It looked like suicide: both hands on the gun, the barrel in his mouth, head blown apart. Something about the face proved it was murder.
There was a note. The usual. I can’t take it anymore. But DCI John Stafford was suspicious of suicide notes. DCI John Stafford was suspicious of everything.
“An odd typeface to choose for a suicide note, isn’t it?” It seemed that he was asking the question of the dead man, who of course couldn’t answer, his vocal organs obliterated by the gun blast.
The note had been written on computer and printed off in bright colours. The typeface chosen was one of those cheerful curly fonts designed to express a quirky individuality.
“Perhaps it’s ironic,” said DS Ringer.
“Ironic? Are you taking the piss?”
Ringer had entered the force as a graduate, having read philosophy at Leeds. He had a penchant for the existentialists. He was not known for taking the piss. “OK, maybe not ironic, but… Don’t you think there is a sense of desolation about the choice of such a cheerful typeface for this message, of all messages? To me it speaks of a man who is smiling on the outside, but inside… despair.”
“Not a happy soul?” DCI Stafford had a knack of converting Ringer’s profound observations into banalities. He seemed to derive great pleasure from it.
“The typeface doesn’t prove anything,” said Ringer sourly.
“Not on its own but…” Stafford broke off, distracted by the face of the grandfather clock behind the dead man. “Do we have a time of death yet?”
“About ten this morning, is Dr Landlock’s estimate. Subject to revision on a full medical examination.”
“Then why has the bullet stopped the hands at twelve?”
A full medical examination confirmed the doctor’s first estimate. And so the clock face proved that the gun that blew away the deceased’s face was discharged two hours after his actual death. The apparent suicide was a charade. The cause of death was given as asphyxiation.
Stafford directed his sergeant to find out what the quirky ‘suicide note’ typeface was. It didn’t take long to identify it as HERMAN.
“Herman?” wondered Stafford. “Or her man?”
Examination of the dead man’s mobile phone revealed texts of an intimate nature to and from the wife of one of his colleagues, suggesting an affair. When they picked up the cuckolded colleague his face flushed with colour. They took it as proof of his guilt.