The Tea Cozy Murder Club: A Murder at Parsons Ridge (TV Pilot Script)

c – 2016 Marilyn Jaye Lewis [the blog formatted this, sorry]

                          ACT ONE
FADE IN:
EXT. PARSONS RIDGE, OHIO - DAY
Dawn on a crisp October morning in a quaint Ohio town. 
A sign on the two-lane highway into town welcomes visitors to "Parsons Ridge, Ohio; Population 5,719; Home of the College at Parsons Ridge, Est. 1831." 
EXT. PARSONS RIDGE COLLEGE 
The view is from the top of the hill where the college is located. The sleeping town spread out below looks idyllic. Mature pines, maples, and oak trees for as far as the eye can see; the trees still have their colorful fall leaves.
The houses below are crowded together on old, narrow streets with names like Cherry Street and Elm Street. The houses are early 20th-Century bungalows, in the Arts & Crafts style, with welcoming porches and small patches of grass that pass for front yards. A yard here and there has a split-rail fence, another has a weathered picket fence. Some porches are festooned with seasonal pumpkins and ears of Indian corn; others are decked out with Halloween decorations.
EXT. OLIVIA VAN HEUSEN'S BUNGALOW 
A tidy, two-story bungalow on Elm Street, close to the campus. 
From the front porch: a light wind kicks up and partially blows open Olivia's front door.
BEGIN: SILENT THROUGHOUT
INT. OLIVIA VAN HEUSEN'S BUNGALOW
As dawn flows into Olivia's house, a lamp is still lit in the front room from the night before. All is very neat, everything is in its place. 
INTERCUT OLIVIA'S HOUSE AT DAWN AND HER HOUSE FROM THE NIGHT BEFORE
- The night before: the same lamp is lit in the front room but the windows show that it is dark outside. OLIVIA (39, attractive) is pacing, talking unhappily on her iPhone. An empty wineglass is in one hand. She wears a wool skirt, a pullover sweater, black tights, but her shoes are off. She paces the hardwood floor in stocking feet.
- At dawn: the still, and very tidy, first floor in the early morning light. An electric light also comes from the kitchen at the back of the first floor.
- The night before: Olivia is increasingly unhappy with how the phone call is going. Still on the iPhone, she heads to the lit kitchen with her empty wineglass. 
- At dawn: Olivia, eyes open, is lying dead on the floor at the foot of the stairs. It's a straight, steep stairway to the second floor, with uncarpeted polished wood steps. She wears the same clothes she wore the night before. A shattered wineglass lies near her hand, red wine stains the hardwood floor.
- The night before: Olivia is in the kitchen, refilling her wineglass with red wine. She completely loses patience with the person on the iPhone and clicks it off. She tosses it on the counter. Immediately, someone texts her. She picks up the iPhone, looks at it, and gets disgusted. She leaves the iPhone on the kitchen counter. She takes the wineglass with her as she leaves the kitchen. She climbs up the stairs to the second floor.
- At dawn: Olivia, lying motionless. Around her is the empty first floor, neat and tidy. 
In the kitchen, the lights are still on as the morning light comes through the kitchen windows. The wine bottle is half full, still uncorked; the cork is lying on the counter next to the wine bottle. The iPhone is still on the counter. One unwashed dinner plate is in the sink. On the kitchen table are folders full of graded papers, a couple of textbooks, Olivia's purse, and her keys next to the purse.
- The night before: Looking up the stairs, a light comes from the bedroom but there is no light on in the upstairs hall. Olivia, pissed off, still dressed, comes to the top of the stairs with her wineglass still in hand. She calls out to someone unseen downstairs. She tumbles down the stairs.
END INTERCUT
END SILENCE
EXT. THE TOWN - LATER
Cars are now on the streets, people are out and about. It is a beautiful, crisp fall morning. 
ELEANOR MCGREGOR (slender; white hair; 60s) comes out of her house. She puts her brown paper lunch bag into the basket of her bicycle, then sets off for the college.
Eleanor rides her bike on the quaint old tree-lined streets of Parsons Ridge. She crosses Broadway, the main avenue, then heads up the road toward the college. At the school's main gate, Eleanor gets off her bike, and walks it up the steep hill. At either side of her there is breathtaking fall foliage. 
The Prescott Chapel is at the top of the hill. A Christopher Wren-style building, the Prescott Chapel was built in 1924 of Harvard brick with white trim. Five Ionic columns adorn the front of the school chapel. 
As Eleanor approaches with her bike, the chimes in the steeple begin to ring; it is 9 a.m. Around her, students are hurrying to classes.
At one side of the chapel is the modest Martin Observatory with its copper dome. The observatory was built in 1909 of white Vermont marble and is meticulously maintained. 
At the other side of the chapel is a white clapboard building -- it houses the Chaplain's office. Eleanor parks her bike at the side of the office and grabs her lunch bag from the bike's basket.
MONA
Good morning, Eleanor!
MONA BELL (African-American, 50s) is one of Eleanor's closest friends. She works in the Administration Office across the small green. She is coming from that direction. She doesn't have on her coat and shivers a bit.
ELEANOR
Mona! How are you today? Isn't it a gorgeous morning?
MONA
Too cold for my blood and you know it.
ELEANOR
Then where's your coat?
MONA
No time for that. I have some important news. A murder is afoot!
Eleanor is excited.
ELEANOR
Who's responsible for this splendid development? You?
MONA
Not me, I'm afraid. Lois was perusing books in the library and discovered the book down in the stacks -- The Curious Case of the Baffled Redhead. 1926, Eleanor! It appears to be an original.
ELEANOR
A first edition?
MONA
Yes, and it was apparently written by a professor who taught here back in the Twenties.
ELEANOR
What a discovery! And what a title!
MONA
A good, old-fashioned whodunit from the peak of the Jazz Age.
ELEANOR
I'm in heaven already. When are we meeting to solve the crime?
MONA
It's your club, Eleanor. I thought you should do the honors of setting the date.
ELEANOR
It's our club, Mona. It's my tea cozy but our club. Are you free Saturday?
MONA
As a bird.
ELEANOR
I'll check with Lois and Mallory and confirm with you later.
Mona is freezing now and heads back toward the Administration Building. 
MONA
All right! Maybe I'll meet you at lunch if I can get away from my desk.
ELEANOR
Thanks for the terrific news!
MONA
(Calling out from the green)
Thank Lois, I'm just the messenger!
INT. CHAPLAIN'S OFFICE
In the outer office, Eleanor takes off her coat and hangs it in the coat closet. It's a well-appointed office in an upscale private college.
Interoffice mail is on the floor under the mail slot. Eleanor gathers it and puts it on her desk in the outer office, along with her lunch and her iPhone. 
She unlocks the door to Reverend Biedermeier's office, pushes the door open and turns on the light. A cursory glance tells her that everything is in order in the Chaplain's office.
The office phone rings. Eleanor goes to her desk, sits down and answers the phone.
ELEANOR
Parsons Ridge, Chaplain's office... Good morning, Lois! Yes, Mona just told me the good news! An unexpected murder is afoot -- that's just terrific. Do you think you can be ready to present it to the club by Saturday? 
REVEREND BIEDERMEIER (late 60s) can be seen outside the office window, coming up the walk.
ELEANOR (CONT'D)
Lois -- the Chaplain's coming. I've got to go. When you've looked at your calendar, just send me a text, yea or nay. Call Mallory for me, if you can. We'll talk later, okay? Bye-bye.
Reverend Biedermeier enters. He's a good-natured man who, despite his revered position as college Chaplain, doesn't like to be catered to. He takes off his coat and hangs it in the closet.
REVEREND BIEDERMEIER
Good morning, Mrs. McGregor! Isn't it a lovely day?
ELEANOR
Good morning, Reverend Biedermeier. Yes, a lovely day. 
The iPhone on Eleanor's desk "pings" audibly, indicating a text message. Eleanor smiles uneasily and, respectfully, tries not to look at it.
REVEREND BIEDERMEIER
Is something up? You look exceptionally chipper this morning.
ELEANOR
It's murder most foul, I'm afraid! 
REVEREND BIEDERMEIER
Ah! I see. Then another meeting of the club is imminent?
Eleanor's iPhone "pings" again.
ELEANOR
Yes, imminent, I would say.
Reverend Biedermeier heads into his own office.
REVEREND BIEDERMEIER
Good for you!
ELEANOR
(calling after him)
You're always welcome to attend! 
REVEREND BIEDERMEIER
(stopping at his doorway)
Now how would that look, Mrs. McGregor? The Chaplain of such a lauded and noble institution such as Parsons Ridge, helping to solve grisly murders? 
ELEANOR
We don't know how grisly it is just yet.
The Reverend smiles warmly and goes into his office.
ELEANOR (CONT'D)
In all likelihood, you wouldn't even have to get your hands dirty!
INT. OLIVIA VAN HEUSEN'S CLASSROOM - DAY
STUDENTS have gathered for Olivia's 9 a.m. lecture, but she has not shown up. 
The large clock on the wall reads 9:20.
Students are chatting quietly, looking at the clock on the wall, fidgeting in their seats. 
A few students get up and leave.
EXT. PARSONS RIDGE COLLEGE - LATER
Students are hurrying to and from classes. 
The weather is shifting. A cold wind scatters dead leaves across the brick-lined paths. Clouds are gathering.
MRS. BOWERSOX (40s, curly brunette hair) comes out of the Administration Building without her coat on and walks purposefully across the green, heading to Jacoby Hall, oblivious to the students around her. 
A STUDENT
Morning, Mrs. Bowersox.
MRS. BOWERSOX
(snapping out of her daydream)
Oh! Good morning!
As the student hurries on, Mrs. Bowersox glances up at the clouds gathering in the sky.
INT. HALL OUTSIDE OLIVIA'S CLASSROOM
Mrs. Bowersox stands at the open doorway and sees that the classroom is completely empty. 
She looks in at the large clock on the wall. It reads 10:53. 
She looks down the hallway. Sounds of other professors in other classrooms can be heard but the hallway is empty.
INT. MONA'S OFFICE
Mona is at her desk, on the phone.
MONA
I'm sorry, no, we're looking into it. We don't know yet what's going on. Someone is checking on that right now, in fact. Yes. We'll send out an email to everyone as soon as we know anything.  Sorry you were inconvenienced. Thank you for calling.
Mrs. Bowersox comes into Mona's office.
MONA (CONT'D)
Did you find her?
MRS. BOWERSOX
No. Professor Van Heusen's classroom is completely empty. There's no sign that she's even been in there this morning. She wasn't in her office and she hasn't picked up her mail yet.
MONA
How strange. She is such a perfectionist -- to put it nicely. She must be ill. 
MRS. BOWERSOX
Should I call her?
MONA
No, I will. Thank you, Mrs. Bowersox.
Mrs. Bowersox leaves Mona's office. Mona calls Olivia's home phone.
INT. OLIVIA VAN HEUSEN'S BUNGALOW
Olivia's dead body is still on the floor at the foot of the stairs. Nothing has been touched.
The sound of a landline phone can be heard ringing in Olivia's kitchen. 
After several rings, it stops. Soon after, the sound of Olivia's iPhone is heard ringing in the kitchen.
EXT. OLIVIA VAN HEUSEN'S BUNGALOW
From Olivia's yard, the view is of her front porch and the partially opened front door. 
Rain begins to fall.
RYAN STARK (19), a student from the college, is on the sidewalk, approaching Olivia's house. He stops in front of the house, sees the front door ajar and nervously looks around at the other houses, the empty street.
He walks up to the porch, still looking around himself, as if he thinks he's being watched. He stands at the front door.
RYAN
Professor, are you home? (Beat) Is everything okay? You know your door's open? 
He glances around again at the neighboring houses, then slowly pushes open the front door. 
RYAN (CONT'D)
Professor Van Heusen?
He enters the front room. Immediately, he sees her at the foot of the stairs.
His reaction is one of deep, personal alarm. He hurries to her, but doesn't touch her. It is clear that she's dead.
RYAN (CONT'D)
(heartbroken)
Oh my God, Olivia.
He stands completely still and looks around, still behaving as if he fears he is being watched. 
The landline in the kitchen begins ringing. He jolts at the sudden sound.
He looks toward the kitchen, then decides to go in.
In the kitchen, he looks pensively at the phone ringing on the kitchen wall. He looks at her papers, books, purse, and keys lying on the kitchen table.
He sees her iPhone on the counter and this alarms him. He goes to the counter and reaches for the iPhone just as the landline stops ringing and the iPhone starts ringing.
This spooks him so much that he leaves the iPhone alone and immediately leaves the kitchen. 
He pauses at Olivia's lifeless body.
Out the front window, he sees a middle-aged black woman walking with an umbrella, a cell phone to her ear. It's Mona.
Olivia's iPhone continues to ring.
RYAN (CONT'D)
Oh, no...
Ryan quickly looks around again, then runs through the kitchen and out the back door.
EXT. OLIVIA VAN HEUSEN'S BUNGALOW
OLIVIA'S VOICE MAIL
(faintly)
"You've reached Professor Van Heusen's voice mail, please leave a detailed..."
Mona ends the call just as she reaches Olivia's yard and sees that the front door is now wide open.
MONA
Oh, Lord. This can't be good.
