The Adventures of Walton Simons – The Case of the Barrington Bombing
It was a solemn night, and the moonlight shone upon the town of Barrington like a benediction of liquid silver. The famous Barrington manor house stood with majestic charisma upon the dull, grey moors - giving an odd contrast. This contrast would soon dissipate into oblivion by the devastating happenings of that night, causing the manor house to become as dull as the surrounding moors. The town was being cradled by sleep when 'it' happened. The monotonous night ceased to be so when two bombs exploded, piercing the pride of the majestic house with two holes in the front wall. There were shrieks and shouts, smoke and fire and the aftermath resulted in the mansion becoming a mausoleum. These were the events which took place on the night of Friday, September 13th.
'What!?' cried a shocked Mr. Walton Simons as the incident was narrated to him. 'Yes sir. And that is why we have come to you.' replied the sergeant of the local police. 'Bombing a great manor-house like Barrington is no small feat. The mansion is empowered by its rich history. It is certainly out of the ordinary. I assure you that the facts will certainly amaze you. What's more, that bomber – whoever he is – is still roaming free. This matter is of the highest–'
'Okay! I get it!' interrupted Simons. His eyes twinkled with a mixed emotion of curiosity, surprise and adventure. It was as if he was imagining that terror-striking climax; the escape of the bomber, with the burning house reflecting in his eyes. The sergeant dared not interrupt his 'vision'. Respectable as he was, with sharp eagle-like eyes, a long, straight nose, his clean-shaven face and hair slicked back in a flat-back style. He had an air of epic power and intelligence around him. His well known reputation adds to this, considering the fact that he had once been the 'Field Marshal' of the Royal British Army. He had now retired and was practicing investigation. In this too, he achieved excellence for he was extremely talented and was often called – 'master of many subjects'.
His reasons for retiring were not senile decay. Au contraire, he had said -'Because there was one fact which pricked my conscience and continues to do so up till date. The military serves to protect its nation, and many nations have powerful militaries. The power possessed by it is strong enough to destroy entire cities – as with the Hiroshima bombing. And yet, a military, as strong as it is, can do virtually nothing to save a man from being murdered or a bank from being robbed. I'm talking about 'prevention', not cure - sure there is the police and special crime-fighting agencies, but that isn't enough. Some people can kill or rob or commit crime without being caught, and roam freely about. It is these people who form the real bane of the society and are the true enemies of a nation. If a nation wants to be self sufficient and stable – to be in the epitome of its progress, to possess the power of a juggernaut – in other words, if a nation wants to be supreme externally, it must become supreme internally. That is why I took on investigation, to eliminate these ''true enemies'' and thus, serve my nation.' He illustrated this with the example – 'If you want to end the symptoms of a disease seen outside the body, you must first eliminate the microbes inside.' And thus was created the famous detective Walton Simons.
'So! …..' continued Simons 'if you say that it's an emergency, I'll surely take on the case. I'll get ready and we'll leave for Barrington in an hour. Thank you, sergeant!' The sergeant expressed his gratitude by doffing his hat and then he made his exit.
In an hour, both of them were in the train for Barrington. He sat silently looking out of the window, the cool breeze blowing against his face, admiring the red morning sun cast its light over the grey ground of the moor which was covered with mangrove shrubs and moss, with a bubbling spring scattered here and there. There was a sparkle of tranquility in his eyes. On the contrary, the sergeant looked very disturbed. His chubby face, cheerful eyes, fat nose and thick lips all showed signs of nervousness and agitation. This proved the importance of the problem – surely, for the owner of the manor house was one of the richest people in the region. Simons remained silent throughout the entire trip, for apparently that was his nature, plus there was not much to converse about as the sergeant knew none of the facts – he had received the news via telegram and was asked to persuade Simons to come for help. 'But that's just perfect!' said Simons 'It is better not to have the facts right now, or else the fickle mind will start theorizing every possible solution and complicate matters. Plus, it'll be good to have the facts directly from the witnesses.'
'Here we are, now' said the sergeant as the train slowed down, nearing the station. 'I'll take you to your inn first and then we will head for the Barrington manor house. After depositing his luggage at the 'Viceroy', the two headed out for the manor house. It was great, old, half timbered manor laden with gray brick-works. Its ancient history showed itself from the ivy creepers growing on the walls and the worn off, darkened timber on the gables and towers of the house. But its great pride was diminished by two significant holes on the face of the front wall. The police had taken over and guards were present all over the place. A few curious idlers peeking through the carriage gate were kept off premises by the guards. Simons took a glance around the house and its surroundings.
'Alfred Nobel wouldn't want to see this.' said the sergeant 'To imagine, this is the first time such a thing has happened in this part of the town. It's quite peaceful around here, and there aren't quite a lot of residents in this area … who could have done it?'
