Dead Man Stomp Part 1 - The Unusual Trumpet
CoC 7e Jazz Age
Sunday, October 1, 2017
(After playing the Call of Cthulhu scenario “Dead Man Stomp” from the 6th Edition Rule Book today from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. with John Leppard and Austin Davie.)
James Cloverfield, after the terrible encounters in the Clarke House in Sandisfield, Massachusetts, in June of 1922, had decided to try to research more into what had happened to himself and the others that terrible day. He spared no expense to try and learn everything he could, and money was something he had plenty of.
He looked for books on the occult and experts on the strange and esoteric.
He found a good number of stories about ghosts. He also recognized some of the things that had happened to him: cold spots, being pushed down stairs, and the like.
He also located Professor Karl Sappington, the Associate Professor of Classical Studies at Columbia University. The man was about 45 years old and wore glasses. He was somewhat of an expert of the ancient world and had even participated in a few archaeological digs across the world.
It took some time and money for Cloverfield to gain his trust, the cash in a request for Sappington to keep quiet about what he was told. He finally told Professor Sappington everything that happened at Clarke House.
“What did your friend see?” Professor Sappington asked when Cloverfield told him about Wallin’s amnesia.
“He doesn’t remember,” Cloverfield said.
“He doesn’t remember at all …”
“Which is why I’m curious as to what he saw that made him forget what he saw.”
“You’d probably have to talk to a psychologist or alienist about that. It’s not my field.”
Sappington did know that sometimes the mind blocked what a person saw or experienced in order to protect itself. He noted he had seen some strange things in his own time.
“This is all off the record, of course,” he said. “But there are things in the world that should just be let lie. They should be left alone. When men deal with them, it can cause them to go quite mad. This is not an avenue you want to go down, Mr. Cloverfield.”
He told the man he’d seem some things in digs in Egypt, Africa, and Australia that were very disturbing and he advised the man would not like to look into it. He told Cloverfield a lot of the things man believed in the modern age was wildly inaccurate and sometimes the mind could not comprehend them and survive.
“What your friend saw …” he went one. “Either he’s of weak character or he saw something that was overwhelming to him. The only way you could actually find out is if you went back, if the circumstances occurred again.”
He strongly advised against it as whatever he’d seen had affected his companion so strongly.
“When we were in the general area investigating, nothing happened,” Cloverfield said. “So I have no idea what could have caused it.”
Professor Sappington had no answer for that either. From what he knew from his own studies, removing the bodies from the house should end the haunting of it, though he didn’t know for sure, of course.
“I have no intention of going back either way,” Cloverfield said.
Professor Sappington advised that was probably a good idea.
* * *
Deryl Wallin went to treatment for another month at the alienist in Bristol, Connecticut. The man had, seemingly, cured him of his fear of the dark and had helped him feel a little better about himself before so he was glad to continue on with his services for as long as he could afford it. The treatment did seem to be helpful and he was glad he went to see the man.
He also spent time reading up on the occult and ghosts. He recognized some stories of the same kind of strange things he had experienced. He also found that, hopefully, removing the bodies from the house would end the haunting.
* * *
Cloverfield had a fine apartment overlooking Central Park in the City. He also had a mansion on Long Island where his mother lived. His adopted German child, Wilhelm, also lived in the mansion, usually in the company of his “grandmother.” His mother very much believed in astrology and often had card readings, astrological readings, and the like, and followed her psychics to the letter. It was one of the reason’s Cloverfield had his own belief in those same things.
Cloverfield’s father had been killed by a mugger in the city five years or so before and, ever since then, Cloverfield had carried a small handgun for self-defense in fear of being attacked himself.
In April of 1923, when he was at the mansion, his mother approached him.
“I found a new astrologist!” his mother told him. “Let’s go! Do you want to bring little Wilhelm? It’s about time that he learned how this stuff works, don’t you think?”
Cloverfield didn’t want to bring Wilhelm but drove his mother to the astrologist on the other side of Long Island. The woman was called Madame Priscilla. Though white and about his mother’s age, she wore gypsy clothing. She spoke with a European accent.
“Oh, come in, come in, come in,” she said when they arrived at her house. “We must cast your horoscope.”
