#5
WELCOME TO BLACKWELL GRANGE – PART 1
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
BLACKWELL GRANGE – CONNECTICUT – JUNE 1926
 
Dr. Hugh Black folds and unfolds the guest list in his hands. He is staring absentmindedly at the unlit fireplace across from him. Miss Brenda Dove reclines on the chaise lounge like a lazy housecat. She is smoking a cigarette, an uncharacteristic trait.
 
“How am I supposed to enjoy myself at a party full of strangers?” Miss Dove twirls her curly hair around her finger as she brings the cigarette to her lips with the other hand.
 
“I know this isn’t the ideal weekend.” Dr. Black continues to stare at the dark fireplace, “I just –”
 
Dr. Black’s sentence ends as he unfolds the guest list and lets out a harsh breath. Miss Dove looks over at Dr. Black with disgust.
 
“You don’t believe me about the intruder do you?” Miss Dove asks
 
“Sgt. Gray looked into it.” Dr. Black is very focused on the guest list and is speaking slowly to Miss Dove, “Colonel Mustard is still out hunting. I don’t think there is anything to worry about.”
 
“Oh, for heaven’s sake,” Miss Dove stands up and opens her hand, “Let me see the guest list.”
 
Miss Dove walks over to the desk and puts her cigarette out in the brass ashtray on the edge of the desk. She snatches the guest list from Dr. Black and returns to the chaise lounge.
 
Dr. Black watches her closely as she begins to read the names off.
 
“Vivienne Scarlet?” Miss Dove’s voice is calm and almost mockingly feminine, “Who is she and why is she underlined twice?”
 
 “She’s the stepdaughter of another guest.” Dr. Black responds quickly, “I only invited her out of courtesy because I’m looking to offer her lover a job. He is a proficient tennis coach.”
 
“Colonel Michael Mustard.” Miss Dove reads the next name, “The Colonel and you grew up together. His father died at war and he ran off to military school to avenge his dead father. Did I get it all?”
 
“Mrs. White must have been talking to you.” Dr. Black glares at Miss Dove, “How much gossip have you heard about the Colonel?”
 
“Mrs. White has just seen him coming and going.” Miss Dove shrugs innocently.
 
“She’s said something?” Dr. Black asks
 
“She mentioned his fondness for alcohol and his short temper.” Miss Dove admits
 
 “Mrs. White’s getting old.” Dr. Black sighs, “I think she finally realizes that, with the additional staff members coming to work here. She put up a bigger fight over Fraulein Bloom than she did over Yvette, and we all know how much she hates Yvette.”
 
Miss Dove turns her attention back to the list. A look of concern manages to grab Dr. Black’s attention.
 
“Who is Mr. Green?” Miss Dove says, “You left out his first name.”
 
“He’s just a business friend.” Dr. Black says “He has donated a lot to my hospital and the pharmaceutical company my father founded.”
 
“And what about Patricia Peacock?” Miss Dove asks, “She is underlined twice.”
 
“She’s Miss Scarlet’s stepmother.” Dr. Black feels as if he is being interrogated
 
“Lord Alfred Gray,” Miss Dove quickly moves on, “That’s Sgt. Gray’s father, right?”
 
“Mrs. White’s younger sister is married to Lord Gray,” Dr. Black explains, “He doesn’t really care for me or my family. I merely invite him out of kindness and he gladly accepts the invitation every time.”
 
“Mr. Edward Clay,” Miss Dove continues down the list
 
“He’s Miss Scarlet’s young lover.” Dr. Black chuckles, “I’m sending him to the Seacrest Hotel to be their primary tennis instructor.”
 
“The last name on the list is Lady Lavender.” Miss Dove folds up the list
 
“She won’t be able to be here until early next week.” Dr. Black says, taking the list back from her
 
“Hugh, the party is only supposed to be for this weekend!” Miss Dove crosses her arms
 
“Well, people tend to linger. I am an immaculate host.” Dr. Black tucks the list into the inside pocket of his coat
 
“How long do they overstay their welcome?” Miss Dove looks uncomfortably around the room, “How long is this get-together going to be?”
 
“Let’s just say, longer for some, shorter for others.” Dr. Black stares into her eyes with seriousness. She flinches.
 
