Crime in Record Time

By Hy Conrad

Sherman tossed and turned, unable to sleep. Part of the reason might have been the strange envi­ronment. He was spending the weekend in the country with Howard and Joey Myers, two bachelor brothers who owned a local restaurant.

Part of the reason might have been the lumpy sofa bed in the living room that Sherman was forced to sleep on. Or maybe it was the early bedtime. A passing storm had knocked out the electricity, and after a few candlelit hands of gin, everyone gave up and headed off to bed.

But Sherman was convinced it was his sixth sense that was keeping him up. The only other guest was Howard’s fiancée, Eliza, who’d spent the day flirting with Joey, the younger, more attractive brother. Given the Myers family temper, it was a surefire recipe for disaster.

Sherman was jolted awake when the electricity returned. The TV began to blare and a digital clock on the end table flashed back to life. He fumbled for the remote and punched off the TV.  A second later he saw a shadow tiptoeing across the living room.

“What time is it?” Sherman mumbled.

The shadow was Joey, and he checked his watch. “It’s 11:30. Go to sleep. I’m driving back to the city. It’s too uncomfortable with Eliza acting the way she is.”

“Good idea,” Sherman agreed. From the discomfort of the sofa bed, he watched as Joey went out the front screen door, got into his car and drove down the long winding driveway.

Sherman must have finally dozed off, for the next thing he knew it was daylight and Howard’s bedroom door was knocking into the sofa. “I’m going to need you to fold that up so I can get out,” Howard said from behind the door.

Sherman did as he was told, getting out of bed, folding it up and lying about what a good night’s sleep he’d had.

The two men went into the kitchen to make coffee and chat. It was a few minutes later when they discovered that not only was Joey gone, but so was Eliza. Howard immediately suspected the worst.

“They’ve run off together,” he snarled.

But that wasn’t true. Eliza was still around. Her bludg­eoned body lay on the railroad tracks that bordered the north side of the Myers property.

The county police responded to their emergency call. While Howard collapsed in the gazebo, stunned by the tragedy, Sherman explained as much as he could to the officer in charge. He was more than a little surprised when Gunther Wilson drove up.

This isn’t your jurisdiction,” Sherman said as the two shook hands.

“I’m here as a friend,” Wilson explained. “Sherman, you’re a suspect.”

“Me?” He was outraged at the thought.

“Yes, you. According to what you told the police, it can’t be Howard.”

“True,” Sherman agreed. “He couldn’t get out of his room last night, not without moving the sofa bed. The windows in his room are painted shut, so there’s no other way out.”

“And it can’t be Joey.”

“True. Eliza’s body was on the tracks. And since she wasn’t run over by the 11:45 night train, we know she was killed after 11:45, after Joey drove off alone. But maybe Joey drove to the tracks where Eliza was already waiting.”

“No,” Wilson said. “The storm left a nice patch of mud on the driveway, perfect for tire tracks. One car drove off the property, with no detours.”

“Leaving me as the prime suspect,” Sherman moaned.

Sherman and Wilson walked back into the house.

“Is that the correct time?” Sherman asked. He was pointing to the clock on the end table. “Is it eleven a.m. already?”

Wilson checked his watch. “A few minutes after eleven. Why?”

“I think I solved this crime in record time—so to speak.”

Who killed Eliza?

How did the killer give himself an alibi?



The sergeant seemed confused. “What do you mean, record time? You’ve solved plenty of crimes faster than this.”

“It’s a pun, Wilson. I was referring to time itself—or, more accurately, a clock.” Sherman pointed to the digital clock on the end table. “During the storm last night, the power went off. When it came back on, what do you suppose happened to this clock?”

Wilson shrugged. “It’s a digital clock. I suppose it reset itself at twelve midnight. That’s what my clocks do.”

“Right. And yet this clock is only a few minutes off. I didn’t reset it to the correct time.”

“What about Howard?”

“After we found the body, he collapsed in the gazebo. I don’t think he went around the house resetting clocks. The logical explanation is that the power went back on just around midnight.”

“That’s not what you told the cops.”

“I told them what Joey told me, that it was 11:30 when the power went on and he drove off. But that was a lie. It was really around midnight, which gave Joey enough time to kill Eliza after the 11:45 train passed by.”