Part Fourteen of Angel Maker: Lambert Manor by B. B. Wright

Ensbury Manor One

Angel Maker

A Short Story by B. B. Wright

An Inspector Alexander Collier Mystery

Inspector Alexander Collier Mysteries will often provide a choice for the reader. If you want to obtain a greater understanding and/or a ‘feel’ for the period follow the embedded links (high-lighted and underlined) sometimes found in the text of the story. From time to time, I may return to a part of the story to add the link(s).

Part Fourteen
Lambert Manor

Atop the stone perimeter wall, hidden within the boughs of a leafy oak tree that overhung it, Werner Gruener peered through his binoculars at Lambert Manor. Slowly, he scanned the windows. In his tweed overcoat pocket was a copy of Psychic Glimpses by Elizabeth Stoddard (a.k.a ‘Queenie’). Chapters twenty-five and twenty-six had brought him there. He stopped. There was movement at a window. Adjusting his focus, he lingered and watched. A slow twitch at the corner of his mouth erupted into a smirk. He had come to the right place.

In a low hateful tone filled with loathsome fanaticism for the horde inside the manor, he murmured: “Humpty Dumpty stands on this wall; his goal about to bring a great fall; all the King’s horses and all the King’s men can’t stop Humpty from killing again.”

Barking dogs in the distance caused him to quickly scramble down from his perch. He twisted his ankle in the descent. Crouching low, he massaged his ankle as he hugged the outside wall and waited. The sounds of the dogs receded. He had not been discovered.

In her book, Queenie’s grasp of British history was naïve to say the least. But, that was of no matter to Werner. He was intrigued by the locations she had cited for her encounters with ghosts– Bryanston House, Shaftesbury Abbey, Hamworthy Rectory, Scaplen’s Court in Poole. He had ordered his coterie of likeminded souls to each of those sites to scratch out whatever information they could from the locals. His attention, though, was twigged by Lambert Manor. Unlike the others, she had devoted two meaty chapters to it that detailed her encounters with a cast of spectral characters from Elizabethan ladies to bewigged gallants. It had been the only one honored by several sketched images peppered throughout its chapters. Also, he had learned that she and her husband were members of the spiritualist group Druid Circle which met there every Sunday night.

But, ultimately, it had been her dreams that had given her away. Queenie’s several incursions into his dreams had left him an entry portal to her dreamscape. Though she had not invaded his mind recently, he had invaded hers and found dreams filled with images of Lambert Manor.

Under Queenie’s wing, the Meintner family was protected. If his ploy to gain access worked, only the time factor was troublesome. It would mean several months with close proximity to Queenie. He had no idea how it would affect her ability to invade his thoughts, awake or asleep. Though a potential pitfall, he was confident of his ability to outwit her. Still, he wondered whether he would need a different set of mental barriers. Soon, he decided, if all went well, he would know.

Hobbling alongside the wall toward the entrance to the estate, he stuffed the binoculars into a small knapsack he carried over his shoulder. He snickered hatefully. Having no further use for it, he pulled out her book, Psychic Glimpses, and tossed it into the deep ditch, parallel to him. He worried. London authorities had already found the body in the wardrobe steamer trunk. According to an article buried deep in the pages of The Echo the severely decomposed body had not yet been identified. There was no mention of the description of the sender in subsequent publications. No matter, he mused. He chastised himself for talking so long with Robert Shaw, the shipping agent at Bournemouth train station. I wonder if he knew. Thespians have a keen eye for such things.

Christmas was fast approaching. Werner hoped to find the household in a generous mood. He cocked his tweed cap slightly to the right and grasped the large brass ring and knocked it against the front door twice. He heard footsteps approaching from inside.

A rigidly straight, lean gentleman answered the door. He gave the impression that he was starched from top to bottom, including his personality. He peered down at Werner. “Goodness man, I haven’t got all day. What do you want?”

His haughtiness immediately captured Werner’s ire but he kept this festered boil hidden.

“Mah nam is Rabbie Mctavish. I’m haur about yer ad fur a grounds keeper.”

Werner had decided to murder all in this household when the time was ripe. He scrutinized this arrogant bastard. You’ll be the first, he thought.

Dismissing Werner with the flickering wave of his hand, he directed him to go round to the rear entrance and slammed the door shut.

