Monday, February 6, 2017
(After playing the Call of Cthulhu scenario â€œDark Carnivalâ€ by David A. Hargrave from Curse of the Chthonians Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. with James Brown, Katelyn Hogan, Ben Abbott, Yorie Latimer, Joey Scott, Ambralyn Tucker, Katie Gallant, Collin Townsend, and Kyle Matheson.)
Robert Ingerton had been busy all day on May 15, working a con job on a man named Henderson Port. He had used his Timothy Shrodinger persona and managed to con the man out of $83 in a rigged game of chance but Port was very, very angry and lived not far from him so he would have to be somewhat careful.
On Wednesday, May 16, 1928, he telephoned the Providence Journal and asked for Miss Fairfield.
â€œPlease, if this is not to do with the business of the paper, please donâ€™t call her here!â€ the huffy sounding man on the other end of the line growled.
There was no answer on Rockefellerâ€™s telephone. He was unsure of where the fellow was and hadnâ€™t been able to contact him in weeks.
He finally telephoned Miss Edington.
â€œEdington residence,â€ the manâ€™s voice on the other end of the line answered.
â€œIs Lady Suzanne in?â€ Ingerton said.
â€œMay I ask whoâ€™s calling?â€
â€œOh, this is Robert Ingerton.â€
â€œUh-huh. One moment please.â€
A few moments passed and Miss Edington came to the telephone.
â€œHi, Mr. Ingerton, this is Suzanna,â€ she said.
â€œHi!â€ Ingerton said. â€œHow are you doing today?â€
â€œIâ€™m doing well.â€
â€œGood. Now â€¦ would â€¦ is our group still working on this â€¦ carnival case? I havenâ€™t seen anything solved in the papers yet.â€
â€œI havenâ€™t heard anybody say they werenâ€™t interested in any more.â€
â€œOkay, just checking. Is there â€¦ I canâ€™t get in touch with our other ragtag team members.â€
There was silence on the line for a moment.
â€œI know Joell said something about meeting around 12,â€ she finally said. â€œHe wants to go to the graveyard.â€
â€œOh,â€ Ingerton said. â€œJoell. My favorite person.â€
â€œThat sounded very sarcastic.â€
â€œOh no! Uh â€¦ well â€¦ I guess Iâ€™ll go meet them over there! See ya later!â€
* * *
Miss Edington hung up the telephone after the awkward conversation.
â€œWhat did he want â€¦ miss?â€ Virgil Thomas asked.
â€œHe wanted to know where everybody was and if we were still working on this,â€ she said.
â€œI donâ€™t think there ainâ€™t nothing to it anyway, no how.â€
* * *
Joell Johnson had mentioned on the evening of May 15 that he was going to return to Swan Point Cemetery around noon to look around.
On Wednesday, May 16, he decided he might need some help with investigating the place. He decided to call on his cousin, Joseph Johnson, who didnâ€™t live far away. He figured he would telephone him first and used the payphone in the lobby of his flophouse.
â€œHello?â€ he heard his cousin pick up the phone. â€œWho is this?â€
â€œThis is Joel,â€ Johnson said.
The line went dead. Heâ€™d been hung up on.
A little angry, he went over to the manâ€™s apartment and knocked on the door.
Joseph Johnson opened it. He was a graduate of Brown University with a degree in marine biology. He was 34 years old, a veteran of the Great War, and a marine and tank driver. His buddies in the war had nicknamed Jo-Jo. He was about six feet tall, solid, and clean-shaving with ragged brown hair. He had a scar on the right cheek, a souvenir from the war. He had a problem with gambling since the war and had recently lost $500 in a card game. He worked as a car mechanic at a little shop not far from where he lived.
â€œThanks for welcoming me,â€ Joell said.
Joseph just walked away from the door, leaving it open. Joell looked into the apartment, which was a single room and a bathroom. A kitchen area was tucked in one corner while a Murphy bed was up against a wall. There was little furniture and a pile of newspapers leaned in the corner. It was much nicer than Joelâ€™s own apartment.
â€œJust thought Iâ€™d check up on you,â€ he said. â€œThingâ€™s been going all right.â€
â€œYeah,â€ Joseph said. â€œHow â€˜bout you check up on your parents?â€
â€œI donâ€™t think I need to do that. They have nothing to say to me.â€
Joell was somewhat of the black sheep of the family. Having left home at 18 to seek work, he had learned of the plight of the working man and the repression of the laborer in the United States. It had not been long before he had started to speak out against such things and become a union activist, fighting for the rights of every average Joe. His parents had not approved his decision, his father accusing him of being a socialist or communist or instigator or simply un-American.
