Family Matters

Part 1

October 23, 1927:
Dr. Juergen Schreber, Mr. Roderick Bellesby, and Mr. Peter Collins are lucky enough to be present at the opening event of the run: a séance run by Miss Elena Saravelda, upstairs from Sugar and Spices, her tea shop in Brookline. Other clients include Mr. Joseph Marino, Mrs. Anna Lombardi, Mrs. Maria Genelli, Mr. Emil Maillet, and Miss Julia Pritchard. The séance starts out normally enough, with participants holding hands in a circle around a table. Tappings and rappings begin, and suddenly there's strange loud noises, two candles go out and the third tips over, the table starts jumping about, and there's a crashing noise. Mrs. Genelli screams, Mr. Marino rushes to the window (tipping Dr. Schreber over) and tears the curtains down/open. Mrs. Genelli is revealed to be bleeding from an apparent hit-by-a-flying-vase wound. Mr. Marino hustles Mrs. Genelli off, shouting about revenge. Mrs. Lombardi follows. Mr. Bellesby takes a piece of vase, and brandishes it at Miss Saravelda, saying that the spirit that moved it was jealous and angry. Everyone else heads downstairs for some tea, and then heads home. Mr. Collins gets a list of people before he leaves.

The group at seance

October 25, 1927:
Esme Carrington-Danforth, the niece of Miss Saravelda, comes to hire the investigators, because Mr. Marino has been shouting outside the window at night and she thinks he may be more trouble. And could they possibly provide a brute squad? (bat eyes) The two Valiant brothers head to the tea shop. Gerti calls Charlie, who agrees to be the brute squad (and also heads to the tea shop). Gerti calls Dr. Schreber to ask what he knows about séances - what luck! he was at this one! After a later call from Tommy Valiant, he heads to the tea shop as well. Miss Saravelda provides a list of the séance participants, which the Valiants call in to Gerti to research, but she's having trouble with the card catalog and doesn't find anything.

Meanwhile, Mr. Collins is off interviewing everyone else. First he talks to Mrs. Lombardi who serves him lots of tea and waxes poetic about her dear departed Matthew. Sadly, she doesn't have much information beyond what we know as to what happened other than the fact that it was very atypical. Usually Matthew appears and is far more sedate, just some table knocks and reassuring messages. She suspects it was those young people and their Houdini nonsense disturbing the vibes.

Then, Mrs. Genelli, who appears to be frightened and confesses to having been choked as well, from the front, she thinks. Her doctor, Dr. Porter, had examined her and said that the cut was deep but nothing was broken. Finally, Emil Maillet, who tells him all about Houdini and says that he heard someone say "You bitch!" when the lights were out.

Mr. Bellesby shows up at the tea shop to ask Miss Saravelda about what tea she drinks - she happily sells him some. Mr. Collins eventually decides to talk to the tea shop people, and the party is finally all gathered. (Except Gerti, who's still lost in the racks of the library). Mr. Collins pops rabbit after rabbit out of his hat, including an obituary for Tony Genelli, some quotes from Emil about Houdini, and the bit about the choking hands. Luckily, Gerti is still at the library and unable to hear the queries about why she hasn't found any of the rest of this out.

The Valiants go off to interview Mrs. Genelli, and Mr. Collins goes off to pursue some more leads on a possible connection between the Seaside Brickery (Genelli's company) and the Mafia. While they're gone, two largish guys come in and start making loud comments about "da old lady dat hit dat poor woman in da head with a vase." Dr. Schreber tries to convince them to play nice, and Charlie tells Dr. Schreber he's out of line (causing much consternation at this possible change of allegiance). After a few more loud exchanges, however, Charlie sees the light and tells them to leave. Deciding that they weren't paid for actual violence, they do.

When the Valiants reach Mrs. Genelli's house, they discover Joseph Marino there as well, who tends to monopolize the discussion. Marino's main point is that Mrs. Genelli is terribly traumatized, and that there isn't really a visible culprit other than Miss Saravelda. If Eddie can offer a new culprit, he'll be more than happy to take it out on them instead. Mrs. Genelli appears to be fixated on demons as the likely cause instead.

Meanwhile, Mr. Collins has dropped by the Seaside Brickery, where he talks to Patrick Keneally (he and Wilson Dover are the two owners now that Tony Genelli is dead). Keneally says that they've bought most of Tony's shares from Maria ("a nice lady"), but that she also gets Tony's pension. Collins tries manfully to find a Mafia (or Marino) connection; the closest he comes is Gerald Marino, who was one of the people Seaside worked with when they rebuilt the Chelsea Courthouse. A short interview with Gerald indicates that he's a nice old guy of about 60, with no connection to the Chelsea Marinos that he knows of.

Gerti finally abandons her researches at the library, after discovering an obituary of Houdini and an article about racketeering charges against Marino having been dropped. She checks out copies of some of Houdini's books, including one on debunking mediums. Her next stop: Mrs. Lombardi's house, where she claims to be interested in the maid position (Mr. Marino said Mrs. Lombardi was hiring a maid). Mrs. Lombardi is a bit puzzled by all this, but shows Gerti in and gives her tea. A brief look around turns up the "Matthew Lombardi Shrine" with a big oil painting, some newspaper clippings, and a scrapbook, that Mrs. Lombardi is all to happy to talk about.

Esme arranges a dinner get-together "to compare notes." A second pass into investigating the séance room above the tea shop is deemed necessary. After notifying Miss Saravelda, most of the group assembles in the séance room, while Mr. Collins and Mr. Valiant (the younger) attempt to climb up the side of the building and in through the window. Mr. Valiant's attempt is not the most successful of burglarious attempts, and ends with his sliding back down the wall amidst some noise, but Mr. Collins manages to get up and through the window. While people inside the room do hear him, the consensus is that it wouldn't have been noticed from downstairs (or while the table was jumping around). Additionally, there are drapes which a not-amazingly-large person could probably conceal himself behind. However, the fact that Mrs. Lombardi hadn't told Miss Saravelda Mrs. Genelli's name when she made the invitation makes it seem unlikely that someone had made plans to break into the séance and attack her. The alternate suggestion that Mafia rivals of Mr. Marino decided to teach him a lesson by sneaking into a séance he was known to be attending in order to throw a vase at his girlfriend (and perhaps climb onto the table in order to choke her) seems a little convoluted, even for the Mafia. A more thorough search of the room and the table by Gerti (armed with her Houdini book) reveals that the table has some tapper technology built in, and there are unknown-purpose spaces in the wall. Finally, everyone heads home and to bed, in order to ponder the day's discoveries and think about where to head tomorrow. (Except for Charlie and Eddie, who are guarding the tea shop in shifts).

Part 2 ->