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"I didn't see it," Ms. Baumbach announced loudly. "I really didn't see it!" she repeats, under the questioning gaze of her partner, Turtle. The word she had seen was plain.
All the players protected their clues more carefully now. Only one pair in the room had not opened their envelope. Sydelle Pulaski gestures for Angela to remain quiet, and listen.
She may be odd, but she's smart, Angela thinks. Since each pair has a different set of clues, they would watch and listen for clues to their clues.
"What is this, on or no?" Doug asks Theo, who quickly nudges his partner in the ribs. Joey glances over, catching Angela Wexler's eye before they both glance away. Joey smiles a little, feeling less guilty that she wasn't the only one partaking in Doug Hoo's little slip. She glances back over to Theo and Doug's table, giving both the guys the once over. Pacey notices this and chuckles. She turns back to him with a vicious glare.
"What are you snickering about?"
"Oh, nothing, you little bag full of hormones. I always knew there was a voluptuous horndog in you just dying to get out."
"Only *you* could use the words voluptuous and horndog in the same sentence, Pacey. And just because I allowed myself to look at two members of the opposite sex and judge their appeal, doesn't mean that I'm a sex-crazed monster such as yourself."
"Oo, come on, Joey, we all know that there's a side of you that would surely show itself if ever Dawson were to take his eyes off of Jen Lindley's breasts," Pacey teases. Joey scowls at him and quickly changes the subject.
"You're so very droll," she rolls her eyes. "Now let's actually look at these clues. We have to actually read them if we plan on winning." Pacey sighs and turns toward the small scraps of Westing brand paper towels that lay before them on the table.
"He-he-he." The delivery boy slaps his partner on the back. "That's us old pal, Queen Crow and King Amber."
Angela and Sydelle exchange looks, Sydelle still keeping their clues carefully locked under her pudgy hand. At the table next to Pacey and Joey, Dawson looks at his clues, already agonizing over the many possibilities of what they could mean. He runs his hands through his blond hair, exasperated.
"I just don't get it!" he exclaims, catching the attention of some other players. Doug Hoo glances over at the pair, and catches Jen's eye. She smiles at him, being friendly, and he winks back charmingly. Turtle shoots Jen a death glare and immediately sees why the tall brunette seemingly detested the blond bimbette. Not that the tall girl had done anything...but she could sense it. Turtle studies the four friends for a moment, but her thoughts are interrupted by Judge Ford jumping up from her seat, tossing her clues onto the table.
"I'm sorry, Mr. McSouthers. Playing a pawn in this foolish game is one thing, but to be insulted with minstrel show dialect..." she is cut off by Sandy's passionate pleading. Eventually, she sits down with a reluctant sigh. Pacey and Joey exchange looks, wondering what that was all about. Obviously Judge Ford's clues, whatever they were, hit some kind of nerve. Turtle looks at her own partner, Mrs. Baumbach, with an annoyed expression.
"Haven't you memorized them yet?" she asks, glancing around the room suspiciously at the other players. Her partner squeezes up her eyes as her face twists in concentration.
"I can't make heads or tails of them."
"They make perfect sense to me," Turtle shrugs, and one by one puts the clues in her mouth, chews them, and swallows them.
"Excuse me, Mr. Plum, but what are these clues to? I mean, what exactly are we supposed to find?" Grace Windsor Wexler inquires.
"Purple waves," Sandy leans toward Turtle's table and gives her a wink. Mrs. Wexler utters a cry and changes the order of two of her clues. Joey gives Pacey a quizzical look, wondering what the significance of purple waves was. Pacey makes a mental note to get it out of that Turtle girl later.
Other players pressed the lawyer for information, but Ed Plum only shrugged.
"Then can we at least have copies of the will?" Joey pipes up.
"A copy of the will will be on file-" Judge Ford began.
"I'm afraid not, your honor," the lawyer said. "The will will not, I mean the will will will...." he paused and tried again. "The will will not be filed until the first of the year. My instructions specifically state that no heir is allowed to see the documents until the game is over."
"Well, that's not fair," Jen whispers to Dawson. He nods, then shrugs.
"Of course it's not fair. If it were fair, there would be no conflict."
"Dawson and his stupid conflict," Joey mutters as she happens to overhear the tail end of Dawson's reply to Jen.
"Forget Dawson and his conflict, there really isn't any conflict here. Wasn't that woman taking notes?" Pacey gestures over to where Sydelle Pulaski is sitting, and soon others begin to have the same idea. All eyes turn in her direction. Sydelle smiles smugly, revealing a pink lipstick stain on her front teeth. No one in Sunset Towers had paid much notice to her ever before, and now she had plenty of attention now. If they thought she was going to share the will with them, they were all nuts.
"This is still gibberish," interjects Mr. Hoo.
"Isn't there some sort of last statement?" Sandy inquires. "I mean, like Mr. Hoo just said, this doesn't make any sense."
Eleventh. Senseless, you say? Death is senseless yet it makes way for the living. Life, too, is senseless unless you know who you are, what you want, and which way the wind blows.
So, on with the game. The solution is simple if you know whom you are looking for. But heirs, beware! Be aware!
Some are not who they say they are, and some are not who they seem to be. Whoever you are, it's time to go home.
God bless you all and remember this:
Buy Westing Paper Products!
"I just don't get this at all," Pacey says, flopping onto Joey's bed with a frustrated sigh.
"That's hardly surprising," Joey mumbles, rolling her eyes. She pushes him off her bed and he hits the floor with a thud. Jen laughs lightly, but Dawson forgets to chuckle as he becomes entranced with the way Jen's eyes twinkle when she laughs. Joey looks at him looking at Jen, and sighs. It was truly hopeless. He was never going to get over her.
"I mean, this guy that none of us knows leaves us this whole shit load of money, but then says we have to play this strange, confusing game in order to get it. And I get paired with the Ice Queen. Someone is trying to make things hard for me," Pacey groans, not moving from his place on the ground. Joey lets her leg drop off the bed and she lightly kicks him in the ribs.
"It's not exactly my idea of a wild time to be forced to work with you either, Witter."
"I don't know, I think maybe these pairs can be kind of fun," Dawson pipes up, and Jen, fully aware of why he likes the circumstances, doesn't reply. She looks at Joey, and sighs.
