Eternal Lies: The Masks of the Liar

Episode I: The Girl From Yesterday (Part 14)

They compared notes:

Millicent has been dutifully going through the files she liberated from Joy Grove. The first thing she found out was that the money to pay for Edgar Job’s treatment at Joy Grove had run out by 1933, and he was scheduled to be sent back to California. At the last minute, however, a private individual stepped in to provide the necessary funding: Douglas Henslowe.

She also found the full transcript of Doug and Edgar’s unmedicated confrontation therapy session. For the most part it conformed with Dr. Keaton’s recounting of the story, except that he left out an interesting detail: after Job started shouting at Henslowe—“You tried to kill me but I’m still here!”—Henslowe very quietly said, “If I wanted you dead, Edgar, you’d be dead already.”

Douglas Henslowe readmitted himself in 1933. His first attempt to do so resulted in an examination by Dr. Keaton that concluded there was no need for further treatment. A few months later, he was re-examined, and this time proved to be a textbook case of paranoid schizophrenia. In fact, looking over his symptoms show that they somewhat suspiciously resemble the standard diagnostic checklist.

There were interesting fragments of notes from Dr. Keaton showing how he became intrigued by Edgar Job’s case—snatches of things Doug said in therapy, mostly, like, “He killed Vince, how could a little nobody like that kill Vince Stack? Stack killed that bastard Echevarria, blew his head off with a shotgun.”

The prescription schedules for both Job and Henslowe were all in Bethany Mae Hampton’s handwriting. Some of the notations looked like it was Bethany who was making the actual diagnostic decisions, and just getting Dr. Keaton’s initials. Geronimo, who had some medical training in Spain, confirmed that the medication decisions are in keeping with ordinary practice, but a nurse/administrator making those decisions was highly unusual.

Helen Taylor was committed by her family on the counsel of her faculty advisor, Patricia Evans, who also seeme to have made the recommendation to use Joy Grove. Millicent was slightly acquainted with Miss Evans, who was also the faculty advisor for the Epsilon Sigma sorority; they’d asked her several times to pledge them.

Helen’s diagnostic file contained a lot of notes on her age and physical condition, including approval to begin testing to see if she was a “potential”. Whatever the strange drug they were giving Helen was not recorded in the file.

“It’s something that makes all the people there want to…you know,” said Millicent.

“No I don’t,” said Jimmy.

“Well, you must have done it…”

“Eat? Drink? Sleep?” said Dr. Orange.

“Go to a movie?” said Jimmy.

“Relax?” said Ruby.

“Yes, they’re very relaxed,” said Millicent, blushing.

“Oh, it’s probably a depressant then.”

“Not that kind of relaxed. The…other kind of relaxed. Like a person who relaxes all your tension…”

“Oh, a masseuse. Or a muscle relaxant?”

“No, the thing the psychiatrists are always talking about.”

“Father issues?” said Ruby.

“The brain?” said Dr. Orange.

“Freud?” said Jimmy.

“But what is the father issue everyone has?” said Millicent, blushing even more.

“They hit them?” said Ruby.

“Daddy doesn’t like what I do for a living?” said Dr. Orange.

“They’re putting more than one person in a cell…to work out their…tension…”

“I think the young lady is referring to coitus,” said Geronimo drily.

“They had her in a cell alone but she wanted me to come in there and be relaxed with her and then she gave me some to take back to school to relax other people which I really don’t think would be a good idea,” said Millicent breathlessly.

“She gave you some relaxing agent?” said Ruby.

“Yeah, so maybe we could take a look at it?”

“Oh, I think we should take a look at it, yes,” said Ruby, sitting forward.

“No, ma’am,” said Geronimo.

“Her family doesn’t know because they didn’t want me reporting back to them, but twenty is too old for the person they are looking for.”

“They’re looking for someone?” said Jimmy sharply.

“Yeah, but they’re also testing it on other people. She needs to get out of there.”

“I’ll make some calls,” said Jimmy.

A few days later Jimmy’s friend from the Bureau called him back. “We talked to the Atlanta field office and had them pull Miss Hampton’s records. Everything seemed to be in order, but you were gosh-darn so insistent, I ran her prints. That ain’t her name.”

“Color me surprised.”

