Postgraduate Murder

By Hy Conrad

The time of death was firmly established. At 10:06 P.M. all three suspects said they heard a gunshot echo through the house. The house was shared by four graduate students; three, if you no longer counted Harry Harris, the victim who lay in his second-story bedroom, a bullet in his chest.

Harry, it seemed, had been a ladies’ man. He had even bragged about seducing the girlfriend of one of his housemates. Unfortunately, the police didn’t know which one. They separated the three remaining housemates and interviewed each one.

“I was working on my car,” Bill Mayer insisted. “I plugged an extension cord into an outlet behind the house. Then I took a work light around to the side driveway, in front of the garage. When I heard the gunshot, it took me a second to realize it came from the house. Then I ran inside.”

The second suspect entered the room with a noticeable limp. “I had just come home,” explained Sonny Sorriso. “I parked in the alley behind the house. I was walking up to the back door when I tripped hard over some cord. I fell down, then just sat there, nursing my ankle. Maybe two minutes later came the gunshot. That got me moving.”

The third suspect claimed that he had just come down to the kitchen. “I was starting to scoop out a bowl of ice cream,” said Glen Gouly. “Then I heard a noise out back. I looked out, but it was dark. I went back to my ice cream. A couple minutes later I heard the shot.”

The detectives circled the house. In the kitchen, they found a melted bowl of ice cream on the counter by the refrigerator. In the backyard, they saw an orange extension cord with a bent prong that had been ripped from an outdoor socket. Following the extension cord around, they found Bill Mayer’s car in front of the garage, the work light suspended over the open hood.

“It’s pretty clear who’s lying,” the chief detective mumbled.


The noise that Glen heard out back supports Sonny’s story of coming home a few minutes before the murder and tripping over something. The torn-out extension cord and the bent prong also support Sonny’s story. But, if Sonny’s fall pulled the cord out of the outlet, then Bill Mayer would have found himself suddenly in the dark.

Why didn’t Bill mention the failure of his work light? Simple—he didn’t know about it. At that moment, he was already sneaking upstairs, intent on shooting Harry Harris, the friend who had seduced his girl.