Rick Francis, Contributor
Jack reached down and picked up a smooth river stone amid the shattered glass. He could still see the other officers searching for clues outside under a light shower that had begun to fall, not too long ago. They were vigilant as they scanned the area carefully, hoping to find something that would lead them to the culprit.
It's not every day a wealthy businessman's life is snuffed out. The commissioner, his colleagues and the court of public opinion would want a speedy conviction in this case. Jack sighed briefly, knowing that you first need to find the suspect before you can convict. He turned to the lavish living-room sofa, where the other three occupants of the house were seated. The wife, Julia Jackson, family friend Matheson and the maid, Sarah. They were sitting upright, eyes wandering to the other officers in the room carrying out their forensic procedures.
Jack looked down at the blood-soaked body of Neville Jackson near the shattered glass of the living room's large, arched window.
He was well dressed, clean cut but with two distinctive gunshot wounds to his chest. His hair and shoes were slightly damp. Jack shook his head sadly. He had seen it all before, but still couldn't get used to it.
He walked up to the sofa and sat heavily down across from the three persons. He folded his legs, almost knocking over the coffee table and the two wine glasses on it.
Jack apologised and pulled out a small note pad. He observed them carefully, Julia was a bit emotionless, maybe in shock. Sarah was biting her nails and Matheson had a stony expression on his face.
"Who would like to start?" Jack asked.
"We were upstairs, going over some invoices for the business," Mrs Jackson started. She and her husband had owned a very successful chain of supermarkets.
"I was in the laundry room, watching a little TV while folding some clothes," Sarah said sadly, fighting back tears.
"What exactly did you hear?" Jack asked.
"Detective, we already repeated the story numerous times to the police earlier," Mrs Jackson stated defiantly.
"If it's all the same to you, I'd like you to repeat it to me," Jack said, a little comfort in his voice.
Mrs Jackson sighed, obviously frustrated. She, however, took a deep breath and told Jack that she and Matheson were upstairs, talking when they heard a loud crash, some shouts and then two loud explosions. By the time they reached downstairs, Mr Jackson was dead and the assailant gone.
"Where was your husband?" Jack asked.
"In the study, reading one of his books," Matheson replied for her. "That's where he was when I arrived."
"Do you have any idea who may have done this, someone who had something against him?" Jack inquired.
"Mr Jackson was a good man! He did good to everybody," Sarah blurted out.
Jack nodded and took a brief look around the room. Expensive items, from crystals to artwork, were strewn about the large living area. He looked across at Mr Jackson's body. He still had on his gold Rolex watch and diamond bracelet. Jack also noticed a policeman putting Mr Jackson's gun into an evidence bag from out of the top right drawer of Mr Jackson's desk in his study.
Why would Mr Jackson leave the study without walking with his firearm when he heard the crash? Things were not quite what they seemed. He sat down and surveyed his suspects. Yes, they were suspects now.
"What were you watching?" Jack asked Sarah.
"An episode of Cops," Sarah said.
"Really?" Jack replied. He knew the basketball finals were showing, he had bet some money on it himself, a bad habit he had promised many times to quit. There would not have been regular programming.
He got up and walked away. He went up to the shattered window and glanced out. Most of the glass was on the outside, in a neat flower bed below.
He walked to the back towards the laundry room. Sarah was right, there was half-a-load of clothes folded, but the television was not on.
He went to the bathroom area and looked in the garbage. He took a piece of toilet paper and picked up what he considered an item of interest from the garbage.
He went back to the living room, sat back down and held it up.
"Whose is this?" Jack asked.
There was a moment of silence, or you could say dread, as all three looked at the pregnancy test, as if it were something strange, unusual, yet very telling.
"It's mine," Mrs Jackson replied, getting an angry flash from Matheson.
"But why is it in the maid's quarters?" Jack further inquired. Mrs Jackson couldn't answer and Sarah bit her nails even more.
Jack smiled wryly. Something was more than it seemed for sure. He looked near the exit of the living room and noticed a rather large aquarium with fish of several species swimming obliviously, despite the hum of activity around them.
He once again got up and walked across to it. Soon he discovered that the stone used to crash the window was identical to one lying on the bottom of the aquarium.
Jack shook his head and walked back to the three suspects. He took a deep breath and began.
"I have a theory," Jack began, speaking slowly," Mr Jackson was not in his study reading. I believe he had just arrived home, due to his damp shoes and hair. The rain had only started about 15 minutes ago. Maybe he saw something that he wasn't expecting. Maybe two so-called friends, enjoying a little wine and maybe a bit more."
Jack picked up one of the wine glasses from the coffee table and noticed lipstick.
"Furthermore, why would most of the glass be outside, if it was broken from the outside? It had to have been broken from the inside with one of the stones from the aquarium, maybe out of panic," Jack continued, seeing the expression of his charge slowly changing to guilt.
"Why, Mrs Jackson, would you say the pregnancy test is yours and not your maid's? Is it so bad for her to be pregnant? Or ... maybe she was pregnant for someone she worked for - Mr Jackson - and you're covering it up."
"That's not true!" Mrs Jackson shouted.
"Yes it is," Sarah replied, softly, head bowed, "he was going to leave you and start a family with me."
"You found out about it, Mrs Jackson, and a heated argument developed about not only that, but your little frolic with Matheson and then ... bad things happened.
He wouldn't have left his study without his gun, upon hearing the window break. He was smarter and more cautious than that. Panic took over when the victim was killed and it was made to look like a robbery, you should have done better in that regard, at least pretend that some things were missing," Jack scoffed.
A police constable who was standing nearby, hearing the theory, walked up to Jack.
"So, detective, who did it?" he asked.
Jack took a deep breath and said, "They all