An Actor’s Tale: chasing Chaucer

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Hurrah! The conclusion of An Actor’s Tale is finally here. And you who have waited with bated breath for the finale. It only appears long. It is not nearly as long as a game show or that last leg of a drive home when you can barely keep your eyes open.

“Mr. Crimwell, pleasure to see you again, though I do apologize for the circumstances….”

“You were that Humphreys woman. It appears I have been snookered. Why?”

The leggy blond leaned against the side of the crimson Porsche and sighed. It was clear as a glass of gin that she was mentally choosing her words, which made Edward somewhat nervous. Waiting for her to speak, he again noted how closely she resembled Anwen. Of course she did speak and began telling a tale that, once told, quickly evoked a response that surprised even Edward himself: he laughed. Not just a snicker or a chuckle or a guffaw, but a howling, side-splitting, rolling-in-the-aisle sort of laughter. And it was infectious.

This lovely woman who played at being Agatha Humphreys–though a Royal Historian with such a frumpy name did exist–began her tale by introducing herself as Glynis George–an Agent with INTERPOL investigating stolen art and rare manuscripts. Anwen was her sister who had become criminally involved with Kathryn Meath’s side-business of “acquiring” rare items and selling them at her brilliant dinner parties, which Sonya, the clueless Estate Agent, was so fond of attending. Kathryn was a long-time tenant of the castle and really was an Editor, but not as successful as she had led Sonya to believe. Her two staff persons were her accomplices, and Anwen–who played the part of Kathryn’s daughter for Edward’s benefit–were provoked into fleeing by Edward’s intention of moving into the castle, which he had recently acquired (or, so he believed).

It was Glynis disguised as Agatha Humphreys who turned him into unsuspecting bait to capture Kathryn and her mates with the “goods”. The gang packed up everything, leaving behind only the cat, Chaucer, and was caught by Glynis and her team transporting the stolen items, which had been Glynis’s plan all along. And Edward’s newly acquired castle and his place in the Crimwell noble line? Glynis fabricated the nobility and the ownership of the castle. She was fully aware that the Crimwell name was acquired by him for the stage and, she knew his birth name was Dexter Pinenter and agreed with his change of name for the stage. It was with this last revelation by the INTERPOL Agent that Edward began to laugh–pulling Glynis into the lively laughter with what Edward noted was a charming, throaty chuckling which brought on tears of amusement from both.

Glynis snatched Chaucer from his comfortable nap in Glynis’s Porsche and invited Edward into the castle for a drink. She had left Chaucer’s kitty crate and his things in the foyer. One of her team let Chaucer out and Glynis spent the last hour chasing him lest he end up homeless or worse. Otherwise she would have waited for Edward at the castle. Edward did not hesitate to tell the Agent–once he had a gin in him–that he disliked Chaucer, and he, him. Glynis confided that it was Chaucer who led them to a critical piece of evidence in what was a hidden room in the castle, and apparently, a favorite quiet spot for Chaucer. Glynis did not divulge the nature of the evidence and Edward knew not to ask. What he did ask, on his second gin, was the fate of her sister.

Edward quickly recognized the Agent’s discomfort and thought he had stepped over an imaginary line he saw forming between them. She sighed, and he liked the way of her sighing, and explained to Edward that she might be a “Copper” and, though her sister had committed any number of crimes, Glynis felt that Anwen was by no means a hardened criminal. For that matter, neither were the other two young adult members of Kathryn’s gang: Nist and Gittings. Glynis did point out that, though they each appeared very charming and personable, they were tainted with insincerity: they were acting. Once spoken, Glynis looked at Edward expectantly–waiting for a response to her comment. He had none–none he cared to share with a “Copper”.

They each sat quietly drinking their gins in the leather chairs by the fireplace in the main kitchen, uncomfortably gazing at the ornate mantel on the freshly manicured fireplace. Everything seemed in order in the areas Kathryn and her crew had occupied–they had tidied up before leaving. It was with that thought in mind that he asked about the tax bill holding the deed to the castle and owed since the reign of Henry VIII that he paid to the Royal coffers: 7,259 pounds. Glynis confirmed that the tax bill really was owed, and she used it to hook Edward. She did tell him that she would reimburse him. Somehow that last statement of hers was so anticlimactic, he felt like getting up and walking out. Yet, he did not, because Edward was smitten with her. Glynis was exactly what he wanted and before he could stop himself he told her as much. She smiled. She was about to speak when they heard it: Chaucer was meowing as only a Siamese can. He sounded like a baby crying.

Glynis excused herself to see to Chaucer, but Edward followed along, despite the fact he would have choked the creature for its bad timing. Glynis opened the crate and while picking him up he sprang from her arms and ran into the castle proper. She kicked off her heels and chased after him with Edward alongside. Automatic lights came on as they ran down corridors and up stairs in hot pursuit of Chaucer. Incredibly, they lost him, yet they could hear him crying. It was Edward who located the cat behind a wall–a stage actor usually has good echo-location skills–and with Glynis’s experience with hidden door triggers, the two discovered a doorway. Once the latch trigger was found and the door opened, Glynis entered before Edward could be gallant, and she felt around and found a light switch. Once illuminated they saw Chaucer lying on a  faux fur rug and eight crates stacked in the center of the room. Jackpot! The top crate contained manuscripts which had never seen the light of day–the missing Chaucer papers–lost to the world for over 700 years. Glynis called in her forensic team.

Edward knew she would be preoccupied with her work and was about to ask her for her cell number when she pulled a card out of her blazer pocket and handed it to him, suggesting he call her. He began to speculate that she just meant the number for official business, when she suddenly spoke of that evening she saw him as “Hamlet”, when she pretended to be someone she was not. Edward knew well what that felt like. She told him she went to the theater on business, but his interpretation of the Prince of Denmark was so inspiring–so riveting–so…well, he could not hear it all because his heart was pounding in his chest so loudly he feared she must have heard it. What he did hear was an affirmation: her heart pounded so loudly inside her chest that evening, she was afraid she would give herself away backstage. It was that statement that caused Edward, in the spirit of Sir Laurence Olivier (the best Hamlet of all time), to pull him to her and kissed her in such a way that Olivier would have been proud….

Photo: Actor Paul Bettany as Geoffrey Chaucer in the film, “A Knight’s Tale” (2001)

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2 thoughts on “An Actor’s Tale: chasing Chaucer

    • Thanks. I didn’t kill anyone. Hey, I’m reading The Alienist right now. Not bad. I’m also reading a rather tame book in a series by M.C. Beaton: “Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death”. Ever read the Agatha Raisin books? Lucy

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