* * *
Ingerton made his way to the Grand Menagerie on the other side of the roller coaster. The screams of people on the ride seemed almost eerie. He noticed large pair of exterior cellar doors set into the side of the building with the roller coaster.
The Grand Menagerie was a brick, two-story building. He could hear animals and birds within. It cost a ticket to get in and Ingerton gave the man there a dime. The building contained a large aviary and serpentorium upstairs and a dozen or so iron-barred animals cages downstairs. The larger animals included Sultana the black panther, Silvertip the wolf, Slither the king cobra, Bungo the chimp, Concho the black bear, Shoes, the alligator billed at 16 feet long, and Red Eye the cassowary, billed as the â€œkiller bird.â€ A poster on the wall noted The Mighty Hercules wrestled the bear at several different times in the afternoon and evening. There were also toucans, weasels, and a stuffed giraffe.
A rheumy-eyed balding oldster with a bit of greasepaint on his cheek was just leaving the place while an older negro was cleaning out one of the cages.
* * *
Johnson followed the sawdust that had been put down but it didnâ€™t lead very far, being soon trampled by the numerous people who had obviously walked through the area since Saturday night. Bricker suggested going to the photographer and the three of them headed in that direction.
Professor Pfeifferâ€™s Photography Palace, as the sign over the door read, was a small, blue-painted cottage with a large window in the front displaying cameras, photographs, lenses, and frames. Professor Pfeiffer proved to be a little old man with an immaculately trimmed beard and mustache. He stood in the small building alongside several expensive photo-plate cameras that were obviously not for sale. There was a door that obviously led to a miniscule darkroom in the back.
â€œGreetings! Greetings!â€ the man said. â€œI am Professor Pfeiffer! Can I interest you in any photography equipment?â€
â€œHello, are you Professor Pfeiffer?â€ Miss Fairfield said.
â€œYes, as I just said! Iâ€™m Professor Pfeiffer.â€
â€œWere you here Saturday night?â€
â€œOf course I was. Yes, I work every night until 11 oâ€™clock. Until the carnival closes. How would I make my vast fortune without â€¦ working?â€
She looked him up and down. His suit was shabby.
â€œDid you see the incident, then?â€ she asked. â€œOf the man that was mauled?â€
â€œOh! The terrible incident!â€ Professor Pfeiffer said. â€œNo no. I heard about it. I heard he was mauled and that he came rushing into the carnival, of course, here. Then the police and ambulance were called and took him away. Is he all right? Are you a relative of his?â€
â€œSo, you just sell photography equipment here?â€
â€œYes. Oh, I also have a small darkroom in the back. I can develop photographs for people. Sometimes people want their photographs developed right here on the premises because there are so many wonderful sites to take photographs of. So, I take their film and, within a few hours, I can have their photographs back to them for a small fee. A very reasonable fee, I might add. I notice you have some photography equipment. I could develop some of those pictures for you if youâ€™ve taken many today.
â€œNo, Iâ€™ve just taken a couple.â€
â€œAh. Well â€¦ thatâ€™s a shame. Itâ€™s a beautiful day! I think you should be enjoying the fair!â€
â€œWell, we just got here, so â€¦ Iâ€™m sure thereâ€™s plenty of time to take more pictures.â€
â€œThen off you go to it!â€
A child walking by the shop outside suddenly cried out â€œYea!â€
â€œDo you know where he ended up in the carnival before he was taken by the police?â€ Miss Fairfield asked.
â€œOh no no no,â€ Professor Pfeiffer said. â€œI was here in the shop. It wasnâ€™t here.â€
â€œAll right. Thank you.â€
â€œYouâ€™re welcome. Have fun! Have a great day!â€
He turned to another man who entered the shop.
* * *
Miss Edington and Virgil Thomas had crossed the amusement park and reached the Fun House. It proved to be a large, three-story wooden building painted in garish and loud colors. Clowns and similar adornments prevailed. Miss Edington bought a dollarâ€™s worth of tickets at the booth out front and she and Virgil Thomas went in. The house had the usual assortment of tilting floors, grotesquely-distorting mirrors, spinning disks, hidden air jets, and wooden slides meant to be ridden on provided burlap sacks. It was very interesting and sheâ€™d never been in a place like that before.
