It seems nothing we do can ever be simple. The morning after our visit to Erika, Will went in the search of Lamonde. His mother answered the door, and had obviously been weeping. After introducing ourselves:
Will “What’s wrong?”
Mom “Paul has disappaered.”
Will’s heart sank, within myself I screamed in frustration.
Mom “2 weeks ago. Perhaps a month and a half ago, he started having nightmares, and they got worse and worse, more and more vivid. He would tell me that sometimes hee would awaken, and the nightmares would keep going.”
Will “What were they of?”
“He wouldn’t tell me. He told me that he needed to contact a man, a friend, who would be able to help him with this.”
Will “What man?”
“Some man named….Westinghouse.”
“A good friend of mine.”
Mom "You know about thee problems he has?
Will “No. Would you be willing to come with me, and meet Westinghouse? That way we can all talk together.”
Mom “Certainly.” They took a cab to the office. I was, of course, present, with Atwater keeping me company, as were Father Jon and Theolonius who were in the back room deep in the study of the Forbidden. Jack was engagd in his own businesses. When Will informed me of the news, I screamed in frustration within myself.
Atwater with his doctorial ways calmed Irene as Timmons served her a cup of Darjeeling. She then told her story.
“Paul grew up in rural Buffalo. His father, my husband at the tim, died when Paul was 3 and I raised him while working as a seamstress. His father, who was a salesman, left us a little money as well.”
Myself “What happened to him?”
“He had a heart attack. At 17, Paul had a series of nightmares just like recently. They left him hospitalized with partial amnesia. During his hospital stay, Paul’s personality changed. He suddenly didn’t seem to know the names of people, or what things were called, and had a sudden interest in science and history which he had never had before. He became close friends with another patient named Clarence Rogers. Paul insisted he was fine and was released, yet he just didn’t seem the same to me.”
Myself “For how lone?”
“Well, he left with Roger and they began a series of trips. He did this for 8 years.”
Myself “To where? Different places or the same?”
“Strange places all over the world. I don’t know where theey got the money to do it.”
“They went to Australia, South America, Central America; they travelled for a time within America.”
These words were chilling, for it was not lost on any of us the similarities to locations in our investigations into Elias’ murder. There can be assumed no coincidences in our world anymore.
“After 8 years, he returned had another attack of amnesia. This was immediately after his return home. He was sent to the hospital in a sort of coma. When he woke up he could not recall anything of the 8 previous years; but it was my Paul again as he once had been. That cold distance was gone, as was all interest in science, history and travelling. Other than the amnesia he was perfectly healthy and soon just like his old self. Then he started the nightmares again recently. Not the horrible ones but just…”
Myself “Excuse me, Ms. Lamonde. When he first came back from his trips and snapped out of it, did he actually think it was 8 years earlier?”
Jon leaned in and whispered “He was possessed” to which I nodded in agreement. By whom or what is the question.
“The nightmares that he had, the dreams, he still occasionally has are about a city. A huge city of rock. He says he’s living in it.”
Will “Living in it?”
“Yes., but he was a hideous creature.”
Theo “In his dreams he lived there.”
“Yes, as this hideous creature, and that’s all he could remember. That was over the next year or so he was able to tell me these things, but that’s when his psychic talent awakened also. This ability to talk with the dead. That’s when Herb came along.”
Cassandra “Herb Whitfield, the promoter.”
“Yes. When he saw a demostratioj of Pau’s powers he signed a longterm contract. That’s why Paul moved us here to NY. Now Paul is very well known. Evidently just a few months ago you aided him in one of his investigations. He spoke very highly of you gentlemen.”
Myself “That was Will here, and Father Jon and Theolonius.”
“Yes, but he met you as well.”
Cassandra “Now how do we hypnosize Erika’s man?”
Will “We can’t do it ourselves.”
Myself “We must find Lamonde first.” I excused myself as Timmons served Ms. Lamonde another cup of Darjeeling and called Friday, inviting him to dinner that night to discuss the case.
Will “Who was his roomate, the man he met at the hospital?”
Will “Do you know what has happened to him since they ended their travels? Did Paul remain friends with him?”
‘No, he just disappeared without any farewells even. He simply left."
Myself "I will investigate Paul’s rooms first thing. Will, meet with the promoter Whitfield. Take Theo and Jack with you for backup. I’ll have Father Jon and Atwater accompany me.At the latest, everyone meet back here for dinner with Friday."
“There is also his girlfriend. Perhaps you recall her from the Tannerhill house as his assistant. She’s an aspiring actress who Lamonde fell in love with.”
Will “Has she come around looking for him?”
“She came by once, and I told that hussy to stay away from my Paul.”
Myself “Before or after his disappearance?”
“This was before.”
Myself “Tell me about their relationship. How did it begin?”
“She enticed my Paul into a relationship and now (with frustration and jealousy) she has her claws in him. She’s trying to keep him away from me.”
Will “What’s wrong with Paul having his own relationship?”
He moved out! He has his own apartment. He only came back home when he started having the nightmares so I could look after him."
Myself “We’ll need the address then.”
“Of course.” Atwater passed her my stationary, upon which she gave us the addresses of Paul’s apartment, his girlfriend’s, and that of Whitfield’s office.
Myself “We’ll have to see her as well.”
The interview ended here and we broke up. Irene led us to her house while Will made for Whitfield.
