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Subject: Part 4. Alexander's book and associates rss

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Keith Craig
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Keeper's note: The black clad man is one of our players who has been staying in the background

Sunday, 4 November, 1928: As John reads about the stabbing death of Dr. Trollope, Oliver gasps at the description of the attacker, reported by a newspaper boy who witnessed it all, “A tall man, in a long dark coat.” Oliver turns to Jen to remind her, “That sounds like the same man who told us to leave after the murder.” The others at the table stunned, “What murder?!”

Jen talking thru her mouthful of food (as if it was no big deal), “It wasn’t murder; more self-defense as he stabbed me first.” Oliver choking on his food as he tries to explain, “We only went to interview Mr. Talbot Estes; you know, the producer of that Carcosa play. Next thing I know, Jen drops a book, Estes is on his hands-n-knees to pick it up, he screams about Jen taking something, Jen screams in pain, then her machete flashes and Estes has a new grin from ear to ear. And that’s when the man in all black appears at the back door and commands us to leave. I’m sure the same tall man that confronted me at the bar the other night. So, hell yes we ran. And this morning I read how Mr. Estes’ house burnt down last night.”

A lot of discussion before they decide to get Mr. Grahame Roby’s version of his brother’s involvement in the family double-homicide. Oliver drives all to Mr. Roby’s estate surrounded by a tall, spiked metal fence with buzzer speaker at the gate. John steps forward, “We’d like to speak to Mr. Roby about his brother. Tomorrow? No, it’s important we see him now. Appointment?” Jenny tries to bluff their way in. Oliver offers, “This is about the pending release of his brother Alexander.” The magic words that unlock the gate. An elder maid, Ms. Vetch, leads them to the parlor. Soon a gentleman in suit and bowtie appears, “You have 10 minutes before my next appointment. Now what’s this about my brother? So, you’re the expert psychologist; tell me, do you plan to release him? So, you haven’t made a decision yet; let me offer advice.”

Grahame describes his strained relationship with his brother. “He became pseudo famous after he published that 1923 book. Why yes, Der Wanderer Durch Den See. Just a collection of his senseless babble. You have to understand he was a changed man when he came back from the Great War. Only a glorified clerk who had to compose all those death letters sent to the families. The toll became too much. Bouts of insomnia, medication, drugs. Then audiences on his book tours. Where he met that shady woman Delia Hartston. Young and attractive but I’m sure she was only interested in his money. Even engaged and lived with father. I have to admit I was surprised when they split. Maybe she realized his crazed mind wasn’t worth the money. Those other shady men he dealt with. Now his mind snapped. Have you read his book? Ramblings about Kaiwan, the Unspeakable One, the King. And people read that shit?! I tell you he is dangerous to society. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have more important matters to attend.”

Oliver drops John at the University of London (where Bartholomew works) in hopes of finding someone to translate the German portion of Alex’s book. References to the Dreamer. A sequence of dreams as if personal recollections. Then periods of maddening frustration at the lack of dreams. The English portion of the book more an autobiography of Alex’s drug use and treatments. A sing-song chapter that reads more like an incantation (if you believe in the occult).

Meanwhile, Oliver and Jen find Hartston in the phone book and drive to the neighborhood. “Let’s chat with her neighbors first.” Elizabeth Hartston, wonderful elder widow. Her husband John a good man till his death of old age. Yes, a daughter Delia. Married over a year ago. Moved out. Oliver suggests a tactic for Jen, “Tell Elizabeth how Alex wants to put Delia in his will and thus we need her new name and address.” At the Hartston house, Elizabeth bits, “Now why would Alex want to include her; they were only together for months. Delia met Alex in 1925 at one of his lectures. But they broke up in December of that same year. She married Peter Morrison, a canal surveyor, about a year later. They live at 10 Turkey Street in Enfield, Middlesex county of north London. Oh, but they’re not home right now. Vacationing. Should get back tomorrow.”

Climbing back into the car, Oliver suggests a drive to the Morrison home. Jen smiling, “I thought you’d never ask.” But while the house is empty with lights off, there are too many neighbors out on their porch for a smoke. Jen offering, “Maybe later tonight.” As they drive off, neither spot the car that has been following them. Not there to see the black-clad man slink thru the shadows into the alley and back door where he fails to pick the lock. Do not hear the tinkle of window glass as he breaks in. And thus, have no knowledge of what he finds or learns.

