It Wasn’t What He Said.


It wasn’t what he said, it was the way he looked at me.

I was used to the office pinchers, groppers, and improper suggesters, but this was different.

It’s true that he was my boss, but that didn’t explain the casual indifference in his stare. I knew he was imagining having sex with me, but there was a coldness and a ‘matter of factness’ that chilled. His eyes seemed to say, “I can have you whenever I want to, but just for now, I’ve got better things to do.”

They found his body in the supply cupboard with a quill sticking out of his eye. Since I was the only girl in the office who still used a quill, suspicion instantly fell upon me.

Plenty of people saw him go into the cupboard, but no one saw anyone come out.

The quill was definitely mine but as I pointed out to Detective Sergeant Wilson, “Anyone could have taken it from my desk, it’s always on the desk. It’s not the sort of thing that you lock away.”

“Did you have any reason to kill your employer Miss James?”

I remember thinking that this was a strange question to ask. Would a person be expected to blurt out, “Yes, I did”? Were most murderers complete morons?

I thought it best to keep it simple. “No, I didn’t. Why do you ask?”

“Because it’s my job. A man has been murdered and it’s my job to catch the person who did it. Be that a him or a her.” I rather felt that the last part of this sentence was aimed at me.

“You say ‘or her’, but would a mere woman be capable of killing a grown man?”

“If she stuck a quill in his eye, she could.”

“And that would do it. Kill him, I mean?”

He looked at me, but he didn’t answer. The silence went on for several seconds.

“I have a lot of other people to question Miss James. Please be where I can find you.”

“You know where I live and you know where I work. I’m not going anywhere.”


I’d gone through his desk before the police arrived.

I found nothing unusual except for a small wooden box.

It wasn’t locked and it contained a brass key unlike any I had seen before. There were strange markings on the key but no numbers or any hint as to what it unlocked.

I left the box but slipped the key into my bra. A key shaped dent in my breast was a small price to pay for keeping the only clue to the true nature of this nasty dead man.

People in the office were shocked at his death, but few people were truly sad that he was dead.

I didn’t spend much time with the other women, but it was difficult to miss the conversations in the ‘powder room’. Not surprisingly, this nasty individual had been interfering with many of the female staff and those that he had not assaulted had been tortured by his stare.

The police eventually stopped coming around; stopped taking statements, and stopped giving a damn.

I got a new boss who was only slightly better than my dead one and life went on.

Detective Sergeant Wilson had one final parting shot.

“I know you killed him, Miss James, I just can’t prove it yet, but I will. Tell me; how did you manage to kill him in the manner that you did and not get any blood on your clothes. I searched the whole building and there were no other clothes you could have changed into?”

“I suppose that it is possible that the killer may have been naked at the time of the murder,” I said, without even a hint of a smile.

“I hadn’t thought of that,” he said.

It wasn’t what he said, it was the way that he looked at me when he said it.





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20 thoughts on “It Wasn’t What He Said.

  1. I liked the story, but a few things threw me off from immersing in it (and no, I’m far from being an editor):

    “Did you have any reason to kill your employer Miss James.” (punctuation)

    “Because it’s my job. A man has been murdered and it’s my job to catch him, or her.” (I think the word ‘murderer’ should be in there somewhere).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good one, Terry!“……..especially the sentence…..”I suppose that it is possible that the killer may have been naked at the time of the murder,” I said, without even a hint of a smile.


    • Thank you Peter. I was not intending to write more but an illustration popped up yesterday and it made me think of how she might have felt when she got home that night……….. I’ll put that one up in a couple of days.


  3. Good story, & I followed the grammar/syntax discussions above with fascination, having been a magazine editor & also business-writing instructor in my time… Thought the suggestions good ones, offered with respect, & bravo to you Terry for accepting them so generously. I’m slightly ashamed to say I didn’t notice the points that others noticed, but will add this one quibble (for that’s what it is): I don’t think the “bra” as such had been invented by the time period of this story. I think she would have tucked that brass key into her bodice, or camisole… But why are we piling on? It’s a good story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good point about the bra……. blokes…… what are you going to do? We don’t know everything [but don’t tell anyone I said that]
      The typos/grammar stuff was a good lesson for me.
      Mostly, the stories i post go through a process…. written, put aside, read through, put aside, read through, put up as a draft, read through, published and read through again. This story missed a couple of steps. I was in a hurry and I found out how closely some of my readers pay attention…… good for them/you. I like that very much. It keeps me on my toes and shows that people care about the words, and my stories………. lesson learned.
      Sometimes I ask my readers to not notice certain things and just enjoy the story, and for the most part they go along with that, and I appreciate it. For my part, I owe my readers the best possible product, and I do take that seriously. I would like to think that my storytelling skills have grown over the past eighteen months, and my goal is to keep on learning and improving.
      Many of my stories have been experiments, and my reader’s comments tell me if I hit the mark or not. It has been interesting to write stories through the eyes of a dog; though the eyes of a woman [old and young] and through the eyes of a seagull. Each perspective stretches me [particularly the many stories where my main character was a female].
      I just got news that one of my stories has been accepted for publication in ‘Southerly’. It’s a very big deal for me….. and I get paid.
      I read the story again and saw it through fresh eyes…… it isn’t perfect by any means, and I’d like to make some changes but it stands up and I’m very proud of it.
      Sorry this went on for so long. I hope you are well and I’m very much enjoying your posts.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Don’t apologize for the length, all interesting, intelligent, admirable. Like you I a constantly grateful for the intelligence & generosity of those who comment on my work. I do review mine quite carefully, try to be accurate as well as “a good read,” but I am not honing my work as rigorously as you hone yours. (Your work has a different end purpose than mine..) A tribute to your skill, that despite the polishing your work still lives, it breathes, it has not been re-thought & reworked to creative death.

        Liked by 1 person

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