â€œWhat do you mean haunted, Mr. Dunne?â€ Miss Holland said.
â€œWe saw the raid,â€ Dunne said. â€œMe and Phoebe. We saw the raid back in â€™19. Yep. Yep. Yep. You should stay away. Itâ€™s a devil house. Devil house.â€
â€œYep. Yep. Yep.â€
â€œWhat do you mean by that?â€
â€œThere was a cult out here! It was bunches of â€˜em. They would have these ceremonies at midnight. Dark, moonless nights starting in 1919. That owner was foreign. He had white hair and eyes like ice. Never introduced himself, which Iâ€™m very grateful for.â€
â€œYou said he was foreign?â€ Miss Holland asked.
â€œDid you, by chance, know his name?â€ Bryan asked.
â€œI said he never introduced himself!â€ Dunne said. â€œWhatâ€™s a matter? Are you tired in the head, boy? How I get his name if he didnâ€™t introduce himself? Iâ€™m Mr. Dunne, by the way.â€
â€œMary-Jane,â€ Miss Holland said.
He shook her head. Phoebe rolled her eyes.
â€œJohn Dunne,â€ he said, taking McKeefeâ€™s hand.
â€œJohn McKeefe,â€ he said.
â€œYouâ€™re a foreigner too. John Dunne.â€
â€œItâ€™s a simple name for a simple man!â€
He looked them over.
â€œThere was an enormous explosion,â€ Dunne went on. Black rolled his eyes. â€œYou know, I was an artilleryman during the Civil War. More powerful than anything I ever heard in my life. It was right after the raid started. Then there was this giant purplish fireball, shooting off into the sky.â€
â€œYes, Iâ€™m sure theyâ€™re very interestedâˆ’â€ Black started to say.
â€œPhoebe!â€ Dunne said. â€œPhoebe! She saw it.â€
â€œYep,â€ Phoebe said with a nod.
â€œYou know the purple lights can still be seen to dance in the upper floor windows every new moon,â€ Dunne said.
â€œOh,â€ Miss Holland said.
â€œYou shouldnâ€™t buy this house!â€ Dunne said. â€œYou folks shouldnâ€™t buy this house!â€
â€œMr. Dunne!â€ Black said sharply. â€œIâ€™m going to have to ask you to leave if youâ€™re going to be this way.â€
â€œThey donâ€™t want to buy this house!â€ Dunne said to him. â€œWe gave the same warning to Professor Carlson. He seemed normal enough. But he said it was superstitious pish-posh. You know, around Charing Cross, thereâ€™s a fine line between superstition and common sense.â€
â€œMr. Dunne. Please.â€
â€œAll right, all right. Iâ€™m going. Iâ€™m going. Donâ€™t get me arrested Mr. lawyer-man!â€
Black rolled his eyes again and Dunne and his wife took their leave, saying farewell to them all. Mr. Black closed the door behind them.
â€œI apologize,â€ he said to them. â€œThere are some very superstitious people in this area. Rest assured, this house is sound, stable, itâ€™s almost brand-new and itâ€™s almost never been lived in. Forty-five hundred dollars is an excellent price.â€
â€œIt is, but with the haunting â€¦â€ Bertelli said. â€œâ€¦ being laid on it â€¦â€
â€œHow about we just wait until you get that coat of paint on,â€ Miss Holland said.
â€œIt will probably be several days,â€ Black said. â€œI could also lower the price to four thousand and you could take care of the painting yourself.â€
â€œI was about to address that myself,â€ Bertelli said.
â€œFour thousand,â€ Black said. â€œAnd the painting will NOT cost $500. We could go back to the office and I could write up the paperwork right now and give you the keys.â€
â€œSounds good to me,â€ Bertelli said.
They shook hands.
â€œItâ€™s just a verbal contract,â€ Black said, seeming relieved. â€œBut it could hold up in a court of law.â€
â€œOh no,â€ Bertelli said. â€œI have every intention of buying.â€
They drove back to town and found that Black already had the paperwork written up for the house. All he had to do was put their names on it. When he asked what name to put on the paperwork, Bertelli spoke up and said he was buying it. He wrote a check for $4,000, signed the paperwork, and owned the property.
â€œGood luck,â€ Black said. â€œI hope you enjoy it very much. Iâ€™m sure it would make a nice summer house.â€
Iâ€™m sure as Hell not living in it, Bertelli thought.
â€œNone of you speak Arabic, do you?â€ Black suddenly said. â€œI can give you a job for a day.â€
â€œNo,â€ Miss Holland said.
