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the

Little Engine
that could

Kill

a murder mystery for eight

The Businessman

You are the Businessman
On Wednesday, August 5th, 1932, you and eight other passengers boarded a three-day express train from Bombay, India to Lisbon, Portugal. Unfortunately, one did not survive the journey. It is now up to you and the seven passengers left to decide who killed the eighth. This is your story. It details your background, your current position in life, and your actions on the fated three-day express liner. Read carefully, because you have many key pieces of evidence that must be used in combination with the knowledge of other passengers to unmask and convict the murderer. You will also find a map of the train, which includes any structure that a visitor to the train would notice upon cursory inspection. Ground Rules
  

Do not show this script to anyone else at any time. Please refrain from reading directly from the script when presenting evidence to others, unless you find it absolutely necessary. Play your character to some modest degree. You need not go to great efforts to mimic the character's personality - although it would be much more fun if you did - but at least speak as though you were your character (i.e. “I saw such-and-such an event” instead of “my character saw...,” and so on). If someone asks you a basic question about your character that you should know (e.g. your age), but the information was not provided in your story, you may make something up - just as long as it's consistent with the rest of your story. This story contains historical falsities and devices of science fiction. Take them for granted (but not anything else). Lying

Lie with caution. Your story interweaves with the stories of many other people who may know things about you that you might not think they know.  You may not lie about the following things: • Something you heard someone else say. • An action you saw someone else doing. • Something that you saw someone else carrying. • A piece of background information about someone else, unless you are involved in their background story.  You may lie about the following things: • Something that you said or did. • A piece of background information about yourself, or about someone else if you were involved in their background story.

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Map of Three-day Express Liner from Bombay to Toledo

Magician's Quarters
Bed Desk

Conductor's Quarters
Bed Desk

Violinist's Quarters
Bed

Lord and Tennis Star's Quarters
Closet Desk Bed

S (g tair oi ca ng s up e )

Closet

Closet
Entrance/Exit to Train

Bathroom

Bathroom

Bathroom

Table&c

Maintenance Closet

Bathroom

Bathroom

Sofa Balcony Bed

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Locomotive Desk Desk Desk Counter
Table & Chairs Table & Chairs Table & Chairs Table & Chairs

Bed

Bed

Bed

Doctor's Quarters

Businessman's Quarters

Bar Car

Cigar Car

Peasant's Quarters

Lord and Tennis Star's Quarters

Caboose - where Barman sleeps

Notes:
= door (swinging or doorknob style) = open doorway Locations of chairs, mirrors, and various other items are not given. Fill in the blanks using your story. The setup is different in each person's room. The pricetags of each room are also different, but it's up to you to guess the relative cost of each.

The Businessman

The Businessman You are sitting at your mahogany desk slowly grinding the golden tip of your fountain pen against the whetting stone. “It was a damn good deal,” you mumble to yourself. You keep sharpening your pen, quicker and quicker, as you think back upon the last few days on this train. “She was worth every martini, every penny,” you say trying to reassure yourself. “She was a damn good deal.” You feel the tip of the pen with your thumb and it pricks the skin, but no blood flows. Your blood has long frozen in your veins after a decade in high finance. You smile, though. Not a full smile, but a slight, cheap one. The pen is sharp and that’s the way you like it. A sharp pen is a mighty pen, and a mighty pen, well, a mighty pen signs some mighty good deals. Satisfied, you drop the pen onto the note pad and look up towards the door. You are startled by the quiet entrance of the Magician who is now standing in your doorway staring at your fountain pen. “How long have you been here?” you ask. You don’t like anyone knowing your business secrets. Soon, all those suits will be sitting in their offices crafting mighty pens of their own to sign some mighty deals of their own working. It is a case of simple market arbitrage. “How long?” you ask with a tinge of anger. You wear a scowl for the added effect. He ignores your question and asks if you want to accompany him to the cigar car for a smoke. “He knows, he knows my secret,” you think. You decide it is best that you keep an eye on this man of magic, and you agree to go with him. Before you go, however, you pick up your copy of Wealth of Nations. The edges are yellowed from use and most every page is dog-eared for easy reference. You never know when a communist will appear, pull out his Das Kapital, and start rattling off lines like a gatling gun in the heat of the Boer War. Every man has the right to self-defense, and you can’t think of a better bulwark to stand behind than the words of the great Adam Smith – your favorite author, philosopher, friend, economist, lord and savior. You take a look at the clock above your desk. It’s 1:50 PM and about time for a smoke. “Let’s go,” you say before stuffing a strong Cuban cigar between your greasy lips. The Magician doesn’t say a word on the way to the cigar car. You pass by the Barman who’s standing behind the counter of the Bar Car reading the newspaper. When you get to the Cigar Car, you rip off the end of your cigar, let it sit in your mouth for a moment or two to savor the flavor, and spit it out into a dusty corner of the room. You light the cigar and take a nice draw. There’s nothing like a Cubanito. The Magician pulls out his cigar and you notice Lenin’s visage wrapped about the base. “Pinko?” you ask. “You one of those bloody Pinko’s?” He remains silent and pulls a few photos from his wallet. “There’s no need for you to go showing me the Kremlin. I’m sure it’s a wonderful place – especially when you’re sitting a couple thousand miles away -- right Comrade?” You slap him on his back and a couple words spill out. “These are my assistants,” he says with an especially long hiss on the final “s.” He starts flipping through the photos and some of the girls are cute. And some aren’t. But all the photos have the same company logo and that’s what strikes your fancy. “Polar – Polaroid? What kind of Commie establishment is that?” you ask the Magician. “It is a nice company. A very nice company. You watch. You keep watching. Someday it will make a boom and take off.” “Yeah, that’ll be the day,” you mumble to yourself but before you can think of a comeback the heavy-footed Peasant comes storming through the cigar car. He glances at the Magician and -1-

The Businessman picks up his step. He leaves your car and enters the bar. You are happy to see him go. One Pinko per car is enough. More than one, and you’ve got yourself a collective. The Magician is still showing you photos but your mind starts to wander. Sure, some of the girls are attractive, but you are a Social Darwinist and your utility function is skewed against those Arabs. You ignore the Magician and his photos and start flipping through Adam Smith but it’s only your eyes that are going through the mechanics of reading. Your mind has gone back to last night and the Violinist’s performance between the sheets. Her hair smelled like the fresh green ink of a newly minted Benjamin. She had that irresistible fragrance, so rich and so delicate, that only a fool would pass up. A fool. A fool or a Commie, but there isn’t much difference between the two. A Commie is a fool with a political allegiance, and during that train ride you had plenty of encounters with both those kinds. Some fools. Some Commies. And one stunning starlet. She had the looks of Hollywood and the talent of Broadway and the scent of money. She could play the violin like an angel sent down from heaven, but you didn’t care what she played or how she played, so long as she played. And she played all right. She played hard to get and she plucked the strings of your heart like a maestro fiddling his way through a Mozart concerto. But in the end, you played her. And you played her long and hard and feverishly, and left her spent and speechless under the sweaty sheets of your cold damp bed. She had never been played before. It was her debut, her first night, and she gave a rousing performance, one of the best you’ve ever experienced -- and you’ve experienced many. Under the dark and heavy covers you plundered her and took her virginity, cashing it in for a single, intangible moment of ecstasy. But it was a good deal. It was a damn good deal. “You seen this photo?” the Magician asks and the images of last night shatter to pieces. You have returned to the cigar car. The cigar has shrunk to a stub in your mouth during that time and you snuff it out on the table. You were so lost in your reveries that you didn’t even notice who had walked by, although you had heard a distinctly light, feminine step pattering its way towards the bar car. From the Bar Car comes the Peasant. Strings of drool hang from the corners of the Peasant’s mouth as his eyes give the Magician’s hands a studious examination. “Look at this,” the Magician says and shoves a photo in your face. It is of a young, topless blonde tied up with a thick, rough rope and submerged in a tank of water. “In our country, we call that murder,” you say to the Magician informing him of the British ways. “No, no. In the end, she lives. It is what we call a trick.” The Peasant with strings of drool swinging with every step leaves the car through rear. The Magician is still smiling. You’ve had just about enough of this Commie and his doublespeak, so you put down your book and walk over to the bar car to get a nice, stiff, free market drink. You don’t see the Barman, so you go up to the counter and ring the bell. Great, he’s a Commie too, you think to yourself. If only there was competition on this train, some other bar, you could say goodbye to this lousy service and wet your whistle elsewhere. You look down at your Tag Heuer and the hands say it’s 3:16. A minute has passed since you first rang the bell. You ring the bell again and turn away in disgust. But soon as your head is turned, you hear the squeaky voice of the Barman. “Can I help you?” he asks. “Where were you?” -2-

The Businessman “Mixing some drinks under the counter.” “Under the counter?” “Yes, I like to mix there. I have a bad back and it hurts me to bend over the counter and mix them.” You notice some hot pink stains on his collar and point to them. “What is that?” you ask. “That…they’re just some, some…” the Barman seems to be stumbling over his own tongue. “It’s grapefruit juice. I was mixing grapefruit juice under the counter,” he says matter-of-factly. You furrow your brow and look at him with eyes of suspicion. The stains look a little too perfect. A little too formed. A little too much like lips for you to buy his sugary tale of grapefruit cocktails. “It’s the Violinist isn’t it?” you demand of him. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” “You don’t know who you’re messing with. I have friends on the Better Business Bureau. They will shut down this train and it’s whole commie contingent in the blink of an eye, you hear me?” “Yes sir, I do.” The blush of his cheeks tells you he was lying. Either that or he’s had one too many of his own cocktails for the afternoon. “What, uh, what can you – what would you like, sir?” the Barman asks. Maybe if his lips weren’t quivering he could speak his thoughts in one try. “This time I’ll have a Martini. But the next time, the next time you try to pull a stunt like this, I promise you – and I don’t make promises often -- I’ll have your balls on a platter.” The Barman mixes the gin and vermouth in a glass on the counter. Yes, that’s right. On the counter. Not under the table. What a sorry tale he told of his bad back and his under-the-tablemixings. You take the Martini and the Barman takes your five pence placing it in his leather fedora and placing the leather fedora on top of his head. You walk away disgustedly without so much as leaving a tip. That’ll show him the power of the almighty pound. You return to the cigar car where the Magician has put the photos away and is now playing with a deck of cards. “After all those gifts I bought for her, I can’t believe she’d fall for him,” you say under your breath completely disgusted with the most probable affair between the Violinist and the Barman. “What are you talking about?” the Magician asks. He could apparently overhear you. “Nothing you have to worry about, Comrade.” The Magician starts showing you some card tricks. They look good but after about five minutes, you’re tired of the Magician and his phony dealings and you let out a loud, obnoxious yawn. Noting your boredom, the Magician says, “You should see what I can do with a rope.” You see the light sparkle in his eyes as he pronounces these words and a cold shudder runs down your back. Just then, the Tennis Star in a bright pink skirt barely covering her tanned thighs walks through the Cigar Car towards her room. She walks with some air in her step and you watch as her real short skirt bounces up and down, up and down, up and down, up, up, up – goddamnit -- down. She keeps right on going through the car without saying a single word.

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The Businessman The Conductor taps you on the shoulder and asks you what you’d like to have for your four o’clock supper. The question is pure formality as you’ve ordered the same meal every evening this entire trip. “I’ll have a T-Bone steak, medium-rare that is, with eggs. I don’t want any bar-b-que sauce on my steak – only a nice, vinegary marinade. My eggs, I want them sunny-side up so that the yolk is all gooey and can mix nice in with the steak.” The Conductor is scribbling in his pad at a real feverish pace. “I’ll also have some potatoes. I want them parboiled with the skins still on so that it breaks right off as soon as the fork touches it. I don’t want any rough skin. Did I mention I want some of that imported Mexican hot-sauce? Well, I do. Get a move-on, Conductor. My stomach is growling.” The Conductor glares at you and jots down the order for the Barman to prepare. “A capitalist travels on his stomach,” you say as you pat your protruding gut. “Well then, I expect you to travel far,” the Violinist says. She is now standing next to you and you take a jump back. You hadn’t heard her enter while you were busily giving the Conductor your order. “Don’t you have a violin to play, woman?” You sneer at the little whore. “I do and I think I’ll be performing a solo today.” She is looking mighty fine in her skimpy little outfit and your mind wanders under her silk skirt and into places it doesn’t belong. “Do you have a bow, or shall I be of some assistance to you in that matter?” She pops open her case and pulls out a long, mahogany bow sheathed with the finest horsehair in Her Majesty’s cavalry and you turn your head away in disgust. “I’m sure this will satisfy my needs.” Her voice is frosted over with a cold and distant bitterness and she holds the bow erect in her hand. You look at her longingly as she turns her head in a swirl of locks and curls and marches through the smoky haze of spent Cuban tobacco and into the Bar Car. She’s a fine piece of meat, you say to yourself. If she were packed up and sold in a grocery store they would brand her Grade A. She’s small and delicate and rather juicy, and with all these thoughts your stomach tumbles over itself and squeezes out a fine low grumble like a barrel-chested baritone. You glance down at your gold-plated watch and through the distortion of the diamond face you see that it’s 3:40. You take out your handkerchief and jot down a few supply and demand curves and conclude that the potatoes will require another 15 minutes to be of the proper consistency. “It’s the invisible hand of the economy,” you say to no one in particular and a chuckle fights its way out from between the deep folds of your hefty gut. “She was a damn good deal,” you mindlessly say with the same force of meaning as a mongrel parrot requesting a cracker. “She was a damn good deal,” you repeat over and over again and your voice quivers at first and then little cracks form between the words, and then the molded sentence shatters to pieces and crashes to the floor as a heap of meaningless syllables mixing together with the dust and decay and old crusty finger clippings of passengers long gone. You remember how you disposed of her like a used condom as soon as you’d had your fun and how she left the room looking so much cheaper than when she’d entered the night before and a sobering little voice – a stranger long replaced by the inebriating whispers of Adam Smith – creeps its way into your head and says, “She’s not a w-w-w-widget to be b-b-bought and s-s-sold at market equilibriums. Sh-sh-she’s a person with fe-fe-feelings and emotions and…” You take your golden

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The Businessman flask out of your jacket pocket, unscrew the top and tilt it against your lips until you can feel the burning of the whiskey against your throat. “Drink,” you say to yourself. “Feed the voice of Adam Smith.” You take a few more swigs and now Adam Smith is talking faster and faster and louder and louder until he and the stranger are mixed together into one rambling sea of andante-paced shouts. “No, she’s an animal to be ravished. A hu-human. A beast. Th-th-think of her eyes. No, fool, the rack. Think of the rack bouncing with every gyration. Bouncing…Her ey-eyes – her sad little eyes…Bouncing…Her s-s-sad little eyes with s-s-sad little tears running down her plump and h-hhappy cheeks…Bouncing…Her ey-eyes?…Bouncing…Ey-ey-eyes?…Bouncing…Bouncing… Bouncing…” The shouts of market efficiency envelop and dissolve the stutters of the little stranger in a rich and heady brew and the froth boils and seethes in your head until it spills out your mouth. “Damn it, I blew the deal and now she’s blowing the Barman.” That’s it. It’s been said. There’s nothing you can do now, but you had forgotten that the Magician is still sitting there, dumbly, with his phony card deck in his lap and his phony Arab smile sitting pretty on his cheeks and your stomach growls and you forget everything except your ravishing hunger. You look down at your watch. Only a few minutes have passed since you last checked. Dinner should be coming soon. “Hey Magician, you keep everything you’ve heard to yourself, you hear?” He stares back blankly. “I’ve got some connections – some business connections on the other side of this journey – understand? It can be a long trip back to your little desert commune, if you catch my drift.” He doesn’t have a chance to catch anyone’s drift before the Conductor opens the car door with a big silver platter balanced on his hand. The platter is covered with an oversized silver lid shaped like a bubble. It isn’t gold, but silver is a close second. The Conductor places your meal on the table and you walk over and take off the silver. There are some pale round potato looking objects and a grayish T-bone looking thing but neither of them is what they resemble. “Is this a bloody joke?” you ask the Conductor. “No, It’s tofu.” “Tufu? I didn’t order any tufu. I ordered a T-Bone steak, medium-rare that is, with…” “It’s quite the delicacy in China.” “So is bloody dog, but I didn’t order that either.” The Conductor gives you a steely stare and you search your pockets for your pen but you have forgotten it in your room. It’s sharp point could have been of use here. Everything is just starting to become clear. You remember the Magician and his Lenin cigar. You remember the Commie revolution in China with its introduction of tufu into the diets of the proletariat. Now the train is serving Pinko steak and eggs. Tufu, they call it and expect you to take it seriously. You get out of your chair and stagger towards the Conductor. “I’m on to you and this whole Commie train.” He goes running into the Bar Car and you follow him to have some words but you catch the eye of the Barman and you confront him. “Did Moscow forget to send the steak rations?” “What’s this schmuck talking about?” The Barman asks the Conductor. “Don’t know – he’s blabbering on about dogs and commies.” “The tufu – Does tufu mean steak and eggs and potatoes in Russian?’ you ask the Barman. -5-

The Businessman “I don’t speak Russian.” “You’re not getting a tip.” “It’s Friday – I can’t serve meat. The Pope won’t allow it.” “Papist!” You shout at him. If there’s any person more despicable than a Pinko, it’s a Papist. You remember reading of Bloody Mary and her reign of terror. You remember studying Guy Fawkes and his explosive ways. And you remember the vilest of Papist institutions – the poor box. You look around the Bar Car searching for the little brass box of “charity” and, low and behold, you find it hidden away in the far corner opposite the bar counter. You had never noticed this before and now its sight fills you with such anger and disdain that you feel your cheeks start shaking and your temples throb and pound with every thought of unemployed liberals skipping through green, economically underdeveloped fields with free lunches in hand. But all this becomes hazed over and all you can see are graphs with labor supply curves skewed to the left and Pareto inefficient equilibriums dotting the intersections. You forget that you don’t have a weapon – that you left your pen back in your room. You forget that the Conductor is still in the car and is a witness to all that you say. You forget that those years of steak dinners have built up in your gut and taken their toll on your once Greek body and you waddle towards the Barman with the same irresistible force of a slow yet heavy steamer. Huffing and puffing, you shout “I’ll kill you” and the inebriated voice in your head whispers, “That’s right, my lad, strike in the name of unfettered markets.” You follow the advice of your mentor and keep waddling. You waddle through the Bar Car into you room. You waddle past the Violinist who is sitting on your bed red-faced and angry. You open the door and waddle forward with a last desperate step as your lungs burn with every breath and you see the Barman entering the Magician’s quarters. Your sweaty fingers clasp the bottom corner of his white apron, but they are too wet and slippery and you are too drunk on capitalism and whiskey to maintain your hold. The Barman pulls himself into the room and swiftly closes the door. But you are out of control. Your weight is propelling you forward and you can’t stop in time. You crash into the firm metal door and crumble into a pile of flesh and bones – more flesh than bones -and the voice of Adam Smith, now wheezing and hacking with exhaustion, whispers “A true capitalist would tear down barriers to entry. A true capitalist would. A true capitalist. Capitalist.” You shove your flabby shoulder against the door, but you are shoving against more than just a steel barrier. You are shoving against fair trade, shoving against the public school tax, and shoving against…no, you can’t say it, but you can think it. You think, “I am shoving against the the not-forprofit charity. You shove with the full force of thought conviction, but your weak shoulder bounces off the door and your bulky body makes a soft wet thud against the cool tile floor…Mr. Smith, are you there?…Mr. Smith?…You call to him through the darkness of your mind, but he’s not there anymore and you pass out. You wake up and look at your watch. It’s 3:55. You’ve only been unconscious for about five minutes and now your head feels empty and silent, with a little fog here and there, the aftereffects of the whiskey. You writhe and twist and push until you are back on your feet. You stand a little hunched over, but as straight as can be expected for one in your state. You try the doorknob to the Magician’s suite, but it is locked and you make your way downstairs to get an aspirin to clear your head. A Bayer, as you call it. You like to refer to things by their brand names. It just sounds more natural. -6-

The Businessman The Doctor is at his desk, furrowing his brow and looking closely at a small, white strip. The strip reads in big red letters, “Pregnant” and you take a step back. “Pregnant? Who’s pregnant?” you ask the Doctor. He is startled and drops the test strip onto the floor. He pulls a medical journal from atop his desk and pretends to read. “I’m talking to you, Doc. You get your eyes away from that journal and put them right up here.” The Doctor ignores you and shakes his head like a banker who’s feeling tight with his money on this particular day. You walk over to him making sure to scrape your heels against the rug. It is an irritating noise and you wish to irritate. “Whose test? Answer me, you little quack.” He takes off his glasses and looks up at you with the probing eyes of a man of science. You can feel those eyes tearing away your skin, opening your skull, and rolling at its contents. “I have been reading my journal and I would very much appreciate if you would leave and allow me to continue in my – my – intellectual endeavor.” This Doctor is not a man to be bargained with. But neither are you. You rip the magazine from his slimy little laboratory hands. “Now that you’re done with your reading, I believe this should be a good time for us to catch up on a little conversation. And since I’m already talking I might as well start. Anything else would be inefficient. Whose pregnancy test were you looking at?” You pause. The Doctor is still paused. “Oh, I understand, doc. You can’t answer that question. So, let’s drop the subject and move onto something else. Let’s see, hmm, oh yes – I have been meaning to ask you about the Violinist. Great body – one of the best I’ve seen. Now I wanted to know your expert opinion on this matter. Now before I plan on investing any more of my time in her – time is money, eh doc? -you think – you think a girl like her will, say, put on few unexpected pounds over the next nine months? Or ten or eight or five – or whatever really. Nine is just hypothetical.” Oh, he’s a real Carnegie, this Doctor. You take a page from the book of Vanderbilt and drop some dynamite. You grab the Doctor by the collar and lift him about a foot off the ground and about an inch from your face. “Talk’s not cheap for you, huh doc? Well I’ll make it worth your while. Five pounds – five pounds more than you deserve.” The collar rips and the Doctor drops. He lands on both feet. “If you – if you lay your greedy hands on me again I’ll be left with no choice but to inform the other passengers of your medical condition.” Sometimes the costs exceed the benefits and you just have to walk away. You walk away. But before you do so, you take a look at the article the Doctor was reading. It is titled “Strangulate to Asphyxiate.” It’s a little too dark for your tastes and you toss the magazine back on his desk. “Intellectual pursuit, eh doc? Well, I hope you keep it that way.” There’s nothing like a tall brimming glass of free water to revive a wilting spirit. Oh, your spirit was wilted all right when you saw that pregnancy test. Nothing will wilt a man’s spirit like potential child-support payments. Those are the things that can turn good deals God-awful. But you don’t think about that. It’s been a long half-hour since you left Dr. Aphrodite’s car. A long half hour spent sitting at your mahogany desk considering the absurdity of the water fountain. You conclude that it’s absurd. There is a market for water on this train. Yes, there’s no doubt about that. And your calculations say that not only does a demand exist for water, but the best type of demand exists – the inelastic demand. You look at the perfect rigidity of that curve and smile. Oh yes, that curve goes straight up to an infinite level of pricing and you envision infinite amounts of money exchanging hands. Big, never-ending piles of cash. Pounds, Dollars, Deutschmarks and Lira -7-

The Businessman going back and forth between consumer and producer. You can’t help but let out a couple guilty laughs and that’s exactly when you see the Lord. He’s wearing an oversized pea-green trench coat and has a plumbing pipe in his left hand. You smother your laughter with a series of coughs. “This dust has been getting to me. It gets into those lungs and you just can’t get it out. The sooner I’m off this dusty poor-excuse of a train, the happier I’m going to be. You know what I’m talking about right, Lordy?” You open the window to let in some fresh air. All it does it stir up more dust. “Excuse me, but might I ask if you are laughing at my choice of coat? Did my coat not require the deaths of enough lemurs to be of proper taste to you?” “There’s no need to be defensive. It’s a fine coat you’ve got on. It’s just this infernal dust. Everywhere you breathe, it finds its way its way into your lungs.” “Well, this coat has made it through the war. That’s more than can be said about you.” “Right you are, Lordy. Right you are. But we both fought the war in our own ways. You fought it in the trenches. I fought it in the banks. We’re both veterans of sorts. And we both hate those Germans.” The Lord seems less than swayed. “There appears to be a water main break in one of the forward cars,” the Lord says. “Sabotage?” you ask. “Sabotage? – Why might one say that?” “Why not. It makes the most economic sense. The Barman has caught on to the free water supply and has decided to cut it off. He knows we need water to live. He knows our demand curve is inelastic. If he cuts off our water supply, he will force us to go over to the Bar Car every time our demand curve strays off to the right. And the beauty is, he can charge whatever he wants, because he has a monopoly on something we all need. That man is ingenious. And dangerous, I might add. “A sabotage of the water supply?” “Why you’ve got it. You have to learn to think with your pocketbook, my good Lord. It will lead you to the right answer nine times out of ten. And when it doesn’t? Well, it leaves you a little richer and I don’t think that’s anything we would complain about, right Lordy?” “That German.” “I believe he’s Italian. He’s a papist, you know.” “Where might that German be? “You mean the Papist? He’s probably still cowering at the Magician’s, for all I know. He’s a coward all right. If you get your hands on him, let me know. I’ve still got some unfinished business with him.” The Lord salutes you and brusquely departs through the forward door. You check your water. It’s running just fine. Well, that’s what royal inbreeding will do to a man, you think. They all turn out a little wacky in the head. The water scare had gotten your nerves up and you take a swig from your flask. Nothing comes out. You check to make sure you unscrewed the cap. It’s unscrewed all right. You suck on the flask. Still nothing. You must have sucked it dry while pursuing the Barman. The forward door of your car reopens and the Lord comes crawling through. And not crawling in the metaphorical sense. He’s crawling in the knees-and-forearms-on-the-ground sense. It doesn’t surprise you too much. Royalty can be wacky.

-8-

The Businessman “Lordy – what’s going on old boy? Just had a chat with that Barman too? You can’t let him push you around like that. You gotta put down that pipe, get back up on your feet, and march right back into the bargaining room. How do you think Andrew Carnegie made all his money? Crawling around on his belly like Pinko on his way to get rations? The Lord is almost at the door to the Barman’s car. He’s cussing under his breath about the German occupation. Why, he must be a broken man, you say to yourself. “That’s a good one, Lordy. It does feel like a German occupation in this train with that infernal Barman around. At least you didn’t have to eat his bloody tufu. I bet even with the Germans around a man could get his fair share of steak and eggs. Even under the Germans, and that’s saying something, Lordy. That’s saying something. “Hey Lordy, between you and me here. I bet this train would be a much better place without that Barman festering about – always yakking about his Papist mumbo-jumbo. Once or twice I’ve had the mind to do away with him. If you killed a German during the occupation you would get yourself a Victoria Cross. And this man is worse than the Germans. I see nothing wrong in putting a dash of arsenic in his tea. Or garnishing his tufu with a smattering of cyanide. If nothing else, it might improve the flavor. Here – Let me get that for you -- ” You walk over and open the door to the Bar Car for him. He crawls on through and you follow. The car looks about as crowded as the Building and Loan division on a Friday night. In other words, you’re the only one there. Well, there’s the Lord of course. But to be there implies a certain level of mental awareness that supersedes the ability to crawl along the floor or to cower under a bar stool, which is what the Lord is now doing as you walk up to the counter. “Barman? – Excuse me, Barman, you down there again? Mixing another drink with the Violinist? Well, that’ll be the last drink you mix before I terminate your contract. That’s right, Barman, life is a contract too, you know. They teach you that in Catholic school?” You bend over the counter and take a look. You see a few dust balls, a stick of lipstick, and a keg of whiskey. No Barman. No Barman and a keg of whiskey. The two add up to a clear case of consumer surplus. You hop over the counter and pop the cork in the keg. There’s whiskey in it, all right, and it spurts all out and into your flask. You chug the flask and fill it again. It’s a good whiskey that dies in the throat and haunts the mouth with a nearly imperceptible taste of mahogany. Since you’re drinking the Barman’s whiskey, you think it only fitting to toast the good Samaritan. “For the Barman and his hasty demise, Lordy.” Another swig and you hear the welcome whisper of your old friend. You were waiting for him to return. “Mr. Smith – is that you?” “Listen, it’s in your self-interest to…” Oh, it’s Mr. Smith, all right. It’s Mr. Smith and he tells you lots of things. He tells you that a red chardonnay goes best with a Tuscany steak – seared not fried. And a white? Don’t buy a white, he says. It’ll cost as much as a red but serve you with half the utility. Both those tidbits are good to know. But it’s what he tells you about the train that you find the most shocking. This train – it is a – you hate to have to say this – it is a Pinko train. You’ve been riding on a Pinko train this whole time. And when you think about it – it all makes sense. The tufu and eggs. The Lenin cigar. The commune – al water fountain. You pull out your ticket to check for a company name – the incontrovertible stamp of the capitalist ideal – and you can’t find it. But even through a haze of drunkenness, the emboldened slogan on the ticket stub

-9-

The Businessman reads all-too-clearly – “So cheap, even the Proletariat can ride it.” And next to the slogan – you guessed it – the smiling visage of the Barman. “That’s it,” you say aloud hoping every sniveling-little-sickle-bearing-wheat harvester will hear, “I’m off this Commie train. That’s right – you heard me all right. You might be able to fool the Lord here – God knows his marbles haven’t been the same since Somme -- but you’re not – you’re not putting one over on the Businessman. No one gives the Businessman the raw end of a deal.” You seethe from the mouth like a rabid dog. But you’re not rabid. You’re a capitalist. And you’re on a mission to find the Conductor and tell him that you’re through and want off this mobile commune at the next possible stop. You push your way into the Cigar Car and bark out “Conductor!” It’s a good thing you announced your presence because the Conductor in his haste nearly crashes into you. He has a camera tucked under his arm and is panting like a dog in heat. “Excuse me,” he says and tries to pass by on his way to the Bar Car, but you grab him by the lapel. You take a second look at the camera. It’s a Polaroid. “So you’re the one – you’re the one who’s been popping pictures of babes without their dresses on.” “It is perfectly legal to carry a camera on board a passenger train. It is covered under Statute 27, section 3 of the British code. I pride myself on never having violated any statute or section – even the ones that contradict themselves. I just use proper abstinence in those cases.” “You don’t need to act so law abiding with me, Comrade.” You get up in his face. But all that whiskey makes your breath sour and he angles his nose away. “I’ve already seen the photos – that – that man of magic with the Lenin cigars – he showed me. I’m a great admirer of your work. I appreciate it. I appreciate a good pair of moneybags on a woman. When you squeeze them, they feel like a million royal pounds.” “Right, right pal. Magician's topless babes indeed. Somebody's had a little bit too much to drink, eh? Why don't you head to bed, and it can be our little secret." “It’s all right, Comrade. All the topless babes in the world won’t get me to step a foot in the Kremlin with you and cronies. Listen, I’ll make a deal with you. I like to make deals especially with men like you. You let me off your mobile commune at the next stop and those photos –not a word will be spoken.” “That is it? Why certainly. The next stop will be Pont la Muertre. We should be arriving there in about half-an-hour – at 5:03 PM. Barring any tragedies, of course. Is there anything else I can do for you?” “Yes, one more thing, Conductor. If you ever get the chance. Snap a quick one of the Tennis Star. Above those tanned thighs of hers – those two tan roads leading up to El Dorado. The golden city – you know what I mean? Let’s take a look-see if that city really is golden.” The Conductor winks and walks off into the Bar Car. Even Pinkos are in the market for women, you think as you pull out a cigar and take a smoke. It’s nice to smoke alone for a change. The strong Cubanito has sobered you up. You’re feeling every haypenny of your wealth as you stroll through the Cigar Car and into the Bar. You strut your stuff letting your Tag Heueur refract light in directions never before envisioned by the lesser classes.

