The morning light greeted the countryside
with itís usual brilliance. The stately mansion cast a massive shadow
over the land. The small homes and roads brought a peaceful air to the
day. Clusters of spruce and fir trees littered the braes and small
glens. He rubbed his sleepy eyes in the morning light.
Donald Macintosh was returning home for
the first time in ten years. Ten long years of running from the past had
left him poor in comparison to his siblings, but he was more content
than ever. His contentment was to be short-lived, for his father had
requested him home. He dreaded seeing the cross and disproving looks
from his mother, and the stern, cold glances from everyone else. His
siblings had never longed to get away as he did, they never cared to
forsake monetary life, as he did.
It was the same landscape, familiar and
lush. The evergreens were alive with emerald vibrancy and the sky was
clear. He passed the Kailize Gardens and smiled. He was going into
Peebleshire and would be traveling towards the famous Traquair House.
The ancient hunting lodge had been of a particular attraction to his
father. Gaming for sport was just one of many of his fatherís
specialties. George Macintosh was an expert in everything he declared,
Donald looked upon his childhood and
could only recall his father being away. He was always working, on a
business holiday, or out on a hunting expedition. His childhood had been
full of governessí and servants, but no parents. He had been orphaned
in search of more pressing issues.
When he turned eighteen, he cashed out
all the money he had, and left. He said good-bye to his family, and
turned his back for ten years. He traveled extensively during that time,
meeting people of all classes and kinds. His fatherís name allowed him
to mingle with the politically concerned, and the elite. His own
attitude and interests allowed him to associate with everyone else.
Seeing actual families where all members sat down for dinner, had been a
holiday. Where the mother actually took care of her children and
didnít require assistants or nannies had been amazing.
He had rode on the, "Orient
Express," and had visited the sea-side borders of Portugal and had
traveled all the way to Prague. He had lived in Paris and Rome, as well
as Barcelona and Brussels.
Now, he was returning. Back to the
esteemed, "Blaeberry Manor." Home of the rich and powerful
George Macintosh. He could feel the bonds of class coming down up on his
shoulders like great chains. He loathed the snobbish feel of his
childhood home. He was out-of-place there and had been all his life. He
knew it, as a child. His siblings knew it, the servants knew it, and had
his parents been around, they would have known it.
The road stretched out before him in a
long, black ribbon. Red deer grazed lazily in the back of a meadow. A
cloud of dread loomed ominously over him, and he sighed. The past was
nothing more than history, and cold hearts could be melted instantly
under the proper conditions.
He doubted his optimistic thoughts, but
felt helpless to do anything more. Some people changed, some didnít.
That was all there for any set of circumstances. He didnít have any
kind of row with anyone before leaving, not even an argument. He just
casually slipped out of the picture. He never received any replies to
postcards or letters during those first years. His calls were taken by
servants and never returned. He didnít need them in his life any more
than they needed him. His father had been annoyed, but not angry when he
found his eldest son did not want the family firm. That was Charlesí
area of interest.
Donald didnít want to live his life
surrounded by accountants, bank clerks, and solicitors of all kinds. One
constant business trip where you simply breezed in and out of your own
home. Always on the go somewhere, never so much as talking to your
children. His mother had been as ridiculous, always following the latest
fashions and political trends. Never once did she darken his door when
he had been ill, as a child.
He knew he was getting closer and laid
old ghosts to rest. He watched the well-known wrought iron gates come
closer. He turned off the road and Angus was there to open the gate.
Donald grinned widely and jumped out, hugging the old Scottish gent.
"Nou, nou, lad. Welcome home." Donald cast a wide variety of
questions and calmed when Angus started looking flustered. He had always
been hot-tempered, and set in his ways. He was easily annoyed when you
battered him with questions. That was a quality which Donald associated
with his own father.
They spoke for a moment and Donald drove
back up to the main house. He wondered if Ava still managed the kitchen.
She had been just like his mother. His surrogate parents who adopted him
out of employment. Donald grinned at the memories and entered the house.
It was never a home, more of a museum or
a window-display. It was looked at, even appreciated at times. But,
never lived in. It felt as new as the day it had been constructed.
Everything was perfect and polished. There was never any room for
children, never any space to sit on furniture that was on the first
floor. They had constructed a family room on the second story where the
children were allowed. They watched television and played games, tucked
away where no visitors could see them. Donald wondered if his mother had
been ashamed of them when they were little. As though children were
something to be hidden instead of loved.
He walked onward and heard the gruff
sound of someone clearing their throat. He turned to see Oswald, the
butler. He had been old when Donald was young, and had not changed at
all. He was routinely cold and snobbish, Donald knew he was at home. He
was lead to his old bedroom, and he was surprised that it had not been
turned in to an exercise room. It hadnít changed at all. If it
werenít for the room being cleaned, Donald wondered if anyone had been
in the area at all. His things were in the same spot, his clothes were
still folded on his bed, his personal items he had neglected to take
were still laid out.
