What would you do for a loved one?
The Red Umbrella Mystery
by Teresa Blakely
ACT ONE: SCENE ONE
The camera fades into Jackson (JAX) McCrae's office on the top floor of the McCrae building in downtown Dallas, Texas. Diplomas, City awards, maps of Texas hanging on the walls, a picture of the family ranch "The Quad Triple Bar Ranch."
JACKSON (JAX) MCCRAE, a 36-year-old Cowboy, turned Businessman, 6'1" curly blonde, a brown-eyed masculine man standing in front of the windows drinking a cup of coffee. Watching the rain cascade down the outside of the building and looking like someone who just lost his best friend.
He hits the window with his fist. In his deep Texas drawl, he speaks out loud. A voice that would set many women to shake from within with desire.
"Why did I agree to it? How could Arleigh think I could wait for her answer? Man, three days, I didn't think she would take this long."
He picks up his cell phone off his desk and looks at it for the hundredth time today. He was punching the screen, nothing no calls, there was no text from Arleigh. Frustrated, he shoves it into his blazer. Dressed in jeans, a light blue dress shirt, and cowboy boots. Jax decides to don on his blazer and heads for Arleigh's townhouse.
"That's it, and I can't wait on her anymore, I'm going over there now. It's not right to keep me waiting."
END OF SCENE ONE
ACT ONE: SCENE TWO
The camera follows Jax as he leaves his office, closing the door behind him. He looks around for his secretary, Jolee. She's not at her desk.
JOLEE: Enters from around the corner. A nicely rounded 34-year-old 5'6" blonde, whose hair is to her waist, dressed in a pink Pia Ursula dress.
"Jolee, I need..."
Silencing him with a finger to her lips and a flash from her eyes, pointing at her mic.
Jax pauses his comment and shakes his head in response as he leans on her desk, crossing his long legs. In her soft Texas drawl, she continues speaking to the person on her Bluetooth.
"Yes, Sir, I appreciate your call very much. No, we wouldn't want that now, would we? Yes, thank you. You have a wonderful day as well."
As Jolee hangs up, she shoots her boss her award-winning smile.
"Yes, Jax, How can I help you?"
Jolee, I need you to cancel all my appointments for the rest of the week. Oh, and can you make sure that the flowers are delivered to my Momma today. I'd hate for her to think I forgot her birthday again. Can't have that now, can we?"
"Yes, Sir, I will cancel today and tomorrow's meetings and reschedule for Monday, Tuesday. Oh, and the flowers were delivered 5 minutes ago. Your Momma wasn't home yet from her session."
"Awesome, Jolee, thanks, you are always a step or two ahead of me. What would I do without you? No, don't answer that," laughing at what he just said.
Smiling devilishly at her.
"Now you make yourself a massage appointment, and a manicure put it on my tab. I know that it's your 15th wedding anniversary this weekend, and we can't have you looking a fright now, can we?"
"Don would have my neck."
He was laughing at the thought of his best friend running from this petite woman, as he had witnessed many times throughout the years.
"You two have been my best friends since high school. I want ya'll to have a wonderful weekend. Get a reservation at Biernat's for tonight, and make a night of it, my gift to you guys."
"Now, you know that Don wouldn't have it any other way."
Jax dodges her swing.
"What running from the sight of you?"
Giving Jax a grin.
"You have no idea what I'm capable of, my dear boy." laughing at her comment.
Thank you for the gifts, I'll let Don know. Are you coming back today?
"No, not if I can help it. Arleigh and I have some celebrating of our own to do."
As he stands up and heads done the corridor, he gives her a wave and his best smile he can muster up at the moment. He was pushing the elevator button. He reaches down and picks an umbrella out of the stand at the door. Realizing he left his hat at home that day. He was stepping into the elevator as the door opens.
END OF ACT ONE
ACT TWO: SCENE ONE
The camera follows Jax into the elevator and closes behind him, finding Jackson McCrae pushing the button 3 to 4 times. As if it would make it go any faster.
Lost in his thoughts as elevator music plays country-western music overhead. Jax hears the ding of the elevator door, bringing him back to reality. The doors open, and Jax barrels out, turning the corner and running into a man. Knocking both of them down and umbrellas go flying.
Both men get to their feet, the man hands Jax his umbrella to him and picks up the other one.
He apologizes, "I'm sorry." as he puts up a hand and apologizes again.
"I'm sorry, man."
"You need to watch where you're going!" sounding frustrated and angry.
"It was an accident, and I said, I'm sorry!"