â€œI mean, they donâ€™t have to be good conversations, you know,â€ Joseph said. â€œJust â€¦ keep in touch.â€
â€œI honestly donâ€™t think they care anymore,â€ Joell said. â€œBut, I was wondering if youâ€™d heard about whatâ€™s going around at the carnival.â€
â€œUh â€¦ a childâ€™s missing. That one guy got mauled, I saw. They wouldnâ€™t even put a real photograph. Something weirdâ€™s going on.â€
â€œSomething weird is going on. And, while I know my relationship with you all and my parents, especially, isnâ€™t the best, I never took you for someone who would ignore things that werenâ€™t right.â€
â€œSo, keep it in your mind. And â€¦ if you are interested in trying to help out, meet me by the graveyard south of it around noon today.â€
Joseph grabbed his coat and left the apartment without another word. Joell waited for a few minutes and then looked for the keys. Unable to find them, he checked the door. He found a lock he could lock from the inside but still close the door so he locked it and left.
* * *
Joseph Johnson had gone to the rectory St. Sebastianâ€™s Catholic Church to talk to his priest, Father Oein McConnell. Father Oein, pronounced â€œOwen,â€ was 25 years old and looked very tired, though he was very handsome. He had black hair that was usually shaggy and about a weekâ€™s worth of facial hair as he didnâ€™t get around to shaving very much. Taking on the church after the death of the former priest had been a bit of a strain and he hadnâ€™t gotten much sleep in months. He was presently the only priest at the church.
Johnson found him at the rectory, a newspaper in his hand.
â€œHello Father,â€ Joseph said.
â€œHello, Joseph,â€ Father Oein said. â€œWhat can I do for you?â€
â€œUh â€¦ I donâ€™t know. Iâ€™m troubled right now.â€
They went into the parlor.
â€œSo, what kind of trouble are you in?â€ Father Oein asked.
â€œOh â€¦â€ Joseph said.
â€œYeah. I lost another $500 last night.â€
Father Oein sighed.
â€œJesus Christ,â€ he said.
â€œNow, I got a strange family knocking on the door,â€ Joseph went on.
Father Oein sighed again.
â€œI donâ€™t know what to do,â€ Joseph said.
â€œFive hundred dollars,â€ Father Oein said. â€œThatâ€™s â€¦ uh â€¦ thatâ€™s quite a bit. You know the church could really use that kind of money. Seems like a much better investment, if you ask me.â€
The two looked at each other for a moment.
â€œSo, did you come to talk about family or did you come to talk about gambling?â€ Father Oein finally said. â€œWe could talk about both. You know Iâ€™m here for you.â€
â€œI just donâ€™t know if â€¦â€ Joseph said. â€œShould I let â€˜em back in?â€
â€œHeâ€™s family. Iâ€™m assuming â€˜he.â€™ She? Theyâ€™re family.â€
â€œFather, have you been sleeping?â€
â€œNot much. You know. You know how it goes. Praying â€¦ all the time.â€
â€œHave you been reading the newspaper?â€
â€œYes, actually, you caught me in the middle of reading it. Youâ€™d think â€¦ someone would say something. Putting a carnival so close to a cemetery. It seems kind of disgraceful to me.â€
â€œWhy would you want to see that â€¦ while youâ€™re having fun? I donâ€™t get it.â€
â€œDoesnâ€™t sound like my idea of having fun at all.â€
â€œBut itâ€™s a shame. That poor boy. It kind of makes you want to do something.â€
Joseph looked at him.
â€œThereâ€™s probably â€¦ you know â€¦â€ he said. â€œLetâ€™s â€¦ ah â€¦ my cousin. Heâ€™s actually investigating it or something. He wanted me to go down there and help him out. Do you want to â€¦ come along?â€
â€œWell, I donâ€™t know how much a simple, small-town preacher like me would do.â€
â€œItâ€™s â€¦ I mean â€¦ we could use your spiritual help.â€
â€œIâ€™m always willing to help out people in need wherever they are. If you think my being there would help at all, Iâ€™m not doing anything. Itâ€™s Wednesday. We donâ€™t meet on Wednesday. And I need to get out, stretch my legs. Iâ€™ve been praying way too much. I need to get out and get some fresh air.â€
â€œLetâ€™s stop and get some coffee too, first.â€
â€œThat sounds amazing.â€
They went to a nearby diner for coffee and a piece of pie. They talked for a while before heading back to the rectory to get Father Oeinâ€™s Model T Ford to drive out to Swan Point Cemetery.
