Act 4

"What?!" Heather gasped, "YOU figured it out?"

Farra was standing in the front door, about to announce the murderer.

"Yes, I do," Farra insisted, repeating every word I say to her through the earpiece, "Let's recap what we have learned…"

And she did, out of my words:

"At 2:00pm, Brendan and I were busy finishing up the final preparations for our party together. At 2:15, Brendan called Mr. Edward Lancaster, minutes before he left for an emergency shift. Around 4:00, he left to get some drinks for us, but not after he visited Audrey Lancaster. At 5 on the dot, my friends arrived and I let them in, in which Brendan came back to the house, ten minutes later. Ten minutes after that, we had the grand tour of our homes. We even put away my friends' briefcases, which Steven and Percival placed with me, while Heather, Brendan, and Peter were at the garage. By 5:45, Brendan popped the question on me and we kissed, leaving Percival, Steven, and Peter to leave in their respective spots: The garage, the bathroom, and the kitchen. Steven saw a glimpse of Percival, having a cigarette in our garage. At 6:15, Heather was sleeping in her guest room; while fifteen minutes later, the food arrived for all of us. 6:45, Heather wakes up and went outside to bask in the dusky air; she noticed Mrs. Lancaster, who was waiting for her husband to come home. Heather went back inside at 7pm. 7:40, Big Guy and Big Loser here began bickering, leading to an altercation in the garage. Luckily, we broke it up. By 7:50, Brendan told the story of how his parents were killed in a car accident, and how he and Mr. Lancaster were not-so-good neighbors. Of course, their neighborly fashion came to an end, when at 7:55, he was found dead with five puncture wounds on his back from inside the tool shed. He was already stiffened by rigor mortis at around 5pm to 8pm."

Farra then placed some earlier clues on the side table: the cigarette butt, Lancaster's business card, and the bloodied knife.

"These items here are clues to the murder that happened," she continued, "The cigarette butt was Percival's, in which he was smoking in the garage, to which I distinctively said not to; but he grew concerned about a possible blood puddle and its scent, behind the tool shed. The business card Peter found has a trace of blood on the back, already dried up. It was possible that someone placed it on his bed, after he was killed. Also, the knife was a dead giveaway; Heather found it in her bed, when she was slouching around in her bed, during a hunt for the murder weapon. You can tell it is, by seeing the blood specs on the stainless steel blade."

"So, that thing is the murder weapon?" Brendan asked, "That's one of our knives!"

"Correction, it was." Farra added, placing a similar knife by it.

"THAT?!" Steven gasped, "They looked the same!"

"Exactly! This knife that's not covered in blood is ours; Peter and I found it in the sink, which was the exact same size. The knife in question belongs to someone else! When Peter was in the kitchen, he found one of the knives was missing. It was the third one on the right. This led to Heather finding the murder weapon in her bed."

She then pointed at all of them and cried, "Which brings me to this revelation: The murderer is… here in this very room!"

In my guest room, I listened in as Farra was talking. I made sure that everything was going well. However, I had a stint of regret within me, knowing what I am doing.

"That's nice, Farra, but how can you be so sure?" Steven snuffed, "I mean, sure the murderer is here, but every one of us was absent at the time."

Percival added, "He's right… for once. Every one of us, except you, was there. We saw how it happened. You must've jabbed him in the back with said knife."

"Yeah! And incidentally, how would you know about Brendan's private call?" Steven growled.

Farra smirked, "Simple. I snuck up behind him and eavesdropped on his conversation. He was talking to Mr. Lancaster."

"So, that means…" Heather cringed.

"Not yet… there's still more questions that need some resolving; and everyone must follow me," Farra stated, as she ordered the others to the garage.

At the garage, Farra showed the body, which was still under the tarp.

"As you can see, Mr. Edward Lancaster, the victim, was found dead inside the red tool shed. But you'll notice that he has five puncture wounds on him."

"Incredible," Steven grinned, "So, what happened next?"