“The name we got for her is Anne Robinson. Graduated Princeton in ’28 with a M. D. She started a psychiatric residency but never finished it. Then she just drops off the books for a while, until she’s at Joy Grove as Bethany Mae Hampton. Seems she’s from upstate New York originally. I put a call in to Joy Grove, but they said she quit a few days ago.”

“I guess something must have happened at the asylum.”

“Anyway, you owe me a steak.”

Ruby called up some of the society reporters who haunt her steps and put a few blind items out about corruption at a Savannah country-club type mental hospital.

Episode I: The Girl From Yesterday (Part 13)

Doug’s room proved to have been stripped for the restoration. The library was more interesting, if you were planning to start an apocalyptic cult or three over a weekend—it was filled with crumbling codices and the kind of things Aleister Crowley kept around to impress girls.

One book showed signs of having been used often—Communion Rites of Victorian Death Cults. “Is this important?” says Dr. Orange, holding up the book.

[Evidence Collection use turned up the book.]

“That’s the 1912 edition,” said Jimmy. “It’s a lot more common than the 1909 edition—that’s worth a lot more. They really watered it down in the second edition, which is why the first is worth more.”

[Occult use by JP to know about the separate editions.]

In a drawer they found a sheaf of Doug Henslowe’s letters to Walter Winston. They were unusual to say the least—rambling discourses, quotes from the Bible, hand-drawn crossword puzzles and many other scraps of articles and drawings. Some of the letters have pin-pricks, or slight marks in the margins. To Dr. Orange, trained in cryptography during his days in the Reichsbanner, the letters were an obvious attempt at steganography. Well, bad encryption at any rate.

[Cryptography use by OP.]

It seemed clear that Winston had the same idea; scratch notes and circled words in the letters show an attempt to figure out coded messages. On one letter Dr. Orange found a frustrated message scribbled by Winston in German: “I know it’s a book code, and I know the book. But it never works.”

Jimmy looked at the copy of Communion Rites of the Victorian Death Cults. Winston, he knew, was pretty wealthy, and interested in the occult. And it hit him.

“It’s this book,” he said. “Winston knew Doug had it, but Winston only had the earlier, more expensive version. The pagination is completely different between them. That’s why it didn’t work.”

Using Doug’s own encryption text, they were soon able to decipher some of the hidden messages. Most of it was pretty mundane records of Edgar Job’s daily activities. But on the last letter in the series, they found Doug’s final message to Winston—two words in Latin:


“’I watch the watchers’,” muttered Dr. Orange.

“He went back to the hospital right after that letter,” said Jimmy. “But who the hell was he watching? And who were they watching?”

Doug’s journal, however, was not among his other papers. “Doug said it would be in the last place you’d ever find him,” said Jimmy. “Back where it all happened in L. A.? Or…heh. I guess the grave, right?”

“There’s a cemetery out back,” said Dr. Orange, looking through a window.

Moments later he and Jimmy dashed out the back door of the Henslowe mansion. The cemetery was a small family graveyard, overgrown with weeds and underbrush. Which is probably why nobody had noticed the large tombstone with DOUGLAS HENSLOWE written on it.

“Surprising,” said Jimmy. “Doug’s a bit dark.” He looked up at the sky. “Getting near sundown.”

“I think we need to pick up some supplies,” said Dr. Orange.

They swung by their hotel, and then a hardware store to get picks and shovels and flashlights. Jimmy grabbed a map of Georgia so they could drive up to Chattanooga when they were done on the Henslowe grounds.

It began to rain, lightly at first and then hard enough to beat Noah. Large drops rain pelted their car as they cautiously drove up to the Henslowe place, headlights off. They slipped through the gate and saw Carruthers the groundskeeper dragging his enormous hound along with him, holding a burning torch in the other hand.

“Com’ on less ge’ in th’ hut. Cool’n off n’ we cain warmup a lille,” he said incomprehensibly.

Jimmy and Dr. Orange waited for him to disappear into his shack. They raced as fast as they could through the slippery, bottomless red mud to the cemetery and began digging—well, sluicing—in Doug’s grave. After a few hours, they found a small tin box, sealed along the edges with wax.

[Me: I’d tell you to knock off some Athletics, but it will just refresh the next day and there’s no real danger here. (In game terms, you could call this a Simple Search.)]

Something rattled inside the tin, like a rock.

“Let’s go,” said Jimmy.

