#7
WELCOME TO BLACKWELL – PART 3
 
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BLACKWELL GRANGE – CONNECTICUT – JUNE 1926
 
In the Billiard Room, after dinner, Professor Plum , Colonel Mustard , and Mr. Green stand around the pool table.
 
“Do you suppose Hugh knew that Jane Meadow-Brook was coming?” asks Colonel Mustard
 
“Didn’t you see the look on his face?” Professor Plum asks, “He was as surprised as the rest of us.”
 
“You know who wasn’t surprised?” asks Mr. Green
 
“Who?” Colonel Mustard sets up the game
 
“Lord Gray.” Mr. Green says, “And what was that whole thing between that raven-haired boy and Lord Gray anyway?” Mr. Green asks
 
“That would be John Boddy.” Colonel Mustard answers, “He’s a bratty little dictator who thinks he is royalty because he is the result of two powerful rich families merging together.”
 
“I’m not from around here.” Mr. Green says, “What families are these?”
 
“The Black and Boddy families.” Colonel Mustard says, “They were once rivals but let the past die when Samuel Boddy and Margaret Black fell in love.”
 
“There are still some people who haven’t let the rival die in the past.” Professor Plum bites his lip
 
“Quiet, Peter. You aren’t even a true Black.” Colonel Mustard says silences Professor Plum, “You didn’t step foot in Blackwell Grange until your adult life. I grew up here alongside Hugh. If anyone can pass judgment, it is me.”
 
“Growing up alongside someone doesn’t make you their brother.” Professor Plum says
 
“I don’t want to be his brother.” Colonel Mustard says, “I’m content being his closest friend.”
 
“There seems to be a lot of arguing and hostility.” Mr. Green comments, “What kind of party is Dr. Black throwing?”
 
Professor Plum holds up his hands, “I’m sorry, Colonel. I tend to get a little defensive about my family. With mother having passed, these people are all I have left.”
 
Yvette enters the room.
 
“Excusez-moi,” Yvette slides by, brushing against Mr. Green on her way to the side door.
 
“Where are you going?” Professor Plum asks
 
“To lock up zee ducks,” Yvette says
 
“Ah, yes,” Professor Plum nods
 
“Let me walk you.” Colonel Mustard offers Yvette
 
“I will be fine on my own.” Yvette insists
 
“I want to walk around the grounds before the sun goes down completely.” Colonel Mustard says, “Miss Dove asked me to keep an eye on things.”
 
Yvette and Colonel Mustard exits the Billiard Room through the side door.
 
“I’ve been meaning to ask you,” Mr. Green makes sure they are alone, “The way you were looking at Mr. Clay in the Dining Room – you’re a homosexual aren’t you?”
 
Professor Plum’s face instantly turns red, “I’m afraid you must have misread my facial expression.”
 
“It’s alright.” Mr. Green says, “My younger brother was also bent. Nothing wrong with it if you keep to yourself and away from the church's grasp.”
 
“It's true, Dr. Webb and I were partners in both in the lab and in life.” Professor Plum admits, “I don’t want you running your mouth to everyone. Some people just don't have the thinking capacity to accept things which aren't normal to them.”
 
“I would think the murders and thieves of Blackwell Grange would be the last to pass judgment. Do anyone here know?” asks Mr. Green
 
“Mrs. White walked in on me once.” Professor Plum says, “I brought a waiter home from one of the nicer restaurants around here. She promised not to say anything, but it is only a matter of time.”
 
“I’m not judging you. You like men and you like them young. Who doesn’t lust young, desirable bodies?” Mr. Green chuckles, “But you might want to be more careful. If I noticed the way you were looking at Mr. Clay, imagine how Miss Scarlet or Dr. Black may have reacted.”
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
In the Lounge,  Mrs. Peacock , Miss Scarlet , Sgt. Gray , and Lord Gray sit at the bridge table. Mrs. Peacock’s dress is stained from the red wine that was spilled onto her earlier in the Dining Room. Mr. Clay and Nurse Silver sit on the sofa together. They are talking and laughing.
 
“It’s your turn, Vivienne.” Mrs. Peacock says
 
“Sorry,” Miss Scarlet quickly plays her card, “I haven’t played bridge in a little while.”
 
“Perhaps I should have taken Lord Gray on my team, instead.” Mrs. Peacock jokes
 
“Not a chance.” Lord Gray says, “My son and I have been partners in bridge competitions for years. Well, we used to, that is – now Richard is too busy playing constable.”
 
