A Short Story By Luis A. Mendez
Even as the rain from a late morning thunderstorm hit the top of his umbrella and slid down towards his face, thus obscuring his sight, the guard to the door of the almost impossible to get into Crane Club still saw someone approaching.
The guard saw the enormously tall man with an obscenely long white beard and long white hair wearing a ragged black suit with slightly torn pants and a dirty white-collared shirt walking towards him. The giant carried both an umbrella with holes and a sturdy, tall wooden cane to support himself.
This ominous man, who was slowly approaching, was seven feet tall at least, and as he walked, he hunched a bit, as even with his cane, his massive frame was a burden. He was still an imposing figure who created a shadow over the guard the closer he got to him.
The guard realized that this person was not the kind of individual usually walking down the street that was dubbed by one travel magazine as, “The most expensive block in the country.” This area boasted some of the most lavish places to eat, shop, and stay. Even the guard, who enjoyed rather good pay given his position and relatively young age, couldn’t afford a Saturday afternoon stroll with his “missus” down here.
Setting body language aside, the stranger still didn’t seem like he was dressed to be the type of man who would regularly came down to this part of town. He seemed lost and the guard figured that this humongous being would likely be asking for directions before retreating to the corner of the street from where he first popped out.
This giant of a man stood over the guard, who instantly felt a mixture of awe and intimidation. But he put on his best customer service friendly face and cracked a polite smile, raising his voice a bit so that the sounds of the storm didn’t obstruct him and greeted him, “Sir?”
The stranger’s expression took the guard back a bit. Instead of an intimidating face, he saw a confused old man, digging into his pockets so he could take out a pair of what looked like old bifocals and a tattered, wet, piece of paper.
“So, he is lost. Called it.” The guard thought to himself, as he prepared to hear where the man needed to be, though he was curious how someone who was so obviously not from the area could get lost.
His hands shaking a bit, his eyes peering at the paper while squinting through his glasses, the tall stranger read the paper, looked at the guard, and then looked past him towards the door. He looked at the beautiful golden The Crane Club signage hanging next to the door, and then looked at the street sign, “Brick Street.” and sighed heavily as he again focused on the guard. “I think I may have just been duped.” he finally said to the guard’s silent amusement.
Feeling a bit more at ease at the giant man’s seemingly gentle nature, the guard offered a sympathetic small laugh. “That’s okay, sir. Are you lost by any chance? I’ve never seen you down this way.”
The gentle giant looked around once again and then put away his glasses and the tattered piece of paper as he looked at the helping guard. “I’m either lost young man or roped into some sort of prank by someone who is amused with tricking old men.”
“Well, maybe I can help you. Where are you trying to go?”
“I contacted a man who was recommended to me to take care of a case I have.”
“Like a lawyer, sir? Well, I would warn you they are a bit pricey, but then that would mean you’re looking for the offices of…”
“No, young man, not a lawyer.” The stranger interrupted, now sounding and looking more annoyed. He once again looked around and sighed heavily as anxiety obviously affected him. “He is supposed to be an investigator.”
Now the guard was baffled. There was a high-profile legal firm on the block, but he knew nothing about an investigator.
“Like the police or a private investigator?”
“A private one, yes!” The stranger started looking around anxiously at more frequent intervals. He was clearly stressed out by his confusion.
“I’m afraid you may be in the wrong street all together, sir. Nothing that I know of around here is anything like an investigator’s office. I can look up some information for you inside if you’d like.” The guard was growing anxious and scared that the giant man would snap any moment. Perhaps he wasn’t lost but instead was battling some mental disease that made him wander aimlessly.
“But they said they could be found here!” The stranger exclaimed as he threw up his hands in frustration, only to quickly remember he had an umbrella and a cane to keep holding on to. He calmed down a bit, put up his hand in a gesture of peace, and said “I apologize, young man. But time is running short, and I need this man to help me quickly with my problem.”
“Did he give you an address? You mentioned he said he’d be here.”
The huge man dug out his tattered wet piece of paper again and handed it over to the guard. “I was told he could be found on days like this right here on Brick Street at a venue called The Crane Club. But now that I’m here, I see this is a different side of town than I imagined, and I have my doubts someone of his position would be working here. I must have been duped into a prank.”
The guard, reading the piece of paper, couldn’t believe it. It was the exact address where they were standing. “Sir, this is the place written on the paper. You’re at the right place.”
“I am?” The tall man loosened up a bit and smiled as he looked towards the door behind the guard. “May I come in?”
It was now the guard’s turn to be confused. This man was clearly not of wealth, not from the area, and he had claimed an investigator was operating at a club for people so rich, one piece of clothing of theirs cost more than his all the clothes between him and the wife back home.
“Sir, I regret to say we don’t have an investigator who works here. This is a leisure club for select members. You have to be a member, a member’s next of kin, or an invited guest by the member to get in.”
“Oh….” the stranger replied as he took the piece of paper. He looked disappointed and worried as he shoved it back into his pocket. “I guess this was some sort of prank after all.”
“I’m afraid it looks that way, sir.” the guard replied sympathetically.
“Well nevertheless, thank you for your help, young man.” The giant replied, shaking hands with the guard who instantly felt like he could be crushed by the huge appendage at will as he shook it.
“I’m going to have to kill this guy for telling me this story about some Blackburn fella.” he said as he turned to leave.
“Blackburn?” the guard exclaimed, putting his hand up to stop the stranger.
“Yes, he said that was the investigator’s name.”
The guard looked at the giant man, gulped when he realized what was going on, and explained, “We do have a member by that name who has had guests such as yourself here before.”
The stranger’s eyes were refilled with hope. “Blackburn, yes that was the name given to me. Andrew Blackburn.”
The guard sighed in reply. “Yes, that’s him. Give me a minute, sir. I have to go in and confirm things with my superior.”
The guard retracted his umbrella and hurried back inside, nervously knowing his employer would not be too pleased. She never was when Mister Blackburn had a guest.
Andrew Blackburn, a young, light-olive-skinned, short, dark-haired young man in his late twenties, sat on a leather seat, feet plopped up onto a heavy oak-carved wooden table and was vaping a small e-cigarette of cinnamon as he read The Brick Street Times, not so much as a leisure activity as wanting to see how the newspaper’s editorial section would annoy him on this day. He wore a nice, clean, and crisp red-collar buttoned shirt, a finely tied jet-black tie, sleeves rolled up, and smooth jet-black pants that ran down towards his ankles where jet-black socks and equally smooth jet-black polished shoes contacted the table. On his ring finger, he wore a smooth silver-plated, diamond-encrusted, wedding band now five years old.
Next to him stood his companion: a tall, bald, nearly seven-foot-tall black-skinned gentleman dressed in a slick jet-black suit jacket of his own, a crisp and clean red-collar shirt, a finely tied jet-black tie, jet-black pants, jet-black socks, and jet-black polished shoes. He stood there dressed just like Blackburn. He stood in silence, looking sternly at the high-definition, flat-screen television as it played one of those laid-back morning news shows. He kept one hand casually holding on to Blackburn’s jet-black suit jacket and the other holding his and Blackburn’s jet-black fedora hats with red sweatbands.
