Buford Binks and the Macabre Mansion by Emily Crane

Scene: A rather cozy looking library in the Morphil Mansion. The lighting is dim, but this just gives it a warm feeling. There are brown couches laid out on a beautiful red rug in front of a fireplace, making it a perfect place for reading. This half of the room is perfectly clean. The other half consists of numerous tall bookshelves packed so tightly with books that some books had to be laid on top of other books. The bookshelves form a sort of a maze because there are so many.

Sprawled behind one of the couches is the dead body of Great Uncle Frank! Megan Morphil, Malcolm Morphil, and Buford Binks enter the room. Behind them is the Maid carrying a tray of tea.

Megan: Thank you so much for coming over, Buford, we really appreciate it!

Buford (smiling coyly): Why it is no trouble at all! Anything for a couple of good friends!

Malcolm (Placing his hand on Buford's shoulder): No, truly, it is wonderful you've decided to help us with this manner.

Buford (giving him a friendly nod and tipping his hat): I'm just doing my job. (He looks at the audience. All of the other characters are frozen in the background.) My name is Binks. Buford Binks. I am a former detective for the police, though I mostly freelance nowadays due to the unfortunate termination of my career. I was invited here last night so that today, I might solve a mystery for the prominent Morphil family. The master of the house, Malcolm, has an uncle that has been in possession of a ring that is supposedly a family heirloom worth millions. I was here to uncover who the ring used to belong to generations ago, and thus is the rightful property of. Sadly, it was in this very room that we realized that would not happen so easily. (He rejoins the scene. The Maid walks up behind Malcolm.)

Maid: Sir, shall I place the tea on the table by the fire?

Malcolm (glancing at her): Oh, yes go ahead. (He turns back to Buford) Anyway, I just don't know why my uncle would-

(He is interrupted by a scream and the shattering of glass. There is tea all over the expensive rug, and the maid is standing there and looking behind the couch with a look of horror etched onto her face.)

Malcolm (Surprised and a bit upset over the rug): What on earth is wrong!?

(The Maid makes incoherent noises as if she is trying to get out her words but cannot. She suddenly falls back towards the ground, but Buford rushes forward and catches her. Violette Morphil comes running into the library. Her brother, Francois, is behind her clutching a book.)

Violette (Worried and confused): Mom!? Dad!? What happened here?!

Buford: Young lady, please go call a doctor! The Maid has just fainted, and she likely needs attention.

(He hands a slip of paper with the name of a doctor to Violette, who nods. She pushes past her brother and runs down the hall. Francois looks into the library for a moment with a worried look on his face, but then he follows her. Buford picks up the maid and lays her on the couch.)

Megan (looking horrified and holding her hands up to her mouth): W-what happened indeed!

(Buford looks behind the couch and raises an eyebrow)

Buford: Well, I can say for certain that we won't get much done in the way of finding out about that ring.

Malcolm (in a demanding tone): Well why not?

Buford (Still looking behind the couch): It appears your Maid has stumbled onto the scene of a murder, Malcolm. Namely, the murder of your Uncle Frank! (Megan and Malcolm gasp simultaneously. They both come rushing over and Megan lets out a little shriek of terror. They have all noticed Great Uncle Frank's body.)

Malcolm (very distressed): Uncle Frank, no!

Megan (a bit hysterical): Who would do this?! (Buford turns to look at them)

Buford: I want you to retrieve everyone who was in the mansion from the time we saw Frank yesterday until now. (He turns back to the body)

Malcolm: A-are you saying one of us is the killer?

Buford (Still investigating the body as he talks): Well, it is the most probable solution at the moment.

Malcolm: Well, you're the ex-detective, so I will do what you say! However, this isn't some silly crime drama written by a High school student for an assignment!

Buford: We'll come with you… it isn't safe.

(Malcolm, Megan, and Buford exit the room and the lights fade. They later come back on, and all of the Morphil family and Buford are sitting in the library. A sheet has been laid over Great Uncle Frank's body. The Maid is still on the couch, so everyone is squeezed onto the bigger one except for Buford, who is in the chair across from them.)

Buford: Now, I am sure you have all heard about our little… incident.

