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The Case - 2014-03-12 - Part 2-1

Posted by Max_Writer , in Call of Cthulhu 18 March 2014 · 1,054 views

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

(After running the Call of Cthulhu scenario “The Case” from Curse of Cthulhu for Caitlin Blackmon and John Forney Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.)

Though they didn’t recognize the time period of the clothing the terrible thing in the chair wore, they saw that it was not clothing common in the 1920s.

“That’s some old clothing,” McKeefe mumbled.

Miss Holland shined her light over the glass bottles on the shelves and saw that they were all stoppered. Next to the shelves was a table with a large black book upon it. She went to the book and carefully opened it. The leather was old but intact and she saw that the interior was filled with an archaic handwriting. It was in English but the writing style made her think it must be hundreds of years old.

McKeefe, meanwhile, went to the shelves, avoiding the man in the chair. He could not see what was in the large bottles but did notice that each of the bottles was sealed, probably with lead. He counted two dozen of them. Each was large enough to hold a gallon or two of liquid and they were obviously very old. He decided not to open them, remembering getting poisoning when he opened a bottle of sour beer some years before. He also noticed that the bottles were dusty but there were fresh handprints on several of them.

The things in the larger chamber without continued to cry and moan.

McKeefe continued to search the room, making sure to stay clear of the man in the chair. He found a low, dark tunnel in the back. It was only about six feet high and two feet wide. In the dark, he couldn’t see where the claustrophobic tunnel went.

“Did you recall how long what’s his name has been in the asylum for?” McKeefe asked.

“Um, Brian Timmons?” she replied.

“Yes.”

“Well, ever since … I guess … no, I don’t remember.”

Miss Holland went over to the man in the chair and looked more closely at him. He appeared to be unconscious and he smelled of cinnamon and rot. He looked like he had been in a terrible accident. His skin was mottled and grotesque, some of it looking like it could just slough off the body at any time. She could not explain the flesh that held his left arm to his chest or the pockmarks in his flesh. He also had wounds that might have been the result of recent injury.

McKeefe looked askance at the woman and shivered. The man’s skin reminded him too much of what happened in the War when men breathed the terrible mustard gas the Hun had used on occasion. He walked over to the black book and started to look through it, flipping pages.

Miss Holland went to him.

“By the way, I found this weird, dark passage,” he said. “I can’t tell how far it is.”

“We should go in it!” she replied.

“We already went into one dark passage and found this place.”

“Well, we need to find out what’s happening to this guy because he looks like he’s in pain.”

“Ugh.”

McKeefe glanced at the man but then quickly turned his head back to her.

“Don’t look,” she said, seeing the man go pale. “Don’t look at him. He’s pretty bad off so let’s try to investigate what’s going on because I’m kind of interested.”

“Are you getting anything out of this book?” McKeefe asked. “I’m just seeing these weird drawings in here. Can you make anything of this?”

“Can you? I want to know if you can first.”

“My knowledge of antiquities implies that this book is from somewhere in the 1600s, 1700s, you know. Right before the revolution so whoever wrote this was here a long, long time ago.”

He had noticed that the book and the tabletop were both clean.

“Looking around this room, I notice that it was used pretty recently,” he said. “I’m kind of wondering how recently it was used before Mr. Timmons was shipped off to the crazy house.”

“Oh, you think it’s Mr. Timmons who’s doing all this?” she asked.

“Well, it is on his property. I’m not personally saying it’s him, but it looks like all of this stuff in here has been in pretty recent use.”

She walked over to the shelves and began to examine the bottles there more closely, picking one up and shaking it. It was heavy, as if it was filled with something, but it didn’t slosh. Whatever the bottle held was not liquid. She broke away the lead seal and the pulled the glass stopper from the bottle. It was filled with a strange-colored dust or sand or powder. She sniffed at it and it smelled like cinnamon and rot. She felt a little nauseated.

They decided to look at the tunnel.

“There’s a weird little hole in the wall and I can’t figure out how far it goes,” he said. “I didn’t have any sort of light but it might help us get to the bottom of this, maybe.”

“You’re changing your tune,” she said.

“Well, I don’t really know how this guy back here−”

“A second ago you said ‘no.’”

“−how this guy back here behind me had some trouble, but maybe, maybe there’s a bit of silence down this way instead of all these weird shrieks.”

