Several months ago, I was out to brunch with my usual motley crew at our usual place, usual because it includes both crab legs and all-you-can-drink champagne, which is all any normal person needs to be happy in life. I was well on my way to getting my money’s worth when Jennie, who looks like Veronica Lake if Veronica Lake were a hippie surfer, says to me, “You know what would be fun for Halloween?”
It turned out the answer wasn’t orange-colored vodka shots.
“A murder mystery party,” she said. “Would you write it?”
“Sure!” I said because crab legs and champagne really boost a person’s confidence. “No problem-o. I am a professional.”
The week before Halloween, after the plans had been made and the invites sent out and the food arranged, it occurred to me that maybe I ought to, you know, write something. Fast.
(More photos after the jump.)
Then I showed up. And holy cow, when a number of your pals work in the entertainment industry, they can rock a costume. The year was 1933, and there was vintage as far as the eye could see, including a feathered Dior hat that was so amazing, I had to cry a little just to get that out of the way.
I was Inspector Pugh and in drag, which wouldn’t have fooled anyone even in the dark at 50 paces with the fog rolling in.
Aside from that, everyone was beautiful and brilliant.
The cast of characters, just for fun, is below:
(1933. California. A wake for the not-so-dearly departed Doctor West.)
Professor Puddefoot (Cam) – A chemist who has a taste for his own experiments, often ingesting his creations with interesting results. His moods are erratic and his memory unreliable. He is not married and has no children.
Whiskers (Amy) – Professor Puddefoot’s unconscious mind that has taken corporeal form after too many of the professor’s experiments. She is a Sphinx and speaks cryptically and often in rhyme and riddle. Although she is part of Professor Puddefoot, she often has access to information that his conscious mind does not.
The Widow West (Jennie) – Our hostess for the evening and wife to the deceased. She has a taste for the supernatural and has invited a spiritualist to the festivities. She has also just inherited a great deal of money and property. She has one grown child with Dr. West.
Doctor West (Jonathan) – Deceased of an apparent heart attack. Before death was a wealthy landowner and proprietor of West Pharmaceuticals, employer of Mr. Woo, and long adversary of Professor Puddefoot. He was known for his world travels and immense appetite for food, drink and women. There were rumors his desires went further afield, rumors his widow was not privy to. What exactly he was a doctor of was never quite clear.
Mr. Woo (Austin) – A botanist with questionable morals and legality. He often supplies Professor Puddefoot with unusual and not altogether safe ingredients for his experiments. Mr. Woo is mute and unmarried. He communicates through a small chalkboard he carries on his person.
Inspector Pugh (A.H. Ream) – Narrator
Katherine Dear (Ashley W.) – Daughter of the doctor and widow West. She is nearing but not yet at the age of majority. She loved her father and despises her mother. For the past five years, she has attended boarding school returning only for summer holiday, remaining most years on campus over Christmas. She speaks with a lisp.
Madame Twombly (Jessica) – Spiritualist hired by the widow to communicate with Dr. West. Claims to have never met any of the other guests before. She no longer travels east of the Rockies due to an unfortunate legal situation. Her finances are shaky as are her morals. Her necromancy skills, however, are impressive.
The Tam-Tam Twins (Dave and Cheryl) – Siamese twins, both in that they are from Siam and in that they are fused at the hip. Their names individually are Lek and Luk; although no one, including them, are sure which is which. They fight constantly and agree on nothing. One of them has a medical degree, but it’s not clear which one. During carnival season, they earn a good living in sideshows. During the winter, they live and work with Mr. Woo.
Finnegan (Josh) – A lothario of the highest order, he lives far above his means. He has just returned from a world tour and was close to Dr. West – and perhaps a few of the female guests as well. His appetite for some of Professor Puddefoot’s chemical creations is considerable.