#16
THE ART OF MURDER – PART 4
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
AZURE CITADEL – TANGIERS, AFRICA – JUNE 1926
        
Prince Philippe Azure stands aboard his ship, watching the coast drift further and further away. The woman from his private wing clutches her furs and stoles tightly around her as the ocean wind blows over the open deck.
 
“Something doesn’t feel right.” The woman says
 
“Things haven’t been right in years.” Prince Azure furrows his brow, solemnly watching the water trail behind the large metal steamship.
 
“How fast can she go?” The woman says, “I’d like us to travel at top speed.”
 
“Sekhmet’s Tears will get us there in six days flat.” Prince Azure says
 
“I suppose now that we’ve onboard and there is no turning back, I can be honest with you.” The woman bites her lip, “As soon as we dock in Connecticut, I will be leaving for Canada.”
 
“To visit a house high in the Laurentians?” Prince Azure asks
 
“So you know a great deal about Manoir Tombale.” The woman says
 
“Your husband…” Prince Azure pauses, “Mr. Masque hasn’t had much contact with anyone outside of his clique.”
 
BLACKWELL GRANGE – CONNECTICUT – JUNE 1926
 
Miss Brenda Dove lays shivering on the metal table in the darkness of the crypt. She is alone with only the light of a single candle, burning on the floor near the stairs to the door. The dim light allows Miss Dove to adjust her eyes to her surroundings.
 
The electroconvulsive machine is off. She is shaking and her mind is racing. Her temples burn and her head aches. She tries her best to pay no attention to the minor physical damage and worries more about getting out of her confinement.
 
As if her prayers have been answered, the door to the Crypt opens and Fivel rushes down the stairs.
 
“Mommy!” Fivel shouts
 
“Baby, come here!” Miss Dove calls out, “Help me! Undo the straps.”
 
Fivel freezes on the staircase, too afraid to move.
 
“What happened to you?” Fivel asks, tears falling down his cheeks.
 
Miss Dove’s eyes well up with tears, “I gambled over lives and I lost.”
 
Fivel comes over to her and rests his head on the table by her head.
 
“Please unstrap me.” Miss Dove says, “It hurts so bad.”
 
“I can’t.” Fivel replies calmly
 
“Why not?” Miss Dove tugs on the straps
 
“Because I’m not really here.”
 
Miss Dove looks around at the empty Crypt. Fivel is nowhere in sight. The buzzing and crackling noises from the electroconvulsive machine echo in her mind.
 
“I’m not crazy!” Miss Dove looks up at the closed Crypt door, “He was just here.”
 
She looks over at the closed passage door.
 
“Fivel!” Miss Dove screams, alone in the dark room.
 
Miss Dove shakes violently in her tight confinement, continuing to scream and pant in anxiety.
 
“This can’t be happening!” Miss Dove closes her eyes, “I’m not going crazy! He can’t break me!”
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
In the Conservatory, Vivienne Scarlet and Edward Clay enter and quickly realize that Fraulein Bloom is nowhere to be found. Miss Scarlet is still brandishing the Scissors with in her hand alongside the handles of the suitcases she carries.
 
“Where did she go?” Mr. Clay asks
 
“She could be going off to warn Dr. Black.” Miss Scarlet is on the verge of tears
 
“What about your stepmother,” Mr. Clay sets down his suitcase as he opens the back door to the Terrace.
 
“She doesn’t want to leave this place. She’ll just delay us even further.” Miss Scarlet says, “Let’s just go. She can take care of herself.”
 
Mr. Clay and Miss Scarlet make their way out onto the Terrace. They promptly become wet from the rain.
 
“The Study is the last window on this side of the house.” Mr. Clay says
 
The two walk along the Terrace past the foggy Tennis Courts. Mr. Clay looks out onto the court with a sigh. He sets down his suitcases and takes the Scissors from Miss Scarlet
 
As they reach the Study window, Miss Scarlet points to the shattered window pane. Mr. Clay reaches inside and unlatches the window. He climbs over the high windowsill into the Study.
 
“Be careful.” Miss Scarlet whispers to him
 
“I will.” Mr. Clay says holding up the Scissors.
 
