Fletcherfans, I think we all learned a valuable lesson last week about multi-tasking. I shouldn’t try and write while Richmond are playing, and Richmond shouldn’t throw away 35 point leads in the last quarter.
Let’s not dwell on that.
JB is in Kentucky putting bets on for our old friend Harry McGraw when she bumps into her friend, veterinarian Dr Christy Morgan and her fiancee Todd Sterling. It seems they are destined to remain engaged for awhile, until their fathers can stop feuding. That old chestnut. BOOM HORSE PUN.
But now I’d like to discuss possibly my favourite one-time character in this whole series:
Emmaline Bristow can talk to horses, so naturally she’s at the stables wishing all the horses good luck in their race and getting the latest equine gossip. One horse, Big Palooka, tells her he has a terrible headache, which is bad news for Harry since he got JB to put 200 down on him. Emmeline bumps into Christie’s father, Lamar, who wonders if any of the horses mentioned who would win the race.
“Oh Lamar. Horses can’t predict the future.” Says Emmaline. GEEZ LAMAR GET WITH IT.
A token blonde wanders past, excited to meet Lamar Morgan, but more excited to serve him papers. Todd’s father, Randolph Sterling, is suing.
Trackside, Randolph is taking a constitutional with his lady-friend Althea Mayberry (played by someone credited as Woman in Titanic). Althea is trying to talk Randolph into a cruise but Randolph has big things to worry about, like getting his stallion King Paragon laid. They are soon joined by Randolph’s daughter Diana with news on that score – some Japanese businessmen have expressed an interest in King Paragon and so Diana orders Althea to make sure sake is on tap when they come by the farm. Althea is delighted to be promoted to caterer. And by delighted I mean not happy.
Althea spots Christy, Todd and JB walking towards them and remarks how good Christy and Todd look together – Todd’s so handsome and Christy’s so full of life and virginal purity.
“What would you know about virginal purity?” Says Diana.
JB is reintroduced to everyone, and she tells Diana the last time she saw her she was home from university in England. Turns out Diana was at Cambridge, until she got thrown out but then she married Lord Snowcroft, until she got tired of him and threw him out.
Lamar interrupts this trip down memory lane brandishing the court notice and demanding an explanation. It turns out King Paragon went a-wanderin’ some enchanted evening and knocked up two of Lamar’s mares and Randolph wants compensation for – well something. Lamar says he doesn’t owe Randoph a cent, he had nothing to do with King Paragon getting loose and knocking up his mares, but Randolph doesn’t care. He’ll see Lamar in court. And with that he walks off, Althea and Diana on each arm.
The next day, JB visits Christy at the farm, to hear more about the nocturnal wanderings of King Paragon.
Christy says there are no witnesses and if they lose the court case they would lose the farm. The police haven’t been any help, so JB suggests a private detective she knows…
Harry tells JB he’s not taking any new cases just at the moment, but is forced to reassess the situation when the radio informs him his horse lost again.
Now we need to talk about this guy.
Here are some things I’ve just learned about Melvin Belli. He defended Jack Ruby for killing Lee Harvey Oswald, he got a letter from the Zodiac Killer (it really annoys me they never caught that guy), he defended people like Errol Flynn, The Rolling Stones and Mae West, he once played a character on the original Star Trek, and whenever he won a court case he would raise the Jolly Roger flag on his office and fire a cannon off the roof.
For real. I never knew how much I wanted to fire a cannon off a roof until just now.
For now though, he is Judge Charlie Harley, and Randolph is on the phone to him trying to demand that his suit against Lamar Morgan is tried immediately if not sooner. Things don’t get better for Charlie when he asks for scotch and gets a soda water from his secretary instead.
Back at the Morgan’s farm, Christy and JB are relieved and surprised respectively when Harry turns up.
Harry reveals the owner of the sharp threads doesn’t actually know Harry borrowed them so if they could move this along so Harry can return the suit by Friday that would be grand.
JB and Harry head over to the Sterling house where a shindig is in full swing to drum up interest in King Paragon and his lovelife. While Randolph puts the squeeze on Charlie re: the court case, Harry investigates the bar situation and gets hit on by Althea. Althea’s moves are squashed by a drive-by from Diana reminding Althea that champagne ages the skin (nonsense, I drink it by the bucketload and I look fabulous) and that her hair could do with a colour job.
“Thank you Lady Chatterly.” Althea mutters. Zing!
Harry finds JB in conversation with Todd and Randolph and she introduces him to the group. “Randolph Sterling? The guy who owned Randolphs’ Rebel?”
“The same.” Says Randolph.
“Whatever happened to that nag?” Asks Harry.
Jess tells Randolph Harry is considering investing in a racehorse. “I hear you got the best around. Can I get a peek at King Paragon eh Randy?” Harry adds.
They all go out to the stables to see the stud’s finest in action. And I’m not talking about the horse.
Randolph announces that the minimum return for buying in on King Paragon’s…services…is 100 grand in the first year.
Harry is flabbergasted.
Emmaline, also in attendance, is more concerned about King Paragon’s state of mind. Apparently he’s thoroughly depressed. “Wouldn’t you be?” She says to Harry. “Your body being used in that dreadful fashion?”