* * *
Milo James had returned to the Rhode Island Hospital on Wednesday, May 16, 1928, to try, once again to talk to Kent Howard. Unfortunately, he found the man was not lucid enough to speak to him. However, he met Dr. Alan Strong of Holmes Sanitarium of Greenwood, R.I., not far north of Providence. Dr. Strong was an older gentleman with graying hair and a thick black mustache. He wore pince-nez glasses.
James had heard of the man. Strong had taken over Holmes Sanitarium in late 1925 after the sanitarium was raided as the current owner and chief psychologist was running some kind of bootlegging operation. The man had disappeared and many of the staff were arrested. That was around the same time the notorious Quincy Washington escaped from Holmes Sanitarium. Washington and his gang of women went on to kidnap the young rich heiress, Lily Mitchell, the following year, but the girl had been recovered. Washington and his gang were captured or killed when they tried to kidnap the girl a second time. At least one of his accomplices, a mysterious figure, had escaped.
Around noon, he headed over to Swan Point Cemetery.
* * *
Nigel Bricker decided not to try to ask for more time off from his boss, Harold Potter, as the man was already frustrated by all of the weird happenings around the garage. However, he decided he would take his lunch break at Swan Point Cemetery around noon.
* * *
Jake Wessen, a private investigator from Providence, R.I., had followed the missing personsâ€™ stories in the Providence Journal and Providence Evening Bulletin. He decided to do a little investigating of the case on his own. Perhaps a reward would be offered for the return of the child or the woman. Perhaps the family would graciously offer him money for finding out who had assaulted and maimed Kent Howard. In any case, he didnâ€™t have must business coming in so it gave him something to do. He was blonde, clean-shaven, and tall.
He was in Swan Point Cemetery, looking around, when three automobiles arrived, along with several people on foot.
* * *
Sir Doctor Carl Huxtable arrived at Swan Point Cemetery in his powder-blue Rolls Royce Phantom 1 with the top down. Miss Edington and Virgil Thomas arrived in her white Packard sedan. Father Oein and Joseph Johnson arrived in the priestâ€™s Model T. Joell Johnson, Milo James, Nigel Bricker, and Robert Ingerton all arrived on foot, having taken the trolley. Joell had his baseball bat in hand.
It was overcast and gray. The ground was wet as it had rained early that morning. It was very dreary.
â€œBy God, Father, did you bury someone today?â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
â€œNo,â€ Father Oein said. â€œNo. No. I donâ€™t â€¦ I donâ€™t â€¦ uh â€¦ participate in this particular cemetery.â€
â€œSuzanna, thereâ€™s a lot of new faces here,â€ Ingerton said. â€œWhat happened to our â€¦ first group?â€
â€œYou act like I know,â€ she replied.
He looked at her for several moments.
â€œHi everyone!â€ he said. â€œIâ€™m Robert Ingerton. Local philanthropist and â€¦ child savior.â€
â€œOh good!â€ Dr. Huxtable said. â€œWe need a child savior. Thereâ€™s a missing child.â€
â€œThatâ€™s why Iâ€™m here,â€ Ingerton said.
â€œHello, Mr. Ingerton,â€ James said. â€œFather â€¦ I donâ€™t believe I recognize you.â€
â€œOh, probably not, itâ€™s a small church,â€ he said. â€œI donâ€™t get out very often.â€
â€œOkay, I personally donâ€™t â€¦ particularly associate with religion. But I appreciate you being here.â€
â€œOh, well, what, if you donâ€™t mind me asking, do you associate with?â€
â€œUh â€¦ well â€¦ I â€¦ Iâ€™m personally agnostic. I have trouble with â€¦ faith, especially seeing that, if this Godâ€™s will, it certainly is terrible.â€
â€œItâ€™s a very hard thing to process. Itâ€™s hard to think that there is a plan for everybody, but you know, if thatâ€™s what you prescribe to, I canâ€™t necessarily fault you for it.â€
Someone nearby whistled and Wessen stepped out from behind a tree.
