Out of Order Murder Mystery by Bert Paul

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Take everything you've ever known about mysteries, and get ready to toss it out the window. Preferably at the neighbor who stole your newspaper this morning. Go on. We'll wait here.

This story is a spoof of murder mysteries and courtroom dramas, with a bit of science fiction thrown in. It is told, well, out of order. Hence the title. Because of that, the victim finds out ahead of time that he may be murdered and has a chance to take evasive action. Naturally, things don't go well.

Many of the characters come to realize they are not in real life, but have been caught up in "a stupid Uncle Bert story." Yet, they know the only way out is to proceed through the story to the end. Action alternates back and forth between courtroom drama and events happening outside the courtroom. And some actions even happen before other actions start. Or end. Or, in the middle of other actions.

Who will live, who will die and who will escape having to end up in another one of Bert's stories? Will anyone actually get to go on vacation? Whodunit?

A laugh-out-loud, madcap short story.


The judge thought, Well here we are again. Have we made any progress? Is there a defendant? Do we have any more jurors? Has my law clerk found out if it’s kosher for a murder victim to serve on the jury at his own murder trial? He looked to his left. He brightened considerably. There were more jurors—for a total of twelve, plus three alternates! Now they were getting somewhere. But first—

“Harrumph,” harrumphed the judge. “Will the lady with the Lord-have-mercy hairdo please disentangle her string of barbed wire from the assistant district attorney’s see-through hoop skirt?”

“But, your majesty,” said the lady with the Lord-have-mercy hairdo, “this length of barbed wire is what keeps my hairdo in place. It was very expensive to get my hair done this way.”

The judge gaped in astonishment. “You paid money to look like that? How much prison time did your hairdresser get?” The lady with the Lord-have-mercy hairdo gave the judge a withering glance and continued to try to disengage her hairdo’s fastening barbed wire from the assistant D.A.’s transparent attire. Fortunately, the assistant D.A. was wearing a wetsuit and swim fins under her flimsy top garment for decorum’s sake.

“But what is a Lord-have-mercy hairdo?” interrupted Vladetta, who was supposed to be in class by now, not asking questions in a chapter she wasn’t even in.

“No explanation is necessary in regard to the Lord-have-mercy hairdo,” said Uncle Bert. “Everyone has seen someone with a Lord-have-mercy hairdo. Such hairdos vary in size and color, and they are held together by various means, but all of them inspire everyone who looks at the hairdo to say, ‘Lord have mercy!’ aloud or to themselves. And each person who has a Lord-have-mercy hairdo thinks she looks wonderful. But,” concluded Uncle Bert, “we digress.”

The judge said, “Now that the assistant D.A. seems to be free of the barbed wire, maybe we can get down to business.” The lady with the Lord-have-mercy hairdo straightened up in her seat in the witness box, which is where she had been sitting when the prosecuting attorney had approached too closely and gotten entangled in her hairdo, sometime before the start of this chapter, but after the end of the last chapter.

The court recorder spoke. “Hey, do I have to record what happens between chapters? It’s not in my job description.” When no one answered, he decided not to bother recording things that happened between chapters, regardless of proper procedure in the matter. There were limits, after all.

“I object!” said juror number 3, an attractive elderly lady who was wearing an out-of-date evening gown and a tattered banner that read, “Miss America 1955.”

The judge was tired of this nonsense. Sternly, he said, “You can’t object. You are a juror.”

“I most certainly can and do object,” said the apparent Miss America of 1955. “Juror number 4—Mr. P—has his hand on my knee and has been making the most inappropriate suggestions of what we might do together after the trial.” She drew herself up in her most dignified manner and glared at Mr. P. Mr. P did his best to look wide-eyed and innocent, but as usual, only made it look like he had just sat in something squishy. Also, he hadn’t bothered to remove his hand from Miss America’s knee, so her objection seemed valid.

“Mr. P,” said the judge, “remove your hand from Miss America’s person.” Mr. P did so, reluctantly. “Now, Ms. Prosecuting attorney and Mr. Defending attorney, do we have a defendant?”

“No, your honor,” said the two attorneys in unison, to save time, pixels, and paper.

“Well, do we have any witnesses? Any evidence? Is anyone ready to proceed?”

The attorneys looked at one another. They said, “Well, no. We want a continuance until…well, until…”

“Until next time!” finished the judge. “Court is adjourned until some later chapter!” He banged his gavel with the authority that only a judge of 50 years’ experience possesses.

  • Published by: Untreed Reads

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