â€œWell, I do happen to know a person who is somewhat fluent in Arabic,â€ McKeefe said. â€œI donâ€™t know exactly.â€
â€œAll right,â€ Black said. â€œIf he wants to earn a few bucks, send him by my office. And tell him â€¦ have him tell Dora heâ€™s the Arabic speaker. Thanks, Mr. â€¦ Mac â€¦â€
â€œMcKeefe! Thatâ€™s it. Thank you.â€
â€œIt was good doing business with you,â€ Bertelli said.
Black said he would send the paperwork to the courthouse and would mail Bertelli a copy of that.
Bryan took out his credentials.
â€œI was investigating the mysterious happenings here,â€ he said. â€œIâ€™m a private investigator and I was wondering if I could get access to the coronerâ€™s report. It seems to be connected to one of the cases Iâ€™m working on.â€
Black checked the credentials and then filled out the paperwork so that Bryan could see the paperwork on Carlsonâ€™s death.
* * *
They all left the office. Miss Holland took McKeefe aside.
â€œMr. Dunne said that there were people dancing every new moon,â€ she said to him. â€œThe fourth is a full moon. I think we should investigate whatâ€™s going on on the new moon in this house. We donâ€™t have to let the proper owner know.â€
â€œMr. Bertelli back there, I think he might have had an interest in stealing that book that I had,â€ McKeefe said.
She gasped. She looked at her datebook again and realized that the next new moon was not until the 19th.
â€œWe should go anyway,â€ she said. â€œWe should go. Do you know where the book is?â€
â€œDid you tell him anything about it?â€
â€œI was going to but I didnâ€™t. I just said that it had knowledge.â€
â€œDid you tell him about your little experience?â€
â€œWe need to get that book back. He knows what kind of power it has.â€
â€œIt might be something he tries to unlock.â€
â€œI know. Where do you think it is?â€
â€œI would guess heâ€™s keeping it about his person so he could try using it. He might have it in his hotel. We just need to watch out for that Manfred fellow.â€
He noted that his apartment had been locked and they must have broken in. She reiterated that they needed to get the book back.
* * *
Dr. Polichev visited with Mr. Tharrington Smith. He was a short, balding fellow who looked to be about 40 years old. She learned from him that Mr. Black handled all of Mr. Carlsonâ€™s affairs and referred her to Mr. Black.
â€œDora!â€ he said. â€œWhereâ€™s Mr. Black?â€
â€œHe just left,â€ Dora replied. â€œHeâ€™s selling the house.â€
Mr. Smith referred her to Dora to make an appointment with Mr. Black.
* * *
After Babydoll had finished with Silversmith, he thanked her for â€œpolishing his whistleâ€ as he put it. He was feeling more content than he had in a long time.
â€œYou want to help me on this short errand?â€ he asked her.
â€œOkay,â€ she said.
â€œIâ€™ve been thinking about my hobo friends and Iâ€™m still thinking about Jackie, whose body was never found,â€ he said. â€œIâ€™m going to go get my shovels and if you would help me to just look around the spot where my buddy, Jackie, disappeared.â€
â€œOkay,â€ she said again. â€œSure.â€
They got his equipment and headed off to the park. They spent the better part of the day in the secluded part of the park, digging around in the area where Jackie had disappeared. By the end of the day, they made an interesting find.
* * *
Lionel Hutz, Manfred Donald, and Penelope Luckey telephoned Marty Smith, who owned the warehouse where the police kept their evidence. He gave them the address of the warehouse and it turned out to be right across the street from the police station.
The warehouse was a single-story, functional wood structure with the roof twelve feet above the ground. A large, double door stood in the front facing the street. The windows were pretty high up and on the front of the building.
Marty Smith showed up.
â€œOkay, whatâ€™s your name?â€ he said to them. â€œI need to see some I.D.â€
Hutz showed him his driverâ€™s license. He looked it over and then turned to Donald.
â€œYou got stuff in the warehouse?â€ he asked.
â€œNo,â€ Donald replied.
â€œWhat about you, maâ€™am,â€ he asked.
Miss Luckey shook her head.
â€œWeâ€™re just here with a friend,â€ she said.
â€œWith him?â€ Smith asked. â€œThis Hutz guy?â€
He looked over Hutzâ€™s drivers license, then opened up the warehouse doors and entered the place. They saw him looking through some bins just to the right of the door. He returned a minute or two later with Hutzâ€™s shoes, his belt, and a few other personal possessions that had been in Hutzâ€™s pockets when heâ€™d been arrested. He brought the items out and read off them off a list as he handed them back to the man. He closed up the warehouse door and locked it.
â€œThatâ€™s it, right?â€ Smith asked Hutz. â€œYou got everything on the list.â€
Marty Smith left and the other three took a leisurely walk around the warehouse. There were more windows, but all of them were in easy view of anyone on the street or the surrounding buildings. However, there was one window on the north side, facing the park that was out of view of the police station. It was set with three bars and in a spot where it could not be easily observed from anywhere nearby.
