#3
A WORLD OF CLUE – PART 3
 
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ARLINGTON GRANGE – MARYLAND – JUNE 1926
 
Miss Vivienne Scarlet wakes up with a gasp. She quickly shivers and pulls the sheets tight against her body. Edward Clay begins to stir beside her. He inhales deeply and looks around groggily at the dim, morning-lit room.
 
“I had a bad dream.” Miss Scarlet stands up and walks over to the crystal pitcher on her dresser. She pours herself a glass of water.
 
“What was it about?” Mr. Clay stretches, popping his spine and cracking his knuckles.
 
“Blackwell Grange,” Miss Scarlet begins, “It was so scary. It was just so big and ominous. There was a storm around it and endless hallways inside.”
 
“What were you reading before you drank all that wine?” Mr. Clay chuckles, sitting up as she climbs back into bed.
 
“I just felt trapped there.” Miss Scarlet says, “It’s probably because my stepmother told me it’s secluded on a forest hilltop. It makes me think of those scary stories we’d tell around the fire when the snow kept us inside.”
 
Mr. Clay smiles and leans forward to face her.
 
“What time is it?” Miss Scarlet ignores him, turning over in bed.
 
“Half past eight.” Mr. Clay says
 
“We need to leave for the train station at ten.” Miss Scarlet says, “How long is the train ride?”
 
“Six hours.” Mr. Clay says, “Then an hour drive from the station for the mansion.”
 
“The Butler is coming to fetch us in Dr. Black’s Mercedes.” Miss Scarlet says, “My stepmother wanted the Rolls but Dr. Black has limits on his generosity.”
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
BLACKWELL GRANGE – CONNECTICUT – JUNE 1926
 
Colonel Michael Mustard wakes up on the floor of his bedroom. With several curse words and a great deal of harrumphing, he pulls himself up to his feet. His head is pulsing from the bottle of whiskey last night. He looks at himself in the mirror above his dresser and places his monocle into his left eye.
 
There is a knock at his door. Colonel Mustard cringes at the sound.
 
“Come in.” Colonel Mustard’s voice is dry and raspy.
 
“Well?” Mrs. White comes into the room with her hands on her hips, “How do you feel?”
 
“I’m used to it.” Colonel Mustard says, “Sometimes I only drink to punish myself the next day. I’m half hoping one of these times I’ll drink myself to death.”
 
“Oh, hush.” Mrs. White opens the curtains, allowing the blinding morning sunlight to light up the yellow bedroom.
 
“Close the damn curtains!” Colonel Mustard holds his arm above his eyes to shield away the brightness
 
“Get up.” Mrs. White says, “Come downstairs to the Kitchen. You are going to help me and Fraulein Bloom with breakfast.”
 
Mrs. White exits the bedroom and walks down the upstairs hallway to the top of the staircase. She slowly descends, spotting Dr. Hugh Black and Nurse Deborah Silver talking at the far end of the Hall near the front doors. Mrs. White shrugs and makes her way through the pantry to the Kitchen.
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
In the Kitchen, Yvette Ardoise is quickly and quietly scrubbing the counter surfaces.
 
“Good morning.” Mrs. White opens the refrigerator and takes out a bottle of milk.
 
Yvette jumps in fear from Mrs. White’s quiet entrance.
 
“Don’t sneak up on people!” Yvette squeaks
 
“Are you alright, dear?” asks Mrs. White, “I heard you pacing your room last night. You didn’t get to sleep until well after three.”
 
“I’m fine.” Yvette says, “I’m just nervous with the police here last night.”
 
“Mr. Ash and Nurse Silver don’t think anyone was even in the house.” Mrs. White says
 
“Sgt. Gray didn’t find anyone or anything?” asks Yvette
 
“I think he is siding with Nurse Silver and Mr. Ash.” Mrs. White frowns, “Nurse Silver may have insinuated that Miss Dove drinks at nighttime.”
 
“Curious.” Yvette looks out the windows distantly.
 
