Thursday 11 April 2024

The Rich Man Murder by Maxine Flam, bourbon


The Rich Man Murder


 It was after 10 pm when Ed Sherwin decided to drop in on his general contractor, John Shears, at his downtown office. The building was empty. It was so late that even the cleaning crew had cleaned and left.

‘I’m tired of being milked by you,’ Sherwin said to Shears in an angry southern drawl. ‘I’ve financed three shopping centers and now this…this monstrosity that you fittingly named after me because you want more money. What do you think I’m made of?...You think I’m your own personal bank to make withdrawals from? What did you squander that last five hundred thousand dollars on? Huh? Boy…I’m talking to you.’

Shears didn’t like his tone of voice especially being called boy by this country bumpkin.

‘Well, I’m through…do you hear? Through!  I’m not funding your project anymore. Get someone else to be your pigeon.’

            ‘Wait, you signed a contract.’ replied Shears in his proper British tone of voice. ‘Besides, there were unintentional overruns. The project had unforeseen add-ons. Your wife knew about them.’ Grabbing the file on his desk, he showed Sherwin the papers and said, ‘See, she signed the additional contract.’

            ‘Well, she didn’t have the authorization to do so,’ Sherwin retorted.

            ‘As your spouse, she does,’ said Shears not to be intimidated.

            ‘Oh no, she doesn’t. Not according to the pre-nup I had drawn up or maybe you didn’t refer to that little piece of paper when you asked her to sign the additional agreement. My lawyer will be in contact with your lawyer. We’re through. I’m done. Finished! And you can kiss this project good-bye.’

Ed Sherwin turned his back and as he reached out to grab the door knob to leave, John Shears yelled, ‘NO!’ He never made it that far. With a white hot anger he never experienced before, John Shears, picked up the statue on his desk and shouted, ‘I won’t let you ruin me!’ as he hit Ed Sherwin on the back of the head three times.


Sherwin fell to the floor, dead. Shears looked at him and the statue. Now he had to get rid of the body. He wiped the small amount of blood from the statue on to the Persian rug by the dead body, took rug, rolled him up in it, dragged him down to freight elevator, and dumped him into the trunk of Sherwin’s own car. There was more than enough room; he drove a 1978 White Cadillac two-door Eldorado. ‘That trunk could hold two bodies at least,’ said Shears out loud.

            Now what do I do with the body? Shears thought. Where can I bury him without anyone finding it? I need to show he left town and also show that he had never come to the office to see me…Meanwhile, I’ll take him to my ranch and hide him in the gardening shed until I can come up with a suitable place to bury him. It must be a place where nobody will ever find the body.

            Shears got to his ranch, wrapped the body in plastic and placed him upright in the gardening shed. Then he burned the carpet from his office, got back in Sherwin’s car, and drove it to the long term lot at the airport. He bought a one way ticket to Tennessee though a travel agency, found a pan handler at the airport, and paid him to get him on the flight posing at Ed Sherwin. The homeless person fit the general description of Sherwin and the airline wasn’t checking IDs on a night flight. Shears gave the man $1,000 and told him to stay the night in Tennessee but take the next plane back under his own name. Shears paid for the one-way ticket back.

            Three days past. Shears thought, I hadn’t heard anything about Sherwin being missing and as far as he was concerned, no news was good news. So what do I do with the body? I can leave the body where it is a little longer. It's  wrapped in plastic. The weather was cool. The shed was located far from any place on the property and no one has a reason to look in the shed. Think…Think…where can I bury the body???


‘Excuse me, is this the Major Case Squad?’ said a shorter older red-headed woman standing next to a younger taller voluptuous blonde one.

            ‘Yes, I’m Bill Kelby and this is my partner Joe Miller. What can we help you with?’

            ‘My ex-husband, which is her current husband, is missing.’

            ‘How do you know he’s missing?’ replied Kelby.

            ‘It’s been three days and no one has heard from him and that’s not like him,’ said the blonde.

            ‘Maybe he doesn’t want to be heard from. Perhaps he took a vacation,’ replied Miller.

            ‘He never leaves without calling me. He might be my ex but we’re close friends,’ said the red-head.

            ‘And he didn’t pack a suitcase,’ responded the blonde.

            ‘Maybe he had a business somewhere and went on a short trip and didn’t need any clothes,’ stated Kelby.

            ‘But his car is gone,’ said the red-head.