Missing for 2 weeks, I expected to find little.
Atwater “Have you cleaned much?”
I instructed to others to wait outside while I entered with Irene. I could see immediately that she hadn’t just straightened up, but she is an obsessive cleaner. She then told us she had found some papers that he had scrawled strange notes on “but they were obviously worthless” so she burned then. I could hardly contain my frustration.
Myself “I don’t wish to alarm you Ms. Lamonde but you may have destroyed the best information you had.”
She did give us 2 things:
One was a photograph, almost exactly the same as that used in Paul’s handbill’s to advertise his work. It was of no value. There were only minor and insignificant differences. The second, however, was his personal diary, kept from the age of 13 to 18 at his hospitalization. I handed this directly to Atwater for his professional take on the matter. he began reading as we carried on.
Myself “Anything else, Ms. Lamonde, that you didn’t burn?”
Jon whispered to me at this point “There is something she is not telling us about this situation.”
Myself “Are you certain you are telling us everything, Ms. Lamonde?”
“What? Why of course. What else would there be to tell?”
Myself “Are you sure you burnt all the papers?”
This turned out being the correct subject to question her on, for Jon saw a flash of untruth in her manner. He took a bit of an offensive stance now, a slightly intimidating tone.
Myself “You found nothing esle?”
Jon approaching her “Why would you burn the papers?”
“Because they were meaningless, they didn’t mean anything.”
Jon, closer now and looking at her sternly “WHY did you burn those papers?”
Nervous “I told you.”
Jon with authority “WHY did you BURN those papers?”
He broke down “Because they proved he was insane! My Paul lost his mind again!” weeping.
Myself "What was on the papers?
“A great, huge 4 footed monster, it towered over the city of New York, smashing it. He had written above it ‘the beast that comes’.”
The beast…that of the Elias investigation? The same beast to be summoned by the Bloody Tongue? The Mythos inescapable. It seems the normal supernatural (oxymoron as that may seem) is virtually gone now. A tide is rolling and rolling upon us all. How do the Iluminati not see! They must be convinced. We must get Archimedes to present all the newest evidence since we began our investigations, regardless of his tenuous relationship with the order.
Myself “Did he draw that over and over again?”
“No, he wrote other things down.”
Msyelf “You must give us this in detail. All that you remember aboujt these drawings. Start with one, and then the next and the next. Take your time.”
“He made a picture of a man, no, a man like thing, with tentacles and wings. He wrote above it ‘It rises from the deep when the day arrives’.
Myself “Next one?”
“A huge bat, breathing fire. There were others still, obscene things. He said he was just writing his dreams, but no one has dreams like that. The papers seemed to move when I looked at them. So I burned them. I can’t remember anymore.”
What little she could describe sounded like great beings, perhaps Old Ones. Jon and Theo pinpointed beings known as Athaqua and Yig.
“He wrote ‘they will come on the day of the beast’. But always he kept drawing that huge 4 footed thing; and ‘the beast is a mask’.”
“Finally, he drew the ocean and the sun in the sky, and another sun that was a huge red ball. On that one he wrote ‘the harbinger’. I had to burn them.”
Myself, for consolation “It’s ok, Ms. Lamonde.”
I now decided on a search of the grounds outside first, then his room but found nothing of assistance whatsoever.
The diary also turned out to be mostly useless, only the story of a typcial young boy growing up, until the last few entries: about the dreams of a gigantic city in a tropical jungle. He moved around the city not as himself, but as a thing of alien proportions. There were huge lizards there as well.
We know beings not of this earth were here in the past. Could the lizards be dinosaurs? The lizard beings mentioned in the letter to Stanford? Something else entirely?
We next searched Paul’s apartment. We found one thing: a letter to his mom that he apparently wrote before deciding to stay with her. It read I’ve been very busy with all the bookings Herb has gotten for me lately. The sessions take a lot out of me and I haven’t been sleeping all that well. I’m afraid I’m beginning to experience thos same dreams again, the ones I suffered just before my attack of amnesia. It seems to be afffecting my personality. I just can’t seem to be able to get along with people like I might and Velma and I have been fighting a lot. I know you dont care much for Velma, mom, but she really is a wonderful girl and I know she loves me.
Later: Just returned from Velma’s apartment. I’m afraid we had another fight. She said she doesn’t want to see me again. I told Herb about it and he wants me to check into a hospital. He thinks I need rest but I don’t want to. I must see Velma but I don’t know if I can make it. The huge ferns wave in the wind outside my window. Beyond these are spired buildings. I don’t remember the way, I’m afraid I’ll get lost. I must see Velma but the beast waits out there.
Myself “Dear God, Atwater. The ferns and spires remind me of our visit to the tropical Antarctica of the extremely distant past.”
So, he had a major attack but recovered enough to make it to his mother’s and seek our help before disappearing.
At Whitfield’s office, 7th floor, Herbert Whitfield Professional Manager Services. They walked into the office, which is but one small room for both he and his secretery.
Herb without looking up “Can I help you gentlemen?”
Will “Hello Herb.”
“Oh, I recognize you” standing to shake Will’s hand.
Will “We hear your man Lamonde has disappeared.”
“Yes, there’s nothing I can tell you. I’ve already told the police everything I know, they can verify the story.”
Will “Which is what? What happened? We’re obviously worried about him too.”
“He went out walking and he disappeared.”