She got information on the exact time, date, and location Cloverfield was born and then bid them wait while she cast his horoscope. She had a comfortable parlor for them and they had tea and cookies while they waited. His mother was very excited.
“I’ve heard nothing but good things from Mrs. Vanderhurst and Mrs. Trente,” she said.
He knew they were rich friends of his mother.
“I’m so excited!” she went on. “Mrs. Trente, she said her son would meet someone, someone wonderful!”
Madame Priscilla finally came out. She looked a little worried.
“Well, I’ve cast your horoscope … and I have bad news for you,” she said. “But it’s something that might be allayed.”
She first told him about himself, which house he was born into and under what stars and the like. He’d heard it all before and it seemed like she had done the calculations correctly.
“But there is … there’s some … there’s some dark force at work in your life,” she finally said. “I feel like it will affect you soon, within the next month or so. I greatly fear for your safety. You might want to call upon the help of friends. Draw your friends close around you. And it seems … it seems like some friend in your past has also been affected by the same darkness. It’s very strange. I don’t recognize it. I don’t know what this means exactly.”
“What is this darkness?” Cloverfield asked. “Is it a person? A thing?”
“Yes? I just … there’s a … there’s a … something … there’s something wrong. I just want you to be careful. Now, we have plenty of good luck charms here for sale, so … I would say buy as many as you possibly can.”
Cloverfield’s mother looked terrified and Madame Priscilla apologized.
“I know,” she said. “It’s not always good news but we can fight this. And we can protect your son!”
“Oh! Oh!” his mother said. “Buy them! Buy anything she wants! Anything she wants!”
Cloverfield spent about $100 on various lucky charms and pendants to make his mother happy.
“If only your father had listened to our astrologer!” she said.
She told him he should call his friends.
* * *
Deryl Wallin owned his own shop with two apartments above. He used one of the apartments himself and left the other one vacant, not really wanting or needing to rent it out. A stairway went down the back of the building to the alley behind it.
He took a week off in April 1923 to visit with his older brother James in Cleveland. His brother had a house in the country just outside of the city and he had a pleasant visit. His brother was, as always, glad to see him and tried to get him to open a shop in Cleveland.
James also had a place where he could get beer, which was his favorite. It was illegal but some was beer crafted by his friends for their own use. In any case, the brothers got very drunk one night as they sat by a little campfire behind the house.
“You still got … you still got that necklace, right?” James asked him.
Deryl showed him the necklace.
“Yeah yeah,” James said. “You keep that close. You keep that close.”
“I will,” Deryl said. “I will, bro.”
That night, Deryl told his brother about the terrible things that had happened at the Clarke House, dramatically telling how he dodged the bullet Cloverfield had shot at him. James believed every word.
“We should go kick that Cloverfield fellow in the ass!” James said.
“Nah, nah,” Deryl said. “He had his reasons, I’m sure.”
“Are you sure?”
“Man, that all sounds so familiar. I saw some things.”
“What did you see?”
James looked at him a moment.
“Nah nah,” he said. “It was out west. I … I …”
“Nah, tell me,” Deryl said.
“You remember when I took that trip a couple years ago out to Arizona and Nevada?”
“I remember you telling me.”
“Yeah. Yeah. I just … there’s some stuff. There’s some stuff that’s really strange. We should get a hypanatimist to hypamatize you and … and … uh … and find out what you saw.”
“Oh! That’s a great idea!”
“Yeah! Let’s do it right now!”
James tried to get up without success and while he was struggling, Deryl realized he really didn’t want to do that. At all. Ever.
“This stuff is stronger than I remember …” James said.
“We should at least wait until tomorrow,” Deryl said.
“I don’t remember …”
* * *
In mid-May, Cloverfield telephoned Wallin. The operator told him there was a Deryl Wallin and a Wallin Motors in Bristol, Connecticut. He called the former sometime after 5 p.m.
“Hello?” Wallin answered.
“Deryl?” Cloverfield said.
“Who is this?”
“Oh! What have you been up to?”
“Just been nursing this leg.”
“Oh yeah yeah. Sorry to hear that you fell and broke your leg.”
