I’m Really Good at Escape Rooms; Step Aside While I Solve This Murder
Ma’am, I live across the hall, and I couldn’t help but hear your frantic screams and desperate 9-1-1 call regarding your husband’s stabbing. I may not have official law enforcement training, but fear not. I am very good at escape-the-room challenges, and I’m on the case.
With my uncanny pattern-recognition skills and remarkable code-breaking instincts, I will find every necessary clue. There is no mystery I cannot solve, no seemingly insignificant detail I will overlook, and no key I will not jam into every single lock in sight.
Of course, we could wait for the police. But did the police crack the code in the mafia-themed escape room with fifteen minutes to spare? Did it occur to them to use the dead zombie’s fingerprint to unlock the laboratory door in the pandemic-themed escape room in Brooklyn? Did the game master in the Dungeons-of-Doom Adventure Room say they were the first player ever to bring his own monogrammed blacklight?
I didn’t think so.
You’re still sobbing, Mrs. Nelson, so I’m just going to get started. First, I immediately notice that every picture frame in this apartment is black, except for that blue one that holds the photograph of you on your wedding day. Why don’t you make yourself useful and shake out that blue blanket—I can’t overstate the importance of colors when it comes to solving crimes. Is your wedding dress still in this apartment? Perfect—I’ll just rip that baby to shreds to make sure there’s nothing sewn into the seams.
It seems that the knife in his back came from your Kitchenaid knife block. Quick, check inside the Kitchenaid blender. Any stray puzzle pieces? I’ll feel around in this puddle of blood.
Listen, Mrs. Nelson, I’m sorry for your loss, but the crying is distracting to my process. I’ll tell you what I told my buddy Alvin when he had a full-on panic attack during the Airplane Hostage Escape Room last June in Philly: Use. The. Pain.
Your deceased husband’s watch reads 4:51. Does that number mean anything to you? Wait—I’ve got it! Grab your copy of Fahrenheit 451 and give it a good shake. The evidence should just come pouring out of those pages. Oh. Ha! His watch reads 4:52 now. Classic red herring. When this is all over, and we’re basking in the sweet glow of satisfaction that comes from a down-to-the-wire victory, we’ll have a good laugh about that, you and I.
No, do not get George from next door. So what if he’s a retired police chief? I once watched the man take four minutes to open his goddamned mailbox. That type of clumsiness under pressure will completely ruin our time.
Finally! Some capable-looking back-up! Officers, split up and check for clues in the most-likely place: taped to the underside of furniture. And I hope you all brought your A-game, because this is shaping up to be one delightfully tough solve.
Rebecca Turkewitz is a writer and high school English teacher living in Portland, Maine. Her short stories, essays, and humor writing have appeared in The Masters Review, Chicago Quarterly Review, Catapult, The New Yorker’s Daily Shouts, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and elsewhere.