Back in the Cove this week Fletcherfans where Our Heroine is banged up after coming off her Fletchermobile and breaking her arm. A looming deadline means that she’s had to enlist some help to type up her manuscript in the form of local Melissa Maddox (last seen in bed with Bryan Cranston in Goodbye Charlie).
I’m not sure how well it’s going though. JB appears to be sneaking into the kitchen to get a refill on her
whiskey tea when Melissa says she’s ready for a break – her mother says she has to be careful not to overwork as she thinks she has a weak constitution but Melissa thinks it just comes from being sensitive and creative.
Melissa asks our heroine if she’s told her that she is doing a creative writing class. JB says yes,she’s mentioned it several times. Melissa, it turns out, has written a short story and since she and JB are practically collaborators now, would she cast an eye over it and see what she thinks? She can’t show it to her husband, he has no time for creative things.
JB would love to but it will have to wait until after her manuscript is shipped on Friday.
Yes, says Melissa. Have you any idea what it’s like being married to a guy whose lips move when he reads traffic signs?
Melissa suddenly realises the time and goes home to make dinner for her husband. She promises to be back early the next day to continue typing.
At home, Melissa’s husband Ralph comes home demanding dinner, and can’t see anything in the fridge. Melissa informs him that there’s a quiche florentine on the top shelf. “Oh, is that what that is?” Says Ralph. They fight and Ralph storms off.
Later that night, Melissa attends her aforementioned creative writing course, as taught by a Drew Garrison.
Ducky Drew is reading a story written by Jeff Ogden, a man who for whatever reason has a massive crush on Melissa. Drew likes the story but some of the class are confused by it. After class, Melissa tries to find out when Drew will read her story but he tells her he hasn’t had time yet and shoots off in his convertible because that’s how Ducky rolls. Jeff catches up to Melissa, seemingly to ask about Our Heroine but actually to tell her the story read out in class was his. She is impressed, and he works up the courage to ask her for a cup of coffee.
The next day, JB is out on a mission, but still takes the time to greet Drew (whose sinuses hurt, which means rain) and his wife Rita on the way. She’s on her way to the newspaper office (where it just so happens that Jeff Ogden also works) to register a complaint with the new editor, Ben Devlin, about why there is a big writeup of her bike accident in the paper, complete with the fact that she ripped her favourite slacks. She demands she has a right to privacy, and Ben tells her the public have a right to know about such a prominent local citizen, and this debate could only be settled over dinner say tonight? JB tells him no, but it’s a soft no – she’s not making any plans until after her book is done.
Over at the diner, Ralph Maddox is sweet talking Trudy the waitress much to the chagrin of the Hank the cook, who has recently had his house foreclosed thanks to Ralph. The situation gets heated and is only calmed down by Sheriff Metzger bellowing “Now why don’t you two chill out before I have to book you for disturbing my piece of pie?”
Later that night (because apparently this creative writing class is nightly?) the predicted rain has arrived. Jeff is the first person to arrive to class, and sees a note on the board saying class is cancelled. Melissa arrives next, and is bummed that she will have to waste her night while her husband is working late at the lumberyard. Seizing the opportunity, Jeff suggests they study together – at his house. He reads her the latest of his story, which makes her sad because it reminds her of how miserable and trapped she feels. Jeff kisses her, she jumps up and says she has to go.
Across town, JB is hard at work on her novel when she gets a phone call from Ben Devlin – he’s bored, he wants conversation. Jess relents and promises to have breakfast with him the next day.
Excellent, says Ben. And if they get into an argument, he promises to let Jessica win.
Meanwhile, Jeff is hard at work composing a poem to Melissa, when she calls him and asks him to come over. There’s been an accident, The sort that ends up with your husband dead on the floor with a pair of sewing scisssors sticking out of him.
By the time Jeff arrives Melissa has it all worked out – Ralph can’t be found at home, or else everyone will think she did it, and they can’t tell the truth or everyone will think they were in it together, but if they move the body to the lumberyard it should all be golden.
Someone has put a lot of thought into this.
Jeff puts the body in the trunk of Ralph’s car, while Melissa dumps the dirty towels she used to clean up in Jeff’s. She tells Jeff they shouldn’t be seen together, so she stays home while Jeff takes Ralph’s body to the lumberyard – where funnily enough Hank-the-cook- is in the process of burning the lumberyard down. Jeff dumps the body and drives off. HONESTLY WHAT WERE THE ODDS?
The next morning, while Ben and JB have a lovely breakfast at the diner, Mort and Deputy Floyd are at the crime scene. Floyd has a theory that Ralph was cleaning his hands with gasoline, but Mort explains since the gas was splashed everywhere it was more likely that Ralph caught someone trying to torch the yard. He goes to break the news to Melissa, who is hard at work typing up JB’s next masterpiece/telling JB all about how her husband didn’t come home the previous night. She does a pretty stellar job of over-acting her grief, while managing to get out that yes, her husband did have enemies and yes, Hank Cranshaw did threaten to burn down the lumberyard.
