Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The 33rd Precinct

I. Thelonius
As he moved through the crowds alongside his fellow seekers, Thelonius couldn't help but to notice how he was now clearly the odd man out. Certainly, no real familiarity passed between the two socialites, but the pair had an unmistakable affinity, even if it went unexpressed. The other two were young, attractive, stylish. Judging from their attires and bearings, they were both probably quite well to do. Cati might have been downright wealthy, and Henri . . . well, he had a job, but it apparently didn't demand much of him. Opening shop a few hours a day; perhaps that was sufficient to support him.

Why where they here? Just curious, Thelonius thought. Curious and bored. These were the kinds of things Thelonius had gotten used to noticing – where people fit into the picture and where they didn't. And he knew he didn't fit into this picture.

Then again, this was Thel's job, following leads, piecing things together, seeing the connections. What could Cati and Henri offer him? Entertainment, perhaps. In a way, it was the two of them who didn't fit in. What if this - the forged invitation, the fortune telling, the ectoplasm - was real? What, then, about these two? Had the swami been right about Cati's underwear?

Thelonius crumpled his dollar bill in his pocket.

II. Henri
The stern brick façade of the 33rd Precinct was, if one paid attention, in striking contrast to the gothic and modernist architecture around it. Built in the late 19th Century as a temporary home for hysterical wives and spirited daughters, every brick of it had been laid with the express purpose of promoting sterility, seriousness, and rationale. Yet, it blended into its surroundings, becoming as unnoticeable and reliable as a wall.

Henri was familiar with the neighborhood, but he could not recall – not on a single occasion – ever noticing that this building, nestled between the Universalist church and a little second-hand store, was in fact the police station. As he climbed the stairs a little ahead of the other two, Henri was slightly taken by the sheerness of the wall, the strength and sturdiness of the building. At that moment, it seemed to Henri that this building, the 33rd Precinct itself, provided – or perhaps fed off – the resolve of the uniformed men all around it, that there was some kind of harmony being generated. This was the sort of thing Henri could understand: he could appreciate how the right bodies, the right personalities, the right clothing, and the right moment could all come together into one thematic confluence. It brought the neighborhood together. A rug could create a sense of unity in a room. A common cause could unite disparate nations and bring men together across the lines of language. A simple brooch could effect the stylistic unity of a woman and her outfit, doing everything from downplaying her bosom to bringing attention away from a seam.

There was a brief pang of jealousy (for whomever had stitched all this together) and doubt. No: Henri shrugged it off. He was quite sure that his kind of tailoring was much, much better.

III. Cati
Henri pushed the door open ahead of her, and being a perfect gentleman, held it there for her. "Apres vous."
She stepped inside the station.

She had no real reason to be fearful – she wasn't in the practice of carrying booze around town, and it wasn't as though she had done anything wrong. But it couldn't be helped. She heard the echo of her shoe on the tile floor, somehow rising above all the bustle and movement around her, and Cati's heart fluttered a little. Enemy territory. All those blue tunics in one place - it gave her the heebie-jeebies.

She imagined Alice's voice in her head, cheering her on. Attagirl! We're rich, Cati darling! The bulls basically work for us, don't they? That was a reassuring thought. Toro! the imaginary Alice taunted as an officer walked past Cati and out the door.

Then another voice; old and rusty, but still vital. Don't trust a single one of these rats, bella.
Not one.

IV. Captain Martin Delaney
Cati walked up to the bench. The fat, old station officer leaned over to look down at her. He fixed his glasses. "What can I do for you, ma'am," he asked cordially, flirtatiously even.

Before she could answer, there was a call from across the room. "Jones!"

It was Delaney. Lieutenant Martin Delaney. Thelonius had had the distinction of . . . well, providing evidence to Delaney once upon a time. Delaney had never returned those photos . . .

"Thelonius Jones!" Thel noticed that there were two bars on the officer's shoulder now - he mentally noted, Captain Delaney. "Tell me," the captain said rocking on his heels as though he were about to scold a schoolboy, "What are you doing here? Hm?"


Thelonius Jones said...

"Hello Delaney. Excuse me, I mean Captain Delaney." Thelonius stared back at the cop in an attempt not to show any sign of weakness.

"Believe it or not, I'm lending a hand to a lady in distress. This woman," He gestured to Cati. "Is looking for a friend of hers, a Mags Whitcombe. Last she saw her, the woman was headed to the hospital at the side of an Indian Swami when the guy passed out while performing a show at the Audubon."