“It feels like you are opening our home to strangers!” Miss Dove’s voice is shaky and thin
 
“You could always sleep in my room.” Dr. Black bites his lip
 
“Hugh,” Miss Dove breathlessly begins to protest, “You know I have been under a lot of stress. Fivel has been so unruly lately. It is difficult raising an eight-year-old as a single mother! For goodness sake, you have a reputation for being a womanizer. At least let me wait until our wedding night.”
 
“Single mother?” Dr. Black laughs to himself, half hurt and half angry from Miss Dove’s protestations, “I’m here, goddammit! If you’d let me try and build a relationship with the boy maybe we could actually start to feel like a family. At most this is a living arrangement for you. It feels like you don’t even trust me. Fivel needs proper fathering, not whatever you have planned for him.”
 
Miss Dove slaps Dr. Black across the left cheek.
 
“I’m sorry.” Dr. Black pulls her close, “I didn’t mean it.”
 
“No,” Miss Dove holds up her arms
 
“Please, Brenda,” Dr. Black continues to embrace her
 
Miss Dove shakes him off, glaring at him in anger. He walks to her and pulls her in for a kiss.
 
“Stop!” Miss Dove shoves Dr. Black in the center of the chest. He stumbles back against his desk.
 
“Love me, you cold, bitter woman!” Dr. Black demands, slamming his fist against the wood surface of the desk
 
Miss Dove looks at him with disgust, “I can’t talk to you right now.”
 
“Brenda, wait!” Dr. Black rushes to the door, grabbing her hand.
 
“I need to go check on my son before the guests arrive.” Miss Dove looks up at the ceiling, speaking calmly.
 
“Just let me talk.” Dr. Black begs
 
“I can’t share a bed with you,” Miss Dove says, “You are a grown man but you act like a child. Let go of me.”
 
Miss Dove shakes his hand away and leaves the Study.
 
“I love you.” Dr. Black whimpers in the empty room.
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
In the Dining Room, eight-year-old Fivel Dove runs along the marble floor. He is clutching a pair of scissors in one hand while pulling loose yarn across the house with the other. He is laughing jovially, running carefree as the yarn tangles around the feasting table’s massive carved legs. Mrs. Blanche White scurries after him with fire in her eyes. She is wearing her formal housekeeper uniform.
 
“You’ve ruined the scarf I’ve been knitting!”
 
Fivel laughs as he throws the remaining yarn over a suit of armor. He sticks out his tongue at Mrs. White.
 
“The guests will be here in thirty-five minutes!” Mrs. White shrieks, “We can’t have any of this nonsense.”
 
Mrs. White snatches the scissors away and pinches the boy by the ear. Fivel screams in pain as Mrs. White drags him towards the Kitchen.
 
“What? Where are we going? Where are you taking me?” the young boy kicks and protests
 
“We are going to find Nurse Silver!” Mrs. White shouts, “I’m not the nanny anymore! I’m too old for little shits like you.”
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
In the Lounge, Nurse Deborah Silver hides in the window on the cushions. The red curtains conceal half her face. She looks outside at the dark Courtyard. Professor Peter Plum enters the room with a pipe in his mouth.
 
“I thought I saw headlights coming up the forest road.” Nurse Silver moves the curtain back.
 
“What time are they arriving?” Professor Plum asks
 
“Seven-thirty, it is nearly seven now.” Nurse Silver checks the clock above the fireplace
 
“Are you okay?” Professor Plum asks
 
Nurse Silver absentmindedly moves her hand over her abdomen.
 
“I suppose you haven’t been okay for nearly ten years.” Professor Plum says
 
Nurse Silver lowers her head and her hands fall to her side.
 
“We are getting our revenge, don’t you worry.” Professor Plum takes his pipe out of his mouth and stands close to where Nurse Silver sits
 
“I thought I would feel better – I feel empty.” Nurse Silver hugs her shoulders, “What if the child I had with Dr. Black is just another child? What if he’s done this to dozens of women? I just want to feel free of this place and the guilt that it comes with.”
 
 “Don’t worry, you’ll feel something.” Professor Plum sighs, “Hugh Black will pay for his selfish, egocentric life choices. We just need to wait until all the guests have arrived and settled in. They need to get comfortable enough to start wandering around Blackwell Grange on their own.”
 
“What if this isn’t a good idea?” Nurse Silver says, “Dr. Black told me to stay away from the Crypt and that you were to do the same. What if he’s going to keep an eye on it?”
 