Mr. Clay and Miss Scarlet get to the base of the window to find that it is still unlocked. Mr. Clay smiles in relief as he opens it fully. Miss Scarlet watches him climb up into the dark room.
 
“Wait here,” Mr. Clay says, leaning back out the window, “I’ll get the keys.”
 
“Be careful.” Miss Scarlet whispers
 
Miss Scarlet watches as Mr. Clay disappears into the Study. She turns around and looks at the Tennis Courts, Garage, and Gazebo. The fog has nearly swallowed the Tennis Courts and woods around the estate. She sighs uneasily as she looks ahead towards the shadowy Courtyard. In the shadows behind her, Ben Black the Fifth moves slowly between the Tennis Courts and the Gazebo. Miss Scarlet hears the movement and snaps her head around quickly. She doesn’t see anything.
 
Mr. Clay rustles the curtains, startling her. He tosses her the keys, which she promptly drops into the grass and gravel walk-path.
 
“Sorry.” Miss Scarlet picks them up with shaking fingers, “I thought I heard something out here.”
 
“Go start the car.” Mr. Clay says, “I found something in here that the police are going to want to take a look at.”
 
“Oh my god. What is it?” asks Miss Scarlet
 
“Vivienne,” Mr. Clay says, “Just get the car running and pull it out to the gates.”
 
Miss Scarlet purses her lips and sighs as Mr. Clay disappears. As Mr. Clay goes deeper into the Study he mutters something, but Miss Scarlet cannot make out what he says.
 
“Edward!” Miss Scarlet whispers loudly, “Come back here!”
 
Miss Scarlet tries to peek in the dark room, but she cannot see into the high window still without nearly climbing into the Study herself. Miss Scarlet begins to feel vulnerable as her paranoia is amplified by movement in the woods. She turns around quickly to see nothing but dark tree trunks fading away into the fog.
 
Miss Scarlet gathers all the suitcases as best as she can and quickly moves into the Courtyard. She looks around at the bone white tree growing in the center and then the jagged brick walls of the Tool Shed. The fog has thinned out around the Gazebo and Miss Scarlet feels a bit more at ease. She hurries over to the side door to the Garage and enters. She feels along the wall of the Garage for a light switch. She pushes it and a harsh yellow light fills the room. She makes her way over to the black Rolls Royce and unlocks it with the key Mr. Clay provided her. She loads all the suitcases into the back and then slips into the driver’s seat. She starts the ignition and sits back in the seat and waits for Mr. Clay, rather than bringing it to the Gates, afterall the Garage feels much safer.
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
In the Hall, Professor Plum returns with the smelling salt. Mrs. White is hot on his heels. John Boddy cradles Yvette in his arms. Professor Plum holds them under the young maid’s nose and her eyes spring open. Nurse Silver paces back and forth.
 
“There, there.” Mrs. White crouches beside her, “Let’s get you a nice cup of tea.”
 
Monsieur Brunette Colonel Mustard , and Miss Peach stand in the center of the Hall.
 
“There is no way she is the child of Hugh Black.” Colonel Mustard says
 
“Ah but she is.” Monsieur Brunette says, “In fact, I was the one who encouraged her to meet Dr. Black. Aunt Honey was cross with me.”
 
“You lived on the farm?” Professor Plum walks towards them.
 
“Only for a short while.” Miss Peach says
 
“Off and on.” Monsieur Brunette says, “Aunt Honey always said I was nothing but trouble. She still treated me like family all the same.”
 
“Alphonse was a refugee.” Miss Peach says, “We open our doors to anyone trying to get a fresh start.”
 
“What will be done about Dr. Black?” Yvette shouts out frantically
 
Miss Peach, Colonel Mustard, Professor Plum, and Monsieur Brunette turn to join the others.
 
“I think we need to call the police.” Mrs. White says
 
“I think your right.” Colonel Mustard sighs
 
“Why the sudden change of heart?” asks Miss Peach
 
“I was trying to protect Hugh,” Colonel Mustard says, “Now I’m not sure I want to protect him.”
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
In the Secret Passageway between the Study and the Kitchen, Mr. Green and Mr. Meadow-Brook reach the top of the passage that leads to the Study. Mr. Green brandishes the Statuette .
 
