At our writing group last week Xan provided us with a list of some amazing ‘Whodunnit’ prompts. Of course I went ‘off-piste’ and wrote something that had already popped into my head once the subject was raised, but as there are so many great prompts I wanted to try and write something for some of the others. My intention is to revisit past prompts from other group meetings too and write some more stories as everyone provides some of the best material, and it’s a shame to leave it in the file unappreciaed.
My original story for the prompt “Whodunit” will be appearing in our group book which will be out towards the end of this year.
Here’s my offering for number 32… Warning – language unsuitable for the sensitive, but no flashing lights. 😉
Janice had been having a bad day and now it was her and Ralph’s turn to go through some of the left, or more rightly forgotten and uncared-for or simply unclaimed, suitcases and bags of the day. Ralph was notoriously lazy and she knew she’d be the one doing most of the work. She opened the door to the storeroom and sighed. Her uniform was scratchy in the heat and she’d had her fill of travellers for the day. Sometimes she wondered if a job at the airport was really the right things for her.
“It’s not that bad, Jan,” Ralph told her. He was sitting on a large trunk smoking.
Janice stared at him for a second. “First of all it’s Janice, secondly you’re not supposed to smoke in here. Why didn’t you go out for one before we started?”
“Been too busy, Jan,” Ralph replied getting her back even further. He knew exactly what he was doing.
“Too fucking busy? You? Don’t make me laugh. You’re the laziest damn sod I’ve ever had the bloody pleasure to work with, and I use the term work loosely,” Janice peppered her speech with a few choice words. She knew Ralph didn’t like swearing, especially women swearing.
“Now there’s no need for that kind of language, Jan, and I work as hard as anyone else,” he replied looking hurt. He stubbed his cigarette out on the side of the trunk he was sitting on.
“For fuck’s sake.” Janice was really annoyed with Ralph now. “Not only smoking where it’s prohibited, but also disrespecting someone’s luggage by sitting on it and then sodding well putting your fag out on it too. You’re a damned disgrace. I’ve a good mind to report you.
“Go ahead, girlie, you know the old man knows the truth. He’s a good boss and would believe me over you any day.” Ralph winked at Janice.
Janice hurumphed and pointed at the pile of cases and bags. “Whatever,” she told Ralph, “Lets start with these. I see you’ve got the clipboard already, for the easy bit. ”
One by one Janice went through the cases giving the flight numbers, names, and whatever other details they had on the labels, to Ralph. He slowly wrote them down on the forms. Janice meanwhile had to lift the cases, some of them heavy onto the shelves ‘filed’ by airline.
Some of the cases had no labels, either personal ones or the airline baggage labels. These were more of a problem. Janice could never understand why people didn’t label their luggage properly, unless they were on some kind of insurance scam. These had to be opened and searched for anything inside that may tell who the owners were.
Janice pulled out a bundle of keys and instruments for case opening and after a few unsuccessful attempts opened the first case. She carefully moved the contents around and eventually found a notebook with a name on it. She gave the name to Ralph who wrote it down. She closed the case and put it on the ‘airline unknown’ shelf.
The next couple she opened had no identifying information inside and they were labelled as ‘unknown’. Ralph took a note of the cases or bags from Janice’s descriptions.
“That’s all these sorted. Let’s check that one now. You’ll have to move.” She nodded in the direction of the trunk on which Ralph was still sitting.
“Well I’m not moving it. I already tried and it weighs a ton.” Ralph said getting up. He dragged a chair across from beside the wall and sat again.
“Why am I not surprised. Glass back or too fucking idle?” Janice asked laughing.
Ralph didn’t reply. He simply glared back at her.
Janice turned the trunk around checking each side for any labels or identifying information. “Nothing,” she finally said.
“Well I could have told you that. I checked it out when I came in first of all,” Ralph told her.
Janice Rolled her eyes and picked up the keys and tools to open the trunk. “It’s hard to believe anyone could forget this, it’s beautiful,” she said stroking the top of the trunk. “I bet it’s antique.”
“More like came for China and was made last week,” Ralph laughed. “Or maybe one of Dracula’s family are sleeping inside,” he added.
Janice ignored him but still shuddered as she finally found a key that opened the lock. She lifted the lid and had to stifle a scream by slapping her hand over her mouth. She took two steps back, eyes as wide as saucers.
“What’s wrong girly? Smelly old clothes is it or something?” Ralph stayed where he was.
“A body… A fucking body… all folded up. O…M…F…G,” Janice explained. She grabbed the storeroom phone and called the police.
And the prompt was “A dead body is found in an unclaimed piece of luggage at the airport”