A tall man in a black coat got into his darkblue Ford. He pushed
the pedal and aimed at a pedestrian...
At full speed the car crashed into the old lady. There was a bang
and the car started skidding. But shortly after the car got under
control again and the death-driver sped away. No one had identified
the driver and he got away without being stopped.
It was noon. Mrs. Emily West was just cooking lunch for herself
and her husband who should be home soon from his job as a car
The Wests were new tenants here and they didn't get acquainted
yet with their neighbors. They were simply 'the new ones on the
Her husband brought home a decent salary of which they were able
to put away a bit as they wanted to buy their own home someday.
It was unusual that roast was one the menu today and Emily prepared
it carefully. As she looked out the window the mailman was just
walking up. She took of her apron and grabbed the key to the mailbox.
As she descended the stairs, Mrs. Sheer from the floor above bumped
into her, slightly scared as she saw Mrs. West. She greeted Mrs.
West overly friendly and examined her attentively. Emily returned
She put the mail on the kitchen table and started looking through
the pile. On top were two catalogs advertising some sort of kitchen
appliances, then there was the daily paper:
'73-year old run over by car. Hitman got away.'
the headline proclaimed. "Terrible. I hope they catch him
soon", Mrs. West thought and found a piece of paper without
address underneath the newspaper. The note read:
'Your husband is a murderer. He ran over that old lady. You better
be careful else you'll wind up like her. We only mean well.
First she was scared by this basically anonymous letter then she
got very upset. She instantly thought of Mrs. Sheer who she just
saw on the stairway and who acted so strangely towards her. Since
they moved in here she seemed to have something against Mr. West.
She hassled him all the time and now her big moment had come.
She would manage to tip off the cops...
In the meantime Mr. West had come home and was looking forward
to the meal. He was without worries and Mrs. West didn't mention
anything to him. Maybe it would have been better if she had told
him about it. He could then had have a talk with Mrs. Sheer.
In the afternoon all the radio stations featured comments and
descriptions of the car and the driver. Mrs. West turned the radio
off. In the apartment above she heard mean words and bold theories.
Emily took her coat and went outside because she couldn't stand
being in the apartment. She went to the parking lot in order to
take a little drive. She looked at the blue Ford that her husband
bought for cheap at the garage he works at and noticed a dent
and a banged-up headlight at the front left corner. She started
having doubts. "I don't want to have anything to do with
this. Eddie can work this out himself", she said and didn't
know what to do now. A window opened on the fifth floor. "Do
you believe me now? I'm just concerned about you. If you like
you can spend the night at my place. Better safe than sorry",
Mrs. Sheer shouted. "Thanks", the other mumbled. She
just could not believe it. She wanted to cry.
Mr. West came home in the evening, nothing unusual about him.
Another workday was behind him and they got a little closer to
the purchase of their house. He was glad. At dinner he read the
paper. "How awful", he commented. "You're the one
who has to say that", she thought. "Oh, by the way,
I noticed a dent in the car today. You didn't even mention it
to me", she challenged. Totally natural without getting nervous
her husband replied: "Oh, that. I completely forgot to tell
you. The day before yesterday I ran into a post while parking.
I'll have it fixed first thing in the morning. But - why are you
asking so strangely?". He started at the newspaper. "You
don't think I did... Sheesh, listen, this happened yesterday and
the thing with the dent that was the day before. That's impossible".
"But Mrs. Sheer said - I mean, she...". "Yes, darling?"
"Oh, nothing". Her voice failed. "I am definitely
innocent! You believe that, don't you?". "Yes - yes".
After a sleepless night, where she had thought everything through
and had come to a decision, she climbed the stairs to the upper
floor and to Mrs. Sheer. She told her everything about the previous
evening. After a long discussion the two women decided to call
the police. Mrs. West started to like Mrs. Sheer and she was thankful
for the support. A murderer is a murderer no matter if it's your
own husband and she called homicide. It turned out that Mr. Wilson
from the first floor had already tipped off the police earlier.
The tip to arrest Mr. West. Two policemen were scheduled to stop
by here today anyway, they said. She felt really uneasy afterwards
and laid down for the rest of the morning.
At lunch there was a weird, almost hostile mood between the two.
"I couldn't get the car fixed yet", he said to break
the silence. "Too bad. I wish you could have. It would have
been a last chance for you". "How do you mean?".
"Just wait". At that moment the door bell rang. Mrs.
West turned pale but opened the door. She saw two people. She
almost fainted when one person asked: "Do you want to buy
charity pin?" "No - thanks". She gained control
again and sighed with relief. "What was it you said before
at the table?" "Well, you know...". The door bell
interrupted. She opened and two policemen from homicide stood
at the door: "Is this the residence of one Mr. Eddie West?
He's to be arrested. Everything speaks against him, the car, even
the neighbors. It looks really bad for him". Mrs. West started
crying. "What's all this about?", Eddie wondered as
he was escorted out the door.
He was interrogated for days on end. Eventually a letter to Mrs.
'We truly regret having to say this but your husband appears to
be guilty. He cannot prove his innocence. Various lawyers have
tried in vain. The final trial is scheduled for 7/20. Please be
She went to Mrs. Sheer's who tried to console her. Everything
seemed like a dream. Then the day of the trial came... "The
accused has been found guilty. The verdict is: Death by the electric
"I didn't do it! I am innocent!", he screamed. His wife
wasn't touched by these words. She went home with her newfound
friend, Mrs. Sheer.
At the time that he was executed she was glad that another one
of these criminals had been punished.
The same evening a tall man got into a darkblue, beat-up Ford.
He turned the ignition and pushed the pedal. The tires squealed.
He had just taken off to his second hit-and-run.
Reprinted, copyright © July 1980, Wasty, I'm Not The Murderer
German title: Tödlicher Irrtum
Reading time: approx. 7 1/2 minutes
Last updated February 12, 2001 by Martin Mathis, e-mail lastbandit.com