Recognizing Jackson, he apologizes as well. Alright, you're right, I'm sorry too man, it's been a long couple of days."
"Are you okay?"
"Yip, everything seems to be alright, here."
Jax waves to him as he heads down the corridor and out the door. He pushed his umbrella open, stepping into the pouring rain.
Watching Jackson McCrae walk out of the building and open his umbrella as he heads down the street. The stranger fumbled in his pants pocket for his cell phone. Pushing redial, he waits for the other end to be picked up by his partner.
"He's headed your way. Yeah, he has the umbrella. It was easier then I thought. He ran into me, knocking me down. The idiot doesn't realize I switched them. Okay, see you in a few."
Hanging up his phone as he walks outside and opens Jax's umbrella.
END OF ACT TWO: SCENE ONE
ACT TWO: SCENE TWO
The camera follows Jax down the street, stopping for the red lights and dodging people.
Weaving in and out, he takes the four blocks to Arleigh's townhouse with stride. He was pushing past others who had braved the rain to walk as well. Thinking of the last conversation he had with her, he frowns—concern forming on his chiseled face.
ARLEIGH'S TOWNHOUSE 3 DAYS AGO
He pats her on her gorgeous derriere and pushes her towards her bedroom.
"Go, get ready, woman, I'm starved." as his stomach growls out it's pleading sound to feed it.
Gorgeous 33-year-old 5'6" Auburn-haired princess in her own right. Those teal blue eyes were laughing back at him and her lush rosy lips, that Jax couldn't keep his lips off.
She starts to giggle with wide eyes.
"You won't stop kissing me, silly man."
JAX: "I guess, I better or my stomach will abandon me, woman."
He pops her again on her backside.
ARLEIGH: "Ouch" as she runs away from his embrace.
JAX: He waits until he hears the door shut to the bathroom and lets the men into the townhouse to set-up dinner in the dining room. Jax sets the candles on the table. They set the table with her best china. The food is placed in the kitchen, in warming trays to stay hot. Letting the two men out, he tips them as he shakes their hands and pats the last one out on the back. He walks over to the drapes and opens them to let in the city lights of downtown Dallas into the room. The skyline is magnificent tonight. He couldn't have asked for a perfect night to propose to this beautiful woman. He opens the small box that he has taken out of his jacket and takes out the ring placing the box back in his jacket pocket—waiting at the window watching the city lights twinkle for the hairdryer to turn off before lighting the candles and turning off the lights.
Walking back over to the window, he waits for her to enter the room again.
ARLEIGH: She pauses as she enters the room. Dressed in a purple evening dress that she designed with spaghetti straps, black sandals, and a strand of pearls around her neck and matching teardrop pearl and diamond earrings.
"Jax, are you in here, why are the lights out?"
Not a sound comes from Jax; he knows she will find him as she always does.
Adjusting her eyes to the dark, she sees him standing at the window. Turning to face her, he kneels on one knee as she approaches him.
"Jax, what are you doing in the dark?"
She looks about the room and sees the candles burning on the table in the dining room.
"Jax?" she pauses, looking down into his beautiful brown eyes, her heart starts to pound at a rate that catches her breath.
JAX: Taking her hand into his gently and looking up at her, "Arleigh Ann Davis, Will you do me the honor of becoming my wife, to love and cherish you for as long as I live?"
ARLEIGH: A smile spreads upon her face, and she looks over his head at the beautiful city lights that shine in the background.
"Did you order the lights and the beautiful moon just for tonight?"
JAX: "Yes, I did, do you know what kind of reservations it takes these days to propose to a beautiful woman?" smiling up at her.
He waits patiently for his answer.
"Arleigh, you haven't answered a crucial question."
He took both her hands into his, easing up off his knee to look into her eyes. He pulls her into his embrace, stroking her lower back as he always does when she's in his arms. He can see the glistening of tears start to form in her eyes.
"Wow, babe, what's wrong? Did I miss how you feel about me?"
Look of concern forms on Jax's face as he guides her to the sofa and pulls her onto his lap. He was stroking her silky hair, looking deep into her eyes.
ARLEIGH: "No, you have not." she softly speaks as he wraps his arms around her.
JAX: "Then, what is it?"
He was brushing the tears away from her cheeks with his fingers.
"Please, stop crying babe, I take back everything I said if you would stop crying. I'd never hurt you in any way, and you know that, don't you?"
ARLEIGH: Nodding her head and finally getting the word out, "Yes."