She hurries up to the porch, stands in the open doorway and quickly closes her umbrella. 
From the doorway, she can clearly see Olivia, motionless, eyes open, at the foot of her stairs.
MONA (CONT'D)
Olivia! Oh, no -- Olivia!
INT. PARSONS RIDGE POLICE STATION
The phone is ringing. The police precinct is very small, very old, but their technology is up-to-date.
NATALIE BELL (African-American, 20s) is at her desk and answers the phone.
NATALIE
Parsons Ridge police station, Officer Bell speaking.
INTERCUT PHONE CALL BETWEEN MONA AND NATALIE
MONA
Natalie, it's mom.
NATALIE
Mom? What's the matter?
MONA
Oh, baby, I'm not sure. There's something terribly wrong with Olivia Van Heusen.
NATALIE
Mom, where are you?
MONA
At Olivia's house. She seems to be dead at the bottom of her stairs.
NATALIE
Mom, don't move, don't touch anything, I'll send someone right over!
MONA
Hurry, honey. Please.
END INTERCUT
Mona ends the call.
She sees Ryan Stark coming out from between two houses farther up the street.  
With no umbrella in the steady rain, he hurries across several front lawns, then darts across Elm Street, heading in the direction of the campus.
Mona makes a mental note of it, then she looks around at the surrounding houses.
She places her wet umbrella against the open door, carefully wipes her feet on the mat, then steps inside to Olivia's front room. She does nothing to disturb it, she simply stands there and takes it all in.
Then she calls Eleanor.
INT. CHAPLAIN'S OFFICE
Eleanor's desk phone rings. She answers it.
ELEANOR
Parsons Ridge, Chaplain's Office.
INTERCUT PHONE CALL BETWEEN MONA AND ELEANOR
MONA
Eleanor, it's me. Something very unnerving has happened.
ELEANOR
(cheerfully)
Is another murder afoot?
MONA
I don't know. Maybe. Professor Van Heusen is dead at the foot of her stairs with a broken wineglass.
ELEANOR
Is this some sort of clue? Is it Colonel Mustard in the drawing room with the candlestick?
MONA
Eleanor, I'm serious. Olivia didn't show up for her morning lectures today. 
ELEANOR
(getting concerned)
My goodness, and she's so punctual.
MONA
I know. That's putting it mildly, isn't it?
ELEANOR
Yes it is.
MONA
She didn't answer either of her phones when I tried calling her, so I've come here to her house and she is positively dead at the foot of her stairs. 
ELEANOR
Dead, as in "dead"?
MONA
Yes. I just called Natalie. The police are on their way.
A distant police siren is heard.
ELEANOR
That's them! I can hear it! I'm coming over, Mona, don't move a muscle.
END INTERCUT
INT. CHAPLAIN'S OFFICE
Eleanor gets her coat from the closet and grabs a battered old umbrella from the umbrella stand in the corner.
REVEREND BIEDERMEIER
(calling out from his desk)
Mrs. McGregor, is something wrong?
ELEANOR
Yes! I need to leave right this very minute. I'll explain when I get back.
The police siren is still heard in the distance.
As Eleanor hurries out the door, Reverend Biedermeier is at his office doorway. He looks out, perplexed.
REVEREND BIEDERMEIER
Mind the rain! That hill is treacherous when it's wet.
INT. OLIVIA VAN HEUSEN'S BUNGALOW
Mona notices the kitchen light is on. Giving the corpse a wide berth, she walks quickly to the kitchen and, without stepping into the room, takes a glance around.
Immediately, she sees that the back door is partially open.
The police siren is now directly outside. As it switches off, Mona hurries back to the open front doorway.
EXT. OLIVIA VAN HEUSEN'S BUNGALOW
Natalie and SGT. VICKS (40s) get out of the patrol car in the rain.
Natalie is professional but concerned for her mom. A rookie officer, Natalie has never left the office to visit a crime scene.
NATALIE
Mom, are you all right?
MONA
I'm fine. Just shaken. I'm so glad you're here. I wasn't expecting them to send you.
Natalie and Sgt. Vicks walk up to the porch and get out of the rain.
NATALIE
This is Sgt. Vicks. He was nice enough to let me tag along and Officer Wells agreed to watch my desk.
MONA
I'm so glad. Thank you, Sgt. Vicks.
SGT. VICKS
What seems to have happened, Mrs. Bell?
EXT. ELEANOR ON THE STREET
In the rain, Eleanor, under the battered old umbrella, hurries across Broadway. She is on Elm Street. 
At the corner of Broadway and Elm Street, Ryan Stark stares out of the large window of an upscale coffee shop. 
Passing the coffee shop, Eleanor notices Ryan staring out the window. As rain splatters against the window, it appears Ryan is crying. Or is it the reflection of the rain drops running down the window? Eleanor stops for a moment even though she doesn't know Ryan. She continues hurrying down Elm Street.
EXT. OLIVIA VAN HEUSEN'S BUNGALOW
Eleanor arrives at Olivia's house. An ambulance is now in the driveway, behind the police car.
Mona is on the front porch.
MONA
Eleanor! I'm so glad you came.
ELEANOR
Good heavens, what's happened? Olivia is really dead?
Eleanor goes up on to the porch.
MONA
It looks like she broke her neck, falling down the stairs.
ELEANOR
Falling? Really?
MONA
That's what they're saying, for now. Of course, the front door and the back door were open.
ELEANOR
Really? Hmm.
MONA
It might have been the wind...?
ELEANOR
Might have been. It has been very windy.
They both nod their heads and stare quizzically at each other.
ELEANOR (CONT'D)
(very cautiously)
Do they know yet that Olivia had quite a number of enemies? At least, at the college.
MONA
(quietly)
Not yet. There's nothing at all suspicious here, except for those two doors being open.
ELEANOR
They really think she fell? Not pushed?
MONA
She was drinking wine, alone. No sign of anyone else. She was in stocking feet on uncarpeted wood steps.
ELEANOR
I see.
Another car pulls up and parks at the curb. A FORENSIC PHOTOGRAPHER gets out of the car and comes up on to the porch.
PHOTOGRAPHER
Hello, ladies.
MONA AND ELEANOR
(like guilty schoolgirls hiding something)
Hello.
The photographer goes into the house.
ELEANOR
(quietly)
Just think, a potential crime scene right here in Parsons Ridge!
MONA
Now, don't start any rumors, Eleanor. So far, it's just a dead body.
ELEANOR
I know, but living or dead, that was one body that not too many people liked. And that's one heck of a clue, if you ask me.
EXT. ELEANOR'S HOUSE - EVENING
The street is wet with rain, the wind has picked up. Leaves swirl to the wet pavement under the streetlights. Lights are on in most of the houses on the street. 
On the porches, the seasonal decorations are putting up a fight against the weather. It's a good night to be indoors.
A car pulls into Eleanor's driveway and parks.
INT. ELEANOR'S HOUSE
The empty living room of a cozy Arts & Crafts-style house. The old house is very well-maintained. A welcoming fire crackles in the fireplace. 
Two cats are in the living room. One is gray and white (MR. TUFFY), and one is all white, with a patch of gray over one eye (MISS PRIM).
On the coffee table sits tea service for four, including tea sandwiches. Eleanor comes into the living room, carrying a teapot inside a tea cozy, and she puts it on the table. 
The tea cozy is hand-knitted, pink, with an overall white skull & crossbones motif. 
There is a small wooden meat mallet on the coffee table, to be used as a gavel.
Mona follows Eleanor into the living room.
ELEANOR
Who knew we would have ever needed to call an emergency meeting of the club!
MONA
I know. It was exciting enough this morning, when Lois made her discovery down in the stacks -- a cozy old whodunit...
ELEANOR
But now, an actual murder.
MONA
Eleanor, it's still just a death. No one is calling it murder yet -- except you.
ELEANOR
But what about the doors, Mona? Why would someone as particular as Olivia is...
MONA
Was.
ELEANOR
Was. Why would she leave her front and back doors unlatched, let alone open?
MONA
Natalie says that Sgt. Vicks still maintains it could have been the wind that...
ELEANOR
Wind, my eye; it was not the wind. Olivia had too many enemies for it to be the wind and you know it. Clue number two, Mona!
MONA
Dare I say that you've been reading too many mysteries, El?
ELEANOR
(cheerfully)
Yes, you may dare to say it, Mona. In fact, dare away!
EXT. ELEANOR'S HOUSE
MALLORY CHONG (small, slender, Asian-American; 50s) gets out of the passenger side of the car. She is carrying a box of pastries that she's trying to shield from the rain and wind.
LOIS PHELPS (stout; dyed magenta hair cropped very short; she wears big, square, black-framed glasses; 60s) gets out from the driver's side.
MALLORY
(struggling)
What a night for our first emergency meeting of the club!
LOIS
(unflappable)
It's as if it were made to order, isn't it, Mallory? First the suspicious death of someone nobody liked, then comes the inclement weather, with Halloween just around the corner... 
MALLORY
All we need now is for the lights to go out.
Mallory drops the box of pastries into a large puddle on the driveway.
MALLORY (CONT'D)
Ah! Lois, help me, will you?
INT. ELEANOR'S HOUSE
ELEANOR
Did you hear something?
MONA
Yes, I did.
The doorbell rings. The cats bolt off to a hiding place.
ELEANOR
At last, it begins!
MONA
What on earth took them so long? The school is only 3 minutes away.
They both go eagerly to the front door.
Eleanor opens the door and the women all talk at once.
OVERLAPPING
ELEANOR
What took you so long?
MALLORY
We couldn't have tea without little pastries! We knew you didn't have time to bake anything so we stopped at the bakery on Broadway.
LOIS
A fool's errand as it turned out.
MONA
My goodness, the box is soaking wet!
LOIS
And so are we, Mona. Do you mind moving out of the way so that we can come in?
ELEANOR
Mallory, what happened?
MALLORY
I just dropped the box in a puddle on your driveway. It's very windy out there, on top of all that rain.
END OVERLAPPING
Lois and Mallory come in and remove their wet things.
Eleanor takes the soaking box from Mallory. 
Mona and Eleanor exchange a shifty glance.
MALLORY (CONT'D)
What's up with you two? I saw that look. 
MONA
You might as well tell her now, El. She's going to find out at some point.
MALLORY AND LOIS
FIND OUT WHAT?!
ELEANOR
My guilty secret. Mallory, Lois --follow me.
They all follow Eleanor into the kitchen. She opens her freezer. It is literally filled with frozen homemade cookies, pastries, and cakes.
Eleanor takes some cookies from the freezer and puts them on the counter to defrost.
ELEANOR (CONT'D)
I'm a bake-a-holic, Mal. 
LOIS
But you're as thin as a rail. What's going on here?
ELEANOR
I don't eat it -- I just like to bake. Ever since Evan passed away, I can't help myself. You remember what a sweet tooth he had?
MALLORY
Sure, he was famous for that.
LOIS
Chocolate crinkles, snickerdoodles.
MONA
Molten lava cake. Apple pie a la mode.
LOIS
Chocolate chip cookies as big as his face.
MALLORY
And peppermint brownie surprise...
LOIS
The colorful sprinkles being the surprise.
ELEANOR
Obviously, you get the picture. Well, I couldn't stop baking after he was gone. I miss him. It keeps me company to bake, and it helps me think.
The women go into the living room and sit around the coffee table. The two cats have reappeared.
MONA
Eleanor is never very far from pastries of every kind.
MALLORY
I wish I'd known that before we went dashing in and out of the wind and rain. It's terrible out there tonight! And on Broadway, we were double-parked. Everyone honking like crazy. Madness.
LOIS
Enough talk about pastries and weather, ladies. Let's officially call this meeting to order!
ELEANOR
Yes, let's! We've got a murder to solve!
MONA
Eleanor -- it's still just a dead body.
ELEANOR
Yes. Very dead.
MALLORY
And you two saw it? Actually saw it? I mean, her?
ELEANOR
Yes, we did, and she couldn't have been more dead.
MONA
I discovered her, in fact. Right there, dead, at the foot of her stairs -- smooth, polished, uncarpeted stairs, I might add.
ELEANOR
She had quite a lovely little house, did you know that, Mal? Simple but very nice. 
MALLORY
No, I didn't know.
MONA
Neat as a pin -- which didn't surprise me.
ELEANOR
No. No surprise there. She was always a tad OCD...
MALLORY
(scoffing)
A tad?
ELEANOR
And here I was, practically her next-door neighbor, yet I'd never been inside the house before. (Turning to Mona) Had you ever been inside it before?
Lois picks up the wooden meat mallet from the coffee table and bangs it down like a gavel.
Stunned, everyone falls silent.
LOIS
I hereby call this meeting to order!
Eleanor extends an open hand to Lois, very seriously.
ELEANOR
Madame Secretary; I'm the Chair. I'll call this meeting to order.
LOIS
Well, then do it.
Lois hands the meat mallet to Eleanor.
ELEANOR
Okay. (Bang of the gavel.) I hereby call this meeting of the Tea Cozy Murder Club to order! (Beat) Help yourselves to tea sandwiches, ladies. Mona, you pour the tea...
LOIS
Excuse me, Madame Chairperson, but don't you want to announce tonight's Agenda? 
ELEANOR
Why, it's MURDER.
As Eleanor says this, there is a very loud, insistent banging on her front door.
They all jump. The cats run and hide again.
The banging persists without stopping.
ELEANOR (CONT'D)
Goodness, who can that be?
They all get up and go to the front hallway. The banging does not stop.
ELEANOR (CONT'D)
(unnerved)
Who do you suppose it is? At this hour? In this weather?
LOIS MALLORY MONA
Open it and find out!
Dramatically, Eleanor swings open the door. Natalie is standing there in an official police rain slicker, very wet -- the dripping hood almost covering her face.
MONA
Natalie!
ELEANOR
You scared us to death, Natalie! What is it?
NATALIE
(breathless)
It's murder, that's what it is.
                      


