September 18, 2020



PLAYING APPLEWOOD CLUE, The Applewood Manor Note to the reader:  This is a short story from the author with Mark Rollins investigating a fictional murder at Applewood Manor.  The solution is left for the reader to divine from the clues.  Let’s see how good a detective you are!

The Innkeeper has made a terrible discovery—a dead body in one of the Applewood Manor guest rooms.  Luckily, a friend of his, Mark Rollins, a well-known crime solver, happened to be in Asheville and agreed to help solve the mystery involving the man’s apparent murder. The Innkeeper,  at the request of Rollins, has asked all the guests and staff to join Rollins in the Manor’s Dining room.  When all were assembled, Rollins explained why they were called to the meeting.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, my name is Mark Rollins. I am sorry to have awakened you so early, but there has been a homicide at Applewood. Someone terminated the life of your fellow guest, Mr. Body. Your Innkeeper has asked me to assist with the investigation. I’m not officially an officer of the law. I’m a citizen investigator with a proven track record for solving cases like this one. Knowing how the official police go about things,  I suggested that before we call the authorities and ruin everyone’s plans, we should try to solve this thing ourselves. We need to determine how our victim was murdered, where he was murdered, and who the killer is.”

There were gasps and murmurs from various individuals in the dining room.  Rollins gave them time to settle down.  Then he continued, “Which of you is Mr. Green?”

Mr. Green raised his hand hesitantly and said, “That would be me.”

Rollins walked over to Mr. Green. “You found the victim.  Is that right?”

Green, feeling important, said,  “Yes, about 3:00 this morning.  I heard a scream coming from the direction of Mr. Body’s room, the Northern Spy Suite. It woke me up. I thought it might have just been a dream, but I decided to check.  I guess it wasn’t a dream, because I found him sprawled face down with his head all bashed in.  There was a bloody metal pipe on the floor next to him.”

Rollins, emphasizing the facts, replied, “So, his murderer killed him using a metal pipe?”

Green responded, “Right—It looked like a lead pipe to me.”

Rollins held up a plastic bag with a billfold inside. With an accusing tone, he continued “We also found this next to the body—the victim’s wallet. His empty wallet, I should add. I tested it for fingerprints, Mr. Green, and your fingerprints are on it!”

Green, clearly distressed, and frantic shouting. “All right. I confess! I took the money. He was dead—I have a car payment due!”

Rollins looked squarely into Mr. Green’s eyes and said with authority, “Don’t leave town, Mr. Green. Right now, you are my best suspect.”

Looking around the room Rollins asked, “Who is Colonel Mustard?” 

“He’s not here” said the Innkeeper. He is staying in the Cortland Cottage, not in the main house. So, I didn’t think he needed to be in this meeting.”

“You were wrong. Colonel Mustard is Mr. Body’s employer, and for now no one is excluded—everyone is a suspect until proved otherwise!” Rollins continued, but this time talking to all in the room, “I need everyone to sit tight.  I’ll be back shortly—after I have talked to the Colonel.”

Rollins walked to the Cortland Cottage. Knocked briefly, when no one answered immediately, he didn’t wait to be invited in.  The door was unlocked.  He opened it and entered.  He looked at his watch.  It was 7:45 in the morning. Colonel. Rollins found the Colonel seated at his breakfast table reading the morning papers scattered across the table. “Are you Colonel Mustard?”

Startled, the guest looked up with disgust and replied. “ Yes, I am Colonel Mustard. Who are you! And why are you in my dining room.” He sarcastically continued. “Where I might add, I am seated at my table, in my cottage,  minding my own business—reading the morning paper and finishing my breakfast.  So, I say again, who are you and what are you doing in here?”

Rollins took out his notebook. “Sorry to disturb you, Colonel. My name is Mark Rollins. I realize it’s early, but your employee, Mr. Body, was murdered last night. I’m investigating the murder and I have a few questions I would like you to answer.  After that you can get back to reading your paper and finishing breakfast.”

The Colonel appeared surprised. “Good Lord! That’s terrible!”

”Any idea why anyone would want to kill your employee?”

“No,” said the Colonel. “It doesn’t make sense, everyone liked Mr. Body.  He was my secretary. He took care of everything—my meals, my clothes, my bank account—everything!  Very dependable fellow—you could set your clock by that man. Never missed a day on the job—never tardy.”

Rollins looked up from his notebook. “Any friends of his I should talk to?”

Thoughtfully, Colonel Mustard said, “If anyone would know anything or be involved, it would be the widow, Mrs. Peacock, or that troublemaker, Miss Scarlet.”

Rollins, ended his questions by saying, “Don’t make any plans to leave town, Colonel.”

When Rollins returned to the Manor, one of the guests in a blue dress had gotten up and was looking out the window.  Rollins approached her and asked, “Are you Mrs. Peacock?”  She replied tearfully. “Yes, I am.”  After a pause she continued. “We were going to meet in the patio for coffee” She turned to face Rollins. 

Rollins said, “Coffee with Mr. Body, I presume?”

“Yes, but he was a no show.” Tearing again, she said, “Now I know why.”

Rollins, comforting her, whispered. “Yes, I’m sorry for you.”