She was lowering her face to hide her embarrassment with her hair surrounding it.
JAX: "Then, Why are you crying?" placing her hair behind her shoulder, as he tilts his head down so he could see her face.
ARLEIGH: He gets a giggle out of her, and a smile curves on her rosy lips.
JAX: He kisses them softly, once, twice. He can't stop kissing this woman. He raises his eyebrow in questioning her once again.
ARLEIGH: She smiles at him again and looks at him, squarely in the eye. Fidgeting on his lap, he lets out a moan.
"Jackson, you remember I told you about my parent's marriage. How, they struggled, fought, abused, deceived each other?"
JAX: Shooting back a long stare at her, he thinks about what she just said to him.
"Now, what does that have to do with us? You're not your Momma, and I sure ain't you're Daddy!"
ARLEIGH: She shakes her head no, in agreement with him.
"I know we aren't. It's just I have reservations about marriage. People change after they are married."
JAX: He tilts her chin up with his finger, looking into her tear-filled eyes and smiles at her.
"Bad example, woman, my parents have been married for near 55 years and look at Don and Jolee, and they celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary tonight. Now there are two great examples of it working out."
ARLEIGH: Pulling herself up off Jax's lap, she sits next to him, allowing her to look up at him.
Noticing the terrifying look in his eyes.
"Jax, it's not what you think, I love you more than I could ever love another human being. I can't help the way I feel about marriage. Please, give me a day or two to think about how I feel about it."
Looking into his eyes, hers begging him and pleading with his heart.
JAX: Durn, she had to pull those puppy dog eyes on me, he thought to himself. He was pulling her up into his arms. She lays her head on his shoulder, and her hand eases under his shirt. It is a natural thing for her to do when they cuddle up together. He takes his finger and tilts her chin up to kiss her softly on the lips, they part, and their kiss grows stronger as his tongue slips deeper into her sweetness. He pulls away, breaking the moment.
"Alright, no more than that. It's not fair to keep a man waiting, you know!"
He smiles down at her and pulls her up closer to him.
ARLEIGH: She smiles back at him and starts to rub his chest twirling her fingers around his chest hair.
JAX: "Oh, man, woman, do you know what you are doing to me here? If I'm going to be any gentlemen. I'm going to have to leave. By the way, you look ravishing tonight. Taste pretty sweet, too!"
He lowers his head to kiss her awaiting lips.
ARLEIGH: "Mmm, you taste pretty good yourself." as she comes up for air, licking her now swollen lips.
JAX: He pulls her away and stands up before he changes his mind. He shakes his head at her and mutters out loud.
"I've got to go before you kill me, woman."
He pulls her up off the sofa and wraps her around his waist. Cradling her bottom in his hands as they walk to the door. Stopping in front of the door, he looks down at his beautiful sweetheart.
"Arleigh, he kisses her again. I love you so very much, more than anyone. You know that, right?"
ARLEIGH: She puts his face in her hands and looking deep into his eyes.
"Yes, I do!" a smile widens on her face.
It was drawing him back into a very passionate kiss.
JAX: He opens the door and eases her down to the floor and slips out the door closing it behind him.
"I didn't hear the bolt, Arleigh."
They both place a hand on the door, not knowing the other had.
I love you, Arleigh!"
ARLEIGH: Sliding the bolt into place, placing her head upon her hand. As the tears slide down her face, she already misses him.
"I love you, too, Jax!"
She hears the elevator doors open, then closes.
END OF ACT TWO: SCENE TWO
ACT THREE: SCENE ONE
ARLEIGH: Her eyes fluttered open as she heard voices; someone was lightly slapping her awake. She was sitting there with her feet and hands bound to a steel chair, tears streaming down her dirt-stained cheeks. Blindfolded, she could smell the mold and mildew in the room. How could she be so stupid to think that Jax had returned to convince her to marry him?
She had unbolted her door and swung it open after hearing the knock at the door. But, it wasn't Jax, it was two men, and they had bolted into the townhouse with such force it threw her across the floor. The first man pinned her down on her stomach as he put his knee into her back and injected Rohypnol into her right arm. As she drifted off to sleep, she recalled one of the men saying to be careful they didn't need her bruised up yet. Picking her up and slinging her over one shoulder, they took the elevator down to the lobby, where a van was waiting for them. The Doorman was nowhere in sight; he had stepped out for a minute.
"Great, you gave her too much, you idiot."
STRANGER #2: "No, I didn't, or maybe I did, she's a tiny thing, you said she was 5'6." about 180. She's at least 135, 140 at the most."