                   END ACT ONE

                     ACT TWO

EXT. ELEANOR'S STREET - MOMENTS LATER
In the wind and rain, HOOLIGANS from the college smash a pumpkin with a baseball bat. 
They run off laughing into the night.
OVERLAPPING
ELEANOR (O.C.)
Did you say, MURDER?
INT. ELEANOR'S HOUSE
The four members of the club gather around Natalie in the entryway and help her out of her soaking raincoat.
NATALIE
(breathless)
Yes, that's what I said. Murder. At least, I think they think so. (Beat) Excuse me, let me catch my breath. I ran all the way over here as soon as my replacement showed up. That's when I found out.
ELEANOR
(eager)
Found out what, exactly?
MONA
Let her catch her breath, El. She ran all the way over here! (To Natalie) As soon as you found out what, exactly?
LOIS AND MALLORY 
What did you find out?
ELEANOR
Olivia was murdered, wasn't she?
NATALIE
I'm not sure. I only know what I heard them telling my replacement. And what I heard is that they found some very threatening texts on her iPhone, which seem to have come through shortly before she died. 
MONA
Threats of what kind?
NATALIE
I haven't found that out yet. 
ELEANOR
They were threats that led to her being pushed down those stairs -- no doubt!
All five women excitedly move into the living room.
NATALIE
I don't know if she was pushed. I only know she had received some threatening texts. And she was alive when she received them. Meaning, she had clicked on the texts. Or someone did.
LOIS
You mean, they'd been read?
NATALIE
Yes, we know they'd been read.
LOIS
By someone...
MALLORY
That someone being Olivia or -- her murderer.
They all sit down around the coffee table.
ELEANOR
Natalie, you sit closest to the fire. You must be freezing. And, here, have some tea sandwiches. Mallory, you move over so that Natalie doesn't freeze to death.
They all scoot around so that Natalie can sit closest to the fireplace.
They all take a tea sandwich.
LOIS
So who sent the texts?
NATALIE
They don't know -- yet. And even if they did, I'm not sure I'd be allowed to tell you. It's too soon, you know?
MONA
Of course, it's an investigation. You've got to be discreet.
ELEANOR
(delighted)
A murder investigation! Here in Parsons Ridge.
NATALIE
I said, I think it's a murder...
ELEANOR
I think so, too! Ladies, more tea?
EXT. OLIVIA VAN HEUSEN'S BUNGALOW - SAME EVENING
Ryan Stark is wearing rain gear and standing in front of Olivia's bungalow. 
All the lights are on in the house. 1 OFFICER is inside, investigating the scene, and 1 OFFICER is on the porch.
On his way into the house, Sgt. Vicks comes up behind Ryan.
SGT. VICKS
You'll have to stand clear, son. This is a crime scene.
RYAN
Did she fall down those stairs?
SGT. VICKS
Who?
RYAN
Professor Van Heusen. Do you think she fell down her stairs?
SGT. VICKS
(suspicious)
Why would you ask me if I think she fell down her stairs?
RYAN
(increasingly nervous)
I just... I mean, I've been hearing all day around the campus. That Olivia fell. She fell down her stairs.
SGT. VICKS
Olivia, huh?
RYAN
I mean, the professor.
SGT. VICKS
What's your name?
RYAN
Why do you need to know my name?
SGT. VICKS
We're going to need to talk to all her students. We might as well start with you. What's your name?
RYAN
But I don't know anything.
SGT. VICKS
Maybe you don't, but maybe you do. We're still going to need to talk to her students.(To the officer on the porch) Wells, come get this guy's name and find out how we can contact him.
OFFICER WELLS (30) comes down from the porch while Sgt. Vicks goes up into the house.
RYAN
(to Officer Wells)
I'm Ryan Stark, but I don't know anything.
INT. ELEANOR'S HOUSE - MORNING
In the kitchen the following morning, Eleanor looks out sadly at the continuing rain.
Speaking to Mr. Tuffy and Miss Prim, who are in the kitchen with her:
ELEANOR
It looks like I'm going to have to take the old behemoth out of the garage today, doesn't it, Mr. Tuffy? How I hate driving that ostentatious thing.
Eleanor gets her lunch together.
ELEANOR (CONT'D)
And what about you, Miss Prim? You understand me, don't you? I simply can't get rid of that car. Evan was always so proud of his inheritance. This house -- which, of course, I love. And that old car, which, well -- not so much.
EXT. ELEANOR'S HOUSE/STREETS OF PARSONS RIDGE
In the rain, Eleanor pulls out of her driveway in a classic Jaguar sedan from the 1960s. She looks small and uncomfortable behind the wheel.
She drives the few blocks to the college, then through the entrance and up the steep hill.
EXT. CHAPLAIN'S OFFICE
Eleanor parks her car and comes to the front of the Chaplain's office in the pouring rain to find Ryan Stark outside, waiting. He is clearly distraught.
The bells in the Prescott Chapel chime: 9 a.m.
Eleanor recognizes Ryan from the coffee shop.
ELEANOR
Hello. Can I help you?
RYAN
I wanted to see the Chaplain.
ELEANOR
I'm so sorry, but this morning is the Chaplain's weekly breakfast with the students -- over at the dining hall. I'm afraid that even if you hurried, it would be over before you got there.
RYAN
I wanted to talk to the Chaplain in private.
Eleanor opens up the office and they go inside.
ELEANOR
What's your name?
RYAN
Ryan... Ryan Stark.
ELEANOR
Ryan, I'm afraid that, today, Father Murray has his hours here at the school. Reverend Biedermeier won't be here. You're not Catholic, by any chance? I could schedule you in for later this morning if you'd like some time with Father Murray.
RYAN
I'm not Catholic. But I need to talk to somebody, I don't care who. I need to talk to somebody right away.
ELEANOR
You can talk to me.
RYAN
No, I mean. I need help...
ELEANOR
Guidance? Of a spiritual nature?
RYAN
Yes, that's it. It's about Olivi -- Professor Van Heusen. She's dead, you know.
Eleanor is immediately intrigued.
ELEANOR
Yes, I know. She's dead. And you need to speak to the Chaplain about her?
RYAN
Yes. Right away. 
ELEANOR
Please, have a seat. Let's see what we can do.
INT. MONA'S OFFICE - LATER
Eleanor and Mona are having a quick coffee break in Mona's office.
Mona has her own coffee maker. She pours a cup for Eleanor and then one for herself. They add cream, sugar...
ELEANOR
His name was Ryan Stark. Now, I don't want to violate any ecclesiastical confidences, but I do have to wonder if he might be a 'person of interest,' as they say.
MONA
Ryan Stark? Really? 
ELEANOR
Yes. Do you know him?
MONA
Yes. Why do you think he's a person of interest?
ELEANOR
Because he clearly slipped up and was going to call Olivia by her Christian name. He called her 'Olivi...' and then corrected himself right away and said 'Professor Van Heusen.' What do you think of that, Mona?
MONA
I'd call him a person of interest!
ELEANOR
Would you?
They sit down at either side of Mona's desk.
MONA
Yes, I would. Because I saw Ryan Stark running out from between some houses not far from Olivia's place -- the very moment I discovered her front door wide open and saw her dead body at the foot of the stairs.
ELEANOR
Ryan Stark -- you're sure?
MONA
Yes, I'm sure. He was running. For all we know, he could have left by Olivia's back door, and then run up a couple of houses and then out to the street.
ELEANOR
And I saw him in the coffee shop at the  corner of Elm a few minutes later, when I was on my way over to see you yesterday. He might have been crying. It was hard to tell in the rain. He must have just come from Olivia's house.
MONA
Assuming he really was in Olivia's house.
ELEANOR
Clearly, he was crying because he'd just pushed Olivia down her stairs -- don't you think so, Mona? 
MONA
For heaven's sake, El, I don't know. It doesn't explain why she'd been drinking wine first thing in the morning. I've never known her to do that...
ELEANOR
That sweet young boy, up to his eyeballs in murder! It is so hard to imagine. But then it's always the ones you'd least expect, isn't it?
MONA
We need to tell Natalie about Ryan Stark -- right away. Discreetly, of course.
ELEANOR
(excited)
Oh, of course! Discreetly. I'll call Lois and Mallory.
INT. ELEANOR'S VINTAGE JAGUAR - EVENING
It is still raining.
Eleanor and Mona wait in the front seat of the car -- wipers slashing across the windshield -- as Mallory exits the Martin Observatory.
Mallory hurries to get into the back seat. They drive off to pick up Lois at the library.
MALLORY
My goodness, what is the big brouhaha? Where are we going to so suddenly and why do I have to be so discreet?
ELEANOR
We're going to the Peabody Inn!
MALLORY
(alarmed)
The Peabody Inn? Why are we going there? It's after dark.
ELEANOR
Why does that matter?
MALLORY
The Peabody Inn is haunted -- everybody knows that! Those old ghosts always come out when the sun goes down.
MONA
We're going there to meet with Natalie. We have some clues...
ELEANOR
And a suspect!
MONA
We have some clues to discuss.
MALLORY
Couldn't she find a less haunted place for this discussion? I'm in favor of going back to El's place -- especially now that I know she has an entire bakery in her freezer...
ELEANOR
It's Natalie's night off and Natalie is dating Blair Overfield.
MALLORY
Who in the world is Blair Overfield?
ELEANOR
He manages the inn.
MONA
He's working tonight; she's not. It's their idea of a date.
They pull up to the imposing stone building where Lois works; the sign clearly reads: The Herbert S. Boring Library.
ELEANOR
Well, here we are, at last -- the Boring Library!
MONA
Where is Lois?
ELEANOR
I told her not to be late. I told her to be standing right out front of the Boring Library at the stroke of 6 o'clock.
The bells in the Prescott Chapel begin chiming. It is officially 6 o'clock. 
Lois comes out of the library and hurries in the rain to the car.
MALLORY
What do you know? It appears that Lois knows how to tell time.
Eleanor and Mona turn around and look at Mallory as Lois gets into the back seat.
LOIS
Hello, ladies. So what's this big secret rendezvous all about?
MALLORY
We're going to the Peabody Inn.
LOIS
After dark? Not me--
Lois opens the car door to let herself out.
ELEANOR
Lois, wait! We have clues and a suspect to discuss!
MONA
Natalie's meeting us at the inn.
Reluctantly, Lois pulls closed the car door.
LOIS
(disgruntled)
Why on earth are we meeting her there? That inn is haunted.
MALLORY
That's what I tried to tell them, but it appears that Natalie has an in with the innkeeper...
MONA
They're dating.
LOIS
I hope this means that, at the very least, we'll get a discount. The prices there are outrageous.
EXT. PEABODY INN
A well-lit sign in front of the inn states: "The Peabody Inn, Est. 1812." 
The clapboard building has a long, wide front porch with a matching balcony above it. Both the balcony and porch are highly decorated for Halloween, playing up the inn's local reputation for being haunted.
Even after dark, it is a cozy-looking inn, regardless of any possible ghosts residing in it.
It has finally stopped raining as the ladies walk up the brick path to the inn, but the wind remains ominous.
A "welcome" sign suspended over the front door rattles in the wind as they approach. Jack-o'-lanterns with demonic grins leer at them on the porch.
MALLORY
It's not too late to turn back, you know.
MONA
Mallory, you are a Physics professor; you study the Cosmos through that huge telescope in the Martin Observatory! You're not supposed to believe in ghosts.
MALLORY
I don't, per se. 
ELEANOR
Then, my goodness, why are you so scared?
MALLORY
Because I believe in the people who have seen the ghosts!
LOIS
And the ghosts here never sleep. I've gotten it from many authorities.
MONA
And who are those so-called authorities?
LOIS
The "living" people who have stayed here and tried to sleep.
INT. PEABODY INN
The ladies enter the inn.
The front door creeks loudly as it opens, then slams closed behind them because of the wind.
No one is at the small front desk. A cozy fire is all that greets them in the empty foyer, until a black cat crosses in front of them, then trots up the stairs to the guest rooms above.
MALLORY
That cat was real, right? You all saw it?
ELEANOR
Yes, we saw it.
MALLORY
Good, because one of the ghosts here is a cat.
MONA
Allegedly a cat...
ELEANOR
Look, there's Natalie!
MONA
Good! We can stop this nonsense and get on with our investigation.
Natalie is sitting at the bar at the end of the hallway. She waves. 
The hallway leading to the bar is long and narrow, with a low ceiling. The floor creaks with age. There are windows along the hallway that look out on to the windy night. The moaning of the wind can be easily heard in the hall.
NATALIE
Mom, hi! Hey, everyone. Come and meet Blair.
BLAIR OVERFIELD (tall, dark hair, 30s, Caucasian) is dressed in a casual suit and tie and is standing near the bar.
BLAIR
(eager to please)
Mrs. Bell, it's so nice to finally meet you.
MONA
You, too, Mr. Overfield.
BLAIR
Please -- Blair.
The ladies come into the bar and greet Natalie and Blair.
Tonight, all of the tables in the bar are empty.
The room has a low, beamed ceiling, an old pewter chandelier, a planked-wood floor, and many windows looking out on to the inn's back gardens, which are lit year-round by white Christmas lights. 
In addition to the gardens, the back property consists of: 
-An old fountain, now dusted with dead leaves;
-An historic outhouse, preserved as a humorous touch and no longer used;
-2 small Quonset buildings: one used for laundry facilities and the other for lawn and garden equipment; 
-1 small greenhouse used for room service and catering.
Several of the guest rooms are also in back of the inn, on two levels.
NATALIE
Blair, this is the Tea Cozy Murder Club!
BLAIR
Ladies, welcome! Natalie has told me all about your ingenious book club! I, too, am quite a fan of the old whodunits. 
ELEANOR
You are?
BLAIR
I am. Please, take any table and don't worry about the bill tonight. Drinks, dinner. Order whatever you want.
LOIS
Those are my favorite words in the English language!
MONA
(abruptly)
We'll have tea.
The ladies look at Mona with shock and dismay.
MONA (CONT'D)
We're here to discuss a serious investigation. We're not here to have a good time.
ELEANOR
Can't we do both?
LOIS
Mona, this is a special night out. The man wants us to enjoy ourselves. On the house!
ELEANOR
And I didn't bring the tea cozy, so it's not an official meeting...
MALLORY
And we're braving the supernatural just to come in this place.
BLAIR
Don't worry about the ghosts, ladies. They rarely come up here. They prefer the tavern downstairs.
ELEANOR
You're toying with us, surely.
The ladies choose a table near a window that looks out on the back property.
BLAIR
(matter-of-factly)
No, not at all.
Natalie joins them at their table.
NATALIE
This old place really is loaded with ghosts. They just prefer to hang with a rowdier crowd.
BLAIR
The ghosts fit in better with the clientele that frequent the tavern. You should drop in there sometime and introduce yourselves.
ELEANOR
I'm certain we will! Thank you.
MONA
(relenting)
All right, if we're not having tea then I'll have a Margarita, please, on the rocks, with salt.
They all look at her.
MONA (CONT'D)
What? I'm not driving. Besides, we're staying for dinner, right? Making a night of it?
Behind the bar, Blair prepares to make the Margarita.
BLAIR
Any other takers? 
All the ladies raise their hands.
BLAIR (CONT'D)
Just remember, ladies, the rowdier the crowd, the more attractive you are to the ghosts!
The wind kicks up outside and rattles the windows.
Eleanor shivers.
ELEANOR
How delightful!
She glances out the window. What she sees outside shocks her.


