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August Heat

Anonymous 2 ending:

11:15 p.m.

It is now 11:15, and the wind is really picking up. The rain is coming down terribly. Charles says I should stay over instead of walking home in the storm, and I have agreed. He showed me the room where I’ll be sleeping tonight. It is a small room on the first floor. Well, it’s now 11:30, and I am very tired. I think I’ll go to bed.

11:35 p.m.

Maria just came in to see if I’m all right. She is very nice. The lights are out because the Atkinsons have run out of oil for the lamps. She came in with a candle for my room. I told her I was all right, just really hot.

"You don’t look too well, Maria," I said.

Oh, no, she just fainted on the bed, probably from all that heat. I don’t think I should wake Charles, so I’ll go to the kitchen to get a wet towel for her head.

I just heard a noise on the way back to my room, so I quickly hurried into the room and lay down on the bed as though I were sleeping. A strange man is now in my room. I hope he doesn’t think, just because Maria is here, that I’m Charles.

"Why did you just stab Maria?" James said.

"It’s none of your business," replied the intruder. "Stop!" he ordered, as James bounded toward the door.

The man hurried after James, and just as James was about to reach out for the handle of the door, he stabbed James with the same bloody chisel with which he’d killed Maria. He didn’t think there were any witnesses to either of these two murders. Confident he would not be caught, the man left sneakily.


I’m Charles. I have to finish telling the story. Let me start from the beginning. My neighbor has had a grudge against me for years. You see, his little boy came into my yard one day and started playing with my tools and scrambling over tombstones that I was working on. He got a disease from a rusty tool and died. I was not found guilty of any wrongdoing, nor did I have to pay any money to my neighbor, because the court didn’t believe it was my fault. My neighbor was enraged by this.

Anyway, back to the story. It was 12:00 midnight when I noticed that my wife was not in our room. I heard noises from the room where James was. I went in there to see what was going on and to see where my wife was. I was too late. When I went into the room, I saw my wife’s body lying on the bed, with James lying on the floor by the door. I didn’t know what to do, for my tools were lying on the floor with blood on them. Someone had obviously come in, gotten my tools, and killed my wife and new acquaintance. I examined the two bodies; they were indeed dead. I also took a look at the tools.

I heard the police approaching in a horse-drawn wagon at about 12:20. Someone had somehow alerted them. I heard the police come into my house. I quickly dropped the tools onto the floor. Nevertheless, the arriving police saw me standing there with blood all over my hands, two dead bodies lying in front of me, and my own bloody tools around me on the floor. It looked as if I were the killer. I tried to explain that I really didn’t do it, but with all the evidence to the contrary, the police concluded that I was the culprit. They took me to the station. I was scared, scared of being convicted and hanged for a crime of which I was innocent.

The police asked me a lot of questions. I answered them truthfully. They hoped I really was telling the truth, and I hoped the trial would prove me innocent. An inquest was scheduled to be held soon.

I spent the rest of August 21, 1900, in a jail cell. I didn’t belong there, but I couldn’t do anything about it until my trial. I was sure I would be found innocent. I sat there and thought for a while. I concluded that the only person who knew where my tools were was James. I had shown him yesterday when he came to my house. I thought that maybe he could have killed Maria, then killed himself. I put that thought right out of my mind. That couldn’t be true—could it? Then I thought of another possible culprit, my neighbor, Wilson. We used to be great friends, even business partners in the tombstone business until that thing with his son. Maybe he had done it.

The police had told me when they arrested me that it was my neighbor who had contacted them on the night of the murders. He told the police he had heard noises coming from my house and that he had gone over to my house, had looked in the window, and had seen two bodies.

Partly as a result of my suspicions, my neighbor also became a suspect. His house, along with my own, was scheduled to be searched before the inquest. I felt with a certainty that he was guilty.

The Search

Later on the twenty-first, the houses were searched. The search would also take most of the twenty-second. While this was going on, I was held in a cell. I thought I was coping extremely well with being in in jail for no reason and with the death of my wife.

I got through the night okay. I was a little scared—okay, I was very scared, but who wouldn’t be if he had a chance of being hanged for a crime he didn’t do?

After the police had finished collecting their evidence, it was time for the inquest. I was very nervous. The police would announce there what they had found in their searches.

The Inquest

I walked into the inquest and saw my neighbor sitting on one side of the room. He testified first because he was the one who had contacted the police, and they had also found shoes with bloodstains on them at his house. He lied blatantly.

I also testified. They had found the gravestone with James’s name on it at my house. I explained that I make tombstones for a living and that that one was to show prospective customers and I had just thought up James’s name and birthdate.

Luckily, all of my neighbor’s testimony was proved wrong. He was later found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging.

After that day, I moved on with my life. I planned Maria’s funeral and moved in with my daughter and her family.

The End

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