Todd's Game 2-22-11: Masks of Nyarlathotep - New York Investigation 1-2: The Hospital
by, 24th February 2011 at 04:08 PM (769 Views)
We next went to the hospital to visit Mr. Pickens and found two uniformed policemen outside the hospital room door.
“Can we help you?” one of them asked.
“Yes, I’m … my name is Edmund Pewterschmidt,” I said. “I was sent by Lt. Pool to talk to Mr. Pickens.”
“Yeah, the lieutenant said that someone might come by to help out with the investigation,” the officer said. “He’s in there with his lawyer right now, so you may have to wait for him to be done. But I’ll poke my head in and let them know that you’re here.”
“Thank you very much,” I said.
He knocked on the door and a man appeared. He wore a fine suit and glared at the policeman.
“What can I do for you?” he said.
“There’s a couple of contract investigators that the NYPDs called in on this matter that would like to talk to Mr. Pickens as soon as he’s available,” the officer said.
“They can talk to him now, provided that I’m in the room for it,” the man said.
“Yeah yeah yeah, I figured as much from a lawyer-type like yourself,” the officer said. “With your Harvard mouth and your fancy suits and your shining watch.”
We were allowed into the room. The man in the hospital bed was pale and there were bandages on his arm and shoulder. He was very young and had a shock of thick, dark hair on his head. The two policemen followed us into the room.
“We couldn’t get too much that made sense out of him before,” one of them said.
“Are you Mr. Pickens?” I asked the man who had let us in.
“No, I’m his lawyer, James Vimes,” the man said.
“Oh, nice to meet you,” I said, shaking his hand. “Edmund Pewterschmidt. I’m with the Pinkerton Detective Agency.”
I looked towards the hospital bed.
“So, this is Mr. Pickens,” I said. “It’s nice to make your acquaintance, Mr. Pickens. I’m not here to investigate … whatever happened to you.”
“Yeah, whatever happened to me,” he said.
“I’m here to investigate the overall case,” I said.
“Well … good,” he said. “It needs to be investigated.”
“There seems to be some connection with Jackson Elias, and I was wondering what that connection could be,” I said. “We’re trying to figure out exactly what’s going on here. Lt. Pool was very, very interested in figuring out the possible connection with what happened to you at the … Ju-Ju House, I believe it was, in Harlem … and the murder of Mr. Elias.”
“Well, Jackson was a good man,” he replied. “The world was truly a better place with him in it,”
“I gathered that from the newspaper article about him,” I said.
He glanced at his lawyer.
“What do you want to know?” he asked.
“What took you to the Ju-Ju House?” I said. “That’s as good a place to start as any.”
“We got some clues to head down there, to the Ju-Ju House,” he said. “We got some information from Emerson Imports. They had some information about that. So, we headed down there.”
“Mr. Pickens,” Elsie said.
“Yeah?” he replied.
“I’m Elsie Haugstad,” she said.
“Hey,” he said.
“From the Museum of History,” she went on. “You were recently in contact with the librarian at Harvard?”
“Yeah!” he said. “Miriam. She’s a great gal.”
“Do you have your notes with you?” she asked.
“Yeah, why don’t go look in the satchel over there and see … if these pigs over here didn’t get them,” he muttered.
She looked confused. I picked up the satchel.
“Allow me to get those notes and make sure we get the right things here,” Mr. Vimes said.
I handed him the satchel without opening it, watching him very closely. He took the satchel over to Mr. Pickens and put them on the bed.
“I’m very interested in your notes on this,” Elsie said, showing him the symbol that she’d sketched. “For the symbol for the Cult of the Bloody Tongue.”
“What?” I said. “The what? Is that what that meant?”
“Yah,” she said.
“Oh, I didn’t realize what that meant,” I said. “Thank you for sharing that with me earlier.”
“I’m sorry,” she said.
“That was the result of a whole day’s research,” he said. “There’s some people at the Ju-Ju House that … yeah.”
He looked through his notes and picked out several sheets of paper. According to the notes, the cult was that of the God of the Bloody Tongue and was centered in Kenya. The rune was ancient and thought to be the offshoot of an unnamed cult driven out of dynastic Egypt.
