Monday, March 3, 2014
(After running the Call of Cthulhu scenario â€œThe Caseâ€ from Curse of Cthulhu for Caitlin Blackmon and John Forney Sunday from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.)
Mary-Jane Holland was 33 years old and was married to her work. She was a researcher who had gotten her PhD in Anthropology some years before and worked with various colleges in the Rhode Island area, doing research. She had been quite pretty once, but a trip to the Amazon in 1924 and one of the nativesâ€™ vicious spear thrusts had left a terrible scar that ran down from her forehead, splitting her right eyebrow, and continued down her cheek. She was lucky she had not lost an eye. She resigned herself to never being married and consoled herself with her work.
On the afternoon of Friday, June 26, 1925, she found herself in her second floor apartment in Providence, R.I. It had been a warm summer so far and she had a fan blowing into one of the windows. Her telephone rang and she picked it up.
â€œMay I speak to Mary-Jane Holland?â€ the womanâ€™s voice on the other end of the line asked.
â€œYes, this is she.â€
â€œOh! Mary-Jane. I donâ€™t know if you remember me. This is Diane Timmons. Iâ€™m Brian Timmonsâ€™ mother.â€
That name brought back memories. Brian was about five years younger than she was and she had met him while she was researching something at Boston University three years before. The two had stepped out a couple of times and, though he was a nice boy from a wealthy family, she had felt no spark of love for the man. She had met his parents and his mother seemed to have been convinced that the two of them were going to get married.
â€œBrian has gone insane,â€ Mrs. Timmons said. â€œIâ€™ve had to have him committed.â€
â€œWell,â€ Miss Holland said. â€œMay I ask where?â€
â€œHeâ€™s at Holmes Sanitarium. Heâ€™s been growing increasingly moody and withdrawn since you last saw him. He eventually moved out of the family home. Could you please come and visit Brian in the hospital? I think it would do him a world of good.â€
â€œHmm. I donâ€™t know if I really feel comfortable doing that.â€
â€œCould you come by the house? Could I talk to you about it at least? Please?â€
â€œIâ€™ll come by your house.â€
â€œThank you so much! Thank you so much.â€
â€œCould you come by this afternoon or this evening?â€
â€œSure. Iâ€™ll find the time.â€
â€œOkay. Thank you so much! Thank you so much, Mary!â€
The line went dead and she hung up the telephone. She thought on the disturbing conversation for a few moments and then got her purse. She didnâ€™t feel terribly comfortable going to see someone in an asylum. However, she remembered that a young man lived in the apartment building who might be able to at least accompany her.
She knew John McKeefe only in passing, though probably better than anyone else in the building. She had stepped out with his brother, Neil McKeefe, a couple of years before and met the man, who was five years younger than she was. When she learned that he lived in a basement apartment in her building, she was less than thrilled. Then, the man started to â€œborrowâ€ her newspaper. She would come downstairs to go to work and find him reading her newspaper in the foyer of their building.
Unknown to anyone except for a few fences and a few other burglars in the Providence area, John McKeefe was a fairly successful burglar. He told people that he was interested in examining antiques and relics, giving the impression that he was appraiser. He liked living in the basement apartment in the back of the building because one of his windows opened into an alley that allowed him to come and go without being seen. He was also a veteran, having served for a year in the Great War.
She went down to the basement, which smelled a little musty, but was cooler than it was up in her own apartment. She knocked on his door.
Inside the apartment, McKeefe put down the newspaper he was reading and went to the door, standing a little to the side of it.
â€œWho is it?â€ he shouted.
â€œItâ€™s me, the person you steal the newspaper from every morning,â€ Miss Holland said. â€œPlease let me in.â€
There was a rattle as McKeefe unlocked and unchained the door. He opened it and smiled warmly at the woman. He wore a tweed suit and a nice tie.
â€œHi,â€ he said. â€œHow are you? Come on in.â€
She walked into the apartment. It was smaller than her own one-bedroom apartment and had a small kitchenette off to one side of the main room. A Murphy bed was tipped up against the wall and she could see the door to a very small bathroom on one side. It had a moist basement smell and was rather dim. The windows were small and seemed to look into the side and back alleys. She also noticed a newspaper on the coffee table and thought she might have seen a flicker of movement out of the corner of her eye. She wondered if it was a mouse.