"Who knows, maybe you and Pacey can learn to tolerate one another. Hey, maybe you can even learn to like each other!" Joey shoots Jen a look of death. Jen is unaffected by the glare, since she'd grown rather accustomed to Joey's constant antagonism of her that she had almost ceased to notice it at all. Since she had dumped Dawson, she saw no reason for Joey Potter to still hate her so much. Even if Dawson was still clinging to hopes that he could win her back, that wasn't her fault. But if Joey wasn't going to be her friend, she might as well fight back.
"The probability of Joey and Pacey ever becoming anything other than bickering partners is about one in one hundred billion," Dawson tells Jen, as he walks over to the window that overlooks the lake.
"Dawson's obviously right," Joey agrees, getting up off the bed and joining him at the window. "I tend to only make friends with those of my own species." Pacey puts his hand over his heart as he stands up, pretending to be hurt.
"Ow, that stung Joey, really. You know, you could try to think of a comeback you *haven't* used a million times before, then at least we could have an intelligent argument."
"You two are just so insane," Dawson laughs lightly, shaking his head. He looks at Joey with a smile. "I don't know what the world would be like without you."
"Well, that's us, Dawson, two of a kind," Pacey replies jovially, walking up and throwing his arms around Dawson and Joey's shoulder. Joey quickly shrugs away.
"Hey...you guys, look. It's snowing again," Jen says, feeling a bit left out. She points out the window, where light snow is beginning to fall down onto the cold ground below. Joey smiles, delighted.
"I love the snow..." she states, a bit dreamily.
"Of course you would. It's the natural habitat for an Ice Queen. You must feel right at home." Joey is about to bite back to Pacey's insult when Dawson heads for the door, catching Pacey by the elbow and dragging him along.
"All right, you two, I think that's enough of that for one night. We wouldn't want you killing each other on the first day, now would we?" Dawson opens the door and takes a step out into the hallway. "We should probably just go to sleep."
"Yeah, that's a good idea," Jen agrees, nodding. Pacey and Dawson say good night and head to their own temporary apartment, ready to call it a night. As soon as they leave, Joey quickly sets about getting herself ready for bed, almost as if she's pretending Jen isn't even in the room. She picks up her suitcase from by the door and takes it into one of the bedrooms, turning the light on and tossing the bag onto the bed. She begins to unpack, lightly humming to herself, putting on an air of snobbishness. Jen timidly walks to Joey's doorway and watches her for a moment, debating whether or not to say anything to her. It would probably only make matters worse.
Joey takes out her pajama pants and T-shirt and sets them on the bed, and then continues rummaging through everything to find things that she needs to take a shower. As she locates her toothbrush and toothpaste among the things in her makeup bag, she finally looks up and sees Jen standing by the door. Joey throws her an odd look, questioning her presence with an annoyed expression.
"Is there...something I can help you with?"
"No...no..." Jen turns to go, but then turns back. "You know, since we're going to have to live together until this thing is over, you could at least attempt to be civil to me."
"Since when haven't I been civil? I've done nothing uncivil to you since we got here."
"Joey, come on. If you think I don't hear, or notice, when you-"
"I think you're paranoid."
"Then why did you start pretending like I wasn't even here the moment Pacey and Dawson left?"
"Excuse me, I didn't know that I was required to talk to you every single second. I just started to unpack. Is that a crime? Forgive me if I don't feel like being all chatty chatty with you every moment we're together," Joey replies snottily, and pushes past Jen to head toward the bathroom, her pajamas and bath stuff in her hands. Jen turns and follows her for a few steps, wanting to smack her, punch her...do something...
"Fine Joey, be that way. Considering that Dawson is your only friend in the entire world, I would've thought you would welcome the opportunity to broaden your horizons a little. But obviously you're just a centered around Dawson as *he* is." Joey stops and turns around, an insult on the tip of her tongue. "Don't think for a minute, Joey, that he's ever going to feel the same way about you that you do about him. You're like his own personal groupie. You follow him around like a lost puppy without a home, clinging to him and begging him to love you. He just takes you for granted. Get over it and move on. You're his sidekick, not his girlfriend." Joey's eyes flash with anger and her jaw clenches, her blood rising to a boil. Too mad to even speak, she storms into the bathroom and slams the door. Jen stands silently for a minute, and as soon as her own anger subsides, she immediately begins to regret the things she just said. "I don't care..." Jen sighs. "I just can't take her anymore..." Feeling defeated by her own lack of strength to resist sinking to Joey's level, Jen quietly slips into her own bedroom and starts unpacking her own belongings, oblivious to the fact that a storm was raging outside.
During the night, the light snow turned into an angry blizzard. The tenants of Sunset Towers awoke from clue-chasing, blood-dripping dreams, bound in twisted sheets and imprisoned by fifteen-foot snowdrifts.
No telephones. No electricity.
Snowbound with a murderer!
Pacey silently makes his way down the darkened hallway by the light of one of Turtle's crooked, color-striped candles (which she had been peddling around ever since the early hours of the morning), getting scared out of his wits when Doug Hoo emerges from his family's apartment, and after a brief greeting, jogs off downstairs toward the Theodorakis' home to work on his clues with Theo. He reaches Joey's door and taps on it lightly. Slowly, he hears someone fumbling toward the door, and eventually Joey opens it up.
"Hey, Jo," he greets her, whispering for some reason. Something about power outages made people whisper, it was human nature.
"Hey, Pacey," she whispers back, and steps away from the door to let him in. Jen comes out of her bedroom, still dressed in her unflattering pajamas, and stalks past Joey and out the door.
"Hello to you too, Jen," Pacey says, hurrying to get out of her way.
"I'm going down to Dawson's to work on our clues since you two are going to be here. See you later," she tells him as she passes by, glancing back to give Joey a dirty look. Joey gives one right back and closes the door as Pacey steps inside. She double bolts it, and Pacey looks at her quizzically.
"I don't feel safe," she mumbles, feeling a little embarrassed.
"Neither do I, after all, there is technically a murderer on the loose. But I wasn't thinking about the locks...what's up with you and Jen?"
"She's a bitch, that's all. Want to get working on this mystery?" Joey changes the subject and purposely changes the tone of her voice, signaling very clearly that she doesn't wish to discuss the matter with Pacey. He gets the message.
