I thought I'd have some fun.
I started writing short stories before I really thought about writing novels--at least seriously writing them. I haven't written short stories in a long time. Many were published in Skyline Literary Magazine (thank you Victoria Valentine) years ago, but, ever since, they've been sitting in the Guthrie Short Story Hall of Fame. So I thought I'd share some with you. Let me know what you think.
THE MYSTERY CLUB SCANDAL
Patricia A. Guthrie
Jonathan Kellerman brought an opened bottle of Port into his mansion’s library, bent over and rested it on the cocktail table. He stood, rubbed his hands together and smiled to the local mystery writers’ club. “Gentlemen, tonight we discuss local scandals.”
Maurice Whitestone’s mouth turned upward into a grin of one who’d smoked too many cigars. “Well, well, well. No Dame Agatha tonight? Very interesting development. I say then friend Jonathan. You can be first. We know you have skeletons in your closet.”
“Hear, hear.” Two men rested back on their well-developed derrieres, eyes lit with the anticipation of juicy local gossip. And so it always was with this group, Jonathan thought.
Jonathan bent over again and poured the wine into long-stemmed ruby glasses. He rose with the aches of one who experienced age and arthritis. But, as usual, he masked his pain behind the plastered debonair smile he’d carried off for years. A smile he’d never allowed to enter his heart, or, he guessed, his eyes. No matter.
He passed the glasses around, then settled on the overstuffed leather chair placed at one end of the chairs facing a stone fireplace--the perfect ambiance for their usual mystery hour chats.
He raised his glass in acknowledgement. Then, his gaze settled on the crackling fire that spit burning embers up the chimney.
"Gentlemen. Do you remember your local history? The story about Maude Parker and Clyde Griffin?”
“I remember Maudie Parker,” Alistair Griffin said, the leather swooshing as he shifted in his seat.
“Yes, my mother kept pictures of her tucked away in a scrapbook,” Maurice said. “Her fiancé killed her, didn’t he?”
“Shook the very foundation of the community,” Alistair mumbled, taking a long sip from his glass.
“Maude was the belle of the town,” Jonathan continued. “She was engaged to Clyde Griffin, but loved to flirt. One night at a party, young Maudie decided to make Clyde jealous by paying too much attention to Harry Brady. Way too much attention. Furious, Clyde left in a huff.”
“Yes sir,” Maurice replied. “That story made the papers. Clyde caught her kissing young Harry in the library. My mother, God rest her soul, saved the clippings.”
“Oh, yes.” William Seacrest came alive. “I think the story goes . . . Clyde came back with wine and offered it around. Everything seemed okay, until some of the guests got deathly ill. Maude and Harry both died. Clyde was arrested.”
The men uttered ‘tsks’ that sounded like the faint hissing of a roomful of snakes.
Jonathan raised his glass to his lips, changed his mind and put it back down.
"Your uncle, wasn't he?” Alistair asked. If he’d sat any farther forward in his chair, he would have slid off onto the hardwood floor.
The fire sputtered. Everyone hushed. An anticipatory stillness filled the room.
"I can’t remember, exactly what happened. What was the eventual outcome?” William asked. “Did he . . .”
“Clyde never went to trial, Jonathan said softly. “ They remanded him to the state institution for the criminally insane. That was back in the days when they had such institutions.” He paused, for effect. “I believe each one of you had a family member involved?”
Jonathan stood, went to the fireplace and turned to three partially glowing faces. “Maurice, didn’t your grandfather preside over Clyde’s trial?”
Maurice nodded, “Why yes, I think he did.”
“And Alistair, wasn’t your father responsible for committing him?”
Alistair raised raised one questioning eyebrow and nodded.
“And William, your uncle, the sheriff, took him away.”
Suddenly, Maurice gasped. "What the hell?"
Alistair and William clutched their throats and gagged as their glasses smashed onto the floor splattering wine onto an oriental carpet. The three gentlemen registered surprised terror, then crashed to the floor.
"Gentlemen, Clyde Griffin died today and we come full circle. May you and your loved ones rest in hell!"
Jonathan raised his glass, and in one final toast, drank up. Every last drop.
I hope you enjoyed this. If so, I may add more. Otherwise, I'll talk about my not-so-normal life and that will REALLY PUT YOU TO SLEEP.