Will “What time of day was he out walking?”
“I’m sorry I have nothing else I can tell you.”
Will “Herb, please sir. We are only trying to aid a mutual friend here. No need to stonewall.”
“I have nothing else to tell you. Please leave my office.”
Will “I don’t understand what is going on here.”
Agitated a bit “Nothing is going on here. I’m sure Paul will return soon and when he does he’ll be cured.”
Jack "Now what makes you say something like that?
“I’m hoping for the best.”
Jack “What you think he went off somewhere by himself to be cured?”
“I hope so.”
Jack “Without telling his mom?”
Clearly agitated and defensive “I don’t have to answer to you!”
Will “Why are you being so confronational? This is our mutual friend! All we are trying to do is figure out what is going on!”
“Give it some time and he’ll be back.”
This whole sequence of responses was highly suspicious of course; he sounded far too much like he knew something we didn’t and was doing a bad job of hiding it.
Jack “No need for dramatics Herb, I mean we’re all friends here am I right?”
With a sigh “I have business to take care of. Now let’s get down to brass tax here Herb old boss.”
Theo stepping closer and putting a squeeze on Herb’s shoulder “Yes mister Herb, why don’t you tell us what is going on.”
Jack “We know that you know something here so let’s get on with it, time’s valuable in our line of work.”
No matter the intimidation, Herb’s mouth was unfortunately shut.
Standing up “I’m asking you to leave now.”
Will calmly “Are you worried about something, Herb? Somebody watching over you?”
Herb “No. It’s just that I need to go.”
Finally our team had nothing to do but give up and depart. Theo volunteered himself and Jack to stay and tail Whitfield. Theo noticed 2 burly toughs, one with a bent stovepipe hat, loitering on the other side of the street, not so inconspicuouslly watching the office. They decided to continue to the next corner to keep watch when a man approached them.
“Excuse me. Can I speak to you gentlemen for a minute?”
Theo “If you must” glancing back to be sure the toughs had stayed put.
“My name is John Deravin, I’m an investigator for the Cline Mutual Life Insurance Company. We have a policy on Paul Lemonde.”
Jack “I don’t suppose you happen to have a card we couls see. Some identification of some kind?”
“Absolutely, sir” handing over his business card. “As I was saying, we have a policy on Paul Lemonde. We routinely investigate cases like this for evidence of fraud or foul play because the policy is quite large, going to a Mr. Herbert Whitfield. I believe I saw you gentlemen leave his building.”
Jack “We did.”
“Mr. Whitfield is named as the beneficiary and fankly, I believe he may have had something to do with Paul’s disappearance.”
Will “Really? Why is that? What have you found out thus far?”
“Paul was his only money making client. He had spent heavily recently. Paul was using more and more of his time to help people find missing family members and that sort of thing, which doesn’t pay well, rather than doing his shows through Whitfield which do pay well. And I do know that a gangster, Bob Wexler, is owed money by Hert. Wexler has sent several of his men to keep tabs. I personally think there was foul play involved. I think he murdered Lamonde for the money and my company is not going to pay out thousands of dollars…”
Jack “…without really checking, we get it.”
Theo “You think those 2 goons across the street there are Wexler thugs?”
Theo “Across from the office builging. Scruffy faces, standing together.”
“They could be. That’s the kind of men he uses.”
Theo “So you’re only suspicious right now? You haven’t uncovered any hard evidence yet?”
“No. That’s why I thought I would talk to you gentlemen.”
Theo “We only found out about this today, actually.”
Jack “We’re business associated of some friends who are looking for Paul. Maybe you’d like to stop by the office to talk to Westinghouse. Put your heads together.”
“I would be happy to do that, but in addition, if it’s possible, if you should find the location of Mr. Lamonde I would appreciate it if you would inform me.”
Theo “Of course.”
“There is actually a phone where I can be reached, and our offices. if you would call me in that event I would appreciate it.”
They exchanged business cards and the man went on his way.
Will "Jack what do you know about that gangster?
Jack “He operates out of the waterfront district somewhere, but I can’t remember where.”
They continued watching as Herbert leaves and the thugs follow. As they were about to follow them, the secretary came out of the office in a hurry and met them.
“Can I speak to you gentlemen for a moment?”
Will “Of course.”
Theo “I’ll stay on them. You talk” and he continued to tail the thugs and Herbert. The secretary led Jack back upstairs “My name is Betty Avery. I think Paul may have killed himself.”
Jack “What? Why?”
“He was a very sensitive young man. If it hadn’t been for Mr. Whitfield he never would have had the success he did. He had been acting very strange. I also believe Whitfield is now in danger. First, he has some large business debts and is being pressured to pay them. 2 men representing a Mr. Wexler visited the office twice. The second time they slapped him around.”
Will “Did you hear them say anything specific about paying up? Any timeframe?”
“Yes. They gave him a week, and that was 3 days ago, or Wexler would ‘make him pay’. Another gentleman named Mr. Rogers came this morning asking for Mr. Whitfield but he was out at the time so the man left his card and requested the Mr. Whitfield meet him at the address. When I showed the card to him he didn’t recongize the name so he threw it away.”
Will “Did he say who he was?”
“Just his name.”
Jack “Is that the only time you’ve ever seen him?”
Jack “Where is Whitfield going now?”
“He’s going home.”
Jack “When was the last time you saw Paul?”