“Sorry that I … shot you.”
“You missed. It’s fine. Don’t worry about it.”
“I still feel bad about it. That’s kind of the reason why I’m calling. Would you like to come up to New York to just have some drinks and just relax, just to make up for it?”
“Sure. I don’t see why not. Let me just get a day in so I can tell my customers that I’ll be back in a little while.”
“Okay. I can cover any transportation costs, if needed.”
“Oh … well … thank you.”
“I really appreciate that.”
He gave Wallin the address of his apartment and wired him money for the train fare and cab fare.
* * *
Wallin arrived in New York City on Friday, May 25, 1923. He was admitted to the very nice apartment building off Central Park and took the elevator up to the correct floor. The door was opened by a man in a valet’s uniform.
“Yes sir, can I help you?” said Thomas Winters, Cloverfield’s person valet.
“Looking for Cloverfield?” Wallin said.
“Ah, Mr. Cloverfield. Yes. Whom shall I say is here?”
“Come right in Mr. Wallin. Have a seat.”
Winters fetched Cloverfield, who came from another room using a cane to help him walk. His leg had not properly healed after he had broken it at the Clarke House and he still walked with a limp.
“Hello James,” Wallin said.
“Good to see you again, Deryl,” Cloverfield said.
They shook hands.
“You look good,” Cloverfield said.
“Thank you,” Wallin said. “Nice cane you have.”
“I didn’t know how long you wanted me to stay so I packed a suitcase.”
“You’re welcome to stay as long as you want.”
“Have a seat.”
They made some small talk and Cloverfield offered to show him the town. He noted there was a jazz club called the Blue Heaven Ballroom that was quite nice. He looked Wallin up and down and realized the clothing he was wearing was not going to be appropriate for the place, especially the leather jacket.
They went down to the street and hailed a cab.
“Deryl, we need to get you some better clothes for the city,” he said.
“I mean … I’m not sure if anything will actually fit me,” Wallin said.
“I’m sure we can find a tailor who can find you something,” Cloverfield said.
Cloverfield ordered the cabbie to take them to Sal’s. Sal’s clothing store was one of the best in New York and Cloverfield used the Jewish man exclusively for his own clothing. When they got there, Wallin was measured and fitted for a tuxedo for the night. Wallin realized the suit probably cost more than all of his other clothes put together. He also got a nice hat and overcoat. Cloverfield asked Sal Weinberg to have the other clothes delivered to his apartment.
They headed for the Blue Heaven Ballroom in Black Harlem, arriving at 8 p.m.
Inside the unmarked blue door, two very large white men in tuxedos eyed passing customers. They gave the two men a look, one of them nodding at Cloverfield in recognition. Beyond the guards, blue-carpeted stairs led up to the ballroom. The check room faced the stairs. To the left was a gentleman’s lounge and stairs leading up to another floor and a posh casino. To the right was the ladies’ lounge and the entrance to the ballroom proper. The manager smiled as the two men passed the swinging doors and into the main room. He signaled they should accompany him.
Waiters hovered, jazz and the buzz of conversation filled the room. It was very loud.
The showroom was large. An opulent bar stretched out to the left, the faces of the bartenders shadowed by lines of bottles. A large stage opposite the bar held the band. Between the bar and the stage were small, round tables surrounded by plush, armless chairs and the dance floor. Each table held a small lamp for intimate lighting. Above, electric chandeliers cast subdued hues of blue and gold onto the faces of the neat, pale-faced, portly men and the bleached hair of bejeweled, ambitious young women.
The Blue Heaven was a famous hangout. New York money-men and stage stars, Hollywood movie stars, honest politicians and those on the take, Chicago businessmen and mobsters, Detroit auto moguls, shipping magnates and railroad scions from San Francisco, oil men from Texas and Oklahoma, the rich and the cunning, the butter-and-egg men from around the world were there.
The 5-Star Band provided the music. The jazz band was very large with dozens of instruments including trumpets, trombones, saxes, clarinets, cornets, drums, bass, banjo, and piano.
Bartenders, waiters, busboys, chorus girls and boys, and entertainers were all Negros; clientele, management, enforcement, and, presumably, ownership were all white.