The King Paragon party is soon crashed by Lamar Morgan, drunk as a lord and informing Randolph he’d kill him before he paid him a cent. Todd escorts him outside to get some fresh air, while Diana mumbles something about family loyalties.
Back at the Morgan farm Christy is worried when Todd is still at the track and her father has disappeared, but Harry is on the case and calls in to let them know that Lamar is propping up a bar in town. As soon as she gets off the phone from Harry there is call from Todd – there’s been an accident at the track, one of the horses needs medical attention. They drive down to the track to find Randolph dead on the floor of his office.
The police arrive and quickly take charge. Sheriff Tyrone McKenna tells JB not to touch anything and she informs him she wasn’t touching she was reading – a note from Althea Mayberry saying how hurt she was by Randolph and that he’d be hearing from her attorney. Diana Sterling arrives, devastated but quick to remind them that Lamar had threatened to kill Randolph earlier that day. Lamar had called Diana, wanting to talk to Randolph and Diana was the one who told him her father was at the track. She breaks down and Todd takes her back to the house. Christy remembers that she was called about an injured horse and rushes out to the stables.
JB decides to walk Sheriff McKenna through the crime scene and points out the odd stain on Randolph’s jacket, hanging up on a hook. McKenna tells her that poking around crime scenes might be alright in the city, but he’s got a water moccassin by the tail and something something tread lightly.
Jess decides to go find Christy/poke around in the stables, and finds Rex Manning attending to King Paragon, who had spooked, broke down his stable door and hightailed it across the paddock before Rex could catch him. (For those interested in fact based reporting, his character’s name is Derek Padley). Rex suspects the noise of the argument in the office might have spooked him, but when pressed he couldn’t say he recognised the voices. Christy reappears after attending to another injured horse and offers to x-ray King Paragon’s leg but Rex Manning tells her he knows best. Because he’s Rex Manning.
Back at the farm, Harry is pulling into the drive way with a well sloshed Lamar Morgan when the police pull him over. Harry is his belligerent self until Sheriff McKenna mentions murder.
Down at the police station, Lamar confesses he was at the track that night. He’d had an offer for one of his foals, and was hoping Randolph would agree to the sale provided the money was held in trust until after the court case but that clearly didn’t go well. Jess asks him if the fight was so loud that they didn’t hear King Paragon destroying his stall but he swears that noise would have stopped them cold.
Sheriff McKenna appears to tell JB that the stains on Randolph’s hands weren’t blood but hair dye. The stains on the jacket were blood, but not Randolph’s. Shout-out to Kentucky CSI for upping their game on that one. He bids them goodbye and departs. Harry has a speck of an idea floating in his brain about hair dye, and goes to see Althea Mayberry, who promptly busts a move on him but aborts when Harry casually wonders whether she was dying her hair when Randolph came to see her. She throws Harry out, Harry offers to take a raincheck on the tour of her bedroom.
The next day Harry asks JB about Lady Chatterley, and Jess explains that Lady Chatterley fell in love with her husband’s gamekeeper. Harry thinks it’s screwy, Diana isn’t married and there’s no gamekeeper in sight. Not so screwy, says JB. Diana was married to Lord Snowcroft, and he had a large estate in England.
“Hunting game?” Says Harry.
“Racing horses.” JB says.
JB pops around to see Todd but instead finds Edie the housekeeper. She tells JB she heard a fight between Diana and Randolph earlier that week – Randolph was pissed at his daughter, saying she never did have good taste in men, while she told her father that Todd hated them.
Down at the police station Lamar is pestering Harry for more info about his investigation into King Paragon’s adventures with the mares, but Harry is more concerned about why Lamar is still being held, since Randolph wasn’t killed by a punch. Lamar tells him the blood on the jacket is his, a consequence of a busted up nose, but that his prints are also on the walking stick murder weapon, after he threw the stick away during the fight.
Later that night Harry, JB, Todd and Christy have a war meeting at the Morgan farm to decide what to do next. Jessica is sure that Lamar is innocent, but they need to prove someone else was at the stable that night – either by invitation or by knowing the security code. Todd and Christy head down to the track and Jess asks Harry if he knows anyone in the British racing industry – turns out Harry is friends with the Prince of Wales’s bookmaker (pfft) and he puts a call in to get more information on…
…cut to Judge Charlie Harley having a meeting in chambers where Christy, Todd and the defence attorney all requesting that the trial be held at King Paragon’s stables. Because that’s normal. Diana and her attorney bust in shouting I OBJECT (not true, whatever) and the judge decides a trip to the stable is in order. Apparently JB has located a surprise witness. King Paragon himself.
Emmaline steps up to conduct the interro-neigh-tion (nailed it)
After Emmaline asks a bunch of questions about King Paragon’s nightly wanderings, JB breaks in to request that she ask whether King Paragon’s name even is King Paragon, or if in fact it is Night Sword. Because apparently Night Sword was struck by lightening and killed. But what if it was King Paragon that was killed? And what if someone decided to dye the white sock on Night Sword’s leg brown to cover it up? And what if that someone got busted in the act of touching up the dye job by Randolph Sterling and so killed him to cover it up?
Say no more, mon amor.
I feel like I’ve made insufficient horse puns in this episode, so if you think of some let me know. I think I’m still miserable from Richmond’s “effort” last week.
Until next week, then.