“Are you serious?” Professor Plum pops his pipe back into his mouth, “Deborah, we’ve been working on this for the last ten years. You need to get your emotions together. You gave up your son; I lost the love of my life to science. We all have our crosses to bear.”
 
“I’m just saying that maybe we shouldn’t do it with other people around.” Nurse Silver says, “What if someone else gets hurt?”
 
“The other people are the whole point.” Professor Plum is quickly becoming frustrated, “You widen the list of suspects and the police are more likely to pick the easiest motive and leave it at that.”
 
“I don’t think I’m capable of murder.” Nurse Silver says
 
“Let’s hope the police feel the same way when this is all said and done.” Professor Plum says
 
“I just hate Dr. Black so much.” Nurse Silver says, trying to convince herself to follow through.
 
“He’s gotten away with the unspeakable for too long.” Professor Plum reassures her
 
Nurse Silver and Professor Plum both look to the Hall door as Mr. Ash and Yvette Ardoise enter the Lounge. Mr. Ash is presented as the proper English butler. Yvette is encased in a tight maid’s uniform that is both low cut and short. 
 
“Pardon the interruption,” Mr. Ash clears his throat, “But we need to set the Lounge up as a champagne reception area for the guests.”

Yvette bounces over to the wet bar behind the outer sofa.

 
◄♦♦♦►
 
John Boddy sits in the Conservatory playing with a Wrench . He adjusts the grip countless times, staring at the rust-covered metal.
 
His mind is racing with the memories of his dead parents.
 
“They could be here right now.” John Boddy mutters to himself, “Sitting in this room with me – enduring Uncle Hugh’s nonsense. Mother would say how handsome I look. Father would be quickly filling me with conversation starters for the lords and ladies of Europe.
 
There is an urgent tap on the glass window. John jumps in horror as he sees a blurry face looking at him from outside. It is Madame Rose .
 
John unlocks the side door and Madame Rose enters the Conservatory out of breath.
 
“Oh, thank you.” Madame Rose collapses into a wicker chair, “John? Oh my goodness, you’ve grown. Come give your Auntie Rose a hug!”
 
“What are you doing here?” asks John
 
“I had a vision.” Madame Rose says, “I saw a dark ominous cloud descending on Blackwell Grange and took a tramp steamer from Budapest. I’m here to warn my poor, stupid brother.”
 
“Warn him?” John drops the Wrench on the table beside Madame Rose
 
“Murder, my boy.” Madame Rose reaches out and touches his face, “You need to stay out of the trouble that is coming here.”
 
John walks over to the telescope and adjusts it towards the sunset sky over the lake.
 
“The gray bricks of this mansion will just trap them in.” Madame Rose says
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
Back in the Lounge, Yvette sets out fourteen champagne glasses on the wet bar behind one of the pink sofas. In the light of the Lounge’s lamps, it is apparent how young and beautiful she truly is. A great figure, tightly encased in a maid’s uniform – black dress, little white apron, and cap. Her ample bosom is pushed right up and half out of the top of her dress. Yvette blushes a bit at how revealing her outfit is, yet outrageous young lady pours the champagne without hesitation. Jazz music plays loudly from the gramophone near the piano.
 
Mr. Ash adjusts the drapes that frame the window seat.
 
“Is everything ready?” Mr. Ash asks
 
“Oui, monsieur.” Yvette nods, filling another champagne glasss
 
“Do you have your –” Mr. Ash pauses, noticing her bosom, “– instructions?”
 
Yvette nods, focuses on the champagne.
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
Mr. Ash enters the Kitchen to see Fraulein Bloom methodically sharpening a large shiny Carving Knife on a sharpening-steel.
 
“Is everything alright, Olga?” Mr. Ash asks
 
Fraulein Bloom points the gleaming Knife at Mr. Ash, “Dinner will be ready at eight o’clock.”
 
Mr. Ash swallows hard, glancing over at the rattling, bubbling pot on the range. There is a high pitched sound coming from inside.
 
“The lobsters are nearly done screaming.” Fraulein Bloom says. There is an air of madness about her.
 
“Very well,” Mr. Ash says, “Have you seen Mrs. White?”
 
“No,” Fraulein Bloom shakes her head, “I’ve been tending to dinner.”
 
