Sunday, August 17, 2008

Big Announcement!

I am once again following the esteemable Gavin Williams' lead and have taken a new home over at

Starting Monday (today), all new updates for both AEOL and Superstition (as well as archives) can be found at

I hope to see you there!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Chapter 18

“Missing?” Peter Scofield asked.

“Yes,” Dashiell replied. “We believe the killer took it after finishing with your mother.”

Peter Scofield thought about this, then nodded. “Well there you go. Elizabeth would have taken it, so that its details would never see the light of day. While she has her flaws, lack of intelligence is not one of Elizabeth’s failings. She would know Mother’s death would only fuel interest in her book. Therefore, it can never be allowed to see the light of day.”

“You realize,” Regina said, “that means she’s probably destroyed the manuscript.”

“Of course,” Peter Scofield said. “That would stand to reason.”

“Well, absent that manuscript, there’s nothing, other than your theory, which ties your sister to your mother’s death.”

Peter Scofield half smiled. “As I said, Detective, Elizabeth is not lacking in intelligence.”

“There’s another problem,” Regina said. “The timeline doesn’t fit. We know your mother was alive when the reporter and photographer from Washington Woman left at 11 a.m. Watson didn’t report seeing your sister at all this morning. That doesn’t seem like the sort of detail he’d leave out.”

This time, Peter Scofield did smile. “Detective Robins, all of us children have been sneaking in and out of the house without disturbing Watson for years. It was the only way we could indulge in our various youthful discretions. It even became a game. I assure you, Elizabeth was quite capable of coming and going from the house without alerting anyone to her presence.”

“As are you?” Regina asked pointedly.

“Of course. But why would I want to harm my mother? And more importantly, why would I tell you I had the ability to do so undetected?”

“That seems to be a question we’ve been running into a lot today,” Regina said.

Dashiell had his arms crossed, one hand stroking his chin, deep in thought. Finally, he spoke. “Mr. Scofield, you know why Mr. Watson hired me, don’t you?”

“Because you’re reputed to be the best occult detective in the Metropolitan area. You had an exemplary record of government service and the police routinely hire you to help in cases involving the occult.”

“Exactly,” Dashiell replied. “Which leaves me wondering…even assuming your sister had a motive to kill your mother, how she would have accomplished it? Specifically, how she would have done it in a way that required my services?”

“Oh that’s easy, Mr. Aldridge. Elizabeth has been interested in the occult for years.”

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Chapter 17

Silence reigned for several seconds.

Finally, Dashiell broke it. “Your sister? Why do you think that?”

“I think it had to do with her autobiography. My mother was being quite frank. Some of the information may have been….less than flattering.”

“So you’ve seen a copy?” Regina asked.

“Not as such, no. But mother was completely open about her book with us. She called each of us in and told us what she planned to write. I didn’t speak directly with Elizabeth about it, but I know she was quite upset when she left Mother’s office.”

Dashiell and Regina exchanged a look. Dashiell spoke next. “And when was that, Mr. Scofield?”

Peter paused for a moment and thought. “It must have been….about two weeks ago now is when Mother spoke to me. She spoke to Elizabeth just before me. I passed her on my way in. She appeared to be in tears.”

“What sort of information was your mother going to reveal about your sister?” Regina interjected.

“I don’t know all the details of my sister’s youth. But I understand there were some….indiscretions. Things that would be quite embarrassing for someone in our social circle.”

“Embarrassing?” Dashiell commented. “There’s a far cry to being embarrassed by something and being willing to kill over it. Especially when the victim is your own mother.”

“Mr. Aldridge, you need to understand. My sister has a certain reputation among her friends. She was held up by all of our friends' parents as the ideal to which they should strive. That image has carried with her to this day. If it were to be tarnished, or worse yet, flat out destroyed, it would devastate her.” He paused. “Sad to say, yes, I believe that protecting her reputation would be enough to drive her to this desperate end. Especially given….”

“Especially given, what?” Dashiell prompted.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Aldridge, Detective Robins. There are some things we just don’t discuss outside the family. Certain topics we are ingrained not to mention. It is a habit that is hard to break, especially after so many years. But then, there’s no need to hide it from you. You’ve doubtless already read, or will shortly read, Mother’s book.”

Regina and Dashiell exchanged another look. “Actually….” Regina began, letting her sentence trail off.

“What?” Peter asked.

“The only copy of the manuscript is missing.”


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Chapter 16

The doors opened on a plush lobby area. Dashiell and Regina stepped out and turned to the left. There, behind a set of glass doors sat a reception desk. The desk was backed by dark wood paneling. Gold letters spelled out the name of the firm, Scofield and Associates.

Dashiell shook his head. Leave it to the old man to hog all the glory. Most other law firms had at least two partner names on the wall. Crowell and Moring. Powell Goldstein. Wilmer Hale. But William Scofield, the family patriarch, had insisted on top, and only billing. It was a subtle reminder that even though other lawyers might make partner, compared to the Scofields, they were merely associates.

Dashiell stepped forward and held the door for Regina. She walked up to the reception desk and Dashiell stood next to her. “Dashiell Aldridge and Regina Robins to see Peter Scofield,” he said.

“Yes, of course Mr. Aldridge. If you’ll please have a seat, I’ll let Mr. Scofield know you’re here.”