- 10 -

The Businessman The Lord is still moiling about the floor and has taken to muttering, “The Pipeline is blown. I repeat -- the pipeline is blown.” You hope private charity takes good care of him someday. He’d be too much of a tax burden on the British government. Your cigar is just about burnt down to the stub and you flick it over the bar to join the dust, liquor, and lipstick. A cry of pain comes from behind the counter and the Barman stands up grabbing the back of his neck. The Lord rises to his feet and scurries off to the Cigar Car. “Missionary, this time, eh? I guess that’s appropriate for a Papist. If you’re going to fornicate, you might as well fornicate in a holy position.” “Now Businessman – let’s be reasonable here. You know that’s not true.” “Oh – it wasn’t missionary, then? Well, I’d like you to explain how you got that burn on the back of your neck? Or maybe the Violinist can explain for you? Was it doggy-style? That would be fitting – a fitting way to bang a bitch.” “I reckon I’m going to have to ask you to leave this train.” “I’ll save you the asking. I’m getting off this train. But before I go, I’ll let you know I invested heavily in that woman. And if you think you can move-in on my investment while I’m away, you’ve got another thing coming, Comrade, and it won’t be an extra ration of tufu, I’ll tell you that much.” The Peasant walks in for that last part and says he wants to speak with you. You tell him he ought to speak like he’s got to pay a pound per word. It’s ten minutes until Pont la Muertre and you don’t care for any superfluities. He walks with you back to your car. “How much is gold worth?” “What do you care?” You walk into your room and the Peasant follows close behind. “How will I ever be a big rich businessman like you if I do not know a simple thing like the value of gold?” You ponder that a minute or so as you stuff a few last stock certificates into your bag. Miron Railways – you had forgotten about that one. You bought that with the remainder of the money you salvaged from your investment in Pollyanna’s Polymers. That corporation made fiberglass so fragile it failed every crash test administered. It could not withstand the slightest touch without crumbling into its composite glass and fiber. A few hushed voices around Wall Street said the Ford Motor Company dropped the fiberglass from its Model T’s in favor of sturdier alloys. You dropped the stock at about that same time. Information – like a fine convertible on a rainy day – is best kept inside. And before you start giving out information to this self-proclaimed Peasant, you have a few questions of your own. “Do you reject Communism?” you ask. “And all its works?” “And all its empty promises?” The Peasant responds to them each with an “I do.” “Then I welcome you to the free market, Peasant, where information is a marketable commodity. Now how much are you willing to pay for the gold prices? A couple pounds and a few pence?” An ounce of gold is worth twenty and two-thirds dollars. It’s been fixed that way since 1879. Too bad the Peasant will never know because he has just stormed out of your car. You call after him -- “You’ll never be a businessman. You’ll always be a ration-mongering peasant until you

- 11 -

The Businessman die and are dumped into a lousy hole. And you know why the hole is so lousy? Because you had to dig it yourself – you good-for-nothing-grain-eater.” But the Peasant can’t hear you anymore. He’s left your car and left his rope. It is thick, coarse, and hempen. The ends are capped with black rubber. You pick the it up from your desk and it feels rough against your soft hands. Under it is your notepad with circles and curlicues dancing across the top page. It is a flamboyant hand – most definitely not yours. “Meet me in the caboose at eight,” it reads, “I’ll bring the rope.” “Looks like you won’t,” you say chuckling to yourself while swinging the rope over your shoulder. “And it looks like I won’t be either.” It is 5:03 according to your watch and judging from the number of fine jewels studding its base, your watch should be accurate. The train pulls into the station and stops. You pick up your bags and jump off. You take one parting glance at the train. The Bar Car has an oil leak. You hope this train isn’t a product of Miron Railways. You take a deep breath. The air is as sweet as a whole lot of money in the bank. The air is free. But the town – the town is wrong. There’s an eccentrically dressed Frenchma – French what? See, that’s the problem. The face is obscured by an oversized pair of silver impenetrable sunglasses. And the body is cloaked by the big fat puffs of a big fat mink coat. The mink is dyed as red as a Communist flag and it pains your eyes to look at it. If it were a Frenchman it would only be with regards to what lies below the waistline. If it were a Frenchwoman, it would be a most homely woman for she would have a slight stubble around the chin and smoke a cigarette with the ferocity of a man awaiting the gallows. Maybe this being – male or female, both, or neither– knows something about the town. Though from the looks of things, you’re not sure you want to know anything about this peculiar town. The being has a poodle to boot – a well-coiffed poodle with a silky pink leash resembling some of the Violinist’s better unmentionables. “You -- excuse me,“ you say. “Je ne parle pas anglais.” It’s a man all right unless it’s a baritone woman. A baritone woman with a beard —possible – not likely. You take a few Royal pounds from your wallet and wave them in his face. “You speak English now?” “Je ne parle pas anglais.” “Oh you want more, huh? You Frenchies spoke pretty good English during the war – I’ll tell you that much. Soon as we come crawling to you for a little help – Jay Nay Parlay Pass Anglass. I hope you remember that phrase the next time the Germans come running over your lines because I’ll have a phrase of my own. ‘I no speak the French.’ It might not have the same tone – “ “Je ne parle pas anglais.” You stare deep into the glasses and all you see is your own face staring deep into the glasses. He must be blind, you decide. Only a blind man would turn down money that is dancing before his eyes. “– All right, ten pounds -- for the nearest hotel.” You fan the crisp new bill in front of his face and fan it hard until the wisps of hair under his yellow fedora flutter in the breeze. He snatches the bill from your hand. - 12 -

The Businessman “The nearest hotel? You gotta go five streets to the North. It’s the bees-knees, really. You can jitterbug you’re way there if you’ve got an Al Jolson record on you, daddy. When you’ve made it to the fifth block you gotta make a U-turn and take a right. Follow that road until you reach the penultimate cross street before the second-to–penultimate wine distillery which is located right across from the third-to-penultimate escargot factory. Then – “ “Wait a second, Jack. Let me get out my pen and write this stuff down.” You reach into your coat pocket. Not there. Is it in the other pocket? Nope. How about – no, not there either. The Peasant! The revelation smacks you like a ton of tofu. That’s why the Peasant was so interested in gold prices. So interested he was willing to vow a false oath to weasel the information from out your lock-box store of insider knowledge. The train lets out a solid whistle – it will be departing within minutes. Do you stay or do you go? You can’t let the Pinkos have your pen – that much is for sure. If they get their hands on that pen, they’ll be signing deals that’ll bring the Ford Motor Company down to its knees. But you can’t get back on that Commie train again, either. They’re having their meeting tonight at eight in the caboose. The Peasant told you that much in his note. And that rough hempen rope? That rope will be around your neck by nine. “Mr. Smith,” you plead, “please – please help a lowly factor of production like myself make a choice that best furthers my own self-interest.” You take a swig from your flask and he tells you what to do. You punch the Frenchie in the face. He never saw that coming. But first you took off his pricey glasses. It would have been a shame to ruin their resale value. He tries to duck but you punch him again. The best part about blind men is they never know where to duck. It makes for a quick fight. You take back your money – the information was useless anyway – and you undress him. You rip off his clothes and don’t even bother to take a peak at his real gender. You’d rather it remain a mystery. You wrap yourself up in his mink coat, pound your feet into his fine suede boots, and top yourself off with his bright yellow fedora. And the glasses – you put them on and look the part of a French existentialist who’s not sure whether the meaning of life is to study Camus or attend the ballet. You wish to do neither. You pick up the dog and make a dash for the train. You make it just in time. It’s the Bar Car you’ve just stumbled into and the Conductor is sitting at the counter. But he’s not the first person you notice. No, the first person you notice is the Tennis Star – naked and in all her glory – moneybags hanging down waiting to be grabbed and El Dorado -- well El Dorado is open for business. Too bad it’s only a picture and, as soon as he lays eyes on you, the Conductor swiftly crumples the Tennis Star. He grabs wildly and unsuccessfully at the photos on the counter succeeding only in spilling a glass canister of pills onto the floor. The glass cracks but does not break. The pills are gray and resemble miniature u-boats. The Conductor looks about as harmful as a cornered deer right now, panting desperately and shaking from head to toe. So you walk over and collect the pills, putting them in the canister and putting the canister in your pocket. There is a note on the canister and it reads “ABORTION PILLS. TAKE ONLY ONE. Will cause immediate death to user if taken in high doses.” You just

- 13 -

The Businessman read a Wall Street Journal article that described the pharmaceutical market as being one of the most lucrative. It can’t hurt your pocketbook to have a small supply of pharmaceuticals on hand. You give the Conductor a thumbs-up. He is a true master of his trade and deserves the occasional plaudit. Then you briskly depart – before that bastard can ask for your ticket – and enter the cigar car where you run into the Violinist. Oui, oui. She looks about as breathless as a maestro who’s just finished a concerto paced at andante. She has never looked at you in this way before – not even after the time between the sheets – and for a moment you’re taken aback. But then you remember the pregnancy. And then you remember the pills. You hand her the canister – “You know what to do with these, may shay-ray. She shakes your hand as tears of joy well-up in her eyes. A French tongue can work wonders on a woman and you’re fairly sure she will take your advice. You turn around and dash off -- in a fit of mink and suede -- to your old room – the Businessman’s suite. You’ve had a long day and it’s about time for a nap. You lie down on the soft feathery bed, stretch out your legs put your head on the pillow and – You wake up in a huff. The forward door has just slammed shut and a methodical step is scarping your way. Could you have – you look at your watch – Yes, you must have. It’s 6:53. “Is that you over there?” It is the weasely whine of the Doctor. The poodle starts yipping like it’s the German invasion. You pick her up, creep out of the bed, and then charge madly off to the aft of the train. You plow through your door and into the Bar Car. The Doctor is still pursuing you. You start sloshing your way through water – a little water at first -- then a little more and a little more and then about half a foot by the end of the car. You notice that water is shooting freely from all the faucets and even in your haste you observe the inherent over-consumption of the common resource. If water weren’t free, you think, those pipes would be stopped up and this car would be as dry as a T-Bone after you’ve had your way with it. You can hear his firm steps – firmed by years of medical schooling – squish across the rug. He’s gaining on you as you crash your way into the Cigar Car. Your chest is starting to tighten up. You can’t run much longer and you spot a closet off to the side. You dodge into it and close the door though it takes a lot of effort to displace the water. It is up to your ankles. You listen. No more steps. Only the rush of water from a gaping pipe above plays in the background. It plays a soothing tune. Lo and behold, the Peasant is crouched down – back facing you -- most likely scribbling a few last lines in the next great Communist Manifesto. You pull the rope out from underneath your jacket. It’s a rough rope. It’s a strong rope. It’s the type of rope that can strangle a man before he has the chance to bequeath the last few items of his estate to some long-forgotten cousin of a neighbor’s grandchild. That’s all right. No one will notice the Peasant’s absence. All his death will do is free up a shovel and scythe for another peasant out there who will take his place on the collective farm. But you will at last have your pen back. You wrap the rope about his neck and pull. You hold it for a minute. Then another minute more. If you release too early he might let out a scream which the Conductor could very well overhear. And then that little voyeur will leave his photos, stop on by, and ask to punch your ticket. You like your tickets best left un-punched. The Peasant’s blood squirts onto the rope and into the pool of water. The blood is as dark as the ink he stole from you.

- 14 -

The Businessman You keep pulling until you’re sure that not even a fervent Communist can still be alive. And then you release. He never said a word the entire time. Never uttered a grunt or moan. He took it like the voiceless cog he is in the great Soviet machine. He died the same way he lived -- a Commie Son-of-a-Bitch. You reach over to pull the pen out of his pocket. You reach over – but you do not have a chance to find it. A bouncy set of steps skips your way from the aft of the train. There is now a squish of water in her step and she calls out for her Lord to quit his foolishness and get to bed where the two of them will most likely make immediate and ferocious love. It is a tempting proposition. You look a lot like the Lord in the dark. You open the fuse box and pop each fuse. The water stops gushing. The lights turn out. The train stops chugging. And the whole car sounds as still and as quiet as the Peasant. You sell her your best Lord imitation. “I command you to come in here, honey, and make love. I repeat, come in here, honey, and make love.” Too bad she doesn’t buy it. She says that the voice sounds too brawny to be her Lord’s. She rips open the door and takes a step inside. You give her the same treatment you gave the Frenchie. The free market doesn’t gender discriminate. She goes down with the punch. Out cold. You drag her inside and prop her head up on a milk crate to keep her nose out of the water. It would be a shame for the world to lose a woman like her. So pretty and yet so cheap. You pick the Peasant up and slump him over your shoulder. He doesn’t weigh much for such a big guy. He must be all fat -- just like his theories. The Peasant is over one arm and your dog is under the other. You walk through car after car on the way to the caboose. There are people in those cars. You can feel their ears listening to drip after drip after drip. Ta……Ta……Ta…… Sharp, staccato, and constant each drop of blood and water smacks against the flooded floor. A couple dozen Ta’s later you’re in the caboose. You drop the body on the floor. There are no more Ta’s. You put the poodle down, tighten your coat, open the door, and hop off the train. You stumble through the back streets of town going down one rue and back up another. You look around for the big glaring lights of a commercial enterprise. But all you find is shanty house after shanty house in one labyrinth of a shantytown. No shanty house seems to have space for a blind existentialist with a flair for fashion. You soon get tired of this game and find a cripple. You beat him up and take his clothing. If he valued them any, he would have put up a better fight. Unfortunately for you, a gendarme sees you relieving yourself in a back ally spotted with stray cats and homeless men. You damn the hidden cost of whiskey and tell the gendarmes you are the British Prime Minister and if they don’t take their slimy hands off you, they’ll have a second world war to fight. Just then lightening strikes. Not near. Somewhere in the distance. But you can see the gendarmes’ guns in the flash. They are drawn and pointed at your heart. They bring you in for questioning. Their hands go into your pockets and come out with your wallet. They search it and find a ticket. It has the smiling visage of the Barman. They bring you back to the train while you curse the Barman to Hell. But first, before he goes to Hell, you’ll have to choke him. You’ll choke that smiling visage. You’ll choke him and choke him and choke

- 15 -

The Businessman him until his face is as white as the tufu he serves. They tell you not to waste your strength. You’ll just be choking a dead man. They bring you to the table in the Cigar Car. The other seven passengers – including the Peasant’s ghost – are seated. There is a bloody-inky hole through the center of the Peasant’s burlap frock. He must have had many enemies and many deaths. Your pen is on the table. The golden tip is rouged over with blood. The Peasant’s rope coated with ink and blood as well as the Lord’s plumbing pipe – coated with nothing – lie alongside the pen on the table. Each end of the rope is still capped with black rubber. Your poodle is dead and is lying in a dusty corner. The gendarme speaks. He says that France has found judges to be corrupt and juries to be inept. Justice is becoming for the French an impossible ideal unable to be implemented from the crooked benches of its more crooked courts. The country has left justice in the hands of you seven passengers. It is your duty to reach a verdict. It is your duty to make France proud again. A vote can be taken at any time in secret or by a show of hands. In order to reach a verdict, the vote of conviction must be no more than one vote shy of unanimity. France will only accept one guilty party. And that guilty party must be sitting at the table. Anything less will reflect shame and dishonor upon the good people of France. Upon the arrival of an acceptable verdict, the murderer will be swiftly, and -- the gendarmes assure you -- brutally disposed off. The decision before each of you is a simple interrogative. Who killed the Barman? You glare at the ghost of the Peasant. There is only one thought in your mind. Can anything ever kill Communism?

- 16 -

The Businessman

NOTE TO READER: DO NOT ASK US IF YOU WILL KNOW THAT YOU ARE THE MURDERER. ALL THE NECESSARY INFORMATION HAS BEEN PROVIDED.

- 17 -

the

Little Engine
that could

Kill

a murder mystery for eight

The Conductor

You are the Conductor
On Wednesday, August 5th, 1932, you and eight other passengers boarded a three-day express train from Bombay, India to Lisbon, Portugal. Unfortunately, one did not survive the journey. It is now up to you and the seven passengers left to decide who killed the eighth. This is your story. It details your background, your current position in life, and your actions on the fated three-day express liner. Read carefully, because you have many key pieces of evidence that must be used in combination with the knowledge of other passengers to unmask and convict the murderer. You will also find a map of the train, which includes any structure that a visitor to the train would notice upon cursory inspection. Ground Rules
  

Do not show this script to anyone else at any time. Please refrain from reading directly from the script when presenting evidence to others, unless you find it absolutely necessary. Play your character to some modest degree. You need not go to great efforts to mimic the character's personality - although it would be much more fun if you did - but at least speak as though you were your character (i.e. “I saw such-and-such an event” instead of “my character saw...,” and so on). If someone asks you a basic question about your character that you should know (e.g. your age), but the information was not provided in your story, you may make something up - just as long as it's consistent with the rest of your story. This story contains historical falsities and devices of science fiction. Take them for granted (but not anything else). Lying

Lie with caution. Your story interweaves with the stories of many other people who may know things about you that you might not think they know.  You may not lie about the following things: • Something you heard someone else say. • An action you saw someone else doing. • Something that you saw someone else carrying. • A piece of background information about someone else, unless you are involved in their background story.  You may lie about the following things: • Something that you said or did. • A piece of background information about yourself, or about someone else if you were involved in their background story.

-i-

Map of Three-day Express Liner from Bombay to Toledo

Magician's Quarters
Bed Desk

Conductor's Quarters
Bed Desk

Violinist's Quarters
Bed

Lord and Tennis Star's Quarters
Closet Desk Bed

S (g tair oi ca ng s up e )

Closet

Closet
Entrance/Exit to Train

Bathroom

Bathroom

Bathroom

Table&c

Maintenance Closet

Bathroom

Bathroom

Sofa Balcony Bed

- ii -

Locomotive Desk Desk Desk Counter
Table & Chairs Table & Chairs Table & Chairs Table & Chairs

Bed

Bed

Bed

Doctor's Quarters

Businessman's Quarters

Bar Car

Cigar Car

Peasant's Quarters

Lord and Tennis Star's Quarters

Caboose - where Barman sleeps

Notes:
= door (swinging or doorknob style) = open doorway Locations of chairs, mirrors, and various other items are not given. Fill in the blanks using your story.
The Conductor

The setup is different in each person's room. The pricetags of each room are also different, but it's up to you to guess the relative cost of each.

The Conductor “Day three of train investigation. 1:00 pm. Had a suspicious conversation with the Peasant. Asked me the value of gold in France. Appeared to have a a large number of gold coins in his room. This is unusual, considering he is wearing a burlap sack for a coat and, from the smell that radiates from his body, has not showered in at least one year.” You put down your pencil and sigh. Three days on this train and this is the only lead you've got: a peasant from India with a couple of gold coins. They're probably not even real for God's sake. You've heard that these peasant types like to carry around fake coins to sacrifice or donate or whatever they did to their gods when they get sick. It's no wonder the Peasant has so many, considering his deplorable hygiene. All this is typical of a Scotland Yard investigation: unscrupulous and brash. It's the second “undercover investigation” job this month, the eight this year, and you have a grand total of zero leads from all of them combined. Every time, it's the same: some bloke sends an anonymous letter, written in an anonymous hand, covered in anonymous fingerprints, sent from an anonymous location, warning the British government of “illegal contraband” - that was as specific as our omniscient informant got - on a train that leaves Bombay at such-and-such-a-time, such-and-such-adate, and the Yard, without second thought, commissions their best man – you – cover the so-called “case.” It is all terribly unscrupulous, and you have about had enough of it. It is bad enough that you had to get a job as a conductor on this godforsaken train, owned by the Barman, a fiery Catholic who, among other things, forces you to tithe ten percent of your salary to the Pope. The bastard thinks he's smart. You remember detestable slogan he insisted on writing on all of his tickets - “so cheap, even a Protestant can ride it!” But it's not just the Barman who makes your life miserable. You also have to be at the beck and call of the likes of the unfathomably base Peasant, whose immoderate requests have not been few in number. The only redeeming part of the job is that the angelic Tennis Star happens to be riding this train too. You reach for the Scotland Yard background report you requested on the Tennis Star two days ago. The pages are already withered from repeated readings. TENNIS STAR AGE: 27 BIO: Of Italian heritage, but has no aristocratic blood. Immigrated to Britain from New York at the age of twelve to live with her uncle and further her tennis career. Tennis playing ability is considered to be mediocre to poor. Married to affluent but reclusive Lord of Winchester. Also has a nice rack. That last line had been scrawled in the margin by you yesterday. You feel it rounds off the description of the Tennis Star rather nicely. It is more than true. Yesterday you acquired the evidence to prove it. You were carrying out a routine photoinvestigation of the Tennis Star's bathroom with your Scotland Yard issue Polaroid camera when her breasts inadvertently obscured your field of view. It isn't the first time you've made such a mistake in your years of undercover work, but the Tennis Star is, shall we say, the crowned jewel of your accidental subjects. Of course she hasn't the foggiest idea you've done it; you are a well-trained detective who knows how to carry -1-

The Conductor out a mission without being seen. Procedure normally dictates that all photographs be incinerated following such a secretive investigation - to protect the innocent - but you have suspended that rule for these most exceptional items of evidence. You keep them in an album labeled “Top Secret” in your closet. You pick up your pencil and write in your notebook: “Tennis Star has been behaving in an unusually suspicious way” – suspiciously sexy, to be precise - “over the last twenty-four hours. Investigative probes have provided some inconclusive evidence that must be pursued further today.” You'll pursue it further alright. Another investigation of the Tennis Star's bathroom has been scheduled, with the addition of her underwear drawer. You chuckle silently. No stone goes unturned when the Conductor is on the case. You glance at the clock on your desk. It's a quarter till three and your teatime break is over. You get up from your chair and grab your Conductor's hat begrudgingly as you head down to report to the Barman. You descend the staircase and pass through the empty Businessman's quarters on the way. His sharp gold-tipped pen glints at you from his desk. The Businessman is another bastard you have to serve on this train. His hygiene is slightly more refined than the Peasant's, but you can't say as much for his tastes. He has ordered a T-bone steak, medium rare, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. If being grotesquely obese was a crime, you'd have your man and be off this train before dinner. But it isn't, and nor is being a pain in the ass, which disqualifies just about everybody else on this train too. Which brings you to the Barman. He's standing at the counter now, clutching his bloody rosary, with the usual stupid grin on his babyface. You can hear him reciting the Hail Mary under his breath. You snort. He glares. “Reporting for duty, sir,” you say. “Just in time. Let's finish the Hail Mary together, Conductor.” “I'm not paid to pray, sir.” “Yes, yes, I know. Consider it a perk of the job, my good man.” He flashes his pearly whites, but he's missing one. He pokes his tongue through the hole as he smiles. You must muster all of your strength to prevent yourself from vomiting. “Holy Mary, Mother of God. Ahem, speak up, my good man.” You don't. He continues anyway. “Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.” “The Pope would be very disappointed in you, Conductor.” “Excuse my French, sir, but the Pope can kiss my ass.” The Barman's face goes red at that, and his stupid smile is replaced with an even stupider sneer. He puts down his rosary. “Listen, you no good son of a bitch,” he snarls, “The Pope and his teachings will be respected on this train. If you don't agree, you will find yourself sore-assed on the platform of the next stop, and mark my words, you'll never work within two hundred miles of this railroad. I have connections, you bastard -” “Yes sir,” you say. You've still got twenty-four more hours on this job. No sense in making life unpleasant for yourself. “That's more like it.” Then he adds: “Now if you will be so kind, please bring me my can of Vaseline from the supply box on the table in the corner. I have an important, er, appointment with a patron who should be arriving any moment, and I would like to moisturize my hands. That will be all for now, -2-

The Conductor and you are dismissed.” You grab the Vaseline and drop it onto the counter without asking questions, and you promptly make your way back through the Businessman's quarters and up the stairs back to your room to have some more tea. On your way up you're still laughing at the Barman's stupid expression when a noise that wanders into the stairwell from the compartment below causes your stomach to drop. It's the distinctive click of the Tennis Star's high heels – you know it well. You freeze and listen a little harder. The clicks meander from the front of the Businessman's compartment to the back, towards the bar car, and then abruptly stop. Then the Tennis Star's heavenly voice rises above the humdrum noise of the locomotive. “Mix me a high ball, Barman,” she says. “You got it sweetie,” he replies. “But lower your voice a little. No need to disturb the other good passengers on the train.” Your mind races. It's all becoming clear now. The Vaseline. The appointment. The high ball. The Tennis Star's high-pitched tremolo of a voice, so full and rich. Was it - soon to be sullied by that asshole? You listen hard at the edge of the staircase for ten minutes, but no more sound can be heard. Gravely you open the door to your room and collapse into your chair lifelessly. You can scarcely believe that a princess like the Tennis Star would stoop so low. You mull the matter over in your head. You feel wronged, played by the Tennis Star. After all those looks she had given you while you served her dinner. After looking so innocent, so beautiful, so unknowing in that shower, washing her supple breasts with refractive droplets of clear water. She should have been yours. But that bloody oaf, the Barman, had whisked her away from under your nose. Suddenly the words from the British law books flash past your eyes. Section 2, Paragraph 6 of the Royal Marriage Code. “If the British Judicial system should be presented with irrefutable evidence of an Extramarital Affair, the interloper shall be prosecuted at the Judge's behest, to a degree that equals the degree of malevolence of the crime.” And for lechery against the wife of a Lord? “Any man who comes between a Lord and his Lady shall be punished by life's imprisonment in the Royal Dungeons.” Royal Dungeons it said, and Royal Dungeons it would be for the Barman if you have anything to do with it. You instinctively grab for your pencil to draft a wire to Scotland Yard concerning this matter, but you spy out of the corner of your eye that it's already 3:38. Where has the time gone? The Businessman insists on having his dinner at four o'clock sharp, and it's time to take his order. You already know what he wants, but the Barman makes you go through the formality every time. You put down the pencil, grab your hat, and head downstairs. The Barman stands alone at the counter in the otherwise empty car, holding his rosary, smiling his gaudy smile exactly as you left him. You notice he has changed his shirt. You question him on the matter, but he obliquely replies that the excessive heat in the bar had caused him to sweat too much on the other one. Sweat indeed. You leave him and push through the door into the cigar car (where everyone takes their meals). The Businessman and the Magician sit amidst a cloud of cigar smoke. It looks as if the Magician is showing the Businessman some photos of previous magic shows, but you don't care to look any closer. You've learned over the course of the journey that the Magician has a penchant for pretending to kill his assistants – by drowning, sawing, or the noose – before revealing that it's all a trick. You cringe to think what terrible devices must be in his room. You tap the Businessman on the shoulder and wait for the usual ramble. It comes as one long roar, exactly as it had yesterday and the previous day. -3-

The Conductor “I’ll have a T-Bone steak, medium-rare that is, with eggs. I don’t want any bar-b-que sauce on my steak – only a nice, vinegary marinade. My eggs, I want them sunny-side up so that the yolk is all gooey and can mix nice in with the steak.” He stops to take a breath, then continues his yodel. “I’ll also have some potatoes. I want them boiled with the skins still on so that it breaks right off as soon as the fork touches it. I don’t want any rough skin. Did I mention I want some Tabasco sauce? Well, I do. Get a move-on, Conductor. My stomach is growling.” You write all this down in a small notepad you keep in your pocket, but only because the Barman forces you to do so. You know the order by heart now. “A capitalist travels on his stomach,” he adds at you as you turn to go. From behind you you hear the Violinist squeak in response, “well then I expect you to travel far.” Back in the the bar car and you slap the ticket down on the counter. The Barman looks at it and furrows his brow. “Oh dear,” he says, “A T-bone steak on Friday? We cannot allow such heresy to take place in God-fearing train, can we, Conductor?” You glare into his eyes, wondering to yourself it those eyes had seen the Tennis Star's finely shaped little ass in all its glory. He lets loose a long cackle. “No, no, we will intervene and save the soul of our good Businessman,” he says, laughing in between words. You are sure he had. You watch as the Barman pulls from beneath the counter a box of “Grade A Oriental Tofu” and proceeds to fashion the mushy mix into shapes that roughly resemble a steak and potatoes. You watch has he puts the two objects into the toaster, cooks for one minute, and removes them browned on the outside. The Violinist wanders through the car towards the Businessman's quarters but you pay her no mind - you're watching the Barman as he slaps the tofu onto a silver platter, places a shining silver top over it, and gives it to you. You know that the Businessman is not going to be too happy about his special meal, but you don't say a word. You take the silver platter out to him and lay it on the table with a wince. You're not expecting what follows to be a pretty sight, and it sure isn't. “Is this a bloody joke?” he screams at you. “No, It’s tofu.” “Tufu? I didn’t order any tufu. I ordered a T-Bone steak, medium-rare that is, with..” “It’s quite the delicacy in China,” you say, trying to console him. It does no good. “So is bloody dog, but I didn’t order that either” he cries hysterically. He lurches towards you, his behemoth arms outstretched, muttering “I'm on to you and this whole commie train.” You dodge them easily and run back into the bar car. He follows at a somewhat slower pace, his balance being slightly offset by the rolls of fat hanging from his abdomen which bounce up and down each time he makes a step. When he finally makes it into the bar car he takes a look at the Barman and barks, “Did Moscow forget to send the steak rations?” The Barman doesn't make eye contact with him but looks at you instead. “What’s this schmuck talking about?” “Don’t know – he’s blabbering on about dogs and commies -” you say, but the Businessman cuts you short with another attack aimed at the Barman. “The tufu – Does tufu mean steak and eggs and potatoes in Russian?” “I don’t speak Russian,” he replies. “You’re not getting a tip.” -4-

The Conductor “It’s Friday – I can’t serve meat. The Pope won’t allow it.” “Papist!” he screams insidiously while he gives the Barman the evil eye. “I'll kill you!” After the words die down there is a momentary silence. Then, as if pushed by an invisible hand, the Businessman makes a jab for the Barman. A shocked expression stretches across the Barman's face, and he sidesteps, leaps over the counter, and sprints in the direction of the Businessman's room. The Businessman, now far behind, waddles after him, his butt cheeks rising and falling with his trod. You happily watch him go. It's beginning to look like you won't even need to cook up any evidence on the Barman to get him out of your way, provided the Businessman doesn't have heart attack before he reached him – which is, on second thought, is not extremely unlikely. You decide to play it safe, and you grab one of the Barman's soiled aprons and tuck it under your arm. It will be useful for acquiring fingerprints later. You look at the clock. It's already 3:46, time for your scheduled visit to the Tennis Star's quarters. You troop back to your room to grab your camera, passing the Violinist, who is carrying her violin in the other direction, looking flustered. You hear screaming up ahead and figure her practice must have been disturbed by the noise. In your room you throw the Barman's apron in the closet, grab your camera bag, and then set off in the direction of the Tennis Star's room. But you have scarcely reached the cigar car when the Violinist's voice calls out to you, taking you by surprise. You glance up see that she's now got a rose in her hand and she's looking mighty happy talking to the Magician, who is staring at you with a look of disapproval. “Are you coming to take my publicity photos?” she asks. You're not too good a thinking on the spot so you do what all great government agents do when confronted with a hairy question: lie. “This is just my…toolkit” you say, desperately looking for an out. “Got some conductorly business to attend to on the other side of the train.” The lie doesn't turn out as well as you had expected so you don't bother clarifying. You just keep walking and push right on through into the next room, the odor of which reminds you all too readily that you've arrived at the Peasant's onerous habitat. On your way in you bump into the Lord of Winchester – the same one who is married to the Tennis Star. Upon collision a slew of gold coins fall from his pockets. The Peasant looks on quietly – a little too quietly for your liking. You look a little more carefully around the room. There are cards scattered on a table, and a few more gold coins floating in a puddle of saliva in front of the Peasant. You walk coolly to the table and take one of the coins, wiping the saliva off on the Peasant's coat. You also take one of the Lord's coins. You bite both of them carefully, testing to see if they are fake as you had suspected previously. The Peasant's is considerably softer than the Lord's - you would expect nothing more from that two-bit carpetbagger - but they are both real. Alarms go off in the back of your head. It would seem that Scotland Yard's anonymous informant was correct for once. You clear your throat and prepare to fulfill your duty as an agent of the crown by informing the Lord of the illicit nature of his activities. Pointing at the coins, you say, “One of the Queen’s coins, I see. Are you aware of Title 12, Chapter 9, Section 3 of the Royal Code?” You are referring to the statute that prohibits gambling among the British aristocracy. The Lord is evasive. “Look here, good fellow,” he says firmly, “I am a British Lord of the -5-

The Conductor finest breeding and if you dare to speak to me with such belligerence again I will use my aristocratic influence to have you fired.” He ponders his words a moment, then adds in a more pleasant tone: “...good fellow.” But that doesn't sway you. His threats are very unbecoming of a Lord, his ignorance of the law is all too obvious. And the fact that he has been to bed to the Tennis Star does not exactly make you feel more affable towards him. You reach for your Scotland Yard badge and flash it at his unsuspecting eyes, allowing its reflected rays to illuminate his stupefied expression. “I suppose I would not need to explain Title 12, Chapter 9, Section 3 to a British Lord?” “I am aware in so much as it pertains to my Lordly duties.” “Well then you should be very much aware. The crown does not respect such contracts,” you say, pointing at the coins. “We are a proper people and we do not condone such debauchery even by our nobility.” The Lord lowers himself slowly onto two trembling knees and picks up the coins, placing them back on the table. You stare at him for a few minutes, debating whether to arrest him now or write him up for future litigation. Scotland Yard will surely give you a promotion for this magnificent catch. And the Tennis Star, well, she'll be needing some comfort at such a time of loss. You decide upon the arrest. An unmistakable hiss of shower water can be heard from the Tennis Star's bathroom. On second thought, you decide the Lord could use a little time to think about what he's done. You grab for your notebook and scribble as quickly as you can. “3:58PM. Discovered Lord of Winchester participating in nefarious activities with aforementioned Peasant. Activities include illegal transactions of Royal gold. Will request that Lord be apprehended by authorities upon return to Britain.” You put the pencil and paper back into your pocket and pick up your camera bag. The Lord and Peasant are staring at you expectantly, probably ready to wet themselves for fear. You tell them nonchalantly that you're going to photograph some of the French vineyards from the balcony of the caboose. Then you simply walk out, ignoring the flabbergasted looks on their faces. You'll let them roast in their guilt and they'll be begging for mercy on the way back. You feel mighty powerful as you push through the door into the Lord's room and head up the stairs quietly. You are greeted by a panoramic view of the Tennis Star's radiant skin – all of it. You had discovered yesterday that she likes to shower with the door open, and as you stand in the center of her room you pull out your camera to snap a few shots of the suspicious bar of soap that she's rubbing on her tush. She turns around, but she can't see you due to the steam clouding up the bathroom. You snap a few more shots of the suspicious necklace between her breasts. You have collected yourself a fine bit of evidence when suddenly you hear footsteps from the direction of the stairwell. You throw your camera back into the bag and make a dash for the closet, closing the door behind you. The footsteps enter the room and clomp towards the bathroom. You hear a sharp slap, then laughter. You wonder whether it's the Barman engaging in such abusive behavior, and make a note in your journal to add that to his list of crimes. Next comes the tinkling sound a man makes in front of the toilet. But no flush follows. You also make note of this. You can't recall what other sounds you heard because by then your eyes had adjusted to the darkness of the closet and you realized you are standing directly in front of the Tennis Star's clothes hamper. Your eyes widen in eager anticipation, and you thrust your hand into it, searching for the -6-

The Conductor item you need. You find it quickly – today's used underwear. It's still warm. You shove the little gem into your pocket - you'll dust it for fingerprints and compare them to the prints on the Barman's apron when you get back to your room. If that doesn't give you “irrefutable evidence” of the affair between the Barman and the Tennis star, nothing will. Your stream of thought is interrupted by the sound of smashing glass. There is only one thing in the bathroom that could make such a sound - it's the glass casement in the bathroom, marked “For Emergency Plumbing Purposes Only,” then below, if your memory serves you rightly, “Pollyanna's Polymers: Plumbing Done Right!” You remember the name because Scotland Yard made you work a year in their manufacturing division as an undercover agent. That Pollyanna is another suspicious character, like the Tennis Star. So suspicious that you had to devote a two-page spread to her in your album of top secret evidence. Inside the casement is a heavy pipe that, if swung heedlessly, could kill a man. You wonder what the Barman would want with such a thing. You hear the Barman's confident clomp - even his walk is smug - meander out of the bathroom and down the stairs. You wait about ten minutes – maybe a little longer – for him to clear out of the area, then you get ready to make a break for it. Water's still running in the shower so you figure the coast is clear. On your way out you stop to take a peek into the Tennis Star's underwear drawer - just to get an idea of the personality of the lady you're dealing with. There are a lot of reds and blacks, just as you expected. Not much nylon but a lot of lace. Good. Nylon makes you itch. Suddenly your hand comes upon a hard glass bottle. It feels suspicious so you pull it out and read the bold words on the front. “ABORTION PILLS. TAKE ONLY ONE. Will cause immediate death to user if taken in high doses.” “The plot thickens,” you think as you shove the pills into camera bag, close the drawer and head down the stairs. Only a sweeny like the Barman wouldn't use a condom during sex. Well, you can't blame the Tennis Star not wanting to taint her flawless set of genes with the Barman's rotten gametes. No – she is a saint for that, and in your eyes it would be a crime any other way. But in the Crown's eyes corrective measures such as abortion are not looked so highly upon – in fact, they're downright frowned upon - and - well - if a certain set of pills should be appropriated by a certain Scotland Yard agent and a certain Tennis star knew about these matters, she might be a little more inclined to choose a lover who is – well – a little less of a sweeny and a little more...like you. Your heart leaps as you plan your next move, and you dash through the Lord's room without seeing a soul. In the next compartment the Peasant is sitting exactly where you left him, but he doesn't fall to his knees, begging for mercy as you expected him to - he's biting his gold like a buffoon. Perhaps the anxiety of being in the clutches of the Law has driven him mad. You pause a moment to catch your breath - the Tennis Star's underwear drawer got you a bit tipsy - and watch with fascination as he chews each piece meticulously, savoring the taste. You decide to leave him to his simple-minded endeavors and head for the door. But you don't get far before erupts into hysteric laughter. “Teehee-hee,” he wails, “Tee-hee-hee...” You run out of the room as fast as you can. But your path is obscured yet again by the Businessman, who steps in heedlessly from the bar car, nearly running you over. “Conductor!” he bellows angrily. “Excuse me,” you say apologetically. You've already got one passenger displaying disturbing symptoms of psychosis, no sense in making that two. But it's too late. As you try to circumnavigate his enormous waist, he grabs you by the collar and roars at you in his usual fashion. -7-

The Conductor “So you’re the one – you’re the one whose been popping pictures of babes without their dresses on.” He points at your camera bag. You can't tell if he's serious or joking, but you try to cover yourself either way. “I’m sorry – but you must have me confused with someone else,” you say. You cite a few laws that permit the carrying of cameras in public places, just to make sure he knows you're serious. “You don’t need to act so law abiding with me, Comrade,” he says. His breath smells terribly of whiskey. “I’ve already seen the photos – that – that Magic man with the Lenin cigars – he showed me. I’m a great admirer of your work. I appreciate it. I appreciate a good pair of moneybags on a woman. When you squeeze them, they feel like a million royal pounds.” You sigh with relief. The Businessman doesn't know a thing; he's just a drunk man rambling about photos of the Magician's assistants. You decide to throw the old dog a bone. "Right, right pal. Magician's topless babes indeed. Somebody's had a little bit too much to drink, eh? Why don't you head to bed, and it can be our little secret." You give him a wink. But he does not relent. “It’s all right, comrade,” he garbles, “All the topless babes in the world won’t get me to step a foot in the Kremlin with you and cronies.” You're beginning to think he's more than drunk, but you keep listening. “Listen, I’ll make a deal with you. I like to make deals especially with men like you. You let me off your mobile commune at the next stop and those photos –not a word will be spoken.” Any deal that would rid you of this crackpot is a winner to you. You take a look at your schedule and tell him the next stop will be at the French village Pont de Muertre in – you glance at your watch and see that it's 4:35 - about half an hour. You shake on the deal, but he still doesn't quit. “One more thing, Conductor,” he says, his inebriated eyes rolling in their sockets, “if you ever get the chance. Snap a quick one of the Tennis Star. Above those tanned thighs of hers – those two tan roads leading up to El Dorado. The golden city – you know what I mean? Let’s take a look-see if that city really is golden.” You just wink and walk away. At least there is one other man on this train who has not slept with the Tennis Star, you think. Thank God for that. You walk back to your room, noticing on the way that the Barman is still absent from his post. Maybe the Businessman caught up with him after all. You decide that the Businessman is not such a bad of a fellow – he chooses his enemies well, and you like that in a man. You'll probably even be sorry to see him go. But not too sorry. You pull out the Barman's apron and your Scotland Yard issue fingerprint dusting kit. It's almost out of dust, but you have just enough for the apron and the underwear. With a quick, experienced hand you dab the dust onto the fabric and three sets of fingerprints turn up: one that you know to be your own, and a small feminine set and a larger masculine set, both of which appear on the apron and the underwear. You make a note of this in your book and sit down to prepare the wire that will seal the Barman's fate. If you're quick you might even be able have the Barman off this train and in the cage by the next stop. But then you have a change of heart. If the Barman goes, the train stops. And if the train stops, the Tennis Star gets off. And if the Tennis Star gets off...well you'll never have a chance to give her the letter you've been writing her in your head during the last hour or so. You decide the Barman, along with the Lord, can wait until the end of the line before you deal them what's due. In the meantime, the Tennis Star will have a few obligations – of both the legal and illegal variety - to -8-

