Ellery Queen (1975) s01e15 Episode Script

43608 - The Adventure of the Eccentric Engineer

This model-train enthusiast just high-balled his last freight.
Who killed him? Was it his wife? That means the killer had to know how his system worked.
The trusted employee? Emily, he's dead.
Why go into all that? His domineering wife? Lamont had become senile.
We all knew that.
The ambitious tycoon? Inspector, I believe you are calling me a liar.
The playboy brother-in-law? Wait a minute.
I didn't even know about that door! Or was it someone else? Match wits with Ellery Queen and see if you can guess who done it.
[Train whistle blowing] [Train sound effects stop] [Buzzing] [Train sound effects] [Bell ringing] [Bell ringing] Okay, wait a minute.
Hold your horses.
Oh, it's you.
Got your pass? Can't ride the "L and F" without a pass or a ticket.
Wait a minute.
This pass expires next month.
I better see about getting this renewed for you.
I'm not even sure I should let you in tonight.
We're awfully busy.
I got 6 freights heading towards Chicago and points West, And the Broadway Ltd and the 20th Century, they're already overload I've always felt that the essence of the creative mind is due to its ability to function independently of the environment.
Which of course explains such phenomenons as Gauguin and Chekhov and even the Brontes.
Oh, that is, Charlotte and Emily, not Anne, who was a minor talent.
Don't you agree? Mr.
Queen? - Huh? - Anne Bronte? Well, I don't know, Miss Farnsley.
"Worth.
" Miss Worth.
Farnsworth.
Ah, Miss Farnsworth.
What paper did you say you wrote for? Oh, I'm doing a paper on you at my American Lit class at Hunter College.
- Oh, well, that's very flattering.
- No, it's not.
Mr.
Queen, I have been dreadful.
I've lied to you, and and I feel that if our relationship is to have any meaning, it should be based on truth.
Don't you agree? Well, actually, I hadn't given our relationship much thought.
The fact is, I'm writing a book, and I desperately need your help.
I'm only up to page 35.
Oh, you want me to help you write a mystery story.
Oh, no, a love story.
Well, I don't write [Door bell ringing] - Would you excuse me? - Certainly.
- Thank you.
- Mm.
- Maestro.
- Hi, Velie.
Your dad asked me to come by and get you.
There's been a murder out in the Bayside, a guy named Franklin.
Now, he said you knew who he was, and he Oh, I'm sorry, Maestro.
I didn't know you had company.
Oh, that's all right.
Miss Farnsley A murder? A real murder? Who did you say was killed, Velie? A guy named Lamont Franklin, some kind of inventor.
Well, I'll say he was.
Miss Farnsworth, I have to go.
I'm sorry I can't help you, but I wish you a lot of luck.
Oh, that's all right.
I understand perfectly.
Tomorrow you've got to tell me all about it.
Tomorrow? Yes, I usually get up at 7:00, so I guess I could be here by 9:00.
And thank you so much.
You're really a nice guy, Mr.
Queen.
I'll see you tomorrow morning.
No need to be frightened, Bridget.
Oh, I'm not frightened, sir.
And you say you didn't suspect anything was wrong until you took him his supper? You see, when he was running his trains, he'd be out there alone all evening.
Well, he didn't answer the door, so I set down the tray, and I got out my key, and I opened the door.
And, ohh, sir, holy St.
Agnes, there he was, dead.
Anyone else have a key? Oh, no, sir, just him and me.
Only, I was never to use mine, excepting in emergencies.
- Excuse me.
- Yes, sir.
Oh, wow.
Ellery? Hi, Dad.
Dad, do you know what this is? Looks like a toy train to me.
Yeah, well, I know it's a toy tr Do you know you gave me a whole set of these when I was 12 years old? Whoa.
Where does it go? Out to a workshop.
We'll take a look at it as soon as they finish dusting for prints and taking pictures.
You mean Lamont Franklin was killed? Playing with his choo-choo train.
A 55-year-old adolescent, barricaded workroom, one door.
Nobody came in or out, and yet he was shot at close range.
