Accents: US English; Indian English
Date: Monday, February, 15th
Location: Armstrong Manor
Detective Todd: Hello, Mrs Forste. I’m Detective Vera Todd and this is my partner Jin Hyuk Lee.
Detective Lee: Just call me ‘Huck,’ Ma’am. Like Huckleberry Finn.
Detective Todd: You must be pretty shocked right now but we’d like to ask you a few questions while the events are fresh in your mind.
Detective Lee: Just go over everything in detail from the time you arrived this morning.
Witness: Okay. I arrived at 10 o’clock. As always. Mr Armstrong likes to have the house to himself in the mornings.
Detective Todd: You have a key?
Detective Lee: The door looked normal when you arrived.
Witness: The same as usual.
Detective Todd: You arrived at 10….
Witness: I put the coffee pot on. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I vacuum the whole house. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I clean the bathrooms. So I went in the back to get the vacuum. I was crossing the foyerhallway or open space near the front door when I saw Mr Armstrong laying there on the landinga wide, flat part of a staircase; often used for changing direction..
Detective Lee: What did you do then?
Witness: Well, I suppose I screamed. I ran over to look at him lying there then I went to call 911.
Detective Todd: Did you touch the body in any way?
Witness: Not at all. I stayed in the kitchen until the police arrived.
Detective Todd: You’re shaking. Please sit down.
Witness: I’ll be alright. It’s just, as you say, quite a shock to see all that.
Detective Todd: Up until the time you discovered the body, did you see or hear anything out of the ordinary.
Witness: No, it started out as a typical day.
Detective Todd: I see.
Detective Lee: Mrs. Forste, how long have you known Mr Armstrong?
Witness: Oh, a very long time. I originally was hired by his father, Russell Armstrong. He was a sweet man. Did you know, he left his entire fortune to me in his willa legal document expressing a person’s wishes after death?
Detective Todd: Really?
Detective Lee: What happened?
Witness: That son of his, Reynard, contested the will. And he won.
Detective Todd: You must have been upset.
Witness: Oh, I suppose. That was a long time ago.
Detective Lee: But you kept working here at the manor.
Witness: I had nowhere else to go. My own husband had died a few years before Mr Armstrong. Senior Mr Armstrong, I mean.
Detective Todd: Wasn’t it difficult?
Witness: Of course. I think he kept me on out of spite, not pity. He, I mean Reynard, had a mean streak. I think he was delighted to see me toilingWorking hard here year in and year out. Especially after robbing me of the inheritancesomething received from someone after their death. To me it was a job, just a job. He always paid well, that’s one thing.
Detective Todd: You don’t live here at the Manor.
Witness: No, have a cottage in town. I sometimes stay over to babysit the cat when Mr Armstrong has… um… had business out of town. There’s a room in the back, off the kitchen. Servant’s quarters from back when it was built.
Detective Lee: Did he pay extra when you stayed over?
Witness: Oh, yes, very well too. I wouldn’t have done it otherwise. I’m not overly fond of cats, you see. This one has evil eyes. He’s friendly enough, I just don’t like him. Where is that devil, anyway? I expect he’s making a pest of himself with your boys. He’s always underfoot. Annoying animal! Gets in the way when I’m cleaning. He’s not even afraid of the vacuum.
Detective Todd: Where will the cat go now? Will you take him?
Witness: Lord, no! I can’t keep a cat. I can barely keep up as it is. That brute is always shedding. There’s cat hair everywhere. I wouldn’t want that in my home.
Detective Lee: I’ll call animal control. They’ll know what to do. There he is. What’s his name?
Witness: Arsenio, the cat. Mr Armstrong usually called him ‘Arse’. He thought that was funny. Mr Armstrong always fed the cat himself unless he was out of town. I take care of the litter boxa toilet for cats of course but he took care of the food. And spared no expense, either.
Detective Todd: That’s all the questions we have for now. Would you like me to get an officer to drop you off at home?
Witness: No, I’m fine now. The walk will do me good.
[Footsteps receding; door closing]
Detective Todd: I hope she’s okay. So what do you think?
Detective Lee: I’d be pretty angry if someone cheated me out of an inheritance like that.
Detective Todd: Angry enough to kill? Decades later?
Detective Lee: I don’t know. Or is she even capable?