Not for nothing, but this actor’s name is Hunt Block.
Today he is Donald Barnes, and he has just made friends with JB after helping local boy Eddie Frayne
audition for Leo DiCaprio’s role in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape crash a kite into JB’s head. Delighted to meet a fellow English teacher, especially one as awesome as Jessica Fletcher, he invites her to breakfast the morning.
Later that same evening, a time travelling extra from the set of Eyes Wide Shut rushes into the church to ask the priest to hear her confession. Luckily, the priest is in da house, but it’s not Father Malloy – he’s off visiting his family for a few weeks.
Noticing the blood on her hands (literally), Father Barnes goes into the confessional to hear her story – it’s been 4 weeks since her last confession and she’s just killed a man.
Father Barnes tries to reassure her and urges her to go to the police, but she says that while she didn’t mean to kill him, she’s not sorry she did and runs off again into the night.
The next morning Mort is in buying himself some breakfast when he runs into JB reading a book in the corner. She tells him she’s rereading Walter Scott and asks him if he’s read The Lady of the Lake. He tells her no, but he saw the movie.
Jessica is saved by the arrival of Donald Barnes, although she is surprised to hear Mort call him Father Barnes. She asks him why the secrecy and he tells her that people act weirdly when they find out when they’re talking to a priest, and half the time he thinks they want to kiss his ring.
I’m letting that one go.
Father Barnes asks JB if she is familiar with the seal of the confessional and tells her the vague story of a parishioner coming to him the previous evening with a troubling tale. Jessica manages to deduce that a murder has been committed but gets no further. Father Barnes tells her she has a reputation for being an amateur detective…
…but Jessica says without clues, or a body, there’s nothing to go on. Possibly it’s just a case of an overactive imagination.
Some imagination though.
Cut to two teenagers finding a dead body on the beach and Seth Hazlitt doing his thing. The body turns out to belong to local businessman Evan West. Jess asks Seth how he died, and Seth says he thinks it has something to do with the massive stab wound in his chest. UNDER STATEMENT. They’re joined by Mort who has a bee in his bonnet.
“I don’t know how you do it ma’am…I get a call on my radio and within five minutes I’m down here. Doc gets a call and ten minutes later he’s here checking out the corpse. What I don’t get Mrs F, is who calls you?”
Mort thinks it’s an open and shut case – the dead man was clearly cheating on his wife, confined to a wheelchair, and so dead happened.
Plot twist: Father Barnes’s buddy Eddie Trayne has just been found with Evan’s knife. Mort gets a phone call at the home of Evan’s newly widowed wife Doris to inform him and he takes off – but not before telling Doris and her daughter Kelly that they have someone in custody. This is astounding news for Kelly – since she’s the one who went to Father Barnes to confess in the first place.
ERMAHGHERD PLOT TWISTS.
While Kelly consoles her mother about the death of her stepfather, and Mort goes about his Mort business, Jessica rushes to the church to inform Father Barnes of Eddie’s arrest. Father Barnes is stunned, so Jess asks him if Eddie had been in for confession recently. Father Barnes says no, so Jess goes to see Eddie in the cells to see what he has to say. Eddie tells her he found the knife, it was yucky so he cleaned it off, and that it was Evan’s fault that Kelly went away and that he was a bad man, and he’s glad he’s dead and can he go home now. Jess goes to find Mort and tell him what a mistake he’s making, but Mort is having none of it. He asks what proof JB has of Eddie’s innocence but she tells him she can’t say.
Jess’s next stop is to Doris West’s house to pay her respects. She’s greeted by her carer, Marilyn North, who is cleaning off a wheelchair. She tells JB Doris has been doing well but took the death hard. Doris’s daughter Kelly appears, and while she’s surprised Marilyn is cleaning a chair not often used by her mother, she understands when Marilyn says it helps to keep busy. Jess asks Kelly if Doris is up for more visitors – having seen the car of former colleague Jack Hutchings take off from the house just as she arrived – but Kelly says its find and takes JB in to see Doris, who is heartbroken by the death of her husband. Marilyn reappears a short time later to announce the arrival of Father Barnes. Kelly tries to avoid meeting him, but is thwarted by some stuck doors. Father Barnes and Kelly try to hide the fact that they know each other, and unsurprisingly do a terrible job of it.
Jessica excuses herself and goes after Kelly to see if she’s okay/wants to confess. Jess tells her that Eddie has been arrested and unless the real killer comes forward will likely be institutionalized if not worse. Leaving Kelly to dwell on that little snippet of info, Jess goes to see Jack, the long-time friend of Doris and former English teacher at the high school to reminisce about old times. Jess remembers teaching Kelly freshman English but Jack says he never taught Kelly – she went off to boarding school in Vermont before senior year. Jess says she was always puzzled by that, since Doris and Kelly were so close, but Jack tells her he knows nothing about it. Back at the house Father Barnes asks Kelly if she’d like to talk more at the church but she shuts him down. What was said will remain secret. The night is dark and full of terrors.
At JB’s the next morning Seth is desperately trying to eat his breakfast while Jess drills him about the autopsy report. Evan West, it turns out, died from drowning after being stabbed and whacked on the head. It would seem like Kelly really wanted her stepfather dead. Seth tells Jess to spit out what’s bothering her and she tells him about Father Barnes and the murderer who won’t come forward. He tells her not to worry about Eddie, he’s got ace attorney George Woodward on the case.
Down at the Sheriff’s station George and Mort are discussing the case when JB drops by with some comic books for Eddie. While Mort delivers them, Jess tells George it’s generous that he’s donating his time to help Eddie’s defence, but George tells her that he’s been retained by Doris West to represent Eddie. Mort returns and delivers some bad news – an eyewitness has come forward saying she saw Evan in an argument and Eddie prowling around the docks – Doris’s nurse, Marilyn.
Jess asks George what he knew of his former client’s relationship with his step-daughter and he says not much – but remembers a trip to Boston where Evan got drunk and declared he’d married the wrong Barrett. At the time, Kelly was 16.
EW. EW EW.
Jess asks if Evan left anything for Kelly in his will but George tells her Evan had been living off Doris for the last 8 years, and there was nothing else. Jess goes back to House West to see Marilyn and sees Jack saying goodbye to Kelly. Jess tells them she’s there to see Marilyn to ask about what she saw the night of the murder. Kelly can’t believe it, but when pressed says she can’t confirm anything since the night of the murder she was at Jack’s looking at old yearbook photos.
Jess spots Marilyn’s telescope trained on Evan’s boat and takes a look. Marilyn emerges from the house to ask her what she’s doing and Jess asks her if there was any chance Evan could have had another visitor to the boat – say for instance Kelly. Marilyn tells her she doubts it, and returns to her packing – she’s leaving town now that Kelly has taken over her mother’s care.
Unsatisfied, JB goes to search the boat and finds some dried blood before she’s busted by Jack and Kelly. She makes one last appeal to Kelly to come clean, and Kelly finally relents and tells Jess about how she’d come down to the boat to think about her father, when Evan came down and tried to force himself on her. She stabbed him and he went into the water.
JB has a thought. Kelly says she scratched Evan in the struggle on his arms, but when his body was found later he was wearing a windbreaker. Down at the sheriff’s office, after telling Mort the story, Jessica tells him her theory – Evan was only injured, went back onto the boat to fix himself up, and was killed by someone else.
Someone, it turns out, who is about to make a getaway.
Nurse Marilyn, it turns out, was having a thing with Evan and was so horrified when he told her about how he was after Kelly again that she bumped him off.
Until next time.