                    END ACT TWO
                     ACT THREE
INT. PEABODY INN - MOMENTS LATER
As she looks out the window, Eleanor is disturbed.
ELEANOR
Oh, good heavens!
All the women look at her.
NATALIE
What is it, Eleanor?
ELEANOR
Our P.O.I.!
NATALIE
(stunned)
Our what?
ELEANOR
Our person of interest! Ryan Stark! I just saw him outside.
NATALIE
How did you know that Ryan Stark was our P.O.I.? Who told you?
LOIS
We have a P.O.I.?
MONA
Yes, we most certainly do: Ryan Stark. 
MALLORY
Why is Ryan Stark our P.O.I.?
LOIS
Who is Ryan Stark?
MALLORY
A perfectly nice young man who has a 3.95 in my General Physics class.
LOIS
That's not easy to do.
MALLORY
No, it's not.
MONA
Eleanor, you're sure it was Ryan Stark out there?
NATALIE
(agitated)
When did you non-police people learn that Stark was a P.O.I.?
Blair comes to the table with the Margaritas.
BLAIR
Okay. Something's going on here. What's happened? 
ELEANOR
Our person of interest was just out back, walking -- no, hurrying -- across your grounds! 
BLAIR
Your person of interest? What do you mean?
He distributes the cocktails.
NATALIE
(getting professional)
Blair, what's in back of the inn? 
BLAIR
The laundry facilities, our catering kitchen. Some of the guest rooms -- why? What's a person of interest? It sounds official.
ELEANOR
And what's beyond all of the grounds?
Blair thinks for a moment.
BLAIR
Nothing, except -- houses?
ELEANOR
Precisely!
MONA
(catching on)
The backyards of the houses along Elm Street!
MALLORY
(catching on, too)
And Olivia's house is on Elm Street.
Natalie quickly gets up from the table.
NATALIE
Olivia's backyard! If that was Ryan Stark, he might be returning to the scene of the crime, intending to use the back door to get in.
Leaving the drinks, all the ladies get up from the table and grab their coats.
BLAIR
What's a person of interest?
NATALIE
Not a "what," a "who" -- someone connected to our murder. And it's Ryan Stark. 
LOIS
But how did Ryan Stark become a person of interest? Was there a secret meeting of the Tea Cozy Murder Club that I wasn't privy to?
ELEANOR
It was an unofficial meeting, Lois -- coffee only; there was absolutely no tea involved.
MALLORY
I hope there weren't any pastries involved...
MONA
(to Lois and Mallory)
That's why we were meeting here at the inn tonight -- to tell both of you our suspicions about Ryan! And to tell Natalie, too, of course.
NATALIE
Good to know I was on your list. Mom, you should have called me today.
MONA
I did call you!
NATALIE
You invited me out for dinner! You didn't say you had a P.O.I. Ryan Stark is our P.O.I. We questioned him at the precinct this afternoon.
ELEANOR AND MONA
You did?
BLAIR
This is exciting. You're going to find out whodunit. Natalie, I'm coming with you! 
NATALIE
You can't leave the inn. What happens if one of your guests needs something?
Blair looks around.
BLAIR
What guests? Except for you ladies, there are only ghosts around here tonight.
MALLORY
Still, if you come with us, then who's going to tend to the needs of the ghosts?
LOIS
A previous innkeeper, perhaps? Say, one who's been dead for a hundred years?
Blair gives Lois's comment a moment of thought, then realizes he's being teased, grabs his coat from behind the bar and heads after them.
BLAIR
You guys, wait!
EXT. PEABODY INN
The wind has died down a little, but it is still strong enough to blow dead leaves out of the old fountain and across the paving stones. 
Suddenly a gust of wind stirs up and all the white Christmas lights that are strung through the gardens go out.
BLAIR
Don't worry. Follow me, ladies. I could walk this terrain blindfolded.
Blair immediately trips on a loose paving stone.
NATALIE
Maybe you'd do better blindfolded.
BLAIR
That doesn't count. This area here's being repaired. 
Natalie uses her cell phone as a flashlight.
NATALIE
Here, Blair, let's try it the newfangled way. 
BLAIR
What do you mean, newfangled way?
NATALIE
Instead of using the stars to guide us, we use a flashlight.
BLAIR
Very amusing. All right, ladies, I concede; you lead the way. I'll follow. But mind the...
A cat shrieks as Blair stumbles upon it.
BLAIR (CONT'D)
Cats.
ELEANOR
Oh, heavens! That sound could wake the dead.
In the flashlight beam, several cats can be seen running around the grounds.
MALLORY
You're all seeing these cats, right? I mean, these are all real, right?
MONA
Of course, they're real, Mallory. Blair just told us to watch out for the cats.
MALLORY
It's just that...
MONA
It's just what? What is it with you and cats tonight?
MALLORY
I'm telling you, there is a ghost cat that lives here, Mona. Isn't that right, Mr. Overfield?
BLAIR
Please, call me Blair. And, yes, you're right. However, it's just the one black cat, and he stays in the main guest rooms of the inn. There has never been any report that he fraternizes out here with the real cats.
LOIS
A lone ghost cat, then?
BLAIR
Exactly.
Following the beam of Natalie's flashlight along the path, they come to the old outhouse.
LOIS
Is this ancient outhouse for the ghosts who haven't figured out yet how to use modern plumbing? 
ELEANOR
Lois, you're so clever. I would never have thought of that.
BLAIR
I think she's joking...
NATALIE
Do you mind if we concentrate on the living for a moment?
BLAIR
Of course! Sorry, Natalie.
ELEANOR
Please, dear. Go ahead.
They continue to follow Natalie's flashlight beam. Passing the greenhouse, the Quonset huts and the other guest rooms of the inn -- all of which are dark tonight. 
The wind blows the branches of the many trees, creating a spooky atmosphere.
NATALIE
Mom, I'd like to know why you came to the conclusion that Ryan Stark was a person of interest.
MONA
Because, when I discovered Olivia's body yesterday, I saw Ryan running away.
NATALIE
Running away?! And you're just now telling me this?
MONA
Well, he was a few houses up. He wasn't exactly fleeing the crime scene. And it was raining. He didn't have an umbrella. I thought maybe he wanted to get somewhere quickly to get in out of the rain.
ELEANOR
Then I saw him this morning, at the Chaplain's office. He wanted to speak to the Chaplain right away -- about Olivia's murder. And he called her that -- Olivia. Then quickly corrected himself and called her Professor Van Heusen. 
NATALIE
I'm not surprised.
ELEANOR
And, in addition to that, I recalled seeing him in the coffee shop at the corner of Elm and Broadway when I was on my way to the crime scene yesterday morning. He was crying!
MALLORY
People cry. Ryan Stark is a very sensitive young man. That, in and of itself, doesn't mean anything incriminating.
ELEANOR
No, but what about his calling a professor by her Christian name? And so automatically?
MALLORY
It's because Ryan Stark and Professor Van Heusen were having an affair.
They all stop dead in their tracks.
NATALIE
(exasperated)
And if you also knew that, why didn't you tell us yesterday?
MALLORY
Because I didn't know he was a person of interest -- a P.I.
LOIS
P.O.I.
MALLORY
Yes, that.
LOIS
A P.I. is a private investigator.
MALLORY
Yes, I know that. It was a mistake, okay?
They start walking again.
BLAIR
Guys, this way!
They all regard him skeptically.
BLAIR (CONT'D)
I swear, this time I know what I'm talking about. The bike path to the houses is over this way.
They follow Blair.
ELEANOR
So, Olivia and Ryan Stark were having an actual affair?
MALLORY
That was the scuttlebutt. And then she unceremoniously dumped him, and it sent him into a downward spiral, as they say.
NATALIE
Enough to cause him to send threatening texts to Olivia, I'm afraid.
ELEANOR
So this is what the equality of the sexes has brought us on campus? Now female professors can toy openly with the affections of their young male students?
LOIS
If it weren't utterly redundant at this point, I'd be inclined to push Olivia down some stairs...
MONA
Spurned lover and then -- murder. It happens all the time.
They are on the bike path, approaching the backyards of the houses on Elm Street. Olivia's backyard is in view.
NATALIE
I'm afraid it does happen frequently. However, in this case, Ryan Stark had an airtight alibi for his whereabouts throughout the entire night. And we corroborated it with witnesses late this afternoon.
MONA
What was this airtight alibi?
Ryan Stark suddenly emerges from the shadows. He has been listening to their conversation. He is worn out and distressed.
RYAN
I was in the coffee shop until closing time, studying for a midterm with my roommates. And then we returned to our dorm, and studied all through the night.
The ladies of the club are aghast at the sudden sight of Ryan. 
Natalie is on her guard; Ryan could still be involved with Olivia's murder somehow.
RYAN (CONT'D)
I was studying, okay? I wasn't out murdering the woman I love.
BLAIR
This is your person of interest? I know Ryan. He's been in the tavern plenty of times. He wouldn't hurt a fly.
NATALIE
Ryan, what are you doing out here?
RYAN
Trying to catch the real killer. I know who did it.
THE LADIES OF THE CLUB
You do?
RYAN
And I'm not going to let him get away with it.
NATALIE
Ryan, what are you saying? Who killed Olivia?
Ryan points to Olivia's house.
RYAN
The man in there.
Everyone looks towards Olivia's house. Now the light from a flashlight can be seen in one of the upstairs windows.
The ladies of the club get both flustered and excited.
ELEANOR
My goodness! The murderer. Up there right now!
NATALIE
All right, everybody. Quiet. Calm down. That is still a crime scene. I need to call for backup.
BLAIR
I knew this was going to be exciting.
Natalie quickly walks away from the group to call the precinct on her cell phone.
The ladies of the club, along with Blair and Ryan, enter Olivia's small backyard. 
Then they stop suddenly.
ELEANOR
Good heavens, look! The back door is ajar. And the crime scene tape has been torn down.
LOIS
Holy moly. This is really happening.
MONA
We need to stay right here and wait for Natalie.
Everyone, including Mona, starts inching closer to the back porch anyway.
ELEANOR
But what if she takes too long and he gets away?
MALLORY
What if he comes running out the back door, waving a gun at us?
MONA
Precisely. This is a crime scene. It's dangerous.
ELEANOR
He didn't shoot Olivia. He pushed her down some stairs. If he appears, we simply need to stay clear of any stairs.
They all inch still closer to the back porch, where the back door is clearly ajar.
MONA
Ladies -- and gentlemen -- stop. We have to stop. This is a crime scene. No one can go in there.
LOIS
Well, someone has.
MONA
All right. I'll go get Natalie. WAIT HERE!
Mona hurries away while the group cautiously continues approaching Olivia's back porch. Then they go up the porch steps and stand at the open back door. 
They speak very quietly.
RYAN
I'm going in.
MALLORY
Ryan, don't! It's dangerous!
RYAN
I don't care.
Ryan goes into the dark kitchen.
ELEANOR
(calling out quietly)
Stay clear of the stairs, dear!
LOIS
Honestly, Eleanor. Whoever's in there could have a gun, or a knife. He might not need to rely on the stairs.
BLAIR
We can't let him go in there alone. Come on, let's go after him!
MALLORY
Are you crazy? It's dark in there.
BLAIR
We'll be fine. I have my phone.
Blair turns on the flashlight on his cell phone but still manages to trip over the threshold of the kitchen doorway. 
BLAIR (CONT'D)
Okay, well, watch that first step there...
They all enter Olivia's kitchen. Blair's flashlight beam shows that Ryan is no longer in the kitchen.
ELEANOR
(whispering)
What is it with all these flashlights? Does my cell phone do that?
LOIS
(whispering)
It depends. What kind of cell phone do you have?
Suddenly, there is the unmistakable sound of a scuffle up above them. Then the muffled sound of Ryan yelling at someone.
MALLORY
I'm not going to stand here in the dark! Quick, someone turn on the light. Clearly, the element of surprise is over anyway. 
LOIS
Blair, find the light switch.
As the kitchen light goes on, Mona and Natalie run in through the back door.
NATALIE
What is wrong with you people? This is a crime scene!
MONA
I told them to wait for you! I told them...
The sound of a police siren can be heard in the distance.
There are sounds of shouts and tumbling coming from upstairs.
Natalie draws her gun.
BLAIR
Natalie! I didn't know you were armed.
MONA
Since when do you carry a gun when you're not on duty?
NATALIE
There's an unsolved murder in Parsons Ridge -- right now, I'm always on duty! (Beat) However, this does feel a little different from answering the precinct phone.
MONA
I'll come with you, Nat.
NATALIE
Mom! You all have to leave the house. Right now. Don't you get it? The murderer could be right upstairs!
BLAIR
With Ryan -- who could be in serious danger right now.
NATALIE
He went up there?!
The noisy commotion continues upstairs.
Natalie hurries out of the kitchen with her gun still drawn.
In the lit kitchen doorway, the ladies of the club, along with Blair, keep close together and peer out of the doorway.
The sound of the police siren reaches the front of Olivia's house.
LOIS
Come on, we'd better go outside. 
ELEANOR
And miss all of this?
BLAIR
It's exciting!
LOIS
It might get too exciting -- I have an elderly father and three Schnauzers counting on me to come home in one piece tonight. 
The hall light suddenly comes on. Natalie is at the foot of the stairs with her gun drawn. The group in the kitchen doorway stays put.
NATALIE
STOP! POLICE! Ryan, stop!
In a struggle, Ryan and MR. VAN HEUSEN (Caucasian, 40s) tumble down the stairs.
ELEANOR
You see? Already, the murderer has an M.O. -- the stairs!
Sgt. Vicks, Officer Wells, and ANOTHER OFFICER (30s) burst in through the front door, guns drawn.
SGT. VICKS
Officer Bell, what's happening here? 
Then Sgt. Vicks sees everyone standing inside the kitchen doorway.
SGT. VICKS (CONT'D)
What are they doing here?
NATALIE
Disobeying orders, sir. Help me with these two. It's Ryan Stark and someone else -- someone who broke in here.
Ryan and Mr. Van Heusen have both survived the fall. They struggle angrily with each other, lying at the foot of the stairs.
RYAN
I knew it! I knew it! You killed her! You did it. You couldn't stand that she didn't love you anymore.
MR. VAN HEUSEN
Shut up, kid!
With difficulty, the officers separate the two men.
NATALIE
Ryan, who is this man?
RYAN
It's Olivia's ex-husband. She was afraid of him! He was stalking her.
MR. VAN HEUSEN
I was not stalking her!
SGT. VICKS
(to Ryan)
Young man, YOU were stalking her.
Ryan and Olivia's ex-husband are just barely held apart by the two officers who struggle to hold on to them.
RYAN
I would never hurt her! But that one -- he did time for hurting her back in Pennsylvania!
NATALIE
Jail time?
MR. VAN HEUSEN
(squirming against the officer's grip)
It was a long time ago!
RYAN
Yes -- he did jail time. When they were married, he pushed her down some stairs.
In the kitchen doorway, everyone is audibly shocked. 
ELEANOR
You see? I was right.
Everyone looks at Olivia's ex-husband. 
MR. VAN HEUSEN
I was hotheaded and young then. It was a terrible mistake. I would never kill Olivia. I loved her. 
SGT. VICKS
Might I ask what you're doing here, skulking around, now that she's dead?
MR. VAN HEUSEN
I just came back for her wedding ring.
SGT. VICKS
And you couldn't use the usual channels to retrieve it?
MR. VAN HEUSEN
No. There was something else...
RYAN
Shut up!
MR. VAN HEUSEN
Something she wouldn't want anyone to know about. 
He glares at Ryan.
MR. VAN HEUSEN (CONT'D)
But I couldn't find it. (To Ryan) Where is it? What did you do with it?
Blair and the ladies of the club look at one another in awe.
ELEANOR
(quietly)
Dare I say, the plot has just thickened?