The rest of the day went by quickly as
Donald rummaged through his old things. Many of which he threw in a bin
liner to place in the garbage, it was nothing to him now. It had not
changed at all. His mother was shopping and lunching, his father was
working. His brother and sister were out, doing their favorite things.
He was alone in the house.
That evening at dinner, he was surprised
to find his family at the table. All of them were seated around the
thick, mahogany rectangle. None arose to hug him, none offered to shake
his hand. The usual, for such a family as his. He was neither surprised
nor pained by such a lack of affection. He had grown used to their ways
They included him in their conversation,
as he nodded and agreed. He had no knowledge of their affairs, nor did
he want to. They were speaking in limericks which all ended or began
At last, as the meal was being cleared,
George stood up. He got everyoneís attention, and loudly presented his
reasons for asking Donald home.
"As you all know, time hasnít
stopped for us. We are all growing... and aging.." His mother
humphed over the assertion she was growing older at all. "Of
course, darling. That doesnít include you." She smiled again. He
cleared his throat and continued, "I have asked Donald home for
this reason. I have just finished writing my will, and would very much
like to tell my family about it.
The room was as silent as a tomb. You
could hear a pin drop and slice the tension with a knife as George
continued, "I am giving my wife, Mary, half of my entire estate.
That includes the firm, the land, and all other assets...."
He seemed to deliberately trail off
between sentences. Donald noticed, but went along with it. It was
amusing to see the family so speechless. Charles and Gillian were
exchanging nervous glances. Donald was about to laugh at some of their
"The other half I leave to
He was stunned, it would have been less
of a shock had his father came over and punched him. His siblings were
already casting him aggravated looks and secretive glances between one
another. Donald did not like the way the evening had turned.
"I am doing this," George
seemed to sense the tension growing. "Because I believe him to be
the most mature, and the most capable of taking care of you all, and my
business affairs. He left the protective area where we live, in order to
see what we couldnít provide. That is something which I did, myself,
at a young age. I trust that he will see it is handled properly, and
will see that you all are taken care of. "
He stood up and lit one of his expensive
cigars. The family left the room and, Donald dawdled, not knowing what
to say. His father looked at him and said, "Maybe it was wrong of
me to stay away from home so much. I hope you donít hold any harsh
feelings towards me for it. I am sorry, but I know I canít change
that. You have grown into a fine young man, and I think that you are
perfect for handling all the details. I hope it isnít too much.
"No," Donald pondered.
"No, dad. Iíll be fine. We do what we must in life."
With an errie look which spoke of wisdom,
his father smiled, "I know you will, son. We are only able to do
what we are aware of. I may have seemed like a heartless and absent
father, but I didnít want to be. I was desperately trying to make sure
you all would never have to work. I see now, that might not have been
the most intelligent thing to do."
Donald sensed his emotion and that the
night was getting late. "You did what you thought best, and that
was enough just to know that. Goodnight."
That was where the conversation ended,
and Donald couldnít believe how the night had ended. He hadnít
wanted anything, and in ways felt guilty about getting it. But, he knew
how frivolous his mother would have been with it, and how silly his
brother and sister would have been. Charles would have wasted it on
fast, shady schemes to make him even more rich. Gillian would have
constructed a theatre where she was the featured actress, everyday.
Using that power to persuade others in the theatre to see how good she
He did find it hilarious that they would
be so anxious for one another to get it, and yet when he got it, they
were together in anger. Donald could easily still see their faces, they
werenít siblings at all. There were serpent-eyed monsters, greedy
leeches. His first order was to send them out to work on something
besides themselves. Either work at the firm or work for a charity. He
couldnít do anything other that. They were both single and had no clue
how to be adults. Both near thirty, and both as irresponsible and
careless as children. He knew his father had spoiled them.
He went to sleep easily that night. He
dreamed strange dreams of lurking shadows and fear. Someone was chasing
him, then he had to chase someone else. It felt like the longest dream
he had ever experienced. He woke with the sounds of sirens outside his
He had slept all night, and there was
rays of the morning sun, streaming through his window. He went to the
window and peered through the curtains. Numerous officers were walking
to and fro, while two formally dressed detectives spoke with one
another. They stopped at the same time and looked up at him. He smiled,
but they didnít return his sentiment. He knew something was wrong,
only he didnít know what.
He threw on his clothes and rinsed his
face. He went down the large steps in to the foyer and was greeted with
questions. The detectives had came inside and were standing at the
bottom of the staircase.
"Yes, thatís me. Can I help you
"Havenít you heard?" The one
on the left said.
"Heard what? I just woke up."
"Iím sorry to be the one to tell
you this, we canít seem to find anyone else around. Your father is
"Yes. Whatís wrong? Did he have an
"Um...well. We were called here
earlier by an Ava MacClaine..."
"Yes, sheís our cook," Donald
"Your father is dead, Donald."
The second inspector noticed the firstís hesitation. He held out his
hand, "Hello, Iím Detective John Evans, this is Detective Carl
The second also held out his hand. They
paused momentarily after the introduction and Donald couldnít think of
what went wrong.
