#10
FOOTPRINTS IN THE FOG – PART 2
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
BLACKWELL GRANGE – CONNECTICUT – JUNE 1926
 
In the Attic of Blackwell Grange, Dr. Hugh Black sits at his father’s bedside.
 
Sir Benedict Black the Fourth’s strong features are shown in the light from where he lies in bed. His wheelchair sits beside the bed. Sir Benedict takes several pills with a glass of water as Dr. Black speaks.
 
“I just don’t know where to begin.” Dr. Black says, “I just can’t form the words.”
 
“What have you done this time?” Sir Benedict’s voice expresses disappointment and worry
 
“I am a father.” Dr. Black says
 
“Yes,” Sir Benedict says, “And we’ve arranged for all of your little accidents to be adopted and taken care of. If you are feeling any remorse or fatherly longing I suggest you get over it right now.”
 
“My daughter came to our front door two nights ago.” Dr. Black explains
 
“Ah, so the girl has wandered back to Blackwell Grange.” Sir Benedict mumbles angrily to himself, “Mrs. White didn’t mention that when she brought me my breakfast. I’m always the last to know nowadays.”
 
“Ah, Breakfast! I’d forgotten.” Dr. Black stands up, “It’s nearly breakfast time. I can’t keep the guests waiting.”
 
“You came to me because you are not sure you have any choice but to bring her into the family.” Sir Benedict speaks over his son, “She can’t know about me. She can’t know I’m alive up here. She won’t understand. You need to keep me dead in this attic until Brunette’s body washes up on some shore.”
 
“The French police are still after him because of Monte Carlo.” Dr. Black says, “It’s only a matter of time before he slips up or tries to leave the country. There is an ocean between us, I think he is the last of our worries.”
 
“How is Ben?” Sir Benedict changes the subject quickly
 
“I don’t see him anymore.” Dr. Black says, “Peter and Nurse Silver have taken over.”
 
“And they don’t see me anymore.” Sir Benedict says, “I feel like I’m being isolated purposely.”
 
“You are getting weaker.” Dr. Black says
 
“I was getting stronger before you locked me in the attic.” Sir Benedict says
 
“You made Ben disappear.” Dr. Black says, “It was for his safety. We made you disappear. It’s for your own safety.”
 
“I suppose it’s the Benedict Black tradition.” Sir Benedict groans, “If there’s ever a Benedict Black the Sixth, make sure he isn’t locked in a cellar or tower. I can’t believe Peter is really taking full responsibility for Ben’s health. You know I don’t trust Peter. He may be my firstborn son, but he was raised by his mother and didn’t even come to know us until he was thirty-seven. You and Ben will always be my real sons. Margaret and Rose are my precious girls. Peter will always be the black sheep.”
 
“It’s understandable.” Dr. Black smiles, happy to hear his father’s loyalty, “You didn’t get to know Peter until he was an adult – which is exactly what I’m about to go through with Emily. I don’t know how I’m supposed to act around Emily. I want to ask Brenda, but she is too furious over the news.”
 
“Then call off the wedding.” Sir Benedict says, “Brenda Dove isn’t meant for you.”
 
“We’ve talked about this.” Dr. Black says
 
“I don’t want you marrying that whore.” Sir Benedict says
 
“You know nothing about her.” Dr. Black defends his prude fiancée
 
“I know that she refuses to share a bed with you, yet she has a young child.” Sir Benedict says
 
“Everyone has a past.” Dr. Black says
 
“And she knows nothing of yours.” Sir Benedict glares at his son, “Which is another reason why she isn’t the woman for you.”
 
“You never approved of anyone I brought home.” Dr. Black says
 
“You brought home several dozen women that were only interested in the money and mansion you come with.” Sir Benedict closes his eyes, “I’m tired. Go have breakfast with your guests.”
 
Dr. Black stands up and walks to the door, “I’m sorry for everything.”
 
“No you aren’t.” Sir Benedict says, “You are sorry that everything didn’t go exactly the way you wanted.”
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
In the Hall, Mrs. Jane Meadow-Brook comes down the grand staircase. She sees Mrs. Patricia Peacock fixing her hair at the mirror near the Dining Room door.
 
“Yoo-hoo, Patricia!” Mrs. Meadow-Brook grins enthusiastically, “You look fantastic, darling.”
 