Though the strange cries from the larger room had settled down, they occasionally heard a moan from the ungodly creatures.

“Let’s go investigate then,” she said.

Miss Holland led the way down the narrow tunnel. It was dirty and close but it only went 20 to 30 yards before it opened into a stone shaft lined with large, stone bricks. Iron rungs were set into the far wall, forming a ladder that went up about 30 feet before they ended in a trapdoor set in a stone ceiling.

“Maybe this is a way out!” McKeefe said. “So we don’t have to back into that other room!”

He climbed up the ladder and pressed upon the trapdoor but it wouldn’t budge. When he tapped the ancient wood, it sounded solid, as if something heavy were upon it. He guessed that it might lie right under the tower foundation they had found before. He climbed back down.

“Well, no dice honey,” he said. “It’s not exactly budging up there, unless you have some muscles hidden under that dress of yours.”

“Oh my goodness,” she said.

He suggested they search the small room and they did so, but found nothing. They headed back down the narrow tunnel back to the room wherein sat the man in the chair. She looked at the man and then asked McKeefe for the gloves he’d used in the fireplaces in the house. He handed her the gloves and then turned away.

She poked the man and gently slapped his face, but it took some time to bring the terrible wreck of a man around. It was several minutes before his eyes suddenly flew open. Miss Holland quickly leaned back.

“Ye awful man, Douglas Timmons!” he screamed.

“Oh my god!” she cried.

The man looked around, wide-eyed and gibbering, then lapsed into sobs and screamed. The cries in the next room rose to meet his. McKeefe was reminded of the men with shell shock in the war and uncomfortably began to walk around the room, circling Miss Holland and the man in the chair at some distance, fiddling with the walls of the chamber and apparently looking around.

“What happened to you?” she said to the man.

It took a while for him to calm the man down. He muttered and spoke in an archaic form of English. He finally seemed to come to his senses.

“Who art thou?” he asked. “Art ye with him? With Douglas Timmons?”

“No! I’m not,” she replied. “I just stumbled upon this place. Who are you? What has happened?”

“I was Jason Greeley.”

The name meant nothing to her.

“Well, how long have you been her?” she asked.

“Weeks,” he said. “Weeks. Before that … it was before that I was … he brought me back. He brought me back from the dead. That devil, Douglas Timmons!”

“Douglas Timmons?”

The man looked madly around the room and then pointed with his horrible, flesh-bound left hand at the shelf with the bottles.

“That madman,” he muttered. “His spell. His magic. He brought me back from the dead … in order to torture me!”

“But Douglas Timmons is … I’m assuming, dead,” she said. “Isn’t he dead?”

“He is alive again! We had come from the village to stop him and he ran. He ran! In the year of our Lord 1723.”

“What kind of magic?”

“I know not! He was an evil, evil man. If thou knowest of him, thou must kill him. You must. Thou must kill him. Thou must destroy the evil that has come back into the world.”

He went on to tell her that Douglas Timmons had come to Woonsocket from Massachusetts in 1640 and lived on the farm near the village for many years before some of the townsfolk began to notice that the strange, reclusive man did not seem to age. Finally, in 1723, when people who had known Douglas Timmons since childhood began to die of old age, suspicions were raised and a mob was led by the man who claimed to be Jason Greeley. The mob descended upon the farmhouse with men from the militia and men from the town. They were going to put an end to the evil of Douglas Timmons. However, rather than face his accusers, Timmons and his half-breed servant escaped out the back of the building. They found two of the townsfolk waiting for them and, as they fled across a nearby field, the two townsmen opened fire. One of the men was certain that he had hit Timmons but the two fugitives managed to escape in the woods and were never seen again.

“But he was not killed!” the man said.

He went on to tell her that he, himself, had lived to the age of 53 before he died.

“But you were brought back from the dead?” she asked.

“I know that I died!” he replied. “And I know I am here now, in this hell pit. He gloated at me; he said he had brought me back with his magic, that he brought me from my essential saltes.”

He nodded towards the bottles on the shelves.

“Well, Brian Timmons looks a lot like Douglas Timmons, but if Douglas Timmons is immortal than anything goes, basically,” she muttered to herself.

She turned to McKeefe who was still wandering around the room.

“What should I say to him?” she asked the man.

“What’s that?” he replied.

She rolled her eyes. He had shut himself down to the reality of the situation.

