It turns out there is yet another interpretation, provided by a mathematician no less, who thinks he’s pretty hot stuff as a detective. Review the circumstances next, and then see what Elmo Sherwin had to say.
* * *
A narcissistic universally hated blackmailing brilliant opera soprano locks herself in a room to practice her aria for an upcoming production. When she fails to emerge after an hour, the maestro uses his key to enter the windowless single door space to find his star crushed by the chandelier. The floor is littered with a mixture of orange shards from the lights, a small number of other fragments similar to that of the large crystal burgundy wine glass resting on its side on a nearby table, several small screws, and twist nuts of the type used to secure the connection of two or more wires. The carpet has a small hole underneath the fallen body.
The maestro, Gregor Dimitriou, phoned 911 first, then his old college chum, Elmo Sherwin. Sherwin arrived as crime scene investigators were leaving. A detective, waiting to scrutinize the room, shooed Elmo away, unleashing the wrath of Maestro Dimitriou whose angry outbursts and dominant personality had cowed hundreds of musicians over the past two decades. “Dr. Sherwin will enter,” he boomed.
“Thought I might be able to shed a little light on the subject,” the mathematician offered. Then, remembering the circumstances, added “Oops!”
A raving maniac and a screwball, thought the public’s protector. Making the common annoying mistake that Elmo’s title implied medicine, he complied. “All right, Maestro, the doctor may go in.”
He didn’t really see the harm. It wasn’t a murder scene, after all. Simply a dreadful accident. As the detective examined the body, Elmo prowled the room. He stepped on a piece of glass, causing a small tinkle followed by a big bellow. It had pierced the sole of his shoe, which he removed along with his sock to reveal a miniscule cut.
The maestro almost fainted, but managed to scream, “Call an ambulance!”
Simultaneously the detective roared, “Watch what the hell you’re doing.” Then with scorn. “No ambulance needed. It’s just a tiny cut.”
Apparently Elmo agreed since he resumed his perusal of the room, now tromping with one shoe on and one off, leaving small spots of blood in his wake.
Satisfied the body would yield no more information, the detective instructed the coroner’s investigator to remove it.
That’s when they saw the hole in the carpet.
Suddenly Elmo initiated an unidentifiable atonal tune. The detective thought it sounded like a bull moose. Elmo then attempted to elevate his bass voice two octaves higher than his vocal cords could handle.
Dimitriou was aghast. “No, no. Use your diaphragm.”
“Much obliged,” replied Elmo, and he started again, improving the output to that of a drunken parrot.
“Shut the hell up,” snapped the detective. With Elmo in compliance he continued, “No question here. A tragic accident,” he said.
“Wrong!” boomed the mathematician. “Murder pure and simple.”
The detective rolled his eyes. About to roar a reply, he recalled last week’s training about dealing with the public and managed to spit in only a low growl, “I’m afraid, sir, you’re incorrect.”
“Am not,” and Elmo pouted like a child.
The maestro had more faith in Elmo than did the detective. “Tell us why, Elmo.”
And he did. “Look at this mess. Glass everywhere from those chandelier bulbs. Screws and those thingies that hold wires together.”
The detective was exasperated. “What do you think happened when it fell, for God’s sake. Obviously the screws holding it to the ceiling were pulled loose and the wires separated making the nuts fall.”
“But those screws are designed to hold it in place. Inconceivable they all could have come loose. And even if they did, the wires might have held it up. Wires, even those held together by those thingies can be extremely strong.” He cleared his throat and assumed a modest demeaner. “I know ‘cause I’ve made a few repairs around my home.” He felt no need to mention the many ensuing short circuits. “And what about those pieces of glass matching the overturned goblet?”
The detective was contemptuous. “Must have fallen over like the other and broken when the chandelier dropped.”
“Nope,” replied Elmo. “Might have done. Might have dropped from the table. Might have broken. But those pieces wouldn’t have grown tiny legs and marched over to mix with the other glass.” Elmo paused. “What do you have to say regarding the hole in the carpet?”
The detective, it turned out, had nothing to say about it.
Elmo said, “Somebody, who must have known the soprano would practice in here, loosened the screws holding the chandelier and all the thingies except one, leaving the wires barely touching to preserve electrical contact. This left a single wire keeping the chandelier from falling. Not enough, you say? Not for a long time, maybe, but it only had to hold for an hour or two.
“A wine glass was filled with acid and placed in the housing. When the right note was sung with all its purity, sorta like what I was doing, the glass shattered. The acid doused the one remaining wire, eating it away and causing everything to plunge. Some acid fell on the carpet and hence the hole.”
Elmo, who had a strong sense of right and wrong, glared at the detective and said, “Now you find the scum who did this.”
* * *
So there you have it. Ridiculous? Yes. Unbelievable? Yes. Was it fun? I hope so.