“Oh, thank you.” Mrs. Peacock looks down at her light blue blouse, black pants, and black heels with a smile.
 
“Very stately,” Mrs. Meadow-Brook admires the fabric, “Will you be getting yourself into politics? In wake of the Senator’s death, we all figure that you might know the most about what he had planned next.”
 
“Oh, that’s not for me.” Mrs. Peacock says, “I can only govern maids and cooks.”
 
“Are you kidding?” Mrs. Meadow-Brook swats Mrs. Peacock on the arm, “Women have the right to vote for the president. It won’t be long before a woman is president. What if that woman could be you, Mrs. Peacock?”
 
“You have a big heart.” Mrs. Peacock politely tries to end the conversation
 
“I write the gossip column of the local paper.” Mrs. Meadow-Brook says
 
“How charming.” Mrs. Peacock feigns interest, “I’ll have to pick up a copy and see what you have to say.”
 
“Well I’m hoping to get out of writing idle chatter and become a journalist.” Mrs. Meadow-Brook says, “Wouldn’t that be exciting?”
 
“If that’s your biggest ambition, then I hope you get there.” Mrs. Peacock tries ending the conversation again.
 
“I was wondering,” Mrs. Meadow-Brook loops her arm through Mrs. Peacock’s arm and walks with her away from the Dining Room, towards the Conservatory, “Would you be interested in doing an interview. Just as a test to see I’ve I got what it takes to even try asking or hinting at the chance of becoming a journalist.”
 
“Oh, I’m not sure.” Mrs. Peacock cringes a bit, “Breakfast is nearly ready. I think everyone is starting to assemble in the Dining Room.”
 
Dr. Black comes down the staircase.
 
“Dr. Black, breakfast is almost ready.” Mrs. Peacock quickly moves from Mrs. Meadow-Brook to him, “I was hoping you could talk to Vivienne for me. She’s terribly upset with me.”
 
“I suppose I could try and smooth things out.” Dr. Black says, “I still have to see Mr. Clay’s tennis skills. I’ll talk to her after that.”
 
“Thank you.” Mrs. Peacock says
 
“So, we’ll meet in the Conservatory after breakfast for the interview?” Mrs. Meadow-Brook speaks up
 
“Oh, I don’t think so.” Mrs. Peacock says, “I’m looking forward to a relaxing time. I get asked enough questions on a regular basis.”
 
“It wouldn’t take but a few minutes.” Mrs. Meadow-Brook persists
 
“Jane, enough!” Dr. Black says firmly
 
“I’ll be brief and only ask non-personal questions.” Mrs. Meadow-Brook says
 
“Jane,” Dr. Black comes close to her, “It’s all a red herring.”
 
Mrs. Meadow-Brook’s eyes instantly dilate.
 
Miss Scarlet and Yvette come out of the Lounge.
 
“It’s missing.” Miss Scarlet says, “So he must be out.”
 
“What’s missing? Who’s out?” Dr. Black asks
 
“The Shotgun . Colonel Mustard.” Miss Scarlet answers, ignoring Mrs. Peacock to the best of her abilities, “Is breakfast ready.”
 
“We’re just gathering in.” Dr. Black leads Mrs. Meadow-Brook and Mrs. Peacock to the Dining Room. Miss Scarlet and Yvette follow.
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
In the Dining Room, Mr. Green pours himself a cup of coffee by the window, Miss Peach and Sgt. Gray talk quietly together at the table, while Professor Plum walks around the room admiring the buffet of breakfast foods that have been laid out. Lord Gray sits at the head of the table where he sat last night. Mrs. White and Mr. Ash stand on either side of the room.
 
Dr. Black, Miss Scarlet, Mrs. Peacock, Mrs. Meadow-Brook, Mr. Green, and Professor Plum all begin to serve themselves at the buffet.
 
Lord Gray motions for Mr. Ash to come over.
 
Sgt. Gray and Miss Peach slowly stand up and mingle amongst the guests at the breakfast buffet. Professor Plum continually looks at Miss Peach.
 
Miss Dove , Fivel , and John Boddy all enter the Dining Room.
 