â€œWe could saw that,â€ Hutz said, looking at the bars, which appeared to be affixed to the window frame which, like the rest of the structure, was wood.
â€œThatâ€™s totally breakable,â€ Donald said.
They discussed getting the keys from Marty or perhaps even sending Silversmith or Dr. Huxtable to get their items while others went to Martyâ€™s house and looked for a spare set of keys. They discussed how best to break into the warehouse. Donald went to the general store and bought a crowbar.
* * *
Miss Holland and Mr. McKeefe discussed breaking into Bertelliâ€™s hotel room. Then they went to their rooms at the hotel and got some things they might need, including McKeefeâ€™s â€œtools.â€ They discussed how to best go about searching Bertelliâ€™s room at the hotel.
* * *
They all met for lunch that day except for Miss Holland and Mr. McKeefe. Those present discussed what theyâ€™d all done individually: the purchase of Carlsonâ€™s house, digging in the park, locating the warehouse, Mr. Black needing someone to translate Arabic, and the like.
Dr. Polichev took a small medicine bottle out and poured a little into Silversmithâ€™s lemonade. It was some of the moonshine that sheâ€™d taken from the man. He noticed her slip the liquid into the drink and took a sip. It tasted a lot like moonshine: corn liquor.
Itâ€™s delicious, he thought.
He drank it down and asked for more.
â€œThatâ€™s all the medicine I can give you right now,â€ she said. â€œOtherwise, your body might go into shock. This is enough to last you for a while.â€
â€œIâ€™ve still got the shakes,â€ he noted.
* * *
Miss Luckey went to Mr. Blackâ€™s office. She told Dora that she was the one who could translate Arabic and Black saw her almost immediately. She was quite impressed by Mr. Blackâ€™s office. He was willing to pay her a $10 consulting fee to have her look at a letter in Arabic and translate it for him.
He handed over a piece of paper that was dated Feb. 27, 1921. Translated, it read:
Dear Professor Carlson,
I am writing concerning the volume by ibn Abbas that the University permitted you to
take back with you to America for further study. Our understanding was that you would
not be needing the volume for more than a couple of months, and would send it back via
insured post, to arrive here not later than February 1. To date we have not received the
Although the volume is not part of our library, the University of Alexandria is entrusted
with the preservation of antiquities discovered within our borders, regardless of by whom.
I am certain this is merely an oversight on your part, and that you will send the volume back
Dr. Faisal Hamadi
Director, University Library
She wrote down the information, keeping a copy for herself. She took a copy of the letter in English to Mr. Black.
â€œThank you,â€ he said.
He read it.
â€œIâ€™m curious regarding the volume that he mentions,â€ she said as he read. â€œI wonder if you still have it in the effects from Mr. Carlson. Iâ€™d like to examine it.â€
â€œNo,â€ Mr. Black said distractedly as he read. â€œI just sold the house. That was the last of the items. Volume? I suppose it could be in the house.â€
He continued reading the letter.
â€œThere were no books,â€ he said. â€œThere were no Arabic books.â€
He finished the translation and looked up.
â€œThere were no books,â€ he said. Then he looked at her more closely. â€œWho are you? Oh yes, I just hired you.â€
He took out a ten-dollar bill and handed it to the woman, thanking her very much.
She left and went in search of Donald and Hutz.
* * *
Bertelli telephoned the local taxicab and got a ride out to the Dunne house. The farmhouse was obviously older than Carlsonâ€™s house and Mr. Dunne opened the door to his knock.
â€œOh, hello!â€ the old farmer said. â€œYou didnâ€™t buy that house, did you?â€
â€œIâ€™m actually your new neighbor,â€ Bertelli said.
â€œOh! You shouldnâ€™t have bought that house! Itâ€™s haunted! Itâ€™s a terrible place!â€
â€œOh, I donâ€™t plan on living there.â€
â€œYou donâ€™t want to go there.â€
He looked at Bertelli.
â€œYouâ€™re selling it?â€ he finally said.
â€œNo, no, I actually plan on just using the land, temporarily,â€ Bertelli replied. â€œPossibly renovating the area. Making it actually livable.â€
â€œThat landâ€™s cursed! Youâ€™re never going to get nothing out of it.â€ He leaned back and called out. â€œIs he Phoebe?â€
â€œNo,â€ came his wifeâ€™s voice from inside the house.
â€œNow, you were saying people like to go out there and dance and chant around midnight?â€ Bertelli said.
