Reginald Winchester – Self proclaimed “World’s Greatest Detective”, he has an unflagging thirst for the truth and the ability to take any set-back in stride. The only element missing from his detective’s toolkit is deductive ability. Occasionally adopts a fake British accent, especially when saying something he considers to be of great importance.
Caitlin Axelrod – Talk show host bumped by Glenn’s show. She is stable and methodical, a no-nonsense type, and her style has won her leagues of fans and enemies.
Justin Harding – Arms manufacturer supported by Glenn. A true professional in every sense, he is never out of control, and constantly on the lookout to expand his company or his influence.
Gary Lexington – Eager fan impersonating honored military veteran Dan Jacobs. Overwhelmed at the prospect of meeting Glenn Beck, he is in way over his head.
Tabitha Reed – Socialist who broke into Glenn’s compound. A true child of Reddit, she was raised in a conservative home, and sought the liberal elite as a form of rebellion in college. She has never looked back. She views her role as one of bringing freedom and transparency to the evils of the right wing.
Therese Fischer – Glenn’s faithful maid. She moved to the US from Austria as a teenager and still speaks with a noticeable Austrian accent. Seemingly simple, because that is what people expect her to be.
Jess Thomas – Glenn’s publisher, about to be dropped by Glenn. She is frazzled and overwhelmed, but trying to make the best of everything. She constantly has too many irons in the fire and worries that any misstep may ruin her future.
Officer Daniels – Police officer called to investigate the murder. Jaded at the world, but efficient and effective in most situations.
Glenn Beck’s home in Westlake, Texas. In particular, a lounge area in the house. It has, among other furniture, a large desk with a red phone, a chalkboard, a dresser with a lamp near the door, and at least six chairs spread out around the room. (The audience is seated around a table in the center of the room)
Act I: Gathering
Ms. Fischer: (starting offstage) You may wait here, gentlemen, until the other guests arrive. Mr. Beck will be along very soon.
Ms. Fischer, Reginald, and Mr. Harding enter the room.
Ms. Fischer: (to Reginald) Feel free to look around. Mr. Beck’s art collection is not to be missed.
Mr. Harding: That’s for sure. Glenn has wonderful tastes in portraits, especially the Revolutionary War portraits. Very stirring. I hope you will get a chance to check them out, Mr….
Reginald: Detective. Detective Winchester. (waits for recognition) Reginald Winchester, the World’s Greatest Living Detective. I’m sure you’ve heard of me.
Mr. Harding: Well, you’d think with a name like that I’d remember. A detective, eh? I guess I should consider my suspicions confirmed, then.
Reginald: Suspicions? Did something seem suspicious to you?
Mr. Harding: Nothing to get excited about, detective. I just mean that it looks like Glenn is up to one of his tricks. He had an odd gleam in his eyes when I saw him downstairs. That usually means he’s on the tail of some crazy idea. And your presence here would certainly seem to confirm that.
Reginald: Of course. (recovering his superiority) Yes, I noticed the same thing. I said to myself, there is a great mystery afoot, and Mr. Beck is depending upon my deductive skills to solve it. And his confidence is well placed, I should dare say.
Mr. Harding: In that case I look forward to a very interesting, and hopefully enlightening, evening.
Jess Thomas enters
Mr. Harding: Ahh, Jess. It’s so good to see you, again. Do you have the night off, or are you here on business?
Jess Thomas: A bit of both, actually. Officially, I’m only here because Mr. Beck invited me for dinner. Unofficially, I’m hoping to convince him to give me the updated manuscript for his new book. We’re on the verge of missing the scheduled release date.
Mr. Harding: You said the same thing the last time I saw you.
Jess Thomas: It was true then too. If I don’t have that book to the editors within the next two weeks, we’ll almost certainly miss releasing before the Presidential race begins. Truthfully, even if I get it tonight, it may be too late.
Mr. Harding: That sounds completely dreadful. Why don’t you drop the ulterior motive and just relax for an evening?
Jess Thomas: You know I can’t do that. If I let up, this whole company will fall apart.
Mr. Harding: Then I wish you the best of luck. I always look forward to the release of a new Glenn Beck book. And I know his many loyal followers are grateful for your dedication.
Jess notices Reginald standing by, listening
Jess Thomas: I don’t believe I’ve made your acquaintance. I’m Jess Thomas, publisher and occasional much-needed spur for Mr. Beck. I didn’t mean to get caught up talking shop, but it seems like sometimes that’s all I can think about.
Reginald: It’s not a problem at all Miss Thomas. It’s a pleasure to meet you. I am Reginald Winchester, World’s Greatest Living Detective. As Glenn Beck’s publisher, I assume you know him well?
Jess Thomas: Yes. I mean, I’m sure that there are plenty people that know him better, but I have spent some time with him.
Mr. Harding: (Theatrically) And the award for “Understatement of the Year” goes to…
Reginald: As someone who has spent “some time” with Mr. Beck, do you share Mr. Harding’s opinion?
Jess Thomas: I don’t follow you. What opinion?
Reginald: That something is up. That a mystery is afoot. Mr. Harding told me that he noted a most mischievous glint in Mr. Beck’s eyes upon our arrival. Would you concur?
Mr. Harding: I didn’t say it was a mischievous glint. I believe I characterized it as a gleam.
Jess Thomas: Glenn always has a glint in his eyes. The man is constantly chasing after the next big story, and he’ll never be satisfied, no matter how big a story he finds himself a part of.
Mr. Harding: You’re certainly right there, Jess. But you must admit, it’s his constant digging that really draws in his audience. And irritates his opponents.
Ms. Fischer escorts Gary Lexington into the dining room.
Ms. Fischer: You can wait with the other guests in here, Sgt. Jacobs. Mr. Beck will be up as soon as Mrs. Axelrod arrives.
Gary Lexington: Thank you. I hope he’s up soon. I’m so anxious to meet him.
Ms. Fischer leaves
Gary Lexington: (Oblivious to everyone around) Wow. I’m actually in Glenn Beck’s house. And there’s his chalk board. With his own chalk marks. And, can it be? Glenn’s direct hot-line to the White House. It’s more wonderful than I imagined. Glenn Beck has stood in this very room! He may even have breathed this very air!
Mr. Harding: (Taps the shoulder of Gary Lexington, who jumps) Sgt. Jacobs? Sgt. Dan Jacobs? (Gary Lexington nods) It is an honor, sir. I can’t tell you how anxious I’ve been to meet you. I’ve had to listen to Glenn rave about you for weeks!
Gary Lexington: (embarrassed) Oh? Yes, well, I guess I’ve raved a bit about him too.
Mr. Harding: Jess, did you know we’d have a genuine war hero in our midst tonight?
Jess Thomas: Glenn didn’t tell me anything. (to Gary) Sir, I would just like to echo Justin’s appreciation for what you’ve been through. You are an inspiration for all Americans.
Gary Lexington: It’s nothing, really. All in a soldier’s work. I don’t want any special recognition. I did what anyone else would have done for his country.
Mr. Harding: Nonsense, you’re a hero. But how rude of me. I should introduce myself. I’m Justin Harding, CEO of Critical Armaments.
Jess Thomas: And I’m Jess Thomas, Glenn’s publishing liaison. I have to tell you, when I heard about all of the ordeals that you went through, I pictured you very differently. Isn’t that silly?
Gary Lexington: I get that a lot, believe it or not. It’s odd, isn’t it, how people never look the way we imagine them?
Mr. Harding: Sergeant, you have to let me show you around the wonder’s of Mr. Beck’s art collection.
Reginald: One moment, please. I am Reginald Winchester, the World’s Greatest Living Detective, (Mr. Harding and Jess Thomas exchange glances) and I have question for you, Sgt. Jacobs.
Gary Lexington: (scared) What? I haven’t done anything wrong.
Jess Thomas: Easy there, Sergeant. I don’t think Mr. Winchester is accusing you of anything.
Reginald: Not at all. It’s just that we seem to have a mystery afoot. Mr. Beck has been suspected of being up to something. I merely wanted to know whether the Sergeant also shared that suspicion. Did Mr. Beck seem in any way unusual to you, Sergeant?
Gary Lexington: Well, I didn’t actually get to see Mr. Beck when I arrived. The maid escorted me up here right away, and I’ve yet to see Glenn, though I am very anxious to meet him. So, in answer to your question, I have absolutely no idea. Who suggested things weren’t right?
Mr. Harding: That would be me.
Reginald: (interrupting) I noticed it too.
Mr. Harding: Err, yes. Anyhow, it seems to have sparked some very strong interest in our detective friend here. It’s probably much ado about nothing. Now, Detective Winchester, is the good Sergeant free to explore Mr. Beck’s wonderful art collection with me?
Reginald: (oblivious to Mr. Harding’s sarcasm) Yes, you may go about your business. I see no reason to detain you at the moment.
Mr. Harding guides Gary Lexington out of the room
Reginald: So, Miss Thomas, you say that Mr. Beck is working on a book?
Jess Thomas: That’s right. And we’re hoping for another bestseller. He’s working on the second manuscript at the moment. We already have his first draft, but Glenn said he felt that the recent developments in the Middle East required some re-working of a few chapters. Of course, if I let him rewrite his books every time the situation in the Middle East changed, he’d never complete more than a page.