Bridget? Now, from this window, you can see the door to the workshop where Franklin was killed sometime between 6:35 and 7:15.
Now, Bridget was standing here, polishing silver, looking out this window from 6:30 until 7:15, when she took Franklin his dinner.
I would have seen anybody who went in, but nobody did, and nobody came out, either.
In other words, Ellery, nobody could have killed Lamont Franklin, yet somebody did.
You sure about the time? How do you know he was alive at 6:30? Because we were in communication with him at 6:35 this evening.
Hello.
I'm Carol Franklin.
This is my son, Ellery.
How do you do? These are my very dear friends Roger and Emily Woods.
- How do you do? - Roger's with the company.
I I'm feeling better now.
If I could help some more, I would You've been very helpful, Mrs.
Franklin.
I sent for my son because I thought he might have an idea or two to clear up this mystery.
All right.
I don't know what more we can tell you, Inspector.
We left for the theater.
To the best of our knowledge, Lamont was alive.
We heard no shot.
What more can we say? You said "we.
" You mean the three of you? No, Emily was home.
Getting dressed.
Carol and Roger picked me up, oh, shortly after 7:00.
We live only three blocks away.
I'd latched onto four tickets for "High Button Shoes.
" It took me half a day to scalp them down.
It's quite a hit, you know.
Cost me a fortune.
And you know I didn't want to see it months from now, didn't you, darling? You said four tickets.
You'd invited Franklin to join you? Roger bought Lamont a ticket.
Knowing very well he probably wouldn't go.
He didn't like the theater? The only thing he liked, Mr.
Queen, was his trains.
The sad fact is, Mr.
Queen, that when Lamont was in his workshop, hardly anything could drag him away from his trains.
So, I decided to go without him.
We left from here and picked up Emily about 7:00, and we went to the theater, where the police located us about 9:30.
Let me get this straight.
You talked with him at 6:30, you left at 7:00, he was found dead at 7:15? Well, not exactly.
We didn't really talk to him.
Nobody talked to him when he was in that workshop.
We sent him a dispatch.
A what? Wait till you hear this.
We sent him a message by train.
You see, that's what this was all about.
Now, you had to put a note in that flat car and send it out to him, and then he'd send back the answer.
Now, tonight, when I got here, Carol and I sent him a note, and the train came back with his answer.
Oh.
Here it is.
"Dispatch from the 'L and F' Railroad.
Thanks, Roger, but I've got a railroad to run.
You three go ahead without me.
" - That's strange.
- Hardly the word for it, Mr.
Queen.
Emily, please.
Oh, Carol, darling, it's nothing to be ashamed of.
Lamont was a certified genius, and you know what they say about geniuses.
Emily, he's dead.
Why go into all that? Oh, Roger, let's be candid.
Lamont had become senile.
We all know that.
Why, you couldn't even get in to see him without showing a pass to that silly railroad of his.
Mrs.
Franklin? Yes, it's true.
He's been like that for months, like a little child.
Inspector, the lab boys are all through.
Let's take a look at that workshop.
Well, this is it.
Franklin's folly.
Wow, some layout.
And this has been going on how long, Mr.
Woods? Three months, maybe four.
Boy, that's quite an accomplishment in a short period of time.
Proving, I guess, that there's no fool like an old fool.
Really? Dad, did you notice the windows have been painted on the inside? Yes, Lamont was afraid people were spying on him.
Well, at least we know that Franklin wasn't killed by an intruder.
Had to be somebody he knew.
Huh? How's that, Ellery? Didn't you say you needed a pass to get in here? That's right.
Dad, didn't you say he was shot at close range? There were powder burns all over his shirt.
Well, if this is where the body fell, the killer had to have a pass.
Do you have a list of people who had those passes, Mr.
Woods? Oh, it should be over here somewhere.
Okay.
Thank you.
But it would have to be a big list, Mr.
Queen.
He loved to hand them out.
I see.
Dad, I thought you said there was only one door to this workshop.
Oh, that? That leads to the storeroom.
No windows, no doors, a dead end.
Sorry.
Franklin's condition just suddenly came upon him, no warning at all? None whatsoever.