The sound of the bell-pull clanging from the Hall urges Mr. Ash to quickly leave the Kitchen. Fraulein Bloom shrugs and sets the freshly sharpened Knife down on the wooden table. She dumps a basket of mixed vegetables from the garden onto the table with an enthusiastic grin.
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
Mr. Ash crosses the Hall as the bell stops clanging. Checking his pocket watch, he opens the front door. Colonel Mustard stands on the porch holding his head and the Shotgun.
 
“Good evening, you are expected.” Mr. Ash mockingly bows before Colonel Mustard
 
“Now isn’t the time, Reggie.” Colonel Mustard says, “I slipped and hit my head in the woods.”
 
“Oh dear! Do you need me to fetch Nurse Silver?” Mr. Ash asks
 
“Just fetch me a fifth of brandy.” Colonel Mustard rubs his head, “And fetch me one of those fine cigars from Hugh’s Study when you get my brandy. I know the cheap bastard likes to hide them in his Study.”
 
The two men step into the long Hall. Colonel Mustard makes his way into the Lounge as Mr. Ash disappears into the Study.
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
Yvette finishes pouring the champagne as Colonel Mustard enters the room. Colonel Mustard immediately takes note of how she is dressed.
 made
“I see Hugh hasn’t changed a bit when it comes to entertainment.” Colonel Mustard barks
 
“Monsieur, you startled me.” Yvette touches her chest in freight. She quickly hands him a glass of champagne, leaning forward provocatively, “I’m told to give you and all of the guests anything you require.”
 
Jazz music flows smoothly through the air as Colonel Mustard swallows the champagne quickly.
 
“I don’t suppose I’ll see you in my room after supper?” Colonel Mustard swats her on the bottom.
 
Mr. Ash returns with a cigar and brandy for Colonel Mustard.
 
“Were there any other cars on the road before you turned to drive up the hill?” Mr. Ash asks
 
“Wasn’t paying that much attention, old sport.” Colonel Mustard sniffs the brandy, “I can’t recall.”
 
“Yvette, Dr. Black would like you to make sure the ducks are locked up.” Mr. Ash says, “Go and lock up the ducks.”
 
Yvette slowly nods and exits the Lounge.
 
“Hugh still raises the ducks?” Colonel Mustard asks, “I didn’t see any yesterday?”
 
“Professor Plum raises them mostly. It gives him something to do. Their pen is near the Conservatory.” Mr. Ash says
 
The bell clangs loudly from the Hall. Mr. Ash disappears as quickly as he appeared. Colonel Mustard settles down on the piano stool as he sets down the empty champagne glass and begins on his brandy. He tucks the cigar in his top pocket for later.
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
Mrs. Patricia Peacock , Miss Vivienne Scarlet , and Mr. Edward Clay stand on the front porch underneath the shelter of the second level balcony. Miss Scarlet wears a black shawl over a tight, but modest red gown accentuated with diamonds. Her blonde hair is neat, her makeup is precise, and her body rivals Yvette. Mrs. Peacock wears a fur stole with fox tails and claws over her evening gown. The entire top half of her gown is made entirely of peacock feathers. The lower half of the gown is dark blue, watery chintz. Mr. Clay is dressed much more casual with a reddish-brown sweater over a white collar and khakis.
 
Mr. Clay sets the suitcases he is holding down on the front porch as Mr. Ash opens the door with a smile and wide open arms.
 
“Welcome to Blackwell Grange.” Mr. Ash leads them into the Hall
 
“Yes, thank you.” Mrs. Peacock nods
 
“It is a pleasure.” Mr. Ash bows authentically
 
“Charmed, I’m sure.” Mrs. Peacock takes off her gloves.
 
“Dr. Black and the entire household were in mourning when your husband passed away.” Mr. Ash sighs, “I do hope the Packard we sent to the train station was to your liking.”
 
“Heavens, you are a chatty butler.” Mrs. Peacock rolls her eyes, “Yes, we miss the Senator terribly, the Packard was tasteless, take my stepdaughter’s shawl, and show us to our host.”
 
“Please, it’s wrinkling the collar of my gown.” Miss Scarlet says
 
Mr. Ash takes Miss Scarlet’s black shawl. Miss Scarlet looks down at her dress and does a slow twirl. Mr. Clay claps like a trained monkey as Miss Scarlet twirls and twirls, the center of attention. Miss Scarlet twirls into Mr. Clay’s arms, where she then kisses him on the lips.
 