“It smells delicious.” Miss Dove announces her arrival
 
“Darling, I’m so glad you could join us.” Dr. Black returns to his seat with food
 
Mrs. Peacock and Mr. Green sit back down.
 
“I see you get imported coffee.” Mr. Green notes
 
“I only serve the best for my guests.” Dr. Black says
 
Fraulein Bloom enters the Dining Room with a steamy hot sheet of doughnuts.
 
“Fresh and hot!” Fraulein Bloom announces
 
Miss Peach and Sgt. Gray both sit down at the table, watching as Professor Plum slowly circles the table like a vulture, before sitting down next to Miss Dove. Mr. Ash returns to the table with a plate for Lord Gray.
 
“Fivel, you know I don’t like you eating a lot of bacon.” Miss Dove frowns at the amount of bacon on his plate.
 
“He’s a growing boy.” Dr. Black says, “There’s plenty.”
 
“It’s so salty.” Miss Dove frowns, “You are a doctor. Shouldn’t you be promoting healthy eating habits?”
 
“Not when I’m hosting a party.” Dr. Black laughs, “In fact, I think I’m going to have some more bacon as well.”
 
Dr. Black gets up and goes back over to the buffet. Miss Dove rolls her eyes.
 
“I personally prefer sausage.” Professor Plum says
 
Mr. Green snickers.
 
“This is nice.” Lord Gray observes the peaceful breakfast, “Nurse Silver isn’t here and suddenly we are having a wonderful meal. Disarray is always around the corner when you mix classes at the dinner table.”
 
John Boddy sits down with his food.
 
“Tell me, John,” Lord Gray takes a sip of his coffee, “How badly did it bruise?”
 
“Hardly at all.” John turns up his nose. His cheek doesn’t appear to be bruised from where Lord Gray struck him the night before.
 
“Are you wearing makeup?” Miss Scarlet looks at John’s face
 
“No!” John quickly turns his cheek away
 
“It hardly matches the other side.” Miss Scarlet says, “If you are going to wear it, at least wear it right.”
 
Mrs. White rushes over and wets her apron from a glass of table water. She wipes John’s face, revealing a purple bruise on the cheekbone.
 
“Wear it with pride.” Lord Gray says
 
“It shouldn’t have happened at all.” Dr. Black says
 
“No, it shouldn’t have.” Lord Gray says, “So next time, train your nephew to keep his mouth sealed around his elders.”
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
In the Conservatory, Nurse Silver waters the plants in the windows. She can’t help but wonder how long Miss Dove is going to allow her to watch over Fivel. Surely her connection to Professor Plum and Dr. Black will secure her place at Blackwell Grange, but she still can’t help but wonder.
 
Mr. Clay opens the side door and enters, sweaty, with a tennis racquet in hand.
 
“Has the fog cleared?” Nurse Silver asks
 
“Yeah,” Mr. Clay dries his hair with the towel around his neck, “After breakfast is finished I’m going to see if Dr. Black wants to get this over with.”
 
“You look ready to take on every tennis player in Connecticut.” Nurse Silver giggles
 
“Maybe not all of them,” Mr. Clay smiles, “But I’d take on close to all of them.”
 
“How did things go with Vivienne last night?” Nurse Silver asks
 
“We didn’t talk.” Mr. Clay says, “She was asleep when I got back to our room. When I woke up she was chipper and peaceful. Maybe she just needed to sleep off the liquor.”
 
“Are you planning on telling her that the relationship is over?” Nurse Silver asks
 
“That’s just the thing,” Mr. Clay sighs, “I don’t really know if I want it to be. Yes, I was having my doubts, but what relationship comes without its doubts. Maybe we are moving too fast and she is a bit too clingy, but we can compromise.”
 
“You said that you only pretend to love her because she needs you.” Nurse Silver says
 
“I didn’t mean it.” Mr. Clay shakes his head, “I was worked up. I was upset and finally had someone to talk to. It just came out. It meant nothing.”
 
“I think it did.” Nurse Silver says, “I think you are tired of her and just don’t want to deal with the fighting and screaming and crying that is going to come out of breaking her heart. It’s your happiness, Edward. Don’t let her take it away from you.”
 