"Then after we learned that blood was placed all around the area there," she continued, pointing at where the puddle of blood was, "The murderer wiped off any sight of blood to lose the trail. But thanks of Peter's sense of smell, we would've never find the body. And thanks to Percival's luminol, we NOW know that he was killed right here!"

They all gasped.

Farra continued, "In fact, the five puncture wounds were placed there as a diversion; this sets up the real cause of death, as I will show you."

She turned the body over to its face-up position and found a huge cut on his chest. Heather and Brendan gasped in horror.

"So, you can see that the knife there was responsible for its cause of murder," she added, "And we know how: The murderer stabbed him… in the front, not the back!"

She turned to Brendan and asked, "Tell me; what does Mr. Lancaster do with you in your garage?"

"Oh, well, we worked on my Pontiac," he said, "We wanted to help out with the finishing touches."

Farra turned to Percival and asked, "And you, did you happen to see Mr. Lancaster when you arrived?"

"No, not at all," Percival stated.

"Interesting theory, but not good enough yet," Farra remarked, "Now, according to Audrey Lancaster, her husband and Brendan were enemies. He loves loud music, but Edward hates it. At 2:30, Audrey said that this thing was to end when Edward went to see Brendan. Unfortunately, Brendan never met up with him."

"She's right," Brendan said, "I arrived at the garage, but he was nowhere. That's when I saw a puddle of red paint, or in reality, the blood. At first I thought it was, but I wiped it all up. I got sick of waiting for him and decided to talk to his wife."

Farra then stated, "Well, it has been weeks since Mr. Lancaster came by. Were you and him no longer on speaking terms?"

"Well, on occasions; but we did take a break from working together," Brendan replied.

Heather then asked, "How did you know about that?"

"Farra and I were at Mrs. Lancaster's earlier tonight," Steven said, "But she made some horrible discovery about Brendan and his parents."

Farra nodded.

"Well, I suppose we should go to the dining room," she suggested, "Only then we'll solve the remaining clues."

"Why not tell us now?" Percival asked.

Farra replied, "Because, stupid, there's more to the story."

They all left the garage and headed to the dining room. I watched on from a distance and thought that she could be doing the right thing.

"HAH! Steven Cooke will solve this before her!" Steven sneered smugly, "I'll bet I can beat her to the punch and show her that she's a murderer!"

"It's not over yet, my dear Steve," I muttered in silence.

XXXXX

"So, we have concluded that Mr. Lancaster was killed by a knife to the heart," Brendan said, "But what does that have to do with the business card Peter found?"

"It's easy," Farra announced, "You see, Peter found it in his room, where he was searching for the clues with us. Luckily, I found nothing in it in my room."

Steven then boasted, "Then I'll bet you were responsible for planting that evidence to lure away the fact that you did it!"

"Steven, you're such a skeez; but you made a strong point," Farra chuckled.

Steven gasped as Farra continued, "The murderer knew that he/she cannot take the blame. So, he/she did the obvious: planting the evidence in our rooms!"

"But, then," Percival stammered, "The knife was…"

"A decoy," she continued, "But it also counts as the murder weapon."

Steven then stammered, "But, the knife was found in Heather's room, and the card was found in Peter's room. The only thing that could happen is… is…"

"Exactly," Farra said, "Someone, other than me, planted it there: the card in Peter's room, and the knife in Heather's."

"Well, I am impressed," Steven sneered evilly, "But it's gonna take more than that to impress Steven Cooke. When we entered each guest room, you suggested that the room with the big queen size bed is yours. It was next door to Peter's and across the hall towards mine."

He drew a diagram of each room and showed it to everyone.

"See?" He instigated, "In order, from bottom to top, the left side of the room is yours and Brendan's, Peter's, and Percival's; and on the right side, there's my room and Heather's room."

"Let me ask you a question: who placed your friends' luggage in each room?" Farra asked.

"I did," Steven said, "But I moved Peter's and mine."

"I only moved my own and sis's." Percival added.

"And which room is mine and Brendan's?" She asked.

Steven responded, "The one, across the hall to my room, next to Peter's room, which is in the middle. Why do you ask?"