He looked over to Henri and Cati to see if they wanted to add anything to the story.

"Trouble is, they never arrived at the hospital. I was thinking that they might have met with some sort of foul play."

da solomon said...

"Mags - Margaret Whitcombe," he repeats after Thelonius. "You were at St. Lawrence's just now, weren't you? That was you!

"Well, then! What do you know about this swami fellow, Jones? This is your especiality, isn't it?" Delaney looked around, as if expecting to find a spare chair nearby. "Why don't you have a seat right over there" - he gestures to some hard-looking benches near a line of windows where people are paying tickets - "and Mickey will get you some coffee. Mickey!" he yelled into the air. "Get Jones here some coffee!"

Delaney ceased to rock now, and he leaned more deeply towards Cati. "A friend of yours, eh? So, do ya know the swami, too, or just Miss Whitcombe? We're gonna have a little - what do you girls says - a little parley-voo about this, ma'am - if you don't mind," and the way he leered at Cati gave her clear indication that she was not to mind. "Please just go with Officer Waits. Waitsy, show her to two-ten." A younger cop came beside Cati and tapped her elbow. "Miss," he said, indicating a hallway to the right of the duty officer's bench, "this way please."

Finally, Delaney turned his attention to Henri. "And who are you? - Jones, is this guy with you?"

Monsieur Henri DuMonde said...

"I am Henri DuMonde and I am currently in the company of M. Jones and Mlle. Predoviciu, yes," Henri said with as much dignity as he could muster in the face of this brute.

Teresa said...

Cati arched a slim eyebrow at the Captain. "What do I need to be questioned for? I had nothing to do with this swami bird. I might be Miss Whitcombe's friend, but I've got nothing to do with this funny business, I can assure you." Her voice was calm, but her heart was pounding wildly.

She looked at the officer who was about to escort her to another room. "All right, all right, I'm going."

As she passed Thelonius and Henri, she said under her breath, so only they could hear, "Watch your backs, fellas."

Thelonius Jones said...

"Yeah, what he said. He's with me."

Thelonius looked up at the officer and sighed, "C'mon Delaney, cut the malarkey. You wanna tell us what has your panties all in a bunch related to this Swami fella?"

da solomon said...

"Jones, Jones!" Delaney said as he opened his hands in a mockery of regret, "I got a job to do, and I'm doing it."

Mickey, a plump red-headed fellow with flawless skin and innocent young eyes, returned with two coffees in styrofoam cups. He handed one to Thelonius and one to Delaney.

As Delaney took his coffee from Mickey, Henri noticed their hands. Mickey's were soft yet, with trimmed nails and fingers that tapered to narrow tips. His fingers were not long at all and his hands looked unworked, a little doughy overall. Delaney's bore thick, square fingers, with worn, roughly pared nails. The wrinkles in his fingers were dry, his hands were scaly in places. Captain Delaney looked down into the brownish brew in his hands and passed it directly to Henri.
"See if the lady in two-ten wants anything," Delaney ordered the younger cop. "Oh, and, take Mister DuPont to two-nine."
"Sir, come with me," Mickey said to Henri.

"Now, Jones," began Delaney as he led the way to the bench. "I know you're on the up and up. You and me we're both working guys, just trying to get the story, ain't we? So, first things first, no malarkey, this is a police case. There's protocols. So you just tell me some things and we're gonna be done here." Delaney indicated where Thel should sit and came down beside him. "My boy says that you were at the Audubon Ballroom last night. So the first thing I got to know is. Did you get pictures?" Delaney fixed his stale, blue eyes directly on Thel's envelope.

"Here," said Mickey. The room was bare except for a table and three chairs, all wooden. A single light bulb hung still overhead. Its light was brilliant, washing out every possibility of color in the concrete bricks of the walls and worn grain of the table. "Sit here." Mickey would have been cherubic if it were not for the dimness of his face. Even under the glare of the bulb, his beady eyes and motionless mouth made him look . . . just dumb.

He sat down at the table across from Henri, apparently having forgotten to bring any coffee to Cati. He squinted in the light and watched Henri. "Don't get a lot of French in here," he said, pulling his little mouth up into a dull smile. That smile lasted for several seconds and only slowly fell back into a look of boredom, which Henri could only assume was the boy-cop's natural expression. Mickey watched Henri, possibly with interest – it was hard to see his eyes moving behind his pinched eyelids, hard to track his attention. Henri looked away, then at the floor, and towards Mickey again, only to be confirmed that the blue boy was staring.