The room was stunning, oak and brown with leather furniture, an old-school stereo playing tunes from as far back as the 1920s, a glass case filled with the finest and most expensive liquor around, mostly bourbon for this client. An aroma in the air smelled like a mix of cotton candy and cherry blossoms. Everything was well-kept without a speck of dust anywhere.
“Mister Wolf.” Blackburn said, his eyes still reading the political cartoon in front of him that he didn’t find so amusing. “You are aware you can have a seat.”
Mister Wolf, a man of Kenyan descent, spoke with his accent proudly showcased. “I am fine where I’m at, sir.”
Done with stewing about the carton, Blackburn put the newspaper down and looked towards Wolf. “You never sit down, you never put up the jacket and hats on the coat hangers by the door, and you just stare at that TV the entire time I’m here. Good lord, man, you never even eat or drink in my presence. I’m just an employer, not a God, man.”
Mister Wolf finally turned his gaze down towards his boss and sternly replied, “Mister Blackburn. I am only here to fulfill my promises. Nothing more, nothing less.”
Blackburn sighed and shook his head as he watched his employee return his emotionless gaze to the TV and returned to his newspaper to seek out a new item to criticize. “Well, had I known you’d be such a hard-ass, I never would have agreed to this little deal of ours. How many months do I have left with you again?”
“Years.” Mister Wolf replied, eyes transfixed on some sort of cooking segment on the morning show, with the hosts awkwardly trying to look like they were enjoying their bosses making them do this indignity to their careers.
“Come again?” Blackburn asked, looking up from his newspaper.
“Years. Not months. The deal was to be in your employment for eight years, and I’ve only been of service to you for six months.”
Blackburn had a genuine surprised look on his face, but Mister Wolf couldn’t see it as he continued to stare at the TV. Then returning once again to his newspaper, he murmured, “I should’ve just shot you.”
“I heard that.” Mister Wolf replied calmly, still staring at the TV hosts embarrassing themselves with a horribly cooked duck.
Just then the door burst open, and an angry woman in her late forties stormed in, her blonde hair done in some sort of a bun, wearing a pink professional woman’s dress-suit, heavy on the makeup, her blue eyes alight with rage. Behind her came the poor guard who had helped the giant stranger at the door to the building. She went straight towards Blackburn who was already taking his feet off the table, putting down the newspaper, and setting aside his e-cigarette so he could roll his sleeves back down. Meanwhile, Mister Wolf reacted as if to protect his employer, but very quickly Blackburn motioned for him it was okay.
“Mister Blackburn, I asked you very politely just the other day that you take a break on bringing more of your…eccentric friends in here.” the woman said with a grimace as she side-eyed Mister Wolf. “I specifically advised you that the other members were complaining about it.”
Blackburn, a mystified look on his face, look towards the guard and then back at the angry woman in front of him. Still sitting, he eased onto the back of the chair, rolled his sleeves back up, picked up his e-cigarette and newspaper, and returned to reading. He replied, “Before I figure out what on earth you’re talking about, madam, why is the breakfast late today?”
“Mister Blackburn.” the woman replied, still grimacing. “Why do you hate me so much? Why have you caused me so much pain these last few years? All I ask is that you keep up the dignity of this well-respected establishment that I have fought so hard to keep so for all my time as its president.”
Blackburn finally stood up with one motion, letting the newspaper fall, but keeping the e-cigarette so he could continue to vape from it. “Missus Bach, I am well aware you disapprove of the guests I invite to my room, but I pay each year for usage of this room with the hard-earned dollars I make each year to keep your rich friends well taken care of when they visit from out of town to stay at my hotel. I haven’t broken any rules. I am allowed to invite anyone whether you consider them beneath you or not for whatever use I’d like to have with them with this room as long as nothing illegal is happening. I assure you that however you feel about them, nothing illegal is happening, but trust me when I tell you I will not quit what I have them here for just because other members can’t stand someone who doesn’t have the time or money to attend fundraisers for whatever causes this club pretends to care about, might actually invite a guest to one, I repeat just one, room in this establishment.”
“How dare you, sir!” Bach replied with a gasp.
“I totally dare!” Blackburn shot back with a wave of his hand as he tried to sit down and return to reading his newspaper. “And again, for the record, my breakfast is late. I haven’t even had my coffee sent to me yet, madam.”
Bach continued to give Blackburn hell though, “You would have already been run out of membership here were it not for your wife and your other little club of friends I have to tolerate under this roof.”
“Well, my wife must have more patience with you then.” Blackburn replied, vaping now and insulting Bach by refusing to look at her.
Shaking as she stood there, Bach shot back, “You’ve brought homeless people, talk radio crazies, and awfully suspicious women in here, Mister Blackburn.”
Blackburn shot her an angry glance at that last comment.
“But, sir, I have looked away and tried to keep the others calm, but this time you have gone too far and invited a behemoth….”
“Whoa!” Blackburn interrupted her. “I invited what? I have no one on my schedule today. In fact, my schedule has been dry for a couple weeks now. Wish I could say the same about the weather. I’m only here because it’s been raining non-stop for two whole damn weeks straight and I have nothing else better to do. My hotel staff is too damn good at what they do to have me looking over their shoulders.”
Bach gave him a confused look and then turned to the guard, who had been standing there awkwardly watching all this. “Tell him who’s at the door.”
“Um, Mister Blackburn, a pretty large man says he was referred to you about some sort of case?” the guard explained.
Awkward silence followed as a confused Blackburn seemed to be pausing at just learning this with everyone else in the room staring at him. “Referred to…me?”
The guard nodded. “Yes, sir. He specifically mentioned you, and he said that it’s a matter of high importance.”
More awkward silence as Blackburn read the room. Realizing Bach was silently praying he turn this man away, Blackburn finally replied, “Let him in.” with a sly smile on his face as he watched Bach’s face melt with a defeated look before she stormed out as the guard rushed out behind her to go get the guest.
Blackburn then calmly rolled his sleeves back down, took his suit-jacket from Mister Wolf’s possession to wear again, and then did the same with his hat, prompting Mister Wolf to wear his hat as well. He then made sure to have a chair pulled up for the coming guest and then sat back across from that chair so that he could put away his newspaper. He was preparing as if a major business meeting was about to happen.
“Are you sure it is wise to continue to antagonize Missus Bach.” Mister Wolf asked his employer as he turned off the TV and positioned himself to stand right behind him with arms folded down and staring straight towards the door.
“That woman has not been and never will be like me.” Blackburn replied. “She’s right; only reason she keeps me around is because of the wife.”
“Okay, but is it wise to take a potential case so soon after the circus we got involved with three weeks ago?”
“That case is still open.” Blackburn said with a finger pointed up as if saying, “Well, actually….”
“We wasted days searching for plants that never existed in the first place.”
“We still don’t have one hundred percent proof that those plants don’t exist.”
“Mister Blackburn, I understand the point of this hobby of yours, but allowing a little skepticism would help you come a long way.”
“Fuck skepticism.” Blackburn shot back with his head turned back towards his employee, who stayed stoically there with his eyes only fixed on the door. When he turned his head, he saw the door opening with the guard awkwardly shuffling his way in and behind him a large mass of a human being ducking his head.