“The day of his disappearance.”
Jack “He was coming to find us that day.”
“He must have come here first then.”
Jack “You think it’s possible that Whitfield did something to him?”
“No. He was very very fond of Paul, and quite frankly Paul is essentially his meal ticket.”
Will “What was Paul doing here that day?”
“I don’t know.”
Will “Did he get to talk to Herb?”
“Yes, they had an argument actually.”
WIll “What did you hear?”
“They sent me out but I heard them when I stepped out. Paul said he was going to talk to a friend of his, but Mr. Whitfield was desparetely trying to talk him out of it. That if word got out of Paul’s condition it would destroy his reputation and his career.”
Jack “What condition?”
“I don’t know. Whitfield did say what Paul needed was a restful stretch at a good sanitarium.”
Jack “Sure, because that always fixes you right up.”
2 potentials at this point: Whitfield put Paul in a sanitarium (either convinced Paul or against his will) or Wexler kidnapped Paul as leverage against Whitfield’s debts.
Theo did indeed follow Herb only to his house, and the thugs just stood in the vicinity watching. Figuring they were only making sure he didn’t skip town Theo returned to the office some time after Will and Jack.
Our brief knowledge of Paul’s movements seems to be thus: a visit and fight with Velma; his breakdown while writing the letter; a recovery enough to make it safely to his mother’s house to stay before visiting Whitfield and disappearing likely on his way to seek our aid.
WIll interviewed Velma at her home.
Upon Will knocking upon her door, she asked who it was.
Will “It’s Will McNamara, I’m a friend of your boyfriend Lamonde.”
“The reporter? Just a minute just a minute.” She sounded perfectly normal thus far. Yet when she opened the door she had conjured tears and sadness “Come in and sit down Mr. McNamara”. Will knew straight out her desire to be a stage actress would come to no fruition for she had no talent at all. “Oh, I’m worried sick about Paul. I think that terrible Mr. Whitfield had something to do with this.”
Will “When was the last time you saw Paul?”
“He visited me the day of his disappearance. We are so much in love. He comes to see me all the time.”
Will “It would seem. He left his mother’s house to gain the freedom to see you. Did he come by that day just to see you?”
Will “Did he mention where he was going that day?”
WIll “Did he mention his nightmares?”
“No. Oh, I just love him so much” or just seeking a meal ticket?
WIll “Everything nwasa ok between the two of you recently, no problems?”
“Absolutely, everything was wonderful between us. No problems, though he did mention to me that if anything happened to him he really wanted his things to go to me.”
Will “What things?”
“His possessions, his bank account, you know.”
Will “He never drew up a will though, did he?”
“No. I don’t believe so. Though I’m sure that horrible mother of his will try to take everything.”
Will “You know Paul had been living there lately, right?”
“Oh, no. The bitch is a liar. He had been staying at his apartment. She is just trying to set it up so she can get the money. And Herb, he wants it too. They probably conspired to get rid of him.”
Will, of course, could see through her charade. The woman was desperate for attention, probably for an article to be written about her and dealing with the trauma SHE is going through losingn her beloved Paul, and to plant the seeds of herself rightfully receiving Paul’s estate. A charlatan at best, it seemed. She surely insisted Paul was staying at home to weaken his mother’s rights in such matters. Judging by her poor acting ability, Will was sure she truly knew nothing and had no part in Paul’s disappearance.
By the time Friday arrived for dinner we had all met and reviewed our respective experiences.
Cassandra “I wonder if Paul and Velma made up at their last meeting or if she left him?” Unfortunately, Friday could add nothing of use. They had found no other evidence, nor could they trace his steps for certain. There was one report of a man accosted by 2 men and driven off in a steamcar but the man could not be identified.
There is much I know of Wexler, most of no consequence here, suffice to say he is a gangster of sorts, and practically resides in his office, sitting like a spider in its web. His address is known to me.
Friday “I need your help on a case.”
Myself “I request your help on a case.”
I went first, detailing the days events with him.
Friday then detailed his case “I’d like you to look into this as soon as you can”:
“I have had 3 murders.”
Myself “I’m interested.”
“All 3 of them died in their homes. 2 of them in their beds, not a mark on them, but a look of horrible terror upon their faces.”
Theo “Oh, now we’re very interested.”
“The 3rd also died in bed but was surely strangled.”
Myself “By what method?”
“Very large hands. The only thing the 3 of them had in common was that they each had ontheir person a piece of jewelry with a strange…um…symbol. Like a stylized tree, maybe evergreen, or a fir.” Showing to it, we could see it was a modified eldar sign with 4 points to a side, instead of 5 total points.
Jon “That’s wierd.”
“One had a watch fob with the design, the other a coin. The third, the strangled man, also had it upon a ring he wore. That’s why I feel they are connected. I can’t understand what is going on. There seems to be no other connection between the three of them.”
Myself to Jon and Theo “Have either of you seen this symbol before?”
Both replied in the negative.
“One man was 35, chemist, named Tim Dagget. Left behind a wife who knows nothing about what happened. The 2nd was Albert Runstead, 62, college professor in oriental studies. No wife, housekeeper found the body. The third, the strangled, Frank Baird, 31, an engineer. Pretty sure he was a sissy boy, as they say. No wife and hung out a lot at Turkish baths.”
Jack “That Sodomized Dragon for one I’d wager.”