Claude Sitwell, Inspector, President of L.
F.
Manufacturing.
I believe we met at the deputy commissioner's house last year.
Oh, yes, yes.
Ah, your celebrated son, I presume.
It's a great pleasure.
- Thank you.
- Good evening, Mr.
Sitwell.
Oh, good evening, Roger.
Thank you for calling me.
What happened, intruders? We don't think so.
If you're president, Mr.
Sitwell, then you succeeded Mr.
Franklin.
Naturally.
I was executive vice president when Lamont suddenly lost interest in the business.
I had always hoped that he'd come to his senses and come back to the firm.
I am an executive, not an inventor.
- Dad - Yeah? What is it? We've been assuming that the killer arrived after Franklin sent his message back to Roger's note.
Ohh, excuse me.
There's a call at the house for Mr.
Sitwell.
He could have been here before that.
He could have killed Franklin earlier.
Sure.
Then, when Roger's note arrived, he could have typed up the answer, sent it back on the train, and then he could have left No, Bridget's Bridget, did you ever leave that window, I mean, even for just a couple of minutes? Oh, well, only when I locked the door after the missus left for the theater.
So, he could have slipped out then.
He could have been here all afternoon.
Mr.
Doug! Who? Doug Carmichael, Carol's brother.
He was here this afternoon.
I heard them yelling at each other.
Velie, Pick up Doug Carmichael.
Here it is, Ed.
They just broke the case.
Police issued an all-points bulletin tonight for Douglas Carmichael, now the prime suspect in the murder of industrialist inventor, Lamont Franklin, whose body was found earlier this evening in the workshop of of his fashionable home in the Bronx.
Franklin, inventor of the Franklin bombsight and other wartime weapons systems, had been in the workshop since early afternoon, and the only person known to have seen him was Carmichael, Franklin' brother-in-law, who disappeared shortly after 5:30.
Aw.
Oh, well.
is a bold, brave man and Good morning, Dad.
Morning, Ellery.
Scrambled? I thought you didn't like scrambled eggs.
I'm getting tired of fried eggs, fried eggs, fried eggs all the time.
Well, I didn't want to say anything, but I'm getting tired of them, too.
Where's the bacon? At 29 cents a pound, it's still on the pig.
Dad, I'm not very hungry this morning.
I think I'll just grab a cup of coffee later.
Ellery? What's going on? Going on? Yeah, I woke you up 10 minutes ago.
Then, for the first time since you graduated from college, you were dressed before breakfast, and then, I can't believe this, you don't eat.
Dad, to tell you the truth, somebody's coming over here at 9:00 who I'd just as soon avoid.
You dodging a bill collector? - No, I want to do a little research.
- On what? It's a who.
Claude Sitwell.
What about him? Dad, do you remember that contraption down at the end of the layout, had kind of a slot? Well, I looked under the table.
That thing's wired up like a plate of spaghetti.
What's that got to do with Sitwell? Lamont Franklin was a genius, crazy or not.
But I think maybe he'd stumbled on to something.
When Sitwell came in last night, he headed straight for that box, as though he was looking for something.
Looking for what? I don't know.
I don't know.
Oh, another thing, did you see "The Wall Street" Financial? Are they covering murders these days? In that workshop, yesterday's edition.
Now, what's a crazy man doing with a financial newspaper? [Phone ringing] Yeah? Yeah, Velie? She what? I'll meet you there in 20 minutes.
Well, well, well, well, well, well, well.
"Well, well, well," what? You can forget Sitwell, forget the trains, forget "The Wall Street" Financial.
Velie was keeping tabs on the bereaved widow.
So? She just rushed over to a boat at the marina, and she wasn't dressed for a cruise.
The maid says you and Lamont had a fight last night.
So what? Well, Roger Woods said you followed him more than once.
Well, Roger always had a big mouth.
But you were in the workshop yesterday afternoon? Yes.
You fought? I didn't like the way he treated my sister, and that phony act he was putting on.
Act? What act? Oh, that baloney with the trains, trying to make everybody think he was nuts.
Oh, Doug, please Now, come on, sis.
Stop sticking up for him.
