The story of Brigadoon nagged at me with the loose ends it left. So I decided to tie one of them up.
It was all very well for Tommy, who disappeared into the mist and went with that little town that never was and all their airy-fairy inhabitants, especially the woman, Fiona, who bewitched him. Well, it was not really hard for her to take him away from Jane.
That schoolmaster, Mr. Lundy, he talked about witches in that fairy-tale he spun about the town. It was witches they were trying to get away from. Well, it looks as if they kept the witches in their midst.
I said we had them in our time too, only we pronounced the word differently. I wouldn’t call Fiona by that name. She might be a witch, but she seemed to be a good witch. If there is such a thing.
Jane, now there’s a real piece of work. You’d need a witch with all the black powers at her command to combat Jane effectively. If Tommy had never met Jane . . . If Jane had just liked me—or even tolerated me with less overt hostility . . . If Jane had just let Tommy go when he broke their engagement.
But no. Jane is what she is. She’s a perfect example of what one of the new boys uses as an epithet: an excrescence. At times like these I pull out all my Shakespearean epithets. “The tartness of her face sours grapes.” That’s a good one for Jane. Jane’s “brain is as dry as the remainder biscuit after voyage.” O Jane, “Thy tongue out-venoms all the worms of Nile.”
I could go on, but Jane is not worth that much book effort. I was pretty good at Shakespeare in college, but now I have to reread too much to find things. I need a drink.
I saw a man who had never known
A love that was all his own.
I thought as I thanked all the stars in the sky:
There, but for you, go I.
I love that song Jeff wrote. It’s unbelievable how happy I am. I wish I weren’t dreaming about Jeff. I should be dreaming about Fiona. She’s the most real thing to me now, and Jeff is probably long grown old. He’s probably sitting in a rocking chair with great-grandchildren around his knee. I wish I hadn’t dreamed he was in prison for murder. That was unsettling. Jeff would never commit a murder. He said he accidentally killed Harry, but I don’t believe it. I think he made it up. I’ve got to go back to sleep. In the morning it’ll be a hundred years from yesterday. I don’t understand it, but I do understand that I’m going to marry Fiona tomorrow. O Fiona!
I’m glad I opened the inquiry into Tommy’s disappearance. Jeff Douglas has to pay—pay with his life for what he did. “Decided to settle in Scotland,” he told me when he got home and I asked where Tommy was. “Didn’t want to give any specific address.” As if I would accept that and not go over and find out for myself.
Then I get home and find him drunk, as usual. That crazy story he told, about a little town that appears for a day every hundred years, that’s lunatic. His lawyer will have Jeff pleading insanity. Jeff’s clearly insane, but I’m going to make him pay.
Oh Tommy. I really did love you, you know. Why did you have to break our engagement? You would have made me so happy. You were everything I ever wanted—successful, rich, ambitious, good looking, clearly marked out for great things. And I would have been beside you all the way. We would have had the most fabulous life.
If only you hadn’t been friends with Jeff Douglas. If only you hadn’t insisted on that foolish trip to Scotland. If only you had been smart enough to drop Jeff when we became engaged. I tried to convince you, but you were too stubborn to see that he was no good to you. Look where it got you, your silly, stupid, misplaced loyalty. Now you’re dead and it’s really all your own fault, you selfish, stupid man. And you gave everything to Jeff when I was your fiancée. I could kill you myself. Jeff won’t enjoy all that wealth anyway. A convicted murderer can’t profit from his crime. But the state apparently will take over Tommy’s estate, my attorney says, after Jeff is convicted. I don’t have a case to get it back, he says. I was his fiancée! I should get everything! Oh! What if Jeff spends it all before he goes to trial? They are taking too long!
My lawyer’s been here. He says Scotland is trying for extradition, and if they win, I’ll be standing trial there instead of in New York. He’s trying to find out if this is in my best interests or not. I can tell him that right now. Scotland has it in for me. They think I killed my best pal when we were hunting in the Highlands and hid his body in a bog or something. Jane’s lawyer fed the New York prosecutor a line about how I did it for the money after finding out Tommy had signed everything over to me. They think I forged the papers.
Funny that Tommy hadn’t changed his will to Jane long ago. They were engaged for something like two years, or maybe it was three. I lose track of time. But his will was the original one he made when he took over that investment company and really hit it big. That was before Jane got her hooks into him. His sister was still living, and the nephews. Then they had their accident, a drunk driver killed them all. I liked Tommy’s sister and her family. They were decent folks. Tommy was sure broken up when that happened. I got him through it. And then Jane came along while he was still feeling the loss. She capitalized on that all right. She capitalizes on everything. Capital should be her middle name.
