Sunday, May 29, 2011

Do It Yourself Mystery - Started by Morgan Mandel - Finished by?

We've done this before, but called it a Progressive Mystery, as in Progressive Dinners. This time I'm calling it a Do It Yourself Mystery, since a few people thought we were being political, though we were collaborating on putting together a mystery.

I'll start it off. It's up to everyone out there to move the mystery along. We have a week for it to reach some kind of conclusion, crazy or not. It's up to you, our commenters, where the story will land.

Please extend the story in the comment section.

Here's the beginning:

Wendy hated going down to the basement to do the clothes, but unfortunately that's where her washer and dryer were. 

The worst time was at night, when every creak in the house sounded like footsteps.

Why had she forgotten to take out the clothes earlier? She reached into the dryer and pulled out a towel.


Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

When she pulled it out she was horrified to see that it was covered with blood.

Mark Troy said...

She screamed, dropped it quickly, and backed away. She looked around the basement, but saw no one else. The table where she sorted the clothes, the shelves that held the laundry supplies, all were exactly as she remembered when she loaded the dryer earlier in the day. All that had changed was the bloody towel hanging half-in and half-out of the dryer.

Was it really blood? Could she have had a magic marker or a red pen in a pocket that had leaked? No, this was a load of sheets and towels so that couldn't be.

Then how did the blood get there? Wendy considered running upstairs to her phone to call the police. But what would she say?

"Officer, I have a bloody towel."
"Are you bleeding?"
"It's not your blood?"
"Is it your towel?"
"i don't know. It's in my dryer. I think somebody else put it there."
"Somebody broke into your house to do their laundry?"
"I don't know. There's nobody here."
"Are you in danger?"
"I don't think so."
"Lady, if you're not in danger, we can't help you. If somebody is bleeding, you should call an ambulance."

Wendy realized she would have to find out more before she could call the police or the ambulance.

She reached down and gingerly grabbed a corner of the towel without blood. She tugged, but the towel wouldn't come. It was caught on something. She didn't want to reach into the dryer where there might be more blood, so she tugged harder.

This time it came out. Along with it came a severed hand, the fingers clenched in rigor around the other end of the towel.

Nancy DeMarco said...

She tried to scream, but as she threw the towel to the floor her throat closed and she retched into the sink. Wendy shut her eyes as towel and hand left a smear across the cement at her feet.

I'm dreanming! This can't be real! I shouldn't have had vodka with dinner. What was I thinking? I can't drink! Just because Justin didn't come home for dinner. . .

She opened her eyes and crept toward the towel. There's no hand, there's no hand, there's no hand, she silently chanted. But when she lifted the corner of the towel, there it was.

The air left her body in a groan when she saw the bunnies. Justin's latest manicure, the perfect accent to the yellow frock he so loved to wear on Wednesdays.

J D Webb said...

She writhed on the floor, gasping for air, trying to make sense of it all. Wait what's that? She inhaled deeply. There. In the corner under an old tarp, a flash of yellow peeked out. No it couldn't be. Justin? She jumped up and ran to the tarp, desperately grabbed one edge of the tarp, and yanking it away. The frock lay bunched around his beautiful body. Oh God no! Justin would never again wear her yellow frock.
Her forehead wrinkled as she gazed at his lifeless body. How would she go on? Life would not be worth living without Justin. She slowly turned and trudged to the stairs.
She reached for the knob and gave it a twist. Nothing. Locked. How could the door be locked? No one else was in the house. Everyone had left earlier in the evening.
She tried the door once more. It wouldn't budge. Jeez, I'm in a nightmare.
Just then she thought she heard a noise. Behind her. The hairs on the nape of her neck stood at attention. She dared not look. The grandfather clock began to chime. She counted each bong. When she got to eleven...

Nancy DeMarco said... stopped. Because it was eleven...

Anonymous said...

Eleven. Sixty minutes before the "witching hour." Sixty minutes before the time of nightmares--frightmares! Yes, frightmares were more like it. Because that was what she'd somehow become caught up in. The real midnight meant nothing because she'd been swallowed up by a different kind of midnight.

In a brief moment of cool clarity, she realized how bizarre and almost absurd her situation was. Here she was, locked in her own basement with Justin's body, a body bereft of one hand. Locked in her own basement even though that was impossible because she was the sole occupant of the house. Well, sole living occupant.