“It won’t open.” Mr. Green says, “Do you suppose they’ve barricaded the Study’s passage entrance?”
 
“Let me try.” Mr. Meadow-Brook
 
“No offense,” Mr. Green says, “But if I couldn’t pry it open, I doubt you can.”
 
“Then what do we do?” Mr. Meadow-Brook asks
 
“We go back to the kitchen.” Mr. Green says
 
Mr. Meadow-Brook silently turns to walk back towards the Kitchen.
 
“You’ve hardly said anything since I told you about my little trade deal with Dr. Black.” Mr. Green says
 
“I honestly thought you’re only agenda was mafia driven.” Mr. Meadow-Brook says
 
“Political secrets are what make a common man into an untouchable man.” Mr. Green says
 
“Did Dr. Black have anything to do with Senator Peacock’s death?” Mr. Meadow-Brook asks
 
“Of course not,” Mr. Green says, “That was all Mrs. Peacock’s doing.”
 
“I’m not sure I can even be Dr. Black’s lawyer after the all that has transpired this weekend.” Mr. Meadow-Brook sighs
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
On the outskirts of the woods around Blackwell Grange, Sgt. Gray walks towards the church. The high steeple has been guiding him from the base of the ravine.
 
“Sergeant!” a priest comes from the side of the church where he is praying by a statue of the Mother Mary, “You’re hurt. What happened? Were you in the woods just now?”
 
“It was a car crash. I fought off a maniac, fell down the side of the ravine.” Sergeant Gray moans, “I’m so happy to see you. We have to get the police there’s something terrible is going on at Blackwell Grange.”
 
“Oh, Heavens!” The priest gasps, “Come, I’ll drive you to the police station. We mustn’t delay.”
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
In the Hall, Mr. Meadow-Brook and Mr. Green come from the Kitchen.
 
Colonel Mustard and Mrs. White both listen at the receiver of the telephone.
 
“Thank you, we’ll let them in.” Colonel Mustard says hanging up the phone.
 
Yvette and Nurse Silver both stand nervously at the shield. John Boddy sits on the floor with his back against the wall. Monsieur Brunette and Miss Peach stand together waiting for Colonel Mustard to speak to them.
 
“The police will be here in twenty minutes.” Colonel Mustard says
 
“Oh thank goodness!” Miss Peach sighs, “With our luck, I thought the telephone line would be dead.”
 
“It looks like our luck is changing.” Mrs. White says
 
“What’s going on now?” Mr. Green is utterly confused by both the casual presence of Monsieur Brunette and Colonel Mustard’s call to the police station.
 
“Dr. Black is a murderer.” Monsieur Brunette explains, “He set up his father for the crimes he committed.”
 
Mr. Meadow-Brook looks over at Mr. Green, “Where’s Jane?”
 
Presently, Mrs. Meadow-Brook comes from the Library.
 
“Mrs. Peacock went to the Lounge.” Mr. Ash speaks up
 
“We couldn’t get into the Study through the Kitchen passage.” Mr. Green walks over to the Study door, “Is it blocked from the other side.”
 
“I don’t think so.” Nurse Silver says
 
“I didn’t barricade it up.” Mr. Green says, “And I did most of the barricading.”
 
Mr. Green opens the Study door to be met by the force of a Shotgun blast. The shot misses him for the most part, however, the shrapnel nicks his right ear and cheek.
 
“Son of a bitch!” Mr. Green screams from the Hall floor.
 
Nurse Silver, Miss Peach, and Yvette scream. Mr. Green grabs the Statuette from the floor where he dropped it and holds it protectively in front of the Shotgun.
 
“Someone rigged it to go off.” Colonel Mustard steps into the doorway to see the Shotgun fixed to a metal turret with a long cable attached from the door to the trigger. There is blood on the carpet and it leads towards the open window.
 
Colonel Mustard grabs the Fireplace Poker from where it rests against the corner of the desk. He holds it protectively, ready to attack.
 
Mr. Green gets up with Nurse Silver’s help as John, Yvette, and Miss Peach come into the Study.
 
“Where’s Professor Plum?” Miss Peach instantly sets her eyes on the Shotgun rigging.
 
