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The Bet
By Ann


"I don't get it. Explain to me one more time what this letter has to do with anything?" Ash asked her partner as she once again scanned the rather lengthy missive.

Trying desperately to maintain her composure, Scribbs replied, "I believe the victim knew she was going to be murdered, and she left clues behind in this letter when she composed it. Look closely at the second paragraph. Notice how she mentions how the neighbor, Mr. Wellington, seems to have an obsession with her."

"You've got to be kidding. This is pure fiction, Scribbs. She had to be imagining the whole episode with him watching her as she did her aerobics. I mean, really, the woman weighed well over 225 kilos; I hardly think she would be able to last one minute doing any type of exercise," Ash explained, looking at her assistant as if she'd lost her mind.

"So what you're implying is that this letter is smoke and mirrors and only serves to obfuscate the perceived truth by recording false information?" Scribbs raised an eyebrow in question.

Smiling, Ash replied, "Wow, Scribbs. I'm truly impressed with your newly found vocabulary, but what I'm saying is that we shouldn't rely on this letter to find the real killer."

"And what do you propose we rely on? There's no other piece of evidence in this room," Scribbs pointed out in a condescending tone.

"What about the flowers we found by the body?" Ash folded her arms across her chest, ready to defend her theory to the other detective.

Clearly poised for a fight, Scribbs responded, "You think the flowers killed her? Hmm, murder by flowers. Now, why didn't I think of that? Bloody brilliant Ash, you've solved the case single handedly. I'll go phone the boss now."

"Don't be so cheeky, Scribbs. Besides, you don't have time to call the boss; you've got that ninety-five year old neighbor to interview. You know the one that allegedly watched Ms. Arendale doing her aerobics in the nude. I would think the poor man would have suffered a heart attack from the shock of seeing such a huge expanse of exposed flesh," Ash countered with a heavy dose of sarcasm.

"He may be old, but he's still capable of stabbing Ms. Arendale," a stubborn Scribbs explained as they watched the coroner and his assistant struggling to wheel the deceased from the room, only to stop at the front door when they realized that they had a real problem.

"Um, Inspector? How would you like us to proceed?" The coroner addressed Ash with the problem of removing the victim from the premises.

The detective inspector made her way over to the gurney and glanced back and forth from the body to the door. Turning to the two men, Ash explained, "I'll get two of the officers to remove the door from the facing. That should give you enough clearance to get the body through."

Several minutes later, the door was removed, and the body just made it through the slightly enlarged opening. Dusting her hands off, Ash turned her attention back to Scribbs.

"So, you were saying? Oh yes, your theory is that the geriatric, arthritic neighbor snuck up behind Ms. Arendale, somehow managed to reach around his bulky walker and her rather large body, and stabbed her in a fit of jealousy," Ash recounted to her partner.

"It could happen, Ash. Who's to say Mr. Wellington isn't capable of extraordinary feats when he's caught up in a jealous rage?"

Motioning her partner to the door, Ash pointed to where the elderly man was being interviewed by the deputy police chief. "Scribbs, if that man were to suddenly be able to pull off your proposed stunt, I would classify the feat as nothing short of a miracle."

"Let's just wait and see what the coroner finds. Care to make a little wager on the side?" Scribbs proposed to the detective inspector.

"You mean, if you're right, you decide the terms of the bet, and if I'm right, I decide?"

Smiling, Scribbs nodded her head in assent and immediately stuck her hand out to her partner. Ash quickly grabbed the extended hand and shook it vigorously, sealing the deal, and neither woman seemed to mind when the other held on longer than was absolutely necessary.

Back at headquarters, both women worked on their report while they awaited the call from the coroner. Two hours later, Ash answered the ringing phone and promised, "We'll be right there." Grabbing her coat, she strode from the office with Scribbs hot on her tail.

The coroner reported his findings to the detectives in his usual manner, long and drawn out. An antsy Scribbs listened to the doctor drone on and on for several minutes before she finally blurted, "Get on with it, man. How did the woman die?"

Clearly upset with the detective's brusque manner, the coroner reluctantly answered her question, but he made sure to use as many confusing medical terms as possible. When he had finished his report, Scribbs was no wiser to the cause of death than she had been when she first walked onto the crime scene.

As she opened her mouth to inform the doctor exactly what he could do with his report, Ash beat her to the punch, only it appeared that Ash completely understood what the coroner had just said.

"So, what you are saying is that the ingestion of the flower petals was contemporaneous with the stabbing?"

Smiling at the tall inspector, the coroner replied, "Not exactly. I can't prove it, but the petals had to have been consumed first which would've caused her disoriented state. If she had the knife in her hand when the toxins from the flower entered her bloodstream, I believe she could've easily fallen on it when she lost consciousness. In fact, I'm almost certain the chain of events occurred exactly in that order."

"What?" Scribbs asked, finally understanding the gist of the conversation.

"Ms. Arendale, for some reason or another, ate several of the flowers, which the good doctor here, has found to be extremely poisonous," Ash gloated to her partner.

Turning her attention back to the coroner, Scribbs questioned, "What about the knife?"

"It perforated her heart. Death was instantaneous," the coroner explained as he was interrupted by one of his assistants calling him to the phone. Excusing himself, the doctor left the two women standing in the corridor; one smiling broadly and the other obviously confused.

"I win, Scribbs," the grinning woman rejoiced, immediately making plans to finally act on the mutual attraction that had been escalating over the past month.

Shaking her head, Scribbs countered, "Wait just a minute, Ash. The doctor said the knife actually killed the woman, so even though Mr. Wellington seems to be in the clear, the flowers didn't kill her either."

"But they would have. Didn't you listen to the any of the report? The coroner said she would have been dead within fifteen minutes; it wouldn't have mattered if she fell on the knife, she would have died anyway," Ash happily explained, having already decided on a quaint cottage hours from the city.

"Should of, would of, could of. It doesn't make any difference, Ash. The knife was the cause of death so I win on a technicality," Scribbs replied with a smile.

Walking toward the exit, Ash offered, "No, you said Mr. Wellington killed the woman. Granted, the knife was the initial cause of death, but without the flowers, she would have never fallen on it in the first place."

The swinging doors closed behind the two bickering women as they continued to argue about the earlier bet; neither realizing it was all a moot point. Each had already planned the entire weekend in their own mind, the only difference being the location for the romantic getaway.

The End

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