'That's quite a few pounds of dynamite, isn't it?'
'Aye sir, a total of about 6 pounds is estimated.'
'No, I think it will be a bit more - 8 pounds probably. And whoever the bomber was, he is alone in the plot and has made the bombs himself– that is for sure. Further I think he received no external help and he does not belong to Barrington - He is an outsider.'
'How can you say? You haven't even-'
'It's become a habit for my trained eyes. I am probably the best weapons-and-munitions specialist in the northern hemisphere. I can tell the amount of explosive from its area of destruction, especially dynamite. Plus, if you observe carefully, you'll see that many large pieces of wood are still hanging about their framework in the edges of the blast area. This could be due to 3 reasons. Firstly, either the bomb was crude, or the amount used was less, or the house was made up of high quality material. The 2nd and 3rd can be eliminated as 8 pounds of dynamite is not at all less; and this house is ancient. So the bomb was crude, and hence it was home-made. Thus we can come to the conclusion that the bomber made the bombs himself, and received no external help. Now, you said that this is the first time such a thing has happened here. Surely, you can understand that if somebody attacks an isolated part of a peaceful town out of the blue, the person is obviously an outsider. I think he was alone because if there were more than one of them, they would surely be seen. Or, they would have left some trace behind and the police would have found out. But that is not so.'
'Oh! ... I see. Now I understand why you are so famous.' The sergeant was covered with a shroud of amazement as he spoke.
'Tell me one thing ….. The manor house has no guards?' inquired Simons
'Yes sir. There were four, but unfortunately, they were on leave for the weekends. Besides, the area is quite peaceful and the local police are enough to look after matters – that was till yesterday.'
Simons made an occasional note now and then. 'You see …' he explained 'I don't have Sherlock Holmes' Watson to make notes of my cases.' They reached the entrance of the house. 'This way' said the sergeant and led him into the hall. Thus, finishing his task the sergeant took his leave. Three gentlemen were seated on the couch.
The hall itself was as big as the governor general's dining room – well decorated and furnished with great pictures and sculptures, woodworks and artifacts, tapestries and banners and all kinds of majestic 'stuff' one could imagine. This showed the wealth of the house's late master. The three people stood up to greet Simons who in turn gave a nod of his head. A yard officer, Mr. Andrew Scott, was an old friend of Simons – cheerful and lively. A clean shaven face and sharp features made him look like Max Planck in his younger days. 'We were expecting you, Simons' said he 'Cases of the highest importance require you and you only. We have left most of the evidence just as it was for you to judge'
'Oh, you flatter me Scott' replied Simons.
'These two gentlemen here are the witnesses, I guess?'
'Yes. But I'd rather that we all go around the house and see the spots of destruction first. This way, you'll know your whereabouts around the place. Plus, you'll have a better idea of what the witnesses talk about when they are interrogated, for a large part of the case rests upon those two spots. And also, when –'
'Yes, yes I get it Scott. You're as stubborn as always, wanting to explain everything. So let's all take a stroll around the house -You too, gentlemen. Scott, won't you introduce me to them?'
There were two witnesses. One of them, a tall, slim, pale-skinned person with an air of cleverness around him; was introduced as Mr. Alex Jacobson. The other person – Mr. Günter Hermann – was inhumanly huge. He had huge arms and legs and ferocious features. He had a heavy German accent with a deep, booming voice and large marble-like eyes. He was well over six feet and would have been abominable had he been a wrestler.
'Fell down somewhere, Mr. Jacobson?' asked Simons with some suspicion.
'Huh?! …Oh! … um ... Yes. I fell down the stairs yesterday. But how did you - Oh! I get it. You must have seen the tape on my spectacles. Yes, th … they broke off when I fell down.' The others were staring at Jacobson for his odd behavior. 'S…Sorry.' continued he 'I can't concentrate on things since I heard this horrible news. Oh my poor friends …. I…'
'That figures. Don't worry Mr. Jacobson; we'll get to the bottom of this soon enough.' reassured Simons.
They arrived at the generator room, where the first bomb had exploded and Lucius DeBeers – the owner of the mansion – had met his untimely end. It was a ghastly sight. Everything was charred and blown to pieces. Some of the false ceiling had given way, exposing the upper corridor. A gust of cold air whistled into the room from the hole in the wall created by the explosion...
'Lucius DeBeers, the owner, was found dead here' said Scott 'The scene was horrible. We could hardly identify him, save for some of his "parts" which were recognized by the maid. The rest of his body was …blown to ….. to…. Well, I can't put it.'
'That's okay Scott, we understand. So this is the generator room, isn't it?'
'Yes, and this is also where the fuse box is located. DeBeers' body was found facing the fuse box.'