Reginald: What is the subject of Mr. Glenn’s new book?
Jess Thomas: Well, before the re-write it was focusing on how war impacts people. He covered the history of American warfare, looking at how people became heroes and villains. I think it’s his best work yet. In fact, and I hope Glenn doesn’t mind me telling you this, Sgt. Jacobs is featured quite prominently. Glenn holds him up as a classic example of raw courage in the face of overwhelming terror. It really is, or rather that draft was, bound for record-breaking sales.
Reginald: You think the re-write will change that?
Jess Thomas: No. Though with Glenn one never can tell. He promised me his new draft would be merely supplemental, so I’m hoping that it won’t significantly alter the focus. It’s just that sometimes he doesn’t know when to leave well enough alone. That’s why we’re always behind schedule with Glenn’s books.
Reginald: And what are you doing to keep things on schedule?
Jess Thomas: We just have to work with what we’ve already got, and hope that we don’t guess wrong. We’ve already started writing up the ad copy and arranging cover art, because that shouldn’t change much before the launch. But enough about my problems. What brings (finger quotes) “the world’s greatest living detective” to our midst?
Reginald: A detective should not reveal too much, I’m afraid. It seems to me that if Mr. Beck has not seen fit to inform you, then perhaps it is better that you don’t know.
Jess Thomas: That’s rather mysterious. Do you really believe that something suspicious is going on here tonight?
Reginald: There is no doubt about it. When you’ve had as much experience at detective work as I have, you acquire a sixth sense for these things. A mystery is afoot, and I, Reginald Winchester, the World’s Greatest Living Detective have been called upon to find the solution.
Jess Thomas: Yes, I had been meaning to ask about that. Do you really introduce yourself to everyone as “the world greatest living detective”?
Reginald: And why shouldn’t I? I feel that people should be immediately apprised of whom they deal with.
Jess Thomas: But who decided that you were the greatest detective? Couldn’t it be someone else? Are there rankings? Do you have some detective voting club? What criteria does one consider when deciding on what sets one detective apart from another. It would seem to be rather subjective, wouldn’t it?
Reginald: I can see your confusion, not being a detective yourself. You see, when you are the world’s greatest living detective, you can tell. Naturally, most people don’t understand this, which is precisely why I must make it known. Humility has no place in detective work. All the great detectives will tell you that.
Jess Thomas: Is that so? And who do you consider to be great detectives?
Reginald: You are still speaking as though it were a matter of one’s opinion. It is not. Rather, a professional such as myself, when judging the work of other detectives, can quickly discern his or her ability, in a completely objective measure.
Jess Thomas: Alright then, who have you measured as the greatest detectives?
Reginald: Perhaps the greatest detectives, sadly now deceased, were the great Hercule Poirot and Sherlock Holmes. I have modeled my technique after theirs, though I have long since surpassed them.
Jess Thomas: You model yourself after fictional detectives, then?
Reginald: Fictional? I run into that misconception from those outside the field quite a lot, actually.
Jess Thomas: But they were fictional. The Hercule Poirot series was written by Agatha Christie, and the Sherlock Holmes stories were written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Reginald: I ask you, miss, could fictional characters have unraveled such well known and complicated cases such as the ABC Murders or the Sign of Four?
Jess Thomas: (slightly alarmed) Really, Mr. Winchester, you do take your jokes too far. Of course they could, as those very cases are themselves fictional.
Reginald: I guess there is nothing to be gained in further efforts to raise you from your self-imposed ignorance. After this evening’s mystery has been brought to a close we’ll see who is fictional!
Jess Thomas: (backing away) Oh… Well, I really ought to go, umm, touch up my make-up before dinner starts. It was nice meeting you.
Jess hurries from the room, leaving Reginald alone to ponder
Reginald: So, Mr. Beck thinks he’ll surprise the World’s Greatest Living Detective with a mystery, does he? Ha! The man has woefully underestimated my mental capacity. But what mystery? Perhaps a rare item from his art collection has be purloined. Or maybe it has something to do with our guests gathered here tonight. A rather unusual group so far. The soldier, the weapons manufacturer, and the publisher. And of course myself. Ah, Mr. Beck, you spin quite a web of possibilities, but you shall not catch me off my guard. No matter the mystery that glint or gleam or whatever it was that Mr. Harding saw in your eyes may portend, be assured that Reginald Winchester will draw it out. (pacing as he ponders)
Ah! The manuscript, that is the key. Perhaps the newest manuscript of his novel has been stolen. Yes, that must be it. Oh Mr. Beck, why do you try to conceal such things from me, for you see that I have already uncovered your mystery. But is the thief among the guests? The publisher, perhaps. She is a flighty sort. Stealing the book from Glenn before he can rewrite it and mess up her advertising copy, perhaps. Or maybe the soldier. Perhaps he didn’t want to be included in Mr. Beck’s book. Those military types are very peculiar about secrecy sometimes. Or the weapons maker. He did say he was anxious to read it. Perhaps he found he couldn’t wait any longer and decided to make off with it. Yes, all likely suspects.
Caitlin Axelrod enters the room, and looks around, but Reginald doesn’t notice
Reginald: Or it could be that maid. No one ever suspects the maid, which makes her a very likely suspect. And the maid said that another guest would be coming. Another possible suspect. And late, nonetheless. That is clearly a mark of guilt. Even had a suspicious name… What was that? Wheelspoke…? Tirepole…?
Mrs. Axelrod: (interrupting) Would that be Axelrod?
Reginald: Yes, that was the name. Thank you. Axelrod. Mrs. Axelrod. A very suspicious one, she is.
Mrs. Axelrod: Really? What is she suspected of?
Reginald: This is a confidential matter.
Mrs. Axelrod: You can count on me not to tell anyone. Maybe if you tell me about it, I can help you confirm your suspicions.
Reginald: Very well. I suspect that she may be the villain behind the theft of the manuscript of Glenn Beck’s newest book.
Mrs. Axelrod: Really? Well, that would figure. I’ve heard people say the most dreadful things about Mrs. Axelrod.
Reginald: (Intrigued) Have you?
Mrs. Axelrod: Oh yes. From what I’ve heard, and don’t tell anyone I told you, (stage whisper) she is a most terrible liar and a most disreputable Neanderthal. And that’s only the parts that I can repeat.
Reginald: (Pleased with his deduction) Well, that seals it then. Thank you for your assistance Miss…?
Mrs. Axelrod: It’s Missus, actually – Mrs. Caitlin Axelrod, at your service. (Reginald is rendered speechless for the first time that evening) I take it you are Reginald Winchester. Glenn has told me all about you.
Reginald: Has he now? (Reginald pauses and straightens his tie) So, tell me, Mrs. Axelrod, why did you steal Mr. Beck’s manuscript?
Mrs. Axelrod: (Partially to herself) And I guess Glenn wasn’t exaggerating. (To Reginald) Mr. Winchester, I have not stolen, touched, or even seen Glenn’s manuscript. He told me he would be sending a copy for me to proofread a couple of weeks ago, but he’s been terribly busy. In fact, since Glenn mentioned nothing about his manuscript being stolen, I can only assume that it is still safely in Glenn’s possession.
Reginald: (Scoffing) Mrs. Axelrod, please leave the detective work to those who are qualified. Of course Mr. Beck’s manuscript has been stolen. It’s the only thing that explains the current…
Ms. Fischer screams off-stage. Reginald and Mrs. Axelrod stare toward the door. A second later, Ms. Fischer comes running through the door, completely hysterical. She collapses on the floor, sobbing frantically
Mrs. Axelrod: (Alarmed) Ms. Fisher! What’s wrong?
Ms. Fischer: (Unable to speak through her sobs, until she runs out of breath) Mr. Beck! He… (Breaks into more sobs)
Reginald: Yes, his manuscript has been stolen, but have no fear, I already know the culprit!
Both Ms. Fischer and Mrs. Axelrod stare at Reginald uncomprehendingly.
Ms. Fischer: He’s dead.
Mrs. Axelrod: Oh, is that all… Therese, I’d hope you know better than that. Remember, he did the same thing at the New Years Eve party two years ago.
Mrs. Fischer: I know, Ma’am, but it’s for real this time…
Jess Thomas runs into the room, almost falling in her high-heels.
Jess Thomas: What was that scream?
Mrs. Axelrod: Glenn is dead, apparently.
Jess Thomas: That trick again?
Mrs. Fischer: It’s not a trick. There’s a knife buried in his chest!
Gary Lexington and Mr. Harding run into the room together.
Mr. Harding: Okay, what’s going on in here? (Sees Ms. Fischer crying on the floor) Ms. Fischer, are you alright?
Mrs. Fischer: Mr. Beck is dead! Murdered!
Gary Lexington: No! It can’t be! I never even got a chance to see him in person! (He trails off, murmuring woefully)
Jess Thomas: Sgt. Jacobs, this is probably just one of Glenn’s tricks. He pulled something similar at the New Years Eve party where he choked to death on a piece of shrimp.
Reginald: I will go check the body at once. The rest of you, remain here.
Reginald leaves the room hurriedly, and re-enters a second later.
Reginald: Where did you say Mr. Beck’s body was?
Ms. Fischer: The north hall. (chokes down a sob) Off of the main lobby.
