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Old 10-31-2010, 10:36 AM   #1
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Fall Contest - STORY THREAD

MOBILEREAD MASTERPIECE THEATRE: MYSTERY

Sponsored by PocketBook and Bookeen
providers of the PocketBook Pro 902 & the Bookeen Opus

Good evening ladies and gentlemen [and assorted life forms] and welcome to the new season of MobileRead's Masterpiece Theatre: Mystery. I'm your host, Alexander Turcicooke.

Tonight we begin a new contemporary mystery series, set in the mean streets of an unnamed metropolitan urban wilderness, where death roams freely amidst the members of an unsuspecting organization, and only the tireless efforts of a talented amateur detective can stand against the onslaught of mindless mayhem and senseless slaughter.

This series is being underwritten by our good friends at PocketBook and Bookeen, whose generous support is highly appreciated by all the members of MobileRead, partnering together to further the dissemination and advance of mobile reading in the twenty-first century and beyond. MobileRead gratefully thanks PocketBook and Bookeen for providing some of the prizes to be awarded to the lucky MobileRead members, who are perspicacious enough to solve this baffling mystery and answer the question: What The Butler Saw?

From all of us at MobileRead: Thank You PocketBook and Bookeen!

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Old 10-31-2010, 10:40 AM   #2
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WHAT THE BUTLER SAW ......



SERIOUS STUFF


I couldn't have done it [no, I just didn't confess! - the story hasn't started yet!] without the help of the following MobileRead members:

Zelda_pinwheel -- casting, translation, plot lines.
Javed -- Creative/Musical director
FlorenceArt -- translation.
dsvick -- ebook creation

and all the zany MR members who inspire this kind of persiflage!


This saga is dedicated respectfully to the late MobileRead member Patricia (Pat Clark) taken too soon from our grieving community. I had planned a role for her in this adventure, and hope she is reading it now along with us.
[Don't you dare peek ahead at the end!]

And to our recently lost Derek (delphidb96), another unexpected loss that has saddened our community.

I also dedicate this saga to all MobileRead members who have suffered unexpected grave medical conditions (you know who you are). Perhaps reading this will give you a chuckle or two as you deal with your personal challenges. Your MobileRead family will always be with you.

Anyone who feels insulted or outraged by anything that follows - I apologize in advance - it's all meant in jest.

Anyone who feels left out at not being included as a character, please wait for the next serial. I take hints.
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Old 10-31-2010, 10:41 AM   #3
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WHAT THE BUTLER SAW ......



THE WAIT IS OVER!


MobileRead is proud to present




[editorial disclaimer]
errrmmm, couldn't find a legal way to block,

the publication of a new serialized murder-mystery novelette starring .... lots of MobileRead members! Maybe even you! Yes, you! Stop looking behind you ... there's no one there. Names were not changed because you know you are GUILTY! GUILTY! Until proven otherwise!

So my fellow suspects, errrm, readers, turn the page if you dare and enter the twisted and dangerous world of my innermost thoughts, and see if you can guess: WHAT THE BUTLER SAW!

[Anyone still willing to continue reading agrees to totally absolve MobileRead, the author, and all of our descendants, family, ancestors, and pets from any liability for slander, heart attacks, sleep deprivation, damaged keyboards or screens from involuntarily expelled liquids, hurt feelings, or loss of employment from reading on the job.]


Push the Big Red Button - fasten your seat belts - and prepare for a ride of mystery and mayhem extreme!


Patent pending.
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Old 10-31-2010, 10:41 AM   #4
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OVERTURE



Push the button if you dare to enter....




....the twisted world of What The Butler Saw
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Old 10-31-2010, 10:42 AM   #5
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WHAT THE BUTLER SAW ......



IN THE RAIN




It was a dark and stormy night. Really! Dark and stormy that is. Sickly chartreuse lightning flickered fitfully over a frightened city, as wind-swept sheets of rain laid siege against shuttered doors and windows. Thunder boomed and cracked, as the fierce storm winds eviscerated hapless clouds scudding over the dim face of a wan moon. Moonlight failed to pierce the lowering clouds, racing before the storm yet to come, leaving the streets shrouded in dank and total darkness. The streetlights had all been darkened; not even a traffic light was ablink. This was a time to seek safety from the elements, as they whipped up a night fit for a witches sabbath.

Two dim cones of yellowish-orange light appeared and gradually brightened, as a lonely yellow cab plowed through flooded streets carrying a lone, desperate passenger. What hellish reason would force anyone to travel through streets ripped from the sound stage of "The Perfect Storm?" The cab slewed to a skidding stop in front of a massive, bleak, elongated building that exuded a palpable aura of malevolent menace and impending doom. There followed a pregnant, silent pause as the winds hushed to observe this anomaly.

The cab's passenger door suddenly opened, and the interior light snapped on spotlighting a slender, graceful, feminine form clad completely in black. Even before she spoke a word, you knew this was a foreign import new to these gritty mean streets. "This the place, sweetheart?" growled the cabbie, in a voice roughened by too many cheap cigars and far too many shots of cheap rot-gut. She bent her head over a much-folded scrap of paper, trying to read the scribbled street number in the margin. "Oui" she replied, and passed a fistful of crumpled bank notes over the seat back to the waiting palm. "Keep ze change.!"
"Right, as if I ever give back change" muttered the urban hack, coughing wetly into his palm.

Stepping onto the sidewalk was like stepping into a cold mountain stream at full flood! Icy water rushing past her ankles ruined her black velvet stiletto heels and elicited a shrill imprecation: "Non mais je rêve, un temps à ne pas mettre un chien dehors et moi on me tire de mon lit, par tous les écureuils il y a intérêt à ce qu'il y ait un bon vin chaud qui m'attend...".
Spoiler:
"This is insane, you wouldn't put a dog outside in weather like this but me I'm dragged from my bed, in the name of all squirrels there better be some hot wine waiting for me..."

The returning winds immediately wrenched her lacy black parasol from her hands, spinning it across the moon's bleak face before impaling it on a nearby lamp-post. "Saleté de vent ! On en fait plus des comme ça, en plus !"
Spoiler:
Damned wind ! And they don't make those anymore, either !

muttered the hapless fugitive, clutching her sodden fedora on to her lank and dripping hair plastered by the gusts against her cheek, "Alex better have a really good reason for this emergency meeting!"

The cabbie wordlessly watched his passenger enter the maelstrom of wind and water, backlit by the ceaseless play of sheets of lightning against the sickly moonlight. Slamming the door shut returned the street to total darkness, as the cab inched away from the curb, removing the safe haven of its headlights from the desolate street.

Kicking off her sodden shoes, Zelda dashed to the imposing dark door, barely able to make out the discreet "MR" brass plaque as the lightening continued to flicker above her. She pressed and pressed the bell without getting any response. "Great, no power, no door bell!" She dashed back to the curb but the cab was long gone. Sheets of rain thoroughly soaked her as she frantically searched for a way into the building. The door and walls were too thick, and the storm too loud, for her to attract anyone's attention.

Then, in a momentary flicker of lurid light, she espied an old drain pipe at the corner of the building, which ran past an open window on the third floor. Whispering "Nancy Drew be with me tonight" Zelda began to shimmy up the drain pipe, fatally ripping her sleek black stockings and causing major damage to the rest of her ensemble. Our plucky adventurer, after innumerable slips and and near-falls, finally reached the window just as the ancient drain pipe began separating from the bricks. A final desperate leap landed her draped over the windowsill as the drain pipe fell towards the distant sidewalk with a resounding crash. A final belly flop dumped her damply onto a cold marble floor. Water pooled around her as she tried to take her bearings in the darkness.

Gazing out of the window, Zelda mused "Well, this is just dandy. I'm inside now ... but with no way out until the power comes back on."

To Be Continued .....

[taking notes yet?]
[noticed any clues?]
[yes, clues!]
[you know someone's dead somewhere don't you?]
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Old 10-31-2010, 10:43 AM   #6
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WHAT THE BUTLER SAW ......



IN THE DARK



As Zelda began wringing the rain water out of her sodden clothes she heard distant laughter, shrieking, screams, and the sound of angry gibbering!
"Great," she muttered, "they've started the meeting without me."
"I'd better get a move on it before Adrian finishes off all the hors d'œuvres and the best wine."

Glancing about the darkened hallway to gain her bearings, she noted the suits of armor looming over her in a flash of the constant lightning. In a second flash of lightning, the armor was gone!
"Has Alex been re-decorating?" she mused. "I don't remember MR ever having suits of armor before."