“Good lord!” Blackburn couldn’t help but exclaim as the man walked in.
“Mister Blackburn, your guest has arrived.” the guard announced before leaving promptly.
“My God, you are a huge man, sir!” Blackburn said as he got up and motioned for the man to have a seat while extending his right hand to shake.
The giant guest awkwardly shuffled on over towards him, still putting weight on his cane, seemingly confused as to what to do with the dripping wet and now folded umbrella he was holding and a bit embarrassed by the small puddle created from the rain that had gone through the umbrella’s holes onto him and now were sliding on the expensive and finely cut wooded floor.
“Don’t worry about the floor; it’s not mines anyway.” Blackburn assured him, “Please have a seat, and my associate Mister Wolf can take care of your umbrella.”
“Associate might not be a proper word for my position, Mister Blackburn.” Mister Wolf said as he started to reach out for the guest to hand over the umbrella.
Blackburn shot a look at him. “Say what?”
Mister Wolf placed the umbrella by the corner near the fireplace and returned to his previous standing position behind his employer. “My position is more of a butler.”
“Mister Wolf…there is no way on God’s green earth I’m calling a black man my butler.”
“Do I really need to explain that to you?”
“A butler is a respectable position.” Mister Wolf then looked towards their guest. “Sir are you offended if I call myself a butler?”
The guest stood there a bit confused and stammering as to figure what to say. “I…I don’t see why I would be.”
Blackburn then turned towards the giant in front of them. “With all due respect to our guest, he doesn’t have to handle public relations, and I’ve got enough controversial statements in the media as there is. I am not calling a black man my butler.”
“Then what do you suggest?” Mister Wolf asked, now showing some emotion for the first time in a good while, grimacing a bit.
“Bodyguard.” Blackburn replied as he turned his attention back towards their visitor.
“Fair enough.” Mister Wolf replied as he returned to having an unreadable and stern expression, staring straight in front of him and waiting until he was needed.
Blackburn finally got to shake hands with their guest and sat down, hands clasped together for his head to rest on with elbows on the table. “Now that Mister Wolf’s vanity has been taken care of for the day, we can talk about your visit Mister….”
The guest snapped to attention as he realized he could finally reveal his business there. “Oh! My name is Gregory.”
“Gregory….” Blackburn replied, implying he wanted to know the man’s last name as well.
“Mister LaFont. What brings you in to see me today? I was told you were referred to me.”
“I hope it was you specifically who I was referred to.”
“Sorry, sir, I don’t understand.”
“Apologies, Mister Blackburn, but I was under the impression I had been referred to a paranormal investigator — a man who takes cases regarding supernatural subjects. Instead, I’m in this beautiful building talking to a man who I’ve been told is ridiculously wealthy, and I can’t understand how you can get rich by investigating such things.”
Mister Wolf interrupted, still looking forward towards the door but nonetheless addressing LaFont. “Mister Blackburn is the man you are looking for.”
Blackburn looked annoyed at his employee who had interrupted the meeting, then looked back towards LaFont and explained, “There’s no issue here, Mister LaFont. My name is Andrew Blackburn, and you were told correctly. I did indeed make my wealth in the hotel business, but I’m a private paranormal investigator on the side. Some colleagues and acquaintances of mine think it’s a sign of insanity, but you can call it more like a hobby if you’d like. I investigate anything that may seem supernatural or strange to any everyday person…for a cheap fee.”
“Well then I am in the right place!” LaFont exclaimed, smiling at this realization.
“Yes, so please, sir, you can sit down. I want you to feel like a guest.”
“Oh, I’m afraid I’ll stand, Mister Blackburn, as I’m sure I’ll just break your chair.”
Blackburn looked at LaFont and then at the chair and then back at the massive figure in front of him. He quickly accessed he was probably right and stood up himself. “Then we’ll talk with both of us standing up.”
“No problem, sir, I mean no offense, it’s just that I truly would….”
“Please don’t worry about it. You’re a potential client and I will negotiate and hear you out on your terms.”
“Great because I am in dire need of help.”
“What’s the issue?”
“Well I’m afraid I have a missing person’s case.”
“I’m confused, Mister LaFont. You said you were looking for a paranormal investigator not a P.I.”
“Yes, but it’s a very complicated situation.”
Blackburn sighed and calmly dug out his cellphone from his jacket’s pocket and started calling someone. “Okay, well, let’s start from the beginning then, but first let’s make sure to get you fed.”
“No need to do that!” LaFont assured him
“My treat.” Blackburn replied, then talked to the phone, “Yes, this is Mister Blackburn and my breakfast and coffee have been abnormally late. Well, I’m glad to hear that, but please make sure to go ahead and deliver down some for my guest as well. What would they like?” Blackburn then asked LaFont that very question and after LaFont unsuccessfully attempted to politely reject the offer once again, he finally gave in and Blackburn told them. After he was finished on the phone, he walked towards LaFont and casually hunched himself over the table. “Breakfast should be down soon enough. Until then, we can figure this case out together.”
“Would your butler not like some food, too?” A curious LaFont inquired.
“I don’t eat in front of Mister Blackburn. I am here to just do my job.” Mister Wolf answered, still sternly looking straight ahead towards the door with hands folded.
“My bodyguard has a quirky habit with food. Now let’s figure this out together. You were referred to me to help find a missing person, but this relates to a supernatural subject how?”
LaFont explained, “A couple days ago, a young lady ended up in front of my doorstep. Fairly skinny, long dark hair, blue eyes, small freckles on the face. Wait a minute I brought a picture with me if you need a perfect description.”
“Excellent!” Blackburn exclaimed.
LaFont dug out from his pockets a folded tattered picture, obviously taken by a digital camera and printed from a computer. He handed it to Blackburn who looked over it and then let his bodyguard look over it. The picture presented a beautiful young woman of LaFont’s description in a long white summer’s dress, casually eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on a table that Blackburn had to presume was in LaFont’s home. She seemed content, but she also had a look of anxiety. Blackburn looked at the picture some more as he asked LaFont to continue.
LaFont did so, “This young lady showed up at my doorstep desperate and starving. She had been trying to get away from someone or something which she wasn’t that comfortable with me to explain what it was she was running from, but it had her spooked. I invited her in and made sure she got fed. She stayed with me for a couple days but then vanished this morning and I fear she is in danger. A friend of mine tipped me to your services.”
Blackburn returned the picture. “Mister LaFont, this is a fascinating story and I share your curiosity about what this young woman may have been hiding from, but I don’t see where this calls for a paranormal investigation of any sort.”
“The umbrella.” LaFont replied, motioning for Blackburn to look at the picture. “The umbrella that’s in the corner of the room in the picture. It belongs to her.”
“Is the umbrella possessed? Because…. “
“No, Mister Blackburn! Please don’t mock me. The umbrella there is always carried by her because she is the reason for all this rain of late.”
Blackburn stared back confused; this was something new even to him. “Excuse me?”
“Has it not been raining for weeks now? Non-stop even?”
“Yeah, but that happens, and the weather forecaster told us storms were gathering.”
“No, storms follow her. Her mood effects the weather. I’ve seen it myself. She’s depressed and anxious and it’s the cause behind the rain.”
