The Vonnegut Case

A/N: Mentions of Violence and Death


September 27th, 1819

My lovely Catherine,

How are you faring? I know with autumn coming upon us now, the cold is coming in and covering the towns with frost. Please make sure at this time to especially take care of yourself and keep warm within our little shack.

On my way into the city, I saw some fields of flowers that reminded me of you. If I am not forgetful again, perhaps I’ll bring some lilies back for you and Charlie. It really is lush out here despite the season. Perhaps one day, I can bring you all out here.

I do hope that you are not straining yourself too much. It won’t be long before another one is running about the house soon. The child is due next week, correct? Do you predict it’ll be a boy or girl? I know we’ve discussed names and predictions before, but I was foolishly talked over you. What do your “motherly instincts” tell you? I worry too much you may think, but the safety and comfort of my beloved wife is top priority on my list.

Worries aside, here is another concern: our firm has publicly posted a promotion for someone to become leading magistrate! Everyone is saying that I’ll no doubt get the position. I don’t feel good about it though, however. Do you remember Alan Prentice? He is the other eligible candidate the law firm is considering. He is a lovely bloke, I swear. To be quite frank, without him, I wouldn’t be here working. He can be distant, but he always seems to be happy and seems to be patient and kind with me.

However, if I do get this position, I will bring you and Charlie with me. It’ll be enough to support us in the city. You won’t have to live in that dingy farmhouse again. It’s no place to raise a child anyways. It’s merely a thought, a dream in sight, but a good one nevertheless. I am excited yet anxious about this opportunity. My lack of confidence and faith in the future is my greatest hindrance. You’d know, darling, with my mousy self. I don’t understand your love, but I hold onto it dearly.

I’ll return when the week is over. Pray for my promotion and that my anxiety doesn’t paralyze me.

All my love and Always,

Your Blubbering Husband Tristan


September 28th, 1819

Dear Mr. Prentice,

I would be happy to have lunch with you to celebrate the promotion! I can’t tell you how grateful I am of all your guidance and support. I do hope you don’t mind if I brought some leftover sweets from my wife’s cooking. She made too many and said to share. 

I look forward to this Friday, and I shall see you at your place. Thank you again!

Sincerely,

Tristan Vonnegut

Subordinate Lawyer

Brahms’ & Co. Law Firm

Centerville, MA


October 4th, 1819

Dear Mr. Prentice,

Due to the untimely disappearance of Mr. Tristan Vonnegut, our board has made the collective decision to assign you the promotion by process of illumination. Congratulations, and please meet us for a debriefing as well as a celebratory party. Should you have any questions, please direct them to your upper management at resources. Thank you so much for your contribution.

Sincerely,

Brahm’s & Co. Law Firm

Centerville, MA


October 4th, 1819

Dear Mrs. Vonnegut,

I have heard about the police reports and ongoing investigation regarding your husband. I am very sorry to hear about his disappearance, and I can’t imagine what pain you must be going through right now. 

I cannot say that we were that close, but from what I saw, Tristan was a good and kind gentleman. He was very much agreeable and a hard worker. Hopefully, he will return, but until then, take care of yourself.

Condolences,

Mr. A. Prentice

Leading Magistrate

Brahms’ & Co. Law Firm

Centerville, MA


October 6th, 1819

To Alan Prentice,

When I went out for lunch with you this past Friday, the last thing I expected was to die. This may come as a surprise to you, but now that I am dead, I don’t feel bound by mortal things such as nervousness and fear of authorities. I don’t feel free either. I might be in shock to be frank.

How could you? I had a life. I was supposed to be happy and bring my family to the city, and you stole that all away from me.

I am hurt, and I am deeply sorrowed, not for losing life, but that I lost it to you. Again, how could you? I trusted you with everything. Why now do you betray me? What was the reason?

I want you to write to me. I don’t think you dare tell or report to the authorities what is going on. After all, it would likely incriminate you or you’d be made out to be a fool. Maybe you’d lose that position that you so sought out for. Write to me.

Tristan Vonnegut

P.S. When you write to me, please address it to ‘The Bog.’ That is where I reside now since you buried me there. The mailman will take care of the rest.


