Apologies for the delay Fletcherfans. I’ve been struck down with illness this week, according to Wikipedia it used to be known as Devil’s Grippe so I’ve spent this week living in an episode of Scooby Doo.
JB is chilling at home this week Fletcherfans, dealing with some house troubles. Local handyman Hank Prewitt has just diagnosed dry rot and corroded plumbing – “course I’m only talking about the house you understand.”
JB is not pleased with this news – there seems to be always something going on with the house. Hank asks her if she’d ever consider moving and she says she hadn’t until this year – the house is big and she’s never there and maybe it’s time.
THIS CANNOT BE!
Hank goes off to go about his Hank business, and JB gets a phone call from her sorority sister Emily Dwyers with some bad news -their favourite professor, Leon Walker has just been arrested for murder.
Of course he has.
Jess jumps on the first (tiny) plane to Green Falls, where she is met by another sorority sister (and Leon’s assistant), Margaret, who gives her a lift back to the house. On the way JB tells Margaret she can’t believe the murder charge against Leon and Margaret tells her that she didn’t know Rhonda Sykes – she’d drive anyone to murder. You know, she’s the kind of girl who gives tramps a bad name.
Apparently this Rhonda Sykes was willing to do anything to get her degree, except study. Magaret drops JB at the police station and tells her to tell Leon they won’t let him down. Inside, Jess isn’t the only one demanding to see Professor Walker. A young man demands to see Leon and refuses to leave until he does, but when the cop shrugs and says “Suit yourself,” the young woman goes to leave. When the young man wants to stay she says “I don’t see we have a choice and I’m not going to stand here and fight about it.” Meekly, he follows her out.
JB tries her luck but the cop tells her that Leon specifically said no visitors. She asks him to let Leon know she’s here, since she’s flown all the way from Maine after all. He agrees to see her but tells her he’s sorry she came all this way for nothing. He killed Rhonda Sykes. Jess refuses to believe it but Leon says he was lonely after his wife Martha died, he took up with Rhonda but broke it off when he realised what a fool he was being. The previous night, Rhonda called him to say she would expose their affair unless he paid her a big sum of money. He told her he didn’t have the money, she flipped out and came at him with an ashtray so he conked her on the head with a candlestick.
“I see,” Says Jess. And what proof did she have that she was able to blackmail him?
Letters, says Leon. “But I burned them and rinsed them down the drain”.
Jessica finds the whole thing suspicious and says so. She doesn’t think Leon killed anyone, in self-defence or otherwise. Leon says that’s absurd, why would he make up such a thing. Jess says she doesn’t know, but she wishes she did.
JB goes to see the D.A but is informed by his secretary that he’s busy for the rest of the afternoon. She decides to wait and is stunned when her former boyfriend Paul Robbins walks in. He asks her what she’s doing there and she says same thing as him, presumably – talk to the DA about Leon’s case but she’s having trouble getting in. Paul smiles and tells his secretary to cancel his 2 o’clock appointment YOU GUYS PAUL IS THE DA.
Paul tells her he has no choice but to prosecute – Rhonda was killed between ten and eleven the night before from a blow to the head that Leon says he delivered. Jess still won’t believe it and wonders if there is something the police might have overlooked that she and Leon might spot. Leon says it’s highly unorthodox and Jess bats her eyelashes and says “So were you once.”
Naturally Paul agrees so they go hunting for clues at Rhonda’s apartment. Jess is already suspicious – the apartment is full of expensive doodads (a double tape deck stereo oh my) and the wardrobe is full of fur coats and fancy gowns, something that just doesn’t seem possible for a student studying on a financial hardship scholarship. JB notices the drawer of the filing cabinet has been forced open and Paul tells her it was noted in the police report, and that only Rhonda’s prints were found on it. Inside they find a file of exam papers with D- on them, but not one from Leon’s class. Paul assumes Leon took it with him but JB points out they would have found it on him, and it didn’t make sense for Leon to destroy it. Paul promises to follow it up and drops Jess off at the sorority house with the promise of dinner that night.
Emily meets Jess and notices just how like old times it is, being dropped off by Paul Robbins. She doesn’t know if she can forgive Paul for what’s happening to Leon but Jess says it’s just his job. Emily also can’t understand how Leon ever knew Rhonda, who it turned out lived at the sorority house during her undergraduate degree, until the accident the previous spring. Rhonda had asked the fiancée of one of the other girls in the house to drive her home from the April Fools Dance, but there was an accident on the way home and while Rhonda escaped without a scratch, but the boy died. Rhonda, we find out through cunning use of flashbacks, was trying to milk the insurance company for as much as she could and tells the guy’s fiancée he died in her arms. What the hell Rhonda?! Emily takes this as the excuse she needs to kick Rhonda out of the house.