“Father, please. It pays well and I see some of the craziest things.” Sgt. Gray defends his job, “A card game cannot compare with a carreer..”
 
“It’s not the job for a member of the Gray family.” Lord Gray looks back to Miss Scarlet, “What do you aim to do with your life, Vivienne? What are you going to do to bring honor to your mother’s name?”
 
“Actually she’s my stepmother and we don’t share the same name.” Miss Scarlet says, “Her name changed with every passing husband. I don’t know why she stuck with Peacock. Patricia Prussian sounded much nicer. Even Patricia Cobalt sounds better than Peacock.”
 
“Vivienne is going to be an actress.” Mrs. Peacock says
 
“In the theater.” Miss Scarlet clarifies
 
“Hollywood is where the world is going.” Lord Gray says
 
“I don’t want to be praised from a screen.” Miss Scarlet says, “I want to hear every audience react to everything I do.”
 
“You’ll fall into obscurity that way.” Lord Gray says
 
“Let her dream.” Mrs. Peacock says, “She’s young.”
 
“And what is it that you do, Lord Gray?” Miss Scarlet presses
 
“I’m an architect.” Lord Gray takes off his glasses, “I mostly do gardens and terraces now. In fact, Dr. Black wanted to talk to me about a water garden behind the Ballroom.”
 
“That would surely attract more walks to the Rose Garden.” Mrs. Peacock says, “It’s so far away from the rest of the house.”
 
“Professor Plum frequents the Rose Garden.” Sgt. Gray speaks up
 
“I’m glad there is one person getting some use of it.” Mrs. Peacock says
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
Miss Peach watches as Professor Plum exits the Ballroom and walks across the grassy lawn towards the Rose Garden and Family Crypt. Mr. Ash closes the curtains around the large room as Miss Peach sits down on the red ottoman in the center of the room.
 
“It’s getting late.” Miss Peach says, “Why is Uncle Professor going outside?”
 
“You’ll be wise to stay out of the Professor’s business.” Mr. Ash says, moving to the other side of the room to close the other row of curtains.
 
Miss Peach watches Professor Plum bend over and pick up something from the lawn. Before she can see what it is, Mr. Ash snaps the final curtain shut.
 
“Mrs. Meadow-Brook is in the Library waiting for you.” Mr. Ash says
 
“I’m just trying to get my thoughts together.” Miss Peach says, “I need a few more minutes.”
 
“Very well.” Mr. Ash leaves her alone in the Ballroom.
 
Miss Peach instantly rushes to the curtain and peeks out, but Professor Plum is nowhere in sight.
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
In the Study of Blackwell Grange, Dr. Hugh Black sits at his desk with a rushing heartbeat. His head is numb and his breathing is rapid.
 
Before him, Miles Meadow-Brook , his trusted lawyer is tearing into him.
 
“My wife?” Mr. Meadow-Brook kicks the piano stool over, “You fucked my wife, held her in this mansion for eleven months, and left me in the dark. My wife was sick. I trusted your skills and your wisdom. I trusted you with her and you took complete advantage of her.”
 
“Jane was here for more than just a medical condition.” Dr. Black says
 
“Bullshit!” Mr. Meadow-Brook walks around the room
 
“She liked me. Maybe just as a good friend at first – but then it got more intimate. I turned down her advances most of the time… But I had a weak, drunken moments.” Dr. Black admits, “I didn’t want it to happen. I didn’t plan for it to happen. It happened and then Emily was the result. I knew the minute I saw Emily’s red hair.”
 
“Eleven months…” Mr. Meadow-Brook closes his eyes in disgust, sadness, and anger, “You kept her from me for eleven months.”
 
“Your wife was suffering from delusions of grandeur.” Dr. Black says, “She had to be monitored. I could let her free and then risk her becoming a homicidal lunatic.”
 
“I’m sure what you did with her didn’t help her condition at all.” Mr. Meadow-Brook grinds his teeth
 
“Well, after all the birth of Emily we continued with her treatment. And she didn’t remember Emily. She didn’t remember any of the mistakes we made together.” Dr. Black says
 
“What did you do to my wife?” Mr. Meadow-Brook’s eyes begin to well up with tears
 
“A Swiss doctor – Dr. Orchid,” Dr. Black begins, “She recently gifted me an electroconvulsive therapy machine from Germany. It was found at an overthrown Nazi base.”
 
Mr. Meadow-Brook cries silently, staring at the Persian rug over the soft, carpets.
 