â€œWhoâ€™s Model T is that?â€ the man said. â€œThatâ€™s a slick motor.â€
â€œNo wonder youâ€™re religious,â€ Dr. Huxtable said to the priest. â€œGod gave you a lot!â€
â€œWhoâ€™s car is that?â€ Wessen asked.
â€œThatâ€™s â€¦ uh â€¦ thatâ€™s mine,â€ Father Oein said.
â€œYeah, it gets me from place to place. It does the job.â€
â€œYou looking to sell?â€
â€œOh â€¦ no. No, this is the â€¦ this belongs more to the church than it does to me.â€
â€œIâ€™m sorry!â€ Dr. Huxtable said. â€œIs this the cemetery car auction that weâ€™re at?â€
â€œNo,â€ James said.
â€œMineâ€™s not for sale,â€ Dr. Huxtable said. â€œDo not ask.â€
â€œWhat was your name, sir?â€ Ingerton said.
â€œIâ€™m Sir Dr. Carl Huxtable. In that order.â€
â€œSir Doctor. Carl. Huxtable.â€
â€œGood to know.â€
â€œWell â€¦ uh â€¦ Sir Dr. Carl Huxtable,â€ Wessen said. â€œWhatâ€™s going on here? You look like a man in the know.â€
â€œWeâ€™re looking for a young boy,â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
â€œOh. Is this aâ”€â€
â€œMy friend lost his young boy and I must find him for him.â€
â€œIâ€™m assuming youâ€™ve read the paper?â€ James said.
â€œFreddy Pendergast,â€ Father Oein said.
â€œYes,â€ Wessen said to James. â€œYes, indeed. Is this Freddy that youâ€™re looking for?â€
â€œAnd why are you interested?â€ Joell said.
â€œWell, I â€¦ uh â€¦ I always try to help where I can. I thought I might be able to find this boy. Recover him.â€
â€œYou like young boys?â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
â€œYou,â€ Wessen said to Miss Edington, ignoring him.
â€œMe?â€ Miss Edington said.
â€œWhatâ€™s your name, sweetheart?â€
â€œIâ€™m Suzanna Edington. Whatâ€™s yours?â€
â€œIâ€™m Jake Wessen.â€
â€œWell, itâ€™s nice to meet you.â€
â€œVery nice to meet you.â€
He took her hand and kissed it. Virgil Thomas looked unimpressed.
â€œWell, you sure are a gentleman,â€ Miss Edington said.
â€œAre you a P.I.?â€ Joell asked.
â€œWhy yes,â€ Wessen said. â€œYes, I am.â€
â€œSo not another one of these â€¦ lunatics weâ€™ve gathered over here?â€
â€œOh stop Joell,â€ James said. â€œYou know we need all the help we can get right now!â€
â€œNow what the hell is that supposed to mean!?!â€ Miss Edington asked.
â€œHey hey!â€ Father Oein said. â€œLetâ€™s keep the cursing to a minimum. Especially in a cemetery, for Godâ€™s sake.â€
â€œIs God here right now?â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
â€œGod is everywhere.â€
â€œMy God, I need to write that down.â€
Ingerton laughed internally at how easy it would be to con the priest. Virgil Thomas rolled his eyes at Dr. Huxtable.
â€œMay I ask what progress you all have made?â€ Wessen said.
â€œWe know heâ€™s missing!â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
â€œWell, thatâ€™s something. Youâ€™re a â€¦ youâ€™re quite the astute gentleman.â€
â€œOf course! Thatâ€™s why Iâ€™m a doctor!â€
â€œWhat kind of practice do you have?â€
â€œOh. All right.â€
Ingerton took Father Oein aside.
â€œIs your church in need of money?â€ he asked the priest.
â€œWe can always use a little bit,â€ Father Oein said.
â€œAs a local philanthropist, I always look for opportunities to create local fundraisers for those in need. I would love to create a fundraiser for your church.â€
â€œWhat about a missing kidâ€™s fund?â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
Ingerton gave him a confused and quizzical look.
â€œChild savior!â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
â€œWell, thatâ€™s what Iâ€™m doing here!â€ Ingerton said. â€œRight now.â€
â€œHey, if you donâ€™t mind me asking, where did you come across your money?â€ Father Oein asked.
Wessen had been talking to Bricker.
â€œHave you all found anything around the cemetery?â€ Wessen asked.