â€œThereâ€™s â€¦ thereâ€™s lights, I seen lights, thereâ€™s lights, purple lights you can see dancing in the upper floors every new moon. Itâ€™s hanted!â€
â€œBut you could also look at it as free fireworks.â€
The man just looked at him like he was crazy.
â€œWhere you from?â€ he finally asked.
â€œI was born and raised in Providence,â€ Bertelli replied.
â€œYou look kinda like a wop,â€ Dunne said.
â€œYou could say that.â€
â€œSo, how can I help you Mr. â€¦ what did you say your name was?â€
â€œMr. Bertelli, how can I help ya?â€
â€œOh, I was just going to say hi to my new neighbors â€¦â€
â€œHello. I think youâ€™re gonna regret buying that house.â€
â€œWell, we can see that in the future. Weâ€™ll find out.â€
â€œWell, good luck. I wouldnâ€™t purchase that place. Itâ€™s cursed. That big old purple exploding thing â€¦â€
â€œSo, all youâ€™ve seen is purple explosions?â€
â€œThere was a purple â€¦ there was a cult! They was having rituals at midnight and chanting!â€
â€œHow many would you say?â€
â€œI donâ€™t know! A dozen, maybe? Them fellas was â€¦ and that fella in charge was creepy. I didnâ€™t like him at all.â€
â€œIâ€™ll watch out for trespassers.â€
â€œYou shoot â€˜em! But, theyâ€™re gone. They all died. They all burned up when the police shot â€˜em up and explosions and the house burned down!â€
â€œI thought you said theyâ€™d still been doing that?â€
Dunne was at a loss for words for a moment.
â€œThank you for the worry,â€ Bertelli said.
â€œAll right, well â€¦â€ Dunne replied.
â€œHopefully I donâ€™t die so we can be friends.â€
â€œI hope so too! All righty. Well, good luck.â€
Bertelli took the taxi back to his property and looked around the grounds a little without entering the house. He examined the lightning-struck tree and the grounds. The purple coloration seemed to be part of the dirt out there. It was the same in the basement.
He spent a few hours scouring the place, looking in every corner and crevice. Everything seemed sound. He returned to town before nightfall.
* * *
Dr. Polichev and Bryan went back to Nashua by train. They went to the office of the coroner of Hillsboro County: Farley Fenstermocker. He looked over the paperwork theyâ€™d gotten from Mr. Black. He noted that it all seemed to be in order and handed them a case file.
The death of Hardy Carlson was listed as traumatic amputation of both legs at the hip. Death occurred from loss of blood and the case was listed as an apparent homicide that remained under investigation. There were no photographs with the paperwork. Bryan noted the case number.
At one point, Bryan checked to see if the deaths they learned about corresponded with the new or full moon but the dates didnâ€™t match up in a way that made them seem connected.
* * *
Miss Holland and Mr. McKeefe purchased 100 feet of hemp rope at the hardware store. Figuring Bertelli was out and about, investigating the town and the murder, they returned to the Charing Cross Inn. McKeefe had his rucksack. They went up to the second-floor hallway where Bertelliâ€™s room was located. The hallway was empty. One of the doors was open and, as they passed, they saw that a woman was cleaning the room within.
Miss Holland found a spot at the top of the stairs where she could keep watch on both the stairwell and the hallway. Meanwhile, McKeefe went to Bertelliâ€™s room, took out the appropriate lock pick, and got to work on the door. It took longer that he expected.
Miss Holland looked up the hall nervously.
After heâ€™d been working on the lock for five minutes without luck, he got very nervous. The maid sounded like she was finishing up in the room she was working in and he felt like heâ€™d pressed his luck quite a bit working on the lock for that long.
The maid finished up as McKeefe left the door. She went to the next door and knocked. When there was no answer, she took out her passkey and opened up the door. She started to clean the room.
McKeefe stopped where Miss Holland stood and told her he would try Bertelliâ€™s room again. He walked back down the hallway and set to work on the door again, finally getting it opened. He opened the door and Miss Holland walked down the room towards him. He waved her off.
â€œMaybe you should keep watch,â€ he whispered at her.
â€œAll right,â€ she hissed back.
She rolled her eyes and went back to her place while McKeefe entered Bertelliâ€™s room and closed the door behind him. He was going to lock the door but realized the lock was one that needed a key on either side to unlock it.
The room was fairly dark as the curtains had been closed. As his eyes adjusted, he saw that the room was messy. On one side were several suitcases and he could see a toilet kit in the small bathroom.
McKeefe rifled through the luggage, being as careful as he could. He found no sign of the large book that he and Miss Holland had found in the terrible laboratory near the Woonsocket house. He found a couple dozen shotgun shells in one of the inner pockets of one of the suitcases and some cash in another. He also checked under the bed and under the mattress but found nothing.
* * *