#2
A WORLD OF CLUE – PART 2
 
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ARLINGTON GRANGE – MARYLAND – JUNE 1926
 
Miss Vivienne Scarlet pours more wine in her empty glass. She sets the bottle down and resumes with her book. Mr. Edward Clay enters the small Library and smiles at Miss Scarlet.
 
“How many glasses have you had?” Mr. Clay asks
 
“Only four.” Miss Scarlet smiles with a hiccup
 
“I got back from the store just as it got dark.” Mr. Clay lies
 
“What did you get from the store?” asks Miss Scarlet
 
“I picked up a surprise for you while we are at Blackwell Grange.” Mr. Clay lies again
 
“I can’t wait. You know how I love surprises.” Miss Scarlet closes the book and rushes over to him, kissing his lips.
 
In her drunken state, she does not notice the left over residue of her stepmother’s lipstick on his mouth. Miss Scarlet staggers, falling into his arms. Mr. Clay catches her with a lighthearted chuckle.
 
“Let’s get you to bed.” Mr. Clay says, “We have a long train ride tomorrow.”
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
BLACKWELL GRANGE – CONNECTICUT – JUNE 1926
 
Colonel Michael Mustard stands in the dark, empty Ballroom with an empty bottle of whiskey in his hand. It’s all been a blur since he encountered John Boddy in the Billiard Room. He looks around the room and makes his way over to the large black piano near the doors to the Hall.
 
He sits down and begins to play incoherent, off pitch, tone-deaf, nonsense. Mrs. Blanche White storms into the Ballroom.
 
“Colonel Mustard!” Mrs. White swats him with her feather duster three times before he stops, “You stop making all that noise right now!”
 
“I’ve had a little to drink,” Colonel Mustard looks for the empty whiskey bottle to see he’s abandoned it in the center of the room.
 
“A little?” Mrs. White asks
 
“A little too much to drink is what I mean to say.” Colonel Mustard burps and holds his hand over his mouth.
 
Mrs. White crosses her arms and thumps her foot against the marble floors.
 
“If you are about to vomit, you better not do it over that piano and these marble floors.” Mrs. White says
 
“I’m going to bed.” Colonel Mustard says
 
“I suggest you enjoy this night’s buzz, Colonel.” Mrs. White says, “You’ll only be getting drunk on table wine if I have anything to say about it.”
 
Colonel Mustard storms out of the Ballroom and up the sweeping staircase to the second floor.
 
Mrs. White sighs and exits the Ballroom, walking down the length of the long Hall. She shuts the Dining Room door as she makes her way to the front door. She hears noise coming from inside the Study.
 
She opens the door slowly to see Miss Brenda Dove and Nurse Deborah Silver hovering over the telephone on the desk. Fivel sits on the edge of the chaise lounge. It is apparent that they are all nervous and scared.
 
“Does Dr. Black know that you are using his telephone?” Mrs. White checks the grandfather clock near the door.
 
“Someone broke in.” Nurse Silver explains, “Miss Dove saw someone rummaging through her bedroom.”
 
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CHEAP HOTEL – NEW YORK CITY – JUNE 1926
 
Mr. Thallo Green takes off his shoes with a grunt. He lies back on the bed and lights a cigarette. He doesn’t make it a habit of smoking cigarettes. Cigars are his style, but he always has a few cigarettes when he kills someone.
 
There is a knock at the door.
 
Mr. Green sits up, taking a Pistol from the dresser. He hides the Pistol behind the door as he opens it.
 
“It’s late, what do you want?” Mr. Green greets the stranger by exhaling the cigarette smoke out the hotel room door.
 
An elderly woman with curly gray hair pushes past Mr. Green. She is wearing a pink floral dress and gaudy gold jewelry. She sits down at the table and clears her throat. Her long painted nails click as they tickle and tap the table. She is Rose Black – or Madame Rose – the estranged older sister of Dr. Hugh Black. Her curly gray hair looks oily and unwashed.
 
“May I have some water?” Madame Rose takes off her exotic headdress and scratches her scalp.
 
Mr. Green slams the door and tosses the Pistol onto the bed.
 
“It’s been a long time, Rose.” Mr. Green goes to the faucet and pours water into the glass
 
“You are dressing better these days.” Madame Rose observes, “Is the mob still dressing you? Hugh is throwing a party tomorrow, I didn’t want to miss it.”
 
“I know,” Mr. Green hands her the water, “I’m going. He invited me.”
 
