... “Tomorrow night you plan to take your disgusting little harp-plucker to see – and murder – an important person. As you said in my drawing room on the night you murdered me, a ‘very significant person’. Tell me now who your target is.”
“I daren’t,” Stoat choked out. Fear was sobering him. “I daren’t, they’ll kill me.”
“Mr. Turpin,” I called to Edmund Serious, “point your gun at the Baron’s head. On the count of three, if he has not named his target, blow out his brains.” I looked Mr. Serious carefully in the face and I winked.
“Please, don’t,” pleaded the Baron.
“One!” I counted.
“I’ll do anything else,” he whimpered. “You can have the gold, I am ruined, anyway.”
I nodded at Serious and he nodded back, his eyes grim above the scarf that masked his mouth.
“No, please, don’t kill me! I want to help, I’m just afraid! Please, can’t I do something else? Anything else, what!”
I winked at Serious again.
Bang! the gun fired.
“You idiot!” I yelled at Edmund Serious.
“Edward, Prince of Wales!” shrieked Baron Stoat, cowering in the hansom.“Blast, I missed!” cursed Serious. “Bloody cheap pistol!”
* * *
Sometimes you just have to write a pratfall, by which I mean comic screw-ups and physical comedy.
The above excerpt is from The Case of the Devil's Interval. The Baron Stoat is complicit in multiple murders and participant in a plot to commit more. Francis (the first person narrator, who is the ghost of a ten-year-old boy) and his idiot adult sidekick, Edmund Serious, here interrogate Stoat.