Reginald leaves again. Mrs. Axelrod helps Ms. Fischer to her feet. Jess Thomas pulls tissues from her purse. Gary Lexington is still murmuring to himself.
Mrs. Axelrod: There, there, Ms. Fischer, I’m sure it’s just another of Glenn’s stupid jokes.
Jess Thomas: Yes, I’m sure that’s all it is. (to herself) He really has gone too far this time. I don’t know what is with that man sometimes. (notices Gary Lexington still crying) You’d think a military veteran would handle the stress a bit better.
Mr. Harding: Honestly, Jess, have a heart. The man has already been through so much. Imagine how you’d feel, finally safely back in the United States, away from the constant dangers of war, only to find that a murder has been committed.
Mr. Harding walks over to Gary Lexington.
Mr. Harding: Come on, Sgt. Jacobs, pull yourself together. If anything has happened, each of us will need to be as calm as possible, and as Jess has pointed out, Glenn has tried this sort of thing in the past. Detective Winchester will soon find out the truth.
Mrs. Axelrod: (Laughs suddenly) Of course, at all makes sense now. I can’t believe Glenn didn’t let you in on the joke, Justin.
Mr. Harding: Joke? What joke?
Jess Thomas: (To Mrs. Axelrod) Caitlin! You mean you knew the whole time that Glenn was planning this, and you didn’t say anything!
Mrs. Axelrod: Not this. I mean, it probably is a part of Glenn’s joke, now that I think about it. But I was referring to Reginald Winchester, the World’s Greatest Living Detective.
Jess Thomas: Oh, that man is dreadful. Do you know what he said to me when we were alone in here?
Mr. Harding: (Scandalized) Why I had no idea Mr. Winchester was that sort. He seemed so upright.
Jess Thomas: Oh, it was nothing like that. He said that Sherlock Holmes and Hercule…
Reginald enters abruptly, carrying a bloody knife. Everyone stares at him.
Reginald: Murder has been done here! Mr. Beck was stabbed through the heart with this very knife.
Gary Lexington screams.
Jess Thomas: Okay, enough of this stupid joke.
Ms. Fischer: It’s not a joke, Miss. I hadn’t forgotten Mr. Beck’s penchant for tricks. In fact, serving in this house I dare say I know it better than any of you. When I first saw Mr. Beck, I thought that’s what it was. But then I got closer and saw the blood seeping from his chest, and his face, it was… (She stops talking, to gather her composure. The rest wait expectantly.) It was horrible. And there was blood already gathering on the tile. I know death when I see it, Miss…
Jess Thomas: Oh, Ms. Fischer, I’m so sorry. It’s just that, if this was a real murder, certainly Mr. Winchester wouldn’t be standing there with the murder weapon.
Reginald: Detective Winchester. (emphasizes “Detective”) And why wouldn’t I have the murder weapon? It is my duty as a detective to investigate this case fully.
Jess Thomas: But you’re getting your fingerprints all over it!
Reginald: Oh, is that what you’re worried about. Have no fear about that. (He quickly pulls his handkerchief from his vest pocket and wipes the handle clean.) There. It’s as good as new.
Jess Thomas: You just wiped away the murder’s fingerprints! Don’t you know anything about forensics?
Reginald: Please, Miss Thomas, I know everything about forensics. Why I’ll have you know that I have every CSI box set, including CSI:Miami and CSI:New York. I even bought one of those little blue lights that makes guilty people glow in the dark.
Jess Thomas: Uhh… Maybe you should run home and get it then.
Reginald: And leave all of you alone in the presence of a murderer? I think not.
Jess Thomas: He didn’t seem to mind killing Glenn while you were around!
Reginald: Miss Thomas, I assure you that had Glenn Beck remained in my presence, he would still be alive. Even now, I will find his killer and give Mr. Beck the justice he deserves!
Jess Thomas: That’s it, I’m calling the police. (pulls out her cell phone)
Reginald: The police? They will only make a mess of the evidence and let the criminal escape.
Jess Thomas: You mean they’ll do what you’re doing?
Reginald: I understand that you are frightened, Miss Thomas, but please try to contain your outbursts. Now tell me, why do you think the murderer is a man?
Jess Thomas: (stunned momentarily at the sudden subject change) What are you talking about?
Reginald: You said “he didn’t seem to mind killing Glenn”, so I ask why you think the murderer is a man.
Jess Thomas: I don’t know. I didn’t really think anything of it. Murder just seems like something that a man would do.
Mr. Harding: Jess, you’re not honestly suggesting that Sgt. Jacobs or myself murdered Glenn?
Jess Thomas: That’s not what I meant.
Reginald: Or perhaps you were trying to direct the blame away from yourself. I note that you were alone for a long time before Mr. Beck’s body was discovered.
Jess Thomas: What!
Mrs. Axelrod: Detective Winchester (She emphasizes “Detective”), I think perhaps you’re getting a bit ahead of yourself. Doesn’t it seem more likely that one of the house staff, or perhaps someone from the outside committed this crime?
Ms. Fischer: Oh no, Ma’am, it couldn’t be anyone in the staff. They’ve been over in the east wing all afternoon preparing the meal. And Mr. Beck has been keeping the gates locked so that no one can get in.
Gary Lexington: Really? Then who is that in the bushes down there?
Everyone runs to the window.
Mr. Harding: Hey!
Mr. Harding runs from the room, with the rest of the party close behind.
Act II: Motives
Reginald Winchester and Mr. Harding enter the room, dragging Tabitha Reed between them. The rest of the group files in after them.
Mr. Harding: Well, Reginald, I think we’ve found your culprit.
Jess Thomas: Can I call the police now?
Reginald: Miss Thomas, please, give me a moment to question the suspect. (Turning to Tabitha Reed and pulling a small notepad from his pocket) What is your name?
Tabitha Reed: My name is “Go oppress the poor, you ignorant fascist!”
Reginald: I should warn you that anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
Tabitha Reed: You’re a cop?
Reginald: I am Reginald Winchester, the world’s Greatest Living Detective.
Tabitha Reed: Well I’ve never heard of you.
Reginald: (Writing in notebook, speaking aloud to himself) Suspect is female, uncooperative, and uneducated, possibly illiterate.
Tabitha Reed: Uneducated! I’ll have you know that I graduated at the top of my class at Berkeley, with a dual major in Political Science and Economics!
Mrs. Axelrod: And that’s why you murdered Glenn?
Tabitha Reed: I didn’t murder any – Wait? He’s dead? Thank God! (Looks around sheepishly) I mean, if there was a God… Which there isn’t.
Reginald: Tell me, then, do you have an alibi for the past thirty minutes?
Tabitha Reed: An alibi? I’ve been hiding in the bushes watching the indulgence of the Bourgeoisie. Check Foursquare. I’ve been logged in as Mayor of Glenn Beck’s bushes for the past six hours.
Jess Thomas: That doesn’t prove anything! You could have stayed checked in out there while sneaking inside to murder Glenn.
Tabitha Reed: And leave my iPad defenseless?
Reginald: Well, that makes two people (makes a point of indicating Jess Thomas) who don’t have alibis. Mrs. Fischer, was anyone with you when you discovered the body?
Mrs. Fischer: No, Mr. (stern look from Reginald) err, Detective Winchester.
Reginald: Make that three people who don’t have alibis for the murder.
Mr. Harding: Really now, Detective Winchester, Mrs. Fischer has been a faithful employee of Glenn’s for years. I hardly think she’s likely to have harmed the man.
Reginald: And what about you, Mr. Harding. Do you have an alibi for the past half-hour?
Mr. Harding: I certainly do. You and I both saw Glenn alive when we came in. Since that time, until this very moment, I have been in the presence of either yourself or Sgt. Jacobs.
Reginald: Is that true, Sgt. Jacobs?
Gary Lexington: Yes. Well, I mean, mostly. We were together most of the time, but there was this one rather dreadful picture that Mr. Harding stood looking at for a few minutes, and he said I could look around for myself, so I went to look at to the rest of the gallery. (notices Reginald’s accusing glare) But we weren’t apart for more than five minutes.
Reginald: Five people who don’t have alibis. Mrs. Axelrod, care to tell us where you’ve been the past half-hour that had you running late?
Mrs. Axelrod: It was traffic, if you must know. There was a bus crash and I had to take a longer detour. After I was admitted through the main gate, I came inside and didn’t see Glenn, or anyone else, until I found you here in this room.
Reginald: So, we have six suspects.
Jess Thomas: Suspects? You can’t be serious.
Reginald: I am absolutely serious. I will discover who is behind this villainous act, and bring the guilty party to justice.
Jess Thomas: And what about you, Mr. Smarty Pants? What is your alibi?
Reginald: Miss Thomas, I am above suspicion.
Mr. Harding: Hey, fair is fair. Do you have an alibi, Detective Winchester?
Reginald: Since the time I entered this house until Glenn was discovered murdered, I have not left this room. Each one of you, except for you (indicates Tabitha Reed), can verify a part of that.
Mrs. Axelrod: And what about the time you spent here without anyone being with you. When I walked in, you were all alone. Couldn’t you have snuck out, murdered Glenn, and gotten back in here before anyone noticed?
Reginald: (indicates audience) All of these people can verify that I have been here the whole time. (changing the subject) I should like to question each one of you. Each of you had the opportunity to murder Mr. Beck. Now we must determine who had the motive.
