Mystery and Crime Fiction posted October 11, 2022

This work has reached the exceptional level
The tale of a perfect housewife. Drama in three parts.

Excuse me, is this a corpse?

by JoannaN

Part I  


My name is Maia Simmons and I live on Weeping Willows Lane. If you don’t know what Weeping Willows Lane is, you are probably a foreigner. Every child in our city knows that Weeping Willows Lane stands for luxury and high standard of life. Most people in our country can only dream of living in such a lovely place. 

Now, when I am writing these words, I am sitting on my patio, sipping my ice latte and watching the surroundings. Miss Armstrong, our neighbour, is walking down the street, looking glamorous in her new Versace dress. People of Weeping Willows Lane are fond of luxury brands. If you wear Zara, you just won’t fit in.

I wave at Miss Armstrong. “Hello, Lara!”

Lara Armstrong sends me one of her dazzling smiles. “Hi, Maia. How lovely to see you!”

I beam at her, smiling so wide that my face aches for a while. She sends me a kiss and walks away.

So this is it. Keeping up appearances is one of the most crucial parts of my life. Waving, smiling, greeting. I repeat this ritual with several other neighbours: Mrs. Haskell, whose son used to be my husband’s classmate, Mr Jones, who is the local veterinarian, and Mr Carletto, who owns a chain of boutiques. My face muscles are stiff now, aching from the constant smiling and beaming, but I do not dare to complain. This is the life on Weeping Willows Lane. You have to be a lady; kind, polite and charming. You have to blend in with the crowd.

I sit for a while and glance around my place. I am proud of my garden. I am proud of my house. I strive for all the best in my life, aiming for the highest quality. You may take me for one of these lazy ladies, but believe me, I do not sit idle. Only two days ago I oversaw a great cleaning of our attic. You will be surprised to know how many things you can keep in the attic. We packed so many rubbish bags. Old clothes, old newspapers, old toys. My son, Jonathan, was a bit unhappy to get rid of his things, but this is life. Your house needs to be immaculate. You need to be an example for your friends. And only yesterday I had a conference with at least fifty people.  My husband, Frank, is celebrating his birthday in two months, and I am doing my best to organize it, like a pro. Here, on Weeping Willows Lane, I am considered to be one of the best hostesses in our town, and I am proud of it.

“Excuse me?” A male voice tears me out of my thoughts.

I see a stranger standing at my fence. The man is wearing an old tracksuit, soiled and torn in several places. His face is unshaven, and there is a giant bruise on his left cheek.

“Yes?” I hear nervousness in my own voice. The man is definitely not one of us. Nevertheless, whoever this intruder is, I am a lady and I will behave accordingly. Therefore, I muster up my best smile. “How can I help you, sir?” I ask graciously.

The man does not smile back at me. “Can you come closer?”

Still smiling, I walk down the stairs. Out of the corner of my eye, I notice Mr Carletto marching in our direction.

“Mrs. Simmons.” Mr Carletto nods at me and turns to the Stranger. “Are there any problems?” he asks in a sharper tone.

The Stranger rolls his eyes. “Look.”  The man points at something behind me. “Under your garbage can. The green one.”

I narrow my eyes. I do not see anything strange. I take a few steps to have a better view.

And then I gasp. There is someone lying on the ground. I can see a pair of white sneakers sticking from under the garbage can.

I feel my knees buckle.

Mr Carletto’s face blanches. He opens and closes his mouth, like a fish. He stares at the Stranger, pleadingly. “Excuse me, sir, is this a corpse?”



Part II



I am sitting at my kitchen table now. I feel dizzy. My head is spinning, and I cannot recollect the events of the last hours. My husband, Frank, is pacing around the room. In his Armani suit, Frank looks glamorous and mighty, just as the CEO of an IT company should look like. Two police officers take places at my table. I try to smile at them, but my face is stiff. A weird grimace is the best I can manage. 

The older of the duo, a stout dark-haired woman, glances at me with sympathy. “It must be so difficult for you.”