The Conductor fulfill. But first thing's first – you must still maintain the facade of a conductor and that means informing everyone on the train that it will be stopping in twenty minutes. You stash the fingerprint kit and the garments into your closet, grab your camera bag – no sense in leaving such valuables unattended - and make your way down the steps, and hang a right towards the good Doctor's room. He's counting an enormous stack of one-hundred dollar bills at his desk. You had no idea the healthcare industry was doing so well, especially in these times of economic depression. But you have no time to tarry on the matter. “Next stop, Pont de Muertre for refueling” you tell him, “due to arrive at 5:03, and leave at 5:20.” He looks up at you with a morose expression, then motions for you to come near. You oblige. In a low voice, he asks, “Have you seen the Barman? What is his exact location as we speak?” “Don't know. Surprised he's not here though - I thought after the Businessman was through with him he'd be needing your attention.” “Oh – yes – he did come in with the Businessman for a moment. But they both left as good as they came.” You, too, begin to wonder where the Barman might be if he is not here, but the Doctor speaks up again before you can think on it.. “Conductor,” he says. “The Barman – he's – uh – he's not really serious about all this Catholic hosh-posh is he? I didn't think anyone still believed that poison in our enlightened times.” “I'm afraid he's quite serious, sir.” But this is enough idle chit-chat. You make your way over to the stairwell and call up “Pont de Muetre” to the Magician's quarters. But the Doctor's voice echoes from behind. “Conductor,” he says, “you wouldn't happen to have a knife, would you? I need something with which to cut my dinner steak.” “I don't remember you ordering any dinner,” you respond and turn back to the Doctor. But suddenly, from out of nowhere, the Doctor incapacitates you with a firm karate chop to the shoulder. You feel your body go completely limp and fall to the ground. The Doctor rummages through your pockets - then your bag. The pills! The expression on his face tells you he's found something in the bag, but before he can pull it out, the train's brakes screech as it begins to pull into the station. The Doctor is thrown to the ground, and you take the opportunity to grab your bag and dash out of the room. You decide this train is full of nutjobs. Nutjobs who, regrettably, must be reminded the train is stopping at Pont de Muetre. The Businessman's compartment is empty. You move to the next room, shouting your message, and just catch a glimpse of the tails of the Businessman's coat as he hops off the train. You enter the cigar car and repeat your alert, but there's nobody around to listen. You notice that someone's left the door to the maintenance closet open. You shut the door without bothering to look inside. You go all the way back to the caboose, shouting, but the only person you see is the Peasant, who seems have regained his wits as he is now counting, instead of chewing, his gold coins. Yes, there is no mistaking that he is his old self again: on your way back he asks what the going rate for young girls is at Pont de Muertre. You punch him in the face, and he collapses into the pool of saliva on his table. You hope he drowns. -9-

The Conductor The blow you deal to the Peasant gets you feeling uppity. Things are all beginning to fall into place. You've cooked up enough dirt to throw the Barman and the Lord in the slammer for the next couple of years, and by your calculation that would leave the Tennis Star on the open market. Even if she doesn't think so herself, you believe you can convince her otherwise with those pills. “Pity my fingerprint kit is out of dust,” you think, “or maybe I could book the good Doctor too.” The clock in the bar car tells you 5:18. The train's whistle blows, signaling that it will be pulling out of the station soon. And that means it's time for you to take a much needed break. You take a look around the bar car, but there's not a soul in sight, so you open up your camera bag and dump out the contents. The bottle, the camera, and the pictures, which have by now developed. Boy have they developed. You have a seat at the counter of the bar and hold them up one by one, taking a good look at the gorgeous views they offer up to you. Each one is a snapshot of heaven, and it's a pity that you're the only man who will ever-A poodle barks, startling you and causing the pictures to go flying. You turn your head and see a large man in a mink coat, yellow fedora and sunglasses holding the poodle's leash, staring back at you – well, to be precise, staring at the photos you've now dropped. He must have jumped the train just as it left the station. You dive down, trying to hide the pictures, but you accidentally knock over the bottle of pills, sending them flying them all over the bar car too. You go for the pictures and the he goes for the pills. In seconds he's got them loaded back into the bottle and he saunters into the next room – the cigar car. You don't follow him. No, you are too smart for that. Before you give the cad what he deserves retreat back to your room to get the pictures of the Tennis Star off you before another unexpected encounter. You shove them in your drawer and curse that bastard with his damn poodle. But no matter. He's not going anywhere fast unless he happens to be a suicidal maniac who enjoys jumping out of trains traveling at seventy-five mile per hour. Before you smash that lowlife to smithereens you figure you have a little time to write the Tennis Star the note that you've been cooking up. You're looking for something warm, something that will accentuate your ability to passionately make love to her, but you want to be firm, too. You've got to show her you mean business. It takes you a few tries but you finally come up with something you feel gets the point across without smashing her over the head. To the love of my life, We have scarcely had a chance to get to know each other on this short journey. But I confess that I have fallen madly in love with you, and I would be lying if I said that I have not noticed your modest eyes wandering in my direction as well. Let's run away together. I have connections in governments across Europe and can get us a nice house with a pension, and I will make your life far more interesting than that insipid Lord could ever do. I know, by way of the grapevine, that he has left you unsatisfied in certain departments and you have looked to the Barman to make your life whole. I also know that you would now like your life to be a little less whole. I will eliminate the menace if you leave him for me. Signed with all the passion in my heart, Conductor. Just then you hear the Tennis Star's familiar clickity click coming from downstairs. You - 10 -

The Conductor unconsciously look at the clock, a habit every agent develops over the years. It's 5:37. You grab the note and wander after her. When you get downstairs you just catch a glimpse of her tiny little black skirt bouncing into the bar car, and you hurriedly rush through the room, your thoughts enraptured by her. You don't see her in the bar car - which is still devoid of the Barman or anyone else - and you dash through to the next car. It's empty too. But then you spy out of the corner of your eye the door to the maintenance closet is open again. You creep up behind it and and curling your hand into a cone-like shape, you place the hand on the door and your ear on the hand. Then you listen. Rustling. Then two voices: “You are going to have to help me handle the Barman,” comes a female voice. “I think he knows too much.” A male responds: “I do not consort with spies.” More rustling. “I am not a spy. I am your wife. Do to him what you did to my husband.” “I’ve already taken care of him.” “Come with me back to the room.” “I must stay and complete my mission.” Somebody inside begins to stir and you hurriedly sprint back to your room to avoid being seen. You shake your head in utter confusion. The Tennis Star and the Lord, plotting against the Barman? You barely have a chance to get your head around the matter before you are incapacitated by a deafening roar coming from the water pipe that lines the corner of your room. You jump onto your bed and bury your head underneath your pillow to protect your precious eardrums. After a few minutes the noise dies down - likely because the train ran out of water. You pull your head out from under your pillow and open your eyes - whoa, wait a minute. You see nothing. You blink, and put your hand in front of your face - no, there's nothing, only darkness. The electricity must be out. The train is slowing to a halt, too. You run down the stairs. You have to check that closet - could the Barman be - you shudder to think it could have happened under your watch, even to a scoundrel like him - dead? You hear footsteps in the bar car, but you ignore them and keep running. You feel for the door to the maintenance closet. It's open. You reach inside, and feel something long and rough rough but damp with a warm liquid. On its two ends, you feel it has been soldiered with rubber. You draw it near to your eyes - it's a noose, smeared with blood and - it looks like ink too. You fall to your knees in search of a body. You grab hold of a foot, then drag it into the open. You touch it. You feel the warm, smooth skin. It's breathing. You feel the chest, moving up and down ever so slightly. Then you feel the breasts - plump, like two gigantic sun-ripened tomatoes. You know immediately they belong to the Tennis Star. You linger a little longer on them, feeling their softness but just then - bang! - lightning strikes and the room is illuminated. You see the dark figure of a man standing ten feet in front of you, but you can't make out who it is before the light is gone. “Get away, you fool!” you scream at him, but your words are drowned out by the sirens of the French Gendarmes. They storm the car from the direction of the caboose. You hurl yourself into a corner of the room hoping the darkness will hide you. But they don't play by those rules. A Frenchie's footsteps head for the closet and switch on the lights. Then it is all over. You hadn't even thought to get rid of the noose, and you're still clutching it meekly when the grab you by the shoulder and sit you down at a table on the other side of the car. The Violinist and - 11 -

The Conductor the Magician look on suspiciously. A gendarme rips the rope from your hand and throws it onto the table. Another gendarme revives the Tennis Star and sits her down at the table too. She doesn't look nearly as good as she felt in the dark. You sit in silence, staring at each other when a sharp crack is heard from outside. The gendarmes look out the window but can see nothing. Minutes later a vile odor suffuses into your nose, and it is followed promptly by the sight Peasant, who arrives in the cigar car unaccompanied, coming from the direction of the caboose. He's wearing his usual clothes, but there is a conspicuous hole in the center of the chest. Its perimeter is stained with blood and ink. The Gendarmes pat him down when he arrives and withdraw a bloody pen from his pocket and throw it on the table. The next to arrive is the Doctor who is being pulled along by two burly guards. He takes a seat at the table and locks his eyes into a cold, menacing stare aimed at you. He is followed by the Lord, who is carried in holding with a heavy pipe in his right hand. He's mumbling unintelligibly about the Great War. The pipe, too, is thrown onto the table. A mangy poodle - dead as a doornail - is carried in by the tail from the direction of the caboose. Thankfully it is not thrown on the table. Time passes and no one says a word. No Barman arrives. The Businessman is dragged in shouting “I’ll choke him. I swear - I’ll choke that man.” He is wearing the rags of a bum. You have no idea how they managed to find that bastard. Pont de Muertre is no small town. The Barman's body is never found. One of the gendarmes speaks. He says that France has found judges to be corrupt and juries to be inept. Justice is becoming for the French an impossible ideal unable to be implemented from the crooked benches of its more crooked courts. The country has left justice in the hands of you eight passengers. It is your duty to reach a verdict. It is your duty to make France proud again. A vote can be taken at any time in secret or by a show of hands. In order to reach a verdict, the vote of conviction must be no more than one vote shy of unanimity. France will only accept one guilty party. And that guilty party must be sitting at the table. Anything less will reflect shame and dishonor upon the good people of France. Upon the arrival of an acceptable verdict, the murderer will be swiftly, and - the gendarmes assure you - brutally disposed of. The decision before each of you is a simple interrogative. Who killed the Barman? You wring your hands nervously. It looks like Scotland Yard won't be giving you that promotion after all.

- 12 -

The Conductor

NOTE TO READER: DO NOT ASK US IF YOU WILL KNOW THAT YOU ARE THE MURDERER. ALL THE NECESSARY INFORMATION HAS BEEN PROVIDED.

- 13 -

the

Little Engine
that could

Kill

a murder mystery for eight

The Doctor

You are the Doctor
On Wednesday, August 5th, 1932, you and eight other passengers boarded a three-day express train from Bombay, India to Lisbon, Portugal. Unfortunately, one did not survive the journey. It is now up to you and the seven passengers left to decide who killed the eighth. This is your story. It details your background, your current position in life, and your actions on the fated three-day express liner. Read carefully, because you have many key pieces of evidence that must be used in combination with the knowledge of other passengers to unmask and convict the murderer. You will also find a map of the train, which includes any structure that a visitor to the train would notice upon cursory inspection. Ground Rules
  

Do not show this script to anyone else at any time. Please refrain from reading directly from the script when presenting evidence to others, unless you find it absolutely necessary. Play your character to some modest degree. You need not go to great efforts to mimic the character's personality - although it would be much more fun if you did - but at least speak as though you were your character (i.e. “I saw such-and-such an event” instead of “my character saw...,” and so on). If someone asks you a basic question about your character that you should know (e.g. your age), but the information was not provided in your story, you may make something up - just as long as it's consistent with the rest of your story. This story contains historical falsities and devices of science fiction. Take them for granted (but not anything else). Lying

Lie with caution. Your story interweaves with the stories of many other people who may know things about you that you might not think they know.  You may not lie about the following things: • Something you heard someone else say. • An action you saw someone else doing. • Something that you saw someone else carrying. • A piece of background information about someone else, unless you are involved in their background story.  You may lie about the following things: • Something that you said or did. • A piece of background information about yourself, or about someone else if you were involved in their background story.

-i-

Map of Three-day Express Liner from Bombay to Toledo

Magician's Quarters
Bed Desk

Conductor's Quarters
Bed Desk

Violinist's Quarters
Bed

Lord and Tennis Star's Quarters
Closet Desk Bed

S (g tair oi ca ng s up e )

Closet

Closet
Entrance/Exit to Train

Bathroom

Bathroom

Bathroom

Table&c

Maintenance Closet

Bathroom

Bathroom

Sofa Balcony Bed

- ii -

Locomotive Desk Desk Desk Counter
Table & Chairs Table & Chairs Table & Chairs Table & Chairs

Bed

Bed

Bed

Doctor's Quarters

Businessman's Quarters

Bar Car

Cigar Car

Peasant's Quarters

Lord and Tennis Star's Quarters

Caboose - where Barman sleeps

Notes:
= door (swinging or doorknob style) = open doorway Locations of chairs, mirrors, and various other items are not given. Fill in the blanks using your story. The setup is different in each person's room. The pricetags of each room are also different, but it's up to you to guess the relative cost of each.
The Doctor

The Doctor It is cold in your room. Damn cold. You pull a few crystals of camphor out of your medicine bag and swallow them back. The crystals burn as they pass over your tongue. The pain gets stronger and stronger as they travel through the epiglottis and then it subsides, leaving a warm tingle in your throat, but not anywhere else. You place the bottle of camphor beside three other bottles, similar in shape and size, that also failed to sooth your present discomfort. A doctor's bag contains things that would shock and amaze most men. Rare elixirs from farflung corners of the earth that can make blind men see, lepers walk and convalescents feel as though they were gods. Unfortunately your bag contains none of these items. Rare elixirs, it turns out, are expensive, and, well, money is not a commodity that your practice has an abundance of. It's not that you didn't have any patients back in Bombay. No, those peasants, with their abysmal hygiene, were lining up to see you, the wise English Doctor. They worshiped you like a king. The trouble is that after you were finished treating them, they were too, in a word - dead - to pay you. It seems the camphor is working. Beads of sweat are now spouting up from your forehead you wipe them off with a cotton swab. Your body is feeling warmer, but the tinkle in your throat has been getting more poignant too, and it now feels like someone is rubbing the inside of your larynx with a tiny sheet of grit 40 sandpaper. Your medical books would call it acute anaphylaxis of the trachea. Whenever you see that in your patients, you treat them with camphor. Perhaps it would be prudent, you think, to check the medical literature for an alternate therapy. When he heard you were leaving, the undertaker in Bombay offered to go into partnership with you. But you turned him down. It's not that you didn't like the guy. He was always pleasant, always friendly. He even recommended you a few of the therapies you used most often. But you had to turn him down because by then you had discovered a newer, safer way to practice medicine: psychoanalysis. The anaphylaxis subsides and the temperature in the room feels just right. You prop your feet up on your desk and pull out your well worn edition of Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality - a medical masterwork, in your mind. You relish Freud's detailed descriptions of erogenous zones, infantile sexuality, and fetishism. Sometimes titillating, sometimes bizarre, your not sure if Freud's psychoanalytic technique can actually be used to treat neurotics. But you are sure about one thing - it has done wonders for your love life. She was your id, and you were her superego. Her sexual tendencies were savage, rapturous, and she pulled you into a bubbling cauldron of desire, the likes of which you've never felt before. In return you taught her the ways of psychoanalysis. You showed her that her husband - the Lord of Winchester - was regressing into the infantile stages of sexuality, and that his neuroses were incurable. And following Freud's method step by step, you helped her to transfer her erotic desires onto a more healthy subject - you. Needless to say she had been good in bed. Even better while reading case studies by Freud. But biology catches up with us all, even a good Doctor. You clear your desk, walk over to your medicine bag, and pull out your last bottle of your abortion medication. Reluctantly you shovel your last three pills into a small glass bottle with a sigh. Abortion medication is costly. But a child is far more costly. While you're working the Magician surprises you by appearing at the door to the stairwell. -1-

The Doctor His magician steps are so quiet you had not heard them. You hurriedly shove the pills into the drawer of your table, but he sees you. You glare at him, and he he gets the picture and walks out of the room. You glance at your watch. It's almost two. She should be arriving any minute. But the next person who walks through your room is not her - it's the slobbering Peasant. You cover your nose to block the aroma as he passes your desk and climbs up to the Magician's quarters. He's back in a flash, and ignoring your suspicious eyes he clambers for the door. The clock strikes two, and three minutes later the Tennis Star's barely covered hips come swinging into your room. You hand her the pregnancy strip and point to the bathroom. She obliges. The test will require one hour to develop, but you will give her the pills now, as a precautionary matter. While she's activating the test you write out a label for the medication in large bold letters: “ABORTION PILLS. TAKE ONLY ONE. Will cause immediate death to user if taken in high doses.” You hear a flush and she emerges with the strip as you're fastening the label to the vial. You tell her about the hour's wait and ask her if she understands the legal ramifications of taking the pills. “Yes,” she replies in her mouselike voice “Sadly I am.” You ask her if her husband knows about the potential situation. “No,” she says, “I do not plan on telling him.” Then, in a lower tone: “He’s impotent, you know.” “Hmm, that would be difficult to manipulate,” you reply, “could you convince him it is a miraculous conception -- a new Son of God who has been conceived on the Lisbon Express?” The joke was intended to soothe your nerves as much as hers. You are sure the pills will kill the baby. Whether they will take the Tennis Star with it, you can't say. But you do not inform her of your concerns. You just give her the vial with a few confident words and a smile. She kisses your trembling lips warmly, then pulls away and whispers, “you have saved my career.” Her ponytail bounces at exactly the same rhythm as her skirt as she skips out of the room. She is one fine specimen, you think. You only hope she stays that way. You develop the test strip in an antiserum solution. Every few minutes you agitate the bluish-green liquid, watching the strip ricochet back and forth between the finely ground glass of your petri dish. Slowly, the dark pink letters form into the strip: PREGNANT. You suspected so from the beginning. Her pupils were dilated when you gave the final thrust last night. But you have done all you can do now. As you wait for the Tennis Star you read a little bit of the latest Journal of Psychoanalysis. You are quite swept up by an article on the symbolic relations between rope and aggression. At 3:27 there is a meek tap at the door and she enters. “Am I - ” she looks afraid and distraught. The smeared lipstick on her face tells you that anxiety may have induced a recurrence of oral fixation which you had hoped to cure last night. You simply nod and tell her to take one pill per day for three days. She smiles insincerely and leaves you with a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. You hope the Lord is a forgiving fellow. You get your mind off your depressing matter by alphabetizing the medicines in your doctor's bag. It is difficult work that requires more attention than you are accustomed to devoting to -2-

The Doctor your medical tasks, but you press on. Before you can finish the job, however, you hear screaming coming from the direction of the Businessman's room. Without warning the Barman comes running in. “Doctor, oh thank heavens, you have got hide me. Save a poor man's life, Doctor. I was only doing it for the sake of the Pope. Oh, God!” You look at him, perplexed. The stomp of two very heavy feet can be heard coming towards the door. A look of utter terror spreads across the Barman's face. Suddenly the Businessman smashes through, shaking his heavy fists at the Barman and screaming unintelligibly. He swipes his hairy paws at the Barman who just barely ducks under them and scampers up the stairs into the Magician's room. The Businessman lumbers after him. Judging by the zig-zag motion his feet make as he runs, you would guess that the Businessman is not just a little drunk. He thunders up the steps, growling like a rabid dog. You hear the Magician's door slam shut, and then an incredible thud. You run up the stairs to see what happened. The Businessman is lying at the top of the stairwell, out like a light. You check his wrist and feel a faint but certain pulse through the reams of fat which cover his arm. You dab a little bit of alcohol on the poor man's forehead to cool him down and leave him to wake up on his own accord. You sit back down at your desk, causing a slight vibration that ruffles your papers. The pregnancy strip flitters down from the shelf above, into your lap. You pick it up and gaze at its ominous letters - medical books tell you they are chemical products of a reaction between progesterone and serum immunoglobulins. You try to get your head around the complex equations that determine the reaction, but the harder you grasp for the understanding the quicker it slips out of your fingers. “Pregnant,” says the voice in your head, “Pregnant.” It gets louder and louder. Suddenly it's screaming in your ear. “Who's pregnant?” it bellows. You turn your head and the Businessman's cold eyes are staring back. It startles you so much that you drop the strip. But rather than pick it up you wheel back around and stare at the wall. When it comes to this particular pregnancy you wish to be especially observant of medical privacy mandates. He tries to talk, but you ignore him, grab for the article on rope you were reading before, and shove it into your face. The Businessman keeps calling but you keep ignoring. Finally he comes close - so close that you can feel his warm breath in your ear. “Whose test? Answer me, you little quack.” You wheel around and give him an icy look. “I have been reading my journal and I would very much appreciate if you would leave and allow me to continue my intellectual endeavor.” You turn back to the magazine but he rips it out of your hands ferociously and throws it onto the desk. “Now that you’re done with your reading, I believe this should be a good time for us to catch up on a little conversation. And since I’m already talking I might as well start. Anything else would be inefficient. Whose pregnancy test were you looking at?” He pauses, giving you a chance to respond, but you don't. So he continues. “Oh, I understand, doc. You can’t answer that question. So, let’s drop the subject and move onto something else. Let’s see, hmm, oh yes – I have been meaning to ask you about the Violinist. Great body – one of the best I’ve seen. Now I wanted to know your expert opinion on this matter. Now before I plan on investing any more of my time in her – time is money, eh doc? -- you think – you think a girl like her will say put on few unexpected pounds over the next nine months? Or ten -3-

The Doctor or eight or five – or whatever really. Nine is just hypothetical.” You stand your ground and clench your lips tightly. His expression only becomes more menacing. For a tense moment he says nothing, his heavy fists shaking with rage. Then he explodes, grabbing you by the collar and lifting you what feels like ten feet from the ground. “Talk’s not cheap for you, huh doc? Well I’ll make it worth your while. Five pounds – five pounds more than you deserve.” He sneers at you. As you are suspended in the air by the cotton fibers of your collar you look down at the Businessman's balding head. Phrenology had been your best class in medical school - the only class, in fact, that you passed - and you recognize all too well the characteristic indentation on his anterior fontanelle. You know instantaneously that this man has a serious medical condition, a condition that would cause no one who knew of it to ever sleep with him again. The cotton fibers give way on your collar and you fall to the ground, but your concentration does not falter. “If you lay your greedy hands on me again, I’ll be left with no choice but to inform the other passengers of your medical condition,” you say. The Businessman's face recoils as if someone had inserted an oversized catheter through his anal sphincter. He takes a step back without saying a word, then, swallowing hard, he walks out of the room. On his way he passes by your desk and picks up the journal you were reading and flips through. “Intellectual pursuit, eh doc?” he says in parting, “well I hope you keep it that way,” and throws the magazine to the floor. You pick up the frayed remnants of your collar and feebly place it into your drawer. The Businessman's threats leave you feeling shaky, with mild palpitations of the heart. You seem to remember that barbituric acid can soothe the nervous system, so you decide to take a few drops. Wait, or was it methadone? You can't decide so you give yourself a shot of that too. The syringe goes in easy. You inject a milliliter or two of the clear liquid and leave the rest on your desk. Surprisingly the mix works like a charm, and your nerves feel as solid as the erection the Tennis Star gave you last night. But your relationship with her cannot continue. A psychotherapist must devote his life to healing those with subconscious repressions - and if her performance last night tells you anything, it's that the Tennis Star has ceased to be repressed. Then again, having a healthy subject around - for comparative purposes only, of course - might not be such a bad idea... You would like to think the matter over further but the sudden appearance of the Barman's black leather fedora, peeking out from the stairwell, distracts you. It's followed by a cautious footstep and a two very timorous eyes. “Is he gone?” the Barman whispers to you, his body still partially obscured by the doorframe. “Yes, I believe so.” “Oh, thank heavens,” he says in thick Italian accent while running a bony finger down the center of his chest and across his breast. “I should have bought that lottery ticket back in Istanbul, cause I've got Jesus on my side today.” He looks unsettled and you offer him some methadone to soothe his adrenal glands. He refuses. “God doesn't approve of such frivolous use of drugs.” Then, in a lower tone, “And I hope you are not distributing such abominations to passengers on this train, mio amico.” -4-

The Doctor “That's none of your business,” you respond, hoping that he's not talking about what you think he's talking about. “Well it's God's business, and there are certain medical procedures that he has proclaimed unacceptable - capisce?” You're beginning to feel queasy, and it's not because the methadone's wearing off. “A medical practitioner of my stature cannot comply with demands of an unscientific mystic such as yourself ” you tell him, hoping to drown him in a sea of ambiguities. But he swims. “Cut the lip, you schmuck.” he snarls, “I'm not a damn fool like the Businessman and you can't pull any of your psychoanalytic tricks on me. If you touch that baby with your pharmaceutical filth I will see to it that your medical career ends quickly and without any last rites.” So he knows. So what if he knows? You're the doctor here, and that bastard can't tell you who you can and can't heal. “A doctor serves his patient only, not a church full of sour-faced Italians,” you tell him. The Barman only stares at you. Slowly he takes off his leather fedora and wrings it between his long, thin fingers, his teeth clenched menacingly. Then he speaks again: “It's because of disrespectful scumbags like you that God sent us the Great Depression and forced me to get back into the work I do now. The Satanist indoctrination you call science has only brought suffering to millions. Well leave the Tennis Star off your list of people to indoctrinate. That baby will be born.” The Barman continues to glare and you meet his eyes stolidly, with the exception of an occasional twitch that has been shooting through your facial nerves every few minutes since you had that shot of methadone. Finally the he looks down, turns his fedora in his hands, and reaches inside. A roll of fifty-pound bills appears. “All right, asshole, how much will it take to get me that baby?” It's phrased as a question but it sounds more like an order. Oh, this Barman is a character alright. First, he tries to convert you, then he tries to bribe you. All for a baby that's not even his. But you're not taking his crusader's gold - knowing the Barman, it was probably swiped from the alms basin when no one was looking last Sunday anyway. You spit at his money, but he dodges and shifting his bills to his left hand he grabs you by the neck with his right. Instinctively you reach for the syringe on your desk and wield it before his eyes. “I'm warning you,” you growl with the little breath that still comes up from your lungs, “I will kill you if it means protecting my patient.” You surprise him and cause him to lose his grip. You give the green little weakling a quick shove, sending him into a skid across the wooden floor, his money flying from his hand and landing at your feet. You pick the wad of bills up. Perhaps the Barman's stolen alms could be put to good use, you think, namely in the hands of a good Doctor trying to start a new medical practice. The Barman stands again and makes a lunge for the money, calling you a rotten thief an a sinner. You swipe your needle at him, forcing him to retreat again. “If you think you're going to kill a child and steal my money on my own train, you've - you'll have to do it over my dead body,” he cries. “God will never allow it!” This strikes you as funny, and you have a little chuckle while you chase him with the syringe. Finally you corner him by the door. “What's He going to do,” you ask in mid chuckle, “call the Pope on me?” -5-

The Doctor The Barman only stares. Abruptly he changes his demeanor, twisting his sour baby face into a crooked smirk. “Don't hurt yourself worrying about it, mio amico. I have more effective techniques for controlling the Tennis Star than going through you.” He tips his charcoal colored fedora, swings around, and exits the room. You can't help but chuckle a little bit more. The chuckles get more and more intense and before you know it you find yourself rasping and choking. Must be a relapse of anaphylaxis. You throw the syringe down and collapse onto your bed. You can barely breathe - this is far worse than anaphylaxis. Asthmatic attack? Emphysema? Septic shock? You toss and turn. The clock strikes halfpast four. Your esophagus clears and you are still alive. Alive and very rich. You get up to your desk to count the bills. The sums take you a few tries but you finally get it: six hundred English pounds. More than enough to rent you a nice office plus sofa in Lisbon. You can practically feel its plush upholstery tickling your epidermal lining. That feeling fades quickly when you remember the Barman's parting words. Could that religious baboon really be serious? Something tells you he is. And with the money he has, you don't doubt for a minute that he could convince a suggestible broad like the Tennis Star not to get an abortion. And if the Tennis Star has your baby - yes, there's no sense in fooling oneself about gentility of the gentry - the Lord and his royal cronies will have you on the rack. What you need is to get the Barman out of the way as quickly as possible. There is a knock at the door and the straight-laced Conductor steps into the room. “Next stop, Pont de Muertre for refueling,” he says, “due to arrive at 5:03, and leave at 5:20.” France. The land of corrupt bureaucrats and inane policemen. If the Barman happened to fall out of a fast-moving train here, why, they'd never know the difference. You motion for the Conductor, who's still standing at the door, to come close. “Have you seen the Barman?,” you ask, “What is his exact location as we speak?” The Conductor doesn't know. “Surprised he's not here, though,” he adds, “I thought when the Businessman was through with him he'd be needing your attention.” You inform him that they both left your room in one piece. Maybe it is all a joke. Who has ever heard of a Catholic bartender anyway? It must all be some stupid joke between the Tennis Star, the Lord, and the Barman. You've heard the wealthy are a real bunch of jokers. They're probably all drinking martinis in the bar car right now, having a good laugh at your expense. You consult the Conductor on this matter. “I'm afraid he's quite serious, sir,” he says. His somber tone tells you he's not joking. You sigh. When you took the Hippocratic oath you swore to let no harm befall your patients if you can prevent it. And right now you have a patient in serious danger: yourself. A wry smile spreads across your lips. The Conductor now has his back turned to you as he is shouting “Pont de Muetre” up to the Magician's room. “Conductor,” you say in as innocent tone as can be used when requesting a murder weapon, “you wouldn't happen to have a knife, would you? I need something with which to cut my dinner steak.” Evidently he doesn't catch your drift. “I don't remember you ordering any dinner,” he responds, and begins to turn around. But he never finishes the turn, because just then you incapacitate him with a karate chop to the central nervous tensor. His body goes limp just as -6-

The Doctor expected and he falls to the ground, conscious but as helpless as a neonate. You search his pockets for the dinner knives (the Conductor is in charge of distributing all food and utensils on the train). But his pockets are empty, except for a crummy leather wallet. You search the bag he's carrying, but there's nothing in there too. Except for a small glass canister - hold on just a second - can it be? You don't have the chance to confirm, because just then the train's brakes screech and the inertia of the slowing locomotive throws you to the ground. The Conductor leaps to his feet, grabs his wallet and bag, and sprints out of the room. You get up and try to run after him but it's no use. The Businessman's car is empty and you don't wish to go further to confront the Barman just yet. You still have no weapon with which to kill. You head back to your room and are welcomed back by the cozy, familiar smell of formaldehyde. From a doctor's perspective, the only good parasite is a dead parasite. And the Barman is a parasite, alright. He's a leech, sucking the Tennis Star's blood for the sake of his pathetic religion, and - worse - threatening your life. You search in your medical bag for the instrument that will permanently cure this troubling ailment. Scalpel? You pawned that off to buy your train ticket. Arsenic? You used the last of it when you accidentally prescribed it to a patient instead of aspirin. Perhaps you could stuff a few cotton balls down his wind passage. The whistle to the train blows to signal its departure from Pont de Muertre and your face twitches again. You hear the engine chugging more distinctly than you had before, now that it is trying to gain speed. The train's wheels creak and groan as it reaches a blinding seventy-five mile per hour cruising velocity. The room becomes warmer, likely due to the proximity of the hardworking boiler room to your compartment. You gaze at the puffs of smoke as they dissipate past your window. Suddenly you feel as if you are in the womb again. You curl up into a fetal position on your bed and watch the bright colors of the world zooming by. You spy a flock of partridges flying in a perfect V in the distance. Closer, a few fish swim past the window. Their scales are a radiant blue and you feel happy. You suck your thumb and drift into luxurious slumber. You wake up to the unmistakable click of the Tennis Star's heels. “Damn,” you mutter and yank the empty syringe of methadone from your foot. The needle must have gone right through the sole of your shoe when you stepped on it. Your leg aches miserably and your vision is blurry, but you look around the room anyway to try to see what the Tennis Star is doing here. But you only see large green blobs - curtains - and a few small brown ones - maybe books. Not the familiar black blob that covers the Tennis Star's gluteus maximus. You hobble out of bed and around you room trying to prevent yourself from throwing up. From behind a dark brown rectangle that looks like the door you hear the Tennis Star's tap becoming fainter and fainter. They soon disintegrate into the gongs of your clock. One, two, three, four, five. Ting ting ting. Quarter past five. The room is freezing cold and your muscles feel as though they have been perfused with hydrochloric acid. But you have to stop that woman before she falls into the Barman's clutches. You try to run after the Tennis Star but you crash into the door and hit the ground with a groan. Unable to get up you lay there and allow the vibrations of the train to massage your sore muscles. Your fall has placed you in an excellent position to hear the footsteps of people moving about the train, and you listen as someone descends the staircase in the next room. The footsteps -7-

The Doctor barely audible to begin with - trail off to the bar car. After a few minutes the soft steps hurriedly tap their way back to where they came. The vibrations of the train have got you real loose now. Your body feels mushy like a giant bowl of gelatin. You wiggle your toes, pretending they're tiny little marshmallows buried within the gooey goodness, bouncing to the chug of the locomotive. A loud crash jolts you to attention, scaring you so much that you accidentally wet yourself. No, wait - the wetness is too cold to be urine. It feels like water it's trickling into your car from under the door. You roll your head over get a look but get a douse of the dirty dribble in your right eye. That brings you to your senses alright. You get up, go to the bathroom, and wash your face with clean water from the sink. Then you take a long, hard breath and try to focus your mind. What had the Tennis Star been doing in you room? You look around with your new-found vision. Everything seems to be in order. Medical bag is just as you left it, and no medicine is missing. Clothes are pressed and hung. Stack of money rests cozily on your desk. Journals are neatly aligned on your book shelf - wait a minute - you look back at the stack of money. It seems a little bit...short. You take a ruler out of your pocket to measure its height. Only one inch. That doesn't sound right to you, so you decide to count the bills again. Thinking about doing all those sums gives you a mild headache but must know. Has the Tennis Star betrayed you? You count until your fingers hurt. Six hundred. It's all here. You examine each bill scrupulously, searching for signs of counterfeit. There are none. You are puzzled for a moment but it does not take you long to for you to figure things out. This is all the Barman's doing. He is trying to beat you at your own game - to play with your mind and drive a wedge between you and the Tennis Star. To scare you into submission with strange water intimidation tactics. Well the Barman picked the wrong psychotherapist to play this silly little tricks on. You storm out of your room and catch a glimpse of a flamboyantly dressed man in a yellow fedora and sunglasses sitting on the Businessman's bed. It doesn't take the astute perception of a medical professional to see that this man must be the Barman in disguise. “Is that you over there?” you shout at him. His dog - the bastard's carrying a poodle, of all things - starts to bark and he runs like a madman out the room and into the bar car. You stomp after him and crash through the door. But there is no Barman in the bar car. No flamboyant man either. You smash through into the cigar car. Still nobody. You smash back into the bar car to check again. Nope, it's empty, except for the broken remains of a glass which are sprawled across the wet floor. You jump over the bar and look underneath the counter - nobody. You splash around, kicking water onto the plaster molding. You hope it rots. You hope the whole damn train rots to hell. Finally you decide against following the Barman. Your psychotherapist's intuition tells you that's exactly what he would want you to do. Instead you hide behind the counter and set yourself up for a surprise attack. You wait. And wait. But nobody comes. You are soon struck with the fear that he may be talking to the Tennis Star and you decide to change your plan. You jump over back over the bar, landing with a splash, and head to the exit snuff him out. But you don't even make it to the door before all the electric lights turn off, leaving you stranded in complete darkness. Likely another one of the Barman's intimidation tricks. You drop to the floor and feel your way towards the door to the cigar car. It takes you quite a while but eventually you grasp hold of its familiar hinges and push. You hear the splashing of feet up ahead. -8-

The Doctor “I'm onto your pathetic game, you little germ,” you scream. “Well I'll see you in hell.” A set of obliging footsteps - it might be more appropriate to call them footsplashes on this flooded train - starts towards you from the other end of the cigar car. They get louder and louder as they cross the room, closer, closer - you hold out an outstretched hand and it catches his neck. But it's not the Barman's neck you feel - it's an overstarched bowtie, one you recognize to be the blubbering Magicians. He lets out a feeble Arabian croak and you let go. You are not a heartless murderer. Just a man obeying his Hippocratic obligations. You feel your way back to the bar to try to look for some clue as to the Barman's location. You hear stirring from the Businessman's room and you dash towards the door, but you don't make it in time. A light set of feet run through the car (splashing droplets into your face as they go) and enter the next room before you can even get close enough to see who they belong to. You follow. When you get into the cigar car you hear someone dragging something heavy from the left side of the room. You squint, trying to make sense of the dark figures. All of a sudden there is a deafening crack - lighting illuminates the room and you see the Conductor standing over a motionless body. Dead? Everything goes black before you can see, but you distinctly notice that the Conductor was holding a noose. “Get away, you fool!” he screams. You take his advice and run as fast as you can in the opposite direction, but before you get farther than the bar car, screeching sirens fill the air, blaring from every direction. You dive under a table in the bar car trying to evade capture. It works until some bastard turns the lights back on. They grab you tightly by the wrist and yank you from under the table. You go limp with fear. “I swear to you, the money was mine -” you try to plead, but you are cut off by a swift kick to the kneecaps. It is echoed by a loud crack coming from outside. Two gendarmes drag you to the cigar car, throwing you into one of the cold metal chairs. You meet eyes with the the Tennis Star, the Magician, the Violinist, and the Peasant. The Conductor is there too, looking down meekly, trying to avoid your menacing glare. On the table you spy a bloody pen and a bloody, inky rope. Soon the Lord is carried in, shivering and mumbling unintelligibly about the Great War. They tell you they found him passed out on his sofa. In his right hand he clutches a heavy pipe. The gendarmes throw it on the table with the other two items. Thirty minutes later the Businessman is dragged in shouting “I’ll choke him. I swear - I’ll choke that man.” He is wearing the rags of a homeless man. No Barman arrives. Finally, one of the officers charged with the task of searching the train brings in a dead dog who he says is found in the caboose. You wish he hadn't - it's already beginning to smell. The Barman's body is never found. One of the gendarmes speaks. He says that France has found judges to be corrupt and juries to be inept. Justice is becoming for the French an impossible ideal unable to be implemented from the crooked benches of its more crooked courts. The country has left justice in the hands of you eight passengers. It is your duty to reach a verdict. It is your duty to make France proud again. A vote can be taken at any time in secret or by a show of hands. In order to reach a verdict, the vote of conviction must be no more than one vote shy of unanimity. France will only accept one guilty party. And that guilty party must be sitting at the table. -9-

The Doctor Anything less will reflect shame and dishonor upon the good people of France. Upon the arrival of an acceptable verdict, the murderer will be swiftly, and - the gendarmes assure you - brutally disposed of. The decision before each of you is a simple interrogative. Who killed the Barman? You take one last glance at the Tennis Star. She looks like she's been put on a few pounds since you last saw her. You pray nobody else notices.