â€œAs for things weâ€™ve found, we did detect a horrible smell in the Tunnel of Terrors where the boy went missing,â€ Joell said. â€œThere was some ooze.â€
â€œVery viscous type,â€ James said.
â€œExplain this ooze,â€ Wessen said.
â€œWe have a bottle of it,â€ Joell said.
â€œYes!â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
He pulled out a silver flask with the initials WHP on the side. He held it out and let the man take a whiff of the slime within. It was repulsive. He had never smelled anything like it. It was foul.
Miss Edington took out the little wooden statuette sheâ€™d purchased at the carnival.
â€œDonâ€™t leave the cap off for too long!â€ Dr. Huxtable said. â€œPut it back! If it is exposed to air, it disintegrates. We donâ€™t know what it is!â€
He glanced at it before he closed the flask again.
Miss Edington showed them the small, wooden carving. It was some kind of thick worm or slug with tentacles growing from the front, apparently. It was very detailed.
â€œDoes this look familiar?â€ she asked.
â€œI have a friend that would probably love to look at this!â€ Ingerton said.
â€œIâ€™ve heard of that!â€ Dr. Huxtable said. â€œTheyâ€™re called the lubalas!â€
Everyone looked at him.
â€œThe lubalas?â€ Ingerton said.
â€œExcuse me?â€ Joell said.
â€œThe lubalas!â€ Dr. Huxtable said again. â€œThey can fly.â€
â€œWhat?â€ Ingerton said.
â€œThey can what?â€ Miss Edington said.
â€œYes,â€ Dr. Huxtable said, looking up. â€œThey could be above us right now!â€
â€œIâ€™m â€¦ but without â€¦ Iâ€™m sorry sir, but without â€¦ sir doctor â€¦ without wings, how can they fly?â€ James asked.
â€œThey fly?â€ Miss Edington said. â€œI donâ€™t know about that.â€
â€œWell, it just happens, you know?â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
â€œIt donâ€™t look like they can fly with nothing,â€ Miss Edington said.
â€œHe is a doctor!â€ Ingerton said.
â€œA sir doctor!â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
Virgil Thomas rolled his eyes again.
â€œSo, doctor, are you familiar with such weird creatures such as this?â€ Ingerton asked.
â€œToo many to count!â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
â€œI have some friendsâ”€â€
â€œI donâ€™t want to talk about it!â€
â€œâ”€that would love to talk to you about it.â€
â€œI donâ€™t want to talk about it!â€
â€œWho are these friends, Mr. Ingerton?â€ Miss Edington asked.
â€œI have a hunter that would love to get his hands on one of these,â€ Ingerton said.
â€œA lubala?â€ Dr. Huxtable asked. â€œThat can fly?â€
â€œI still donâ€™t see how this thing can fly!â€ Miss Edington said. â€œI donâ€™t see any wings on this thing!â€
â€œWell, yes!â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
â€œI actually have someone who studies the occult,â€ Ingerton said went on.
â€œOh no,â€ Dr. Huxtable said. â€œDonâ€™t say that in front of the Father.â€
Miss Edington didnâ€™t say anything because she had too. Father Oein shifted uncomfortably.
â€œAnd these strange happenings,â€ Ingerton said.
He took Dr. Huxtable aside.
â€œBetween you and I â€¦â€ he said.
â€œBetween us,â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
â€œFirst off, is it going to stay between us?â€
â€œSecond off, maybe.â€
â€œIâ€™ve been offered a finderâ€™s fee if I can link this man to things of odd nature such as that â€¦ sculpture.â€
â€œApparently. Yes. If you could possibly talk with him about any information you may have â€¦ I could make it worth your while as well.â€
â€œWhat do I want?â€
â€œWhat do you want?â€
â€œSir Dr. Huxtable?â€
â€œI would love to see the King of England again. Because I am from there. Obviously.â€
â€œCould you request something I can supply you?â€
â€œWe can talk further about this. Yes.â€
â€œExcellent. Thank you for your generosity.â€
â€œI am very generous!â€
â€œSir Dr. Carl Huxtable.â€
â€œYou got it right!â€
Wessen and Virgil Thomas spoke, Virgil telling Wessen they were looking for the missing people from the carnival.
â€œSomethingâ€™s going on,â€ Virgil Thomas said. â€œSomething bad. I donâ€™t think Miss Suzanna should be here.â€
Miss Edington narrowed her eyes and stared at the man.