Mr. Harding: Well that’s obvious enough. (nods toward Tabitha)
Tabitha Reed: Don’t you try to pin this on me!
Reginald: Everyone, please calm down. Only by a systematic application of logic can we find the culprit.
Jess Thomas: (to Mrs. Axelrod) Yeah, since he destroyed all the evidence.
Reginald: Now, before we begin, are any of you armed?
Mrs. Axelrod: This is a dinner party.
Reginald: Of course. (to Tabitha Reed) And what about you?
Tabitha Reed: I do not own a gun, and I abhor violence.
Mrs. Axelrod: Except for the violent overthrow of the rich and powerful.
Tabitha Reed: That’s entirely different.
Reginald: So, what you’re saying is that none of you are carrying weapons of any kind?
The other guests nod or signal affirmation
Reginald: Always best to be sure. Now then, let us begin the questioning. I think it would be best to start with our most recent acquaintance. (points at Tabitha Reed) Please take a seat.
Tabitha sits down in the chair. Reginald pulls out his notepad again, and walks around the chair.
Reginald: Now, let’s begin with a simple question. What is your name? (Tabitha Reed does not answer) We know the names of everyone else here. I’d rather not have to dig through your bag to find your ID. What is your name?
Tabitha Reed: Tabitha Reed.
Reginald: And tell me, Miss Reed, what brings you to Mr. Beck’s home?
Tabitha Reed: I’m gathering information for my doctoral thesis.
Reginald: At Berkeley?
Tabitha Reed: Yes.
Reginald: And what, in particular, were you researching?
Tabitha Reed: I am studying how the super-rich control the masses through their puppets, like Glenn Beck.
Reginald: Would you characterize yourself as someone who had a great interest in seeing Glenn Beck live a long and prosperous life?
Tabitha Reed: As far as I’m concerned, I think a great good has been done for mankind. Glenn Beck will no longer be able to spread his venom across the globe.
Reginald: Thank you, Miss Reed. That will be all for now. (Tabitha Reed gets out of the chair) Miss Thomas, I think you should be next.
Jess Thomas: Oh, alright. (sits in chair)
Reginald: Tell me, where did you go after you left this room?
Jess Thomas: I told you, I went to the bathroom to touch up my make-up.
Reginald: I don’t see any difference.
Jess Thomas: It’s not about making a difference, detective. It’s about making sure everything is still okay.
Reginald: The reason I ask, Miss Thomas, is because you left here rather hurriedly. Perhaps you realized that you were running short on time to run down to the main hall and murder Mr. Beck?
Jess Thomas: First of all, detective, I couldn’t run anywhere in these shoes. Secondly, if you must know, the reason why I was in such a hurry to leave was because I couldn’t bear to be in the room with you any longer.
Reginald: Due to your guilty conscience?
Jess Thomas: Actually, it’s because I’m reasonably sure that you are mentally unhinged.
Mrs. Axelrod: As a matter of fact…
Reginald: (speaking over Mrs. Axelrod) Unhinged? Your feeble attempt to hide your guilt is not serving you well. Tell me, Miss Thomas, what reason do you have for wanting Glenn Beck dead?
Jess Thomas: What? No reason at all! Glenn and I had a very good relationship, and I’m sure his next book will do wonders for our company.
Tabitha Reed: (reading from iPad) “Sources suggest that the yet-untitled book will be his last with his present publisher, as Beck continues moves to make Mercury Ink a publishing company in its own right.”
Jess Thomas: Yes, Glenn had mentioned he would like to try self-publishing, but I’d hardly murder him over it.
Tabitha Reed: (continues reading) “It is rumored that his current publisher made only a meager profit from Beck’s last offering due to a decline in readership, as the excitement of Beck’s meteoric rise has worn thin over the past year. Some early estimates suggest that his upcoming book could actually result in a loss for his publisher if their fixed costs remains the same. Mercury Ink will be able to greatly offset the publishing cost, allowing more profit on future releases.”
Reginald: Please, I need silence in order to concentrate. (pauses for a few seconds) Miss Thomas, would you say that Mr. Beck’s death is likely to increase the sales of his last book?
Jess Thomas: I see where you’re going with this, but you’re crazy. I wouldn’t kill Glenn even to keep my company from going bankrupt.
Reginald: We shall see. That is all for now. Mr. Harding, would you please take a seat?
Jess Thomas and Mr. Harding quickly swap seats.
Reginald: Mr. Harding, you commented to me when we entered earlier that you thought Mr. Beck was “up to something”. Those were your words, were they not?
Mr. Harding: Yes, I did say that. He was in one of his “I’ve got a secret” moods. From his manner, I would say that he had something big up his sleeve that he was anxious to reveal.
Reginald: And what do you think it was?
Mr. Harding: Really, I couldn’t say. Glenn always has something in the works. Knowing Glenn, he might have been preparing a “Restoring Faithfulness” rally in San Francisco.
Reginald: So you don’t think it was in any way related to the people invited here tonight?
Mr. Harding: It’s possible, though what it might have been I can’t imagine.
Reginald: Very well. Tell me, what were you doing during the time you were separated from Sgt. Jacobs?
Mr. Harding: Oh that. Glenn has recently added a most arresting new art piece to his collection. I suppose the graphic depictions of battle are a bit too much for the good Sergeant to handle just yet, but I find it very enthralling. I just let my eyes wander over it, directed by the strokes of the brush. I get drawn into the scene and time seems to stand still. You really must come see it some time.
Reginald: Yes, of course. Well, I think that’s about all…
Tabitha Reed: (interrupting) Why don’t you ask Mr. Justin Harding what line of work he’s in?
Mr. Harding: Does she need to be here?
Tabitha Reed: I’ll tell you. He’s a mass murderer. He’s killed hundreds, thousands, of people. What’s one more man’s blood on his hands?
Mr. Harding: I’m a weapons manufacturer. I supply our brave men and women with the tools they need to protect themselves and carry out the objectives of the United States of America. It’s something I doubt you ever covered in college, but a show of force is necessary to maintain peace and stability in the world.
Tabitha Reed: You mean wholesale slaughter.
Reginald: Please, Miss Reed, calm down. Mr. Harding, what was your relationship to Glenn Beck?
Mr. Harding: Glenn was a supporter of my charitable work. He had me on his show about a month ago to give his listeners a chance to send financial support to help wounded veterans.
Gary Lexington: I saw that episode. I even sent in a contribution.
Mr. Harding: Wow, I had no idea. I didn’t even realize you were back in the States at that time.
Gary Lexington: Yes, well… someone taped it and sent it to me.
Mr. Harding: Of course. I’m glad to have your support, Sgt. Jacobs. Maybe you’d consider appearing in some of our promotional materials? I can see it now: “I’m not only a veteran, I’m a supporter.” Or something like that. We can let the advertising people work out the details.
Gary Lexington: I’ll, umm, have to think about it.
Reginald: If we may return to the subject, would you say that you and Mr. Beck were on good terms?
Mr. Harding: Very much so.
Reginald: No disagreements or underlying resentments?
Mr. Harding: None that I am aware of.
Reginald: That is all for now. Mrs. Axelrod, would you please take a seat?
Mr. Harding gets up, but Mrs. Axelrod remains standing.
Mrs. Axelrod: I had nothing against Glenn, I know him because we’re both in the radio business and frequently swap stories. Is that all?
Reginald: Please, take a seat.
Mrs. Axelrod: I’m really not a fan of having people hover over me, if you must know.
Reginald: It is part of detective’s job to hover. Now sit down.
Mrs. Axelrod reluctantly sits.
Reginald: What do you do in the “radio business”, Mrs. Axelrod?
Mrs. Axelrod: I currently host the early morning show.
Reginald: And as a radio hostess, do you appreciate the value of punctuality?
Mrs. Axelrod: I told you, there was a bus crash.
Gary Lexington: It’s true, I heard about it on the radio as I was driving up. Of course, I came from the south, so it didn’t really affect me.
Reginald: (annoyed at being interrupted) Yes. Thank you, Sgt. Jacobs. Mrs. Axelrod, would you characterize your relationship with Glenn Beck as “friendly”.
Mrs. Axelrod: Very. Glenn was a great guy, and we talked frequently. In fact, I talked with him this morning.
Reginald: And did Glenn seem anxious in any way?
Mrs. Axelrod: Glenn is always anxious. He thinks that if he lets up for even an instant the President will set fire to the Constitution. I didn’t notice that anything seemed out of the ordinary. Though he did say to expect the unexpected tonight.
Jess Thomas: Well he was certainly right about that.
Tabitha Reed: (reading from iPad) “Caitlin Axelrod was moved from the nine to noon block to the early morning show when her local station began syndicating the Glenn Beck program.”
Mrs. Axelrod: Yes, and I’ve done very well there.
Tabitha Reed: (continues reading) “Her ‘I will kill Glenn Beck with my bare hands’ segment is one of the most popular. In it, Axelrod recounts methods of how she will personally murder Glenn Beck for forcing her out of her time slot.”
Mrs. Axelrod: That was a joke. I was really upset the first morning I had to get up at 3 AM and I said some rather unkind things about Glenn, and they got picked up on the internet. Before I knew it, people were tuning in from all over the country to hear it. I never meant I would really murder him! It was just a gimmick.
