Saturday, June 2, 2018

My home is Your Home

As the guests were enjoying their dessert, the Colonel stood, tapped his wine glass with his fork, and "First, I want to thank everyone for coming. Every dollar raised this evening are going to such a good cause. I'll admit my favorite cause." There was laughter from the room. He continued, "This shows how much Gallagher, not only appreciates the rich heritage of the area, but you will open your hearts and checkbooks to support it. We could not have done this without the hospitality of Mr. Fitzgerald. Many of you may not realize this, but not only did he open his beautiful home to us for this evening - this entire dinner, bar, and entertainment was provided Pearce." The Colonel turned to Pearce, "I think our host,  deserves a round of applause."

That last comment brought the guests to their feet, giving Pearce a standing ovation. Pearce stood up. "Like the Colonel, I appreciate your generosity. Just before you arrived, I commented to my good  'cara' Mack that I think Mum would be proud. I'm thrilled to meet many of you for the first time.  Growing up, I heard so many stories about Cre Uisce Aer from my Mum. It was such a special place to her." Pearce  paused, "I only wish she could be with us tonight."

"If any of you would like to tour the house, the Colonel has engaged several docents who know the history of the estate. Please feel free to find one and see the house. Trust me, restoring it was a labor love." He started to sit down, but stopped and added, "Champagne is being served. Please enjoy a glass as you enjoy the music, tour the gardens, or the home." He smiled, "Oh, by the way, you do not need to have a docent. Feel free to walk through the house by your selves. And, 'Is é mo bhaile do theach'," Pearce said with a smile. He sat down.

The Colonel stood up again. "Thank you again Pearce." He looked over at Pearce, I am hope that last comment didn't curse me for suggesting you host this event."

Pearce shook his head, "My home is your home. The Colonel smiled, "Pearce thank you for hosting this event. And, thank all of y'all for your devotion to the Historical society." With that the Colonel sat down.

Champagne was served to each table. There was a buzz of conversation, the sound of chairs moving, and the swish of the lady's gowns as they stood up. This was interrupted by a scream. Those around a table in the middle of the room saw a body fall to the floor. Hollis and Mercer ran forward to help. They both stooped down. Hollis shook his head and looked at Mercer. "She's dead." He gently turned her head over." He paused as he looked at her. "That foam coming from her mouth probably means one thing."

There were audible sounds from the table where she had sitting. As if on a delay of denial, one of the guests screamed, "No, not her! What happened? What can I do?" He knelt over the body. "Oh my God, this cannot be."

Mercer responded quietly, "Poison  - probably an opioid."

Hollis added, "Or amphetamines. We need the Sheriff, my guess is this was not accidental."

Mike was standing next to the doctors. "We need to make sure no one leaves the premises. That includes the guests and the help." Mike stood up and in a calm voice said, "Folks please take your glass of champagne and move outside. Take advantage of the music and the garden." He paused, "But we do need everyone to stay on the property."

By that time Sam was beside Mike. Quietly he asked, "Dead?"

"Yes, and it looks like poison."

By this time Mercer had called the Sheriff, explained the situation, and asked him to call Cliff at Clint's Home of the of the Dearly and Departed Deceased. "I'll be right over, but I'm calling an ambulance instead. If Cliff walks in there, it will make the situation worse."

"Agreed," Mercer replied.

"Sam, go get Pearce and tell him to make sure nothing is moved from the tables. Oh, and get those who were at her table to stay. We need to speak with them first."

"Will do, and I'll get the kitchen staff out here and make sure no one gets into the kitchen." Sam stood up and started looking for Pearce.

Stella was standing behind Mercer. Seeing the body, she put her hand to her mouth, and quietly.  "Oh, God what happened? This is horrible."

Calmly Mercer said, "Do me a favor, calmly walk back to the table, tell everyone who asks that you are not sure what happened, but an ambulance has been called. Then suggest everyone go outside to the patio or the garden."

Hollis added, "Don't mention the Sheriff. Let's keep this situation as calm as possible."

Stella nodded her head, turned, and walked into the crowd.

By this time the ambulance arrived. The few guests still in the room parted, making room for the EMT's to get to Mercer and Hollis who were still with the body. The Sheriff was close behind.

"Well, let's start with the usual suspects. I assume that would be  those at her dinner table, and anyone else she talked with this evening." Mike pointed to the only table remaining with guests. "We asked them to stay so we could speak with them. As for everyone else she talked to tonight, that's gonna be a bit harder."

"I'll start with the table first." With this the Sheriff walked toward the table and the guests who were obviously upset.

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