“I suppose I’ll leave you to get on with your morning duties.” Mrs. White says
 
“Actually, if you’ll excuse me. I need to get something from my bedroom.” Yvette quickly answers, “Could you watch over the Kitchen while I go to the Servant’s Quarters.”
 
“Be quick.” Mrs. White says
 
◄♦♦♦►
                                                
CHEAP HOTEL – NEW YORK CITY – JUNE 1926
 
Mr. Thallo Green splashes water on his face and wipes of the remaining shaving cream. Madame Rose sits in the background on the floor with her Tarot Cards.
 
“Do you think Hugh’s going to welcome you with open arms?” asks Mr. Green
 
“Hugh didn’t send me away. My father did.” Madame Rose says, “My father is dead. Hugh is the man of the house. The choice will be up to him.”
 
“You put a lot of faith in that brother of yours.” Mr. Green starts to get dressed
 
“My brother got into a little trouble in Monte Carlo some years back.” Madame Rose explains, “There are a lot of details I don’t know, but what I do know is that he used our father’s name in Monte Carlo. Our elderly father was wanted for my brother’s sins. I heard the grief and stress killed our father. At least that’s my way of blaming Hugh. It was probably old age and a poor diet.”
 
“What happened?” asks Mr. Green, “In Monte Carlo, that is.”
 
“Hugh got involved with a con artist.” Madame Rose says, “This man was a master of disguise. He fooled my brother on three separate occasions – once as a magician, then as a gun seller, and then finally as an art seller.”
 
“A magician, huh?” Mr. Green raises an eyebrow, “That’s not what I expected to hear.”
 
“I have nowhere left to turn.” Madame Rose says, “Blackwell Grange is the only place I can rely on. I can’t rely on myself. I’ve always had to get help from a friend.”
 
Mr. Green looks around the hotel room she is staying in with him, “I hope you are making the right choice.”
 
Madame Rose looks down at the Tarot Card she has selected, “I don’t think I am. But it’s my only choice.”
 
“Let’s see how it goes.” Mr. Green walks to the door, “I’m going to the front desk to order us a cab.”
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
ARLINGTON GRANGE – MARYLAND – JUNE 1926
 
Mrs. Patricia Peacock comes down the staircase of her barren mansion with one final suitcase grasped in her right hand. There are seven other suitcases scattered around the foyer. Miss Scarlet and Mr. Clay stands amongst them. Miss Scarlet is checking her makeup in a compact mirror.
 
“Have you forgotten everything, Vivienne?” Mrs. Peacock walks over to Miss Scarlet, “I know how you always remember something once we’re settled in at our destination.”
 
“We’ve haven’t really got a whole lot of anything anymore.” Miss Scarlet motions to the large empty mansion around them with a frown
 
“Has the cab arrived yet?” asks Mrs. Peacock
 
“Ten minutes ago.” Miss Scarlet rolls her eyes, opening the front door.
 
Mr. Clay and Miss Scarlet begin to carry the suitcases to the cabbie. Mrs. Peacock takes a look around Arlington Grange’s bare foyer before taking her suitcases and exiting the mansion.
 
“Are you ready?” Mr. Clay opens the door for Miss Scarlet
 
“Not really.” Miss Scarlet says, “Will there be lunch on the train?”
 
Mrs. Peacock looks up at the cloudy sky. A storm is rolling in over the Atlantic.
 
“I hope we get on the train before the rain starts.” Mrs. Peacock quickly gets into the cabbie with the others.
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
BLACKWELL GRANGE – CONNECTICUT – JUNE 1926
 
Professor Plum sits on a stool at a metal table in a dark, damp room. On the table is a folded leather pouch. The rust on the table is mixed with dried blood. Professor Plum opens the leather pouch and begins to pull out several long, sharp, twisted needles.
 
There is muffled panicking, thumping, and struggling in the background.
 
Professor Plum ignores the noise as his hand goes over to the thick, greasy Lead Pipe . He takes the Pipe and slams it onto the top of a coffin.
 