Why can’t I sleep? I keep dreaming about Jeff, of all people. I wish he had quit drinking. At least he’s going to be rich. That dream of his, writing a hit show and getting out of the rat race, that was as unrealistic as Jane wanting me to settle for being a King Rat in the race. Jeff was born to make people rich, and he’ll do a great job with my company. I’m glad I thought about deeding it to him before coming back to Scotland to find Fiona. What a miracle that they woke up enough to let me in!
Fiona and I are going to have the perfect life. It’s beautiful here, and so peaceful. There are a million opportunities for a guy like me to get rich in this setup. These people are pretty backward. With my experience, I should have no trouble giving Fiona the best house in the town and the best of everything in no time.
I guess I shouldn’t drink so much. Tommy was always trying to get me to quit. Then what does he do when he thinks he’s lost Fiona and has to marry Jane after all? He drinks more than me. Until he decides to go back and disappear. If he hadn’t been drinking, he might’ve thought a little more about what would happen when he loaded me with everything and didn’t even leave a note or proof or anything. My attorney says they can’t really do a thing without a body. There isn’t enough circumstantial evidence to convict, he says. It’s never been done in New York, and in Scotland they have some kind of law that there has to be a body. There have been convictions without the body here in the States, but there were always things—blood stains or bones or something—to help. I know I didn’t kill Tommy, and they can’t tie this on me. They can’t. I need a drink.
It’s happening! The UK is extraditing Jeff Douglas for the murder of Thomas Albright. They say they have “prima facie” evidence, whatever that means, but really it’s because of the hotel clerk and the laundry maid over there, so I understand. They testified that Tommy and Jeff left that afternoon to go hiking, and that Jeff returned alone and got very drunk. The laundry maid saw Jeff washing out something that was probably blood from his clothes and backpack, and the hotel clerk will testify that Jeff gave him Tommy’s things to dispose of (they had better stick to the story. I paid enough). They asked where Tommy was. Jeff hadn’t thought out his silly story yet. The story was very fishy, according to the police. I know he did it though.
It’s been a long time now, years. Jeff made his mistakes. He should never have filed that missing person report when he got home. He should never have tried to claim Tommy’s company. He thought he could get away with it. But he wasn’t taking into consideration that I was waiting for him to make a mistake so I could get my revenge. I’m positive that Jeff Albright was behind Tommy’s breaking off our engagement. I will see him hang if it’s the last thing I do.
Why didn’t I go with Tommy into that village that night? Then I wouldn’t have all these crazy idiots calling me a murderer when all I did was help my best friend get what he wanted most. Now they think I’m crazy. I guess I got tight and told the real story to somebody. Maybe it was my lawyer. He wants me to plead insanity.
I could have settled down with that little farm girl—the one with the sheep and the squeaky rocking chair, what was her name now? Marge. No. Meg. That was it. Meggie. We had a pretty good time even if she was crazy. She wasn’t nearly as crazy as everyone nowadays. I guess they didn’t have enough to be as crazy about as they do today. I guess I must be the crazy one.
I did not kill that boy that tried to run away. Jane must have heard it from Tommy. I can’t believe Tommy told her about it. Harry tripped over a tree root and crashed headfirst into a rock. I saw it. I told Tommy a little different story when I thought it would be better to get him away from the place. Not now. I will ’fess up to that if I need to.
See, my attorney thinks he can get me out on bail. He says there’s no way I could flee anywhere. They’ve locked up all my money from Tommy, and I guess I was running close to broke back when Tommy beat it. If that lawyer gets me out, I’m not fleeing, exactly. I’m heading for that valley and calling Tommy back from the grave or the mist or wherever he is now. He got me into this. He can get me out.
Why do I think Jeff needs me? I need Fiona. I need to stay here and marry her. That’s the whole reason for my existence now. That was the whole point.
I cannot believe the stupidity of the judges! They let Jeff Albright out on bail! And what does he do but disappear! Gone! Completely! I will find him. He had better stay deep in hiding because I will find him the second he sticks a little finger up to test the air.
I hope nobody ever finds out that Jeff Albright sent me this manuscript before he disappeared over in Scotland back during the First World War. There was all that talk that he killed his best friend, but it didn’t go to trial after all and he went to Scotland for a year before he was just—gone. That woman his best friend jilted, she tried for a while to keep things open. Good thing she died in the ’flu epidemic, she was no good. Albright certainly was a talented writer. Too bad he doesn’t get the credit, but he disappeared and nobody remembers anything about it anymore. And I ain’t sayin’. I need a drink.
November 1949. New York City. Top show on Broadway! Brigadoon set to smash records for hit musical shows!