'Hum! So by the position of his body and by looking at this dark circle of soot which is at the place where the fuse box was, we can conclude that the fuse box was the epicenter of the blast – so the bomb was planted there – and it went off somehow, when DeBeers meddled with it. But why?'
'There was a power failure and the lights went off, so DeBeers had gone to check the fuse' said Günter.
'I see. That explains firstly, why he came here. Secondly it also explains why he didn't see the bomb and mistook it for the fuse. Was it a coincidence? Absolutely not!
'You mean to say that-'
'Exactly, the bomber was the cause of the power failure.'
Suddenly, Simons' eyes fell on a nearly burnt candle near the edge of the room.
'Hullo! What's this doing here? This should not be here…' said Simons almost in a whisper.
'Maybe DeBeers brought it with him, for the room was dark due to the power failure.' suggested Jacobson.
'No. Think carefully - if DeBeers had brought this, then he would have clearly seen the planted bomb due to the candle's light.'
'Hey, I didn't notice that when I found those other things ….' Suddenly, something clicked Scott. 'Oh yes! I forgot to show you some oddities which we found in here. Have a look.' He took out two transparent bags.
'Yes Simons – In the first bag is a burnt rope which we found tied to the fuse box, its other end dangling near where the candle was. And on this other end was tied this dumbbell. Bizarre, isn't it? In the second bag are two pieces of insulated wire whose ends were tied into loops, fragments of a thick wooden staff, a small battery and pieces of the bomb. As you see, these probably are part of the bomb for they don't belong to the fuse box – but why a wooden staff?'
'How can you say that it's a wooden staff? It may be part of the structure –' stated Jacobson
'Neit' interrupted Scott 'it's too small and cylindrical to be part of the wall and is made out of a different kind of wood ….. looks more like a walking staff. I wonder what it's doing here?'
'You're right Scott, very strange indeed … but …' Simons' eyes showed that something very sophisticated was going on in his mind. 'Well….' He continued, making a note of something 'there's nothing more to be learned here. Can you take me to the second blast area, Scott?'
The same curious specimens and devastating effects were found there. This one was located outside the butler's room on the same side of the floor. The epicenter of the blast showed that the bomb had been placed adjacent to the handle of the door. 'We couldn't find the candle and dumbbell here' said Scott. 'But once again, there was a wooden staff, battery and wires.'
'Obviously the bomb must have been placed there after the butler – Alfred, you say? – And his wife – Martha – went to sleep, or else they would have seen it. When was that? 10 pm? Good. Then this means that the bomber was in the house before this time … and must have left before or after the first blast – 10:30 pm, is it? So 30 minutes to place two bombs….' Simons' veins showed on his forehead as he was thinking while taking notes at the same time.
'Shall we now go to the place where Robert Rutherford – DeBeers' friend- was found shot dead?' asked Scott
'Shot dead! There is more of this?! Oh my, that really complicates matters.' Simons now became very serious.
'This is where his body was found' said Scott when they reached the place outside, a little away from the hall entrance. Simons whipped out his magnifying lens and examined the place. A distortion on the ground showed where the body had lain. He went hither thither and gave a cry of surprise when he spotted something on the ground. 'Why, this is a cartridge!' said he.
'Yes, that's probable' replied Scott 'We came across one ourselves during our search. So the bomber shot more than once.'
At once Simons picked it up and examined it. '20mm cartridge, powerful gun - due to the highly squashed state and greater radius of the shell with a large the number of scratches inside- it's a shotgun.' Here he averted his eyes and looked up. 'Pump-action, double barrel. 130g slug- by the looks of it' He smelled the inside of the shell - 'ballastite and cordite powders – smokeless. Antimony hardened lead slugs – poisonous to some extent. 10 gauge calibers – that's deadly!' The witnesses were spellbound by the extent of Simons' knowledge of munitions. Scott's unaffected expression showed that he knew Simons well.
'But why a shotgun? A small pistol would have been convenient enough.' Questioned Scott.
'True. This bomber of ours has some queer tastes. Look at the contradiction – the type of gun he has used is quite expensive, but the bomb is cheap and crude. Maybe it was due to a limited supply of equipment or the need of the time. You can't tell.'
'So this shows that there was a chase during which Robert was shot by the bomber'
'It would me more helpful for us if we were to find where he went after the chase, but as you say, it rained the other night, so the prints must be washed away.'
'Thinking about this will only add to our enigmas. Now that I know what I'm dealing with, let's hear the facts. Then I will continue my observations.' Saying this, Simons and the others went back to the hall and seated themselves. The maid brought them refreshments. But clearly, by the taste of the tea, it was evident that the events had shaken the maid too. This was enhanced by the death of her husband, whom she had seen blow up before her eyes. 'Now, shall we begin?' stated Simons.