Professor Plum is standing inside the family crypt.
 
The coffin is stone with a wooden lid. SIR BENEDICT BLACK IV is engraved in dark ebony. There are bricks and chains on top of the wood lid. Professor Plum beats the Lead Pipe against part of the wood that isn’t covered. There are slats for ventilation throughout the wooden prison.
 
The muffled panicking continues as Professor Plum slowly drags the Lead Pipe along the length of one of the slats.
 
“Don’t rush me.” Professor Plum turns away and sits down on the stool, “Remember what happened last time? No, I don’t suppose you would. You hardly remember anything anymore do you?”
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
John Boddy  sleepily stares at the top drawer of his bureau. His eyes are twitching as his brain reels from his encounter with Colonel Mustard. He loathes him.
 
John picks up a framed photograph of his parents, Samuel Boddy and Margaret Black. He remembers their love, the gifts they showered him with. He remembers the summer picnics and the stars that they’d count. Every year on his birthday he would come downstairs to see a giant cake and dozens of friends waiting.
 
John hugs the photograph to his chest and starts to cry.
 
“He could have found them!” John pants between tiresome breaths
 
He tosses the frame onto the sheets beside him and stands up suddenly, wiping away his tears. He crosses the room and puts his palms against the top drawer of the bureau. He knows what is inside. He could end it all. Pull the trigger and stop suffering. He could finally be at rest with his parents. But he doesn’t open the drawer.
 
John can only think of the dozens of possible ways two people can die in the dry, endless plains of Africa. He steps away from the bureau and sits back down on his bed.
 
He is silent. He is done crying.
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
Dr. Hugh Black opens the curtains in his bedroom suite. He looks over the massive lake and boat house, nestled in the trees and mountains. He opens the window and inhales the sweet aroma of the summer morning. The sky is blue and clear of any clouds. In the garden walk below, Professor Plum whistles as he walks towards the Conservatory’s side door. Dr. Black narrows his eyes to see the Family Crypt in the back of the Rose Garden. He quickly rushes to his wardrobe and starts to get dressed.
 
There is a knock on his door just as he finishes tying his tie. He comes over to the door to find Mr. Ash with an urgent look on his face.
 
“What’s wrong?” Dr. Black asks
 
“Your daughter stole the Kitchen.” Mr. Ash says
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
In the Kitchen, Miss Peach stands at the massive range. Dozens of sausages, strips of bacon, and greasy eggs sizzle and hiss as butter and salt are thrown into the frying pans by the energetic young southern belle.
 
“No, absolutely not!” Mrs. White cries from the back door, “What are you doing in here? This is not on the menu. None of this is on the menu. Olga is going to be furious.”
 
“I’m making ya’ll a nice Alabama breakfast to thank you for letting me into your big old mansion.” Miss Peach says, “I bet you like your eggs scrambled don’t you?”
 
“I don’t!” Mrs. White turns up her nose
 
“Then I’ll just make you a big bowl of biscuits and gravy.” Miss Peach dumps the bacon from the frying pan into a large bowl.
 
“You are making a mess with that grease.” Mrs. White says
 
“I’m gonna save the grease for later.” Miss Peach says, “We can put it on the kernels when we make popcorn. Do you want to help me with the sweet potato pancakes?” Miss Peach enthusiastically takes Mrs. White by the hands.
 
Mrs. White rushes to the Kitchen door and enters the Hall, “Dr. Black!”
 
Mrs. White is furious as she exits the Kitchen. She bangs in Dr. Hugh Black as he comes down the staircase, accompanied by Mr. Ash.
 
“Dr. Black,” Mrs. White’s voice is emotional and worked up, “I need to talk to you.”
 
“The Kitchen,” Dr. Black says, “Emily is just preparing a little breakfast. I’m sure she meant no harm.”
 
“I need to talk to you in private.” Mrs. White turns and enters the Conservatory, waiting for Dr. Black to follow.
 