As she groped her way towards where she remembered the stairwell was supposed to be, Zelda felt the prickling sensation between her shoulder blades that meant either she was being watched by silent, hidden eyes, or that something had hitched a ride on her clamber up the drain pipe. Slapping her back for defense or courage, she continued toward (she hoped) the stairwell to the MR offices ...

and promptly fell flat on her face. In a pool of sticky fluid containing a recumbent and silent form. She froze until the next flash of lightning occurred ... revealing a man's body in a pool of red, sticky fluid. Under the man's hand was a paperback book awash in the crimson fluid. Zelda could just make out the title "What the Butler Saw" written by Rock Lobster. "Jeesh, who reads the pulps anymore" she pondered.

Zelda slowly reached out a trembling, yet resolute, hand and turned the body's head towards her ... revealing the horribly contorted visage of .... pshrynk!
"Oh no, not again mon frère" screamed Zelda! "Une fois ne t'a suffi donc pas?"

Spoiler:
Wasn't one time enough for you ?



*cough*
"May I be of assistance?" inquired a soft, discreet, and highly cultured voice directly behind her.

Zelda tried to rise, whirl about, and raise her fists all in the same motion ... only to pitch forward into the chest of the tall, formally dressed man, who coughed discreetly and said "If Madam would please step this way on to the dry floor." As he led Zelda away from the gently floating body, Zelda looked up and squeaked "DaleDe! What's happening here tonight? Who killed pshrynk ... again? Why did Alex send out for all the Mods to attend an emergency meeting tonight?"

"My name is Jeeves, mum" replied the stately figure with a flickering candle in his upraised left hand, directing his gaze at a point 2 inches over Zelda's right shoulder. "We heard your somewhat impromptu arrival, and Colonel Alex has directed me to locate you and convey you to the study."
"Errrmmm," politely clearing his throat first, Jeeves continued "I'm afraid you will be liable for all damages incurred by the drain pipe."

"If you would step this way please." Jeeves placed a white-gloved hand under Zelda's elbow and ushered here firmly toward the staircase.

"But ... but ... what about pshrynk? He's dead! Lying in a pool of his own blood!"
"M'enfin, ne me dis pas que tu le vois pas, plus près il te mordrait !"
Spoiler:
"Don't tell me you don't see him, if he were any closer he'd bite you !"


"Not to worry mum," murmured Jeeves in a confident tone, "housekeeping will clean up any mess left by the storm. Watch your step now, the stairs are slippery."

[This must be continued!]
[Is history repeating itself?]
[Or is the murderer reducing global warming by recycling the corpse?]
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Old 10-31-2010, 08:20 PM   #7
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WHAT THE BUTLER SAW ......



IN THE STUDY



Completely overwhelmed by the night's events, Zelda allowed herself to be propelled up the frigid stone staircase (what had happened to the carpet she wondered), clinging to Jeeves's elbow in the dim pool of candle light.

As they reached the top of the staircase, the study door was flung violently open, and VintageSeason stormed out waving his fists back into the softly lit room. "You've gone too far this time Colonel Alex" he roared, tugging at his unruly beard, "Your arbitrary decisions and rules will cost you dearly! And all those around you! I swear you'll pay for what you've done!" Trying to slam the six-inch-thick oak door proved futile, so he settled for storming away in a high dudgeon.

He wheeled round and blinked abruptly as he caught sight of the two figures on the landing. "Oh, Hi Zelda. What are you doing out on a night like this?" Not waiting for an answer, he turned and continued "Say Jeeves, think you can rustle up a cab for me?"

"Indubitably sir," replied the unruffled manservant, "If you would just wait here a moment please."

Jeeves conveyed Zelda into the study, across an immense Turkish carpet, up to a mahogany desk the size of Kansas. Behind it, in a leather executive chair with heat AND massage, sat Colonel Alex, the ruler of all things MR. Encased in a scarlet smoking jacket and wearing a matching fez, he was just lighting up a cheroot.

Looking up in apparent surprise, Colonel Alex lazily inquired "Why Zelda, what brings you to our humble abode? Aren't you still busy working on your shum eradication plan in gay old Paree?"

"What?" shrilled Zelda "Non mais je rêve ! C'est une blague non ? Tu te fiches de moi là ? Et puis laisse tranquille les shums, je m'en occupe.

Spoiler:
I must be dreaming. That's a joke right? You're kidding me? And leave the shums out of this, I'll take care of them.


"I got your farking note ... something about "an emergency meeting of all MR mods ... a life or death situation ... come at all costs"
So I came .... and boy did it cost me! Have you priced out air fares lately? And the strip searches at both airports ... just because I was dressed all in black and carrying a black parasol!"

Before she could continue, Colonel Alex leaned back in his luxurious chair, palmed on both heat and massage, and began to chuckle in a particularly annoying avuncular fashion. "Zelda, Zelda, Zelda! I fear you've been the victim of an extremely vicious practical joke! I sent no note ... to anyone. There's no emergency situation, apart from this pesky power outage, that is. I've had to commandeer all the emergency flashlights in the building just to have enough batteries to power my chair - doctor's orders you know ... for my back, harumph, war injury you know. Leading the charge, and all that rot."

"Rot is right!" screamed Zelda. "There's a dead body in your hallway downstairs! In a huge pool of blood! Haven't you seen it? Pshrynk has gotten himself murdered again! Again! How does the man do it?"

Colonel Alex "tut-tutted" in a soothing fashion, which only infuriated the French fugitive even more. "Zelda, Zelda, Zelda! No one's been murdered tonight, least of all Pshrynk! Everyone knows lightning never strikes twice in the same place, and all that rot. Why should anyone want to murder him again? Eh?

Unless, or course, you accidentally murdered him yourself during your somewhat awkward ingress into our locked building? Hmmm... did you? And failed to notice it in the dark?

Is that what happened?"

"Quel âne. Tu pârles d'une idée de génie : mais bien sûr, en passant par la fenêtre, les mains vides et depuis l'autre côté de la pièce, j'ai réussi à estourbir pshrynk jusqu'à ce que mort s'ensuive. Sûrement, oui. Ou bien, c'est peut-être que j'ai des visions ! Mais oui ! bon, pour la prochaine, j'espère que ça sera Elvis qui m'apparaîtra. Jeune, de préférence. Pfff. N'importe quoi, franchement.

Spoiler:
What a donkey. Talk about a genius idea. Of course! While coming through the window, empty handed and from all the way on the other side of the room, I managed to knock pshrynk out all the way till it killed him. Surely that must be it. Or, perhaps I'm having visions! Yes! Of course! Well, for the next one, I hope it's Elvis who will appear to me. Young, preferably. Pfff. What a bunch of malarky.


Zelda fell into a chair as if she had been pole-axed, totally but temporarily flummoxed by the Colonel's astute yet asinine questioning.

"Just how long have you been heating and shaking your brains?" snapped Zelda. "Whatever powers of reasoning you ever possessed seem to have been pureed, par-boiled, and poached!"

"I don't have to put up with these kinds of insults" roared the Colonel! "Jeeves! Jeeves!" he shouted as he furiously rang the flawlessly silver bell on his desk.

"You rang Sir?" inquired a discreet voice just behind Zelda's left shoulder.

Zelda leapt from her chair ... Jeeves had entered so quietly she had had no idea he was behind her.

"Remove this, this .... Person! from my presence! Immediately!" roared the Colonel.

"Very good Sir," murmured Jeeves as he clasped Zelda's left elbow and turned her to the door.

"I'll get to the bottom of this farrago" shouted Zelda, as she was politely but firmly removed to the study door. "I'll find out who murdered Pshrynk!" "DaleDe will help me, won't you?"

"Whom are you referring to?" inquired the imperturbable manservant.

Zelda looked up and gasped "Nate! What are you doing dressed up like DaleDe?"

Jeeves' left eyebrow crept up his forehead exactly one-eighth of an inch as he replied "Beg pardon mum, my name is Jeeves. Always has been. Jeeves. At your service."

The astonished Zelda was removed from the study, back into the flickering candle-lit world of the dank hallway. She heard the study door close softly but firmly behind her, and the soft thunk of a latch being thrown and the muted click of a key turning in a well-oiled lock, leaving her in the dark literally, figuratively, and completely!




[This cannot but be continued.]
[Will Zelda be arrested for murder?]
[Is Pshrynk really murdered?]
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Old 11-01-2010, 11:45 AM   #8
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WHAT THE BUTLER SAW ......




THE DAYS OF WINE AND ROSÉ



PART THE FIRST


Zelda pulled herself together and turned to the patiently waiting butler. "Nate, errr, Jeeves, can we go back to Pshrynk's body? It looks like it's up to me to solve his murder and apprehend the miscreant."