Look I've got this job in a brokerage house.
It's not much, but it's a start, and I've never had to take a dime from him.
Last week I found out the old man had sold short on 10,000 shares of McKenzie Tools.
He made 65,000 bucks in one day.
I should be so nuts.
Suppose you tell us where you were between 6:30 and 7:00 last evening? - I was right here.
- Anybody see you? I don't know.
I was just gonna cruise around, try to clear my mind.
I guess I fell asleep.
I didn't find out what happened until this morning.
Why didn't you contact us? You know why.
I threatened to kill Lamont more than once, and I didn't have an alibi.
Inspector, are you going to arrest Doug? Not at the moment, Mrs.
Franklin.
But don't go far, Mr.
Carmichael, in case we want to check that story of yours again.
What do you think? I think Carmichael's story is so bad it just might be true.
Well, even if his alibi stands up, the coroner said that Franklin might have died as early as 5:30, not 6:30.
Dad, I want to take another look at that workshop.
- What for? - 'Cause I think I'm right.
I think Franklin was working on something, something important, something important enough to have gotten him killed, yes, I do.
Come on, let's go.
Oh, Mr.
Queen, I didn't think I'd find you here.
You must have forgotten about our date this morning.
Good morning, Miss Farnsworth.
Miss Farnsworth, this is my dad.
Dad, this is Miss Farnsworth.
Charmed, young lady.
How do you do, sir? I brought my notes.
I thought we could discuss them over lunch oh, Dutch treat, of course.
I'll warm up the car.
Well, I'll be right with you.
- Gee, I really am sorry - I brought you a book.
"John Tyler: American Patriot" and "The Tyler Presidency.
" I'd like to help, but I don't write historical novels.
Oh, no, I told you.
I'm writing a love story.
- About John Tyler? - He had 12 children, you know.
No, I didn't Well, I also told you I don't write love stories, either.
You have no idea how difficult it is to get somebody to help you.
Why, John O'Hara, he never even returned my phone calls.
And Ernest Hemingway, I don't even want to repeat what he said.
We are still working on this case.
Oh.
Oh, I see.
Well, I guess you can't be bothered with somebody who's just a nobody.
It's not that.
I'd like to help.
- You would? - But I have to help my father.
Oh, I understand! I'll meet you at your house later, and don't worry about me.
I'll wait as long as I have to.
Oh, gee, Mr.
Queen, you're an okay Joe! - Hi.
- Sir.
- Can you open this, please? - Yes, sir.
- Everything quiet, O'Brien? - Yes, sir.
- Where's Velie? - Velie's checking the grounds, sir.
If you ask me, all you'll find are party hats and paper dolls.
No, Dad, there's got to be something, notes, papers, a clue to what he was doing, maybe even to who killed him.
Want to know who's at the top of my list? The friendly neighbors, Roger and Emily.
I thought he was reading a newspaper in the kitchen while Bridget was polishing the silver.
Yeah, but where was she? She says she was home changing her dress.
Gee, I'd like to see her prove that to me.
I don't know why you don't like her.
She reminds me of your Aunt Agatha, a cobra with an Ipana smile.
Aww, she was very nice.
Son, when it comes to women, you better leave character analysis to your old man.
Now, she may look like a pussycat, but believe me, she's all panther.
One look at her husband ought to prove that to you.
Dad, look at this, the dispatches.
- Dispatches, eh? - Yeah.
Yeah.
"Gone shopping with Emily.
Back at 6:00.
" This is dated with a rubber stamp four weeks ago.
Let me show you something.
Apparently, Franklin put his incoming messages and his dispatches on the spindle, dated them, filed them.
Well, it just shows he was a wacko.
- Dad.
- What? Excuse me.
This folder wasn't on the desk last night.
O'Brien! Yes, sir? Anybody been in here? No one, sir.
Dad, come here a second, will you? A false bottom drawer, and it's empty.
And another thing, the note that Roger sent Lamont Franklin, it's not here.
No one came in, eh? There's been somebody on the door around the clock, Inspector.
Dad, let's check the windows.
[Banging and clattering] A secret door.