“Was this Ju-Ju House connected with Mr. Elias’ murder then?” I asked. “Do you think the murderers were from there?”
“Yeah,” he replied. “Honestly, I’m not sure. I know that we found this symbol with Jackson and it seemed to resonate at the Ju-Ju House before we got attacked.”
“By a couple of completely crazed assailants, I might add,” Mr. Vimes quickly said.
“Yeah, they were crazy,” Mr. Pickens said. “They had these crazy knives.”
“What kind of knives?” Elsie asked.
“They were like … it was kind of like a long dagger, you know?” he said. “But the end had a fork, kind of like a snake’s tongue. It was very peculiar and curved. Have you talked to the lieutenant yet?”
“Yes, we talked to Lt. Pool earlier today,” I said. “I’ve written down a Vincent Vimes.”
“Yeah, Vince,” he said.
“Was he at the library?” Elsie asked.
“Yeah, he helped us research,” he said.
“Was he at the Ju-Ju House?” I asked.
He looked at his lawyer.
“According to my client’s testimony, he was, in fact, at the Ju-Ju House,” Mr. Vimes said.
“What happened to him?” I asked. “Where is he?”
Pickens looked at Vimes again.
“My client was rendered unconscious after being attacked by the savage negroes and he, unfortunately, does not have much of a memory,” Vimes said. “In fact, he just recently awoke in a delirium. So, unfortunately, we cannot say for certain what transpired.”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Pickens,” I said. “Perhaps the police should put out one of their bulletins to try to find Mr. Vimes.”
“I’m pretty sure that, were anything to go down, that he was wholly innocent,” Mr. Vimes said.
“I’m not accusing him of anything, I’m just wondering if he was there with you,” I said. “If he’s disappeared now …”
“It would be tragic,” Pickens said. “I would like to see Vince again.”
“Was anyone else there with you?” I asked.
He looked at me a moment.
“Yeah,” he said. “One of our friends: Huey.”
“Huey …” I asked.
“Norton, yeah,” Pickens said. “From San Francisco.”
“Huey Norton,” I said. “So, he’s disappeared as well?”
“Yeah,” he said.
I turned to one of the policemen.
“Has the Ju-Ju House been searched, do you know, officer?” I asked.
“Yeah, the investigation hasn’t been able to turn up anything,” he said. “Which is why we’re still asking this guy all the questions. We don’t really have anything to go off of. No sign of any of these other folks he’s talking about.”
“And the two dead men were negroes?” I asked.
“That’s right,” he said. “They’re down in the morgue now.”
“What kind of place is the Ju-Ju House?” Elsie asked.
“Some kind of strange trinket shop full of all kind of bizarre ooga-booga drums and spears and stuff like that,” he said. “The place gives me the willies. I don’t want to spend another minute in there if I can help it. Which is why I wish this guy would tell us what the hell’s going on!”
“I don’t know what’s going on, man!” Pickens replied.
“You’re not telling us everything!” the officer yelled at him.
“Ah! My wounds!” Pickens cried out.
“Talking to my client, I was able to piece together the whole story,” Mr. Vimes said. “So, this is what happened: They were talking with the proprietor and he was somehow spooked. I’m not entirely sure how. But he had some of his crazed servants attack. My client was wounded grievously by them; however, they were dispatched by this Huey Norton, who was able to defend himself successfully against these criminals and was able to save my client. However his wounds were great and he collapsed shortly after.”
“Who collapsed?” one of the officers asked.
“Who do you think collapsed!?!” Pickens said angrily.
“Was the proprietor a negro as well?” I asked.
“Was he?” Vimes said to Pickens.
“Yeah, yeah,” Pickens said. “His name was Silas.”
“Silas?” Elsie said.
The policemen seemed satisfied with the story the lawyer had told them and it did ring of the truth. Both of them visibly relaxed.
“So, it sounds like this Norton guy kind of saved you, huh?” one of them said.
“Yeah,” Pickens replied. “Yeah. Huey, he’s a great guy.”
“I bet you wish you could see him so you could thank him, huh?” the officer said.