"Sure...you have the envelope, right?"
"Right," Joey goes to her bedroom and takes it out from where she had hidden it, underneath her mattress. She plops down on the couch, casting a glance out the window, at the endless piles of white snow. The sky was overcast and dim; it felt like eight o'clock at night, not eight in the morning. There wasn't even enough sunlight for them to see by. Pacey sets his candle on the coffee table, and takes a seat next to her.
"When Turtle came by and sold me that candle, I asked her about the whole purple waves thing. She told me some quick story about the Westing House." Joey waits for him to continue, impatiently. When he doesn't, she sighs.
"Feel like telling me about it?"
"Well, I guess on Halloween a year ago, a couple of boys went up to the Westing House on same dare. Westing, apparently, disappeared a long time ago, and no one really knew if he was alive or dead, if he was in the house or if he had left that country...that is, until, someone discovered him dead a few weeks ago up in the mansion. Anyway...the two boys went up to the house, and within a minute one of them came tearing out like a ghost was chasing them. He just kept screaming till her hit the rocks at the bottom of the cliff. I guess the other boy came out with his hands covered in red blood...and now he just sits in a mental institution, staring at them, repeating 'purple waves...purple waves...' to himself over and over again."
"Some story," Joey doesn't buy it for a minute. "So basically you got nothing useful out of her."
"Well at least we know what the whole 'purple waves' thing is about now...besides, it's not like *you* have even done that much." Joey doesn't reply. She just sets the clues out onto the table and looks at them.
"These just don't seem to have a point." She reaches out to pick one up, and accidentally knocks another onto the floor. She and Pacey both bend down to pick it up at the same time. Pacey's hand accidentally covers hers as they both go to pick it up, and Joey freezes for a moment under his touch. He stops too, wondering why the feeling of her skin against his felt so...nice. Their eyes meet for fleeting second in the flickering candlelight, and Joey's breath catches in the back of her throat. Suddenly, startling them both from the strange moment, the power comes back on. Pacey quickly rips his hand off of hers, and Joey turns away, trying not to flush.
"Well, I guess we won't need this anymore." He blows out the candle, watching as the smoke slowly curls in the air and drifts away.
Not everyone was huddled in plotting, puzzle-solving pairs. Jake Wexler had retreated to his office on the first floor after a loud and long argument with his wife. He sure could have used half of that ten thousand dollars, but he wouldn't admit it, not to her. The forfeited money upset her more than the murder of her uncle, if he was her uncle. Now he was out of the game...but he supposed that was all for the better.
Five floors above, Madame Hoo stands before the restaurant's front window staring at the froth on the angry lake, and beyond. No one had even bothered to tell Madame Hoo about the Westing Game.
Other players were snowbound elsewhere: Denton Deere in the hospital, Sandy at home. No one gave a thought to where Otis Amber or Crow might be.
But Sydelle Pulaski was most certainly making her presence known, thumping her crutch against the baseboards as she limped through the carpeted halls on the arm of her pretty partner. Not one, but seven tenants had invited her to morning coffee or afternoon tea (murderer or not, they had to see Pulaski's copy of that will.) After stopping for a visit with two of the teens from out of town, Dawson and Jen, she invites herself into apartment 2D and announces herself loudly to the frail boy sitting by the window in his wheelchair.
"Hi, Chris. Just thought we'd pop in and see how you're doing. Don't be scared. I'm not the murderer. Angela is not the murderer, and we don't think you are the murderer. Mind if I sit down?" Sydelle topples into a chair without waiting for a reply. Angela stands by awkwardly, wishing that she could talk to him as easily as Sydelle could.
"Um...I know Denton wants to work on the clues with you. He's snowbound too."
"Your ver-r pred-dy." How did "pretty" come out? He meant to say nice. Chris looks down at his geography book that rests in his lap, embarrassed. She isn't laughing at him. It is all right to ask her because she's going to marry his partner.
"Wha ar-r g-gra-annz?" Angela did not understand him. Chris fans the pages of the book to a picture of a wheat field. "G-gra-annz."
"Oh, grains! You want to know the names of some grains. Let's see...there's wheat, rye, corn, barley, oats."
"O-ohss!" Angela thinks the boy is going into a fit, but he is only repeating her last word: oats. Sydelle smiles down at Chris.
"Anything else we can do for you, young man?" Chris nods.
"Read m-me short-han n-noos." The pretty lady and the funny lady move quickly out the door. The funny lady limps, but it is a pretended limp (he can tell), not like the limper he saw on the Westing House lawn.
Oats. Chris closes his eys to picture his clues.
Grain = oats. Otis Amber. For + d (from shed) = Ford. But neither the delivery boy nor the judge limped, and he still hadn't figured out she or plain. He'd have to wait for Denton Deere; Denton Deere is smart; he's a doctor.
Chris raises his binoculars to the cliff. Windblown drifts buttress the Westing house. Something moves on the second floor - a hand holding back the edge of a drape. Slowly the heavy drape falls back against the window. The Westing house is snowbound, too, and somebody is snowbound in it.
Only one of the players thought the clues told how the ten-thousand collar check was to be spent. Take stock in America, the will said. Go for broke, the will said.
"In the stock market," Turtle said. "And whoever makes the most money wins it all, the whole two hundred million dollars." Their clues:
stood for symbols of three corporations listed on the stock exchange: SEA, MT (short for mountain), AMO.
"But what about the murderer? I thought we were supposed to find the name of the murderer?" Flora protested.
"To put us off track," Turtle had replied simply. If the police suspected murder, she would surely be in jail by now. Her fingerprints were over everything in the Westing house. When that boy, Pacey (who was almost as good-looking as Doug Hoo), asked her about the purple waves, she had withheld just a little piece of information. She had been in the Westing house the night Westing died. Theo and Doug had dared her to go into the house on Halloween for two dollars a minute. Of course she'd accepted the bet, but once inside the house, some strange mysterious voice lured her upstairs, where she found Sam Westing, tucked away in his four-poster bed, dead as a doornail. On his night stand lay an envelope; on it was written: If I am found dead in bed. The police had made no mention of the note, or of finding two mysterious peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, a flashlight, or her mother's silver cross on the premises. She'd lost a few items as she tripped down the stairs, making a mad dash for the front door in terror. "You don't think one of us could have actually killed someone, do you, Mrs. Baumbach?" Turtle thought so, but the dressmaker was a cream puff. Flora obviously agrees that she couldn't imagine anyone in Sunset Towers so much as laying a hand on anyone else, and admits she must've been mistaken about the murder. But she is not convinced of Turtle's plan.