Dad, out front.
Let's go.
And try to cut him off! There, sir! Ellery! Stop! [Gun firing] Velie! Stop him! Hey, get on your feet! Come on, on your feet! May I see what you got there? Billy, please tell them.
What were you doing in the workshop? I'm sorry, Ma'am.
Save your breath, sis.
He's not gonna say anything.
Billy worked for Lamont for years as a design engineer.
When Lamont began to lose his grip a few months ago, he fired Billy.
That true, Mr.
Geeter? Look, I have nothing to say, so save your breath.
I'm sorry, Inspector.
I've never seen Billy like this.
Last night he murdered Lamont to steal those cards and that ledger book.
When he blew it, he came back.
Why? Why what? Why would he want to steal these things? Don't ask me.
I never saw them before.
Mrs.
Franklin? I don't know.
I just assumed he was playing with his trains.
Where were you last night, Mr.
Geeter, between 6:30 and 7:00? There's your answer, Inspector.
Come on, sis, let's go inside.
Inspector, we'll be in the kitchen, if you need us.
Mr.
Geeter, what does all this mean, these cards, the notes in this book? I wouldn't know.
Yet you wanted them badly enough to steal.
Screwy.
It's a code, isn't it? Mr.
Franklin was working on something, and he was taking notes in code so nobody could discover what it was.
If you say so.
How'd you know where to find this stuff? I don't know.
I just knew, that's all.
Were you working for Mr.
Franklin? Were you trying to get this stuff so we wouldn't find it, Is that it? You know, Dad, I don't think that Mr.
Franklin built that whole model layout by himself.
You helped him, didn't you? Look, I sneaked in the back way.
I went straight to the desk, and I jimmied open the drawer.
I grabbed the cards and the book.
Then I heard you coming, so I ducked out the back way while you were coming in the front way, okay? I'm a thief, I admit it! Now, if you're gonna book me, book me! Oh, we will, Mr.
Geeter.
Make no mistake about that.
It's just a question of the charges, up to and including murder.
- Dad? - Yep? I think we're questioning the wrong man.
Huh? There's somebody else who knows what this is all about.
What is this, Inspector, some sort of code? You tell me, Mr.
Sitwell.
I haven't the faintest idea.
And this? Sorry.
I can't help you.
Sorry.
I don't believe you.
Inspector, I believe you are calling me a liar.
Maybe just deliberately forgetful? Now, look, you and I both know that Lamont Franklin had entered his second childhood.
This book, those cards, they were all playthings.
Then why did you take a card like this from that train layout last night? That's not true.
There was a card like this in the slot on the train layout last night.
- Now, today it's missing.
- Yes, Billy Geeter took it.
Billy took cards from the drawer.
He didn't go near the train layout.
Last night when you arrived, you made a beeline for that layout.
Now, perhaps you took the card when Bridget distracted us, but you took it, Mr.
Sitwell, and we'd like to know why.
Mr.
Sitwell It's all right, Roger.
It's all right.
They would have found out sooner or later, anyway.
Then these are important? Important? Mr.
Queen, the information in this book is worth millions, perhaps tens of millions.
This is the card I removed from the OMS last night.
The OMS? Operational Matrix Scanner.
These cards are an integral part of a new concept in automation called the Franklin Operating Index.
Automation what does that mean? Let me demonstrate.
[Train sound effects start] Those wires on that plastic card are what we call a program.
Each of them is geared to automatically tell the train what to do.
For example, you'll observe the train is slowing down and stopping now at an unguarded crossing.
The crossing rail is lowering, and now the train starts up again.
Just because of the wires on that plastic card? Yes, they're being read by a system of automatic relays underneath the train layout.
Once it's started, it takes about, oh, the cycle of predetermined actions, totally without human supervision.
And we thought he was playing with toys.
Oh, hardly, Inspector.
Lamont was only using these trains to protect his theory.
Oh, it had a bug or two, of course.
You know, the dump cars would dump when they're not supposed to and cars that won't uncouple.
Yeah, but if the system was developed, if the bugs were worked out, this could be applied to real railroads.
Or a factory or an assembly line.