- 10 -

The Doctor

NOTE TO READER: DO NOT ASK US IF YOU WILL KNOW THAT YOU ARE THE MURDERER. ALL THE NECESSARY INFORMATION HAS BEEN PROVIDED.

- 11 -

the

Little Engine
that could

Kill

a murder mystery for eight

The Lord

You are the Lord
On Wednesday, August 5th, 1932, you and eight other passengers boarded a three-day express train from Bombay, India to Lisbon, Portugal. Unfortunately, one did not survive the journey. It is now up to you and the seven passengers left to decide who killed the eighth. This is your story. It details your background, your current position in life, and your actions on the fated three-day express liner. Read carefully, because you have many key pieces of evidence that must be used in combination with the knowledge of other passengers to unmask and convict the murderer. You will also find a map of the train, which includes any structure that a visitor to the train would notice upon cursory inspection. Ground Rules
  

Do not show this script to anyone else at any time. Please refrain from reading directly from the script when presenting evidence to others, unless you find it absolutely necessary. Play your character to some modest degree. You need not go to great efforts to mimic the character's personality - although it would be much more fun if you did - but at least speak as though you were your character (i.e. “I saw such-and-such an event” instead of “my character saw...,” and so on). If someone asks you a basic question about your character that you should know (e.g. your age), but the information was not provided in your story, you may make something up - just as long as it's consistent with the rest of your story. This story contains historical falsities and devices of science fiction. Take them for granted (but not anything else). Lying

Lie with caution. Your story interweaves with the stories of many other people who may know things about you that you might not think they know.  You may not lie about the following things: • Something you heard someone else say. • An action you saw someone else doing. • Something that you saw someone else carrying. • A piece of background information about someone else, unless you are involved in their background story.  You may lie about the following things: • Something that you said or did. • A piece of background information about yourself, or about someone else if you were involved in their background story.

-i-

Map of Three-day Express Liner from Bombay to Toledo

Magician's Quarters
Bed Desk

Conductor's Quarters
Bed Desk

Violinist's Quarters
Bed

Lord and Tennis Star's Quarters
Closet Desk Bed

S (g tair oi ca ng s up e )

Closet

Closet
Entrance/Exit to Train

Bathroom

Bathroom

Bathroom

Table&c

Maintenance Closet

Bathroom

Bathroom

Sofa Balcony Bed

- ii -

Locomotive Desk Desk Desk Counter
Table & Chairs Table & Chairs Table & Chairs Table & Chairs

Bed

Bed

Bed

Doctor's Quarters

Businessman's Quarters

Bar Car

Cigar Car

Peasant's Quarters

Lord and Tennis Star's Quarters

Caboose - where Barman sleeps

Notes:
= door (swinging or doorknob style) = open doorway Locations of chairs, mirrors, and various other items are not given. Fill in the blanks using your story. The setup is different in each person's room. The pricetags of each room are also different, but it's up to you to guess the relative cost of each.
The Lord

The Lord

You are reading The Art of Being a Gentleman when you feel a slight tickle in your throat. You attempt to clear it with a grunt. A gentleman does not cough if a woman is present even if that woman happens to be his wife. And your wife is present, all right. She is sitting on the bed ruthlessly studying her face looking for imperfections. There aren’t many but she manages to find a crease of the brow which must be quickly filled with a deftly placed dab of powder. The train hits a switch and she hits her eye. She screeches – a most vulgar screech. And you grunt – a most grotesque grunt. If one were to listen carefully, they would hear your lungs purring with phlegm and mustard gas. Even a decade later, the sounds of the Great War are still with you. You read: “A gentleman always holds the door open for a lady. For the purposes of common courtesy, a gentleman operates under the assumption that every woman is a lady whether the ocular evidence supports or debunks this premise. Chapter 24: The Pecuniary Affairs of a Gentleman. Here I defer to the sagacious advice prescribed to young Hamlet on the eve of his departure for college…” In accordance with chapter 8, you take out your notepad to jot down such words as “pecuniary,” “ocular” and “debunk.” Chapter 8 says that “a gentleman must furnish his conversational lexicon with a prodigious vocabulary from which he can readily pluck a bon mot, in the most literal translation of the phrase.” It is no surprise then that the first listing in your notepad is “bon mot.” It has yet to be defined. You check your pockets for a pen. “Honey,” you ask, “Did you pack away my pen? Or is it still -- ” Here you pause to consult your conversational lexicon. “-- festering away at the manor?” The powder is out of her eye and the crease has been filled. If only the British labor unions could fill potholes so quickly. “The pen, my darling sweetest, have you packed away my pen?” She is now squeezing her breasts together measuring their circumference with her eyes. You take a glance and help her measure. It’s a lot of inches, if you had to guess. You resume your book before she looks over. It is not gentlemanly to measure a woman’s breast size, even if that woman happens to be your wife. Where were you, again? Oh, yes, you were just beginning the pecuniary affairs of a gentleman. “…the sagacious advice prescribed to young Hamlet on the eve of his departure for college, ‘Neither a borrower or a lender be…’” You hear the powder case snap shut. “For loan oft loses both itself and friend.” “The pen, my Lord? Are you still working on that preposterous list of yours?” You leave your book a moment. “Yes, my glistening sugarplum, I believe I was until I noticed that I did not have my pen with me.” Your chest purrs like a Cheshire cat. “If every man were to look after his own pen, I believe we would not have any missing pen problems in London.” “So you forgot it back home at the manor?” “Change the personage of your pronoun and I believe you will have the correct answer.” You prefer the passive voice. “The pen was forgotten at the manor.” She clips the back of her shirt to tighten it. Judging from her two natural thermometers, it appears to be chilly on this train. She purses her lips together and paints them a flamboyant pink.

-1-

The Lord She informs you that the tendinitis in her left arm is flaring up and wishes to visit the Doctor for a thorough examination. “Don’t you serve with your right?” you ask. “Yes, but I toss with my left.” You let it stand. You know about as much tennis as you do British laws and traditions. That is to say, you’re not sure whether you bow to the Queen or give her hand the kind of good firm shaking that she’ll remember for many Tea Times to come. You’re rather new at this position of Lord. A little callow, a gentleman might say. And thankfully you’ve never been placed in that predicament of having to choose between bowing or shaking because you might just do both at once out of uncertainty. Your purr has relocated from your lungs to your windpipe. It no longer has that Cheshire sound about it. Rather, it rasps with every breath. Your wife stands up and flattens her tennis skirt against her tanned thighs. If only her serve were as good as her looks, you say to yourself, she’d be a bona fide tennis star. By the time she gets to the door, you’re fully aroused. Maybe it’s the fluttering of her skirt or the almost sensual rocking of the train. You very gentlemanly phrase a not-so-gentlemanly idea, but the proposal does a number on your respiratory system. You cough a mighty cough and hack up a thick glob of goo. You spit it onto the floor and it sits there looking like a dropped remnant off a tray of lime gelatin dessert, though perhaps not quite as appetizing. She takes a look at it, frowns, and says that she cannot be late to her appointment. The door closes behind her. But you feel a lot better having expectorated –no, spit out – that gelatinous little badge of honor from the war. It doesn’t require a chapter of grandiose prose from the book to tell you that it was not the most gentlemanly thing to do. But you’ve never taken much to being a gentleman. After all, a proper gentleman would never even dream of marrying a raunchy ballplayer who promises a lifetime of lascivious pleasures in exchange for one dirty deed. No, you say to yourself, I am no proper gentleman. With that thought, you toss the book atop the glistening lump of phlegm. There’s something to be said for the taste of a corncob pipe, you think as you take a puff from your own. You’ve smoked Briar – Too stodgy. Clay? – Too earthy. Meerschaum? – Too unpronounceable. But corncob? -- Now that’s natural tasting pipe. And the word itself flows off the tongue with a nice alliterative beat. Corn-cob -- a simple one-two repetition. It’s a simple pipe, all right. It’s a simple pipe for a simple man with a simple taste. You decide it’s the pipe for you. You take another puff and let the smoke ruminate in your mouth a minute savoring every nuance of its simplicity. It’s a shame that you will never be able to smoke this boy at Winchester. But the public has its expectations about a lord. You have to talk stodgy, eat stodgy, think stodgy, marry stodgy – well, you avoided that one, but all around you have to be stodgy. That’s why a lord has to smoke a briar. Only a French wood can be requisitely stodgy. The tobacco has burned itself down to ash and you check your pocket watch. It is 2:30. Your wife has been examined for full half-an-hour already. It must be a very peculiar case of tendinitis. You decide to check it out for yourself because it doesn’t seem like the doctor is making much progress on his own. You stuff your corncob pipe into your desk drawer and pull out a Briar placing it snugly in your front pocket with the bowl conspicuously showing. You have to keep the sham alive. On your way to the Doctor’s you run into the Peasant. He is sitting in his car wide-eyed and high-browed stacking and unstacking his gold coins. He rubs a coin between his rough fingers and a -2-

The Lord string of drool drops from his mouth onto the table. There are great dark circles smattering the table and you surmise this is not the first time a drop of spittle has escaped the Peasant’s prodigious lips. All in all, that man reminds you of a Saint Bernard that has yet to attend obedience school. You shudder to think that he supplies your manor with tea. He spots you and wipes the dribble off his chin. The back of his hand glistens with spit. “I knew you were here, Lord. I just knew it. You know how I knew it? I could smell it. The air took on the smell of royalty. It’s a rich smell. If I could ever figure it out, I’d bottle it and make every man a Lord.” “Don’t waste your time, Peasant. It’s called Magi’s Gold. They sell it at Harrod’s for a couple of those coins.” The peasant looks about nervously. He walks to each end of the car and places his ear against the door. He pulls out a chair for you and you sit. “Do you still want her?” he asks. “Does she still play violin?” The Peasant’s face takes longer to break than a German infantry unit dug in with cannonade. But when it breaks it shatters. “Tee hee hee,” he laughs. “Tee hee hee.” Big globs of mucous flow from his eyes over his cheeks down his chin and jump off in jubilant celebration. “Of course, of course. One does not forget such a thing as the violin. Here, I’ll bring her in. You should become acquainted with your new daughter before you…” He strokes a couple coins. “Later,” you say. “Right now I am searching for my wife. I believe she is rather tardy.” You glance at your pocket watch for the added effect. The Peasant produces a pack of cards from under his dirty coat and tosses it on the table. He tells you to join him for a few hands. “You and me,” he says. “Just you and me.” You desist but he insists. “Don’t worry about it, Lord. I just saw your wife and there were no problems I could see. She would sell for a pretty pot on the market unless she has some sort of…” He sours his face and grabs his crotch. “But I’ve always known you to be a clean man, Lord.” He slaps you on the shoulder and leaves a streak of sweat. You have no intention of selling your wife to this man. You are strictly a buyer in the Peasant’s market. After all, every gentleman needs an heir – it’s spelled out in black-and-white in the penultimate paragraph of the twenty-third page. You’ve circled that paragraph and dog-eared the page. Yes, every gentleman needs an heir and even an impotent Lord – such as yourself – needs a successor. You take the cards and shuffle. A few hands never hurt a man, especially against a fool with stacks of gold on the table. “Texas Hold’em, if you please.” The game reminds you of your past and that’s why you chose it. It reminds you of your nights in the trenches and, further back, of your days fixing electrical circuits on Long Island for the Leibowitz family. It reminds you of the time before tardy was a functioning participant in your conversational lexicon and commands were not softened with such vacuous formalities as if you please. Those were the days when talk was tough and life was tougher. Those were the days. “Funny, I would have pegged you a Bridge man myself,” the Peasant says. “I occasionally dabble in games from the States. The war should have taught us, Peasant, that the Americans can now extend their grimy hands across the ocean and shape the very life of our precious British Isles. Unfortunately, we Brits must accept this grisly bit of news and view the world -3-

The Lord through a more Neapolitan lens if we wish to survive the remainder of the 20th century.” Or so said this morning’s London Times. But you’re fairly certain the Peasant does not read such publications of high repute. “I’ve never held a thing against Napoleon either. We’ll play a game for those rotten doughboys. But only because you say we must, Lord.” The Peasant bets wildly. When his cards are high, he bets low. When his cards are low, he bets high. When his cards are neither high nor low, he folds. And the more gold he loses, the more saliva he produces. By the three o’clock hour, the Peasant’s side of the table is soaked with spit and sweat and your side of the table is glittering with gold. You apologize to him. A gentleman should always apologize for his winnings. “Don’t worry about me, Lord,” he says. “I’ve got plenty more coming my way by the end of the ride. Spread the wealth, right Lord? That’s always been my mantra. Spread the wealth. Mantra -- you like that word Lord? I’ve been hanging out with you so much we’re both starting to talk the same.” The thought of any similarity with the Peasant disgusts you. The man smells like an improperly refrigerated bologna sandwich that has been left to fester about an hour too long in the hot summer’s sun. You are unsure whether the aroma is a product of his dietary practices, or his sanitary habits, or rather his delinquency thereof, but your stomach turns and your throat chokes both at once. His tongue laps greedily at his underarm. It is the source of the malodor, you assume, judging from the Peasant’s hungry grunts. You had not realized the tea industry was doing so poorly that a tea farmer would view his underarms as a viable source of sustenance. You request that he call down the Violinist immediately to play a few sonatas in G minor. That is your favorite chord. It is largely baritone with a slight hint of discordance. “You know what I’ll make her play, Lord? I’ll make her play some Green Leaves, just like the tea I sell you. Green Leaves – maybe that will bring me some luck.” “By Green Leaves, might you mean Greensleeves, the traditional British romanesca?” “Yes, that is it. Greensleeves. Did I say Green Leaves? Green Leaves – what a terrible name for a song. What was I thinking? Yes, Greensleeves. I will call her up here right now to play some Greensleeves.” “You filthy, no good, daughter of a whore” the Peasant shouts up to the Violinist’s suite. “Get your two-pence body up here – “ The Peasant chokes on his own saliva and looks over at you. You look back at him. He gets the message. “Yoohoo, Violinist, please grace us with your angelic self, if you wish. A nice British man would like to take a look at you -- ” But the Peasant has already said enough. You can read the newspaper articles right now -“Upon the passing of the Lord of Winchester, a filthy, no good, daughter of a whore will assume the title and the requisite role.” You can feel a chill. You know you never should have consulted this Peasant to find you a suitable daughter. You reach over to pick up your winnings and find a child trafficker of good breeding. “I apologize, Lord. You see – it’s just the relationship we have. I call her a whore. She calls me a bastard. Think nothing of it. Come on, let’s play another hand. I have some gold to win back.”

-4-

The Lord A gentleman never refuses his opponent the opportunity to win back his loses. You sit back down, like a gentleman, and take out your monocle. You would like to properly inspect your future daughter before you purchase her. What you see through your corrective lens makes you take out your Briar, fill it, light it, and take a puff out of pure relief. Your search for a suitable heir has -- barring some catastrophic monetary crisis or happenstance intervention by John Law – arrived at a most fortuitous conclusion. She has a sassiness about her that cannot be mistaken for anything other than self-knowledge of her own superiority. You can tell this by the look she gives the Peasant. A look that possesses a vocabulary of its own and says to the Peasant that he is worth less than the market value of the collected sediment in the toes of her stilettos. It is clear to you that this Violinist does not need a book to teach her how to act like royalty. Her blood is blue enough already. The beauty of the moment is broken by a string of uncouth “Tee hee hee’s.” “Play Greensleeves for us, my dear. Tee hee hee…I prefer to call it Green Leaves…Tee hee hee…It brings me luck…Tee-hee-hee.” With the first touch of bow and string, the Violin restores beauty to a world sullied with Peasants. “Her sound is luscious,” you say. “That isn’t the only thing that is luscious,” the Peasant says as he slaps his own backside and convulses in a sordid mix of Tee-hee-hee’s and spittle. Your wife nearly crashes into the Peasant’s protruding backside as she hurries through the car. You grab her dangling left wrist as she passes you by. Her tendons feel firm yet flexible under your strong grip. The doctor must have treated her well. You pull her close and look into her eyes. They are welled up with tears and her make-up is smeared. She has never looked more beautiful. “How was the appointment?” you ask. “Tiring,” she says. “This whole damn world can be tiring sometimes.” You let her go. She scurries off to her suite in a fit of tears and you decide to leave her alone. She has been prone to emotional outbreaks ever since the death of her first husband, the previous Lord of Winchester. You think about that man for a while – the previous Lord of Winchester. You think about how he was a true gentleman and stayed that way until the last organic cell of his body was charred with electrical shock. And then you think about the tears of joy the widow shed when she saw the old man’s body in the bathtub bobbing in a Polka rhythm with the steel toaster still plugged into the wall. And that night – you will never forget the ecstasy of that night. There is something to be said regarding intercourse with a widow, but it is too vulgar to be penned in a tale about a respectable Lord. The slap knocks you from your reveries. The Peasant’s left cheek is red and the Violinist’s right hand is raised. In a seamless series of motions, the Violinist is running into the Cigar car with the Peasant’s rope dangling from her ankle. The rope is capped at each end with black rubber. You shudder to think what sort of meretricious behavior the Peasant had exhibited while you were reliving a moment of great sublimity. “After all I’ve done for her – that ungrateful little cur. I was the one who found her playing the violin on a lonely wharf. I found her and I brought her here to be sold to a respectable family. To become a future Lady, of all things. It’s bad enough the Barman’s giving me the short end of the stick -- but that’s another story. I encourage her to play with a little more feeling and that’s how I -5-

The Lord get treated – like a corner pervert. I should be bowed down before like a messiah saving her from that life of poverty and cliff dwelling. But that’s what you get when you deal with an…an…” He pauses to take a deep breath. “Ungrateful cur!” he shouts. As chapter 15 recommends, you attempt to assuage the heated party by interjecting with a conciliatory remark. “The Barman – why, what does he have to do with anything? His prices are rather affordable for his line of work and he mixes a superb highball. I would highly recommend you try it sometime.” “Oh, mind your own business, Your Majesty. You’re getting the girl and you’ve taken half my gold, isn’t that enough for one day?” “I apologize for the misunderstanding. My recommendation was not induced by any selfinterest or preternatural inclination toward nosiness. I had merely wished to give a personal observation and is so doing – “ Your conciliatory remark is interrupted by a “tee” quickly followed by a “hee-hee” and a wet slap on the back. “’I apologize for the misunderstanding’ – I like that. I like that. You are swifter than a German U-boat. You know that, Lord? Has anyone ever told you that? Well, I have. Teehee-hee.” You are utterly bewildered by the Peasant’s abrupt shifts in disposition and you begin to wonder if indeed he has tried a number of the Barman’s superb highballs. He stops laughing. “But the Barman doesn’t just mix drinks, you know.” The Peasant continues and tells you that the Barman has been arranging the deal between you and himself (the Peasant) all along. That the only reason the Barman stands behind the bar in this two-bit train is to provide his clients with a mobile and unsuspecting locale from which to consummate the exchanges. Sprinkled in between these pieces of information, the Peasant informs you that, while he has no visual or tactile proof to support this premise, he believes the Barman is taking a greater percentage of the cut to compensate for his small penis. Thus, the Peasant is left in the unfortunate situation of having an enormous penis but very little money to sate its carnal desires. You express some skepticism regarding the physiognomic explanation of the Barman’s business practices. The Peasant responds by pulling down his pants. You turn away. Your olfactory senses alone are besieged. There is no reason to do the same to your visual. Perhaps you will one day ask the Violinist. Judging from what you’ve witnessed on this train, she should possess some insight into these unsavory matters. When the smell of rotten mushrooms has left, you turn back around. The Peasant’s pants are up and the cards are dealt. You take a look at your pocket watch. Whatever time it is, it is time to go. You gather your winnings – all three lofty stacks – and pour them into your jacket pocket. “It is about a quarter to three,” you announce. “It is unfortunate but I must be leaving you. We shall have to discuss our financial arrangements a little later, I am afraid. Until then -- ” You extend your hand, but the Peasant simply bows. A slight whiff of flatulence squeaks from out him. You turn around in a breathless huff – it is the safest type of huff when dealing with the Peasant’s gaseous discharges – and you ram your head right into the muscular chest of the Conductor. You topple over and the coins spill out.

-6-

The Lord The conductor takes a look at your coins and then at the Peasant’s. He takes one of each and bites them individually. “The Queen’s coins. I am not surprised. Are you aware of Title 12 Chapter 9 Section 3 of the Royal Code?” The conductor is exceeding his authority and you let him know with such carefully chosen words as “Lord” and “fired.” The conductor calmly removes his wallet and displays its contents. It is a badge from Scotland Yard. “I suppose then that I would not have to explain Title 12 Chapter 9 Section 3 to a British Lord?” he asks. You wonder for a moment whether you left any fingerprints on that toaster. “I am aware in so much as it pertains to my lordly duties.” “Well then you should be very much aware. The crown does not respect such contracts.” He points to the coins. “We are a proper people and we do not condone such debauchery even by our nobility.” You crawl on the floor and sheepishly pick up your coins. Not certain of their current legality, you place them on the table and wait for the Conductor to leave before repocketing them. He stands there in silence. You and the Peasant sit in silence. You fondle a coin. The peasant pulls lice from his greasy hair. The conductor stares at the wooden paneling on the wall. You start staring at the paneling and after a few minutes wonder whether it is faux or oak. At the stroke of four, the conductor pulls out his camera and announces that he will be photographing vineyards from the caboose and departs in that direction. A minute or so later, you decide it is faux. The grain is much too regular. What could that undercover officer of the crown possibly have intended by citing such a specific yet obscure subsection of Royal law? You ask the Peasant that very question, as you do not know your common law from your statutory, let alone your royal. That ruffian of a Peasant, you think, he might harbor a more intimate knowledge of the various nooks and subsections of legal malfeasance. “I don’t know – I don’t know –,” he says, “But I do know that ungrateful little cur wants the two of us – me and you Lord -- locked away for good. That’s why she goes running off rattling her maracas to the Conductor like a Brazilian whore.” He explains that “a lot of beans might be spilt” before the train pulls into Lisbon. And that “small penises make a lot of noise.” He warns you that the Barman might spill so many beans his genitals are liable to shrivel down and fall off right there in the interrogation room. You ask the Peasant to be excused, as you must relieve yourself and prefer to do so in the privacy of your own bathroom rather than corners of railway cars. The Peasant spits on the floor and rubs it into the wood with the heel of his boot. “Remember, your majesty, if anyone ever spills any of my beans – “ When the saliva has been adequately vanquished you turn and walk to your car. The Peasant is laughing uncontrollably. The bathroom is steamy and the shower is running. You take a deep breath and cough up some more muck from the trenches spitting it into the sink. Steam has a way of drawing out the muck. As always, the shower curtain is open. Your wife lets out a flirtatious yelp as you pat her on the tush. It sure smacks like a fine piece of asbestos insulation. -7-

The Lord You relieve yourself until you sputter and drip. You try to flush the toilet but all it does is jangle. You believe it to be a filler valve problem and you fiddle with the mechanism tightening a few screws and loosening a couple bolts. You have killed before. Of course, there was the sordid business of the war during which you metaphorically notched your belt full of Teutonic marks. But you have also dropped toasters in bathtubs at the whims of little ladies who tell temperature better than BBC weather reports. All you had to do was imagine that he – the Lord of Winchester – were a German. It made the toaster drop like butter from your fingers. She had asked you to do it. No, she had begged you to drop that toaster. Well, not a toaster exactly. She had suggested a dash of arsenic though poison never was in line with your blue-collar tastes. You were an electrician and you preferred to kill like one. And after the toaster was dropped, her tight thighs were loosed and you thrust open the gates to the kingdom of Xanadu tasting of its pleasures. They tasted like previously chewed tobacco. No ring was ever given. No public vows were ever taken. The former Lord of Winchester was a recluse – a name without a face. You simply took the name and became the face. For to marry publicly, would be to invite suspicion. And suspicion is a most unwelcome guest. Yes, you killed to become a Lord. And you might very well kill to stay one. The Barman knows too much. And the Peasant does too, though he is not as pressing a matter. He plays the buffoon too well to be taken seriously by any agent of the crown. You flush again and the toilet just jangles. No water comes out. It must be a piping problem. You reason that since the shower is still working the break is most likely in an auxiliary artery. You flush once more and listen keenly. No, it’s not a G minor. More a B major. You search the bathroom for a replacement pipe when you find one enclosed in glass and labeled “For Emergency Plumbing Purposes Only.” You cannot conceive any plumbing purpose that could possibly be more imperative than the inability to flush the toilet free of urine. The glass is easily broken and you remove the pipe. This is quickly becoming a sordid detail as the glass shards on your Kashmir jacket demonstrate. You put on your trench coat from the Great War that was folded in your portmanteau. It still has Argonne mud on its sleeves, and Old Glory still flies on its right shoulder. You hum the American national anthem, pick up your pipe and march your way towards the bar car. You are looking for the water main, but if you run into the Barman in a lonely corner, it is no loss. Pipes are silent, and if swung properly, can deliver devastating blows. As the door swings shut, you hear a muffled female voice coming from the caboose. You cannot make out the speaker, or the substance of her conversation. But you distinctly hear “bet,” “services” and “kill the Barman.” It doesn’t sound like the typical agenda of a Girl Scout’s meeting. But you have your own business to take care of, and you continue into the Peasant’s car searching for either main or man, whichever you should find. The Peasant is still sitting at the table playing a game of solitaire and betting wildly against himself. “Might you know where I should find the water main? A pipe has burst and I intend to fix it,” you say while brandishing your plumbing implement. He cracks a nonsensical joke involving your mother, your father, and your wife together in a room with one bed.

-8-

The Lord You carry on to the Bar Car where you shift the pipe from right to left hand. You have never swung an object with your right before and this would be a sorry time to try. You absorb your surroundings. There is no sign of the Barman. The car is deserted. You push your way into the Businessman’s suite. He is chuckling as you enter and tries to smother his laughs with the most fabricated coughs you have ever heard. “This dust has been getting to me,” he says. He opens his window, grabs his nose, and waves in the outside air with windmilling arms. All he waves up is more dust. The Businessman digresses to the topic of lungs, trains, happiness, and their mutual incompatibility. It is obvious to you that he has been laughing at your choice of coat. Perhaps it is a little too low brow for his fur and leather tastes. You question him regarding this matter. “There’s no need to be defensive,” he says. “It’s a fine coat you’ve got on. It’s just this infernal dust. Everywhere you breathe, it finds its way its way into your lungs.” You inhale deeply and sense not the slightest particle of dust accumulating in your lungs. He had not been coughing, but laughing. It must have been your coat that he found so amusing. “Well, this coat has made it through the war,” you say. “That’s more than can be said about you.” The Businessman takes a conciliatory note and rambles about the relativism of fighting a war. “You fought it in the trenches,” he says. “And I fought it in the banks. We’re both veterans of sorts.” Of course, the Businessman only prefers to fight metaphorical battles. “There appears to be a water main break in one of the forward cars,” you say. “Sabotage?” “Sabotage? – Why might one say that?” Sabotage – You have never stumbled upon that word in your book before. It is not a word particularly befitting a gentleman unless it were used to describe the effects of a terrible rainstorm on your planned excursion to the countryside. Nevertheless, the word was once very familiar to you… Suddenly it is 1918 and the Somme offensive is underway. The President of the United States – Woodrow Wilson himself -- has stationed you on this train of great strategic military importance. Your mission is simple. It is to destroy the German outpost and restore the auxiliary water supply. You decipher the cryptic message spoken to you by this portly agent of the British Crown. He tells you, more or less, that the German has been traveling on this train under the code name “The Barman” or simply “Barman” by those familiar to him. He is known to be a coward and has been last seen hiding in the bowels of the Magician’s car. The informant mentions that he would derive much pleasure from performing the former of your two required duties. You admire his chutzpa and salute him. But he, unlike you, does not have a Presidential decree. This is a mission for one and you brusquely depart through the forward door. You listen for the enemy. A man’s voice drifts to you from within the compartment. “I'm warning you,” it says, ““I will kill you if it means protecting my patient.” It must be the Barman’s doctor. You have entered the heart of darkness. To proceed any further without backup would be suicide. And suicide is not a Presidential decree.

-9-

The Lord You are less conspicuous on your belly. You drop down and slither like a venomous snake back to the British agent. He must be occupying a stationary position on the cusp of the enemy fortification. He speaks to you again in a coded fashion. He speaks of tofu and Victoria’s crosses. Again, you admire his chutzpa. But it is becoming all-too-clear that this portly agent is more concerned with padding his stomach and aggrandizing his person than he is with sound strategy and venomous attacks. You attempt to separate yourself from this champion of self-interest and you crawl towards the aft car. But he opens the door and follows behind. You look for cover and position yourself under the barstool. The Queen’s agent inspects the area and hops over the counter. The two of you are perfectly positioned flanking both sides of the devil’s workplace. That is, until the agent exposes you both. He stands up with a flask and loudly toasts the German’s demise. This man is not only a strategic nightmare, but he also happens to be a bloodthirsty sot. His misbehavior is placing the entire mission in peril. You will radio General Pershing informing him of these concerns. The bumbling fool stumbles off into the aft car. You fumble through your pockets for your radio and find it. It is a clandestine radio and has shape-shifted into a Briar pipe. “There is a buffoon on this train, over.” You hold your position and await the American commander’s reply. A man donning an apron and fedora enters from the forward car and occupies the other side of the bar. He looks the spitting image of a Barman but a positive identification cannot be made. He has not spotted you and you tap your radio twice in a mayday call. It is crucial that you remain concealed until backup arrives. A German infantry soldier with a hard face made harder by the shadows of his navy blue field cap enters the car from the rear and leaves through the front. In between he pauses to pivot his head like the turret of a tank until he fixes his sights on the wall behind the counter. He gazes and then he continues. His face never softens. Minutes later, the buffoon reenters the car holding an incendiary grenade. Perhaps buffoonery is simply his modus operandi and not his modus vivendi. The serpents are ready to strike. It is time to shout the call to arms. “The pipeline is blown. I repeat, the pipeline is blown.” The agent executes the operation beautifully. He tosses the grenade over the counter and the Barman writhes in pain. He will writhe and then he will die. You are no longer needed here. A pipeline still requires mending. You stand and march double-time into the car the agent has just left. It smells of smoke. You look for shells and cases but cannot find any. You look for Germans. You cannot find any of those either. The agent must have performed a clean-up job. A trickle attracts you to the closet. You crawl in and find the disruptive pipe. It is the one that is hissing a fine mist into the air. You tinker with the joint and release asbestos particles into the air. The train halts. The Germans must be stocking the train with reinforcements.