October 8th, 1819

Dear Alan,

I noticed that you haven’t answered my last letter yet. Perhaps it was lost in the mail, but I did especially deliver it by cold, dead hand and all to ensure that it was secure in your post box outside your house. But we all make mistakes sometimes! You’d know.

While I was delivering the letter, I couldn’t help but notice where you live. I know that I’ve visited previously, but inspecting it closely, you do have a lovely house in fact. I do admire how the green shutter’s paint is peeling at the edges or how your chimney is crooked like a hag’s back. The garden out front is also withering drastically, so best to get that looked at. 

It is very dismal actually, but I suppose that’s fitting. An ugly house for an ugly man.

I look forward to your reply! Be sure to answer the questions I asked about why you murdered me!

Lots of Love,

Tristan Vonnegut


October 9th, 1819

Mr. Vonnegut, if that is who you truly are,

I have no idea who put you up to this, but I am here to tell you that it’s not funny. You jest about my dear coworker’s death and accuse me of such an atrocity for which you have no evidence for. Additionally, if you’re so certain of your death, “Tristan,” then you should find no problem finding evidence. 

Also, the comments about my humble abode are nothing but childish and annoying. Look to another person to bother with your pranks.

Kindly stop this charade or I will seek further action from the police.

Alan Prentice


Dear Mr. Prentice,

I didn’t take kindly to your last letter, so allow me to remind you what happened:
On Friday, October 1st, you invited me under the guise of a dinner to celebrate my promotion to Leading Magistrate. However, little did I know, you would go on to poison the cooking with the rat poison from your cupboard.

And you watched me. Writhing on that floor. You watched me, not with a smile or in anger, but with a placid, stoic face. The thought of trying to help me crossed your mind. And you ignored it. You just stood and watched. My last thought was that help was not coming because it wasn’t.

After my body stopped moving for about 10 minutes, you decided to drag my body into the bog down the street. It took a long time, and my body was heavy, but it was dark. Nobody would know. The letters and meeting exchanged between this were only between you and me; no one else would know. You have an alibi of staying at home by yourself, and since your house is so remote from the city, no one would know. You had this planned from the start, you cannot deny it.

Do not take me lightly.

Tristan Vonnegut


October 12th, 1819

Dearest Alan,

I have to admit, when I received your letter today, I was very excited when I saw your frantic words and scrawling. You didn’t even bother typing it. How remarkable and endearing! My old companion decided to write a letter by hand. I really did get a kick out of seeing you as it was truly entertaining.

I didn’t realize how powerful greediness and darkness lay in the hearts of men. I was naive to think that you cared enough for me. If you wanted the position so badly, you should’ve talked to me. Very irrational of you to kill me. 

As for what I want, my family has been in the shadows about my death. They think I left them out of all things. You made this happen. Undo it. 

Tell them what happened and admit to your crimes. If you fail to do so, then I myself will come over to your house and drag you into the bog with me. Confess to the police if you’d like, but my family has the right to know what happened to me. 

That’s all. If you comply, then perhaps I’ll show mercy.

Tristan Vonnegut


October 15th, 1819

Dear Vonnegut Family,

I write this to you to confess what happened to Tristan Vonnegut. His body is hidden in the bog on the outskirts of Centerville, MA. On October 1st, he was poisoned in cold blood out of jealousy. I am so sorry. I don’t expect you to forgive me, but I hope that I do have your mercy. Please. I’m so sorry.

– Anonymous


October 16th, 1819

Alan,

So you killed me for such a trivial reason and then gave my family a pitiful motive and explanation? 

How heartless. You have the courage to murder me, but when it comes to being truthful, you hide your tail between your legs.

Bastard.

You brought this on yourself.

Expect a visit soon.

Tristan


October 17th, 1819

Alan,

Why do you even bother writing at this point? Your fate is sealed, Prentice. You had your chance, and you threw it away for some false haven of yourself. You, who hid from your crimes. You lacked to see the real danger in front of you.