The club was packed. The 5-Stars were in full swing, belting out a rousing version of “Doctor Jazz.” Apologizing for the crowd, the manager found seats for the two at a table in the corner near the bar. A stranger was already sitting alone at the large table. He nodded agreeably, but put one hand out to reserve the chair next to him. He was obviously waiting for someone. He was of average build with eyebrows so bushy they appeared to be a single, black furry line spanning his frowning forehead.
As they sat, the man didn’t talk, nor did he seem to be listening to the music, as the nervous drumming of his fingertips on the table indicated. Though he directed his eyes at the band, avoiding the two men, he didn’t seem to hear. Cloverfield noticed there was a sheen of sweat on the man’s face as if he were very nervous.
Waiters came by and got their drink orders. Cloverfield ordered a gin and tonic while Wallin had straight whiskey. The alcohol was very good.
The band finished “Doctor Jazz” and launched into “Clarinet Marmalade.” People on the dance floor had a great time while Cloverfield and Wallin leaned towards each other and talked.
“So,” Wallin shouted in Cloverfield’s ear to be heard. “That house was really crazy.”
“Yeah, I know,” Cloverfield yelled back. “I looked into it, actually. I talked to a professor at the University of Columbia, a Professor Karl Sappington.”
“What did you find?”
“He didn’t give me any straight answers. The main thing I remember from the meeting is that he strongly suggested against me continuing to look into the matters.”
“I can agree to that.”
A door behind the table opened up and a tall, thin black man in a rumpled suit carrying a shiny silver trumpet slowly emerged. He looked around and blinked. His intention clearly was to get to the stage but, seated as they were around the table, the two men and the stranger completely blocked his path.
Cloverfield recognized the young Negro as Leroy Turner, an excellent young trumpeter who had fallen on hard times.
The horn man hesitated, the effect of several drinks apparent as he stood there, swaying. He studied their faces and then leaned towards the stranger at the table.
“Sir, I got lost backstage,” he said. “Uh … would you be so kind as to let me by? I really apologize for asking.”
The man would only have to stand up to let the black man pas but jittery nerves obviously didn’t improve his manners.
“Find some other way, boy, or I’ll have you thrown out!” he snapped.
“Sorry, sir,” the black man said. “Sorry. Sorry.”
Wallin stood up and motioned for the man to go by.
“Oh,” Turner said, surprised. “Oh. Thank you, sir. Thank you.”
He quickly made his way past their table. As he went by, Cloverfield noticed the trumpet the man carried had four keys. He’d never seen that before and took a closer look at the instrument. It had a crackled silver finish. Turner crossed the room towards the stage.
The band finished up with “Clarinet Marmalade” and the band leader, another Negro whom Cloverfield recognized as Mitch Wester, made an announcement.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, his honor the Mayor is with us tonight,” he said. “Congratulations on re-election, Mr. Mayor! That reformer thought he had you beat, but you can’t keep a good man down. This song’s for you!”
Now on stage, Leroy Turner’s rumpled brown coat and pants contrasted with the white jackets of the band, but so did the extraordinary strength and rippling precision of his tones as he joined in a heated version of a new number: “Dead Man Stomp.” The rhythms were irresistible, the musicianship top-notch, and soon most of the crowd was dancing enthusiastically. The new piece was a hit.
Though the music was loud and the crowd, seemingly, even louder, when the small, rat-like man in a snappy brown suit standing behind the stranger at their table moved forward, drew a .45 long-barreled revolver out, and at point-blank range shot the man once, squarely in the back of the head, they noticed. Brain and bones from the gaping hole in the man’s forehead showered Wallin, hitting him in the face. As the body hit the table, the two men turned and, Cloverfield reaching into his jacket for his own pistol, got a good look at the man’s face.
Wallin was not so lucky. As he looked at the gunman, he was convinced it was his brother, standing there with a large gun in his hand, an assassin. He saw Cloverfield reaching into his jacket, probably for his gun.
The gunman didn’t stay to chat, but slid the long-barreled revolver beneath his coat and coolly slid through the service door which Leroy Turner had entered earlier. Wallin, covered with blood, jumped up and chased after him, disappearing through the door. The band played on and only the people nearby had noticed what had happened.