“Blanche,” Dr. Black sighs, “Can we please have a nice morning? It’s going to be hectic with everyone here all weekend.”
 
“Please.” Mrs. White is stern and determined
 
“Very well.” Dr. Black follows her into the Conservatory.
 
◄♦♦♦►
                                                
COUNTRY ROAD – CONNECTICUT – JUNE 1926
 
Mr. Green and Madame Rose sit in the back of the taxicab. The flat, square windows give Madame Rose a claustrophobic sensation. Mr. Green picks at the leather strap on the suitcase between his knees.
 
The driver is an elderly man with thick glasses and bone-white hair. Even his skin is deathly and skeletal. His boney fingers grip onto the steering wheel achingly tight. Madame Rose constantly keeps vigil, uncertain of their driver’s capabilities.
 
“It’s cold in here.” Madame Rose says
 
The driver rolls up his window.
 
“Thank you.” Madame Rose says
 
“What brings you out to these parts?” the driver asks, “Not many people need to use these back roads.”
 
“Blackwell Grange is secluded from the rest of society.” Mr. Green answers
 
“There a small village with a lot of forest between.” Madame Rose says
 
“We’ll likely arrive around four or five in the afternoon.” Mr. Green checks his watch
 
“The party isn’t until seven.” Madame Rose rereads Mr. Green’s invitation, “Dinner at seven-thirty.”
 
“We are being dropped off in the village.” Mr. Green loosens his tie.
 
“Do you realize it’s a six-mile forest road from the village to Blackwell Grange?” Madame Rose raises an eyebrow.
 
“My transportation has been taken care of.” Mr. Green leans back and shuts his eyes, “You might have to call the butler or someone.”
 
Madame Rose is confused over this sudden shift, “I figured we would arrive together.”
 
“You’ll just have to get over your family’s issues on your own.” Mr. Green yawns, “I need to take care of a little business before the weekend. You have three hours to either get another ride to the mansion or walk the six-mile road.”
 
◄♦♦♦►
                                                
TRAIN DEPOT – MARYLAND – JUNE 1926
 
Mrs. Peacock waits in line for first class boarding with Miss Scarlet and Mr. Clay. She is fanning herself with a black oriental fan while staring disapprovingly at Miss Scarlet’s cigarette.
 
“Vivienne, we are in public.” Mrs. Peacock says
 
“Precisely,” Miss Scarlet takes a long drag, “It’ll help me get over the fact that I’m surrounded by pickpockets and factory workers.”
 
An unpleasant looking man in the second class line gives Miss Scarlet a nasty look. She responds by flicking the ash from her cigarette into his direction.
 
“I for one am getting excited to be at Blackwell Grange.” Miss Scarlet says
 
“Really?” Mrs. Peacock titters, “What on earth changed your mind?”
 
“Seeing the state of Arlington Grange,” Miss Scarlet narrows her eyes at Mrs. Peacock, “I figured it would be nice to enjoy a furnished mansion.”
 
“We’ll be back on our feet.” Mrs. Peacock lowers her voice
 
The unpleasant man starts laughing, “How the mighty have fallen.”
 
Miss Scarlet grips her fists to turn and face him, but Mr. Clay stops her.
 
“Darling, let’s order something nice from the brunch menu.” Mr. Clay says
 
“Can we afford that, Stepmother?” Miss Scarlet addresses Mrs. Peacock snidely and sarcastically
 
“Of course!” Mrs. Peacock says loudly, “I know I’ll be having a meal on the ride. Money is only an issue until the lawyers settle the Senator’s estate.”
 
“You can brag all you want,” the unpleasant man crosses his arms, “But all the money in the world won’t protect you from where you’ll go for murdering the Senator.”
 
“Are you referring to hell or prison? Because I’m only afraid of one of those and it’s not the one you’d expect.” Mrs. Peacock closes her fan abruptly
 
“Who needs a rich cunt?” The unpleasant man turns to the man directly beside him.
 