                     END ACT THREE
                    ACT FOUR

INT. ELEANOR'S HOUSE - NIGHT
Upstairs in Eleanor's room, Eleanor gets ready for bed. Miss Prim and Mr. Tuffy patiently sit on the bed, waiting for her to join them.
At the mirror on the dresser, Eleanor combs out her hair. On top of the dresser sits a framed photo of her late husband, Evan. She talks to Evan while the cats listen attentively.
ELEANOR
You should have seen us tonight, Evan. You wouldn't have recognized your old girl -- I was quite the adventuress. How exciting it's all getting! And even dangerous. I must say, there's nothing quite like the passion of young love -- remember how it was? That young man, Ryan Stark, seems to have been quite smitten with Olivia Van Heusen. Do you remember her? How aloof and opinionated she always seemed? Well, there must have been another side to her, if someone as sweet as Ryan managed to fall in love with her. Oh, and an ex-husband has appeared on the scene!
Eleanor gets into bed and is now talking to the cats.
ELEANOR (CONT'D)
Imagine the intrigue! What do you suppose the man was looking for? Ryan clearly knows what it is. I wonder if a night in jail is going to force it out of him? I suppose we'll find out tomorrow. Good-night, my sweets.
Eleanor takes one last glance at the photo of Evan before turning out the bedside light.
INT. PARSONS RIDGE POLICE STATION - MORNING
There are two holding cells in the Parsons Ridge police station; both are spotlessly clean. Ryan Stark occupies one of the cells and Olivia's ex-husband occupies the other. The men appear surly and fed up with each other.
The door opens and Sgt. Vicks, Officer Wells, and Natalie come into the holding area. Officer Wells is wearing his coat. Natalie is carrying a tray with two very unappetizing baloney sandwiches on it.
SGT. VICKS
All right, Van Heusen. Your alibi about being in Pennsylvania on the night of the murder checks out, but you're still being arraigned for breaking and entering a crime scene. Anything you want to tell us before you go to court?
Sgt. Vicks opens Van Heusen's holding cell.
MR. VAN HEUSEN
Like what?
SGT. VICKS
What do you mean, like what? Like what you were looking for in the professor's house last night? Don't you know it might help us solve her murder?
MR. VAN HEUSEN
It's got nothing to do with that.
SGT. VICKS
I guess we'll let the Judge be the judge of that, then. She's certainly going to inquire... Now, get going. And here's your baloney sandwich.
Natalie holds out the tray to Mr. Van Heusen.
He looks at it with distaste.
MR. VAN HEUSEN
No, thanks. 
SGT. VICKS
Go ahead. Don't be afraid to live large. It's already been paid for by the taxpayers.
MR. VAN HEUSEN
Why don't you refund the taxpayers? 
Sgt. Vicks picks up a bedraggled sandwich and shoves it into Mr. Van Heusen's hand, forcing him to accept it. 
SGT. VICKS
Why don't you take it to go? (To Wells) All right, get him to the courthouse. (To Ryan) Next.
Sgt. Vicks and Natalie go over to Ryan's cell.
NATALIE
Are you hungry, Ryan?
Through the bars, Ryan looks at the unappetizing sandwich on the tray.
RYAN
Yes -- but, honestly, I don't know about that sandwich.
NATALIE
There's ham and eggs on biscuits in the office. And coffee. Sound more appealing?
Ryan is very interested, but he looks at Sgt. Vicks.
RYAN
What's the catch? And how come I'm not being taken to court, too?
NATALIE
You weren't breaking and entering. You were merely -- trespassing. Like everyone else last night. Come on out and we'll have some breakfast. We'll chat.
RYAN
What do you want to know?
Sgt. Vicks unlocks Ryan's cell.
SGT. VICKS
You know what we want to know, son. We want to know whatever it is that you know that you're not telling us.
RYAN
It's private. Olivia would not want anyone to talk about it.
NATALIE
Ryan, don't you see that by trying to protect Olivia, you could be helping her murderer get away with this crime? Whatever you're not telling us could be connected.
RYAN
I don't see how.
NATALIE
You never know what might be a clue. We should at least discuss it.
Sgt. Vicks takes the tray from Natalie as she escorts Ryan out to the office.
Alone in the holding area, Sgt. Vicks puts down the tray and picks up the remaining sandwich.
SGT. VICKS
(to himself)
Don't see why baloney gets such a bad rap these days. White bread, a little mayonnaise -- a guy could do worse.
He takes a bite of the sandwich.
INT. CHAPLAIN'S OFFICE
Eleanor and Reverend Biedermeier are fixing cups of coffee in the small kitchen area. 
ELEANOR
It was quite a hullabaloo, Reverend Biedermeier. First, all that wind and rain and we're in that haunted inn. Then we're out in the dark, searching for a person of interest.
REVEREND BIEDERMEIER
Is that like a perp?
They leave the kitchen with their cups of coffee and head to Reverend Biedermeier's office.
ELEANOR
It's sort of like a perp, except that a person of interest, a P.O.I., might be a perp and might not be a perp. It's someone who needs to be questioned and watched until the perp is discovered.
REVEREND BIEDERMEIER
(very intrigued)
I see.
ELEANOR
We found our P.O.I. out in the bushes. He led us to discovering that someone had broken into the crime scene and was still in there, wandering around upstairs.
Reverend Biedermeier sits down at his desk.
REVEREND BIEDERMEIER
Heavens. Was he armed?
ELEANOR
No, he just had a flashlight. Say, did you know you can use your phone as a flashlight?
Someone enters the outer office.
ELEANOR (CONT'D)
Excuse me, I'd better go see who that is.
Eleanor leaves the room.
Reverend Biedermeier stares at the landline phone on his desk and looks puzzled. He picks up the receiver and examines it.
REVEREND BIEDERMEIER
What on earth is she talking about?
INT. PARSONS RIDGE POLICE STATION
At the receiving desk, AN OFFICER (30s) is returning a wallet and keys to Ryan. 
Ryan signs for it.
On his way out of the precinct, he passes Natalie at her desk.
NATALIE
Thank you, Ryan. We really appreciate your candor and your confidence in us.
RYAN
(exhausted)
It's okay.
NATALIE
No, I really mean that. And if you can think of anything at all that could be pertinent to the case, please, don't hesitate to call me immediately. Okay?
RYAN
Okay.
Natalie watches Ryan leave the precinct.
Ryan looks defeated.
INT. PARSONS RIDGE COURTHOUSE
SCENE PLAYED MOS
Mr. Van Heusen stands before a Judge's bench. Officer Wells approaches the bench and says something in confidence to the Judge.
THE JUDGE (female, 50s) says something to Mr. Van Heusen and bangs her gavel. Mr. Van Heusen and Officer Wells turn around and leave the courtroom.
EXT. PARSONS RIDGE COURTHOUSE
Mr. Van Heusen leaves the courthouse, clearly a free man.
END MOS
INT. MARTIN OBSERVATORY - SAME MORNING
In a small classroom, Mallory is teaching a General Physics class.
MALLORY
...At this point, Bohr and Werner Heisenberg were developing what is called the "Copenhagen Interpretation" of Quantum Theory --
The door to the classroom opens and Ryan enters the class, late. He quietly takes a seat at the back of the room and sits down.
Mallory notices him but does not disrupt the class.
MALLORY (CONT'D)
Bohr had already won the Nobel Prize by this time, and he and Heisenberg began to set down their mathematical foundation for Quantum Mechanics, which is what we will look at now.
Outside of the observatory window, the wind gusts up and more autumn leaves are whisked from the trees.
EXT. MARTIN OBSERVATORY
The leaves swirl down the brick path, past the Prescott Chapel.
The chapel bells begin to chime noon.
Mona and Mrs. Bowersox, wearing fall coats and carrying their lunch bags, go into the Chaplain's Office.
INT. CHAPLAIN'S OFFICE
In the kitchen area, Mona and Mrs. Bowersox join Eleanor and Reverend Biedermeier as they eat their lunches at a small table.
ELEANOR
So what did Natalie tell you, Mona? Did Ryan spill his guts about what he knows?
REVEREND BIEDERMEIER
Please, Mrs. McGregor. Consider our lunches.
ELEANOR
Okay, beans, then. Did Ryan spill the beans?
MONA
He did.
ELEANOR
What did he say?
MONA
Natalie won't tell me.
ELEANOR
She won't tell you?
MONA
She can't tell me. Privacy, murder investigation, etc., etc.
ELEANOR
My, that is discouraging.
MRS. BOWERSOX
It's encouraging, if you ask me.
MONA
Why is that encouraging?
MRS. BOWERSOX
To know your daughter is a professional. She has a proper sense of ethics.
Mona and Eleanor sigh.
ELEANOR
Of course, Mrs. Bowersox; you're so right.
REVEREND BIEDERMEIER
Shall we switch to a happier topic than murder for just a moment? To something we can enjoy and be thankful for. You haven't forgotten that it's Friday, have you?
ELEANOR
As in, Thank God It's Friday?
MONA
I didn't realize you took a phrase like that so religiously, Reverend Biedermeier.
REVEREND BIEDERMEIER
I don't. I'm just reminding you that tonight is Friday.
They all regard him blankly.
REVEREND BIEDERMEIER (CONT'D)
The fall festivity? 
It still doesn't register.
REVEREND BIEDERMEIER (CONT'D)
The All Hallows' Eve party for the staff! My wife and I are throwing it this year, remember? It's tonight. Mrs. McGregor, you promised to bring the cake!
ELEANOR
I did, didn't I? (Looking at Mona) Not to worry, Reverend. I've got it all under control.
REVEREND BIEDERMEIER
Thank goodness for that. My wife is counting on you.
MONA
I can vouch for her, Reverend. Eleanor's been baking up a storm.
REVEREND BIEDERMEIER
I don't see how she's had time, up to her eyes in murder these last few days.
MRS. BOWERSOX
Murder's an ungodly affair, Mrs. McGregor.
REVEREND BIEDERMEIER
It most certainly is.
MRS. BOWERSOX
I say, let heaven sort it out and stick to your own business.
ELEANOR
(lightly)
Murder is my business, Mrs. Bowersox.
MONA
Oh, Eleanor! You knit one tea cozy and now you're a hardboiled private eye.
REVEREND BIEDERMEIER
Private eye, or private secretary -- just be at our house tonight by 7 sharp, and be there carrying a cake. And Mrs. McGregor... 
ELEANOR
Yes? 
REVEREND BIEDERMEIER
Go easy on the skull and crossbones decorations, if you don't mind.
Eleanor and Mona chuckle but Mrs. Bowersox is not amused.