- 10 -

The Lord A sure-footed man walks past the closet and shouts Pont la Muertre. You cease all tinkering and huddle in the shadows of the far corner. You had forgotten to close the closet door. He pauses for a moment. Your throat tickles. They must have unleashed some mustard gas, you think. He grabs the handle of the closet. You swallow at the tickles sending them back down into your lungs. He closes the door and passes into the forward car of the train shouting Pont la Muertre. You leave the corner and return to the pipe. It has reached the 17:00 hour. You are forty minutes into your mission and already half complete. The so-called Barman is dead. The train has resumed its course and a soft-step sneaks into your car from the rear entrance. The step wonders about the room as if it is searching for something or someone. Minutes later, a heavy-foot lumbers through the forward door. From the sound of the lumber, there is much doubt in your mind that Germany is facing a food shortage. The heavy and soft meet in the center of the car. An exchange is made. You can tell from the rustling of coats and the snippets of speech. The heavy tells the soft that it will “know what to do with these” followed by a couple nasally and inaudible words. Land-mines, you think. They are cleverly planting mines in unsuspecting parts of the train to tackle the German’s killer. The heavy leaves through the forward door and a few minutes later the soft does the same. You gingerly open the closet door to avoid tripping any explosive devices. You crawl along the floor patting the rug feeling for any unusual impressions. The forward door opens and a soft step trips over your body falling on top of you. She must be one of those German prostitutes. You drag her into the closet and close the door. She has a very familiar face – well painted and framed by golden curls. You unbutton your way down her blouse and she slaps you in the face. The Germans are a people who enjoy mixing pain with pleasure. “You are going to have to help me handle the Barman,” she says. “I think he knows too much.” “I do not consort with spies,” you say nudging her away. She cups her hand around your ear and whispers, “I am not a spy. I am your wife.” You can feel her tongue. It is a lie. Your dog-tag is etched with a capital “S” for single. She jumps on top of you and opens her blouse. “Do to him what you did to my husband.” You decide that every soldier must occasionally consort with spies. “I’ve already taken care of him,” you say remembering the perfect arc of the grenade. She rocks back-and-forth with the train. “Come with me back to the room,” she whispers exposing her true agenda. She has been sent to tear you from your duties and expose you to dangers of the minefield. You push her off. “I must stay and complete my mission.” You attend to the pipe and she mopes. The forward door closes and the spy leaves the closet. She must be rejoining one of her associates. The forward door closes again and the two of them leave. You have removed one of the two pipe joints. As soon as the next one is removed, you can replace the pipe and restore the auxiliary water supply. You loosen the next one. - 11 -

The Lord A rough foot enters through the rear and exits through the front and leaves behind an awful cloud of noxious gas. All you can hear is a roar after you remove the second joint. Water blasts from the open end and knocks you against the door. You can barely see. You flounder through the rising floods struggling to grab hold of the latch. The exertion disrupts the gook in your lungs starting you coughing. You cough, heave, and flounder blindly. Then the closet door opens and you sink with the water level. Some German hurtles through the air at you. You can make out his outline through your matted eyelashes and you dodge to the left. He misses. You run away coughing and hacking through the cars – Cigar and Peasant – until you reach your own. There you lie wet and shaking on the sofa. Shaking with cold and fear until the gendarmes shake you to consciousness. You feel for your Briar pipe. It is just a pipe again. You stuff it with tobacco and take a smoke. A sharp crack sounds from outside the train. The gendarmes remove your trench coat and rummage through the pockets. They turn it upside down and shake it. The plumbing pipe drops to the floor. War lint and disintegrated pin-ups float out. There is no toaster hiding in your pockets. They stick the pipe in your right hand and lead you to the table in the Cigar Car. The other passengers, with the exception of the Businessman, are already seated. The Peasant’s frock has a bloody-inky hole through the center. A golden-tipped pen and a rope are both on the table. The pen is rouged with blood and the rope is spotted with both blood and ink. The ends are still capped. A gendarme takes the plumbing pipe and places it on the table alongside the pen and the rope. You cannot help but feel the Gendarmes have framed you by trotting you before the other passengers with pipe in hand. A gendarme leaves to the aft of the train. He returns cradling a poodle in his arms. The poodle’s legs remain stiff and straight as the gendarme drops it in a dusty corner. The dust moves. The poodle doesn’t. Some time later, the Businessman is dragged in shouting “I’ll choke him. I swear – I’ll choke that man.” He is wearing the clothes of a homeless man and smells just as bad. You make a mental note to never invest in anything he recommends. The gendarme speak. He says that France has found judges to be corrupt and juries to be inept. Justice is becoming for the French an impossible ideal unable to be implemented from the crooked benches of its more crooked courts. The country has left justice in the hands of you eight passengers. It is your duty to reach a verdict. It is your duty to make France proud again. A vote can be taken at any time in secret or by a show of hands. In order to reach a verdict, the vote of conviction must be no more than one vote shy of unanimity. France will only accept one guilty party. And that guilty party must be sitting at the table. Anything less will reflect shame and dishonor upon the good people of France. - 12 -

The Lord Upon the arrival of an acceptable verdict, the murderer will be swiftly, and -- the gendarmes assure you -- brutally disposed off. The decision before each of you is a simple interrogative. Who killed the Barman? You take a heavy draw on your pipe. If only it were 1918 again…

- 13 -

The Lord

NOTE TO READER: DO NOT ASK US IF YOU WILL KNOW THAT YOU ARE THE MURDERER. ALL THE NECESSARY INFORMATION HAS BEEN PROVIDED.

- 14 -

the

Little Engine
that could

Kill

a murder mystery for eight

The Magician

You are the Magician
On Wednesday, August 5th, 1932, you and eight other passengers boarded a three-day express train from Bombay, India to Lisbon, Portugal. Unfortunately, one did not survive the journey. It is now up to you and the seven passengers left to decide who killed the eighth. This is your story. It details your background, your current position in life, and your actions on the fated three-day express liner. Read carefully, because you have many key pieces of evidence that must be used in combination with the knowledge of other passengers to unmask and convict the murderer. You will also find a map of the train, which includes any structure that a visitor to the train would notice upon cursory inspection. Ground Rules
  

Do not show this script to anyone else at any time. Please refrain from reading directly from the script when presenting evidence to others, unless you find it absolutely necessary. Play your character to some modest degree. You need not go to great efforts to mimic the character's personality - although it would be much more fun if you did - but at least speak as though you were your character (i.e. “I saw such-and-such an event” instead of “my character saw...,” and so on). If someone asks you a basic question about your character that you should know (e.g. your age), but the information was not provided in your story, you may make something up - just as long as it's consistent with the rest of your story. This story contains historical falsities and devices of science fiction. Take them for granted (but not anything else). Lying

Lie with caution. Your story interweaves with the stories of many other people who may know things about you that you might not think they know.  You may not lie about the following things: • Something you heard someone else say. • An action you saw someone else doing. • Something that you saw someone else carrying. • A piece of background information about someone else, unless you are involved in their background story.  You may lie about the following things: • Something that you said or did. • A piece of background information about yourself, or about someone else if you were involved in their background story.

-i-

Map of Three-day Express Liner from Bombay to Toledo

Magician's Quarters
Bed Desk

Conductor's Quarters
Bed Desk

Violinist's Quarters
Bed

Lord and Tennis Star's Quarters
Closet Desk Bed

S (g tair oi ca ng s up e )

Closet

Closet
Entrance/Exit to Train

Bathroom

Bathroom

Bathroom

Table&c

Maintenance Closet

Bathroom

Bathroom

Sofa Balcony Bed

- ii -

Locomotive Desk Desk Desk Counter
Table & Chairs Table & Chairs Table & Chairs Table & Chairs

Bed

Bed

Bed

Doctor's Quarters

Businessman's Quarters

Bar Car

Cigar Car

Peasant's Quarters

Lord and Tennis Star's Quarters

Caboose - where Barman sleeps

Notes:
= door (swinging or doorknob style) = open doorway Locations of chairs, mirrors, and various other items are not given. Fill in the blanks using your story. The setup is different in each person's room. The pricetags of each room are also different, but it's up to you to guess the relative cost of each.
The Magician

The Magician As you spin your magic coin atop your fingertips, a devious smile comes to your lips. A coin is a fine thing. Small and compact, you can easily make it disappear and reappear, creating the illusion that you're taking it out of ears, noses - and, when you are alone with your assistants - places that can't be mentioned in polite company. Yes, the coin was a handy item alright, but even the mighty coin pails in comparison to rope. You love to coil the rope around your assistants' supple legs, tightening it more and more until they gasped in pain. Then you would hang them above your bed of knives, bringing them to the precipice of death with that rough, beautiful rope. The crowd would squeal in awe, and you would flash your toothy Arabian smile at them before drawing a curtain around the assistant, bowing, and then in one swift motion snipping the cord with your razor sharp magician's blade. The crowd would fall silent as its frayed tips vanished behind the curtain, everyone awaiting the death scream of the young, innocent little girl. But no scream would come. The silence would grow heavier and heavier; no one breathed until you would finally draw the curtain in a magnificent flourish, revealing not the innocent girl they expect but but a scantily clad little nymph, sitting on that bed of knives with her legs crossed, the cut rope clenched in between her shining pearly teeth. You always made them hold the rope in between their teeth for that trick – they looked so much more ravishing that way. You pick your rope off its hook and run your hand along its strong fibers and its smooth rubber ends. When you bought it in Saudi Arabia they told you that it had been used by the previous owner as an instrument of murder. Maybe it had even been the weapon that took the life of your father when you were still so young. But all that is just as well. Death is a magician's ultimate inspiration. Your favorite part of every trick is fooling people into thinking you've killed one of your assistants – by drowning, by sawing, or by stabbing. It gives you a tingle of satisfaction to enact someones murder, and you are always reluctant to bring them back to life. If it weren't for the fact that your assistants were so good-looking, you might have just left them dead. Assistants, assistants. You say the word to yourself a few times. It's a long, slender word, with two rounded and very luscious inflections in the middle. It rolls off the tongue ever so smoothly, leaving a sweet, feminine taste when it's gone. A more appropriate name could never be imagined. You reach into the pocket of your perfectly pressed tuxedo to withdraw a cherished album embroidered with that very name. You begin flipping through, and land upon a faded gray photo of a Russian vixen, wearing a fine Russian pea coat – and nothing else. You gaze longingly at her thin, voluptuous figure; her fiery Slavic eyes. Her name was Natasha; she had been your first assistant, back in the days when you were young and poor, performing magic with mere garbage picked out of the Russian alleyways. But you do not wish to remember those days of sorrow. Your mind wanders back to the Barman. Your magician's intuition tells you that something's amiss with that baby-faced Italian sweeny, his visage a little too formless, his eyes a little too beady, his stupid, slaphappy smile a little too smug. One thing's for certain, he's no professional bartender. His schnapps tastes worse than camel's piss, and his service is no better. That is, for everyone except the Tennis Star. It's become painfully obvious to you that the Tennis Star is one of the Barman's preferred customers. No surprise there – that doll had a body like you'd never seen in all your travels. When you got on this train you would have bet your life that a skinny little slimeball like the Barman didn't have a chance with that goddess, but recent events have caused you hold your tongue. -1-

The Magician Yesterday you noticed that the Tennis Star let the Barman's hand wander in places they didn't belong while her husband, a British lord whose clueless expression tells you he's the product of one too many aristocratic intermarriages, was looking the other way. “Damn,” you mutter to yourself in a thick Arabian accent, “I wish to know how to do that kind of magic.” You decide that you need a cigar. You walk over to the desk table, pick up your snow-white turban, and wrap it around your head carefully, making sure not to disturb the delicate locks of hair you keep hanging just above your eyelid for a mysterious effect. You wink at yourself in your crystal ball and exit your room, descending the staircase onto the first floor of the train. It's the Doctor's room. You find the good Doctor carefully funneling some suspicious pills into a small glass bottle. The Doctor glares at you and hastens to put the medicine bottle into the drawer of his otherwise completely bare desk. You don't want to make trouble, and decide to move along. You saunter out of the door, snapping your pocketwatch out of your sleeve as you walk (you like the mysterious effect). It reads ten minutes till two. You pick up your step heading towards the Businessman's room, hoping to make it to the cigar car before the teatime rush. When you walk into the Businessman's quarters, you find him sharpening his pen, mumbling to himself. You hold your breath, trying to catch some of his delirious ramblings. “It was a damn good deal” he says gruffly as he grinds the tip of his pen against a whetting stone with a quick, deliberate hand. “It was a damn good deal...” In your studies of hypnosis you became well versed in the theories of Sigmund Freud and it's clear that the Businessman is thinking about much more than just sharpening pen as he rubs it against the stone faster and faster. But if that pen is supposed to be a phallus, the Businessman must be compensating for some serious deficiencies elsewhere. Its razor sharp tip is made of solid gold, its handle a dark, handsome shade of gray marble. Its knife-like nib gleams at you from within the Businessman's scaly palm, and a shudder runs down your spine. A pen with a tip like that could be used for far more than just signing a few bank checks. Suddenly the Businessman catches you out of the corner of his eye, drops his pen, and twists his face into a nasty scowl. Freud might call it a physiognomic manifestation of the id, our yearning to be vile and primitive. You would just call it a very ugly face. “How long have you been here?” he asks. Noticing the look of impunity you have not bothered to hide, he screws his face further into insufferable deformation, and repeats, “how long?” You avert your eyes from the unseemly sight and try to change the subject, asking him if he would like to accompany you to the cigar car for a smoke. He nods and turns away from you – thank almighty Allah for that – to gather a few of his belongings. Then he gets up - slowly, because that is the only way a man with such an enormous waist can get up - and tells you he's ready to go. You are thankful to see that he leaves the pen on the desk - you don't trust him as long as he has got that monster in his possession. In the cigar car you occupy yourself – and provide your eyes some much needed relief – by showing the Businessman pictures of your assistants, but he isn't watching. Instead he attacks you with pointed questions about the company that makes your Polaroid film and scoffs at the photo of Lenin on the cigars you purchased while in Russia. He begins to ramble about Pinkos and commies but is interrupted by the heavy trod - and the onerous aroma - of the Peasant. The Peasant glances at you from under his rough burlap hood but does not stop to say hello. You've heard these peasants are very superstitious folk, and you suspect that your magical demeanor frightens his simple mind, -2-

The Magician so it doesn't surprise you that he's a little bit timid in your presence. You put your bitter Russian cigar to your lips, slowly let its smoke fill your mouth, and blow a ring, watching it lazily disintegrate into nothing. From out of the smoky cloud emerges the slender silhouette of the Tennis star. You would like to inspect her barely-covered legs a little longer, but you don't want a dame like her to see you goggle-eyed, so you look down at your watch. It's 2:00PM already. You turn back to the the Businessman, whose eyes are completely glazed over. That's what a gal like the Tennis Star can do to a lesser man. You're glad you're not a lesser man. The Tennis Star is gone but the Businessman keeps staring. You pull out some more pictures to snap him out of it. The first is a photo from the time you tied Natasha up and threw her in a water tank. “Look at this trick,” you beseech him. It's a great trick, a beautiful trick; the crowd loved it every time and you see the Businessman is no different. He squints at the picture, and you get just the response you want: he calls you a murderer. You get a tingle of pleasure from that name but as much as you'd like to live the fantasy the Peasant has just come back from the bar car and you don't want the cops after you, so you tell the Businessman the truth - she lives in the end. The Peasant passes without a word, and you can tell the Businessman is disappointed by your confession. He's so disappointed he has to excuse himself to order a drink from the bar car. You stay behind and get out a pack of cards, hoping the Tennis Star might come back so you can impress her with one of your tricks. You shuffle the cards and puff smoke, lots of it, to give yourself an aura. But it's not the Tennis Star's darling face which comes from the bar car, it's the Businessman's ugly mug. He inhales the smoke and chokes, cursing as he sits down but he doesn't seem fully aware of his actions. His eyes soon become glazed like sugar pills again and he's starts something that sounds like “After all those gifts I bought her, I can't believe she'd fall for him...” It's the id at work again and you're beginning to put two and two together. Evidently the Businessman has engaged in some sour negotiations with a woman on this train. You inquire further into the matter, but he snorts and responds coyly: “Nothing you have to worry about, comrade.” You're not so sure what the “comrade” is about, but you are more concerned with the possibility that the Businessman might be fucking the Tennis Star. You grimace at the thought of his swollen lips on the magnificent Tennis Star's cheek and realize that if you're ever going to get anywhere with the Tennis Star yourself, you're going to have to drop this bozo faster than Harry Houdini went over the Niagra Falls. The Tennis Star will be back any moment so time is short. First you try to bore him with some repetitive card tricks. But that doesn't work, so you resort to direct threats. “You should see what I can do with a rope,” you growl at him in a low voice, reaching for the rope in your jacket. Bozo's eyes go wide at that, but you realize all too soon that you left your rope on the desk in your room. All you have is a handkerchief and you doubt that could be used to get him out of your way, even if he is an Englishman. But the whole scheme becomes irrelevant when the Tennis Star walks in, the folds of her short black skirt just barely covering her tiny little tush. It's a nice sight, but you get more pleasure from watching the Businessman's eyes following the hem of that skirt - up and down, up and down, up, up, up - the poor sap has the eyes of a boy in a candy store - and down. You sigh to think that the Tennis Star had to see you sitting with this pubescent blockhead. The Tennis Star makes her way through without so much as acknowledging either of you and she is replaced by the Conductor, who enters from the bar car to take orders for dinner. The -3-

The Magician Businessman's dinner, anyway. He eats a fat, juicy steak with eggs at four o'clock sharp every day. He orders the same thing today. “Get a move on, Conductor,” he roars. “A capitalist travels on his stomach.” “Well then I expect you to travel far” comes the defiant voice – and sexy French accent - of the Violinist, who has appeared seemingly from nowhere. You have to look twice at her. This is the first time you have seen her up close, and boy is she a stunner. She has firm strong shoulders, slender thighs, and a chest that would knock your socks off – the perfect set of features for a magician's assistant. You want her, and you want her bad. The gears in your mind of mystery immediately begin cranking, calculating the moves you would make to get this little nymph into your magic shows and into the palm of your hand. Judging by the jest that goes back and fourth between them you guess that she and the Businessman are on familiar with each other – a bit too familiar. Was this the girl the Businessman was mumbling about? You are inclined to discount this possibility as you listen the Businessman make a series of bungling advances towards her. He never stands a chance. She's gone - headed towards the bar car - and he's left with nothing but a warmed-over grin left on his unseemly face. That grin quickly fades to a frown, and you avert your eyes before his unhappy pucker comes into full bloom. The familiarity between the Businessman and the Violinist still bothers you and you decide to make it your business whether the Businessman slept with your future assistant or not. You flip your pocketwatch out of your sleeve - it now reads 3:41 - and gently place it on the table. Its ticks reverberate through the cigar car. Tick, tick, tick. The rhythms are smooth, powerful, relaxing. Perfect for a little hypnosis. Before he even realizes you got the watch out he slips away into a deep trance. “She was a damn good deal,” he whispers, his veins turning blue as he clasps his whiskey bottle with all his might.. “She was a damn good deal...” He describes her face, her breasts, her hair – it sounds like the Violinist alright. But what had happened? He takes a swig of his whiskey - even in a hypnotic trance he is an alcoholic - and whispers a little more, but he's talking economics and you can't understand a word. Suddenly his expression visibly changes – as if he'd had a revelation – and he slams his flask down, shouting “Damn it, I blew the deal and now she's blowing the Barman.” The trance has been broken. He looks at you suspiciously, still not quite understanding what you have done to him, but knowing he's said too much. “Hey Magician, you keep everything you've heard to yourself, you hear?” he belts. “I’ve got some connections – some business connections on the other side of this journey – understand? It can be a long trip back to your little desert commune, if you catch my drift.” The Businessman's sour words scarcely have a chance to sink in before the Conductor enters the scene, silver platter in hand. With shaking arms he lays the platter down and pulls off its silver lid with a wince. One look at the plate sitting before the Businessman and you know why he is wincing. “Is this a bloody joke?” the Businessman asks the Conductor “No, It’s tofu,” he responds meekly. “Tufu? I didn’t order any tufu. I ordered a T-Bone steak, medium-rare that is, with..” “It’s quite the delicacy in China.” The look of the Businessman's face after that remark told you that heads were about to start rolling. -4-

The Magician “So is bloody dog, but I didn’t order that either,” he growls. He gets up from his chair and lunges for the Conductor, mumbling “I'm on to you and this whole Commie train,” but the Conductor dodges his fatty paws with considerable ease. The Conductor sprints back to the bar, followed by the bounce of the rather obese Businessman. You debate for a minute whether to follow them, but you discount that possibility when the beautiful Violinist walks in from the direction of the bar car. You take one look and realize that she will be no easy trick to turn. Her expression is icy cold, and her purse is the size of a hot air balloon, which probably means her ego is too. Well the bigger they are the harder they fall. “Good afternoon, my lady,” you say in your most irresistible performance voice. “May I be pleased to meet you? I am the Magician.” That second-to-last bit didn't sound quite right, but the enchanted look in her eyes tells you she doesn't care much. You have her wrapped around your finger tighter than the rope around your assistant's meaty thigh. You kiss her hand and smile your Arabian smile, twitching the long, curly whiskers of your mustache as you do so. She nearly swoons. “What is your name?” you ask. You know the answer but that's not the point of the question. As in magic, the purpose will only be known after the trick is done. “Violinist,” she squeaks. “A beautiful name,” you tell her, “for a beautiful lady.” You gaze at her lush cheeks as they develop a bright red hue. You expected this, and it is time now for you to move in for the kill. “Your face is red,” you say, “I give you something to match.” From your sleeve you snap out a fine red rose – you keep it there for special occasions such as this – and present it to your fair maiden. When she nearly drops her violin to take it from you, you know she's yours. You pull up a chair just in time for her to collapse into it. Now you have her right where you want her. You beseech her to join your magic act as one of your assistants. It's worked with every girl before and you can see by the light in her eyes that it's working for this one. “A girl with charms – ahem – I mean charm – would be perfect for my infamous rope trick” you tell her. She's about to acquiesce and fall into your arms, but the bungling Conductor ruins everything. Camera bag in hand, he trips into the cigar car with a look of smugness, deceitfulness, and complete senselessness all wrapped into one. The look is a familiar one to you – it's the same look that the Businessman wore when he was ogling at the Tennis Star's wriggling behind. It's the look of a man who wants to see a little bit more than the laws of transparency and opaqueness allow. The Violinist, Allah knows why, tries to strike up a conversation with this dope. “Are you coming to take my publicity photos?” she ask him. You let her see you impatiently glance at your watch. 4:01. The Conductor looks up from his shoelaces, and you see an expression of utter stupidity. He can barely get a word out, but what he says sounds something like this: “This is just my...toolkit...,” he points at the bag which looks about as much like a toolkit as a Muslim to a homosexual. “Got some conductorly business to attend to on the other side of the train...” He does not finish his sentence but trips his way out of the car into the Peasant's room. With a smirk you imagine the Conductor tripping off of the railing of the caboose and falling face -5-

The Magician first into the gravel below. But the the Violinist interrupts this agreeable stream of thought. “Let's go to the caboose,” she begs. You can see from the submissive look in her eyes that you don't want to decline this proposition. On the way to the caboose you pass through the Peasant's room and meet face to face with the man himself. He is accompanied by a rank odor. It has disastrous effects on what was until now the very high morale of your penis. But when Violinist gives you a wink and it perks up again. Suddenly there is a foul wind from the East. It's the Peasant's breath. “Where are you taking my Violinist?” he rasps at you. The Violinist has you covered. “The Magician says there is a great view of the scenery in the caboose,” she says, “We are just headed over to see it.” The Peasant's bloodshot eyes dart chaotically up and down your body. You wish the Violinist hadn't mentioned your name. Finally he snorts conclusively. “The vineyards too?” he asks. “Yes, the Vineyards,” replies the Violinist. “They seem to be seen best from there,” he points towards the back of the train with flailing thrust. Speckles of mud fly from his fingers and stain the wall. Well, if nothing else, you at least respect his simplemindedness. Even with the manners of an untamed llama he can still believe that his opinion somehow matters. The Volinist takes your arm and you continue to the caboose. You pass through the Lord's room on the way but you don't remember much of what you saw except the panty-lines on the Violinist's firm behind. The walls of the Caboose are deep red, a bloodlike hue that you have not seen since you stared at the gnarled remains of your father on that fateful summer's day so long ago in Saudi Arabia. But never mind those long passed memories. The Violinist's eyes are expectant, your pants are bulging, and the show must go on. But it turns out she's the one who runs it. She grabs you by the shoulders and begins to whisper feverishly. “We don't have much time,” she says, her voice wavering with fear, “So listen.” She tells you that she's been kidnapped by the Peasant and that he's using this train as a market to sell her off to the highest bidder. She tells you that it's the Barman whose running this slave-trafficking operation. He recruits the customers, the Peasant brings the slaves, and both take a cut of the sale. At the end of the line the switch is made and nobody - not the passengers, and not the rest of the world - is any wiser. Your body grows cold. You knew all along that there was something a bit too familiar about the Barman's shifty eyes. Could it be? She does not stop. She tells you that if you take her as an assistant the Barman will come after you too, and that he won't take pity on either of your lives. Throwing herself into your arms, she tells you that the only way you can ever be free together is if you kill the Barman. But that thought had crossed your mind long ago. Yes, it had been him. It is all too clear now. You were a young, promising boy of ten, an ideal Muslim and a loving son. But one day, without warning and without explanation, someone had walked into your living room and taken all that away from you. He killed your father but spared the lives of you and your mother. But it was not for mercy. That bastard threw you into a cage, thew the cage into a train, and shipped you up to Moscow, telling you that you would be “payment for Daddy's debt.” He tried to sell you into serfdom, but you managed to escape from the chains they -6-

The Magician used to bind you and make a run for it. Realizing you had a knack for escaping from things, you took to a life of magic on the streets. But you never saw your mother again. And though the pain of the loss eventually faded away, the memory of that scumbag's face never did. You hadn't realized until now because it had been through twenty years of aging. But the Violinist had jolted your memory alright. It is the same slappyhappy mug you remember. The mug of the Barman. Living on a train, riding from town to town, that yellow-bellied bastard had managed to escape the law and the sight of all the misery he has wrought. Or maybe he took pleasure in the misery of others. Well, either way, once you get your hands on him he won't be taking much pleasure in anything. You tell the Violinist your long sorrowful tale and puff your chest, waiting for her to embrace you and share your angst. But you get a kick in the shin instead. “Liar!” she screams. Your shin throbs with excruciating pain and you feel very confused. “I am telling the truth!” you tell her, not knowing what else to say. She hisses at you like a snake. You drop to your knees - both for the aesthetic effect but also for the practical purpose of protecting yourself from another kick - and beg her to believe your story. Suddenly her demeanor visibly changes. She smiles at you and says in a wry tone: “I bet you my services that I can kill the Barman before you. You win, I will be your assistant and we will be free. If I win I will assume you are one of the Barman's henchmen and you will rot in hell with him after the justice system is through with you.” You barely understand a word she say but you know you are not one of the Barman's henchmen and you definitely know that you can murder that asshole before the tiny Violinist. You would do it anyway, bet or no bet. Might as well get an assistant out of it, even if she is a slightly psychotic one. “Deal,” you say and extend your hand to seal the deal. But apparently women seal the deal differently from men because she doesn't give you her hand. Instead she slaps it away, kicks you in the groin, and wraps you up with a rope - your rope, you realize with a shock - she pulls from her purse. She ties each limb to one of the Barman's bedposts and sprints out of the caboose. “Bitch,” you mutter. But secretly, somewhere inside, you are enraptured. A girl with that kind of attitude would be an assistant beyond assistants. And assistant she will be before the night is up. The ropes are tied pretty well, maybe they could have held a bozo like the Businessman but they're no match for a professional magician. You execute the operation with ease , and the rope is coiled underneath your flexible arm in minutes. But the trick is only half-done - you still need an escape route. You're not going out the door, that's for sure. You don't think you could handle another of the Violinist's handshakes should you run into her on the other side. Your eyes scan the caboose's red walls. There's a clock on the left - it reads 4:44 - and on the right there's window just big enough for you to crawl through. By the speed of the trees that pass by you would gauge the train is moving at about seventy-five miles per hour with a wind blowing to the west, if the turbulence of the ride informs you correctly. You stuff the rope into your jacket, and in a single motion you open the window, hop out, and swing it shut it behind you. A Magician always covers his tracks. You dig your fingers into outer wood panels of the train, but you realize that it's faux and slippery. “Cheap bastards,” you mutter as you begin to slide down towards the blur of sticks and -7-

The Magician stones below. But before you fall you manage to get a hand on the wrought iron underneath, which you find much more amenable to gripping. You shimmy forward, counting the cars and looking for an open window. It's an easy crawl, but along the way you are forced pass under an oil leak, and you get a few drops on the leg of your tuxedo, which up until now has been kept in pristine condition. You are not happy about that, but the black stain doesn't show on your blacker pants. Finally you notice an open shutter on the outside of the Businessman's car – his irritable nasal passages have likely not yet adjusted to the smell of the Peasant yet – and you somersault through it without a sound. You glance around the room and spy a note left upon the Businessman's desk, beside his sharp pen. The words have been etched into the paper in dark letters. They read: “Meet me in the caboose at eight. I'll bring the rope.” Could this flamboyant hand belong to Violinist? You can scarcely believe she could have such an astute ability to predict your rather unpredictable actions. But your groin still aches and it reminds you that she's capable of some pretty unpredictable actions herself. Maybe that little bitch wants to make up for her former rashness. Likely she realized she couldn't go through with the job, and now she wants to submit to being your assistant. She's so desperate she's even offering to bring rope for your first trick on her. Well she's not getting off that easy. You're not giving up that damn bet. You'll meet her in the caboose, alright, but it will be over the dead body of the Barman. You grab the Businessman's precious pen and pocket it. It has dawned upon you that this pen might be helpful to write the death sentence of the Barman when you happen to cross his path. You leave the rope on the desk – you won't be needing it, if the Violinist speaks the truth. The sound of the Businessman's patent leather shoes echoes from the direction of the bar car. You double back towards the staircase that leads up to the Conductor's room for temporary hiding. Your experienced Magician's feet are inaudible, the trail you leave behind, nonexistent. A Magician always covers his tracks. The Conductor's room is empty, and you duck into his closet and close the door. You find yourself in the midst of a rather interesting set of belongings. To your left lie stacks of British law books. To your right, an open “fingerprint dusting kit,” with the Barman's soiled apron and a pair of women's underwear beside it. But the thing that catches your attention most is the small but impressive album of photographs - labeled “Top Secret” - lying at your feet. You have to struggle to see them in the dark, but on each page there is a bare chested woman, some caught while dressing, others while showering, and still others while sunbathing. They get more and more attractive as you go. And on the last one are – you guessed it – the two bon-bons of the Tennis Star, every bit as round and supple as you imagined. The smell of the photograph developing fluid is still fresh on that one. You have scarcely looked at the photos for more than a minute when you are jerked by the train's screeching brakes. A glance down your sleeve reveals that it's a few minutes past five o'clock. The Conductor's wail echoes up the staircase and into the room. He's announcing that the train will be stopping at the French village Pont de Muertre for refueling. You hear his footsteps trail off to the other side of the train, then about twenty minutes later - after the train starts again - he comes back and ascends the staircase to his room. You silently pray he does not open the door to the closet. You hear scraping, as if the conductor was pulling up his chair to his desk. Then the only -8-

The Magician noise is the whisper of a pencil. This goes on for about thirty minutes, and then all sound ceases. You listen hard and hear the tip-tap of a set of high heeled shoes; if your Magician's intuition is correct the walk belongs to none other than the Tennis Star. You listen as the Conductor quietly descends the staircase after the footsteps. The coast looks clear so you get out of the closet. There is a pile of crumpled paper on the Conductor's desk . You open one of them up - it looks like the draft of a letter. To the love of my life, We have scarcely had a chance to get to know each other on this short journey. But I confess that I have fallen madly in love with you, and I would be lying if I said that I have not noticed your modest eyes wandering in my direction as well. Let's run away together. I have connections in governments across Europe and can get us a nice house with a pension, and I will make your life far more interesting than that insipid Lord could ever do. I know, by way of the grapevine, that he has left you unsatisfied in certain departments and you have looked to the Barman to make your life whole. I also know that you would now like your life to be a little less whole. I will eliminate the menace if you leave him for me. Signed with all the passion in my heart, Conductor. You would like to read this rather pathetic and funny note again, but the footsteps of the Conductor are coming back up the steps so you retreat back into the closet. When they get to the top you hear a clash and then the thunderous sound of rushing water, so loud that you almost think the train is passing underneath Niagra Falls. It spooks you and you jump out of the closet, ready to run. But the Conductor isn't up to anything except burying his head underneath his pillow (probably to try to drown out the noise), and never knows the you are there. You dash down the stairs. You're home free, but when you step down from the last step of the stairwell, you don't step onto the faux wood flooring you ascended from. It's now a river, with water flowing across the floor at an impressive speed, its source located in the direction of the bar car. You try to leap onto a chair to protect your black leather shoes, but something – no, someone – obscures your path. The body is flailing its arms in extreme disorientation, and you grab at them trying to subdue the dangerous projectiles. Your get hold, and feel in your palms the soggy burlap sack of the Peasant, but the face that looks up to you is not the Peasant's face - it's the one has appeared to you in nightmares for twenty long years – the babyface visage of the Barman, smirking his lips off and stinking of alcohol. You don't ask questions. You simply do what you've wanted to for so long. Reaching into the pocket of your tuxedo you pull out the Businessman's pen and stab once into the heart, quickly and quietly, removing the pen and dropping it into the Peasants cloak pocket. A Magician always covers his tracks. The wound is small, but blood gushes out voluminously, mixing with the ink from the pen to form a reddish black stream running down the Peasant's clothes. Before the blood or the ink can stain the floor, they are washed out of the room and out of the train by the bubbling brook that's still flowing around your feet. As the Barman's body goes limp in your hands – you hold it at arms length, ensuring that not a single drop of blood gets on your still finely-pressed tuxedo – you see the minute hand of the Businessman's clock snap to 6:49. You drag the Barman's lifeless body by the neck, moving through the bar car and into the -9-

The Magician cigar car in search of a place to store the body until eight. You settle upon a small closet in a wayward corner of the car. The water is even deeper in this area than anywhere else, and when you open the door you find out why. Inside the closet is the burst water main of the train. There's also the Lord, swimming waist deep in the cold stream, a plumbing pipe in one hand and a smoking pipe in the other. Again, you don't ask questions. You see that he is turned in the other direction and hasn't spied you yet, so you throw the body of the Barman into the closet and make a break for the caboose. You only make it as far as the other end of the cigar car before you hear the splashing of footsteps making their way out of the closet in pursuit. You duck into the bathroom stall beside entrance and lock the door. The footsteps must not have seen you because they keep running towards the caboose. A second, heavier set coming from the front end of the cigar car – nearby the closet where you left the body – suddenly becomes audible, along with the slamming of the door. A third set of steps - softer and sharper than the first two - start up, coming from towards the back of the train and make their way towards the cigar car to meet the second set. They stop yet again at the closet. Moments later all the lights go out, the rushing water dies off, and the train stops cold. It becomes eerily quiet, and then you hear low-pitched thump. Soon after, two slow, heavy steps – you can't tell who they belong to – go back in the direction of the caboose. All this stepping is beginning to eat away at your nerves. You're not sure what all this excitement around the closet is, but somebody knows too much. A Magician's secrets should stay secret, and if necessary you will bump off anyone who disagrees. You'll bump off this whole damn train if you need to. It can't be that far to the Spanish border, and these Frenchie police couldn't catch you even if they brought their whole damn country's force out here. You'll bump every one of them off alright. Except the Violinist. You have other plans for her. You open the door and head after the bastard from the closet. Suddenly you hear a voice coming from the direction of the bar car, but you can't make out who it belongs to because the lights are still out. “I'm onto your pathetic game, you little germ,” it bellows hoarsely. “Well I'll see you in hell.” He is right about that. You clench your fists and sprint in his direction swinging like a madman. Then, unexpectedly, your sprint is cut short and you feel the hand of the unknown man clinched around your neck. You cannot breathe. “It's over,” you think to yourself, and hope it will be quick. But the hand lets go, and you don't stick around for any more fun and games. Next stop, the caboose, from whose balcony you will ditch this train of closet-loving bastards. Doorway after doorway zooms by until finally you make it to the caboose. You run in and fall flat on your face. Your fists just break your fall enough to prevent your still-pristine tuxedo (save for that oil stain) from becoming wet on the damp floor. Arms are wrapped around your legs. The owner of the arms speaks up. “I win.” It's the unmistakable hiss of the Violinist. Suddenly you realize you are lying on top of a body. A cold, dead body. You are too shocked to say anything, and wheel your head around confusedly in the darkness. Lightning strikes, illuminating the room for a brief moment. You stop cold when you see the dark outline of a man against the window of the caboose. You can't make out who it is, but his eyes burn like chunks of iron emitting blackbody radiation. The lightning fades, but the eyes are still - 10 -

The Magician burning in your mind. Well the eyes will not be shining like that for long. You will bump off this whole damn train if you have to; a Magician always covers his tracks. You jump to your feet and grasp for the eyes, trying to gouge them out. But before you make it to him you are swept up from behind by a French gendarme, who incapacitates you with a bear hug and carries you off to the cigar car. The Violinist is right behind you, being dragged kicking and screaming by another burly officer. They sit you down at a table in the cigar car and turn on the lights. In the opposite corner you spy the Conductor, crouched in a fetal position and holding a bloody, inky noose. The gendarmes grab him, subdue him, sit him at the table, and make him place the noose into its center. The Tennis Star is lying unconscious in the middle of the room. It takes a minute for the gendarmes to revive her but eventually she's also led to the table, although with all the bruises she's not looking so pretty anymore. You sit in silence, staring at each other. A sharp crack is heard from outside. The gendarmes look out the window but can see nothing. Minutes later a vile odor suffuses into your nose, and it is followed promptly by the sight Peasant, who arrives in the cigar car unaccompanied, coming from the direction of the caboose. He's wearing his usual He's wearing his usual burlap, but there is a conspicuous hole in the center of his cloak. Its perimeter is stained with blood and ink. The gendarmes pat him down when he arrives and withdraw a bloody pen from his pocket. They throw it on the table with the rope. The next to arrive is the Doctor who is being pulled along by two more guards. He takes a seat at the table and locks his eyes into a cold, menacing stare aimed at the Conductor. Following the Doctor is the Lord, who is carried in holding with a heavy pipe in his right hand. He's mumbling unintelligibly about the Great War. The pipe, too, is thrown onto the table. A mangy poodle - dead as a doornail - is carried in by the tail from the direction of the caboose. Thankfully it is not thrown on the table, but a dusty corner instead. Time passes and no one says a word. No Barman arrives. The Businessman is dragged in shouting “I’ll choke him. I swear - I’ll choke that man.” He is wearing the rags of a bum. It doesn't surprise you. The man never had class. The Barman's body is never found. One of the gendarmes speaks. He says that France has found judges to be corrupt and juries to be inept. Justice is becoming for the French an impossible ideal unable to be implemented from the crooked benches of its more crooked courts. The country has left justice in the hands of you eight passengers. It is your duty to reach a verdict. It is your duty to make France proud again. A vote can be taken at any time in secret or by a show of hands. In order to reach a verdict, the vote of conviction must be no more than one vote shy of unanimity. France will only accept one guilty party. And that guilty party must be sitting at the table. Anything less will reflect shame and dishonor upon the good people of France. Upon the arrival of an acceptable verdict, the murderer will be swiftly, and - the gendarmes assure you - brutally disposed of. The decision before each of you is a simple interrogative. Who killed the Barman? - 11 -

The Magician A uncomfortable smile comes to your lips. Your leg feels slippery in your oily pants. You hope you can cover your tracks.