(At the mention of this, everyone changes. Malcolm wipes a tear away from his face. Megan's grip on her husband's arm grows tighter. Violette sweeps a strand of hair away from her face. Francois looks away.)

Buford: I am here to tell you about the facts of this case. As you know, Great Uncle Frank has perished. In my opinion, he died sometime last night after we all went to bed at midnight. There is no sign of any wounds, nor is there a sign of a strangling. My only assumption, due to his abnormal face color is that Frank has been poisoned!

(Everyone gasps)

Violette (angrily): W-wait a minute! Then what makes you think it was one of us!? (Buford looks at her with a straight face)

Buford: My dear, this mansion is locked up tight every night with one of the best security systems in the world. There is no way the murderer is anyone but who was in the mansion last night. Now, with that said, we must discover who has both the motive and means to commit this heinous crime. (He swings a finger and points at Malcolm) Let us start with you.

Malcolm (surprised): M-me?!

Buford: Well, you do have a motive. It was Frank that got in the way of you owning that ring, after all!

Malcolm: I wouldn't have killed him over it, though! He may have been in the way, but Uncle Frank was like a father to me ever since my own was too busy with his work! That is why I hired you… to resolve the matter peacefully!

Buford (putting a hand to his chin): Yes, of course… I do not think it was you either Malcolm. You never would have killed someone who was like a father to you, however much you wanted that ring. Besides, you went to your office and we had to knock on the door for you to come unlock it. You couldn't have killed him, considering you were in there all night. Which is why (he looks at Megan) your wife took care of the job for you.

Megan (She tightens her grip on Malcolm's arm so tight that he flinches): No, I'm innocent! You know that, Buford! You, Violette, and I were in the dining room early this morning drinking tea, after all! We all arrived there at the same time, so neither Violette, you, nor I would have had time to walk all the way across the mansion after killing someone!

(Buford nods thoughtfully)

Buford: You are right… this gives the three of us a motive, so… Francois?

(The boy jumps a bit hearing his name)

Megan: Don't be ridiculous! He's such a meek boy… he couldn't harm a fly!

Francois (in a quiet tone): … but I was in the library last night.

(Everyone looks at him in horror)

Francois: But I didn't kill him. I saw him though…

Malcolm: My boy, you must tell us what happened!

Francois (looking annoyed at his father): Not so loud father, please. (He turns back to the group.) Anyway, I came here last night to get a book. It was about… Oh, two in the morning. He was sitting by the fire taking a nap. I was sure he was alive then because he mumbled in his sleep and scared me. After that, I got my book and started to leave… When I saw a figure out of the corner of my eye, hiding in the shelves.

Buford: Why did you not tell us this before?

Francois (shrugging): I figured I should hear what you said first. Besides, I wasn't sure if what I saw was fake or if it was… (his eyes widen and he points) Right there!

(Everyone jumps up and sees a figure walking through the shelves towards them from the direction of the back door to the library.)

Malcolm: Stop, criminal!

(The figure stops and runs as the group charges towards him. A large chase ensues as the figure and the group run through the maze of bookshelves. This goes on for several minutes until Violette tackles the man to the ground outside of the bookshelf maze.)

Violette: Alright, mister! Were you the one who killed my Great Uncle?! Answer the question!

'Figure' (panicked and quivering on the ground): I d-don't know what you're talking about young lady! I am a doctor, and there has been no murder here!

Violette (as she is getting off of him): Oh, that's right… we called a doctor and WHAT DO YOU MEAN NO MURDER!?

Doctor (getting up and straightening his glasses): Like I said, no murder. While you were all off gathering the children, I examined the body. He seems to have died of a heart attack. There was no murder.

(Everyone stands there, dumbfounded. They are still sad, but they also look relieved. The light fades and the scene changes to the front walkway. The family stands on the porch, and Buford is heading towards his car)

Malcolm: Are you sure you want to go? You are more than welcome at the funeral!

Buford: I'm sorry, friend, but I have other business to attend to. Farewell!

(He waves his hand and the family goes back inside. Buford turns to the audience.)

Buford: Yes, it is a great thing indeed that I am so lucky. First, there was a gullible rich family. Second, there was a doctor willing to lie about the cause of death to them for some quick cash. For this, friends (He removes the ring from his pocket that he stole) was the story of how I got away with murder.

(Buford Exits)