Mr. Günter Hermann's statements need to be edited because of his serious pronunciation mistakes, complimented by his heavy German accent. 'Mr. Simons…' (Zimonz, as he pronounced it) 'I'm very deeply hurt by the untimely death of my fine friends and I can't wait for the killer to be caught. I am very pleased to know that my information can help you catch him. I'll volunteer to be interrogated first, as I was the first one to leave. I shall now narrate to you the entire sequence of events which occurred during my presence and awareness.'
'I, Alex Jacobson, Robert Rutherford and Lucius DeBeers were very close friends. We studied in the same university. As years passed, we went on our own ways. Four days earlier, on the 9th I received a letter from Lucius saying that he lived in Barrington, which was near to the place where I was temporarily staying. I had come here on my own private business and was not aware of his being here too. He said that he had found out my whereabouts - thanks to some of his friends- and invited me to drop by. As Robert and Alex didn't live far off, he had called them too. We decided to hold a reunion, and subsequently, we were to gather at his grand mansion on the evening of the 13th. Everything went as planned, and all of us arrived here by about 9:15pm. And we sat chatting here, where we are currently sitting. Now, I am a person with a great obsession towards cleanliness. I thus went to have a bath upstairs in my assigned rooms, a little after quarter to ten, for I had been splashed by a car when I reached here.' 'That's true' added Alex.
'Yes…' continued Hermann. 'As I was saying, I had gone to have a bath, and half an hour later at about 10:15 pm, I came down. I was told that Alex had been sent to call me, as they thought I was taking a bit long. But on my way down, I never ran into him. It was quite a while until Alex returned, for he had apparently broken his spectacles. We chatted for a while and toasted to our friendship. Then I took my leave at about 10:20pm. What happened after that, I only came to know when the news reached me. Oh! This is horrible. To think that my friends were murdered just a few minutes after I left….. I could have probably saved them had I stayed a bit longer.
'I understand' said Simons 'Now, where is the kitchen, and who brought the wine from there?'
'It was I. The kitchen which is on the other side of the house.' said Jacobson, pointing to a corridor leading to the kitchen.
'Did you now?' said Simons 'Can you tell me your experience, Mr. Jacobson?'
'Yes sir, I was just coming to that.' replied Jacobson. 'All right …. I don't need to say much because most of the, uh, story has been told by Günter. As he said, we are all best friends, who went our own separate ways - I went on to become a *cough* *cough* ….. Excuse me…. A technical expert, Günter became a hunter, Lucius led a life of leisure after prospecting in the States and Robert was the quartermaster of the Royal British army. He used to take us up to his place and show us all types of queer weapons…. Sorry … just remembering the old days.'
Simons' eyes widened.
'Well, so, uh, DeBeers invited us to his place and we arrived by 9:15pm. We then held our petty reunion. While I was being led to my rooms, I saw the generator room. Naturally, as an engineer, I was interested in seeing the power-source of the house with the new Grayson-turbine generators and the newly introduced trip fuse. I stayed back a few minutes and the others went on. While I was there, I saw no dumbbell or the other oddities which were later found by Mr. Scott and his team.'
'Was your luggage with you when you were in your room?'
'Um … Yes'
'How many bags did you have?'
'Two small ones. The bag with my clothes had been taken to my rooms by the butler.'
'I see. Please, go on.'
'Yes. So then, we came down and conversed while Günter had his bath. When we thought he was taking long, I opted to call him down, but I did not run into him. I saw that he was not in his rooms and so I came down. It seems that he arrived in the hall the moment I went up. He had taken a shorter route and so didn't run into me. Well, uh, while coming down, I tripped over the stairs and broke my glasses. So I went back to my room to fix them and then returned. We toasted and I set off a few minutes after Günter left. I wanted to, um, have a last look at those generators so that I could draw some rough diagrams and understand their working for my research on "Innovation in Modern Machinery" '
'At what time did you leave?'
'A little after 10:25pm'
'You did not hear the blasts on your way back?'
'Well, no. I was quite far away when the bombs went off – as you said that they went off at 10:30.
'What was Robert doing, while all this happened?'
'Well, up till I remember, he was in the hall most of the time. But after that, I don't know how he ended up lying out there.'
'Just one last question - Why did you bring luggage with you, if you were to leave in a couple of hours?'
'Oh! That's because we had originally decided to stay over…. But then Robert got a telephone call from his sister. She had come to visit him after a long time and he was eager to see her. So we decided to cancel the overnight stay. I seconded that opinion as I had not much time left to submit my research. Günter too had some unfinished business left. Plus, we had brought over our old photo albums and some other stuff.'
'Hmm ….. Well then, Thank you gentlemen! I will not keep you waiting anymore. You may leave. We will contact you tomorrow if something turns up. Can I have your current addresses please?'
