The Blessington Method by Stanley Ellin

by Arun

Theme for the Week: Edgar Winners

Source: The Blessington Method and Other Strange Tales, The Edgar Winners.

Story Number: 77

Stanley Ellin won his first Edgar for The House Party in 1954. His second Edgar was for the Blessington Method in 1956.

Stanley Ellin, in his stories, is known for making some of the most outrageously bizarre things seem utterly plausible and no other story qualifies for this distinction than the Blessington Method.

‘The Society of Gerontology’ in the story has come up with a solution for one of the  most plagued maladies of human society – the old age and the problems concerning it. The problem: What do we do with aged people who become a burden for their children and grandchildren? Solution: Murder them in such a way that it looks like an accident which no one would investigate. The method used for this purpose: The Blessington Method.

The four fold process of the Method:

The first step: Accepting that there is a problem(that the presence of an aged person in the house is an unwanted burden). The second step: The realization that no matter which way you turn there seems to be no logical or practical solution. The Third Step: The individual realizes that it is not the presence of the aged subject which creates the problem, but his existence. The fourth step: Decide to take the services of the Blessington method to get rid of that existence!

The Modus Operandi:

The Society has a team of investigators who would prepare a case history – they will identify an aged subject, approach them on park benches or libraries and get to know their problems in life, investigate the troubled caretaker to verify that he will be in a position to pay for their services , approach the caretaker, propose the four fold process, make him sign a contract and finally the death of the aged subject after receiving the payment.

Mr. Treadwell, a man in his forties, is approached by Mr. Bunce with a  proposal to get rid of Treadwell’s 72 year old father-in-law. Though Tredwell accepts the first three rules, it takes a little bit of time for him to make up his mind on the fourth rule. Within a month, his father-in-law dies – drowned while fishing. After the funeral, Treadwell is constantly plagued by a thought, which slowly turns to daily nightmares – the thought that twenty years down the line he himself would be an old man and he could meet the same fate at the hands of the same society! He approaches the same Mr. Bunce for solace!

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