“With Brunette and Mrs. White in the Hall.” Mr. Green says softly, as he glances back into the Hall, “Why? What is it?”
 
“This has to be his work.” Miss Peach says frantically
 
“There’s someone outside.” Colonel Mustard says from the window
 
Yvette and Nurse Silver both come behind him. Sure enough, there is a figure in the foggy center of the Tennis Courts.
 
“Nurse Silver,” Colonel Mustard turns to her, “Stay with Mrs. White, Plum, and Brunette in the Hall. Make sure they don’t go anywhere.”
 
Nurse Silver nods nervously, “Is it Ben?”
 
“It very well may be.” Colonel Mustard hands the Fireplace Poker to Yvette and begins to remove the Shotgun from the rigging.
 
“I’m frightened,” Yvette says
 
“Hold that tight and swing the second you see a member of the Black family.” Mr. Green says gripping the Statuette tightly
 
“They don’t teach you how to handle things like this in boarding school,” John says
 
“They don’t exactly prepare you for this in the military either.” Colonel Mustard grumbles
 
“At least you’ve proper leadership training.” Miss Peach says, “Please, just get us outside so we can subdue him before he gets away. He doesn’t have a gun anymore. He’s harmless.”
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
In the Garage, Dr. Black’s Rolls Royce purrs like a kitten. Miss Scarlet is unconscious on the steering wheel from carbon monoxide poisoning.
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
In the Kitchen, Fraulein Bloom takes a jar of marmalade and unscrews the lid. She doesn’t notice that Madame Rose enters from the Pantry with the Shotgun in hand. Fraulein Bloom proceeds to dig her finger into the marmalade jar. She takes the fingerful to her mouth as the Shotgun touches her back.
 
“Hugh still loves his marmalade, doesn’t he?” Madame Rose holds the Shotgun up in Fraulein Bloom’s face.
 
The German cook drops the jar. It breaks on the floor.
 
“So much for that,” Madame Rose shrugs, “Did you really think the cook could poison the master and no one would be the wiser?”
 
“What are you doing with that thing?” Fraulein Bloom asks
 
“It’s to keep you calm.” Madame Rose says
 
“How is holding me at gunpoint supposed to make me calm?” Fraulein Bloom shrieks
 
“We need to talk about our mutual lover, Monsieur Brunette.” Madame Rose says
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
Sgt. Gray sits in a plain, smoky detective’s office. Behind the desk, Inspector Pry smokes a cigarette while filling out a form.
 
“Officer Crawley and Officer Williams are already on their way up to Blackwell Grange.” Inspector Pry says, “A Colonel Mustard called in to have Dr. Hugh Black arrested while a lengthy investigation goes underway.”
 
“Really?” Sgt. Gray smiles, “That’s a relief.”
 
“The mansion will likely be condemned.” Inspector Pry says, “We’ve wanted to have that place condemned for years. Blackwell Grange has been nothing but the creepy old house told in stories by children and drunkards.”
 
“There’s a tree down on the road.” Sgt. Gray says
 
“Joyce,” Inspector Pry calls for his secretary, “Call the fire brigade and have them remove the tree from the road that leads to Blackwell Grange.”
 
“Right away, Inspector!” a nasally Boston accent shouts from the other room
 
“You’ve done well, Sergeant.” Inspector Pry offers him a cigarette
 
“No thank you,” Sgt. Gray declines, “My father is in Blackwell Grange. There’s a child, a young woman, and many elderly. Gunshots were flying.”
 
“Joyce,” Inspector Pry calls out, “Send out an ambulance.”
 
“No problem, Inspector!” the nasal voice calls out again
 
“Is there anything else, Sergeant?” Inspector Pry asks
 
“Should we go with them to make sure everything goes smoothly?” Sgt. Gray asks
 
“I think we should stay here and talk about your future here.” Inspector Pry says, “I insist, have a cigarette.”
 
Sgt. Gray reluctantly accepts the cigarette.
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
Colonel Mustard leads Miss Peach, Yvette, John Boddy, and Mr. Green towards the Tennis Courts from the Study window. Yvette is clinging to John Boddy. Fog is covering the green pavement.
 
“I wish we would’ve brought the shield,” Yvette says nervously
 
“You have a weapon.” John points to her Fireplace Poker, “You’ll be fine.”
 