It was a mystery--a locked-room mystery. Except that the ones she'd read about in fictional detective stories all involved murders committed in rooms sealed from the inside from which there was apparently no way for a killer to exit. Yet here she was inside a locked room....Wait!

She drew in a breath audibly.

Did this mean she was also going to be a victim? Was Justin's killer still here in the basement with her? Would someone eventually find two bodies in a locked basement and conclude that they were the result of a murder-suicide?

Another audible breath as she worried that the killer might know about the kink she shared with Justin, that he might create a tableau in death of them making love, Wendy naked saved for a spiked collar, Justin in his yellow frock, one hand on her hip, his severed hand...where?

Nancy DeMarco said...

Wait! How many pills had she downed? What else had she taken? Why couldn't she remember?

She flung her hands over her eyes and wept. Something bumped against her neck, repeatedly, something with the cool feel of metal, swinging like a stone on a string. She peeked through her lashes, shaking harder than she thought possible.

A bloody handcuff dangled from her wrist.


It came to her in a flash. She and Justin cuffed together, laughing and falling down drunk, stoned and sweaty in each other's arms. He was magnificent, the yellow crepe warm against his bronze skin, the full skirt entwined with their thighs.

And he'd said, "I threw away the key. There's no way you can get away from me. Ever. You're mine..."

Paul McDermott said...

Suddenly, Janet knew what she had to do. She turned to Justin with a withering expression of scorn on her face and screamed:
"Justin Thyme, you're a fraud, a fake, a freak of nature! You wasted your time throwing away the key: you couldn't hold a tune in a paper bag, so the key isn't important!"
" 'Mine' you say? Or as you used to say, 'Be mine'? No, I say! Never! I say to you, 'B minor' ...
Brad will help me escape, and you will be banished to Transsexual Transylvania forever"
[cue background music, "Let's Do the Time Warp Again"]

Morgan Mandel said...

Her brave words were only a front. How could Brad possibly know she needed help, or even could tell where she was? It's not as if he'd break in through the door. He was too polite for that.

J D Webb said...

Finally she knew what she had to do. With a flip of her glorious hair, she gave a final glance at Justin and -- Threw in the towel.

Helen Ginger said...

She set the washer to hot and added bleach. She watched the suds build and foam, then closed the lid. Justin was dead. She was trapped in the basement with his body and had a handcuff dangling from her wrist. She had to get out of here, but couldn't do that alone. She needed help, someone to lend her a hand. Oh wait. She had a hand. In the washer. She smiled. Things were looking up.

Nancy DeMarco said...

With terror at bay and her head clear, an idea came to her. The bulkhead. True, she hadn't used it in years. Wendy couldn't stand the feel of spiderwebs trailing sticky fingers over her hair and face, clinging like a drunken ex-boyfriend to her sleeves. But if she wanted her freedom, she'd have to try.

If only she had vodka.

She opened the door to the narrow passageway and reached over her head through syrupy strands for the pull chain. Something skittered across her hand, and she made an odd little yipping sound, so much like the poodle she'd bought Justin for his birthday only two weeks ago.

With trembling hands she gripped the chain and pulled. The light didn't come on, but something dropped over her head and tightened around her throat.

Bob Sanchez said...

She hoped she was caught in the middle of a bad story, you know, where she wakes up at the end and learns that it was all just a dream.

Just then her cell phone rang. "Hi Wendy, it's Justin. How you doing, babe?"

"For the last time, my name is Janet. But I thought you were--" She thought he was in rinse cycle.

"Whatever, babe. Listen, I know it's late, but somebody's hung me out to dry. Would you mind lending me a hand?"

J D Webb said...

"A hand?" She watched the handcuff swinging from her arm. The hand on the end clawed the air. "You must be joking. Where are you?"
"Right behind you, babe. Trying to take all this in. Why did you try to kill me?"
"Try? I thought you were dead. You weren't breathing."
"Dead men don't need to breathe. Now it's my turn. You should have just gotten into the car and took off earlier today, when we had that little tiff."
"Tiff? You broke my $1200 Ming and slapped me so hard I lost a tooth. That's not a tiff." Janet sneaked a quick peak at the body. Well, at least where the body had been. What the? Where's...