“I beg your pardon?” Mrs. Peacock becomes quite anxious
 
“We all know you killed him.” The unpleasant man says
 
Mrs. Peacock looks around at the other people around him in line. They all silently look in her direction.
 
“I’m no murderer.” Mrs. Peacock says
 
“I better be careful.” The unpleasant man smacks her on the bottom, “Or you’ll ask me to be your sixth husband.”
 
“What in God’s name gave you the impression that you could touch me?” Mrs. Peacock snarls, smacking him on the top of the head with her closed fan.
 
The man grabs his head from the sting of the wooden strike.
 
“You’ve done nothing but eavesdrop like a common scullery maid.” Mrs. Peacock shouts loudly, causing a station attendant comes over
 
“Is there a problem?” the station attendant asks
 
“There is,” Mrs. Peacock stares daggers at the unpleasant man, “This wretched man is being bothersome.”
 
“Don’t you recognize her?” the unpleasant man waves his fingers in Mrs. Peacock faces, “It’s the Senator’s wife – the black widow.”
 
“Sir,” Miss Scarlet grabs the station attention by the arm. Her voice goes high in a flirtatious manner, “Are you sure you can’t reprimand this man in some way?”
 
She wiggles her exposed shoulder, drawing the attendant near. She brings her lips close to his ears. The attendant instantly blushes.
 
“Be a dear.” Miss Scarlet’s words are soft and gentle. She reaches her hand around his shoulders, seductively tickling his neck along the way, “What do you say, handsome? Won’t you help me out?”
 
“I – I suppose – I,” the station attendant clears his throat and puts on a dominant, confident expression. He turns to the unpleasant man and firmly places his hand on his shoulder, “Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to move to the back of the line.”
 
“I didn’t do anything.” the unpleasant man shoves the station attendant’s hand off of his shoulder
 
“Sir!” the station attendant shoves the unpleasant man out of the second class line entirely, “Get to the back of the line or else we will refuse service to you altogether.”
 
The unpleasant man glares at Miss Scarlet and Mrs. Peacock as he moves to the back of the line.
 
“I do hope you swing by our compartment later.” Miss Scarlet nestles against Mr. Clay’s chest.
 
The station attendant’s heart sinks.
 
“Thanks, again.” Miss Scarlet winks.
 
Mr. Clay smiles cockily as the station attendant returns to his work.
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
BLACKWELL GRANGE – CONNECTICUT – JUNE 1926
 
Colonel Michael Mustard enters the Kitchen yawning. Miss Peach has made a large breakfast and arranged it on the wooden table in the center of the room.
 
“I ain’t doing anything fancy.” Miss Peach says, “If you want a plate, you eat it around the table in here. No need to mess up the fancy table in the Dining Room.”
 
“Mrs. White said I was to assists the German with breakfast. I’m relieved to see someone else has already done it.” Colonel Mustard grabs a piece of bacon
 
“German?” Miss Peach is confused
 
“That Nazi chef that Dr. Black has running around the Kitchen.” Colonel Mustard says
 
“A Nazi?” Miss Peach covers her mouth in shock
 
“No doubt in my mind.” Colonel Mustard says
 
“Oh, but you don’t know for certain?” Miss Peach is much less concerned
 
“I don’t trust her.” Colonel Mustard narrows his eyes, “And I’m a fairly good judge of character. I read first impressions quite accurately.”
 
“Well, what do you think of me?” Miss Peach bats her eyelids
 
“You make decent bacon.” Colonel Mustard says
 
“Do you think I look like my father?” asks Miss Peach
 
“Not really.” Colonel Mustard says
 
“Perhaps I take after my mother more.” Miss Peach shrugs, “It’s so strange. I don’t know what him – Dr. Black – my father. I’m just so worried he doesn’t like me.”
 
“It’s not him I’d be worried about.” Colonel Mustard says, “It’s the rest of the family you have to convince.”
 