I only nod at her. I am at loss for words. I live on Weeping Willows Lane, for Heaven’s sake. It’s not a place where you expect beggars, vagabonds or encyclopaedia sellers, let alone a corpse. My lawn. My beautiful lawn, the pride of my house. Someone had the audacity to kill a child and put its corpse on my immaculate lawn. I suddenly feel an urge to break into laughter. I am so shallow, as befits a proper lady from Weeping Willows Lane. My Frank sometimes calls me his Stepford Wife.

The police officers eye me watchfully. The dark-haired woman extracts something from her pocket and hands it over to me.

I glance at it. It’s a photo. A fair-haired, freckled boy is grinning at me. I take a closer look. Dirty Nike shoes, probably second-hand. His jeans are torn in a few places, his T-shirt is faded. I frown. No, he was definitely not one of us.

“Do you recognize him?” asks the second officer.

I narrow my eyes, and then the realization comes to me. “It’s our paper boy.” I shrug my shoulders. “I don’t even know his name. I never talked to him. He was only a paper boy.”

The female office looks back at me, and for a moment, I see a flicker of annoyance in her dark eyes.

“When was the last time you saw him?” she asks.

“I don’t know. Two days ago.”

Frank approaches our table and snatches the photo from my hands. “I do not know him either. He was only a paper boy. The last time I saw him was a week ago.” He stiffens. “We are law-abiding, well-respected citizens. What do you want from us?”

The female officer pushes herself to a standing position. “This boy was found on your own lawn. Someone hit him on the head with a blunt object. The corpse was in your garden, sir. We expect you both to cooperate.” She makes a pause to catch her breath. “This boy was nine years old,” she says, fury in her voice. “He worked as a paperboy to support his family. And his name was James. James Miller. You may as well at least try to remember it.”



Jonathan stares at me, confused. My heart aches. My son, my sweet little innocent boy, is now about to be interrogated by the police.

We are now sitting in his room, waiting for the officers. I muster up my best smile. I need to be strong for my son. “How was your day at school?” I ask. Even though I try to keep calm, my voice is breaking.

Jonathan shrugs his shoulders. “Ok,” he says. “Dylan invited me for his birthday.” He bites his lip. “But I do not want to go.”

“Oh, Jonathan.” I squeeze his hands consolingly. “You will have to. Dylan will be sorry if you miss his party.”

“But I don’t like him.”

“Oh, darling.” I beam at my boy. “You are a good boy, a well-brought-up boy. You cannot exclude anyone.” Dylan’s father is a CEO of one of the most renowned medical centres, a person to be reckoned with.

The door creaks open, and in comes Frank. “I’ve already told you, officer,” he snaps. “It was a kid from the local trailer park. My son had nothing in common with him.”

The officers enter the room and nod at me.

The female officer beams at Jonathan. “Are you ready, Jonathan?”

My son shrugs his shoulders.

“It will take only a while.” The officer pulls herself one of the empty chairs and sits. “My name is Marina Cortes, and I would like to ask you a few questions. For a start, tell me something about yourself. Which school do you attend?”

“Jefferson’s Elementary.”

The officers exchange glances. Jefferson’s Elementary is the most prestigious school in the whole city. The monthly fee probably exceeds Officer Cortes’ salary.

“Do you have any hobbies?”

Jonathan shrugs his shoulders. “I attend some courses. English literature, Spanish, French, Chinese. I play tennis and golf.”

I smile at the officers, slightly embarrassed. “We do all the best for our Jonathan.”

Officer Cortes frowns. “OK. Let’s get back to business then.” She pulls a photo from the pocket of her uniform. “This is James. Did you see him yesterday?”


Officer Cortes places the photo on the table. “You did not even look at it, Jonathan.”

Jonathan glances at the photo. “He was our paperboy. He was not my friend. He came from a trailer park and was poor. He even had a Mickey Mouse watch.”

“When was the last time you saw him?”

Jonathan rubs his chin. “Two days ago,” he says slowly. “He was talking to that man.”

Officer Cortes opens her eyes wide. “What man?”

“I don’t know him. He was not one of us.” Jonathan purses his lips. “He had a beard. And a tattoo.” He closes his eyes for a moment. “He had dark hair and was tall.”

After a few minutes, the officers are gone. I sigh with relief.

“My darling.” I embrace my son. I am so shaken that my voice trembles. “You were so brave.”