Believe me, Mr.
Queen, the age of high-speed automation is right around the corner, and Lamont was ready to cash in.
You were right, Ellery.
Franklin's senility was an act.
To give him the freedom to develop the system in utmost secrecy.
He trusted only two of us, Billy Geeter and myself.
Wait a minute.
You knew about that system, Mr.
Woods.
When I became president, I decided that Roger had a right to know.
Lamont was so obsessed with secrecy that he would never have a clue.
But I had to have somebody with Roger's technical expertise to help me keep up with Lamont's findings.
As I said, I am an executive, not an inventor.
He turned in coded reports, you see, and I'd keep Mr.
Sitwell up-to-date on his progress.
Where's that train going? Over to the house, through the underground tunnel.
Now, unless you gentlemen have further questions, Roger and I have a meeting.
Just one, Mr.
Sitwell, where were you last night between 6:30 and 7:15? Home, soaking in a hot tub.
Alone? It's a small tub.
I'm a widower, Inspector.
I live alone.
I was reading some reports when Roger called me with the news.
And now, if you'll excuse us, please.
Well, at least we know one thing.
What? What do we know? Why Bridget didn't see the murderer come in or out of the workshop.
The secret door.
Well, it could have been a she.
If that door is so secret, who knew the secret? Billy Geeter didn't have that note on him, did he? No.
Well, somebody took it, and I'd sure like to know who.
Gone at last.
These flowers need more sunshine.
I'll have to ask Doug.
He always was very good with flowers.
You're not the least bit concerned, are you? What? Oh, Carol, stop pretending, will you? Claude and Roger arrive with those two policemen.
They go into the workshop.
They know.
Believe me.
Oh, what's the difference? It won't affect Roger.
What are you talking about? Carol, this is Emily.
You know as well as I do what Lamont was working on these past few months.
Then Doug was right.
It was an act.
Carol.
He wasn't insane.
All these months.
Oh, Carol, darling, I'm so sorry.
I was so sure you knew.
Why, as soon as Roger found out, he told me when he got his promotion.
The resignation and well, all of it.
That was just a cover.
He was coming back to the company as soon as he had the system perfected.
I kept thinking he was like a great thoroughbred who'd suddenly gone lame.
The drive, the brilliance, all of it gone.
I pictured him living out his years totally dependent on me and Doug.
Oh, why didn't he trust me? Why didn't he tell me? Ellery? In here, Dad.
Doug Carmichael is off the hook.
A fisherman on the pier saw him go aboard his boat about 5:30.
He said he left at 7:00, and Carmichael never came off the boat.
That leaves Sitwell and Emily Woods without an alibi.
I'm taking my dress off, Ellery.
Check! Ellery? Hmm? Did I hear a woman's voice coming from your bedroom? Yeah, Miss Farnsworth.
Oh.
Miss Farnsworth? You remember, Dad the girl from the school.
How am I doing? I suppose there's a logical explanation for all this? Of course there is.
You remember this morning you pointed out to me how fast I could get dressed when I had to? Oh, yes, well, you were trying, as I recall, to duck out on this same Miss Farnsworth.
Shh! Yeah.
Well, it occurred to me Ta-da! Mr.
Queen, how fast? How fast? - Ellery? - Huh? Hey, what's going on? I was just testing a theory, Dad, that Carol Franklin didn't need for the theater, and if she knew about that secret door Oh, I see what you mean.
Not that it proves anything.
Mr.
Queen, do you think we could eat now? I'm famished.
Dad, Lorelie and I are gonna go out and get a bite.
Would you like to come along? Oh, no, no, I feel a little bushed.
I think I'll just have a shower, hot cup of soup, and go to bed.
I don't mean to be rude, but would you itemize that for me, please? A bowl of soup, two egg rolls, moo goo gai pan, and a fortune cookie.
No, no, I didn't have an egg roll.
She had an egg roll.
I had a bowl of soup.
And there was no fortune in my cookie.
- Pardon, Miss? - My cookie no fortune.
Compliments of Canton Gardens.
Now, sir, we have one moo goo gai pan, and the lady had chow mein.