Blackburn sat there silently and then finally replied, “Mister LaFont, you’re saying a weather-controlling young woman was taken in by you while she avoided capture from something unknown. She vanished from your home and you fear she may be in danger. How did you discover she vanished?”
“I woke up and found she had left.”
“And she left of her own free will?”
“I believe so, but only because I believe she was running from something!”
“Yes, I gathered that last part.” Blackburn then sighed, looked at the picture, and then back towards the potential client. “I’m going to ask some questions now, Mister LaFont that might be a little too uncomfortable.”
“Was she escaping you?”
“You have a young woman at your place and now that she’s gone, and you desperately wanted her back, you surely can understand why some would think the worst intentions.”
LaFont straightened up, his face burning with a mix of anger and a blush. “How dare you accuse me of such things! This young lady was in need of help and I helped her. Whether she leaves of her own volition is of no worry to me, but I am convinced she is in danger and I came to you thinking you’d help. Instead, I’m being accused of disgusting thoughts!”
Mister Wolf unfolded his arms and prepared to pounce, but Blackburn motioned for him to calm down. “I apologize if I offended you, Mister LaFont, but I need to know all the facts, as I’ve never received a case like this.”
LaFont began to calm down and then became desperate. “I just want to make sure she’s safe.”
Blackburn sighed, looked towards Mister Wolf who had a skeptical expression and was mouthing “Not buying this.”
“I figured given she has the ability to control the weather, it was under your jurisdiction of what you investigated.” LaFont said as he took back the picture.
Blackburn then saw the door opened by room service as they came in with piles of breakfast and two cups of coffee. He thanked the waiters as they left and then prepared the dish for his guest before pouring him the cup of coffee. “Mister LaFont, I have been asked to investigate many strange and unusual things, but never anything like this.” Blackburn handed him his food and drink. “But I admit you have made me curious to find out more about this supposed weather lady of yours.”
“So…so you’ll take the case?” LaFont’s eyes beamed at the prospect.
Blackburn turn towards Mister Wolf with a grin. “Mister Wolf….”
“Don’t say it, please don’t say it.” Mister Wolf said, his hand up as if to get him to stop. “Let’s have a private conversation about this one.”
“Mister Wolf….” Blackburn repeated, his eyes insistent with excitement and wonder. “Wanna’ take a ride?”
A brand-new Rolls-Royce Ghost drove down Brick Street and prepared to turn towards the closest entrance ramp to the interstate. Inside, Mister Wolf drove with his typical straightforward emotionless stare, and Blackburn in the passenger seat was hunched over staring intently at his smart phone’s weather app. They both had on their trench coats and Wolf had on his gloves for driving. The car was silent in terms of human interaction, only noise being the big band classics playing on the radio station that Blackburn preferred, the sound of the hanging out of place plush owl hitting the rearview mirror, the sound of the windshield wiping away the rainwater, and the smooth medium heat flowing into the car.
“I think it was very unwise to leave that man alone behind at the club room, sir.” Mister Wolf broke the ice with.
Blackburn gave him a side eye but continued to look at his phone’s screen, watching the storm’s weather patterns with the app. “You always judge the worst in people, Mister Wolf.”
“Rich coming from you, sir, if you don’t mind me saying so.”
That got Blackburn to stare up from the phone and towards him. “I judge the way people are, not what the worst of them might be. The gentleman seemed on the level to me and there was no feasible way to have him come along given his size. So, a warm place to eat and rest while we get our hands dirty seemed like common sense to me, plus a polite gesture on my part.”
“A polite gesture is rare from you, sir.” Mister Wolf said with a bit of a sly smile.
“I’ll ignore you said that.” Blackburn replied as he returned his gaze to the phone.
“But, sir, do you truly believe him about this girl?”
“I don’t know, but if I tried to chase down plants the other day, why not chase down a human being?”
“Point taken, but a girl who can control the weather?”
“You might want to open your mind up a little more, Mister Wolf. Our world has many unexplained and yet to be discovered mysteries.”
“I only inquire into reality and fact-based evidence, sir. Which is why I’m an atheist.”
“You’re not an atheist. Atheists are annoying…Actually, you know what? You are an atheist. But considering your condition, you of all people should be open minded to fantastical and mysterious things.”
“My condition is a fact, not fantastical.” A few silent seconds later, Mister Wolf replied, “I hope for your sake that somehow this turns out to be true.”
“Only way to know is to track down the eye of the storm. If she’s truly the one behind the rain, she’d be in the center of it all. We just have to get to the center and if we find her there, we’ll know something’s up.” Blackburn explained, now zooming in closer in the app to determine how far they’d have to drive to catch up to the storm’s center.
“And if we don’t?”
“Then case closed, and I think a little less of Mister LaFont.”
“Who do you suppose referred him?”
“God knows. It could’ve been a past client or a club member.” Blackburn said with a quick glance up at his driver.
That led to Mister Wolf’s eyebrow raising a bit. “I thought the club members didn’t like your side projects?”
“Crane Club members despise me on the whole, that’s why I never go to the meetings or vote in their little board elections. I meant the other club members.”
“So that’s an actual side club? I thought that was an inside joke between you and your friends.”
“In a way. It’s just a little group of us rebels.”
“And what are you rebelling against?”
“Missus Bach.” Blackburn replied with another quick glance up towards Mister Wolf, his eyes showing a bit of anger at just the mention of that woman’s namesake.
“You should be more professional with her. The relationship between you two is too toxic, in my opinion.”
“You don’t know the woman like I do — the things she’s said in private about others, the gossip she’s spread about me. I’m amazed a man actually married her. It disgusts me that my wife considers her a friend. She’s the last type of person I’d think she’d be associated with.”
“Perhaps she’s seen Missus Bach’s better nature?”
“Better nature? More like better fundraising. Missus Bach gives a lot of money to the local chapter of the Women’s Republican Club. She’s a heavy hitter and my wife knows not to upset the biggest donor they have.”
“You sound like you’re ashamed of your wife belonging to a club that would take that money.”
“I despise the people her politics brings her into contact with.”
“Forgive me sir, but…aren’t you a Republican as well?”
“Yes, and it’s embarrassing to be one. Nothing but a bunch of damn backwards thinking hillbillies who think white America is under siege.”
“Why not join the Democratic party instead then?”
“And get in with a bunch of damn forward thinking communist elitists who want to tell me how to run my business?”
“Yes, Mister Wolf….”
“You are an impossibly hard man to please.”
“I know, Mister Wolf.”
Mister Wolf then changed the subject a bit. “Maybe I haven’t seen enough in my six months with you, but you seem to have more enemies than friends.”
“That’s usually the way it is when you’ve got money.”
“Or when you’re rude and too frank with your opinions.”
Blackburn gave Mister Wolf a scolding glance but then returned to the phone screen quickly. “Judge me all you’d like Mister Wolf but as long as my wife sticks around I’ll always be content with the way I handle others.”
“Your wife must have a lot of patience.”
“Wives usually do, I mean seriously its criminal that we’re in this day and age of feminism, and women still marry down as often as they do.”
“Are you saying your wife married down, sir?” Mister Wolf said this to be meant as a barb towards his employer, but to his surprise it didn’t hit.
