Dead Man Stomp Part 2 - The Dead Will Rise
CoC 7e Jazz Age
Turner led Cloverfield and Wallin to a nearby speakeasy. The entrance was in an alley. The man at the door knew him and let him in, giving a look at the white men with him. The tiny bar was empty except for the bartender. Turner sat down and gestured at the bartender, who brought a pint of whiskey and three glasses. Turner set his trumpet in the middle of the table. He poured himself a rocks glass almost to the rim. He poured for Cloverfield and looked at the man until Cloverfield gestured for him to stop after it was only a fifth filled. He poured for Wallin, who let him pour it until it was about ¾ full.
Turner took his own glass and drank the entire thing down with several gulps. Then he filled it up to the rim again.
Cloverfield sipped at his whiskey.
“So, uh, Leroy,” he said. “I was really impressed with your music. Where did you get that cornet?”
“I tell you, sir, I got … I got this trumpet … this cornet from … from Louis Armstrong,” Turner said. “Mr. Louis Armstrong.”
They knew who Louis Armstrong was. The young, Negro trumpeter, composer, and singer was a very influential figure in jazz. At 22 years old, he was already well-known and well-respected. He lived in Chicago.
“A few days ago, I was playing with a scratch band,” Turner said. “When I went outside for a little … ‘smoke’ … Mr. Armstrong approached me in the alley. He said ‘You’re such a good player, Leroy, that I want you to have one of my horns.’ He gave me this horn on the spot!”
Cloverfield looked more closely at the instrument. It was a typical trumpet but with crackled silver finish and the four valves instead of the usual three. It had ivory on the keys and looked very nice. Cloverfield gave a nod of approval to its quality.
“I played the trumpet for 10 years,” Turner went on. “Ain’t nothin’ happened like this.”
“How long have you been playing this trumpet for?” Cloverfield asked.
“Mr. Armstrong just me that a few days ago,” Turner said.
“Oh,” Wallin said.
“Really?” Cloverfield said.
“Yes sir,” Turner said. “I been using it … I been using it for a couple days.”
He picked up his glass and drained it again. He put it down and reached for the pint bottle, filling the glass to the rim once more.
“Can I buy this off of you?” Cloverfield said.
“The pint?” Turner said.
“No, the horn.”
“You don’t want to?”
“No. Mr. Armstrong gave this to me. Louis Armstrong. He’s a great man. He’s the greatest trumpet player of all time!”
“But I could compensate you very well.”
Turner picked up the trumpet and cradled it in his arms.
“This horn is my living,” he said. “It sews my body and soul together. I ain’t found no trumpet good as this. This is the most important thing in my life right now. Ever since …”
“Ever since what?” Cloverfield said.
“Ever since …” Turner said.
“Every since what, sir?” Wallin said.
“Well … Marnie died two years ago,” Turner said. “She was hit by a car. And I … she was the most important thing in my life. And she’s gone. And so now this … this is the most important thing in my life now. And … I can’t … I can’t give it up.”
“I understand,” Cloverfield said.
“Mr. Louis Armstrong gave this to me!” Turner said.
Cloverfield nodded and looked disappointed. Turner nodded back at him.
“I’m sorry, sir,” he said. “I’m really sorry.”
“That’s fine,” Cloverfield said.
“But I just can’t give it up,” Turner said.
“Do you know what the fourth thingy does?” Wallin said.
“The fourth … thingy?” Turner said.
“I’m misunderstanding you, sir.”
“Key?” Cloverfield said. “Is that what they’re called?”
“Yeah,” Wallin said. “That.”
“Oh, on the trumpet?” Turner said. “I don’t know. I just know when to hit the right notes and it makes ‘em different. It’s amazing.”
“Do you really think about it or is it just subconscious?” Cloverfield said.
“Instinctual is the word, I think,” Turner said uncertainly. “And I know that … it’s just … it’s amazing.”
He fiddled with the keys.
“I never seen nothing like it but … you add it,” Turner went on. “You add the fourth key to certain regular notes like a D or B flat or an A and it just … it just makes the music better. It just makes it better.”
“Better in what way?” Wallin said.
“I don’t know,” Turner said. “Somehow it reverberates. It makes a more beautiful noise. It’s soulful! More soulful. You know, like jazz should be. And … and … like it was … today.”