“Miles,” Dr. Black’s energy shifts as he watches the pitiful weakness of Mr. Meadow-Brook’s situation, “You know that man I am. I ran an underground asylum for ten years and you protected me from ever getting in trouble.”
 
Mr. Meadow-Brook closes his eyes and sits down on the chaise lounge, tears falling into his hands.
 
“I am not the most ethical man.” Dr. Black says, “Yet you brought your wife to me, covered in someone else’s blood, and you asked me to help her. You brought me a murderer and I gave you a housewife.”
 
Mr. Meadow-Brook begins to cry out vocally in anguish, “I don’t know what to do, Hugh! I’m so goddamn angry and I can’t even do anything about it. I’ve been left in the dark and now I’m alone with my grief. Jane was jumping for joy when Mrs. White called and told her.”
 
“Mrs. White?” Dr. Black grinds his teeth so fiercely, the front one cracks, “Dammit!” He holds his mouth in pain, “Miles, we’ll talk this out. I am so sorry for everything.”
 
Dr. Black leaves the Study.
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
In the Library, Jane Meadow-Brook stares excitedly at Miss Peach. She is playing with her long coils of red hair.
 
Mrs. Meadow-Brook has a pudgy face and wears far too much blush. It wouldn’t be quite so bad if the blush wasn’t so close to her obviously dyed red-orange hair. Her teal dress-suit and cane come together as tackily as the rest of her ensemble.
 
“You have got to be at least twenty?” Mrs. Meadow-Brook intrusively begins to feel Miss Peach’s facial structure, “These cheek bones. Those are definitely your father’s. I’d forgotten how handsome Hugh was. But seeing his best features in you – I’m just so happy right now.”
 
“I’m actually Nineteen.” Miss Peach corrects politely, “I’ll be twenty in July.”
 
“What date?” Mrs. Meadow-Brook asks excitedly, “Is it the 21st? That was my Aunt Kelly’s birthday. She and Uncle Roderick would have loved to meet you. But they’ve gone to heaven.”
 
“I’m sorry to hear that... Well, my birthday is July 14th. I'm surprised you don’t remember?” Miss Peach’s voice shows a hint of sadness, “At least July 14th is when Uncle Henry and Aunt Honey always celebrated it. It may not be my actual date of birth, but instead the day they adopted me.”
 
“You have celebrated it nineteen times on July 14th, so that’s when we’ll celebrate it. I’ll have to make you a cake.” Mrs. Meadow-Brook returns her fidgeting fingers to Miss Peach’s hair, “What’s your favorite type of cake? Do you like pineapples? What about coconuts? Are you aware of all the allergens in nuts? Do you mind if I braid your hair?”y   ”.”.”
Mrs. Meadow-Brook begins to tightly twist Miss Peach’s curly, frizzy hair back.
 
“Ow!” Miss Peach yelps, “Thanks, but you really don’t have to go through all that trouble.”
 
Mrs. Meadow-Brook releases her hair.
 
Miss Peach sighs, “I’ll probably be back in Mississippi by then.”
 
“Nonsense,” Mrs. Meadow-Brook shakes her head side to side, “You’ll just move into Blackwell Grange.”
 
“Move in?” Miss Peach is taken back, “I can’t leave Aunt Honey alone. She’ll drive the farmhands crazy.”
 
“We’ll just move her to Connecticut.” Mrs. Meadow-Brook says
 
“But the farm…” Miss Peach is confused by the urgency in Mrs. Meadow-Brook’s voice, “You know we can’t just take off and leave everything behind. We have friends… memories. That farm is ours with pride.”
 
“You can bring them all here.” Mrs. Meadow-Brook excitedly stands up and motions around her
 
“Do you realize what you are saying?” Miss Peach sits forward, “You are saying all of these things assuming Miss Dove and Dr. Black would allow it.”
 
“Oh, I don’t give a damn what Miss Dove wants.” Mrs. Meadow-Brook smiles cheerfully, “Now that I’m here and you are here, Miss Dove and that rat-faced little son of hers can leave. Hugh and I will marry and you’ll have the family you always wanted. I can just see the smile on little six-year-old Emily, knowing that she gets to come home to her parents loving are.”
 
“Jane... you have a husband.” Miss Peach is becoming genuinely concerned for her mother’s sanity.
 
“Dr. Black can hire people to take care of the farm.” Mrs. Meadow-Brook claps her hands loudly, “That’s the solution to all of this! He’ll hire the best workers. I know why you are hesitant to let anyone take over your farm, but your secret is safe with me.”