"Well, there something wrong with your revelation," Farra said, "The room Peter was staying… was my room!"

Everyone gasped.

"WHAT? NO! How was I supposed to know? All your rooms were the same!" Steven pleaded.

"Way to go, loser!" Heather jeered.

"SHUSH!" Farra snapped, "The room that was in the middle on the left was my room. Peter's room is located in the area there, across Steven's room. Brendan has been known for blasting indie music every night. He uses every guest room to play, each time, once a night, except the middle one, like it was surround-sound radio."

Steven was exasperated.

Farra continued, "Now, let's review what we have learned; and by review, I mean the newer evidence. 1) The murderer killed Mr. Lancaster in the garage; 2) The murderer hid these items in our guest rooms; and 3) Steven Cooke's brutal stupidity led to finding the one clue out of these three."

She then showed a newer clue, she found in my room. It was a bloody towel.

"I found this clue in my closet (not Peter's), after hunting for the clues," she said, "This towel was used to wipe up the blood from the puddle. However, he didn't throw it away. See for yourself, it has brownish stains on it."

She then tossed it aside and was impatient.

"This leads me to the final solution," she announced, "This person we know of is our murderer. But now, he/she will suffer."

Steven then boasted, "YOU DID IT! YOU KILLED Mr. LANCASTER!!!"

"NO! I did not!" She bellowed, "I was nowhere near the scene, because during that tenure at 3:00pm, I finished the preparations for our get together. At 4:00pm, the same time Brendan left, I was in the shower, getting freshened up."

"WH--, WHAT?!?!?!" He screamed.

"Enough games!" Brendan shouted, "Who killed Edward Lancaster? Was it Heather, Steven, Percival, or me? I know it's not you or Peter, because you're too smart!"

Farra then smirked and said, "I'll be happy to, babe."

At my room, I called out on the microphone, "The person who killed Mr. Edward Lancaster…"

Farra continued, "…and the person who planted all these items to cover his tracks is…"

She suddenly gasped. She covered her mouth and widened her eyes in terror.

"No… it cannot be…"

Farra said nothing. I encouraged her over the speaker.

"You can do this. I believe in you. You're my best friend, no matter what."

She started to tremble as she lifted her hand up.

"Come on, Farra!" Steven boasted, "Who did it?"

"Do it, Farra…" Heather pleaded.

"Today!" Percival snuffed.

She started to whimper.

"The person… is…"

She held her hand up and pointed at the murder.

"The murderer is…"

She screamed with tears in her eyes, the murderer's name:

"BRENDAN THOMSON!!!"

Percival and Steven turned around and saw Brendan in a shocked look.

"You?" Steven gasped, "YOU did it?"

"Impossible! He's erstwhile friends with Mr. Lancaster!" Percival cried.

Farra then sobbed, sans tears, because she was holding it in, "It was an act of revenge!"

"Revenge?" Steven asked, "Why?"

"It must have something to do with the accident five years ago…" Heather said.

"You're right," Farra cringed with her head down, "Steven and I went to see Audrey Lancaster, after we interrogated you, Heather. When we visited, she told us about the accident. Except that most of what Brendan said was true… except the part that killed them."

She then explained what Audrey said to her and Steven earlier:

Audrey placed her tea down and explained the story of the accident to Steven and Farra:

"Five years ago, James and Melanie Thomson were finishing up their party at a local bar. However, they weren't the only ones there. My husband and I were there, also. We had fun together, since we were high school friends. However, Eddie was so angered by his son's constant loud noises, since he moved next door to us. James and Melanie stated that he's been going through a phase, since he is in the basketball team. Brendan was bursting with pride and joy for his Gators. However, something went terribly wrong. Following the party, James and Melanie were driving home, but they ended up in a car crash around the corner of Eastern Street and Mikulski Avenue. They car collided into a giant stoplight. The police came and found the bodies, but they were confirmed as dead and intoxicated. But the real reason behind this was that earlier that night when Edward cut the brakes in their car, leading them to their untimely demise.