“Or last night.”
“Or last night. But I been using that key every night. I had this … I’m not sure how long. Sometimes things get blurry. I’m not sure how much time has passed. But it’s been at least a few days. I’ve played at other places.”
“This is a strange question, Turner, but has there been …” Cloverfield said.
“You can call me Leroy, sir,” Turner said.
“Sorry Leroy, but you know what happened last night, don’t you?”
“There was a man shot. I saw the man shot. I slipped out the bathroom window.”
“Has there been someone killed, lately, at your performances?”
“No sir. Last night was the first time anything strange happened. And today with Mr. Fayette. Whatever happened there. That was very generous, sir, to offer to pay for them funeral expenses. It’s very expensive.”
Cloverfield nodded in agreement.
“Do you happen to know a small, white man about five feet tall, perchance?” he said.
“With all due respect, I don’t know many white people,” Turner said. “Most white people won’t sit me down and talk to me like y’all are doing.”
Cloverfield looked around the speakeasy. It was run-down and cheap with only the Negro behind the bar there beside them. Wallin stood up and said he was going to talk to the barkeep.
“Could you play the trumpet again for me?” Cloverfield said.
“Well, there ain’t nobody here to play for, sir,” Turner said.
“Well, you could play for us.”
“I’m a big fan of your music.”
“I dunno. I guess I could. I guess I could. Hey! Henry!”
“What?” the bartender said.
“I play a little bit?” Turner said.
“Yeah, anything’s better than sittin’ here in the dark,” Henry said.
“Just one song,” Cloverfield said. “That’s all I ask.”
Turner played a mournful jazz song and Cloverfield listened carefully, keeping an eye on the room for anything unusual. Turner was amazingly talented but nothing strange happened.
* * *
Wallin reached the bar.
“Henry, is it?” he said.
“Yes sir,” Henry said. “Can I get you something else sir?”
“Well, I’m actually in the rum-running business myself. Back in my home town. I was wondering if maybe you knew any connections.”
“I don’t know nothing about that, sir. I just run the bar.”
“Do you know anyone who might?”
“No sir. I don’t. They bring in the liquor. I just do as I’m told, sir.”
“Do you know when they bring it in? I’d like to meet ‘em.”
“Depends. It’s different times of day, different times of the week. I’m really sorry, sir.”
“That’s all right.”
“Is everything all right over there?”
“Oh yeah. The whiskey was amazing, that’s why I was asking.”
“I’m sorry, sir. I’m really sorry, sir.”
“It’s all right. The whiskey was great. That’s why I was asking.”
“I’m glad you enjoyed it, sir. If you need anything, you just let me know.”
The Negro gestured at the empty place.
“It’s slow, so I got plenty of time,” he said.
“Mind if we get another pint?” Wallin asked.
* * *
Cloverfield applauded when Turner finished. Turner waved it off and reached for the glass, drinking it down completely and refilling it. Wallin returned and set the fresh bottle on the table.
“Do you know where you’re playing next, Leroy?” Cloverfield asked.
“Wherever the wind blows me, sir,” Turner said. “I don’t know right now.”
“Who usually tells you where you’re playing?”
“Well, I usually just find a place to play. I might know a day before. It might be an hour.”
“Who tells you?”
“I find a place to play because they don’t like my playing when I don’t show up and sometimes …”
He pointed at his glass.
“… sometimes, I don’t show up,” he said. “I might not show up tonight. I was going to play at the Blue … place tonight again, sir. Yes sir. But─”
“But they closed it,” Cloverfield said.
“I’m guessing with the police rolling all over that place. So I have to find another job.”
“Can I … is there a way we can figure out where you’re playing next, because I’d like to hear you in another performance.”
“Well … I could … I could try to telephone you. But I don’t know if I’d remember to. I could try.”
“I’d appreciate it.”
“All right. I’ll make my best … I’ll make my best … I’ll make my best, sir.”
Cloverfield handed the man one of his cards. He also left a $5 bill on the table to pay for the drinks.
