Dark Carnival Session Two Part 4 - Theft
CoC 1-6e Jazz Age
* * *
Bricker was standing outside of the back door of the Parisian Theatre, keeping an eye out. A man walked by carrying a sledgehammer. He was a solid-looking man with dark hair, rough clothing, and a cap. He didn’t pay Bricker any mind.
Dr. Huxtable, Miss Fairfield, and Pendergast came out the back door of the building.
“We have returned,” Dr. Huxtable said. “Let’s go to the front of the building and I’ll tell you what we were told, Bricker, if you are interested.”
“All right,” Bricker said.
They went to the front and Huxtable told Bricker the owner of the park should be contacting him soon, hopefully with a private show. They could hear music coming from the North Star Pavilion nearby and then they were joined by the others. Dr. Huxtable told them what happened with Carl Denim and that the owner was going to find him to talk about darker things.
“What kind of darker stuff are you talking about?” James said.
“If people around here are going missing, there is something unusual about this place,” Dr. Huxtable said.
“There are dark things in this world,” Pendergast said, his words slurred.
“Like malevolent forces?” James said.
“Not even malevolent … yes, malevolent forces. Like your damned great great grandfather trying to possess your body!”
“I can make a gate!” Dr. Huxtable said.
“Excuse me?” James said.
“Nothing,” Dr. Huxtable said.
“Well, if you have hammer and nails I could probably make a gate too,” Pendergast said.
“Yes, that is what I meant.”
“It’s not what I meant! Is this place like that house in Ohio?”
“I hope not.”
“You didn’t say … you didn’t say it was going to be like Ohio!” he said. “You didn’t say it was going to be like Ohio!”
“I don’t know if it’s going to be,” Dr. Huxtable said.
“It better not be like Ohio. I’m not going through that again.”
“Now what the hell happened in Ohio?” Miss Edington asked.
“Yeah, why are we talking about Ohio?” James said.
“Bad things happened in Ohio,” Pendergast said.
Dr. Huxtable shushed him.
“Don’t shush me!” Pendergast said.
Dr. Huxtable shushed him again.
“Do not shush me,” Pendergast said.
“Bad things happen everywhere,” Miss Fairfield said.
“Not like this,” Pendergast said.
“Not like this,” Dr. Huxtable echoed.
“It was … very bad,” Pendergast said. “Why do you think I all but disinherited my parents? They were part of it. They were part of it.”
“Your parents?” James said.
“My parents,” Pendergast said. “The ones who wanted it to happen. Weren’t they? Weren’t they? You were there! You saw!”
He had turned to Dr. Huxtable.
“I was not there!” he cried out. “I was not there!”
“You were there!” Pendergast said.
“What is going on?” James said. “What do you mean ‘it?’ What is this?”
“It’s some …” Pendergast started.
Dr. Huxtable shushed him again.
“You wouldn’t believe it anyway,” Pendergast said, defeated. “You wouldn’t believe it anyway.”
“They’re not ready,” Dr. Huxtable said.
“If we’re going to find out what happened, we need to remain honest with each other,” James said.
“We’ve already seen gates,” Miss Fairfield said.
“You’re not ready!” Dr. Huxtable shrieked.
Pendergast looked at the man.
“My great grandfather was a … wizard,” Pendergast said. “He was!”
“Yes,” Dr. Huxtable said.
“And he prepared so that in 1925, when I turned 25, he would possess my body and lead the family onto wealth and riches,” Pendergast said.
“I think you’re a bit possessed by something,” James said.
“I … I …this how I cope with these things,” Pendergast said. “And if it was not for this man and … the police officer, and poor Manfred … poor, poor Manfred Donald, if was not for the three of you I would not be here today. Wouldn’t have happened.”
“Yes,” Dr. Huxtable said.
“I’m still surly about that whole situation,” Pendergast said. “So, there are things you don’t understand. Things you don’t understand. I’m going to go home.”
“I’ve read about more things than you probably have,” James said.
“I … I’ve seen more things now,” Pendergast said. “It’s … is that what you think’s going on!?! Is that why you’ve brought me here!?!”
He had turned on Dr. Huxtable once again.
“I don’t want anything to do with this!” Pendergast said.
“I don’t think so,” Dr. Huxtable said. “I think it’s … some uh …”
“Finish your thought,” James said.
Dr. Huxtable muttered incoherently.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, man!” Pendergast said.
“Me neither!” Dr. Huxtable said.
“Is he retarded?” Miss Edington said.
“The owner should be here soon,” Dr. Huxtable said. “That should be good.”
“What?” Pendergast said. “Why?”
“Because he said he was coming. Carl Denim. He’s getting me the owner to talk.”
“I think we haven’t found everything in the cemetery,” Johnson said. “We’ve only investigated once and found one thing and again, when it was dark. I think I’d like to make a full investigation when it’s lighter out.”
“Found one thing?” James said. “What was that thing you found.”
“That crime scene we went to,” Johnson said.
“We went there yesterday and there’s nothing there,” Miss Fairfield said. “Actually, that’s suspicious that there’s nothing there.”