                   END ACT FOUR
                   ACT FIVE

INT. MARTIN OBSERVATORY - LATER
The classroom empties. Mallory collects her things.
Ryan has stayed behind.
MALLORY
Is there something you wanted to discuss with me, Ryan?
RYAN
I just wanted to say thanks for last night.
MALLORY
What did I do?
RYAN
I overheard the things everyone was saying and I appreciate that you stood up for me. That's all.
MALLORY
I really don't remember what I said, but if it helps you, you're welcome. (Lightly) So how was jail?
RYAN
This whole thing is so out of control. How could they think I could kill Olivia? Or betray her trust in me, just because she's dead and can't defend herself?
MALLORY
You know what? I have some free time before my next class. Would you like to take a walk? We could both use some fresh air. 
INT. CHAPLAIN'S OFFICE
Mona and Mrs. Bowersox are leaving.
Eleanor grabs her coat.
ELEANOR
I'll be back in a flash, Reverend Biedermeier. 
REVEREND BIEDERMEIER
Where are you off to now? Lunch is over, Mrs. McGregor.
ELEANOR
There's something I need to take out of my freezer, Reverend. I'll only be but a minute. You won't even miss me.
MONA
(under her breath)
Thank goodness for Evan's sweet tooth! I don't suppose you have a German Chocolate cake stashed in that freezer of yours?
The three women leave the Chaplain's office.
ELEANOR
Who knows, Mona? I just might! Any requests from you, Mrs. Bowersox?
MRS. BOWERSOX
Requests for what?
ELEANOR
Have you a favorite cake that you'd like me to bring to the party tonight?
MRS. BOWERSOX
Don't cater to me; I'll only be at the party for a few minutes.
MONA
Why's that? Are you one of those who disapproves of parties that celebrate All Hallows' Eve?
MRS. BOWERSOX
No, its nothing like that. My daughter and I have tickets to the recital tonight at Medgar's Hall. As always, I will try to be in two places at once!
EXT. PARSONS RIDGE COLLEGE - MOMENTS LATER
Mallory and Ryan are walking along one of the brick paths. Some fall foliage still clings to many of the trees.
In the distance, Eleanor rides her bike down the steep hill that leads out of the college.
MALLORY
Were you able to help the police at all?
RYAN
No. I knew I couldn't. And they let her ex-husband go.
MALLORY
They did? I'm surprised.
RYAN
With a warning not to trespass at the crime scene again. Even though no one can find the paper he was looking for. 
MALLORY
The paper? Ryan, what paper?
RYAN
(reluctantly)
I suppose it'll eventually come out. The police know. The Judge knows. I don't suppose it'll matter much if everyone knows, now that she's dead.
MALLORY
What won't matter? Do you want to tell me?
RYAN
A very, very long time ago, Olivia had a baby. She wasn't married yet. This was before her ex-husband came along. An unwed pregnancy was quite a scandal in her hometown. Olivia gave the baby up. But it meant so much to her -- that baby. She kept a copy of the birth certificate, although I never actually saw it. She said she had it and she talked about the baby sometimes -- when she was drinking wine. She'd wonder what her life would have been like if she'd been able to be a mom.
MALLORY
That's quite poignant, Ryan.
RYAN
Sometimes she would get very sad.
MALLORY
So that's what her ex-husband was looking for? The copy of the birth certificate? He was trying to protect her reputation then.
RYAN
Maybe he did still love her.
MALLORY
Maybe he did. Marriages end for all sorts of reasons.
RYAN
Have you ever been married?
MALLORY
No. 
RYAN
You were never in love?
MALLORY
I didn't say that. It's just that I always felt my destiny was in the stars.
RYAN
The stars? What do you mean?
MALLORY
Astronomy, Ryan. My career has always interested me more than the notion of getting married has.
RYAN
Oh.
MALLORY
And probably, as soon as I meet a man who feels the same way I do and doesn't want to get married either, we'll get married. Life's funny that way. (Beat) Can I ask you something? 
RYAN
Yes.
MALLORY
What was in those threatening texts you sent to Olivia? You weren't threatening to tell anyone about the baby, were you?
RYAN
No, never. I wouldn't do that. I can't believe what I did do, but I was devastated when she broke up with me. I really was. I wasn't thinking straight.
MALLORY
What did you do?
RYAN
I knew Olivia was already seeing someone else. She didn't love him, but she was seeing him anyway.
MALLORY
What did you threaten to do?
RYAN
Tell people. I knew who she was seeing because I -- I guess I was sort of stalking her. He teaches here at the college. And he's married. But, obviously, it's over now between them. (Morosely) Because she's dead.
Mallory is very intrigued.
MALLORY
I hate to upset you any further, Ryan, but hasn't it occurred to you that maybe it's over now because he brought an abrupt end to it?
RYAN
You mean, he killed her? But they were just fooling around. It wasn't serious.
MALLORY
You never know what's really going on between two people, behind closed doors. When one of them's married...
They both stop walking and look at each other.
INT. ELEANOR'S HOUSE - EVENING
SERIES OF SHOTS
-In the kitchen, Eleanor puts the finishing touches on a German Chocolate cake.
-In her bedroom, Eleanor puts on something causal but tasteful for the party.
-In the kitchen, she carefully puts the cake into a cake carrier.
-Wearing her coat and carrying the cake, she stops before opening her front door.
END SERIES OF SHOTS
ELEANOR
Mr. Tuffy and Miss Prim, you guard the estate while I'm gone! There's still a murderer afoot in Parsons Ridge, you know!
In the living room, Mr. Tuffy and Miss Prim are curled up and sleeping soundly on the couch.
EXT. ELEANOR'S STREET
It's dark. The streetlights are lit.
Carrying the cake, Eleanor walks the short distance to Reverend Biedermeier's house.
As she passes the houses on the street, Eleanor regards each one intently.
ELEANOR (V.O.)
Indeed, there is still a murderer afoot in Parsons Ridge. Which one of you done it?
INT. PEABODY INN
Tonight, there are plenty of people at the inn.
Natalie takes a seat next to Blair at the bar.
BLAIR
Can I get you something, Nat? Do you want a drink tonight?
NATALIE
No, I'd better not. There's still an unsolved murder around here.
BLAIR
Are we ever going to have a real date, when neither one of us is on the clock?
NATALIE
I sure hope so.
BLAIR
In case I forgot to tell you, you were very impressive last night. You're going to make a great Chief Inspector one day!
Natalie laughs.
BLAIR (CONT'D)
What? What did I say?
NATALIE
I'm not working for Scotland Yard, you know. This is America. 
BLAIR
Oh. Right. Well, you'll make a great Detective one day.
NATALIE
Thank you, Blair. (Changing tone) You know, I'm really starting to wonder.
BLAIR
About what?
NATALIE
Well, it wasn't Ryan who killed Olivia. And it wasn't Olivia's ex-husband. 
BLAIR
And?
NATALIE
And a lot of people around town didn't like that lady but maybe she simply had too much wine and fell down the stairs.
BLAIR
You think so?
NATALIE
I don't know.
BLAIR
What are the clues telling you?
NATALIE
Nothing. Frankly, we're all out of clues.
EXT. REVEREND BIEDERMEIER'S HOUSE
As Eleanor walks up to the Reverend's house, Mona, Mallory and Lois excitedly get out of Mona's car, which is parked at the curb.
MONA
Eleanor, there's been a development.
LOIS
A big development. The crime of infidelity is all over this one.
ELEANOR
What's going on? What did I miss?
MALLORY
I had a very interesting chat with Ryan Stark this afternoon -- ooh, what kind of cake did you bake?
Reverend Biedermeier opens his front door.
REVEREND BIEDERMEIER
Thank goodness, Mrs. McGregor! Not a moment too soon! 
ELEANOR
Is that your delicate way of telling me I'm late?
REVEREND BIEDERMEIER
No, no. Come in, ladies. The party's just getting started.
INT. REVEREND BIEDERMEIER'S HOUSE
MRS. BIEDERMEIER (60s, friendly, plump and dowdy) puts Eleanor's cake in the center of the dining room table. The table is covered with festive food and drink.
A NUMBER OF FACULTY MEMBERS (30s - 60s) are already at the party.
MRS. BIEDERMEIR
I was saving the place of honor for you, Mrs. McGregor. Your cakes are always the hit of any party.
ELEANOR
You're so kind to say so, Mrs. Biedermeier.
MRS. BIEDERMEIR
And a German Chocolate cake, to boot -- that's an achievement! I do so appreciate it. So time-consuming to make.
ELEANOR
Well, yes it is...
MONA
(grabbing Eleanor by the arm)
Excuse us, Mrs. Biedermeier.
MRS. BIEDERMEIR
Of course!
MONA
El, there's someone here you simply must meet.
ELEANOR
(as she's led away)
You saw I brought a time-consuming German Chocolate cake? The one you specifically requested.
MONA
Yes, I saw. Thank you, El. I certainly hope your fingers didn't get freezer burn. Now come on.
ELEANOR
Where are we going?
Mona, Lois, and Mallory lead Eleanor into the living room. 
There is a cozy fire in the fireplace. The party guests are chatting and having a good time.
The ladies prepare themselves some beverages at a makeshift bar at one end of the small living room.
Very quietly, they speak among themselves.
MONA
Don't be obvious about it, El, but look at that man standing over by the fireplace.
LOIS
The man with the oblivious wife.
Eleanor tries to look around inconspicuously.
ELEANOR
Oblivious wife? What on earth does that look like?
LOIS
Just look for someone who has no clue she's been cheated on!
ELEANOR
My goodness, that could be anyone in the house. Me, for instance.
MALLORY
It's not you. Just look at that man over there.
DR. HARRINGTON and MRS. HARRINGTON (late 30s, both very stylish) are chatting amiably with other party guests near the fireplace.
Mrs. Biedermeier enters the living room and jovially walks among the guests with a tray of simple hors d'oeuvres. 
ELEANOR
Do you mean Dr. Harrington?
MONA
Yes. Dr. Harrington.
ELEANOR
His wife has been cheated on? (Beat) Oh, my goodness! You mean, he cheated on his wife?
MONA
Yes! And guess with whom.
ELEANOR
Whom? 
MONA
With whom would you least suspect?
ELEANOR
(looking around the room)
Not -- not Mrs. Biedermeier? 
LOIS
No, Eleanor. Not with the Chaplain's wife.
ELEANOR
Well, she is the one I would least suspect.
MONA
It was Olivia Van Heusen. Remember her? The professor who was dead at the foot of her stairs.
ELEANOR
They were having an affair?
MALLORY
Ryan told me this afternoon. He said...
Reverend Biedermeier comes into the living room with Mrs. Bowersox and her daughter, MEG (19, beautiful long red hair).
REVEREND BIEDERMEIER
Here they are! The Tea Cozy Murder Club! Ladies, Mrs. Bowersox wanted to say good night before leaving for the recital.
MONA
Mrs. Bowersox! I'm so sorry, we didn't even get a chance to say hello.
ELEANOR
Is this your daughter?
MRS. BOWERSOX
(proudly)
Yes, this is our Meg. Meg, honey, this is Mrs. Bell, the woman I work for now in the Administration Building. And this is Mrs. McGregor, from the Chaplain's office; Dr. Chong, a Physics professor; and Miss Phelps, the head librarian at the Boring Library.
MEG
Hello. Nice to meet everyone.
LOIS
So, Meg, are you a student at Parsons Ridge?
MEG
Yes, a freshman. I'm hoping to major in Comparative Literature.
LOIS
Excellent choice! I'll certainly be able to help you out in the library if you need it.
ELEANOR
Such a lovely girl! What stunning red hair you have, Meg.
MRS. BOWERSOX
(cutting in)
She gets it from my husband's side of the family. 
ELEANOR
Really?
MEG
(unconvinced)
That's what they tell me.
MRS. BOWERSOX
It was a little baffling when she was born...
ELEANOR
Baffling?
MRS. BOWERSOX
Until my husband explained that, in his family, every third generation or so, a redhead pops up. 
ELEANOR
I see.
MRS. BOWERSOX
Well, sorry we have to rush, ladies, but we do need to get back to the campus for the recital.
Mrs. Bowersox hurries Meg to the front door.
MEG
(as she's ushered out)
Nice to have met everyone!
THE LADIES OF THE CLUB
(overlapping)
Nice to have met you, too! Goodbye!
As Mrs. Bowersox and Meg leave the party, the women immediately return their attention to Dr. Harrington and his wife.
MALLORY
As I was saying, Ryan told me this afternoon that Olivia and Dr. Harrington were having an affair.
LOIS
Just suppose it was getting out of hand. Perhaps Olivia was getting clingy.
ELEANOR
Clingy? Olivia never struck me as clingy. What do you think, Mona? Did she strike you as clingy?
MONA
I'd say controlling, not so much clingy.
LOIS
All right, so she's getting too controlling! What can Harrington do to Olivia to keep his wife from finding out about the infidelity?
ELEANOR
(a little too loudly)
Push her down the stairs!
The party guests fall silent and look at Eleanor. 
Dr. Harrington and his wife glance at each other, then Mrs. Harrington glares at Eleanor.
MONA
(under her breath)
That was subtle, El. Now the wife is looking right at you.
The party guests resume chatting amiably among themselves.
LOIS
Come on, Miss Megaphone, let's discuss this in another room.
MONA
I'm going out on the porch. I've got to call Natalie!
MALLORY
Yes, do that! And tell her to get over here to the party -- right away. Meanwhile, we'll go into the dining room and discuss this over some German Chocolate cake.
LOIS
Good idea.
EXT. REVEREND BIEDERMEIER'S FRONT PORCH
On the front porch, the porch light is lit.
Mona takes out her cell phone and calls Natalie.
INT. PEABODY INN
On the bar, Natalie's cell phone rings.
INTERCUT PHONE CALL BETWEEN MONA AND NATALIE
NATALIE
Hi, Mom. What's up?
MONA
Natalie, there's been a development.
NATALIE
A development?
MONA
An important one. Can you get over here to the Biedermeier house right away?
NATALIE
What's the Biedermeier house? Is that some sort of tavern?
MONA
No, Reverend Biedermeier -- he's the Chaplain from the college. He lives on Cherry Street, just a few houses down from Eleanor's. He and his wife are having a party tonight. I'll wait here on the front porch for you. Come right away. There's something you need to know about Olivia's murder! 
END INTERCUT
EXT. REVEREND BIEDERMEIER'S FRONT PORCH
Suddenly, the porch light goes out and the front door opens. 
Mrs. Harrington steps out onto the porch.
Mona quickly disconnects the phone call.
INT. PEABODY INN
NATALIE
Mom? Mom? Are you there?
BLAIR
Natalie, what's wrong?
NATALIE
I don't know. That was my mom. She said there was a development in Olivia's murder that I need to know about right away. Sorry, Blair. Another date interrupted. But I've got to go.
BLAIR
It's okay! Go! And by all means, hurry! 