At the funeral, we comforted Brendan and told him that it was all an accident. Eddie was giggling a bit, but was sad nonetheless. Brendan didn't let it go down like that. He quit the basketball team, dropped out of college, and went on to work as an auto mechanic, just like Edward."

"I thought Brendan graduated from college," Steven inquired.

"He didn't," Audrey said, "The death of his parents was so traumatizing that he left school altogether. He came to me and talked to me about it."

"Ma'am, I am so sorry," Steven said as he comforted Audrey.

Farra was completely upset.

She continued, "Then when I learned that you had to make a phone call to him, I learned that you wanted revenge on him for killing your parents. So, I heard what you said over the phone, behind your back."

"Hello, Mr. Lancaster, I was wondering if we should talk privately about our differences." Brendan said as he spoke on the phone, while Farra was listening from behind.

Brendan caved in and showed everyone the Swiss Army knife that Edward used to cut the brakes.

"Heather was right. Your motto says all: We do anything," He said, "Especially detective work."

He then approached Farra and showed the knife to her. He placed it down and said, "You're right. I did it, but only because he treated me like dirt. On days when he was home from work, I always blasted the music, just to get at him. But when I bought a new Pontiac, he was nice to me."

He explained the story behind it:

"Edward Lancaster was a nice man towards me, ever since I bought a car. The guy was oozing with repairs. But, one day, he was drinking a tall frosty beer and started to mutter nonsense. I asked him to stay calm and steer clear of the alcohol, but then…"

"Hey, don't feel too bad," Edward Lancaster slurred, "Your parents were angels… and I wasted them away."

"He laughed all drunk like, and I was angered by it. That man had no remorse over what he did. I talked to Mrs. Lancaster about the situation and asked if it were true. She said yes. That was when I knew it was time for what he did to my parents. I called him up to visit and said that we should settle our differences aside. When he arrived I held a Swiss Army knife that Audrey gave me. I showed it to Mr. Lancaster and said that I knew it from your wife. He already said that I was a bad influence, and said that I shouldn't have thrown my future away. But now that he remembered all these years, he felt that he was regretting it, but he never meant it, in my view. He had a knife in his hand and shouted that I'll see my parents again, but when I tried to fend off his attack, I lightly nicked him in the chest. But then I remembered he killed my parents, so…"

Brendan struck the knife into Mr. Lancaster's chest severely. He dropped to the floor, by the shed and work table.

Brendan continued, "The rest was as you said. I jabbed him with the pocket knife, five times in the back, to throw off suspicion. Then I cleaned up the blood and took his business card from his pants pocket. Then I faked my way into getting the drinks in my personal cooler and stuffed them in the bags. Then I left to the guest rooms, while you were in the shower. I hid the business card in our room, and the knife in the 4th guest room. Then I changed my clothes and discarded my blood-soaked clothes into the trash. The towel, you mentioned, was in the closet. I didn't put it there on purpose. Then I waited for the opportunity to come out with the beverages in hand."

Heather couldn't stop crying. Steven then asked, "But why would you be that way? You killed him because of what he did?"

"WHY? WHY?!" Brendan shouted, "If you losers haven't intervened, this whole thing would've never happened, and I'd be happy with my fiancé!"

"More importantly," Percival stated, "If Mr. Lancaster didn't kill your parents, he would still be alive."

Brendan then approached Farra and explained, "Listen, Farra, sweetie, I'm sorry I did it, but he ruined my life… my future… my happiness. And now, I wanted to start a new life."

I listened on and was disgusted, "Even sickos like him can get what's coming to him."

Brendan then pleaded, "Can you ever forgive me? Let's just say I was doing this out of self-defense. Okay?"

"Farra! Don't listen to him!" I shouted through the microphone, "He killed Mr. Lancaster! Just tell him his real motive for murder!"

She then thought aloud, "He's right… but…"

Farra placed her hand on her ear and secretly turned off the earpiece. All I heard through the speaker was white noise.

"Farra? Farra?!" I cried, "Answer me!"