“That’s all I know.”
Theo “So you think there is something supernatural or arcane about this?”
“Possibly, but even if not if you can find the connections to why these three men were murdered…”
We promised to help as soon as we resolved Paul’s disappearance. We discussed what to do, if anything, during the night: break into and search Herb’s office, look into Wexler’s place…
Friday “You don’t want to break into Wexler’s at night. He has an army of thugs. Some will surely be there.”
Myself “Very true.”
Will “The office then.”
Jack “Who’s going?”
Myself “All of us.”
After dinner, then brandy and cigars, Friday bid us good luck and with a few moments preparation we were on our way to Whitfield’s office. Theo, Jack and Jon stood watch while I dealt with the lock swiftly and we all entered. The office door lock was just as easy and our search began. I took my own look around first and discovered several things of interest. Starting with the secretaries desk I found nothing, but in the waste basket I found the business card of Clarence Rogers; in Whitfield’s desk, after picking the drawer lock, I found a key with a tag attached labelling it as being to Paul’s apartment, a second unmarked key, an explicitly threatening letter to Whitfield by Wexler over services rendered 2 weeks earlier, the date given for it being the same upon which Paul disappeared, plus other debts, with the understanding that because of this ‘service’ Whitfield would be able to repay Wexler (which he obviously had not been able to do).
Atwater “Wexler had his men take Paul, then.”
Will “That was one of our initial suspicions.”
Will “So, he was thinking that once he received Paul’s life insurance money he could repay the debts.”
Only the filing cabinet, which also required picking, remained. Inside were many bills and receipts proving his heavy debt and late on all of his payments. Until a couple of months ago they were all paid off.
Myself “With the money he borrowed form Wexler.”
We also saw his contract with Paul, giving Whitfield 50% of Paul’s earnings, as well as several insurance policies on Paul’s life. To the untrained eye they were all seemed signed by Paul. I thought to compare them more closely to one another but they seemed authentically signed by Lamonde individually. The policies were from Acme, Osborne, and Peterson.
Will “Wait a second, there’s no policy from Cline.”
Jack “The company that Deravin fellow said he was from.”
Theo “Ah, the one who stopped us outside the office.”
Will “I’ll do some digging on Cline first thing in the morning.”
Our search finished, we dispersed to our homes.
Will reported back after breakfast that there was indeed no such complany as Cline.
Jack “If we see him again, we’ll bushwack him.”
Cassandra “Looks like you men have 3 necessities: Call on Deravin, meet with Wexler, and try to find this Clarence Rogers.”
Myself “For certain. Rogers’ card has an address. Someone should check Whitfield’s office to see if he came in.”
We all went there as a group first and it was still locked up. At his house, through the window, we could see him lying on the floor. Once Friday arrived we entered.
Myself “Carefully, disturb nothing.” Friday’s men broke the door open. He had been beaten to a pulp but was still alive, and Atwater saw to him immediately. I found nothing indiscreet. Only the footprints on the floor (the patterns of which I lifted) making their way away from the body to the door, stamped with what was surely Whitfield’s blood. They were a working man’s boots, like what Wexler’s men might wear; at least 2 of them. Atwater found Whitfield to have a broken leg had him ready for a safe move to the hospital once the ambulance arrived when I joined him.
Myself to Atwater “Can he talk?”
Atwater “He’s a bit out of it, but I believe so.”
Myself “What occured here, Herb?”
With some difficulty “Wex…Wexler boy…Wexler’s boys did it.”
Myself “I thought you had 4 more days?”
“I don’t know why they came.”
Myself “Are you sure they were his boys or only meant to look like it? Is there another player involved?”
“No, I’m sure they were his boys.”
Myself “Have you ever seen them before?”
Myself “2 of them?”
“You mean those…2 guys following me? There were actually 6 taking turns following me around.”
Myself “It wasn’t 2 of them?”
“No, I never saw them before.”
Atwater “Why is there someone from a Cline insurance company asking about Paul?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Jack described the Cline man to Herb “Sound like anyone you know?”
“No. When I left for lunch yesterday, some guy with a beard came up to me, said he needed to talk to me. His name was….oh, I can’t remember. He said he left a card in my office.”
“Clarence Rogers, that’s it.”
WIll “You never got to talk to him, though.”
“No I couldn’t talk then, and had nothing to say to him. I told him to make an appointment at my office. Never saw him before.”
Myself “We think that might be Paul’s old travelling companion.”
“No, I’ve seen pictures of the 2 of them together. He was a clean shaven guy, a younger guy.”
Myself “That could have been taken years ago, it could have been taken early in their travels even.”
The descriptions of Rogers and the Cline man matched perfectly.
“But they have to be Wexler’s guys. Who else would want to beat me up.”
Will “They said nothing to you, or to each other that you heard?”
“No,” His face changed as if coming to an epiphany "and the truth is Wexler would beat me up a littlle to teach me a lesson. He wouldn’t beat me up to leave me to die.
Theolonius, having joined us a few moments ago “I have seen no sign of Wexler’s men outside.”
Myself “Well, why don’t you tell us about this” as I presented the letter to him from Wexler which we had found the night before about ‘services’. He ceased speaking. I pressed him further.
Jack “We’ll just inform the police.”
“Fine prove it. That’s a letter froma gangster.”