The Train Ride by B. B. Wright

Portrait of Flirty African-American in the car with mobile phoneThe Train Ride

A Short Story

by

B. B. Wright

My day begins in darkness and ends in darkness. The bitter damp wind off Lake Ontario makes me want to hibernate till spring. After another lousy day at work, I was looking forward to some respite on the train ride home. In the middle of quarterly reporting, my mind was abuzz with checking and rechecking the numbers spewed out by our computer. Always a hectic time, it was especially so for me because of my recent advancement to the numero one honcho of this section. The constant flurry of activity in my new role was unrelenting. There was just too little time and so much to learn. And, the swirling craziness of the winter storm outside my window did nothing to alleviate my deepening moroseness. The meteorologists said it was the worst snowstorm to hit Toronto in a century. Ugh!

I should have been basking in the unusually warm temperatures of Vancouver. Not here. Six weeks ago, this damn province hadn’t been on my radar. I miss my walks in Stanley Park. No matter the time of day I traversed it to reach my condominium, it was always a pleasant walk. All of that changed when the person who had occupied this position was fired. And, voila! Here I am in the thick of things. As a single person, a Harvard business grad and highly motivated by money, I should love challenges. And I do. But this takes the cake. The good news? Not more than five minutes ago I was assured by my administrative assistant, Lila, that the other three seasons are simply wonderful. Somehow her comment hit a dead spot in my brain as I glanced out the window.

By the time the big hand hit twelve and the little hand seven on the wall clock, I was walking out the revolving door of the TD building. The roads were congested with traffic so hailing a taxi was out of the question. Sharp pellets of snow sand-blasted my face. The swirling wind uplifted my jacket depositing its bone chilling bite. The profuse drippings from my nose froze solid on my mustache. Damn place! I hunkered below the collar of my jacket. Wishing I had snowshoes, I shielded my face with my briefcase and trudged off to the nearest subway.

Three hours later, the GO train slowly left Union Station. I had taken off my shoes and socks to dry at the wall heater. Since I disembarked at the end of the line in Burlington, I hoped this would provide enough time for them to dry. Though the train was full, I found it strange that no one sat beside me.

Often I tried to catch up on some paperwork during the journey but this evening I decided to veg out and snooze. A slight bump against me and the sweet smell of perfume caused me to open my eyes. To say the person sitting beside me was stunning didn’t do her justice. Cellphone glued to her ear, she carried on an animated conversation apparently oblivious to my presence.

“No Keith …of course I love you.” She said. “There is no one else. I had no choice. I had to work late at the office. It’s unlikely that I’ll be able to see you tonight. Oh don’t be such an idiot. This snow storm has locked in the city. I’m lucky to be on this train at all. It’s the last one. Why do you have to be this way? There’s no need for you to be jealous. I’ve told you till I’m blue in the face, he means nothing to me. Only you do.”

Like a ping-pong match, the conversation batted back and forth. I began to wonder about the jerk she was talking to. Then it hit me. Because she was beautiful, he was obviously insecure with her beauty. Since I wanted to get to know her and all’s fair in love and war, I decided right then and there to make my move.

Leaning closer to her and in a voice loud enough for whomever she was talking to to hear, I said: “Hang up and come back to bed.”

The end result wasn’t what I expected. The Go train had to make an unscheduled emergency stop for the paramedics to take me to hospital.

The nasty gash on my forehead stitched up, I sat on the gurney trying to figure out where I would stay the night.

“Are you okay?” she asked. “You always pick up girls with that line?”

I was taken by surprise. Though I was more than pleased to see her, I thought the likelihood of her being there was less than nil. Mouth agape, eyes wide open, I must have appeared like an idiot.

Her smile reassured me as she hesitantly approached the gurney. Sheepishly, I managed to stutter out a reply. “You must admit it is a unique pickup line.”

“If you say so,” she replied, scanning the emergency ward. “But, honestly, I think you could have chosen a much better introduction.”

I don’t remember what we talked about during the next six hours as we sat in the emergency lounge waiting out the storm. We talked about nothing and everything and we laughed a lot. Before she left, she gave me her phone number.

Something indescribable happened during our time together. There’s no single word to describe it. All I knew was I had to see her again. Maybe living here will be alright after all.