Mickey stared for several minutes.

Delaney came in. "Hello Mister DuMonde. I've been talking to Thelonius." He sat down next to Mickey. He unbuttoned his shirt. "So, Mister . . . Henri . . . DuMonde. This is a friendly interview, nothing to be worried about. So, you're from France - non? The missus is learning French on the gramophone. 'Je nay parley vous fran-say.' I'm picking a little up too." He grinned. In the stark light, Henri could see that Delaney's facial skin was as dry and taut as his hands. Little red capillaries ran over his nostrils. "So, how do you like America?"

Waits showed Cati to a wooden chair at a wooden table in a concrete room with one light bulb. He tapped the bulb and sent it rocking towards Cati. "This is where we interrogate bad guys," he explained. He sat on the table. He spun the keys to the room on one skinny finger and caught them in his palm and smiled. What a crooked, naïve country smile. His teeth were too big for his mouth. "So," he said, slowly. "I'm Officer Waits. If you need something, I'll be right outside." He slid off the table, put his hands in his pockets, and stepped outside. The bulb was still rocking.

Cati reassured herself time and time again that she had done nothing wrong, but the bare walls seemed to demand a confession. The minutes dragged. She wondered if she'd been forgotten; she considered standing up and seeing if anyone would stop her from just walking away. But she thought of the consequences of being caught leaving. Then they'd just know she did something wrong. And of course, she had done something wrong – everyone probably had, she thought. And there was nothing to be afraid of – there was no booze in her purse, there was no gin on her breath. Cati double-checked her bag, just to be sure. The lack of alcohol was reassuring.

After a virtual eternity, the door opened again and Delaney stepped inside. Standing in the doorway, he began to talk. "I just had a chat with your – well, they're not quite friends of yours, are they? I wouldn't call 'em that anyway." He closed the door and sat down across from her at the table. "But it was real interesting."

"So." He sucked on the word. His lips were pale pink, washed-out looking. "Let's start with Whitcombe? Where do you know her from?"

Monsieur Henri DuMonde said...

"It is a beautiful country," Henri said, putting on a smile he hoped looked guileless. "I am very happy in Manhattan. I am a modiste, women's dresses, you know."

Henri removed his silver card case from his jacket breast pocket and took a business card out, sliding it across the table to Delaney.

Thelonius Jones said...

Thelonius shook his head slowly as he slid the envelope across to Delaney.

He took a sip of the steaming brew, his own eyes staying locked with the cop's.

"I'd appreciate them back when you are done looking at them. I doubt if you'll find anything more than a man who has had some sort of seizure. There's no foul play to be seen."

He eyed the Lieutenant in an attempt to gauge his reaction. Taking another sip off his coffee, Thelonius continued, "So you want to tell me what happened to the guy? I'm guessing you boys have lost track of him, given the level of attention you're paying me and my friends."

He passed a small smirk to Delaney, waiting for the man to spout some official denial, or actually come clean.

da solomon said...

I. Thelonius
The cop shot a sly glance at Jones as he reached for the photographs. "Lost track of the swami? Can't say. You know where he's at?" He smiled. "You've got negatives, don't you?" he asked, widening his grin. Delaney closed his fingers on the envelope.

"You know, Jones. You've got a real scoop on your hand here, don't you? I'll say! You could probably go directly to the Times and sell these photographs. Have you? I don't think so. You've got your nose out for something bigger – now, don't you?" Delaney's slightly scolding tome softened. "But I'm gonna keep things level here, for a friend of the department." Hardly the word Thelonius would have used to describe his relations with the police department and his brief acquaintance with Delaney, but perhaps there would be something to gain from the Captain's overtures. Behind his domineering manner, behind the chummy grin there was something sincere, possibly even sad, in his face. "We got a situation that has you written all over it – not as a suspect, otherwise I wouldn't be telling you all about it. It's your kind of thing. Maybe you might know something about something and we can help each other. You following me?"