Greeley was muttered on about coffins in Timmons’ firewood and the tortures that Timmons had inflicted upon him over the weeks that he had been in the place.

“What is in those bottles you keep glancing at?” she asked him.

He looked over at the bottles and pointed at them with his crippled left hand.

“Those are the essential saltes of others,” he muttered. “Others that Timmons would rise from the dead. He would tell me that he would bring them up and give them back the forms of men once again in order to glean information and ask them questions about the times that they lived in.”

“The saltes of them?” she asked.

“He called it their essential saltes.”

“Do you know anything about the creatures in the grates?”

“I have been tied to this chair since he brought me back. He’s done something awful to me!”

He urged her again to kill Douglas Timmons, calling the man a horrible, evil sorcerer.

“Is there any way we can help you?” she asked.

“Kill me,” he said. “Kill me and take enough of me that he cannot bring me back.”

“Oh my. Kill you? Are you sure?”

“Please. I am in … look at what he has done to me! He inflicts these horrible wounds upon me. I do not want to be here anymore. I want to go back, go back to being dead.”

McKeefe had put his hand onto the gun in his pocket.

“How did he torture you?” Miss Holland asked. “What did he do?”

He nodded down to his belly, which had been cut in several places. He also told her that he thought Timmons had deformed his arm and his leg as well.

“I was not as this when I lived,” he moaned. “Please, don’t leave me here. If he comes back … don’t leave me here. Kill me! Take my head. Burn my body and scatter my ashes so he can never bring me back again.”

She conferred with McKeefe on how they might burn the poor man. She suggested finding something to burn him with.

“If you want to leave the room, I can help him with one of his last wishes, as it were,” McKeefe said. “If you don’t want to be traumatized, I would suggest you leave now.”

He had put his hand in his jacket pocket and still wouldn’t look at the man in the chair.

“I don’t think I’m going to be traumatized,” she said.

“Honey, I was in a war,” he said. “Every time, let’s just say, a person happens to pass away from the first shot, you’re going to be shocked.”

“What exactly are you planning to do?”

He took the .45 automatic pistol from his pocket and pulled back the action to chamber a round.

“Okay, well go ahead,” she said. “Don’t miss.”

“I suggest you might want to leave the room,” he said again. “Because it could get−”

“No, just do it!”

“It could also get a little messy.”

She backed away. He went to the man in the chair and aimed at the man’s forehead.

“Thank you!” Jason Greeley uttered his last words. “Thank you!”

McKeefe shot the man in the forehead. The bullet tore through his head and out the back of this skull, the blood and brains splattering against the far away. His head jerked back and then came forward to flop down on his chest. Miss Holland flinched but did not look away. The screaming started out in the large, outer room once again. McKeefe shuddered when he heard the horrible creatures.

“At least you got far enough away from him so that his brain matter didn’t splatter on you,” he said.

“He said we should burn his body so that Douglas Timmons doesn’t come back to bring him back to life,” she said. “What do you think we should do?”

“Well, he was kind of a crazy guy and I don’t need to tell you how deformed he was, probably from some early age or accident and it probably left him a little wonky in the head. But if you want, we can go ahead and find some wood−”

“Are you going to help me or not?”

“I’ll help you burn him up.”

“Should we burn him inside or outside?”

“I figure we take him by the chair and put him in the shaft that we found. It’d be a hassle to bring him up the hill.”

He grabbed the back of the rotten chair and dragged it down the narrow tunnel. When he returned, he asked if she carried a spare can of petrol in her automobile. She said she didn’t. McKeefe noted that they would need kindling.

“Now, unless you would like to go out past those screaming weirdoes and go find some dry leaves, I’d say we have a couple of options,” he said. “There’s this table or this fancy book.”

“Do you have any matches?” she asked.

He nodded.

“I don’t want to burn the book because that’s probably going to be significant,” she said.

“Then go try to find some dry leaves while I−,” he said.

“All right. Fine. I’ll do it. Okay.”

She left with her flashlight. Behind her, she heard him smashing the table into kindling. She crept as quietly as she could past the terrible pits and left the cave without the horrors stirring. She found leaves and some tiny branches and sticks. She tried to creep past the things once again but they heard her and began wailing and screaming once again.

“Great job,” McKeefe said when she reentered the small room.

