* * *
Miss Holland went with Miss Luckey, McKeefe, and Donald to the police station. They thought they could hear yelling coming from the door in the back of the office. Miss Holland went to the door and opened it. A hallway ran from left to right. There was a door in the far wall to the left, where the yelling was coming from. Two cells were to the right, also in the far wall.
Miss Kelly started going through the filing cabinet, looking for clues as to where the evidence warehouse was. McKeefe waited by the front desk for a police officer. Donald looked around the room heâ€™d already searched nervously. He moved to the door between the front and the back of the building.
â€œI know youâ€™re hiding something!â€ someone shouted. â€œI know youâ€™re hiding something!â€
Miss Holland went to the door to the interrogation room. Miss Luckey hissed that she should probably not interrupt the interrogation.
â€œHelp me!â€ they heard a voice from the right.
Lionel Hutz, the fake mustache falling off his face, had his face pressed against the bars of the far cell.
Miss Holland went to the interrogation room door and knocked. She looked over her shoulder and saw that Donald was gone.
The yelling within abruptly ceased. A moment later, the door was jerked open by Fetz. Cigar smoke came out of the room. Fetz had a big, nasty-smelling cigar clamped in his jaw. He glared at her.
â€œYouâ€™re not supposed to be back here!â€ he snarled.
He moved out of the room, forcing Miss Holland to back up. He looked back into the room and then pulled the door shut. He took out his keys and locked the door behind him. Then he turned back to her.
â€œMaâ€™am, youâ€™re going to have to go to the front,â€ he said. â€œThis is not for civilians.â€
â€œWhenever youâ€™re done, is it okay if we talk in the front?â€ she asked.
â€œWe can talk right now,â€ Fetz said impatiently. â€œLetâ€™s go.â€
He took her to the office. McKeefe was still there by the desk but there was no sign of Miss Luckey or Donald. Both of them had fled at Fetzâ€™s approach. Fetz closed the inner door behind him and glanced at McKeefe.
â€œWhat do you need?â€ Fetz asked Miss Holland.
â€œWell â€¦ um â€¦â€ she said. â€œMr. Fetz â€¦â€
â€œSgt. Fetz,â€ he said.
â€œSgt. Fetz. Um â€¦ you know, I was looking through some old newspapers that I purchased. You know. Trying to get a little history of the town weâ€™re visiting. And came across an article about a police raid.â€
Fetzâ€™s face got very red very quickly.
â€œAnd was wondering if you were okay,â€ she finished. â€œFrom that.â€
Fetzâ€™s face was twitching and he was frowning mightily around the cigar.
â€œI just wanted to know if any injuries you sustained were very bad orâˆ’â€ she went on.
â€œThatâ€™s none of your business!â€ he said. â€œNow, why donâ€™t you get out of here!â€
â€œOkay,â€ she replied.
Fetz had broken out into a sweat and the twitch got worse. He looked like he was getting more and more upset by the moment. She moved her hand close to her purse carefully. McKeefe noticed, though he didnâ€™t think Fetz did.
â€œGet out,â€ Fetz said to her.
â€œI wanted to know â€¦â€ Miss Holland said.
Fetz raised his eyebrows as if he couldnâ€™t believe the woman was still there.
â€œâ€¦ is there any amount of money I can pay you to get these people out of jail?â€ she went on.
Fetz bit down so hard on his cigar that it fell from his mouth. He spit out the piece that remained.
â€œAre you bribing me?â€ he asked.
â€œIâ€™m just wondering if they have any bail amount,â€ she said.
He glared at her.
â€œYouâ€™re going to need a court order from the County Seat,â€ he said. â€œYou get a court order and their bail, itâ€™s going to be at least fifty bucks, and yeah, you can bail â€˜em out, little missy. Now get out of here!â€
â€œAll right, Iâ€™m going!â€ she said, fleeing.
â€œAre you with her?â€ Fetz said to McKeefe.
â€œNo sir,â€ McKeefe said.
â€œThen what do you want?â€ Fetz asked.
McKeefe could see that tobacco had stuck to Fetzâ€™s teeth where heâ€™d bitten through the cigar.
â€œI was just going to ask for a light to light up a cigarette,â€ McKeefe said to Fetz. â€œBut I can see youâ€™re busy so Iâ€™m just going to get out of here.â€
Fetz looked at the man like he was mad.
â€œGet out of here!â€ he screamed at McKeefe.
