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In the evidence locker at the police station, a plastic evidence bag lays on a shelf marked Current. There is a label on the bag, and on the line marked Suspect is the name Robert “Bob” Schroeder. Inside the bag is a greeting card, on the front of which is a drawing of a cake that’s been decorated with these words: Congratulations from all of us! What follows are the comments that were hand-written on the card by the colleagues of Robert “Bob” Schroeder at the Caring Hands Insurance Agency.


Congratulations on the promotion, Bobby! I’m so proud of you! And hey, isn’t this the cutest greeting card you ever saw? As soon as I heard the news I rushed out and bought the best card I could find. And the cake too! Your celebration starts at 3:00 and they didn’t leave me much time. I’m so looking forward to “working under you,” ha ha! (Don’t worry, I ran around to everyone in the department so they could sign the card, but I made damn sure they didn’t waste time reading what anyone else wrote. Also, I’m signing it last. I know how to be discrete.) Are you busy tonight? I’ve got some “special” congratulations waiting for you, if you know what I mean. Love, Meg


Excellent news, my good friend. You’ve been a great co-worker and I’m sure you’ll make a terrific manager of our department. Of course it is a shame that Liliana passed away so suddenly, but I know you will step into her shoes with success. Jerry


Great news, Bob. I’m so happy for you. But I’m still shaken up about poor Liliana. Did they find out yet how she died? Nobody seems to know. Anyway, someone has to lead the troops, and I had a feeling that you would get the job instead of Brandon. Have a blessed day, Jennifer


Congratulations Bob. I know you will succeed. By the way, I attended the funeral. You knew that Liliana and I were friends for many years? Well, her husband Jeremy confided in me – please don’t spread this around - that the cause of death was poison mushrooms! How awful, right? I just wonder where she got them. She wasn’t the outdoors type and I can’t see her traipsing through the forest with a picnic basket in her hand. Jeremy said he felt guilty that he was away on business for so long and wasn’t there to stop her. I told him it wasn’t his fault and he seemed comforted. But I can’t help wondering why she did it. She didn’t seem depressed ... I know, I shouldn’t speculate. I’m not the gossiping type and I won’t repeat this around the office, but I thought you should know. I’m really quite relieved you got the job instead of Brandon. He just isn’t management material. Your friend, Anna


Dude, this is awesome! It’s so cool that you got the promotion. Get this: I was upstairs yesterday when the execs broke the news to Brandon that he lost out. You could hear him bellowing all the way down the hall! It was hilarious! That temper is his downfall. You were always the stronger candidate. Stay frosty, Jason


Dear Bob, congratulations! Let’s go out and celebrate! I’m still a bit miffed you didn’t call me after our last date, but I forgive you. Anyway, it turns out we have something else in common. I stopped by your office yesterday and couldn’t help but notice the home canning magazine sticking out of your briefcase. Guess what? I love home canning too! I just put up some tomato sauce and I still have some strawberry jam from last summer. Let me know when you’re free so we can compare recipes. Yours, Nichole


Robert, I congratulate you on your victory. You are a worthy opponent and I have no problem with you as manager of our department. It’s regrettable that we shared some negative words in the past, but let’s put that behind us. I wish you the best of luck. And thanks again for your gift! I confess I am surprised. It’s very gracious of you, more gracious than I thought you could be. I knew you liked to go hiking but I had no idea you canned your own food too! I love mushrooms and so does my wife. We’ll put them to good use. Respectfully, Brandon


The End


Bio: Jeff C. Gibson has been writing professionally for over 30 years in the software industry. He's a movie nut, plays the ponies, and loves to read history and crime fiction. He lives in San Jose, CA.



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