“OK.” Jonathan glances at me. “Will you buy me an ice cream?”

“Oh, Jonathan.” I beam. “Ice creams are unhealthy. I will make you some frozen yoghurt with strawberries. You will love it.”



The new day has come.  It’s Sunday. I wake Jonathan up.

He rubs his eyes, sleepy like a little kitten. “Mummy, I want to sleep.”

“Hush my darling.” I smile at him. “Mummy has something for you.”

Yesterday, just after the police officers had left our house, Frank headed for the shopping mall to buy a small gift for Jonathan. He returned with a giant black drone. RX-714A, the newest model available on the market, an awesome miracle of technology. We both hope it will help our boy overcome the trauma of the last days. After all, he has been interrogated by the police, in his own house. My heart is weeping. Our little boy.

Jonathan stretches himself and blinks at me. “Mummy, can I sleep for one hour? One hour more?” he asks hopefully.

“Yes, my darling.” I pat him on his little hand.



While Jonathan is asleep, I call my friends. Nina, Noelle, Josephine, Pia, Angouleme – the residents of Weeping Willows Lane. Each one of us is a mother.

We decide to organize a short meeting, for the residents of our area. I will be responsible for the posters, Pia will notify our neighbours, Josephine will bring some snacks and coffee.




Half an hour later, I see a giant crowd just behind my window. In the sea of faces, I recognize Pia with her husband, Josephine with her four sons, and Nina. When I leave my house, people wave at me.

“Maia!” Nia throws herself in my arms. “Oh, it’s so horrible.”

“Poor you!” echoes Pia.

“It must have been so terrifying.”

People gather around me. People hug me, pat me on my shoulders, they try to comfort me. I feel so united, so strong.

“They say the boy was hit with a blunt object,” mutters Tom, Pia’s husband.

“Why?” I ask. “Why would someone hit a child?”

“It was probably robbery,” announces Mr Carletto. “According to what I heard yesterday, someone stole some of his personal belongings.”

I open my eyes. This is something I cannot grasp. A poor boy from an underprivileged family. His personal items hardly had any value.

I suddenly feel the urge to act, to take the matter in my own hands. I reach for my posters. “Here you are,” I say, and my voice echoes around the place. “Please take them.”

The crowd murmurs in agreement. People gather around me, everyone occupied with my posters.

“Dark hair and a beard?” Mr Carletto reads aloud.

“A tattoo.” Pia winces. “It must have been a criminal. No one decent has a tattoo, for Heaven’s sake!”

“Merlin’s beard.” Mr Carletto grabs his head. “Dark hair, a beard, a tattoo, tall. This is basically the description of our new neighbour. His name is Giuseppe Dagarov.”

“A foreigner?” I clench my fists. "It sounds as if he were a Russian mobster."

Mr Carletto shrugs his shoulders. “I don’t know him well. He keeps to himself. The bloke does not have a wife. They say he’s divorced.”

Everyone falls silent.

I lift my hand. “Well, we will never know unless we ask him. Let’s pay a visit to Mr Dagarov.”



Thoughts are running through my head. A lonely man. A foreigner. According to American scientists, the average criminal is a man, wifeless and frustrated.

Nina glances at me curiously. “Are you sure it is a good idea?” she asks. “We even don’t know him.”

The house of Mr Dagarov looks unexpectedly pleasant and well-kept. How can a criminal afford such a lovely house? He must be a mobster, I decide. This house must have been financed from drug trafficking, money laundering or other heinous acts. It’s disgusting. I feel anger rising in me.

I storm onto the patio and bang on the door. In this moment, I am not proud of myself. I am a lady, I should behave like a lady.

Mr Dagarov opens the door. To my surprise, he does not look like a criminal. A tall, lean man, dressed in an Armani suit. His beard is well-trimmed, and he smells with Dior.

I muster up my sweetest smile. “My name is Maia Simmons. Can I talk to you for a minute?”

“Sure.” He glanced over my shoulder. “Who are these guys?”

“Only concerned neighbours.” I draw myself up to my full height. “We would like to know whether you saw anything or anyone suspicious in our area. A boy was murdered two days ago.”

“Well. I am afraid I cannot help you, Mrs. Simmons. I was out of town for a week.” He shrugs his shoulders.

