Author’s Note: I complain about the cold in winter, and I hate the oppressive heat of summer – but I am grateful for writing to pass the time when going outside is just not that pleasant. I humbly submit July’s edition of ‘Nathan Burgoine’s 2018 monthly flash fiction challenge,‘ featuring a dam as this month’s location, the object is a typewriter, and the genre is a mystery – all in 1000 words. Thanks for reading and enjoy this story with “Canada Day” slightly in mind.
Bernard Beaver packed mud atop his lodge in the middle of his pond. Before calling it quits for the day, he swam out to inspect his dam. Proud of his work, his attention quickly redirected to a fissure forming in the heart of the structure. Bernard panicked, for he noted that his prized possession, formerly embedded in the wall – a 1940s Smith-Corona typewriter – his “keystone-signature piece” – was missing causing water to flow through. Bernard found it in the woods while felling trees, and thought it a nice cosmetic touch for his project. Angered by its disappearance, he decided to return tomorrow to repair the hole, and went back home under the dawn sky.
He emerged in the lodge’s wet room, where, while drying off, he heard Beatrice Beaver, in the family room talking. “So nice of you to come over Maurice. I always appreciate your company while Bernard’s out.”
Maurice Muskrat, replied, “I love coming here, you make the best tea!”
“You’d better skedaddle. I don’t want Bernard to see you. You know how he gets.” The last time Maurice dropped in unannounced, Bernard practically knocked out all his teeth with a swing of his heavy tail.
Bernard exploded hearing Maurice’s voice. Wet or not, he didn’t care, and bolted into his family room.
“What the hell is he doing here!” He screamed at Beatrice, “He spends more time in my lodge than I do! It feels like every time I go out, I see this rodent in my home with my wife!”
“There, there, Bernard,” Maurice replied, “I’m only here for Beatrice’s awesome tea – by far, the best in the Wetlands. You know, ever since the spring floods washed away my home, the Missus and kiddies went to live with mother-in-law, or who I call, ‘Nutcracker’. If you knew her, you’d understand why I come over here so often. Besides tea, you guys always have the best food around!” Maurice saw a nice green bit of moss hanging on the wall and ravenously munched it. He rubbed his stomach, and guzzled his tea.
Bernard scowled, “Have you finished your new home yet?”
“No, haven’t started. I figured the kids and wife are happy, and if I only have to stay at Nutcracker’s to sleep, I don’t have to interact with her.” Maurice checked the time, “Sunrise. gotta go to bed. The fam thinks I am working,” he gave Beatrice a surreptitious wink, but Bernard caught it.
He lunged his wet body across the floor, grabbed and wildly punched Maurice. Maurice escaped his grasp, quickly got up, and said, “Well, Mrs. Beaver, as always, loved your company! Best be off now,” and dashed to the wet room and the Beavers heard a splash signaling his exit.
“So help me, Beatrice, that is the last we will see of Maurice!” Bernard stormed to bed.
Beatrice woke up that afternoon, alone. Wondering where her husband went, she exited the lodge and scanned the dam, expecting to see Bernard working away. She saw two new fissures, that concerned her, but no site of him.
The dusk sunlight reflected off something metallic on the shoreline with some Wetlanders surrounding it. Curious, she swam to them to discover, in shock, Maurice lay dead with head bludgeoned by the typewriter, now placed over his crushed skull. Beatrice gasped, and started to cry.
Woodsy Owl, placed a wing around her shoulder. “So sorry that you had to see this Beatrice. I know Maurice was a good friend. Hey! Back off the crime scene. I, too, am a bit peckish, but we have to finish the investigation.” A guilty looking coyote held Muskrat’s leg in his mouth, but obediently dropped it and backed off. The crowd comprised a weeping Manny Muskrat, a large crane, a few raccoons, the coyote, and a badger.
Woodsy proclaimed, “Manny tells me Maurice spent most of his time in your lodge, which didn’t please Bernard. Bernard has disappeared. Did he go off to work?” Beatrice could not answer.
Two days passed before Bernard returned. The Wetland gang still puzzled over who smooshed Maurice.
“Where’ve you been?” Woodsy asked.
Bernard looked over Maurice and yelled in shock, “That’s the typewriter that someone stole from my dam! No wonder there are leaks!”
“Answer the question.”
“I heard rushing water coming through my dam, from the hole opened by someone stealing the typewriter. I clogged it up, but heard more water. I dug around and discovered some human installed a ‘Castor Master’ hidden in my construction! Humans, always try to ruin my hard work and revert water levels. I tried to stuff their corrugated pipe, but got stuck in it. I just freed myself. Can I have my typewriter back? This is war! I suspect the humans will poke a new hole in my dam tomorrow. The typewriter should easily fix that.”
“But if you’re stuck in the pipe, who killed Maurice?” asked a raccoon.
“Who cares!” replied Bernard, “Maurice probably bugged a human by poking his nose around where it shouldn’t, like he did my wife. Humans took MY typewriter to flood our precious pond, but I’ll save our habitat!” Bernard boasted.
The creatures nodded and echoed “Bloody humans,” in agreement.
Woodsy, not so convinced, asked, “Do you have proof you were stuck in a pipe for two days?”
“No, but I can show it and my work to you,” Bernard said, taken aback by Woodsy’s accusatory tone.
“I’m afraid I‘m going to have to place you under Wetlands arrest, for murder.”
Manny sobbed and screeched, “It wasn’t the humans, nor Bernard. it was me!! That bastard slept with everything with four legs, and hated my mother. He’s lazy and deserved what he got.”
Everyone around echoed their agreement.
“Can I now have my typewriter back?” asked Bernard.
“Yes, yes,” replied Woodsy, “Grab it and let’s leave Maurice to rot in peace.”
“No need,” the coyote answered, and with one bite, picked up Maurice’s remains and walked happily off into the woods..
Murder at the Lodge © 2018 Bruce Gordon. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without permission except in the case of brief quotations in critical articles and reviews. For more information, contact Bruce Gordon.
Bruce Gordon lives in the ‘burbs of Ottawa with his author wifey, three basses (hers, but she lends him one), five guitars (totally his), and one drumkit (hers and hers alone). A musician since his teens, he still plays, but has also ventured down the writing path. His upcoming novel, Dissatisfied Me, A Love Story, is about a 49 year old on the verge of his 50th birthday, who reminisces about his life while sitting alone in his room in his mother’s basement.