- 12 -

The Magician

NOTE TO READER: DO NOT ASK US IF YOU WILL KNOW THAT YOU ARE THE MURDERER. ALL THE NECESSARY INFORMATION HAS BEEN PROVIDED.

- 13 -

the

Little Engine
that could

Kill

a murder mystery for eight

The Peasant

You are the Peasant
On Wednesday, August 5th, 1932, you and eight other passengers boarded a three-day express train from Bombay, India to Lisbon, Portugal. Unfortunately, one did not survive the journey. It is now up to you and the seven passengers left to decide who killed the eighth. This is your story. It details your background, your current position in life, and your actions on the fated three-day express liner. Read carefully, because you have many key pieces of evidence that must be used in combination with the knowledge of other passengers to unmask and convict the murderer. You will also find a map of the train, which includes any structure that a visitor to the train would notice upon cursory inspection. Ground Rules
  

Do not show this script to anyone else at any time. Please refrain from reading directly from the script when presenting evidence to others, unless you find it absolutely necessary. Play your character to some modest degree. You need not go to great efforts to mimic the character's personality - although it would be much more fun if you did - but at least speak as though you were your character (i.e. “I saw such-and-such an event” instead of “my character saw...,” and so on). If someone asks you a basic question about your character that you should know (e.g. your age), but the information was not provided in your story, you may make something up - just as long as it's consistent with the rest of your story. This story contains historical falsities and devices of science fiction. Take them for granted (but not anything else). Lying

Lie with caution. Your story interweaves with the stories of many other people who may know things about you that you might not think they know.  You may not lie about the following things: • Something you heard someone else say. • An action you saw someone else doing. • Something that you saw someone else carrying. • A piece of background information about someone else, unless you are involved in their background story.  You may lie about the following things: • Something that you said or did. • A piece of background information about yourself, or about someone else if you were involved in their background story.

-i-

Map of Three-day Express Liner from Bombay to Toledo

Magician's Quarters
Bed Desk

Conductor's Quarters
Bed Desk

Violinist's Quarters
Bed

Lord and Tennis Star's Quarters
Closet Desk Bed

S (g tair oi ca ng s up e )

Closet

Closet
Entrance/Exit to Train

Bathroom

Bathroom

Bathroom

Table&c

Maintenance Closet

Bathroom

Bathroom

Sofa Balcony Bed

- ii -

Locomotive Desk Desk Desk Counter
Table & Chairs Table & Chairs Table & Chairs Table & Chairs

Bed

Bed

Bed

Doctor's Quarters

Businessman's Quarters

Bar Car

Cigar Car

Peasant's Quarters

Lord and Tennis Star's Quarters

Caboose - where Barman sleeps

Notes:
= door (swinging or doorknob style) = open doorway Locations of chairs, mirrors, and various other items are not given. Fill in the blanks using your story. The setup is different in each person's room. The pricetags of each room are also different, but it's up to you to guess the relative cost of each.
The Peasant

The Peasant

An Arab soothsayer – as both the Arabs and soothsayers are inclined to do – once waxed poetic on the beauty of love. He told you a pretty little tale of pretty boys with pretty locks picking pretty pears from pretty trees. There was an ugly boy too though he died about midway through after succumbing to a terrible bellyache from a stolen pear after he had refused to till the ground and cultivate the seed like the pretty little boys with the locks. The last line of the tale was “Love, like a pear, must be sowed before it can be reaped.” The Arab was narrow-chested, wide about the hips, and with the small tuft of brown hair stemming from the center of his bald scalp, much resembled the fruit of his didactic tale. You followed him down the cobble-stoned roads winding your way to his flat as you told him a tale of your own. It involved a tea farmer from Ceylon whose appetite was larger than his harvest. A man who could only augment the latter to sate the former by stealing women to sell to lonely British men whose tastes far exceeded their looks. The last line of your tale was “Love, like a wad of chewing tobacco, must be purchased before it can be enjoyed.” He opened the door to his flat. The Arab’s wife and their dimple-cheeked son were seated across the table from each other ladling a meal that smelled to you like burnt tundra. The woman would sell high on the market to a man who puts tremendous value in thin noses and full lips. The child was still quite young – tractable – and at ninety-or-so-pounds of sinewy tissue worth every ounce in gold. “I foresee a life of endless toil and lonely nights for a man of such sentiment as you have mentioned,” the soothsayer lisped in an inflection hovering between prophecy and curse. You pulled a sickle from out your frock and placed it deftly in the Arab’s back – a little leftof center and a little south of shoulder – the presumed whereabouts of his heart. The presumption was confirmed with a grunt and silent collapse. The woman and her child were easily corralled and you tied them – separately – with the rope you carried around for such occasions. They howled like a pair of hyenas and the sound afflicted your acoustic tastes, but that was also to be expected under the circumstances. A greasy rag in each mouth restored the silence you desired. The Arab’s eye unblinkingly stared up and seemed to follow you though the pupil did not move. You covered it with a large golden doubloon – there was no need to be cheap about the morbid matter considering the one would soon be replaced by many – and you walked the back alleys towing with sharp tugs of rope your precious cargo. The boy never looked you in the face from start to finish. “I am only doing the Barman’s work,” you told him. You sent the boy on a train up to Russia and some childless Russian family sent a bag full of rubles down to you. The woman was sold to a man with a peg for a leg and a tumor on his cheek. She died within days and you never got your money. The sick man skipped town and presumably found a hidden niche somewhere to salve his ulcerated face and gratefully await the onset of death. The Arab had, through a variety of dealings – some dirty some clean – accrued a sizeable debt with the Barman, a debt supported by the pretty faces of his wife and son. You split the bag and sent half – maybe a few rubles short – to the Barman. The Arab’s debt was repaid and the Barman was satisfied. -1-

The Peasant The sickle caught the imagination of the tabloids and headlines from Istanbul to Cairo read “Rogue Peasant Reaps Death” or some variation of that. The headlines died and the investigation faltered. But the name stuck. Since then, you have introduced yourself as “The Peasant” a tribute to your first and most memorable dealing with the Barman. All those thoughts had been hidden under a decade or so of dust and had only reemerged when you heard the serpentine lisp of the Magician. It reminded you of the Arab soothsayer and the pretty tale he lisped. The time is 1:55 PM. The Magician is sitting with the Businessman in the Cigar car. They are sharing smoke and stories as they puff on their cigars and flip through a stack of photos. You glance at the stack and spot a topless girl with a rope forever frozen in a sultry pose. Synapses fire and connect in your brain. You hide a smile though it is not the girl for whom you are smiling. It is the rope. You walk quickly through the car -- but not so quickly as to walk suspiciously. In the bar car the Barman is hunched over the counter reading a paper, some Catholic publication no doubt. He adheres strictly to Catholic doctrine and insists on selling his victims only to Popish families. “The Tennis Star?“ he asks. “By tonight,” you answer. The Businessman’s suite is empty though it feels full with the thick scent of Murphy’s Oil Soap. His mahogany desk shines its approval. You enter the Doctor’s car and ascend the stairs to the Magician’s room. As you had suspected, the rope – each end capped with black rubber – is lying unattended on his bed. You pick it up and hide it under the heavy folds of your coarse jacket. A rope is necessary to the furtherance of your trade especially when dealing with such an athletic piece of cargo as the Tennis Star. Only a thick rope can subdue those lusty thighs of hers. You reenter the Businessman’s suite but it is no longer empty. The Tennis Star skips through the car like a head of cattle ready to be lassoed, corralled and sent to market. As she skips by you, your hand slips under her skirt and grabs her rear. It is firm with just enough give for your hand to establish a tight hold. The right cheek alone could sell for a bucket of doubloons to a man with a bucket, doubloons, and an abominable physical abnormality. She giggles fetchingly. You show her the rope and gesture towards the Businessman’s bed. As soon as she is successfully tied down, she should be easily transported into the Bar car for safekeeping. She calls you Mr. Peasant and baby talks you about train civility all the while bending over and showing you a healthy pair of fertile udders. Fertility is a premium in the market for wives and you grab at her chest solely to feel for defects. You do not mix business with pleasure. Air is all you squeeze. With a few spry steps she is at the door and entering the Doctor’s suite. You make note of her agility like a rancher observing the movements of a fine steed. As she twisted around, she exposed her right flank and dangled her left arm, you think, two weaknesses exploitable by the lasso.

-2-

The Peasant The smell of rich mahogany draws you to the Businessman’s desk where his gold-tipped fountain pen and gilded notepad lie. Although the glittering tip catches your eye, you are decidedly not a thief and you pick the pen up only to use and not to steal. “Meet me in the caboose at eight,” you write on the top sheet of the notepad. “I’ll bring the rope.” You place the pen back on the blotter where you had found it and tear the top sheet off the pad. The Businessman’s pen is inordinately sharp. The letters have not only been written onto the paper, but have been cut through. While folding the note, you can see through the words small glimpses of your hand on the other side. It needs to be washed. You walk into the Bar car where the Barman is still hunched over the counter reading. You drop the note onto the counter near enough to his paper that he should notice, but far enough away that it does not become mixed in and discarded. The Barman does not remove his eyes from his reading and you return to your room. On the way, you pass by the Businessman and the Magician still viewing photos in the Cigar car. “No, no. In the end, she lives,” the Magician says to his friend. “It is what we call a trick.” The Businessman frowns with sadistic disappointment. You ponder the terrible deeds the Magician has done with a rope and your pride hopes that he has not surpassed you in either number or ferocity. You quickly peek at his hands and judging from the shortness of nail and trimness of cuticle, decide he is a man whose penis is less attended to than his pinky. Five dollars, a couple shots of whiskey, and a night in Ceylon would change all that. Ceylon is a place where a man can use his wallet to fuck and his penis to think. You return to your room and sit at your table. You think of the most efficient and least suspicious means of luring the Tennis Star into the caboose this evening so she can be properly tied and sent to market. Your synapses fire but they feel as if they have been stocked with blanks. You pull lice from your hair and chew the crunchy critters slowly and thoughtfully hoping to restore potency to your mass of misfiring gray matter. It doesn’t seem to work. It is 2:20 when you remove the third and fourth floorboard from the starboard wall and gather a few stacks of gold coins you had laid hidden there. You carefully replace the loose floorboards and step along the edges to seal them shut. On a train with a Magician, a Businessman, and a member of royalty, a man must undertake great precaution if he wishes to protect his personal effects. You stroke the coins feeling the silky smoothness of gold currency and think of how many of these coins the Tennis Star will fetch from a man who feels her right cheek. Drool uncontrollably floods your mouth and drips in a string formation from the corners, down your chin and onto the table where a puddle reeking of stale tea and partially digested liver forms. It smells to you like last night’s dinner. The smell of riches comforts your nostrils and your salivary glands increase their production. You sniff the coins – it is not them. They smell metallic with the pungent undertones of sweat and oil. You look up. The Lord looks back at you. He must have entered while you were contemplating the great worth of his wife, the Tennis Star. Self-conscious, you wipe the spittle from your chin with the back of your hand. You do not wish to disgust the man who purchases your tealeaves. -3-

The Peasant “I knew you were here, Lord. I just knew it. You know how I knew it? I could smell it. The air took on that smell of royalty. It’s a rich smell. If I could ever figure it out, I’d bottle it and make every man a Lord.” “Don’t waste your time, Peasant. It’s called Magi’s Gold. They sell it at Harrod’s for a couple of those coins.” The Lord points at your stack of money and you worry for a moment that he has been pilfering them to support his expensive tastes in cologne. Or even worse, that he has doused away the money intended for the purchase of the Violinist. You look about and check each door at either end of the car for pairs of unwanted ears. You pull a chair out for the Lord to make him comfortable and he sits. Comfort is an important, yet much overlooked lubricant in the machinery of business. “Do you still want her?” you ask, cutting directly to the crux of the deal. “Does she still play violin?” The interrogative in place of a declarative catches you by surprise and all your synapses fire at once momentarily decimating the subsection of your brain that generates rational responses to rhetorical questions. You laugh with pupils floating for answers until order between neurons has been restored. “Of course, of course. One does not forget such a thing as the violin,” you say. “Here, I’ll bring her in. You should become acquainted with your new daughter before you…” You feel your coins with the happiness of a man who knows that more will shortly follow. “Later,” he says. “Right now I am searching for my wife. I believe she is rather tardy.” He looks at his pocket watch in the manner of a commuter who incessantly checks the time more to motivate the train forward than to be informed of its lateness. You know it is 2:35. The wall clock across from you tells you so. You toss a pack of cards on the table and ask the Lord to join you for a couple hands of whatever it is lords play. Bridge, you assume. It has enough fancy conventions to make a Lord feel as if he’s at Windsor. “You and me,” you tell him. “Just you and me.” The Lord fiddles his soft fingers in concern over his wife’s tardiness, and you pounce on the opportunity to acquire some pertinent information regarding her personal hygiene. You recall “Busty Betty” a feisty girl who had to be sold at discount on account of the clap to a man so overridden with disease that you heated his money an hour in a kiln before accepting it as payment. You do not wish to make the same mistake again with this sexually inclined star. “Don’t worry about it,” you say to the Lord. “I just saw your wife and there were no problems I could see. She would sell for a pretty pot on the market unless she has some sort of…” You sour your face, bug your eyes, and grab your damp crotch like a man who has just had a firsthand encounter with the aforementioned disease. The Lord seems less than amused by your antics and your implications. “But I’ve always known you to be a clean man,” you tell him while slapping him on the shoulder like a college buddy you met on the eighteenth hole at St. Andrews. You drag your hand across his shoulder rubbing it clean of the sweat and incontinent leakage accrued by the crotch of your pants. The Lord takes the cards, shuffles, and deals each of you a pair -- eleven cards short of a proper Bridge hand. You raise your brow inquisitively. “Texas Hold ’em, if you please,” the Lord says with a hint of drawl on Texas. -4-

The Peasant “Funny, I would have pegged you a Bridge man myself,” you tell the Lord while trying to reconcile such brusque sounding interests as Texas Hold ‘em with the soft hands and rosy cheeks of the Lord. All in all, he looks more doughboy than cowboy, you decide. The Lord rambles on senselessly about Napoleon’s affinity for grimy hands and Americans. Though you never much cared for those cattle-ranching yahoos, you hide your disdain behind a succession of vacuous head bobs. You have suspected the Lord might secretly be one of them ever since he switched his tea order form Earl Grey to Lipton a couple years back, and you do not wish to offend the only customer supporting both your licit as well as illicit endeavors. “I’ve never held a thing against Napoleon either,” you say. “We’ll play a game for those rotten doughboys. But only because you say we must, Lord.” You are unsure of the rules dictating the play of this game or the determination of the winner. In Ceylon, it is very simple. About midway through shots are fired until a fou-hand game of cribbage becomes a game of solitaire. The last one sitting is the winner and he leaves with the money from the table and the lint from his opponents’ pockets. Sometimes a new pair of shoes if a cobbler with a corresponding foot size is present. In Ceylon, the cards are a mere adjunct to the game of guns. You carefully watch the Lord’s hand and wait for the quick draw and stroke the rope hidden under your jacket in anticipation. The only movement of his left hand though is to lay the faces of his cards on the table and move stacks of gold from your end to his. “Winning the pot” is what he calls it and he does so with a suspicious regularity and a litany of apology. You wish this were Ceylon and you wish your rope were a Derringer and you wish the Lord were a cobbler. Your feet are getting cold and slimy inside your burlap moccasins. You tell the Lord to worry about his own neck before he starts apologizing for others’. You don’t quite phrase it that way though. You soften the words so a man with soft hands and rosy cheeks will comprehend. “Don’t worry about me, Lord,” you say. “I’ve got plenty more coming my way by the end of the ride. Spread the wealth, right Lord? That’s always been my mantra. Spread the wealth. Mantra -- you like that word Lord? I’ve been hanging out with you so much we’re both starting to talk the same.” The room takes on the delicious smell of roast meat on a spit. Your nose sniffs its way to your left armpit. The odor is irresistible and you take a surreptitious lick and lap up a bulbous bead of greasy sweat. It tastes as good as it smells and the salty-tanginess ruminates in your mouth long after you swallow. Per the Lord’s request, you call up to the Violinist and request that she play Green Leaves or, as the Lord says, Greensleeves. You invoke a slew of expletives referring to her as “filthy,” “no good,” and the “daughter of a whore.” The Lord objects with a cold stare and you change your tone. “Please grace us with your angelic self,” you call down. The Lord appears only slightly reassured. A “How To” book with more “Hows” than answers claimed that demeaning expletives are stronger than shackles as a browbeaten captive is a submissive captive. By that logic, the Violinist should be as submissive as the doormat in front of the Alcatraz Penitentiary. By that logic, the Violinist shouldn’t turn her nose up and her eyes down as she passes you by to play for the Lord. By that logic she shouldn’t – but she does. -5-

The Peasant You are dealt a deuce of clubs and eight of spades. You bet half a stack of gold and tell the Violinist to play Green Leaves. It is your lucky song. She fiddled that piece on the side of a lonely wharf in Ceylon where a tight breeze picked up the melody and wafted it through your window where it settled in your ears. You met her on the lonely wharf and dropped a rope about her slender waist. She kept playing as you dragged her through the streets back to your hovel. She kept playing right on through the night and you had to stuff your ears with cotton from your pillow to rest. The next morning she was asleep and you were awake. You poked her thighs and prodded her flanks checking for faults and hoping for none. She was flawless except for a hangnail on her foot and a callous on her thumb. At twenty or so years of age, she could make an older daughter or a younger lover. You estimated her worth somewhere between a Model T and the Venus de Milo erring towards the latter. The Lord checks and raises you a stack. It is a stack more than you are willing to part ways with and you throw in the cards. Puddles of drool form on the table and replace the missing gold. “Luscious,” he says. “Her sound is luscious.” You stand and wildly crack you backside. “That isn’t the only thing that is luscious,” you say. The song is building to its climax. You laugh knowing her price is rising with every crescendo. A slight hip nicks your buttocks. It is mostly firm with an enticing give. It is the Tennis Star. The Lord grabs her left wrist with his left arm. “How was the appointment?” he asks. “Tiring,” she says. “This whole damn world can be tiring sometimes.” You wait for the popcorn and peanut vendors. You feel like you’re watching the denouement of a Bogart – Bacall flick. The Tennis Star tears herself from the Lord’s grip and hurries back to her suite. She displays her muscular thighs and her unbroken resolve. The Violinist clunks a chord and you tie the Magician’s rope about her ankle. A missed chord is a missed dollar. She clunks another and you pull it tighter until the rough hemp scratches against her skin. She clunks a third and you pull mercilessly. She slaps your face with her right hand and dashes into the Cigar car with the capped ends of the rope dancing behind her slippered heel. You contemplate a refund on that “How To” book. “After all I’ve done for her – that ungrateful little cur,” you tell the Lord. You tell him how you pulled her out of poverty and gave her the opportunity to become a proper Lady. How you encouraged her performance and how she slapped you in the face like a corner pervert. And, finally, how the Barman has shortchanged you by demanding longer and longer ends of the proverbial stick. “The Barman – why, what does he have to do with anything?” the Lord asks. “His prices are rather affordable for his line of work and he mixes a superb highball. I would highly recommend you try it sometime.” You talk to him about the Barman. You tell him that the only reason the Barman stands behind the bar in this two-bit train is to provide his clients with a mobile and unsuspecting locale

-6-

The Peasant from which to consummate the exchanges. You complain to him that the Barman has demanded some additional percentiles of the profit from the Violinist deal. You do not speak figures to the Lord. It is bad etiquette and bad business to do so in front of a customer. You do not care for etiquette, but you do care for business. You talk penises to the Lord. You tell him that you suspect the Barman has a small penis and feels the need to compensate for his inadequacy with bigger cuts of the profit. You reveal to him your predicament of having an enormous penis but little money to sate its carnal desires. The Lord expresses his doubts and you pull down your pants. He turns away and you breath a silent sigh of relief. Your penis resembles a slug that has been shriveled by salt and sun. You deal another hand while his back is turned giving yourself a pair of aces and the Lord a pair of deuces. “It is about a quarter to three,” the Lord says while turning back around and viciously rubbing his nose with his left hand. “It is unfortunate but I must be leaving you. We shall have to discuss our financial arrangements a little later, I am afraid. Until then -- ” He extends his hand in silence like the American President Calvin Coolidge. He does not bow like the British Lord of Winchester. You bow and a squeak of flatulence escapes your cheeks. You sniff greedily. It smells of greasy eggs left to rot. The Lord turns around cradling your newly lost and his newly won stacks of gold. He turns around and crashes his head into the Conductor’s toned abdomen. The Lord falls and makes a mess of your former gold. The Conductor sinks his teeth into one of your coins and chips his teeth on one of the Lord’s. You only with bet highly amalgamated gold. He checks the faces. “The Queen’s coins. I am not surprised. Are you aware of Title 12 Chapter 9 Section 3 of the Royal Code?” The Lord threatens to have the Conductor fired on account of his gross usurpation of authority. The Conductor pulls out his billfold as routinely as a call girl pulls down her pants. He displays its contents. It is a badge from Scotland Yard. “I suppose then that I would not have to explain Title 12 Chapter 9 Section 3 to a British Lord?” the Conductor asks. “I am aware in so much as it pertains to my Lordly duties.” “Well then you should be very much aware. The crown does not respect such contracts.” He points to the coins. “We are a proper people and we do not condone such debauchery even by our nobility.” Your neurons all fire trying to hit the exact meaning of the Conductor’s words. All that your neurons hit is the Violinist. That ungrateful cur must have played her heartstrings before the piggish ears of the Law. You pull lice from your hair and eat the fat ones. Both the Lord and the Conductor are staring at the wood paneling trying to make out answers or the form of a naked girl. If you stare hard enough between panels nine and ten from the aft and tilt your head thirty degrees to the left and take a few shots of sour whiskey, a vagina will appear in the cross section of the wood knot. -7-

The Peasant You have tried, and the wood knot has been varnished with layers of saliva reeking of stale tea and partially digested liver. The conductor pulls out his camera and announces that he will be photographing vineyards from the caboose and departs in that direction. You do not recall there being an abundance of vineyards in Northern France. The Lord asks you the ins and outs of the British Royal Code. “I don’t know – I don’t know –,” you say. “But I do know that ungrateful little cur wants the two of us – me and you, Lord -- locked away for good. That’s why she goes running off rattling her maracas to the Conductor like a Brazilian whore.” The Lord shakes his head disapprovingly. Whether he is disapproving of the Violinist’s snitching or of her rattling her maracas, you are not sure. But general disapproval is a certainty. “A lot of beans might be spilt between here and Lisbon,” you tell him. “A whole lotta beans.” He shakes his head like a senile old man trying to remember a better time but coming up empty. “Don’t forget, my Lord, small penises can make a lot of noise if you let them.” You tell him that the Barman might spill so many beans his penis will shrivel up and fall off into the lap of the police. The Lord asks to be excused to “relieve himself.” You point your chin at a dusty corner stained a musty yellow. He shakes his head and walks to the rear door. You spit on the floor and crush the saliva as thoroughly as saliva can be crushed by the heel of your burlap moccasin. “Remember, your majesty, if anyone ever spills any of my beans – “ The Lord turns and walks into his car. You cackle uncontrollably at the thought of placing a sickle in the small of the Lord’s back. “Pardon me, but is there a sickle in my posterior?” he would ask as if he were inquiring the whereabouts of a dog hair stuck on the back of his fine woolen blazer. The cackles become snickers and the snickers become intermittent and the time becomes 4:12 PM. The Violinist returns to your car with the Magician in tow. She is fawning over him like a bitch in heat. “Where are you taking my Violinist?” you ask the Magician. The Violinist answers for him. “The Magician says there is a great view of the scenery in the caboose. We are just headed over to see it.” “The Vineyards too?” you ask. “Yes, the Vineyards, “ she says. “They seem to be seen best from there,” you say pointing to the Caboose. The two feral lovers follow your finger and enter the caboose with a high likelihood of breeding, you think. Maybe she will bear offspring with dimples like the Magician. Dimpled children sell for several ticks above market average. But pregnant women sell for several ticks below. You remember the Violinist’s tight flanks and think it might be best for the pair to look at the vineyards instead of each other. The cards feel natural in your hand while you’re playing solitaire. You move an eight of diamonds under a nine of clubs and free a card from the reserve. It is an ace of spades. -8-

The Peasant You have always played best alone and you consider splitting ties with the Barman. Ties can be links or they can be burdens. Right now the Barman is a burden. He is taking nothing but cut and giving nothing but trouble. It is time to slice ties. The Lord has entered wearing an army trench coat and holding a fiberglass-plumbing pipe in his right hand. The fiberglass is shedding faster than a Persian Longhair in summer. “Might you know where I should find the water main? A pipe has burst and I intend to fix it.” The burst pipe reminds you of the punch line to a joke involving a man’s mother, father, and wife together in a room with only one bed. You tell the Lord the joke and he carries on to the Cigar car. At 4:30 the Conductor returns from the Caboose in a huff. He is breathing like an asthmatic but running like a track star. The camera is still tucked under his arm and you wonder if the negatives have vineyards on them or crime scenes. You chew on the soft gold of your coins and cackle at the thought of placing a sickle in the small of the Conductor’s back. About ten minutes later, the Violinist enters from the rear door. Her eyes are rolled up and her mouth is agape like her brain has become lost somewhere in the hidden folds of the Magician’s pants. “How were the Vineyards?” you ask. “They were,” she says and walks upstairs to her room without a rope trailing behind. You hope the child has dimples. The red eight you need for the nine of clubs is stuck under a seven of diamonds in the reserve pile. You look around the car and under the table and when you are certain no one is present you remove the eight from under the seven and place it on top of the nine. Two moves more and you have won again. Solitaire is your type of game. All this card playing has shot your nerves and sapped your glands. Your armpits are dry and your drool is sticky. You walk to the Bar for a fresh cup of tea. The Cigar car is empty and the smoke has long cleared. In the Bar car, the Businessman is chewing out the Barman like he’s a stale wad of last night’s gum. “ -- off this train. But before I go, I’ll let you know I invested heavily in that woman. And if you think you can move-in on my investment while I’m away, you’ve got another thing coming, comrade, and it won’t be an extra ration of tufu, I’ll tell you that much.” “How much is gold worth?” you ask the Businessman. If it is inflated you will sell both the Tennis Star and the Violinist at the next stop. You always sell high and buy low. It was under the sections “How to buy?” and “How to sell?” in your manual. There was no section on the value of gold. “What do you care?” he asks. “How will I ever be a big rich businessman like you if I do not know a simple thing like the value of gold?” You follow the Businessman into his suite where he stuffs papers with official seals and calligraphic writing into his portmanteau. It is patent leather and you see your face one side and a certificate for Miron Railways peeping out the other. -9-

The Peasant The Businessman asks a litany of questions like some deranged Pope fresh back from a bender with Adam Smith and a bucket of whiskey. “Do you reject Communism?” “And all its works?” “And all its empty promises?” You respond to each with a solemn “I do.” He slurs and rocks struggling for balance of both his body and his mind. “I welcome you to the free market, Peasant, where information is a marketable commodity. Now how much are you willing to pay for the gold prices? A couple pounds and a few pence?” You leave without paying him pounds, pence, or pleasantries. You feel no obligation to support this man’s liquor habit when you have expensive habits of your own that have gone neglected. The last woman you had was down on her luck and high on some hash and performed as badly as she looked. You have vowed to never shop for love in towns where the only streets are back alleys. The Cigar car is still empty and the air is still clear. Your lips are as dry and as parched as those of a ten-cent call girl’s at the end of her shift. You wish that in your gold-induced delirium you had not left the Bar without ordering a pot of chamomile. Your room has waited patiently for your return. The table’s in the same place and so are the chairs. Your gold is still under the floorboards where you left it. Nothing has changed except the time. It is now 4:56 PM. You remove the soft gold coins and count all fifty-six of them. You count them again and there are still fifty-six. Counting gold is your second favorite game after solitaire. It is a game in which you can never lose much like the game of selling the Tennis Star to a crippled man. That is another of your favorite games right after solitaire. Tying her up should be fun too, you think. The rope is rough and her thighs are tight. They should chafe beautifully as she squirms between the knots. The train slows and then stops. It reminds you of life though life doesn’t always slow before it stops. The Arab can tell you that and so might the Barman if he spills any beans. “Pont de Muertre,” the Conductor shouts as he walks through your car and into the aft. Outside a local hoodlum is beating a flamboyantly dressed blind man. “Pont de Muertre,” the Conductor shouts as he walks through your car from the aft. You pull him aside. “How much you think a broad could sell for in a town like this?” It is a perfectly legal question. It is a perfectly legal punch. The Conductor has hairy knuckles and then all you see is darkness. The train is moving when you awaken. You count your coins – still fifty-six of them. You bit your coins – they’re still soft. You sit at your table and play solitaire. It is twenty-five minutes past five. The Tennis Star enters your car from the aft and leaves through the front. She looks more devilish than usual. You think she would look even more devilish in nothing but rope. You slide some cards around and slap at others. You are too aroused to think and too thirsty to play. Your eye is swollen and itches like a bout of scabies.

- 10 -

The Peasant You stuff the cards and the gold back under the floorboards. The table is clear now and so is your head. The Violinist returns through the forward door. She looks like a million bucks that has been forgotten in the wash. “Those vineyards can sure do a real number on a babe,” you say as she walks upstairs to her room. She must have snitched to the Conductor while you were unconscious on the floor. She must have snitched more with body than words judging from her disheveled hair and her scratched cheeks. You walk upstairs to confront her. She is sitting stiffly on the edge of her bed while wearing the look of defeat on her face. She wears it half as well as a monkey does Gucci. “This business. It’s between you and me, understand?” you say. She twirls a stubborn cowlick in response. “Until you’re sold, I’m you’re boss. I make your rules. I say where you go. If I want to sell you to a nice royal family I can do that. And if I want to use you to fertilize my azaleas, I can do that as well.” Her cowlick still requires twirling and her defeat still requires wearing. You flex your toes spreading them out and rubbing them against the rough grain of the burlap. Her wrist is marked with bruises the size and shape of fingerprints. They are conveniently located and you place your fingers over the bruises and yank her off the bed. She weighs as much as a sack of tea and moves as lifelessly. “Listen,” you growl well enough to fool an ally cat into thinking you’re a Pincher. “I don’t give a damn if you fuck every man on this train and even the woman until your hips are sore and your lips are blue. It makes no difference to me as long as it doesn’t interfere with your violin playing – get it? All I want to know is what you did with my rope.” “I gave it to the Barman,” she says. “He said he needed it to fasten his large chest of money so I figured he would need it more than you ever will.” You are in the Cigar car before the Violinist’s bottom hits the bed at 5:59 PM. The car is empty save the ghostly scent of licentiousness that still haunts the air. It smells faintly like a Parisian whorehouse. It is still 5:59 when you enter the Bar car. You are a fast walker when your moccasins are dry and your temper is hot. The Barman’s lips are sucking desperately on a bottle of gin like a Chinaman’s on an opium pipe. You step behind the counter and fix yourself a piping hot pot of chamomile. It is the only tea that soothes dry throats and wets parched lips. “I think you’ve got a little something of mine,” you say to the Barman. “I’ve got the girl,” he says. “I’ve got the girl and I’ve got her pregnant.” That would explain the disheveled hair. You look over at his dirty nails wrapped about the neck of the bottle. Those would explain the scratched face. At least the child will have a dimpled chin.