They used the kindling and leaves to start a fire in the circular shaft to burn the body. They went back into the small room after the fire was started. Miss Holland shoved the black book into her purse and then hesitated.

“Should we grab the saltes too?” she asked.

He gave her a weird look.

“We could just get one to see,” she said.

He continued to stare at her.

“What?” she asked.

He just stared and they could smell smoke from down the small tunnel. She grabbed the bottle she’d previously opened, clutching it to her chest as they fled the horrible place. When they reached the outer doors, McKeefe stopped and wrapped the chains back through the door handles and put the padlock back upon them. Then they fled the cave.

The air smelled fresh outside and they returned to Miss Holland’s automobile. She put the bottle of dust into the back seat.

“Where to now?” she asked.

They discussed it for only a few minutes before deciding to find a restaurant in Woonsocket. They found one and had a nice meal. After they had eaten, she took out the black book and began to look through it. There were dates and entries and she guessed that it was Douglas Timmons’ journal. There was talk of Salem, Massachusetts, and dates in the 1630s. Timmons seemed to be doing some kind of strange experiments.

“John, this Jason person was rambling on about Douglas Timmons bringing him back to life a couple of weeks ago,” she said. “We know Douglas Timmons is from at least 200 years previous. What do you think about that?”

“You know, I remember seeing that weird little woodcut of Douglas Timmons,” he said. “It did look a teeny bit like Brian Timmons. Maybe this crazy guy, who happened to stumble onto our friend Brian, got mixed up a little. Maybe Brian, for some reason, decided to say “Hey, I’m Douglas Timmons and you’re this man from the 1700s.’”

“Well, he said he brought him back to life with magic. Do you believe that?”

“The man was crazy. Of course not.”

“You don’t think that it could be kind of maybe remotely possible?”

“I’ve seen men getting blown to bits. I’ve seen things getting appropriated from houses. I’ve never see anything come close to a person being brought back from the dead.”

“But what about magic? I’ve read a lot on the occult and I’m going to say it’s not too far off from being possible.”

“I don’t know what you people learn about in your highfaluting colleges. Maybe you do learn a bit of brouhaha about some weird bringing people back to life or something. But in my line of work, we deal with making sure when something’s from … not about when somebody is from.”

She looked at him. It sounded clever but she didn’t think it really was clever.

“Well, you sure are good at putting on airs, Mr. McKeefe,” she said. “But my father works in Egypt right now. He has read a bit of the Book of the Dead. I’m telling you: the spells, they’re not that complicated.”

“Egypt, that’s that place, what? Near Europe?” he said. “Near Italy and Greece?”

“Northern Egypt, yes,” she said.

He nodded.

“I’m pretty sure that I’ve probably been a little closer to Egypt than you were,” he went on. “I was in Europe, going all over the place.”

“Let’s not make this about us,” she said. “We want to try to figure out what’s going on.”

“All the way from Marseilles to Berlin,” he said.

She rolled her eyes.

“Ancient tribes in certain places may believe that it is possible to bring back the dead,” she said.

“Did they have people who claimed to be living hundreds of years long who claimed to bring these people back to life?” McKeefe asked. “Did you ever see it?”

“Well, if you’re going to be closed-minded about this …”

“I’m not being closed-minded. I’m being realistic.”

“Well just work with me here. What about Brian Timmons? He looks a lot like Douglas Timmons. It could have been him. Maybe we should go ask him about it.”

“I look a lot like my grandfather. You probably look a lot like your grandmother.”

“Fine. I’m not saying that it was Douglas Timmons who lived 200 years, but it could have been Brian Timmons who tortured this man out of his mind and the man was just babbling nonsense.”

“Now see, there’s the right idea. Now you’re thinking right. Let’s go see Brian. Let’s see if he maybe beat him up and poured some acid on him. I saw a lot of weird things in the trenches. That guy was not exactly the worst off.”

“Do you want to do it tonight or do you want to wait until tomorrow?”

“I, personally, suggest we wait until tomorrow. If he’s still in that nuthouse, it’s probably after hours anyway.”

“I wonder if Mrs. Timmons has taken into consideration anything I said to her.”

When the check came, Miss Holland paid it. It was close to 8 p.m. when they left the restaurant.

“If you’re a little shaken up after today, I do know a place where we can get some premium grade hooch,” McKeefe said.

“Bathtub gin?” she said. “What kind of sleazy party are you trying to take me to?”