They all left the speakeasy, the two white men finding a telephone booth inside a nearby five & dime. Cloverfield telephoned Winters about Wester visiting that night and asked him to alert the doorman. Wallin asked to talk to Winters as well and asked who the valet got his liquor from. Winters would only tell him it was a certain gentleman and it would indiscreet of him to give his name, especially over the telephone. Wallin said he merely wanted to get a connection in the city to bring some back to his home town but Winters said he could arrange whatever he wanted.
As they left the five and dime, they saw Leroy Turner half a block up the street. He was about to cross when a gray Packard rolled up. It pulled alongside Turner and two white men got out and forced him into the back. They got in and the car drove away. It was over in seconds.
“You saw that, right?” Wallin said.
“Yeah,” Cloverfield said. “Was that the same Packard you were rambling about last night?”
“I think that confirms my impressions that he’s connected with that person.”
Wallin figured out where the kidnapping had taken place and suggested they go to the police station.
They found a nearby precinct and Cloverfield bribed several police officers to have a look at the books of mug shots for the man who had killed Manusco the night before. It was nearly dinnertime, several hours later, when they found a picture of the man: Joey Larson. According to his records, he had been arrested for petty theft and numerous other misdemeanors with notes that he might have been connected to the mob and possibly even Archie Bonato, which a few more bribes proved was one of the mob bosses in New York City.
More money was paid to various police officers and eventually Cloverfield learned of a garage in one of the worst parts of town. The officer was hesitant but willing to give the address for more money. Cloverfield guessed the man might have been on the take, especially after the officer threatened that if he told anyone where he got the information, something bad might happen to him.
They didn’t leave the police station until after 7 p.m. Though Cloverfield wanted to go home, get cleaned up, and get some dinner, Wallin noted they needed to go find Turner as the gangsters might have had plans to do something that day with him. Or to him. Something really bad.
“But we haven’t eaten anything,” Cloverfield said.
“We can stop in a local diner real quick,” Wallin said.
“Are we prepared? This might be a mob headquarters of some sort.”
“Let’s hire some thugs.”
Neither of them knew anything about hiring thugs.
“We should at least go check it out,” Wallin said. “Try to be as stealthy as possible.”
“As much as it pains me, we probably need different clothes than these,” Cloverfield suggested.
He suggested they go back to Sal and, when he did so, Sal was able to hook him up with a cheaper suit though the man was appalled at putting such a man into it. Cloverfield had him send his clothing home again.
They went to a diner and got a quick meal.
* * *
It was around 8 p.m. when they arrived at the garage. It was a lonely spot among weed-filled lots and tumbled down buildings. Two heavy trucks were parked in the open garage. There appeared to be a wide room to the rear and the building backed up to an alley. The blinds back there were drawn but the paper of them was old and ragged.
While Cloverfield peeked into the windows in the back, Wallin crept into the front and under the trucks there.
The gray Packard pulled up and a group of men got out, including Joey Larson. Another larger, older man got out with them, straightening his suit and walking ahead of the others. Leroy Turner was dragged out of the motorcar as well. He was roughly taken to the office in the back of the garage.
Turner was tied to a chair but his arms were left free. They handed him his trumpet, which seemed to relieve the man immensely. The big man took off his jacket and puffed on a giant Havana cigar.
“Is this the boy?” the man they assumed was Bonato asked.
“Yes, sir, it is,” Larson said.
“Repeat what you saw?”
“So, I went to the funeral. Dead man Freddie Fayette got up and walked. Laurette, my girlfriend, she says that, uh, this is from the voodoo and we can use it!”
Bonato hummed and puffed for a while.
“You sure?” he finally said.
“I am,” Larson said. “I am sure.”
“No screw ups, Joey, like you did Manusco.”
“No way, boss.”
“That was a dumb piece of work, Joey. Keeping Blue Heaven closed is costing me dough. All you had to do was to warn the guy, Joey. Now, I gotta get a new accountant.”
He hummed and smoked a little bit more. A flicker of expression passed between him and the gunmen on either side of Larson.
“Okay, Joey, I’ll bite on what you say,” Bonato finally said, looking at Joey’s hands. “I want you to shoot yourself.”
The room was silent. Larson twitched but didn’t move.
“Look, Joey, this here black boy can bring you back to life, like you say,” Bonato said. “What’s the problem? Shoot yourself.”
Larson still just stood there.
“Little Jimmy, shoot him,” Bonato said.