“I can be happy with her.” Mr. Clay leaves the Conservatory.
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
In a sparsely furnished spare room on the third floor, Mr. Miles Meadow-Brook tearfully paces back and forth. He is twisting and tying a Rope . As he pulls the Rope through and tightens the knot it is clear that he has made a Noose. He drags a wooden chair over to where a metal hook hangs from the ceiling.
 
He ties the rope to the ceiling and slips the Noose around his neck. He tightens it and closes his eyes. The memories of Jane, their innocent, sweet, perfect marriage suddenly marred by a secret she kept. What is there left to live for? No one wants to be surrounded by immoral murderers and deceivers who only look out for their own self-interest.
 
Miles takes a deep breath, savoring the air as it glides into his lungs. Just as he is about to step off of the chair he finds himself coming to a blank. All he can think about is the crimes those people committed. Dr. Black always confided in him, telling him the truth so that there could be a way to fabricate a plausible story for the judge.
 
“I’ll take them down for every secret I know.” Miles Meadow-Brook takes off the Noose and steps of the chair.
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
Colonel Mustard wakes up with ringing ears and blurry eyes. He reaches up to feel his head. Dried blood is caked to his wiry, gray hair. His ear is bleeding and his vision is blurry.
 
He sits up with a grunt, trying to adjust his eyes adjust to the dim interior of the loft above the Stables. It takes him a moment to realize his monocle isn’t in his eyes but instead dangling from a chain at his left lapel.
 
Monsieur Alphonse Brunette sits on a barrel near the ladder spinning the cylinder of the Revolver . The Lead Pipe is on the ground at his feet.
 
“I saved your life.” Monsieur Brunette looks up at Colonel Mustard, aiming the Revolver at his face, “Let’s both take a trip back to Africa.”
 
FLASHBACK – TANGIERS – 1916 – 10 YEARS AGO
 
Colonel Michael Mustard and Monsieur Alphonse Brunette slash their machetes against the tall grass around them.
 
“The gunshots are this way.” Monsieur Brunette says running through the clearing
 
“Did you see Samuel and Margaret?” Colonel Mustard runs alongside him, “Where they back there with the dead?”
 
“No.” Monsieur Brunette says, “Almost all the people on the caravan were locals and a handful of Englishmen.”
 
“They didn’t run out the grassland.” Colonel Mustard slows down, out of breath, “Sam is smarted than that.”
 
The gunshots stop.
 
“You hear that?” Colonel Mustard says, “Hurry.”
 
Both men put their machetes away and arm themselves with the assault rifles from their backs.
 
“Some ivory trade,” Monsieur Brunette laughs, “I expected trouble for us, not the safari passing through.”
 
“Hold up!” Colonel Mustard stops both men from walking any further.
 
There is a large area in front of them made up entirely of quicksand.
 
“Mike…” Monsieur Brunette’s voice is silent
 
Colonel Mustard sees a small, pale white hand sticking out of the muck. There are white pearls around the wrist.
 
“Margaret.” Colonel Mustard sorrowfully falls to his knees beside the pit of quicksand
 
“Do you think Samuel is in there too?” Monsieur Brunette asks
 
“It doesn’t matter,” Colonel Mustard says
 
The gunshots begin again.
 
END OF FLASHBACK
 
Colonel Mustard adjusts his monocle, staring painfully from the splinter-laden floor of the Loft. Monsieur Brunette chuckles, “Poor little John. Does he still frequent Blackwell Grange?”
 
“You’re alive.” Colonel Mustard painfully sits back against a crate.
 
“I should be saying the same to you.” Brunette says, “I didn’t catch your assailant but at least I found you and took that grimy Pipe away from him.”
 
“Why not kill me?” Colonel Mustard asks, staring at the Lead Pipe
 
“Because I’m not a killer.” Brunette says, “I save lives.”
 
FLASHBACK – TANGIERS – 1916 – 10 YEARS AGO
 
“Margaret.” Colonel Mustard sorrowfully falls to his knees beside the pit of quicksand
 
“Do you think Samuel is in there too?” Monsieur Brunette asks
 
“It doesn’t matter,” Colonel Mustard says
 
The gunshots begin again.
 
“Mike!” Monsieur Brunette points to the hand as it begins thrashing.
 
Monsieur Brunette and Colonel Mustard carefully pull and pull until Maragaret’s head comes above the surface.
 
She coughs up mud and gasps, reaching, “Help.”
 