McKeefe left quickly.
* * *
Dr. Polichev took the train to Nashua that afternoon and found a place where she could rent an automobile. She rented a large, new Cadillac sedan for a week. She drove back to Charing Cross that afternoon.
* * *
They met at the diner for dinner that night.
Miss Holland told them that they would need a court order to get their three companions out of jail.
â€œI found out that this same address where Professor Carlson had his house built, had a man named Nils Carlsen, S. E. N. Instead of â€˜son,â€™â€ Bryan said. â€œIt was odd that the name was slightly different.â€
â€œSo, the name was exactly the same except for the â€˜eâ€™ and the â€˜oâ€™?â€ Dr. Polichev asked.
He told them Nils Carlsen had lived in the house in 1919 and then Hardy Carlson had lived in the house in 1920.
â€œ1919?â€ Miss Holland asked. â€œThat was the police raid on the cult. Do you think they could be the same person?â€
â€œThey might be the same person,â€ Dr. Polichev said. â€œBecause after the cult raidâˆ’â€
â€œWell, why would he change his name?â€ Babydoll said.
â€œWell, after the cult raid, why would you not want to â€¦ if this crooked cop is on your tail,â€ Miss Holland said.
â€œThen thatâ€™s the same house up for sale by Mr. Black,â€ Dr. Polichev said.
â€œDo you know how much it costs?â€ Bryan asked.
â€œI do not know anything,â€ Dr. Polichev said. â€œI know itâ€™s an estate sale and he wants to sell it cheap and fast.â€
â€œOnce again, I am suspicious of Black,â€ Donald said.
â€œIâ€™m suspicious of him too,â€ Bryan said. â€œBut we need that estate.â€
â€œI could act as a potential buyer,â€ Dr. Polichev said.
â€œOr someone could actually buy it,â€ Bryan said. â€œI know who has the money for it.â€
He looked at Bertelli.
â€œHow much is the house?â€ Bertelli asked.
â€œWe donâ€™t know yet,â€ Babydoll said.
â€œThere could be a lot of occult things in that house,â€ Bryan said to Bertelli.
â€œThat could be your cover for your appointment with Black,â€ Dr. Polichev said to Miss Holland. â€œTo buy the house. And I could pose as you and you could pose as me and talk to Smith, because I know more questions to ask.â€
Bertelli asked where Black lived and someone checked the telephone directory in the phone booth in the diner. His name was not listed. Smith was likewise not listed.
â€œWhen you were staking out the police you said Sgt. Fetz came in the morning and left late at night,â€ Babydoll said to Donald. â€œHe was there all day?â€
â€œSo, if he goes in again tomorrow, if someone follows him, we can find out where he lives,â€ Babydoll said.
Someone looked for Fetz in the directory and found his name and address.
â€œSo, youâ€™re saying his house is empty during the day,â€ Donald said.
They discussed getting into Fetzâ€™s house without his knowing. They also discussed going out to the Carlson house but decided to wait until Monday.
* * *
Silversmith was exhausted by the time Fetz got done with him that evening. He had also had no bathroom break though he had taken advantage of the few minutes that Fetz was gone to deal with Miss Holland to relieve himself in a corner. He was thrown back into his cell and the three prisoners were fed. Then the officers went home for the night once more, leaving them in the dark.
As they sat in the dark, they thought they heard a clink, as if something metallic had been dropped on the floor. Silversmith went to the bars and looked out into the hallway. Hutz followed him. Silversmith spotted the cell keys about three feet away from the bars. Hutz was looking up at the ceiling.
â€œDr. Huxtable!â€ Silversmith hissed to Hutz. â€œI think I see the keys.â€
â€œWhat?â€ Hutz said, still looking up.
â€œI think I see the keys.â€
â€œOn the ground in front of the cell door.â€
Hutz looked down but there was nothing on the floor. Silversmith looked around desperately. There was no sign of the keys. He lay down on the ground and tried to reach the spot he thought the keys had been. There was nothing there, however.
* * *
Things seemed to be getting easily misplaced over the next couple of days. Keys came up missing and then were somewhere that they were not expected to be. Other tiny items also inexplicably ended up in the wrong place.
* * *
On Sunday, August 2, 1925, Lionel Hutz, who still insisted he was Dr. Huxtable, was interrogated all day by Fetz. He also quoted the law to Fetz and continually claimed, despite what his driverâ€™s license and other identification identified him as, that he was Dr. Huxtable.