"As you wish mum," murmured Jeeves, "If you would kindly step this way."

Zelda couldn't help staring at Jeeves' face, muttering "I could have sworn you were DaleDe before, but I guess it was a trick of the light."

"Yes mum," agreed the sharp-eared manservant, "appearances can be deceiving in these conditions of suboptimal illumination."

They proceeded back down the corridor, their tiny wavering circle of candle light throwing grotesquely magnified shadows in front of them. Zelda stopped suddenly, seizing Jeeves' arm in a painful grip.
"Did you see that?" she whispered hoarsely? "A gray dog just ran down the hall ahead of us. It looks like vivaldirules is here tonight too! I wonder if he's seen anything fishy?"

Jeeves gently but firmly disengaged Zelda's long fingernails from the now tattered sleeve of his jacket and replied "Sorry mum, I didn't see anything but the shadows. As I mentioned, appearances can ..."

"Yes, yes" interrupted Zelda, "I get it. You're the perfect servant: see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. Colonel Alex's perfect little toady."

"No need for insults," whispered the ashen-faced Jeeves, "I try to give satisfaction to my master."

"T'inquiète, on a compris. Comptez sur les domestiques pour toujours voir ce qu'il faudrait pas, en étant eux-mêmes invisibles."

Spoiler:
Don't worry, I get it. Count on the help to always see what shouldn't be seen, while being invisible themselves.


They slowly descended the barren stairs. Zelda noted, but forbore to comment on, the line of wet dog tracks preceding them to the crime scene. They slowly approached the chilling corpse, still afloat in a large reddish puddle, book clutched in hand.

Zelda tip-toed forward, eyes glued to the grisly sight of her friend, her mind awhirl with speculation and suspicions. Who were pshrynk's enemies? Who wanted him dead? Who could perform such a heinous deed of dastardly violence?

She knelt next to his outstretched hand, careful to keep her skirt from touching the sticky red pool. Even in her dazed condition, she noticed the flurry of paw prints spread widely through the grisly puddle. Slowly, carefully, she reached out and removed the sodden paperback from his lifeless grasp.

"Yecchhh" she hissed, "I don't remember any of Nancy Drew's clues being this disgusting" Holding the dripping book by its spine, she continued her examination of the body.

"I wonder what the murder weapon was," she mused aloud.

*cough*
A discreet cough behind her reminded her that Jeeves was still standing behind her. "Excuse me for the rude intrusion, but I couldn't help overhearing your query. Perhaps this object might be of interest to you?"

Looking up, Zelda's eyes widened with terror as she saw Jeeves holding a large empty wine bottle above her head. She desperately lunged to the side, dropping the book, trying to escape what seemed to be certain death!

Jeeves continued, politely ignoring her irrational display of terror, "I found this bottle lying by his head. Perhaps it is the weapon you are seeking?"

Badly rattled by the bizarre sequence of events, Zelda lost her sophisticated European poise and blurted "Blimey, Pshrynk got brained with a bottle of bubbly!"

In the next convenient lightning flash, Jeeves examined the label and demurred, "No mum, not 'a bottle of bubbly' but rather a 2006 Saint Pourçain. An excellent choice indeed."

"An excellent choice for what? A murder weapon?"
"Tant qu'à faire, autant massacrer avec un bon cru, sans doute."

Spoiler:
Well, might as well choose a good year, for your massacres, I guess.


As Zelda crawled over the chill marble floor to regain the dropped book, Jeeves continued to descant as if nothing untoward had occurred. "This bottle closely resembles the bottle I observed earlier suspended over the decedent's head. But I may be mistaken. I wasn't close enough to read the label."

Slowly, Zelda raised her eyes to the motionless manservant. Softly she inquired, "What are you saying, man? Did you see who murdered Pshrynk?"


Sure to be continued in Part The Second!

[Was Jeeves about to brain Zelda with the evidence?]
[Did Jeeves see the murderer?]
[Is the mystery over before it begins?]
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Old 11-01-2010, 08:18 PM   #9
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WHAT THE BUTLER SAW ......




THE DAYS OF WINE AND ROSÉ



PART THE SECOND




"Not in so many words," replied the impenetrable narrator. "I was merely recalling an unpleasant scene inadvertently overheard and overviewed by myself earlier this evening."

Zelda impatiently asked "And .... what did you see?"

"Well, I don't like to tell tales out of school, if you catch my meaning, mum," prevaricated the embarrassed envoy, "but earlier this evening, whilst I was polishing the ancestral armor in this hallway, which rendered my form hidden to a casual observer that might chance to stroll through the hallway -- it was dark due to the power outage too -- as I was saying, whilst engaged in pewter polishing activities ..."

"Enough!" screamed Zelda. "Assez tergiversé, passons aux choses sérieuses !"
Spoiler:
"Enough procrastinating, get serious !"


"Get to the point man! Who, err whom, did you see? Doing what? To whom?" "And why?"

"Why, pshrynk was having a spirited discussion with ravenne, very near where he is lying right now. I couldn't clearly hear what the topic being discussed entailed, but I clearly discerned ravenne's arm raised several times. She seemed to be holding a bottle of red wine -- I could just make out the color when the lightning illuminated the window behind them."

Jeeves paused thoughtfully a moment, and then resumed "All I could understand was a few of the more loudly enunciated phrases from ravenne; pshrynk tended to look down and mumble."

After another lengthy pause, Zelda demanded "Well, just what did you think you heard?"

Jeeves sorrowfully shook his head of sleekly oiled hair and replied "I wouldn't want to have to swear to this in court, mum"

"Does it look like we're in court now?" shrieked an exasperated Zelda. "Out with it man! Tu te fiches de moi, c'est maintenant que tu te décides de la fermer ?"
Spoiler:
"You've got to be joking, *now* you stop talking ?"


"Well mum, recognizing that I regrettably cannot be 100% positive, I believe I heard ravenne repeatedly use the phrase 'you'll be sorry' and perhaps a fragment that sounded like 'get even' -- but these are only my imperfect aural interpretations."

"I was then summoned away from the scene by hearing Colonel Alex's bell. Realizing that my impertinent interest in this fracas had made me tardy in bringing the Colonel's hot toddy up to the study, I hastened toward the stairs. An unnaturally loud exclamation from ravenne caused me to turn round on the stairs. My last sight of pshrynk alive was framed by a lightning back-drop, with ravenne front and center brandishing the bottle of red wine."

Recounting this painful scene deeply affected Jeeves, who was so overcome with emotion that he had to use his gleaming white handkerchief to discreetly dab away an errant tear trying to course down a sallow cheek.

Zelda's heightened powers of observation instantly noted the small reddish stain on the corner of Jeeves' hanky.

"Tiens tiens ! ça serait pas le début d'une piste que je vois, enfin ?"
Spoiler:
"Well, well ! Could that be a clue I see, at last ?"


Before she could investigate this tell-tale stain, Jeeves pocketed the cloth and inquired: "Shall I conduct you to interview ravenne? I believe she is still on the premises."

Zelda accepted the invitation and accompanied Jeeves back up the staircase, still clutching the sodden paperback.

[Will Zelda's relentless questioning elicit a confession?]
[Or will she be thrown out for being nosy?]
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Old 11-02-2010, 09:16 AM   #10
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WHAT THE BUTLER SAW ......




THE DAYS OF WINE AND ROSÉ



SUSPECT #1


Jeeves led Zelda through a series of dark hallways she didn't remember ever seeing before in her previous visits to the MR building. They twisted and turned on themselves so often, she expected she and Jeeves to meet themselves at the next corner! But Jeeves sure-footedly blazed the trail to ravenne's room. As they reached the final corner, Zelda abruptly bumped into a shadowy figure limping around the corner.

"Yvanleterrible! What are you doing here tonight? Did you get a note from Alex too?" exclaimed the astonished Zelda.

"Oh Hi Zelda. Yeah, Alex called me this afternoon before the power went out, to come in and repair a broken drain pipe. He said some clumsy oaf of an intruder had shimmied up the side of the building on it, but they were so fat they pulled it right off the bricks."
"Charmant ! Je vois que la galanterie est bel et bien morte, de nos jours."
Spoiler:
"Charming ! I see chivalry really is dead, these days."


"Fat! Fat! He said that? Fat-headed is more like it!" spluttered the highly incensed Zelda.

"Well, I don't know about that," replied yvan, "but he did tell me to send the bill to you. I wondered at the time if you had been elected to Treasurer of MR, but now I understand. You broke it."

"Stop staring at my hips, you cad, I'm still only a size 2 I'll have you know!
.... Wait a minute, I didn't break in, errr, climb in until tonight. How could Alex know this afternoon to call you in?"