They made their way back to the car and were soon heading north. They drove for a while and then took a brief, damp rest off the side of the road. Two days later they pulled into a hotel in Chattanooga. Down in the saloon, they heard a familiar voice:

“There I was, a brute coming at me, on the movie set! Eyes of flame—”

Episode I: The Girl From Yesterday (Part 12)

Bethany was still hip deep in open files when Jimmy and Dr. Orange slipped out of her office and drove away. They stopped at a drugstore for lunch, and Jimmy flipped through a phone book, and then the city directory, until he found the address for Mrs. Virginia Henslowe.

“Looks like it’s way out of town,” he told Julius.

Dr. Orange looked at the map. “It looks like it’s in the swamp.”

By late afternoon they were motoring up a narrow dirt lane that became a causeway, crossing a marshy plain full of bogs and small ponds. A brackish, decaying smell surrounded them. Looking at the high water marks, Jimmy realized that when the tide was high enough the Henslowe estate must become an island.

They pulled through two rotted posts that looked like they may have once been painted white. Beyond them was a classic Georgian style house in a sad state of dilapidation. The grounds around it had long ago reverted to a half-wild clearing, with high grass and saplings of scrub pine growing randomly.

As they came closer, however, Jimmy and Dr. Orange noticed that some renovations were underway at the house—parts of it had been whitewashed recently, and new glass was in the lower floor windows. A scaffolding obscured part of the second floor.

A shambling old man with a giant hound of some kind came around a corner of the building and waved them to a stop. “Who a’ hell air you, wha’ you wan’ comin’ roun’ heah, we ain’t got no need of any-un. Lessin’ you wi’ the ressoration people.”

“Yes,” said Jimmy. “I’m the architect. This is my assistant.”

“Wha’ evah. I thin’ you-all desroyin’ t’ beauty o’ the house, but come on.”

They parked in front of the porch and got out of the car. The front door opened, and three young women stepped out. They were wearing antebellum dresses complete with hoop skirts, and their hair was elaborately styled in curls and ribbons.

Jimmy stopped dead. Have I traveled in time? he thought.

“I think Clark Gable would be dreamy as Rhett,” said one of the girls as they walked by, haughtily ignoring Jimmy and the doctor.

“I think Henry Fonda would be better.”

“Go on. Miss Mitchell said she wrote the part for him…”

Thank God, thought Jimmy. They’re re-enactors.

He and the doctor climbed the short stairs to the porch and entered the house. A young woman in modern clothes met them in the entry hall. She had a small sorority pin on her lapel.

“Can I help you gentlemen? We’re not really open for visitors, we’re still finishing the second floor renovations.”

“I’m one of the architects,” said Jimmy. “Some last-minute things to look at…”

“Regulations and such,” said the doctor.

The woman brightened at the sound of the doctor’s accent. “Oh, you must be here about the Viennese glass. That entire fan window there was all done in Viennese glass, some of it stained in the most beautiful colors. But of course a lot of it was shot out by some damn Yankee during the war.”

“You bought this house?” asked Jimmy.

“No, Mrs. Henslowe is allowing us to restore it. She’s lived in it her whole life, you know. Almost ninety years! She is just a living treasure.”

“Where is she now?”

“Just upstairs. I can announce you.”

She gave them a tour as she led them upstairs. The parlor had been completely restored, with authentic pre-war furniture and wallpaper. The second floor was in much worse shape, however, and drop cloths littered with construction materials were scattered around the area. It looked as if one of the bedrooms had collapsed into the first floor.

In a dingy but habitable sitting room they met Mrs. Henslowe, who sat in a rocking chair, her legs covered in a rug. A scrawny tabby cat sat on her lap and hissed at them as they came in.

Mrs. Henslowe looked as broken-down as the rest of the house, but with much worse prospects of renewal. Her rheumy eyes squinted under lank strands of grey hair, and her withered hands shook with tremors as she clutched her cat to her. Jimmy was no expert on fashion, but her dress looked at least forty years out of style.

“That is a lovely dress, and an angelic cat,” said Jimmy.

“Tom here is my friend,” said Mrs. Henslowe, patting the cat’s head. “Are you here about the restoration? They’re putting things back the way they were when my daddy built this place. It ain’t never been the same since the war. But you all’s is Yankees, aint’cha? We never did hold much with Yankees down here, but it’s all right I suppose. One of the architects is a Yankee and he seems to care about putting this place back. Did you know my daddy built this place?”