McKeefe closed the door behind her.
â€œI have to go to my x-boyfriendâ€™s motherâ€™s house,â€ she said. â€œTo discuss his insanity. I want you to pose as my current boyfriend so she wonâ€™t try to get us back together.â€
His ears perked up a little.
Maybe I could become her real boyfriend at some point, he thought. I wonder if this person has anything that isnâ€™t nailed down.
Miss Holland picked up her newspaper and saw that McKeefe had gotten a faraway look in his eyes and a silly grin on his face.
â€œCome back to life!â€ she said to the man, snapping her fingers in front of his face.
â€œOh, Iâ€™m sorry,â€ he said. â€œI guess I was just thinking back to the days over in Europe.â€
She made it very clear to him that the two were not a couple and were not going to be a couple but that she just wanted him to accompany her. McKeefe lost some of the smile, but the glimmer stayed in his eyes.
â€œSure,â€ he said.
She looked at her watch. It was just 4:00 in the afternoon. The two headed out of the building.
â€œWhere is this place?â€ McKeefe asked her.
She led him to her 1925 Ford â€œNew Modelâ€ T Tudor Sedan. It was a hard top and painted black. They entered the vehicle and she used the automatic starter to get the engine going.
â€œThis is a nice car,â€ McKeefe said as they drove through the city of Providence.
He made some small talk and found the woman unresponsive.
The Timmons house was actually a mansion in one of the nicest neighborhoods in the city. She parked on the street and they went up to the large house. Miss Holland used the knocker as McKeefe looked around at the house and the neighborhood.
The door was opened by a solid man in a suit and tie. His hair was mostly white though still streaked with black. He smiled when he saw Miss Holland. She recognized the Timmonsâ€™ butler, Jarvis.
â€œAh, Miss Holland,â€ he said. â€œMrs. Timmons is expecting you.â€
He opened the door and ushered them in, taking them to the living room and offering them seats.
â€œMrs. Timmons will be arriving shortly,â€ he said.
He left the room. McKeefe looked around and noted several expensive gewgaws and knickknacks, things that could easily be pocketed in the middle of the night and sold for a good amount of cash. A telephone stood on the stand nearby and he had noticed another in the foyer of the house as well. The furniture was very comfortable and wide open windows let in a cooling breeze.
Mrs. Timmons arrived after only a short interval. She was an older lady in her mid 50s who was not unattractive although she looked tired. She welcomed Miss Holland warmly and walked to the woman, who stood as she approached. She gripped the younger womanâ€™s arms in a brief hug and touched her cheek to Miss Hollandâ€™s cheek, then smiled warmly at her.
â€œWould you and your friend like some tea?â€ she asked.
â€œI would,â€ Miss Holland said.
â€œJarvis, tea please.â€
The butler, standing in the archway nodded and disappeared from view.
Some small talk filled the time while they waited for tea and the weather was briefly discussed. Jarvis returned with a tray. He poured them all tea and then left the room.
â€œBrian became interested in tracing the family tree,â€ Mrs. Timmons finally said. â€œHe spent many hours searching libraries and old public records for clues to the more obscure branch of the family and he became more and more obsessed with this research until a year ago he purchased an old farmhouse up in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, and, despite protests from both myself and Mr. Timmons, moved in.
â€œWe began seeing less and less of Brian, and it was at this time that he began his brief association with a Mr. Baines. We met him once, but his black clothing and dark glasses left and impression that could not be forgotten. He apparently lived with Brian for a short time before suddenly leaving for Europe and it was about this time that Brian showed signs of a personality change and we began to seriously question his sanity.
â€œWe heard nothing from him over this past winter and, in May, Mr. Timmons â€¦ Jarvis drove him up to Woonsocket to visit with Brian and attempt to get him to return home. They returned that night and, though I questioned him, Mr. Timmons would not â€¦ he declined to say anything about his son. It was hardly three weeks later that he â€¦ fell to his death from the second story balcony of the house here.â€
â€œOh,â€ Miss Holland said.