â€œThatâ€™s all right,â€ Wessen said. â€œIâ€™ll look out for her.â€
â€œIâ€™ll be looking out for you, then,â€ Virgil Thomas growled. â€œHer heart belongs to someone anyways. Some idiot.â€
Miss Edington told them she had purchased the strange statuette at the Northern Lights Gift Shop.
â€œThat is disturbing,â€ Father Oein said.
â€œWell, you let me know if you find anything,â€ Wessen said. â€œAnd Iâ€™ll do the same.â€
â€œItâ€™s actually carved as if the person was looking at the creature while they made it,â€ Miss Edington said.
James looked at Ingerton suspiciously. Something was not right about the man but he wasnâ€™t able to figure out exactly what. He figured heâ€™d have to get to know the man better to understand him.
Joseph looked at the horrible statuette and realized it was not anything found in nature. It was obviously not real. Nothing like that existed in nature. It was extremely detailed, however.
â€œI would like to meet the person who carved that,â€ he said.
â€œI have no idea,â€ Miss Edington said. â€œI could take you to the shop.â€
â€œOkay,â€ he said.
They could just hear faint music coming from the nearby carnival.
Dr. Huxtable, Joseph Johnson, James, Ingerton, Father Oein, and Miss Edington realized Bricker was missing. Miss Edington went over to where she last saw him and spotted his footprints. She told them she thought he went that way and followed the tracks. The rest of them followed but Dr. Huxtable stopped them.
â€œWhatâ€™s going on?â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
â€œBricker wentâ”€â€ Miss Edington said.
â€œWell, I came here to search this graveyard,â€ Joell said. â€œSo, Iâ€™m going to start heading that way and search.â€
â€œWait,â€ Dr. Huxtable said. â€œHold on. We came here to find a boy and, instead, we lost one?â€
They followed Miss Edington and found Bricker near the area roped off by the police.
Miss Edington put her hands on her hips and gave Bricker a glare.
â€œMr. Bricker, you really should tell us when youâ€™re leaving because we already have missing people around here,â€ she said.
Virgil Thomas, behind the woman, just nodded at Bricker as if to affirm what she said. Bricker apologized, noting he was on a tight schedule. Virgil Thomas nodded again as if he understood.
* * *
Joell and Dr. Huxtable had not followed the rest.
â€œI came here to search this graveyard,â€ Joell said. â€œSee if thereâ€™s any more clues. There was a crime scene somewhere over there that looked like it didnâ€™t have much in it.â€
â€œLetâ€™s go there,â€ Dr. Huxtable said. â€œPlease.â€
â€œFine,â€ Joell said. â€œI can try to lead you back to the crime scene but then I want to search the place.â€
They found the rest of them near the crime scene.
â€œSo, you got any insight from this?â€ Joell said to Wessen. â€œWe havenâ€™t really gotten any.â€
â€œLetâ€™s see,â€ Wessen said, crossing the police line and examining the area.
Wessen saw there was no sign of a struggle in the area, nor was there any way of the man having had his arm ripped off that he could see. There were scattered footprints as if many people had been in the area, probably the police.
â€œWell Johnson,â€ Wessen said to Joell. â€œDoesnâ€™t appear that anything of interest happened here. I say we move on to somewhere else.â€
â€œThatâ€™s exactly what we got, too, when our other police friend looked around,â€ Joell said. â€œWhich is why I wanted to check other places in the cemetery.â€
â€œI think thatâ€™s a swell idea.â€
â€œAlso, call me Joell. My cousinâ€™s here.â€
â€œFair enough, Johnson.â€
â€œIs it a sin to cross a police line?â€ Dr. Huxtable quietly asked Father Oein.
The man just shook his head so Dr. Huxtable crossed the line to look around as well. Joell headed away from the crime scene, walking through the cemetery and looking for anything of interest. He made a systematic search as best he could of the place. Wessen worked with the man so they could cover more ground. Joseph and Edington followed Joell.
Bricker told them he had to go and Joell told him if he stopped by in the evening, they might still be around.
â€œI know I will be!â€ Ingerton called.
â€œHow long do you plan on staying here, investigating?â€ James said.
â€œI plan on taking a lunch break,â€ Ingerton said. â€œDinner break. But â€¦ into the wee evening â€¦ and then, maybe even at night.â€
â€œHave you ever been to the cemetery, Mr. Ingerton?â€ James asked.
â€œI was here just two days ago with Lady Suzanne â€¦â€ Ingerton said.
