* * *
Bricker was standing outside of the back door of the Parisian Theatre, keeping an eye out. A man walked by carrying a sledgehammer. He was a solid-looking man with dark hair, rough clothing, and a cap. He didnâ€™t pay Bricker any mind.
Dr. Huxtable, Miss Fairfield, and Pendergast came out the back door of the building.
â€œWe have returned,â€ Dr. Huxtable said. â€œLetâ€™s go to the front of the building and Iâ€™ll tell you what we were told, Bricker, if you are interested.â€
â€œAll right,â€ Bricker said.
They went to the front and Huxtable told Bricker the owner of the park should be contacting him soon, hopefully with a private show. They could hear music coming from the North Star Pavilion nearby and then they were joined by the others. Dr. Huxtable told them what happened with Carl Denim and that the owner was going to find him to talk about darker things.
â€œWhat kind of darker stuff are you talking about?â€ James said.
â€œIf people around here are going missing, there is something unusual about this place,â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
â€œThere are dark things in this world,â€ Pendergast said, his words slurred.
â€œLike malevolent forces?â€ James said.
â€œNot even malevolent â€¦ yes, malevolent forces. Like your damned great great grandfather trying to possess your body!â€
â€œI can make a gate!â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
â€œExcuse me?â€ James said.
â€œNothing,â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
â€œWell, if you have hammer and nails I could probably make a gate too,â€ Pendergast said.
â€œYes, that is what I meant.â€
â€œItâ€™s not what I meant! Is this place like that house in Ohio?â€
â€œI hope not.â€
â€œYou didnâ€™t say â€¦ you didnâ€™t say it was going to be like Ohio!â€ he said. â€œYou didnâ€™t say it was going to be like Ohio!â€
â€œI donâ€™t know if itâ€™s going to be,â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
â€œIt better not be like Ohio. Iâ€™m not going through that again.â€
â€œNow what the hell happened in Ohio?â€ Miss Edington asked.
â€œYeah, why are we talking about Ohio?â€ James said.
â€œBad things happened in Ohio,â€ Pendergast said.
Dr. Huxtable shushed him.
â€œDonâ€™t shush me!â€ Pendergast said.
Dr. Huxtable shushed him again.
â€œDo not shush me,â€ Pendergast said.
â€œBad things happen everywhere,â€ Miss Fairfield said.
â€œNot like this,â€ Pendergast said.
â€œNot like this,â€ Dr. Huxtable echoed.
â€œIt was â€¦ very bad,â€ Pendergast said. â€œWhy do you think I all but disinherited my parents? They were part of it. They were part of it.â€
â€œYour parents?â€ James said.
â€œMy parents,â€ Pendergast said. â€œThe ones who wanted it to happen. Werenâ€™t they? Werenâ€™t they? You were there! You saw!â€
He had turned to Dr. Huxtable.
â€œI was not there!â€ he cried out. â€œI was not there!â€
â€œYou were there!â€ Pendergast said.
â€œWhat is going on?â€ James said. â€œWhat do you mean â€˜it?â€™ What is this?â€
â€œItâ€™s some â€¦â€ Pendergast started.
Dr. Huxtable shushed him again.
â€œYou wouldnâ€™t believe it anyway,â€ Pendergast said, defeated. â€œYou wouldnâ€™t believe it anyway.â€
â€œTheyâ€™re not ready,â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
â€œIf weâ€™re going to find out what happened, we need to remain honest with each other,â€ James said.
â€œWeâ€™ve already seen gates,â€ Miss Fairfield said.
â€œYouâ€™re not ready!â€ Dr. Huxtable shrieked.
Pendergast looked at the man.
â€œMy great grandfather was a â€¦ wizard,â€ Pendergast said. â€œHe was!â€
â€œYes,â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
â€œAnd he prepared so that in 1925, when I turned 25, he would possess my body and lead the family onto wealth and riches,â€ Pendergast said.
â€œI think youâ€™re a bit possessed by something,â€ James said.
â€œI â€¦ I â€¦this how I cope with these things,â€ Pendergast said. â€œAnd if it was not for this man and â€¦ the police officer, and poor Manfred â€¦ poor, poor Manfred Donald, if was not for the three of you I would not be here today. Wouldnâ€™t have happened.â€
â€œYes,â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
â€œIâ€™m still surly about that whole situation,â€ Pendergast said. â€œSo, there are things you donâ€™t understand. Things you donâ€™t understand. Iâ€™m going to go home.â€
â€œIâ€™ve read about more things than you probably have,â€ James said.