Larson tried to pull out the long-barrel revolver but Bonato drew his own little pistol and shot him. He fell and Bonato put a second bullet in his chest. Little Jimmy bent over the dripping corpse.
“He’s dead, boss,” he said.
Bonato shook his head.
“Joey, I always told you that gun was too big for a fast draw,” he said.
He turned to Turner.
“Okay, jazz man,” he said. “Blow.”
Turner swallowed hard and then started up “High Society.” Seconds passed. Larson twitched and then slowly rose. Everyone swore, including Turner. But, with a look from Bonato, he continued. Larson hunched towards Bonato, spitting blood, and then Little Jimmy took out a Thompson sub-machinegun and opened fire on Larson, emptying 20 rounds into the walking corpse.
Turner stopped playing for a moment and then giggled. He played “Tiger Rag” while the walking corpse danced and jerked. The heavy slugs cut up the former Larson and ripped him apart. Bullets whined around the room, the smell of blood and cordite thick. The Thompson sub-machinegun was empty. Larson was all over the floor and walls. Silently, the other gangsters crossed themselves and poured drinks. Bonato swore in disbelief.
Turner stopped playing.
In the alleyway, Cloverfield drew his pistol, suddenly feeling a horrible and unrelenting hatred of jazz music. He readied himself to shoot the trumpeter if he played another note. He was ready. But only if the man started playing again.
Turner sat there, giggling and smiling at the corpse. Bonato looked at the man in distaste.
“Cut him loose,” he said.
One of the other gangsters cut the young man loose of his bonds.
“Get the hell out of here,” Bonato said to Turner.
The Negro laughed and then scampered out of the office, going right by Wallin, and out the front of the garage. He stopped once he was outside and suddenly seemed to have a thought, gasping in surprise and then happiness. He sprinted away.
“Clean this mess up,” Bonato said, grabbing his coat.
He and Little Jimmy left the place and got into the gray Packard once again, driving away. The other two gangsters got to work cleaning up the mess of the dead body that had walked.
Cloverfield and Wallin left as quickly and quietly as they could. When they met again, Cloverfield saw that Wallin was shaking and making distressed noises under his breath. He was biting his nails in terror.
* * *
They returned to Cloverfield’s apartment. Winters helped both of them with their coats and made a very stiff drink for Wallin. The man just ignored the glass of brandy.
“Perhaps Mr. Wallin should seek some psychiatric help?” Winters said.
“I think he needs it at this point,” Cloverfield said. “He seemed distressed last time.”
“He seems very distressed, sir,” Winters said.
He approached Wallin.
“Mr. Wallin,” he said. “Mr. Wallin. You’re safe. You’re in Mr. Cloverfield’s apartment. You’re safe. This might help, sir. Some brandy, sir? Perhaps you should drink that.”
“Winters, do you know a good psychiatrist?” Cloverfield asked.
“I will find one, sir,” Winters said.
Wallin carefully took the brandy glass. As soon as it reached his lips, he tipped it back and drank all of it in one gulp. It was very smooth but he didn’t really notice.
Winters made telephone calls and then returned to refill Wallin’s brandy. He told Cloverfield there were doctors who could see Wallin the next day. Cloverfield told him to book an appointment and the valet went to make more telephone calls.
Winters made them a dinner of cold cuts, sandwiches, and fried potatoes. Wallin continued steadily drinking, dulling his nerves and deadening his senses.
* * *
Wester showed up at 11 p.m. He seemed very uncomfortable and out of place.
“Hello there, Mr. Wester,” Cloverfield said to him.
“Yes sir,” Wester replied.
“Have a seat,” Cloverfield said.
Wester sat on the edge of one of the chairs. He looked very nervous.
“It’s very fine, Mr. Wester,” Cloverfield said.
“Yes, sir,” Wester said.
“You don’t have to be so afraid.”
“Yes sir. I’m fine sir. Yes sir.”
“At least in here. Do you want anything to drink? Coffee? Tea? Strong drink?”
“Strong drink, sir? Yes sir. That would be great. Anything that would be convenient.”
“Winters, get him something.”
“Yes sir,” Winters said.
He brought the young man some whiskey, neat. Wester drank it down and Winters took the glass and prepared another.
“What can I do for you, sir?” Wester said. “I-I-I don’t mind saying, I’m very nervous, as you said. Yes sir. This is … uh … this is no place for me, sir.”