War shu opp.
Okay, okay.
I crossed off one egg roll, one chow mein, add war shu opp, comes to $3.
20, okay? Okay.
Okay, come again soon, okay? - Let's go.
- Where? - Police headquarters.
- Oh! But what do you have to look at? A photograph.
I was looking at it this morning.
You know, you're very nice, but sometimes you don't make much sense.
Franklin, Franklin, Franklin, Franklin.
There's no Franklin.
Perhaps in here.
Aha! "Aha," what? How could I have been so dumb? [Radio starts] [Phone ringing] Hi-ho, Silver, away! A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust, and a hearty, "Hi-yo, Silver" The Lone Ranger! Hello? Yes, Ellery? Well, I was just having my You what? I said I know who killed Lamont Franklin.
Well, that's wonderful, son.
Have Velie make the arrest, and I'll see you later.
Dad, hold on.
Please don't hang up.
Don't make an arrest.
It just won't work.
Now, don't tell me you want all of the suspects gathered together.
That's right, Dad, at the Franklin house.
But, son, it's just 9:00.
All right, Ellery.
Yes, son.
I'll see you at the Franklin house at 10:00.
We're heading West of the Pacos.
Hi-yo, Silver, away! But, Ellery, I don't understand.
But there it is.
- The spindle, don't you see? - No, I don't see.
Look I'll explain on the way over.
I got to call Sergeant Velie and get some things organized.
- Will you wait out in the car for me? - Well You're terrific.
Well, there you have it.
Who do you think killed Lamont Franklin? Was it his widow, Carol, or his brother-in-law, Doug Carmichael? How about Claude Sitwell or Roger Woods or his wife, Emily? How about Billy Geeter? Or was it someone else? Now, I'll tell you one thing.
That wire spindle is very important.
You got the message? Let's see.
Well, Inspector, I'm sure there's a good reason why we've all been dragged over here on such short notice.
Yes, indeed, dear lady, and you'll find out what it is as soon as my son arrives, which should be momentarily.
Oh, marvelous.
You know, we see so much of you, you're getting to be like one of the family.
Yeah.
I was saying to Ellery only yesterday how much you remind me of his Aunt Agatha.
Okay, have we got everything straight? Oh, well, you can count on me, Ellery.
Right, Maestro.
I'll be by the window.
Hey, you're shivering.
Oh, I'll be all right, Ellery.
I'll be all right.
Here, here, here, here.
No, I Thank you.
- That better? - Yeah, that'll be fine.
- Okay.
- Thanks.
You know, I don't appreciate this at all, Inspector.
Being dragged out of my house at 10:00 at night.
Why? Why? I believe you're going to learn the solution of your employer's murder.
[Door bell ringing] - Hi, Bridget.
- Evening, sir.
Where you been? It's almost 10:30.
Where's your coat? It's freezing outside.
I had to set something up.
Good evening.
Thank you all for coming.
I'm sorry to have inconvenienced you.
Emily and I had friends over.
I didn't know what to say to them.
So, of course, I thought of something.
Can we get on with this, please? Yes, go ahead, Mr.
Queen, if you really know who killed Lamont.
Well, there are three areas that have to be explored in any murder investigation means, motive, opportunity.
The means in this particular case is a.
38-caliber pistol that has not been located yet, and probably never will be.
Not that that points to any of you in particular, but it doesn't eliminate any of you, either.
Which brings us to motive, of which I have the best.
Well, yes, you do stand to inherit the bulk of the Franklin millions, but you're not the only person with motive.
Claude Sitwell and Roger Woods were recently promoted to higher-paying, more responsible jobs.
However, those jobs were just temporary.
They became permanent on Lamont Franklin's death.
Whatever affects Roger affects you, Mrs.
Woods.
Is that an accusation, Inspector? Not at all, dear lady.
And as for you, Mr.
Carmichael, you fought with Franklin, you threatened him, and you stand to gain most from your sister's generosity now that she controls the money.
But I was on the boat when Lamont was killed.
Maybe not.
Now, hold on, Inspector.
Lamont was killed between 6:30 and 7:15, when the maid found his body.
