Thursday, May 9, 2013

Misplaced Baroness - Ep 2

Episode 2 - "Meanwhile at Beethingham Hall...."
by Camille LaGuire

The dawn was breaking over the vast expanse of Beethingham Hall.  Some of the lights were still lit, but most of the denizens had finally tottered off to bed. Servants scurried about cleaning up the shambles that was left of the great party.  Too bad the guest of honor had taken a powder.

Out on the damp and dewy lawn, Detective Inspector Pfaffle and Detective Sergeant MacGreevey stood looking over their notes. Or at least, Pfaffle was.  He always took voluminous notes, especially when dealing with important people. It impressed them and made them think he was listening.

Unfortunately, he didn't actually listen or take notes very well, so his notes were a confused mess of doodles and disjointed phrases.  This whole case was a mad confusion of misplaced facts, suppositions and witnesses who were drunk, hung over, hysterical, or uncooperative.

He glanced over at MacGreevey.  The sergeant was writing furiously -- furious being his demeanour, not his writing speed -- in his notebook, in neat careful marked lines.  Unlike Pfaffle, MacGreevey listened well and never took notes until later, after he had it all ordered in his mind and ready to be turned into a report. 

MacGreevey was smart, brave, talented and ambitious, and should have promoted above Pfaffle a long time ago... except for the fact that he was also stubborn, naive, arrogant, rude and insubordinate.  He was constantly on the edge of being dismissed.   Pfaffle had won the man's loyalty with a persistent application of patience and a steadfast refusal to take offense.   He needed MacGreevey to do things like think, and MacGreevey needed Pfaffle to keep their superiors from dismissing him.

"Well, MacG?" said Pfaffle, as the sergeant flipped his notebook shut.

"Waste of our time," grunted MacGreevey.

"Oh!" said Pfaffle, looking at his notes.  "Are you ... sure?"

"You don't agree?"  The sergeant looked at him narrowly.

"Well, I thought, at least we should do a sum up.  Shouldn't we?"

MacGreevey knew full well that Pfaffle wanted him to explain it all, but he was clearly in a mood this morning.  Pfaffle squirmed and looked helplessly at his notes.  As hoped, that satisfied his subordinate, who gave a small, superior smile and put away his notebook, just to show he didn't need it.

"The subject, Lady Beethingham, is a known prankster."

"Ah, but she's a peeress now," interjected Pfaffle.  "Responsibility sobers a person up."

"She was hardly sober last night," said MacGreevey, then he went on reciting the facts.  "Last night was her twenty-first birthday party.  There was crowning ceremony, like she was a queen, and then a dignified dinner with lots of dignified people who are above talking to us.  The subject then led the younger members of the party on a wild game of cat-and-mouse through this barn--" MacGreevey here paused to glance distainfully at the manor house behind him.  "--which is larger than some whole countries."

"Yes, very fine. Very large," said Pfaffle. "It makes it all more confusing.  So many things going on."

"Not really," said MacGreevey.  "The only possibly relevant thing is the bit about Antonio Maurinos."

"Yes, the foreigner!"  Pfaffle looked down with satisfaction the exclamation point he'd made in his notes, right next to the word _foreigner__.  "A magician or something."

"Dance instructor," said MacGreevey with derision.  "Paid party host and entertainer.  According to some rather hazy witnesses, Lady Beethingham declared she was already bored with being lady of the manor, and she planned to run off with this Maurinos.  Soon after that, Maurinos left the party, presumably fleeing a fate worse than death.  Lady Beethingham then was seen to pass out on a settee in a small drawing room of some sort."

"The west wing, yellow sub-drawing room," said Pfaffle, who tended to remember that sort of detail, though not its significance.

"Next relevant moment was when Lady Blinkersley left and found that her peacock cloak was missing, whereupon several witnesses, again hazy, recalled that they had seen Lady Beethingham stumbling across the patio wrapped in it.  She called out that she was headed toward Thronden and freedom.  Concerned about her safety, the servants called the local constabulary, who found her roadster in a ditch near the railway station.  The ticket agent remembered a young woman in a large peacock cloak, who bought a ticket and got on the midnight train to Thronden. At which point the local constabulary called us down in Thronden to see if she had arrived safely."

"And we found her shoe!"

"Yes, one of our constables found the subject's right shoe caught in the scroll work on the observation platform at the back of the train."

"So she fell or jumped off the train."

"Or she put her shoe there as a prank, threw away the peacock cloak, and ran off with poor Maurinos."

"She could be injured. Or dead!" said Pfaffle.

"The local chaps are searching the tracks, now that it's light."

"You should get on to them.  You should---"

"I should find Maurinos and then get some sleep."

They compromised on breakfast in town. By the time they were finished, the local constabulary reported back. No body found on the tracks, but they did find some peacock feathers, and also some suspicious tire tracks in a spot in the last bit of woods before Thronden.

"So she jumped," said MacGreevey, "and Maurinos, or someone else, picked her up."

Stay Tuned For Episode 3 - "Barefoot in the Big City"
(Available after 8am EST, Monday)

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