Fetz was less subtle on the shifty lawyer. The police brutality was blatant and painful and the man was badly injured over the course of the day. Between the terrible interrogation and the beating, he was in terrible shape when he returned to the cell.
* * *
On Monday, August 3, 1925, Fetz released his three prisoners.
â€œGet out!â€ he said, opening the cell door.
Dr. Huxtable fled the building without a word.
Hutz asked him where the possessions heâ€™d had when heâ€™d been arrested were.
â€œYouâ€™ll have to go down to the warehouse with Marty and get them,â€ Fetz said.
â€œWhoâ€™s Marty?â€ Hutz asked.
â€œMarty owns the warehouse,â€ Fetz said. â€œMarty Smith. You can call him. Itâ€™s in the book!â€
He led them to the front door.
â€œDonâ€™t let me see your face around here anymore!â€ he called after Silverman and Hutz as they left the building.
â€œYou donâ€™t have to worry about that, jackass!â€ Silversmith said before he ran away.
â€œYeah, you better run!â€ Fetz shouted after him.
â€œIâ€™m going to make a complaint the Supreme Court!â€ Hutz said as he, too, ran away.
* * *
Miss Holland and Mr. McKeefe were having breakfast at the diner not far from the police station when they saw Dr. Huxtable run by. He was followed, shortly after, by Silversmith and Hutz.
â€œLetâ€™s not go out there,â€ McKeefe said.
â€œWell, we donâ€™t need to get that court order, I guess,â€ Miss Holland said.
* * *
Dr. Huxtable didnâ€™t even return to the hotel. He found another hotel, got a room, and paid one of the people there to purchase him a change of clothing and food and drink. He planned to hide in his room until he regained his composure.
* * *
The others had breakfast at the hotel and saw Silversmith and Hutz enter the building, Silversmith running up the stairs to the rooms. Hutz followed him more casually. Both of them looked very disheveled.
When Silversmith got back to the room that had been held for him at the hotel, the first thing he did was open up his rucksack. The four mason jars filled with moonshine should have been on top of the four empty bottles, but as he pulled out each of the ones on top, they were empty.
â€œOh my God!â€ he said.
* * *
Dr. Polichev went upstairs, looking for Hutz and Silversmith. She knocked on one of the doors that she thought might belong to one of the two men but there was no answer.
â€œHello?â€ Dr. Polichev called. â€œI know some first aid and you looked pretty banged up. Can I help you?â€
â€œAs a lawyer, I know I canâ€™t legally accept first aid outside of a hospital,â€ Hutz called. â€œSorry.â€
That sounded unusual but she didnâ€™t know for sure that it wasnâ€™t the law.
â€œAre you sure?â€ she called. â€œBecause you looked pretty banged up and â€¦ just close your eyes and you wonâ€™t know whatâ€™s happening.â€
The door next to the one she was talking at was flung open and Silversmith careened out, an empty mason jar in each hand.
â€œCan I help you sir?â€ she asked him. â€œDo you need any assistance?â€
â€œYes!â€ he said.
â€œAll right. Go lay down on the bed.â€
â€œTake the jars with you. Hold them close.â€
He did so, stumbling back into the room. She followed him in and examined him. He didnâ€™t seem to be injured but she was fairly certain that he was having the delirium tremens. His hands were shaking uncontrollably and he was in terrible shape. He was obviously in terrible distress and drying out from probably years of alcoholism.
â€œI had four of these bottles!â€ Silversmith said, almost deliriously. â€œI have four of these bottles! Where is my shine?â€
She left the room and retrieved her medical bag from her own room. She gave him an injection of morphine to help calm him down and then looked through his knapsack. She found four full jars on the bottom. Silversmith was not paying attention to her but she didnâ€™t think she could slip them into her own bag without him seeing.
â€œYou look a little anxious,â€ she said to the man. â€œIâ€™m going to give you a little bit extra.â€
She gave him another injection of morphine, which did calm the man down.
â€œIâ€™m feeling a little bit better,â€ he said. â€œI wish I had my shine.â€
She encouraged him to go down to the dining room to get something to eat and he complied. After he left, she took the four full mason jars and put them into her doctorâ€™s bag. She planned to administer the alcohol to the man in decreasing dosages in an attempt to wean him off the stuff.