Monday, 5 November, 1928: Another cold and windy day as they gather for breakfast. Oliver mentioning a letter he received last night from Scotland Yard’s detective Taylor. John remembering that was the investigator assigned to Dr. Trollope’s murder. “Let’s call the asylum to set up another appointment with Dr. Highsmith. You can then see your inspector.” But the call to St. Agnes changes everything, “I’m sorry but the doctor is busy right now. No, I can’t say what. Oh, Dr. Richardson. Well, I can tell you. There has been another death. That’s all I can say over the phone. The doctor is tied up all day; maybe if you call tomorrow.”

John and Jen go to the morgue to view Dr. Trollope’s body. Using pseudonyms as Private Investigators. Jen (aka Rita Drummond) hard Persuade to learn it was a violent assault. Body fell in the river. John (aka Walter Ridley) gagging at the sight of the ‘Y’ shaped autopsy cut upon the chest. Any personal possessions stored at Scotland Yard as evidence. Meanwhile, at work trying to catch up on his own backlog of patients, Oliver calls Lt. Taylor who informs, “I noticed Dr. Trollope’s appointment book had your name recorded on the day before his death.” Oliver summarizing their visit and common patient ‘W’. “I read the newspaper mentioned his attacker was a tall man in a long black coat. After the appointment, I was threatened at a bar by possibly the same man who carried a long knife at his waist inside a long black coat. Come in to meet with your sketch artist? I’m afraid that will have to wait as I have an important meeting concerning patient ‘W’. I realize memories fade with time. I’ll be there as soon as I can later today.” [Oliver has forgotten the asylum at Weobley is a 5-hour train ride away. One-way.]

A bust at the morgue, John and Jen call Oliver for a ride. Oliver parks and as he walks toward the morgue, he spots a man walking (more floating) toward him. Wearing a pallid mask as a wispy cloak swirls around him. A woman walks toward the man…and continues walking RIGHT THRU HIM! The woman shutters as if hit by a cold blast of air. Oliver rubs his eyes in disbelief. The man now gone, “Father, did you see what I saw?!” John and Jen arriving at the same time, “Who are you talking to? Your father? You do realize your father is dead, right? What man? Pallid mask and cape? Are you dreaming about that play again? Never mind. As for St. Agnes, it’s too late. Remember, it’s half-a-day train-ride there. You’d best call ahead for an appointment tomorrow. Meanwhile, go see the inspector. Maybe you can gain some info out of him.”

Thus, Oliver arrives at Scotland Yard finding Lt. Taylor. “Doctor, I’m so glad you found the time to come in. Let me introduce you to our sketch artist, Robert.” Oliver describes the man from the bar encounter [hard INT check for details], “Black, greasy hair. Tall. Sharper facial features. Eyes more threatening. Thick eyebrows. Yes, yes, that looks like him.” As Robert looks to Oliver for confirmation, he pauses in memory of another sketch, “Excuse me for asking, but a woman was in earlier today giving a description that looks similar to yourself. Mentioned a bulky man in rumpled clothing with stains on his shirt asking questions about one of her neighbors. Hours later there was a fire at the artist’s house where he apparently died.” Oliver caught off-guard [failed POW] but manages to control his surprise [success Insane DEX to avoid spilling his water], “Oh my. To burn to death. How painful. Poor woman to witness such horror.”

[Meanwhile, the black-clad man breaks into Dr. Trollope’s office. Rifles thru his folders finding Alex’s file. Dated notes from his visits. Tried to give him tranquilizers. Alex having trouble sleeping from mid-October thru next March.]

Tuesday, 6 November, 1928: Indeed, the morning paper vaguely mentions the St. Agnes death 3 days ago; not yesterday! 3 November: the same day Dr. Trollope was killed. A nurse Frederick Long was found sliced up in a patient cell. Oliver tormented, “We need to get up to the asylum ASAP. But I can’t leave that police artist wondering. I need to get back to him to confess that WAS me. And if asked, Jenny too. I mean we did ask around before going to Mr. Estes’ house. Wouldn’t take much for the police to track down George Keith and learn we talked with him too about Estes. I’ll tell him how I didn’t connect the house fire to Estes till today. Tell him the ‘truth’ how I was trying to introduce Jenny as an aspiring young actress, thinking Estes was still a producer.” John hesitant to agree, “Yeah, maybe you can get your father to backup your story. Think about it first. Let Jen and I interview Delia this evening, then if you still want to…”
[Meanwhile, the mysterious man uses the morning to check in on Delia as a PI. Gaining details about her relationship with Alex Roby.]