“Where is Dr. Black?” Mrs. Peacock turns away from Miss Scarlet and Mr. Clay
 
“He is waiting in the Study with his fiancée until all the guests have arrived.” Mr. Ash says, “If you’ll please just wait in the Lounge and have some champagne, dinner will be in half an hour.”
 
Mrs. Peacock leads the way to the Lounge. Miss Scarlet and Mr. Clay follow behind her. Mr. Ash waits at the front door.
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
Upon entering the Lounge, Mrs. Peacock instantly sets her eyes immediately upon Colonel Mustard. He sips the brandy at the piano and tries to match the notes with the Jazz music playing. It is clear that he doesn’t have any musical talent. Miss Scarlet and Mr. Clay take in the ambiance of Blackwell Grange.
 
“Colonel, you look well.” Mrs. Peacock nods in his direction
 
“Could it possibly be Patricia Peacock?” Colonel Mustard stands up, “How long has it been?”
 
“Twenty years.” Mrs. Peacock smiles
 
“It’s been too long.” Colonel Mustard takes her hand and shakes it firmly, “How are you?”
 
“I’m sure you’ve picked up a newspaper in the past few months.” Mrs. Peacock’s forehead creases, “It’s been rough.”
 
Colonel Mustard lets go of her hand, “Senator Peacock had a lot of positive influence. He will be greatly missed.”
 
“Marcus and I were married for nearly seven years.” Mrs. Peacock smiles, touching the ring dangling from the chain around her neck, “It was the longest marriage I’ve had.”
 
“Remind me, how many times were you married?” Colonel Mustard begins to provoke her
 
“Oh, enough about me,” Mrs. Peacock changes the subject, “How are your memoirs coming along?”
 
“Well, it comes and goes.” Colonel Mustard searches for words, “Some days I write more than others. Hugh said he’d help me out with the publishing expenses once I finish. There is no real rush or high demand for my war stories.”
 
“It’s a shame.” Mrs. Peacock sighs, “I figured you would be published by now.”
 
The bell clangs loudly from the Hall.
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
Mr. Ash opens the door as Sgt. Richard Gray quickly walks inside, nearly knocking the Butler over. An older man, dressed in the same shade of gray, walks into the Hall on a cane. He is Lord Alfred Gray , Sgt. Gray’s sour, bitter father.
 
Mr. Ash dusts off his vest and cummerbund.
 
“Sorry about that, Ash.” Sgt. Gray apologizes, “We had a flat tire on the way. I’m just a little frustrated.”
 
“Oh, I’m so sorry.” Mr. Ash says
 
“Show us to the Dining Room.” Lord Gray bangs his cane loudly against the Hall floor.
 
“There is champagne available in the Lounge.” Mr. Ash says, “We won’t be seating ourselves in the Dining Room for a little while.”
 
“I like to get myself situated before everyone comes in.” Lord Gray says, “Show us to the Dining Room.”
 
“You go on ahead,” Sgt. Gray says, “I’m going to have champagne in the Lounge.”
 
“Well?” Lord Gray bangs his cane, glaring at Mr. Ash.
 
“Oh – very well, come with me.” Mr. Ash sighs, leading Lord Gray towards the Dining Room.
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
Back in the Lounge, Miss Scarlet lights a cigarette as Mr. Clay comes over to her with two champagne glasses. He hands one to her. Colonel Mustard and Mrs. Peacock are still talking near the piano. Yvette has returned from tending to the ducks.
 
 “Dr. Black spared no expense.” Mr. Clay sits down on the sofa, “Look at the appetizers on the bar behind the sofa.”
 
“My stepmother says Dr. Black spends thousands on his parties.” Miss Scarlet sips her champagne, “I heard he leaves gift baskets in all the bedrooms.”
 
“He sounds like an immaculate host.” Mr. Clay also drinks his champagne, “Who knew he could get stuff this good at times like this.”
 
“All we can offer to buy is table-wine.” Miss Scarlet says, “And even that is hard to come by. Look at that cabinet!”
 
Miss Scarlet points to the glass liquor cabinet near the bridge table, “It’s like the alcohol ban doesn’t touch the wealthy.”
 
“That’s because it doesn’t.” Yvette eavesdrops
 
Miss Scarlet glances up at the young maid, “I’m sure you know all of the secrets about Dr. Black and Blackwell Grange.”
 
“Oui.” Yvette nods
 
“Well I’m hoping to make a friend this weekend.” Miss Scarlet smiles, “How would you like to share some stories?”
 