Mrs. Peacock, still distressed, continued, “He was my love!  I should have known something was wrong when he didn’t meet me at 6:30 this morning like he always does when we are staying at Applewood. We always meet there, on the patio, before he goes to the Cottage.  That’s his job, you know.  It is our daily ritual. We have a cup of coffee together–sometimes watch baby bears playing near the Manor or just enjoy each other.  Then we would walk over to the small sideboard in the entrance hall. That is where mail and packages for the guests are placed. He would pick up the stack of the Colonel’s newspapers delivered that morning.  Then we go our separate ways in time for Mr. Body to make it to Colonel Mustard’s by 8:00 o’clock. He was never late.”  She looked Rollins in the eyes and pleaded. “Do you know who did this awful thing or why?”

Rollins replied in a professional way, “Not yet.  We are still investigating.  However, we did find that Mr. Body recently took out an insurance policy for $250,000 with you as the beneficiary.  Isn’t that a little strange?  Why would Mr. Body name you as beneficiary?”

Mrs. Peacock upset at his accusing question, countered defensively.  “No!  You can’t think I had anything to do with this.  We were going to be married. That is why he purchased the insurance—for his wife—his soon-to-be wife, that is.”

Rollins smiled as he replied sarcastically, “Yes, he would have been your fourth husband, I believe?  Don’t leave town, Mrs. Peacock.”

Rollins turned back toward the remaining people in the dining room, leaving Peacock standing by the window with her hands on her hips and a sneer on her face.

Rollins walked over to another lady in the room—this one wearing a white and black pantsuit. “You are Mrs. White, I presume; are you not?”

Mrs. White replied hesitantly. “Yes.  Oh my, what do you want with me?”

Rollins, somewhat accusingly questioned, “You were staying in the room next to Mr. Body? It was your scream a little after 3:00 this morning that Mr. Green heard , wasn’t it?”

“Yes.  I hadn’t been able to sleep.  Mr. Body’s room is directly across from mine. You can see right into his room.  I opened my door and saw him.  There he was on the floor, and Mr. Green was there too. And, Mr. Rollins, he was going through Mr. Body’s pockets!”

Remembering that the Innkeeper had described Mrs. White as a “nosey biddy”, Rollins responded to her disclosure dismissively. “Yes, we know about that.  Did you see or hear anything else suspicious?”

“Well, yes.  It was when Mr. Body returned from running an errand yesterday for the Colonel. He said he had some kind of confrontation with another driver.  When he told me about the car, I recognized it. Mr. Rollins, it was just like the one she drives!”  White was pointing to a lady dressed in all red. It was Miss Scarlet.

Rollins turned to Miss Scarlet.  “You are Miss Scarlet?

Miss Scarlet, flirtingly, said, “Yes, handsome.  What can I do for you?”

Rollins, putting on his tough guy act replied, “Cut it out, Scarlet. Get serious.  I’m investigating the murder of Mr. Body.”

Scarlet, still flirting, challenged Rollins.  “What does that have to do with me?”

Rollins, in her face, countered. “He filed a complaint against you with the police over a road rage incident.”

Scarlet, almost giddy, continued, “So, you think that’s what happened to him—that I killed him! He was a terrible driver—went the speed limit—nobody does that anymore.  Would not pull over to let me pass and you know how tight these mountain roads can be, no shoulders to pass on.  I flipped him the finger.  But I did not kill him.  It must have been someone else.  When did the guy meet his maker?”

“We think sometime last night or early this morning.”

Scarlet, sullen, explained. “Well, that lets me out.  You don’t think I’m the kind of girl who spends her nights alone, do you?”  Pointing at the man in a purple smoking jacket, she continued.  “I was with him last night.  My loveable, smart, Professor Plum. She threw him a kiss.”

Rollins walked over to Plum and demanded, “Is that so. What about it, Professor?”

Professor Plum seem distracted, studying something. It was a napkin he had picked up from the dining table. He was folding the napkin different ways.  He looked up at Rollins. “What? I’m sorry—did you say something to me?”

Scarlet yelled from across the room.  “Tell him, Professor.  You remember.  I was with you last night.  All night—remember?”

“Well, what about that, Plum?  Was she with you or not?”

Scarlet, still talking to Plum from across the room, shouted.  “Go on, tell him, lover.  You are always forgetting things!  But you can’t forget me—you can’t forget our lovely night together—CAN YOU?”

Plum still confused said “Well, yes, of course,  if she says so.”  Then he became excited as if he just made a great scientific discovery.  “Yes, oh yes, yes, yes!  With a big smile on his face he went on. “Oh yes, I remember.”  The seated Professor looked up at Rollins, “It was quite something, I assure you.”

Rollins, talking to Professor Plum, and then to Scarlet instructed them.  “Professor, let’s just stick to the facts, shall we?  And Scarlet, don’t make any plans to leave town.”

Rollins left Miss Scarlet pouting.


Summation by Mark Rollins:

“While you probably do not have enough evidence to convict, If you listened carefully, you have discovered enough evidence to identify the murderer—or, as they now say, the person of interest. Most murders that are solved are solved quickly by extracting a confession from the killer.  So, it is time to identify the person we think is the Applewood killer and let the police interrogators get a full confession from him or her.  In the game of Clue, there are three questions to be answered. I have answered the first two for you.  All you need to do is answer question number 3.

  1. Where was Mr. Body killed? [He was killed in his room, the Northern Spy Suite.]
  2. How was he killed? [Mr. Body was killed with a lead pipe]
  3. Who killed Mr. Body?

Asheville has been called many things—weirdest, happiest, quirkiest place in America, Santa Fe of the East, New Age Capital of the World, Paris of the South, Beer City USA, Most Haunted, Sky City and others. It has many secrets, mysteries, and legends—some factual, some alleged, some exaggerated and some just plain lies.


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