II. Henri
Captain Delaney held the card away from his face and looked down his nose, as if through bifocals. "'Modest women's dresses,' you say?
"A man of taste," Delaney commented to Mickey. "This is why we look to the French for style and for fash-yon." He grotesquely nasalized the last syllable of the last word in what Henri judged to be an earnest, but entirely ignorant, mimicry of a French accent. Delaney tucked the card into his pocket. "I'll take the missus by the shop one day. So. Just to check my facts, you were at the Audubon Ballroom last night." Delaney looked straight ahead at Henri. "Can you – ah, sivoo play" - he flourished with his left hand a little as the words came out - "give your account of what you saw happen last evening? You know, with the swami."

(Thelonius passed a psychology check. Henri passed a credit rating check when he evoked his status as an upscale businessman.)

Thelonius Jones said...

Thelonius considered Delaney's words.

"I'm following you. I scratch your back, and you stay off of mine."

He paused, sipping the bitter coffee as he stared across at Delaney.

"Tell me what you have, and I'll see what I can do to help. But you gotta play straight with me, Delaney. No holding back."

Monsieur Henri DuMonde said...

Henri smiled again.

"Yes, monsieur, of course. We see the show, yes? The swami has a monkey that does tricks. Then he is pulled on a chair on wires to float. He tells two fortunes, one that a man is having une liaison avec another woman, and he tells one girl what she wears under her clothes. Then he falls sick, épileptique. Because I am sitting with a girl who knows the swami's friend, Madame Whitcombe, I go back to see if he is all right after the curtain closes, with the girl, Mlle. Predoviciu. The swami is taken away in an ambulance. He looks very ill. We have been worried. Where has he gone?"

Monsieur Henri DuMonde said...

(OOC: Henri is really trying to play the innocent, naive, slightly stupid foreigner card here to get as much information as he can.)

Teresa said...

"You know how 'society girls' are," Cati said, nonchalant. "Always out at some do or another. That's how Mags and I met. I wouldn't say she's a close personal friend, but I have attended one or two of her soirees.

"And no, those fellas aren't exactly friends, either. But we met at the swami show last night and are all very concerned about his and Mags' well-being."

Cati wondered if she was chattering on too much and shut her mouth.

da solomon said...

I. Thelonius
"Alright," Captain Delaney said as he slipped the envelope from Thel's fingers. "We'll take a look at these in back. I'm gonna show you something." He stood up. "Come on," he said, smoothing out his blue frock. "This way."

Delaney led Thelonius through the crowded lobby and down the same hallway into which Cati and Henri had been taken. Passing through a set of double doors and into an office space, Thelonius was led to room two-eight. Delaney pulled the door open and told Thelonius to, "Have a seat. I'm going to get something." Thelonius took a seat in one of two plain wooden chairs at an equally plain table. Delaney left the door open a crack as he passed through it, and as he waited, Thelonius could see officers milling around, sitting at desks. The only civilians that Thelonius could see were either sitting at a policeman's desk, or being led somewhere by a policeman. Thelonius presumed that they were, respectively, victims and victimizers – and again, it was clear that he did not fit into this scene. He was not a cop, and he was not about to play either one of the roles endorsed for civilian use here.

The crack widened to permit Delaney's broad shoulders through. He pulled the door shut behind him. On the desk he laid the photographs Thelonius had taken. Beside them he placed a miniscule vial, another manila envelope, and yet another photograph, this one of a book bound in coarsely cut leather or hide. "Take a look at these – er." He pulled the new envelope towards himself. "I mean, take a look at this first. Here." Delaney passed the vial to Thelonius. It was empty. About the breadth of a pencil eraser and twice as long, it was just the sort of thing that might have been used to carry around a discrete quantity of cocaine or a sample of perfume. "You know what that is?" the cop asked. The top was shaped like any other bottle cap, but made of some metal, perhaps silver. Etched into the metal was a minute symbol composed of two concentric rings. The inner ring had twelve spokes, each of which passed into the outer ring and took on the bolt-like shape of a jagged ess. The same symbol could be seen on the cover of the book in the photograph.

(Dan, Thel knows quite a lot about this symbol. Look to your e-mail for information.)

II. Henri
Responding to Dumonde's mock-confusion, Delaney's eyes softened a little. "We're going to find out where he's gone. Don't worry Mr. Dumonde." He tapped on the table with his fingertip – Mickey's attention seemed drawn to the striking of his nail, and he watched the Captain's finger, still bored-looking. Mickey might have been waiting for Delaney to issue an order with that finger. "Let me get something straight," Delaney asks, "you were sitting with Madam-mosel Predoviciu and the swami drops. He was taken away in an ambulance. Can you describe the ambulance or the men who came with it?"

