A Twitter Murder Mystery

“So, tell it to me again. He was on ‘Twatter’ when he was murdered?”

“Twitter, sir, it’s a social networking site.”

I looked around the room admiringly. The guy was obviously a bit of a movie buff, judging by the original posters he had framed on the walls. Good seventies stuff, all very neatly done. In contrast, the study desk was all a bit of a bloody mess.  The keyboard was glued now with thick black blood and the screen was spattered with tiny bulbous droplets of the stuff. Some of them had run down a little before the heat of the screen had boiled them solid.  Not many though.

I peered through the droplets at the web page on display.

“Was that his name?  Armstrong?”

“Yes Inspector-“

“’Chief Inspector’, if you don’t mind.”

“Sorry sir, ‘Chief Inspector’, congratulations sir.”

“His name, son, you can bake me the cake later.” I enjoy being a bastard at murder scenes. It helps keep the minions focused.

“Sorry sir. Yes ‘Armstrong’ sir, ‘Ken Armstrong’.”

“But not ‘KenArmstrong1’?

“No sir, that was his twitter name sir.”

“You seem to know a lot about this twat thing.”

“I tweet a little myself sir.”

“You what?”

“Tweet sir.”

Bloody hell!

I looked young Nash square in the eye. Never look in two eyes, concentrate on just one. That’s the secret to winning a staring match.

“Moving on,” I said, “Cause of death?”

Nash looked at me as if I was mad. There was perhaps hope for the lad yet. I was yanking his chain and he knew it. The hilt of a bloody-great dagger was sticking out of Armstrong’s throat, there wasn’t much question about what it had done…

I shook myself. I’d been staring and thinking about that knife and how it might have felt going into my own carotid artery and that wasn’t the way forward.

“Who have you got in the other room?” I asked Nash.

“Three men. There was a poker game. They took a break apparently, Armstrong came in here for a tweet, one went to the toilet, one went into the garden for a ciggie and one stayed in the room.”

“And you think one of them killed him.”  I said.

“Why, yes sir, I do.”

“Which one?”

“I’m afraid I don’t know sir.”

I sighed again. TV detective programmes were a curse on many levels. Not least because practically every second young cop now thought every domestic was a clue-ridden mystery to be pondered. In fact, usually they were just a bloody mess with a whimpering fool sitting on the periphery, waiting to cough it all up.

“Who are they, these three?”

“As far as I can gather they’re an old school friend, his doctor and his brother-in-law. The in-law is a pain, says he works nights and has to phone in, we’re keeping him from that at the moment.”

“Why?”  I asked.

The question seemed to confuse poor Nash.

“Well, it’s a classic locked door thing, sir. One of them did it, there was nobody else. Plus there’s something else.”  Nash looked embarrassed.

“What something else?”

Nash squirmed.

“Spit it out lad, what else is there?”

“A ‘clue’ sir.” Nash said it as if it were rather a dirty thing.

“What bloody clue?”

Nash showed me the screen.

“It’s like I said, sir, he was tweeting when he died. His watch hit the desk and broke, the time stopped at 12.20 am.  Look at the tweet on the screen, it was sent at 12.20 am too. The killer must have been in the room when he sent it.”

I walked over to Nash. I was a good foot shorter than him but that hardly mattered.

“You think he twatted us a clue from the grave, don’t you?”

“Well, yes sir, I’m afraid I rather do.”

I was about to berate him for the penny-dreadful-consuming fool that he undoubtedly was when I stopped. Maybe, just maybe, he was right. There hadn’t been a real ‘clue’ case since the ‘Smirnoff Affair’ and that was a few years back. Maybe I was due another. I leaned in and read Armstrong’s Last Tweet.

“Okay,”  I leaned back, “what does it mean?”

“Buggered if I know sir,” said Nash, who then blushed furiously, “Sorry sir.”

In fairness, it did at least seem possible that Armstrong had looked up from his desk and seen someone come in with a whopping great knife in his hand. He might have had a moment to twat off a message with a clue in it.

“But why wouldn’t he just twat the name or the initial or something,” I asked, “ why type ‘Top Left’?”