* * *
Hutz had gotten changed, shaved, and used some cologne to mask his smell. He used his disguise kit to disguise all of his injuries. Then he stayed in his room. He was not yet ready to see any of the others.
* * *
Silversmith rejoined them at breakfast. He seemed very mellow but didnâ€™t stink of alcohol.
â€œDid you find a healthier alternative?â€ Bertelli asked.
â€œI found something,â€ Silversmith replied. â€œI donâ€™t know what it was.â€
Dr. Polichev also returned to the dining room. Tyler Bryan also arrived.
â€œWhat happened while I was in prison?â€ Silversmith asked.
They filled him in. He didnâ€™t retain everything that they said though he remembered little bits and pieces. Babydoll even offered him her services.
â€œOh yeah,â€ Silversmith said. â€œHell yeah! Iâ€™ve got 15 bucks on me right now.â€
â€œFifteen bucks?â€ Babydoll said.
She looked the man over. He had a musky smell and needed a shave but he wasnâ€™t bad looking. She decided to give the man a break and took him up to his room.
Soon after they left, Hutz appeared again. He told them he was going to the warehouse to get his things. Miss Luckey said sheâ€™d like to go with him.
* * *
Bertelli and Bryan met Miss Holland and Mr. McKeefe. They went to Mr. Blackâ€™s office that morning. Dora showed them through a functional office in which there was another woman and a young man busy working on typewriters. She opened up another door that said simple â€œBlackâ€ upon it.
Mr. Blackâ€™s personal office impressed even Bertelli. Expensive antiques, oil paintings, and Persian rugs decorated the room. All four walls were covered from floor to ceiling with expensive books. The rug was covered with legal documents in an appalling state of disarray. Mr. Black, an impeccably dressed 60ish gentleman, greeted them warmly and then apologized for the mess.
â€œThis is a working office, not a show office,â€ he said.
He walked around his desk and lowered himself into an exquisite chair.
â€œI assume this is about the Hardy Carlson estate?â€ he said.
â€œYes,â€ Miss Holland replied. â€œWe were actually inquiring because we found it was for sale.â€
â€œVery good, very good,â€ Black said, pleased. â€œItâ€™s the last thing I have to do before winding up the estate. According to Carlsonâ€™s will, heâ€™s donating all of his proceeds to Miskatonic University in Massachusetts. Iâ€™ve been trying to sell the house for four years, but itâ€™s been a slow market.â€
â€œIs there anything you can tell us about the history of the house?â€
â€œThat it is for sale. I would like to get $4,500 for the house and the acreage. It consists of roughly five acres.â€
Bertelli realized that was very inexpensive.
â€œI could show you the house if you like,â€ Black said.
â€œYes, weâ€™d like that very much,â€ Miss Holland replied.
â€œVery well,â€ Black said. â€œDo you have an automobile? I only have a two-seater.â€
â€œUm â€¦â€ she said.
Mr. Black picked up the telephone on his desk.
â€œYes, Dora, get me Harv, please,â€ he said.
He waited a moment.
â€œHarv, send the car around,â€ he said. â€œYes. This is Mr. Black. Harv, you know me.â€ A moment while the other person spoke. â€œYes. To the office.â€
He hung up and gave them a look.
â€œOur local taxi driver will be here very shortly,â€ he said to them. â€œAnd I will lead you out there.â€
â€œAll right,â€ Miss Holland said.
â€œWe can go down to the street and wait for him,â€ he said.
He picked up a walking cane and led them out of the office. He didnâ€™t look like he had any kind of limp. He led them down to the street and only a minute or two went by before the same cab that took them to the hotel pulled up. Mr. Black leaned in.
â€œJust follow me, Harv,â€ he said to the man within.
They entered the taxi as Mr. Black got into a sleek little Daimler-Benz roadster, started the engine, and led them out of town down North Farm Road. It was about two and a half miles up the road before they arrived at a neat little two-story farmhouse on the right side. The taxi pulled up behind him and they all got out.
The house was two stories high and looked brand new. The ground outside looked very twisted and sickly, mostly dead, almost as if it had been poisoned or over-fertilized. The air was very still and there were no sounds of birds or insects. Mr. Black took them to the front door, unlocked it, and led them inside where there was a cozy living room, a small dining room, and a kitchen downstairs. There were steps down in the pantry. Off the living room was a small bathroom. Steps led up to a second story with two bedrooms.
The house was dusty but felt unused. It had electricity and running water.