Myself “And you shall seem in league with him, on the day of Paul’s disappearance. You are set to receive substantial funds if Paul ‘goes away’.”
He looked worried but “I’ll take my chances.”
Atwater “We could see that your locked up for, say, 4 days.”
He said nothing.
Myself to Friday outside “All right, take him to the hospital!”
Apparently he decided the hospital would not be safe for him in 4 days, nor would being let out of jail in 4 days.
“I arranged for Wexler to kidnap Paul.”
Myself “I know this.” The ambulance staff came in and we had it arranged that only I and Atwater would ride in the back with him.
Myself “Where is Paul. Does he have him?”
“No, he gave Paul back the next day.”
Myself “Where in the hell is he.”
“If this gets out we’re ruined. Woods Estate Rest Home, upstate NY.”
Myself “The same home he was admitted to when he was younger, near Buffalo, correct?”
“Yes. The name he’s under Paul Meldon.” An anagram for Lemond. “I’ll tell you the rest. When those guys beat me up, they wanted to know where Paul was being held.”
Myself “Did you tell them?”
“No. I couldn’t let them know where he is, they’d kill him!”
Myself “Why did Wexler give Paul back the next day.”
“That was the arrangement. He kidnapped Paul for me so I could get him to the rest home to recover. I couldn’t let anybody know because people ever find out that he’s in an asylum his career is ruined.”
Myself “We will keep the secret. We are Paul’s friends as well.”
“I did it for both of us. He’s my only client.”
Myself “I know. We will take care of this quietly.”
“If they are Wexler’s men they’re after Paul.”
Myself “Why would he be after them?”
“I don’t know. He has to be involved somehow. He’s the only one that knows that I hid him.”
Myself “Someone else did. Wexler wouldn’t give him back only to beat you up to find out where he is.”
Myself “Wait, why would he do this for you if you owe him money when your game wasn’t to get Paul declared dead to receive that money? Why would he do this for you?”
“I lied to him. I told him that I was going to make Paul disappear, get the insurance and pay him.”
Myself “What were you going to do afterward, when that didn’t happen?”
“Well, I was going to reason with him, explain to him…”
Myself “With Wexler?”
“I was going to explain to him that with Paul back making money again that I would be able to pay him off in installments.”
Myself “But you weren’t paying your debts or Wexler when Paul was working with you.”
“I was going to stop doing it and give him his money.”
Myself “Doing what? Drugs.”
A self deprecating sigh “Drugs. I was planning on stopping after I got Paul back. Maybe Wexler figured out that I wasn’t really going to make Paul disappear.”
Myself “How would he come to know that?”
“I don’t know. But if he did, he would want to find Paul to kill him.”
Myself “No, something else is going on.”
“But if he kills Paul, I’ll get all that money and he’ll get his money. I don’t know what to do. Someone’s has got to stop Wexler. I’m sure those were his men.”
Here we reached the hospital, Friday and the rest of our companions waiting.
Friday “Well, we found 2 of Wexler’s boys.”
Friday “Around the corner from Whitfield’s, in a garbage heap, throats cut.”
Myself to Herb “As I said, it was not them.” Friday had the wagon with the bodies with him. A comparison of their boots to the bloody prints at Herb’s did not show a match, as expected. We left quickly for this Roger man’s apartment.
No one was there, so we broke in. 2 rooms only: the front the living space. On the wardrobe sat theatrical makeup, false beard and hair lightner…his disguise kit. In the backroom a study with a small bookcase, and writing instruments on the table. I took the first look around:
The books pertained to history, archaeology and anthropology. On the table sat a small locked metal box, several manuscripts in pencil, and an odd book with very thin metallic front and back cover. Between, the pages were of a tough material. I handed this to Theo and Jon. The 100 or so pages were covered with strange figures in brushstroke. An alphabet unknown to any of us, including Theo and Jon. The manuscripts seemed to be a translation of the writings in the book, about half finished. This we took with us.
Jon and Theo found nothing of particular interest on the bookcase.
I easily picked open the lockbox, housing an odd device separated into 2 pieces. Underneat it lay a journal.
Myself “Atwater look at this. It looks electrical, but I’m no expert in the field.”
Atwater could not make heads nor tails.
Inspecting it further I felt it way beyond normal technology, but was able to slip the pieces together. It was then I realized it had an apparent on/off switch. Flipping it caused a bright shaft of light emanate from one end of it which housed something red inside, perhaps glass or a jewel. Suddenly, the widening shaft of light revealed a terrible creature within it, a cone shaped thing with endless grotesque appendages and nodules seemingly standing in the room where nothing had been. It was startled by the sight of us, no doubt expecting Paul’s old companion, when the thing in my hand began to sizzle and shorted out in sparks and heat, mostly melting it after I dropped it to the floor. As soon as the light turned off the vision was gone.
Theo called it “of The Great Race of Yith. Ancient, I think known for possessing other creatures.”
Myself “Like Paul! We have it!”
Theo “Of course! Subjects even lose their memories during the possessed period. It is unnatural how this knowledge comes to the mind of one who has studied tomes of this Mythos. As if from nowhere at times.”
Myself “Were we seeing the past?”
Theo “I do not know.”
Jon opened the journal that was with the device and began to read as we continued our search but found nothing furthur.