The two of them gave Simons the names and addresses of their hotels, which he noted down. He had a cunning glint in his eyes as he wrote. The two witnesses took their leave. Simons and Scott sat down on the couch and the maid brought them lunch. Nobody spoke much. Simons was hardly concentrating on the meal before him, as was evident by his behavior and expression, while his hand involuntarily picked up food and placed it in his mouth. Scott started pacing up and down when he was done, waiting for Simons to finish up. There was no rain that day, hopefully, but Simons thought it would have been better had it not rained yesterday, which had probably washed away the precious clues. Thinking about this, Simons said 'There. I'm done with the meal. Now, call the maid Scott. We might as well interrogate her.'
'Oh, she doesn't know a thing. She just keeps blabbering madly of how she saw her husband blow up before her.'
'So you already interrogated her. But then, if she wasn't replying properly did you –'
'Yes, I questioned her three times in order to make her remember even the slightest detail which she might have missed out due to her grief.'
'Good. I know I can rely on you. So I will not waste any time in another interrogation. Did she say anything more?'
'The only one thing that she remembered was that she had heard Günter sing in his bath, as and when she had passed his room. When I asked the time, she said probably between a quarter to ten and 10:15.'
'Hmmm…..' Simons thought. He then made a note of this and said:
'Well, now, we'll keep that aside and think about the present. To start with a lead, let's once again investigate the place where Robert's cadaver was found. We just made a cursory look-over last time. We may probably find something of use if we analyze it closely.'
'Scott…' he said as they walked – 'What do you make of this?'
'I believe that this may be the work of an outsider ….. But I think I suspect Günter Hermann.'
'Hermann huh? Why?' Simons looked serious as well as amused.
'He looks kind of like those people who …. You know ….
'A thug, to be precise'
'Yes. And most of all, he was up there for a long time while the others were down here. He could have gotten enough time to plant the bombs. Then again, that can't be true since the maid heard him sing all along his bath. So he was in his rooms. And yet -'
'But my conscience has a tremendous affinity towards suspecting Robert Rutherford. He was the quartermaster, and had in-evidently a vast knowledge about weapons. He must still possess many of them, including that powerful shotgun. Plus it was his idea to call off the sleepover – to escape.'
'But if he was the killer as you say …. Then who killed him? That too with his own shotgun?!'
'You're right. So then, let's not waste time and investigate.'
Once again, they were at the place of Robert's death. Simons said 'Look at those trees there. Those are the only ones near here. So, if I were the bomber, I would have run in that direction so as to hide my presence. Let's go there.' The bunch of trees was just a few yards away. The Earth here was dryer due to the cover of the trees. At the start of the patch of trees, there was a scraped patch of ground. Looking at that, Scott exclaimed -
'Yes! At last, a clue on the ground. Thanks to those trees, the rain wasn't able to wash that away. By the looks of it, there was a scuffle - here's where Robert was able to outrun the bomber and make him fall down. Then they had a fight. Hence the scraped patch….. And then, the most probable deduction is that the bomber pushed him away in that direction-' he pointed to where Robert's body was found 'and then grabbed his gun and shot him.' There, beside the patch was the faint imprint of a cylinder shaped object.
'Look! The gun's imprint! You're right Simons!'
'So it is ….. Yes' He whispered, as if his reply referred to something else.'
'And here's the cartridge whose bullet killed him.' It was of the same kind as before.
'Of course' replied Simons, inattentive, lost in his own thoughts.
'So they started the chase from some point near the house, and it ended here in a scuffle … with the bomber firing a couple times while running. That's clear. But where did they start from?'
'Uhh….' They looked around. 'Probably there –' said Simons, pointing to the left hall window.
'How can you say that?'
'Robert was in the hall all the time, as everyone said. So if the bomber came to kill him from the outside, he wouldn't have risked opening the door … and the other windows are too far away. That window is closest to this point, as well as to the point where Robert was sitting.'
'But this could have begun from inside the hall as well, if the bomber was escaping and he encountered Robert while running through the hall to the front door.'
'That, we will see in a moment'
They went up to the window, and on the ground under it, was a cartridge. 'Ha! Just as I thought. This cartridge proves that this is the place where he fired the first shot – aiming at Robert inside – but missing. Robert then saw him and there was a chase. If it had started inside, as you speculated, this cartridge would be in there, instead of out here.'
'Good. We're progressing. But what's next?'
'Next, I believe, we continue in the direction where we were going – through that bunch of trees. Then we will know how the bomber escaped.' As they walked a little into the patch, Scott said 'It seems we are on the right track – look!' There was a distorted, muddy handprint on a nearby tree.' Seeing this, Simons did a strange thing… He went a few steps back, came running and touched the tree with his palm as he went ahead 'Where did I touch it?' he asked Scott, who indicated a point a bit below the handprint. 'Ha!' said Simons and made a note. Then Simons and a bewildered Scott continued their jaunt. They came to a glade-like opening which led to a second carriage entrance. What they saw here was unexpected.
