Inspector Smith-Jones looked down at her feet. She sighed. Size 43 boots. Ever since she was a little girl her feet had been a problem. What had the specialists called it? Supermegapodiatry, that was the loathsome terminiology. The other kids had called her SuperMeg. These monstrous feet had been following her around her entire life, hounding her. No matter where she went, there they were. Another sigh. Well, everybody had their cross to bear.
“I’m sure you’re familiar with those popular films, ‘Lord of the Rings,” she finally said.
“Lord of the Rings? Of course - those fantasy movies with all those weird creatures and what-not.”
“That’s right. You might remember that there were dwarves featured in that film. Well, the director, Peter Jackson, is a real stickler for details. So he hired several real dwarves as consultants, to, you know, add authenticity to the film. Clive was the assistant to the head of the dwarf division.”
“I didn’t know that. I’ve been out of touch for years. I’ve been abroad.”
“Then you also couldn’t know that Gideon Stone, Head Dwarf, befriended Clive; he became his mentor. The two were inseparable, two peas in a pod. It went so far that Gideon re-wrote his will, making Clive the sole inheritor of his rolling estate in Northumberland. As you might imagine, that didn’t sit too well with everybody. What I’m now going to tell you is, at this point, confidential information. I didn’t say it, and you didn’t hear it, is that clear?”
“I’m not so sure I want to hear it. I’ve got a lot on my mind just now,” Joe said. He felt himself sliding further down the hill, closer to an opening abyss.
“Oh, you want to hear this, my friend. Because at the very last moment, the name on Stone’s will was changed. Clive was removed and your mother’s name written in. Yes, your mother had become Gideon Stone’s secret lover.”
“What? No, this can’t be!”
“Yes, and what’s more, two days after the will was changed, Gideon Stone was found murdered, shot fifteen times in the heart with a .44 Magnum.”
“Do you think Clive . . .”
“No, Clive had a solid alibi. And anyway, he loved Stone as his own father. Who shot Gideon Stone? I thought that should be pretty obvious by now. But perhaps even more interesting for you is Clive’s alibi. He couldn’t have killed Stone. Joe, I just lied to you about that horrid painting. I thought I had to. That painting is Clive’s alibi. It’s part of the will. You see, on the night Stone was murdered, Clive was . . .