Part Thirteen of Angel Maker: “The Lady Vanishes” by B. B. Wright

220px-The_Lady_Vanishes_1938_Poster

Angel Maker

A Short Story by B. B. Wright

An Inspector Alexander Collier Mystery

Inspector Alexander Collier Mysteries will often provide a choice for the reader. If you want to obtain a greater understanding and/or a ‘feel’ for the period follow the embedded links (high-lighted and underlined) sometimes found in the text of the story. From time to time, I may return to a part of the story to add the link(s).

Part Thirteen
The Lady Vanishes

The phone book smacked against the wall beside him. “Bloody hell!” Closing the door, he picked up the phone book and hesitantly approached the inspector. “Bad day, Gov?” He placed it on his desk.

“You might say that, Sergeant,” replied Collier, feeling embarrassed by his outburst. “I’m sorry about my…little show of frustration. Don’t take it personal.”

“None taken.” Snowden bit down on his lower lip. “Perhaps Gov… we should wait for a better time to do this?”

“I wish there was a better time, Sergeant.” Collier stood up and walked to the electoral map of Bournemouth on the side wall. “Pressure’s mounting again to solve this little girl’s murder and Christmas holidays are fast approaching.” Massaging his chin, he perused the districts. “My thoughts are we begin the fingerprinting here…before Christmas.”

“Oy. I don’t think the men are going to like this.”

“If this doesn’t go well, Sergeant, I’m likely to find several pieces of coal in my stocking this Christmas and next,” Collier chortled. “So I depend upon you to smooth things out as best you can.”

Snowden sighed deeply. “I’ll do my best, gov.”

“I know you will, Sergeant.” He replied reassuringly before redirecting his attention to the map. “To help you in that endeavor I chose to begin, here, in the northern districts. Not highly populated, it’s composed of residents unlikely to be traveling this time of year. It should easily be completed before the holidays. More importantly, it would allow an opportunity to work out any kinks in the process without undue stress to staff.” He glanced over at Snowden. “Did you mark off the names from the electoral register of those fingerprinted at the hospital?” The Sergeant nodded. “Were there any from these districts?”

Snowden opened the register and thumbed through the pages. A few moments later he shook his head. “No, sir, none.”

“I see…Well, Sergeant, time’s a wasting, so we’d better get at it.”

They located a table and two chairs in front of the electoral map. Collier gathered pencils, pens, and both lined and unlined paper from his desk and placed them on the table. “Now, Sergeant, let’s see what we can come up with.”

The next four hours passed by quickly. The two of them assigned responsibilities within all of the electoral districts and completed the framework of the how, when, where, who and why of the full operation. They estimated it would take five months to complete. Since the pool of people they had to draw on was small, scheduling of personnel had become the main stumbling block. The thorn in their side would be that all staff would have to do double duty to ensure completion within the time frame. Collier knew that this would draw the ire of many of them. January to May, generally a lax period before the onslaught of tourists, was when most of his staff booked their vacation. Now, all leaves would have to be cancelled until this operation was completed. It was decided that the staff would be informed during this Friday’s meeting.

Collier glanced at the wall clock. “You up for a late niter Sergeant? We daren’t go into Friday’s meeting without that schedule completed.”

“I’ll have to let my old lady know. She’d box my ears if I didn’t show up for dinner without telling her.”

“Can’t have that now, can we?”

“Any idea how late, gov?”

“No later than when it’s finished and we’re both satisfied.”

There was an earnest knock at the door. Sergeant Snowden was about to answer it when Corporal Dubin barged into the office waving a sheet of sketch pad paper high in the air. Arriving in excited, overzealous mid-spiel, his talk charged ahead of him making it less than intelligible.

“Hold on Corporal! Stop and get your breath!” implored Snowden.

Dubin took in a deep breath and thrust the sketch in Collier’s direction.

Collier recognized the face of the man in the sketch immediately. “I’ll be damned. Are you a Margaret Lockwood fan or a Michael Redgrave fan, Corporal?” he asked ecstatically.

Nodding his understanding, the corporal smiled at him. “I’ll get the car, sir.”Heading out the door he yelled, “Redgrave fan, sir.”

“You’re going to a movie? What about this schedule?” Snowden asked unable to hide his feelings of indignation.

“Can’t be helped, Sergeant. I can only hope The Lady Vanishes doesn’t mean our suspect has vanished too. I’ll explain later.”

Gathering his hat and jacket from the coat-tree, he exited.

After phoning his wife, Sergeant Snowden settled in for what he expected would be a very long night.