“I realize that but I couldn’t think of anywhere else to properly meet you.”
“Yes sir. What was it you needed, sir?”
“Well, weren’t we supposed to discuss paying for the funeral, is one?”
“Yes sir. Yes sir.”
Wester pulled out a receipt for a new casket and the funeral expenses for Frederick Lincoln Fayette’s funeral. All told, it came to less than $1,000. Cloverfield bid Winters bring his checkbook and wrote out a check for the amount. Wester folded the check carefully and tucked it into his suit coat.
“If you need anything else regarding the funeral, let me know, Mitch,” Cloverfield said.
“Yes sir,” Wester said. “That was … very strange today, sir. Very strange.”
“I actually wanted to ask you about that.”
“Nothing like that’s ever happened that I know about, sir.”
“Have you been taking on Leroy as a …?”
“Well, not very often, sir. He’s not popular in the community.”
“Why is that?”
“He’s too irresponsible. He’ll get a gig and then, a week later, he’ll go on a bender and loses it. What he says he’ll do, he don’t. But, I mean, we have sympathy. His heart was broken. His … look, him and this girl named Marnie Smeaton, they came up from New Orleans two years ago. And then Marnie Smeaton was run over and killed by some gray car, and he never, never, ever got better after that. Folks thinks it was college boys. Nobody knows, but she died. And once she was put in the ground, buried, that’s when Leroy … well … everything went wrong with Leroy after that. That’s when he started drinking. And so … we try to give him work, but he can’t be relied upon. He can’t be depended upon. I think, ever since Marnie died, his heart’s broken, sir. I swear to God, he’d probably do anything to get her back. He’d raise the dead, he probably would.”
Cloverfield shifted uncomfortably in his own chair at that idea.
“You said he would do anything to bring her back,” he said.
“He loved her, sir,” Wester said. “He loved her so much, sir.”
“I have a few more questions for you,” he said.
“Of course, sir,” Wester said.
“Do you know where got that cornet?”
“Uh … no sir. He got it a week or so ago?”
“He claimed he got it from Louis Armstrong.”
“Louis Armstrong lives in Chicago.”
“I don’t know if he’s ever been to New York.”
“He claimed he got it from him a few days ago.”
“Back of an alley,” Wallin said.
“Uh …” Wester said. “I don’t know. I might be able to make some telephone calls. I know he has a theatrical agent. I’m sure that … I might be able to contact him if you want.”
“His agent?” Cloverfield said.
“Yes sir. And his agent might be able to put me in touch with him. It’s a little earlier there.”
Wester looked up at the clock on the wall. It read 11:15.
“I would like if you could call him,” Cloverfield said.
“Do you mind if I use your telephone long-distance, sir?” Wester said.
“Of course. Of course.”
“I can try. I can try and make a few phone calls.”
Western made several telephone calls to Chicago and it was approaching midnight when he said he had Louis Armstrong on the telephone. Cloverfield took the receiver.
“Hello Mr. Armstrong,” he said.
“Uh … hello there,” Louis Armstrong said. “Can I help you, Mr. …?”
“Cloverfield, that’s what the other man said. What can I do for you?”
“I’ve been wondering about something. Do you know a Leroy Turner?”
“I heard of him. I never heard him play. I understand he’s pretty hot in New York.”
“Well, I was talking with him earlier today and he claimed he got a four-key cornet from you a few days ago.”
“Uh … no sir. I haven’t given anyone a trumpet.”
“That’s what I thought. Thank you.”
Cloverfield hung up the telephone. He stood up and paced the room, wondering who had given the trumpet to Leroy Turner.
“Mitch, you dropped this,” Cloverfield said, handing Wester the card he’d found the day before.
“Yes sir,” Wester said. “They wanted me to play. At the funeral home.”
“Is that all?”
“What’s New Orleans style?”
“That’s what we were doing in the street.”
“Playing jazz for a funeral. It’s a way of respecting the dead as well as respecting the living. It’s just … a procession. You were there. You saw. It’s a way of celebrating the life of the deceased while also mourning his loss.”
“What were you playing at the Blue Heaven last night?”
“Oh, we played a lot of things there, sir.”
“What were you playing around the time everyone started to panic.”