“Oh my God!” Colonel Mustard says, “Is Samuel in there?”
Monsieur Brunette sinks, waist-deep in the quicksand, trying to help Margaret out.
 
“Stay on land, Mike.” Monsieur Brunette orders to Colonel Mustard, “You’ll have to help me out.”
 
Colonel Mustard pulls out Margaret and Monsieur Brunette sinks down to his neck.
 
“T-Thank you.” Margaret pants, “I was out of breath, panicking and waiting for death to take me.”
 
“A little help!” Monsieur Brunette cries
 
“Of course.” Colonel Mustard kneels down.
 
Margaret suddenly stabs Colonel Mustard in the arm with a small, dirty dagger and dashes off into the woods towards the gunshots.
 
“Mike!” Monsieur Brunette’s face begins to sink under the surface.
 
Colonel Mustard pulls out the dagger and runs after Margaret, leaving Monsieur Brunette in the quicksand.
 
END OF FLASHBACK
 
“Colonel,” Monsieur Brunette points the Revolver at the injured man, “You left me to die. And even still I am sparing your life.”
 
“How did you make it out?” Colonel Mustard stares down the barrel of the Revolver
 
“Someone came to help.” Brunette takes the Revolver out of Colonel Mustard’s face, “Someone helped me see what this family in Connecticut is really capable of.”
 
FLASHBACK – TANGIERS – 1916 – 10 YEARS AGO
 
Margaret suddenly stabs Colonel Mustard in the arm with a small, dirty dagger and dashes off into the woods towards the gunshots.
 
“Mike!” Monsieur Brunette’s face begins to sink under the surface.
 
Colonel Mustard pulls out the dagger and runs after Margaret, leaving Monsieur Brunette in the quicksand.
 
Monsieur Brunette holds his breath as his mouth and nose sink under. His arms are too heavy to manage to work through the heavy muck. As she eyes sink, his head is filled with betrayal and sadness. Suddenly there is a sharp, pulling sensation from the top of his head. A forceful fist grabs his greasy hair and pulls him above the surface. With mud in his eyes, Brunette cannot make out what is happening. Little by little his body is released and he is pulled to safety. He rubs his eyes and looks up to see a large, muscular African man with a golden crown upon his head. There are blue gems around the band.
 
“Come.” He speaks in a commanding voice, “We’ve only a short time before the poachers reach the second caravan.”
 
“They’re attacking a second one?” Brunette says
 
Margaret runs from the woods and alongside Brunette and the Princely man.
 
“I lost the Colonel in the woods.” Margaret says
 
“Good.” The Prince says, “We’ll kill him at any chance we get.”
 
The Prince takes his sidearm and hands it to Margaret as they approach the caravan. Brunette lags back, trying to clean the mud off of his assault rifle. The gunshots begin flying and Brunette looks up to be met by horror. The Prince and Margaret join the poachers in murdering every man, woman, and child on the second caravan.
 
Brunette stands up with wobbly legs and instantly runs in the opposite direction.
 
END OF FLASHBACK
 
“I find peace in France.” Monsieur Brunette says, “I begin to sell art honestly. Then I sell it dishonestly. Soon I’m a well-known art trader and quick the up and coming artist myself. Things were finally turning around for me. Then I’m accused of being a psychopath who paints in blood.”
 
Colonel Mustard narrows his eyes, “I wasn’t at the Mediterranean Villa but I know the story. I always wondered if you were the same Brunette. It’s refreshing to know how small the world actually is.”
 
“You know the story?” Brunette says, “Did Sir Benedict the Fourth ever tell you the story of the victim pinned to the painting?”
 
“You shot a young girl full of arrows and her body stuck to the canvas because some went so deep.” Colonel Mustard says
 
“Did Sir Benedict ever tell you her name?” Brunette says
 
“No.” Colonel Mustard says
 
“She was a French girl. A Dancer at one of those gentlemen’s entertainment places.” Brunette says, “Her name was Lorrainne.”
 
Colonel Mustard instantly is overcome with grief. It’s been years since he’s thought about her – even longer since he’s said her name out loud. She was a small girl from France. They began pen pals when they were children and continued to write to each other into adulthood. The Clonel always wanted to meet up with her in their adult life, to which she eagerly agreed… but never showed up. The letters stopped coming and the dream was lost.
 