Dashiell looked over in the indicated direction. There was a large slab of white tiled floor, upon which sat several large plush chairs, upholstered in what looked like calf leather. There was a large table, upon which sat a variety of legal publications, as well as copies of the Economist and Foreign Affairs.

“Mr. Scofield will be with you in just a moment,” the receptionist, a young man in his early twenties said. “May I get you something to drink? Water? Soda?”

“No thanks,” Regina said. The young man looked at Dashiell, who shook his head.

Dashiell settled into one of the large chairs as Regina paced around.

Two or three minutes passed. Dashiell was just about to grab the copy of the Economist when movement caught his eye. There was a spiral staircase in the middle of an open area, off to the left of the reception area. A well dressed man was walking down it. He appeared to be dressed in well tailored slacks, an Oxford blue shirt, dark tie and suspenders. He wasn’t wearing a jacket.

When he reached the lobby floor, Dashiell noted expensive-looking black leather shoes, polished to a mirror shine. He coughed lightly, and when Regina looked his way, he thrust his chin toward the man. She turned to look at him as he came up, extending a hand.

“Mr. Aldridge? Detective Robins?” Dashiell nodded an affirmative. “Peter Scofield. I wish I could say it’s a pleasure to meet you, but under the circumstances I think you’ll understand my lack of enthusiasm.”

“Of course, Mr. Scofield,” Regina said, shaking his hand. “We’re sorry for your loss.”

Dashiell levered himself out of the chair and also shook Scofield’s hand. “What was it you wanted to see me about?”

“Right to the point, I like that,” Peter Scofield nodded. “Please, come to my office. What I need to tell you needs to be said in private.” Dashiell nodded and Peter Scofield headed back for the stairs. Dashiell and Regina followed. He led them down a hall on the upper floor to a large set of heavy oak doors. He held them open as they walked in to a large office. The entire far wall was floor-to-ceiling windows, with a view out over the downtown area. Thanks to the height restrictions in the D.C. building code, Dashiell could see the Capitol.

Peter Scofield shut the heavy doors and came around to his desk, leaning against it.

“Thank you for coming on such short notice. I understand that in murder investigations, the first twenty four hours are the most important.”

“Well, Mr. Scofield, you should know,” Regina said, casting a sidelong glance at Dashiell. “We haven’t officially ruled this case a homicide yet.”

Dashiell opened his mouth to protest when Peter Scofield made it unnecessary. “That’s why I called you here, Detective Robins. I wanted to tell you I think I know who killed my mother.”

Dashiell and Regina both froze. They looked at each other for a moment, before turning their eyes back to Peter Scofield. He answered the obvious question.

“I believe it was my sister, Elizabeth.”


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Chapter 15

He fished his phone out of his pocket and flipped it open, trying to control his irritation. “Hello?

“Yes, this is Dashiell Aldridge, who’s this?” Dashiell listened for a moment and then looked up at Regina, his eyebrows raised in surprise. She looked at him questioningly in response.

“Hello Mr. Scofield. How can I help you?”

Regina mouthed “Mr. Scofield”? Dashiell nodded in response. “Yes, I’ve spoken with Mr. Watson….No, none of the suspects have panned out so far, sir.” He looked down at his watch. “Yes, sir. I can be there in half an hour. Do you mind if I bring my partner?” He paused. “Detective Regina Robins, Metro PD…..Very well, sir. We’ll be there soon.”

He closed the phone and returned it to his pocket. “What was that about?” Regina asked.

“That was Peter Scofield, the elder son. He told me he’s got some information that might be helpful. He didn’t want to say what it was over the phone, so he invited us over to his office.”

“And you told him we’d be there in half an hour? Dash, it’s rush hour. And his office is back downtown.”

Dashiell smiled. “Relax, Regina. Most of the traffic is heading out, it being so close to the end of the day. And his office is down on K. We could walk there in less time.”

“Not in this heat, Dash.” She shook her head, the hint of a smile appearing at the corners of her mouth.

He chuckled. “Of course not. But let’s go. His office is on 17th and K. Finding parking won’t be easy.”

Dashiell slid into the passenger seat as Regina got behind the wheel. She pulled out into traffic and headed back downtown.

“So what do you think he has to tell us, Dash?”

“I have no idea. But hopefully it’ll be a motive. If we can figure out why Mrs. Scofield was killed, we might be able to figure out who did it.”

Regina nodded. They sat in silence for the rest of the ride. The tension of their fight had been broken, but it still hung in the air. Dashiell wondered what would have happened if his phone hadn’t rang when it did. He didn’t like fighting with Regina. She was his best friend and the only person he spent a considerable amount of time with.

She pulled into a garage near the corner of 18th and K. She flashed her badge at the attendant and he waved her in. She grabbed a spot on the topmost level.

Dashiell exited the car and walked with Regina back up the ramp. They entered the glass doors of the building into a massive lobby and approached the reception desk.

“Dashiell Aldridge to see Peter Scofield.” The guard handed over a roster, and Dashiell and Regina signed in. He then walked them over to an elevator, pulling out a Kastle Key. He pressed the up button and when the golden doors opened, he leaned in, flashed the key over a sensor and pressed the button for the 8th floor. He headed back to his desk as the doors closed.