Still playing the flustered, naïve foreigner, Henri licked his lips and stuttered before he could think of a suitably endearing answer. Delaney read the pause as uncertainty and implored Henri, "Please Mr. Dumonde, we think he may be in danger. We need your help."

(Henri passed a fast talk with his naif act.)

III. Cati
"Oh, I do know these society girls, Miss Predoviciu." Delaney tapped his finger, "I do know what they get up to, and it's a shame. It's really a shame." His disdain for flapperdom was evident.

Delaney leaned back in his seat and pursed his lips. "Okay, so now you gotta help me on this one thing:" And he rattled off a list of questions for Cati to answer. "Can you describe the ambulance or the men that took Ramanuja away? How long have you known Miss Whitcombe? Does she have any enemies? No offense or nothing, but where did you go after you left the ballroom?"

Thelonius Jones said...

Thelonius picked up the vial and silver cap, eyeing both intently as he spoke to the cop.

"Okay Delaney, it looks like I can be of help to you. I know quite a bit about this symbol," He held up the silver cap as if to punctuate his words.

"But before I spill the beans, I'd like the Frenchman and the Dame present as well. Why? Well, let's call them my insurance policy. Not that I don't trust you Delaney, but I'd feel a hell of a lot better with a socialite and a respected businessman here to corroborate our deal."

Thelonius leans forward, his voice becoming a bit quieter. "It looks like we've got some occult involvement here. You know how those groups can be. The Frenchman and that woman are connected with the hoidy toidy crowd. They may have some in's that we'll need in the investigation."

He leans back in his creaky chair. "Besides, the Swami fingered them in his performance. Said some cryptic garbage about them being my photographic models."

Thelonius laughs, "Besides, until the Swami turns up, I don't think I can keep them from bugging me about the case. Might as well give them some official involvement and let them become your problem. Whaddya say, Delaney?"

While waiting for the cops reply, Thelonius sniffs at the vial's opening, trying to discern what (if anything)was contained in the small tube.

Monsieur Henri DuMonde said...

"I want to help, sir, of course. I was sitting near Mlle. Predoviciu when M. Swami collapsed. Like her I worry for him and Madame Whitcombe who is most distressed. We went at the same time to the backstage. The ambulance was white with la croix rouge, on the side, the red cross." Henri said.

He paused to think a moment.

"I only saw one of the men to remember him. He had the tatouage on his arm with the name 'Anna' on a scrolled paper. His hair was dark and he wore it slicked back. And his face very tranquille, very calm. So calm I notice it is strange, like a sleeper's face, yes? Have these men kidnapped the swami?"

Henri waited for a response, but then drew in a quick breath.

"Wait, I recall now. The ambulance. It was not a long low one, like a hearse, but tall like a van, white with the cross, but a van, more like the war than the city. Is this important? Please, do you think the poor swami and Madame Whitcombe are kidnapped?"

Monsieur Henri DuMonde said...

( OOC: reread my email and saw that the ambulance was not a van. I can't edit the comment so just remove that bit. :p)

Teresa said...

"I'm leveling with you here, Captain," Cati said. "I honestly did not notice what sort of ambulance it was. And after the whole thing went down, I went straight home. That's the truth.

"As for how long I've known Mags? Not very long, and not very well. She seemed to be fairly well-liked by people, so I can't imagine she had enemies. But then, it's hard to tell about people, isn't it?"

da solomon said...

Thelonius waved the vial under his nose. It smelled slightly of . . . he couldn't be sure. It was some lingering odor, barely there. The smell summoned up associations with electrical motors, elevator shafts, and a particular image he had once sold to the magazine New England Ghosts and Phatoms, which he had somewhat jadedly titled, "The Mist in the Shipyard". Then it was gone.

"I may be a fool for letting you see these," Delaney said, "but once you do, you'll understand why I have to refuse the part about letting those other two in just yet. Not like I can keep you from telling them whatever you want, but you see these and you're going to understand why I need to keep a lid on this." He tossed the other envelope across the table to Thelonius. "I'm not telling you who that is, or where she is.

Thelonius sat the vial down and picked up the packet. "Jones." Delaney put his hand on his badge, feeling the edges. "I'm letting you see these because you're going to help me. Because you're going to have a big story in a few days –" he spoke very slowly "– after we have this cracked. Yeah? You see these, and you do anything less than classy . . . you and I both will be in hot water. Understood? Brace yourself."