“Because if he wrote the name, the killer could have seen it and deleted it. He had to be obtuse.”

“Obtuse, Nash?  What are you reading?”

“Morse, sir.”

“Bloody thought so.”

I looked at the twat thing again… harder. Forensics will catch this killer, or he’ll cave under a moderate Q and A, we didn’t have to do this Sherlock Holmes shit on it…

But it was fun and when it worked, it was bloody awesome.

Nash piped up.  “Maybe it’s an anagram”, he said.

But it wasn’t a bloody anagram. There was no time for bloody anagrams, not with a killer bearing down on you with a massive bloody knife.

I looked again.  Top Left.  Top Left of what? There was nothing to be Top Left’ of…

Except there was, wasn’t there? This twit twat thing wasn’t just a few words, it was a picture too. And we all know what a picture can be worth.

I looked at the computer, then at the wall, then at the computer again.  I shouldn't have been touching anything, I know. I clicked on the picture and it got bigger. The picture was clearer now.

I tried to keep my voice level.

“On every street,” I quoted, “in every city, there’s a nobody who dreams of being a somebody.”

Nash looked nervous. “I don’t understand you sir.” He said.

“Never mind,” I clapped my hands together, “Let’s see the suspects, Nash, one by one, just like your bloody Morse would.”

“What order do you want to see them in?” asked Nash.

“That brother-in-law, the one who works nights, what did you say he does for a living?” I asked, nonchalantly, holding my breath.

“I didn’t say, sir, but I believe he’s a Taxi Driver.”

I let my breath out, smiled.

“Then let’s see him first,” I said.


Pam Nash said...

Excellent! Fame, at last! :o)

Anonymous said...

Bloody brilliant!

Jim Murdoch said...

I endured three hours of The Da Vinci Code last night. You don't write under then pen name 'Dan Brown' do you?

Susan at Stony River said...

Loved it!

And well I'm feeling like little Miss Genius I am, for suspecting the poster the other night LOL (even if I didn't recognise it for being from TD...or Muppet Treasure Island for that matter)

Is the story a birthday present for Mr. Nash??

It was great!!

Ken Armstrong said...

Pam: Thanks. Fame indeed. :)

Julirose: Bloody thanks. :)

Jim: Harsh indeed! We expect nothing less. :)

Susan: You are the genius who cracked it. I had no notion of building a story around it then but, sure, it's all practice innit?

I threw Gavin's name in, he's a great man, wasn't thinking birthday tho'. You're ahead of me yet again. :)

Anonymous said...

Brilliant stuff from a brilliant writer. Well done, Ken. Always well worth a read

Simon Ricketts

Anonymous said...

I bow to your greatness. It was a fantastic read that kept me hooked!

Thank you,
Teagan Oliver

Elisabeth said...

I must be thick. I hate to admit it. I got it all the way trhough and loved it but the ending is lost on me.

Please give me a clue and don't ascribe my failure to your writing. I often miss the punchline in jokes, too. I'm too literal or serious or something. Otherwise I loved it, Ken. Thanks.

Ken Armstrong said...

Simon: Thanks mate. :)

Teagan: 'Bowing to my greatness' is perhaps being overly kind. But thanks. :)

Elisabeth: You are *definitely* *not* thick. The exercise was to see how close to 'obtuse' I could go and still keep the reader - I knew that many would not get it.

All it is: In my Twitter picture, the poster in the 'Top Left' corner is for the film Taxi Driver.

But it's impossible to read that, even in the blown up version of the picture - I put in the tagline from the film as an extra clue but it's still not playing entirely fair, I think.

Thanks for feedback, I appreciate it muchly. :)

Rachel Fox said...

A lot of fun.

Anonymous said...

I'd twitter you If I knew how Ken... good stuff mate - I really enjoyed that... spot on!

dermot tynan said...

And the film rights are with whom...?

Loved it!

See you on the 20th.

Reese said...

What fun! You are amazing, my friend!

hope said...

Sorry. Got here late. Should've taken a taxi I guess. ;)

Well done! You always know how to draw us in.

Anonymous said...

You're a funny twat! :P