“It’s not a sleazy party at all!” he said. “It’s a high-class establishment. I guarantee you. I know the proprietor of it.”

“They probably make their own booze in their bathtub.”

“Well maybe. But who doesn’t?”

She drove them back to Providence and they both went to their respective apartments to clean themselves up and bathe, as well as change their clothes. McKeefe realized that some of the blood from the corpse had gotten on his jacket and shirt when he dragged the chair back to the circular shaft. He also took the time to clean his pistol.

It was close to 11 p.m. before Miss Holland went downstairs and knocked on McKeefe’s door.

“Who is it?” he called.

“It’s me!” she said through the door.

He opened it.

“Are we going or what?” she asked.

“Let’s go,” he said.

They took her automobile to a street she’d never been down before. Down a set of cellar steps, they stopped at a door and he knocked. A slider slid aside and a man looked them over.

“Sal sent me,” McKeefe said.

The slider slid shut and the door opened. The large, Italian-looking man ushered them in and closed the door behind them. The small room had a bar on one side and a few tables on the other. A small stage was set up and a woman who was a bit past her prime, though elegantly dressed, sang while a small fellow accompanied her on a piano.

They sat down and got drinks. Miss Holland was surprised to find that the establishment had beer, Canadian whiskey, gin, and even corn liquor. There was even food to eat, which also surprised her.

McKeefe knew the owner of the place, Johnny Caprizzi, who was the brother of the man he often fenced his goods through. That man actually came over to McKeefe’s table. He was a chubby Italian with black hair who wore a nice suit.

“Hey!” he said. “Johnny boy! Johnny! Who’s the skirt?”

“This is Mary-Jane,” he said.

“Hey, Mary-Jane, you are lovely!” Johnny Caprizzi said.

“Oh, hi,” she said.

He took her hand and kissed it.

“You are a rugged-looking woman!” the man said. “I like that in a woman.”

Her hand went involuntarily to the scar on her face.

“Yeah, she knows about my antiques business,” McKeefe said, stressing the word “antiques.”

“Ah, right!” Caprizzi said. “She in the business with you?”

“No, she’s not in the business, but she’s interested.”

“Oh, the antiques business.”

“Uh-huh.”

“Not your side ventures.”

“No.”

“Ah yeah. Johnny’s a good guy. He brings my brother Tony antiques all the time.”

“Yeah yeah,” Miss Holland said.

“We run a shop,” Caprizzi went on. “On … uh … you know … that street.”

He was very friendly and he chatted with the two of them for several minutes. He got them both a drink on the house before he headed off to socialize with others in the speakeasy.

Miss Holland actually had a pleasant evening with Mr. McKeefe and they even danced. They didn’t get home until after 1 a.m.

* * *


On Sunday, June 28, 1925, McKeefe got up and fixed himself a small breakfast in the kitchenette. He had turned on the Philco radio and, when the wind was right, got several radio stations. He was listening to music as he finished frying his eggs. Then the news came on.

“Murder most foul is suspected in the recent discovery of a corpse at a farm just outside of Woonsocket, Rhode Island!” the announcer said. “On Saturday, police responded to an anonymous telephone call that a body was at a small farm located just west of Woonsocket at the end of Washington Road! Police say they found the farmhouse unlocked when they arrived and a desiccated corpse unceremoniously dumped in the front room!

“Police state the body has been in the house for several weeks and is all but impossible to identify due to corruption! No identification has been found on the body of a male in his mid-20s, according to police!”

McKeefe looked over at his coffee table where he’d dropped the class ring of Brian Timmons when he found it in his coat pocket the night before.

“No information was available on how the man was killed!” the announcer went on. “Woonsocket Police Detective Daniel Malloy is in charge of the case!

“Police are questioning suspects in the case but no other information is forthcoming! The case remains under investigation by the Woonsocket Police and the Providence County Sheriff’s Department!

“According to Court Records, the property is owned by Brian Timmons of Providence! Mr. Timmons was recently committed to Holmes Sanitarium, Providence, but was released the same day the body was discovered, possibly just hours before police found the corpse! He was last seen in the company of the family butler, Jarvis Simmons! No sign of Mr. Timmons has been seen since!

“Police also hinted at a connection between Mr. Timmons and the grave robbery that took place at Our Grace Cemetery in Woonsocket on June 2! The desecrated grave was located in one of the oldest parts of the cemetery! The headstone was so worn that identification of the grave has been deemed impossible!