Colonel Mustard always obsessed over what happened. Did she get hurt on the way? Did she fall in love with someone else? Was she never who she said she was? His anger and sadness dulled through the wars won and wars lost. But still hearing her name after all these years renders the Colonel speechless. And now he knows, she is the girl that was pinned to the canvas.
 
Colonel Mustard pulls himself to his knees, in the Loft of the Stables.
 
Monsieur Brunette spins the cylinder of the Revolver, “Tell me what you think you know about me.”
 
Colonel Mustard looks at the man with hate
 
“You know the story that Sir Benedict the Fourth fed you. He was a paranoid man.” Brunette sighs, “I just want to hear your version of it. I’ve been trying to figure out how he got away with the murders for years.”
 
“Sir Benedict hired an artist to work on some commissions in the private Studio of his Mediterranean Villa. You, Alphonse Brunette,” Colonel Mustard says, “The artist murdered innocent women and displayed them in art: a brain in a transparent vase, a bouquet of leg bones, bodies torn apart and stitched back together. You tortured them in the name of your art.”
 
Monsieur Brunette chuckles slowly, watching Colonel Mustard very carefully. The Revolver is now pointed in Colonel Mustard’s direction.
 
“Very good, Colonel.” Monsieur Brunette says, “I figured that’s all Sir Benedict could come up with. But alas, the artist was not me.” Brunette says, “I was commissioned to work the canvases. But I never saw what was done to my paintings until the night Lorrainne died.”
 
Colonel Mustard subtly begins to look around for something to use in case he needs to fight Monsieur Brunette. He instantly spots the Lead Pipe.
 
“No, I’m sorry to say, you were misled. The wool was over the wolf.” Brunette says, “I wasn’t the one who did the killing. Sir Benedict had an elite little gentlemen’s club where rich individuals would come and bid on grotesque and morbid showcases. There was a boy, no older than nineteen. He was stretched out and drilled to the canvas frame. There was a vase made from a human head. There was a man who only had half his body covered in skin. He was still barely alive on the canvas. I can’t even think about how many beggars and whores were killed. When I was hired to do the commissions that Sir Benedict and I discussed, I had no idea there would be blood and violence. I was mortified in that Gallery as the curtains opened and I saw them all. Everyone around me cheered with delight as the horror continued. Then that’s when Sir Benedict snatched Lorrainne from right beside me.”
 
“How did Lorrainne get involved in this?” Colonel Mustard speaks up, “I need to know.”
 
“She was a guest.” Brunette shrugs, “I’m not sure how he knew her. But that clearly didn’t matter. Sir Benedict threw her against my painting and began to fire arrows at her, Colonel. That much of the story is true.”
 
Colonel Mustard’s hands begin to shake.
 
“When I close my eyes I still see the look on her face as she was murdered.” Brunette looks up at the ceiling, “She was reaching out for me. She wanted me to do something and save her, but I couldn’t. All those sick bastards watched as she died on that painting. Sir Benedict framed me for the murders.”
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
Mr. Miles Meadow-Brook sets out ten blank pieces of stationary on the desk of his and Jane’s guest bedroom. He begins to write on each one separately:
 
Vivienne Scarlet, for the incident at Madame Puce’s School for Girls – $100 /week
 
Colonel Mustard, for the cadet and the false imprisonment – $400/week
 
Blanche White, for the body in the garden – $300/week
 
Mr. Green, for the continued interest in protecting you and your cause – $500/monthly
 
Patricia, for the men who got caught in your web – $4500
 
Professor Plum, for the secrets in the crypt – $500/week
 
Lord Gray, for your precious secret – $200/week
 
Nurse Silver, for your ties to the crypt – $300/week
 
Dr. Black, for your entire practice – $1000/week
 
Miss Dove, for your mother’s ongoing scheme - $2000/week
 
Mr. Meadow-Brook smiles and folds them up, sealing them with a bit of wax. He puts all ten notes in a brown envelope. He confidently puts the envelope in the inside pocket of his jacket. With a determined stride, he opens the door and exits into the upstairs hallway. The Noose rests loosely on the floor of the Meadow-Brook’s guest bedroom.
 
 
TO BE CONTINUED