She remembered that Mr. Timmons had been a semi-invalid when she met him three years before. Brian had told her that heâ€™d had a heart attack and he had trouble moving around, using both a can and a wheelchair.
â€œBrian did not attend the funeral,â€ Mrs. Timmons went on. â€œIn June, he experienced some trouble with the police in connection with what â€¦ I do not know. Shortly after that, after that trouble with the police, I had him served with papers to have him legally committed to the hospital. When the police arrived at the farmhouse in Woonsocket to take him into custody, he exploded in a violent outburst and had to be restrained. Heâ€™s presently in Holmes Sanitarium, here in Providence and, while usually coherent, heâ€™s prone to sudden, violent outbursts and his doctors say that heâ€™s not responding to treatment. For some reason, they do not want to treat him anymore and they suggested he be placed in a more permanent home where he can be cared for professionally.
â€œBut Iâ€™ve not given up hope for my son and â€¦ could you please, please go and visit him and talk to him. Just see if thereâ€™s anything that could be done.â€
Tears were filling the womanâ€™s eyes.
â€œWell â€¦â€ Miss Holland said. â€œWeâ€™ll go.â€
â€œAs long as I can have my friend with me,â€ she said.
â€œThank you!â€ Mrs. Timmons said. â€œOf course, of course. Iâ€™ll telephone the sanitarium and Iâ€™ll let them know that youâ€™re coming.â€
She thought for a moment.
â€œIf thereâ€™s anything you find out about what has happened to him, from him or in any way you can â€¦â€ she said.
She looked at McKeefe.
â€œIâ€™m sorry,â€ she said. â€œIâ€™m so rude. Iâ€™m Diane Timmons.â€
She held out her hand and McKeefe shook it.
â€œYou say your name,â€ Miss Holland said to McKeefe.
â€œJohn McKeefe,â€ he said.
â€œItâ€™s nice to meet you Mr. McKeefe,â€ Mrs. Timmons said. She wiped her eyes with a handkerchief. â€œIâ€™m sorry. Mary and Brian, they stepped out for a very short time and I was always very fond of her. I think you might be the last woman he saw before he started this research and started down this road to insanity. Thatâ€™s why I called you. I hate to impose. Iâ€™m so terribly sorry.â€
â€œNo, itâ€™s fine,â€ Miss Holland said. â€œIâ€™ll go and talk to him.â€
â€œThank you so much! Thank you so much, dear!â€
She took out a set of keys and handed them to Miss Holland.
â€œThose are for the farmhouse in Woonsocket,â€ she said. â€œIf you canâ€™t find anything from him, maybe you could look there and see if thereâ€™s any clue as to what happened to him.â€
She also gave them simple instructions on how to get to the farm west of the city of Woonsocket.
â€œI see,â€ Miss Holland said.
â€œSomething must have happened up there,â€ Mrs. Timmons said. â€œSomething must have happened.â€
â€œWeâ€™ll investigate. If it makes you feel better.â€
â€œIt would. Thank you so much. Thank you so much.â€
With some more small talk, they finished their tea and left the house around 5:00. Jarvis also thanked them both for helping. They returned to the car and Miss Holland put it into motion.
â€œI think weâ€™ll venture up there,â€ she said. â€œIf itâ€™s okay with you.â€
â€œYes, it is okay with me,â€ he said. â€œIt will keep me from performing some appraisals this evening. I suppose I can pick up business tomorrow night.â€
She drove them to Holmes Sanitarium. The large private hospital was located just north of Providence. When they told the nurse at the desk who they wanted to see, they learned that Mrs. Timmons had left their names with permission for them to see Brian. They were led down long, white halls to a room with Brian Timmonsâ€™ name on the door.
The attendant unlocked the door and entered first. He walked over to the cot and looked over the man before turning back and nodding at the two to enter.
The room was windowless and, except for a small cot attached to the wall, barren of any furnishings. Timmons was seated on the cot with his back to the wall and his legs pulled up in front of him. He was bound in a straitjacket and watched silently as the two entered the room.
â€œOh my,â€ Miss Holland said quietly. â€œThis is worse than I thought.â€
â€œHi Brian,â€ McKeefe said. â€œNice little room you got here.â€
The man on the cot looked at them blankly.
