Editor's Note: During the Friday night welcoming party at the Ecphorizer Gathering, Eva Cumming suddenly burst in and announced that John Cumming had been murdered. Sensation! Chief Inspector Towner immediately took charge, leading the rush to the scene. In
Room 48, an apalling tableau was laid out. John had evidently been reading a letter when he met his death; the first page was on his desk, the second page clutched in his left hand. His body was spread across the bed, his right thumb in his mouth and his features contorted by death agonies. Beside him was a pad on which he had been writing numbers. A plethora of possible weapons was scattered about the room.
Luckily, John had had the presence of mind to make several Xerox copies of the letter before reading it, so everyone was able to take one along when leaving the Room of Death. Here is how it ran:
[line width="40%"]Dear John:
An editor acquires many enemies. A number of them are here at the EG tonight. Beware!
[quoteright]For example, the professional gambler T. Alphonse Weissaker and his shill Daunna: they are still smarting from your exposure of their illegal activities aboard the SS Sloosbote last year. How about "Rocky" Porter and his manager Sam Fordyce? Without your nosy journalism, no one would have suspected that he kept his title by fixing his fights. The list goes on...
There's the Famiglia Miller, very big in Southern California mob circles. For twenty years they controlled the sex aids rackets in five counties. Then you had to expose not only their capo, Enrico the Finger, but also their shyster mouthpiece Lauria and their torpedo Stefano. You even blabbed the fact that Enrico's moll, Bevia, was a former taxi dancer. Ain't you gotta no brains? You followed that up by getting Madame O'Meagher and her piano player Stewsie busted and their House closed down. Did you stop to consider who their customers were?
The police forces of 25 countries on five continents had been searching unsuccessfully for "Limey" Gregson and his French mistress Zou-zou, wanted for a string of jewel heists. You told them where to look. You exposed Zenobia Malina's fortune-telling racket and had her crystal ball impounded. You broke up the Taylor-Schulz insurance claims gang with your articles on fraud in the legal profession. You even had the nerve to rake up the old "Killer" Kienitz tennis-match doping scandal. Are you crazy?
Professor Healy was a respected scientist until you revealed that his laboratory assistant, Zelda, was helping him crib his experiments from his vast library of obscure research journals. Then in one twenty-four hour period last year, you accomplished the following: you discovered that Gary and Cynthia Hobbit had stolen their latest novel from the unpublished notebooks of J. J. Tolkein; you fingered Stirling Prael and his chief pit mechanic, Nancio, for sabotaging competitors' cars at Le Mans; and you published all the unsavory details of the Johnson-Childs card sharping ring! That alone makes a half-dozen people you ruined in one day. Unfortunately for you, they're all here tonight.
Turn your mind back to last September 26th. Having just turned in Martha "Hacker" Johnson for computer embezzlement, you decided to finish the day by publishing the Koblick Report, including the reasons why that master spy team had made nine trips to Bucharest last year. Did you stop there? No, you dug out your papers on the Penn-Merrill geodesic dome sales racket and laid them before the public. Those folk are not about to thank you for your attentions.
When you heedlessly broke up the Whitney-Francis white slaving ring, little did you think that some 22 prominent politicians were involved. But when you traced their customer list to Boss Lovasik and his accountant, "Numbers" Acereto, you really bought trouble. The word on the street is that there are seven separate contracts out on you now. Don't expect any help from Chief Inspector Towner, either - he was on that list too.
Your exposes of massive welfare fraud, in which the name of jet-set socialite C. Palmer Persen kept popping up, earned you no points. But your determination to pin a $23 shoplifting charge on "Shifty" Holmes and his petty-theft partner, Diana, was just mean. Even your wife of fifteen years, Evabelle, is mad at you about that.
So, John, your editorial zeal is catching up with you. As a matter of fact, by the time you have read this far you will be vaguely aware that one of the people I have just mentioned has started the process of murdering you. Clever, wasn't it? Your life is being clipped out, like one of those paragraphs you toss away from the manuscripts people send you. Your only hope now is to discover who it is and throw yourself on his/her mercy. There's still a chance to save your miserable life. I could spell it out for you, chapter and verse, but I prefer to make you think. In this letter you'll find a number of clues to guide you. You better hurry, however - you have only a few minutes left.
[line width="40%"]Resurrected Editor's Note: This letter contains the essential information needed to pinpoint the murderer. If you would like to try your skill, read no farther. Otherwise, turn to the next page to find the explanation.
The EG took place in The National Hotel, a historic Old West hotel dating back to Gold Rush days in Jackson, CA. The downstairs was a combination bar and lobby, with tables filled with locals, other guests, and the Ecphorizer Gatherers. Of course Eva Cumming couldn't just come running down the stairs and announce that her husband had been murdered! Think of the panic that would ensure among those not part of the drama! Oh, no, Eva couldn't do something like that. We all knew that there was to be a drama but no one had an idea how it would be announced! Presently Eva came partway down stairs and in her best stage act ever, sobbed, "Upstairs, upstairs..." as she pointed upstairs. At that point we all knew that was the cue that the drama had begun and we all had to improvise our parts, all the while leaving those other bar guests to wonder what the heck was up with that wacky crowd.
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