But yvan had already started limping off, muttering "He knows I can't go out and fix the blasted pipe until this farking storm moves on. I've got so much metal in my leg I've become the human lightning rod. No way I'm going out now on a ladder."

Zelda's mind raced in circles like a rabid hamster in a turbo-charged exercise wheel! Just what was going on here tonight? Was yvan lying about the phone call? Did Alex booby-trap the pipe, knowing it would be the only way inside the building once the power went out?

Jeeves coughed discreetly and said "If you would just walk this way mum."
They soon reached a door with a hand-written index card stapled to the wood reading "ravenne" "go away"
Quick-witted Zelda noted a smear of bacon grease on the lower left corner of the card.
"Mais que vois-je ? Une trace de doigt ? Et on dirait que ça sent le bacon... encore un indice ?"
Spoiler:
"What's that I see ? A finger print ? And it smells like bacon... another clue ?"


Before she could investigate more closely, Jeeves had rapped smartly on the door, causing the card to fall off and be wafted down the hall by a cold, gusty draft. A shrill voice shouted "Can't you read? Go away! Leave me alone! I'm busy!"

Zelda responded "Ravenne! It's me -- Zelda! Please open the door -- there's been a murder!"

A long silent interval ensued, pregnant with the sense of someone thinking furiously on the other side of the dingy door, and maybe peering through the keyhole.

Abruptly, the door was flung open and Zelda was engulfed in a fervent but tipsy embrace. "Zelda, my friend, what are you doing here? Tonight of all nights? In this miserable weather? Come in, come in and have a glass of vino. You look like you've just seen a ghost!"
"That's all Jeeves, thank you. You may return to your duties. I'll take care of Missy Zelda now."

"Very good madam" replied Jeeves as he melted soundlessly back into the shadows.

Ravenne poured a glass of red wine for Zelda (who was craning her neck, trying to read the label on the bottle, but ravenne had spilled wine all over it) and said "So fill me in. A murder you say? Are you sure? Who? Where? Did you do it?"

Zelda choked on her wine and spluttered "Of course I didn't do it. I just got here. Alex had sent a note ordering all mods to attend an emergency meeting here tonight. So I hopped on a plane and had to climb up the drain pipe to get into the building tonight. That's where I found the body. Oh ravenne, pshrynk's been murdered. In the hall below the stairs."

"Oh Zelda, you're so confused. It must be jet lag. Pshrynk was murdered last year. Remember? All that string lying around the rooms, and that rude private dick? Wait, isn't that a naughty oxymoron -- private dick? No matter, you must have just had a flashback tonight. Maybe you were struck by lightning while climbing up the drain pipe -- your hair is really frizzy tonight you know."

"Stop being so silly and have another glass of wine. This is a really great vintage ... I call it wine to die for."
"Hou là, elle est mauvaise celle-là ! (tihi !) Bon, au moins le vin est bon..."
Spoiler:
"Groan ! What a stinker ! (heehee !) At least the wine is good..."


Zelda erupted in a fury fueled by drinking two glasses of really fine wine on an empty stomach. "No, I don't have jet lag. No, I wasn't struck by lightning. You know what rain does to naturally curly hair! My mind is just fine, thank you very much. I know what I saw, and I can prove it. Just ask Jeeves to come back. He saw pshrynk too. He'll back me up!"

"And ... and ... he told me all about your violent argument earlier with pshrynk tonight, when you tried to club him with a wine bottle! You didn't see him, but he was in the hallway polishing the armor. He saw you ... and pshrynk ... and the bottle."

Zelda paused for breath, and to pour another glass of wine. One thing WAS true tonight ... this was a great vintage. Too good to waste.

Ravenne began chuckling, almost choking on her wine. "Zelda, there isn't any armor in that hallway. Never has been. Where would Alex get any armor? Alex in armor? Don't make me laugh!"

"But what about the argument? Are you denying that too? Didn't you threaten him?"

"There was no argument, Zelda. The thunder and rain were so loud in that empty hallway that we had to shout to hear each other. Pshrynk is deaf in one ear (he won't admit it) so he kept tipping his head to hear me since he couldn't read my lips in the dark. I was just showing him this fantastic new vintage I had discovered in the MR wine cellar."
"I keep shouting at him that he'd be sorry if he didn't try this wine, and we could get even with Colonel Alex for stealing our flashlight batteries. That's all."

"But,... but you kept raising the bottle!"

"Sure, I had to keep holding the bottle above his head, to show him the delicate blush of the wine - I used the lightning flashes to highlight it for him. I had to do it a couple of times to get the right color of lightning. Don't tell me that silly butter-fingers spilled the entire bottle of wine! That WOULD be criminal!"

Ravenne's slick explanations sounded so plausible, so ordinary, ... so real. Had Zelda really been struck by lightning -- and imagined the whole thing? She looked down at her lap and saw the forgotten paperback, now nestling in a puddle of wine on her skirt. That at least was real. Let's see ravenne deny this!

She picked up the book to show ravenne her evidence and noticed that soaking in the wine had literally glued all the pages together so that the book opened in the middle. Zelda peered down at the wine-smudged print, now wishing she hadn't had that third glass of wine. Her vision was really blurry. Wait, it was the page that was blurry, not her eyes. The wine had soaked thoroughly into the pages, completely obscuring the text except for the last line on page 202, and two scribbled lines below it in pshrynk's distinctive illegible scrawl. Holding the book up to ravenne's candle, Zelda puzzled out the only legible words in these three lines:

Did ___ ______ __ __?
___ ________ who ___ __.
He ___ ___ __ ____.

Was this a message from beyond the grave? From a dead man? Was pshrynk trying to identify his killer? Would it be in code? How could she clean the wine off the rest of the message without destroying it?

"Déjà que l'écriture d'un médecin vivant est indéchiffrable, alors un médecin mort... je suis pas sortie de l'auberge."
Spoiler:
"Trying to read the handwriting of a live doctor is bad enough, never mind a *dead* doctor's handwriting... I'm not out of the woods yet..."


Zelda held the book closer to the candle, trying to dry out the page.
Just then, there was a discreet knock on the door.
"Enter" fluted the now tipsier ravenne.

Zelda looked up as Jeeves entered the room, then did a double take, spilling wine down her chin. This alcohol-laden dribble, combined with a strong gust of cold wind from the hallway, flared the candle flame, igniting the wine-soaked book into a small conflagration in Zelda's lap.

"Permit me, madam," said Jeeves, spraying the flames with the soda siphon he was carrying on the drinks tray. "I'm afraid that wine will leave a nasty stain in your skirt fabric."

Zelda stared wild-eyed at Jeeves, exclaiming
"Mtravellerh! What are you doing in Nate's, errr..., DaleDe's, .... errr Jeeves' suit?"

[Has Zelda imbibed too much of the good stuff?]
[Will Jeeves be successful in removing that pesky stain?]
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Old 11-02-2010, 07:29 PM   #11
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WHAT THE BUTLER SAW ......




GETTING INTO A JAM



PART PRIMUM



Jeeves' right eyebrow crept up his forehead exactly one-eighth of an inch as he replied "Beg pardon mum, my name is Jeeves. Always has been. Jeeves. At your service."

Zelda's mind reeled at this new apparition, but she rallied and began questioning the new version of Jeeves.
"Jeeves, please confirm to ravenne that there is a body in the hallway by the stairwell, and that pshrynk has been bludgeoned to death with a wine bottle."

Jeeves' eyes briefly flickered (with regret?) as he replied "Beg pardon mum. I am unable to confirm those statements. There is no body in the hallway. And pshrynk was not bludgeoned with a wine bottle."

Zelda fell thunderstruck back into her chair, as ravenne anxiously fanned her and offered her another glass of wine. Zelda pushed aside the proffered wine and shrieked: "You saw it! We saw it! You took the bottle!"
"Are you denying pshyrnk is dead?"

"Why no mum," replied Jeeves calmly. "Master pshrynk is indubitably dead. But there is no body in the hallway."

Shakily, Zelda asked "Where. Is. The. Body?"

"In the kitchen, mum, next to the refrigerator. Shall I convey you there to demonstrate?"

Completely overcome by events, Zelda allowed herself to be led docilely back into the hallway.
"Hey Zelda, feel free to drop in the next time you're in town!" chirped the now-blotto ravenne, as she slammed and locked her door.

As Jeeves turned to enter the hallway, Zelda noticed the index card had been re-attached to the door, but now read "do not disturb" "this means you Zelda".

Jeeves led Zelda through another set of twisting hallways, dimly lit by the continuing storm's jagged lightning. One particularly brilliant flash revealed a small red dot on Jeeves' otherwise flawlessly white collar, just below his left ear. But before she could inquire about it, they had reached the kitchen door.