Jon “This explains the device. Roger is in a Yith worshipping cult. The cult members are often used by the Yithians as companions for those the Yith possess. The device is a communication tool. The most recent deal with Paul: since his memories were coming back and he was going to try to prevent an event the Yith want to happen, because in their future it did happen, Roger’s orders were to kill Paul and anyone else warned by his dreams.”
Will “So Paul knows something we need to stop.”
Jon “Dear God, it has something to do with the release of a ‘beast’.”
Everything, EVERYTHING is connected.
We returned to the office to discuss matters. We had Rogers to possibly watch for at his apartment, and now that we knew where Paul was we had to decide if he was safe or in danger, and so whether or not we needed to go to him.
Later, Cassandra “This thing with the Yith has to do with Time, by what is written in this journal. If in their future this event with the beast happens, and they are in our past, and we assume the beast devours humanity, if you stop this event it may destroy the Yith if this event is something which needs to happen for their survival. Perhaps they need humanity to be destroyed. They are treating it as very important for them in the past.”
Theo “I say we lie in wait for Roger at his roomsand waylay him.”
Cassandra “Make him talk to you, tell you about the cult.”
Myself “Do we go to Paul? We could go there to protect him but so far as we know the cult does not know his whereabouts. Yet if they do find out and we don’t know it, he’s done for.”
Will “We need to get Paul out then. Protect him ourselves.”
Jack “How about Wexler.”
Will “We could do that.”
Myself “2 of their men were just killed. They will still be after Herb, still not knowing he put one over on them. We might not want them to know that is what really happened. If they find out they may want to do worse than break Herb’s legs.”
Jack “They may want to go after the cult for killing 2 of their boys.”
Theo “Why would they believe us though? We tell them a diabolical cult killed their men and they laugh in our faces.”
Myself “May still be worth the effort, but we definately should go to Paul ourselves. Atwater, you will obviously have to go as his doctor. Stop by the hospital and see Herb first, to find out the reasons he gave for Paul’s stay. Get an official signed letter from Whitfield to let Paul out in his care. Jack, drive him there. Take Theolonius of course. The rest of us will lie in wait for Roger.”
Whitfield would tell Atwater it was a simple as the “almighty American dollar”. $500 to be exact to believe Paul was a star of the stage and screen whose secret could not get out.
First, we went to Roger’s. I broke in to allow Jon entry and he waited. The occult task forces were stationed around the perimeter streets and alley.
Will, Cassandra and myself then visited Wexler’s warehouse and simply walked inside via the front door. Inside we found a couple hard looking men playing cards.
Myself “Excuse me.”
One of them “What can I do for you swells?”
Myself “I should like to speak to the good sir Wexler.”
“Ah, you mean da boss.”
Myself “Yes. I wish to speak with your boss.”
“Joey, you go get the boss.” At which point we heard the unmistakable hammers of a couple single action revolvers cocking.
Myself “No need for any violence men.”
“He looked us over for anther moment before relaxing, to a poing “You’s don’t look like you could cause much trouble.”
Myself “No sir, not us.”
Through the front door came 5 men from outside, a few with meat cleavers. They wore butchers attire and they were quite bloody.
The man sitting “Oh, don’t worry about them guys. They just work at the meat packing plant next door.”
Will “I bet one of my friends has delivered for you before. Jack Burton. The Porkshop Express?”
“You send that guy around! We gots to have words with him. See da boss, he owns the packing plant too.”
Young Joey then returned with “The boss will see ya.”
Myself “Very good” and he showed us the way to Wexler’s office.
Wexler sat at his desk, a huge steaming hot pile of what looked like slop in front of him. I believe it was made of parts that most of us would regard as inedible.
“Innards. I like ’em. You want some innards?”
Myself “No thank you sir, we just ate” our stomachs turning 0though Cassandra I would consider questionable in that regard).
Wexler tried to smooth talk Cassandra, feebly, more than once during our conversation. I shall simply omit.
Will “So, are the rumors about you true?”
“Absolutely not. I’m an upstanding businessmen, I own legitimate businesess. Any of that crap about me being some kind of gangster….you write anything about that, newsman, and you might end up the worst for it.”
Myself “We never said he was a newsman.”
“Ahh, I knows you swells. I knows everybody who’s important in this town, and even some not important like yous guys.”
Myself “We’re friends of a man who is friends with a man you have been dealing with recently. Herb Whitfield, poor sap who doesn’t know how to spend his money wisely.”
“Why ae yous guys bothering a busy business man?”
“Well, we were at Whitfield’s office yesterday and one of my associates saw a couple of your men…”
“Rocky, Joey, thow these bumbs out. But first, break something.”
Myself “Sir, I insist you not do such a thing, and hear me out. 2 of your men were accosted and killed this moring.”
“Yous got 1 minute. I know what Whitfield did and you is gonna go nback with a message for him that the next time my boys see him they are not going to be so nice.
Will “You think he did it?”
“He killed 2 of my boys!”
Myself “Whitfield did not kill your men.”
“I gave him 4 more days and he jumps my men! Time’s up! Break somethin’!”
Will “That wasn’t a minute!”
“I don’t care. I don’t want to hear any more nonsense about Whitfield not being the man. Whitfield’s the guy.”
Will “Whitfield was beaten to within an inch of his life in his own house just after your men were killed.”
I would have feared for our wellbeing muchmore had Cassandra not been there. I could tell she was about to unleash something terrible when he said “All right, Rocky. Hold on” then to us “Tell us what you want.”