There were tire marks in the mud and a mound-like object lay beside it. 'Stop!' Cried Simons and went ahead to examine it. After some time, he said - 'We are looking for a white car. It must be the vehicle through which the bomber escaped. Very clever! The bomber has ingeniously utilized the second entrance which is rarely used. The trees were a shortcut route to here. His car would be easily hidden here in this glade. There is the carriage path.' said Simons pointing to a path a few yards away.'
Hey, hey Simons …. buddy … cool it! Before all this - how the hell do you know it's a white car?'
'Well' began Simons 'you see …. if you observe carefully, you will find out that, in a hurry, the bomber grazed his car against this tree as he left. And thus, some of that white paint got stuck to the bark. That's how I deduced it. I now have just one thing to do before I nail my man. But first, let's check out this mound here.'
They dug in using Scott's pocket knife; and they grew pale when they saw what was buried in it. Scott gave a cry of shock and jerked behind, while Simons turned his head and covered his eyes. There was a cadaver of a person whose head had been crushed. Beside him, there was a signpost with 'TAXI' inscribed on it. 'Oh Jesus!' said Scott 'I think he hit this guy with the butt of his gun. Judging from that signpost, this is probably the taxi driver'
Simons looked grave as well as angry. 'In two hours' he said with a quiver 'this guy has murdered four people! And what a clever fellow! He's broken and kept the taxi sign near the body… so it looks as if the car is his own.'
'So he had come in a taxi …..'
They stood for a few minutes and went away. Simons then left Scott and went to his inn after taking his leave. Before going though, he made a strange request – 'Scott…' he said 'I want you to do me a favour-'
'Can you go to the library today and get me a book on "Tiger Poaching" till evening?'
'Tiger poaching, yes …but … what for?' Scott looked confused.
'You'll understand later. Just do that for me. I have some of my own work to do and I won't be able to get it.'
That evening Scott came to Simons' inn. 'Here's the book that you wanted' he said, and handed it to Simons.
'Thank you! Please have a seat'
'So, have you any clues as to who it may be?'
'Shhhh…. Just a minute.' He opened the book and referred to the index. Then he opened some page and started reading. 'Right now it's just a strong speculation, but –'
'Whom do you suspect?'
'It's … Aha!' he said, pointing his finger at a paragraph in the book. 'Now I don't suspect him …. I know it's him. I've got him, Scott!'
'What?! But you just said that ….. You actually got something from that book?'
'Now, now Scott. Just wait till tomorrow and I'll spill all the beans. If I say something now, it will be all the more confusing.'
'Just get three of the most able bodied guards from the police tomorrow, and call every witness. We will meet at the manor house and I'll finish the case.'
'I will 'bring' him out of the dark and into the limelight…'
'All right then … see you later' said Scott as he left. His head started spinning after thinking about all that had occurred. As soon as he reached his rooms, he went to the bedroom, swallowed an aspirin, and hit the sack.
The morning of justice had arrived. Everyone had come; Scott, Simons, Günter and Alex were seated on the sofa. The three, muscular, bully-like policemen were standing, surrounding them. Simons rose and said 'Gentlemen, thanks for coming. I called you here to announce that the killer has been caught.'
'What? Who is it? Where is he?!' cried Alex, with a mixed expression of excitement and paleness.
'HERE!' cried Simons, and within the blink of an eye, two steel handcuffs clasped around the hands.
Before this event could sink in, Günter gave a violent roar, jumped over the sofa and started running away. 'GET HIM!' cried Simons and he, along with the others started chasing him. With super speed, Günter jumped over the gate and ran ahead. Everyone was following him. The guards got around Alex and Scott in a protective formation and the group proceeded as a whole. Scott looked around – trees, shrubs and rocks whizzed past; everyone was running with their eyes focused on their target – Günter ….and …and …. Simons was missing! Scott then took initiative and fired in the air, ordering Günter to stop. But he ignored it and, in a fit of rage, threw back a log of wood. It hit one of the officers as they ran, and he started bleeding. Alex and another officer stopped to treat him, but Scott and his guard continued the chase. "Stop or I'll open fire on the count of three!' cried Scott, but in vain. Günter was still running like a mad bull. '3 …. 2 ….. 1 …' Günter looked back; Scott was pointing his gun, ready to fire. Günter had to wait for the right moment to dodge. He decided to take the risk and duck when Scott would say 'FIRE!' But as he was looking back, he felt something come between his legs. He tripped and fell heavily on his front, skidding ahead a few feet before stopping. He had hit his head hard against the pavement and his jaw was bleeding. He felt as if his brain had swollen, pressing hard against his skull, and was soon about to blow up. The pain was unbearable. He looked to his side at the bushes as he writhed and quivered in pain. The silhouette of a man was slowly arising from it. His vision became blurred. He could see a pool of blood form around him. The last thing he saw, as his eyes closed, was the silent and gazing figure of Walton Simons standing before him.
