I was practicing my jumps in the parlor when the letter arrived. Upon hearing a knock, I flung open the door. A wax-sealed envelope sat on my welcome mat, and not a soul was in sight. Then, I looked a little harder and saw some guy running away from my house. “You left your letter!” I screamed. But he didn’t hear. Defeated, I opened the letter. “You are cordially invited to the Jalapeño Manor tonight at 6pm for a night of mystery and murder.” There was no signature, only a part at the bottom that said “Sincerely, Charles Jalapeño.” That was odd. Jalapeño had been rumored dead for years, and I had been illiterate up until then. Never matter, there was no time to ponder. It was already 6:15pm and I had to change into my evening tuxedo.
My driver dropped me off at the front of the manor. It was an old Victorian, or perhaps some other type of house. As I neared the door, I wondered what lay on the other side. Who else would be attending? Why me? Mentally, I elected to lay low and observe. I changed into my inside tuxedo and opened the door.
Immediately, I murdered the butler. I stepped into the drawing room and found no one to take my coat. Then I noticed the butler on the floor–dead! A night of mystery, indeed.
I entered the ballroom, seemingly effortlessly. Walking has never been very hard for me. Upon surveying the room, I recognized many familiar faces as they waltzed about. There was Maxwell Steel, owner of the local steel mill. And by the bar was Carmen AquaventureWaterpark, a recently elected member of the city council. These were the only people at the party. A clinking glass drew my attention to the man dangling on a harness from the ceiling. My God, it was Jalapeño. I changed into my surprise tuxedo.
“Good evening, and welcome to my manor,” he said while slowly spinning so he was no longer facing us. After several seconds, he had come all the way around and resumed: “In each of your drinks I have slipped a note containing a clue.” A note? Impossible! I would have noticed if someone had placed a note in the glass of small pieces of paper I had been drinking. But sure enough, I found a note that said, “Good luck.”
Suddenly, a scream echoed across the room. It was Jalapeño getting our attention.
“Now let the games…start!” The lights shut off. There were shuffles and murmurs and gunshots. When the lights came back on, Jalapeño was stabbing Carmen with a knife.
“Oh, you weren’t supposed to, uh,” he stuttered. We politely waited for him to gather his thoughts. “Ahem. I didn’t want you to know I was killing her.” We stood silently for 45 minutes and then bid our farewells.
“Always a pleasure, Jalapeño,” I lied.
“Yes, we’ll see you at the next town hall meeting,” said Carmen.
“Ok, maybe not they are boring,” replied Jalapeño.
I lay in my bed that night running over the events in my head. Everything made sense, except one thing: how had Jalapeño gotten down from that harness so quickly? Unless…no. I rolled out of bed and ran downstairs to see that day’s paper. Just as I had expected. Charles Jalapeño had never existed.