Wrong Choice

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Mortimer Reed (deceased)
Mrs. Reed (wife)
Ms. Evans (Secretary)
Detective Carlton (head detective


[Scene: Office room with bookshelves filled completely with encyclopedias and world atlases. One window on the west wall is opened, with a cold breeze coming through. One desk and two chairs occupy the open area, with papers clustered together, several books, and a tray of food and coffee. The clock rings six times, and there is a light knocking on the door. Mrs. Reed can be heard talking loudly through the door.]
Mrs. Reed: Mortimer? Mortimer, are you in there?
[Hushed words are spoken through the door on her side.]
Mrs. Reed (more urgently): Mortimer, open the door, we need to talk. (A few moments pass, silence. Mrs. Reed begins again, sounding worried.) Mortimer, open the door now! Are you alright? Are you there?
[More hushed words, Mrs. Reed can be heard frantically behind the door, urging someone to open the door. After a few minutes of silence we hear a key entering in the doorknob, and upon opening Mrs. Reed, along with her husband’s secretary, Ms. Evans, enters the office. They burst through the door, and see Mr. Reed in the chair of his desk, unconscious. Mrs. Reed is frozen in shock, as Ms. Evans immediately runs back through the door.]
Ms. Evans (Running out of the room, shouting): Somebody help! Call 9-1-1, please! We need an ambulance, Mr. Reed is unconscious! (Her voice fades as she runs down the hallway. Mrs. Reed cannot move or speak, but simply falls to the floor, crying softly, one hand covering her mouth.)
[Fifteen minutes pass, and an ambulance can be heard near the building, and police officers are just outside the office. Mr. Reed’s body has been removed from the office room. A police officer enters with a detective as Mrs. Reed is being reassured by the secretary. The detective sees the two women and bends over to see them clearer.]
Detective (softly): Hello, I’m detective Ray Carlton with the NYPD, are you the wife, ma’am?

Mrs. Reed (nodding her head): Yes, I-I am…well, I was. Wha-What happened to him?
[Carlton and the police officer look at each other, exchanging suspicious looks. Carlton calls for all police men to leave the room so he could question the suspects.]
Carlton: Ma’am when was the last time you talked to your husband-

Mrs. Reed: Ex-husband, sir, we were (sniffles) in the middle of getting a divorce.

Carlton: Right, well anyway, when did you last talk with him?

Mrs. Reed (pausing to think briefly): Why, we talked on the phone only about two hours ago, when I was at home. Then I came here. He said he wanted to talk about some divorce papers, and then I left to get us some coffee. Oh, he was so busy, and we started fighting. After that, I stormed out. Right downstairs to my car, so I could leave. But when I got there, I noticed I left my bag there, so I came back; but when I tried to get back into his office, Mortimer didn’t answer at all. (Crying a little more) I thought he was just mad at me! I had no idea…Oh dear (her voice cracks as she wipes her eyes)…what happened to him? Who did this?

Carlton: Well right now we have no leads. All we know is that he was poisoned.

Mrs. Reed (shocked): Poisoned? How could that even happen? (She looks from the detective to Ms. Evans, then back again.)

Carlton: We’re not sure ma’am, but the poison that killed him, (he glances around at their faces) came from the coffee you brought him.

Mrs. Reed (nervous now): But that’s not possible-you can’t possibly think I did this to him can you?

Carlton: Well Mrs. Reed, your history of fighting with him was known to get…intense. And with this note here, it would seem likely to anyone-

Mrs. Reed: Note? What are you talking about, what note?

Carlton (unfolding a paper, he then reads from it): ’don’t worry my Dear, soon you won’t have to decide anymore’. (Shrugging) I’m not assuming anything here ma’am; I’m just trying to find the truth behind this.

Mrs. Reed (frantically): I never did anything though, I would never hurt him! That’s not my note, it’s not mine. (Irritated) This just isn’t right!
[Carlton turns away from Mrs. Reed who seems too be shaking, she then resumes her crying. Carlton turns to Ms. Evans.]
Carlton: And are you Ms. Evans? Mr. Reed’s secretary, correct? Well, where were you at the time this had happened miss?

Ms. Evans (quietly): I was right out there sir; right at my desk (rushing) you can ask anyone, they all saw me here.

Carlton: Calm down now, this is no interrogation, we just want answers. Did you see Mrs. Reed get the coffee for your boss?

Ms. Evans (glances at Mrs. Reed, then thinks for a moment): Well yes, I do recall it. She got the mug from the cupboard, set it down and fixed the coffee. Then I think she went right back to her husband’s office. (Sounding frightened) They had been fighting again, Mrs. Reed was just-

Carlton: That’s alright Miss, calm down. (He then turns to a Mrs. Reed, who seems shocked.) Is that true Mrs. Reed, did it happen like that?

Mrs. Reed (shakily): Well of course that’s how it happened, there’s only two places in this building that can make coffee, and I went straight to the one in that hallway. (She points with her finger)

Carlton: Well I’m sorry Mrs. Reed, but right now it seems like you-

Mrs. Reed (as if having an epiphany): No, no wait! There’s something else! There was no cream there, so I had to run down stairs while the coffee was still sitting. Anyone could have done it-anyone!

[Carlton turns to Ms. Evans, who is now shaking slowly, and crying softly into her hands. While looking at her, his eyes narrow and he pulls out the note.]

Carlton: Ms. Evans, are you a lefty?

Ms. Evans (freezes on the spot): What?

Carlton: Well, are you left-handed, ma’am?

Ms. Evans: Well, yes I am (laughing slightly) how did you know?

Carlton: Well your left hand has ink on it. Most people would have it on their right, even a little. (He walks over to Mrs. Reed, indicating to her to lift up her right arm; she does so. Ink is visible on only her right arm, not the left. Carlton then pulls out the note) You see, the ink is smeared to the right. Mrs. Reed couldn’t have written that note, and that is leading me to believe she didn’t intentionally give her husband the poisoned glass, either. [Mrs. Reed gasps as she looks over to Ms. Evans, only a few feet away. Ms. Evans starts to chuckle.] Why would you do it? What did he ever do to you?

Ms. Evans (hysterically): Nothing! He never did anything to me! But you know what he was going to do for me? (Hysterically crying now) He was going to leave his wife for me!
[Mrs. Reed is taken a back by this, and Carlton moves his hand over his gun, watching this quiet woman unravel before his eyes.]
Carlton: If he was going to do that, why kill him? What did that accomplish?

Ms. Evans (sobbing): It was an accident! It wasn’t meant for him, it was meant for her! (Her head bolts up and she points at Mrs. Reed who gasps in horror.) You stupid, fat, ugly cow! It’s all your fault! You wouldn’t sign the papers for him, and he told me! He told me how I could do it, so she (pointing at Mrs. Reed again) would be gone, and he could finally be with me! (She stops to breathe, sobbing uncontrollably now) But you took the wrong cup! It should have been you who died, and not my fiancé!
[Detective Carlton shakes his head as he pulls out handcuffs and walks towards Ms. Evans. She doesn’t try to fight him as she sobs and screams like a madwoman, cursing Mrs. Reed for her mistake. Officers outside hear the commotion and enter cautiously.]
Carlton: Take this one away boys, we found our murderer. (He turns back to Mrs. Reed) I’m sorry for your loss ma’am. Please come with me, I’ll take you down to the station. We can sort things out there.
[Mrs. Reed, still crying quietly, follows him out of the office room, closing the door behind her.]





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