            ‘So maybe he drove?’ asked Miller.

            ‘Ed doesn’t drive long distances. Even though he has a nice car, he has eye problems. He only drives at night if it’s urgent. Can’t you please check into it?’ said the red-head.

            ‘We’re not missing persons,’ complained Kelby.

            ‘But he has been gone for more than 72 hours. We we’re told that if he met with foul play, you could help,’ replied the blonde.

            ‘Who told you that?’ asked Miller.

            ‘Missing persons,’ stated the blonde.

            ‘Figures,’ said Kelby. ‘Okay, you see that officer over there. Give him as much detail as you can : his full name, any distinguishing features like tattoos, birthmarks, and a current photograph. We’ll talk to our Captain to see if we can take the case.

            ‘Thank you,’ they both said.


Excuse me, Mr. Shears, we’re leaving early tomorrow morning on our trip. You sure you don’t want to go with us to Calico Ghost Town.**


            ‘You know, the trip the office is taking. We’re going to Calico Ghost Town for the weekend. It should be a fun time for all. Some of us are going to camp there and the rest of us are staying in their hotel.

            ‘No, thank you. Maybe some other time.’

            The wheels started spinning in Shears’ head. I found the perfect spot to leave a body: a ghost town. Why the hell not. I’d have to sneak in and out of the park and if it didn’t work out, I could leave the body in the desert and it wouldn’t be traced back to me. What a perfect plan.


**Calico Ghost Town is an actual place that exists as part of San Bernardino Regional Park in the high desert of North of Los Angeles. It is open every day but Christmas. There are tours, stunt shows, and gold panning among the thing that are part of the price of admission.


I’m so excited. I used a payphone and found out Calico is open every day but Christmas. Perfect. I’ll drive up after they close Sunday night and dump the body behind in the mine. There won’t be much left of it when they find him. Maybe some desert animal will make a meal of him. HA. They’ll never trace it back to me.


‘Joe, I just heard that airport police found Sherwin’s car in the long term parking lot at the airport. The boys are going over it now but it looks like it’s been wiped clean of prints.’

            ‘Not even the dead man’s?’ said Kelby.

            ‘Nope, nothing. This case is looking more and more like this missing man met with foul play. Let’s get out to the scene and see if we can find any clues.’

            Joe and Bill got to the airport just before the tow truck driver jacked the car up to tow it away.

            ‘Please stop for a minute. I’m Detective Kelby and this is my partner, Detective Miller from the Major Case Squad.’ Kelby and Miller both pulled their IDs out to show the truck driver.

            ‘Okay, holler when you’re finished.’

            Bill opened the driver’s door. ‘The car is clean like it had been detailed except look on the floor, on the floor, Joe…there looks to be some dirt or manure like the victim had stepped in something before coming to the airport,’ said Kelby.

            Miller took his hanky and picked it up to start to smell it before he exclaims, ‘Manure! He stepped in Manure and tracked into a newly detailed car. Seriously. Something’s definitely ain’t right. A clean car except for that. I don’t buy he gets his car detailed and then doesn’t wipe his feet? No way,’ replied Miller shaking his head.

            ‘Maybe from the killer’s shoes?’ responded Kelby.

            ‘You’re taking a big leap that he’s been murdered.’

            ‘I gotta bad feeling that Mr. Sherwin is dead,’ replied Kelby.

            ‘Since his car is here, it is possible he went somewhere, said Miller.’

            ‘Let’s check.’


‘The records said he bought a ticket to Memphis, TN. And he had no luggage,’ said the ticket agent.

‘One way… Hum…that doesn’t make any sense,’ said Miller.

Kelby asked the ticket agent, ‘Are you sure this was the man that boarded the plane?’ They pulled out a picture of Ed.

The ticket agent looked at the picture for a long time and then said, ‘No, this guy wasn’t dressed up. In fact, he was wearing dirty clothes and smelled bad.’

‘Thank you,’ said Miller.

‘So now we got someone who posed as the missing guy to take a trip to Tennessee with no return flight. I think someone paid someone to pose as Ed Sherwin and make it look like he left town on business. What do you think?’ asked Kelby.

‘Sounds like it.’

            ‘We need to speak to the first Mrs. Sherwin.’


‘Yes Mrs. Sherwin. Does your husband know anyone in Tennessee?...No??? We have a lead that he boarded a plane on a one way ticket there. Okay thanks,’ said Kelby.

