Dan Pope and the Strange Occurrence in the Washington Room
By Michael Gilday
The ceiling burst open. Bathwater rushed out, followed by the waterlogged body of Mark Sundeen. Dan Pope fidgeted in his chair. Would they know?
A nervous glance about the room confirmed that he was in the clear, at least for now. Shock, awe and the crisis control efforts of John Roche played out just as he’d hoped.
As Holly motioned for the students and faculty to exit in an orderly fashion, he couldn’t help but feel proud of his perfect crime. With the help of Elizabeth Cohen, his murderous muse, he’d forged emails from Mark announcing his false intention to skip this winter’s residency. This assured Sundeen wouldn’t be missed, and a phony vertigo diagnosis for Pope served as the perfect alibi. Just as he’d taken care of Aunt Helen and plundered her finances $500 at a time, he had forever silenced Sundeen’s fecal memoirs, leaving him free to plunder the affection of Mark’s protégés at his leisure.
As the MFA attendees filed out one by one, Pope felt relief swell as he realized a few more steps meant he’d have gotten away with it. There was just one problem: Jane Cleland had stepped in front of the exit and barred it with her arms.
“Stop,” said Jane. Her face was fierce, determined. “This was no accident. This was murder.”
Sarah Lewis gasped. Bill Friskey fainted. Vinnie launched into a fifteen minute monologue about when he’d committed his first murder on a trip to Thailand in the mid 80’s.
“Look closely,” said Jane. Her instincts had been honed to perfection from years of writing mysteries, mysteries which she had never told a soul at Westconn were based on her real life experiences solving murders in the antique world.
“Check his hand,” ordered Jane.
Daniel Asa Rose rose to check the body. He removed a small container from Sundeen’s hand. Pope grew pale. Daniel examined the container and removed his hat, a sign of great shock. To many it was as if the Earth had been cloven in two.
“It’s vertigo medication,” Daniel whispered.
Pope sat in silence. The perfect crime came apart before his eyes. He could only watch as the police were summoned. Over and over he listened to Lizzie Ferris’ cries of:
“Why, Dan Pope? Why?”