â€œThat was fun,â€ she said to Virgil Thomas as they exited. â€œDidnâ€™t see any weird stuff.â€
Next to the Fun House was the House of Mirrors and just beyond that, the Tunnel of Terrors. She looked at the latter and then led Virgil Thomas over to it. They could see the large wooden building was two-stories high in the front and three stories high in the rear. The faÃ§ade was painted to resemble an old castle and the little cars that each carried two passengers through the dark interior were made to resemble coffins.
â€œWell, Virgil, you up for it?â€ she asked the man.
â€œHave some fun, Virgil,â€ she said.
â€œMaybe this whole thingâ€™s just a wild goose chase,â€ he said.
â€œMaybe so, but we might as well enjoy it while we can.â€
* * *
Ingerton caught the old man before he left the building. He looked like he was in his 60s and even smelled old.
â€œMy good sir,â€ Ingerton said to him.
â€œYeah?â€ the old man grunted.
â€œIf I could have your time for just a minute? Are these all the animals that you have â€¦ in your fine establishment?â€
â€œYep. Theyâ€™re all here. If you wanna see the bear a little better then â€˜The Great Herculesâ€™ will be wrestling him in â€¦ about an hour and a half.â€
â€œAre any of the other animals taken out any time throughout the day?â€
â€œNope. Nope. Nope. We donâ€™t want the birds to get away and, uh, some of these animals are dangerous.â€
â€œIs the bear not dangerous?â€
â€œYeah, heâ€™s dangerous. Thatâ€™s why he wrestles him in his cage.â€
â€œOh. Well, thank you for your time, sir.â€
The old man headed out of the building. Ingerton decided to investigate the Freak House. He thought he remembered where it was from another visit to the carnival years ago. He stopped to buy a dollarâ€™s worth of tickets and was joined by Miss Fairfield, Johnson, and Bricker.
â€œThatâ€™s not a bad idea,â€ Miss Fairfield said.
She and Bricker also bought tickets.
â€œDid you find anything at the menagerie?â€ Johnson asked Ingerton.
â€œThey have a great â€¦ uh â€¦ collection of dangerous creatures,â€ Ingerton said.
â€œCould any of them be our culprit?â€
â€œAny one of them could. But, I didnâ€™t see any blood on them. But they had two days to clean it.â€
â€œThat makes me a little suspicious. Maybe somebody in the carnival staff or somebody up higher in it did something wrong and theyâ€™re trying to cover it up.â€
â€œThat could be a possibility.â€
â€œWas there anyone in there?â€
â€œThat would be rather scandalous. What were you saying?â€
â€œWas there anyone in there?â€
â€œUh â€¦ a grisly-looking fellow. Forgot to get his name. And there was a negro! But I didnâ€™t bother getting his name. But, I believe you might have better luck than I talking to them.â€
â€œThat may be what I do.â€
â€œSince youâ€™re the working fellow â€¦ who fights for the working man.â€
â€œIs that going to be a problem?â€
â€œNot at all!â€
Ingerton turned and walked away.
* * *
Johnson went to the menagerie and paid a dime to get in. The man at the door looked at the coin with a scowl.
â€œYou know, thereâ€™s ticket booths all over the place, there, buddy,â€ he said.
â€œYeah, thanks,â€ Johnson said as he went in the door.
He looked around the menagerie and spotted the old negro cleaning out one of the large bird cages. The door was closed and he was mopping.
â€œExcuse me, sir,â€ he said to the man.
â€œYes, can I help you?â€ the man muttered.
â€œWere you here two nights ago?â€
â€œIâ€™m always here.â€
â€œDo you know anything about the man who walked onto the fairgrounds that night?â€
â€œHe dead, ainâ€™t he?â€
â€œI heard he died.â€
â€œWould you happen to know if any of the animals were out and about or any of the cages were open that night?â€
â€œHell no, the animals werenâ€™t out and about! These are dangerous animals. Why, theyâ€™ll cut you pieces in a heartbeat!â€
â€œI know they would. Thatâ€™s why I was wondering if thatâ€™s where he got his injuries.â€
â€œAinâ€™t no animals out! We donâ€™t let these animals out! Hercules goes in. Fights that bear over there. Itâ€™s a mighty good show.â€
The negro looked him up and down carefully.