“Oh, that was the ‘Dead Man Stomp.’ It’s a new song. Leroy said he knew it backwards and forwards. We thought it’d be great for him to play because, like I said, we try to throw him some work any chance we get. When he shows up.”
“Do you know when he’s supposed to work again?”
“No. No sir. Not for the next couple days that I know of. He might come to me and ask me to give him something and I will.”
It suddenly struck Cloverfield that if Turner had a horn that brought back the dead and the woman he loved was dead, he might want to use it to bring her back.
“Do you know here his girlfriend was buried?” he asked.
“Marnie?” Wester said. “Yeah.”
He told the other man the cemetery in the city where she was laid to rest two years before. Cloverfield asked Wester to call him if he knew where he was going to be next playing. Wester said he would and left.
“We going to go check out the graveyard?” Wallin said.
“I don’t know if you should come with me,” Cloverfield said.
“Winters, do you think he’s of stable mind right now.”
“I … am … fine.”
“Mr. Wallin is very drunk, sir,” Winters said.
“I don’t know how much help he would be,” Cloverfield said.
“To do what, sir?” Winters said.
“I’m going to go check her grave.”
“To what purpose, sir?”
“I believe Turner is going to be there.”
“And you’re in pursuit of Mr. Turner.”
“Yes. It’s become personal.”
“I’m sure he’d be able to sit in the back of a taxicab quite fine, sir.”
“Deryl, you’re coming with me.”
Wallin stood up and found himself able to remain up as Winters held his arm.
“Can I help you downstairs, sir?” Winters said.
“Thanks!” Wallin said.
They took the elevator down and hailed a cab. Winters and Cloverfield got Wallin into the taxi and Winters gave him the address. They headed uptown.
“That’s a graveyard?” the driver, lighting up a cigarette said. “You wanna go to a graveyard at … almost midnight?”
“I don’t pay you to ask me questions,” Cloverfield said.
“All right. Whatever you want. You’re the customer. Customer’s always right. Of course. I dunno about a graveyard though. You know that’s a graveyard, right?”
“All right. You wanna go to a graveyard, I’ll take you to a graveyard. I don’t mind taking you anywhere you wanna go.”
“Are you implying something, sir?”
“No no no no no. I just wanted to make sure you knew where you were going.”
“Well, I know it’s a graveyard.”
“All right. Hey, it takes all kinds, right? It takes all kinds, right? You know? To make the world go round. I just drive a cab. I mind my own business.”
“Are you thinking I’m part of the mafia, sir?”
The cabbie looked at the man in his rear-view mirror very closely.
“Nah, you don’t look the type,” he finally said. “You don’t look tough enough. No offense. See, you look like … uh … you look like one of those Wall Street types. The ones with all the money, throwing money around.”
“You would be right,” Cloverfield said.
“Your friend looks like … uh … hm … I’d guess a mechanic. Is he a mechanic?”
“Yeah, he’s a mechanic.”
“Good guess!” Wallin drunkenly said.
“That’s a mark for me,” the cabbie said.
Wallin pulled out a dollar bill and handed it up to the man.
“Mind if I get one of those?” he said, pointing at the man’s cigarette.
“Yeah!” the cabbie said, tossing the pack into the back seat. “Don’t be greedy, ‘cause, you know, I’m just a cabbie. I just drive. I don’t do nothing special.”
“I only pick these up on occasion,” Wallin said.
“Do you know anything about the graveyard we’re going to,” Cloverfield asked. “I’ve never been before.”
“I believe that’s for Negroes,” the cabbie said.
“I know. But anything beyond that?”
“No. I don’t usually go to a Negro … graveyard.”
“‘Cause … I’m not a Negro. You know. I’m Italian. Well, I’m also German and mom says there’s some Spanish? I dunno.”
“I have some German heritage too.”
“Oh. We got lots in common. You’re a rich guy; you’re German. I’m a poor guy; I’m German. It takes all kinds. Meltin’ pot. Meltin’ pot.”
They drove in silence for a little while.
“I know a guy who might have a bridge you wanna buy,” the cabbie said. “But you probably already own it.”
He laughed at his own terrible joke.
“Your friend’s from outta town,” he said. “Maybe he’d like to buy it.”
