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You can't really tell from the .jpg, but the white roses and foliage climbing up the stage curtain reference The Secret Garden, one of the shows they're doing this season. And the "forest" references another show - Into the Woods. As for the mysterious figure...why, that's Daddy Warbucks from Annie, of course!  





Woodford State Park
in Vermont




The Green Mountains




Brandywine Park
in the springtime




The Brandywine 
only two blocks from Alison's house



Someone was breaking into my goddamn theatre on my goddamn opening night...


I hurried into the library. With shaking fingers, I dialed 911.

“Hillandale Police Department,” a woman’s voice said.


“No, it’s April. Becky was feeling a little under the weather so I—”

“April, it’s Maggie Graham. At the Cross—”

“Oh, hi, Maggie! Heard the show was a big hit. Burt and I are bringing the kids Saturday.”

Only in Dale can you call 911 for a cozy chat.

“That’s great, April. But we have a problem. There’s an intruder in the theatre.”

“An intruder?”

“Or intruders.”

“In the theatre?”

“I saw someone breaking in through the stage door.” I glanced up as Reinhard walked in. “It’s okay,” I whispered. “I’m talking to the police now.”

“The police!”

I waved my hand to shush him. “What was that, April?”

“I asked if you were in the theatre now.”

“No, I’m at Janet’s. I spotted the…uh…perpetrator from the porch.”

“Maggie…” Reinhard began.

“Sure it wasn’t one of the staff?”

“The staff’s at Janet’s, too.”

April chuckled. “You theatre folk sure keep late hours.”

“Maggie, give me the phone.”

“Wait! No, not you, April. Look, there was something distinctly furtive about the perpetrator’s manner.”

“Furtive, huh.”

“Nobody has keys to the theatre except the staff. And Reinhard always locks up…you locked up, right?”

Instead of answering, Reinhard wrested the phone from my grip. “Hello? This is Reinhard—yes…yes, we were very pleased with the show. April, I think Maggie might be overreacting.”

“I am not overreacting!”

“I am sure it was only Catherine or Javier. They left a few minutes ago.”

“It wasn’t—”

“Yes, she is from New York.”

“That has nothing to do with it!”

“I will go to the theatre now. But I am certain there is nothing to worry about.”

“Reinhard, would you please—?”

“And I shall look forward to seeing you then, too, April. Good night.”

“Are you crazy?” I demanded as he hung up the phone.

“Maggie. We do not call the police. Ever.”

Still protesting, I followed him to the living room. In a few terse sentences, he told the rest of the staff what had happened. 

“It was probably Javier,” Reinhard said. “Or a youngster who wanted to poke around backstage. I will go down now and find out.”

“I’m coming with you.”

“No, Maggie. You are not.”

“Let her go,” Janet said. “Short of tying her up, she won’t stay here.” She shoved herself off the sofa. “Let’s just get this over with.”

 ~ ~ ~

All the way down the hill, I tried to make sense of Reinhard’s behavior. I knew the staff had an aversion to dealing with the authorities, but surely, in a case like this it was warranted. 

Maybe it was some kind of practical joke. Catherine and Javier had been sent ahead to oversee the final preparations. And when I walked in, everybody would shout, “Surprise!” But the last thing I needed after the past few days was yet another surprise.

By the time we reached the parking lot, I almost hoped there was a burglar. If we walked in on Catherine and Javier having a quickie on one of the orphan’s beds, I’d feel like an idiot.

Reinhard held up his hand. “Lee and Alex and I will go in. The rest of you wait outside.”

“Why do I always have to wait with the women?” Hal complained. 

Before anyone could answer, the wrought iron lamps along the walkway flared to life. For a moment, we just stood there, gaping. Then Janet gripped my hand and Reinhard flung his arm around my waist. I looked from one to the other, suddenly scared. Whatever this was, it wasn’t a practical joke...