Mickey sat silently, semi-staring at Henri with those two young eyes, brightly twinkling somewhere behind his permanent sleepy squint. He might have been amused or intrigued or bored.

Delaney grunted as he listened to Henri's story. "Thank you, Mr. DuMonde." He scooted his chair back and pressed his hands onto his knees, bearing down on them. "I'll tell you," he said as he pushed himself into a standing position, "we are doing everything we can and you've been very helpful."

He took a step to the door. He paused and turned around as if he had forgotten something. "Last thing: Why the concern, Mr. DuMonde? Jones thinks you've got an interest in all this. Says you're not going to leave him alone until you see this through. What does he mean?"

"It can be, miss; it can be. So." The cop sighed and let his lips flap a little as he exhaled. "Didn't know her for so long? Hunh. I got one more thing to ask, then." He shrugged. "Jones thinks you and the French fella aren't going to be easy to get rid of. So, why would he say that? What's your interest in the swami and Miss Whitcombe?"

Monsieur Henri DuMonde said...

"I do not know what M. Jones might mean," he said. "My worry is only that I find the swami trés intéressant, and it was so shocking to see him fall ill and with the pretty mademoiselle also worried— I am a man, no?"

Henri tried to make a gesture that made him look worldly and experienced. He was finding it difficult, however, to respond 'innocently' to a question to which he himself was not sure of the answer. Why had all this gotten under his skin? Then he thought of Millie and he knew the answer. He chose not to pass that on to Delaney.

Teresa said...

"Just because we're not the best of friends, doesn't mean I'm not concerned about her," Cati told Delaney. "I've attended several of her soirees, and none of them ended in the guest of honor being carted off in an ambulance. So I just want to know what happened to her and the swami and if they're jake."

Thelonius Jones said...

Thelonius looks at the two photos, his face visibly palling as he closely examines the close up shot.

He slid the photo's back to the officer.

"Okay Delaney, I see what you mean. I give you my word that I'll wait on the story until the case is cracked. That might take a lot longer if you keep holding back on me - for example where the body of Mags Whitcombe was found, or what happened to the Swami."

Thelonius leaned back in his chair, rocking the front legs off the ground as he teetered precariously on the back legs.

He pulled a pack of rumpled Lucky Strikes from his jacket pocket, offering one to Delaney before lighting up his smoke.

Okay, there are three occult sources for the symbol that is on both the cap and the book. The symbol has some connection to classical Alchemy. Alchemists were interested in transformations. The classic 'lead into gold' was but a minor secret that they searched for. They struggled to find a way to transform the soul. Sources vary, but it had something to do with enlightenment, eternal life, or ultimate knowledge of some sort. The alchemists were obsessed with the creation of the Philosopher's Stone - the Magnum Opus that would enable this transformation. That symbol represents the 'Black Sun' or 'Sol Niger', the first stage in the creation of the Philosopher's Stone. This stage represents the purification of the Stone, where impurities are removed."

Thelonius teetered on his perch, taking a long drag off his smoke before continuing.

The second occult meaning for the symbol is in reference to Madame Blavatsky's Theosophical movement. I won't bore you with all the details, but the symbol represents the Central Sun of Theosophy. The Theosophists believe that the Universe exploded out from the godhead, what they call the Highest Deity. They think that all matter and spirit are part of a single godhead, and that the symbol represents the central point from which all creation has emanated from. In my opinion, Blavatsky is nothing but a charlatan, creating her own occult theories. I haven't really read her seminal book, but I know enough that it seems like she's just rehashing old gnostic and occult ideas from earlier literature."

He pauses yet again to take another drag off his smoke. He watches Delaney's face as he continues speaking.

"The only movement to explicitly use the symbol is Ariosophy. It's mostly a German movement, with some ties to New England. Again, the symbol refers to the Central Sun, but in this case the Arisophists believe that the Germanic people are descendants of interstellar beings with God like abilities. They believe that through selective Aryan breeding humans can reawaken the latent power locked within the Germanic people. They also believe that ancient Germanic runes, such as the symbol in the picture, have power. The symbol represents the many spoked sun, and is similar to the Hindoo swastika, representing the wheel of birth and rebirth. One of the founders of the movement, Jorg Lanz von Liebenfels, is still alive and has founded the modern occult group Ordo Novi Templi in Europe. I do not think there are any American branches of the organization."

