Lethal Balls

I’d like to send a message to all the people of the world who murder their families. Two messages, really. The first message is don’t murder your family. Can’t stress that one enough. If you do though, don’t hold a press conference to plead, through carefully placed crocodile tears, to the public for your family’s safe return. They aren’t coming back. After all, they’ve been murdered. By you. 

It’s bad enough to be a cold-blooded killer. It’s almost as bad to awkwardly emote in front of a bank of microphones, amid periodic flashes of camera bulbs, to the person or persons responsible for the abduction of some or all of your family. Which, after all, is you. I would’ve thought that a man who harbored homicidal thoughts in his head of killing any and all members of the household would’ve taken heed from the likes of Charles Stuart, Scott Peterson, Michael Peterson, Drew Peterson (that is a lot of Petersons!), Josh Powell, Christopher Watts, that guy that went scuba diving with his wife, that other guy who went hiking with his wife, the guy who shot his wife, went to work, came back eight hours later, and discovered his wife shot, that guy who drowned his wife in the bathtub then went jogging, only to return to find his wife drowned, and every other manner of awkward subterfuge employed by the more desperate members of society. 

These days when I watch the occasional forensic mystery I almost treat it as a quiz show, as I listen to the panicked 911 call being replayed from an ostensibly distraught husband. I will frown, shake my head, and declare the frantic caller, “Guilty!” and then it is just a matter of waiting the twenty or so minutes for the show to reveal the murderer, and validate my guess. I am correct more than 90 percent of the time. 

I was watching one episode in which this kid shot his father while the old man was sleeping, then tried to plant the gun like it was a suicide, then phoned the emergency in to 911.  

(Concerned son/Murderer): “I heard a gunshot go off. I think my father shot himself in the head.” 

(Operator): “Where is your father?” 

(Concerned son/Murderer): “In his bedroom.” 

(Operator): “Can you check on him?” 

(Concerned son/Murderer): “The door is locked.” 

(Operator): “How do you know he shot himself in the head?” 

(Concerned son/Murderer): “Uhhh… Can I call back and can we do this whole thing all over again?” 

Bam. Game, set, match. It was unfortunate because my first reaction was to burst out laughing. Whoever the operator was that handled that call should’ve received the highest honor given to emergency operators, a golden rotary phone, or something. In a split second of quick thinking she outshined Perry Mason, Matlock, Vince Bugliosi, Lieutenant Dan Kaffee, Columbo, Sherlock Holmes, and Hercule Poirot, nailing the culprit before the police even showed up. 

And still these guys persist. Our newest set of murders brings us around the world to Hong Kong, bustling city of the Orient, where two professors are charged with murdering their wives. The one professor was also a kind of dorm monitor who killed his wife, secreted her in a suitcase, then kept the students housed in the residence hall informed of the criminal investigation with a series of e-mails, the basic gist of which was: 

“Don’t be alarmed. Police are on premises because I killed my… my wife has gone missing.” 

“Don’t be alarmed. They found my wife stuffed in a suitcase in my office. I have issued a public appeal to the killer or killers to turn themselves in.” 

“Don’t be alarmed. Rest assured they have caught the killer. In unrelated news, I am forwarding my resignation as dorm representative. I’ll be on sabbatical for the next twenty years.” 

The other professor was so good at killing his wife that he ended up killing his daughter, too. In a crafty little move that would shame even the great Professor Moriarty, this other professor filled his wife’s yoga workout ball with carbon monoxide and then effected a slight leak to gas her and anybody else in the car with her as she drove, I suppose, to yoga. I think he was a professor of chemistry, or anesthesiology, and so had unique access to the dangerous gas, which should’ve given him pause. Of course he would be under suspicion for using chemicals to kill his wife. He is a chemist. 

All chemistry professors are heartless cold-blooded killers in my opinion. My chemistry professor was guilty of killing my grade point average with his vicious assessment of my performance in his organic chemistry class. I was not alone. He had been killing grade point averages for like thirty years, and for some time I lamented becoming a statistic. He has yet to be apprehended. Obviously, I hold no grudge. Natural Darwinism. Kill the scientifically weak. That’s alright, I’m doing just fine in my post-chemistry afterlife. 

More Alembics to come. 

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