Yvette nods excitedly, genuinely excited for her ‘friendship’ with Miss Scarlet.
 
“Be a dear and top of my glass.” Miss Scarlet holds up her empty champagne glass.
 
“Me as well.” Mr. Clay holds up his empty glass with a tipsy laugh.
 
Yvette takes both glasses and goes to the champagne bottle.
 
“Are you drunk already?” Miss Scarlet nudges Mr. Clay
 
“I don’t even care.” Mr. Clay says, running his fingers through his straight, blonde hair.
 
“They haven’t even brought out the absinth and cocaine yet.” Miss Scarlet jokes, “You’ll be asleep before dinner. You have to pace yourself around the good alcohol.”
 
“It’s hard.” Mr. Clay says as Yvette returns with their glasses.
 
“Perhaps I can show you all the cellars tomorrow.” Yvette smiles eagerly
 
“The cellars?” Miss Scarlet tries to keep the girl’s interest, while hiding her own repulsion, “Perhaps a stroll through the gardens and some gossip?”
 
“I’m referring to the secret cellars.” Yvette lowers her voice
 
Miss Scarlet’s interest is peaked. Mr. Clay is busy empty his second glass of champagne.
 
“Can I get just one more?” Mr. Clay’s breathing is heavy.  
 
Mrs. Peacock walks over and snatches the cigarette from Miss Scarlet. She flicks the cigarette into the unlit fireplace.
 
“I was finished with my cigarette anyway.” Miss Scarlet shrugs
 
“You know I don’t like you smoking those things.” Mrs. Peacock scolds her
 
“Don’t make a fuss, Patricia.” Miss Scarlet rolls her eyes
 
“I didn’t make a fuss when you refused to wear the scarab brooch when we got dressed.” Mrs. Peacock points her finger at Miss Scarlet’s dress, “The red rubies in the brooch would have matched your dress and lipstick. The gold of the scarab would have accented your hair perfectly.”
 
“I’m not wearing something shaped like a goddamn beetle.” Miss Scarlet laughs, finishing her second glass of champagne
 
“Watch your mouth!” Mrs. Peacock’s face is red from embarrassment, “No daughter of mine will talk like that around my friends.”
 
“Don’t forget yourself, I’m your stepdaughter. I’m a not a child and I’m definitely not your child.” Miss Scarlet stands up and faces Mrs. Peacock, “I don’t need to be dressed up like a show pony just to impress a bunch of rich snobs that I’ve never met and you haven’t seen in twenty years.”
 
“You are embarrassing me!” Mrs. Peacock lowers her voice
 
“You are embarrassing yourself by setting such high expectations.” Miss Scarlet raises her voice, “You’re not in charge anymore. Edward is getting a job and we are moving out of Arlington Grange. Enjoy finding lucky husband number six to fill your loneliness.”
 
By this point, Sgt. Gray has entered the room and has been standing awkwardly by the door. Colonel Mustard smirks from the piano bench.
 
“Where’s Dr. Black?” Sgt. Gray asks
 
“He forgot how to be a proper host and is leaving us to mingle without him.” Colonel Mustard says, “It’s going wonderfully.”
 
Yvette nods, “It is rather strange of him.”
 
Miss Scarlet lights another cigarette. Mrs. Peacock sighs and walks across the room to the bridge table. Yvette quickly offers Sgt. Gray a glass of champagne once the chaos between Miss Scarlet and Mrs. Peacock has simmered. He declines. Mr. Clay walks over to Sgt. Gray, leaving Miss Scarlet alone. The bell clangs again. Miss Scarlet sits down on the sofa again.
 
“I’m Edward Clay.” He introduces himself to Sgt. Gray with a mild slur
 
“Richard Gray.” Sgt. Gray adjusts his tie, “How do you know Dr. Black?”
 
“Dr. Black invited me here to talk about a tennis coaching position at a nearby seaside hotel.” Mr. Clay explains
 
“It’s likely the Seacrest Hotel.” Sgt. Gray thinks for a moment, “Dr. Black’s late father was one of the co-owners.”
 
Mr. Ash enters the Lounge with Mr. Thallo Green .
 
“How’s everybody doing?” Mr. Green takes the carnation from his lapel and gives it to Yvette. She smiles and places it in her hair. She quickly gives him a glass of champagne.
 
