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The Somerton Man Mystery Scenario number 29

The pubs are locked, cafes are closed, restaurants shut down, clubs shuttered, streets deserted, jobs gone, money evaporating, shops empty, stock holdings decimated, cinemas blacked-out, beaches closed, airlines out of business, borders barricaded, cities in lockdown … so it’s either daytime TV, chess, the bottle or the pipe, another 3,000 piece jigsaw puzzle or an argument about what the really happened on the 30th of November 1948.

So, it’s lights off, curtains drawn and enter theory number 29, stage right.

A middle-aged man arrives at Adelaide by air and makes his way to the Adelaide train station where, being a stranger in town, he lodges his suitcase before finding a way to the address he has been given via phone from a potential business partner who lives at Glenelg. The potential partner is Prosper McTaggart Thomson, a used car dealer who has been advertising for both a partner and premises in Adelaide to conduct his motor vehicle business.

The stranger’s name is Keane, initial T – as marked on several items found in his suitcase.

Keane, a well-dressed man of medium age and height carries a set of tools in his suitcase that identify him as a thief specialising in motor vehicles. He is also carrying his stake in the potential business but rather than carry the money around in a strange town, decided to leave it in his locked suitcase which he lodged with the railway luggage office, trusting them to keep it secure.

His trip to Glenelg was not as straightforward as he thought and after buying a train ticket to the coast is advised at the gate it would be in his best interest to catch a trolley-bus to his destination rather than walk what would be quite a distance to Glenelg if he took the train.

He now has three tickets. One unused train ticket, one trolley bus ticket and the redeeming stub for his suitcase which he kept in his wallet.

Keane arrives in Glenelg and proceeds to 90A Moseley Street where he is met by Prosper Thomson, as arranged.

Prosper Thomson’s companion, Jessica Harkness also lives at 90A Moseley Street with her one and a half year old son, Robin.

She is introduced to Keane when she arrives home.

Thomson and Keane spend the afternoon and better part of the evening estimating the costs and benefits of a partnership and it’s during these negotiations Thomson learns that Keane has come to Adelaide ready to invest immediately, and in cash.

Prior to Thomson driving Keane back to a city hotel, Harkness prepares a small supper and it’s not long after eating that Keane complains of feeling unwell and visits the bathroom.

Some minutes later, and after hearing a thump from the bathroom, Thomson and Harkness open the door and find him slumped on the floor.

Harkness, a trained nurse, finds no pulse. Keane is dead. The only sign of trauma a small abrasion between the knuckes of his right hand where it hit the edge of the wash basin as he fell.

Thomson carries Keane out of the bathroom and lays him on the hallway floor.

They discuss calling the police or an ambulance before Thomson decides to do neither.

Thomson, knowing that no blame can be levelled at either of them for what to all intents looks like a sudden heart attack, and being an astute fellow with an eye for an unexpected windfall suggests leaving the body where it is while he looks for a likely place to dispose of it.

He knows of a place by the Children’s Home steps not far from his home where customers of the nearby hotel are sometimes found sleeping off the effects of too many beers before they themselves head home.

Harkness, disturbed by the fatal turn of events and hearing of Thomson’s plan to carry him stripped of his wallet and identification to the steps later that night, suggests it would be more acceptable to leave something on the body that might suggest he died by his own hand.

Fetching her copy of the Rubaiyat, a book she carried with her at all times and was intimately familiar with, she removed the Tamam Shud slip from the last page and asked Thomson to place it in the dead man’s fob pocket. She then suggested Thomson take the book with him as well, eliminating any chance of a connection being made by the police if they happened to chance by Moseley Street after the body had been discovered, not realising her phone number was written in pencil on the back cover. The result of an earlier note she had made to herself when the number was first allotted to 90A Mosley St

At about 10:30 that evening Thomson loaded the body into his car and drove to Somerton Beach. He parked in the shadow between street lamps then carried the corpse south along the foreshore to the bottom of the Children’s Home steps and arranged Keane to look like he was sleeping.

Then, displaying commendable initiative, he placed one of Keane’s cigarettes under his chin in the hope that when the body was found it would be assumed he died in situ.

Thomson then returned to his car after disposing the Rubaiyat inside an unlocked car parked nearby.

