Solemn Frivolities

Another part of Alexandra’s employment in this activity was to pass on a message to one of the characters assembled. This had all been decided on previously through one of Mrs. Winters’ ‘big talks’, during which she had gone through some of her plans for the afternoon, and specified her thoughts for the decoration and transformation.

Now, all there was for Alexandra to do was to listen closely for the cue.

Peter Stones was the one to provide it.

After those gathered had got over the shock of the sudden light failure, Rhaïd had back-stepped in his investigation and had, once again, been asking into the personal life of the deceased Renfield brother. It seemed that, although he had a grand fortune for those times, he had not yet claimed a wife to share it with. He was, it seemed, a proud bachelor, though not a man who despised the company of women, having several female acquaintances.

Mr. Stones had said, “He had not many female ‘companions’ in his…sadly-short life, but there was one rumour that ran around the neighbourhood gossips for a while; it was said that he had had a tight closed affair with a married lady of high society, but that she had left him for her husband, or possibly another younger man…”

“Well, that’s not uncommon,” said Mrs. Winters softly.

“Azura…” Rhaïd scowled.

Before a fight could break out, Alexandra stepped forward, putting on her false, and rather tasteless, Cockney accent.

“Sir, Mr. Renfield, Sir. A note just arrived for you from do’nstairs; ‘tis your wife, or summint.”

“Very well,” said he. “I will attend to her, but I do hope that, when I return, our last course will have been served.”

For a man who was about to enact out his death, Mr. Stones was surprisingly calm. Perhaps it was because he didn’t truly believe what he was taking part in.

And so he made his way to the window, his eyes flashing to and from the faces that followed him to there. He lingered for a second longer, as his eyes folded down onto those of the frowning Azura’s, clutching at her neckline where the shimmering jewels had once been placed. She held her head up high, proud, and promptly ignored the way he looked at her.

He also looked across to Mrs. Winters, a woman slightly distressed by her own doing, who was pursing her lips, and tapping her nails against the hard wood. It could have been in a thoughtful way, but Alexandra knew that it was out of impatience. And, there, the hesitant resistance of life showed, and for a minute, Alexandra thought that he was not going to do it.

Mr. Stones passed Alexandra and she gave a sympathetic smile; his character was worth the pity: low income, unmarried, and, by the very sound of it, estranged from his entire family. Having been a servant all her life, Alexandra had grown up without ever knowing much about either of her parents, and she was able to sympathise greatly with the person of the younger Renfield.

What Alexandra couldn’t see, though, was where this brother fitted in with the  ‘murder’. The maid may have had ‘eagle’s sight’, but she had no detective brain of Christophe's. 

Finally, the man reached the ‘window’, opened it, and then peered out into the afternoon.

With a wink to Alexandra, he managed to fall through tawdry paper wall and plastic frame, the French-windows having been decorated with false glass for exactly this need. He was yelling all the time, and when he abruptly stopped, lying on the white pavement, it was clear that yet another character had met a swift union with oblivion. It most certainly could have been an accident, but Alexandra knew, in these circumstances, that it was most certainly not.

The End

131 comments about this story Feed