Jess asks Emily if Rhonda got a large settlement from the insurance company and Emily delightedly says no. She didn’t see Rhonda again until she happened to be in Boston one night and saw Rhonda in a restaurant, dressed up like a movie star. They are on their way inside when the guy from the police station pops up. His name is Steve Chambers, and is the son of one of Emily and Jess’s sorority sisters who ran off and eloped during college and came back with a baby. Jess, looking at a baby photo of Steve with his mother, says he looks just like his mother, although she never met his father. Steve says he didn’t either, apparently he died in Korea before Steve was born. His mother died in Steve’s junior year at Harrison College and his scholarship was going to be revoked if it weren’t for a certain professor we all know and love. Steve’s wife Karen – the girl from the police station – appears, it turns out she’s a sister as well. JB asks her if she knew Rhonda and she says not really, Rhonda didn’t get friendly with anyone who couldn’t help her with her grades.
That night JB goes to dinner with Paul. In between remembering ghosts of dinners past, Paul shows her what the police found on Leon the night they arrested him. Jess notices a small fragment of photo tucked in Leon’s wallet. It’s the same photo Steve showed Jess earlier that day – the picture of him as a baby. The next day Jess confronts Leon and he reluctantly comes clean – he had an affair with Kathy Hampton, she got preggers and went off to have Steve. He begged her to come back but she only did so on the condition that their affair was over and that Steve wasn’t to be told the truth. He begs Jess to keep his secret but Jess is more concerned with other things, like if Steve killed Rhonda. Leon flips out, saying he was the one who killed Rhonda and that he’ll swear to it in any court JB can name.
The next day JB is helping Karen fluff cushions and trying to sneakily find out if Rhonda was in one of Steve’s classes, but Karen comes right out and tells her yes. Ahahahahah I’ve finally worked out who Karen is, she was in that terrible soap opera Passions! Ahahahahaha. Anyway, JB notes that Rhonda, crap student that she was, got a B for Steve’s class and Karen tells her to draw her own conclusion. Emily appears with the promise of sugar cake later that afternoon but Karen declines and goes to air mattresses. Emily tells JB that Karen has been acting funny lately, and on Monday completely ignored Emily when they were both pulled up at the lights. JB thinks thats odd, since Karen had just said she and Steve hadn’t been out in weeks. A phone call from Paul brings bad news – he’s upping the charges against Leon to murder one, as it turns out Leon put the letter opener found in Rhonda’s hand there to make it look like self defence. JB is adamant that he’s covering for someone but Paul’s hands are tied.
Jess goes to see Steve, who is aghast to learn that Leon isn’t trying to defend himself. “Mrs Fletcher there’s something you should know,” he says. “Leon didn’t kill Rhonda, I did.”
JB takes him down to the police station where he tells them the tale. Karen had walked out on him when he turned down a highpaying advertising gig in New York. He was down, and Rhonda had been hitting on him all semester. and so…you see where this is going. When Karen reappeared he tried to break it off but Rhonda told him she’d tell Karen if he stopped seeing her so he kept going until at last he went round there to sort it out. Rhonda told him to leave his wife and quit his job, she had a gold mine after the accident and that would pay for everything. He says no and tries to leave but she comes after him with a candlestick so he shoves her and she falls and hits her head. He took off, drove around for half an hour then called Leon who said he’d go and check on Rhonda, that he was sure she was only passed out. It wasn’t until the next day that he found out Leon had been arrested. He swears he never would have let Leon go to jail, he just didn’t have the
balls nerve to come clean until now.
Paul tells Jess the charges against Leon will be dropped and reinstated on Steve. Jess still thinks there are puzzling things about the whole business, like why the body wasn’t where Steve said he left it. Jess spots Leon leaving the police station and runs after him but he’s furious. She tells him there are still some unanswered questions and asks him what time he got to Rhonda’s. He says about eleven, he left straight after getting the call from Steve and it took him fifteen minutes to get there. Jess figures Steve left Rhonda’s at about 10:15pm, which meant there were 45 minutes in which anything could have happened. And then there was the question of this secret goldmine Rhonda told Steve about.
Jess and Paul go back to Rhonda’s apartment, where Jess has a suspicion about Rhonda’s gold mine. A quick look behind one of the paintings reveals a photograph of a smashed up car, dated the day after the accident. Paul doesn’t get it, but JB says Rhonda and the dead guy were in a sports car, not a sedan, so it made no sense. Paul said he’d run the plate and JB takes off back to the sorority for tea and cake with Emily and Margaret. Pulling up outside the sorority house, however, JB catches sight of a familiar looking license plate – it’s Margaret’s car.
JB takes Margaret to a diner, where she comes clean. She was coming home from an alumni dinner, she was drunk she hit the sports car. Rhonda saw her and called her the next morning demanding compensation for her silence. But not money – Rhonda wanted good grades and letters of recommendation, not money.
JB thinks there’s something Margaret isn’t telling her. She wasn’t the one driving that night. Someone else was driving the car, and it was someone Rhonda recognised.
Jess goes back to Rhonda’s apartment and checks the last number dialled.
You guessed it. (I didn’t. I am stricken with the devil’s grippe after all)
Paul was the source of all Rhonda’s money. She called him because she wanted Paul prosecuted for hitting her, but instead Paul killed her.
And on that note I’m going back to sleep.