Scene 7

The Jackson family decided to walk to the Historical Society. As it was only a couple of blocks away in the park district, Bernie didn’t want to give up their “PRIMO spot”.

As they approached the large, windowed structure, Melody caught site of something parked on the side of the street.

“Coincidence, or what?” she said, pointing to the unmarked white van with her eyes.

“Well,” Lonnie said, whispering. “What with the other interested party at the library, I’m thinking this is closer to falling on the “or what” side of things.”

Bernie agreed, though he didn’t say anything, other than to appear more on guard, if such a thing were possible; this involved looking around surreptitiously, and taking a more defensive position in front of his wife and daughter as they walked.

“Maybe we should go home,” Lonnie said. “I mean, they know what we look like, which is an advantage we don’t have on them.”

“Then they’d know we were on to them. I think it’s better to pretend we have no idea that they’re here and that they’re after the same thing. That’s to our advantage.”

Bernie cleared his throat. “I think Melody’s right about this one,” he said. “We’re much safer in presumed ignorance.”

Lonnie acquiesced. “All right,” she said, putting up her hands. “As long as we're safe and don't do anything stupid.”

They walked to the front of the building with as much nonchalance as they could muster.

“Be casual,” Bernie said under his breath, calling upon his former childhood talent of ventriloquism and not moving his mouth. “We don’t know if they’re watching us.”

Lonnie scratched her forehead, using her arm to block the motion of her mouth movements. “You don’t have to keep saying that, you dope,” she told him. “In fact, stop walking so casually. That hip swagger of yours is going to give us away more than anything.”

Bernie straightened himself, and attempted to walk normally.

Melody ran ahead and opened the door, waving her parents inside. “Let’s just get this over with,” she said. “Dawdling is not our friend.”

The museum opened on a very large, mostly empty room. To the right was a counter, which served as admissions.

Lonnie stepped up and spoke to the overly made up, older blond woman behind a computer. The woman was wearing a crisp blue vest bearing the logo of the museum. “Has anyone else been in here asking about this address?” She slipped a piece of paper across the counter.”

“Very not suspicious,” Melody grumbled under her breath. She eyed the woman sitting in front of them warily. She looked like the town gossip: normal in most ways -- enough to avoid personal attention and gain a victim's trust -- but greedy eyes always on the lookout for some juicy tidbit. Melody dallied with reenacting her mother’s 'we’re not stalkers skit' from the library, but thought better of it. Instead, she went with a tack a little more believable:

“We just lost track of my uncle, Darleen,” she said, finding the woman’s name engraved on a plastic badge at her chest, “and was wondering if he might have wandered in here.”

“Well,” the woman said, leaning forward. As she spoke Melody saw that a small crumb had become embedded into her overly polished lips, and it danced around as she spoke. Melody tried to look away but feared she could not. “There were a couple of gentleman that walked in. One was kind of good looking, a little hairy,” she bunched her lips together as she said this part, but the crumb stayed put, “and the other was wearing a beat up cowboy hat, and looked as though he was a hit-man for the wild west mafia or something. They didn’t stop and ask me anything though, but rather went upstairs like they knew what they was looking for.”

Look away, Melody told herself. Look away from the dancing crumb. That crumb is none of your business!

“They were the only two to come in in the last twenty minutes, so perhaps this is the party you were looking for? Although, I assume the more good looking one is your uncle, and not the shady character.”

Melody, who had forced her eyes to look elsewhere, found herself drawn once again to the woman’s waxy lips. To her surprise the crumb was no longer present. Her eyes darted all around the counter as though she were searching for a lost contact lens. Finally she found it, delicately poised on the tip of the woman’s uniform pocket. “Nope,” she told Darleen. “It’s ol’ shady that were looking for.”

“Oh,” Darleen said. “I didn’t mean any...”

“Let’s go, Mom,” Melody said, feigning offense. “We need to make sure your shady brother, Gordon 'the hand', gets his diabetes pills so he doesn’t slip into a coma.”