“Maybe we can share a cab.” Madame Rose suggests, “I haven’t seen my poor, sweet brother in a while.”
 
“I wouldn’t exactly call him poor.” Mr. Green takes his socks off and throws them into a pile in the corner. “How did you know I was staying here? And don’t give me one of those phony psychic answers!”
 
Madame Rose shakes her head and rolls her eyes, “Why do you need proof of my gift when you know my strength? I call my brother poor because he is poor. Money means nothing when you are subjected to death.”
 
“That depends,” Mr. Green holds up his pinky ring, “The guy I killed to earn this. He tried offering me money. I’m talking about crazy money. More money than I’ve accumulated now. I could have done it and spared him. But I didn’t.”
 
“And?” Madame Rose sighs, shaking off the thought of the man’s demise
 
“Sometimes money does mean something when you are subjected to death.” Mr. Green answers thoughtfully, “Other times you just get buried alive in concrete like the guy I took the pinky ring from.”
 
Madame Rose lowers her head in silence.
 
“Why do you cringe at death?” Mr. Green asks throwing his shirt into the pile of clothes, “Do you know how much blood has spilled in the mansion you are eager to return to? What brings you to New York City, Rose?”
 
“I had to get away from Budapest.” Madame Rose looks up at him, “Have you seen the way Hungarian men behave after a few drinks? Most of my business relies on people being drunk.”
 
“What’s the matter? Did someone get rough with you?” Mr. Green taunts, “Did someone want a little more than just a palm reading?”
 
“They would just bend my cards.” Madame Rose dismisses him
 
“I had to kill a man today.” Mr. Green lies down in bed
 
“Had to?” Madame Rose presses
 
“He drank about $5,000 worth of rum in two weeks.” Mr. Green says, “Now he’s drinking seawater.”
 
“You’re terrible.” Madame Rose looks away from him in disgust
 
“I don’t think you are as innocent as you act, Madame Rose.” Mr. Green narrows his eyes, “Why did you really need to leave Budapest?”
 
“I shot someone.” Madame Rose is silent, her eyes fixated on the wall across the room.
 
“How did you find me here?” Mr. Green asks
 
“The gift.” Madame Rose touches her temples, “I know you are not as keen to believing in my powers.”
 
“You are a medium and were accused of fraud several times in America before boasting your psychic talents in Europe. I know that much. I’m too exhausted to figure out the rest of your motives,” Mr. Green yawns and plops down on the bed, “You can sleep on the floor or the chair.”
 
Madame Rose sighs and situates herself on the floor near the window.
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
ARLINGTON GRANGE – MARYLAND – JUNE 1926
 
Mrs. Patricia Peacock opens her bedroom closet and takes a large wooden jewelry box from the top shelf. She wipes the surface and opens it. In the ring drawer, she takes out five wedding rings. She smiles to herself, looking at the first one – a modest diamond with a gold band.
 
Mrs. Peacock puts it on and remembers her first husband – Dr. James Scarlet. Seventeen years ago she walked into his life and became stepmother to Vivienne Scarlet, who was three at the time. Their marriage was brief but full of happy memories. Two years into the marriage Dr. Scarlet died of internal bleeding. He apparently had mixed the wrong medicines.
 
Mrs. Peacock sighs, setting the ring back into the drawer. She picks up the next ring. It is a blue-hued gemstone set into a silver band. Her second husband, Dr. Prussian, was rather cheap and quiet. Their courtship was brief and their wedding was quick. After two years of marriage, Dr. Prussian slipped down the staircase, breaking his spine in two places. Death was instant. Gossip began spreading about the coincidence of both two-year marriages.
 
Mrs. Peacock tosses the ring into the wastebasket and picks up the third ring. It is old and tarnished. Mr. Zaffer claimed it had been his grandmother’s ring. The wedding was expensive and the honeymoon was tiresome. Mr. Zaffer had quite the appetite for sex – so much so that he assaulted young Vivienne. Shortly after their one year wedding anniversary, he was found dead at home. His head had been cut off and so had his private parts. When questioned by the police, Mrs. Peacock and Miss Scarlet both claim to have been together all night at the opera.
 
Mrs. Peacock smiles with a lighthearted chuckle as she picks up the next ring, a wooden band carved with Celtic designs. General Cobalt was a drunk. He was a whole lot of fun, but a clumsy drunk. Two years after their wedding he toppled overboard while sailing with Mrs. Peacock.
 
