Nightmares in Norfolk: Purple (Session 9)
by, 23rd July 2012 at 11:15 AM (446 Views)
Saturday, March 1st, 1924
The three investigors meet up for breakfast (Smith dining separately, of course) and discuss their plans for the day.
Henry O'Malley's got an appointment with Det. Clark at 10 o'clock but Wilson Buckenham's still concerned that he didn't get the call from Thomas Kinnaird he'd been promised. Buckenham and Theo Charles mention their poor night's sleep but don't appear to read anything in particular into this.
The threesome (plus Smith) head off through a cold and misty morning to the Roberts Woodruffe (PI) office which they find above a florist a short walk from the hotel. The helpful receptionist gives them a decent coffee (the coffee at the hotel was typically dreadful) and goes off to check on Mr Kinnaird's whereabouts.
She returns to say that Kinnaird hasn't arrived for work today but assures Buckenham she'll get him to leave a message at the hotel as soon as he does.
Colonial Cove PD is only a short cab ride away and the threesome (plus Smith) arrive in plenty of time for O'Malley's 10 o'clock appointment. They're shown in to see the busy detective and O'Malley "accidentally" gives the impression that he's still on the Boston PD payroll, which helps with the subsequent conversation.
Clark insists that the boys have just run away from home and will be back once they get hungry. It transpires that four boys are missing - as well as the Macario twins two of their classmates, Solomon and Chortzo, absconded from the school at lunchtime on Monday. After showing no interest whatsoever in the file of papers that Clark had hurriedly closed as they entered his office, our brave investigators get the address of the Giordanos and head off to speak to them - but not before Buckenham says "purple" to gauge Detective Clark's reaction (his reaction is one of puzzlement).
They're invited in by Maria Giordano who's clearly in a distressed state for understandable reasons. Her husband, Enzo, isn't faring much better. Surprisingly tactful questioning elicits the information that the boys were having problems settling in the new schools and there had been a number of fights with local boys. Solomon and Chortzo had visited the Giordano's home a few times and were the closest the twins had to friends in the area.
Enzo told the investigators that both of the boys had complained of sleeping poor on the Sunday night - they'd said something about the old nightmare returning. Neither had wanted to go to school on Monday (but that's was normal).
Finally, other than a newspaper reporter, the Giordanos had received no strange visitors since the boys disappeared. After commenting on the Giordano's purple table cloth (and being asked what he's talking about - it's clearly white), Buckenham changes tack and asks where the boys went to school. Given directions, the investigators head off to have a look at it. Buckenham decides he wants to track the Macario boys' journey in spite of five days having passed, the journey being along public roads and his only having the base skill in Track. He fails.
Nevertheless after fifteen minutes or so the threesome (plus Smith) see a large, functional building loom out of the mist as the head north on Seabury Road. The sign - which also looms at them out of the swirling mist - proclaims the building to be the Colonial Cove Public School.
While the investigators discuss their plan of action (it being a Saturday there are no pupils or teachers around) O'Malley spots movement in one of the classrooms. As quick as a flash he's over the wall and sneaking across the playground towards the classroom window. Peeking in he sees and elderly gentleman sweeping the classroom floor. O'Malley's spotted, so he ducks out of sight and scurries off around the corner.
The others see a face appear in the classroom window, glowering at them. Once the face disappears they motion to O'Malley to come back but as he fiddles with the chained gate the broom-wielding janitor emerges and orders them off the property. A short discussion about whether the school is public property or not (specifically when out of school hours) culminates in O'Malley being broomed out of the gate and the janitor, muttering grumpily, returning to his important sweeping duties.
Temporarily stumped (and not relishing another 44 hours in Baltimore, waiting for the school to reopen on Monday morning) the threesome (plus Smith) catch a cab back to the centre of Baltimore to discuss options over lunch. It's becoming clearer ever day why Buckenham is becoming "paunchy".
Kinnaird had told them that his plan was to visit outlying churches so the investigators decide to follow suit. They establish that there are two churches in Colonial Cove - a protestant one on Roundview Road and a roman catholic one (St Michael's) on Hanover Street, backing onto Chesapeake Bay. They hatch a plan to talk to the congregation after Sunday service, hoping to find someone who knows something about the Macario boys. It's back in a cab, then, to Hanover Street.
They find that St Michael's was clearly an important church in the past but it appears that it is in need of maintenance - its graveyard, packed with old gravestones and mausoleums is especially overgrown. They head inside and come across a couple of war veterans who've fallen on hard times. Eventually giving in to the veterans' attempts to solicit donations the investigators are pointed towards a door off the transcept where they find Father Domingo.
