Get out now, before I am forced to act!

It was like something out of a wannabe Agatha Christie novel, with letters that seemed to be cut from the Hartford Courant. Was it a prank? Was it someone’s idea of a joke? There was no name on the note, no way of knowing the intended recipient.

I grabbed my cell phone from its holster on my hip and dialed Bur, my older brother by a year and a half. He was up in his office in the carriage house apartment over the garage.

Can you get down here now? Something’s very wrong,” I told him. “I’m in the bird garden.”

Wrong how?” he wanted to know.

I’m looking at a threatening note.”

What kind of threatening note?”

In the time it takes you to ask me all these questions, you could be down here looking at it yourself, Bur.” My brother can be a pain in the tuckus, even as he slides into his fifties.

Fine. Give me a minute,” he replied as he hung up.

It was more like four. And while I waited, I looked at the dangling piece of paper with its pasted-on letters as it wafted in the light breeze. I could see our logo for the Four Acorns Inn smack dab at the top of the page, two inches above the warning. Clearly this piece of paper was taken from one of our printed notepads, the kind we tuck inside every night table drawer, for the convenience of our guests.

At the moment, we had four guests staying at the inn. Mary Anne Turley was a fifty-something writer from Denver, in the area to research a book about the silk mills. She had respiratory problems and needed supplemental oxygen, so I arranged for the local medical supply house to deliver the necessary equipment to the Red Oak Room. Paul Duchamps was undergoing treatment in Hartford at the cardiac center. He was expected to have surgery in a week, go to a rehab facility to recover, and then come back to the inn to recuperate in the Black Oak Room. The Powicks arrived this morning from Edgewater, New Jersey for a cousin’s funeral. Lonnie, who had suffered a stroke, and her daughter, Gretchen, were sharing the White Oak Room. It seemed unlikely that any of them was behind this. More likely one of them was a victim.

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