Chapter Two

Chapter Two

A Chapter by Carrie

I can’t do it. I just can’t. No. I’m not going to. I don’t care what she said; I can’t do what she asked me to, now she’s going to be disappointed in me, but I can’t do it. I need a new plan-

The party had begun. All the guests were arriving in their roadsters and limousines, and family by family poured into the grand foyer of Delacroix Mansion.

Elegant cars and limousines driven by faithful chauffeurs were showing up one after another in the semicircular driveway of the mansion, waiting patiently for their turn to let out a stylish woman or dapper man, dressed to the nines in either case and ready to revel the night away. Here were the Beauchamp twins, Pascal and Florian- art dealers, but of the patrician variety. There was the Leverett family, led by the patriarch Bertrand and his ever-fashionable wife Annette, their teenage daughter Cecily trotting demurely behind. And- oh, would you look at that?- the extended family of M. Delacroix himself. See, there’s his niece by marriage, Mabelle, and their young progeny Dahlia… but where could Adrien and Lydia possibly be? (Rumor has it that the couple is having marital issues!)

Through the well-designed, architectural double-doors, the party was beginning to pick up. The scent of alcohol hung in the air (no doubt because old Delacroix had brought out his bootlegged collection of wine and champagne) as New Orleans’ finest mingled and laughed and danced together, forming friendships and rekindling old ones. It was a pleasant sight, pleasanter even than most parties were, in some unidentifiable way or another.

The energy of the event, and, consequently, its participants, ebbed and surged with the flow of conversation and the ubiquitous spirits. All of the guests seemed to be enjoying themselves, socializing and dancing and bragging about their assets.

Philippe Delacroix, the master of the house and ever the practiced host, mainly watched the joyful scene unfold from the balcony above the ballroom. It gave the old man great joy to see his trusted servants, friends, and family interacting so affably with one another, and he couldn’t fight back a contented smile.

Nevertheless, deep inside, the aged man’s heart was heavy because he knew that Rodrique would have loved to be there.

Andre, his hands shaking more than when he first told Lydia of his deep love for her, anxiously searched the mansion for the other servants. He needed to talk to them; this was positively insane and he didn’t know what he was doing. All he knew was that he needed to find the others and tell them what happened and tell Lydia that I just can’t do it. No. She’ll understand, I know she will, because I can’t do what she’s asking but I know she’ll be disappointed and I don’t want her to be-

Finally, when he turned the corner into the manor’s sizeable kitchen, he found them, and nearly laughed half-hysterically because they were all in one place. Except for  Sestina, that odd maid, but he had never gotten along with her, anyway, and this was too important an issue to trifle with and I really need to get on with it… But what do I say?

And so Andre stood nervously in the doorway, looking distinctly fainter than anyone had ever seen him before.

“Andre?” inquired the butler, Eduard, clearly taken aback by the sudden intrusion. Here he’d been in a conversation with the other workers, and all of a sudden, in came the gardener. “Are you feeling ill?”

Andre’s only response was to give a giggle exactly like the one he’d repressed a moment before, shaking like a leaf and hesitantly approaching the group.

The cook folded her arms across her substantial torso as she frowned at the edgy gardener. “Why do you look so nervous?” she asked suspiciously, lowering her eyebrows at him.

Andre decided to respond and even opened his mouth to do so, but the only sound that came out was a nervous cough followed by a whimper. He cleared his throat and took the time to formulate what he would say, during which the other servants surveyed him just as suspiciously as Terentille. “I…” he began, and faltered. “I need to talk to all of you.”

Oliver, the stable boy, snorted to himself and muttered just loudly enough for everyone to hear, “Obviously.”

“No, just- let me- talk, I suppose,” said Andre brokenly. “You know how we’re all going to be out of a job soon? Because M. Delacroix is leaving, that is.”

“I think we’re all quite familiar with the situation,” said one of the maids that he faintly recalled was named Tennille.

“Well,” he bit his lip, planning extemporaneously how to begin his case, “that really makes me angry. Doesn’t it make you angry that he’s just going to abandon us?”

Eduard narrowed his eyes. “What are you getting at?”

Andre opened his mouth tentatively, hoping that all he would say would come out right and help relieve some of his new burden.