"What about Buy Westing Paper Products? I'm sure that was in the will."
"Great!" Turtle exclaims. "We'll add WPP to the list of stocks we're going to buy." Turtle returns to her calculations with zest. Mrs. Baumbach had personally thought that had meant to go to the store and buy all the products she could...but it felt good to have a child around again. She decides to play along.
"Maybe you're right, Turtle. I remember the will said May God they gold refine. That must be from the Bible."
"Shakespeare." Turtle replies. All quotations are either from the Bible or Shakespeare.
Grace Windsor Wexler studies the clues before her on the table, as she sits opposite Mr. Hoo in his restaurant.
"Look!" Grace points to the clues.
"For sea! The murderer lives in apartment 4C!"
"I live in 4C!" Hoo barks. "S-e-a means sea, like a turtle swims in."
"Come now, Mr. Hoo, we're both being silly. Have you spoken to your son about his clues?"
"Some son. If you can catch him, you can ask him." Hoo stuffs the rest of his candy bar into his mouth. "And some business I've got here. Everybody orders up, nobody orders down. That coffee shop is sending me to the poorhouse. And your Angela and that Pulaski woman, they didn't show us the will, they didn't give us their clues, they didn't pay for three cups of jasmine key and six almond cookies, and you smoke too much."
"And you eat too much." Grace threw her coin purse on the table and storms out of the restaurant.
Judge J.J. Ford has no doubt that the clues she shared with the doorman are meant for her, but Sam Westing could toss off sharper insults than:
His choice of words must have been limited; therefore, the clues must be part of a longer statement. A statement that named a name. The name of the murderer.
Though she doubts Westing was murdered in the first place. If his life was in any danger, he would have insisted on police protection. He owned the police. He owned the whole town. Sam Westing was not the type to let himself get killed. Not unless he was insane. She opens up the certificate of sanity that the lawyer had given her. It was signed by a Sidney Sikes, M.D. The name sounded familiar. She scans the obituary that she had cut from Saturday's paper.
...Samuel Westing and his friend, Dr. Sidney Sikes, were involved in a near-fatal automobile accident. Both mean were hospitalized with severe injuries. Sikes resumed his Westington medical practice and the post of county coroner, but Westing disappeared from sight.
Back to the clues. Look at her, the big-time judge, fussing over scraps of Westing Super-strength Paper Towels. "Forget the clues," she said aloud, rising from her desk to putter about the room.
In his will Sam Westing implied (he did not state, he implied) that 1) he was murdered (2) the murderer was one of the heirs, (3) he alone knew the name of the murderer, and (4) the name of the murderer was the answer to the game.
The game: a tricky, divisive Westing game. No matter how much fear and suspicion he instilled in the players, Sam Westing knew that greed would keep them playing. Until the "murderer" was captured. And punished.
Sam Westing was not murdered, but one of his heirs is guilty- guilty of some offense against a relentless man. And that heir is danger. From his grave Westing would stalk his enemy, and through his heirs he would wreak his revenge.
Which one? She would have to learn everything she could about all the heirs. She picks up the telephone, glad they're working again. The newspaper. She'd try the newspaper; surely someone was snowbound there.
"We usually don't supply that kind of information over the phone, but since it's you, Judge Ford, I'll be happy to oblige. Just spell out the names and I'll call back if I find anything."
"Thank you, I'd appreciate that." It's a beginning. Sam Westing is dead, but maybe, just once, she can beat him at his own game. His last game.
"King, queen. Otis Amber said, 'King Otis and Queen Crow.'
"Purple waves. Mother switched two clues around when Sandy mentioned those words.
"On or no. Doug and Theo could not decide which.
"Grains, Chris Theodorakis thinks his clue refers to Otis Amber. You know, grains - oats.
"MT." Angela shows Sydelle the notebook where her sister had written the figures out for buying the stock MT.
"I checked Turtle's diary. She is not following any stock with a symbol like MT, so it must be one of her clues. MT could stand for empty or mountain."
"Excellent," Sydelle remarks, and tells Angela to read all their clues together now.
Sydelle sighs, disappointed.
"It is not what you have, it's what you don't have that counts. What we don't have is a verb. Nothing makes sense without a verb."
There's a knock on the front door.
Footsteps in the living room.
It is Theo. "Anyone for a game of chess?"
"No, thank you," Sydelle answers, looking very busy. Theo smiles shyly at Angela and leaves.
"Sam Westing was a master at chess, no wonder Theo is interested. Do you know anything about the game, Angela?"
"A little..." she says, putting the pieces in order. "The judge said she was a pawn, Otis says he's the king, Cro's the queen...probably just a coincidence."
"We can't leave any stone unturned. Object of the game: to win."
"What did you say?"
"Object of the game: to win."
"How about: object of the game: twin. Maybe the murderer is a twin!" Happily discussing this new idea, they get up and make their way back to Sydelle's apartment, 3C.
"Strange..." Sydelle stands before her open apartment door. She had slammed it shut on leaving, but had not locked the dead bolt. After all, not even a burglar could get into a snowbound building...unless...
Angela, too frightened to notice that Sydelle runs through the apartment with her crutch in the air, finds her partner in the bathroom frantically tossing soiled towels from the hamper.
Sydelle Pulaski stares at the bare wicker bottom, then sinks to the rim of the bathtub. Someone in Sunset Towers has stolen her shorthand notebook.
The four Capeside teens pile into the elevator the next afternoon, and begin to read the various notes that the tenants had tacked to the walls. Sydelle Pulaski had put up some notice about losing some business papers that morning, and the idea had quickly caught on.
"Hey, everyone who wants to share clues is supposed to meet in the coffee shop tomorrow at 10 a.m. Are you guys gonna go?" Jen asks. They all look at each other, waiting to see what everyone else is going to say before responding. Pacey breaks the silence by turning back to the notes.
"Lost...silver cross on filigree chain...Mickey Mouse clock...string of pearls... found...oh, that's funny. Wait until Turtle sees this one." He points to a paper on the wall and Joey glances at it.