Cloverfield noticed the stranger at the table was moving a little bit. He quickly moved to the man and picked up his head by the hair to look at his face. The “Dead Man Stomp” concluded and the band moved onto another song and, as Cloverfield pulled the man’s head back, the dead man pulled himself up to a sitting position. His eyes were rolled up. Blood coursed from the huge exit wound in his forehead, but still he stood! A moan seeped from his lips and Cloverfield thought he heard the man say “Joey.”
Then the dead man turned and staggered towards the main doors, now watched by most of the appalled crowd. The band fell silent. The manager gasped and fainted as the walking corpse staggered out of the swinging doors. From beyond them, muffled screams marked his progress down the stairs.
Cloverfield was not unaffected by the horror. He suddenly felt a terrible, irrational hatred towards short people. He pointed his gun at the crowd and started yelling at them to get out of his sight, specifying short people like the shooter.
There were shouts and screams ass people rushed out to avoid a scandal and to get away from the madman with the gun. Nearly everyone was up and rushing towards the door, including Cloverfield.
* * *
Wallin was in hot pursuit of the short man in the smart brown suit. When the man looked back at his pursuer, he saw he had a large note and a rat-like face. He was also far too small to be his brother. Wallin took out his switchblade, opened it and flung it at the man. The knife crashed against the wall nearby as he let himself out another door. Wallin slowed to pick up his weapon.
The door led them to the blue-carpeted steps near the front door. The little man sprinted down them and out of the place, Wallin not far behind.
As Wallin exited the club, he saw the man leap into a gray Packard parked on the street out front. There was no license plate on the back of the vehicle. The motorcar pulled away and Wallin rushed forward to try to slash the tires. Someone in the car let out a shout and another man leaned out of the window with a Thompson sub-machinegun.
Wallin ducked to one side and the doorman nearby flung himself to the ground. The gunman let fly a burst of automatic weapon fire and glass shattered over Wallin’s head.
“Yeah!” the man yelled.
The Packard tore away down the street.
Wallin walked to the wall near the club door and sat there on the sidewalk as people burst out of the club, fleeing in every direction.
* * *
Cloverfield ran down the blue-carpeted steps. He saw the stampede of people pushing by the slow-moving dead man. They bowled him over and he tumbled to the bottom of the stairs as the terrified patrons trampled him in panic. Moaning, he tried to get to his feet but they kept knocking him down, reducing him to a bloodier and bloodier ruin. Seeing the man die for a second time, the normally unflappable door guards left and did not return.
When the wave of customers had gone, the remains of the man stirred again. The body got to its feet once more and staggered into the street moaning “Joey! Joey!” The call had about it a dark, terrible patience.
Cloverfield followed the walking dead man out, suddenly not hating short people any more. He felt awful for what he’d done when he had gone mad for a few moments. He looked around for Wallin and then panicked again. He followed the man out the front door, tucking his pistol away.
The driver of the first squad car on the scene saw the bloody pulp that was once a man and lost control. The vehicle skidded, pinning the dead man against a lamp post, cutting him in half. Killed thrice now, the body stirred no more.
Cloverfield found Wallin, still covered with blood, sitting on the sidewalk not far from the blue door that led to the club. He knelt next to him.
“What happened?” he said.
“I tried to … chase … chase him,” Wallin said, wiping the blood from his face.
“They pulled out a Tommy gun. They drove away in a gray Packard.”
As Cloverfield was trying to help clean the man off, he heard sirens in the distance.
“Should we get out of here before the police start showing up in force?” Cloverfield said. “Because you’re bloody and they might think you did it.”
“I … I … I think we should … try to explain …” Wallin said.
“We saw what happened last time with Constable Dolthan,” Cloverfield said. “You remember what happened when we tried to explain to Constable Dolthan back in New Boston.”
“That was … supernatural. This is completely─”
“There was a walking corpse!”
Wallin looked at him.
“The guy was dead!” Cloverfield said. “That just got hit. He was just uttering ‘Joey” constantly. He was dead. That was what the commotion was.”
He didn’t mention his swinging a gun around and cursing all the short people in the club.
