William Shatner’s A Twist in the Tale – Plot Synopsis: Skeleton in the Cupboard
Cherry Painter (12) comes from a fascinating family. For three generations they have made their living as magicians – but with her father the tendency seems to be dying out. He and his funny, astute sister Linda, a great favourite and confidante of Cherry’s, seem – unaccountably, in Cherry’s eyes – to want nothing more than to lead ordinary lives.
Cherry has the gift – she wants to be the first world-class female magician, and she cannot understand the others being seemingly more than content to leave show biz for menial jobs. But then, the very mention of her Grandad’s famous act – which culminated in the trick known as “The Skeleton in the Cupboard” – seems to make her relatives nervous. Is there something that has been kept from her all these years?
A final, disastrous show at the house of Cherry’s deadly enemy, the smug and superior Donna Carver, clinches Mr. Painter’s decision. He turns his wand and costume over to Linda for safekeeping, and takes a job as groundsman at Cherry’s own school. The embarrassment! Cherry’s furious – and her wisecracking friend Jimmy is for once of little help.
It is up to Cherry, she decides, to rescue the family reputation – and a talent contest at school seems to provide her with the perfect opportunity. She will be tutored secretly by Aunty Linda, and with Jimmy as her (very reluctant) assistant put on a magic show that will both dazzle the school, and demonstrate to her father the error of his ways.
Poking around in Linda’s attic, Cherry finds a picture she has never seen before. There’s her father, all right, and there’s Linda, albeit twenty years younger, and there’s her poor grandfather, as vibrant and domineering as he was before his stroke – but who is this other young man … ?
Under persistent questioning, Linda finally caves in. The man Cherry does not know is her uncle, Geoff, who was the star of the show and in Linda’s generation certainly the one with the gift. But he vanished – truly and for good – during one of the “Skeleton in the Cupboard” shows, and was never seen again … Neither Cherry’s father nor grandfather can bear to hear his name mentioned. Linda was commissioned with destroying the “Skeleton” box, but could not bear to: here it is still, in the corner of her attic, a dazzlingly-painted and strangely fascinating object the size of a grown man …
Perfect for her show, Cherry decides. But during the performance, Jimmy vanishes for real. Has the box taken him?
At this point Geoff makes his first ever appearance in his niece’s life. He had seen the article about Jimmy’s mysterious disappearance – nothing less would have forced him to recontact the family he left so many years ago. He explains to Cherry that he knew the box was evil, and that he himself had been falling further and further under its spell. After one occasion when Linda, as his assistant, actually did vanish and was gone for several hours, Geoff was so frightened he wished to leave the show – but his competitive and difficult relationship with his own father, Cherry’s Grandad, made it impossible … so he staged a disappearance.
Does the box need another victim before it will give up Jimmy? If so, Cherry – who seems to be falling under the dark influence of the box herself – has the ideal candidate: what better way to get rid of Donna …
But tragedy is narrowly averted when a reconciliation is effected between Geoff and Cherry’s grandfather. With the cycle of hate broken, the box is powerless. Jimmy is returned; the ugly family secrets have been resolved; and the box is at last destroyed.