“Of course, she did, have you seen me with people?”
“Yes, sir, that’s exactly what we’re talking about.”
“Of course, every now and then a woman marries up.”
“You have a good example of this sir?”
“Of course, Ellie is a good example.”
Mister Wolf glanced over real quickly, confused. “Ellie Macintosh? The coffee heiress? She seems like a nice enough young lady. Probably a catch.”
“She’s a spoiled brat who was born into wealth and can’t seem to do anything with it than sleep with rich men.”
Mister Wolf started glancing over to Blackburn with offense in his face, “Sir! What proof do you have of this? She’s married!”
Blackburn chuckled a bit, eyes still on the phone screen. “Is she? She says she is, she keeps referring to her husband, but has anyone seen him? She doesn’t even say his name. Just ‘my hubby’.”
“Maybe he’s a recluse, sir; may I point out I have yet to meet Missus Blackburn? And can we return to your accusation about her sleeping around?”
Blackburn looked up then and sighed. “Okay, look, maybe I crossed the line…about there being others, I’m sure it’s only one person she’s sleeping with outside of her marriage.”
“How do you know?”
“Have you seen the way she talks with Tim Matheson? The way she seems to come to his defense in every debate someone has with him? The gifts she’s constantly sending over? The many times I’ve seen her walking into his club room?”
“The hospital billionaire? He’s in his sixties and happily married.”
“That’s not what I’ve been told about the happily married part. Either Ellie is sleeping with him or leads some strange cult devoted to him. I wouldn’t be surprised if she has a shrine to him somewhere.”
Mister Wolf returned all his attention to the road as he shook his head and sighed with disappointment. “Sir, you are…an impossibly hard person to get along with. Your good side is rare to see on display.”
Blackburn returned to focusing on the screen in front of him. “I know, Mister Wolf.”
It was a good 30 minutes later into conversation about the club members when Mister Wolf finally took an exit ramp off the interstate after Blackburn directed him to where they’d be closest to the center of the storm. As the car slowly braked at the end of the ramp, they were presented with what looked like a small back road with a field of flowers and wire fencing to keep cows in place for the local farms. They were all alone, which meant it was a rare exit for others to take, giving them plenty time to take a turn left or right.
“I tend to always pick right,” Blackburn said.
“But is that where the center of the storm is?” Mister Wolf replied.
So they took the right turn, and after a good five minutes of traveling straight down the road, in which in that time they realized they may have been the only ones on this road for miles, Blackburn told him to pull over.
Blackburn explained, “The center is heading towards us. She should come with it. If anything, she may be in some sort of vehicle given the movement of the storm.”
“Let me park a bit more towards the tall grass and flowers, sir. That way we can be out of sight.”
“Good luck making sure no one notices a Rolls-Royce of all things parked in a random back road.”
“I’m sorry, Mister Wolf, do whatever you feel you can do.”
Mister Wolf steered the car deep into the grass at the side of the road, it wasn’t completely hidden but enough so that it would take time for someone to notice. He wondered as he turned off the engine if maybe patrol cars would use the grass elsewhere on the road to catch speeders.
With the car off, the rainwater could not be wiped off, and the heat was gone allowing the windows to fog. No more music played, and it was just Mister Wolf and Blackburn alone staring at the small phone screen the latter held in his hands; each of them staring intently as the center of the storm got closer and closer to them. Just as it did, it suddenly stalled.
“Did she stop?” Mister Wolf asked.
“I thought you didn’t buy into the weather controlling girl?” Blackburn shot back with a glancing grin towards his employee.
Mister Wolf prepared himself to step out. “Well, according to your theory, she may be on the road and just a few quick paces from us. So one of us better walk out there and look because we can’t see anything in here with the car off.”
“Hold on,” Blackburn said as he motioned for Mister Wolf to stay put. “Let’s just drive out of the grass and see. That way we don’t get wet.”
“We might scare her away sir.”
“True…I’ll go then.” It was now Blackburn getting himself ready to get out there. “Get the umbrella from the backseat.”
“Sir, no. I can do this. No reason to put you in danger,” Mister Wolf protested.
“What danger? She’s a young woman on the run,” Blackburn replied as he grabbed the umbrella from the backseat.
“But whatever she’s running from could be nearby as well.”
Blackburn paused. “Then I’ll face it head on.”
But as the two argued, they heard a car gunning it past them towards where they were coming from. They each instinctively looked at each other and Mister Wolf quickly turned the car on to wipe the rainwater away and get the heat to de-fog the windows. They quickly veered back onto the road and could see in the distance what looked like a raggedy old tanned car of what had to be 20 years age driving away.
“We can easily catch up to her in that heap of junk!” Mister Wolf shouted as he began to U-turn the car around.
“Wait!” Blackburn shouted, his hand placed on Mister Wolf so that he stopped and paid attention to his phone. “Look, the center of the storm is still stalling. That wasn’t her.”
Mister Wolf and Blackburn then made a silent agreement, and both stepped out of the car, Mister Wolf holding an umbrella for Blackburn as he dealt with the rain pouring down on him. Both of them looking towards the couple steps from them where the app claimed the center of the storm was, and it must have been a very unorganized center given rain was still falling. No calm like the eye of a hurricane.
They had not seen anything like this. So they began to walk towards the area, but as they did, the sky suddenly opened up and the rain stopped, causing the two men to stop in their tracks.
“The calm of the eye?” Mister Wolf asked as they each looked down at the phone screen.
“My God…,” Blackburn replied as he and Mister Wolf took in the incredible sight of the storm completely dissipating before their eyes on the app’s radar. “It’s…gone. Completely gone.”
“How?” Mister Wolf openly wondered as he retracted the umbrella. “I don’t understand. That’s impossible.”
“Unless the girl is real, and she stopped being so gloomy?” Blackburn opined before looking back towards the area they were approaching. That’s when he noticed it, the break in the grass. “Something’s there.”
“Stay here.” Mister Wolf ordered of his employee as he slowly and carefully walked towards the break in the grass. He peeked in and for a moment had to keep himself from screaming in terror. Then he composed himself and motioned for Blackburn to approach. “Sir, you may want to look at this!” he shouted over to him.
Blackburn rushed over and his heart sank at what they were looking at. He closed his eyes, bowed his head, and gave a quick silent prayer as he removed his hat. Mister Wolf did the same, save for the prayer. They sat there silent, staring at the lifeless body of the very girl they had been searching for. She was just like the picture, except for the summer dress this time being turquoise and the bruises all over her body. Her dress had been hiked up exposing no underwear, her head was turned and looked like a vessel without a soul, just staring out into space.
“She must have been dying in the brush and just expired as we got here, thus the storm’s vanishing,” Mister Wolf theorized as he placed his hat back on and pulled out his phone.
Blackburn placed his hat back on now and couldn’t stop looking towards the body. “How long was she here? What do you think she died of?”
“Esme will tell us,” Mister Wolf said as he began placing a call to the coroner.
“Get her here quick. I need to know answers before I return to Mister LaFont with the bad news.”