Jeeves paused and softly intoned "I must warn you -- this isn't a pretty sight. Not really suitable for a lady to view at all."
"ça va, j'ai l'habitude ; on se fréquentait pas mal de son vivant."
Spoiler:
"It's okay, I'm used to it ; we used to spend a lot of time together when he was alive."


Slowly, the massive oak door opened, into a dark kitchen filled with the menacing shadows of monstrous appliances and racks of knives. There was a large pile of bloody white chicken feathers on the drainboard, next to some greenish rags.

Jeeves advanced his candle into the room, revealing a body stuck to the floor in a congealing red puddle. Awash in a feeling of distinct and highly unpleasant déjà vu, Zelda slowly approached the corpse. Once again, pshrynk's body lay face down in the puddle, a paperback book clutched in his outstretched hand.

As she knelt next to the body, she was badly startled by a voice coming from the darkness on the other side of the body. "Hey Zelda, didn't know you were in town. Watch what you're doing! I'm almost done with my latest flower painting - I call it 'Rose Rendered in Strawberry Jam' -- have a gander."
Jeeves advanced his candle to reveal kennyc on his hands and knees putting the finishing touches on a finger painting of a rose in the rapidly solidifying red medium. Zelda sniffed -- sure enough -- pshrynk was lying in a huge pool of strawberry jam!

"Hey Jeeves -- be careful with that jam jar! I might need some more to finish the last petal here."
Zelda looked up to see Jeeves holding up a huge, institutional-sized jar of strawberry jam that had a starburst of cracks running up one side.

"I wonder how this jar sustained such damage" mused the manservant. "It was undoubtedly intact the last time I saw it earlier this evening. It must have contacted an extremely hard object whilst traveling at a high rate of speed."

"C'est vrai qu'il avait la tête dure, le pshrynk..."
Spoiler:
"He did have a pretty hard head..."


"But I'm sure she only dropped it due to its vast weight when startled by the thunder, rather than deliberately direct it at Pshrynk." continued Jeeves, as he handed the jar over to kennyc's eager fingers. "Although there was quite an unprecedented clash of temperaments in here during the storm."

Zelda looked up from her efforts to loosen the paperback book from pshrynk's sticky hand, and softly asked "Who dropped it Jeeves?" "Ravenne?"
"Why were YOU here, and what exactly did you witness?"

[Will Jeeves put the finger on ravenne?]
[Might there be another *gasp* suspect lurking in the wings?]
[Did kennyc record the image of the killer in jam?]
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Old 11-03-2010, 08:57 AM   #12
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WHAT THE BUTLER SAW ......




GETTING INTO A JAM



PART SECUNDUM




"Well mum," murmured Jeeves, "If I might direct your attention to that unsightly heap of feathers and bloody offal on the drainboard. I had entered the kitchen earlier this evening to initiate the preparation of Colonel Alex's hot toddy, when my delicate yet sensitive olfactory sense detected something distinctly "off" in the kitchen. Fearing an incursion of vermin, I investigated immediately and located this loathsome leftover. I immediately fastened upon kennyc as the likely culprit, as he has quite the reputation for chicken harassment, slaughter, and consumption. While I was upbraiding him over his carnal culinary activities, I noted out of the corner of my eye Pshrynk and Nekokami had entered the kitchen, arguing vociferously by the refrigerator. Pshrynk was holding something in front of him, and both were bending over this unknown object"

"What were they arguing about?" questioned Zelda, not really expecting to receive an unambiguous answer.

"Well mum," prevaricated the lightly perspiring Jeeves ....

"I know, I know .... you can't be 100% positive of what you overheard, won't swear to it in court, yadda, yadda, yadda, ... I've heard it all before! Just get on with it man!" interrupted Zelda rudely.

"Vraiment dommage qu'on n'a pas de télécommande pour ce genre de trucs, l'avance rapide m'arrangerait grave juste là."
Spoiler:
"A remote control with a fast forward button would come in so handy at times like these."


*cough* Jeeves cleared his throat and fixed an admonitory gaze 1/8 inch above Zelda's left eye, continuing "Well, my attention WAS fixed on extracting a confession from the wily kennyc as to the authorship of the grisly gastronomic goulash reposing on the drainboard, so that all I can recall clearly hearing was Nekokami screaming "No", "watch out", and "that's no way".
"I'm sure other words were shrieked, errr, spoken forcefully by the young lady, but I did not catch them. Pshrynk's remarks were spoken too softly to be discerned. It WAS storming you know."

"Did you see anything suspicious?"

"Well, my attention was focused on that dastardly kennyc, but several times I thought my perceptive peripheral powers of vision had noted Nekokami's upraised arm bearing this enormous jar aloft, over Pshrynk's bent head. But then I heard Colonel Alex's bell ringing furiously, and rushed out of the kitchen, tardy with his evening hot toddy. As I turned to close the door behind me, I saw as in a flickering frame of film, Pshrynk still alive framed by a lightning back-drop, with Nekokami front and center brandishing the jar of strawberry jam."

Noting the somewhat resentful tone of voice from the offended manservant, Zelda turned to corroborate Jeeves' statement with kennyc. But he had managed to slither away into the darkness during the interminable monologue, leaving a slowly congealing trail of knee prints leading into the Stygian darkness of the kitchen. Jeeves remained sulkily silent, offering no further embellishment to his tale.

Bending again to the cooling corpse, Zelda began freeing the paperback from Pshrynk's hand, one sticky finger at a time.

"Bon, je te savais bec sucré, mais là tu pousses le bouchon un peu trop loin, Maurice."
Spoiler:
"Sheesh, I knew you had a sweet tooth, but this is really going too far."


The book finally popped free from Pshrynk's posthumous grasp, landing Zelda on her derriere looking up at the towering valet.

"Perhaps you wish to corroborate my report with Miss Nekokami" asked Jeeves. "I believe she is still on the premises."

Paperback firmly adhered to her hand, Zelda accompanied the petulant butler into the hallway and down a steep set of stairs.

[What fresh horror awaits Zelda in the bowels of the MR building?]
[Does anyone care about the allegedly deceased chicken?]
[Where did kennyc slither off to?]
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Old 11-03-2010, 06:54 PM   #13
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WHAT THE BUTLER SAW ......




GETTING INTO A JAM



SUSPECT #2



Zelda reluctantly followed Jeeves' flickering, wavering candle down, down, down the dank and musty steps, into a fathomless damp darkness populated by ...... Zelda shuddered as her overstimulated imagination filled the gloom with unknown figures of menace and terror. Would these steps never end? Would she ever see the light of day again? What the fark was Nekokami doing in the MR catacombs .... tonight of all nights?

Zelda stumbled and nearly fell flat on her face as she abruptly stepped off the final step onto the cellar floor.

"Careful there," chirped a familiar voice as friendly hands helped her regain her balance.

"SneakySnake" exclaimed Zelda. "What are you doing here? Tonight? At all? Don't you live Down Under? How did you get here?"

"Dis-donc, ça descend jusqu'où au juste, cet escalier ??"
Spoiler:
"Just how far down do these stairs go, anyway ??"


SneakySnake adjusted her kitty jammies, yawned, and explained. "Well, tomorrow I was over visiting Marc, who was throwing one of his super parties. I had one too many ZCD's and stumbled into Adrian's lab to have a kip on some folded lab coats. I guess I accidentally hit the wrong buttons or levers, or something, on that glowing machine -- I was only trying to dim the lights so I could catch some shut-eye -- and next thing you know I was sitting in Colonel Alex's office! On his desk! Boy, was he cheesed at the skid mark I left on it."

She paused to lick what looked suspiciously like strawberry jam off her fingers, and continued.

"Well, he had that snooty manservant of his, Jeeves, ... have you met Jeeves yet Zelda? ... drag me out of the study into what Colonel Alex laughably called the MR dungeons. It's really a broom closet with no lock on the door. I was SO zonked on the ZCD's and I guess cosmic jet lag ... I didn't notice the door was unlocked until just now."

"Oh Hi Jeeves," she chirped, noticing the dark-clad manservant standing behind Zelda in the shadows, "No hard feelings, right? What day is it anyway?"

"It is today," stiffly replied Jeeves, stung by her uncomplimentary description of his magisterial bearing. "It has been today all day long, and will continue being today until tomorrow occurs."

SneakySnake blinked twice, swallowed the last of the suspected strawberry jam, blinked again, and said "Right." She then wandered off into the darkness, sucking her thumb and humming "The Teddybears' Picnic."

