Each issue features a Mysterious Photograph. Readers are invited to submit a 250-word (or less) flash fiction story based on the photo. The person who invents the best mystery story receives a prize of $25, and the story is published in a future issue.
The Story That Won the July/August 2020 contest:
| © marchevcabogdan / Shutterstock.com
by Kathy Chencharik
“Tom Topaz, you look absolutely spellbound,” Officer Rope said as he entered the detective’s office and closed the door.
“Do you remember the Paradine case?” Tom asked.
“Sure. The one ruled as an accident, even though we were sure his wife murdered him. And then the lady vanishes.”
Tom nodded. “I went to investigate a man’s death this morning. He was lying at the bottom of the thirty-nine steps which lead to the back door of his apartment. A piece of torn curtain was found clutched in his hand. Two men who knew him were standing next to his body.
“‘The trouble with Harry,’ one said, ‘was he had OCD. The birds had built a nest above his rear window. When I saw him earlier, he was leaning out, trying to clean the droppings. This surprised me. He also had vertigo.’
“‘He was the man who knew too much,’ the other said, ‘the kind of guy who knows it all and thinks he is better than you?’”
“I asked them, Was he married?
“‘Yeah,’ one said. ‘She never took his last name, and was a bit psycho, if you ask me.’
“I went upstairs to have a talk with her, asked her name, and asked what happened.
“‘I heard Harry scream,’ she said. ‘When I got to the window, I saw him falling head-over-heels down the steps. He’ll be buried in the family plot.’
“You’ll never guess who the widow was,” Tom said.
Officer Rope looked puzzled. “Who?”
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