The next morning Thomson travelled to the city and using the luggage stub and Keane’s suitcase key, temporarily redeemed the suitcase and removed Keane’s stake money which was hidden in a pair of his socks. Then, in his haste, forgot to re-lock the suitcase before letting the porter have it back.

And as the facts tell us, in no small amount of time Thomson’s fortunes were found to be much improved.

Tamam Shud

15 Comments Post a comment
  1. dusty #

    Nice piece of short fiction Pete. To give it a little more realism, he’ll have to fly in on Monday and bunk at the Strathmore in order to get the train and trolly bus? tickets Tuesday morning (flight arrivals pm.) and for fuck sake where did you come up with 29A Moseley St.

    March 23, 2020
  2. dude47 #

    Whist im not convinced of scenario “29” if I was running a book I would have it at shorter odds than the spy scenario.

    March 23, 2020
    • You’ve got to stop posting whist you’re pist, dude old son.

      March 23, 2020
  3. пожалуйста #

    This does rather elide the somewhat startling genetic similarities between our Mr. Kean(e) and Ms. Harkness’ son?

    March 23, 2020
    • пожалуйста #

      When Prosper first voiced his idea of soliciting a partner for his venture, I suppose it would be possible for Jessica to have said: “There’s this guy I know, from up Sydney way. Only met him once or twice, but he seemed like a decent sort. Lost soul, though. No family back home – and no desire to go back and find one. Said he’d had a good war, had a bit stashed away. For a rainy day with the right opportunity”.

      “Give him a call,” says Prosper, “because no one’s answered that ad I posted”.

      March 23, 2020
  4. dude47 #

    Pete if I followed that rule my contributions would be rare. People are running around buying dunny paper and bumping elbows, Im doing the only sensible thing….getting pissed!!

    March 23, 2020
  5. Johnno … you know bloody everything, what were the interstate bus timetables on November 30?

    March 25, 2020
  6. john sanders #

    Glad to be of no service Pete, which is almost precisely the case with interstate bus timetables for November 30 to Adelaide. The first Pioneer Clipper Flxable started some sort of service between Victoria and Adelaide in January 1949 which was a month late for SM. Don’t lose heart though; There was a thrice weekly curtain flapper run to Broken Hill on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturday mornings; returning Mondays (SM?), Wednesdays and Friday mornings. Take this a rote as I did this whole line of investigation, based on a bullshit claim by your former best pal Gordon Cramer and his co-conspitiitorial team and sent them back down their rabbit holes

    March 25, 2020
    • My appreciation is boundless old warrior, please send bank details soonest so your reward might be fastly forthcoming at the very earliest.

      March 25, 2020
  7. john sanders #

    The Savings Bank of S.A.address in Curry St. Adelaide was in process of renovation at around the time of that disputed CIS December ’48 letter (32/303 New Guard NAA) on the Association which looks real. The Commonwealth Bank was taking over and it is likely that CIS had recently moved in as a new tennant which would mean the listed phone number was theirs and not a shared switchboard exchange. Whatever, Gordon’s alleged C number on the ROK, if called could only have been to talk with the Commonwealth Investigation Service.

    March 25, 2020
    • пожалуйста #

      I’m not clear on how the number is associated with the found Ruby.

      March 25, 2020
  8. john sanders #

    Flash Gordon will decide when the time’s right to plant Clive’s C 7407 find. Probably not on the already overcrowded code page per se, but why not somewhere on the once attached Tamam Shud slip, and in micro which’d really be a feather in the old crook’s bonnet…

    March 26, 2020
    • I have it on good authority that if you replace 7407 with the corresponding alpha numbers, then add fifteen to each, place that line under the 7407 and add them together without carrying over, then subtract the original, again without carrying over, you will find the result most surprising.

      March 26, 2020
  9. john sanders #

    Now we’re cooking with gas…The Telephone No. Central 7407 was, as suggested a direct line (2 lines in fact) and CIS had by the date in question installed themselves in the new Savings Bank building around the corner in KW Street. Gordon’s uneducated contention that C7407 was a shared switchboard, both being agencies of the government is quite the opposite in fact. In ’48 Playford’s Liberals held sway in SA , whilst the Socialist Labour party under Chifley ran the Commonwealth AG’s (CIS) show. Being idealogically opposed ala a ‘ne’er the twain shall meet’ scenario would have prevented any bi-partisan line sharing arrangements.

    March 26, 2020

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