BRAIDED KICKING TORTOISE 'SI a BRAT
Joey laughs a little. Dawson looks over her shoulder at it.
"That's mean...I wonder who wrote it."
"Probably Pacey," Joey says, poking him in the ribs.
"Hey, look. Judge Ford is having a party at her apartment tonight. Informal."
"When does it start?" Dawson asks Jen, who is reading all the information off of the sign to herself. Jen sort of shrugs away from him as he steps toward her, peering at the note that Judge Ford had tacked to the wall.
"Eight o'clock, I guess. Do you think we should go?"
"It'd be sort of rude not to, don't you think?" Dawson replies, and Pacey rolls his eyes.
"Always the man of proper etiquette. I say we forget the stuffy party and go find some place in this crappy town that will sell alcohol to minors without any moral qualms. What do you say, Josephine?" he turns to her with a 100 watt smile, but she is seemingly unaffected. Seemingly being the operative word.
"Well, after carefully weighing those two options...I think I'll opt for the party at Judge Ford's over a night stumbling around an unfamiliar town in a drunken stupor with a guy I happen to hate and distrust," Joey bites back although there was really no need to be mean about it. But she hated him for that stupid smile, and that stupid look he always gave her when pretending to be hurt by her words...Pacey Witter, of all people, should under no circumstances ever have any remote kind of sexual effect on her. The stress of the Westing Game was already starting to get to her. Joey purposely turns away from him. "Besides...there is obviously only one reason that Judge Ford would throw a party at such a strange and inopportune time."
"Is there ever really a strange and inopportune time for a party, Joey?" Jen inquires, raising an eyebrow.
"You forget that not all of us have led a woop-it-up life of boozing and boinking that you have, Jen," Joey replies viciously. Jen glares at her, her pale face flushing with anger and resentment. Dawson glances between his best friend and his ex-girlfriend with weary eyes, mentally balancing the pros and cons of stepping into the situation and trying to stifle it before it came to a boil. Jen doesn't give him the chance.
"Oh, I'm sorry, *Jo*...just because you've led a life of confinement, boredom, and sexual repression doesn't mean that you have to let your small town provincial ways control every aspect of your life. But I guess you're just wound so tight that you can't even understand the concept of having a good time. You'd rather be miserable and waste your time pining away after-"
"All right, that's enough young ladies," Pacey intervenes, placing his hand over Jen's mouth to stop her. He quickly gives her a sharp look that conveys enough of a warning for Jen to slowly unclench her fists and back away from him calmly. The doors to the elevator open with a loud ding, and Joey storms out. Dawson, concerned, hurries after her. Pacey sighs and turns to Jen as they both step out into the main lobby of the building.
"You mind filling me in on all of this heightened tension?" Jen doesn't reply. "If this keeps up, the four of us are going to kill each other before this is over." Jen still doesn't say anything; she just watches as Joey sits down across the room, in an overstuffed chair. Dawson sits on the arm of the chair, looking down at his friend, apparently pleading with her to tell him what's wrong.
"I wish Dawson would finally wake up and realize how Joey feels about him," Jen mumbles.
"I find it humorous that Joey's obsession with our blonde, idealistic Spielberg wanna-be is blatantly obvious to everyone but Mr. Analytical himself. I've hit him over the head a couple of times with the information but he stubbornly refuses to believe it."
"I'm beginning to wonder if he's denying the obvious facts because he's afraid of his own feelings for her...or if he's denying it because he doesn't share those feelings." Jen glances at Pacey, gauging his reaction. He ponders her proposed question for a moment, but doesn't come up with any kind of answer.
Pacey saunters into Judge Ford's party half an hour late; Joey, Jen and Dawson had gone down early, but he refused to pull himself off the bed (where he had collapsed and fallen into a deep slumber) to take a shower. He hadn't really thought they would simply leave without him, but when he finally dragged himself out from underneath the covers, his three friends were nowhere to be found. Now, he sees Joey sitting on the couch, talking with Theo what's-his-name. She looked so graceful, with a kind of casual elegance that he had never seen displayed by anyone except her. She seemed to have some kind of aura around her; her light laugh ringing musically and her movements fluid and sensual, as if she were moving in slow motion. Her short black dress fell against her body, hugging every curve perfectly until it came to an end mid-thigh, accenting her long, tanned, thin but shapely legs. As if feeling his eyes on her, Joey looks up. Her smile remains for a fleeting second as she sees him, but then is quickly replaced with her standard scowl. She excuses herself from Theo's company and walks over to Pacey.
"Nice of you to show up," Joey mutters, rolling her eyes.
"Oh, and I'm sure I missed so much. This looks like a really happening party." Everyone was standing around, talking and eating somewhat quietly. Every single person in the room acted as if they were on guard every second, half participating in their conversations and half listening to the conversations of others in hopes that someone would drop a clue. Pacey gazes around, taking notice of where everyone is. Dr. Wexler and Madame Hoo, the two unfortunates who were no longer players in the game, were standing at the window, talking about the snow, Dr. Wexler happily deciphering Madame Hoo's broken English. Her husband, hired to cater the party, was moving around in his usual cloud of gloom. "What were you and Theo talking about?"
"Since when has Joey Potter been a chess aficionado?" Joey just shrugs and moves a little closer to him.
"I think that he thinks this game has something to do with chess. And obviously that Pulaski woman has some notion about twins because she's been going around, sticking "twin" into every conversation that she can get into. She asked me if you had a twin brother, because you're just 'so good-looking'." Joey laughs. "She's even more weird than I thought." Pacey just ignores her, turning away and scanning the room once more. Joey takes the few seconds that he's looking away to look him up and down; she doesn't even realize she's doing it until he turns back to her.
"Where are our two dear friends Dawson and Jen?"
"I have no idea. Last time I saw them, they were sitting in the corner, drinking pop. I have no idea where they went now. For all I care someone pushed Jen out the window and into the ten feet of snow out there," Joey tells him bitterly as thoughts of Dawson re-enter her mind.
"You know, all this antagonism between you and Jen isn't healthy. Isn't it about time that you stop taking out your sexual frustrations on her? I don't really think it's her fault that Dawson isn't smart enough to see how hot you are for him," Pacey says snidely, jealousy rising that he didn't even know he had. Joey's expression twists in anger as she glares at him. "Just because you don't have the guts to tell Dawson how you feel doesn't mean you can treat Jen like she's the cause of your problems."