“What secret?” Miss Peach swallows hard.

“All the slaves you and your Aunt Honey have running the farm.” Mrs. Meadow-Brook frowns, “I’m not being prejudice; I’m just making a fair statement.”
 
“Where is this coming from? My Aunt Honey does not own slaves!” Miss Peach stomps her foot
 
“Was Hunter a slave?” Mrs. Meadow-Brook asks
 
“Hunter…” Miss Peach’s eyes well up with tears, “How the hell do you know about him?”

“Oh, Emily!” Mrs. Meadow-Brook shakes her head in disappointment, “Dr. Black is very close friends with an African Prince. He would have you head in four seconds flat if he found out about any slave labor. I suggest you stay put at Blackwell Grange. We don’t want any trails back to your 'carrot plantation'. Really, Emily? You told the Professor it was a carrot farm? No one grows carrots in Mississippi, Emily. I don’t expect you to tell me the truth now, but Dr. Black has the information. All he needs is a reason to doubt you.”
 
“It’s a cotton farm.” Miss Peach closes her eyes in defeat, “But we do not own slaves. My Aunt Honey used to be a slave. She escaped. They all did.”
 
Mrs. Meadow-Brook stands in an embarrassed silence.
 
“Aunt Honey is strong. She is the mother figure in my life and always will be.” Miss Peach says, “She got away. Aunt Honey worked closely with the family that owned her. She watched the kids and cooked for the husband and wife. But she didn’t hesitate to burn that plantation to the ground. I’m sorry. I can’t stay in Connecticut. We have our own farm. It’s meager and the community isn’t always welcoming but it’s my home. Blackwell Grange isn’t for me. I’m not staying in this gothic castle.”
 
Meadow-Brook steps forward and grabs Miss Peach tightly by the shoulders, “Do you really think we are going to let you leave Blackwell Grange? You’re finally home. Welcome to Blackwell Grange.”
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
 
Outside the Conservatory, by the duck pen, Fivel Dove lurks near the house. He sees Colonel Mustard and Yvette looking around near the Boat House. He giggles to himself as he unlocks the gate and lets out the ducks.
 
He hurries over to the Tennis Courts as Colonel Mustard and Yvette chase after the scattering ducks. He covers his mouth to keep from laughing. Behind him, in the dark shadows of the Tennis Courts, Monsieur Brunette watches the small boy.
 
Once Colonel Mustard and has tiresomely relocked the duck pen, he pulls Yvette inside the Conservatory, locking the door.
 
“What is zee matter, Colonel?” Yvette asks
 
“Something happened in the woods earlier.” Colonel Mustard says, “I told Ash that I slipped in the woods. That’s not what happened, Yvette. Miss Peach can’t be trusted.”
 
“Oui,” Yvette nods, “I was thinking zee same thing.”
 
“There are too many lives at stake here.” Colonel Mustard says, “If that girl is meddlesome or violent, she needs to be stopped. The problem is, she’s working with someone who is violent.”
 
“Who?” asks Yvette, stepping close to Colonel Mustard
 
“I didn’t see.” Colonel Mustard says, “Whoever it was followed Miss Peach when she came to talk to me. As soon as I called her out for being the con she is I was struck in the back of the head. I don’t know what I was hit with, but it was metal.”
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
In the Lounge, Mr. Clay and Nurse Silver continue to laugh on the couch while the bridge game continues in the background.
 
“I can’t believe you actually got your arm stuck just to get the tennis ball out of that drain!” Nurse Silver recovers from her laughter
 
“I wouldn’t have had a problem if my muscles weren’t so big.” Mr. Clay flexes, “But I suppose that’s one of my best qualities – my comedic sense of clumsiness.”
 
Miss Scarlet glances over from the bridge table and tries to listen to what appears to be flirting.
 
“It’s your turn, Vivienne.” Mrs. Peacock says
 
“Sorry,” Miss Scarlet quickly plays her card
 
Mr. Clay watches as Miss Scarlet turns her attention back to the bridge table.
 
“How long have the two of you been together?” Nurse Silver asks
 
“I don’t know.” Mr. Clay says, “But I know it’s not long enough to move in together.”
 
“Oh?” Nurse Silver lends her ear to Mr. Clay
 
“She wants to move to the Hotel with me if I get the job that Dr. Black is setting up.” Mr. Clay says
 
“And you would like to live alone?” Nurse Silver asks
 
“I’m not sure,” Mr. Clay says, “I’ve never had the chance to. I’d like to see what it feels like to be on my own.”
 