Reginald: Mrs. Axelrod, when you arrived at Mr. Beck’s house this evening, did you come directly to this room.
Mrs. Axelrod: I’d just been stuck in traffic for two hours. Of course I didn’t come directly to this room.
Reginald: Did you notice anything unusual when you passed through the lobby?
Mrs. Axelrod: Nothing.
Reginald: Very well then. Sgt. Jacobs, would you be so good as to take a seat.
Mrs. Axelrod quickly gets out of the seat, and Gary Lexington sits down, as close to the edge as he can get.
Reginald: Sgt. Jacobs, what did you do in the time that you were separated from Mr. Harding?
Gary Lexington: Not much really. I wandered though the art gallery. I don’t really know that much about art, but if Glenn likes them, then I thought I should give them a try.
Reginald: You seemed very anxious to meet Mr. Beck. Have you never met before?
Gary Lexington: Never. I love his show. I don’t think I’ve ever missed an episode. I was so glad that I finally got my chance to see him, but then…
Reginald: If you have never met Glenn before, what brings you to this house tonight?
Gary Lexington: I received an invitation in the mail…
Mr. Harding: Please, detective. It’s obvious why Glenn would want to honor a war hero like Sgt. Dan Jacobs. I really don’t see why you’re even questioning him about this.
Jess Thomas: (to Reginald) Yes, I told you, Sgt. Jacobs is featured in Glenn’s new book. He couldn’t have done this.
Reginald: But don’t you see, that’s exactly why I must question him. It’s always the least likely person who is guilty. Now, Sgt. Jacobs, tell me everything you did since you arrived at Mr. Beck’s house today.
Gary Lexington: Let’s see. (thinking back) I pulled into the lot by the other cars, and I walked up the walkway to the main doors. They were already propped open, so I walked in.
Reginald: (interrupting) And did you see anyone during this time?
Gary Lexington: No one. Though at the time it didn’t occur to me to examine the bushes.
Reginald: No sign of anyone at all?
Gary Lexington: Well, I thought I heard some loud voices as I was walking up to the house, but when I entered the main lobby there was no one around. Then she (indicating Ms. Fischer) appeared and brought me up to this room. After that…
Reginald: (interrupting) Yes, we know what happened after that.
Tabitha Reed: (to Gary Lexington) What is your birth date?
Gary Lexington: What?
Tabitha Reed: Your birth date. Month and year will be sufficient.
Gary Lexington: I really don’t see what that has to do… Sometime in the fall. I don’t really keep track…
Mr. Harding: Quite right. Silly things to waste your mental capacity on…
Tabitha Reed: Okay, where were you born?
Gary Lexington: Dowelltown, Kentucky?
Tabitha Reed: Actually, that’s where you moved after your first tour of duty. You were born in Auburn, Washington. You really should have studied your Wikipedia page more closely.
Ms. Fischer: You can’t believe everything you read on Wikipedia, you know.
Tabitha Reed: But these have sources! Now, would you like to explain why you look nothing like the picture of Sgt. Jacobs on this site?
Gary Lexington: That picture was taken a long time ago.
Tabitha Reed: According to the date, it was taken June 2011.
Reginald: Miss Reed, that is quite enough. (to Gary Lexington) I have my reasons for suspecting that you may be an impostor.
Frustrated sighs from everyone else in the room
Reginald: An impostor sent here under false pretenses to murder Glenn Beck!
Gary Lexington: No! I wouldn’t. Glenn is, was, no, is my greatest hero!
Reginald: Then explain your presence here.
Gary Lexington: Well, you see, I’m not Sgt. Jacobs.
Tabitha Reed: No kidding.
Gary Lexington: I’m his mail-carrier, Gary Lexington. (removes eye patch) I’ve been a fan of Glenn Beck’s program for years, but every chance I’ve had to see him in person has been frustrated in one way or another. Tonight is merely the closing act of that perverse tragedy. (pauses sadly) Anyhow, when I saw the invitation in Sgt. Jacobs’ mail, I thought my opportunity had finally come.
Mrs. Axelrod: You never stopped to think what would happen when Glenn realized that you weren’t Sgt. Jacobs?
Gary Lexington: It didn’t matter. I just wanted to be able to say that I had seen him face-to-face. And now I never will. (breaks into tears)
Reginald: Now, who is left? (Looks at guests, finally notices Ms. Fischer) Ms. Fischer, I don’t believe we’ve heard from you.
Ms. Fischer moves beside the chair that Gary Lexington is still sitting in
Reginald: Sgt,… Err, Mr. Lexington, would you please rise so that Ms. Fischer may have a seat?
Gary Lexington: Oh yes, I’m sorry.
Gary Lexington quickly leaves the seat, and Ms. Fischer sits down
Reginald: Ms. Fischer, how long have you been Mr. Beck’s housekeeper?
Ms. Fischer: Five years, sir.
Reginald: In your time here, has Mr. Beck ever been murdered before tonight?
Ms. Fischer: Oh no, sir! This is the first time.
Reginald: Would you characterize yourself as shocked at Mr. Beck’s sudden demise?
Ms. Fischer: Yes sir. Very much so.
Reginald: You would not have said that Glenn Beck was the sort of man someone would murder?
Ms. Fischer: No, sir. That is, I know that Mr. Beck isn’t the most popular man with some people (warily eyes Tabitha Reed), but I never thought it would end like this.
Reginald: Who would you consider to be Mr. Beck’s enemies?
Ms. Fischer: Personal enemies, I really don’t know. He seemed to have some antagonism toward George Soros, Van Jones, and President Obama, but those were more professional enemies, if you will.
Reginald: Mr. Lexington here, if he is to be believed, said that he heard loud voices when he entered, and that you appeared shortly thereafter. Did you also hear those voices?
Ms. Fischer: Oh, that was probably just Mr. Beck and myself. He can, could, be a very difficult man sometimes. We were having a small disagreement when I heard the entryway bell ring.
Reginald: (to Gary Lexington) You didn’t mention anything about ringing the doorbell.
Gary Lexington: I didn’t. I just walked in.
Ms. Fischer: Oh no, sir, it wasn’t the doorbell. There’s a motion detector that sounds a bell in the lounge if anyone enters. I heard that bell ring, and went to greet… (confused about what to call Gary Lexington) this man here. (points at Gary Lexington) That was the last time I saw Mr. Beck alive.
Reginald: And what, may I ask, was your disagreement with Mr. Beck about.
Ms. Fischer: Oh, it’s such a silly little thing. I’d really rather not speak ill of the dead.
Reginald: Please, Ms. Fischer, I am a detective. Any piece of information could be a vital clue. I must know the substance of your argument.
Ms. Fischer: It wasn’t hardly anything. It’s just that Mr. Beck was suggesting that the recent unrest in northern Africa was the result of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt spreading discontent, and I told him that any fool could see that it was actually the result of past French colonialism, and had begun well before the Arab Spring.
Reginald: Yes, well I’ll certainly make a note of that. One more question, Ms. Fischer. (pulls knife from the table) Is this knife, the murder weapon of Glenn Beck, from your kitchen?
Ms. Fischer: (eyes the knife carefully) Yes. It was one of our butcher knives. We got a whole set like that, with the black wooden handle and the silver stripe.
Reginald: You’re absolutely certain?
Ms. Fischer: Yes, sir.
Reginald: You said that the house staff was in the east wing preparing for tonight’s dinner. Does that mean the kitchen was unattended?
Ms. Fischer: Yes, sir, everything was brought by a caterer.
Reginald: How long, in your opinion, would it take to travel from this room, to the kitchen, to the north hallway, and back to this room?
Ms. Fischer: Only a minute or two, if you didn’t stop for anything.
Reginald: Thank you, Ms. Fischer. That will be all.
Jess Thomas: Can I call the police now?
Reginald: That will not be necessary. I know who the guilty party is.
The guests react in surprise
Reginald: (drawn out for dramatic effect) Mr. Beck was killed by the very same individual who stole his manuscript!
Mrs. Axelrod: That again?
Jess Thomas: His manuscript was stolen?
Mr. Harding: When did this happen?
Reginald: Please, calm down, all in good time. It came to me earlier this evening, when I was…
Mrs. Axelrod: His manuscript hasn’t been stolen.
Reginald: Mrs. Axelrod, I am a detective. It’s quite obvious to me that it has been stolen.
Mrs. Axelrod: When I talked with Glenn this morning, he mentioned that he’d just put the finishing touches on his new chapters. It has not been stolen.
Jess Thomas: Yes, I think Glenn would have mentioned it to me if his manuscript had disappeared. If nothing else, he might have said that anyway just to get more time.
Mrs. Axelrod: Detective Winchester, how would Glenn have known to invite you here last week, if the manuscript wasn’t stolen until sometime after this morning?
Reginald: Do not propose to tell me how to do my job.
Mrs. Axelrod: Listen, I’ll just run up to Glenn’s office and get the manuscript and we can put this whole little matter to rest.
Reginald: Your deception won’t work on me. The instant you’re out of my sight, you’ll make your escape. It’s the oldest trick in the book.
Mrs. Axelrod: Okay, come along if you want.
Reginald: And risk leaving all of these good people alone with a murder! That would be against my duties as a detective.