"The symbol on the cap and the book cover is the ONT's version of the Central Sun, what they call the Black Sun. It is supposed to be the power source of the ancient proto Germans, called the Hyperboreans. Evidently the Black Sun was forced to retreat in a battle between it and the current sun, Sol, bringing an end to the Hyperboreans reign over Earth.

There is also a splinter theory by engineer Hans Horbiger. He has written about his 'World Ice Theory', where the Solar System was created when a small, burnt out sun collided into Sol and sent blocks of ice outward into the wider universe. He believes that ice is the fundamental building block of the Universe."

Thelonius rocked forward, setting the front chair legs down with a *thump*. He took a puff off his cigarette, waiting for Delaney to reply.

da solomon said...

I. Thelonius

"Sorry Jones, can't say and I'm not gonna say where she was found. As for the swami – he's the reason I can't say. He's still missing, see. He might be alive. So if you've got something for me, now is the time to spill it."

Delaney listened attentively to Thelonius as he expounded upon the disparate occult meanings that converged on the lid of the vial. He took notes on a pad of paper from his side pocket and nodded whenever Thelonius paused, occasionally adding a weathered, "Uh-huh." When Thel's chair thumped loudly onto the tile floor, Delaney scooted his own away from the table, as if to avoid super-saturation with details of the occult. He finished scratching a few notes and said, "And you get all that in this little thing? Ice world . . . black sun . . . Ordo . . . Novi . . . Templi . . . Hindoos . . ." One by one he read his list of connections. "Germans . . . God . . . turning lead into gold." He stopped. "You see the stuff on her face in the photo? In her blood?"

Thelonius nodded coolly.

"You think that has anything to do with this alchemy business?" Looking up from his pad, he added, "And – outta all this gobbledy-gook, useful as it is" – he smiled – "you got any suspects for me?"

Thel didn't know the answer to either of the Captain's questions, though the notion that the material on Margaret's face might have been alchemical in nature would have made sense – if only, that is, Thelonius were willing to give some credit to the alchemists of old. He was not.

As for the Captain's second question, no, Thelonius did not have anyone in mind. His career had led him to just about every black magic gutter and back alley crystal ball Manhattan had to offer, but this kind of murder was not his typical fare, and he found himself at a loss. "I can't help you there, Captain." But, Thelonius thought, I know someone who might be able to . . .

"Hunh. Listen. You write this stuff down for me." Delaney picked up Thel's photos of Ramanuja. "I'm gonna take these for a while. I can't say if you'll get 'em back, Jones. You understand why," he said flatly, clearly implying that it made little difference whether or not Thel did indeed understand. Delaney took his little pad with him as he got up, leaving a similar one on the table for Thelonius. "I'm gonna have a few words with your associates while you write," he said, heading for the door, "and then you can go. If you think of anything else, put it down there."

Perhaps half an hour later, Delaney returned. "How is it, Jones? Come up with anything else? If you promise to stay out of trouble, you can go meet your associates . . ."

II. Henri

Seemingly satisfied with Henri's chivalrous response, Delaney stood up to exit. "See that, Mickey?" He pointed towards Henri. "That's honor. That's a man who knows about duty. That's the Old Country. That's what we gotta remember." He sniffed and opened the door. "I'll just be a minute, Mr. DuMonde. If you don't mind . . ."

As he stepped out, he added. "We're doing everything we can to find Mr. Ramanuja. But don't worry, sir, we'll take care of everything." Henri knew that the last part was more of an instruction than a reassurance, but he felt that he had won the senior officer's approval. The door shut behind Delaney with a gentle puff of air and a brief latching sound.

Mickey resumed his earlier half-stare, fixing his gaze on some point behind or within Henri's head. Shortly, the officer who had led Cati away, Waits, appeared. "Mr. DuMonde, you can go now . . ."

III. Cati

"Well, Miss Predoviciu," the Captain said as he leaned towards her across the table. "They're not 'jake', and we think that this swami guy could be in a lot of trouble." He put his hands palm down on the table and pushed himself into a half-erect position. The lightbulb swung overhead, casting his shadow about the room, across the other officer, over Cati's face. "But you're not a suspect and Jones has been very cooperative." He lifted himself from the table and stood in the unshaded light. "If you come up with anything, it is a requirement" – he licked his lips – "Miss Predoviciu, a requirement, that you come to us."