                    END ACT FIVE
                       ACT SIX
EXT. REVEREND BIEDERMEIER'S FRONT PORCH - MOMENTS LATER
MONA
(feigning courage)
Funny, the porch light seems to have gone out.
MRS. HARRINGTON
(menacing)
Because I turned it off.
MONA
Why would you do that? It's dark out here. You're not afraid of moths, are you? 
MRS. HARRINGTON
No, I'm not afraid of moths.
MONA
Because, I was just going to point out, you know, that we don't really have a problem with moths in late October. Too cold.
MRS. HARRINGTON
Very amusing. I'm not out here to talk about moths, lady.
MONA
I'm Mona Bell. I work at the college with your husband.
MRS. HARRINGTON
I don't care what your name is. I just want you to know that I don't appreciate what you and your friends did in there.
MONA
What did we do?
MRS. HARRINGTON
Making fun of me in front of everyone. You think I don't know that my husband had a sordid little liaison with Professor Van Hussy.
MONA
Van Heusen.
MRS. HARRINGTON
Whatever. I heard your friend's little joke -- that I pushed her down the stairs.
MONA
I assure you, she said no such thing -- about you.
MRS. HARRINGTON
And I assure you, that I don't find it funny. And I just came out here to tell you to tell your little college friends to knock it off! Leave me and my husband alone.
Natalie can be seen hurrying down Cherry Street.
MONA
Here comes my daughter. I was waiting for her. She works for the police department.
MRS. HARRINGTON
I'm sure I'm impressed.
NATALIE
(calling out)
Mom! Are you okay?
MONA
In fact, she's investigating Olivia Van Heusen's murder.
MRS. HARRINGTON
(chuckling)
Murder? What murder? That drunk fell down her own stairs. Just leave us alone. Capiche?
Natalie runs up onto the porch.
NATALIE
(breathless)
Mom, are you okay?
Mrs. Harrington goes back inside.
MONA
Yes, I'm okay.
INT. ELEANOR'S HOUSE - LATER
Eleanor, Mona, Lois, and Mallory are in Eleanor's living room. The fire is lit in the fireplace. The cats are alert and sitting nearby.
LOIS
She actually said capiche? What? Is she in the mob?
ELEANOR
"Harrington" isn't exactly an Italian name, Lois.
MALLORY
It's her married name, though. Maybe her maiden name is more like...
ELEANOR
Verde.
They all look at Eleanor.
ELEANOR (CONT'D)
Verde. You know, like the Italian opera composer -- Giuseppe Verde.
MALLORY
I was thinking something more like Luciano or Capone.
MONA
Her maiden name is not important. What's important is that her husband had an affair with Olivia and now Natalie and Sgt. Vicks know it and they can get to the bottom of it.
ELEANOR
What an evening! I'm just sorry you didn't get to try a piece of my cake, Mona.
MONA
Me, too, El. But I thought it was best if we just got out of there. That woman was really nasty. And it was not going to get any better when Sgt. Vicks got there.
From the kitchen, the sound of the microwave "dings."
ELEANOR
That'll be the cookies! Defrosted!
Eleanor gets up to go to the kitchen.
MALLORY
You know, Ryan told me something else about Olivia -- very private, not related to the murder. But it can't leave this room.
Eleanor sits right back down.
ELEANOR
Is this about the ex-husband?
MONA
The thing Natalie wouldn't tell us?
LOIS
Come on, Mallory. Spill it!
There is an air of merriment in the living room.
MALLORY
Apparently, in her youth, Olivia had a baby out of wedlock and gave it up. Then regretted it.
The merriment stops dead.
LOIS
That's unfortunate.
MONA
Yes, that's sad.
MALLORY
It was a copy of the birth certificate that the ex-husband had come back looking for. Wanted to protect Olivia's reputation, even after all these years.
ELEANOR
I suppose that's rather chivalrous -- for someone who had pushed her down the stairs when they were married.
Eleanor gets up again to go get the cookies.
LOIS
(calling after her)
You know, Eleanor, we still need to hold a meeting of the club to solve the Curious Case of the Baffled Redhead.
MONA
That's right, Lois! The book you discovered at the Boring Library!
MALLORY
I'd forgotten all about that. Yes, we need to hold a meeting of the club!
Eleanor brings in a plate of cookies from the kitchen.
ELEANOR
I think it will be a delightful diversion from this horrible business of Olivia's actual murder.
MONA
Oh, El, you've enjoyed every minute of it.
They all help themselves to the cookies.
ELEANOR
You could be right about that, Mona. But it is disturbing that the murder hasn't been solved.
LOIS
How about Monday night? Is everyone free Monday night?
THE LADIES OF THE CLUB
(overlapping)
Monday's perfect.
ELEANOR
Fine. We'll meet back here Monday evening. Say, about 7 o'clock?
EXT. PARSONS RIDGE COLLEGE - MORNING
Monday morning. Another lovely fall day. Eleanor walks her bike up the steep hill to the college.
Outside the Chaplain's Office, Reverend Biedermeier is just arriving.
ELEANOR
Goodness, you're early, Reverend.
REVEREND BIEDERMEIER
(very chipper)
That was a fine howdy-do, I must say, Mrs. McGregor.
ELEANOR
What was?
They walk around to the side of the building, as Eleanor parks her bike.
REVEREND BIEDERMEIER
Calling the law on my All Hallows' Eve party! Quite the scandal.
ELEANOR
I'm so sorry, Reverend. Did we absolutely ruin your party?
They walk back to the front of the Chaplain's office.
REVEREND BIEDERMEIER
On the contrary. After the police escorted the Harringtons off for questioning, we all had a scintillating time. This murder-solving business can be invigorating.
ELEANOR
We have an official meeting of the club tonight. As always, you are welcome to attend!
REVEREND BIEDERMEIER
Goodness! Has there been another murder?
ELEANOR
No, this is strictly of the "book" variety: the Curious Case of the Baffled Redhead. An old-fashioned whodunit from the Jazz Age.
REVEREND BIEDERMEIER
That's more like our old Mrs. McGregor!
ELEANOR
Yes, I'm afraid so. Lois -- Miss Phelps, that is -- has read the book and knows whodunit. The rest of us will try to solve the murder from the clues she gives us. Please join us if you'd like. And bring your wife!
REVEREND BIEDERMEIER
I will consider it!
Mrs. Bowersox strides intently along the brick path, heading toward the Administration Building. She is lost in thought.
ELEANOR
Good morning, Mrs. Bowersox!
MRS. BOWERSOX
(snapping out of it)
Oh, good morning, Mrs. McGregor, Reverend Biedermeier. Lovely party.
Eleanor and the Reverend glance knowingly at each other.
ELEANOR
I'm afraid you missed the excitement -- more clues gathering around Olivia's murder. And a bit of gossip. How was the recital?
MRS. BOWERSOX
Very nice.
ELEANOR
Lovely daughter you have.
MRS. BOWERSOX
Thank you. Lovely, but forgetful. I've just come from dropping off her homework at her English Comp class. She left it on the kitchen counter this morning.
ELEANOR
She has such lovely red hair.
MRS. BOWERSOX
(clipped tone)
She does.
The chapel chimes 9 a.m.
MRS. BOWERSOX (CONT'D)
Well, I must be going. 
ELEANOR AND REVEREND BIEDERMEIER
(overlapping)
Goodbye, Mrs. Bowersox.
Eleanor has a quizzical look on her face.
REVEREND BIEDERMEIER
What is it, Mrs. McGregor?
ELEANOR
Nothing, really. Just another curious case of a baffled redhead.
REVEREND BIEDERMEIER
Whatever do you mean?
ELEANOR
Something curious her daughter said at your party.
REVEREND BIEDERMEIER
Meg Bowersox?
ELEANOR
Yes. Meg.
INT. MONA'S OFFICE - MOMENTS LATER
Mona sits at her desk. 
Mrs. Bowersox stands next to her. They are going over some paperwork.
Mona's phone rings.
MONA
I'll get it, Mrs. Bowersox. (Beat) Good morning, Administration. Oh, hello, Eleanor. Happy Monday.
INT. CHAPLAIN'S OFFICE
ELEANOR
Mona, I need to talk to you about the baby.
INTERCUT PHONE CONVERSATION BETWEEN MONA AND ELEANOR
MONA
What baby? (Beat) Oh, Olivia's.
ELEANOR
Are you alone in your office?
MONA
No.
ELEANOR
Can you meet for lunch?
MONA
I'm sorry, El. I have meetings today. I'm working through lunch.
ELEANOR
All right. I'll take care of it.
MONA
You'll take care of what?
ELEANOR
We'll talk about it later. Don't forget we're meeting tonight.
MONA
I would never miss a meeting of the club. We'll speak then. See you tonight!
END INTERCUT
Mona hangs up the phone.
MONA (CONT'D)
That was strange.
Mrs. Bowersox glares at the telephone.
MONA (CONT'D)
Mrs. Bowersox, what on earth is the matter?
MRS. BOWERSOX
I have had enough of all this grisly talk of Olivia's murder. I tell you, the woman fell down the stairs.
MONA
You could be right, Mrs. Bowersox.
MRS. BOWERSOX
I am right.
INT. PARSONS RIDGE POLICE STATION
Natalie is at her desk. The phone rings.
NATALIE
Parsons Ridge police station, Officer Bell speaking. (Beat) Hello, Eleanor! What can I do for you?
INT. ELEANOR'S HOUSE - EVENING
In preparation for the meeting of the club, Eleanor has tea sandwiches and pastries sitting out on trays on the kitchen counter, along with the tea service and the tea cozy.
Eleanor is decorating the front hallway for Halloween. Mr. Tuffy and Miss Prim watch her intently.
She has a large, carved jack-o'-lantern to set out on her front porch. Eleanor opens the front door. It's dark outside. She does not turn on the porch light. She simply steps outside with the large pumpkin in her arms and sets it at the edge of the porch.
She goes back inside and closes the front door. Mrs. Bowersox, wearing a coat, is standing in the front hall.
ELEANOR
(angry)
My goodness! Mrs. Bowersox! What are you doing here?




