There are many things I like about Oliver Smith. He can make good tea for starters, and he has an entire bookshelf dedicated to classic books. He likes seagulls, doesn’t wear tracksuits, and doesn’t swear on a daily basis. These are all extremely good things. However, his ‘early-bird’ trait is something I could heartily do without. In fact, I could so very much do without it that when Oliver attempted to wake me up at seven o’clock that morning to go and see Melissa I accidentally threw a pillow at him, spilling the tea and coffee he was holding all over his shirt.
I suppose he had a nice quiet morning in mind—me and him sitting in the sun talking about murder.
Didn’t quite work out. He had to go up and change his shirt—which I assumed was expensive—leaving me to make tea myself.
First, I accidentally broke his kettle and covered it up with a dishcloth, which then caught fire from the electricity. Then I tried to spray it with tap water but didn’t notice the tap was facing towards me and got slightly damp, but luckily the dishcloth burnt out without damaging anything else. Also, Oliver had to lend me a shirt anyway that morning, which was a large positive in a veritable sea of negatives.
Melissa’s house was in walking distance—a fact I was suspicious about, but didn’t mention. A small—well, quite large—hidden part of me didn’t like Oliver being in walking distance of his ex-girlfriend. Or Oliver’s ex-girlfriend-who-could-possibly-be-a-murderer being in walking distance of him.
I was quite enjoying the stroll through Oliver’s little area of Hollywood. Never had I seen so many famous people in one place, and if I was a terrorist who hated celebrities, this would definitely be the place I would nuke.
“What?” Apparently Oliver didn’t like me ruining his shirt. I wondered what would happen when he found out about the kettle.
“Is Melissa’s house near here?”
“You mean, are we there yet?” Perhaps I should have binned it along with the cloth and blamed it on an imaginary cat.
“I suppose so.”
“Yes. That’s it there.”
“It’s quite large, isn’t it?”
“She’s a model. And she’s hot.”
“Oh.” Edmund, I command you to stop this now. Stop it. Think about something else, like…Mr Darcy! Oliver will never be Mr Darcy, so stop pining.
“We can just…walk in?”
Oliver gave me a look so scathing I felt it scathe my very soul. “I meant walk to the gate and press that little button there that allows you to enter.”
Oliver turned from me and went to press said button. Said button answered him and began a conversation with him that consisted mainly of the button inquiring as to why Oliver Smith wanted to see his ex-girlfriend. I hung back, thinking.
Oliver was being very rude and, dare I say it, supercilious this morning. At first I’d assumed it was because he was annoyed about his shirt, but no one was that fashion conscious. Besides, Oliver was rich. He could buy a shirt any time he wanted.
So something else then. Woah, look at that logical thinking go. Maybe he was still cold because of the friend thing? No, he knew that was a joke. Maybe he was just having an off day because two people extremely close to him had been murdered with one of his possessions. Oh, I forgot about those. Sorry Jackson.
“Come on Edmund. Now we can just walk in.” Oliver yanked at one of the gates barring Melissa’s house from the street. I followed him in, staring at the back of his head as though it might provide the answers to the riddle of Oliver Smith that I was looking for.
“How does the button- well, whoever is talking behind the button- know if Melissa wants to see you?”
“She told them a few days ago that she didn’t mind visitors and hasn’t changed that status yet. They assume I’m here to make up with her.”
“Are you?” We were at the front door now- fancy thing, although rather pompous. A bit like a siamese cat.
“Bros before hoes. Why would I need a girlfriend if I’ve got you?”
Goodness, his mood is changeable. Before I could answer him, Oliver knocked firmly on the door.
It swung open silently.
We glanced at each other, and if Oliver felt anything like the chills that were worming icily up and down my spine, then he was apprehensively terrified too. Swinging, open doors were never good.
“Uh, should we-” I trailed off.
“Investigate? I think so.”
“Okay.” Not what I’d been going to say- my mind had been thinking more along the lines of running away and hiding- but strangely, I felt a morbid curiosity coupled with lugubrious foreboding.
“Follow me. I think we should check the bedroom first.” He stepped over the threshold and was lost to the house.
“Oliver? How do you know where her bedroom is? Oliver!” I followed swiftly, not wanting to be left behind. Safety in numbers.
Melissa’s house could only be described as a typical mansion. Inside was a spiralling staircase, white, polished, and with Oliver heading up it.
What a perfect finishing touch.
“I know where her bedroom is because she was my girlfriend for almost four years, Edmund.”
“That is too much information.”
“Never mind.” Oliver stopped in front of a door- white, like the rest of the house. I positioned myself at his elbow.
“I don’t think she’ll be particularly happy to see you. You may want to get a riot shield before it’s too late.”
“Let’s just get this over with and find who she gave the trophy to.” Oliver reached forwards and pushed on Melissa’s door.
She lay in the middle of the carpet, surrounded by a pool of fetid blood, stinking of decomposition and death.
There was a movement next to me as Oliver stumbled, knees giving way. I caught him around his arms, holding him up, already wishing that I could erase this sight from both our eyes. All I could do was close the door and sit next to Oliver, sharing body heat and comfort.
First Melissa, then Marie-Ann, then Jackson. The killer, whoever they were, must have discovered that Melissa had Oliver’s trophy and stolen it from her, killing her in the process.
“I can’t believe it, I don’t believe it. This is impossible, they can’t all be dead.” Oliver was pinching the bridge of his nose, eyes hidden from me. I racked my brain.
“Someone killed them. One person killed them. We can find them Oliver, I know we ca- ew. Cigarette butt.” I shifted off the ashy stub, flicking the remains of it from my hands.
“Melissa didn’t smoke.”
Those three words were all it took for Oliver to climb to his feet once more. I stayed on the ground, watching him as he began to pace the corridor dramatically. “Edmund, Melissa didn’t smoke. She was totally against it. And…” he turned to me, eyes glistening. “We found a cigarette stub in the ventilation shaft! You said last night that the murderer probably used it to kill Jackson. Edmund, our murderer smokes!”
I refrained from pointing out that one: many, many people smoked, and two: he seemed to have recovered from the shock of a dead body remarkably fast. Could he could still smell it? I could. “So we’ve narrowed it down to a person who works at Horizon, who is physically able to climb that ventilation shaft, who smokes, and who…” I trailed off, gaze caught by something small on the ceiling. Oliver turned to see what I was looking at.
“What is it?”
“Oliver, look at that thing on the ceiling.”
He moved closer, neck strained to look at it.
“Can you see what it is?”
“It’s a camera. The murderer was caught on tape.”