â€œYou the police?â€ he finally asked.
â€œQuite the opposite, actually,â€ Johnson said.
â€œYou a criminal!?!â€ the negro said, his eyes opening wide.
â€œWell â€¦ some might say. But I wouldnâ€™t.â€
That negro looked confused.
â€œWell, donâ€™t you be no criminalizing â€˜round here,â€ he said.
He went back to work, cleaning out the cage.
Johnson left the Grand Menagerie.
* * *
Ingerton, Miss Fairfield, and Bricker found themselves at the House of Freaks. The single-story wooden frame building was long and narrow with an entrance at one end and an exit at the other. Only a short line entered the place, the ticket taker dully taking each personâ€™s ticket as they entered.
It was fetid and rank inside the building with an odor as persistent as it was indefinable. None of them would ever forget the smell.
As they entered, they saw the building consisted of a single central hallway that passed by 12 tiny cubicles, six per side, housing the freaks, which were viewed through glass partitions. The freaks included The Most Horrible Man in America, an ugly man with dark hair who looked subhuman with a terrible overbite, wearing ratting clothing; the Amazing India Rubber Man, a short and extremely thin Asian man, his body contorted like a pretzel; Fatima the Fat Lady, an obese and ugly woman who probably weighed over 500 pounds; Co-Co the Dog Boy, a hirsute and deformed congenital idiot with deformed hands and feet and an elongated jaw who continually snuffled and whined; the â€œAstounding Mushroom Man,â€ who had a pallid complexion, sparse, nearly white hair, small bloodshot blue eyes, and was covered in mushrooms and toadstools seemingly grown from his body; two pinheads; a two-headed dog that looked fake; a â€œHorror from the Deepsâ€ preserved in alcohol that looked like a large octopus with human hands on the tips of the tentacles; a stuffed five-legged calf; a â€œWhat is it?â€ consisting of an enormous tentacle at least eight feet long and a foot thick in a pool of dark liquid; and a â€œCross Between Pig and Man - Proof of Ungodly Cross-Breeding and Bestialityâ€ pickled in a bottle.
Ingerton, made very uncomfortable by the whole ordeal, told the others he didnâ€™t think any of the freaks did it and left through the exit.
* * *
Miss Edington and Virgil Thomas climbed into one of the coffin-shaped cars of the Tunnel of Terrors. The large wooden building was two stories high in the front and three stories in the rear. The faÃ§ade was painted to resemble an old castle. The ride lasted more than five minutes and twisted and turned up and down and all through the entirety of the buildingâ€™s interior. It even doubled back on itself, operating mechanically, the two-seat cars pulled along by a constantly-moving cable. The place was filled with skeletons, mummies, fake ghosts and witches, cobwebs, and other various scary and creepy things, which didnâ€™t faze Miss Edington much after some of the terrible things sheâ€™d seen. She had even read worse than that.
She noticed that the ride twisted and turned enough that she most often could not see the cars ahead or behind her.
* * *
Johnson went to a ticket stand and bought tickets to allow him to more easily move about the carnival. He walked to the wax museum.
* * *
Bricker saw Johnson as he, Ingerton, and Miss Fairfield walked over to the North Star Pavilion, passing numerous small booths selling a variety of local products. The open-air pavilion had a wooden roof and was raised on wooden columns some 10 feet off the ground. A painted wooden faÃ§ade covered the area underneath and they spotted an unmarked door there and peeked in to find storage and dressing rooms within. They went up the steps to the dance floor, which had a few people loitering in the area.
* * *
Miss Edington next went to the House of Mirrors with Virgil Thomas. It was a single-story wooden structure cunningly painted to resemble brick. Inside, the mirrored maze was somewhat claustrophobic, a little unsettling, and confusing. She and Virgil Thomas found their ways through the maze after only a short time.
* * *
The wax museum proved to be a wooden building with a single-story central area and a pair of two-story-tall wings. The museum was sectioned off for historical figures, current film starts of note, a chamber of horrors and famous murderers, and so on. Though the rooms were a little dim, the entire place was not particularly sinister. He wandered around the building for some time.
* * *
Bricker, Ingerton, and Miss Fairfield left the pavilion and went to some of the nearby buildings. The Parisian Theatre stood among them, next to an iced tea and lemonade stand, the shooting gallery, the Bavarian Root Beer Hall, and Mr. Luckyâ€™s Magic Shoppe. The sign over the last had apparently once read Indian Handcrafts, but it had been covered by paint for the new sign. Gunfire came from the shooting gallery, a concrete building with a flat roof and a counter running along the front. The Polar Bear Cold Drink Stand was painted light blue and green. The Bavarian Root Beer Hall was a two-story building filled with wooden tables and slat benches. Mr. Luckyâ€™s Magic Shoppe was a yellow-painted wooden building with numerous magiciansâ€™ tricks in the window.
* * *
Miss Edington passed a small icehouse, a concrete building that was probably used for ice storage year round. Then she made her way to the main gaming fairway. She passed various gaming booths including a wheel of fortune, dunk a clown, break a plate, net a goldfish, baseball toss, roll-a-ball, spin-o-win, balloon-bust-em, ring toss, and penny pitch. There was also Madam Zarahâ€™s fortune-telling booth, an ice cream parlor, the Silver Spoon Diner, the managerâ€™s office, Winston Craigâ€™s East Asian Import Shop, salt water taffy shop, the Northern Lights Gift Shop, and the security shack.
She went into the Northern Lights Gift Shop. It was a small brick building where all sorts of mementos were sold. The man behind the counter wore glasses and had dark hair and a pencil-thin mustache. As she looked amid the shelves, she found some strange wooden figures, only a few inches tall. Each of them looked like a serpent with tentacles coming out of the front of it. It was very ugly.
â€œWhat is this?â€ she said, walking over to the cashier and showing him the statuette.
â€œOh oh,â€ he said. â€œYes maâ€™am, thatâ€™s 24 cents.â€
â€œI was asking what it was.â€
â€œDo you know?â€
â€œUh â€¦ injun carving I think. Twenty-four cents.â€
She took it back to the shelf wondering what the creature was, but then decided to purchase it. She paid the man and slipped the strange statuette into her purse. Virgil Thomas rolled his eyes.
â€œWhat, Virgil?â€ she said.
â€œNothing,â€ he replied. â€œWhat? Oh nothing.â€
â€œWhat I thought.â€
â€œDamned thing is ugly as hell.â€
â€œWell, itâ€™s quite different. Thatâ€™s why I bought it.â€
He grumbled as they walked out of the shop. She looked at the statuette again once they were outside, and realized she had read or heard a description of such things before. She had read about the burrowers beneath but didnâ€™t remember much more than that.
* * *
Ingerton inquired as to when the next match of The Mighty Hercules vs. the Bear was and learned it was about 3 p.m., in about 10 minutes.
â€œIf you want to catch the Hercules vs. the Bear match, thatâ€™s happening in 10 minutes,â€ he said to the others.
â€œWhereâ€™s that at?â€ Miss Fairfield asked.
â€œOver at the Grand Menagerie.â€
â€œOh. Might as well head over there.â€
They walked back across the carnival to the Grand Menagerie.
* * *
Johnson walked around the side of the wax museum. Behind the building was a large, lovely white two-story house all in white and yellow. Scattered around it and the area in general, which didnâ€™t seem to be visited by any of the other park-goers, were several other houses, a barn, and a water tower. He guessed the other, single-story huts were used by the people that worked at the carnival. He wandered around to one side where he smelled food and guessed one of the buildings was some kind of cookhouse, while another, larger, two-story building was probably for housing the roustabouts and summertime help.
He wandered to the fairway near the pavilion near the Parisian Theatre again, then for Mr. Luckyâ€™s Magic Shoppe.
The interior of the yellow-painted wooden building was cluttered with everything from dribble cups to exploding cigars. There was every kind of magic paraphernalia he could think of on the shelves. Mr. Lucky proved to be a dark-haired man with a wide smile who wore a tuxedo and a top hat.
â€œWelcome!â€ he said loudly. â€œWhat magical, mystical items can I get for you today?â€
â€œWell, what all you got in here?â€ Johnson asked.
The man showed him wands that turned into flowers, cards, handcuffs, cups and balls, and numerous other magic items and practical jokes.
â€œSaw the sign had some words marked out,â€ Johnson said.
â€œIt was whatever was here before,â€ Mr. Lucky said. â€œBut Iâ€™m here now. Mr. Lucky! The magical Mr. Lucky!â€
He moved his hand and there was suddenly a toy dove there. He tossed it aside.
â€œAnd how long ago did that other shop move out?â€ Johnson asked.
â€œI have no idea!â€ Mr. Lucky said. â€œIâ€™m new here this summer, but I think I shall stay. I like this place.â€
â€œYouâ€™ve been working here for the whole summer?â€
â€œBecause â€¦ look! Flowers!â€
He pulled flowers out of his sleeve.
â€œItâ€™s a magical place!â€ Mr. Lucky said.
He reached behind Johnsonâ€™s ear and pulled out a coin with a smile.
â€œYouâ€™ve been working here the whole summer?â€ Johnson asked.
â€œOh, the last month or so,â€ Mr. Lucky said.
Johnson looked around the shop for a few minutes at the novelty magic items and practical jokes. There was just about every novelty item you could think of. Nothing stood out as useful or interesting, just gimmicky.
* * *
At the Grand Menagerie, a small crowd gathered to see the Great Hercules. The hulking brute was massive and dressed in leopard skins. He was completely bald and began his act promptly at 1 p.m. First, he bent horseshoes and twisted inch-thick iron bars out of whack.
â€œI am the Great Hercules!â€ he cried out after his feats of strength. â€œI have come all the way from Greece to defeat this beast! I had to defeat the Nemean Lion and now I will destroy this bear!â€
He gestured at the cage of Concho, the black bear. The old man whom Ingerton had spoken to earlier opened the cage and the Great Hercules entered. The old man closed and locked the cage behind him, much to the consternation of many of those watching.
â€œThrow the key away!â€ the Great Hercules yelled at the man.
The wrestling match between Great Hercules and Concho was an interesting fight, though more like a wrestling match. The bear never used its claws or seemed terribly angry. It was a little alarming when the man lifted the bear up completely over his head at one point. The Great Hercules was obviously terribly strong.
â€œI have defeated this bear!â€ The Great Hercules cried out. â€œBow down before me!â€
He put the bear down and it seemed docile enough after that.
â€œHercules!â€ the man cried out again, flexing his muscles.
Then he left the cage, the old man letting him out once again.
* * *
Johnson headed past the Tunnel of Terrors and the Fun House to the games fairway, running into Miss Edington and Virgil Thomas. A few moments later Ingerton, Bricker, and Miss Fairfield also found themselves there. It was about 3:30 p.m.
They wandered to the security shack, a one-room affair of clapboard with a round metal chimney sticking out of the roof. Ingerton, Johnson, and Miss Fairfield entered and saw a pot-bellied stove dominated the interior. A battered desk and two chairs were the only furniture save for a wall rack of wrought iron holding a sawed-off 12-guage double-barreled shotgun , a .30-.30 Winchester lever action rifle, and an army issue .30-.06 Springfield rifle. On a nail on the wall hung a ring of keys.
The man behind the desk wore brown clothing and had a cheap badge marked â€œSecurity.â€ He was large and looked surly. He wore a large Webley revolver on his right hip and a pair of handcuffs and a two-foot black night stick on his belt. A large ring of keys was also on his belt. He looked up from what he was writing as they came in.
â€œCan I help you folks?â€ he growled in a thick New York accent.
â€œWell sir, I was wondering if I could inquire to you about the night previous with the man with only one arm?â€ Ingerton said.
â€œOh. Yeah. That fellow came in over â€¦ he came from the cemetery. It was on the radio. What can I â€¦ I mean, the police will be who you need to talk to.â€
â€œUh true, true.â€
â€œHe came over the wall and then made a ruckus. So, we got â€¦ uh â€¦ we had â€¦ uh â€¦ we had â€¦ uh â€¦ Red go down, get down to the â€¦ uh â€¦ we donâ€™t have any phones here. We had Red run down to the trolley station down the road and contact the police there. They sent an ambulance and a police car up here and they got him outta here quick. Missing an arm.â€
â€œDid he say anything?â€ Miss Fairfield said.
The man grunted.
â€œHe was â€¦ no,â€ he said. â€œHe was ranting and raving. Didnâ€™t make any sense at all. Just was like â€˜augh!â€™â€
The man looked them over.
â€œSo, uh, yeah,â€ he said. â€œThe police took him. Youâ€™ll have to talk to the police.â€
â€œYou didnâ€™t happen to recall any of the things that said?â€ Johnson said. â€œHe was just babbling?â€
â€œJust babbling. He was crazy.â€
â€œWell, thank you for your time, Mr. â€¦?â€
â€œBoom. Jonathon Boom.â€
â€œIâ€™m in charge of security here. And who are you?â€
â€œYou a cop?â€
â€œLocal philanthropist and â€¦ uh â€¦ child rescuer.â€
â€œWell, ainâ€™t no children in need of rescue. What are you doing around here Mr. Ingerton?â€
â€œTrying to solve the mystery of the missing woman and the mangled man.â€
â€œThatâ€™s what the police are doing, arenâ€™t they?â€
â€œSo â€¦ youâ€™re doing â€¦ their job?â€
â€œSort of. Well, thank you for your time!â€
â€œWell, have fun at the carnival.â€
They left the place.
* * *
Outside, Miss Edington took out the statuette sheâ€™d purchased and showed it to Bricker. He thought he recognized it as well and guessed the thing had been carved from something in real life. He knew it was something that lived under the ground. Then he remembered the terrible tentacle in the House of Freaks and thought it looked like one of the tentacles coming off the front of the snakelike statuette. If it was, the thing would have to be very large, probably bigger than an automobile. He went pale and just stared at the thing. Then he told her of the tentacle they had seen in the House of Freaks.
Miss Edington had decided to call the statuette â€œMedusaâ€™s Consort.â€
The others came out of the security shack and found Bricker and Miss Edington around the side of the shack talking quietly and looking at the strange statuette. Miss Fairfield noticed the thing had tentacles and remembered the tentacle at the House of Freaks.
â€œWhatâ€™s up?â€ Johnson asked.
â€œSo, would you all like to get something to eat while we discuss what we found?â€ Ingerton said.
â€œWhat the hellâ€™s that?â€ Johnson said, pointing at the statuette.
â€œWell, I found it in the Northern Lights Gift Shop,â€ she said. â€œI thought it a little strange. I thought itâ€™d be a nice souvenir.â€
â€œOh, okay,â€ Johnson said.
â€œGood,â€ Ingerton said.
Virgil shook his head.
â€œWhat, Virgil?â€ Miss Edington said.
â€œThatâ€™s the worst damned thing I ever seen in my life,â€ Virgil Thomas said.
â€œAnd thatâ€™s why I like it. Itâ€™s weird. Itâ€™s different.â€
The negro just shook his head again.
â€œWell, looks like weâ€™ve been all over this place,â€ Johnson said.
â€œHavenâ€™t been to the managerâ€™s station yet,â€ Miss Fairfield said.
â€œI guess thatâ€™s right,â€ Johnson said.
â€œI think we should go to the managerâ€™s station and then get some food and talk about what weâ€™ve seen,â€ Miss Fairfield said.
Miss Edington put the statuette away and Bricker looked relieved at that.
They went down the fairway to the cottage-like brick building with curtained windows. The sign over the door read â€œManagerâ€™s Office and Aid Station.â€ Bricker said he was going to head for the fortune teller so he, Miss Edington, Virgil Thomas, and Miss Fairfield walked on down the fairway.
Ingerton and Johnson entered the managerâ€™s office to find a nicely decorated interior. One half of the room was set up as a small first aid station with desk, bed, and partition. The other half had another desk behind which sat a man with black hair and a mustache and goatee. A pretty young woman in a nurseâ€™s uniform sat at the desk near the partition. Both looked up as the two men entered.
The woman stood and came over.
â€œIs everyone okay?â€ she asked. â€œIs anyone injured?â€
â€œOh, fine maâ€™am,â€ Ingerton said. â€œI actually wanted to inquire of you about the man who lost his arm a couple of days ago.â€
â€œOh, that was terrible,â€ she said. â€œIt was just horrible, horrible. It was apparently ripped out by the roots. Very disturbing. I tended to him as best I could but Mr. Wyatt made sure we called the police as quickly as possible and got an ambulance out here to take the poor man away.â€
The man behind the desk stood up and walked over.
â€œGood afternoon,â€ he said genially, extending his hand. â€œWilberforce Wyatt. How nice to meet you.â€
â€œGood afternoon,â€ Ingerton said, shaking his hand. â€œRobert Ingerton.â€
Wyatt turned to Johnson.
â€œWilberforce Wyatt,â€ he said, extending his hand.
â€œIâ€™m Joel,â€ Johnson said, shaking it. â€œJoel Johnson.â€
â€œJoel Johnson. Nice to meet you. How can I help you gentlemen?â€
They noticed he wore a white metal ring on his right ring finger.
â€œWe were coming to inquire about the man who lost his arm,â€ Ingerton said.
â€œYes yes,â€ Wyatt said. â€œTerrible tragedy. Iâ€™ve already talked to the police and the press. Apparently it happened at Swan Point Cemetery so â€¦ uh â€¦ the fact that he wandered into the amusement park is â€¦ a terrible tragedy. Hopefully he didnâ€™t disturb too many people. Hopefully heâ€™s all right. Thereâ€™s nothing much we can tell you about it, I donâ€™t think. As it didnâ€™t happen on park property initially.â€
Ingerton though the man was hiding something. He wondered if he was just trying to protect the park.
â€œThereâ€™s not much I can tell you that wasnâ€™t in the newspaper already,â€ Wyatt finished, nodding at the newspaper on his desk.
â€œNow, could you actually tell me if he may have visited the park before going to the cemetery?â€ Ingerton asked.
â€œAccording to what I read in the paper, he was attending with a young lady and the two of them left the park, as I said, went into Swan Point Cemetery at night and were apparently accosted by â€¦ someone â€¦ people of some kind. Best the police could put together. And again â€¦â€ He gestured again at the newspaper on his desk.
Ingerton still didnâ€™t think the man was telling him everything.
â€œMr. Wyatt, if we could step into an office, perhaps?â€ he said.
â€œWell, this is my office,â€ Wyatt said.
â€œHmm. Is there a place we could speak â€¦ privately.â€
â€œUh â€¦ Nurse Tate, could you excuse us.â€
â€œOh, of course, Mr. Wyatt,â€ the nurse said. â€œOf course.â€
She left the building. Ingerton stared at Johnson.
â€œPrivately,â€ he said.
â€œI get it,â€ Johnson said. â€œIâ€™m gonna go get my fortune read! Thatâ€™ll be helpful!â€
He left as well.
â€œSo, Mr. Wyatt â€¦â€ Ingerton said.
â€œYes, Mr. Ingerton?â€ Wyatt said.
â€œI need all the information I can get. I donâ€™t care about your park. Iâ€™m not going to smear it. Thatâ€™s not my goal at all. What I want to know is everything about this incident.â€
â€œIâ€™ve told everything to the police that I know. And everything has been in the newspaper that I told the police.â€
â€œTrue. But, youâ€™re hiding something from me.â€
â€œI am not hiding anything from you, Mr. Ingerton. Why would I hide something from you? I donâ€™t even know who you are. I mean, I have nothing to fear. Iâ€™ve done nothing wrong.â€
â€œThe park is doing well, financially, and, quite honestly, I appreciate your concern but â€¦ weâ€™re fine. We take care of our own.â€
â€œGood to know. Now â€¦ could you at least help me with when you think they may have left your park.â€
â€œI canâ€™t keep track of every single person whoâ€™s come to this park.â€
â€œNobody could. I have no idea when they left. I donâ€™t know why they left. Perhaps they were having a tryst. I donâ€™t know. Youâ€™d do better to ask the young man yourself.â€
â€œIâ€™ve not spoken to him. I donâ€™t expect to speak to him. Hopefully, heâ€™s recovering.â€
â€œHopefully, heâ€™s not in a coma from all of the shock.â€
â€œI do not know.â€
â€œThank you for your time, Mr. Wyatt.â€
â€œYouâ€™re welcome Mr. â€¦â€
â€œIngerton, yes. I apologize. Mr. Ingerton. Iâ€™m sure weâ€™ll speak again.â€
â€œYou have a great day.â€
â€œYou as well.â€
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