“If you need anything else, don’t hesitate to ask.” Yvette chuckles, leaning forward seductively
 
“Thanks, honey. Now, I’m in a room full of strangers. Don’t be shy, come introduce yourselves to me.” Mr. Green is loud, brash, and enthusiastic
 
“Good evening.” Mrs. Peacock’s voice is quaint and proper, “Patricia Peacock.”
 
“The Senator’s Widows,” Mr. Green cringes, “Yikes! I wouldn’t wanna be you in The Big Apple right now.”
 
“Why? What’s going on in New York City?” Mrs. Peacock’s voice becomes quick and frantic
 
“The gossip columns are having a field day with your husband’s affair.” Mr. Green says
 
This is the first Mrs. Peacock has heard of this.
 
“My husband’s what?” Mrs. Peacock is confused, “You must be mistaken.”
 
“He’s right.” Colonel Mustard says, “Dr. Black’s lawyer kept Blackwell Grange in the loop. The lawyer’s wife writes the gossip rag.”
 
“I’m in the gossip rag?” Mrs. Peacock asks
 
“Five-time widow goes bankrupt as the senator’s assets are frozen.” Mr. Green says
 
“My personal business is out there for the world to see.” Mrs. Peacock closes her eyes
 
“Sorry to break it to you, but that’s what happened when you marry an important political figure.” Mr. Green shrugs
 
“Well isn’t that delightful.” Miss Scarlet says, “You aren’t broke, you just can’t spend anything because they think you killed Marcus!”
 
Mr. Ash and Sgt. Gray both step between Miss Scarlet and Mrs. Peacock
 
“Please, leave your qualms at home.” Mr. Ash says, “Guests are arriving.”
 
“I’m sorry.” Miss Scarlet turns away from Mrs. Peacock and walks over to Mr. Green
 
“This is Mr. Green, Dr. Black’s business partner.” Mr. Ash introduces, “I suppose things got heated. Bad news does that.”
 
“This is my life.” Mrs. Peacock voice is about to break, “My happiness has vanished.”
 
“What type of business do you do, Mr. Green?” asks Miss Scarlet, ignoring Mrs. Peacock’s sorrowful soliloquy.
 
“I’m a financial advisor. Dr. Black’s old advisor, Mr. Slate-Grey passed away last January. I was reluctant to take the position, but Dr. Black was persistent.” Mr. Green sits down on the sofa across from Miss Scarlet.
 
“Is this your first time to Blackwell Grange?” Colonel Mustard asks
 
“I don’t make it up this far into New England usually.” Mr. Green says, “I mainly work out of Atlanta, Dallas, and New York City. I spend most of my time on trains. Dr. Black and I have never actually met before. We’ve spoken over the telephone and written to each other many times, however.”
 
Mr. Ash takes this moment to exit the Lounge.
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
In the Upstairs Hallway, Fivel Dove smiles menacingly with his arms crossed as Miss Dove scolds Mrs. White.
 
“But, Miss Dove,” Mrs. White is genuinely fearful, “I was punishing the boy for running off with my knitting.”
 
“No, you stupid woman!” Miss Dove grabs the elderly housekeeper by the shoulders, “You aren’t in charge of Fivel. Nurse Silver is his nanny.”
 
“Nurse Silver was nowhere to be found.” Mrs. White splutters between nervous breaths
 
“You can’t expect her to have to watch Fivel every minute of every day. He isn’t a toddler.” Miss Dove says, releasing Mrs. White from her tight grip, “You leave your knitting and personal belongings in the Gate House and the Servant’s Quarters only. That is final!”
 
Miss Dove turns to Fivel and touches his chin gently.
 
“What do you think, darling?” Miss Dove says, “What should we do? Do we tell Dr. Black what this insubordinate old cow did?
 
“Make her scrub the entire Ballroom as punishment!” Fivel says
 
“Very well.” Miss Dove says, “There’s your chore. Mrs. White, by tomorrow morning the Ballroom floor better be spotless.”
 
Mrs. White lowers her head, meekly. The frail, elderly woman walks past Miss Dove and Fivel and goes down the servant’s staircase into the Kitchen.
 
“Why did you ask me to run off with her knitting?” Fivel asks his mother
 
“There are too many servants here.” Miss Dove says, “We need the house to ourselves. Mrs. White is getting old. She’ll be retiring soon enough. We just need to give her a little nudge.”
 
 
TO BE CONTINUED