The Suicidal House Guest

By Hy Conrad

Doctor Paul Yancy tiptoed out of the sickroom, closing the door behind him. “Uncle Ben needs peace and quiet,” he told his brother and sister-in-law. “The flu has left him weak and depressed. But the old man should make a full recovery.”

Suicidal House Guest“Thank goodness,” replied Fritz with as much sincerity as he could muster. Uncle Ben had been staying with them ever since he got sick two weeks earlier. Every day Fritz had to remind himself of the 30 million good reasons why he and Caroline had to be hospitable to the cantankerous old man.

“Call me if he gets worse,” Paul said as he left the house.

“Why can’t Paul take Uncle Ben in?” Caroline whined, not for the first time.

“Very simple,” Fritz explained again. “The nicer we are to the old buzzard, the more he’ll leave us in his will.”

A minute later, they heard the television go on in their uncle’s ground-floor room. At least when he’s watching TV, he’s not making demands,” Caroline sighed.

They listened as Uncle Ben channel-surfed for a few minutes, then switched off the set. An hour later, Caroline brought in his lunch on a tray. That’s when they found Uncle Ben dead, a half-empty glass of water on his nightstand along with a completely empty bottle of liquid sleeping drops.

As the body was removed, Officer Warren inspected the room. It seemed to have every convenience for a bedridden man. He counted all the electronic or battery-operated devices: the TV set mounted in a ceiling corner, the radio/CD player within easy reach, the portable phone, the remote control for the blinds, an intercom, and, last but not least, the remote control to adjust the adjustable bed.

“According to the medical examiner, the overdose killed him in just a few minutes,” a rookie officer informed his superior. “Since the bedroom window was locked from the inside and no one was seen entering the room, I think we can call this a definite suicide.”

“Definite murder,” Officer Warren countered.



When Officer Warren counted off all the electronic or battery-powered devices, the one that he did not find was a TV remote control. It would have been impossible for a bedridden man to operate a ceiling-mounted TV without a remote control.
The last person claiming to see the victim alive was Dr. Yancy. Officer Warren theorized that the doctor killed his uncle before exiting the bedroom. He then took the remote control, left the house, and sneaked around to Uncle Ben’s window. By using the remote from outside the locked window, Dr. Yancy was able to give the impression that Uncle Ben was still alive.