*cough* "If you would just step this way mum" murmured Jeeves deferentially, discreetly reveling in having rid them of the noxious antipodean presence. Zelda's brain had stopped even trying to work sometime during Jeeves' explanation of temporal dynamics. She allowed Jeeves to lead her to a bright red enameled door, tucked in between two massive stonework groins. As Jeeves leaned forward with candle in hand to rap smartly on the door, Zelda noted what appeared to be a chocolate hand-print on the door panel above the brass door knob.

"Encore un indice, là ? Ou bien celui qui s'occupe du donjon n'est vraiment pas une fée du ménage ?"
Spoiler:
"Another clue? Or poor housecleaning in the dungeons?"


"Go away, I'm asleep" shouted Nekokami through the closed door. "You must be a bad dream. Go away or I'll pinch myself and wake up."

"Nekokami, please open your door. It's Zelda!" pleaded the flummoxed French detective wanna-be. "I need to talk to you."

..... "WHO?"

"Zelda! It's Zelda! Please open up -- it's freezing cold out here!"

..... "I don't believe you. Zelda lives in Paris. What would she be doing here tonight? How would she get here? The storm closed down all the airports. Did she swim over?"

"Tell her Jeeves, .... please, .... tell her I'm Zelda and I'm really here."

.... "Jeeves is out there too? Why didn't you say so! Come on in!"

The shiny red door abruptly opened, revealing a softly candle-lit room with dusky pink walls and no windows. Zelda was snared into a sticky embrace "Zelda! It is you! What brings you to our soggy shores? How did you get in the building tonight? Look at you! You're a mess!"

Nekokami drew Zelda over to a low divan, and dismissed Jeeves "You can go back to the Colonel, Jeeves, Zelda and I are going to have some girl talk!"

"Very good madam," murmured the obedient servant, and Jeeves once again melted into the shadows, closing the door behind him.

"Have a donut Zelda! Watch out for the runny chocolate and that strawberry jam Pshrynk just insisted on adding to a perfectly good chocolate iced masterpiece."

"Pshrynk .... Neko ... I'm afraid I have some terrible news. Pshrynk is dead! In the kitchen. Apparently struck in the head with a large jar of strawberry jam. Tonight! Jeeves and I found him .... again." Zelda choked out in a quavery voice, spewing a gentle cloud of donut crumbs into the air.

"Dead! Pshrynk dead! Impossible!" Nekokami retorted sharply. "He was alive and well when I left him in the kitchen, watching kennyc doing unspeakable things to that poor chicken. Did you kill Pshrynk tonight? Why Zelda, why?"

Zelda sank under the weight of another unfounded false accusation, and replied "No, for the last time, I did NOT kill Pshrynk. He was dead when I found him. But Jeeves did see and hear YOU arguing with Pshrynk earlier tonight - in the kitchen - where I found his battered body!"

"Oh, poor Zelda, we were just discussing what's the best thing to smear on a donut. I had just finished icing a sumptuous cake donut with creamy chocolate when Pshrynk tried to add strawberry jam! Imagine the desecration of pure chocolate with jam! I shouted (it was storming you know) No! Watch out with that jam! That's no way to decorate a donut. Get away from me with that jar!"

"Mouaif, ça pouvait être pire, au moins il a pas sorti les crevettes !"
Spoiler:
"Hmph, it could have been worse, at least he didn't try it with shrimp !"


"That irritating man kept trying to spoon jam onto my donut, and it was so dark in the kitchen that we both got totally smeared with the sticky stuff. And then he dropped the jar! I left at that point, yelling at him at the top of my lungs, and asked Jeeves to clean up the mess in the kitchen. I brought my chocolate donuts back here and have been napping all night."

"Here, have another donut! You're looking quite pale Zelda. Are you feeling all right? Did you catch a chill out in the rain? Maybe you've developed a fever and have become delusional. That's it! You imagined the whole thing. Shadows can be deceiving during a storm, you know. "

Zelda was indeed shivering, partly from the cold but mainly from the cold realization that her fragile grasp of reality was slipping even further .... further than she could ever have imagined. What was going on in this madhouse tonight. Why were her friends accusing her of murder? Who was the real murderer? What was Jeeves' role in all of this? She did feel a little flushed. Maybe, .... just maybe this was all a feverish ... and very detailed ... hallucination?

Zelda lifted a hand to feel the temperature of her allegedly fevered brow and promptly smacked herself in the head with the paperback book still stuck to hand. Her sodden spirits surged as she realized -- this book was real! And covered with jam, which had glued all the pages together so that the book once again inexplicably opened in the middle at page 202. The jam had soaked thoroughly into the pages, completely obscuring the text except for the last line on the page and .... gasp! .... two lines scribbled by Pshrynk on the bottom of the page!

"Look!" shouted Zelda, trying to pry Nekokami's attention from the box of donuts, "here's the book I removed from Pshrynk's dead hand! Call Jeeves back! He'll tell you where I found it!"

Neko rang the bell to summon Jeeves as Zelda peered nearsightedly at the gluey page. Crossing her eyes as she tried desperately to decode the writing, Zelda could only (maybe) discern:

___ ___ ______ do __?
___ ________ ___ ___ it.
__ ___ ___ of ____.

Just then Jeeves' thunderous knocking at the door startled her so badly she dropped the book -- of course it landed face down -- onto the carpet.
Zelda dropped to her hands and knees, frantically trying to peel the sticky missal from the carpet as Jeeves entered the room.

"On sait bien que la tartine tombe toujours du côté beurré, visiblement ça vaut pour la confiture aussi..."
Spoiler:
"Everybody knows the toast always lands butter side down, clearly that goes for jam too..."


"Hi Jeeves, I think Zelda needs some help cleaning her mess off of my carpet." Neko explained, sounding rather put out by this wanton wasting of perfectly good jam.

"Permit me madam," said Jeeves, inserting one white-gloved fingernail under the edge of the book and gently peeling the pulpy mass up from the carpet. He lifted the book free of the carpet with a sickly squelchy sound and gingerly handed it back to Zelda. Alas, page 202 had stuck to the carpet so firmly that it was now completely covered with a opaque coating of carpet fuzz, jam, dog hairs, a small white chicken feather, and a large dollop of milk chocolate.

"I'm afraid you will be held liable for the replacement cost of that book by the MR lending library staff" commented Jeeves as he fastidiously changed into a new pair of spotless white gloves. As he tucked the soiled pair into his slacks' pocket, Zelda noted a small red stain on the side of Jeeves' otherwise flawlessly starched white shirt next to his suspender clip. Before she could tell if it was jam, Jeeves had re-buttoned his jacket and inquired "Will that be all madam?"

"No Jeeves, that will NOT be all" stormed Zelda, who then stood up, looked at Jeeves, and nearly fell down again. "Montsnmags! What are you doing in ... mtravellerh's .... Nate's ... DaleDe's .... whoever's suit? How many times is this going to happen to me? What's going on?"

[What indeed is going on?]
[Is Zelda suffering from the toxic effects of mixing wine and donuts on an empty stomach?]
[How much will Zelda be charged for the ruined book?]
[Has MR been invaded by Oz?]
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Old 11-04-2010, 11:24 AM   #14
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WHAT THE BUTLER SAW ......




BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO




Jeeves' left eyebrow crept up his forehead exactly one-third of an inch as he replied "Beg pardon mum, my name is Jeeves. Always has been. Jeeves. At your service."

Zelda's mind reeled at this new apparition, but she rallied and began questioning the new version of Jeeves.
"Jeeves, please confirm to Nekokami that there is a body in the kitchen, and that pshrynk has been bludgeoned to death with a jam jar."

Jeeves' eyes briefly flickered (with confusion?) as he replied "Beg pardon mum. I am unable to confirm those statements. There is no body in the kitchen. And pshrynk was not bludgeoned with a jam jar."

"Evidemment. Au point où on en est, fallait s'y attendre."
Spoiler:
"Naturally. At this point, how could I expect anything else ?"


Zelda breathed in deeply, then exhaled, looked at Jeeves' new incarnation, and decided to breathe in deeply again. Suppressing a shudder, she ventured to ask "OK, Jeeves, I suppose you're going to tell me that Pshrynk's body is now in a new location? And he was killed by a different weapon?"

Jeeves fixed his gaze exactly one-eighth of an inch above Zelda's nose and replied: "Earlier this evening, I did happen to notice what appeared to be a corpse in the MR parlor. Would you like me to convey you there to ascertain if it is still there?"

Zelda's brain now felt as if it had been taken for a ride in a Waring blender - on the puree setting! "Since when do we have a parlor?' she demanded. "Where is it? I've never been in it!"