“I ain’t got money for that,” Wallin said.
“You and me both, pal,” the cabbie said.
The taxicab driver and Cloverfield chatted, off and on, until they reached the graveyard around midnight. Cloverfield paid the man, asking him to wait and keep an eye on Wallin.
“I’m coming with ya, what you mean?” Wallin said.
“He’s coming with you!” the cabbie said. “I can wait if you want, sir. I mean, it’s only the middle of the night and I’d be waiting in front of a graveyard.”
“I’ll pay you very well.”
“Yeah, I’ll wait for you. I’ll wait. I’m onna break.”
He leaned back and enjoyed his cigarette.
“You want me to leave the engine running?” the cabbie called after them.
“Leave the engine running,” Cloverfield said. “I’ll pay you more.”
“I’m used to that kind of orders. You have a nice night in the graveyard. I’ll wait right here.”
“I’m not going to kill anyone.”
“Yes sir. Whatever you wanna do, I’ll do it.”
“You go ahead, I want to talk to this guy,” Wallin said.
Cloverfield headed into the cemetery.
“What you mean you’re used to having people wanting the engine running?” Wallin said to the cabbie.
“Sometimes people want the engine running so they can make a quick escape, if you know what I mean,” the cabbie said. “You don’t have shovels so I assume you’re not grabbing bodies. Marble goes for a pretty price. He don’t look like he needs the money.”
Wallin took another cigarette from the pack and lit it.
“Back in my home town I’m doing a little bit of rum-running, if you know what that is,” Wallin said.
“I don’t break the law, sir,” the cabbie said. “Now, I don’t judge. I don’t judge.”
“I was just wondering if maybe the people who are getting these quick escapes … you knew who they were?”
“I don’t ask names. I don’t ask questions.”
“Fair enough. You have a good night. I’ll go catch up with my friend.”
He walked a little faster to catch up with Cloverfield, who went to the caretaker’s shed and knocked. It was answered by a Negro who seemed surprised to see people, especially white people, in the middle of the night.
“Oh, yes sir,” the man said. “Can I help you sir?”
“I’m looking for …” Cloverfield said.
He stopped, having forgotten the name Wester told him.
“Do you remember the girlfriend of Leroy Turner?” he asked the caretaker. “Where she’s buried?”
“Oh,” the old man said. “Marnie Smeaton.”
“She died in a car accident. Somebody hit her couple years ago. What do you need now, sir?”
“I was going to go pay respects to her grave.”
“All right. Did you need something of me?”
“No. Well, did you see Turner come by?”
“Nope. I haven’t been out. It’s 12 o’clock at night.”
“Thank you sir.”
Wallin arrived and put his arm around Cloverfield’s shoulder.
“Do you know where her grave potentially might be in the area?” he asked.
“Uh-huh,” the old man said. “Yes sir. I could tell you.”
He got out a book and looked up the plot, giving the men directions. He looked at them suspiciously.
“I’m not trying to rob her grave, sir,” Cloverfield said. “I’ve probably …”
“Why would I even think that?” the old man said.
“Well, the cabbie was talking about how people like to do that sometimes at graveyards.”
“I’m just trying to pay my respects.”
“Do I look like the person who would try to rob graves?”
Wallin turned and left the building.
“I don’t know any people who rob graves,” the old man said.
“Have a good night, sir,” Cloverfield said. “Thank you for your help.”
“Uh-huh,” the old man said.
Neither of the men had a flashlight but the nearly full moon was waxing and it was a clear night so that offered them a good deal of illumination. They headed into the graveyard.
They spotted Leroy Turner standing by a grave, his head bowed. Cloverfield drew his pistol. Turner lifted his trumpet, flexed his cheeks, foot ready to mark the time.
“Folks, this next number is for Marnie,” he said.
He put the trumpet to his lips.
“Leroy!” Cloverfield shouted.
Wallin, seeing it, covered his ears. He had been terribly afraid of jazz music ever since he saw the horrible incident in the garage. He charged at Turner.
Leroy started to play. He played for the waste of his life, for his love of booze, for the music he’d never make, for the loss of Marnie, for everything he’d left undone or been cheated of. The trumpet notes had a sad sweetness, as light and as deft as life itself. The call was irresistible.
“Stop it!” Cloverfield yelled.