I’m in front of your house now actually. I didn’t bother with the mailbox since it seems like you removed that. Revenge has no obstacles. Those boards on your windows and porch won’t save you now.

I’ll get what I want, Prentice. I promise you that.

Tristan


October 19th, 1819

Mr. Prentice, 

I stand now outside your house yet again to inform you of what my observations. I can see you even now as you skim through this letter. You probably won’t even read it all the way through. Your pulse is racing, and you’re becoming clumsy with your movements. You head outside with your axe and grab all the wood you can find. Your furniture is all over the place as you struggle to place it against all entrances and exits. Will blocking the door do any good against what you can’t touch? Even now, I can hear your heart racing. Nervous, why are you so nervous? You knew your end of the bargain and yet you greet me with such a sight! How easily you fall apart when confronted. So fragile.

I’m watching you praying to every god you can imagine. It’s all for naught of course, but I want to see you writhe with fear. So cover your windows. Hide in your bed. Write those letters that won’t be delivered. Scream at the darkness in your house. No one will hear you. It’s all in vain.

Would you like to know what I think of you? You’re sorry you got caught. You apologize because you fear for your pathetic life, not out of sadness for what you’ve done. But what should I expect from a murderer?

It was truly a pleasure meeting you. I’ll see you shortly.


Police Statement

October 26th, 1819Officer Hammond to the Bureau of Law Enforcement 

Report begins.

Coronary details:

Body of Murderer found at approximately 1:00 AM on October 25th, 1819

Estimated time of death: 8:00 PM

Location of Death: Kitchen

Cause of death: Suicide/Hanging

Call-In:

On October 25th, around 7:00 PM, a report was made by a local group of 3 boys (ages 12 to 14) passing through the area. They reported hearing a scream at the time when they had run back to the village. We arrived there around 8:30 PM to a dark and quiet house. There was no sign of life or movement within and outside the house.

Observations:

When we arrived on the scene, the first thing we noticed was the house. It was totally dark from the inside, but the windows and doors had been boarded with nails and wooden planks from both sides. It was difficult to enter regularly, but upon closer inspection, we noticed the basement window at the base of the house had been broken into. However, the window would have been too small for any adult to have gotten in. We pried off the boards and entered, finding the house cold and entirely empty. 

Mr. Prentice was found hanging by a rope from the rafts of his kitchen room. There was a chair under him knocked over, and there weren’t any signs of a moved body. Furniture in other rooms were knocked over, but his kitchen was completely untouched. Post mortem reports states that Mr. Prentice had died from strangulation from the rope around his neck. The autopsy revealed that the force at which he hung himself was enough to break his neck as well.

The most intriguing thing we have found, however, were the various letters by the typewriter. Papers were thrown about the place, and many of them had nonsensical typing on it. In the fireplace, we did find the typed letters from Tristan Vonnegut, a fellow coworker of Prentice who went missing earlier this month. The other coherent letters were addressed to Tristan, most of them being apologetic and fearful.

Follow Ups:

With the help of Mrs. Catherine Vonnegut’s letter from an anonymous source, we were able to offer a possible explanation for Mr. Vonnegut’s disappearance. Our forces immediately sent out officers to the closest bog in order to retrieve his body. Coincidentally, it was down the road from Prentice’s house, leading to the conclusion that Prentice had murdered Vonnegut. Our dogs unfortunately couldn’t find anything or any remains of the corpse anywhere. Questioning of the mailmen in the area also led to dead ends as they claimed that no mail had been going in or out of Prentice’s house. While we looked for the body, other officers delivered the letters of Tristan to his formerly pregnant wife Catherine out of respect and she being his only remaining family. However, an anonymous witness reports her burying a mysterious object in her backyard the previous night. Because of this, our forces took it upon ourselves to request a house search for suspicious activity.

Our department denied us a warrant due to disruption to the household and harassment of the grieving and the possible dead. The department themselves, as should be noted, are very superstitious themselves playing into possible bias and denial.

Mrs. Vonnegut refused to tell us what’s buried or what she was doing there that night. She merely stood in the doorway staring at the police as they bombarded her with questions. She currently resides in the farmhouse with her son Charlie.

Report ends.

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