â€œI â€¦ Iâ€™ve seen more things now,â€ Pendergast said. â€œItâ€™s â€¦ is that what you thinkâ€™s going on!?! Is that why youâ€™ve brought me here!?!â€
He had turned on Dr. Huxtable once again.
â€œI donâ€™t want anything to do with this!â€ Pendergast said.
â€œI donâ€™t think so,â€ Dr. Huxtable said. â€œI think itâ€™s â€¦ some uh â€¦â€
â€œFinish your thought,â€ James said.
Dr. Huxtable muttered incoherently.
â€œI donâ€™t know what youâ€™re talking about, man!â€ Pendergast said.
â€œMe neither!â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
â€œIs he retarded?â€ Miss Edington said.
â€œThe owner should be here soon,â€ Dr. Huxtable said. â€œThat should be good.â€
â€œWhat?â€ Pendergast said. â€œWhy?â€
â€œBecause he said he was coming. Carl Denim. Heâ€™s getting me the owner to talk.â€
â€œI think we havenâ€™t found everything in the cemetery,â€ Johnson said. â€œWeâ€™ve only investigated once and found one thing and again, when it was dark. I think Iâ€™d like to make a full investigation when itâ€™s lighter out.â€
â€œFound one thing?â€ James said. â€œWhat was that thing you found.â€
â€œThat crime scene we went to,â€ Johnson said.
â€œWe went there yesterday and thereâ€™s nothing there,â€ Miss Fairfield said. â€œActually, thatâ€™s suspicious that thereâ€™s nothing there.â€
â€œWe canâ€™t do it now,â€ James said. â€œItâ€™s far too dark and far too late.â€
â€œNevertheless, I think Iâ€™d like to go through the whole cemetery sometime when itâ€™s day,â€ Johnson said. â€œAnd you all donâ€™t have to join me, but if anybody does, itâ€™d be good to have friends.â€
â€œIâ€™m interested,â€ Miss Edington said.
â€œBefore we leave tonight, do we want to make another go at getting that clipboard?â€ Johnson said.
â€œWhy do you think the clipboard has something on it?â€ Dr. Huxtable asked.
â€œWhy does he need a clipboard?â€ Miss Fairfield asked. â€œHeâ€™s just a ticket taker.â€
â€œWell, they check the machinery everyâ”€â€
â€œAlso, he was at the Tunnel of Terrors when the boy went missing.â€
â€œWhy donâ€™t you just run and take it? You could probably outrun him.â€
â€œWell, thatâ€™s why we were saving it for last.â€
â€œGo get it! I will talk to him about the spell.â€
A barker called again that the Red Hot Harem Dance Show was starting.
Miss Edington, James, Pendergast, and Virgil Thomas went to the Red Hot Harem Dance Show while the rest of them returned to the Tunnel of Terrors.
The Red Hot Harem Dance show was run by Farouk Shabazz, who claimed to be from the Ottoman Empire, which was now called Turkey. He openly carried a long, curved dagger in a bejeweled scabbard at his side and wore a fez and a military costume. He had a large mustache. He introduced the Hoochie Coochie girls, who included Abigail Forman, a beautiful blonde woman; Porticia â€œMoon Bunsâ€ Montebello, a buxom and pretty redhead with wide, violet eyes; and Velma â€œAmazonâ€ Pryziewski, a very pretty young blonde woman. The show was a light burlesque with no actual nudity but very provocative. It lasted about 20 minutes.
* * *
The others had gone to the Tunnel of Terrors.
â€œIf could convince him of something and get him to leave his post, that might be the best bet,â€ Johnson said. â€œBut I donâ€™t know what to say.â€
â€œI tried talking to the man once already and he is very steadfast,â€ Dr. Huxtable said. â€œI think you just have to take the clipboard while I try to ruse him.â€
â€œBut what if I tried to convince him that another child had gone under the tracks or gotten off the boat?â€
â€œOr I could,â€ Agent Sanderson said. â€œI could use my badge.â€
â€œYes,â€ Dr. Huxtable said. â€œWhy donâ€™t we use the cop? Wait. Youâ€™re a cop?â€
â€œIâ€™m completely sober.â€
â€œWell, are you going to take the clipboard? I donâ€™t want to take it. I canâ€™t run that fast.â€
â€œI think heâ€™ll drop it if I tell him thereâ€™s an emergency over by the ponies.â€
â€œAn emergency by the ponies?â€
â€œThatâ€™s your master plan?â€
â€œFrom what the carousel guy told me there was apparently a horse show where one of the partners was trampled to death. So â€¦ it could happen again.â€
â€œBut the ponies is really far from the Tunnel of Terrors so â€¦â€
â€œThatâ€™s what we want, right?â€
â€œâ€¦ heâ€™s going to want to know why you didnâ€™t stop several other places first.â€
The two looked at each other.
