A Tinker’s Damn, by K.R. Smith

© Vladislav Ociacia - Fotolia.com

© Vladislav Ociacia – Fotolia.com

Detective Myers stood next to the body lying in the garage, scanning the area for any clue as to what had happened. Finding the only thing unusual to be the bloody corpse stretched out on the concrete floor, he turned to the medical examiner inspecting the deceased and asked, “Do you have any idea on the cause of death?”

“Not yet. His name’s Edgar Winthrop. He’s the homeowner here, or was—along with his wife. She found him just like this. There are a lot of puncture marks and small cuts on the body, but I’m not sure what sort of weapon might do this. Looks like there was a struggle, though. Lots of swelling. I’ll be able to tell more once I get him downtown.”

“Yeah, great,” Myers mumbled. “Can’t say I’ve seen anything like this before. Nothing better than starting the day off with a mystery. Let me know as soon as you get something.”

“Grayson?” he said, turning to his plain-clothes sergeant. “Check out the shed, the shrubbery, the back of the property. See if you can dig up anything. And take plenty of pictures.”

“Got it,” Grayson replied, pulling out a small camera and checking the settings before striding away.

Myers walked over to a couple of uniformed policemen and told them to start a door-to-door check of the neighborhood to determine if there were any witnesses or if someone had noticed anything out of the ordinary that afternoon. They nodded, and then proceeded down the driveway to the street.

With the crime scene in process, he walked back toward the house to where the deceased’s wife, Mrs. Winthrop, sat in a lawn chair just out of sight of the tragedy. She was an unremarkable gray-haired woman, perhaps seventy years of age, appearing as if she could be anyone’s grandmother in her flowered housedress and white shoes.

“I’m sorry for your loss,” Myers said to her in a matter-of-fact manner. “I was wondering if you were up to answering a few questions.”

“I’ll try,” she said, dabbing a handkerchief to her eyes.

“You found your husband just as he is now? In the garage workshop?”

“Yes. He was lying on the floor, bleeding from all those cuts.” She paused for a moment before continuing. “I knew he was dead the moment I saw him,” she said while trying to hold back her emotions.

“Do you know what he was doing in there?”

“Edgar had bought these models of insects and such he’d found at an estate sale. You know, spiders, scorpions, centipedes. He was trying to clean them up a bit.”

“Models of bugs?” Myers asked incredulously. “I didn’t see anything like that in there. Did you take them out of the workshop?”

“No. I certainly wouldn’t have done that. They were awful, and so dreadfully real looking. I didn’t want them in the house. I can’t believe anyone would steal those horrible things.”

“Can you describe them?”

“They were engraved like grotesque little knick-knacks, all very fancy, and looked quite old. I think they were made of iron because they had rusted. They were much bigger than in real life, though, and rather heavy.

“Were they valuable?”

“I can’t imagine how,” she replied, holding the handkerchief to her nose. “I mean they were just old decorations, I guess, if you could call them that. Some of them, you know, had a sort of wind-up key on the top, but they wouldn’t turn. Maybe they made a noise at one time. He only paid a few dollars for them. And like I said, they were all rusty. Is this really important? I mean, someone’s murdered my husband!”

“It’s hard to say, Mrs. Winthrop. I know this is difficult for you, but I need to find out what was going on here. Why did he buy something like that?”

“Oh, he was always picking up some useless bit of junk to tinker with. He loved going to flea markets and estate sales. He was very handy, you see. He could fix anything,” she added as she fought back tears. “It was a hobby, I guess. They were in that wooden box.”

“The box on the workbench?”

“Yes, the one with the odd writing on it.”

“I’d better get Grayson to take a picture of that,” he said, turning to look around for his sergeant. The detective called out a couple times, but there was no reply. “I wonder where he’s gotten to now?” he muttered. “Anyway,” he said, returning his attention to Mrs. Winthrop, “when was the last time you talked to your husband?”

“It was about two o’clock, I think, or maybe a little later. I—I’m not exactly sure.”

“And he was alright at that time?”

“Yes. He was working on the models.”

“So he was in his workshop when you saw him?”


“Did you see anyone else around—anyone that looked suspicious?”


“Why did you go out there?” he asked, continuing to check for Grayson.

“Edgar had called to me, and I came out to the workshop from the house to see what he wanted. He thought some of the parts of the models might be movable, but they were very old, you see, and rusted. We keep a small bottle of oil in the pantry, you know, for squeaky hinges and such. He had asked me to bring it out to him. I guess he didn’t have any in the workshop.”

“And you did that?”

“Yes, and then I went back inside. He just wanted to put a drop of oil on them, that’s all,” she said, holding the handkerchief to face, sobbing. “After a while I went back out to see if he needed anything else, and he was dead.”

Myers grabbed an officer that was walking past and whispered, “See if you can find Grayson, will you? I don’t know where the hell he disappeared to, and I need him back here.”

“All he wanted was a drop of oil,” she said looking up at Myers through her tears. “That’s not important, is it? Just a drop of oil?”


K. R. Smith is a full-time Information Technology Specialist and a part-time writer, frustrated by his inability to get any meaningful programming code to rhyme and still function properly. While mainly interested in writing short stories of the horror genre, he occasionally delves into poetry, songwriting, and the visual arts. His escapades may be followed by reading his blog at www.theworldofkrsmith.com.

Posted on October 6, 2013, in Issue 10: The Little Magazine of Magnificent Monsters and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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