When Gunter came to, he was lying on the sofa, surrounded by everyone. He had been bound tightly and his head had been bandaged. This time, he didn't resist, but sat up and sighed. 'Sorry for tripping you. I just meant to stop you, not wound you' said Simons with a calm attitude. 'Your violent act proved that you were indeed the killer'.
'So you found out….'
'Now can you tell me what's going on around here?' interrupted Scott 'If you don't explain things, Simons, I will soon need another aspirin …. What the hell is happening here?!'
'The bomber has been caught - That is the hell which is happening here.' Everybody laughed. 'Don't worry, Scott. Now that the culprit is awake, I shall narrate the incidents as I see them and tell you my reasons as to how I deduced them.'
'First of all, 30 minutes is not enough time to plan and carry out such a feat. Then again, Günter was having his ''bath'' upstairs and Alex was sent to get him. Alex himself stayed back to see the generator room a couple times. The butler and the maid were also roaming about the house. Alex then went to get the wine from the kitchen. Lucius and Robert were also present in the house. In other words, someone was always on the prowl about the house. This led me to the fact that it was extremely difficult for an outsider or a group of outsiders to do this job. So I set my field of search on the people who were in the house - namely you, Alex and …. We can clearly ignore the maid. So it came down to you two. All the cards were against Alex at first, because he was in the generator room, he volunteered to go get Günter and came late, he even opted to bring the wine and it was his idea to cancel the sleep-over. But there was a large amount of hidden evidence against Günter. That bomb was no ordinary one. It is used to hunt tigers – the reason why I sent Scott to get the book on 'Tiger Poaching'. I had heard of such a bomb but couldn't remember it. There is a bomb with a battery attached to it. Two wires are attached to the positive and negative ends of the battery. The remaining ends of the two wires are attached to a 'wooden' stick (obviously not a metal stick). The left wire is inserted into the right end of the stick while the right wire is inserted into the left end. One of these wires is firmly tied to the stick while the other just hangs onto the stick by the loop. It is movable. Bait is attached to this wire. When the tiger tugs at the bait, the loose wire is drawn toward the fixed wire, the circuit is completed and KA-BOOM! You have a dead tiger. Günter attached this type of bomb to the fuse box and the butler's door. Now he needed something which would cause DeBeers to come up to the generator room and meddle with the fuse box. This he did cleverly by using an old trick. Where he learnt it, I do not know.
The candle and the rope led me to that conclusion. A rope is attached to the trip fuse switch and the middle of the rope is tied loosely around a fixed candle. A weight is tied at the other end of the rope and the candle is lit. The candle is quite thick, or else the weight will not let it stand erect. As the candle burns and its height decreases, there comes a time when it shrinks below the level where the rope is tied around it. This releases the rope and it falls down by the weight of the object. The rope yanks at the switch causing it to trip – and poof! The lights are out. Thus, when poor Mr. DeBeers went to the generator room and meddled with the trip fuse, the bomb was set off.'
'Umm, couldn't the tripping of the fuse itself set off the bomb, and not the resetting of the fuse?' asked Scott
'The answer is no' replied Simons 'because the bomb was attached 'below' the fuse and a fuse always trips downwards. If you take a look, you will see that the black marks of the epicenter are below the frame of the fuse box. Thus only yanking in the upward direction could cause the bomb to be set off. Actually, Mr. Hermann is quite lucky because today morning, when I was looking over the generator room, I found the handle of the fuse. And it was quite large – bigger than my palm maybe. If it had been small, the yanking couldn't have provided enough distance for the two wires to connect …. But if had been were placed close enough -'
'Sorry Scott. Well, moving on, Mr. DeBeers sets off the bomb. The only possible reason he couldn't see the bomb was that there was no light. We can thus deduce that, probably, the candle inside the room had gone off too. Also, you may ask why he didn't carry a torch of his own if it was dark. Well, I believe that he couldn't find one in such a large house as it was so dark, and maybe he was in a hurry because he had guests in his house … we can never know. You are very lucky, Mr. Hermann …..' He looked at Günter with a cunning smile.
'Well, then comes the butler - hearing the blast, he ran out. As he opened the door, the connection was complete (the wire was tied around the handle) and once again, BOOM! I knew that hunters use this kind of bomb, and when Alex told me that Günter was a hunter, my suspicions were turned towards him.'