            ‘We need to backtrack and assume that he never left Los Angeles. This is a false trail. We need to start with the manure left in the car and find out the last place he went to before he was supposed to have gone to Tennessee,’ responded Joe Miller.


‘Call the second Mrs. Sherwin and ask if she knew where her husband went the night before he didn’t come home,’ said Kelby.

            ‘So, Mrs. Sherwin, tell me, where did your husband say he was going before he didn’t come home,’ said Joe Miller.

            ‘He said he was going to talk to Mr. Shears. He’s the developer who is building the shopping center Ed’s financing,’ replied the second Mrs. Sherwin.

            ‘Can you give me his address and phone number?’ replied Miller.


'Mr. Shears, I was wondering if you have heard from Mr. Sherwin. He hasn’t called home in several days and his wife is worried he’s missing,’ asked Miller.

            ‘I saw him a couple weeks ago. We discussed business and then he left. I’m sorry I can’t help you more gentlemen. You made a ride out here for nothing,’ replied Shears.

            ‘Oh, it wasn’t for nothing. We have to follow up on every lead,’ said Kelby.

            Each one looked around the office. ‘What’s that?’ referring to the model of the new shopping center.

            ‘That’s the development Sherwin invested in.’

            ‘Some place,’ said Miller.

            ‘Nice office you have here. Lots of statues and fine rugs. Looks like one is missing,’ observed Kelby.

            ‘It’s out being clean…Look gentlemen if you are done, I have work to do.’

            ‘Yeah, sure,’ said Miller.

            ‘Hey Joe, did you notice his shoes had dirt on the sides of it. Maybe manure?’

            ‘Yeah, I saw and the rug was gone. Definitely it was long enough to wrap a body up in. We need to stake this guy out. He gives me the creeps,’ replied Miller.


It was Sunday night. Unbeknownst to Mr. Shears, Joe and Bill had been following him since Friday night. Sunday evening, he drove to his farm in the country. Shears opened the shed and took out a large item wrapped in plastic out and put it in the trunk of his 1979 Mercedes 450SL.

            ‘Let’s move in,’ said Miller. ‘And close this case.’

            ‘No, let’s wait and see where he’s gonna take it. Keep snapping pictures,’ replied Kelby.

            Shears drove down the muddy country road on to the highway and went up the Interstate to the high desert.

‘Where the hell is he going?’ said Kelby.

‘You wanted to follow him!’ replied Miller.

After a two hour drive, he got off on Yermo road and headed to the locked gate of Calico Ghost Town.

‘Good thing you filled the gas tank or we’d never have made it this far,’ said Miller.

            Kelby called the Highway Patrol. They were following him with their lights off keeping the light traffic at bay.

            He drove to the gate, opened it with a pair of bolt cutters, and drove back to the end of town. Then Shears parked his car at the edge of the mine. He got out, opened the trunk of his car, and took the body of Ed Sherwin out. He dragged it to the entrance of the mine.

            Before he was able to push it further in, the police yelled, ‘Halt this is the police. You are surrounded.’

            Shears brought a gun with him and considered making a stand.

            ‘Don’t be stupid Mr. Shears. You are completely surrounded. The town’s lights came on plus six police car headlights and Miller and Kelbys.’

            He dropped the gun.

            Kelby and Miller went over to put the cuffs on him. Shears said, ‘How did you know it was me?’

            ‘Your shoes,’ replied Miller.


            ‘Your shoes. You left manure in the dead man’s car…a car that had just been detailed and your shoes had some on it too when we went to visit you a few days ago like you had just been to your hiding place. If you had cleaned up after yourself, wiped your shoes, and the floor of the dead man’s car, we wouldn’t have had any clues to go on where you hid the body,’ replied Kelby.

            ‘I thought you’d find it where I had stored it so I decided to bury it up here,’ said Shears.

            ‘You should have left it there,’ said Miller.

            Shaking his head, Shears said, ‘I can’t believe this. I just can’t believe this.’

            ‘What?’ responded Kelby.

            ‘You found me because I had horse shit on my shoes… Damn.’

About the author 

Since becoming disabled in 2015, Maxine took up her passion for writing. She has been published several times in the Los Angeles Daily News, The Epoch Times, Nail Polish Stories, DarkWinterLit, BrightFlashLiteraryReview, OtherwiseEngagedLit, CafeLit, Maudlin House, and The Metaworker

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