“What do we do when we get to him?” asks Mr. Green
 
Colonel Mustard holds up the Shotgun, “Whatever we have to.”
 
“We’re not killing him.” Miss Peach says
 
“If he tries to run, we end it then and there.” Colonel Mustard says, “Think about it! If Ben Black is really as insane as you say, then I’m going to blast him in the stomach with this Shotgun without hesitation.”
 
“There’s good left in him. I saw it when he took me.” Miss Peach urges, grabbing onto Colonel Mustard’s shoulders, “We’ll subdue him and then talk to him.”
 
“If you get in the way of my shot, you’ll die too.” Colonel Mustard says, shrugging Miss Peach’s hands off of his shoulders.
 
“I’m so glad to see you’ve decided to be useful.” John says, glaring at Colonel Mustard, “I was starting to think Mr. Green should have the Shotgun.”
 
“Are we going to do this again?” asks Colonel Mustard
 
“He’s a killer…” Yvette shivers in the cool darkness, “You kill him.”
 
“We’ve established that.” Mr. Green says, looking off into the forest, “I wish I had my pistol.”
 
“Blood!” Mr. Boddy suddenly notices the blood in the grass.
 
Miss Peach and Yvette halt as Colonel Mustard and Mr. Green both move quickly over to John Boddy.
 
“There’s blood.” John points to the pool of blood on the green pavement of the Tennis Courts. Colonel Mustard and Mr. Green huddle around quickly. There is a small pool of blood and what appear to be two fleshy pulps in the center.
 
“What is that?” Miss Peach is shivering
 
“Let’s stay close.” Mr. Green says, “Colonel take the front, I’ll take the rear.”
 
“Are you sure it is blood?” asks Yvette as they walk towards the figure
 
Yvette begins looking around through the fog, “I don’t feel safe anymore.”
 
“We aren’t safe.” Miss Peach responds
 
“You’ve just now decided Dr. Black is dangerous?” asks Mr. Green with a sarcastic laugh, “People always realize the truth in something when it is too late.”
 
“The blood goes into the fog this way.” Colonel Mustard says, walking carefully with the Shotgun leading his way. The next puddle is much larger and trails off towards the net.
 
“What the hell happened here?” Mr. Green bends over to see how fresh the blood is, “Fellas, that guy in the middle of the Tennis Courts isn’t standing.”
 
“He’s dangling.” Miss Peach gasps
 
Yvette squeezes her eyes tightly as her mascara drips down her face. The group slowly begins to move along with the trail of blood.
 
Miss Peach’s stomach churns as she approaches the dead body on the tennis net. She forces herself to look away. She cringes and grabs Yvette, pulling her away, but Yvette sees it and begins to scream. John also screams as they reach the fog swallowed tennis net. No one is prepared for the macabre sight before them. Yvette immediately begins to hyperventilate. Mr. Green holds her tight, trying to hold back the urge to vomit. Colonel Mustard and John Boddy stare ahead in horror.
 
“Oh my God, it’s Mr. Clay.” Colonel Mustard says
 
With both wrists tied to the tennis net, Edward Clay dangles, limp and bleeding profusely. Fresh blood continues to drip onto the pavement before the mortified group. Both of his eyes have been removed and the bloody sockets drip down to where his throat has been violently slashed open. His shirt and sweater are both torn from an apparent struggle. His crimson blood is still warm, but the chances of saving him are long lost. There is a pair of blood-soaked Scissors on the pavement at his feet.
 
Yvette weeps onto Mr. Green’s shoulder. Miss Peach’s chest trembles and shakes as if she’s nearly frozen to death.
 
“Oh my god! He’s… He’s… He’s dead.” Yvette can barely find her voice,
 
“We need to get back inside!”  John turns towards the Terrace steps.
 
“Wait, we can’t leave him up here like this.” Miss Peach is crying, “It isn’t right.”
 
Mr. Green takes off his jacket and throws it over Mr. Clay’s head and chest, “Let’s go, we can’t stay out here. We need to get back into the house. We need help.” Mr. Green looks towards the doors to the Billiard Room and Conservatory.
 
 
TO BE CONTINUED