Behind them, Darleen began to stammer, and once they were safely away Lonnie said, “What was that all about. Do you two have a history that I don’t know about?”

“She just looked like a person who would blab our business if those men came and asked what we were up to.”

“And now she’s going to mention that you were his niece, if they do.”

Melody scrunched up her face. “Doubtful,” she said. “She'll be too embarrassed to mention anything for fear that we might have told ol' uncle Gordon what a creep she thought he was.”

“Genius! Although you didn’t let me ask her how we could find our information.”

“You were panicking, Mother,” Melody said, directly. “A loose cannon. You would have shown too many of our cards.”

“Ladies,” came a voice behind them. Melody and Lonnie turned to find that Darleen was pointing to a hallway directly behind her.

The elevator was behind some lockers and seemed like a place they shouldn’t be authorized to go. Lonnie pushed the button and a whirring sound began to emanate behind the doors. Melody held her breath for fear that the two mysterious men might be in there on their way down.

Lonnie nodded. “How about Mike?”


“You were thinking he needed a name, weren't you?”

“No. Don't be daft.”

“Yes you were. I know you too well. The creepy cowboy guy is Gordon, so the hairy guy needs a name, too.”

“So Mike?”

“Hairy Mike,” Lonnie said, smiling.

“Fine,” Melody said. “You can name the bad man this time.”

There was a ding! and the doors slowly began to open.

“We might be headed for a trap,” Melody said.

“I’m sure we’ll be fine,” Lonnie tried to assure her.

The elevator was small, but very cozy. There was a small writing desk to the side, on top of which were fanned out pamphlets about the research library.

“Should we wait for Dad?”

“He's still being nonchalant over there,” Lonnie said. “He can catch the next one.”

Melody looked worried. “But he might need our protection.” Her narrowed eyes indicated that she was truly worried for her father's safety.

“Okay,” Lonnie said. “You might be right.” She stuck her head out of the opening of the elevator, but didn't catch sight of him. “Hold the door a sec,” she said, and took off down the hallway. She spotted Bernie still around the corner perusing one of the displays. He was laughing at something but Lonnie recognized it right away as one of his apocryphal displays.

“Psst,” Lonnie projected.

Bernie looked up right away. His expression seemed to convey, “Yes, stranger,” he said. “Did you lose your umbrella?”

“Get over here,” she said.

Bernie looked around, looked back at his wife and slowly began to shake his head.

Lonnie winked at him, nodded in agreement, and then proceeded to give him a thumbs up. She then held up four fingers, although this only seemed to confuse him. Lonnie grimaced, waved him off and then returned to the elevator.

“I think your father is getting dumber,” she said.

Melody laughed, but then stopped. “Wait,” she said. “He's not coming?”

“Hopefully he'll figure it out once the clues settle in.”

The doors closed silently, and the room began to move slowly upwards.

“As I see it,” Lonnie continued, “our mission is two-fold: find those men and keep them in our sights.”

Melody shook her head. “Is that two folds? That seems like exactly one-fold to me,” she said. “A combined fold perhaps, but single none-the-less.”

Lonnie sighed. “I didn’t think I had to mention the original fold.” She pulled her phone from her pocket. “Hand on, I think Bernie’s texting me.” She smiled.


“He’s complaining. He had to pay for our tickets once Darleen regained her senses.”

“I thought tickets were free,” Melody said, grimacing.

“Only to residents.”

“Aren’t we residents?”

“Apparently, we both wandered off without showing your ID.”

“Maybe Darleen will give us a refund if we show them to her now.”

Lonnie shook her head. “Do you really want to go down that road?”

Melody shrugged. “I’m kind of curious actually where that crumb ended up.”

It Happened on Lafayette Street

Season One: Episode One

Melody Jackson

vs. The Woman in White

by BMB Johnson

Scene 7

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