Mrs. Axelrod: Then how about we all go together? Would that satisfy you, or are you just worried that I’ll prove you wrong?
Reginald: Worried? Don’t be silly. Let’s go!
Everyone leaves the room.
Act III: Accusations
The cast returns, Mrs. Axelrod triumphantly grasping the manuscript.
Mrs. Axelrod: (shaking papers in Reginald’s face) What do you say to these, (mockingly) Detective Winchester?
Reginald: The criminal undoubtedly covered his or her path by placing a fake manuscript in the office.
Mrs. Axelrod: Let me suggest an alternative theory: You… Were… Wrong… (sets papers on desk)
Reginald: This will simply make the case more difficult, but never fear, I still know who the murderer is.
Mrs. Axelrod: I sincerely doubt that. Miss Reed, what do you find when you search the internet for Reginald Winchester?
Tabitha Reed: (quickly searches) Nothing exact. A lot of different personal pages.
Mrs. Axelrod: No news stories?
Tabitha Reed: Nothing.
Mrs. Axelrod: Doesn’t that strike you as odd? That “the World’s Greatest Living Detective” is not featured in a single news story?
Reginald: It’s not odd at all. Most of my high-profile cases have to be kept quiet. Murders in the royal family can’t be leaked to the general public. It’s a matter of national security.
Mrs. Axelrod: Perhaps I should tell all of you about my conversation with Glenn this morning.
Mr. Harding: I doubt we could stop you if we tried.
Mrs. Axelrod: As you all know, except possibly Miss Reed, Glenn was a great collector of curiosities. He always liked the unexpected, the unusual, and the bizarre. This morning, he said he had a great treat for us. An actor who played a detective.
Jess Thomas: Caitlin! You mean this whole thing is one big facade? You really had me believing that Glenn was dead!
Ms. Fischer: But he is dead! I saw it myself.
Mrs. Axelrod: Please, let me finish. This actor had been given the role of a great detective, and as training he locked himself away in a hotel room with every major fictional detective story ever written.
Jess Thomas: (interrupting) That explains a lot.
Mrs. Axelrod: The problem was, that after a while, this actor began to lose his attachment to reality.
Mr. Harding: You mean to say that all this time we’ve been in the presence of a madman!
Mrs. Axelrod: In a manner of speaking, though Glenn assured me that he is perfectly harmless.
Mr. Harding: Perfectly harmless, indeed.
Jess Thomas: Okay, now I’m really calling the police.
Reginald: The police! You’re going to call in those bumblers and let them trample all over my case? Mrs. Axelrod, your attempt to discredit me was quite clever, but it won’t work. All you have done is revealed yourself to be the killer!
Mrs. Axelrod: Really, and how did I do that?
Jess Thomas pulls out her cellphone and sneaks off to the side of the room to call the police
Reginald: First of all, your suspicious lateness! Murderers often have many other character flaws besides a disregard for human life. Yours is tardiness!
Mrs. Axelrod: There was an accident!
Reginald: You probably caused that too! (dramatic pause) Then, there is the matter of Mr. Beck’s death! He was killed with a knife. Wouldn’t you say that falls under killing Glenn Beck “with your bare hands”?
Mrs. Axelrod: Actually, I’d classify it as killing with a weapon…
Reginald: (ignoring her) And finally, the most incriminating evidence of all: You knew exactly where Glenn Beck kept his manuscript!
Mrs. Axelrod: The manuscript had nothing to do with the murder! Get that through your thick head!
Tabitha Reed: (to Gary Lexington) Any moment now he’s going to declare that it was Colonel Mustard, in the Observatory, with the lead pipe.
Reginald: Mr. Beck was murdered in the north hallway, not the Observatory, and most definitely with a knife. Why has no one mentioned this Colonel Mustard before? I must question him at once!
Jess Thomas: (to anyone listening) The police are on their way.
Reginald: I told you not to call them!
Jess Thomas: Which seemed the best reason to do so. They might be able to salvage some information before you destroy every last piece of evidence.
Mr. Harding: You’re all making this too complicated. One person in this room is an avowed enemy of Glenn’s, believes in violence as a means to bring about needed change, and broke into Glenn’s house. It doesn’t take a great detective to connect those dots.
Tabitha Reed: What? This coming from the mass murder! I’m not the only person here tonight that shouldn’t be here!
Gary Lexington: I told you, I would never hurt Glenn. He was my idol.
Tabitha Reed: Because crazy fans have never harmed their idol before…
Gary Lexington: But I…
Tabitha Reed: What happened? Did you decide to go find Glenn only to have him reject you?
Gary Lexington: What? No!
Tabitha Reed: He saw right away that you weren’t Sgt. Jacobs and demanded that you leave. Did he threaten to call security?
Gary Lexington: That never happened!
Tabitha Reed: And then you stabbed him!
Gary Lexington: Don’t try to pin this on me! You could easily have run in and killed Glenn yourself.
Tabitha Reed: Really? Then why didn’t I run away afterwards? Why stay here to get caught?
Mr. Harding: I can answer that one. You couldn’t get out. All of the gates were locked shut. You intended to wait until someone left, and sneak out through the main gate then. Too bad for you, Mr. Lexington here spotted you.
Tabitha Reed: Really, Mr. Mass Murderer? You seem eager to pin the blame on me. Got something to hide?
Jess Thomas: Cool it, all of you. The police will sort this all out, and it doesn’t really matter who any of us thinks is the murderer.
Reginald: (shouts) I’ve got it!
Mrs. Axelrod: This ought to be good.
Reginald: It all makes complete sense once you think it through clearly. Who had the most to gain from the murder of Glenn Beck? Who was Glenn Beck’s greatest enemy? Who had the resources to pull off a daring daylight murder and disappear without a trace.
Jess Thomas: I really don’t see where…
Reginald: The murderer can be only one man: President Barack Obama!
The red hot-line phone rings. Reginald picks it up
Reginald: Hello? No? Delivering a speech before thousands of people? Okay. Have a nice evening, Mr. President. (hangs up phone) Of course, there may be another possible interpretation.
Jess Thomas: I don’t want to talk about Glenn’s murder anymore. Can’t someone change the subject?
Mr. Harding: Sure, Jess. How are things in the publishing business?
Jess Thomas: I’m not going to lie, they’re cut-throat, pardon the expression. With so many authors moving to self-publishing or e-books, it’s getting harder and harder to make our bottom line.
Tabitha Reed: So would you say that the loss of Glenn Beck’s book revenue would hurt your divisions?
Jess Thomas: Yes, it would have hurt a lot, but… Wait, I see what you’re doing. We’re not talking about the murder anymore!
Tabitha Reed: Of all the guests here, you’re the one with the largest chunk of time unaccounted for. Plenty of time for a murder.
Jess Thomas: I was in the bathroom. (sarcastically) I’m so sorry I wasn’t checked in as “Mayor of Glenn Beck’s bathroom” on Foursquare.
Tabitha Reed: I really wouldn’t believe someone would kill just to keep her job. And that only temporarily. Paper is a dead medium. Wake up and smell the information age.
Jess Thomas: I didn’t kill Glenn, and I’m not talking about this anymore.
Tabitha Reed: Let me guess, you decided to skip the bathroom and went to beg Glenn to reconsider.
Jess Thomas: Not talking about this.
Tabitha Reed: Or maybe he decided to cancel his deal with you and take his current manuscript to Mercury Ink?
Jess Thomas: We had a contract!
Tabitha Reed: Is that why you killed him? Did he find a loophole in your precious contract?
Jess Thomas: I told you, I’m done with talking about this.
Tabitha Reed: Yeah, you’ll need time to work on your story for the police.
Mrs. Axelrod: Really, Miss Reed. Tabitha. People might like you better if you were a bit less abrasive. Even if Jess did have a lot to gain by Glenn’s death, that hardly means you can treat her like this.
Jess Thomas: Thanks Caitlin. I think…
Tabitha Reed: Speaking of having something to gain by Glenn Beck’s death… (eyes Mrs. Axelrod)
Mrs. Axelrod: There! That’s exactly the thing I was talking about. You should know that you’re starting to sound a bit like our friend Reginald Winchester by now.
Mr. Harding: That’s just her way of trying to muddy the waters. The police, and the media, will see the obvious truth.
Tabitha Reed: (shrilly) The mass murderer speaks! What, did you kill Glenn Beck just because you were behind on your daily murder quota, or were you testing out a new weapon?
Reginald: Everyone, please, keep your heads. I have solved the mystery.
Tabitha Reed: I believe you already said that twice before.
Mrs. Axelrod: Maybe the third time is the charm.
Reginald: It was very cleverly done, but you didn’t count on the power of my intellect. I have discerned the truth: You all killed Glenn Beck!
General murmur of disbelief
Reginald: All of you except… Ms. Fischer.
Gary Lexington: Why not Ms. Fischer?
Reginald: Don’t know anything about mysteries? If there wasn’t one innocent party, then the mystery wouldn’t be challenging. Besides she doesn’t have any motive.
Gary Lexington: What about her argument with Glenn Beck? That seemed to be rather heated. Maybe they got into another argument later.
Reginald: Don’t be preposterous, you can’t all have murdered her.
Mrs. Axelrod: But all but one of us can?
Mr. Harding: I’m sorry, I’m trying to keep track here. What was my motive?