Mrs. Peacock slides the wooden ring onto her ring hand with a smile and picks up the last ring. It is a huge diamond surrounded by twelve sapphires. The band is gold. She squeezes it in her palm and closes her eyes. Senator Peacock and Mrs. Peacock were married for seven, long, glorious years. Their love was strained, but they always found a way to forgive and love each other. The gossip of her husbands had vanished completely – until six months ago when Senator Peacock had a massive heart attack at a restaurant following an argument with his dear wife.
 
Mrs. Peacock takes the Senator’s ring and places it on a gold chain. She puts it around her neck and turns off the lamp.
 
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BLACKWELL GRANGE – CONNECTICUT – JUNE 1926
 
Professor Plum walks outside the Mansion in the summer night air. He strolls through the rose garden, slowly inhaling the damp, floral aroma in the air. In his right hand his clutches the Lead Pipe . He walks to the rust-coated gates at the back of the rose garden and opens them with an iron key. Ahead of him is the family crypt. Two marble nymphs create pillars on each side of the massive door.
 
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Meanwhile, inside Blackwell Grange, upstairs, Miss Emily Peach sits on the edge of her bed staring at the door to the upstairs hallway. She grips onto the wooden frame that encases the mattress tightly. The door suddenly opens and the man in the black mask appears in the doorway.
 
Miss Peach stands up, startled by the sudden intrusion.
 
The man takes off the mask and closes the door, locking it.
 
“Did anyone see you?” Miss Peach asks, staring at the man’s face
 
“The fiancée.” The man says in a strong French accent, “I was searching her room when she came in.”
 
“What happened?” asks Miss Peach
 
“She ran away.” The man says, “I have to hide somewhere. I saw a cabin in the woods beyond the lake. It doesn’t look like anyone uses it or goes near it.”
 
“Alphonse,” Miss Peach grabs his hand, “Please be careful.”
 
Monsieur Alphonse Brunette goes over to Miss Peach’s window and slides it open.
 
“You can’t go out that way!” Miss Peach says
 
“There is a long ledge in the architecture on the second floor. It’s as if this mansion was made to traverse easily.” Monsieur Brunette slides out the window and along the edge until he reaches a pillar. Miss Peach watches him shimmy down the pillar and across the grass lawn into the darkness.
 
There is a knock at Miss Peach’s door.
 
She turns around and quickly rushes over to the door, unlocking it with stumbling fingers.
 
“Is everything alright?” Mr. Ash asks from the hallway outside.
 
“Everything is fine.” Miss Peach says, pulls open the door and smiles brightly at the Butler.
 
“I thought I heard voices.” Mr. Ash says
 
“Oh? I didn’t hear anything.” Miss Peach shrugs
 
“You didn’t hear anything?” Mr. Ash says, “Nothing at all?”
 
“It’s so quiet I can hear the mosquitos buzzing and the crickets chirping.” Miss Peach chuckles uncomfortably
 
Mr. Ash looks into the room behind her to see the window is open. Before he can ask her anything else the doorbell rings.
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
On the front porch, Sgt. Richard Gray stands anxiously tapping his hand against his leg. He is young, handsome, and militant, with piercing blue eyes. He holds his gray uniform hat under his arm. His father, Lord Gray, married Mrs. White’s younger sister – making him the nephew of the housekeeper. Sgt. Gray comes to the mansion once or twice a week depending on his weekly schedule.
 
Mrs. White pulls open the door to let Sgt. Gray into the Hall.
 
“Where did the intruder go?” asks Sgt. Gray, holding his elderly aunt by the shoulders.
 
“He was in my room.” Miss Dove says, “I ran to my son’s room for safety. Nurse Silver came shortly afterward.”
 
“I heard Miss Dove screaming.” Nurse Silver says, “I was just coming to check on Fivel before bed.”
 
“Did you see the intruder on your way to Miss Dove’s room?” asks Sgt. Gray
 
“No.” Nurse Silver shakes her head
 
“Let me have a look upstairs.” Sgt. Gray says, “Everyone, stay with me. You know this place better than I do.”
 
“I’m staying with my son in the Study.” Miss Dove declines, leaving Sgt. Gray with Nurse Silver and Mrs. White. Miss Dove closes and locks the Study door behind her. Mrs. White notices.
 
Sgt. Gray walks forward slowly, taking lead. Mrs. White and Nurse Silver go with him to the sweeping staircase. Mrs. White turns on the large chandelier at the top of the vaulted ceilings.
 