Over Drew and Rita’s Drew is still trying to get over his cold when Rita delivers the news that Ralph Maddox has been stabbed to death. Drew doesn’t think he knows him but Rita helpfully points out that Melissa is in Drew’s writing class. Drew seems quite taken with the notion that Ralph was stabbed, and when Rita goes back into the house, Drew sets fire to a manuscript – Dagger of Love, by Melissa Maddox.
I bet it’s got sparkly vampires in it.
Mort, hot on Hank’s trail, goes to see him at the diner. He swears he was home watching TV but when it starts to become clear that Mort is going to charge him with the murder he tells him that he saw Ralph’s car pull up and someone dump Ralph’s body out. And he got a good look at him – Jeff Ogden from down the newspaper.
JB is on the phone explaining to her publisher that unfortunately her manuscript won’t be done on time, someone has been murdered (I think they are probably used to this by now to be honest) when Ben Devlin arrives looking for the inside word on Melissa Maddox. He tells her about Ralph’s murder but she tells him that Eve Simpson already called – the local grapevine beats the local newspaper every time.
Ben has managed to find out that Melissa’s was a marriage made in hell, but Jess tells him Loretta’s Beauty Parlour has had that info for quite some time. Ben asks JB for more details on Melissa, to see if she was close to breaking point, but Jess refuses to divulge gossip to newspapers. The phone rings but it’s for Ben – Jeff Ogden is under arrest at the Sheriff’s office.
Ben barges in demanding to see his client, whom he is representing in loco parentis.
“Ben, that means in the place of a parent.” Jessica helpfully points out.
“Same thing.” Says Ben.
The evidence against Jeff is pretty conclusive. Fingerprints all over Ralph’s car, an eyewitness who saw Jeff dump the body, and a plastic bag full of bloody towels and a pair of scissors found in the trunk of Jeff’s car.
Ben confers with his client to tell him that if the Cabot Cove gazette gets exclusive rights to his story then Ben will hire the best lawyer in the county but Jeff has nothing to say. Ben leaves, but not before issuing instructions to not speak to Ralph unless he is present, and there is to be no reporters.
“I know it’s none of my business-” Says JB.
“Oh yeah? When did that start?” Says Mort.
-but Jess thinks Mort should question Melissa again. Mort says he’s not questioning hysterical widows without backup.
Melissa is up to her usual high drama when Mort asks about her marriage, but is surprised to learn that Jeff has been arrested for the murder and asks if he has confessed. Mort says no. Jess chooses that moment to ask for some herbal tea. Mort is confused, until Melissa leaves the room and Jessica points out that the pattern on the desk set looks like it matches the murder weapon. They take Melissa down to the sheriff’s office and under relentless grilling from Mort
about pie Melissa finally comes clean and tells them that she found Ralph dead when she got home, panicked and called Ben.
After Ben is taken back to the cells the story comes out about how class was cancelled so she went to Ben’s place and read the story and then she left and drove around for a bit before going home because she knew Ralph worked late on her class nights, but then she found Ralph and possibly Ben could have done it. Jess reminds her that she said she called Ben as soon as she found the body but Mort steamrolls on to his point that Jeff and Melissa were sneaking around behind Ralph’s back.
“No! Okay, Jeff is in love with me and I never encouraged him at all but he begged me to leave Ralph and said that he was desperate to have me.” Says Melissa.
Jess goes to see Ben, who has written a front page article that crucifies Jeff and Melissa. While she’s there Ben gets an anonymous tip that Ralph was seen leaving a bar with Trudy-the-waitress the night of the murder, and that they had a screaming argument in the car park.
Mort, Ben and JB pay Trudy a visit. She confirms that she had been on a date with Ralph, who had been full of a sob story about his last girlfriend dumping him, but says that she hadn’t slept with him and demanded that he take her home. They got a flat tyre on the way, he tried it on again when he dropped her off so she slapped him and he slapped her. End of story.
Later that night, JB has given up on finding a typist and is typing up her manuscript one handed when she finds Melissa’s story. She begins to read and the next day takes it to show Mort. It’s the story of a sensitive woman, in love with her English teacher but married to a goon. They bring Melissa in for questioning and she tells them that Drew Garrison is madly in love with her and that she found Drew’s umbrella next to the body and his car pulling out when she got home and she never said that Jeff killed Ralph.
Ugh. She is the worst.
Over at the Garrison’s Drew denies the whole thing as the fantasies of an immature child (agreed) and says he was in bed laid up with a cold – fortunately Rita was kind enough to go out in the rain in his car and get some asprin.
After Ralph dropped Trudy off he called Rita to try and get back together and it escalated and yada yada, You know the drill. Honestly, all I can think about right now is pie. Damnit Mort.
In case you’d forgotten (or like me panicked that it was tomorrow because you don’t really understand time), Murder She Blogged Epic Tweetathon Part The Third – A Story To Die For, will take place on Monday, 14 March at 12pm Melbourne time. If you’re on twitter use the hashtag #MSWStory to follow along while I decipher another JB telemovie.