It took some time but eventually the police and the coroner came. Blackburn was good friends with the latter, helping her win office, and knew to get her to come down given she was a source for him for anything going on in criminal justice matters for the area. Blackburn and Mister Wolf never mentioned anything about a weather controlling girl, instead they claimed they had been driving down the road and discovered the body. Esme vouched for them as they took questions. She discreetly promised them details when she could give it to them, of course without letting the police department have any clue she was leaking information to him.
Mister Wolf drove Mister Blackburn back to the club building. There they informed their client about the awful news. He took it hard and then asked Blackburn to solve the murder as he left, but Blackburn assured him it was a matter for the police.
With the evening nearing, Blackburn sat in the club room with Mister Wolf, eating a steak dinner from the nearby Charley’s Steakhouse, his jacket off, his collared shirt loose with sleeves up, and the lights dimmed down as the TV played an old Jimmy Stewart film. “The wife will be expecting me soon, Mister Wolf. You have the rest of the evening off.” Blackburn said as he padded his lips with a handkerchief and stared at the now empty plate. “Let’s call it half a day.”
Mister Wolf instead shut the TV off and then plopped down on the table a small folder with documents inside of what had been a few pages of the report of that day’s adventure, typed up and printed by himself earlier in the day. “The case folder, sir, we need to declare this case closed,” he said as he sat down and handed him a pen.
“That’s right, I almost forgot,” Blackburn put his plate aside, rubbed his head and sighed, and then stood up to head towards the glass case of liquor. “Let’s get it over with; this was a depressing day so the sooner we have it behind us, the better,” Blackburn said as he grabbed two glasses and poured Bourbon on the rocks for Mister Wolf and him. He returned to his seat and after handing his bodyguard his drink, they clanked them together, took a sip, and then went to work.
It was a simple procedure to closing a case. Mister Wolf would repeat a typed-up report of what they had discovered that day and if it was the end of the report, they’d call the case closed. If not, the folder was to be added on with more documents on the matter as future investigations took place. This was only the second time Blackburn had ever been ready to declare a case closed.
Mister Wolf repeated it all. Mister Blackburn nodded in agreement that the summary was correct. The giant stranger, the case of the weather controlling girl, their theory about the center of the storm, and then they got to the part about finding her dead in the grass as the storm vanished.
“She may have been there for hours. Likely had we known she was dying there, she may have died in our arms,” Mister Wolf said as they racked their minds about her mysterious death.
“Maybe what she had been running away from finally got to her?” Blackburn theorized as he finished his glass. Mister Wolf, who barely touched his, graciously motioned for Blackburn to finish it off for him instead.
“Maybe,” Mister Wolf said as he prepared to stamp the final paper with CASE CLOSED. “But the idea of her laying there for hours, alone, dying, and gloomy in the rain is hard to come to terms with.”
“Yeah…,” Blackburn replied as he gulped down Mister Wolf’s glass. But then he motioned with his hand for Mister Wolf to stop short of placing the stamped case status onto the file.
Mister Wolf glanced back at him stumped. “Sir?”
“The car…,” Blackburn said.
“The car is ready for you, sir. I called valet just now,” Mister Wolf assured him as he prepared once again to stamp the paper.
Once again Blackburn put a hand up to stop him. “The car that drove past us. She wasn’t there for hours,” Blackburn then started peeling off the chair, his eyes clearly revealing his mind was in full gear. “We were tracking a moving center, then it stopped. But then she died. What if she wasn’t there for hours? What if she had been in the moving car?”
“And she was tossed out of it shortly before she died. That’s why the center of the storm stalled,” Mister Wolf added, he now peeling off his own chair as well.
“Whoever drove past us had something to do with her death.” Blackburn said as he grabbed his phone from his pocket and called the coroner.
“What are you doing, sir?”
“Looking for clues,” Blackburn answered before motioning for Mister Wolf to put the folder away. “This case isn’t closed just yet.”
“This is a matter for the police, sir!” Mister Wolf protested as Blackburn stayed on the phone.
“Esme! Tell me what you know so far. Yeah, anything no matter how insignificant. Don’t worry, you know I never leak sources. Okay.”
Mister Wolf sighed in frustration watching this play out.
“Okay…okay…okay…got it. Thanks.” Blackburn then hung up and looked towards his employer. “Her name was April Wagner; she was a college girl who had been reported as missing by her parents for months, so they got her identification quickly. She had been strangled to death after what they suspect was a rape and get this Mister Wolf, she had signs of someone who had been thrown out of a moving vehicle.”
“And how exactly do you expect to beat the police to the murderer? That’s all interesting information but what does it matter?”
“The car’s license plate,” Blackburn said as he grabbed his coat and started heading out of the room.
Mister Wolf followed grabbing his own. “It’s impossible that you saw it from that distance!”
“I didn’t, but I noticed something about a design in the plate that matches with our weather controlling girl.” Blackburn explained as they walked out the club room, past the hallways, into the lobby, and outside where the guard of the second shift had been waiting and quickly motioned for the lazy and late valet parking to come with Blackburn’s Rolls-Royce.
“What are you talking about?” Mister Wolf asked as they watched the car get pulled to the curb.
“The victim had a tattoo on her side that read something that matched the design,” Blackburn repeated as he entered the driver’s side.
Mister Wolf stopped him from closing the door. “So what?”
“Her tattoo read ‘Hell’s Pawns’, and the car had the distinct logo of the place as well. The chess pawn piece with the dragon head. I remembered it because they sell it in their little online store.”
“The singles’ lounge? Where the college kids come during the weekends?” Mister Wolf replied. “You don’t think they…oh you’ve had suspicions about that place for so long. Your mind is running wild.”
“Well, let it run wild, I’m going there for answers,” Blackburn replied as he went to shut the door, but Mister Wolf stopped him. “Mister Wolf, your condition means I can’t have you come. I suggest you go to your place as soon as possible given the time of the month.”
“I believe I can make it. I need to come with you to assure your safety as part of our deal.”
Blackburn went to shut the door again, “Forget our deal, Mister Wolf, I’m not risking….”
Mister Wolf stopped the door again and looked at him with meaning in his eyes. “I have to stick to our deal, sir.”
“Fine,” Blackburn replied as he moved to the passenger’s seat and let Mister Wolf take the wheel. “But then that means we don’t have much time. Gun it over there.”
Hell’s Pawns was not on Brick Street, but it was just around the corner; and so Mister Wolf was able to get Blackburn there rather quickly. “There it is, the only place outside of ‘Brick Street’ that the big shots will visit.” Blackburn said as they pulled up.
“I’ve been here for a drink or two twice now,” Mister Wolf said as he turned off the car.
“Hold on, you have?” Blackburn asked, pausing so that each sat there with hands on the door handle but not ready to leave yet until this conversation was over.
“I have plenty drinks for you at the club room, at my hotel, and at my place.”
“But you can’t match the atmosphere here.”
Mister Wolf gave him a knowing glance.
Blackburn gave one back. “Get yourself a wife and you won’t have to worry about looking for that.”
“Ah, but the thrill of the chase, sir.” Mister Wolf replied with a smile as he went to pull the door handle and get out, but it was then his turn to pause. “Mister Blackburn, haven’t you been here before yourself?”