"Bite me, Pacey," she snaps, turning on her heel and stalking off.
Judge Ford picks the telephone up in the kitchen, finding the snowbound newspaperman on the other line, ready with the information from several items he'd found on file.
"First, the engagement announcement of Angela Wexler and D. Denton Deere. Next, several clippings on a lawsuit brought against Sam Westing by an inventor named James Hoo-" At that moment Mr. Hoo steps through the swinging kitchen door to take another tray of appetizers from the counter. Judge Ford looks up in alarm, falling silent. "Hello?" Mr. Hoo leaves with only a small grunt of acknowledgment, and Judge Ford turns back to her phone call.
"Yes? I'm sorry, please continue."
"James Hoo. He claimed Westing stole his idea of the disposable paper diaper. I've got a think file of sports items on another Hoo, Doug Hoo. Seems he can run a pretty fast mile for a high-school kid. That's all I could find on the names you gave me, but I still have stacks of Westing clippings to go through."
"Thank you so much," Judge Ford replies, and after the appropriate good-byes, she hangs up and steps back out into her party. Moving slowly among her guests, she studies the two people standing off in the corner, the only pair in Sunset Towers who were not chosen as Westing heirs.
George Theodorakis places his hand on the shoulder of his invalid son. Theo resembled him in many ways; tall, wide-shouldered, slim-waisted, the same thick, straight black hair; but age had chiseled the father's face into sharper planes. His troubled eyes stare across the room at Angela Wexler. Catherine Theodorakis, a slight, careworn woman, gazes down at her younger son with tired, dark-circled eyes. Mr. Hoo passes by, and George, in an attempt to be friendly, greets with: "How's business?" Hoo spins around and stomps off from his fellow restaurant owner in a huff of anger. Just like that stupid coffee shop owner to take away all his business and then rub it in.
He passes right by Mrs. Grace Windsor Wexler in his anger, reminding the woman to remark to Angela : "I was just speaking to Mr. Hoo about the wedding shower on Saturday; I arranged for little Madame Hoo to serve in one of those slinky Chinese gowns." Suddenly Angela was rushing away from her mother. "Where are you going? Angela?"
She runs right into Judge Ford's kitchen. She had to get away, she had to be alone, by herself, or she'd burst out crying.
She's not alone. Crow is there. The two women stare at each other in surprise, then turn away.
Poor baby. Crow wanted to reach out to the pretty child; she wanted to take her in her arms and say: "Poor, poor baby, go ahead and cry." But she couldn't. All she could say was "Here."
Angela takes the dish towel from the cleaning woman and bunched it against her face to muffle the wrenching sobs.
Back in the living room, Jen takes a seat next to a glum Turtle, who is slumped on the couch. She tries to initiate some kind of conversation with the younger girl, but she seems uninterested. Turtle eyes Jen with a mix of contempt and scorn. Her few exchanges with Joey at the Westing house made her pledge her allegiance to the tall brunette instead of the short blond...it was clear to everyone who bothered to look that the two were pitted against each other for some reason. She looks around the room, finding Joey standing by the door talking with her friend. Turtle tries to recall his name; Dawson, she thinks it is. They seemed close. Turtle wanted a friend to be close to; she sighs as Jen tries to get Turtle interested in another topic of conversation. Turtle gives her the cold shoulder. She misses Sandy. Sandy is the only one in this dumb building she could talk to. Flora Baumbach passes by, pausing to ask:
"Remember that quotation: May Gold thy gold refine? Let's take a poll. I'll bet ten cents it's from the Bible."
"Shakespeare," Turtle argued, "and make it ten dollars."
Together they made the rounds. Six votes for the Bible, five for Shakespeare, and one absentation. (Madame Hoo did not understand the question.)
Sydelle Pulaski voted for the Bobsey twins. "And how do you know those words were in the will?" she asked suspiciously. Too suspiciously.
"So that's what 'Lost: Important business papers" meant," Joey murmurs to Dawson. "Somebody stole the shorthand notes." Dawson raises an eyebrow and looks around the room, as if able to take one sweep of the room and decide who is the culprit.
Turtle smiles at the delicious nastiness of it all. "I remember, that's all."
"If you remember so well, tell me what comes before that," Sydelle challenges.
"I don't know, what?"
The secretary has an audience now. "I don't mind telling you, but not if you ask like that."
"Please?" Dawson interjects.
Sydelle turns toward him with what was supposed to be a graceful manner, but she grimaces when the top of the crutch pokes into her chest. "The exact quotation," she announces loudly, hoping she's right, "is Spend it wisely and may God thy gold refine."
Right or wrong, her guess is received with groans of disappointment from heirs who had expected more: a hint, a clue, anything. Joey takes her jacket off of the rack, annoyed.
"It's time to go," she says to Dawson, opening the door. Within the next fifteen minutes, the other heirs all follow her cue, heading back to their apartments for a good night's rest. There was a meeting the next morning in the coffee shop to prepare for. Something was bound to happen there.
Dawson knocks on Joey's door early the next morning, still yawning tiredly. He had stayed up almost all night, his mind racing with ideas. Not about the Westing Game, but thoughts of Jen. They had broken up, sure, but that could always be remedied. Many couples who split up eventually get back together, he knew that for a fact. This trip could be the perfect setting to win back Jen Lindley's affections. If only Joey would stop being so distant toward him, he could go to her for advice. She still seemed to be the same old Joey outwardly, but something was changed between them. Something hadn't been sitting right ever since Jen had moved to Capeside, and Dawson didn't know why. He had spoken to Pacey about it the night before, but all Pacey said was to ask Joey how she really felt about him and all the answers would be there for the taking. Dawson doesn't know what the heck that was supposed to imply, but he had a sneaking suspicion. Pacey had told him the same tired old story again and again, but he knew it wasn't true. Joey Potter was his friend, and only his friend. He knew her better than anyone else in the world...if she liked him, he would definitely be the first to know.
Jen answers the door, already up and dressed, but looking as if she's still asleep.
"Hey, Dawson. Where's Pacey?"
"He's coming - he's still getting ready. Hey, Doug," Dawson greets Doug Hoo as he jogs down the hallway toward the elevator.
