It all started on a rainy morning when Govind was clacking away on his old desktop resting beside the closed window. Listening to the symphony of him blogging on his mechanical keyboard, I served hot upma in two bowls when we heard a knock on the door. Continuing to work, Govind guessed, “That could be the Inspector.”
As much as I wanted him to answer the door, I knew I wouldn’t succeed in convincing him. So, I attended it and as expected, the Inspector stood before me, panting. The obese man in his fifties was always bothered by the fact that one had to walk all the way up to the third floor to come to Govind’s apartment due to the absence of a lift. So, he always sent one of his subordinates to inform the detective.
However, this case seemed to be important. So much so that he not only took the effort but also rushed over. When I greeted him, “Good morning, Inspector!” he just smiled looking at me before shouting at Govind, “You must… come with me.”
Govind looked at him for a moment before asking, “How close-by is the crime scene?”
“I’m all yours to interrogate while we are on our way, Govind! But now, we must rush.” replied the Inspector.
Govind chuckled, as he stood up. Leaving his work, he approached the Inspector in his nightclothes before tapping on his shoulder and both of them started out without saying a word. With a heavy sigh, I locked up and followed them. It made me wonder if my presence was even felt.
We crossed the nearly empty street and briskly walked a few blocks under the light showers to reach a three-storey building with an ambulance, two police cars and two local reporters along with a couple of neighbourhood people behind the red tape at the entrance.
Passing by them, we heard their whispers, that possibly predicated every use case that could have happened. As we ascended the stairs, Govind asked, “At least now can you tell me what happened?”
Following the detective, the Inspector explained, “The housemaid called us saying her employer confessed to shooting his wife for cheating on him. We took him into our custody and he is now claiming that he didn’t kill her and the cherry on top of the case is that the killer himself is the one who hired you to solve his case.”
Intrigued, I asked, “If he killed her, how could he be innocent?”
With a smile on his face, Govind entered the room followed by the two of us. We looked at the woman lying dead on the couch in her nightgown shot in her stomach. Before her was a doctor at a distance waiting for the forensic team. On the other end of the room, the housemaid was giving her statement to the policemen and the house was in a mess. The quarrel that they had the previous night might have gone a bit too far and I presumed that her husband attacked her in the heat of the moment.
Examining the body covered in sweat, Govind turned to the doctor to ask, “Was the lady sick before her death, doctor?”
Noticing the doctor nod, Govind exclaimed, “Are you waiting for the forensic team?”
As the doctor replied, “Yes”, Govind walked towards the Inspector to remark, “I think we need a postmortem and the forensic team. I think the doctor already guessed it and I agree with him as to what might have possibly happened, my friend.”
Knowing for sure that he wouldn’t explain his deductions yet, I pulled out my pocket notepad and asked the husband, “So can you tell us what happened again, sir?”
“I have already told the police and I am saying it again! Although I shot her, I didn’t kill her!” exclaimed the husband.
Confused, I asked, “What do you mean?”
Defending himself, he instantly replied, “I was the one who shot but...”
For a moment he paused and I asked, “Then, aren’t you guilty?”
“Sir! I beg you to please listen to me. I recently got to know, through a private investigator, that my wife was cheating on me and for about two days I didn’t know how to confront her. However, yesterday, I noticed a hickey on her neck and that pushed me over the edge. She was already feeling uncomfortable when we quarrelled and she walked out of the bedroom with her blankets and I left her alone. That night, I slept fitfully for a while and woke up after a bad dream about my wife. I could not control my anger about being betrayed by her and my friend. In the heat of the moment, I took my gun and shot her at midnight. However, as far as I remember, even after being hit by the bullet right in the stomach, she did not react. She was lying on the couch silent. So, even though I was the one who shot her, it was not me who killed her as she was already dead when I shot her.”
Confused, I inquired, “Do you mean she was dead by the time you shot her?”
Before he even answered, Govind took a deep breath and said, “Probably yes.”
Glancing at the doctor for a moment, Govind continued, “Well, turns out, though the husband is the one who wanted to kill his wife, he was not the one who did it. He shot her exactly in her stomach so that means if she was alive, she would have cried in pain. However, as stated, nothing happened. Considering her temperature, sweating and presuming organ failures, an idea would be that she was poisoned by ricin, a poison made out of castor leftovers. So I would suggest if the theory is validated, the Inspector should at once go and catch the lady’s lover to not just arrest him but inquire as to how many more bodies he hides under his rug.”
Turning towards the husband, Govind said, “Please drop my fee in the form of a cheque in my mailbox by tomorrow and good luck in the court when you are pinned down for your intent to kill.”
As we were about to leave, the Inspector asked, “So, do you know the identity of this man?” and the husband replied, “Who said it was a he?”