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"Murder by Lembeck" by Richard Ciciarelli

Twist #281 - January 2016

Originally appeared Dec. 1998

(Page 1 of 3)

Harvey Lembeck was tired of being intimidated and humiliated by Mr. Martin, his boss, so one Friday Harvey shot him.

It was really quite easy.

Harvey had decided on this drastic course of action after a particularly unpleasant Tuesday. Everything he did that day was wrong in Mr. Martin's eyes: His figures on the Contie account were wrong; his check of the Bensonhurst work was late; his handwriting on the Waters case was illegible.

This haranguing would almost have been tolerable if Tuesday hadn't been the tenth anniversary of Harvey's joining the firm. Did he get a congratulations? Did he get a thank you for ten years of loyal service? Did he even get a hello? No. All he got was insulted and degraded.

That's when the timid Harvey Lembeck decided to fight back. That's when he decided to kill his boss.

The plan came to Harvey easily. Almost too easily. As if, subconsciously, it had been taking shape for a long time.

Mr. Martin had to be killed on a Friday. That's when he was alone in his office all morning. He played poker with some business associates every Thursday and came to work hung over every Friday. He'd instruct Janet, his secretary, that he would be busy and wanted absolutely no interruptions until noon. Busy! Humph! Everyone in the office knew he was sleeping off Thursday night's whiskey.

Yes, on Friday while Mr. Martin was sleeping, that's when Harvey would kill him.

Friday morning Harvey crept into his brother-in-law's room. Lazy bum hadn't worked in years. He slept till noon, sat around all day eating and watching television, and then went out carousing all night, living off Harvey's generosity. Harvey never could figure out where he got the money for his nightly sallies. He was totally worthless -- up until now, that is.

Worthless Bill kept a loaded pistol in his bureau under his socks. Harvey quietly pulled open a drawer, rummaged around for a few seconds, and then slid the drawer shut, having removed a small handgun. As he left the room he looked back at his brother-in-law. Still asleep, naturally.

Breakfast went the way breakfast usually went on alternate Fridays. Harvey kept his nose in the newspaper while his wife ranted about the bills that were due, the groceries that had to be bought, and the repairs that had to be made.

"And don't forget to cash your check right after lunch and deposit the money in our checking account. I don't want any of our checks to bounce. And don't spend any more than you have to on lunch. Last time you bought lunch for your friends at the office and threw our budget way off. When do they ever buy lunch for you? And another thing..."

At least the drive to work was smooth and quiet that day. Harvey parked in his space in the basement of the office building and walked up the stairs to the eighth floor where he worked.

Harvey had been deathly afraid of elevators ever since he was stuck in one as a child. Everyone knew that. That was an important part of his plan.