“Police are seeking to question Mr. Timmons in the incident and warn the public that Brian Timmons may be dangerous! Anyone with information should contact the Woonsocket Police, Providence County Sheriff’s Department, or the Rhode Island State Highway Patrol!

“We now return to you the lovely sounds of Bobby Tommy’s Orchestra!”

The music came back on the radio.

Good, they haven’t gotten any leads on that, McKeefe thought. I guess I’d better hide the ring away.

He picked up the ring and popped out a piece of the baseboard that he had hollowed out an area behind. He tucked the ring in with a few other small but valuable pieces of jewelry that he had kept for himself over the years. Then he tucked the baseboard back against the wall.

Just in case, he thought.

* * *


Miss Holland was fixing her own breakfast when a knock came at her apartment door.

“Who is it?” she called.

“Police, ma’am,” a voice replied.

“One second!” she called.

She put on her housecoat and opened the door, leaving the chain latched.

“Yes?” she said.

The man standing there had dark hair and was fairly tall. He wore a suit.

“Good morning, ma’am, sorry to disturb you so early,” he said. “I’m Detective Malloy of the Woonsocket Police Department. I was wondering if I could come in and ask you a couple of questions.”

“What would these questions be in regard to?” she asked.

“To a corpse that was found at a farm near Woonsocket.”

“My word! Well, of course you can come in.”

She closed the door and unlatched the chain before opening it again.

“Please, sit down, sit down,” she said. “I’m sorry I’m not dressed yet.”

“It’s quite all right,” he said. “Again, I apologize for coming so early.”

He sat down on her couch and pulled out a notebook.

“I know that you and Mr. McKeefe made a telephone call to the police yesterday to alert us about this corpse,” he said. “I was wondering if I could ask you a couple of questions about that.”

“Okay, sure,” she said. “I thought that was supposed to be anonymous.”

“It might have been, ma’am, but we questioned Mrs. Timmons and she gave us your name in connection with this case of her son.”

“Yes, yes, of course.”

“Where is Mr. McKeefe?”

She hesitated a moment.

“I’m not exactly sure where he lives,” she lied. “But I know we did meet up the other day because I phoned and asked him to go with me to see this x-boyfriend that I have a very awkward kind of connection with.”

“Uh-huh,” Detective Malloy said. “You phoned him?”

“Yes. Sure.”

“Yeah, we couldn’t find his name in the telephone directory, nor could we find any information from the operators here in Providence.”

“He was at a diner or something.”

“Is that where he works?”

“Yes!”

“What diner does he work at, ma’am?”

“Tony’s Diner.”

She told him the street where the diner was that they had eaten at the other night.

“Do you know why he made the telephone call anonymously?” Detective Malloy asked.

“Um … probably to avoid situations like this,” she said. “Being called upon this early Sunday morning while I’m reading my book and do not want to be disturbed.”

“I apologize ma’am,” he said again. “We would not usually disturb you so early in the morning. We tried to come by last night and we would have talked to us yesterday when you found the corpse if you had called us then. Where is Brian Timmons?”

“I don’t know. Last time I saw him he was in the sanitarium.”

“Yes ma’am. He was released yesterday.”

“What? He was released!?!”

“Yes ma’am. He was released yesterday.”

He flipped a few pages in his notebook.

“Mrs. Timmons had him released,” he read. Then he looked up. “She said it was your suggestion.”

“My … my suggestion … yes ... well …” she said.

“You all right? You need a glass of water?”

“I’m fine. I’m fine. I might have had a conversation with Mrs. Timmons yesterday but … I can’t really say if I explicitly told her to release him. I mean, obviously it was her choice anyway. She could have not listened to me. Who knows? I was just thinking that maybe he wanted to get out a little.”

“Interesting. You don’t know his location?”

“No, I have no idea.”

“All right. Could you tell me exactly what happened at the farmhouse when you found the body?”

“Well, I know we were investigating just because Brian Timmons has said … what a lovely view it was there. We were investigating the house and we opened the closet and bam, this body falls out of nowhere.”

“How well do you know Mr. Timmons?”

“How long have I known him?”

“How well?”

“Well, we did step out a couple of times but we didn’t spend more than a couple of weeks together. Two weeks maybe.”