“We should … explain … the … the assassin,” Wallin said.
A Negro in a white jacket ran out of the blue door, trumpet in hand. He looked around desperately and they recognized Mitch Wester, leader of the 5-Star band. He saw Wallin and ran over.
“You’re hit!” he said. “My God, my God, you’re hit! Are you all right?”
“I … I wasn’t … hit …” Wallin said weakly.
“All right,” Wester said. “All right. Well good. Good. Good luck with that.”
He looked at the wrecked police car and the officer examining the body and then ran down the street, a small piece of paper falling from his coat as he ran. Cloverfield collected it and found it was a business card. It read:
Morgan & Dupuy
Christian Funeral Home
Serving Families of African Descent since 1851
172nd and West Charles Streets
More police cars pulled up and several police officers entered the Blue Heaven Ballroom. One officer approached Wallin and Cloverfield and questioned them on what happened in the club. They told him what they had seen, describing the shooter and the events that took place. Cloverfield noted that the man slumped over dead but somehow the bullet didn’t kill him and he fled the place with others. Wallin described the shooter in more detail and told the officer about the gray Packard without a license plate. He also told them about the man who tried to gun him down with the sub-machinegun.
The two were detained for an hour for questioning and then released with a warning that speakeasies were illegal and the men, especially a visitor to the city, should avoid them.
They took a taxicab back to Cloverfield’s apartment where they both got cleaned up, Wallin taking a shower. Winters took the clothing for cleaning.
“I’m sorry Winters,” Cloverfield said. “Something happened.”
“Yes, of course sir,” Winters said. “I will see what I can do. Tea or coffee sir?
“Coffee would be nice.”
“Would you like it ‘Irished up’ as they say?”
“Of course. And you sir? Coffee, sir? A little whiskey?”
They were soon sitting in the apartment in their pajamas and robes, sipping Irish coffee and settling down from the events of the evening. Cloverfield had taken out the card and looked it over again. He noticed, handwritten in ink on the back of the card, was: 5-26-23 - 11 A.M. sharp ― bring your horn. New Orleans style.
“You said that … he was a walking corpse?” Wallin asked.
Cloverfield put the card onto a small table.
“I pulled up his hair to look at his face because he was still moving …” he said. “… and he got up and started walking out of the building.”
Wallin looked at him for what felt like a long time.
“More coffee?” Cloverfield said.
“Yes,” Wallin said. “Yes, please.”
Cloverfield poured the man more coffee as well as a generous helping of the Canadian whiskey.
“Could … could he have …?” Wallin said.
“There is a chance he could have still survived that shot,” Cloverfield said, lying in the hopes of calming Wallin down or at least not making him worse.
“He … he was yelling out a name …”
“‘Joey’ is what he was saying.”
“Maybe we should have told the cops the name he was yelling.”
“Maybe. I did find … you know that colored man, that Mitch, who was running away. He dropped this card. It’s for a funeral home for ‘African descent.’ And there’s a note on the back.”
He handed Wallin the card. The other man looked over it. Neither of them were sure what “New Orleans style” was.
“Maybe we should … go to the funeral home … in the morning?” Wallin said unsteadily.
“In the morning,” Cloverfield said. “You get some rest and try and ease your mind.”
He suggested a walk in Central Park to relax both of them. Wallin took him up on the offer and they dressed and went down to Central Park for some time. It was calming and they only saw a few other people as it was 10 p.m. or so when they went out.
They returned to the apartment around 11 p.m. Both of them had pajamas laid out and ready on their beds when they returned. Cloverfield had a bath. As he got into bed, he asked Winters for a little more special breakfast than usual the next day.
* * *
Saturday, May 26, 1923, dawned lovely, beautiful, and cloudless.
Wallin woke up early, as was his wont, and Winters brought him coffee and told him Cloverfield was not yet up. He asked Wallin if he wanted to have his breakfast then or wait for Cloverfield. Wallin elected to wait but when he learned it would probably be a couple of hours, he took the valet’s suggestion for something light to tide him over. Winters brought him buttered toast, orange juice, and milk.