â€œIâ€™m afraid youâ€™ll have to excuse me,â€ he said carefully. â€œI do not â€¦ remember you.â€
He looked back and forth between the two of them.
â€œYouâ€™ll have to refresh â€¦ my memory,â€ he finished.
â€œWell, Iâ€™m Mary-Jane,â€ Miss Holland said. â€œWe used to go out.â€
The manâ€™s eyes lit up.
â€œOh yes, yes,â€ he said. â€œYes. I remember having â€¦ gone out with you. Yes.â€
â€œAnd this is my friend,â€ she said, gesturing at McKeefe.
â€œJohn McKeefe,â€ he said.
â€œDo I â€¦ do I know you?â€ Timmons asked.
â€œYes sir, you do know me,â€ McKeefe lied. â€œI was actually a very close friend of yours and so, if you happen to have any, say, possessions you need to keep kept safe while youâ€™re staying hereâˆ’â€
â€œOh please!â€ Miss Holland said. â€œThis isnâ€™t for business.â€
â€œWhat do you mean? Iâ€™m not looking to appraise any antiques that he might have. I would simply like to help make sure that he doesnâ€™t lose any of his possessions at the farmhouse.â€
â€œThe farmhouse!â€ Timmons said abruptly. â€œThe farmhouse is quite safe. Iâ€™m sure you donâ€™t have to bother with any of my things there.â€
â€œGood,â€ McKeefe said.
â€œOf course then, Mary, you can tell that I am completely fine. If you could help get me out of this horrible place, I wouldâˆ’ â€¦ would be most appreciative.â€
He smiled at her. It seemed like he was trying to be charming but the smile was all wrong.
â€œWell,â€ she said. â€œYou didnâ€™t contact your family at all last winter and I donâ€™t know what thatâ€™s about. Maybe you should be in here.â€
The manâ€™s eyes narrowed.
â€œNo,â€ he said carefully. â€œI should â€¦ not. I didnâ€™t contact them because â€¦ I was very busy. It was â€¦ important. My work was important and there is â€¦ not a telephone in the Woonsocket house. So, it was impossible. Also, the snow, it didst â€¦ it did come down â€¦ very strongly â€¦ I was unable to get a waâˆ’ â€¦ a vehicle or any way to get out. But as you can see, I am â€¦ quite calm now. I am quite in possession of my facilities.â€
â€œRight,â€ she replied. â€œWell, being a researcher, I might be interested in your work. What were you doing?â€
â€œI was merely â€¦ studying my familyâ€™s â€¦ genealogy, its past, our ancestors, those who came before us, in order to try to better understand myself. You see. It was very simple.â€
â€œRight. And what exactly did you find out about yourself?â€
â€œNot terribly much of any great interest.â€
â€œWell, I heard you made a new friend, what was his name again?â€
â€œYes, Mr. Baines is gone. You can tell â€¦ my â€¦ who sent you?â€
â€œWell, your mother called me and I really wanted to see you and figure out exactly what you were trying to figure out about your familyâ€™s genealogy.â€
â€œWell, I was just â€¦ curious. I was just curious, thatâ€™s all. But Mr. Baines is gone. If anyone is expressing concerns about Mr. Baines, he and I are no longer â€¦ acquaintances. He is gone. Heâ€™s gone to Europe. He will â€¦ will not be back.â€
â€œSo if you could please talk to these physicians and tell them that I am fine.â€
He leaned forward in the bed and Miss Holland found herself leaning back, unnerved by Brianâ€™s strange mode of speech and his wild eyes.
â€œWell, what did this Mr. Baines do while he was visiting you?â€ Miss Holland asked.
â€œHe simply aided me in my research,â€ Brian snapped. â€œThat is all. Now he is gone. If you could tell these doctors that they can release me â€¦ please.â€
â€œI donâ€™t think Iâ€™m going to do that,â€ she replied. â€œBut, I would like to know more about what you did find out.â€
Timmons practically snarled at the woman. Then he cursed her.
â€œDamn you!â€ he said. â€œTell them to let me out of this place!â€
He spit at her and the spittle struck the floor between the two. He began ranting about place and about her. McKeefe stepped forward.