STRANGER #1: "How am I supposed to know what she weighs, she was wearing a big coat. Alright, alright." He stops slapping her as she comes around. "There you go pretty little thing, you waking up. Tilting her chin up to his, I know your head probably feels like it's going to split wide open. But, you're going to be just fine. Get her some water; we don't want her to die of dehydration, now do we? Not until we get Jax McCrae to pay for what he did."
STRANGER#2: "Here, you go some nice cool water to drink. Here is the next shot, now that we know she's alright."
STRANGER #1: "Will don't give her as much this time."
ARLEIGH: She slurs out a "Noooo." as her chin drops to her chest.
STRANGER #1: "Do you think that Jax McCrae will remember what he did to Elizabeth?"
STRANGER #2: "Now, how am I suppose to answer that? Probably not, rich playboys get away with things like that."
STRANGER #1: "Not for long, we'll take care of him the Deckler way." As they close the door behind them, leaving her alone in the darkroom.
END OF ACT THREE: SCENE ONE
ACT FOUR: SCENE ONE
JAX: Enters Arleigh's townhouse as the Doorman opens the door, handing him the umbrella.
DOORMAN: Good evening, Mr. Jax. Love the umbrella, Sir.
JAX: He hadn't noticed the bright red umbrella he was carrying. No wonder he was getting stares on the street. He smiles and shakes his head as he gets on the elevator and pushes Arleigh's penthouse. The door opens, and Jax exits into the corridor. Noticing Arleigh's door slightly open, he pushes it open and sees the entry table turned over, and the vase shattered across the floor along with other items. Jax calls out for her frantically searching the townhouse. He stops by the coffee table, noticing her phone. Checking it out finds that the battery is dead, knowing the charger is by the bedside, walks to the bedroom to plug it in. He was looking around the room, giving the phone a few minutes to charge. It rings as he powers it on.
"ARLEIGH, Where are you? Waiting for an answer, he asks again, ARLEIGH, WHERE ARE YOU?"
STRANGER #1: "She's with us," he calmly says.
JAX: Frantically, he yells into the phone.
"WHO IS THIS? WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO HER? SHE BETTER NOT BE HURT, DO YOU HEAR ME?"
STRANGER #1: Still keeping himself calm, he says into the phone.
"Now Mister Jackson McCrae, she won't be harmed if you do want we tell you. Got it?"
He was smacking his tongue against his teeth.
JAX: Trying to calm down, he takes a few seconds to compose himself. He can do this and makes a breath and blows it out slowly.
"Alright, What is it you want from me?"
"We want you to go down to the riverwalk and wait there for our instructions, NO POLICE. Use the red umbrella, so we know it's you. It should only take you 10 minutes to get there. I'll give you 15 in this rain. You got it, Jax? If you bring the police or anyone else, we will dispose of her. Understand Jax?"
JAX: "Got it, but I need to know she's alright, let me talk to her!"
STRANGER #1: Shoves the phone into Arleigh's face and nudges her in the side, making her catch her breath.
"Say something to your boyfriend, girlie."
ARLEIGH: Out of breath, she forces her words.
"JAX, is that you?"
JAX: "Arleigh, babe, are you okay? I'm coming to get you now."
STRANGER #1: Sounding sarcastic into the phone as he walks away from Arleigh.
"Good to hear that, sweetheart! Now, clocks starting Jackson McCrae. Remember the red umbrella."
JAX: "You didn't tell me what you want?"
STRANGER #1: "Yes, I did Jax, We want YOU, and ONLY YOU! Nine and a half minutes, now. Do you want to continue this conversation or get the girl?"
JAX: "I'm on my way."
END OF ACT FOUR: SCENE ONE
ACT FOUR: SCENE TWO
JAX: Jax hangs up the phone and reaches into the nightstand, where he keeps his Walther 380 and a couple of rounds. He was slamming the door behind him. He takes the elevator to the lobby. Asks the Doorman for his red umbrella and heads out the door with it at a running pace. Running the four blocks to the riverwalk, he passes by Don and Jolee sitting at a window table. Don sees Jax run past and goes to see where his best friend is going so frantically.
JAX: He opens his umbrella as he approaches, slowing down to a walk. Trying to catch his breath, he starts looking around to see who is there. All he notices is more red umbrellas. He screams into the rainy night.
You hear a shot fired as his red umbrella hits the ground.
The camera fades to black on the umbrella weaving back and forth.
Make-up entry for July 2018