See how meticulous Read was? I think you had better get the maid."

The maid was taken in for questioning and confessed. She knew that Anthony Read was a dope dealer. Her younger brother Nicholas had been involved with him and died of an overdose. She felt it was her responsibility to avenge his death. She had been waiting for the right time to do it, and when Steven came with an appointment, she knew she could frame him.

After her confession, Steven said, "There's a saying that goes--"

"Please, don't say 'Never judge a book by its cover.'"

"I would never say anything so trite. All I was going to say was 'The best laid plans of mice and men'--and in this case, women--'gang aft a-gley.'"

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