Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Write in the MYSTERY genre (04/05/07)
TITLE: Murder most Vile
By Lucile McKenzie
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“Yes, I know, but there is something suspicious about that,” replied Armand. “Uriah was a support soldier. It was not his job to be on the front line. But, suddenly, there he is, in the middle of the heaviest fighting. And, not being used to that, of course he died. I think his death was intentional and the killer needs to be caught. Uriah was a good man, deeply loyal to King David.
“But who would want him dead? Surely not his wife, Bathsheba! They seemed to have a decent marriage. So, who else would want Uriah dead, and who would have the means to get him assigned to the front so it would happen?”
“That’s what I intend to find out.” responded Armand.
“I think you should be very careful,” said Leham. “If someone wanted Uriah killed for whatever reason, they won’t like your nosing around.”
The next afternoon Armand went to the market, the best place to pick up snippets of gossip. He moved leisurely through the stalls, appreciating the aromatic aroma of roasting lamb, falafel, and garlic-laden soup. Finally, with a plate of ripe olives, figs, pita bread and hummus, he sat on a sun-warmed step and watched the teeming activity around him. Vendors’ voices blended with those of women haggling over the price of fruits and vegetables.
Often someone stopped and sat on the step beside Armand. To each one he said, “Too bad about Uriah dying in battle like that,” which usually elicited a non-committal comment. It seemed like a dead end. Then, just as Armand prepared to leave, a dark-robed figure sat down beside him. “Too bad about Uriah,” said Armand after they chatted a bit. The man, whose name was Zoriah, leaned close to Armand and whispered. “Joab sent Uriah to the battlefront. Perhaps you should not ask any more questions.” He stood and quickly vanished into the crowd.
“That makes sense, “ said Armand to Leham later. “Joab is the captain of the army and has authority to move men around however he wishes. But why would Joab want Uriah dead? Perhaps he wanted Bathsheba. She’s a beautiful woman. Maybe I’ll focus on her and see where this leads. If I catch her and Joab together, then I can be fairly sure not only of who killed Uriah but why”
“Please be careful!” pleaded Leham. “You must take Zoriah’s warning seriously. Armand shook his head, “I have to know who did this. Uriah was my friend.”
Two days later, Armand told Leham, “My wife informs me that Bathsheba is with child. And many say that she has moved into the palace with the king. But why would King David want a woman who is carrying another man’s child? It doesn’t make sense.”
Armand, with his many contacts, soon found a few men willing to infiltrate the soldiers’ camp for a little extra money. Using the same contacts, he then placed some unscrupulous women among the many servants in the king’s palace. There were too many unanswered questions. If Joab had Uriah killed because of Bathsheba, why didn’t he claim her? And why did King David move Bathsheba to his palace?
Three weeks later, Leham found Armand sad and quiet.
“What’s wrong? What have you learned?” asked Leham, with an increasing sense of dread.
“My informants told me that King David seduced Bathsheba, and got her with child. He tried to get Uriah to go home the night before the battle, so the child would be perceived as his, but Uriah was so loyal to the king, that he slept on the doorstep with the king’s servants all night. And a fine reward he got for that,” added Armand, bitterly. “So, Joab, under orders from the king, moved Uriah to the battlefront so he would be killed. Our king not only is an adulterer, but he killed Uriah as surely as if he had thrust the spear through Uriah’s body himself.”
“What are you going to do?”
“Nothing. The king is God’s anointed. But, God knows King David’s heart. He knows how best to punish the King. And, who knows? In His infinite wisdom, perhaps God will see not just to David’s punishment, but also to his redemption.
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