â€œLook, I know youâ€™re trying to get out, but let the nice lady be,â€ he said. â€œOr I might have to get a little physical.â€
Timmons started muttering under his breath as he glared at McKeefe. The other man put his hand on Timmonsâ€™ shoulder.
â€œAre you okay?â€ he asked.
â€œNow Brian, calm down,â€ Miss Holland said.
â€œYou should probably take your hands off me and let me speak with her alone,â€ Brian Timmons muttered darkly.
McKeefe removed his hand from the man, turned, and went to the door. He started to pull on the handle though the door was securely locked from the outside. The door bumped against the doorframe. He pulled on it again and again and again. His eyes were glazed over and his mouth hung open. McKeefe felt like he was in a daze, like being drunk, and thought that what Timmons had said made complete sense. But he couldnâ€™t get the door open.
â€œMary, it would be best for all of us if you â€¦ would tell the doctor to release me,â€ Timmons said. â€œHe should release me now!â€
â€œBrian, you know I canâ€™t do that,â€ Miss Holland said quietly.
He frowned at the girl again.
â€œPerhaps your friend,â€ Timmons said. Then more loudly. â€œYour friend!â€
McKeefe looked over his shoulder at Timmons blankly.
â€œTell the doctor to release me now,â€ Timmons said to him. â€œI think thatâ€™s what you should do.â€
McKeefe continued to pull on the door. The attendantâ€™s face appeared in the window.
â€œAre you folks finished?â€ he asked.
â€œSay, Mary, I think that this would really be a good idea,â€ McKeefe said to her. â€œSay, Mr. Attendant, could you let us all out?â€
â€œI think I could talk to him,â€ Miss Holland said.
â€œI think I have the â€¦â€
â€œAnd we could talk under the trees and under the shade by the little stream â€¦â€
â€œYou just wait for me outside.â€
The attendant opened the door and McKeefe stumbled out.
â€œYou sure youâ€™re going to be okay, Miss?â€ the attendant asked Miss Holland.
â€œIâ€™ll be fine,â€ she replied.
â€œAll right,â€ he said. â€œIâ€™ll be right outside the door.â€â€™
He closed the door
* * *
â€œWhatâ€™s he even in for?â€ McKeefe asked the attendant groggily. â€œHe seems like a perfectly fine guy to me.â€
The attendant gave him a look.
â€œYouâ€™ll have to talk to one of the doctors about that, sir,â€ he said. â€œI donâ€™t know all of the details.â€
McKeefe staggered down the hallway.
* * *
â€œWhat exactly happened to you up there, Brian?â€ Miss Holland asked Timmons.
â€œNothing!â€ Brian replied. â€œNothing. Nothing. Nothing. People are â€¦ overreacting.â€
â€œI â€¦ simply have â€¦ grown up â€¦ and certain people â€¦ that woman â€¦ my mother â€¦ is â€¦ not happy with that. Perhaps sheâ€™s the one who should be â€¦ in this house of â€¦ pain.â€
â€œWell, if you did go free, what exactly would you do?â€
â€œI would go back to Woonsocket â€¦ to live my life out. Out of that harpyâ€™s clutches. Sheâ€™s treacherous. You should know this â€¦ she is not who she says she is!â€
â€œWell, she seems pleasant to me.â€
â€œThat is merely the appearance she wishes you to see. That is like makeup on a harlotâ€™s face.â€
â€œIt is what she presents herself to others. She is not what she appears. I need to get out of here before she comes back for me.â€
â€œSheâ€™s going to come back for you?â€
â€œYes. She intends me some terrible harm, Iâ€™m certain of that.â€
She felt certain that the man was lying to her.
â€œSo, youâ€™ll talk to the doctors,â€ he said. â€œWill you talk to the doctors? Tell them to let me go.â€
â€œTell me more about your mother,â€ Miss Holland replied. â€œWhy do you think sheâ€™s going to come after you?â€
â€œI donâ€™t know! I think that sheâ€™s â€¦ upset. That I have left the fold, that I have left the nest. Now that father â€¦ is dead, I believe that she intends to do me harm as well.â€
â€œWell, she really seemed concerned about your safety whenever I went to visit her.â€
â€œThat is just the face she wants you to see.â€
â€œIf I did talk to these doctors, Iâ€™m not sure you would be fit for â€¦ society.â€
â€œThen â€¦ no â€¦ I am fine. I am â€¦ of good character â€¦ and morally upright.â€
â€œWell, you seem to be not telling the truth about your mother for some reason.â€
He started cursing her again and seemed very angry. He struggled against his bonds and muttered the nonsense words he muttered before.