- 11 -

The Peasant “We’re not talking about girls. We’re talking about things that tie together big chests of gold coins.” He talks to you about Popes and pregnancy and how the former has decried the latter. “We’re not taking Vatican City either,” you say. “We’re talking about my rope.” He tells you that he has never had your rope or anybody’s rope. That rope has been forbidden by the Catholic Church since the turn of last century and that the girl has threatened to kill him if he does not allow her to have an abortion. “What about your chest of gold?” “She never touched it. It’s still in the caboose.” “What’s holding it together then, if it isn’t the rope?” “A Yale combination lock. The competition pales against the strength of Yale.” He flexes his bicep and smiles like a sot trying to imitate a glossy picture Yale advertisement. He grows increasingly incoherent and you grow increasingly curious. You look around the car and under the counter. “The Conductor says he needs to get into the chest,” you tell him. “He says it’s an emergency and sent me here to get the combination from you. The train will blow up and kill us all if you don’t tell me. That’s what he says – bona fide truth.” You raise your right hand, place your left hand next to your pot of chamomile and swear on the bar counter. “Tell the Conductor to hold off,” the Barman says. “I don’t know it off hand. It’s got some ones, some eights – an eight maybe. I’ve got it tattooed above my hip, but I’m too tired to look down about now. Let’s have ourselves another drink.” You take a sip of chamomile and help the Barman tilt back the bottle of gin. A couple gulps later and he is under the counter with his mouth wide open as if he’s trying to win a fly catching competition. All he catches are dandruff flakes and dust bunnies. You unbuckle his belt and pull down his fly as spittle flies off your tongue like hot grease from a frying pan. You check his right hip and see a scar. You check his left and see some digits. The combination is 1618. The Barman shows more honesty in his drunken ramblings than he does in his business dealings. You glance below the hip. The Barman is as well endowed as the salt mines of Siberia. Nothing is more comfortable about the shoulders than the breathable yet affordable coarse stitching of a burlap frock. But nothing is more suspicious than a man in a discarded potato sack tinkering with the combination to a safe full of another man’s gold. You unbutton his shirt and pull off your frock. His yellow shirt is tight across your shoulders and you pop the top button to allow room for your ample neck. You pull the Barman’s black leather fedora down tight with the rim just above your bushy eyebrows. The pants are stiff and the leather loafers are stiffer. The apron is the only comfortable accessory. The Barman look like a vagrant who has suffered the unfortunate predicament of being last in line to see the Sisters of Charity at their annual clothing giveaway. The burlap frock is many sizes too big and the burlap moccasin is many sizes too small. You flip him onto his stomach to better hide his face. You do not care whether or not he chokes on dandruff, dust bunnies, or his own spittle. He might as well be dead as far as you are concerned though his steady pulse says otherwise. - 12 -

The Peasant You hang your head low hiding your oversized honker under the shadows of your fedora. You only pass a clock as you walk to the caboose. It tells you the time. It is 6:35 PM. The lighting is dim in the caboose and you have to blink your eyes several times to become acclimated. The chest is against the back corner of the starboard side. Your toes squish against the sweaty insoles of the loafers. They were dry when you stepped into them. You crouch down real low in front of the combination lock. There are four rotating dials each numbered from zero to nine. Beads of sweat gleefully run down your face and jump off your chin as you slide the discs into position. 1-6-1-8 the combination reads. You yank hard on the handle and the safe moves a good foot from the wall. The door does not move an inch. You try 1-1-6-8 and then 1-8-1-6 and then 6-8-11 and then 5-7-9-3 and then the lights go out completely and the door still does not move. The train comes to an abrupt stop and your head knocks against the steel chest. You’ve been knocked out once already. That is enough for one day and you keep your wits about you. The sudden stop of the train reminds you of life and its unexpected ends. Death can blindside even the savviest of His foes. The door to the caboose opens. A heavy step enters and a heavy object drops. It might be a corpse or it might be a pot of gold. Or it might be neither. You hope it’s a pot of gold. The constant sound of dripping competes with the silence. The silence wins and the dripping slows. The heavy steps move towards you and then past. Then a jump and a grunt. Then the titter-tatter of distant steps becoming more distant. And then more silence. A dog yelps near the forward door. It’s the yelp of a small dog with a small bark and an undisclosed bite. A small step walks in and yelps like the small dog and then hits the floor with a hard thud. You hear a softer thud – like a dime novel falling off a stand. Then the sound of a crack followed by a skitter-scatter growing louder as it approaches your feet. One of the skitter-scatters pops against your stiff loafer and you pick it up and hold it before your swollen eye. It looks like a miniature u-boat and you toss it over the balcony. Another step – softer than the first but louder than the last – enters the caboose. It too falls to the floor with a hard thud. The car now has had more guests than it has seats. You sit on the edge of the Barman’s bed glad that you were the first to arrive. The soft step says to the other step “I win.” The soft step is the Violinist. The other step is silent. Lightening strikes and you see two silhouettes standing and a third lying belly-up on the ground. An authoritative step jumps on the train from the balcony and speaks French in harsh tones. A scuffle ensues and every step leaves the forward door of the caboose. You make your step heard and walk over to the belly-up silhouette. You feel the sleeve. It has the rough texture of burlap. You feel it again rubbing it lovingly between your fingers. It feels like home. - 13 -

The Peasant You hear the muffled crunch of steady chewing. The yelp is eating the skitter-scatter you presume. The yelp sounds no more. The lights come back on and the belly-up silhouette is the Barman. His face wears death as well as a monkey does its own skin. The yelp is a French poodle. The yelp is dead. You swap clothing with the corpse and cannot help but feel that even in death the Barman has given you the short end of the deal. The leather fedora, the stiff loafers, the button-down shirt, and the apron are all as clean as they are uncomfortable. Your burlap frock, however, is drenched with water and a bloody-inky hole is torn through the center. You regret that the Barman is dead and that you cannot kill him again. You will never find burlap garments like these again. Not in a world where cotton is the new hemp and tractors are the new peasants. Sirens blare in the distance. The Barman is dead at your feet. You know exactly what to do. The Barman is light but you are puffing like a steam locomotive as you carry him onto the balcony. You hurl him into the woods where he makes a parting remark. It is the crack of his skull against a rock. You’re tempted to see if anything spilled out. Nothing, you bet. The Guido didn’t even have enough brains to tattoo the right digits to his hip. It’s drizzling and you walk back inside and into the Cigar Car where a couple authoritative stepped gendarmes sit you down at a table. The Magician, Violinist, Conductor, and Tennis Star are already seated. The gendarmes pull and pat your frock until they produce a pen from the inside pocket. It is the Businessman’s pen and it is slimed over with blood and sweat and maybe even a tear or two. The gendarmes toss it onto the table for everyone to see. It doesn’t look good. The Magician’s rope – still capped with black rubber -- is on the table. It is spotted with ink and blood. One by one the three other guests arrive starting with the Doctor, ending with the Businessman, and featuring the Lord in between. The Lord is holding the plumbing pipe in his right hand. The gendarmes gently remove it and place it alongside the rope and the pen. The pipe is clean of ink and blood. A gendarme leaves to the aft of the train. He returns cradling the poodle in his arms. The poodle’s legs remain stiff and straight as the gendarme drops it in a dusty corner. The dust moves. The poodle doesn’t. The Businessman is dragged in shouting, “I’ll choke him. I swear – I’ll choke that man.” He is dressed in the style of the homeless and looks and smells like he has fought a losing battle with the clap. The gendarme speaks. He says that France has found judges to be corrupt and juries to be inept. Justice is becoming for the French an impossible ideal unable to be implemented from the crooked benches of its more crooked courts. The country has left justice in the hands of you eight passengers. It is your duty to reach a verdict. It is your duty to make France proud again. A vote can be taken at any time in secret or by a show of hands. In order to reach a verdict, the vote of conviction must be no more than one vote shy of unanimity. France will only accept one guilty party. And that guilty party must be sitting at the table. Anything less will reflect shame and dishonor upon the good people of France. - 14 -

The Peasant Upon the arrival of an acceptable verdict, the murderer will be swiftly, and -- the gendarmes assure you -- brutally disposed off. The decision before each of you is a simple interrogative. Who killed the Barman? All your synapses fire at once. The result is less than appealing.

- 15 -

The Peasant

NOTE TO READER: DO NOT ASK US IF YOU WILL KNOW THAT YOU ARE THE MURDERER. ALL THE NECESSARY INFORMATION HAS BEEN PROVIDED.

- 16 -

the

Little Engine
that could

Kill

a murder mystery for eight

The Tennis Star

You are the Tennis Star
On Wednesday, August 5th, 1932, you and eight other passengers boarded a three-day express train from Bombay, India to Lisbon, Portugal. Unfortunately, one did not survive the journey. It is now up to you and the seven passengers left to decide who killed the eighth. This is your story. It details your background, your current position in life, and your actions on the fated three-day express liner. Read carefully, because you have many key pieces of evidence that must be used in combination with the knowledge of other passengers to unmask and convict the murderer. You will also find a map of the train, which includes any structure that a visitor to the train would notice upon cursory inspection. Ground Rules
  

Do not show this script to anyone else at any time. Please refrain from reading directly from the script when presenting evidence to others, unless you find it absolutely necessary. Play your character to some modest degree. You need not go to great efforts to mimic the character's personality - although it would be much more fun if you did - but at least speak as though you were your character (i.e. “I saw such-and-such an event” instead of “my character saw...,” and so on). If someone asks you a basic question about your character that you should know (e.g. your age), but the information was not provided in your story, you may make something up - just as long as it's consistent with the rest of your story. This story contains historical falsities and devices of science fiction. Take them for granted (but not anything else). Lying

Lie with caution. Your story interweaves with the stories of many other people who may know things about you that you might not think they know.  You may not lie about the following things: • Something you heard someone else say. • An action you saw someone else doing. • Something that you saw someone else carrying. • A piece of background information about someone else, unless you are involved in their background story.  You may lie about the following things: • Something that you said or did. • A piece of background information about yourself, or about someone else if you were involved in their background story.

-i-

Map of Three-day Express Liner from Bombay to Toledo

Magician's Quarters
Bed Desk

Conductor's Quarters
Bed Desk

Violinist's Quarters
Bed

Lord and Tennis Star's Quarters
Closet Desk Bed

S (g tair oi ca ng s up e )

Closet

Closet
Entrance/Exit to Train

Bathroom

Bathroom

Bathroom

Table&c

Maintenance Closet

Bathroom

Bathroom

Sofa Balcony Bed

- ii -

Locomotive Desk Desk Desk Counter
Table & Chairs Table & Chairs Table & Chairs Table & Chairs

Bed

Bed

Bed

Doctor's Quarters

Businessman's Quarters

Bar Car

Cigar Car

Peasant's Quarters

Lord and Tennis Star's Quarters

Caboose - where Barman sleeps

Notes:
= door (swinging or doorknob style) = open doorway Locations of chairs, mirrors, and various other items are not given. Fill in the blanks using your story.
The Tennis Star

The setup is different in each person's room. The pricetags of each room are also different, but it's up to you to guess the relative cost of each.

The Tennis Star

You admire your reflection with a scowl for that is the best expression of self-admiration you can muster. A smile would imply contentedness and contentedness did not paint the Mona Lisa or sculpt the Venus de Milo. A wrinkle tries to hide in the shadows of your brow. You catch it with your eye and expunge it with your hand. A spackling of primer and it is concealed. A brushing of powder and it is gone. Of course, not every blemish is a fugitive in hiding. There are still the usual suspects marauding your face in plain sight – the slight strawberry mark on your cheek, the pimple above the chin, and the scar running down your upper lip to name a few. The scar was a gift from your former husband. He is now former because he is now dead. The tools of perfection are on sale at Harrods’ for ten pounds a bottle. Eight if you purchase in bulk which also happens to be your preferred means of acquisition. It is preferred not so much for price but for quantity. An artist can only create so much as her palette allows. You tilt the mirror. A recidivist offender of aesthetic virtue streaks across your forehead. It’s become a familiar wrinkle, a hackneyed foe. You have all but named it. Hulga would be appropriate. You estimate the trajectory of your approach and the velocity of minimal splatter. It is intuitive to your brain like positioning a cannon was to Napoleon’s. You are ready. You are aimed. You fire and the train bumps. You hit yourself in the eye with the powdered sponge applicator. Even Napoleon had his Waterloo. You instinctively screech with the pain of defacement. The pain of nociception is only a secondary reaction. Your husband grunts. It is most likely a calculatedly exaggerated demonstration of testosterone prompted by thoughts of his own impotence and apishly uttered from the compensatory desires of his defensive ego. He will have to compensate elsewise, you think. A simple grunt will not cut it. Perhaps a diamond brooch will. You fix the smattering of powder around your eye and re-aim the applicator. You hit the mark perfectly like Napoleon at Austerlitz. “Honey,” your husband asks. “Did you pack away my pen? Or is it still…festering away at the manor?” You ponder his impotence and how it must be affecting his subconscious through a psychosexual regression. His inordinate desire for his pen and his puerile dependency on others to pack away his belongings would indicate a slippage into one of the more infantile stages of development. Or so the Doctor has informed you. And the Doctor is an exceedingly educated man. You can tell by the way he makes love to you. He is sedate from kiss to climax. You measure your cleavage by squeezing your beasts together and observing the displacement of fabric. Your eye is a better calibrator than any tape measure. Your husband repeats his query. Repetition of speech is a symptom of neurosis. But you do not reveal to your husband your psychoanalytic diagnosis. It would certainly exceed his childish comprehension. And it might arouse unwanted suspicion of the affair between you and the Doctor. “The pen, my Lord? Are you still working on that preposterous list of yours?” -1-

The Tennis Star He has been writing down words he does not know ever since a paperback purporting to turn a common man gentle recommended he do so. If he were strapped for money, you would suggest he return the book and ask for a refund as a gentleman would not persist in spitting on floors and smoking corncob pipes. “Yes, my glistening sugarplum, I believe I was until I noticed that I did not have my pen with me.” Glistening sugarplum -- You cannot decide whether his ostentatious flattery is meant to be sarcastic or earnest. Sarcasm would indicate that he is possibly progressing from the infantile to the juvenile stages of development. If so, it is time then that he learn the social benefits of personal responsibility. “If every man were to look after his own pen, I believe we would not have any missing pen problems in London.” “So you forgot it back home at the manor?” “Change the personage of your pronoun and I believe you will have the correct answer.” Personage – that will be next on his list after preposterous. “The pen was forgotten at the manor.” And to think that a man who cannot properly rearrange his pronouns could convince all of London that he is the right and proper Lord of Winchester. Soon the Americans will be selling us the Brooklyn Bridge, you think. And they might even throw in the Williamsburg and make it a real bargain. You tie-back your shirt and hike up your skirt. You are ready for your two o’clock appointment. “I believe my tendinitis is acting up again,” you say while grabbing your left arm and cringing noticeably. “It is a severe case – I fear I shall have to see the Doctor for a lengthy and intensive examination. I shudder to think that my young and promising career should be abruptly ended by the mere swelling of a sinew.” “Don’t you serve with your right?” he asks. You are momentarily taken aback by his unforeseen show of astuteness. “Yes, but I toss with my left.” Scientific studies have shown left-handed individuals to exhibit a greater propensity toward neurosis. Your husband is left-handed. He is the rule and not the exception. You stand and flatten your skirt feeling your thighs through the thin layer of flax. They are as firm as marble and just as cold. You press against them and savor the resistance. A pregnant woman’s thighs give like globs of cottage cheese. You walk to the door with a practiced bounce to each step. Your pink skirt flirts with the black lace hiding your nether regions but goes no further. A masterpiece hints at – but rarely reveals – its most intimate secrets. Your husband requests an unsavory favor of you revealing his latent oral fixation. He then hacks up a wad of phlegm and displays it on the floor. It jiggles obscenely like a lactating breast awaiting the greedy lips of some unwanted progeny. You are disgusted and refuse him closing the door definitively behind you. You pass through the Peasant’s car. It smells faintly of rotten mushrooms though no one else is there.

-2-

The Tennis Star In the Cigar car, the Magician and the Businessman are advertising their homoerotic desires with thick clouds of enshrouding smoke. You part the shroud and enter. As suspected, each is satisfying his oral fixation with a cigar. They would probably refer to it simply as “smoking” choosing to ignore the inconvenient subtleties of their behavior. The Magician has a pile of photos on his lap and the Businessman is staring into the eternal ether perhaps dreaming about what could have been between the Magician and himself had they been born into the promiscuity of Ancient Greece. You quickly depart this Freudian love fest and enter the Bar car where you order a tall glass of water and a diuretic. You chug the water and down the coffee. It is strong and unsweetened, and you regret that you did not have more time to relish every bitter sip. The Barman is hunched over the counter reading something. What, you ask. “Papal edicts,” he says. You continue walking. You shimmy past the Peasant who is walking in the opposite direction across the Businessman’s suite. His greasy hand swoops under your skirt and squeezes your rear. It feels warm and moist like a freshly discarded placenta. Your rear instinctively tightens and shrinks away. You giggle demurely though. It will only make him more covetous and you more desirable. He pulls out a rope capped at each end with black rubber and points his chin at the Businessman’s bed. You worry his hand has stained your unmentionables. “Now, Mr. Peasant, this is a civilized train.” You lean over dangling the bait inches from his eyes and shaking your finger disapprovingly. He snaps at them with both hands but you pull back just a little quicker. He is still flailing at the air as you skip to the Doctor’s with breasts unsullied. You are not surprised that two hanging sacks of adipose tissue could frenzy the Peasant like a couple bags of gold. You know that you are a commodity in the market of carnal desires. So a little advertising -- via a flash of black lace or an alluring giggle – can only increase demand and augment your value. The water and coffee work like a charm. You sit on the toilet and relieve yourself onto the test strip and into the bowl. You flush, leave, and take a deep breathe. The Doctor’s bathroom smells strongly of formaldehyde. “It will require an hour or so wait before we can be certain of the result,” the Doctor says while holding the strip under the overhead light. “So it is settled then.” “It is settled. I have already filled your prescription as a precautionary matter. You are aware of the legal ramifications?” “Yes – Sadly I am.” The Doctor’s chin has never looked so chiseled as it does under the harsh tones of the laboratory light. And he has never looked so professional as he does now wearing his horn-rimmed glasses and furrowed his brow under a smattering of loose locks. For a moment, you do not regret giving yourself to him on the first night of train ride. You only regret that he was so distracted by his studies. All in all, it would have been more pleasurable if he had left Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality on his desk instead of bringing it into the bed. There was no need for him to read a passage after every thrust. -3-

The Tennis Star “Is your husband aware of the situation?” the Doctor asks. He pulls small a small of pills from his desk and places it in your palm. “No – I do not plan on telling him. He’s impotent, you know.” “Hmm, that would be difficult to manipulate. Could you convince him it is a miraculous conception -- a new Son of God who has been conceived on the Lisbon Express?” You shake your head. Your husband’s been a realist ever since the war. The Doctor hands you the vial. “If you follow these directions, there will be no need to inform anyone of our affair.” The label reads in the Doctor’s meticulous hand, “ABORTION PILLS. TAKE ONLY ONE. Will cause immediate death to user if taken in high doses.” You thank him with a lingering peck on his stiff lips. “You have saved my career,” you murmur while massaging his bony shoulders. It is really his chin that you found so irresistibly appealing. And the Doctor has certainly saved your tennis career although you were never particularly well known for your backhand – or forehand – for that matter. Myrna Rosenbaum, a withered old hag from the New York Post with a nose two sizes too big and a brain two sizes too small once critiqued your contributions to the game noting that when you play the men in the crowd stop following the ball in favor of your skirt. Your former husband – the original Lord of Winchester – read it to you with his morning coffee. “Was it at the Hamptons’ tournament?” you asked him. “There I was sporting a flamingo rah-rah with a ruffled hem. It was positively delicious.” The next day he slashed your budget for fashion and hired the “Great One” to remove the so-called kinks in your stroke. That was four years ago The Hamptons is where met your current husband. He was an electrician then – an American veteran from the Great War – fixing a busted fuse in the players’ locker room. You were changing. It was love at first sight. You cram the pills deep under tubes of lipstick and emergency pads into a well-concealed corner of your pink handbag. It is 2:58 and you leave the Doctor to interpret the test results on his own. The Businessman’s suite is empty and you pass into the Bar car. Only the Barman is behind the counter. No one else is there. You ask for a High Ball. He smiles and says he would serve no other drink to a Tennis Star. His dimpled chin looks awfully cute under the playful shadows of his black leather fedora. And his Italian accent reminds you of your home back in Brooklyn. He talks about life as a Barman. How no one ever talks to him unless they’re passing money across the counter. He jokes about the Businessman and his absurd demands. That he wants steak and eggs with the steak cooked one way and the eggs another and – and – you forgot the rest. He sounds so sad throughout – so unforgettably sad. You ask him about his dreams and discover he has a castration complex. You explain it to him and one bawdy pun leads to another. Before you know it, you are lying on the floor behind the counter with the Barman -- dimples showing -- on top of you. And to think it all started so innocently with a discussion of High Balls.

-4-

The Tennis Star He repeats Latin prayers as he makes love to you. He starts a baritone and ends a soprano. You cup your hands over your ears. “Can any man on this train copulate properly?” you ask yourself. You allow him to finish his business without a prophylactic. You have your pills and – anyway – fully pleasing barmen often results in complimentary drinks. Or at least it has at the Waldorf. “What does one thousand six hundred and eighteen stand for?” you ask. It is tattooed above his left hip. “It’s not a number. It’s a verse. Matthew 16:18. ‘I say to you that you are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.’ That church is the Catholic Church and those gates of Hades are the Protestants. I look down there whenever I need a little inspiration in my war against the heathens.” The service bell rings on the counter and the Barman buttons his shirt. The bell rings a few more times before he reaches the collar. He puts his finger against his lips and tells you to shush. With the other hand, he motions for you to stay hidden under the counter. “Where were you?” It’s more roar than voice. It’s the sound of a man who can probably orgasm without reciting Freud or recanting Gregorian chants. The Barman says something about bad backs and grapefruit juice but you don’t have the patience to listen to his whines. You quietly wiggle into your lace and flax. You pull down your shirt and tighten it again. The top few buttons pop open and you keep it that way. You fluff your hair, smooth your skirt, and wait for the man to leave The virile man shouts about testicles and platters. A moment later you can hear the rear door shut. The Barman stoops down and gives the “all-clear” sign. It is delivered in a rather unorthodox manner. It seems that a quick grab of the breasts is supposed to signal that potential danger has passed. You slap him across the face. He has already had his fun. You have allowed him a thorough sampling of your pleasures. You will not permit him to cheapen you with a superfluous and unsolicited grope. He must be taught that favors are to be performed before he receives another taste of heaven. The elimination of the Doctor would be an excellent first favor. Perhaps you will suggest it to him when he is not so obviously aroused. You stand up and a hideous clown face stares up at you from the shiny countertop. That sloppy Guido must have smeared your make-up with his roving tongue. He deserves another slap but he might enjoy the second too much. You skip off to the Doctor’s not forgetting to put a bounce in every other step. The showing of a little black lace might distract eyes from the now exposed pimple that has set-up-shop above your chin. “Am I –?“ You ask the Doctor unable to pronounce that reprehensible word. He nods his head solemnly. “One pill a day for three days,” he says. The Conductor is descending the stairs into the Businessman’s quarters. He smiles at you and you fetchingly turn away with hair dashing across your face. His hand brushes your backside and you continue to the Bar car. You wonder if he saw your pimple. -5-

The Tennis Star The Barman is behind the counter cleaning a mug. He winks as you pass and says he’ll see you at eight. Maybe that will be an appropriate time to suggest the replacement of arsenic for salt in the Doctor’s shaker. You put an extra bounce in your step. In the Cigar car, the Magician hisses at the Businessman “You should see what I can do with a rope.” They have progressed from oral fixation to sodomy in the matter of hours, you think. If only your husband could move through stages of development so quickly. Perhaps he would be capable yet of bearing him heir. You shudder. You prefer that he remain impotent. Your husband and the Peasant are playing cards in the latter’s car while the Violinist is playing “Greensleeves” with cheerless bow strokes. Your husband is winning splendidly. You can tell by the hefty piles of gold that have accumulated on his side of the table. Somewhere at Saks Fifth, a diamond brooch is awaiting your neck. You rush through the car with your head bowed and your hair covering your face. Your smeared make-up will surely trigger unwanted connections even between his dull synapses. You crash into what feels like a soft pillow. You look. It is the Peasant’s rear. He is slapping it and laughing like a mongoloid. Your husband grabs your wrist and pulls you close. Hollywood noir has taught you the one acceptable excuse for a woman’s dishevelment. You imagine cradling your child in your arms. His puckered lips sucking on your once supple bosom – now sagging from months of milk production. The tears flow naturally. You stare into his eyes fluttering lashes between tears. “How was the appointment?” he asks. “Tiring,” you say. “This whole damn world can be tiring sometimes.” You deliver your line like Lauren Bacall awaiting outstretched arms of Humphrey Bogart. Only there are no outstretched arms. And your husband is no Humphrey Bogart. And Lauren Bacall is a drunken no-good tramp with an ugly nose and would not know a diamond from a cubic zirconium even if she were given two guesses. He releases and you scurry off in a fit of curls and crocodile tears. The B Altman and Company clock above your dressing table says it’s 3:40. You agree. You dig through your handbag and pull out the pills. You open the canister and spill a few into your palm. Each is shaped like the hull of a u-boat and just as gray. The bow and stern are sharp as razors and prick at your palm. They do not look nearly as friendly as the amphetamines you swallow dry before important tennis matches or late nights on the town. Perhaps these would be better ground and consumed with a meal. You return the contents to the canister and stuff it deep in your lingerie drawer. It is hidden, along with your pack of diaphragms, somewhere in a mix of black panties and red bras. Your husband has yet to finger your rubbers in two years of marriage. It is doubtful he will find the pills in one week’s journey. Touching all those undergarments makes you feel dirty. You twist the knobs and pull the lever. The shower is scalding warm – the temperature required to remove the layers of cosmetics. You have not taken a bath since your previous husband’s charred remains were found in the tub alongside his Elektrolux toaster. It was too grotesque a departure for a man of such exceeding benevolence. He had, after all, purchased you tennis lessons with “The Great” Claude Boucher – an -6-

The Tennis Star appellation that did not quite hold between the sheets or on the table in the clubhouse, for that matter. You do not close either the door or the show curtain. Bathrooms have conjured such morbid thoughts since the accident – thoughts that are eased by an unobstructed view of the adjoining sitting room. That excuse has, at least, been sufficient for your husband. You have not told him of the sensual tickle you feel knowing that at any moment a man – maybe even the virile man from the bar – might stroll in and bask in the unexpected delight of having filched a glance of your hidden goodies. A man strolls in but he is neither unexpected nor virile – he is your husband. He swats you on the rear and his hand makes a loud wet smack. You have been firming your glutes. You cry out as if he has surprised you with his lecherous snap of the wrist. You cry out because you might need him to eliminate the Barman if that loose-tongued Guido flaps about your morbid designs for the Doctor. Your husband straddles the toilet. You hear the unsteady tinkle of a man whose defective prostate has been assaulted by the steady demands of a voluptuous wife. The sound reminds you of sour-breathe and disappointment. You deafen your ears clogging them with water and soap until the ringing commences. The tinkle has stopped. The ringing abides. It was unfortunate your dead husband had desired an heir. The toaster never would have been dropped if he had not wished you to break your hips and rip your loins pushing a nipplesucker into existence. You had suggested a simple flavoring – perhaps a soupcon of arsenic – be dashed upon his soup. But he insisted upon a toaster – typical for the unimaginative tastes of an electrician. Soupcon must not have been on his preposterous vocabulary list at the time. For the remainder of your shower, you contemplate the fashion season and whether you should experience it in Paris or endure it in New York. You ask yourself if Myrna Rosenbaum could still possibly be alive. Paris, you decide on the off chance she is. The water is cool and growing cold. It signals the completion of your bathing. Never have you left a warm shower. Glass shards sprinkle the tile floor of the bathroom. You did not see them until you felt a sharp pang of the foot. Your husband must have clumsily dropped one of your mirrors and been too cowardly to inform you. He could have at least had the decency to clean his own mess. You hop pigeon-toed into your sitting room avoiding most of the visible shards and locating the rest. You sit in the nude and from the naughty tickle grows a thrilling itch. Will that virile man find you or will you have to find him? The former would be much more exciting. You air dry on your bed until a quarter to five when you grow bored waiting for Prince Charming. The banality of nudity is overlooked in so much contemporary erotica, you think. In your novel, everyone will be clothed – the men in tight thongs and the women in silk bras and lace panties. The delight aroused by the novelty of the idea will surely outweigh the awkward mechanics of clothed copulation. With those thoughts in mind, you rummage through your lingerie drawer looking for a stunning duo of red bra and black panty. High cut or low? Full cup or demi? Low and demi should excite the Barman into submission. You put them on. -7-

The Tennis Star You feel through the contents of the drawer again. There are the diaphragms, but where are the pills? You flip over the drawer and everything spills softly onto the floor. You do not hear the sharp crack of a glass canister against ceramic tile. After all these years, could your husband have succumbed to suspicion and searched the contents of your most intimate drawer digging for evidence of an extramarital affair? Extramarital would, of course, be a misnomer for your bouts of moral slippage. The root of the word – marital -- implies a marriage between you and the current Lord of Winchester. Neither church nor state possesses any evidence to substantiate that implication. Nor does either have filed a certificate to document your previous husband’s passing. Rather, both institutions believe you to be married -- bound to the previous Lord of Winchester whom, according to their records, is a living, breathing being whose last financial interaction involved the purchase of two train tickets to Lisbon. In any case, your pills are missing. And a cursory glance of the room reveals two additional missing items. The bra and panties worn today and soiled by the Barman have been stolen from your suite– purloined to satisfy some autoerotic desire. It would seem a superfluous theft on the part of your husband who already has unlimited access to your undergarments. The evidence would indicate a man consumed by the fear of castration. A man who requires the chaffing snugness of a dainty feminine undergarment to assure his doubting subconscious that his testicles do indeed exist. The missing abortion pills pin a religion to the perverted crook. He must be a Roman Catholic. The culprit is almost too obvious. All signs point to the Barman. The train halts. The time is 5:03. “Pont de Muertre,” a man shouts – probably the Conductor – a few minutes later. You coyly fold your arms accentuating your abundance of cleavage and testing the strength of your bra’s stitching. It holds, but the Conductor never peeks upstairs. You dress yourself and paint your face with the same fastidious care exhibited earlier. Roughly twenty minutes after its arrival, the train departs the morbidly named station. The unexpected lurch jostles your hand and the black cosmetic pencil etches a crooked hook from your brow down to the corner of your eye. You leave it there. It lends you a devilish look. You cannot find your hot pink lipstick and must use a cooler shade. It’s still hot. And it’s still pink. The amphetamines resemble little green peas and you fill your palm with more than a pod’s worth. You chew on them grinding the peas down to a talcum-like powder as you flutter your polished nails dry. You swallow hard. The pulpy mass goes down reluctantly. Within minutes, your thighs are energized by the stimulants. You leave your room and walk briskly towards the Bar car. The Peasant is seated alone at his table playing cards and slapping wildly at the deck. He is playing a game of solitaire and still managing to lose badly. The respect you once had for your husband’s poker skills dwindles. The only man your husband can beat is a man who cannot even outsmart himself.

-8-

The Tennis Star The Cigar car is empty as well. You flurry your way through and hope all the passengers are not seated around the bar. But they are not. The Violinist and the Barman are the only two in the car. The Violinist is sitting at the counter and the Barman is talking to her -- probably peddling the same sorrowful tales reeking of testicular insecurity. You grab her by the arm and rip her from the counter. Her lithe figure is no match for your muscles strengthened by years of serves and strokes. Soon she is locked in the Cigar car and you and the Barman have the counter to yourselves. You use the counter to rest your clenched fists and nothing more. “Listen, you Papist scum, if you ever want another fucking I’d recommend you hand over the pills right now.” You extend your hand and fiddle your fingers miming your desire for the pills. They are stiffened with anger and fiddle about as fluidly as an arthritic monkey’s. “We’ll talk about it at eight, tush. Unless you’re too busy moaning.” He slaps at the table like a marionette with a mongoloid working the strings. “Until then, why don’t you just have another highball. It’ll be on the house.” He mixes the drink and scoots it across the counter. You let it keep scooting right off and onto the floor where it shatters into pieces like the cheap glass that it is. You stare at him unbelievingly. How could a man so juvenile manage so successfully to foil your plans? “Oh, don’t look so upset tush. The International Tennis Association still doesn’t know about your amphetamines. At least not yet –“ He bends over the counter and drops his voice an octave or two singing out the words like the decrescendo of some unbearable Gregorian chant. “Of course, that could all change if you get the abortion.” His breath smells like a whiskey sour that has been left out in the sun too long. “When I get done with you, you’ll regret ever having said that,” you warn him remembering the charred remains of the other man who tried to stick you with a baby. “When you get done with me, the only thing I’ll regret is not having worn a condom, Herpes Lips.” He slaps the table like his puerile moniker is of the highest sublimity since “Call me Ishmael.” You bite your lower lip self-conscious of the pimple. The Doctor has assured you it is the product of overactive sebaceous glands and not the byproduct of bacterial fecundity. You leave the Bar car in a silent huff. It is best not to argue with a fool, as a disinterested observer will be incapable of discerning the difference. There are no observers, but you still prefer not to sully your words with the Barman’s swinish ears. You traipse to the front of the train looking for your husband. Your husband has killed for you before. And if he does not wish to be imprisoned on account of murder and royal imposture, he will kill for you again. The Barman is a zealot – a religious fanatic – so inculcated by papal doctrine that he has subordinated his innate carnal desires to the whims of church doctrine. The pills cannot be curried from him by your threats of sexual abandonment. He has made that clear. Nor do you wish to know the fate of those pills. They have probably been incinerated

-9-

The Tennis Star like a perverted holocaust before the ceramic eyes of the Virgin Mary -- as if she never got a little from Joseph or the twelve apostles. You have always found Peter to be oddly attractive. The key he holds to the Gate of Paradise has struck you as overtly phallic. You acknowledge the recovery of the pills from the Barman to be a failed endeavor. In light of this dark pall, you must refrain from having the Doctor bumped until he can refill your prescription. But it is the Barman’s blackmail that concerns you most. You are the Tennis Star. If he alerts the association and they, in turn, ban you from the court, you will become nothing. Your identity will be lost in a series of endless litigations. You might be referred to in passing as the Jail Star, but that would elicit a whole slew of unwanted connotations. Your high heels click militantly against the tile floor. The Businessman’s suite is empty and his bed is disheveled. In his place lies a gigantic lump of flamboyant red sheets. The sheets yelp at you, but you pay them no heed. You have more pressing concerns than a pile of barking sheets. You walk to the brink of the Doctor’s door, but cannot convince yourself to enter. You cannot allow the Doctor to see you displaying such a choleric personality. He will attribute it to an Elektra complex and force you to sit through another chapter of his therapeutic drudgery. You turn swiftly and your skirt spins like Fortune’s wheel. It’s been spinning up nothing but trouble lately. The Papist is no longer behind the counter of the Bar car. You hope that he has been crushed by the wheel of Fortune and is lying dead and dusty in a corner of this train. You press your heels into the soft rug of the Cigar car. They press well until they trip over your husband who is sprawled on his stomach tapping the floor senselessly. You flop on top of your husband and the two of you lie back-to-back and cheek-to-cheek. Your husband flips you over and pulls you into the supply closet with its door agape. Your husband is wearing his trench coat dirtied with mud from the Argonne Forest. There some men lost their lives. There your husband lost his mind. You climb on top and straddle his hips. It is the same position you took when you suggested the elimination of your former husband. Only his hips have weakened and you feel more give this time. “You are going to have to help me handle the Barman,” you say. “I think he knows too much.” “I do not consort with spies,” he says turning sideways and rolling you off. He must be experiencing another of his blasted flashbacks. God only knows what sort of murderous thoughts are swamping his subconscious. You cup your hand around his ear and whisper, “I am not a spy. I am your wife.” You flutter your tongue in his ear on the open-mouthed vowels. If you market your assets properly, you might be able to borrow another murder from him. You open your blouse and let your breasts sway with the give and take between track and wheel. “Do to him what you did to my husband,” you implore climbing on him until you can feel the dig of his buckle. “I’ve already taken care of him.” - 10 -

The Tennis Star Could it be? Could it be that your husband deluded by thoughts of military grandeur has killed the Barman like he would a Kraut in the trenches? If he has, you must persuade him to return to his room immediately and escape the suspicions from the other passengers. You fear that should he be arrested for manslaughter, he might plea-bargain and expose you as an accessory to the murder of your belated husband. You did, after all, suggest that the old man be poisoned. And you did lend him your shovel to make room for the old man’s corpse under the tool shed. And you did agree to take him into the manor so he could assume the duties of Lord and assume you as his wife though the good people of Winchester never knew the difference. Nor did the good people of Scotland Yard. None of them had ever seen the reclusive old man’s face. The lecherous electrician from the Hamptons simply took the name and became the face of Winchester. “Come with me back to the room,” you beseech him while rocking back and forth. You hope the urgency of an arousal will awaken him from his flashback. A brusque push of his forearm says otherwise knocking you from your erotic perch. “I must stay and complete my mission,” he declares. You huddle in the corner and weep. If only the virile man were here to coax your husband back to his room before he blabbers all he knows to Scotland Yard. If only the virile man were here so you could grab him by his haunches and ride him back to the manor away from a dead barman and a neurotic husband. The forward door of the cigar car snaps shut. You button the blouse and wipe away the tears. The virile man is somewhere on this train, and you intend to find him. You leave the closet and shut the door behind you. With the door closed, your husband’s incriminating ramblings will be limited to an audience of one. And an audience of one is covered by the right against self-incrimination. The Peasant is not in his car and the table is clean of gold and cards. It is 5:50 PM. You return to your car, sit on your bed, and wait for the virile man to show. You bend your limbs into a variety of revealing positions but none hasten his arrival. Despondent you read The Origin of Species. Darwin knows exactly what men desire. An hour passes and you are reading about the perfect cylindricality of insects’ burrows. It prompts thoughts of your husband who is still festering in a burrow of his own. Perhaps autophagy has set in and he is an innocuous puddle of amino acids and carbons. But that is not very likely. You leave your room for the closet of the cigar car to fetch your wayward spouse. The Barman’s corpse is sure to have been found by now and the cars swept for culprits. Your husband would top that list. The Peasant is still absent from his room. You pity the host that has entertained that guest for the past hour. The Cigar car is empty and you rap lightly upon the closet door. The rug is soaked and your footfall bubbles the liquid to the surface. It is a tawny color like dirty water. You ask your husband to quit his foolishness and get to bed. Sleep is the best cure for psychosis. The lights go out and a muffled voice attempts to imitate your husband’s.