"Of course you've never been in it silly" spluttered Nekokami, trying not to choke on her donut. "The parlor is reserved for courting couples only. Right, Jeeves?"

"You are entirely correct madam," replied the insufferably perfect servant. "Only couples of an amorous disposition."

"If you would step this way, mum" inquired Jeeves in his treacly tones that made Zelda's skin crawl, as he led Zelda back up the staircase, candle bravely flickering in the vast void of darkness.

"Hey Zelda," called Nekokami, "next time you're in town why don't you bring some of those fancy French pastries, you know, croissants? They'd be a nice change from all these donuts."

Jeeves led the trembling Zelda back up the staircase into the main MR lobby. Turning sharply right, Jeeves tapped softly on a door smothered in plush pink padding and decorated with hearts and bows. Receiving no answer, he opened the door a fraction of an inch and whispered "Anyone home?"

As they waited for an answer, he explained to Zelda "One must enter this room with the greatest care and discretion lest one surprise a couple locked in the throes of passion, to the unfathomed embarrassment of all parties. It can require a few moments for the untangling to finish."

As Zelda stood impatiently in the drafty hallway, a long shadow approached them, growing shorter and shorter as the indistinct figure neared them. Zelda nearly jumped out of her skin when she recognized the chirpily cheerful figure approaching them.
"DixieGal! What on earth are you doing here tonight? Are you trapped too? Have you seen Pshrynk, errr, that is what's left of him? Did you see his murderer?"

"Whoa gal, slow down and start making some sense" answered the transplanted southern belle, busily wiping a pinkish smear off her nose. "What's all this about Pshrynk? What's the old coot gone and done now? Did he have more than one fiance? That dog! I always told him his philandering would be the death of him!"

"Here, want a lick? There's some ice cream left."

Zelda had thought that things couldn't get any more confusing tonight. She was wrong. She was SO wrong. Was she to be dead wrong?

"Why are you here tonight bambi?"

"Why am I here? Pshrynk called me, that's why. He was planning to break up with his latest fiance and asked if I could bring a few gallons of homemade strawberry ice cream for the poor gal to comfort herself with once he'd cut her loose. I just happened to have rustled up a batch and came right over with my jumbo-sized stainless steel heavy duty ice cream scoop. I can't seem to find it now, and had to use my fingers to finish off the last of this ice cream. What a mess!"

What a mess indeed! New facets of Pshrynk's character appeared at every turn! Did Zelda ever really know the man?

"Hé ben ! On dirait que pshrynk c'était un vrai sac de noeuds, et qu'on n'a pas fini de les démêler !"
Spoiler:
"It looks like pshrynk was a real sack of knots, and we're not even close to untangling them all !"


"Well, gotta head out now -- left some ribs on the grill! Catch you later Zelda! You too Jeeves!" And with that, DixieGal vanished down yet another dark hallway, leaving Zelda once again -- literally and figuratively -- in the dark.

Jeeves approached the satiny door and again cleared his throat loudly. Receiving no answer, he swung open the door and indicated that Zelda should precede him into the boudoir of illicit goings-on.
"Be prepared to close your eyes instantly if we should surprise a lingering couple beyond the reach of reason." he whispered urgently.
Zelda stepped into plush carpet that reached her ankles. In the fitful candle light, it appeared a garish blood-red crimson color. As they advanced soundlessly into the claustrophobic den of unbridled passion, a wordless cry of horror was wrenched from Zelda's trembling lips. What a twisted sight of passion gone wrong confronted her horrified gaze!

"Pauvre pshrynk, tu as payé cher tes passions..."
Spoiler:
"Poor pshrynk, your passion cost you dearly..."


Pshrynk, in a state of extreme dishabille, was draped over a white love-seat, his arm dangling towards the floor where a red pool of liquid had collected under this divine divan. His body was spattered with a thick reddish fluid dripping sloppily onto the floor. Zelda immediately noted the paperback book once again clutched in his lifeless fingers, floating on the sodden carpet. His eyes were open -- and his face expressed surprise and bewilderment, with the faint trace of a racy smirk. A large, circular dent occupied the exact center of his forehead.
Several "Visit Wisconsin - America's Playground!" brochures were scattered over the carpet. Although shocked beyond reason, Zelda did notice a thick scattering of cat hairs blanketing the sofa's upholstery, with some floating in the crimson puddle under the book.

"Who could have done such a horrible deed" moaned the hapless Zelda, once again forced to witness the demise of her dear friend in an unforgettably hideous manner. "Who, Jeeves, who hated Pshrynk so much?"

*cough* "Well mum" began Jeeves in a tightly outraged tone, "I did happen to see this cad earlier this evening engaged in an extremely emotional disagreement with Miss Dreams -- in this very room! I was plumping up the pillows in the window-seat when they entered the room. Emotions were running so wildly, I was not noticed ... and hence was forced to witness the distasteful scene from behind the draperies!"

"Why Jeeves .... why are you calling Pshrynk a cad?" an astonished Zelda inquired.

"Why ... he made the lady cry! In public! And had the unspeakable nerve to laugh at her distress! Trifling with the affections of such a delicate damsel! Why if I weren't a gentleman's gentleman, I'd have been tempted to deal with this cur myself!" replied the incensed Jeeves, wiping a perfectly round bead of perspiration from his empurpled brow! "He was NOT a gentleman!"

"What were they arguing about? What could you hear? Why was she crying? Why did he laugh?" Zelda spluttered a series of questions, little expecting a complete answer, judging from her past interrogations of Jeeves' past incarnations.

"Well mum, the drapes were extremely heavy velvet and did tend to muffle the dialogue, and the lady was crying so hard her voice was quite unintelligible at times, but I did overhear her sob out these phrases: "over your dead body," "make me sorry," and "I hate...." "That's all I could understand between her outbursts of grief and rage."

"Bon dieu ! c'est largement suffisant pour impliquer Dreams. Est-ce que nous sommes face à un crime de passion ?"
Spoiler:
"Good god ! That's plenty to incriminate Dreams. Are we faced with a crime of passion ?"


"That's incredible Jeeves! Then what happened!" Zelda breathed out expectantly.

"Well mum, at that point I could hear Colonel Alex furiously ringing his bell for his nightly hot toddy and I realized that witnessing this fracas had caused me to be unacceptably late in delivering this libation to my master. At this point, the couple was arguing so intently, I was able to steal from the room by crawling behind the love-seat to the door ... the carpet muffles sound wonderfully!"

"By this point, Pshyrnk was proffering a bowl of strawberry ice cream as a peace offering to the young lady, who hurled it in the direction of the cad's head! As I turned to close the door behind me, I saw as in a flickering frame of film, Pshrynk still alive framed by a lightning back-drop, with Dreams front and center brandishing an extremely robust ice cream scoop above his head!"

"I imagine this is the item in question mum" continued Jeeves, as he swung a large stainless steel ice cream scoop past Zelda's astonished face. "I found it behind the love-seat, wiped clean of all fingerprints. What a well-balanced instrument -- a real pleasure to use!"

"Be careful with that thing" screamed Zelda, "you nearly coshed me with it!"

"Oh, no danger of that mum," retorted Jeeves, "as you know I have perfect depth perception. You were in absolutely no danger at all."

"Perfect depth perception, eh? Then how do you explain that scar on your cheek? The crowbar jumped you when you blinked?"

*cough* "If you must know, this cutaneous imperfection is a dueling scar, honorably won whilst defending the honor of a young lady." simpered the complacent Jeeves. That man had an answer for everything!


"Well, no matter, I suppose we'd better go find Dreams and hear her side of the story," muttered Zelda. "Let's go Jeeves."

*cough* "Isn't madam forgetting something?"

"What? Oh, yeah, right, the sticky book."

Zelda pulled the book from Pshrynk's grasp with a sickly squelch and carried it from the room, Jeeves leading the way again, his ramrod-straight back radiating smug self-confidence.

[Has Zelda enough proof NOW to convict Dreams?]
[Where did DixieGal get to?]
[Can there really be more to this tale?]
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Old 11-04-2010, 07:30 PM   #15
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WHAT THE BUTLER SAW ......




BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO



Suspect #3




Once again Zelda found herself following Jeeves' flickering candle into the darkness cloaking the goings-on that seemed determined to drive all vestige of reason from her tired, aching brain. Would this interminable storm ever end? Would this night finally show signs of coming dawn light? Would there ever be a morning after? After .... Not for Pshrynk, that was certain.

Lost in her derailed train of thought, Zelda paid no attention to their route, blindly following the candle flame much like an addled moth. Would she find certain destruction too when she reached the flame? Or ....