"I donít mean to appear
insensitive to your loss, Donald," Carl began. "But, we need
to know what went on here last night."
Donald thought for a moment, "I just
arrived yesterday, I have been traveling for-"
"Ten years," John finished his
sentence. "We know that the family was gathered here for a large
dinner last night. We spoke with the staff."
"Yes, father made an
"What kind," Carl looked
suspiciously at Donald.
"About his will. He had completed it
and wanted to tell the family what his decision was."
"What were they, then?" Carl
pressed the issue.
"It was simple, father split his
estate between two people, and left it up to them to take care of the
rest of the family.
"Who were those two people?"
"Myself and my mother."
"Oh," he lost interest.
Donald felt a sense of urgency,
"Tell me, please. What killed him?"
The detectives looked at one another,
"You didnít hear anything this morning?"
"Nothing," Donald said. "I
had a rather large whisky last night, I donít usually drink. I slept
"There is a matter of a handgun.
Does anyone in your family own a handgun?"
Donald thought for a moment. "My
father does, he has a collection in his study."
"Is he the only one?" Carl
looked as though he were concentrating on something.
Donald knew Mary and Gillian didnít
have one, he wasnít positive about Charles. Although, Charles would
have no reason to own a handgun. "No, I canít say that I do.
Father only had his gun collection because he hunted so often and such a
variety of game."
The detectives lost their former looks of
suspicion and interest. Donald knew what they were looking for.
"There was no motive on my part. If anything, it could have been
anyone who wasnít in the will. Anyone at all."
They left and Donald excused himself,
needing to get dressed. He showered and shaved with all the vigor of an
old man. He couldnít believe his father was dead. There was just no
reason. Everyone was going to be taken care of.
His mind began going from one person to
the next. Everyone seemed a suspect, and anyone could have murdered his
father. He thought of his mother and her quest for political power. His
brother and his fear someone might get more than he. His sister and her
vain sense of drama. His mind even wandered to Oswald, anyone was a
He went to shower and couldnít stop
thinking about the story prevailing before him. Who in the house was
actually capable of murder? Absolute murder, cold-blooded massacring. He
didnít think anyone in the household was capable of such an atrocity.
Or was it that he didnít want to believe anyone was capable of
He felt slightly paranoid as he stepped
in to the shower. The stone tiles were frigid against his bare feet and
he turned the water on hot. His mind, constantly thinking of what might
have happened. Who could have murdered his father?
He realized that the previous night, was
the first time his father had ever seemed like a parent. He wept for the
time which was cut so short, so abruptly. He dressed and groomed in
silence, not caring to speak to anyone else. He walked out into the
garden to find Angus pulling weeds out of the rhododendrons and creeping
azaleas. Angus was efficient and knew everything about gardens.
He seemed to sense Donaldís sadness,
"Ay, lad. Disna dae guid tae greet. Heís gane, we aw dee."
"I know, Angus." Donald replied
sadly. "I know. I just wish it hadnít happened today."
"Nae sic thing as furthie death.
Niver a thoucht fur thae thatíre waesome oíre it. Itís a veecious
Donald went on talking with Angus about
it. He spoke fluent Scots, as well as French and Italian. That had made
his travels much more pleasant and easy. Angus had seen his share of
death, he was an authority on the subject. His wife and child both
passed away during birth, and he was left with nothing, but his work.
The land was his family after that. He pruned and fussed over the
gardens as a mother would over a child.
He walked off and went around the side of
the estate. The lands hadnít changed at all. The fences were the same,
the trees were the same. He went past the front gate, and over to the
River Tweed. Macintosh property contained a small part of the Ettrick
Forest. He walked over to the waterís edge, aware that he had repeated
the same action hundreds of times growing up. While Charles would be
attending management classes, Donald would be walking and exploring.
While Gillian was taking acting classes and drama instruction, Donald
was learning about gardening, and meeting people of all kinds in the
He looked down, appalled at what he
noticed. There was a gun, underwater. A black, cruel-looking piece with
a sleek body and a vicious barrel. He walked carefully towards the
stream. It hadnít been there long, no debris or muck had settled
across the weapon. It was still shiny and glinted in the sunlight.
Donald didnít know how to approach the
piece. If he reported it, he would be prime suspect. Who would believe
he simply went for a walk and ran across the weapon used to kill his
He ran back up the embankment and through
the gates. Angus was still outside and Donald ran to him explaining the
situation. Angus grabbed a plastic bag and comforted Donald, the
authorities had to be notified, regardless of how it looked. Donald knew
this and accepted it with a nauseous stomach.
The same two detectives arrived and
looked suspiciously at Donald. He had expected this and told them his
story. Immediately, they picked up where he knew they would. The most
aggressive, Carl, looked at Donald through squinty eyes. The beady
pupils darted to him and to his notes.
"What were you doing in that precise
"I was walking. I had always went to
the same spot, from the time I was a child. That spot has a large rock,
if you will notice, and it is perfect to sit on. I fished at that
Carl seemed almost comical, a bad
reproduction of the American film star Humphrey Bogart. "Sam
Spade," was alive and being performed, badly, by the English man.
Donald was subjected to rigorous
questioning, the same questions over and over. His siblings arrived and
were even more distant to Donald. Charles looked at him through
disdainful eyes and spat, "What happened. Iím sure you are
privileged beyond us."
Donald added to his anger by walking off
without replying. He didnít feel like fighting, his little brother
always picked the most inopportune times for being cross and
disagreeable. Gillian wasnít much better, acting as though she were
sulking towards her older brother, when she was close to thirty as well.
They were no help to the police, carrying
on about the previous night as though it were the authoritiesí
responsibility to give them what they wished. Nothing was good enough
unless it was what they wanted. They whined for the rest of the day to
anyone who would listen. Donald went for a drive after the series of
questions from both detectives and officers. He needed a break from the
judgmental looks of Gillian and Charles. The had already had him
charged, sentenced, and were waiting to send him to the gallows. The
detectives had been very aggressive at first, but had slacked off and by
the time they had stopped talking, were on to other subjects.
Everyone in the house was a suspect,
Donald sat in his room with another whisky, trying to piece together the
puzzle. He knew the detectives were taking care of it, they were trained
for it, he couldnít help his unrelenting interest and suspicions.
Sometimes, even the authorities needed a little help. No one knew his
family as he did, it would take them a long time to get to know the
family. By then, someone else could be dead or-he stopped thinking-Someone
else could be dead...
That thought had never occurred to him so
strongly. He would have to be very careful about who he was with and
what he did. His mother still hadnít returned from golf, she had went
to play early this morning. She couldnít be found, and the authorities
were still searching.
Donald thought about Charles, he was the
most likely. He was left out of the will due to his, "lack of
maturity," people have killed before for less. He was always
nervous and had to have his way. Otherwise, he threw a tantrum
resembling a St. Vitas dance. He was sly and conniving when he wanted to
be, a characteristic occasionally exhibited by his mother.
Mother, yes, she had been here. But, what
sort of fellow could suspect his mother of murder? My own mother a
murderer? He seriously pondered for a moment. Then, he abandoned the
thought in a cloud of guilt. He should not suspect his mother, that was
not right. She may be a power hungry woman, who could be ruthless at
times, but she wouldnít murder.
He thought of Gillian and had to laugh at
the thought of her murdering. She might ruin a good manicure to do
something like that. She couldnít risk something so negative about her
family with the shallow and mentally unstable artists she accompanied.
The servants had no reason to kill, they
would be paid the same with or without George. There was no death
details or sums to be left. They had always been paid generously, and
always treated as humans and family members, not just servants.
He stood up and walked back out, he would
have to do some listening and sneaking- a very nasty sort of business-
to see what he could find. He slowly opened the door and began walking,
wondering where to start.
"Do you know who did it?" A
feminine whisper imposed upon his thoughts. He recognized it as being
the voice of Ester, the old maid. She was talking to a younger girl and
they were changing the linens in Maryís room. Donald hated to, but he
needed answers before someone else was murdered.
"No, and if youíre smart.
Youíll forget about it," the other voice sounded nervous and
ready to scream. "Iím a
mess, I shall go mad if they donít locate the criminal soon."
They paused momentarily and Charles was
silent, wondering if they sensed him. Ester continued,
"You just donít know anyone, anymore. I would never have
suspected anyone in this house of murder. You know, when you work for
those who have, some things you just donít believe them low enough to
do. I see I was wrong. I am thinking of handing in my resignation."
"Oh, Ester," the voice
pleaded. "I canít quit.
Donít leave me here."
"Well, I wouldnít leave you.
There would be someone else in my place before I left."
That seemed to calm the younger girl
Ester called, "Ingrid, " into a sociable state. She lightened
up and began talking of her fellow and Charles walked on. That did not
help him at all.
He made a visit to the Cross Church, just
to feel some kind of peace. He became aware that a black car was
following him, and he proceeded as though he didnít suspect anything.
The first step in giving himself away would be to run to try and lose
He had no idea of who had done it, but
time was running out. He needed to find the killer before it was his
turn. He was left in the will and that left him a target if there were
stipulations which involved his death.
He drove back home to see his motherís
car in the drive. She was inside and the detectiveís cars were behind
herís. Donald walked in to find he himself in the firing range.
"I tell you, ask my son!" Mary was indignant.
Carl again, suspiciously eyed Donald,
"Did your mother tell you good-bye this morning?"
Donald knew his mother hadnít came near
him since he had returned. She wasnít the type to walk into her
childrenís rooms for anything, much less to kiss them for any reason.
Not knowing why, he felt compelled to agree, "Well, I couldnít
tell you for sure. You see, I can be talking with someone and Iím
still asleep. I just donít wake up, sometimes if someone wants my
attention, I just sort of acknowledge it without paying attention."
They looked at him with scrutiny, and
back at his mother. They seemed satisfied with his explanation and
carried on as though nothing unusual had happened.
They left and his mother started walking
off, "Mother?" Donald asked, annoyed at her avoidance of him.
"What was that all about?"
"Well, I woke up this morning and
had to play. I had invited a family, cosines of the Rothschilds, to play
a round with me. I do hope you arenít angry that I wasnít here. I
know it is simply horrible!"
Donald cut her off, "You were up
with father this morning werenít you?"
"Donald! Are you implying that I did
something to your father?"
"No, mother, " he sighed.
Knowing this was just going to take him in one large circle. "No,
not at all. I am asking you if you were the last one to speak to father.
You must admit that was a surprising event last night."
"Yes, it was surprising. I suppose I
was the last one to speak with him. Donald, you mustnít take what he
said to heart, you know your brother and sister disagree
She trailed off and Donald already knew
what was happening, "Yes, mother. I know. I just bet that Charles
and Gillian will fight me, with you on their side, through any court
they can find. That does not hide the fact that there is murderer in our
His mother went through many emotions
before she spoke, she blushed at her obvious partiality between her
children. She grew sad, and then angry when he spoke to her so
"Well, I never-"
"Well, if you live then someday you
can," Donald didnít know what else to say. He was so annoyed by
her bloody arrogance and heartlessness. He didnít ask his father to
leave his will like that. He began packing his things to leave and he
could see George saying, "Quitters never prosper, my boy."
He knew he couldnít leave. Although he
was one of the former suspects who stayed on the back-burner, he
couldnít leave. It would take the heat from the real killer and make
himself look like he really was a rich snob that fled at the first sign
of trouble. Besides, someone needed to stay and see that things were
He decided to endure it for a while, and
replaced his clothing in the chest. He lingered momentarily in the
bedroom, thinking about what lay before him. How would the officials
find anything if they were in on it together. It would remained unsolved
forever, he couldnít do his father that way. Not after actually seeing
he was a genuine person inside, it just wasnít proper.
He opened the door and listened to a
voice he soon discovered to be Maryís. He stepped closer to the door
and didnít care. She certainly wasnít shedding tears of happiness
for her sonís return, he certainly wasnít going to have any mixed
feelings about hearing what she had to say on the matter.
"You know, I wish he hadíve
stayed away. Why, I wouldnít be surprised if he was the murderer,
himself. He always was a black sheep, you know. Nothing like his sweet
brother and sister. Those are the two which took after me, mind you. I
know where their blue blood comes from...."
Donald was slightly hurt to hear his
mother say those things out loud and to someone else, he suspected such
a reaction though. He could tell she was on the telephone, and she
didnít care who heard what. He knew how she felt. When she said those
things, it only confirmed what he had felt all his life. His mother had
been ashamed of him.
Well, he held his head up and smiled. He
was his fatherís son, and proud of it. Someone had to do something
decent for the old boy. There certainly wasnít going to be any help
from any of the others.
He wondered, in a strange way, if they
all hadnít been responsible for it. There could be some great
conspiracy to frame him. He hated to feel paranoid, but that is where
the evidence was leading. He happened to be asleep when it happened, he
happened to find the weapon in the creek. A place which the entire
family knew he had always frequented as a child. They timed it for the
morning after the family talk about the will. He didnít know who to
Ava was cooking furiously, as she always
had. She hugged Donald with all the fury a mother could. She had been
childless and her husband had died five years before she came to work
with the family. She had secretly adopted Donald as her own, and he
didnít protest. He enjoyed a motherís love, maternal kindness and
concern. His own mother certainly wanted nothing to do with him.
"Iím sorry, love," she kissed
his cheek. "I know that hurt you, your father loved you the most. I
think he just didnít know how to show it, until it was too late."
"I know," Donald sighed.
She looked around the kitchen, and pulled
his arm. He began to protest and she placed a well-worn finger over her
mother for him to quiet. He did and she closed the pantry door behind
"You must listen to me,
Donald." She was terribly frightened. "You must leave this
Donald was overwhelmed by her
affectionate concern. Her white hair was pulled back in a loose bun and
she looked like Mrs. Clause in the floor-length uniform she had worn for
years. He grew serious as the look of concern was unwavering. She really
"What do you know?" Donald
pressed. "What is wrong with it?"
"This house is unfriendly, Donald.
You know that. It always has been, the people here are much worse than
you give them credit for. Much worse. You have no idea what happened
"While you were asleep, they had the
most dreadful fight! All of them, your mother, Charles, Gillian, they
all ganged up on him. We were powerless to do anything. Even Oswald was
offended by their behavior and Charles threatened to have him banished
from the home.
"Oswald, dismissed?" Donald was
speechless. Oswald had been there since the house had been
"You see what I mean?" She said
as more of a question. She looked at him and tears welled in her eyes,
"Oh, do be careful. I donít want another murder at this house,
itís unlucky enough as it is...Promise me youíll leave."
"I canít leave, Iíll be
suspected, Ava. Please donít put my in that situation, I-"
"Itís better to offend the
authorities than to...to...wind up like your father. Foolish man. He
should never have announced those details about his will."
"But, he did. And here we are."
Donald tried to take charge as best he could. "I canít leave, I
have to stay here and deal with the details. I promised my father I
would. Who ever carried it out has no reason to do anything to me, I
donít know anymore than anyone else."
"But, the money is to be split
between your mother and yourself..." She began to say something and
"What?" Donald pressed the
matter. "Tell me, do you think mother did it?"
"I donít know who did it,
Donald." She grew tense and anxious. She began watching the door of
the pantry. "But, I know that no one cares for you as they
She refused to clarify her vague words
and left before he did. He dodged a large tin of stewed tomatoes as they
fell from the top of the closet. He started walking out and he suddenly
halted. That could have been a trap, as long as he had played there,
nothing fell from the pantry. He looked up to the very top of the
shelving and instantly raised an arm over his head. The large commercial
tins of vegetables all poked out from the edge of the top shelf. Perfect
place for an accident.
"Ava?" Donald asked. She came
back around to the pantry, "I told you, Iím not saying anymore,
I-" he shushed her up and pointed up. "Losh!" She almost
screamed. "I never leave tins like that, that could kill
Donald looked at her. "You need to
go home. Obviously someone is scared and people are mad when they are
She took off her apron, and wanted Donald
to come with her. He refused, in spite of her pleading. She left quickly
after Donald went to another room and called her. She feigned a family
emergency and Donald knew he had better find out who was the culprit.
Donald paid a visit to the detectives,
after explaining the situation, they agreed to use him in order to catch
"I could find out things none of you
could. I am on the inside, and I am in danger. I think that the staff at
the house is, as well."
He went on to explain about Avaís side,
and the way the tins were haphazardly placed on the edge of the
shelving. He talked about every member he could, even his own motherís
partiality. Carl didnít help his growing paranoia, "I know you
are in danger. We were wondering how long it would take for you to come
to us like this, and I donít blame you at all. I would have left the
first day, at least to a hotel.
He walked over and sat on the side of his
desk facing Donald, "You know, I think that there was a scheme over
the murder. I do, indeed, believe it was fully planned and carried out
according to plan. Otherwise, we would have found much more evidence,
hairs, fibers, something. Someone had to be very prepared for this.
There were no fingerprints, no solid footprints outside in the soil,
nothing. No forced entry, no shoe marks on the floors.
He pondered a moment as Donald sat
quietly, "You, the member least liked by your family, are suddenly
left with great financial gain by your father. Money has done many
things, Mr. Macintosh, to drive families apart. More than any other evil
on earth, money has caused death, envy, hate, itís something everyone
wants and no one wants to deal with that part of it. Yet, it is
inevitable when you have it."
"I understand your lack of drive to
place your mother in a bad light, none of us want do anything to make
our mothers look bad. But, you must understand, money creates monsters
of people. We arenít saying your mother is guilty, we arenít even
implying it, it is still vague and the possibilities are many. But,
money does change people. Even people who were already well-to-do
sometimes fall victim when it comes to having more. Itís an addiction,
like any substantial drug. Some can deal with it easily, some not so
easily, and some are insane over it. From the interviews we have
obtained, many people in that house are very addicted. I canít tell
you for certain, just yet, but some feel that if you come into control
over the money, they can not spend as frivolously as they want.
"Oh, now thatís Gillian. That is
just too much like her, I can read that sitting here. That is
Gillianís take, and Charles. From what I know about my brother, he
wants control over everything. Although, he knows I have managed money
more greatly than he, I believe father knew I had much more of a head
for finances. You know, the only money I received from my parents, was
the lump sum I cashed in when I finished my studies. Since then, it has
taken me many places, and I still have a generous amount invested in
several companies. He hates the thought of someone being smarter than he
"You know your family well,"
Carl remarked. "I see we donít really need to tell you
"I know my family from when I was
living there, Detective." Donald added with sadness. "I
donít want to know them that way, but they choose to act the same way
they did ten years ago. Mother was ashamed of me, Gillian was tired of
me simplifying her, Ďcomplicated,í life, and Charles was not
thrilled with my lack of concerns financially. None of them liked me. I
thought none of them did until...until..."
"Until the night before?"
They talked further and it was dark by
the time Donald went to his automobile. He rubbed his eyes and went to
the pub for a bite to eat and a drink. It was empty, as it usually was
during the middle of the week. With people preparing for work and
day-time obligations, they found it difficult to make it until the place
He sat at the bar and the gentleman
served him a good stout ale. Black as night and as thick as treekle.
Donald wasnít very fond of the bottle, but he was afraid to drink at
home. Who knows what poison might lay in the next meal?
He finished his drink without much
conversation. He wasnít in a very talkative mood, and the barkeep was
hurriedly cleaning glasses and pots in the kitchen. It was nice to just
sit with someone whom you could be sure, wasnít attempting anything on
He went home and began sneaking in the
door. He was surprised and laughed when his old key still fit the lock.
He figured they had changed them when he left. The old house was silent
and he moved stealthy through the darkened halls and stairways. He
stepped off of the top step and tripped over something huge. It was the
largest-whatever it was- he had ever seen. He could feel the slight
effects of the ale and had to suppress a giggle. He crawled to the
console table and flipped the stained-glass lamp on. He was expecting to
see a pile of clothes someone had forgot to put away, or a stack of
clean linens Ava left to take care of in the morning. He was appalled
when he turned to see, a body.
Donald rubbed his eyes while trying to
sustain his balance. It was a body, an actual rigid body. He was so
afraid to raise up, he wanted to just stay there and avoid seeing who it
really was, he had the worst feeling over who it would be, he paused
momentarily to gain some courage. He couldnít face it, he didnít
want to. He seriously considered crawling away from the person, he
couldnít bare to see someone else lying there, dead.
He knew he had no choice. It could be
someone, murdered like his father, with no one to take care of them. He
didnít want his father to be left and no justice for a wrongful death.
He knew in other families, loved ones would be the same.
He raised slightly and held his breath.
Ester was laying there, her eyes wide open, her mouth was affixed in a
permanent scream. Her throat was encircled with a dark bruise, in the
shape of two hands. Donald ran to his motherís room, it was empty. He
went to get Oswald.
Oswald gave a sleepy humph as he
woke up. A sound Donald smiled at. It was familiar. They rushed up to
the steps and she was still there. At that moment, Oswaldís mask of
shrewd cold shattered. He wept and Donald found him a pitiful sight. He
was always very fond of Ester, they had dated when they were in school.
Donald had never before seen Oswald show
any real emotion. Annoyance and aggravation were the main emotions of
the butler. It was strange and unnerving to see the rock crumble. He
felt somewhat childish standing there. He knew he needed to say
something, anything to comfort Oswald. But, he couldnít, he just
couldnít. He knew nothing about Oswald, other than what Ava and Angus
had told him.
He couldnít bare to look at Ester, she
had seemed so unnatural laying there. The independent sparkle in her
eyes was absent, her always-perfect collar was wrinkled and disheveled.
Out of his own anxiety, he reached down and straightened the rumpled
The detectives came again, both looking
sleepy and irritated. There wasnít anyone at home when the murders
occurred, everyone always seemed to be out at the perfect time. Carl
gave him a knowing look and whispered, "You must understand you are
in great danger here. Do you wish to stay in a hotel room?"
"No," Donald was defiant to the
thought of running. "Someone is scared. Badly scared to kill again.
We are getting close."
He couldnít stand it anymore, with the
cooperation of Carl as a watch, Donald ran to his motherís room and
began searching for some possible answers. Someone was a little too
crafty and clever, not to mention panicky. He knew someone else would
end up dead, possibly him, and he had to handle the situation as he
He closed the door behind him, feeling
out-of-place. He had never been alone in his motherís room before in
his life. The furniture was all different, except for the Victorian
telephone. She had used that for years. It was a cold and unfriendly
room. There were no pictures of her children, anywhere.
He opened the stand beside her bed, and
found stacks and stacks of letters. All were bundled separately with
ribbons. There was one stack from a well-to-do attorney, one from a
powerful politician. Numerous stacks from well-known men all over
Britain and Europe. He opened three letters in three of the
accumulations and found they were all love letters.
He placed the things back as he had found
them, and went to her desk It was a King Louis XVI desk, elaborate and
massive. He rummaged quietly through drawers and found a copy of his
He was not surprised, nor was he amazed
to find the copy. Sections were highlighted on how to remove him from
the will. There were a few papers underneath detailing the procedure to
have someone declared legally deceased. Donald wondered if his mother
had been capable of actually killing someone literally.
He put the papers down, it certainly was
damning evidence. He debated on bringing the facts to light. His own
mother had wanted him to have nothing, she was even thinking about
making him declared dead. He picked up the papers and took them to Carl.
He had no reason for loyalty to someone so vicious and wicked as to
treat her own flesh and blood. What mother could exhibit such partiality
He walked out to the hall and handed the
detective the papers. This was not the time for loyalty when the person
is capable of murder. Donald couldnít understand why he wasnít the
one being buried. Why wasnít he the one who would lay in the open
They waited for an hour and Carl knew
nothing new he could tell Donald. It was getting around one in the
morning, and Mary was still out. Carl told Donald to go lay down and
they would wake him when his mother arrived.
Donald went in his room and laid down, he
left his clothes on. He felt anxiety keeping him awake, if it werenít
for the fact that the cops were there, he wouldnít have slept at all.
Monsters and maniacs would be in every shadow, waiting for him to be
He dreamed strange and vivid dream, he
chased his father through a continuous set of rooms. All were the rooms
on the bottom floor of the house. He was constantly trying to find
George, and when he did, his father would simply look at him and say,
"You know, Donald. You know."
