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Poems and Stories from Laura Wright
Scotland Murder

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, regardless.

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 growing up.

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 with, "I."

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 exaggerated faces.

"The other half I leave to Donald."

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 was.

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 window.

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.

"Donald Macintosh?"

"Yes, thatís me. Can I help you with something?"

"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 George Macintosh?"

"Yes. Whatís wrong? Did he have an accident?"

"Um...well. We were called here earlier by an Ava MacClaine..."

"Yes, sheís our cook," Donald added hastily.

"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 Calouhan."

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 announcement."

"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 very heavily."

"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 suspect.

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 it?

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 thing."

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 town.

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 father?

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 spot, Donald?"

"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 spot."

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 them.

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 completely..."

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 house.":

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 knowingly.

"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 managed properly.

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 trust.

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. "I know."

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 them.

"You must listen to me, Donald." She was terribly frightened. "You must leave this house immediately."

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 was terrified.

"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 this morning.

"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 constructed."

"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 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 stopped herself.

"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 should."

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 someone."

Donald looked at her. "You need to go home. Obviously someone is scared and people are mad when they are scared."

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 the killer.

"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 is."

"You know your family well," Carl remarked. "I see we donít really need to tell you anything."

"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 closed.

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 your life.

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 fabric.

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 promised.

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 fatherís will.

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 so obviously?

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 grave?

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 vulnerable.

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 possibilities.

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 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 pondered aloud.

"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 out anything."

"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 brute force."

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 together."

"I suppose your right, Oswald. If only there was a way" 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 at."

"Could the body have been tampered with?"

"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 them?"

"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 pondered.

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 been next."

"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.

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