He pointed where the woman had been standing but she was gone.
â€œWherever she went,â€ he said.
â€œWell, as much as I donâ€™t like to split up â€¦â€ James said.
â€œIt looks like weâ€™re combing the cemetery at the moment.â€
â€œYes, weâ€™re looking for any kind of evidence right now. Wessen has already stated that where we are right now doesnâ€™t have much for us. Would you like to investigate with me while they search? I feel like we could cover more ground.â€
â€œSounds like a good idea.â€
â€œBut â€¦ and it would give me time to know my new team members.â€
â€œYes, I agree.â€
Several of them noticed a man in a boat on the Seekonk some 40 or 50 yards away, fishing. Dr. Huxtable, Wessen, Ingerton, Father Oein, and Virgil Thomas all saw the man.
â€œMaybe the fisherman might have seen something,â€ Ingerton said, pointing him out.
â€œMaybe we should go and ask him,â€ James said.
â€œWe just need to find a boat. Or maybe he can see us flail from the shore.â€
He went to the shore and started waving.
â€œLocal fisherman!â€ he yelled.
The bearded man looked his way and waved.
â€œExcuse me, sir!â€ James said, also waving.
Father Oein walked over.
â€œWe should probably respect the dead a little more and not shout in the cemetery,â€ he told them.
â€œAnd the fish!â€ Dr. Huxtable added.
Ingerton just stared at Dr. Huxtable.
â€œWell, thank you father, but this is a serious investigation and I donâ€™t think the dead can necessarily hear us,â€ James said.
Ingerton, meanwhile, was waving the fisherman towards the shore.
â€œWhere is the property line, sir?â€ he said.
The man fiddled at the back of the boat and they heard the putter of a motor. He navigated the boat to shore with a small outboard. It was a slow ride until the boat bumped onto the mud of the shore. He proved to be an old, stout man with white hair and a beard and mustache. There was a twinkle in his eye and he grinned at them.
â€œYeah, can I help ya?â€ he said.
The fishing pole was tucked on one side of the boat and a bucket of water with a few fish in it was near the front. Two oars were also in the boat and when he turned off the tiny outboard motor, they could hear the music from the carnival again.
â€œYeah?â€ he said.
â€œHi!â€ Ingerton said. â€œRobert Ingerton!â€
â€œMalcolm Harris,â€ the man said.
â€œHi Malcolm. Did you by chance see anything strange happening in this vicinity in the last few days? Since the incident with the armless man?â€
He gestured vaguely behind him.
â€œNo,â€ Harris said. â€œNo. Iâ€™ve seen some strange things but I havenâ€™t seen anything in the cemetery. My â€¦ uh â€¦ I had a friend named Alex. Old caretaker.â€
He pointed towards Swan Point Cemetery.
â€œHe passed away 10 years ago,â€ he went on. â€œIâ€™ll admit our conversations will fuelled by a little wine or whisky now and then. But remember, this was a long time ago afore Prohibition. There was a lot of truth in him. He â€¦ uh â€¦ Old Alex sometimes complained of finding glop in the leaves. Looked like the trail of a giant snail or slug.â€
â€œMr. Harris?â€ James said.
â€œYes sir?â€ Harris said.
â€œMy name is Milo James. You saidâ”€â€
â€œNice to meet you.â€
â€œNice to meet you. â€œYou said some kind of slop?â€
â€œAre you familiar with its smell, maybe?â€
â€œNo sir. It was my friend Alex that found it.â€
â€œThe one 10 years ago?â€
â€œThatâ€™s right; he passed away 10 years ago. He used to be a caretaker here at Swan Point Cemetery. Said it looked like the track of a giant slug or snail. He said he sometimes heard deep, throbbing, rhythmic, almost musical sounds coming from under his feet.â€
â€œJazz?â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
â€œNo, it â€¦ uh â€¦ I would think that jazz would have more of a kind of a beat that wasnâ€™t rhythmic,â€ Harris said.
â€œLike a boop boop bop bop boop boop?â€
â€œNot like that, no.â€
â€œWell â€¦ you do it.â€
â€œWhen I think rhythmic, young man, I think moreâ”€â€
â€œâ”€I kind of think like a boom boom boom as opposed to a bop bop beep beep or whatever the hell you just did.â€
â€œLike a boom boom bop?â€
â€œNo offense padre.â€
â€œNone taken,â€ Father Oein said.