Myself “Since you thought it was Whitfield, you obviously have no idea who actually killed your boys.”
“You callin’ me an idiot?”
Myself “Not at all?”
“You think I don’t know whats going on? Listen you, I’m no stinkin’ idiot. I know what’s goin’ on.”
“You tell me!”
Myself “I thought you might want us to do so.”
“You tell me what’s going on, then I’ll tell you if you’re right.”
Myself “My associated also met a man this morning named Rogers, who was not who he said he was.”
“What about this Mr. Rogers?”
Myself “Rogers runs with one of those cults I’m sure you’ve heard about nowadays. I think they murdered your men.”
Myself “I think they may be trying to move in on you.”
“I don’t think so.”
Myself “They did it, and we’re looking for them as well.”
“So where’s Lamond then? How does he fit into all of this?”
Will “Lamond is safe and sound. As a matter of fact, it is a former friend of Lamond who is the man we are speaking of.”
“So you think they’re after Lamond?”
Will “Oh, they are after Lamond.”
“Well then…..you men ever heard of Juda’s goat? You take a goat, and put it out to attract the tiger. When the tiger comes, you kill it. These guys killed 2 of my boys, and I’m not gonna keep the respect of the rest of the gang if I don’t do something about it. Sounds to me like we got ourselves a goat. All we have to do is get our hands on a couple of them and we’ll make them talk.”
Will “We have a man about to get his hands on Rogers himself.”
“Well then, why don;t yous guys take a ride with me and we’ll go have a little talk with this Rogers.”
Will “Would you mind if we brought him back here?”
“Let’s say, not that I don’t trust ya, but I think I’d rather go with you and get the merchandise myself.”
Myself “Fine. Our man is waiting for Roger’s at his apartment to accost him upon his return.”
“Ok then. Let’s go.”
Wexler brought 3 of his men with him. “We’re taking my brand new steam vehicle.”
2 of his men scouted the perimeter and returned “There’s a bunch of cops around the corner.”
Myself “They’re with us.”
Will “They’re part of our task force.”
Wexler “I don’t like cops.”
Myself “Allow me go to them and send them off” which I did. “Would you allow myself, Will and Cassandra to watch the rear?” He didn’t want to let us stay together, smartly suspicious though of course we were completely on the up and up, as they say.
Myself “2 of your men can come to the back with me then. Will and Cassandra will stay at the front with you.”
We all waited and watched all day with no sign of Roger. Wexler was becoming irritated, but I knew Roger could not leave his communication device behind. On one visit to the front to check on things Wexler voiced some concern but i assured him “He’ll be here.”
Wexler “You have a man in the apartment you said?”
Will “Yes. Do you want any of your men to join him?”
“No, no. That’s fine.”
It was late after dark before, at last, Father Jon heard a noise through the rear window of the apartment, leading into the room with all his effects. The area was too dark for us to see from below, but no one had passed me for certain. He must have come from above.
At first, Jon assumed it could not be our man for why would he come in through the window? Jon positioned himself in the darkest corner crouching. A moment later a leg came in before a man who did not look like Roger entered. As this man crossed the room Father Jon let his presence be known and leveled his shotgun “If you have a weapon, you had better put it down.” The man turned to flee back through the window and was almost out before Jon decided to simply fire.
We below now could hear the rush of the man onto the fire escape and could make out his form since we knew it was there, and he began to make for the roof. If he made it, he would likely escape. The apartments are very close here if not up against one another for at least 10 building in each direction. We then heard and saw the sound and flash of Jon’s shotgun from the window (he would say he fired hoping to injure and not kill him).
I ordered Wexler’s men to the right. One to rush a few buildings down and hurry up to the roof, the other to go a couple buildings further and do the same. I made for the left to follow suit. Unfortunately, before we could get far, Jon’s shot fell him and he tumbled from above to the concrete below dead. I thought to myself “this is the sort of thing Jack would have done, not Jon”.
I began inspected the body, pulling wallet and billfold, as Will and Wexler arrived.
Myself "We should use your vehicle to take the body to your warehouse.
Wexler “I told yous guys I wanted him alive! What’s wrong with you? Which one of you shot him?” One of his men immediately fingered Jon.
“The priest!!!??? What kind of priest are you? I don’t like yous guys you’re way too violent for me.”
Will “Quickly now, let’s move.” We loaded the body into Wexler’s steam vehicle and all met at his warehouse.
By our prisoner’s ID and possessions, he seemed to be a business clerk. I made certain it was not a disguise, but nothing whatsoever was suspicious about the man.
Weler “We need to get rid of his body.”
Jon “In the river?”
Wexler “I have a better idea” then to his men “Take him next door”, then to us “I’m sending it to this Roger. It’s a tradition I have. Somebody sends somebody after my boys, I send ‘em back a sausage, signed ’Bone’ appetit.”
Myself “Roger still has to return to that apartment, all of his important things are there.”
Wexler “We’ll have to wait for your people to come back from upstate.”
Myself “We have to continue watching the apartment. There is one thing there he will return for. That communication device.”
“Where does this guy work, anyway.”
John “He claimed to be from the Cline insurance company.”
Will “We inquired into Cline, but that was fake.”
Rather unnecessarily sarcastic (investigators of quality always covers their bases) “You think so?”
Jack and Theolonius: