JF Beck led them back to the body. It lay face down on the neatly trimmed grass, one arm extended as if reaching for something. “This,” said Beck, holding the half-eaten sandwich gingerly by the unmolested crust, “was over there.” He pointed to a spot two or three feet in front of the corpse’s outstretched hand.
“What makes you think it’ll identify the killer, JF?” asked Nick.
“Bite mark analysis.”
“Possibly. But it could just as easily have belonged to him,” said Nick, nodding at the portly deceased. “He looks like he enjoyed a meal or three.”
“Or five,” Beck raised him. “You know, he looks vaguely familiar.”
Nick walked round the body, surveying the scene. Finally, he looked up at Beck. “Go find a bag to keep that sandwich safe, JF. And call Inspector McEnroe.”
While Beck went inside, Nick and Nora stood by the body.
Nora gazed at the unorthodoxly sculpted hedge. “Why,” she murmured languidly, “that looks just like…”
“Indeed,” said Nick.
“Oh!” said Nora.
They stood in silence, Nora blushing lightly, until JF Beck returned, the sandwich safely ensconced in a brown paper bag
“Help me lift him enough to see who he was,” said Nick.
Beck handed Nora the evidence thus far and he and the former DA strained to roll the porcine body onto its side.
“Good God,” said Beck, “is that Michael Moore? I can’t tell, the face is too purple from the post-mortem lividity.”
“His face was always nearly that colour. You can’t eat like he did and not have a blood pressure problem. And yes, it’s Moore.”
Beck couldn’t resist a smirk. “And now he’s less.”
As they held the lifeless body of the one-time colossus of calumny on its side, straining to hold his weight, Nick quickly scanned the front of the body. A fleck of tinsel adhered to the front of his distastefully loud Hawaiian shirt.
A sudden movement behind them caused the duo to lose their grip on the body and they let it slump back face down into the lawn as Asta the dog suddenly rushed by, leaping and snatching the brown bag containing the sandwich from Nora’s hand.
“Asta! Stop!” cried Nora, but it was too late. The tiny terrier rushed away to find a private spot to eat the morsel.
“Damn!” said Nick.
“Oh, you can’t blame, Asta, Nicky,” cooed Nora, “it looked just like one of his doggy bags. And peanut butter is his favourite.”
Beck groaned. “But the evidence is gone.”
“Perhaps not,” said Nick, stroking his chin. “Come with me,” he said, leading the way inside to the parlour. The guests, herded into the room earlier by Beck, sat round the room in stunned silence.
“What’s on your mind, Nick?” asked Beck.
Strolling towards the centrepiece of the Christmas decorations, Nick Charles began to hum an old German carol.
“Oh Tannenbaum, oh Tannenbaum…”
Next instalment coming soon...
Peanut Butter and Jelly
1 measure Frangelico
1 measure Chambord
1 measure Cream
Shake equal parts over ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail, pony or shot glass.