â€œListen to me,â€ Dr. Huxtable said. â€œYouâ€™re going to flash your badge and say you heard another child went missing in the Tunnel of Terrors. A different child. Then you take him in the tunnel and you take the clipboard.â€
â€œWhy take him in the tunnel?â€ Agent Sanderson said.
â€œSo we can get the clipboard!â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
â€œI think itâ€™s the only place heâ€™ll go or think he has a reason to go,â€ Johnson said. â€œOtherwise heâ€™ll just say â€˜Why are you bothering me?â€™â€
â€œAnd if he refuses to leave his post, Joell Johnson is going to sprint as fast as he can, take the clipboard, and run into the swamp,â€ Dr. Huxtable said. â€œItâ€™s a foolproof plan! And â€¦ go.â€
Agent Sanderson walked up to the tow-headed man.
â€œHello sir,â€ he said.
â€œLineâ€™s over there, sir,â€ the man said.
Sanderson took out his badge.
â€œSir, this is of utmost emergency,â€ he said.
â€œWhat?â€ the man said. â€œWhatâ€™s the matter?â€
â€œIâ€™ve just been told that somebody, a child has fallen into the â€¦â€
â€œA child has gone missing in the Tunnel of Terrors again.â€
â€œWhat? What? Who made the complaint?â€
â€œDrop everything, letâ€™s go in to look!â€
The man told the person in line to wait and not get in the ride for a minute. He turned and, almost as if it were reflex, picked up the clipboard and tucked it under his arm. Agent Sanderson followed him into the ride. It was fairly dark and the man fumbled around and then turned on a flashlight. He moved in, shining the light around.
â€œIt looks as though thereâ€™s somebody right near us!â€ Agent Sanderson yelled. â€œI donâ€™t know if thatâ€™s the boy or not!â€
â€œIâ€™m right here, mister,â€ the other man said, shining his light around. â€œWhere? Where?â€
â€œHonestly, I thought he was right here. Iâ€™m getting a little â€¦ Iâ€™m getting a little frustrated. Iâ€™m-Iâ€™m horrified for this boy!â€
â€œDid you see him? Where did you get this information?â€
â€œHe seems like heâ€™s right over here! I can hear him!â€
â€œThereâ€™s nobody over there! Look!â€
â€œWell, keep looking!â€
Sanderson shoved the man hard in the chest. He stumbled backwards, tripping over one of the carts. The flashlight and the clipboard both flew out of his hands, the clipboard flying into the darkness and the flashlight hitting the ground and going out. Agent Sanderson fled, running out of the building while the man cursed behind him.
He ran out of the doors and away from the ride.
â€œAbort mission!â€ he hollered.
â€œWhat happened!?!â€ Miss Fairfield yelled at him as he ran by.
â€œThe man may or may not be dead!â€ Sanderson yelled.
â€œWhereâ€™s the clipboard!?!â€ Johnson called.
â€œGone!â€ he shouted back. â€œGone!â€
â€œJoell, go in there!â€ Miss Fairfield said to the man.
Johnson headed into the ride, going through the doors at a fast walk. Dr. Huxtable followed him as Johnson pulled out his flashlight. The light revealed the tow-headed man on the ground, just getting up. There was no sign of his clipboard. He looked very confused.
â€œHey, Rube!â€ he shouted.
â€œMy God, are you okay?â€ Dr. Huxtable said. â€œWe heard a tumbling in here!â€
â€œWho are you? Get â€¦â€
The man was trying to see the two but they shined their lights in his face.
â€œWho are you?â€ he said. â€œWho is that?â€
â€œItâ€™s me,â€ Dr. Huxtable said. â€œOld Billy.â€
â€œThat doesnâ€™t sound like Old Billy!â€
â€œJust kidding! Weâ€™re concerned citizens. Let me help you up.â€
Dr. Huxtable helped the man up while Johnson shined his light around. It finally lit on the clipboard on the floor.
â€œJoell, see if you can find that attacker,â€ Dr. Huxtable said. â€œHeâ€™s still in here, I think.â€
Johnson picked up the clipboard and tucked it under his jacket.
