Monday, February 21, 1955
Nick and Carter are Down Under in Sydney at summer’s end and are looking forward to finally having time to spend at the beach so Carter can get in some surfing while Nick works on his tan as a surf widow.
Everything is going to plan until they forget to make it look like they slept in both beds and are asked to leave their hotel. Fortunately, they’re able to rent a house in the Eastern Suburbs atop a cliff that is two hundred feet above the Pacific. The house is perfect, with new furniture, an ocean-facing sunroom, and a housekeeper.
But then it starts to rain. And a dead body turns up in the kitchen, clobbered with a cast-iron skillet.
The questions start piling up. Who cleaned up the blood after the body was removed? Whose car is that parked at the end of the street? Will they ever make it to the beach?
In the end, it’s another trans-Pacific adventure for Nick and Carter that leads home in a number of unexpected ways.
“Mrs. Tutwiler is my name. You must be Mr. Williams and Mr. Jones.” She looked at Tony and Christine briefly and then back at me. “I was told it was just the two of you.”
I nodded and extended my hand. She didn’t take it, keeping her arms folded. I said, “There’s just the two of us renting the house. Our friends are flying back to San Francisco tomorrow.”
She raised one eyebrow. “I don’t see how, unless you brought your own plane. The next flight to America doesn’t leave until Thursday.”
“As a matter of fact, I did bring my own plane. Mrs. Morris here”—I nodded at Christine—”is the wife of our pilot. And Mr. Kalama is an employee. They’re all flying back to the U.S. in the morning.”
“I see. I suppose you’ll be wanting a tour.”
Without waiting for a reply, she turned and walked through the living room, which was furnished in Danish Modern, and into the front room that looked out over the ocean. “This is the sunroom.” It had a single sofa, bookended by two small tables, facing the windows. A veritable jungle of potted plants of various sizes stood in front of the window but didn’t obscure the stunning view of the cliffs and the water in the distance.
Moving back into the living room, she said, “Lounge.”
I looked at Carter, who shrugged. We followed her back into a room with a dining table and six chairs, china cabinet, and kitchen pass-through.
Turning right, she led us into a hallway and made another right that led to a largish bedroom. “Your bedroom.” More Danish Modern. The large bed had a headboard that was comprised of a bookshelf with sliding doors. Matching nightstands on either side had matching elongated lamps. A bureau and a wardrobe, both made of a light teak, faced the bed. There was no bathroom.
Silently moving through us, she led us back down the hall to a second bedroom, smaller than the first, but decorated just the same. “Guest bedroom.”
Further down from that was the bathroom, which was smallish but not too small. Without entering, she said, “Bathroom.”
She then led us back into the dining room and stood in front of a swinging door. “Behind here is the kitchen and my own quarters. I’ll thank you not to disturb my private area.”
I nodded. “Of course, not.”
I looked at Carter who appeared to be stunned. Turning back to Mrs. Tutwiler, I said, “I don’t think so. There’s a real estate—”
“Yes. Mr. Willoughby. I phoned him when I saw you drive up. He should be here momentarily.”
We all stood there for a long moment in an uncomfortable silence.
To fill the void, Christine asked, “Have you worked here long?”
Mrs. Tutwiler offered a sour grin. Before she could reply, there was a knock at the door.
Pushing through us, Mrs. Tutwiler said, “Excuse me,” and made her way to the door.
Tony whispered, “Scary.”
Christine said, “I keep waiting for her to say, ‘These are Mrs. DeWinter’s things,’.”
Tony laughed. “Like Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca.”
Christine looked at me. “You’ll have to call this place Manderley.”
I frowned. “What are you two talking about?”
Tony grinned. “You never saw the movie Rebecca?”
I shook my head.
Tony looked at Carter who said, “Me, neither.”
Tony shrugged. “You two are too young. You’ll have to watch it some time. You’ll see what we mean.”
Right then, Mrs. Tutwiler announced, “Mr. Willoughby.” With that, she walked through us and into the kitchen.
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