“Yes,” Blackburn replied, it’s where I met my wife.
“I didn’t know that, sir.”
Blackburn then went to pull the door handle, “Plus they got good price specials and decent live music every first Friday.”
They both got out of the car and inspected the surroundings. It was getting dark and the streets were mostly empty. The entrance to the club was a simple door on the side of a continuous wall of bars and clubs. This was where the nightlife was, where Brick Street clients could indulge in their darker sides.
“Place is closed until eleven.” Blackburn said as they finished surveying. “I see no clues anywhere. We’re gonna have to come back later.”
The men returned to the car. As Mister Wolf dug for the keys, Blackburn asked him, “How much longer until you have to take care of your condition?”
“I can get you back to the hotel and I can leave to my place of treatment from there,” Mister Wolf answered as he went to turn on the car, but before he could they noticed an old small tanned car pulling up next to the parking area. Its license plate had the chess pawn with the dragon head design of the Hell’s Pawns logo. It was the same car they had seen earlier, the one they suspected of dumping off April to die.
“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me,” Blackburn said as they watched a shadow emerge from the car, unidentified because of the lack of street lamp light hitting their location.
“Mister Blackburn, we can just write down the tag number and leave it to the police,” Mister Wolf advised but as he turned to catch his employer’s attention, Blackburn was stepping out of the car. “Sir, no!” Mister Wolf said with a loud whisper.
Blackburn slowly walked towards the individual, Mister Wolf right behind him, both trying hard not to scare off the suspect by walking calmly. They could see the suspect gingerly sliding some letter under the door.
“Whoa!” the suspect found themselves shouting as they leaned back up and turned to get back into the car, only to notice Blackburn and Mister Wolf.
“Sorry about that. We were seeing if the club was open,” Blackburn said trying to seem apologetic. “My friend and I were here looking for a drink. We saw your license plate thinking you’re an employee and figured you could tell us when it may open.”
The suspect’s face came into view now in the dim street light, it was a female of what had to be near or at typical college age, brunette with long hair tied up, in a tank top and sweatpants with running shoes. Not the most alluring thing to wear on a night out. She was sweating as if she had been running around busy all day.
“I…I’m sorry you just scared me is all,” the suspect replied. “Yeah, sorry I don’t work here. The place has a license plate design you can get and since I’ve been here a couple times I got one for me.”
“Do you know when it may open?” Mister Wolf asked.
She was sweating and breathing like someone who was incredibly nervous. “Um, at around ten or eleven I think. I tend to get here a little later than that. College keeping me busy and all that. Well, good luck with the night out guys,” she began to leave then.
But as she went to pull the handle to get into her car, Blackburn began to stall her. “I can understand someone your age getting stuck with a piece of junk like that. I was stuck with something similar when I was younger. Now I drive a Rolls-Royce.”
“Correction, I drive the Rolls-Royce.” Mister Wolf murmured which lead to Blackburn kicking him in the leg.
“Oh, that’s really nice,” she opened the door.
“Wasn’t aware even something that old could still dash off on a back road after dropping off a body though,” Blackburn said.
She paused, slammed the door shut, and then turned back towards them. “Excuse me?”
“April Wagner,” Blackburn replied as Mister Wolf started to sweat and looked on nervously.
“April and I go to the same college classes together,” she said. “What about her?”
“And you both went to this club. You even got tattoos together.” Blackburn pointed at her right shoulder, the tattoo was there. “Boy, you must have really liked this place.”
She started showing signs of anxiety and began to sway from side to side. “It’s complicated. This place is really important to me.”
“Does it have to do with you dropping off her body?”
“I…I…what are you talking about?”
“Don’t play stupid or lie. I hate liars. There are many things in this world I find annoying like Democrats or really bad whiskey. But something I can’t stand is a liar. Get on the level.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about! I don’t even know what ‘on the level’ is!” she shouted as she went for her car door, but Mister Wolf dove in time to keep the door shut.
“We mean you no harm, but we need to know why you left the body,” Mister Wolf explained as she backed off and found herself backing into Blackburn.
She turned back to Blackburn and seemed to hesitate to say something.
“We were there. We were there because a friend of hers was looking for her. He told us about her weather controlling ability. So we followed the storm’s center and we were there when you drove that car out and left her in the brush to die. Did you kill her? Why?”
“I didn’t kill her,” she said as tears began to come out. “But, yeah, I left her to die. The bitch was ungrateful, and I needed to prove my loyalty.”
“To who?” Mister Wolf demanded to know.
She turned back to Mister Wolf then, “To the sisterhood.”
“What sisterhood?” Blackburn asked as he carefully approached her.
She turned back to Blackburn, becoming more and more of a nervous wreck. “This goes far beyond you two. You don’t understand. I made an oath. Me and April. She broke that oath. She was punished. I had to get rid of her to prove my loyalty as well. Because thanks to that betraying bitch, I was suspected of being a traitor, too.”
“But to who woman? To who?” Mister Wolf continued to ask.
“You don’t want to know them. Trust me,” she replied, now tweaking and anxious as she stood in between the two men. “Not unless you are ready.”
“Ready for what?” Mister Wolf asked
“Forget this!” she shouted and then ran off into the dark.
The two men gave each other a glance and then headed off towards her direction. They were getting close to her when Mister Wolf stopped. By now darkness was in full effect.
“I…I can smell her blood, Mister Blackburn,” Mister Wolf said as Blackburn came to him.
“Okay, then help me get her! She’s getting away!” Blackburn replied trying to motion for him to follow in the chase.
Mister Wolf then suddenly hunched over and vomited right onto Blackburn’s shoes. Blackburn took a step back, then tried to comfort his bodyguard, but Mister Wolf gave Blackburn one glance and his eyes were glowing like a wild canine’s. “My condition, sir.” he said, his voice starting to get deeper, raspy, and a little bit unintelligible.
Blackburn started to back away slowly and realized what was happening, “Oh, shit.”
“What’s wrong with him?” the suspect shouted in the distance, she had obviously paused to look back at why they had stopped chasing her.
“Get out of here!” Blackburn shouted at her. “He has a curse.”
Just then Mister Wolf became an actual wolf. His body began to contort, his bones reshaped themselves, fur began to grow all over, his muscles expanded and ripped into his clothing, his hands and feet became paws, and a large mane began to grow around his neck and face. Fangs began to jut out of his mouth, his voice became more like that of a wild dog, so that he was howling at the full moon that was shining above the sky. His hind legs were tall enough, so the wolf could stand up like a human, his hands were like that of a human but with long claws coming out instead of fingernails. His mouth slobbered with hunger. Remember, Mister Wolf had not eaten all day.
Blackburn watched on in horror as the werewolf curse took over, his bodyguard’s “condition”. He stepped back in awe. This was not the first time he had seen the transformation, but it never failed to amaze.
The wolf then immediately looked over to the suspect who was now watching on her own awe and fear, crying at what she was witnessing.
“Run!” Blackburn shouted at her as the wolf began to chase her down the blocks. A police officer suddenly emerged from the corner of the street and was knocked over by the fleeing girl who didn’t stop to pick him up. The wolf pounced onto the poor officer and Blackburn quickly ran into the Rolls-Royce. He pulled his own keys out and began to gun it down the street, trying to make it to the girl before the wolf did.