He opened the back door very briefly.
â€œHere are the rest of the grounds,â€ he said, gesturing.
They peeked out the back door and saw that behind the house was a rough circular area maybe 100 feet across that appeared to be burnt. A tree standing at the edge of that was split down the middle as if a titanic bolt of lightning had struck it. The burnt area had a purple discoloration to it. There were metal basement storm doors on the back of the house. The hooks on the doors for a bar were on the outside, which seemed a bit unusual.
â€œBut back in the house,â€ he said, closing the door rather quickly.
â€œWhat about that weird circle thing?â€ Miss Holland asked.
â€œIâ€™m not sure exactly,â€ Mr. Black said. â€œThere was an explosion or something out here several years ago. Obviously the land has not yet recovered. Iâ€™m sure it will. Hopefully it will. Obviously the treeâ€™s been long dead. But let me show you some of the accoutrements here in the kitchen.â€
He showed them the oven and the icebox.
â€œCould I see the basement?â€ McKeefe said.
â€œOf course,â€ Mr. Black said.
He led them down the steps. The door at the bottom was made of iron and the hooks for a bar were on their side of the door, as if it had been used to keep something in instead of keeping something out. A bar leaned in the corner. Mr. Black led them into the basement and lit the bare electric bulb that hung from the ceiling. He seemed relieved that the light came on.
The basement was as large as the house and they could see the metal storm doors at the far end. The walls looked older and there was obviously smoke damage on them. The floor was cement and appeared to be of an inferior quality. It was actually higher than where the door opened into the cellar. There was more of the purple discoloration on the walls. All of them but McKeefe noticed that it looked like there was a lot of quick-dry cement dumped into the cellar sometime after the walls had been burned.
â€œThe basementâ€™s not in very good shape,â€ Black admitted, looking around. â€œI can have a coat of paint thrown up on the walls if youâ€™d like.â€
â€œThat would probably be ideal,â€ Miss Holland said.
â€œAre you interested in buying the house?â€ Black asked.
â€œYes, weâ€™re very interested,â€ she replied.
â€œI can have the painters come in and we can have the documents filled out,â€ he said. â€œIf we have to wait for the painters, it will probably take a few days.â€
â€œLetâ€™s do that.â€
â€œSo, I heard that this house, before it was a house, it used to be a â€¦ church?â€ Bertelli said.
â€œA barn,â€ Miss Holland said.
â€œThere was a house here but there was some kind of altercation with the law and it burned down,â€ Mr. Black said. â€œThis house was built after that. This house was build in 1920. Itâ€™s only five years old. Itâ€™s only been lived in for a few months by Professor Carlson before his untimely death in 1921. It was almost a year, I suppose you could say.â€
â€œDid you know the previous owner?â€ Miss Holland said. â€œCarlsen?â€
â€œNo, I did not know the previous owner, the person who had the altercation with the police several years ago,â€ Black said. â€œIâ€™m not sure what the details are about that.â€
â€œUh-huh,â€ Miss Holland said
Bertelli thought the man was being completely upfront with them. He obviously wanted to sell the house.
â€œSo, Mr. Black,â€ Miss Holland said. â€œIâ€™m just very interested in the history of this town and was wondering if you knew anyone who DID know of the previous house or owner.â€
â€œNo, Iâ€™m afraid I donâ€™t,â€ he said.
A knocking came from the front door, above their heads.
Black led them out of the basement and into the kitchen. He went through the dining room to the front door and opened it. An old man stood there. He was probably about 90 years old, bent with age, but still obviously full of spirit.
â€œMr. Black!â€ he said. â€œHow are you? How are you doing?â€
â€œYes, Mr. Dunne, Iâ€™m just trying to sell the house,â€ Black said.
â€œDo they know itâ€™s haunted?â€
â€œMr. Dunne! Mr. Dunne.â€
â€œHaunted?â€ Miss Holland said. â€œOh my.â€
â€œItâ€™s just superstitious nonsense,â€ Black said.
Dunne moved forward and Black had no choice but to back up and allow him entry. He was, after all, an old man. A little old lady followed him.
â€œMr. Dunne, weâ€™re just trying to conduct some business,â€ Black said.
Dunne looked around the room he found himself in, perhaps for the first time.
â€œIâ€™m the neighbor,â€ he said proudly. â€œI live up the road.â€
They remembered seeing another house about a half mile up the road as they had approached the Carlson Farm.