The New York Times arrived and Winters brought it to him. There was a front page article about the incident at the Blue Heaven Ballroom the night before. Peter Manusco was identified as the man who had been killed, a self-employed accountant with a spotless record who, in a moment of weakness, entered the Blue Heaven Ballroom. The article noted the poor man, mortally wounded yet somehow indomitably willing himself to stay alive, tried to reach help only to be cut down, ironically, by the very aid he sought. Police thought he was mistaken for some criminal foe by the killer. The Mayor’s office announced the padlocking of the Blue Heaven Ballroom, offering thanks that such a cesspool of vice and crime had been located. The manager of the club, a Mr. Roland Marlow, was arraigned on various petty charges but had already been released on bail. Government Agent Roger Daniels commented in the article that the Blue Heaven Ballroom was selling alcohol. His photograph was also in the paper with the article.
When Cloverfield got up, Winters helped him dress and then he and Wallin had a large breakfast of eggs Benedict, bacon, toast, hash browns, orange juice, milk, and more coffee.
“The card says that probably Mitch was supposed to meet these people, probably at 11 a.m. sharp, with his horn,” Cloverfield said. “Probably at this place.”
“Wasn’t he playing something else last night that wasn’t a horn?” Wallin said.
Cloverfield called Winters over.
“Do you know anything about this establishment?” he asked.
Winters looked at the card.
“I’m sorry, I don’t sir,” Winters replied. “But I could find out with a half an hour. Perhaps an hour.”
“We’re aiming to arrive there around 11,” Cloverfield said.
“Might I take this for a moment?” Winters asked.
“Sure,” Cloverfield said.
It was a half hour or so later, Winters having made several telephone calls from the telephone in the kitchen.
“It is a Negro establishment, sir,” he told Cloverfield. “Generally used by the colored people of the city. They said there is a funeral this morning for a Mr. Frederick Lincoln Fayette who, upon further investigation, proved to be the brother-in-law of a Mr. Mitchell Wester. Most likely, as the Negros often do, there will be a funeral procession that leads from the funeral home to the local Negro burial ground. Apparently Mr. Fayette had a wife, Elizabeth Wester Fayette.”
“You wouldn’t happen to know anything about ‘New Orleans style?’” Cloverfield asked.
“‘New Orleans style,’” Winters said. “I did notice the note on the back. I do believe what they mean by that is, the type of music that will be played as the procession makes its way from the funeral home to the graveyard. This often includes jazz music as well as Christian hymns that will be played by a jazz orchestra possibly, depending upon how much money was spent on the funeral.”
“Thank you, Winters,” Cloverfield said. “Thank you.”
The two men headed to the funeral home by taxicab.
* * *
Morgan & Dupuy proved to be a modest funeral home. They arrived at 10:50 a.m. and found their way into the room, which was filled with colored people. They were the only white people there and that got them a lot of looks. Cloverfield spotted Wester in the front with the family. He saw by a woman to whom he bore a strong resemblance and guessed that was his sister, Frederick Lincoln Fayette’s widow.
The two out-of-place white men sat in the back of the room. A little old black woman sat next to them.
“Hello, ma’am,” Wallin said.
She looked more closely at both of the men.
“Well, hello gentlemen,” she said.
“Hello, ma’am,” Cloverfield said.
“What is your relation to … uh … to Mr. Fayette?” she asked carefully.
“We don’t actually know him,” Wallin said. “We just came to pay our respects. We actually came to talk to Mitch.”
“Oh,” she said.
She pointed to the front of the room.
“That’s so sweet,” she said. “Well, thank you.”
“Yeah, Mitch lost something last night,” Cloverfield said. “We’re trying to get it back to him.”
“Oh dear. Well, he’ll be playing … he’ll be playing when they take … when they take Mr. Fayette’s remains but you could probably talk to him afterwards after they’ve put him … put him in the ground.”
“That’s what we had planned on,” Wallin said.
“That’s very sweet of you to come,” the woman said, hesitantly touching Wallin on the shoulder.
A man next to her leaned over and whispered in her ear. She whispered something to the man and whatever they had talked about, probably the two white men, made the rounds of the room. Cloverfield thought he heard her convey what they told her. More and more people looked at the two, many with approval though a few with suspicion. They got the idea that most people were not displeased by their presence.