She was still running when Blackburn caught up, the wolf right behind them with blood now painting his jaws from attacking the officer, his eyes transfixed on her, making growling noises, darting across towards them in the dark. Blackburn veered his car to meet her at the corner of a sidewalk and an alley shortcut. He opened the door and she dove in. As soon she was in, he gunned the car down the alley, pursued by the awesome beast.
At this point some who lived there or the few out in the streets started to realize a wild animal was on the loose. They were darting for safety, but the wolf just wanted to get to the Rolls-Royce.
“What…what is he?” the panicking suspect shouted as Blackburn veered into another block, trying to lose the creature.
“That is my bodyguard, Mister Wolf,” Blackburn replied as he ran a red light and the creature came right behind, cars screeching around them.
“I know…a little too on the nose but when I caught him in Kenya he asked that I make that his alias back in the states. I was asked to come visit and investigate a series of murders. I worked with a hunter to catch him, but I bargained to let him live in exchange for my protection here and his services for a couple months, oh excuse me he claims years.”
“How could you hide something like that?” the screeching, now hysterical girl looked back in horror as the beast continued to pursue them.
“Well, he had a special bunker for nights like this. Worked for six months. Then he decided he could take it to the limit when we came to see if we could get any clues on you. The full moon arose a little quicker than expected tonight.”
The wolf had now gotten close enough to pounce on the back of the car and Blackburn gunned it so that they could drive away from the roads and into a nearby open field park where a statue of the city’s first mayor stood erected at the center.
“He’s going to kill us!” the hysterical girl shouted before Blackburn turned the car so that the wolf could fly off from the back of the car and get slammed into the side of the statue, cracking the long-standing icon.
Blackburn could hear the police cars coming and looked on as the wolf laid motionless next to the statue, breathing but obviously hurt. He rolled down the driver’s window and shouted at the beast, “Survive the night and I’ll come for you!” and with that said as the police cars started to turn the corner towards them, Blackburn drove the car out into the darkness as if they never had been there.
The Rolls-Royce was plenty damaged, but not so bad Blackburn couldn’t drive to the police station as his traumatized passenger started to realize where he had taken her.
“No, just let me go please!” she said as she realized in her horror he had locked the doors.
Blackburn grabbed her by her shoulders and shook her to calm down. “Look, look, calm down now. What is your name?”
The crying girl responded, “Hollie.”
“Okay, Hollie, you need to tell me everything you had to do with April’s murder.”
“But…but I don’t deserve to go to jail. I didn’t kill her.”
“You’re an accessory if you helped to dump the body, not to mention she was still breathing when you dropped her off. You could have taken her to a hospital and given her a chance to live.”
Hollie continued to cry and then finally started to try and calm down a bit to talk. “Who are you anyways?”
“I’m a rich guy with too much time on his hands.”
“I was hired to try and find your friend, because she supposedly could control the weather and was in danger. And my hobby is to investigate weird stories like that.”
“So why did I go to find an amazing ability and end up discovering a body?”
Hollie had stopped crying by now. She started to look down and seemed guilty. Then she looked back up to Blackburn and confessed. “April and I belong to a coven of witches. The club was our meeting spot. We learned to make curses and potions. Then one day she messed one incantation up, she cursed herself to affect the weather with her mood. She became depressed because of it and she was making it rain everywhere she went. The masters didn’t like that, and they kicked her out.”
“So these masters had her killed?”
“I…I don’t know. But I know she made them mad because she was going to say something about the coven.”
“I don’t know. I just know I was summoned to find her. But I got a call that someone else had found her first and that they had found her on the verge of death.”
“That’s bullshit! She had been raped and strangled!”
“I know…that’s the condition I found her in when I went to the address they asked me to come pick her up.”
“Why not take her to the hospital? Why not take her to family?”
“Because my masters told me to get rid of her, and I had to prove my loyalty.”
“You sick bitch,” Blackburn replied as he sat back in awe and disgust. “Whatever cult you belong to, they aren’t worth getting rid of bodies for them. Especially a friend’s.”
“We took an oath! April betrayed the oath!”
Just then a group of police officers knocked on Hollie’s door. Blackburn unlocked it and they gently opened the door and took her as she began to struggle with them. “No! I didn’t tell you everything.”
“You can tell the rest to the cops.” Blackburn replied as he got out of the car and began to take questions from the officer he had called about taking her in.
Blackburn slept in late. He was bruised up after the wild night and too depressed over how it ended to get up early. He returned to work limping a bit as he came into The Blackburn Hotel, one of the most expensive five-star resorts and sitting right in the middle of Brick Street With a white, gray, and light green color scheme, and that smell of a mix of cotton candy and cherry blossoms all over like in his club room. Everyone who stayed here was a big deal in one way or another. As exclusive as it got save for The Crane Club of course.
He entered his office located on the first floor, small black leather suitcase in hand, and was quickly greeted by Missus Higgins, a middle-aged woman with brunette hair who liked to keep it tied up as a bun. She was wearing a professional green colored pantsuit and had with her the daily schedule for the day. “I heard about Mister Wolf. Do you think he’s still alive?” she asked.
“No clue,” Blackburn replied with a sigh. “He took a big risk coming with me last night and he paid for it. I’m still trying to figure out what to do about that slip up. Thank God the officer he attacked somehow survived, though he’s in critical condition at the hospital. Not to mention he may have been cursed as well.”
“And the girl?”
“I turned her in to police. I grew too disgusted with her to keep probing. I don’t know how someone could become so warped by a cult to throw a human being you called a friend off the side of the road to die. I hope she coughs up the name of the killer when they interrogate her.”
“The rains will end for now though.”
“Yes, which means I don’t have an excuse to just keep hiding out at the club anymore.”
“May I suggest finding an assistant?”
“An assistant. You keep putting off hiring one. I can only keep trying to play the roles of both hotel manager and assistant for so long.”
“Oh, okay. Put the word out.”
“Do you want me to mention the paranormal investigations in the job description?”
Just then Blackburn picked up the newspaper and read a headline, “RAMPAGING BEAST ESCAPES INTO THE WOODS IN THE DARK OF NIGHT.”
“No, I actually think I have a case to solve that could help me hire the new assistant.”
Missus Higgins looked at what he was reading and then back at him. She knew what was on his mind. “You sure sir? It’ll be awfully dangerous.”
“Get the wanted ads up, make some calls, do whatever it is you do to get me some job interviews lined up.”
“Yes, sir.” Missus Higgins said as she went to leave.
“Oh, and Missus Higgins!” Blackburn interrupted her with.
“No men. After last night, I’d like to have a gentler employee. Mister Wolf is enough of a hassle.”
“You may need a strong woman for this job then sir. The last assistant was a female too and she didn’t last a week after joining you and Mister Wolf in your little adventures.”
“Okay, send me the smartest and brightest then. A strong, independent type. Maybe a little feminist, but not too feminist if you know what I mean.”
“I’m afraid I do, sir.”
“A little curiosity to them. Someone who won’t scare away so easily like the last one. Can deal with my personality and this hobby of mines. There’s gotta be someone out there that gets me.”