Commentary From the Ruins of the Slacker Generation
Here is the second “Two-Minute Mystery” featuring the classic pulp hero The Shadow published on the The Shadow In Review website several years back called ”The Anguished Face”. Hope you enjoy it.
THE ANGUISHED FACE
“I guess dinner is going to have to wait?” Lamont Cranston asked, staring out the window into a wall of rain.
“I asked you here,” Detective Joe Cardona began, “because I didn’t think that it would take long.”
Lamont turned aside, walking towards the pile of papers on the dresser. Cardona looked at the bed, where the face of Mr. Cottingham, recently deceased, was turned towards him with an anguished expression, his pale face twisted, cheek bones raised like daggers, and mouth stretched thin. Thankfully, his eyes were closed.
“It’s the look,” Cardona said. “Normally, we would have ruled this as death by natural causes. But that look on his face… I just have this gut feeling that he was murdered. Both his son and the caretaker are being held in the next room.”
Lamont finished leafing through the papers on the dresser. “He could have had a heart attack.”
“No. Wellington, the caretaker, claims to have been here with Mr. Cottingham the whole time, that he died in his sleep. We contacted the son, who arrived shortly before you did.”
Lamont looked at the corpse. “Any clues to support your gut feeling?”
Cardona walked over to the body. He gently gripped the left wrist and turned, revealing some faint black streaks on Cottingham’s fingertips. “That’s the only oddity,” Cardona said.
Lamont nodded. “Hardly a smoking gun.”
“Exactly. Everything else looks normal.”
Lamont handed Cardona a paper from under the pile. “Do you know anything about this?”
Cardona’s eyes widened as he read the paper. “This states that Mr. Cottingham’s son had been killed!”
Lamont nodded. “Bring Wellington in.”
Cardona called out, and the detectives brought the caretaker into the room. He was in his mid-forties, with graying hair and a short, wide nose.
“Yes, Detective?” he said softly.
Cardona looked at Lamont, who spoke.
“You were here with Mr. Cottingham the whole evening?”
“What were you doing?”
“Mr. Cottingham liked having company. His son is always working, so he spent most of his time alone.”
“Working?” Lamont looked around. “From the looks of this house, he doesn’t need work.”
Wellington shook his head. “No, not necessarily. Mr. Cottingham is well off, but he has been very stringent with his wealth.”
“Fine,” Lamont said. “Please sign this statement and you can be on your way.”
Wellington nodded, signing the paper. He then left the room.
One of the detectives looked at Cardona and Lamont. “I guess that’s all.”
“No,” Lamont said, handing the statement to Cardona. “Bring in Mr. Cottingham’s son for further questioning… and arrest Wellington for murder!”
HOW DID THE SHADOW KNOW THAT WELLINGTON WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR MR. COTTINGHAM’S DEATH?
The black streaks on Mr. Cottingham’s fingertips were ink. The shock from reading the contents of the letter killed Mr. Cottingham. The letter was written by Wellington, which Lamont confirmed by comparing the handwriting on the letter to Mr. Wellington’s signature. The Shadow knows!