“Two weeks. And when did you say?”

“A couple of years ago.”

“You are not a suspect, Miss Holland. Did you find anything in the house that was unusual? Things that might indicate he committed this crime?”

She hesitated and thought on that one.

“No,” she finally said.

He looked at her for a moment.

“All right,” he said. “The body has not yet been examined the by the coroner but we are treating this as a murder. If you hear anything from Brian Timmons or he contacts you, please contact the Woonsocket Police Department or the Providence Police Department.”

“Right,” she said.

“Thank you very much for your time,” he said. “If you do think of anything else that might help us in our investigation or finding Mr. Timmons, please contact me. My name is Daniel Malloy. I’m a detective with the Woonsocket Police Department.”

She wrote down the information.

“Contact me or anyone at Woonsocket Police Department if you can think of any more information that will help us in our investigation,” he said.

“I will keep you in mind,” she replied.

“Please also ask Mr. McKeefe to contact us.”

“Yes, I will.”

“Thank you very much, ma’am. And I’m sorry that I disturbed you this morning.”

He stood and left.

* * *


McKeefe cleaned up the kitchen and left his apartment. As he was walking up the steps from the basement to the foyer, he saw a man he didn’t recognize looking at the mailboxes. He had all the signs of being a police officer to McKeefe. He seemed to be looking at McKeefe’s mailbox.

“Aha,” the man muttered to himself. “Gotcha.”

McKeefe, standing in the shadows of the stairwell, crept back down the steps and let himself back into his apartment. He looked around the room to make sure that there was no incriminating evidence in his apartment. There was nothing. He sat down at his desk and made sure his pistol was in the top drawer.

It was 10 to 15 minutes before someone knocked at his door. He had already hooked the chain so he cracked the door open. The man there was not the man who had been in the foyer though he still exuded the feeling of police to McKeefe. This man was about six feet tall and lanky, with a solid chin and piercing blue eyes.

“Mr. McKeefe?” he asked.

McKeefe was startled but quickly composed himself.

“Yes,” he replied. “Who is this?”

“I’m Detective Malloy with the Woonsocket Police Department,” the man said. “I was wondering if I could have a few words.”

“Give me one second, would you?” McKeefe said.

He closed the door, removed the chain, and let the man in, then took a seat next to the desk. The detective sat on the loveseat in his living room. He took out a notepad.

“I need to ask you a few questions,” he said. “We were interested in the phone call you made to Woonsocket Police yesterday about the body you found at the house.”

“A body at a house, you say?” McKeefe said.

“Yes, up in Woonsocket. Miss Holland has noted that you made the phone call.”

“Ah yes. I do remember. I’m sorry. After the War I’ve kind of always been a little bit fuzzy about anything involving dead bodies. I’m sorry about that.”

“Yeah, I understand. I’ve got a cousin who was in the War. He’s still pretty shook up.”

“It was pretty bad.”

“So, why did you make the call anonymously?”

“Well, I didn’t really figure that either of us had a single damned thing to do with whatever reason the body was there in the first place, so, we figured you could come in, do whatever you need to do and, having fewer people to question would probably make your day a little more convenient for you.”

“I see. Do you know where Brian Timmons is?”

“Brian Timmons? Oh yes, he’s in some nuthouse, isn’t he?”

“No. Mrs. Timmons had him released yesterday afternoon before we found the body. Can you tell me what happened at the farmhouse?”

“Yes. Mrs. Timmons, she thought that maybe it would be convenient if we went there, wandered around, saw if Brian had left any convenient stuff like that, any books that he might want in the nuthouse. I’m sorry, sanitarium. So we kind of wandered around there and … I guess just kind of bumping around and of course, big old goof I was, leaned up against a wall and damn, there was a body on the floor. I kind of freaked out. She kind of freaked out. We hightailed it out of there after that.”

“Did you get ill?”

“Yes, both of us …”

“Both of you did?”

“Yeah. Sorry about that.”

“No, don’t apologize. We just wanted to know who’s vomit that was. How long did you know Mr. Timmons?”

“I don’t know him that well. We just went to see him in the asylum yesterday. I think that Miss Holland might have known him a little bit. I don’t really know. I don’t know that much about her connections to him.”

“I see. Was there anything in the house that might have a connection with the murderer?”