“I wish I knew where he was to thank him,” Pickens said.
“Well, where could he be?” the officer pressed. “Where would he wind up?”
“Man, I told you, I ran out of that trap door!” Pickens said. “Didn’t you run in after me?”
“Well, you say he’s from San Francisco?” I said. “Did he have any other friends in New York City?”
“Huey knew everybody,” he said. “If they were high-classed, he partied with them. He said all of the wives were the best wives.”
“Do you think we should go to this Ju-Ju shop and look around?” Elsie asked.
“Man, I’m not going back there!” Pickens said.
“You’re not going anywhere right now,” Mr. Vimes said to him.
“The police have probably examined the area quite closely,” I said. “We could take a look but I doubt we’d find anything.”
“I’ll tell you something else I’d like to know,” one of the policemen said. “Why were you guys over in Elias’ hotel room in the first place anyway? What started this whole thing off?”
Pickens rifled through his satchel again and pulled out a telegram, giving it to his lawyer.
“According to this telegram here, he actually received a telegram from Jackson Elias to meet with him,” Vimes said.
“Your client?” I asked.
“My client, yes,” he said.
“Does it say why?” Elsie asked.
“It just says he has information concerning the Carlyle Expedition, stop. Need reliable investigative team, stop. Arrive January 15, stop.” Vimes said.
Mr. Vimes handed over the telegram, which was just as he had read.
I remembered reading about the Carlyle Expedition. In early April, 1919, Roger Carlyle, a New York playboy, had gone to Egypt to explore Egyptian tombs. He first went to London to work with the Penhew Foundation before going to Egypt in May. There was some secrecy about their purpose in going to Egypt. The expedition was in Egypt until early July, when they went to East Africa to rest; there were rumors that they had found clues leading to the lost mines of King Solomon, all denied of course. Carlyle had been suffering from sunstroke at that time. The expedition left Nairobi in August and was reported lost in October. His sister had gone looking for him in March, 1920. The deaths of everyone in the expedition were confirmed by May and the sister had inherited the Carlyle fortune. By June of that year, some African tribesmen were hung in connection with the lost expedition.
I resolved to research the expedition to see what, if any, connection, it might have to Elias.
“I’ve got to let you know,” Pickens said. “Jackson, he’s not easily spooked. But that morning, when he called, he sounded … like something was up.”
“He telephoned you?” I said.
“Yeah, he telephoned me that morning,” he said.
“And when you went to meet him, he was dead?” I asked.
“Yeah!” he said. “Door’s locked.”
“With this symbol on his forehead,” I said, showing him the drawing in my notebook.
“Carved in his forehead!” he said. “And his guts―”
“If the door was locked, how did you get in?” Elsie asked.
“We were able to secure a key from the front desk,” he said.
“Was anyone else in the room then?” I asked.
“Yeah!” he said. “The cultists. Didn’t you talk to Lt. Pool?”
“Oh yes, that’s right,” I said. “They were dispatched by you and …”
“Huey,” he said.
“By Mr. Norton,” I said.
“Yeah,” he said. “I defended myself too.”
“Because they were the murderers of Mr. Elias,” I said.
“Well, there was no one else there,” he said. “And he was gutted with these strange knives.”
He thought for a moment.
“Lt. Pool, he talked to one of the cultists,” he said. “I don’t know if he’s still in custody or not. But you might want to talk to him about that. If you want some more information about it.”
“He didn’t mention any ‘cultists’ being in custody,” I said.
“I assume he’s still in custody,” Pickens said again. “That’s all I got man, I’m sorry.”
“Well, perhaps he should be questioned,” I said. “We’re just seeking information, Mr. Pickens. As much as possible.”
“All right,” he said.
“Thank you for all your help,” I said. “It’s appreciated.”
“Thank you,” he said.
“And if you remember anything else, please contact me,” I said, handing him one of my cards.
“All right,” he said. “Thank you.”
“I hope you get better soon,” Elsie said. “Nice meeting you.”
“Yeah, I need some rest,” he said. “Sorry.”
“When one is attacked by negroes, it can be very dangerous,” I said.
We took our leave of him.