He welcomes the investigators and is happy for them to speak to tomorrow's congregation after the service - he suggests that the 11 o'clock service is the one which the Macarios' classmates are most likely to attend. He goes on to say that attendances are, sadly, reducing and it's becoming harder for the church to offer what help it can to the unfortunate gentlemen the investigators have already met.
The church provides these down-and-outs with bread and soup and offers them limited employment tending the graveyard - ruffians have been causing damage to gravestones and even to the mausoleums recently. It seems that even the promise of money hasn't been enough for some of the hobos and they've been driven off by the hooligans.
The sob story manages to secure a donation to the church's funds and the father apologises but he has other duties to attend to, ushering the players out.Spoiler:
Buckenham decides to have a look around the graveyard and the others (who, thankfully, have a better sense of direction) accompany him. They've been wandering around the maze of old trees and vegetation when a stone whirls past, narrowly missing O'Malley. It seems the investigators have caught the attention of some of the ruffians that Father Domingo mentioned.
O'Malley initiates dialogue with a hydrangea bush which he believes may contain one or more hooligans. They ask about the Macario boys and, after negotiations, offer a shiny dollar in return for being taken to Macarios' club house. This club house turns out to be one of the mausoleums, just around the corner from where they'd been ambushed.
The name "La Croix" is carved above the door. The iron grate over the mausoleum's door has long since been removed and the oak door is stuck, half open. The mausoleum is dark so after a quick look inside - enough of a look to find a suspicious dark stain and a boy's shoe in the central chamber - the investigators head off to find a hardware store where they can stock up on flashlights. The group have some difficulty finding their way out of the graveyard thanks to the maze of vegetation but eventually make it out and find a hardware store.
Their return to the mausoleum is somewhat easier and so they gingerely make their way back inside. They find more stains on the passageway leading to the central chamber (it had been too dark to see earlier) and there are small footprints, both shoed and barefoot, all over the floor. The dark stain next to the shoe is identified as being blood and the shoe itself shows strange scratches but they leave it untouched where it is (for now).
With their torches in hand they look around the mausoleum for signs of the boys but, other than the footprints, there don't seem to be any. Looking at the tombs - there are over a hundred of them in all arranged in rows three high and six long along the walls of the three wings which lead off the central chamber - they find some of them date back to the early 1800s.
Examining the tomb of one Jean Paul La Croix (Jan. 9, 1785 - Dec. 7, 1805) the notice that the grouting around the marble seal is broken and crumbled away. Theo Charles is lifted up to take a closer look and finds that the seal will come away when pulled. Looking in, he sees a wooden coffin whose end has fallen away. There's nothing inside the coffin. A short discussion about whether a skeleton would rot away before its coffin follows (Buckenham thinks it would, the others disagree). Buckenham offers the suggestion that if the skeleton hasn't rotted away then someone must have opened the tomb, broken open the coffin and removed the body ... or, ...
O'Malley stops this line of thought in its tracks suggesting that if Buckenham honestly believes that the body had somehow extricated itself from its tomb then perhaps Buckenham should be paying a visit to Roxbury Sanatorium.
They replace the seal on that tomb and continue looking around.
Eventually they find another tomb where the grouting is missing. It's that of Evelyn La Croix (Oct. 10, 1766 – Nov. 19, 1809). This tomb is on the lowest level and so nobody needs to be lifted up to test the seal.
A symbol, curiously similar to that which they'd seen at the Chapel of Contemplation in Boston, has been scratched into the seal on this tomb and when Buckenham goes to take a rubbing he gets what feels like a static electrical shock. Once he's recovered from this he gets the rubbing he wanted - the symbol is a lidless eye within an inverted triangle but lacks the wavy lines that the chapel's version sported. Buckenham's aware of a weird tingle behind his eyes as he takes the rubbing but this disappears once he breaks contact.
The evidence secured, O'Malley takes hold of the seal and finds it comes away very smoothly - much easier than he'd expected. He stops suddenly and something makes a dink sound as it knocks against the inside of the seal. Looks of panic cross the faces of all three investigators (plus Smith) but when nothing actually pushes against the seal O'Malley slowly pulls it out further.
Once removed he finds that an iron handle has been bolted to the inside of the seal - in order, they deduce, that it could be pulled shut by someone inside the tomb. Ah. That is worrying.
More worrying still is the absence of a coffin inside the tomb - all that's there, in fact, is a tunnel disappearing away into the floor.
What's down the tunnel? Whose shoes did they find? Will Wilson ever stop saying "purple"? Answers may well be found in the next thrilling instalment ...