“Convince?” Miss Peach asks
 
“Dr. Black is wealthy beyond anyone’s dreams.” Colonel Mustard says, “A long-lost child showing up at the front door with many suitcases draws a bit of suspicion.”
 
“Is that your impression of me?” Miss Peach asks, “I’m just a con artist trying to dip my hands into Dr. Black’s deep pockets?”
 
“The thought has flickered through my mind.” Colonel Mustard says, “Though I warn you, I am still a bit drunk.”
 
“Well, then I won’t take everything you say to heart.” Miss Peach heads to the Dining Room door, “I’m going to let everyone else know that breakfast is ready. Help yourself.”
 
Miss Peach leaves the room quickly and sadly. Colonel Mustard pays no mind as he digs into the biscuits and gravy.
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
Dr. Black stands in the corner of the Conservatory where the parrot cage is. He lets the tropical bird out and it perches on his forearm.
 
“Isn’t he handsome?” Dr. Black smiles as the parrot bobs his head up and down.
 
“Dr. Black.” Mrs. White is hesitant
 
“Dr. Black.” The parrot speaks, followed by a click and a low whistle
 
Mrs. White sighs, “I don’t like her.”
 
“Fraulein Bloom or Yvette?” Dr. Black says, “You are always wishy-washy.”
 
“Emily.” Mrs. White says
 
“You hardly know her.” Dr. Black says, “She hasn’t even been here for twelve hours. How can you hate her?”
 
“She’s up to something.” Mrs. White says, “She’s in the Kitchen making breakfast!”
 
“You sound paranoid.” Dr. Black puts the parrot back in the cage, “Do you need me to fill a prescription for you?”
 
“Do you ever wonder what happened to our son?” Mrs. White asks
 
“Wow!” Dr. Black plops down in a wicker chair, “This is going to be a long conversation, isn’t it?”
 
“I’m serious.” Mrs. White says, “Do you ever wonder about the son we had.”
 
“No, I try not to think about things like that.” Dr. Black says
 
“Why?” Mrs. White says
 
“Because it’s happened three times.” Dr. Black says, “With three different women.”
 
Mrs. White looks at the floor sadly.
 
“It’s always the same every time. Even with you.” Dr. Black says, “They say they’ll never give the child up for adoption. I offer the right amount. The baby is left on the doorstep of a fire station or a church. It’s the way it had to be. My father was a control freak. He always threatened to disinherit me if I ever had a child out of wedlock.”
 
“How would he react to Miss Dove and Fivel?” asks Mrs. White
 
“Does it matter?” Dr. Black asks
 
“No. A dead man’s concerns died with him.” Mrs. White says, “My Winslow disagreed with a lot of the things I did before I met him. He never let me wear makeup. Religious reasons, he always said. The day after he died and every day since I put lipstick on every morning to remind myself that I am here to think for myself.”
 
“Good for you, Mrs. White.” Dr. Black smiles, “I wish I could say what you want to hear. I wish that I could tell you I think about our son every day – but the honest truth is, I forgot whether we had a boy or a girl together. I thought Emily might have been ours.”
 
Mrs. White looks at the floor as she gets up.
 
“This room needs sweeping.” Mrs. White’s eyes well up with tears, “I should get to that.”
 
“Blanche.” Dr. Black closes his eyes
 
“There’s just so much to do before the guests arrive.” Mrs. White rushes over to the Conservatory door and exits quickly.
 
Dr. Black stands up from the wicker chair and stomps his foot angrily against a metal watering can. The can falls over and spills some remaining water.
 
“Dr. Black.” The parrot speaks, followed by a click and a low whistle
 
“Shut up.” Dr. Black closes his eyes, trying to calm down.
 
“Dr. Black.” The parrot speaks, followed by a click and a slightly high-toned whistle
 
Dr. Black turns and looks at the cage to see the parrot crawling around the metal bars of the cage.
 
“Dr. Black.” The parrot continues, “Dr. Black. Stop! Help!”
 
 
TO BE CONTINUED