Archie’s Christmas Surprise

By Hy Conrad

“Mr. Granger?” The secretary tried to speak calmly into the receiver. “This is Emily. Could you come down to the nineteenth floor? It’s sort of an emergency.”

Emily hung up. It was an emergency, all right. Archie Tatum, their chief financial officer, was in his office, hanging by a rope from an extremely strong light fixture. He had been like this when Hank, his assistant, came to work. Hank was used to seeing him in the office before anyone else, but not like this. Hank had waited for Emily to arrive. She’d know what to do.

Emily’s reaction had been cool. “What a horrible thing—and on the last work day before Christmas! Call the police. I’ll get Mr. Granger down here.”

From the moment Gene Granger stepped out of the elevator, he was enmeshed in damage control. As president of Granger Productions, he had to break the news to the rest of the company and then deal with the press, the police, and Archie’s family.

Granger didn’t even think about returning to the twentieth floor until Emily reminded him at 5 P.M. “The Christmas party upstairs, Mr. Granger. People won’t stay long, but I think everyone could use a little comfort.”

Several employees were already gathered as Granger unlocked the door of his private conference room. A Christmas tree was in the corner, with a colorful jumble of presents under its branches. Emily crossed to the bar and immediately began serving. Despite the alcohol, the mood remained somber. Granger handed out a personally chosen gift to each worker, from the secretaries to the executive vice-president.

Hank was one of the last to leave. He took one final look at the empty floor under the tree, then turned to join his fiancée.

“What could have driven Archie to suicide?” his fiancée wondered. “Emily says he’d been very worried about company finances. You don’t suppose that maybe he was embezzling . . .”

‘Archie didn’t kill himself,” Hank responded. He was murdered. And I know who did it.”



Gene Granger supposedly did not hear about the suicide until he arrived on the nineteenth floor. And yet, when Granger unlocked the door to his conference room, there was no Christmas present waiting under the tree for Archie. Granger had personally selected presents for all of his employees—all except the man he killed, the man he knew would be dead. There was no other way to explain the oversight.

Hank notified the police, who soon uncovered Granger’s massive embezzlement.