- 11 -

The Tennis Star “I command you to come in here, honey, and make love. I repeat, come in here, honey, and make love.” These are not the weak rasps of your husband, and you tell the man so. The voice is far too strong, too rich, too --. It is the voice of the virile man. You open the door in the hopes of obeying his bawdy commands. All your hopes, all your dreams – A fist meets the pimple under your chin. You awake. The gendarmes are huddled around you while one wan-faced officer pats you rapidly on the cheek. You are lying on the floor of the Cigar car with a terrible headache. The last memory you have is the auditory recollection of that virile voice. The gendarmes help you to your feet. Your posterior half is cold. That tawny water has soaked it thoroughly. They lead you to the table where the Magician, Conductor, and Violinist are already seated. The Peasant’s rope is on the table. The rope is bloody and inky. The ends are still capped. A sharp crack sounds from outside the train. A few minutes later the Peasant strolls in with a hole in the center of his burlap frock. The hole is bloody and inky. The gendarmes search the frock and produce a pen which they place on the table. It has a sharp golden point rouged over with blood. The wan-faced gendarme leaves to the aft of the train. He returns cradling a poodle in his arms. The poodle’s legs remain stiff and straight as the gendarme drops it in a dusty corner. The dust moves. The poodle doesn’t. A gendarme pushes the Doctor through the forward door and escorts him to the table. Moments later, your husband is pushed through the rear door. A gendarme gently slides the plumbing pipe from the loose grasp of your husband’s right hand and places it on the table alongside the rope and the pen. Your husband looks as happy to be here as he does fashion season in Paris. Half an hour or so later, the Businessman is dragged in shouting “I’ll choke him. I swear – I’ll choke that man.” He is wearing the clothes of a homeless man and smells just as bad. You make a mental note to never invest in anything he recommends. The gendarme speaks. He says that France has found judges to be corrupt and juries to be inept. Justice is becoming for the French an impossible ideal unable to be implemented from the crooked benches of its more crooked courts. The country has left justice in the hands of you eight passengers. It is your duty to reach a verdict. It is your duty to make France proud again. A vote can be taken at any time in secret or by a show of hands. In order to reach a verdict, the vote of conviction must be no more than one vote shy of unanimity. France will only accept one guilty party. And that guilty party must be sitting at the table. Anything less will reflect shame and dishonor upon the good people of France. Upon the arrival of an acceptable verdict, the murderer will be swiftly, and -- the gendarmes assure you -- brutally disposed off. The decision before each of you is a simple interrogative. Who killed the Barman? Is Myrna Rosenbaum still writing, you wonder? You pray she never gets wind of this.

- 12 -

The Tennis Star

NOTE TO READER: DO NOT ASK US IF YOU WILL KNOW THAT YOU ARE THE MURDERER. ALL THE NECESSARY INFORMATION HAS BEEN PROVIDED.

- 13 -

the

Little Engine
that could

Kill

a murder mystery for eight

The Violinist

You are the Violinist
On Wednesday, August 5th, 1932, you and eight other passengers boarded a three-day express train from Bombay, India to Lisbon, Portugal. Unfortunately, one did not survive the journey. It is now up to you and the seven passengers left to decide who killed the eighth. This is your story. It details your background, your current position in life, and your actions on the fated three-day express liner. Read carefully, because you have many key pieces of evidence that must be used in combination with the knowledge of other passengers to unmask and convict the murderer. You will also find a map of the train, which includes any structure that a visitor to the train would notice upon cursory inspection. Ground Rules
  

Do not show this script to anyone else at any time. Please refrain from reading directly from the script when presenting evidence to others, unless you find it absolutely necessary. Play your character to some modest degree. You need not go to great efforts to mimic the character's personality - although it would be much more fun if you did - but at least speak as though you were your character (i.e. “I saw such-and-such an event” instead of “my character saw...,” and so on). If someone asks you a basic question about your character that you should know (e.g. your age), but the information was not provided in your story, you may make something up - just as long as it's consistent with the rest of your story. This story contains historical falsities and devices of science fiction. Take them for granted (but not anything else). Lying

Lie with caution. Your story interweaves with the stories of many other people who may know things about you that you might not think they know.  You may not lie about the following things: • Something you heard someone else say. • An action you saw someone else doing. • Something that you saw someone else carrying. • A piece of background information about someone else, unless you are involved in their background story.  You may lie about the following things: • Something that you said or did. • A piece of background information about yourself, or about someone else if you were involved in their background story.

-i-

Map of Three-day Express Liner from Bombay to Toledo

Magician's Quarters
Bed Desk

Conductor's Quarters
Bed Desk

Violinist's Quarters
Bed

Lord and Tennis Star's Quarters
Closet Desk Bed

S (g tair oi ca ng s up e )

Closet

Closet
Entrance/Exit to Train

Bathroom

Bathroom

Bathroom

Table&c

Maintenance Closet

Bathroom

Bathroom

Sofa Balcony Bed

- ii -

Locomotive Desk Desk Desk Counter
Table & Chairs Table & Chairs Table & Chairs Table & Chairs

Bed

Bed

Bed

Doctor's Quarters

Businessman's Quarters

Bar Car

Cigar Car

Peasant's Quarters

Lord and Tennis Star's Quarters

Caboose - where Barman sleeps

Notes:
= door (swinging or doorknob style) = open doorway Locations of chairs, mirrors, and various other items are not given. Fill in the blanks using your story. The setup is different in each person's room. The pricetags of each room are also different, but it's up to you to guess the relative cost of each.
The Violinist

The Violinist The leather of his shoe feels cold and wet, likely due to too much shoeshine. You hate a man who uses too much shoeshine, but you smile anyway. He rubs his shoe a little higher on your leg and attempts to show you his pearly whites. Except they aren't pearly white and they barely make it out of the several layers of chins that line the lower half of his face. You shuffle your barstool a few inches away, leaving his shoe to drop despondently and disappear beneath the seam of his finely tailored chalk-striped slacks. He doesn't so much as break eye contact. You hate it when men look at you like that, as if you are a prize they had purchased at one of their gala London auctions. “Have you had enough to drink?” he asks. But his words come out as more of a bellow. Pretty much everything he says is a bellow. “Yes, thank you.” He wheels his head around and looks down the bar. “Barman! Two more martinis. This lovely lady is still thirsty.” He turns back to look at you. “No need to be modest, love. I know when no means yes.” He attempts a wink but it looks more like an avalanche of skin collapsing upon his eye. You shuffle your bar stool a few more inches. That earns you a hearty cackle and a pinch on the buttocks. “My dear you are a coy one!” He is trying to whisper, but it comes out as yet another bellow. The Barman comes along, hands the Businessman the martinis, and gives you a cold hard stare. You ignore it. The Businessman snatches the drinks up from the counter, slides one over to you and gulps the other down in one go - olive and all. He smiles again and you see a piece of olive has stuck itself in his gums. You hate men who cannot swallow their olives properly. Perhaps it would be more efficient to say that you just hate men. When they are not having sex with you, they are trying to have sex with you. And when they're not doing that they are shining their shoes with bad shoeshine. You sip your martini and swallow. It bubbles as it goes down your throat and you channel the bubbles back upwards into a very elegant burp. It's squeaky and feminine - just naughty enough to make him think you've got a free spirit, but just cutesy enough to assure him he can take you to bed. The Businessman's enormous eyebrows shoot up with delight. And judging by the way he shifts his posture that's not all that has shot up. You hate men, but you need money to get off this train as soon as possible, and you'll get it even if it means going through a man. You let the Businessman buy you a total of eleven martinis the minimum number required to numb your senses enough to tolerate a night in bed with an ogre like him. You grew up an orphan, and never knew your father. The only men you have ever known have been abusive, tyrannical chauvinists. You let them use you for a while, taking the moral high ground and giving them your obedience. But it did not take long for you to figure out that none were deserving of it. You soon shed your idealistic illusions about the world, about happiness, and about love. Now, you just do what you need to do to get by, and if that involves sex with an ogre, then so be it. Of course, you are not prostitute and have never stooped so low as to sell your sex for money. But living an unsheltered life in this man's world has taught you that sometimes, to get what -1-

The Violinist you want, you have to ask for it in the bedroom on the morning after. You wake up to the sound of the Businessman sharpening his gold-tipped pen. You glance at the clock - it reads 5:00 AM. You roll under the sheets and purr a low pitched A-flat, hoping to ignite his paternal instinct of benevolence. But he doesn't bite.. “Get out,” he growls, pointing with his shiny pen at the crumpled black dress and purse you left on his chair and then to the door. “I've got what I want from you.” Not every quarry will bear gold for its miner. And you know from the tone of his voice that this quarry will bear you none. You decide to cut your losses and get out as fast as you can. You could have guessed last night that this would happen. His shaft was too small even to expect a few ounces of silver. You pick up your cocktail dress, slip your arms through its straps and pull. The silky black fabric barely covers your supple, round caboose. That may have worked in your favor last night, but you no longer see the need to give the Businessman any complementary favors, even if they are only ocular. You tug a little harder on the black fabric, grab your purse, and storm out of the room. “Asshole,” you call at him before you slam the door. It's because of conceited bastards like him that you left Paris. They'd pay you a franc a night for playing your violin at their exquisite social gatherings when they knew you deserved fifty. You got out of there as soon as you were old enough to leave the orphanage. You read in the Le Monde that in the Orient they offered higher pay - and more respect - for a woman with your violin skills. So you took the next train East, bound for Ceylon. Turns out Ceylon is just a Paris where the men aren't circumcised. . Nobody is awake yet and you make it back to your room without being seen. On your way back you pass through the Peasant's room and notice him snoring in a dusty corner, cradling a stack of gold coins big enough to get you from here to Beijing, but you ignore the coins and keep walking up the steps to your room. You know better than to try to steal from the Peasant. You put on some more comfortable clothes and crawl into bed for some real sleep. You doze off quickly, like you always do when you're angry. You dream that you are walking along Wall Street, and American businessmen are showering diamonds upon you. At the end of the street a man with a briefcase full of money beckons you. “My sweet Violinist,” he whispers, “come to be with me.” Your slippers blaze across the smooth sidewalk towards the man. “Come,” he says, “and live in luxury for the rest of your days.” You quicken your step. The man raises his voice: “You filthy, no good daughter of a whore, get your two-pence body down here.” You awake abruptly. That insulting voice was no voice of a stock trader - it was the all-toofamiliar rasp of the Peasant. You hear him call again. “Yoohoo, Violinist, please bring your angelic self down here,” he says, “A nice British man wants to take a look at you.” Had any other man called you from your bed with such a hackneyed set of superlatives you would have told him to get lost. But the Peasant is a man who possesses a sickle. In particular, a sickle that he likes to hold to people's necks. And when that particular kind of man tells you to do something, you don't exactly have an option. You still cannot bring yourself to say the word. To call it what it is. Just days it was all so different. You had been practicing your violin on the dock near one of Ceylon's most gorgeous beaches. Life was tough - when isn't it - but you were getting by. You were working on an exquisite -2-

The Violinist interpretation of the medieval classic, Greensleeves. The piece had you so enraptured that you did not notice the rope that was being lowered down around you by that disgusting weasel. He didn't even let you finish the piece before he pulled. He dragged you through every street in town on the end of that damn rope. You screamed and screeched the strings of your violin, but nobody paid you any mind. Nobody. From the looks of the cage he locked you in when you got back to his place, you guessed that you had not been the first of his - but you cannot say it. You cannot say the word. You take out a new black dress from your closet and slip it on. This one more tightly cradles the breasts but hangs longer over the thighs. You have found this style better adapts you to dealing with your captor, whose primitive desires drive him to grab at every bouncing breast and short skirt in sight. You take up your violin and make your way down the steps into the Peasant's quarters. He makes you carry your damn violin everywhere you go. He claims it increases your value on the market tenfold. You wish to God you played the kazoo. The clock strokes half-past three as you trudge down the steps. You can pinpoint the exact location of the Peasant even before you reach the bottom of the stairs by the strength of the smell of partially cooked liver. You slow your breathing and take the plunge into the dark, dusty chamber, turning immediately to the table at which you know he will be sitting. He's playing poker with the Lord of Winchester. The Lord glances from the corner of his eye at you and puts his mahogany brier pipe to his mouth, trying to look cultured. But it might as well be a corn-cob pipe. You can tell when a man is scum, even if he tries to hide it with a brier pipe and smoking jacket. And this man is scum. You haven't met a man yet who hasn't been scum. From the distribution of the gold coins on the table you guess that Peasant is betting wildly and losing wildly. That poor bag of peat moss never had any tact and never will. But what can you expect from a professional kidnapper. That's it. That's the word. Kidnapper. It sends a shudder through your spine to think it outright, even though that word that has runs through the back of your mind in a million variations since the incident. Kidnapped. Kidnapping. Kidnap. You have known the word existed for all your life. But you never even remotely fathomed its meaning eight short days ago. “Don't just stand there, woman,” the Peasant barks at you, dissipating your stream of thought. But catching himself in front of the Lord, the he makes a phony attempt to sweeten his tone before he continues. “Play this nice man Green Leaves on you fiddle.” When he talks, tiny spittoons of saliva burst from his lips. And from the puddle they land into on the table you guess that the Peasant has been doing a lot of talking. You play Greensleeves for the bastard because you have no choice. He didn't bring his scythe on the train, but from the look of his bloodshot eyes don't doubt he wouldn't resort to more barbaric and painful methods to punish you if you disobey. The Lord seems more interested in your musicianship than the game. “Her sound is luscious,” he says to the Peasant in a stilted British accent. The complement strikes you as strange. With a chill you remember what the Peasant told you about your musicianship increasing your market value, and could - could it - could it be that the Lord be making such a valuation right now? You wouldn't put it past him. The Peasant's flashes him a wet smile and jumps to his feet, slapping his burlap clad behind: “that isn't the only thing that's luscious!” he whoops. You wonder if a view of the Peasant's charcoal -3-

The Violinist behind is really necessary to make his point. But you suppose he will stop at nothing to turn you into a pile of his sorry gold coins. Any minute now you expect him to throw in a set of kitchen knives if the Lord buys in the next thirty minutes, but he doesn't have a chance, because just then the Tennis Star rushes into the room, distraught. You would be too if you had a husband like the Lord. In her hurry she bumps the Peasant's flailing buttocks and looks up in astonishment. Her eyes have a watery redness that you know all too well to preclude the onset of tears. She draws close to her husband and whispers something in is ear but you cannot make it out. Then she stalks off into her room, stoically choking back a sob. For a moment you stop playing, debating whether to follow and comfort the poor girl, but the Peasant's angry glare indicates that you should get back to your violin. Once you strike up, the Peasant ties a rope around your ankle and clenches the other end feverishly. Why he does this you do not understand, but you do not understand most of the Peasant's obscene behaviors so it does not alarm you. Suddenly the Peasant yanks the rope mercilessly, lifting your leg and cackling a slobbery cackle. You do not lose your balance, but you're glad you chose to wear your long skirt. That pervert always wants a cheap thrill. You slap the Peasant on the face with all your might, grab your purse, and make a break for it. You know you won't be able get off this speeding locomotive any time soon, but you just want to get away from the Peasant's stench for a few minutes. So you run into the cigar car, and - luckily - the stench does not follow you. In the cigar car you quickly untie the long rope. You notice immediately it's not the same rope the Peasant tied you up with in Ceylon. It's fibers are well woven, its ends neatly soldiered with black rubber. This is too nice of a rope for the likes of the Peasant. But rope is not the problem at hand. The problem at hand is that you'd need to get as far away from the Peasant as possible, and you slip the rope into your purse and make your way to the front of the train. Unfortunately to get there you have to pass by the Businessman and his pal the Magician, who are both sitting at a table in the cigar car, puffing up a storm. The Businessman is being his usual chauvinist self, bellowing at the Conductor to order him an outlandishly fattening meal - although at his weight you would believe that such an order might actually be an attempt at a diet. “A capitalist travels on his stomach,” he says smugly as the Conductor leaves to give his order to the Barman. He pats the Mount Washington of flab that has taken residence on his belly. You cannot resist the opportunity to interject. “Well then I expect you to travel far,” you say. Your comment gives him a jolt, and a a wave of fat ripples from his gaudy chin down to the edge of his gigantic abdomen and then back up again. “Don’t you have a violin to play, woman?” he barks. “I do, though I think I’ll be performing a solo today,” you shoot back. But your comment only incites his eyes to wander down to your southern hemisphere. “Do you have a bow, or shall I be of some assistance to you in that matter?” he asks, goggleeyed at the view. “I’m sure this will satisfy my needs,” you say coldly and point to your violin's bow. Then you promptly you slip out of his view and into the next room. -4-

The Violinist In the bar car you see the hunched figures of the Conductor and the Barman, huddled mischievously around a silver platter that is placed on the counter. You continue walking, wanting nothing to do with their pubescent schemes. You find yourself in the Businessman's quarters. You search under his mattress and in his suitcases for some cash but there is none to be found. You are not surprised. At his size the Businessman probably has enough pocket space for all of his money, maybe even a few elephants too. His penis certainly wouldn't be any cause for overcrowding. You sit on his bed, flustered. The hanging clock on the opposite tells you it's 3:44, but it doesn't make you feel any better. Suddenly you hear shouting from the direction of the bar car and a few seconds later the Barman comes sprinting past, followed by a slowly waddling (and somewhat inebriated) Businessman, curses flowing unceasingly from his mouth. Neither give you so much of a glance. Even if you had the cash you aren't entirely sure it could get you anywhere. Before you left the Peasant told you that the Barman has eyes in every town on this railway line, from Bombay all the way to Lisbon. No one in your position has ever escaped the Barman's train alive, he said, and no one ever will. Speaking to another passenger is not an option either. With his razor sharp scythe to your neck, the Peasant assured you that such an incident would have morbid repercussions for both the speaker and the spoken-to. You hear noise coming from the Doctor's room. You don't feel like getting caught up in any altercations, especially ones that the Businessman is involved in, so you grab your belongings and head back to your room, passing the Conductor in the Businessman's room. He is carrying a soiled apron under his arm for no apparent reason. Your whisper softly as they slide across the wooden floor of the empty bar car. You push through to the cigar car and move no further. Your path is blocked by the dark, turban-clad Magician, who steps out from a cloud of smoke and greets you. “Good afternooooon, my lady,” he croons in his low-toned Arabian accent. “May I be pleased to meet you? I am the Magician.” He takes your hand and places a warm, gentle kiss atop your middle knuckle. His twinkling eyes leave you speechless. “What is your name?” he asks softly. “Violinst,” you squeak. “A beautiful name for a beautiful lady.” Your face turns terribly hot and you know you're blushing. No - to say you are blushing would be an understatement. You are transforming into a purplish-red beet, albeit an astoundingly attractive one. “You are red,” the Magician notes, “I give you something to match.” A rose the color of a fine Bordeaux suddenly appears in his hand. He slips it into yours. You feel your legs go weak and the Magician guides you into a chair just in time. He sits down beside you, and, staring into your eyes he asks you if you would like to come away with him and be an assistant in his magic show. “A girl with your charms - ahem, I mean charm - would be perfect for my infamous rope trick,” he says. “Yes,” you want to tell him, “Yes yes yes yes.” You want to tell him of your suffering, of the -5-

The Violinist risks, and of the beautiful eyes he has. You want to tell him so many things, and you nearly do, but just then the Conductor unexpectedly bursts through the door. He has an old camera bag under his arm and seems to be in an awful rush. Likely he's one of the Barman's spies, sent to make sure you're not spilling the beans on his operation. Well, you know how to cover your tracks. “Are you coming to take my publicity photos?” you call out to him, waving your violin. He blinks for a few seconds at the question and then sputters: “This is just my…toolkit...Got some conductorly business to attend to on the other side of the train.” He does not wait for you to respond but scampers off into the Peasant's room. You decide that the cigar car is too public a place to discuss matters with the Magician. “Let's go to the caboose,” you beseech him. Nobody ever goes to the caboose except the Barman, and that's only to sleep. And if the shouting from the Doctor's room was any indication, he's not exactly sleeping right now. You grab the Magician's hand and he follows you obligingly, passing the grandfather clock in the cigar car on the way. It reads 4:10PM. There is just one problem with your plan to run off to the caboose. You have to go through the Peasant's quarters first. But with the Magician by your side you suspect that now-scytheless Peasant's lofty threats will disintegrate like an egg in a blender. You step through the door and take a sniff. Coincidentally, the Peasant's body odor has fermented into the stench of rotten eggs. You take it as a good omen, give the Magician a wink, and lead him forward. But the Peasant stops you from behind his pool of dribble at the corner table. “Where are you taking my Violinist?” he rasps at the Magician. The latter shoots you a very confused look. You pipe up for him and tell the Peasant you're headed over to view countryside from the balcony in the caboose. The Peasant ruminates on the proposition for a while and then snorts. “The Vineyards too?” he asks. “Yes, the Vineyards,” you say. “They seem to be seen best from there,” he points towards the back of the train with a jealous thrust. Speckles of mud fly from his fingers and stain the wall. You grab the Magician's hand and tug him into the next car. From behind you can hear the Peasant cackling at his table. “Tee hee hee.” He sounds like a mix between a grasshopper and a hyena. “Tee hee hee. Tee hee hee.” You shut the door behind you to silence the terrible noise. It is replaced by the low sound of rushing water. Someone must be taking a shower upstairs. But that is none of your business. You glance back at the Magician, who now has a completely stupefied expression on his face, and pull him through one more door - into the caboose. Once there you grab him by the shoulders and tell him everything. “We don't have much time,” you whisper to him. “So listen.” You tell him of your kidnapping. Of the Peasant's intention to sell you off to the highest bidder on this train. It is no normal train, you tell him, and Barman is no normal bartender. The Magician's dark Arab face goes ghastly white, but you keep going, describing the Barman's slave-trafficking operation in greater detail. The Barman finds the customers, the Peasant catches the slaves. Everybody gets on the Barman Express, the trade is made at the end of the line, and no one - not the other passengers and not the rest of the world - knows the difference. You warn him that if you run off together the Barman will come after him and you, and that -6-

The Violinist if he ever finds you, neither one will live to tell of it. You tell him the only way you can ever be free with him is if the Barman dies. It's a catharsis that leaves you sweaty and breathless. The Magician remains silent and stares at you, his impenetrable eyes going in and out of focus. You are beginning to wonder whether you have confided in the wrong man. Finally he speaks up. “The Barman? A slave trafficker? I knew that bastard looked familiar,” he says. Then he tells you a tale of how, when he was a young boy growing up in Saudi Arabia, a mysterious man invaded his house, killed his father and took him and his mother prisoner. That man loaded them into his train and shipped them up to Moscow, where they were sold into slavery too. The mother died and the boy escaped, only to live a life of poverty and destitution in freezing Russian alleyways. Time washed away the memories of those painful years but never of the visage of the terrible man who started it all. And that visage, he says, belongs to the Barman. His now-aged face had failed to jog his memory at first, but now the connection has been made it is undoubtedly him. It's a heart-wrenching tale, but you are not fool enough to believe it. Only one of the Barman's spies could cook up such a serendipitous story. You call him liar and kick his shin with all your might. You should have known you could never trust a man, let alone a man who produces a rose from his sleeve. You suppose the Barman will pay the Magician a hefty sum if he can chalk up some evidence of your treachery. Well you will show him. You didn't spend all your life eating frauds of his type for breakfast to lose out to one in a moment of weakness. “I'm telling the truth!” he protests. You hiss at him. The phony bastard drops to his knees and begs for a chance to prove himself. You are about to claw those pathetic, lying eyes out, but you stop yourself at the last moment. You could kill the Magician but it won't get you off this train alive. Killing the Barman, on the other hand, might. You decide to tell the Magician a tale of your own. “I bet you my service that I can kill the Barman before you,” you tell him. “You win, I will be your assistant and we will be free. If I win I will assume you are one of the Barman's henchmen and you will rot in hell with him after the justice system is through with you.” “Deal,” he says and extends his arm with a smile. But you are not that stupid. You slap his hand of trickery away and give him a hard kick in the groin. As he crumples to the ground you slide the Peasant's rope out of your purse and tie him to the bed with your tightest bowstring knot. He'll really need to be a magician if he wants to inform the Barman of anything in that sorry state. You saunter out of the caboose and back to your room. The Peasant is still sitting hunched over his table, but now he's playing solitaire. The devilish grin he flashes you tells you that he's been cheating again. “How were the Vineyards?” he asks in his characteristic rasp. “They were,” you say and continue up to your room before the breath the Peasant exhales while he is speaking can fully diffuse throughout the room. It's a quarter till five when you get back to your compartment. You wash your face and apply a little bit of makeup. If you are going to kill the Barman, you figure you might as well look good while you're doing it. The train slows and then stops. You hear the Conductor run through the train, screaming “Pont de Muetre, Pont de Muetre.” You wouldn't be surprised if the Barman gave the town its name to intimidate his prisoners. Well you will fulfill its prophesy in a way that he wasn't expecting. -7-

The Violinist It's 5:20. The train starts back up again and you head down the stairs to do the job. You're not sure how yet, but you will cross that Pont de Muetre when you come to it. You pass through the Peasant's room and notice that he's lying face down in a pool of his dribble. You never knew the Peasant to be attuned to an afternoon nap. Perhaps he suffered a heart attack, you think with excitement, but the thunderous release of flatulence that emanates from his body - and its ensuing smell - inform you otherwise. You leave him slumbering peacefully in his filthy lair. In the cigar car there are no cigars to be seen, but there is one lonely girl who you don't recognize as a passenger - although she obviously is one now. The girl is larger than average around the waist, decked out in a lavish red mink coat, sunglasses, and a yellow fedora. A pair of studded leather boots are keeping her feet warm and a finely-groomed poodle on a hot pink leash is keeping her company. She looks straight at you from below her rose tints and then walks towards you with the grace only a woman can manage. Your breathing quickens as you become enraptured by her beauty. She comes within inches of you and then you feel the prod of a small glass cylinder on your palm. “You know what to do with these, ma cherie” the woman whispers in a low baritone. Your mind is racing - you want to ask her questions but before you can think of any the lady wheels around voluptuously and walks out through the doors of the bar car, vanishing from your life as quickly as she entered it. You look down at the item she gave you. It appears to be a medicine bottle. Its faded label reads: “ABORTION PILLS. TAKE ONLY ONE. Will cause immediate death to user if taken in high doses.” “Abortion pills,” you say the words to yourself quietly. Yes, abortion pills. The candy of the feminist movement. But you do not believe the voluptuous lady intended you to use them to campaign for women's suffrage - no - these pills can be put to far better use than that. You slip them into your purse and skip your way over to the Barman's den. You have just crossed the Pont de Muetre. The Barman is alone. Solo, without escort, unaccompanied. Nobody to hear his heavy body fall to the ground, should someone slip a toxic substance into his drink. He sees you come in and smiles so widely his lips practically fall off the edges of his round little baby face. You smile back and pull up a stool. He smells like a burnt cigar stub. “You know, Barman,” you say, “I'd like to propose a toast.” “To what?” “To life.” “I only toast to the Pope, who hath helped me to love Our Holy Lord and Savior.” “To the Pope, then.” But the Barman doesn't pour any drinks. He just erupts into insidious laughter. After a minute or two he manages to contain himself, and says in between chuckles: “Do you really think you can win your freedom by buying me a drink?” Then he throws his head back and succumbs to another bout of laughter. Eventually he keels over and, still laughing like a lunatic, slaps the bar with his hand. You notice a dark red burn across his neck. It still looks fresh so you poke it to shut him up. When your long sharp fingernails dig into the wound, the Barman yelps, falls to the ground, and writhes in pain. He doesn't get quieter, but you're the one who's laughing now. When he finally gets -8-

The Violinist up he is livid with anger. But he doesn't try to punch you. Instead he puts his finger to your lips and leans over the bar to whisper something to you. The smell of burnt-out cigar stubs gets stronger as he gets closer. “That hurt, you little bitch,” he sneers, but he can't continue because the Tennis Star suddenly bursts through the back doors. She stomps militantly towards you, grabs you by the arm, and yanks so hard she nearly rips it out of its socket. You try to resist, but her fake pink nails against your cheeks make you think better of it. In thirty seconds you find yourself laying flat on the carpet of the cigar car, the door locked behind you. It takes you a minute but you soon regain use of your legs enough to crawl to the door and put your ear to it. What you hear makes you sympathize with the Tennis Star's irrational behavior, even if she did just beat you senseless. “Oh, don’t look so upset tush,” you hear the Barman say, “The International Tennis Association still doesn’t know about your amphetamines. At least not yet –” That's right. Who would have thought it - another case of a man manipulating a woman for his own twisted ends. After a few seconds the Tennis Star screams at him: “When I get done with you, you’ll regret ever having said that.” You hear the rustle of footsteps and you back away from the door. As quickly as you can (which isn't saying much at this point) you hobble back to your room. The Peasant is wide awake again and does not spare you his lip. “Those vineyards can do a real number on a babe,” he hisses after one look at you. A bit of spittle lands on your dead leg. Its putrid toxins burn, and you hobble more quickly, ascending the staircase and collapsing onto your bed. But the Peasant follows you up. “This business,” he growls at you angrily, “It's between you and me, understand?” You opt to smooth your disheveled hair instead of listening. “Until you’re sold, I’m you’re boss. I make your rules. I say where you go. If I want to sell you to a nice royal family I can do that. And if I want to use you to fertilize my azaleas, I can do that as well.” You're having trouble with a pesky knot beside your left ear. You smooth it more earnestly. He grabs you by the wrist and gives your second yank of the day. “Listen.,” he rages, “I don’t give a damn if you fuck every man on this train and even the woman until your hips are sore and your lips are blue. It makes no difference to me as long as it doesn’t interfere with your violin playing – get it? All I want to know is what you did with my rope.” You tell him the first lie you can think of. It involves the rope tying a chest of gold in the bar car. The Peasant drools even more than usual when you mention the gold and sprints like a rabid cheetah down the stairs. You climb up to the bed and drift off into fitful state of unconsciousness. The last thing you remember is the stroke of the clock - one, two, three, four, five, six... You wake up to the sound of a loud bursting noise and trickling water. The clock reads 6:45. Before seeing what's going on you walk to the bathroom to try to get your ravaged face cleaned up a little. You're scarcely ten minutes into this herculean task before the lights suddenly go out and the train grinds to a halt. Not a sound can be heard, save for the continuous trickling of water. You listen to that trickle for many a minute, confused as to what is happening. Suddenly the splash of two very heavy boots break the silence. They lumber from the front of the train, pass your room, and make its way towards the caboose. The smell of a burnt cigar stub wafts up into your room. It is unmistakably the scent you smelled on the Barman just an hour ago. You grab your purse -9-

The Violinist and run after the boots. This time you won't be so courteous as to offer the Barman a toast before you shove the pills down his throat. You step down from the stairs into a little river that is flowing towards the caboose. You don't know where it's coming from, and you don't care. You follow the footsteps through to the Lord's quarters, making tiptoeing as quietly as possible. Up ahead you hear a loud thump, some shuffling, and then nothing. You creep your way into the caboose and fall flat on your face. Your purse goes flying and you land on top of a wet body. You reach for the face. Round. You feel the neck - yes - that's it - you feel what you're looking for - the burn wound. This is the Barman - you feel for a pulse - dead. But how? Could the Magician be behind this? Suddenly another set of feet are trekking towards the caboose. You stay low. They get closer. Closer. When the feet walk through the door you grab at them. Your arms wrap around a pair of tuxedo pants that are so slippery they might have been dipped in motor oil. You've never encountered a slippery pair of pants before, but you hold tight and Tuxedo collapses on top of you. There is only one Tuxedo on this train, you suddenly realize, and it's the Magician. You have never been an honest woman, just a sensible one. And when a murderer carries a body into a caboose and leaves it on the ground for a gal to slip over, and when that gal happens to have bet her life on that particular murderer - who has long since escaped - being her, you do what any reasonable gal would do. You take the credit. “I win,” you say to the Magician. You never get a response. Suddenly lighting strikes, and you look up at his eyes staring past you into nothingness, completely petrified. The lights go out and he leaps to his feet, but he cannot so much as take a step. Out of nowhere sirens fill the air, coming from every direction. Gendarmes storm the car, shouting threats and legalese. One of them grabs you by the wrist and, giving you your third excruciatingly painful yank of the day, pulls you into the cigar car. The Magician gets thrown into a chair beside you. In the opposite corner you spy the Conductor, crouched in a fetal position and holding a bloody, inky noose. The gendarmes grab him, subdue him, sit him at the table, and make him place the noose onto its center. The Tennis Star is lying unconscious in the middle of the room. It takes a minute for the gendarmes to revive her but eventually she's also led to the table, although you see the Barman must have given her quite a beating over those amphetamines before he died. You all sit in silence, staring at each other. A sharp crack is heard from outside. The gendarmes look out the window but can see nothing. Minutes later a vile odor suffuses into your nose, and it is followed promptly by the sight Peasant, who arrives in the cigar car unaccompanied, coming from the direction of the caboose. He's wearing his usual burlap, but there is a conspicuous hole in the center of his cloak. Its perimeter is stained with blood and ink. The Gendarmes pat him down when he arrives and withdraw a bloody pen from his pocket. They throw it on the table with the rope. The next to arrive is the Doctor who is being pulled along by two more guards. He takes a seat at the table and locks his eyes into a cold, menacing stare aimed at the Conductor. Following the Doctor is the Lord, who is carried in holding with a heavy pipe in his right hand. He's mumbling unintelligibly about the Great War. The pipe, too, is thrown onto the table. A mangy poodle - dead as a doornail - is carried in by the tail from the direction of the - 10 -

The Violinist caboose. Thankfully it is not thrown on the table, but a dusty corner instead. Time passes and no one says a word. No Barman arrives. The Businessman is dragged in shouting “I’ll choke him. I swear - I’ll choke that man.” He is wearing the rags of a bum. It doesn't surprise you. The man never had class. The Barman's body is never found. One of the gendarmes speaks. He says that France has found judges to be corrupt and juries to be inept. Justice is becoming for the French an impossible ideal unable to be implemented from the crooked benches of its more crooked courts. The country has left justice in the hands of you eight passengers. It is your duty to reach a verdict. It is your duty to make France proud again. A vote can be taken at any time in secret or by a show of hands. In order to reach a verdict, the vote of conviction must be no more than one vote shy of unanimity. France will only accept one guilty party. And that guilty party must be sitting at the table. Anything less will reflect shame and dishonor upon the good people of France. Upon the arrival of an acceptable verdict, the murderer will be swiftly, and - the gendarmes assure you - brutally disposed of. The decision before each of you is a simple interrogative. Who killed the Barman? You don't doubt it's a man.

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The Violinist

NOTE TO READER: DO NOT ASK US IF YOU WILL KNOW THAT YOU ARE THE MURDERER. ALL THE NECESSARY INFORMATION HAS BEEN PROVIDED.

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