"Hi," he replies, flashing Jen a smile. She is too sleepy to shoot a flirtatious grin back, and by the time she manages it, the opportunity is lost.
"You guys ready to go?"
"I am. I don't know about the Queen Bitch in there."
"Come on, Jen, don't be like that," Dawson defends his best friend. Jen half shrugs, stepping out into the hallway. In a few moments, Joey stumbles out, sullen and stormy. "Ah, Joey...ever the moming person."
"I'd really like to know the reason why us four are here, you know that? I have nothing to do with this guy, and neither do you guys, so I don't understand why we are even here in the first place," she groans, fixing her collar.
"Well, hopefully we'll get some answers at this meeting," Dawson says as Pacey emerges from their room down the hallway. He slowly walks down toward them, eyeing Joey cautiously. After he had opened his mouth about her attraction to Dawson, she hadn't said a word to him. She glances back at him as he approaches, trying to look at him while appearing *not* to be looking at him. Sticking her hands in her jean pockets, Joey remains quiet as Pacey stops next to Jen and forces a smile.
"Hey, Pace. I'm amazed you didn't fall right back asleep after I left."
"Well, my friend, you'd be amazed...I do have the power to resist the appeal of going back to sleep every now and then," Pacey laughs, his eyes shifting back to Joey every few moments, moving and checking. He felt edgy in her presence. Last night, as he lay in bed, he remembered how attracted to Joey he had been when he saw her at the party. It was an amazing feeling, to want someone again, but all together too strange to really accept. He had felt attracted to Joey Potter numerous times before, but somehow he had always managed to brush it all aside. She was in love with Dawson, after all, that much was clear. But last night, he hadn't been able to push it out of his mind, and as he slept Joey had crept into his dreams - his incredibly erotic dreams. That was the last thing he had expected. Before he realizes it, Pacey is staring right at her, and Joey finds herself trapped in his gaze. Pacey's eyes seemed to have become beautiful and powerful during the night; she certainly didn't remember them ever being so sparkling green.
"Well, let's go down to the coffee shop then," Dawson suggests, oblivious to the palpable tension in the air. He hits the down arrow button on the elevator and it lights up a faint shade of yellow. Almost instantly the doors open, and Jen and Dawson walk into the elevator. Joey starts to move past Pacey to step in, but he stops her.
"You guys go down, Joey and I will be down in a second."
"Why?" Jen asks, eyeing Pacey weirdly. Pacey searches for an answer.
"Um, I have to talk about our clues for a second. Alone."
"Okay, see you in a few minutes," Dawson smiles as the doors close. Pacey turns to Joey, who feels as if she's just lost the ability to speak. Pacey remains silent too.
"Um...so, you said something about the clues?"
"Yeah...but that was really a lie. I just wanted to say...you know...sorry that I stuck my nose into your personal business yesterday night. I should've just left the whole Dawson thing alone." Pacey shuffles his feet. "I mean, I'm sure it's hard enough to watch him chase after Jen without me rubbing your face in it." Joey looks away.
"I don't like him anyway," she mumbles, unconvincingly.
"Joey, come on...I'm not an idiot and I'm not blind...it's clear that you have feelings for Dawson that go way beyond friendship," Pacey states, losing his apologetic tone all too quickly.
"What does it matter if I like Dawson or if I don't, Pacey? What difference does it make to you?" Joey exclaims. "Besides, even if I did like him, he's attracted to Jen and not me." She presses the down button with her fist, practically punching it. "No one ever wants to be with someone like me, and it's something I've come to accept. I'm just not the type of girl that guys like. I'm good ol' Jo, not sexy, attractive Jo...I would never allow myself to have feelings for someone that I am certain would never like me back." She walks into the elevator as the doors slide open, and Pacey strides in after her, his blood almost boiling as he hears her speak. He couldn't believe she honestly thought she wasn't an attractive woman. "And since we've already established the fact that I don't like Dawson, Dawson doesn't like me, and no one else likes me, I think it's safe to say that we can drop the topic now and resume life sans the jokes at the expense of my pathetic love life." Joey looks up at him, and in one swift movement she's in his arms. The elevator jolts downwards as Pacey's lips meet hers in an urgent and passionate kiss. She is too shocked to reflexively push him away, instead finding herself sinking into his embrace as if she were melting into him. When he finally breaks away, he winces.
"Damn it...I promised myself this morning I wouldn't do that," he pulls away from her, feeling stupid. Joey just stands there, dumbfounded. She slowly brings her fingers up to her lips, which are still tingling from the effects of his kiss. He watches her, not knowing what to say. Joey stares at him, her eyes wide and her heart pounding. "Joey?" he asks, not sure what this reaction means. "Look...I'm sorry...I never should've done that. It was just an impulse, I didn't mean to-" the bell rings, and with that familiar sound, the doors open to reveal the lobby. "Anyway....I'm sorry." He goes to leave, when all of a sudden her hand is on his arm, pulling him back into the small elevator. More surprised than she was when he kissed her, Pacey welcomes her lips back on his, bringing her close to him. The elevator doors close once again and they begin moving upwards. Losing a bit of control as they continue, Pacey presses Joey against the wall, kissing her with an abandon that neither of them had ever experienced before. His large, strong hands circle around her thin waist; he involuntarily squeezes her hips slightly when her tongue daringly slips into his mouth, swirling around his eagerly. He almost picks her up off the floor as they move together, careening across the elevator to the other side, knocking a couple of signs to the floor on the way. They barely notice that the elevator has come to a stop until someone enters. They break away from one another, startled. Crow looks at the pair of teens with a tight frown and scornful eyes, but does not say a word. Pacey and Joey don't move away from each other, as if frozen with their bodies a mere two inches apart. Pacey tries to control his breathing, but is heart is beating so fast that he can't help it. They remain in their exact places until the elevator reaches the lobby yet again, and Crow exits.
"All sinners...children these days aren't raised properly..." she mumbles to herself as she leaves. When her darkly dressed figure disappears into the coffee shop, Pacey and Joey walk out into the lobby. They only get a few steps before turning to one another.
"What was that?" Joey asks, breathless. She seems disoriented and disorganized, not entirely sure if she's in the same world that she was in an hour ago.
