Forty years ago, almost to the day, I witnessed something that will stay with me for ever. A scene so terrifying, so blood curdlingly horrific that the memories of that night can never be erased. Yet at the time the whole scene was played out, in my mind at least, rather like some post war melodrama. It seemed to me to be taking place at a distance. Almost as if I was a witness, yet not really involved. An out of body experience if you will. In all the interceding years never once have I recounted this experience to a soul. Until now.
Here is my story...
It was a dark and stormy night, cliches were falling like snowflakes. Maybe they were snowflakes, it was December after all. I will never forget the scene. It was dark, very dark. A still, expectant darkness. The type of darkness that is frequently the prelude to a tragedy. Being without sight I strained to listen out for signs of life around me. I thought I could hear someone coughing in the distance. A dry nervous cough. Yet that could not be, I was alone. Alone in the dark. At least that was what I thought…
But I was wrong. All at once there came the sound of a man whistling. Yes, I am sure that’s what it was, a man whistling as he would if he were up to no good. As if he was engaged in some nefarious act of treachery out there in the darkness. Moments later a scream rang out. A terrifying blood curdling scream. Aaaaaaaarrrgggh! That type of scream. Only much, much worse. Possibly spelled differently too! I sat there motionless, listening for further sounds. There were none. Who or what was out there in the cold dark night?
Several minutes later a light came on in the distance. A woman appeared. She seemed to be in the drawing room. This woman must have just entered the room from outside as she was still wearing a winter coat. She called out to another woman who I could not see. The room itself reminded me of the type you find in an old country house. You know the kind I mean. The kind of house you would expect to see in a murder mystery by Agatha Christie.
The main feature was the fireplace. A fireplace so big you could throw a dinner party inside of it. Then there was the huge Gothic style lead-lined window. Looking out over an expansive and manicured lawn. The furniture was all made of Oak, the staircase too. A strong elegant winding staircase, probably made by British craftsmen. Not a single flatpack item from Ikea in sight.
Everything I had seen thus far gave me the impression of being like the start of a play. The sort of play that can be seen in theatres in the West End of London. If only I knew what was going to come next.
What came next…
One thing was for sure, I was definitely not alone. There appeared to be eight other people involved too. As the evening unfolded I was gradually introduced to the owner of the house, Mollie Ralston (the woman in the winter coat) and her over protective husband, Giles. Then came the slightly peculiar Christopher Wren, a young man. He was followed by the bad tempered Mrs Boyle and the somewhat mysterious Major Metcalf. There was also an oddly masculine but not unattractive woman called miss Casewell.
And then. A knock at the door. “There’s somebody knocking at the door!” Exclaimed Mollie. “Who can that be?”
Well, the way things seem to be going with this story it’s probably a tall stranger with a foreign accent dressed in black and carrying a Gladstone bag.
The mysterious foreign gentleman
The door opens. In walks a tall stranger with a foreign accent dressed in black and carrying a Gladstone bag. “My name is Mr Paravacini.” Says the mysterious foreign gentleman. “My car has broken down on the highway and I am looking for a place to spend the night.”
Now, I know what you are thinking at this point. A murder has been committed and in walks a convenient foreign sounding gentleman dressed in black and carrying a bag that probably holds a six inch blade, dripping in blood which he undoubtedly uses to kill and dismember his unfortunate victims.
That’s what I thought too. Let’s be perfectly honest here if there is a cold blooded murderer prowling the leafy lanes of rural England on a snowy December night he’s certainly not a local. There’ll all down the pub. So, it has to be the foreigner then. Try to remember that this is England in the 1960’s. It was OK to be racist in the 60’s.
Trotter of the Yard
The last character to make an appearance is Detective Sergeant Trotter from Scotland Yard. Policemen in those days were inevitably sent by Scotland Yard. Back in the days when they still had Policemen in England. Before the cuts.
So now we have been introduced to all the players in this little mystery. What we don’t know is whodunnit. No, I mean really whodunnit. The foreigner is way too obvious so it can’t really be him. Or can it?
Now at this point I have to admit that I actually know who the killer is. I was there after all. I got to meet all the protagonists. I saw the drama unfold. I witnessed the bodies piling up before me. Oh yes, there were more bodies. Lots and lots of bodies. I was there as Inspector Trotter painstakingly worked his way through the evidence. Questioning the suspects, revealing the clues, all the while with a cup of coffee in one hand and a donut in the other.
Only now, 40 years after being a party to one of the world’s greatest murder mysteries do I feel able to reveal the identity of this dastardly murderer. I can exclusively reveal to you that the murderer is….. Aaaaaaaarrrgggh!
OK, so we are really sorry about this but sadly the author of this story has just met with a premature and unfortunate end. It turns out the coffee he was drinking was laced with Arsenic. I’m afraid that if you wish to know who the killer was that he was referring to you need to visit St Martin’s theatre in the Seven Dials area of London, WC2H 9NZ and find out for yourself. Luckily for you you can find exclusively discounted tickets online at Theatre Tickets Direct – Official Half Price and Discount Theatre Tickets for London Musicals and Plays plus exclusive Show and Meal Packages.
Purchase exclusive discounted theatre tickets
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