It’s 2pm when John and Jen arrive to knock on the Morrison door. A gruff male voice, “Get the door!” a petite young woman answers the door finding two ‘insurance agents’. Jen (aka Sally Fields) hides her anger when she spots Delia’s shiner, “We spoke to your mother yesterday about Alex Roby and his desire to include you in his will.” Delia surprised, “You’re the 2nd person today to ask about Alex.” Her husband Peter complaining about their noise drowning out the radio broadcast of a cricket match; so, Delia takes them into a side room.

“Same thing I told that Scotland Yard inspector (tall, long hair, goatee; dark skin of a Far Easterner). I met Alex in May 1925 at one of his lectures. We began dating. Even engaged. Till October when he began displaying increasingly troubling behavior. Scary references to his book entries. He swore it was a true story from when he was in Germany during the war. Robbie kept saying how the king was going to rule Carcosa. He began planning something for late December. Mentioned something about ‘the 9 teeth are ready’ on a hill outside of Clare Melford. Plotting with 4 other men. Edwards seemed the leader. There was a nice man Quarrie and an older boss Bacon. Then that greasy/violent man Coombs. Oh, he scared me so! Anyway, we were staying with his father at the time. Even his father disliked the other men. I left him at Christmas time when he and the others took off for Clare Melford. He said others would join them to meet up on the hill. And that’s the last contact I had. I’ve no desire to contact him again.”

And that’s when Peter opens the parlor door, “I thought you got rid of these folks. Get my hat and coat woman; I’m going to the bar.” Delia jumps in compliance then cowers as her husband leaves (but not before Peter gives Jen the once-over lustful glare, then gives John the stink-eye). Jen contemptuously watching the man round the corner before offering to Delia, “I know what you’re going thru. My father used to beat me. I can help you leave; start a new life.” [Failed Persuade; failed push] Delia defending Peter, “He’s a good man. Provides for me even though I’ve failed to provide him with kids. It’s my fault.”

Luck that John just happens to look up in time to see Peter coming out of the shadows with a crowbar in hand, “Likes poking another man’s wife does ya?!” John (all 340 lbs) has just enough time to stumble out of the way of the swinging attack and runs, calling for the police. Jen smiles at the thought of how she was going to the bar to kick the shit out of the man; how he has come to her instead. “So, you sleazy wife-beater; care to try beating me?” As Jen displays her machete, Peter smiles lustfully at the beauty before him, “Oh, I’ll do more than beat ya you little whore. Come to papa.”

Jen the first to attack, slices open Peter’s gut (8 damage). Peter grabs the wound with his left arm trying to keep his intestine inside, “You bitch!” He swings wildly with the crowbar that Jen blocks. Her counter-attack (6 damage) drops him. Stunned, Delia rushes to her husband’s side as he bleeds out. Police whistles change Jen’s composure; she starts crying and shaking. For the new audience in long blue-coated uniform she sobs, “He was beating his wife. We tried to stop him but he turned his anger on us. He attacked me with that crowbar. I stumbled backwards into that wood pile and luckily found that knife. Machete? Is that what you call it? He must have been drunk with rage; how else could a frail woman like me best that beast?!”

The police interview all witnesses except Delia still in shock. Almost an hour to cleanup the scene. Now Jen cries for real as the police take her machete for evidence. Jen wraps her arms around Delia who still sobs, “I’m destitute. No job, no provider. Unlike my mother, not even a small pension to live off of.” Jen empties her purse (all $88 pounds) as she whispers, “There’s another $10 lbs a week till you get settled on your feet. You can always move in with me.”

When all regroup, Oliver shares a letter he received in the mail. “Dr. Trollope must have written it right after our meeting and before his murder. Confirms Alex wrote that book titled The Walker by the Lake. Words and phrases within the book spoke to the root of his incapacity displayed at the asylum. Confesses an experiment where he read passages from the book to Alex. Alex responsive and alive. The doctor touching Alex and suddenly overcome by a vivid dream…a premonition of his own death in St. James Park. It was Grahame Roby who hired a PI (Vincent Tuck from Wapping) who learned about Alex’s dealing with an antique merchant, Mr. Lawrence Bacon (an occultist residing in Liverpool Road, Islington). The doctor fears that if Alex is released, how he might seek out this Bacon to complete whatever evil task they had been plotting.”

Having read the letter, John shares news about Delia and her dead husband. Oliver is shocked to learn he has been working beside a serial killer. Oliver pulls out his watch as he tries to hypnotize Jen, “Just catch your breath. Relax. Think back to events that started your mad rampage with that blade.” The bleary-eyed beauty sitting in her chair in deep pondering thought, “It all began…when some dumbass doctor began swinging a watch in my face. Now put that thing away before I shove it up your Hershey highway. If you really want to help me, then think about how I can get ‘Billy Black’ back. The machete.”

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