â€œRight now you have a lot of adrenaline going through you because you just were in a fight!â€ Dr. Huxtable said to the man as he escorted him towards the doors. â€œYou donâ€™t know how injured you are, but if you could see your legs, my God, you may never walk again.â€
The man seemed quite confused and allowed Dr. Huxtable to lead him out. Johnson followed them, staying behind him. They exited the Tunnel of Terrors and saw another man, this one with a sledgehammer, walking towards the building.
â€œThis man was an attacked!â€ Dr. Huxtable cried out.
â€œVhere is da attacker?â€ the man with the sledgehammer said in a thick accent.
â€œHe could still be in the tunnel!â€ Dr. Huxtable said. â€œWe donâ€™t know.â€
â€œNo no,â€ the little tow-headed man said. â€œI think he ran out! I think he ran out!â€
â€œSo heâ€™s an attacker and a coward! The scum!â€
Johnson slipped out the opposite direction that Dr. Huxtable took the man, getting around the side of the building quickly.
The Russian with the sledgehammer asked what happened and the little tow-headed man said a man flashed a badge in his face and claimed there was another kid missing. He said when they got inside the man said he saw someone who wasnâ€™t there and then shoved him.
â€œWhat did he want?â€ Dr. Huxtable asked.
â€œI donâ€™t know,â€ the man said. â€œHe was crazy.â€
â€œIs there anything else I can do here?â€
â€œNo. Thanks. Thanks.â€
He left, heading the direction Johnson went.
* * *
Once he was out of sight and Miss Fairfield and Bricker had joined him, Johnson took out the clipboard and looked over it. It had a schedule of events, some notes on broken lights, ride maintenance, park management items, and the like. It was nothing of any importance except to those working at the park. They guessed the man had some kind of position of importance. Johnson, frustrated, just dropped it to the ground.
â€œAnother dead end,â€ Miss Fairfield said.
Dr. Huxtable arrived.
â€œSo, whereâ€™s the kid?â€ he asked.
â€œLetâ€™s find Sanders,â€ Johnson said. â€œSanderson.â€
* * *
Agent Sanderson had slowed his pace when he got to the parking lot. He found his Cadillac and climbed in, starting the engine and letting it idle as he waited for the rest. Then the passenger side door opened and Yoosung climbed in.
â€œSo, where are we going?â€ he said.
â€œWeâ€™re waiting,â€ Agent Sanderson growled.
Yoosung tried to make small talk but Agent Sanderson would have nothing of it.
* * *
Those who had gone to the Red Hot Harem Dance Show found the others near the Tunnel of Terrors.
â€œWell, I think thatâ€™s it for me tonight,â€ Johnson said. â€œIâ€™m going to try to come out here tomorrow around noon.â€
James realized the man was visibly angry.
â€œI assume that didnâ€™t go well,â€ Miss Edington said.
â€œWhat happened, Joell?â€ James asked.
â€œWell, we got the clipboard,â€ Johnson said. â€œWhole lotta nothing. Almost got caught for it.â€
â€œSeriously?â€ James said.
â€œWell â€¦â€ Miss Edington said.
â€œWhereâ€™s Sanderson?â€ James asked.
â€œWhen things happened, he bolted,â€ Johnson said. â€œWhich, Iâ€™ll give it to him, is what I wouldâ€™ve done.â€
â€œI bet Yoosung is with him too,â€ James said.
â€œWhat happened?â€ Miss Edington said.
â€œThat would make sense,â€ Johnson said.
â€œOh yes!â€ Dr. Huxtable said. â€œYoosung. Iâ€™d forgotten all about him.â€
â€œWhat do you think is happening?â€ Pendergast said.
â€œI donâ€™t know,â€ James said. â€œThatâ€™s why weâ€™re here.â€
â€œWell, I donâ€™t want to be here if things are happening,â€ Pendergast said.
Dr. Huxtable looked into the flask that held the slime. It looked like about the same amount was within, at least as far as he could tell.
Miss Fairfield noted they didnâ€™t have any real leads. Dr. Huxtable asked what Johnson meant by going to the cemetery the next day. He said he wanted to look around during the day to see if he could find anything. James agreed with him.
â€œAs long as it doesnâ€™t mean sneaking around, Iâ€™m in,â€ Miss Edington said.
â€œUntil Kent Howard is lucid enough to talk about what happened, I donâ€™t know what else we have to go on,â€ Johnson said.
â€œIâ€™m honestly not sure when that will be,â€ James said.
They left the park. Sanderson didnâ€™t see them go. Eventually, he drove back into town.