He went to the door and opened it. Holding it there, he said, "Officer Waits, please show Ecatarina to her escorts . . ."

IV. ". . . they're in the waiting room."

The waiting room was empty when Cati arrived. Waits did not enter with her, only showing her the way and gesturing towards one of several empty chairs like those in the interrogation room. Cati was pleased to be free again. What useless questions! she thought. Had there been any point to the whole thing?

She had not taken a seat yet, when she heard the door open again behind her. Turning, she noticed a clock above the doorway. The time was four o'clock and Henri had entered the room. In an hour, her photos would be ready.

da solomon said...

(Thelonius passed an idea roll. He has several contacts in the world of the occult – séance leaders, psychics, parapsychologists, librarians, antiquarians, fellow Forteans, etc. – who might be able to give him a lead regarding practitioners in one or more of the occult sectors he described to Delaney, and thus who might be able to help him find out more about the fates of Mags and Ramanuja. So, Dan, your task is this: in your next comment, provide some bare details about a personage or group of persons that you think Thel might turn to for information. They could be anyone from a street vendor who claims to speak with angels to an old cat lady with a crystal ball, but they should be appropriate to Thel's history as you’ve conceived it. Once you put the character concept in game, I'll run with it and flesh it out for NPC use.

(Action picks up in the waiting room, Thelonius will be the last to enter. Old "new post" back up in the Ghosts & Time main blog.)

Thelonius Jones said...

Entering the waiting room, Thelonius takes a seat between Henri and Cati, stubbing out his cigarette in a cracked blue ashtray. He pulls out his rumpled pack of Lucky Strikes, offering smokes to all before lighting up his own.

He leans forward, speaking in low tones, "Evidently, Mags was murdered and the Swami is missing. The cops thinks he may have information related to the crime. I'm getting strong armed into helping the cops, and I was hoping that I could count on you for some help. I'm sure a Society girl and a respected businessman have some pull in this town. I want to find out what the hell is going on here, and since you two are already involved..."

He trails off, looking between Henri and Cati for their agreement. He proceeds to tell them all about the pictures of Mags (including the ectoplasm that he saw in her blood) as well as the vial and the meanings of the occult symbols on the stopper.

"There are a few things that I didn't tell the cops. Here's my theory. I'm thinking that the vial contained some sort of chemical that the Swami used in his Fakir act. I can't explain everything, but I'm thinking that it's the cause of the ectoplasm. The blood from Mag's nose had traces of ectoplasm. I'm thinking the drug is inhaled, like snuff."

Theonius pauses, taking a drag off his smoke before continuing. "The alchemists were concerned with the transformation of the soul, not just the lead into gold thing. What if one of these occult groups think that the Swami found the Philosopher's stone. A drug that transforms the human soul in some way. Some groups out there would kill to obtain the 'true' Stone. I don't know what this drug is or does, but I'm thinking the 'ectoplasm' is some sort of side effect. I know of a guy, calls himself the Spider. Fancies himself at the center of a web of occult knowledge. The guy's a whacko, delusional and paranoid and he rarely meets anyone face to face but he's a font of occult knowledge especially about the politics and histories of the various occult organizations out there. He may know some more about this symbol, or the chemical that was contained within the vial. I have a telephone number to contact him, but we're going to need something to bargain with. The Spider deals in knowledge and favors. I don't have much to offer, but you two may have resources that he may be interested in."

Teresa said...

Cati frowned at Thelonius' news. "With all the questions those coppers had, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that Mags has been bumped off." If she was any more concerned about the death of her acquaintance, Cati didn't show it.

As Thelonius spoke, Cati glanced at the clock again. When he was finished, she said, "If you need something to entice this Spider bird with, I can handle that. Anything you want. I know practically everyone in Manhattan."

She stood then and went on, "There's something I have to take care of, fellas. Listen: get in touch with this contact of yours, Jones, and I'll meet up with you later this evening."

With that, she headed out of the police station to hail a cab.

Monsieur Henri DuMonde said...

"I am glad the mademoiselle has something good to offer. I have little," Henri said with sigh. "A little gossip, but nothing of interest to a man like this spider of yours. This drug theory interests me, non? It is a very convaincant, very...mmmm... I do not know in English, but I think it may be true. How can I help?"

da solomon said...

(Action resumes in new post, "Spider".)