Edwin was reveling it up in the ballroom, dancing with the beautiful Cecily Leverett and attempting to simultaneously juggle a glass of champagne. Next to him, Karcel was also doing the Lindy Hop with a young society lady, this one being Delacroix’s grandniece Lydia. The two young men exchanged a long, intimate look with each other as the semi-complicated dance wore on, even through the simultaneous jump and lifting the girls into the air (well, Karcel lifted Lydia; Edwin gave up as soon as he realized that he’d have to abandon his champagne glass in order to do it). They’d been at this all night, throughout endless rounds of Charlestons and Foxtrots, Tangos and Camel Walks. Every now and then, they would look at each other, and it was a surprise that no one noticed.

That is, of course, until Edwin at last found the perfect opportunity for his grand surprise that he’d planned. He decided that he was sick of dancing, knocked back the rest of his bubbly, thrust the glass into Cecily’s confused grasp, and threw his arms into the air to draw great attention to himself. “Excusez-moi,” he proclaimed loudly.

Gradually, the other young couples around him halted mid-step in their dancing, turning confusedly to see what spectacle that Rancourt boy was going to make now.

Karcel in particular was surprised, gently detaching himself from Lydia and gazing at Edwin, half in wonderment and half in annoyance at whatever (probably stupid) thing he was going to do. Propose marriage to Cecily? Declare his drunkenness publicly?

Once all eyes were on him, an inebriated, satisfied smile spread across his face. “Now,” he said arrogantly to the curious onlookers, “I know what you all think of me, but I’ve got a secret.” Here, he giggled to himself and Karcel began to dread what was coming next. Around him, mutters began to arise about what could possibly be revealed. “Hello, there’ll be none of that inter… interrupting me!” Edwin chastised playfully. “Who wants to know my secret?”

A chorus of mixed “I do”s and “Me”s and “Just tell us already”s filtered up from the small crowd.

Edwin’s grin widened impossibly. “I can’t tell you.” Protests broke out, and Karcel wondered if the worst was over. “Okay, fine, I’ll let you"know,” he choked out, belching slightly. “’Scuse me. But I’m not gonna tell you. I’m gonna show all of you, alright?”

That suggestion seemed fine with everyone, so Edwin jauntily sashayed up to Karcel. “What do you think you’re doing?” Karcel chastised him in a disapproving whisper.

“Trust me,” Edwin said, with a strange and confidential look on his face"exactly the type that he wore in their covert rendezvous.

Then, all Karcel was aware of was Edwin planting a huge, exuberant kiss on his lips, and the resultant reaction of the multitude.

Eduard Ancar, the longtime butler of M. Delacroix, used the servants’ staircase to ascend to the balcony, where the old man was observing the festivities of his sendoff party. Ancar felt incredibly rotten and wicked, and didn’t know how he could have been talked into this. That Desjardins, for all of his alleged slowness, surely could make a convincing argument if necessary.

My God, thought Ancar as he saw his employer leaned over the balcony and looking so contented with life. I can’t be doing this. This is absolute madness; why am I ever-

Sestina’s only thought as she glanced at her reflection in one of the ballroom’s immense mirrors was, I surely clean up nicely. And that she did, of course, being blessed with a fine facial structure and wide, somehow expressive, nearly black eyes. It was through those eyes that she admired herself in the mirror, and happened to catch a glimpse behind her of the incredibly strange Edwin Rancourt force-kissing Karcel Fitzroy in front of everyone.

She turned around to make sure that it wasn’t illusion, and her mouth fell open when she realized that it had really happened. Now I know for sure that oddness runs in the Rancourt family, she thought delightedly. Even though she should reasonably have been appalled in a negative sort of way"after all, she had danced with both of them that evening and what they were doing just wasn’t acceptable"she was strangely pleased. Sestina couldn’t fathom why, but her musings on it ended abruptly, along with all the action in the room.

From the balcony above, an empty crystal goblet fell and shattered on the floor, leaving silence and broken glass in its wake.

And then, in a terrible turn of events, followed the corpse of M. Delacroix, tumbling over the balcony of its own volition and eventually landing on the floor below.



© 2012 Carrie


Author's Note

Carrie
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Added on December 10, 2012
Last Updated on December 10, 2012
Tags: murder most foul, murder, most, foul, mystery, murder mystery, new, orleans, 1920s


Author

Carrie
Carrie

Buffalo, NY



About
I'm Carrie. Hobbies include acting, writing, socializing, watching old movies, drinking tea, Harry Potter, listening to British Invasion music... ENFP, Enneagram Type 4/3 sx, etc more..

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Chapter One Chapter One

A Chapter by Carrie