Before I can say a thing, something whizzes past my head. A stone, someone has just hurled a stone at us.

I whirl around. At least four of my neighbours are holding stones in their hands. And one of them, a giant, muscled man, a former MMA-wrestler named John Antonio (better known as Mr ABC-X-250), is holding a pitchfork. I feel my knees buckle.

“Hey!” I call out. “Please stop.”

“A liar!” cries a young man. He has a gun in his hands.

“Please stop.”

A moment later, it dawns on me. The situation is now spiralling out of my control.

Mr Dagarov stares at me scathingly and withdraws into his house, slamming the door.


Part 3



Three hours later, I find myself sitting at a table, just opposite Officer Cortes.

“Mrs. Simmons.” She folds her hands into a little steeple. “We feel honoured to host you in our headquarters.”

The blond-haired officer, who is sitting at a desk in the corner, chuckles.

I feel my cheeks burn. “Let me explain something to you. I am a mother, and it was my garden where the murder took place.” I lean forward. I can smell her perfumes now, something cheap you can buy at Walmart’s. “My friends are parents as well. We are afraid. What if it was one of our children? One of the children I know, one of the children whose parents are my friends?”

Officer Cortes peers at me angrily. “According to your statement, James Miller did not belong to your…” She makes a pause. “To your social circle.”

“But it could have been one of us.” I jump to my feet. I am towering over her now. “One of us. Do you have your own children, Officer Cortes?”

Officer Cortes does not seem impressed. “Please sit down, Mrs. Simmons.”

She glances at me, her face hard and ruthless. I give up and return to my place.

“Good,” she says dispassionately. “I would like you to know that we have verified Mr Dagarov’s alibi. It’s true.”

“But…” I stand up.

“Mrs. Simmons,” begins Officer Cortes, and steel rings in her voice. “The next time you leave your place, I will be obliged to handcuff you. Please do not make it more difficult for me. I assure you, the next thing you learn, will be difficult for you to digest.”

The blond officer gives her the thumbs up.

I sit down, confused.

“We have analysed a few recordings from the local area. They prove that between 5 AM and 6 AM no one entered your part of the street, except for James Miller, of course. There was no sight of a dark-haired man, let alone of a dark-haired man with a tattoo and a beard.” Officer Cortes snorts. “What a description is that? He should have had a wooden leg and a giant parrot on his arm.”

“But…” I try to cut in, but she raises her hand.

“As there are no surveillance cameras directly in front of your house, we have no recordings showing the murder.”

“Don’t you have any witnesses?” I ask, dumbstruck.

“We have plenty of witnesses. They see dark-haired men everywhere. Within the last hour, we received three phone calls. Three people saw a dark-haired bearded man in black clothes today.” She skims her notes. “Dark-haired, beard, like Sirius Black,” she reads aloud, wincing. “The other report is even more sinister. Like Marylin Manson, but with a beard.”

“And? Have you found him?”

Officer Cortes heaves a sigh. “We have identified the man they reported. It seems the patriarch of Russian orthodox church is paying a visit to USA today. He landed a few hours ago.” She glances straight in my eyes. “I suppose this is going to be one of these unsolved cases. But tell me, Mrs. Simmons, who needs to hit a small boy on a head with a bottle? James Miller was short and thin. Even for a woman your size, it would have been easier just to strangle him with your bare hands.”

“I don’t understand.”

Officer Cortes folds her hands. “There was only one thing that vanished from James Miller’s belongings, Mrs. Simmons. A Mickey Mouse watch. Even you are smart enough to solve this case on your own.”

“I still don’t understand.”

“Well, it doesn’t surprise me.” She looks at me, and her stare is icy. “We are going to do you a favour, Mrs. Simmons. You may leave now.”



If you would like to know the solution to this crime mystery... please scroll down.




The biggest clue is the Mickey Mouse Watch. If you want the answer, scroll down...




The answer.

Jonathan and James had a fight over the Mickey Mouse Watch. Remember - Jonathan's mother got rid of his favourite toys a short time before it.

The fight went simply too far. Jonathan got panicked. There was no strange dark-haired man. Jonathan invented it.


(Thanks for reading this story. I know it was long).


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