'But one clue wasn't enough. I needed more proof. Next comes the shooting. I guess that when Günter left the house, he went to his waiting taxi, killed the driver, drove round to the second entrance and waited. Meanwhile, he buried the body along with the 'TAXI' sign so that he could take the car with him and show private ownership. When he heard the blasts he knew that his plan had succeeded. He then came to the hall window where he saw Robert in the hall (probably before Robert ran up to see what was happening) and shot at him with his 'elephant gun' – yes, I had purposely said 'shotgun' previously to make Günter believe that I didn't know.'
'This gun is used by 'hunters' to kill huge animals like elephants. One more proof against Günter. But these guns are not accurate at long ranges and so he missed. Robert heard the shot and spotted Günter. Then there was a chase wherein Günter shot 2-3 times at Robert but missed. Robert caught up to him and there was a scuffle – they both fell down as they struggled and fought. This, I deduced from the scraped patch of mud. But Günter easily overpowered Robert, pushed him away, grabbed hold of his gun, and finally - Robert was shot dead. He then got to his car and drove off – mission accomplished. I knew by the scratch on that tree that Günter's was a white car. So in the afternoon, I went to Günter's hotel and asked the chauffeur if Günter had arrived there in a white car. The chauffeur said "Oh yes, Mr. Hermann lives here. He had gone to visit his friend. He returned at about 11 pm in a white Ford yesterday". With this final proof, I nailed you.'
Günter had been listening with sheer amazement on his face 'You …' he stammered 'You are absolutely correct. I …. I wanted revenge and –'
'And so you killed four innocent people?' interrupted Simons
'INNOCENT!' roared Hermann in a thick German accent. 'You think Lucius and Robert were innocent? Do you know how they acquired this wealth? They were both secretly dealing in drug smuggling. Once, when they got caught, by some means, they managed to put the blame on me. I was supposedly 'proved' guilty and arrested. The cops found 1 kilo of cocaine in my rooms! I was jailed for 7 years! Can you imagine how long that is?! They had tricked me… And my life was ruined. My mother committed suicide when she heard the news. There was no one to care for my sister, who later died of bubonic plague.' He paused in thought for a few minutes, and then continued:
'When I was released, I was all alone – no family, no proper education, no job, no dignity … nothing. I was always good at shooting and sports, and had a passion for hunting. So I became a hunter. But the lust for revenge within my heart refused to leave its abode. When I saw this chance, I used it to its full. Alex was the only one who had nothing to do with this. I didn't want to kill him and the other innocents, but if anyone came between me and my revenge, I had no intention of sparing them. It was lucky for Alex that he left immediately after I did, and hence remained safe.' Alex had started perspiring and gulped heavily at the thought that he had managed to escape doom only by a couple of minutes.'
'So that's the story' said Simons gravely. 'Even if you were treated unjustly and even if you have killed them for revenge, you have officially murdered 4 people and I can't defend your cause. I'm sorry.'
'That's all right' replied a humbled Günter 'I've got my revenge and I'm satisfied. I've achieved my goal after suffering for 12 long years and it was for achieving this goal that I have lived. Now, I surrender.'
'So, that brings an end to the Barrington Bombing case' said Simons with a bitter-sweet emotion. 'I hope that you can handle it from here on, Scott?'
'Yes. I can. By the way, it just clicked me …. Simons, do you remember that you had slapped the tree and asked me where your hand had touched it or something? What was that for?'
'HA HA HA!' laughed Simons. 'Oh that! You see, you notice Günter's height don't you? He's well over six feet – So, when you are in a hurry and an object suddenly appears before you, the immediate reflex action usually turns out to be to place your hand right before your face in order to protect it from harm. And obviously, if the hand is muddy, it will leave a print upon impact. And the height from the ground to the face is a good approximation of the original height. And Mr. Hermann, has an 'extraordinary height' - does it ring any bell now?
'Aaah, okay!' said Scott in realization.
'Good. Now that's that. But, before I leave, I'd like to ask a couple of last questions, Mr. Hermann.'
'Please, feel free to do so'
'Firstly, you did not leave Barrington immediately because you knew you would be suspected?'
"Secondly, where did you learn that "candle trick"?'
'It came in the newspaper- The 'Serial killer' case.'
'Ah! Good. Last question – most important. If you were roaming about planting bombs, how did the maid hear you sing while bathing?'
'Yes, Mr. Simons. It was an idea of mine. I had recorded my voice in a tape recorder. I simply turned on the shower and played the recording'
'Bravo! Mr. Hermann. So you had come prepared.'
'Yes, indeed I had'
'A very interesting case, this has been. And yet- however singular a case may be, it is never impossible to solve it – For as long as it has been carried out by a living being, another living being can always crack the puzzle. It's just a matter of time …'