The service was touching with the widow and a preacher speaking. There was some singing and when it was finally over, the mourners filed out of the place. Eventually, six pallbearers emerged from the hall carrying the long pine coffin. A Negro police officer on a motorcycle led the way and controlled traffic at intersections. Members of the 5-Star band struck up “I’ll See You on Judgment Day” as the mourners fell in behind them.
Cloverfield and Wallin followed along on the sidewalk, staying near Wester and his band.
More people joined in as the procession moved through the streets towards the cemetery. The 5-Stars played slow and soulful renditions, hymn after hymn. The musicians walked in a line behind the coffin with Wester in front and the drummer in the rear, his bass drum strapped to his chest. All maintained a serious and noble bearing.
As they passed some storefronts, both Cloverfield and Wallin felt like they were being watched. Cloverfield saw Leroy Turner across the street in a doorway, smoking and watching the parade pass by. He still felt someone else was watching him.
Cloverfield nudged Wallin and pointed the man out to him. Wallin asked if he wanted to go talk to the man but Cloverfield pointed out they’d have to move through the procession to do so and that might be ill-advised.
Turner extinguished the cigarette and stepped out, lifting his trumpet as the band struck up “Closer Walk With Thee.” He came up alongside Wester, put his horn to his lips, and started to blow melancholy notes in fine counterpoint to Wester’s cornet. A rolling murmur through the crowd testified to the music’s beauty.
Not twenty seconds later, Cloverfield detected moaning from inside the coffin. He told Wallin and noted Turner had a four-keyed trumpet.
Then the pallbearers lurched and looked startled at each other in confusion and alarm. The crowd gasped and the music died. Then the coffin lid smashed open. As the bearers dropped their burden and pulled back, the late Frederick Fayette emerged: gray, puffy, bewildered. Shrieks, screams, and astonishment were general. Various hands reached out to try to help Fayette, who continued to look about wildly.
Wallin looked on in terror when he realized there was a ghost in the man that was what was making the dead man walk again. He found himself frozen to the spot. Cloverfield headed for Turner, who looked on the scene in horror and stopped playing.
Elizabeth Fayette stepped in front of her dead husband and lifted her mourning veil. Her cheeks were wet with tears.
“Freddie, is that you?” she whispered.
Fayette stopped, lurched forward, and looked at her in shock and dawning realization. He threw back his head and gave a terrible scream. He collapsed at the knees of his wife, trembling arms folded round her, and he did not move again.
Clamor swept the crowd and anger began to spark against the mortician, Mr. Dupuy and the two assistants who had accompanied the procession. The words most often heard were “Buried alive!” It sounded like something terrible was going to happen.
“Trying to lynch this man would be unlawful!” Cloverfield said, raising his voice. “I’m going to pay to replace the casket and cover all the costs of the funeral!”
That calmed down the people in the procession immediately. They were still upset but the violence was stopped.
Cloverfield saw the small, rat-faced man in the brown suit nearby. He backed away and walked briskly up the street to a waiting gray Packard. He got in and the motorcar drove away.
Cloverfield turned back to Leroy Turner who was edging away from the procession. He appeared as shocked and scared as Wallin had been earlier.
“What’s going on, Leroy?” Cloverfield said.
He commented on how good his music was and asked to talk to the man. Turner seemed amiable if the man would buy him a drink or two.
“You look like you’re pretty disturbed,” Cloverfield said.
“Well, buy me a drink, sir, and I’ll talk to you,” Turner said.
“Where’s the nearest place I can get something for you.”
“I can show you.”
Cloverfield was stopped long enough to hand off his card. A few people looked suspicious but Mitch Wester assured him he’d be in touch. He asked if Mitch could come by his apartment that night and the man seemed uncomfortable.
“You’ll need to leave word with your doorman to let in a colored,” he said. “What time do you want me, sir?”
“How about 11 or 12 tonight?” Cloverfield said.
Wester said he’d be by at 11 p.m.
“My condolences, sir,” Wallin said to Wester, putting his hand on the man’s shoulder.
“Thank you, sir,” Wester said.