Dear Enthusiasts of Crime Fiction,
I have arrived safely in the Wiregrass, a region of the Deep South
encompassing small corners of Alabama, Georgia and Florida. After
over-nighting in the local Post Office Hostel, I made my way to the
Enterprise High School Performing Arts Center, whereupon I found myself
with immediate employment in solving a small mystery which I have set
down in my case book as "The Affair of the Pilfered Pastry".
As soon as my SOC photographer emerges from the darkroom, pictures will
The word "actor" is derived from the Greek, "hypokrites", from which, as you can no doubt see, we English speakers receive our term for a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion: hypocrite. Armed with that knowledge, I was escorted by Hitty Hedydd and The Stage Manager to the beautiful Performing Arts Center at the newly built Enterprise High School.
(Many of you may recall the destruction of the old high school and, sadly, the loss of eight young lives by a vicious tornado in 2007. The Hitty community throughout the United States rallied behind the Wiregrass Hitties to raise 1200 dollars for UMCOR. http://www.hittygirls.com/research/enterprise/enterprise.htm)
Hedydd disappeared into the long hall of dressing rooms to prepare for her role in “The Sound of Music”. I found myself installed on the property table backstage and given the task of organizing the props. The Stage Manager was quite firm. "Unless it is their personal prop, Agatha, no one should touch the props, play with them, or otherwise even consider them. Above all, NO ONE must eat them", she said, pointing to a silver tray piled with delicate ladyfingers. "Actors are notorious for their appetites and, beyond their craft, have very little discipline - be vigilant".
Hedydd emerged from the dressing room, swept across the stage to examine the conductor’s score and make a few minor adjustments for her solo.
The assumption of a costume had somewhat altered Hedydd’s usual sunny disposition. I watched her from the darkened wings. Other cast and crew were now arriving in the theatre as the time for “curtain up” drew closer. The stage hands busied themselves with the rigging and the drops; actors dashed about in various states of undress and make-up.
Hedydd called up to the booth and demanded lights before she began her warm-ups. “Mi-Me-Ma-Mo-Mu, Mi-Me-Ma-Mo Mu”, she sang and, taking breath for a moment said, “and where is my vocal coach? Agatha”, she practically hissed, “Be a dear, and fetch her”. I abandoned my post, hurried to find Hedydd’s coach and conveyed her to the stage where Hedydd stood fuming under the hot lights.
Turning to the dark of the wings, it took my eyes a moment to adjust after the brilliance of being under the lights. It did seem like something was causing more of a reflection than there ought to be. The tormentors* billowed as doors opened and closed in the house. The flash seemed to be coming from the property table. Something was catching the beams of light filtering in as the curtains moved. Alas, I perceived at once what it was. In my haste to do Hedydd’s bidding, I had left the ladyfingers unattended! They were all gone, saving a few crumbs.
* Tormentors are side curtains used for masking the backstage.