Wallin rushed directly at Turner but then, in his drunken state, started bearing off to his right. He ran right into a tombstone and tumbled over it to lay insensible on the ground on his back.
Cloverfield moved towards Turner, yelling for him to stop. Turner kept playing. The ground stirred. The wing of a marble angel cracked and fell away. A slate tombstone tilted and crumbled. Things were pulling themselves up out of the ground. Cloverfield fired a shot at the man, missing Turner completely.
In every direction came sounds of creaking and stirring, waking and shifting. The dead were rising. All the dead that could hear were rising!
Turner looked around, coming to his senses. He stopped playing for a moment and then turned and bounded away, leaping over heaving graves and shuddering slabs, past tombs grinding open. He stopped and started playing again.
Cloverfield fired another shot at Turner, missing again. The young Negro ran once again, stopping to play again. Walking corpses were pulling themselves out of the ground as Cloverfield fired another shot, this one winging the man in the right arm. He let out a shout and then giggled before he played on.
Wallin sat up behind the grave nearby.
Cloverfield fired another shot, missing again. Turner seemed to be ignoring him, moving away from Cloverfield but never getting very far away.
“Deryl!” Cloverfield yelled. “Run!”
Wallin leapt up and fled. Cloverfield rushed Turner, waiting until he was right on top of the man before he pressed the pistol against the man’s left arm and shooting him. Turner still didn’t stop playing but stumbled away. Cloverfield grabbed him by one of his injured arms, stuck the gun into his chest and fired a bullet directly into the man’s heart.
Turner staggered backwards from Cloverfield, coughed blood, and then put the trumpet to his bloody lips, shut his eyes, and blew. A harsh note pealed forth, his life’s breath. Turner died, but the echo of the horn resurrected him. He kept blowing. Dead now, he needed spare no air for breathing, so that the terrible notes continued, growling, resonant, and infinite. The trumpet call grew stronger until its force pulverized headstones and shattered mausoleum doors.
Cloverfield tried to strike the trumpet from the walking dead man’s hands but wasn’t able to budge it.
Dead, Turner played on until the whole cemetery struggled free and rose, each stumbling corpse remembering him or her who failed them, each dancing and staggering towards a separate cloudy vengeance, in each, the notion of vengeance widening and expanding to encompass more and more of the living.
Cloverfield fled from the cemetery. One of the creatures took a swipe at the man as he ran away. He limped out of the cemetery and leaping into the taxicab.
The cabbie put the motorcar in gear and they drove away.
They ordered the cabbie to go to the nearest police precinct house but the desk sergeant had no time for him. He merely told Cloverfield there was a riot of some kind going on at the nearby Negro cemetery. Many police officers were sent to the scene, heavily armed with shotguns and Thompson sub-machineguns.
* * *
Newspapers called it vandals the next day. Various newspaper articles claimed the hundreds of people were trying to dig up bodies and had to be literally fought off by police. Several policemen were killed as well. Leroy Turner’s body was found, obviously shot to death by his associates.
Cloverfield made inquiries and learned police had recovered a silver trumpet. With the use of a good amount of money, he was able to purchase it for himself. Once he got hold of the terrible instrument, he hid it in his apartment. He was able to more closely look at it and noted, in addition to its four valves and crackled silver finish like a snake or alligator hide, inside the bell of the trumpet could be seen an encircling ring of strange symbols.
He took it to Columbia University with Wallin to visit Professor Karl Sappington. When the man saw it, he bid them destroy it.
“How do I destroy it?” Cloverfield said.
“I … I don’t know,” Professor Sappington said. “Thank you for coming by. Go away.”
He seemed terrified of the trumpet. He wouldn’t say anything more but did tell them a name: Nyarlathotep.
They left the man and discussed how to destroy the horn. Wallin was of the opinion a trash compacter would do it. Cloverfield suggested throwing it in the river. Wallin said he could take it home and destroy it but Cloverfield didn’t trust the man, especially in his current mental condition. They eventually decided to find a place to crush the horn, which they eventually did. That only crushed the thing partially, however. Then they took it to a foundry and paid someone to melt it down completely. Cloverfield wanted whatever metal was left of the horn but later learned there was nothing left after it had been melted. The horn disappeared together.
At least that’s what they were told …