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"The Violent Vacation" by Henry Slesar

Solve-it #273 - July 2004

Orig. appeared Aug 1998

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here had never been a murder at Wallaby Lodge, so Chief Anders was inclined to use the form labeled "Accident Report."

It was going to be fairly easy to write. A vacationing couple named Frisby had gone rowing on Lake Wallaby, and only one had come back. But then, the owner of the Lodge, Mrs. Burley, had taken the Chief aside and said the M word.

"What makes you think that?" Anders said, raising his left eyebrow.

"Well, I don't know for sure that he drowned her," Mrs. Burley said. "But there's something peculiar about that man."

"Describe him."

"I can do that in one word-- cheap! I mean cheap like you wouldn't believe! His wife told me that this was their first vacation in 20 years."

Anders, unimpressed, lowered his eyebrow.

"But there's more." Mrs. Burley said. "He wouldn't rent a car at the airport. They hitchhiked all the way to the Lodge! They took a single room, and his wife slept on the sofa. He even carried his own bags upstairs so he wouldn't have to tip the bellboy."

The Chief still wasn't too impressed, but he decided to speak to Frisby.

"Sure, I know the value of a dollar," he said. "But my wife was tighter than me. Her father left her a trust fund of almost half a million, and she wouldn't let me touch a dime."

The eyebrow went up again.

"Does the money go to you now?" he asked.

"Sure," Frisby said blandly. "Why shouldn't it? Excuse me. I have to see Mrs. Burley."

Later, the Chief learned that Frisby had asked the Lodge owner for a refund for his foreshortened stay.

"You see what I mean?" Mrs. Burley said. "Isn't there some way you can prove that man drowned his wife?"

"There weren't any witnesses," the Chief said thoughtfully. "But maybe there's another way."

He thumbed through the phone book for the number of the airline. When his call was placed, he listened in satisfaction to the answer he received. Then he went upstairs and placed Frisby under arrest.

Why did the Chief call the airline?

What did he learn that made him arrest Frisby?