She moved to the door and tapped on it. The attendant quickly unlocked it from the outside. However, as she left the room, everything felt strange. It felt hazy and odd, as if she was looking at the world through a dirty glass. She felt like she was in a dream.
â€œTalk to the doctors!â€ Timmons screamed after her. â€œGet me out of here! Talk to those physicians!â€
â€œYou calm down, now, Mr. Timmons,â€ the attendant said as he closed the door.
Miss Holland tried to balance herself.
â€œWhere did that â€¦ guy I came in with go?â€ she asked.
â€œHe headed up the hall, miss,â€ the attendant said. â€œAre you all right?â€
â€œYes,â€ she replied. â€œIâ€™m fine â€¦ Iâ€™m fine. Just point me in his direction.â€
â€œI can take you that way,â€ the attendant said, leading her up the hall.
They found McKeefe in a side hallway, leaning against the wall. Both of them felt they should talk to the doctors about getting Brian out. Miss Holland asked the attendant if they could see Brian Timmonsâ€™ doctor. When they found him, she made the case that Brian needed to be released.
McKeefe started to feel less shaky as they talked to the doctor.
â€œWe canâ€™t, unfortunately, release Mr. Timmons yet,â€ the doctor told them. â€œHe is still very violent. He attacks the attendants on a daily basis. Heâ€™s very disruptive. Many of the attendants get a strange feeling when they are in the room alone with him. I feel that he is hopelessly insane and could be better cared for in a larger facility than this one. Are you all right?â€
That last remark was directed at Miss Holland who was swaying slightly on her feet.
â€œYes, Iâ€™m fine,â€ she said vaguely. â€œWell, Brian told me he would live alone. That canâ€™t really do any harm to other people, right?â€
â€œIt could, miss, if he comes in contact with other people and becomes violent again.â€
â€œWell, we think he might be on to something. Weâ€™re not sure.â€
â€œWell, unfortunately, unless he proves himself in a psychological evaluation to be sane enough to leave this facility and gets the approval of Mrs. Timmons who had him committed, then heâ€™s going to have to stay here. But if you could please tell Mrs. Timmons that we would like her to take him to a more permanent and secure facility, we would appreciate it.â€
â€œSo youâ€™re saying that Mrs. Timmons has say in what Brianâ€™s â€¦ situation could be?â€
â€œYes. After his brush with the law, she asked to have him committed. He was tested and it was found that he is certifiably insane.â€
â€œI see. Well, are you sure thereâ€™s nothing you can do?â€
â€œThereâ€™s nothing we can do, miss. Not at this point. Although I would appreciate it if you could ask Mrs. Timmons to have him taken to another facility.â€
â€œWeâ€™ll talk to her.â€
They left the hospital and McKeefe noticed that Miss Holland was acting very strangely. She had a blank look on her face, she walked erratically, and when she stood still, she leaned from side to side as if she had lost her balance.
â€œAre you really feeling okay?â€ he asked. â€œYou seem like youâ€™re kind of a little strange. I felt a little weird back there so â€¦ do you think youâ€™re really able to drive right now?â€
She made a case for herself and climbed into the automobile. She started it, tried to put it into gear and stalled the machine. She started it again and stalled the engine again. On the third time, she finally got it into gear and got the car into motion, though the car pulled ahead and slowed, pulled ahead and slowed, and pulled ahead and slowed. He called for her to stop the car and pushed on the brake.
â€œOkay, now I donâ€™t think youâ€™re really fit, at all, to drive now,â€ he said. â€œDo you mind if I drive you back to your place and make sure that youâ€™re okay.â€
â€œFine,â€ she said. â€œDo whatever you want.â€
He climbed out of the automobile and she slid into the passenger seat.
It was another 10 minutes before the cloudiness left her mind and she felt herself again. She remembered what happened but was unsure exactly why it had happened.