"It was Pacey Witter...kissing Joey Potter..." Pacey murmurs, scarcely believing what just happened. Where had all of that even come from? He extends his hand and softly caresses her cheek. She closes her eyes.
"Yes, I guess it was," she covers his hand with hers, blinking a couple of times as if awaking from a dream. They lock eyes for a minute. "Oh god..." Joey whispers as their lips find each other's once again, Pacey's hands sliding up her body. They both grope one another almost frantically, lost in the passion of the moment.
Finally Joey pulls away, and takes two large steps back from him; she stares at him, wide-eyed. "Oh my god..."
"Yeah..." Pacey runs his hands through his hair, looking shocked. "Um..."
"I'm...I'm going to go into that meeting now..." Joey stumbles backwards, as if dizzy; she gestures toward the door to the coffee shop across the lobby. "I mean...we're late."
"Joey...uh...don't you think we should maybe talk about what just happened here?" Pacey asks, puzzled. "It's not as if-"
"What just happened...it's going to be the same two hours from now as it will be in the next two minutes. We can talk about this later...let's just..."
Trailing off, Joey turns and walks toward the coffee shop.
"Jo..." She doesn't reply.
Pacey solemnly follows her inside, hoping that the meeting would be over quickly.
"Thank you all for coming," he begins, pausing as Pacey enters and allowing the necessary moment for all heirs to once again cast questioning glances at the late arrival. "When the meeting is over you are all welcome to stay for a chess tournament. Meanwhile, I'd like to explain why my partner and me..."
"My partner and *I*," Dawson mutters underneath his breath. Theo hears him.
"My partner and I," he corrects himself, looking at Dawson, "callled this meeting. I don't know about your clues, but our clues don't make any sense." Everyone stares back at him blankly; no one nods, no one even blinks. Theo shifts uncomfortably. "Now then, if no two sets of clues are alike, as the will says, that could mean that each set of clues is only a part of one message. The more clues we put together, the better chance we have of finding the murderer winning the game. Of course the inheritance will be divided into equal shares."
Sydelle Pulaski raises her hand like a schoolgirl. Turtle, who Joey happened to have taken a seat next to, shoots the older girl an annoyed look. Turtle obviously shared Joey's irritation when it came to the secretary.
"What about the clues that are actually in the will?" she inquires.
"Yes, we'd appreciate having a copy of the will, Ms. Pulaski," Theo replies.
"Well, equal shares hardly seems fair, since I'm the only one here who thought of taking notes," Sydelle turns to the group, one penciled eyebrow arching high over her sequined spectacles.
Her self-congratulatory pose is too much for Mr. Hoo. Grunting loudly, he squeezes out of his booth and slaps the shorthand pad on the counter.
"Thief!" the secretary shrieks, nearly falling flat on her face as she grabs for her notebook. "Thief!"
"I did not steal your notebook," the indignant Hoo explains. "I found it on a table in my restaurant this morning. You can believe me or not, I really don't care, because those notes you so selfishly dangled under our noses are completely worthless. My partner knows shorthand and she says your shorthand is nothing but senseless scrawls. Gibberish."
"Pure gibberish," Grace Wexler adds. Joey turns to Turtle.
"Does your mom really even know shorthand?" Joey whispers. Turtle shrugs.
"I think so. But I give it ten to one odds that she's the one who stole the book."
"You really think that about your mother?"
"Well, either that or her precious Angela stole it for her, either way..." Turtle replies noncommittally, not caring one way or the other.
"Those are standard symbols all right, but they don't translate into words," Grace Windsor Wexler continues, looking down her nose at the secretary, who is red with fury.
"Thief!" Sydelle cries once more, now accusing Mrs. Wexler. "Thief! Larcenist! Felon!"
"Don't Sydelle," Angela says softly, her eyes set on the D she was embroidering patiently. Her comment has no effect on her partner.
"You wouldn't understand, Angela, you don't know what it's like to be..." Her voice breaks. She pauses, then lashes out at her enemies, all of them. "Who cares a fig about Sydelle Pulaski? Nobody, that's who. I'm no fool, you know. I knew I couldn't trust any one of you. You can't read my shorthand because I wrote in Polish."
When the meeting is again called to order, Mr. Hoo suggests that they offer Miss Pulaski a slightly larger share of the inheritance in exchange for a transcript of the will - in English.
"However, I repeat, neither my partner nor I stole the notes. And if anyone here suspects us of murder, forget it, we both have airtight alibis."
Doug Hoo almost chokes on his sweet roll. If they got around to alibis, they'd find out where he was on the night of the murder. On the Westing house lawn, keeping track of how long Turtle was inside.
Mr. Hoo went on. "And to prove our innocence, my partner and I agree to share out clues."
"One minute, Mr. Hoo." Judge Ford stood. It was time for her to speak before matters got out of hand. "Let me remind you, all of you, that a person is innocent until proven guilty. We are free to choose whether or not to share our clues without any implication of guilt. I suggest that we postpone any decision until we've all given the matter careful thought, and until a time when all of the heirs can attend. However, since we are all assembled, I have a question to ask of the group; perhaps other do, too."
They all did. Wary of giving away game plans, the heirs decided the questions would be written out, but no names were to be signed. Doug collected the scraps of paper and handed them to Theo.
"Is anyone here a twin?" Theo asks first, unfolding the first scrap of paper.
No one answered.
"Does Jen have a boyfriend, and if not, does she want to go out with Doug this Friday?" Theo throws his friend a look as Jen blushes. Dawson turns and glares at the high school track star, secretly wishing him some kind of painful leg injury. Doug just laughs a little, thinking his use of the opportunity to ask questions as a truly original and creative idea. Jen just laughs when he looks at her for a reply, and he shrugs it off with a charming smile. Jen leans back in her seat, her mood lightened.
"How many here have actually met Sam Westing?" Theo continues, still rolling his eyes at Doug.
Grace Wexler raises her hand, lowers it, raises it halfway, then lowers it again, torn between her claim as Sam Westing's relative and being accused of murder. Mr. Hoo (an honest man) raises his hand and keeps it up. His is the only one. Judge Ford does not think it is necessary to answer her own question.
Theo recognizes the sprawling handwriting of the next question: "Who got kicked last week?"
Chris does not receive an answer. The meeting is adjourned due to panic.
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