The dead man held an empty envelope. According to hearsay, the police found 20 identical letters on or around the corpse.
Blame it on sloppy journalism. Or a mischievous Police Press Officer with a fondness for bad puns.
“There was no letter in the envelope,” Sergeant Jan Serengeti told the crime reporter for the Falsingham Echo over the phone. “Though I suppose you could say -” her voice rose self-consciously, telegraphing the approaching jest “- we found letters on the body.” Sergeant Serengeti giggled nervously. “Bees.”
Dan Dashett, a recent graduate of an online journalism course, rapidly promoted to chief crime correspondent (to add to his duties covering news, celebrities, politics, arts, entertainment, sport and obituaries), failed to pick up the signals of coy embarrassment in the police officer’s voice. “Bs?”
“And so you’re working on the theory that these Bs had something to do with Lord Pennydragon’s death?”
“Oh certainly. It seems he suffered from an extreme allergy to bees. The murderer sent the bees through the post. The bees were understandably angry and when Lord Pennydragon opened the envelope… well, you can imagine the rest.”
“Yeah, yeah,” said Dashett, who in fact was too busy to imagine anything. He typed a hurried account straight into the ‘TabLoid’ page maker software. The piece went live on the Falsingham Echo’s website immediately and provided the front page for the weekly print edition, which came out without any corrections or clarifications two days later.
TabLoid’s ‘AutoPun’ headline-generating facility had provided a banner that was closer to the truth than Dashett realized: ATTACK OF THE KILLER Bs!
When the facts came out, Dashett was summoned to the editor’s office and given a severe reprimand, as well as three more ‘desks’ to cover: restaurants, horticultural and business.