â€œSo, do you recall exactly what Brian was talking about?â€ she finally said. â€œI mean research-wise?â€
â€œHe said something about his family tree or something,â€ he replied. â€œSomething weird like that.â€
â€œYeah, I remember that. But I guess you left before he started saying his mother was evil.â€
â€œI know; she seemed like the nicest lady on the phone, even though her intentions are a little misguided. She still seemed very nice and I couldnâ€™t really see her as being like Brian described: makeup on a harlotâ€™s face.â€
â€œWhat? Did he ever tell you anything about that weirdo that she was talking about? What was it: Blaine? Blake? Drew?â€
â€œHe seemed to dismiss him completely. I have no idea why he was there or why he left. But, what exactly was your reasoning for wanting him to be let go?â€
â€œI donâ€™t know. At the time, it just seemed like a great idea. He just seemed like such a chipper and upright young man. I still canâ€™t see any reason why he should be there. Sure, he might have a little bit of sputtering, but all these weird rich people who have these swanky lives have these weird little things and if he wants to go be alone to some little weird farmhouse and fall off a cliff or something, thatâ€™s fine.â€
â€œPersonally, I think he probably would murder someone if it were up to him, but I do think he might be onto something with this whole research.â€
â€œLooking at his family tree?â€
â€œWell, he seemed to â€¦ I donâ€™t know, not let on as much as he knew. Maybe we should talk to Mrs. Timmons.â€
â€œWe can do that. Do you want to do that later on tonight or do it tomorrow?â€
â€œLetâ€™s do it tomorrow.â€
â€œAre you sure youâ€™re still feeling quite okay? Did you ever get any sort of weird feeling like this guy was kind of reaching into your head?â€
He reached towards her but she pushed his hand away.
I donâ€™t want to touch you, she thought.
â€œWell, I did feel a little swimmy in the head,â€ she confessed. â€œI have no idea what that was though. Bizarre. Supernatural, almost.â€
She had read about people casting spells in folklore. She did not know if the muttering he did under his breath might have been some kind of incantation. McKeefe just gave her a glance.
Miss Holland suggested they find a restaurant and get something to eat. McKeefe said he knew of a diner not far from their building and drove them there.
They sat down in a booth. When the waitress came, McKeefe smiled at her and ordered lobster bisque.
â€œHoney, we ainâ€™t got none of that,â€ the waitress said.
She was a heavyset woman with dark hair and the beginnings of a mustache. Her voice was very deep. A cigarette dangled out of her mouth.
â€œIf itâ€™s not on the menu, we canâ€™t get it for you, honey,â€ she said.
McKeefe grabbed the menu and quickly looked over it as Miss Holland ordered the soup of the day.
â€œOh yeah, weâ€™ve got some great soup today, hon,â€ the waitress said.
McKeefe ordered the meatloaf. They both had coffee with their meal. The food was good and the coffee was hot and strong. Miss Holland figured she would be up all night, tossing and turning, thinking about the things she learned that day. McKeefe tried to make conversation but Miss Holland didnâ€™t talk too much. She seemed to be deep in thought.
â€œDo you mind?â€ he asked as he took out a pack of cigarettes.
â€œGo ahead,â€ she replied. â€œI donâ€™t do it myself.â€
He lit the cigarette and took a deep puff. It really took off the tension after what had happened at the sanitarium.
The check came after theyâ€™d eaten and McKeefe paid it with a dollar bill.
â€œHow are you feeling?â€ McKeefe asked.
He was a little concerned as he remembered how strange sheâ€™d acted earlier.
â€œWell, Iâ€™m still thinking about those words Brian was muttering,â€ she replied. â€œI think I might have a few books in my collection that could help me figure out what he was saying. So, I think Iâ€™m just going to turn in for the night.â€
They took her automobile back to the apartment building.
â€œWhat a magical day,â€ McKeefe said sarcastically as they reached the foyer.
â€œWasnâ€™t it though?â€ she replied.
They parted. When Miss Holland reached her apartment, she looked through some of the books she had on superstition and the occult in the hopes of finding something about spells and the like, but could find nothing that seemed related to the strange words that Brian Timmons had said.
She turned in around 10 p.m.
* * *