At the dining room, Farra then held Brendan's hand and placed it on his chest in a balled up fist. He opened his fist and saw the engagement ring Farra had on in his palm.

"I'm afraid I'm sorry. You're too late," Farra whimpered, without looking at him, "I don't want a future with a man, such as you. You lied to me and everyone. Besides, you killed Mr. Lancaster… for nothing."

"What?" Brendan gasped.

"Audrey told me that Edward was fully angry at your parents, after learning that he hated you, but deep down inside, he loved you like the son he never had," Farra added, "The thing is… he stops by to visit you, under protest, just to hang out. But as time went on, he grew to respect you… and he truly regret to what he did."

"Wait! He never said that to us earlier," Steven shouted.

"No," Farra said, "I heard it from Audrey, days before Brendan killed her husband."

"WAIT! You knew about it all along?" Percival cried, "And you never told us?"

Farra then exclaimed, "I didn't believe in such a story that Audrey said! But when Peter and I learned about the murder, it all came back to me. I tried to hide it, but…"

She held Brendan and said, "I'm sorry. But after seven months, it's time I'd see other people. You, however…"

"It was true love, and it drove you to murder," Heather said.

Farra clutched her fist and whimpered, "Brendan, you broke my heart... Why? Why would you kill a man that respected you, despite a horrible past five years ago?"

Brendan dropped to his knees and remembered what Lancaster did for him: He delivered gifts to him on his birthday and Christmas, helped him fixed his car, and even shared a laugh together, as they work in the garage.

"N-, no…" He whimpered, "Why…?"

"Edward said this to me, before he died," Farra added, "You may be a rambunctious little bastard, but you're like a son to me. They were words to live by…"

She turned around, as Brendan sobbed on his hands and knees. Percival and Heather were in tears, while Steven was unimpressed.

"Hmph… guess he'd pretty much deserved it," he said.

Steven then placed handcuffs on his wrists and made him sit on the chair. Heather ran to the phone to call the police. As Farra left, Steven approached her.

"Hey, Stevens," he said, "Well, you may have successfully bested me, but I am not licked yet. Oh, and tell Peter that the bet is off. After what I've witnessed, I think this whole thing with us is all for nothing."

He then smirked and bragged, "Shall I tell him that Steven Cooke was impressed by your detective work, Detective Stevens?"

Farra said in a sad voice, without looking at him, "Do whatever you want. I don't care anymore."

She left the dining room. Steven watched on in concern.

"Huh? What's wrong with her?" He thought.

XXXXX

Farra returned to her room. She sat down on the bed and was sobbing. I entered the room and asked what happened. She told everything that happened, except the words from her were her own. I sat down and comfort her.

"Why?" She sobbed, "Why did he lie to me?"

"Farra, I'm sorry," I said, "I didn't know. But at least you're single again."

Farra swelled up in tears.

I continued, "One day, you'll have a future boyfriend who is right for you; and you will call him a husband, if you play right. And when you are happy, everyone will be happy. Don't let something that happened get to you. Just be yourself on this matter. And next time, try not to get all emotional in deducing. And also, if you need someone to talk to, I'll be there, along with the others."

Farra then sobbed, "Peter… I…"

She grasped onto me tightly and wailed very loud. She couldn't stop crying. I patted her head and made her feel better… if she stopped crying, of course.

Hours later, the police came and took Brendan away. They also took the body of Mr. Lancaster away. Percival went to Audrey and told her that her husband was killed by him, the boy they knew and loved, like a son they never had. She was devastated by it, but she grew to admitting that she helped out in our investigation.

We all decided to stay in Audrey's home for the night, since Brendan's was impassible by the police. Everyone had fun there, except for one of us…

And that one was a girl, who fell in love with the man he adored, only to have her heart shattered by his vendetta from the past.

XXXXXX

Five years later, Farra married Percival, evading most of her past. I gave her an ultimatum, by living her life by being herself; and she did. That's what I like about Farra; she's bossy and brash, but she has what few women have: a glass heart. I'm proud to have her as my best friend.

The End