                    END ACT SIX
                        ACT SEVEN
INT. ELEANOR'S HOUSE - MOMENTS LATER
MRS. BOWERSOX
I've come here to put an end, once and for all, to this nonsense about Olivia. Come away from the door.
Mrs. Bowersox takes a small but very sharp kitchen knife from her coat pocket.
ELEANOR
(calculated and patient)
And what nonsense is that?
MRS. BOWERSOX
That Olivia was murdered. I happen to know she fell down those stairs. Now, step away from the door.
Mrs. Bowersox steps closer to Eleanor, who slowly moves away from the front door.
ELEANOR
I don't think Olivia fell down those stairs. And neither do you. In fact, I think you know she was pushed down those stairs because you pushed her, Mrs. Bowersox.
MRS. BOWERSOX
I did no such thing.
ELEANOR
Oh, but, sadly, I think you did. In fact, Officer Bell is on her way over here with some information from the courthouse. Why don't you put that knife away before you make matters worse?
Mrs. Bowersox lunges at Eleanor, who manages to dart away into the living room.
ELEANOR (CONT'D)
Help! Somebody!
Mrs. Bowersox goes after Eleanor.
MRS. BOWERSOX
Those court documents are private! Those records are sealed!
Mr. Tuffy and Miss Prim immediately go for Mrs. Bowersox's feet. She screams and stumbles into the living room, dropping her knife but still heading for Eleanor.
MRS. BOWERSOX (CONT'D)
Ah! Get these cats off me!
The cats set upon Mrs. Bowersox's legs, clawing at her stockings. She struggles to get them away from her.
Eleanor keeps the couch between her and Mrs. Bowersox and the attacking cats.
ELEANOR
No one opened any sealed records, I assure you! All we know is that Meg was adopted.
MRS. BOWERSOX
(hysterical)
Meg is mine!
Mrs. Bowersox manages to fling the cats away from her. The front door opens but she does not hear it. 
Natalie and Mona come in through the front door. Natalie immediately sees the knife on the floor.
The cats jump onto the back of the couch to protect Eleanor. They hiss and yowl at Mrs. Bowersox.
ELEANOR
No one said that Meg wasn't yours. We're just saying she was adopted. Olivia was Meg's birth mother, wasn't she?
MRS. BOWERSOX
Meg is mine!
Natalie and Mona come up behind Mrs. Bowersox.
Natalie quickly restrains Mrs. Bowersox's arms behind her. Mrs. Bowersox tries hard to get away but can't.
NATALIE
Mrs. Bowersox, you are under arrest! You have the right to remain silent!
Lois and Mallory also come into the living room. 
MRS. BOWERSOX
(struggling)
Meg is mine! She was going to take her from me!
NATALIE
Anything you say can and will be held against you in a court of law!
Mallory sees the knife on the floor and points it out to Lois. Lois takes a tissue from her coat pocket and hands it to Mallory, who carefully picks up the knife.
The cats are still yowling and hissing.
MRS. BOWERSOX
I was not going to let that happen! Meg is mine.
NATALIE
Eleanor, do something to calm these cats.
ELEANOR
Mr. Tuffy, Miss Prim! Thank you! Enough!
Eleanor claps her hands and the cats quietly dart away.
NATALIE
Mom, call the precinct for me. Get a cruiser over here ASAP.
MRS. BOWERSOX
That woman was going to ruin my whole life! I just wanted her to shut up. To just shut up.
Natalie puts handcuffs on Mrs. Bowersox.
Defeated, Mrs. Bowersox is no longer struggling.
NATALIE
We know that Dr. Harrington had an argument with Olivia the night she died. You were in the house that night, weren't you?, 
MRS. BOWERSOX
Indeed I was. 
NATALIE
Were you looking for the copy of that birth certificate -- the one her ex-husband was also trying to find? 
MRS. BOWERSOX
I had a right to! Meg was legally adopted. The only birth certificate that should have existed for her anymore is the one we keep in our safety deposit box!
NATALIE
That could be, but it seems that, somehow, Olivia managed to keep a copy of the original. Whether that's legal, or not.
ELEANOR
Olivia recognized Meg, didn't she? 
FLASHBACK TO OLIVIA RECOGNIZING MEG ON CAMPUS
EXT. PARSON'S RIDGE COLLEGE - DAY
Outside of Jacoby Hall, Olivia sees Meg Bowersox walk by. Olivia stops and does a double-take.
Mrs. Bowersox is crossing the green in front the Administration Building. 
MRS. BOWERSOX
(calling out to Meg)
Meg, honey, good afternoon!
MEG
(going over to her)
Hi, Mom!
Olivia stares at Meg and Mrs. Bowersox. She opens her mouth to call out to them, but says nothing. Instead, she opens her purse, takes out her wallet and looks at a tattered old photo of a very young couple: A YOUNG OLIVIA WITH HER YOUNG RED-HEADED BOYFRIEND.
Olivia looks back at Meg and Mrs. Bowersox, as they walk away.
END FLASHBACK TO OLIVIA RECOGNIZING MEG ON CAMPUS
ELEANOR
Olivia wanted to expose your secret to Meg. She was threatening you, wasn't she?
MRS. BOWERSOX
Mocking me, is more like it. I was going to put an end to it and find that birth certificate and destroy it.
ELEANOR
So you let yourself into Olivia's house...
MRS. BOWERSOX
She was just so oblivious. I was upstairs in her house while she was downstairs drinking her wine and babbling on the phone. So much nonsense. It was clear she was carrying on with a married man. No morals at all, that one. And she wanted my Meg!
FLASHBACK TO OLIVIA'S HOUSE THE NIGHT OF THE MURDER
In the dark, Mrs. Bowersox, dressed in black with black gloves, looks down from the top of the stairs. She watches Olivia pace the floor while arguing on the phone with Dr. Harrington. Olivia is in her stocking feet.
OLIVIA
(on her iPhone)
I'm just about done with you, you know that? I cannot believe you would go off with your wife, knowing I was here waiting for you. We had a date!
MRS. BOWERSOX (V.O.)
She was always a woman who thought she was entitled to everything -- everything had to go her way, or else. It felt good, listening to that conversation -- knowing that for once, she wasn't going to get her way.
Mrs. Bowersox leaves the top of the stairs and goes into Olivia's bedroom. A small lamp is lit. She rummages through drawers, not being very careful.
MRS. BOWERSOX (V.O.)
That birth certificate was not upstairs. I looked all over, went through every drawer I could find. I tell you, that woman was OCD -- everything was neat as a pin! 
Mrs. Bowersox quickly moves into another bedroom -- this one is dark.
Olivia comes upstairs, carrying her wine glass.
MRS. BOWERSOX (V.O.)
I was done upstairs, and wanted to search the first floor. At one point, I know she heard me. She came out of her bedroom and came to the top of the stairs. She called out for Ryan Stark, of all people! A child!
Olivia is at the top of the stairs, dressed, holding her glass of red wine.
OLIVIA
Ryan, are you down there? Ryan Stark, is that you? Answer  me! I am really tired of you following me around...
MRS. BOWERSOX (V.O.)
I knew no one was downstairs. I was the only person she'd heard. I wasn't thinking straight anymore; for me, it was an opportunity. All I knew was that I hated her. At that point, she turned and saw me standing quite close to her.
OLIVIA
(Screaming)
What are you doing in my house? I'm calling the po--
Mrs. Bowersox pushes Olivia down the stairs.
END FLASHBACK TO OLIVIA'S HOUSE THE NIGHT OF THE MURDER
LOIS
Eleanor, how did you figure out that Meg was adopted?
A police siren is heard in the distance, coming closer.
ELEANOR
It was the curious conversation with Meg and her mother  -- the one about her father's side of the family producing redheads.
FLASHBACK TO REVEREND BIEDERMEIER'S PARTY
MRS. BOWERSOX
She gets it from my husband's side of the family. 
ELEANOR
Really?
MEG
(unconvinced)
That's what they tell me.
MRS. BOWERSOX
It was a little baffling when she was born...
END FLASHBACK TO REVEREND BIEDERMEIER'S PARTY
ELEANOR
Meg said, "That's what they tell me" -- almost as if Meg had never seen another redhead in her entire family. It made me wonder if Meg was adopted.
The sound of the police siren stops outside Eleanor's house.
MRS. BOWERSOX
You are such a busybody, Mrs. McGregor. You should have just minded your own business.
NATALIE
Come on, Mrs. Bowersox. Our ride is here.
Sgt. Vicks comes in through the front door.
The ladies of the club watch Natalie escort Mrs. Bowersox out of the house in handcuffs. 
Mallory hands Sgt. Vicks the knife wrapped in a tissue.
INT. ELEANOR'S HOUSE - LATER
The ladies of the club are sitting by the fire in the living room, having their tea and pastries.
LOIS
That was pretty darned exciting for a Monday evening.
MALLORY
Eleanor, I still don't know how you put it all together.
ELEANOR
It was when you brought up the book again the other night, Lois -- The Curious Case of the Baffled Redhead. It made Meg's remark at the party stand out for me, and of course, the way Mrs. Bowersox had responded -- actually using the word "baffling".
LOIS
Why didn't we all see that?
ELEANOR
Then, when I ran into Mrs. Bowersox this morning, she seemed reluctant to draw any attention to Meg's red hair. I then felt convinced that Meg was adopted and that Mrs. Bowersox was uncomfortable about it.
MONA
And for some reason, you always refused to accept that Olivia had fallen down the stairs on her own.
LOIS
And, one by one, the people who might have pushed her were crossed off the list.
ELEANOR
I had found out from Natalie this morning that the Harringtons also had an alibi.
MONA
Really?
ELEANOR
Yes. You were busy working so I never got a chance to tell you.
MONA
What was their alibi?
ELEANOR
Can you believe they were winding up a romantic weekend together in a lodge in Michigan? Trying to salvage their marriage.
MONA
And at the same time, Dr. Harrington was still taking calls from Olivia!
LOIS
That's a marriage worth saving. 
MONA
A little like my own marriage was, I'm afraid -- before I got divorced.
LOIS
I guess it's no wonder that I'm living with my elderly father and three Schnauzers. I never trusted that "marriage" idea.
ELEANOR
It worked well for me, while it lasted.
MALLORY
Poor Mrs. Bowersox. It does sound as if Olivia had figured out who Meg was and, even after all these years, wanted to get her baby back.
ELEANOR
Yes, I'm afraid Olivia would have done anything. She likely was threatening to destroy Mrs. Bowersox's happy home.
LOIS
What a sad case, but at least it's finally solved. Anyone up for seconds? 
ELEANOR
You mean you want more pastries? Some cookies, perhaps?
LOIS
No, I mean we have another curious case of a baffled redhead to solve! Anyone up for it?
MONA
Why not? The night is young! We're getting good at this!
Mallory picks up the wooden meat mallet from the coffee table and hands it to Eleanor.
MALLORY
Madame Chair, do you want to make it official?
Eleanor takes the mallet and bangs it on the coffee table.
ELEANOR
I hereby call this meeting of the Tea Cozy Murder Club officially to order!
THE LADIES OF THE CLUB 
We second that!
INT. ELEANOR'S HOUSE - LATER
Everyone has gone home.
Upstairs, Eleanor is ready for bed. At the mirror on the dresser, she once again combs out her hair and talks to Evan. Mr. Tuffy and Miss Prim sit on the bed and watch her.
ELEANOR
Evan, it was quite a night! I hope you were able to take it all in from wherever you are. Those two critters there really came to the aid of your old girl this evening! I never knew we had attack cats, did you? Poor Mrs. Bowersox. Her whole world has fallen apart now -- and that was the thing she was trying so hard to hold together. Funny, how the more we grasp at things, the more they slip away. If we could just learn to trust the process; let life work its miracles in its own time. Then there wouldn't be all this grasping. Well, dear, I hope you're proud of me; I'm learning something new every day!
Eleanor gets into bed. She picks up her iPhone and turns on its flashlight. She aims it at the cats.
ELEANOR (CONT'D)
Good night, my sweets!
Then she turns off the flashlight and turns off the bedside lamp.
FADE OUT.


                      THE END

The world of author Marilyn Jaye Lewis

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