Mr Ruth

April 20, 2010

Were it not for the silence that held the house, the soft rapping upon the door would have been unheard. It was fortunate then for the visitor that their gentle knocks were free to echo through the stately home to the ears of Mrs Dubante. She rose from her stoic vigil by the phone and drifted to the door. A thin layer of dust was brushed off the bannisters as she descended the stairs.

To each of the participants, the opening of the door was a shock. Mrs Dubante found herself greeted by a tall, thin man in casual clothes, carrying a travel bag. He smiled openly and bowed slightly before taking her hand in a weak handshake.

‘I’m assuming you are Mrs Dubante? A pleasure.’

For the guest, he did not see the Mrs Dubante the newspapers showed. Where once there was an elegant, beautiful woman there was now a half starved shell, bags under the eyes and a dirty dress. She looked at him with confusion, a great sadness radiating from her.

‘Wh… who are you, sir?’ Her voice strained.
‘I’m not from the press. My name is Maxwell Ruth, I’m… an investigator, of a kind.’
‘I fear you are too l-late in that regard Mr Ruth. The trial is next week and the sentence is almost guaranteed.’ She made to close the door, but Mr Ruth raised his hand.
‘What if I were to say I believed your husband was innocent, Mrs Dubante?’ He placed the travel bag on the ground. ‘And if I were to say I believed some of your other stories?’
‘I would say you are as full of fancy as I, Mr Ruth, though I thank you for your sympathy. There is nothing you can do however, the police have combed the place from top to bottom in their investigations.’
‘Mrs Dubante I have seen the evidence, and there-‘
‘How?’ she interrupted.
‘I’m sorry?’
‘How have you seen the evidence? I was taken to understand there were no reports allowed until after the trial.’
Mr Ruth smiled again. ‘I could explain further. May I come in?’

She looked at the man once more. There was something more to him, she could feel it. Something genuine, something pure. She stepped to the side, opening the door further and allowing him through. He grabbed the bag and entered, smiling still.

The front hall was tall; the ceiling seemed miles above him and the walls were lined with paintings, all of which was covered in a fine layer of dust and grime. In the upper corners, he could spy a couple cobwebs of spiders left undisturbed. Mrs Dubante took point and led him up the stairs to a drawing room. A breeze drifted through the open window as she took a seat beside the telephone. He looked across the truly vast garden behind them, the grass was overgrown and the flowers looked to be wilting.

‘Mr Ruth, would you please explain yourself now?’
‘I have a friend in the police department. In return for some favours, he sends information my way.’
‘You are a private investigator, like the protagonists in…’ She paused, eyeing him with scrutiny.

‘I am no rabid fan, Mrs Dubante.’ He smiled again. ‘Personally I’ve never much liked private detective novels. When you’ve worked in the field you understand it receives a certain amount of glamour that real life cannot match. ”Though you are a detective?’ She pursed her fingers.

‘In a manner. A specialist detective. But that’s besides the point for now. I have seen the evidence held against your husband, and it’s frankly ludicrous to consider that he could have ever done it.’
‘How so?’
‘For one matter, by your testimony he was not even in the country. And you were awake right up until the incident, so unless he managed to enter the house the moment you fell asleep and then work incredibly fast he could not have done it. Secondly, the… method that he used would have been incredibly loud, waking you.’

Her voice grew very quiet. ‘The police said it was a drug in my water.’
‘That conveniently cannot be tested for and the remaining packet of which cannot be found? This is still operating under the assumption he was hiding around the house, despite you leaving him on a plane, waiting for his moment to drug you and then strike. Just because they cannot find witnesses overseas who will vouch for him being away that weekend, they therefore assume it was a poorly constructed alibi.’
‘You’ve thought this through Mr Ruth.’
‘No, the police have thought this through via you, Mrs Dubante. Dealing with a murder mystery writer has glamoured their minds, assuming this was some carefully preplanned scheme to claim your fortune somehow in a divorce.’
‘A d-d-divorce?’
‘Yes. He filed for divorce, just before leaving. The papers were in his pockets when he was arrested. I already know the police told you of this, Mrs Dubante.’

Suddenly she leaped to her feet. ‘Mr Ruth I have been very gracious with you thus far but you are touching on delicate matters that are none of your business. Furthermore you have given me little reason to assume you know anything useful.’
He sighed deeply, the smile wiped from his face. ‘I’m terribly sorry, I truly am. But I need to work fast and there’s a lot I need to cover. If I did this the way I wanted I would’ve sat here with a box of tissues and helped you through the grieving in as comforting a manner as I can muster. But I do not. Have. Time.’
On the final word he threw his arm out across the air in some angry gesture which in turn threw several necklaces out from the confines of his T-shirt. Small lumps of crystal, a crucifix and a Jewish star hung around his neck. Now too, she noticed the charm bracelet that jingled across his wrist. He stowed the necklaces back down his shirt and continued.

‘I have my own theory Mrs Dubante. He was overseas with another lover and I am deeply sorry but I believe this fully. This other lover was so shocked and ashamed when she heard of his death that she has not come forward, racked with guilt about the whole affair. He told her of his plan to divorce you when he returned home, which is why he had the papers upon his person when he returned. He has made no confession of this affair to save her from being drawn in as a suspect and to save face for you.’ A deep breath. ‘But I can prove none of this.’

A moment of silence between the two as Mr Ruth caught his breath and Mrs Dubante struggled to take it all in. Finally, she spoke first.
‘Then what are you here for, Mr Ruth?’
He knelt before her, taking her hands in his.
‘I have read the diary excerpts the police took as evidence, the short stories you posted online, the odd reports about your home life in the backs of newspapers nobody believes and I believe that you may be in terrible danger.’
‘You-you believe me?’
‘Yes Mrs Dubante, yes, I believe you. I believe everything you have written about this house because I have read it all before from other parts of the world. Yours is not the only story like this, but yours is different because I can change it. I can save you, unlike the rest of them.’
‘The res-rest of who? Mr Ruth you are scaring me now.’ She tried to retract her hand but he gripped it tight.
‘The other people who have lived in houses like this. The Taiwanese woman, the couple in Minnesota, the old Scottish woman, the Lord and Lady who last lived in this house before you and now your son that the world believes was murdered by your husband. But I don’t.’

‘Mr Ruth?’

‘There is a very dark side of the world, very dark indeed. Most people can’t see it, because they don’t look for it. That’s why my job is. I told you I’m a specialist detective and I am. A paranormal detective. And you have one very pissed off and powerful poltergeist in this house.’

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2 Responses to “Mr Ruth”

  1. Rutskarn said

    Aha. Power of…guilt!

    I’ll post a more detailed response when this essay’s vanquished. Until then, if you stop, I’ll end you and everyone you’ve ever met, including myself.

  2. billtodamax said

    This looks like it’s going to be a good story.

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