â€œThe only noises I ever heard was sometimes the carnival music coming from out the â€¦ thereâ€™s a sewer pipe over by the carnival,â€ Harris went on. â€œI heard some strange music coming from out of there.â€
â€œWhere might his sewer exit be?â€ Ingerton said.
â€œWhy, itâ€™s over by the pony rides. Itâ€™s kind of â€¦ it just â€¦ Iâ€™m guessing itâ€™s where their â€¦ their â€¦ uh â€¦ itâ€™s where they â€¦ they dump their stuff into the Seekonk. You know, sewage has to go somewhere.â€
â€œOf course, the sewer tube changes and screws the music. Itâ€™s sort of spooky-like. But Iâ€™ve seen a damn-sight too many things that were unseemly-like anyway.â€
â€œLike what, for instance?â€
â€œCould you possibly describe the unseemly?â€
â€œUnseemly. Thatâ€™s a description. Itâ€™s an adjective.â€
â€œCan you smell this?â€ Dr. Huxtable asked, holding out the open flask.
â€œI donâ€™t indulge,â€ Harris said. â€œNot since the Prohibition.â€
â€œIn more detail please,â€ Ingerton said.
â€œNo, itâ€™s not alcohol,â€ Dr. Huxtable said. â€œI just want to know if youâ€™ve ever smelled something like this.â€
The man sniffed at the flask and then drew back, his face screwed up.
â€œNo!â€ he said. â€œI never want to ever again!â€
â€œMr. Harris, that was a sample that we found earlier,â€ James said. â€œI thought it might have been similar to the slime that you described. Iâ€™m sorry.â€
â€œOh, I donâ€™t know,â€ Harris said. â€œAs I said, Alex is the one who told me about this gunk.â€
â€œDid Alex by chance tell you anything else that seemed outlandish?â€ Ingerton said.
â€œLike I said, he found these trails of slime. Sometimes heâ€™d hear things under the ground.â€
â€œDid Alex give any details about where this slime trail was?â€ James asked.
Harris pointed to Swan Point Cemetery.
â€œIn the cemetery,â€ he said. â€œThatâ€™s where he worked.â€
â€œDoes anybody work there now?â€ Father Oein asked. â€œIs there a caretaker?â€
â€œAyup, thereâ€™s caretakers. Poor old Alex.â€
â€œSir, do you fish for a living or is this more of a hobby?â€ James asked.
â€œIâ€™m a retired cobbler,â€ Harris said.
â€œYouâ€™re a retired cobbler?â€
â€œI used to make shoes.â€
â€œYes, poor old Alex. He was a good man.â€
â€œIf you donâ€™t mind, sir, I hate to do this but â€¦ how exactly did your friend pass?â€
â€œOh. He was found all burnt up, one morning, right in the middle of the cemetery. Thereâ€™s them as says tâ€™was spontaneous combustion. And thereâ€™s them as says that ainâ€™t no such thing as spontaneous combustion.â€
â€œThere are two types, yes,â€ Dr. Huxtable said.
â€œMe, Iâ€™m just a retired shoemaker,â€ Harris said, ignoring him. â€œHow the hell should I know what happened?â€
James turned to Ingerton.
â€œAre you getting frustrated?â€ he asked.
â€œLittle bit!â€ Ingerton said. â€œHow does he not understand what Iâ€™m saying!?!â€
â€œMr. Ingerton, I donâ€™t think he has anything more relevant to say to our case.â€
â€œNo no, itâ€™s true but â€¦ the sewer business did help.â€
He turned back to Harris.
â€œThank you!â€ he said. â€œThank you, Malcolm.â€
â€œAyup,â€ Harris said.
â€œYour assistance was greatly appreciated.â€
â€œOh, youâ€™re welcome. Are you paying respects?â€
â€œWell, Iâ€™m sorry for your loss.â€
â€œThank you, Mr. Harris,â€ James said.
Father Oein stared at Ingerton, a little disturbed by the blatant lie heâ€™d just told.
â€œHow many fish have you caught?â€ Dr. Huxtable asked.
â€œGot three catfish so far today,â€ Harris said. â€œA good haul.â€
â€œCatfish?â€ James said.
â€œAyuh,â€ Harris said.
He worked his little outboard motor and got it started. He pushed off with an oar and then turned the boat and took it out onto the Seekonk 30 to 40 yards away. He chucked an anchor over the side and he got fishing again.
They took up the search once more.
* * *