*bump*

Zelda unpeeled herself from Jeeves' back and apologized for slamming into him. She had been so engrossed in her maniacal musings, she had failed to notice Jeeves had stopped outside a tightly closed door with no name on it.
Just as he raised his hand to discreetly tap on the wood panel Jeeves tipped his head to one side and inquired "Do you hear something?"

Zelda too could just hear ... music! There was someone playing a ukulele coming down the hall towards them strumming away and tapping their feet.
Zelda's foot began tapping too as she made out the tune "Ain't She Sweet" tinkling its way down the hall. Jeeves too was not immune to the music's bucolic charm and swayed noticeably one-eighth of an inch to the right.

"Tom! What are you doing here? Why are you serenading us? Have you seen Pshrynk at all tonight? Do you know what's happened?"
Zelda blurted out a stream of questions, not waiting for -- really not expecting -- any answers as Tom entered their tiny circle of light, madly strumming and humming away.
"And why on earth are you wearing duct tape around your waist?"

Tom finished the current verse with verve and flourish, tucking his instrument into a handy shoulder pouch. Zelda couldn't help but notice the almost invisible red stain on its strap.

"Why Zelda, what are you doing here? Did Pshrynk call you too? He said he was going to ask DixieGal to come over, not you! But it's nice to see you too of course."

"Pshrynk called YOU too? Décidément, les demoiselles du téléphone n'ont pas chômé ce soir !"

Spoiler:
"The telephone lines must have put in overtime tonight !"


"Oh yeah, he called yesterday and asked me to come over with my trusty uke. Said something about hysterical womenfolk needing their savage breasts soothed, or something like that - there was so much static on the line I could barely understand what he was shouting about. And we menfolk have to stick together you know, so I packed up my old friend here and came right over! Is this the right room?"

"You are most correct sir" responded Jeeves, "this is the domicile of the abandoned damsel requiring soothing. Miss Dreams has had her dreams bent, folded, spindled, mutilated, and crushed beyond all human capacity for suffering. Play on."

"Wait! Before you begin, what's the story behind that duct tape Tom?"

"Well, Zelda, you remember my dog Norton, who only knows one trick? Well, yesterday the UPS lady brought my new K3 to the door. As I was signing for it, Norton wanted to show off so he grabbed my shorts leg and yanked them down. The UPS lady ran off shrieking 'Pervert' - and took my K3 with her! She hasn't been back yet! So I thought, since I was commissioned to soothe a distraught lady, I'd better make sure NOT to repeat that episode here tonight. All I had was duct tape, so I've taped my shorts to my waist. Chafes a little, but I feel really secure."
"God, but I love that little pup!"

"à chacun son heure de gloire... même les chiens, apparemment."
Spoiler:
"every dog has his day..."


In the ensuing silence following this moving anecdote, Jeeves once again raised his hand to tap on the door. Unfortunately, before his knuckles reached the wood, the Donna Summers disco version of "I Will Survive!" blasted through the flimsy door, flattening the trio against the wall with sheer decibel power!

The door flew open, barely hanging on at the hinges as a veritable dervish danced demonically into the hallway.

"Hi guys! Thought I heard some voices out here! Come on in! It's party time!" shrieked Dreams as she wildly gyrated up and down the hallway, knocking Tom off his feet as she attempted a "dip" with him.

Jeeves stuffed his white gloves into his ears, plunged into the dimly lit room illuminated only by a spinning candle and the dying flames in a fireplace, and decreased the volume before their brains imploded.

"I believe it is now safe to enter the premises" intoned Jeeves, as he extracted the gloves from his aural canals.

Zelda looked around for Tom, who had prudently crawled away to safety. Shrugging, she entered Dreams' converted ballroom as Jeeves excused himself to see Master Tom to the door.

Dreams had breathlessly collapsed onto the bed, fanning herself with a "Wisconsin - Dream Get-Aways For Couples" brochure.
"Want some ice cream Zelda? I've got gallons and gallons of the stuff. Take a load off and tell me what brings you here to my not-so-humble abode."

"Dreams -- I've come about Pshrynk!" explained Zelda.

Dreams' eyes narrowed dangerously, as she snarled "You came about Pshrynk! You too Zelda? I thought you were my friend? He was bonking you too? Are you replacing me? Is that why he tried to dump me tonight? Was it for you?"

"No, no," Zelda hastened to explain. "Jeeves has already told me about your break-up with Pshrynk, how he dumped you and humiliated you in the boudoir. I'm so sorry he treated you that way, but it was no reason to kill him, was it?"

Dreams' face assumed an ugly, blotchy red appearance, spittle flying from the corners of her painted mouth as she hissed "He didn't dump me! I dumped him! I found out tonight he was planning to move to Wisconsin so I wouldn't find out about his other pieces of fluff! Wisconsin! Can you imagine that? Nobody really lives in Wisconsin voluntarily do they?"

"It's all right Dreams, I know all about it. Jeeves saw and heard your argument, when you told Pshrynk that you hated him, and threatened him. Remember?"

"Oh bosh! Jeeves obviously misunderstood what I said. There was a storm you know! I could barely hear myself scream as it was. See, Pshrynk gave me these brochures and revealed his evil plans to sequester me in the frozen hind-quarters of America's heartland! You know I can't stand cold weather! I simply told him that I would partake in such a move only "over his dead body" - a joke, get it? I explained that his plans made me sorry I ever got involved with him, and that I hated the idea of moving to Wisconsin. I jumped to my feet, spilling that damn strawberry ice cream all over everything, including him, and ran back to my room to have a good cry. He was very much alive - and laughing - when I left the room."

"Now I'm all better and ready to move on with my life, with someone new who appreciates me!"

"On dirait que certains cadavres n'ont pas sa réticence quand il s'agît de déménager !"
Spoiler:
"Seems there certain cadavers aren't as shy about "moving" as she is !"


Zelda collapsed under the weight of these plausible explanations. She looked blankly at the book in her hand and thought why bother. It's probably stuck open again at page 202 and there will only be a few letters or words legible. So she threw the book onto the pile of Wisconsin travel brochures heaped up on Dream's bed-spread, all of which were coated with the same cat hairs she had seen on the love-seat. She closed her eyes and leaned back, listening halfheartedly to Dreams' frenetic humming, trying to make a shred of sense out of tonight's events, real or imagined.

"Hey, isn't this Pshrynk's book?" asked Dreams when she noticed the sodden paperback. "What are you doing with it? Did you steal it after you killed him? Did he jilt you too? Don't worry, I'll never tell anyone you did it."

Dreams quieted down as she perused the pulpy paperback. "Wow, this has ice cream all over it. Blecchh. What a slob. Can't even take care of his own reading material. Let's see .... I can just barely make out .... on the bottom of page 202 .... looks like Pshyrnk's scribbling all right ...

___ the ______ __ __?
Ask ________ ___ ___ __.
__ was ___ __ ____.

Well, this sure doesn't make any sense."

With that, Dreams swept up all the travel brochures, along with the puzzling tome and threw them into the fireplace, where they burnt with a sickly sweet flame into black greasy ashes.

Dreams turned her attention back to Zelda, suddenly remembering she was still in the room.

"Say Zelda, did you get a good look at that dishy Jeeves? Was he wearing a wedding ring? Do you think he's seeing anyone? Wonder what he's wearing under that starched shirt. Is Wednesday his afternoon off?"

Zelda attempted a tactful reply "Sorry Dreams, somehow I don't think you have a ghost of a chance with this particular Jeeves. Errrr.... I understand he's already involved in a serious relationship.
[*in a low tone* You'd have a better chance with Adrian.]

"Oh well, a girl can dream, can't she?" sighed Dreams, and then giggled girlishly, "I made a joke, get it? Dreams - that's me - dreaming? Pretty good huh?"

"Wait a minute. You said something about killing Pshrynk. That wasn't true was it? You made up this whole murder thingy to cover up YOUR affair with Pshrynk didn't you? Didn't you?" You're the new squeeze Pshrynk was trying to run off with! I hate you! Hate you!"

"Comme elle y va ! Une affaire avec pshrynk, maintenant ! Et puis quoi encore ? Je suis coupable de tous les crimes, ce soir, à les entendre !"
Spoiler:
"That's putting it on a bit thick ! An affaire with pshrynk, now ! What else will they come up with ? To hear them all talk, it seems I'm guilty of every possible crime, tonight !"


Zelda recoiled from the sudden vitriolic attack and madly rang the bell for Jeeves.


[Will this thing ever stop being continued?]
[Can Zelda take much more abuse before her brain explodes?]
[Will Dreams find her dream-boat?]
[Why do people live in Wisconsin?]
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