“I hope this doesn’t interfere with Dr. Black’s party.” Nurse Silver says
 
“I’ll do a thorough search of the estate.” Sgt. Gray promises, “Do you leave the exterior doors unlocked?”
 
“Yes,” Mrs. White says as they reach the top of the staircase, “There’s really no need to lock the doors and windows up here in the forest.”
 
“You had that run in with those gypsies several years ago.” Sgt. Gray points out, “You should always lock your doors and windows.”
 
“They were just living on the extra land we own.” Mrs. White frowns, “I hardly saw the harm in them camping near. We couldn’t even see them from the mansion.”
 
“That’s not the point.” Sgt. Gray says, peeking into a spare guest room. It is empty upon first glance. Sgt. Gray checks the closets and under the bed, “They were stealing land and using Dr. Black’s property for their livelihood.”
 
“Was anything taken from Miss Dove’s room?” Nurse Silver changes the subject
 
“She didn’t say anything.” Mrs. White says
 
“It’s still unsettling, nonetheless.” Nurse Silver glances down the narrow upstairs corridor to see Mr. Ash walking in her direction.
 
Mr. Ash stops as the trio meets with him.
 
“The doorbell rang.” Mr. Ash says
 
“It was Sgt. Gray.” Nurse Silver wrings her hands nervously
 
“I didn’t see anyone in the spare rooms.” Mr. Ash is hesitant, “Miss Peach was acting quite jumpy, however.”
 
“Maybe she heard Miss Dove’s scream earlier.” Mrs. White says
 
“She didn’t hear anything.” Mr. Ash says, “She made that clear.”
 
“Who on earth is Miss Peach?” Nurse Silver asks
 
“Dr. Black’s daughter.” Mrs. White answers
 
Nurse Silver and Sgt. Gray stop walking and turn to each other in shock. Nurse Silver’s knees go weak and she nearly collapses against the wall. Sgt. Gray catches her.
 
“Are you alright?” Sgt. Gray asks
 
“I’m sorry, I lost my footing.” Nurse Silver calms herself down, “I didn’t know Dr. Black had a daughter.”
 
Sgt. Gray glances over the balcony rail from the upstairs hallway over the Hall on the ground floor.
 
“Neither did he. She came as a surprise to us all.” Mr. Ash ushers the group towards the top of the Hall stairs, “I’ve checked every room upstairs and there hasn’t been a single trace of this intruder. Forgive me for asking, but has Miss Dove been drinking?”
 
“It is possible.” Nurse Silver says, “She has become more and more relaxed the longer she lives here. She’s hardly the woman I remember.”
 
“You think she made it up?” Sgt. Gray puts his hands on his hips
 
“Well,” Nurse Silver shrugs, “She screamed and I came through the hallway. No one came out of her room. Her room was empty.”
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
Dr. Hugh Black comes down the attic stairs on the Third floor with a heavy Candlestick in his hand. He blows out the lit candle and discards the Candlestick on a nearby side table, descending another staircase to the second-floor hallway. He cautiously makes his way to the top of the stairs. He sees Sgt. Gray, Nurse Silver, Mr. Ash, and Mrs. White in the Hall below him.
 
“Dr. Black,” Mrs. White rushes over to the foot of the staircase
 
“What is Sgt. Gray doing here?” Dr. Black turns to the young officer, “I wasn’t expecting you and your father until tomorrow with the other guests.”
 
“I’m afraid I was called here.” Sgt. Gray frowns
 
“Miss Dove claims there was an intruder.” Mr. Ash says, “I searched the entire second and third floor and there was no one. Nurse Silver can attest that Miss Dove has also been drinking.”
 
“I said it’s possible that she might have been drinking.” Nurse Silver says, “I don’t know for certain.”
 
“Either way,” Mr. Ash carries on, “She’s disturbed half the household.”
 
“Is Emily okay?” asks Dr. Black
 
“That’s the other thing,” Mr. Ash raises his hand firmly, “She’s up to something. You don’t just show up on someone’s doorstep without an invitation or any notice.”
 
“She’s family.” Dr. Black says defensively
 
“Are you certain of that?” Nurse Silver narrows her eyes
 
“There have been stranger claims.” Sgt. Gray weighs in, “I don’t know Emily at all, the whole situation does seem strange.”
 
“What if Miss Peach let in the intruder?” Mrs. White clutches her collar with a fearful shutter
 
“Enough!” Dr. Black stomps his foot, “You are all being ridiculous. Listen to yourselves.”
 