Reginald: You were incensed that Mr. Beck was not letting you read the newest copy of his manuscript.
Mr. Harding: Of course. It’s so obvious now.
Jess Thomas: Wasn’t Glenn stabbed only once?
Reginald: Yes, well, it would appear that way to the untrained eye, but you obviously all stabbed him in the same place.
Mrs. Axelrod: Isn’t it rather dangerous for you to be in a room full of murderers, now that you’ve found them out?
Reginald: Mrs. Axelrod, danger is all a part of a detective’s job.
Tabitha Reed: If we had all killed Glenn Beck together, wouldn’t we also have provided alibis for each other? It seems the logical thing to do.
Reginald: You have the making of a detective, Miss. (the others laugh) Yes, I also thought of that, but clearly not having alibis was all of a part of your plan to frustrate my powers of deduction. A futile gesture, of course. Reginald Winchester never loses the trail of truth.
Mrs. Axelrod: And when exactly did we kill Glenn Beck?
Reginald: It’s hard to say exactly. Obviously, you would have had to stab him in stages.
Jess Thomas: Then wouldn’t the first person to have stabbed him be the real murder?
Mrs. Axelrod: It’s true. The rest of us would simply be… (searches for term) desecrating a corpse.
Gary Lexington: Perhaps the first wound didn’t kill him.
Ms. Fischer: But he was stabbed through the heart.
Mr. Harding: No, I’ve got it: Each person would stab a little bit deeper than the person before. That way no one would conclusively have been the actual murderer.
Reginald scribbles furiously on his notepad
Reginald: Should I take that as your confession, then?
Mr. Harding: I don’t see why not. Does anyone object?
Mrs. Axelrod: No objection here. It’s good to be able to bring things to a conclusion.
Ms. Fischer: It’s all well and good to joke about this, and I understand why you do, but that doesn’t change the fact that Mr. Beck is dead.
Mrs. Axelrod: Oh, of course not, Therese. I’m sorry. I guess we all just got a bit carried away. The stress is really quite overwhelming.
Everyone stands around awkwardly. Gary Lexington looks around anxiously.
Gary Lexington: This silence is even worse than the accusations. Can’t we just talk about this calmly like adults?
Jess Thomas: (pouting) No. Not with her here. (points at Tabitha Reed)
Gary Lexington: I know she gets under your skin. She got under mine too. But can’t we approach this like adults? One of us in this room is a murderer, it seems. Don’t you want to know who?
Mr. Harding: That’s for the police to determine.
Gary Lexington: What will the police have that we don’t have? We were all here when Glenn was killed. We have all the evidence between us. Maybe if we work together we can find the truth.
Tabitha Reed: And anyone who doesn’t cooperate is probably the murderer? So I’m supposed to help you pin this crime on me?
Gary Lexington: No one is trying to “pin” this crime on anyone. We just want to find the truth, like Glenn Beck would have wanted.
Mr. Harding: Well said, Mr. Lexington. I, for one, offer any assistance I can. Let’s track down Glenn’s killer.
Mrs. Axelrod: I’m in. What can it hurt?
Jess Thomas: I’ll help, but only if she stops accusing people.
Tabitha Reed: I call them as I see them.
Ms. Fischer: Enough. Mr. Lexington is right. We all need to work together.
They gather into a semi-circle. Reginald has slid into a corner away from them. He randomly mutters theories, each more bizarre than the last.
Gary Lexington: The way I see it, the first thing we need to do is figure out when Glenn was stabbed. That will help us narrow down who had an opportunity to kill him.
Ms. Fischer: I think, based on what everyone has said, that I was the last person here to see Mr. Beck alive. This was right before I brought Mr. Lexington up here.
Gary Lexington: Did anyone see Glenn after that time?
Everyone shakes their heads.
Gary Lexington: And you were then the first person to see Mr. Beck after his death. That is, except for the murderer, of course.
Ms. Fischer: Yes.
Jess Thomas: Then we should retrace where everyone was during that time. I was up here, with Detective Winchester and Mr. Harding when Mr. Lexington came in.
Gary Lexington: And I was with Ms. Fischer while she brought me up here.
Ms. Fischer: After that, I went over to the east wing to make sure that everything was on schedule for dinner.
Mr. Harding: And Mr. Lexington and I went to look at Glenn’s art collection.
Jess Thomas: Then I went to touch up my make-up.
Mrs. Axelrod: And some time around then, I arrived and found my way to this room.
Tabitha Reed: That would make you the only person to pass through the front lobby, right by where Glenn Beck was murdered, during the time of the murder.
Mrs. Axelrod: If you’re going to try and accuse me, we can end this right now.
Tabitha Reed: You might have seen a clue. Do you remember anything unusual in the lobby?
Mrs. Axelrod: Nothing really. I’ve been here so many times, it’s like a blur. I do remember being surprised that no one came to let me in, but I figured that maybe you had started without me.
Ms. Fischer: Were any of the side doors to the lobby open?
Mrs. Axelrod: I don’t think so. Is that important?
Ms. Fischer: When I found Mr. Beck’s body, the door was closed. And it is usually left open.
Mrs. Axelrod: Mr. Lexington, you said this was your first time in Mr. Beck’s house?
Gary Lexington: That’s correct.
Mrs. Axelrod: Did you spend some time looking around when you first entered the lobby?
Gary Lexington: Oh yes. I wanted to soak in every detail.
Mrs. Axelrod: When you are standing just inside the front doors there is a door directly to your right. That door leads to the north hallway. Was it open or closed?
Gary Lexington: (concentrating) Open. Definitely open. I remember noticing how the red tile contrasted with the white marble of the main lobby.
Mr. Harding: So someone closed the door. I don’t see what that has to do with anything.
Reginald has wandered over to listen in on the group and is making notes
Reginald: We cannot afford to overlook any clue, no matter how insignificant it may seem.
Mr. Harding: All I’m saying is, we seem to still be exactly where we started. Anyone could have killed Glenn, and they may or may not have closed a door.
Gary Lexington: Still, it’s something that we didn’t know before.
Jess Thomas: Where do we go from here?
Gary Lexington: I don’t know, I’m sort of new to this whole detective business. Detective Winchester, what would a detective normally do at this point?
Jess Thomas: (under her breath) Destroy more evidence.
Reginald: Why that’s obvious: The psychology of the murderer is the key. Determine the psychology needed to perform a murder like this, and that will lead to the killer.
Jess Thomas: It isn’t exactly difficult to stick a knife in a person, is it?
Reginald: Not physically, perhaps.
Gary Lexington: I see what he’s saying. The way he was killed tells us something about the killer.
Tabitha Reed: For instance, the killer almost certainly had opposable thumbs.
Mrs. Axelrod: Miss Reed, please.
Jess Thomas: Oh! The killing tells us that it was premeditated!
Tabitha Reed: How do you figure that?
Jess Thomas: Because of the murder weapon. It came from the kitchen, but Glenn was killed in the hallway on the other side of the lobby. The killer brought it with him. (Reginald clears his throat) Or her. The point is, he or she was planning to kill Glenn all along.
Sirens begin sounding in the background, growing rapidly louder.
Gary Lexington: (looking out window) The police are here.
Jess Thomas: Aww. And I was just starting to feel like we were really getting somewhere.
Gary Lexington: Well, at least we’ll be able to pass on what we’ve found out.
Ms. Fischer: I need to go down and show them in.
Reginald: No one travels alone. We’ll have to go together.
Random grumbles, but they all leave the room together.
Act IV: Unmasked
The group re-enters with Officer Daniels.
Ms. Fischer: And then, after I found Mr. Beck’s body down there, like you saw, I ran up here.
Officer Daniels: Where the rest of this group was?
Ms. Fischer: Oh no, just Detective Winchester and Mrs. Axelrod were here.
Officer Daniels: Where was everyone else?
Gary Lexington: I was in the art gallery.
Mr. Harding: As was I.
Officer Daniels: You were together then?
Mr. Harding and Gary Lexington: No.
Jess Thomas: I was in the bathroom.
Tabitha Reed: I was in the bushes.
Officer Daniels: The bushes?
Ms. Fischer: But eventually everyone gathered here and that’s where we stayed.
Officer Daniels: None of you left the room?
Mrs. Axelrod: We went to Glenn’s study.
Officer Daniels: His study? Why?
Mrs. Axelrod: To get the manuscript for his new book.
Officer Daniels: Was that really necessary?
Reginald: It seemed so at the time. I also left the room to investigate the body. (pulls knife off the table where it has been resting) You’ll probably want to catalog this. It’s the murder weapon.
Officer Daniels: Then what is it doing up here?
Reginald: I had to examine it.
Officer Daniels: No, you didn’t. Okay, it looks like we’ve got our work cut out for us. I’m going to go call for a forensics team, though I can’t see what good it will do at this point. No one is to leave this room.
Officer Daniels walks out of the room.
Jess Thomas: He seemed a bit rude.
Reginald: Yes, no professional courtesy at all.
Gary Lexington: I can’t believe they only sent one squad car.
Mrs. Axelrod: Obviously they didn’t believe Jess when she called it in
Jess Thomas: They’ll have to believe it now. Can you imagine the headlines?
