“All The Live Long Day.” Flash Fiction Draw Challenge Story by Jeff Baker for October 10th, 2022.

Here’s my story, based on the prompts of a Crime Drama, set in a Law Office involving a Railroad Tie. I set my lawyer-detectives Musselman and Pearce to work on the case! —–jeff

All the Live Long Day

by Jeff Baker

The Law Firm of Musselman and Pearce usually didn’t handle murder cases, but this one was different. For openers, all the people involved were dead. For another, the case had taken place 76 years ago in 1945. Musselman and Pearce were lawyers, not detectives but they would be be researching a case and would be paid well. Really well. They had the world’s smallest law office but still had to pay rent.

Abraham Bendix had been accused of killing his foreman in the old railroad yard in January of 1945. Someone had swung a heavy railroad tie and hit Smith on the side of the head. The trial had taken place months later. He was acquitted, but now his grandniece wanted to find out who really killed his foreman, Smith. Bendix had gone to his grave with people whispering behind his back.

It took a while but Musselman and Pearce found some letters and documents testifying to definite animosity between Smith and Bendix. None of it was reason to convict anybody. One of the notes, however, was about the railroad tie.

In their cramped law office, Pearce explained his findings.

“One of the women who worked in the office had mentioned that a discarded tie was sticking up out of the ground like a fence post and might be dangerous. Why she wasn’t called to testify I do not know. We were unable to find anybody living who had been at the trial, let alone who had known the suspect or the victim.”

Belford, Kansas had been a small town during the war, not even a post office, but the railroad yard was just outside of town. It served Millington more than Belford, but it was in Belford’s jurisdiction.

The facts were these: On the night of January 11th, 1945, Abraham Bendix had had dinner at his usual diner and supposedly gone home. The next morning, Smith was found dead. It was cold and there were no footprints in the hard ground around the body but somebody remembered Smith saying he had to inspect something in the yard. He was found laying by a large, wooden railroad tie which was laying there half buried in the ground, but was laying on its side like a railroad tie is supposed to.

Musselman and Pearce had checked the weather for that week. Bitter cold. But it hadn’t sleeted, rained or snowed.

Smith could have fallen, but had he?

The secretary’s note had been found in an old, abandoned desk in one of the yard’s old buildings, along with a receipt from January 17th of that year for ice.

Here’s how they pieced it together; Bendix had lured Smith out there in the dark, scattered ice from a freezer bag and had arranged for him to slip and bang his head on the tie that was standing there in the dark. It looked for all the world like someone had slammed him with the tie instead of the other way around. A tie that he could never have picked up. Bendix had simply kicked the tie over so it looked like it way laying there.

“So, why hadn’t the cops figured it out, Pearce?” Musselman asked me.

“The war was still on, remember?” I said. “Police officers were considered as serving their country, but most of the able-bodied young men in the area had joined up to fight. Remember, Belford was still very much a small town and the local police had been on the force for about thirty years and had probably never come up against anything like this before.”

I sighed. “Now comes the hard part…telling Abraham Bendix’s grandniece that he really DID commit murder. But in a very clever way.”

“But what happened to Carstairs, the secretary?” Musselman asked.

I smiled. “Don’t you know? She ran off with Bendix.”

—end—

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This entry was posted in crime, Fiction, Monthly Flash Fiction Draw Challenge, Musselman and Pearce, Mystery, Short-Stories. Bookmark the permalink.

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