“We can’t do it now,” James said. “It’s far too dark and far too late.”
“Nevertheless, I think I’d like to go through the whole cemetery sometime when it’s day,” Johnson said. “And you all don’t have to join me, but if anybody does, it’d be good to have friends.”
“I’m interested,” Miss Edington said.
“Before we leave tonight, do we want to make another go at getting that clipboard?” Johnson said.
“Why do you think the clipboard has something on it?” Dr. Huxtable asked.
“Why does he need a clipboard?” Miss Fairfield asked. “He’s just a ticket taker.”
“Well, they check the machinery every─”
“Also, he was at the Tunnel of Terrors when the boy went missing.”
“Why don’t you just run and take it? You could probably outrun him.”
“Well, that’s why we were saving it for last.”
“Go get it! I will talk to him about the spell.”
A barker called again that the Red Hot Harem Dance Show was starting.
Miss Edington, James, Pendergast, and Virgil Thomas went to the Red Hot Harem Dance Show while the rest of them returned to the Tunnel of Terrors.
The Red Hot Harem Dance show was run by Farouk Shabazz, who claimed to be from the Ottoman Empire, which was now called Turkey. He openly carried a long, curved dagger in a bejeweled scabbard at his side and wore a fez and a military costume. He had a large mustache. He introduced the Hoochie Coochie girls, who included Abigail Forman, a beautiful blonde woman; Porticia “Moon Buns” Montebello, a buxom and pretty redhead with wide, violet eyes; and Velma “Amazon” Pryziewski, a very pretty young blonde woman. The show was a light burlesque with no actual nudity but very provocative. It lasted about 20 minutes.
* * *
The others had gone to the Tunnel of Terrors.
“If could convince him of something and get him to leave his post, that might be the best bet,” Johnson said. “But I don’t know what to say.”
“I tried talking to the man once already and he is very steadfast,” Dr. Huxtable said. “I think you just have to take the clipboard while I try to ruse him.”
“But what if I tried to convince him that another child had gone under the tracks or gotten off the boat?”
“Or I could,” Agent Sanderson said. “I could use my badge.”
“Yes,” Dr. Huxtable said. “Why don’t we use the cop? Wait. You’re a cop?”
“I’m completely sober.”
“Well, are you going to take the clipboard? I don’t want to take it. I can’t run that fast.”
“I think he’ll drop it if I tell him there’s an emergency over by the ponies.”
“An emergency by the ponies?”
“That’s your master plan?”
“From what the carousel guy told me there was apparently a horse show where one of the partners was trampled to death. So … it could happen again.”
“But the ponies is really far from the Tunnel of Terrors so …”
“That’s what we want, right?”
“… he’s going to want to know why you didn’t stop several other places first.”
The two looked at each other.
“Listen to me,” Dr. Huxtable said. “You’re going to flash your badge and say you heard another child went missing in the Tunnel of Terrors. A different child. Then you take him in the tunnel and you take the clipboard.”
“Why take him in the tunnel?” Agent Sanderson said.
“So we can get the clipboard!” Dr. Huxtable said.
“I think it’s the only place he’ll go or think he has a reason to go,” Johnson said. “Otherwise he’ll just say ‘Why are you bothering me?’”
“And if he refuses to leave his post, Joell Johnson is going to sprint as fast as he can, take the clipboard, and run into the swamp,” Dr. Huxtable said. “It’s a foolproof plan! And … go.”
Agent Sanderson walked up to the tow-headed man.
“Hello sir,” he said.
“Line’s over there, sir,” the man said.
Sanderson took out his badge.
“Sir, this is of utmost emergency,” he said.
“What?” the man said. “What’s the matter?”
“I’ve just been told that somebody, a child has fallen into the …”
“A child has gone missing in the Tunnel of Terrors again.”
“What? What? Who made the complaint?”
“Drop everything, let’s go in to look!”
The man told the person in line to wait and not get in the ride for a minute. He turned and, almost as if it were reflex, picked up the clipboard and tucked it under his arm. Agent Sanderson followed him into the ride. It was fairly dark and the man fumbled around and then turned on a flashlight. He moved in, shining the light around.
“It looks as though there’s somebody right near us!” Agent Sanderson yelled. “I don’t know if that’s the boy or not!”
“I’m right here, mister,” the other man said, shining his light around. “Where? Where?”
“Honestly, I thought he was right here. I’m getting a little … I’m getting a little frustrated. I’m-I’m horrified for this boy!”
“Did you see him? Where did you get this information?”
“He seems like he’s right over here! I can hear him!”
“There’s nobody over there! Look!”
“Well, keep looking!”
Sanderson shoved the man hard in the chest. He stumbled backwards, tripping over one of the carts. The flashlight and the clipboard both flew out of his hands, the clipboard flying into the darkness and the flashlight hitting the ground and going out. Agent Sanderson fled, running out of the building while the man cursed behind him.
He ran out of the doors and away from the ride.
“Abort mission!” he hollered.
“What happened!?!” Miss Fairfield yelled at him as he ran by.