Gary Lexington: “Constitutional Defender Falls”
Tabitha Reed: “Beck Dead – World Rejoices”
Mr. Harding: “Glenn Beck Slain by Socialist Nutjob”
Tabitha Reed: I’d rather be a socialist nutjob than a right-wing war monger.
Mr. Harding: Ah, so you do admit to killing Glenn.
Officer Daniels re-enters room
Officer Daniels: Who admits to the killing?
Mrs. Axelrod: No one, officer. Mr. Harding was just getting a bit carried away. We really don’t know who killed Glenn.
Officer Daniels: Okay, whatever. I’ll need to question each one of you individually. You first. (He points at Gary Lexington)
Gary Lexington walks toward the door.
Officer Daniels: Listen buddy, you’re already facing evidence tampering charges. Don’t make it any worse by interfering in the investigation.
Reginald: But the manuscript for Glenn Beck’s new book has been stolen!
Mrs. Axelrod: Not that again. (to Officer Daniels) Don’t mind him, officer. He gets fixated on things some times.
Reginald: No, it really has been this time. It was on that desk by the wall. And now it’s gone.
Jess Thomas: Are you sure about that?
Tabitha Reed: Maybe it fell off.
Gary Lexington: (walks around the desk) It’s not back here.
Reginald: The killer has stolen Glenn Beck’s manuscript!
Mr. Harding: No one has stolen anything. (Pulls manuscript from under a chair) Here Jess, I put this under the chair for safe keeping earlier when everything was getting a bit heated. I didn’t want to risk having it strewn all over the place if someone accidentally bumped the desk.
Jess takes manuscript, starts flipping through it.
Tabitha Reed: And you didn’t think to tell anyone?
Mr. Harding: Well, to be perfectly honest, it was hard to get a word in edgewise at the time. Though I am grateful Detective Winchester pointed out its absence. (to Jess) In the excitement I might have forgotten to give it to you.
Officer Daniels: If that’s all, I’d like to get on with questioning people.
Jess Thomas: Wait!
Officer Daniels: What now?
Jess Thomas: A part of the manuscript has been stolen!
Jess Thomas: It looks like pages 238 through 251 are missing.
Tabitha Reed: That’s ridiculous. Who would steal part of a book?
Ms. Fischer: Someone who didn’t want that information to be known.
Gary Lexington: Is there a table of contents with that manuscript?
Jess Thomas: Good thinking. (she flips to the front of the packet) It looks like that would be the entirety of chapter 18: War Profits are Good, Greed is Bad.
Reginald: So, the murderer must have been named in that very chapter.
Jess Thomas: But the only one of us that could be… (looks up at Mr. Harding)
Mr. Harding: (pulls gun and points it at Officer Daniels) Don’t even think about it. (Looks around) Congratulations detective, it looks like you will get to learn who murdered Glenn Beck. Sadly, it doesn’t look like you’ll be able to bring him to justice. (to Officer Daniels) Put your hands behind your head and step away from the doorway.
Officer Daniels: (puts hands behind head) You’ll never get away with this. More officers are already on their way. In under an hour your picture will be all over the television. There’s nowhere to hide.
Mr. Harding: You really don’t understand how this works, do you? In less than a half hour I can be on a private jet bound for anywhere in the world. I didn’t want it to end like this, but many other countries would be willing to pay me handsomely for the things I know.
Ms. Fischer: Traitor!
Mr. Harding: Glenn forced my hand. What do you expect me to do, go to jail?
Gary Lexington: That’s no reason to sell military secrets to foreign powers!
Mr. Harding: A guy’s got to eat. Now, I really must be going. (to Officer Daniels) If I see you flinch, you’re dead, so don’t try and be a hero.
Mr. Harding starting inching toward the door, his gun still trained on Officer Daniels. He doesn’t notice as Gary Lexington, Mrs. Axelrod, and Jess Thomas all produce guns.
Reginald: You said you were unarmed!
Mr. Harding: (not looking away from Officer Daniels) Yeah, I lied. I also murder. Go figure.
Officer Daniels: I don’t think he was talking about you.
Mr. Harding: (looks around, to see three guns trained on him) You’ve got to be kidding. Stupid Glenn Beck fans!
Mrs. Axelrod: It’s over, Justin.
Mr. Harding: You wouldn’t really shoot me, would you Caitlin?
Gary Lexington: I would. You killed the greatest man in the world!
Reginald: You would resort to murder just to get a chance to read Glenn’s new book before anyone else?
Mr. Harding: Do you still really think this whole thing is about me wanting to read Glenn’s manuscript?
Reginald: It’s the logical conclusion. What else could it be?
Mrs. Axelrod: I think I might know. It has to do with Justin’s charity.
Reginald: Don’t be silly. Who ever heard of killing someone for charity?
Mrs. Axelrod: (ignoring Reginald) What happened, Justin? Decided to skim a little off the top?
Mr. Harding: What, you’re playing detective now?
Mrs. Axelrod: No one would ever miss a few thousand in operating expenses. No one except Glenn Beck.
Mr. Harding: It was all perfectly legal.
Mrs. Axelrod: Legal, maybe, but wrong, and Glenn knew it. He put his reputation behind your charity.
Mr. Harding: And so that makes it okay for him to ruin MY reputation? My reputation nets me over a million dollars annually.
Gary Lexington: You’re a thief, a traitor, and a murderer!
Mr. Harding: But stealing the invitation of a military veteran so that you could impersonate him at a party is perfectly okay? Don’t lecture me about morals.
Gary Lexington: Okay, I admit that was wrong.
Mrs. Axelrod: And that’s what this party was about tonight. Glenn never could keep a secret. He invited us all here to expose you for the villain you really were. Poor Glenn never realized what a sick, twisted monster he was dealing with.
Reginald: A rather inventive lie, but my detective’s instincts are never wrong. I still believe that it was your lust to read Glenn’s manuscript that lies behind this murder. Why else would you have stolen it?
Mr. Harding: (Pulls the folded pages from his inner coat pocket) This? I don’t want to ever see this again in my life! (throws it on the ground)
Jess Thomas: What did you think stealing these pages would accomplish? Glenn keeps everything on his computer, and has regular automated back-ups. Your secret would have come out eventually.
Mr. Harding: I believe that you’ll discover, upon checking, that Glenn’s computer has had an irrecoverable hard drive crash. As for the backups, you’ll find everything in order, with a copy of last month’s manuscript.
Gary Lexington: You’re very proud of yourself aren’t you?
Mr. Harding: Proud. Yes, I am. It was a perfect plan, and it was made even better by the fortuitous appearance of our nutjob friend here. (gestures toward Tabitha, who shies away from the gun)
Tabitha Reed: If it was so perfect, then why are there three guns trained on you?
Mr. Harding: Yes, well, no one could have counted on all this ridiculous detective business. His being here is completely outside the bounds of logic.
Gary Lexington: Yes, but it looks like Glenn Beck will win in the end.
Police sirens sound in the distance.
Mrs. Axelrod: It’s over, Justin.
Mr. Harding: (has been slowly moving toward the door) Over? It’s only beginning. I have the best legal team that money can buy.
Jess Thomas: You may have very good lawyers, but I doubt they can fix a bullet wound to the skull. Stop sneaking toward the door and put your gun on the floor.
Mr. Harding: Can’t I at least shoot him first? (indicates Reginald)
Jess Thomas: Gun. On the floor. Now.
Mr. Harding looks around, finally reluctantly lowers his gun and places it on the carpet. Officer Daniels steps forward, handcuffs Mr. Harding, and begins to read him his rights as they exit the room.
Gary Lexington: Wow. I can’t believe that just happened.
Tabitha Reed: I knew it all along.
Mrs. Axelrod: Well, at least now it will be easier to convince my listeners that I didn’t really kill Glenn Beck with my bare hands.
Jess Thomas: (gathering up discarded pages) And I won’t have to worry about telling my boss that Glenn’s book is missing chapter 18.
Mrs. Axelrod: Can you imagine the excitement this is going to cause when it hits the media?
Tabitha Reed: It already has.
Gary Lexington: (reading off Tabitha Reed’s iPad) “Right-wing war-monger murders right-wing fear monger” by Tabitha Reed.
Mrs. Axelrod: Sounds like a nice, well-balanced piece of journalism.
Tabitha Reed: It’s already gotten over five thousand hits on salon.com.
Ms. Fischer: Everyone, I know it’s not how we planned it, but dinner is set up in the east wing if anyone is hungry.
Gary Lexington: I’m starving.
They head for the door, except for Reginald
Jess Thomas: What is it now, detective? We’ve already solved the case.
Reginald: Yes, but you’ve forgotten the most important thing.
Jess Thomas: And that is?
Reginald: Whenever you have completed the case, you must always say, “I hereby declare this case closed.” It brings closure to the mystery. Come on, everyone.
Mrs. Axelrod: I’d really rather not.
Reginald: It will make you feel better, trust me. Ready now? On the count of three: One… Two… Three.
All: (mumbling to appease Reginald) I hereby declare this case closed.
Reginald: Not like that. You have to say it with conviction! Let’s try it again, and put your heart into it. Say it like you mean it. One… Two… Three.
All: (louder) I hereby declare this case closed.
Mrs. Axelrod: Actually, you were right. That did make me feel a bit better.
Reginald: But of course. I am never wrong.
All exit the room