Donald didnít know, and there was too
much evidence against everyone to venture one guess. He tried to explain
this to the shell of his father, the waxen and pale figure hovering over
the ground. Always with the same reply, always with hazy and vague
He woke, feeling more tired than before
he laid down. Bright sunlight streamed through his window in golden
rays. They settled across his bed and one streamed in his eyes. He
blinked and squinted his eyes, sitting up, he then headed for the
shower. He could already feel it was going to be a long day.
He showered, shaved, and dressed in his
usual manner, paying no attention when Oswald brought his breakfast in.
Donald looked worried at the silver platter and the silent butler gave a
slight laugh. "No worry, Donald. I prepared it myself."
Feeling a slight blush, Donald returned
the chuckle. "Sorry, I just canít help feeling...you know.."
"Paranoid." Oswald agreed.
"The detectives left last night. Your mother never returned. They
said they would return as soon as she was found."
"Do you think..." Donald
"I canít say," Oswald
answered. "If someone would do that to our poor Ester, they would
do it to anyone. None of us are safe."
"Oswald," Donald began.
"Who do you think is the criminal? I am trying to help the
detectives have information from the inside, but I still canít find
"Well, I should think you would talk
with everyone to find out information. Of course...Well, I mean..."
"Itís quite all right,
Oswald." Donald comforted. "I know that Iím an outsider
here, the detectives probably will have much more than I, simply from
The older man nodded in agreement.
"I suspect the Misses is up to something. But, I suspect your
siblings would be just as capable, if not more so. When you look at
strangeness of the family, they all could very well be in on it
"I suppose your right, Oswald. If
only there was a way to...to..." His voice trailed as his mind went
deep in to the many possibilities.
"Oswald, how did they find his body?
How was it laying, exactly?"
ĎThe entry wound came from the
direction of the main foyer. That is the conclusion they arrived
"Could the body have been tampered
"I suppose so. They floor in the
study is polished marble, nothing stains or is difficult to wipe up.
That appealed to Mr. Macintosh. The floor was easy to maintain and kept
itís new look."
Donald thought intensely at the new door
opening before him. "Did they check outside? For clues?"
"They gave it a good looking-over, I
donít guess they would have ran thoroughly over it. The window was not
shattered and there was no reason for them to believe anyone was out
there. I heard the shot echo, like it was fired indoors."
"Could someone have held their hand
in the open window and fired, quickly closing the pane of glass behind
"Iíd imagine so."
"And couldnít they run away from
the side of the house, as not to be noticed from the window of the
study, where everyone would be running to?"
Donald rose up and asked Oswald to join
him. They were going to do a little old-fashioned sleuthing.
The windows had not been tampered with
since the fatality, none of the staff had touched the room other than to
clean up the gore. Donald put on his thin gloves and went to the window.
Sure enough, it wasnít locked. Someone had pulled it down and forgot
to lock it.
They both recalled that George always
smoked cigars when he was angry or excited about something. There was a
single half-cigar snuffed out in the crystal tray. He had always kept a
window open when he smoked, so the furniture wouldnít carry the scent.
They both were anticipating the discovery
of more mistakes the criminal made. They ran outside and found a slight
indentation in the ground. A manís shoe, a big manís shoe had
applied pressure to that spot.
Charles, the name stood out in Donaldís
mind so vividly it was like flashing neon. He was very likely to do
something like that. Very likely indeed. They followed the traces of
foot prints on to the sidewalk. That particular path went directly
around the house, through the gardens, and out the gate.
They spotted Angus working on the roses,
he was irritated by their range of questions, but found the possibility
overwhelming. "Sae ye mynd Charles woud daeít?"
"Exactly, Angus." Donald
They all went inside and telephoned the
detectives with their news. He spoke with Carl and told him about it,
about the shoes, and the suspicions of Charles. Donald was shocked by
his laughter. "Itís okay, Donald. We already caught her."
"HER?" Donald asked
loudly in surprise.
"Yes, Donald. Your mother admitted
doing it. She put on the manís shoes so they wouldnít trace her. She
used your fatherís shoes. Those love letters you found were the main
clue. She attempted to go to Italy and we discovered her car at the home
of Sir Alfred Moron. Iím afraid she was very cooperative when we began
linking the dates together. She was keeping up another young man outside
of Edinburgh, she was going to leave with him. It takes money to see the
men she was interested in, you know. Iím sorry that it turned out in
this manner. She was counting on him leaving her the entire estate to do
as she pleased. When she suspected how the will was left, she began
studying how to get around giving you anything. You could have very well
"Ester..." Donald trailed off.
"Yes, she was another victim of your
motherís. She had been making the bed upstairs and watched you
mother run out to the river. We had suspected Charles, because it is
simple fact that women seldom ever murder using physical contact. We had
thought it was Charles, but after we told her we suspected it was him
and he was going to be incarcerated for the rest of his life, she was
eager to share all the details."
Donald was shocked, and thrilled it was
over. He breathed a sigh of relief and sat down in the lounge chair next
to the sofa table. It had been an exhaustive time.