“The man may or may not be dead!” Sanderson yelled.
“Where’s the clipboard!?!” Johnson called.
“Gone!” he shouted back. “Gone!”
“Joell, go in there!” Miss Fairfield said to the man.
Johnson headed into the ride, going through the doors at a fast walk. Dr. Huxtable followed him as Johnson pulled out his flashlight. The light revealed the tow-headed man on the ground, just getting up. There was no sign of his clipboard. He looked very confused.
“Hey, Rube!” he shouted.
“My God, are you okay?” Dr. Huxtable said. “We heard a tumbling in here!”
“Who are you? Get …”
The man was trying to see the two but they shined their lights in his face.
“Who are you?” he said. “Who is that?”
“It’s me,” Dr. Huxtable said. “Old Billy.”
“That doesn’t sound like Old Billy!”
“Just kidding! We’re concerned citizens. Let me help you up.”
Dr. Huxtable helped the man up while Johnson shined his light around. It finally lit on the clipboard on the floor.
“Joell, see if you can find that attacker,” Dr. Huxtable said. “He’s still in here, I think.”
Johnson picked up the clipboard and tucked it under his jacket.
“Right now you have a lot of adrenaline going through you because you just were in a fight!” Dr. Huxtable said to the man as he escorted him towards the doors. “You don’t know how injured you are, but if you could see your legs, my God, you may never walk again.”
The man seemed quite confused and allowed Dr. Huxtable to lead him out. Johnson followed them, staying behind him. They exited the Tunnel of Terrors and saw another man, this one with a sledgehammer, walking towards the building.
“This man was an attacked!” Dr. Huxtable cried out.
“Vhere is da attacker?” the man with the sledgehammer said in a thick accent.
“He could still be in the tunnel!” Dr. Huxtable said. “We don’t know.”
“No no,” the little tow-headed man said. “I think he ran out! I think he ran out!”
“So he’s an attacker and a coward! The scum!”
Johnson slipped out the opposite direction that Dr. Huxtable took the man, getting around the side of the building quickly.
The Russian with the sledgehammer asked what happened and the little tow-headed man said a man flashed a badge in his face and claimed there was another kid missing. He said when they got inside the man said he saw someone who wasn’t there and then shoved him.
“What did he want?” Dr. Huxtable asked.
“I don’t know,” the man said. “He was crazy.”
“Is there anything else I can do here?”
“No. Thanks. Thanks.”
He left, heading the direction Johnson went.
* * *
Once he was out of sight and Miss Fairfield and Bricker had joined him, Johnson took out the clipboard and looked over it. It had a schedule of events, some notes on broken lights, ride maintenance, park management items, and the like. It was nothing of any importance except to those working at the park. They guessed the man had some kind of position of importance. Johnson, frustrated, just dropped it to the ground.
“Another dead end,” Miss Fairfield said.
Dr. Huxtable arrived.
“So, where’s the kid?” he asked.
“Let’s find Sanders,” Johnson said. “Sanderson.”
* * *
Agent Sanderson had slowed his pace when he got to the parking lot. He found his Cadillac and climbed in, starting the engine and letting it idle as he waited for the rest. Then the passenger side door opened and Yoosung climbed in.
“So, where are we going?” he said.
“We’re waiting,” Agent Sanderson growled.
Yoosung tried to make small talk but Agent Sanderson would have nothing of it.
* * *
Those who had gone to the Red Hot Harem Dance Show found the others near the Tunnel of Terrors.
“Well, I think that’s it for me tonight,” Johnson said. “I’m going to try to come out here tomorrow around noon.”
James realized the man was visibly angry.
“I assume that didn’t go well,” Miss Edington said.
“What happened, Joell?” James asked.
“Well, we got the clipboard,” Johnson said. “Whole lotta nothing. Almost got caught for it.”
“Seriously?” James said.
“Well …” Miss Edington said.
“Where’s Sanderson?” James asked.
“When things happened, he bolted,” Johnson said. “Which, I’ll give it to him, is what I would’ve done.”
“I bet Yoosung is with him too,” James said.
“What happened?” Miss Edington said.
“That would make sense,” Johnson said.
“Oh yes!” Dr. Huxtable said. “Yoosung. I’d forgotten all about him.”
“What do you think is happening?” Pendergast said.
“I don’t know,” James said. “That’s why we’re here.”
“Well, I don’t want to be here if things are happening,” Pendergast said.
Dr. Huxtable looked into the flask that held the slime. It looked like about the same amount was within, at least as far as he could tell.
Miss Fairfield noted they didn’t have any real leads. Dr. Huxtable asked what Johnson meant by going to the cemetery the next day. He said he wanted to look around during the day to see if he could find anything. James agreed with him.
“As long as it doesn’t mean sneaking around, I’m in,” Miss Edington said.
“Until Kent Howard is lucid enough to talk about what happened, I don’t know what else we have to go on,” Johnson said.
“I’m honestly not sure when that will be,” James said.
They left the park. Sanderson didn’t see them go. Eventually, he drove back into town.