“Independence is powerful.” Nurse Silver says, “But I can save you from the sleepless solitude that comes in the first few months. You need at least one other person to be around. When you have someone to live with, it makes life so much more meaningful. It just takes a lot to actually trust someone enough for them to be that person.”
 
“Have you found that person?” Mr. Clay asks
 
“No.” Nurse Silver says
 
“I don’t think I have either.” Mr. Clay says, sighing and looking at his feet. He gently kicks at the leg of the coffee table.
 
Nurse Silver stands up.
 
“Was it something I said?” Mr. Clay asks
 
“I’m just feeling really tired.” Nurse Silver glances at the clock about the fireplace, “We’ll talk some more tomorrow.”
 
Mr. Clay smiles in Nurse Silver’s direction as she leaves the Lounge. Miss Scarlet notices.
 
◄♦♦♦►
 
Inside the Family Crypt, Professor Plum rubs his palms over the top of the wooden coffin. Panicked, muffled banging and screaming can be heard underneath the lid.  It’s a man screaming. The breathless, suffocating gasps followed by scared screams drive Professor Plum to press his ear against the wood.
 
Professor Plum closes his eyes and sings eerily, “Rock-a-bye Benny, your sleep’s just begun. The battle is over, the waiting is done. When you wake up, your body will be a prison of torment – killing for me.”

The door to the Family Crypt creaks open.


Nurse Silver enters the Crypt and ties a surgical mask over her nose and mouth. She begins to put on her surgical clothing over her Nanny uniform. She tries her best not to make eye contact with Professor Plum. The stench of sewage and rot finally overcome her and she gags.
 
Professor Plum begins to take the heavy weights and chains off of the coffin.
 
“You are going to need a stronger stomach than that.” Professor Plum says
 
Nurse Silver takes an empty Syringe and pokes the needle into a vial of amber colored liquid. She draws the liquid up into the Syringe and walks over to Professor Plum at the coffin.
 
“No,” Professor Plum says, “No anesthetic. I want him awake for this.”
 
Professor Plum opens the lid of the coffin and a screaming, yelling man in his fifties sits up. He springs forward like a monster from a scary book – his arms reaching forward, reaching and grabbing at Professor Plum. Nurse Silver manages to grab his left arm and pry it away while Professor Plum manages the right arm. With a great deal of teamwork, Nurse Silver and Professor Plum manage to pull the man out of the coffin.
 
It is a horrible sight. His skin is as pasty and white from the lack of sunlight. He is covered in his own filth. Tears, snot, and blood drip over his face as he is pulled down on the rust-covered metal table. Nurse Silver and Professor Plum quickly strap in the man’s arms. 
 
“Nurse Silver, clean him up.” Professor Plum orders, strapping in the man’s feet.
 
“Yes, Professor,” Nurse Silver nods, beginning to tend to their patient’s messy face.
 
“I’ve told you before,” Professor Plum grips the side of the metal table angrily, “When we are down here, you call me Doctor.”
 
“Yes, Doctor.” Nurse Silver wipes the man’s face.
 
It is apparent by his features that he is related to Hugh Black and Madame Rose. There is even a slight resemblance to Professor Plum.
 
“P-P-Please.” The man stutters
 
“Dear brother, we are so close to your awakening.” Professor Plum inhales peacefully, “Nurse Silver, secure his head to the table.”
 
Benedict Black the Fifth is secured to the table roughly by the head with thick leather straps. He is the long-thought dead twin brother of Rose Black, older brother of Hugh Black, and half-brother to Professor Plum. Benedict Black V was thought to have died of sickness as a child after a trial in which he was found guilty of murdering his nanny and mother.
 
Nurse Silver rolls a large electrostatic machine with many knobs and buttons over beside Mr. Black and Professor Plum. There is an unpleasant moment of silence in which Mr. Black realizes what is about to happen.
 
“You’ll feel only a little discomfort on the frontal lobes.” Professor Plum fits two metal plates on either side of his head, “Nurse Silver, hand me the Lead Pipe.”
 
Nurse Silver hands the Lead Pipe to Professor Plum. He wraps a towel around the pipe.
 
“Bit down on this.” Professor Plum slides the cloth-covered Pipe into Mr. Black’s mouth.
 
“Ready?” Professor Plum looks over to Nurse Silver
 
“Yes, Doctor.” Nurse Silver switches the electroconvulsive therapy machine.
 
Thunderbolts drive through Mr. Black’s head.
 
TO BE CONTINUED