“Not really. It was pretty much an empty place. We found some clothes, some ancient food. Nobody has been there for weeks, I guess. If that helps you at all.”

“It does.”

Detective Malloy stood up.

“Thank you very much, Mr. McKeefe,” he said as he walked towards the door. “If you are contacted by Mr. Timmons, we are seeking him out to question him about this murder. We are handling this case as a homicide. If you could contact us immediately. I’m Daniel Malloy of the Woonsocket Police Department.”

“Daniel Malloy.”

“Daniel Malloy, yes sir. Or contact the Providence Police Department. Or any local police department if he contacts you. We need to talk to Mr. Timmons very urgently.”

“Wonderful. Thank you for coming by today. Sorry about the dirtiness of this place.”

Detective Malloy looked around the apartment for the first time.

“Pay no mind, Mr. McKeefe,” he said. “We appreciate your cooperation.”

He shook McKeefe’s hand and then left.

McKeefe listened at the door, trying to hear if Malloy went back upstairs. He heard the man’s footsteps go up to the foyer. Then McKeefe waited a few minutes before he left his apartment and headed up. He was relieved to find the foyer empty, sunshine coming through the windows of the front doors. He opened his post box and looked in, then headed upstairs. He looked carefully down the hall but saw that no one was in the hallway. Then he listened at Miss Holland’s door. It was quiet within so he knocked.

“Who is it?” Miss Holland called from within.

“Hey, it’s me,” he replied. “McKeefe.”

“Okay, come in,” she called.

He found her door unlocked and Miss Holland within in her housecoat. An ironing board was folded down from its place on the wall. A dress lay upon it.

“I hope I didn’t show up too early,” he said. “I just wanted to let you know that it seems our little friend, Brian, was it? He’s been let out of the nuthouse.”

“Yeah, a cop actually stopped by my place earlier and said that,” she replied.

“Really?”

“Yeah.”

“So …”

“He asked about you and, I don’t know why, but I lied about where you were.”

“It seems that I had a similar visitation anyway, so …”

“A similar visitation? By the same detective? Detective Malloy?”

McKeefe nodded and described Detective Malloy. It sounded like the same man that had visited her that morning. McKeefe said that he thought, presumably, that they’d gotten the heat off their trail.

“I guess that probably they won’t be coming back to ask us any questions,” McKeefe said.

“Hopefully not,” she replied. “That was awkward and weird.”

She noted that he told her she was not a suspect. She thought they were obviously being watched by the detective.

“I’d suggest that we don’t go back to that place in Wancheesie or wherever it was,” McKeefe said.

“Woonsocket?” she said. “Wanchese is a place in North Carolina.”

They both thought on that.

“What should we do?” Miss Holland finally said. “I don’t know if we should go back to Mrs. Timmons. She’s obviously told this detective where we are and who we are and why we were there and whatever. Brian’s on the loose. I’m just kind of terrified right now, because we murdered that man who was brought back to life. You murdered that man!”

“Well, fact, if they ever hear anything about that, though I don’t know how they could, considering we did kind of cover up that little hole in the ground, if they do ever, remember, you’re an accomplice too,” he said.

“What if Brian sees that we … set fire to his little inner sanctum and comes after us? Oh my God! And the book!”

McKeefe looked around and saw the glass bottle on a high shelf all by itself.

“What are we going to do?” she asked.

“If the police find it, they’ll just think ‘Same guy that killed the guy up in the house,’” he replied. “If Brian finds it, he’ll say hey, some jerks killed his little …”

“Experiment?”

“Experiment. Slave. Crazy man.”

“Spells? Magic?”

“Killed the crazy man that …”

He started laughing.

“You don’t believe that,” she said.

“So, I’m saying that the way I figure, we’re pretty much fine,” he said. “The main thing, we don’t do anything that attracts any suspicion. We don’t do anything that say, makes them think, ‘Hey, what if those people are a little involved in this?’ So, all we do is lay low.”

She looked at him and sighed.

“Okay,” she finally said.

He could see she was not pleased with that statement.

“Well, okay,” she said. “We won’t do anything to attract suspicion.”

“If you want, we can read this weird little fantasy book that you’ve got by William Shakespeare or whomever,” he said.

“What?”

He laughed.

“I do want to look in the book and see what I can decipher from this mysterious Douglas Timmons,” she said.

He left and she set to work on reading the book. She spent the next few days doing that.

* * *