Was he? The coroner's time of death is never that precise.
We assume that was the time because of the message in the train, but he could have died a lot earlier.
He could have died as early as 5:30.
Which still lets me off the hook.
You told me that guy on the wharf said I boarded the boat at 5:30, and I was still there when he left at 7:30.
You could have slipped over the side into the water, swum to the shore further down the beach, gone through the secret door.
Dad Wait a minute.
I didn't even know about that door.
Neither did I.
Neither did anyone except Billy Geeter.
I know it sounds logical, but the door is not the key to the murder.
I believe that the killer came through the main door to the workshop long before 6:30, the time when Bridget was looking through the window.
I believe that Lamont Franklin was dead, and the killer was gone long before Roger's note got to the workshop.
- It can't be.
- That's impossible.
Well, that's what I thought before I figured out what had happened, the only thing that could have happened, given the circumstances.
Now, we know that Roger put a note in the train and sent it back to the workshop.
Now, a few minutes later, a typed answer came back into the room, presumably from Lamont Franklin.
But the fact of the matter is that note could have been typed up ahead of time.
The killer could have typed that note and put it in the dump car, knowing that after he was gone, the train would go and get it and bring it back into this room.
You see, the index card that was running the trains last night was programmed to do that.
That means the killer had to know how his system worked.
Precisely.
Don't look at me.
I didn't kill him.
Neither did I.
Nor I.
But it had to be one of you, assuming that no one else knew about his system or how to operate it and knew that that particular card was programmed to carry the train into the house and back again.
Now, two things tipped me off.
One was an empty fortune cookie, all cookie and no message, the other an empty wire spindle on Lamont Franklin's desk.
You see, Roger's note never showed up on that spindle, and it hadn't been filed.
Then it occurred to me.
Lamont never received that note.
Therefore, how could he have answered it? - How did he, Mr.
Queen? - He didn't.
He didn't.
Someone else did.
Who? What have you got there, Mr.
Queen? Mrs.
Franklin, you'll be happy to know we won't have to dig up your lawn to get into the tunnel.
What? Mr.
Sitwell, you said that the system occasionally misfires? Mm.
I found Roger's note in the tunnel.
We rigged up a makeshift snowplow and scooped it out.
Is Is this your writing? Yes, this is the note I sent.
What does that prove? I mean, all you're saying is that Lamont didn't get the note and that the killer typed up an answer, but well, how does that prove who did it? Well "Hey, old buddy, I've got four tickets for a show tonight.
Let's all go.
" The answer is "Thanks, Roger, but I've got a railroad to run.
You three go ahead without me.
" But who could have known that Roger would be sending Lamont a note? Only Roger.
Well, what I don't understand is why Roger killed him.
Must have been something he married.
You mean his wife was in on it? No, I don't think so.
Well, maybe not, but in my book, she was as bad as he was.
Pushy type.
I had her pegged from the beginning.
Cop's instinct.
She was pushing him up the ladder.
Push, push, push, push.
But this last promotion, that was a big one.
Executive vice president, big office, $30,000 a year except for one thing.
When Franklin came back to the company, Roger was on his way to the pits, and he knew it.
I guess he figured it was easier to kill Franklin than to face his wife.
It reminds me of a case I broke out in Astoria a few years ago - Dad.
Dad.
- Huh? Oh, I'm I'm bushed.
I guess I'll go to bed.
- Good night, Ellery.
- Good night, Dad.
- Good night, Miss Farnsworth.
- Good night, Inspector.
Well, it's 11:30.
We could always catch the midnight show at the Latin Quarter.
Oh, Ellery, I'd love to, but I really wanted to get a good night's sleep and get started early on my book.
- John Tyler.
- Right.
Well, we could have a quick supper and a little wine, some soft music, and then we could talk about your book somewhere quiet.
Oh, you mean you might give me some pointers? Oh, well, that's terrific.
But I thought you said you didn't write love stories.
Well, I tried once, but my heroines always got killed off.
Of course, I could try again.
This is going to be so exciting.
Tonight we're going to to? - Collaborate.
- Collaborate.