“Precisely,” Nurse Silver speaks up, “We hardly know if there is even an intruder at all. Miss Dove has had a few incidents.”
 
“This is the first I’m hearing.” Dr. Black crosses his arms
 
“I didn’t really know how to bring it up.” Nurse Silver answers defensively, “Don’t be cross with me.”
 
“I’m not cross,” Dr. Black stammers, “Just tell me what incidents you are talking about.”
 
“I caught her in the Billiard Room pleasuring herself by the bar.” Nurse Silver lowers her voice, “It was vulgar, inappropriate and should not be condoned.”
 
“I think you damn well made that up on the spot.” Dr. Black accuses Nurse Silver of lying.
 
Nurse Silver turns her back to Dr. Black and walks with quick strides to the grand staircase, ascending to the second floor.
 
Mrs. White, Mr. Ash, and Sgt. Gray exchange frantic awkward glances as Dr. Black turns back to face them.
 
“Well, I think we are going to have to just see how this one pans out.” Dr. Black says, “There is no sign of forced entry. Nothing was taken, no one was harmed. This intruder doesn’t even seem to be present anymore.”
 
“I suppose there isn’t much more I can do then.” Sgt. Gray looks over at the locked Study door, “Talk to your fiancée.”
 
“Of course.” Dr. Black says, “Richard, you are welcome to stay the night. I figure you might as well break in the guest room for the party.”
 
“Thank you, but I am still working.” Sgt. Gray puts his uniform cap back on his head, “I need to get back to the station.”
 
Dr. Black bows politely, motioning for Mr. Ash to show Sgt. Gray to the front door. Dr. Black takes Mrs. White and travels with her towards the Kitchen.
 
“Get Fraulein Bloom.” Dr. Black says
 
“She’s sleeping.” Mrs. White says, “She retired a short while ago.”
 
“I don’t care.” Dr. Black says, “Wake her up and tell her to meet me in the Kitchen.”
 
“If you are hungry, I can make you something.” Mrs. White smiles brightly
 
“Get Fraulein Bloom!” Dr. Black shouts aggressively
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
Across the Estate, in the Gate House, Fraulein Bloom takes off her white apron and hangs it on the peg next to the door to the Servant’s Hall. Yvette comes from the Servant’s Hall in a dressing gown.
 
“There was a police car in the Courtyard.” Fraulein Bloom walks over to Yvette, “What’s the matter, you look frightened?”
 
Yvette nods, “There is a man here. He says he is Dr. Black’s surprise guest.”
 
Fraulein Bloom opens the door to the Servant’s Hall and rushes into the door. At the small stove in the corner, Monsieur Alphonse Brunette boils water. He is a tall French man with dark hair and gruff features. His mustache is waxed and groomed.
 
“Liebling!” Fraulein Bloom runs over to Brunette and throws her arms around him, passionately kissing him.
 
“Could your give us some privacy?” Monsieur Brunette motions for Yvette to go towards the spiral staircase in the round vestibule.
 
Yvette nods and walks up the staircase to the Servant’s Quarters.
 
As soon as Yvette is out of sight, Monsieur Brunette takes Fraulein Bloom by the wrist and drags her towards the back door.
 
“Wait!” Fraulein Bloom begs, “What’s wrong? Where are you taking me?”
 
“Someone saw me.” Monsieur Brunette says, pulling the large, German woman outside. He forces her against the brick wall that surrounds Blackwell Grange, staring her in the eyes while chewing on his bottom lip.
 
Crickets and locusts buzz in the forest as Monsieur Brunette continues to stare into her eyes for what feels like an eternity. Finally, Monsieur Brunette takes a few steps back and lifts his shirt to reveal a large bandage with dried blood in the center.
 
“I can’t be so trusting anymore.” Monsieur Brunette says
 
“Alphonse, what happened?” Fraulein Bloom watches as Brunette peels back the bandage, revealing a gunshot wound in his abdomen.
 
“You sent me to Budapest.” Monsieur Brunette says, “You sent me to Rose Black and her shanty little gypsy shop. I needed information and I got it.”
 
“Well, what did you find?” Fraulein Bloom is nervous
 
There is noise from Blackwell Grange. Monsieur Brunette ducks into the shadows, “The house is all shaken up trying to look for me. Meet me in the Stables tomorrow after breakfast.”
 
 
TO BE CONTINUED