The police came. I heard them drive up, of course. I heard their conversation, as well, about the reality show, about whether their hair looked good. I heard them primp in the car before coming to the door. One male, one female. The female came had been her modeling portfolio in the trunk "just in case." They decided she should leave it initially.
Peacock showed them to the basement. I tagged along. The scene was completely different. It was covered in what looked like blood, and brightly lit. The crew was in just finishing changing the scene to make it more spectacular.
Brooks looked at them, clearly judging their looks. He frowned at the male's lack of a mustache, but brightened when he saw the woman. "Would you mind going to make up while we finish up here? We want to film the family find the body. We had some lighting problems before. We'll call you when we're ready."
They stared at him.
"And you," he continued, looking at the female. "Can you remove that body armor? It thickens your waist by at least five inches--"
The police at this point became professional and started to kick out the camera crew. Elliot argued to stay, standing on his constitutional rights. The police considered charging him with a crime for changing the crime scene. They would tell him to turn the camera off and he would do it automatically, then Brooks would tell him to turn it back on. Elliot screamed about his rights (real and imagined) when the camera was on, but became all Yes, Sir, No Sir when they were off.
Helen piped in and said it was her house and she want the camera crew kicked out as trespassers which would have settled argument, but Mad argued and talked about the provisions of the will. The female cops said, "Alright, you folks figure that out and let us know whether we're going to escort them off the property altogether. In the meantime, they're waiting in the library with you." She led them all back to the library. She recognized the Captain as the leader, or at least as the person most aware, and extracted from him a promise not to let anyone leave.
Mad and Helen argued as the TV people sulked in a corner. Mad wanted the show to remain; she still wanted to be a star. Helen wanted them to leave; they weren't showing the collars at all and that was all she cared about. Peacock had a vote in this too, but he said he'd stay out of it. Margaret was the tiebreaker. She extracted a promise from Mad to keep covered up in return for voting for them to stay. Marge said she was a talented singer and she wanted her to have her chance.
Time dragged on. At least an hour elapsed. People came in and out the front door. Blandings was told to remain where he was; there was no need for him to answer the door. I investigated, treading on silent pads, keeping to the shadow. More cop cars arrived, and another van as well.
The lawyer's partner came in. Elliot and Brooks jumped on him with the first amendment questions. He, of course, hadn't thought about the first amendment since he was a first year law student. His unthinking obnoxious desire to comply with all authority warred with his unthinking obnoxious contempt for cops because they were working people and in his opinion beneath him. (He confirmed everyone's worst stereotypes about lawyers.) He intimated to Mad and also Marge and Peacock that he'd be even more tight fisted than the previous administrator. He then demanded the exact time of death because he wanted to bill right until the moment the clown lawyer was translated into the beyond/threw off this mortal coil. Everyone agreed to kick him out at that point.
* * *
For the sake of narrative, I have pieced together conversations after the fact, or taken some literary license. At the same time the lawyer was being kicked out, this was going on.
Kathlee gunned the engine of her new Jaguar and headed into the hills annoyed that in the backwaters of Silicon Valley, her usual cadre of paparazzi was not in attendance to catch her arriving at the reality show. Her manager was in the passenger seat, holding on tight. "I can't even get arrested in this town," she snarled.
"What do you call what happened last night?" he said.
She turned a corner hard enough to plaster him against the window. "You can't get me publicity, so I do what I have to do. It was a darn cold night for skinny dipping in the town square's fountain, let me tell you. "
"You'll get your publicity, sweetie. The producers will have cameras ready tomorrow for your official arrival."
"Whatever, everything is so fake." She frowned as much as her Botox would allow and tossed her bleached hair. Despite her genius at marketing, she had as much sense of irony as she had musical talent.
"I swear, Brandon, you need to do a better job as my manager or else I'm going to--" she broke off as she turned the corner onto Rosewood Street where the mansion was. The street was lined with cars, a crowd had gathered and was being kept back by the police and a squadron of police cars cast their blue and white lights against the tall walls, giving the mansion a festive, holiday appearance. Her over-plumped lips parted in an unnaturally white smile. "Oh, Brandon...you're the sweetest. How could I ever doubt you?"
[Put in an explanation of how Kathlee gets past this police barrier]
Brandon smiled weakly. "Hey baby, don't I always deliver?" Then he saw the Coronor's van and backpedaled. "Um, actually..."
Kathlee followed his eye just as he saw two attendants wheeled out a covered form on a stretcher. That's when she knew the excitement wasn't for her. She instantly understood the implications.
"Someone died...this is terrible. This is going to bump me right off the front page."
* * *
Back in the library, Madeline was complaining.
Peacock said, "Don't worry; you're still the star here."
The butler was back in pompous mode, "Unless a bigger star comes along." He recounted a know-it-all anecdote.
Brooks and Elliot exchanged a significant glance.
Peacock comforted everyone, Steve, Helen and Madeline regarding their various worries.
Madeleine asked, "What else could go wrong."
The doorbell rang. Madeline's question was about to be answered.
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