“I’ve heard,” said Dr. Orange.

“Are you a German fella? I had a German beau back in ’63. Came in on one of the blockade runners. He was a charming man, a count or a prince or something. Had a Heidelberg dueling scar. He was so handsome! He died though. One of Sherman’s bummers put a bullet in his head. Them was terrible times.”

“Horrible,” said Jimmy. “We need to make sure this house is in tip-top shape—”

“You know my daddy built this place?”

“—so we want to look at your rooms, and some of the guest rooms, and your son’s room…”

“Oh Doug? Dougie don’t live here no more, he got a little sick so they sent him to the nervous hospital. He’ll get better soon and then he can come and see the house all put back the way it was.”

“Those hospitals help us with our loved ones,” said Jimmy. “And I suppose you kept his room just as he left it?”

“Dougie hasn’t been here since ’32. He came back but he didn’t like it outside the hospital anymore, so he went back. I tried to get him to stay here, but he wouldn’t. He didn’t hardly spend no time in his room, though. He was in the library all the time, writing to his friend. Must have been a bad man, because he never wrote Doug back once. ‘Ceptin I got a big packet of Doug’s letters back a few months ago. Seems his friend up and died and his estate returned them to me. Did you know my daddy built this house? Are you going to help fix it?”

“Yes ma’am,” said Dr. Orange. “We have to go do that now.”

“All right. Well, the library’s mostly restored, my daddy’s books, and Dougie’s books, and the family bible of course. Oh, and we got the record of all the slaves. The historical society is really interested in that.”

“Thank you for all your help, ma’am,” said Jimmy. “We’re going to go through all the rooms and take our measurements.”

“All right,” said Mrs. Henslowe. “Wait, you all’s a Yankee. I don’t want no damn Yankees in my house! You all better get gone!”

“Yes ma’am,” said Dr. Orange.

“And you tell that General Sherman not to come around here!”

“We will, ma’am. The South will rise again.”

“Wilhelm? Is that you?”

Jimmy and Julius exchanged glances. “Ja?” said Dr. Orange.

Mrs. Henslowe’s head lowered to her chest and she began to snore.

Episode I: The Girl From Yesterday (Part 11)

“I do have to apologize,” said Bethany Mae Hampton to Jimmy and Dr. Orange. She tried to collect herself in much the same way as a crowd at a bank run tried to collect its money.

“What’s going on?” asked Dr. Orange.

“I don’t know, I don’t know,” moaned Bethany. “It’s a real…kerfuffle. I think that lady was up to no good. I think she may have been some kind of investigative reporter,” she said, emphasizing the last part in a voice that would have given Dillinger the heebies. “But I will get to the bottom of this, and I fully intend to call the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.”

[Technically formed in March 1937, but I get at least one anachronism per session.]

“We need to talk about this right now!” said Dr. Orange. “We have some serious questions about what is going on.”

Jimmy noticed that the doctor’s German accent, erratic normally, seemed to suddenly become more pronounced. He took out a small notebook and began scribbling in it, while glaring at Bethany.

[JP and OP tag-teamed here—Jimmy’s Intimidation use created the circumstances that would allow Dr. Orange to use Interrogate.]

“Yes, all right, please, right this way to my office,” said Bethany nervously. “I wouldn’t want anything to reflect negatively on Dr. Keaton, who is a brilliant man but perhaps not the most capable administrator.”

Bethany’s office was neat and uncluttered, with hardly anything to mark at as a personal office—no family pictures, or books, or even a copy of Life magazine.

“Now, gentlemen, I’m sure we can all work this out, without any need to notify the authorities in Washington,” said Bethany, sitting down behind her desk. Dr. Orange sat down in front of her, while Jimmy remained standing, trying to look menacing. “I think that Miss Fitzgibbons was some kind of agitator, maybe one of those Reds.”

“Do you have anything worth investigating here?” asked Dr. Orange.

“Not at all. People have all these misconceptions about places like this. Everything is absolutely above-board. If you have any questions, I’m happy to answer them.”

Her desk phone buzzed. Bethany picked it up and swiveled her chair around from Jimmy and Julius. She had a brief whispered conversation, and then swung quickly around and slammed the phone in the cradle. “Gentlemen, something has come up. I trust you can see yourselves out…”

Jimmy locked the door behind her as she left, and they began to search her office. In the bottom of a desk drawer they found a small doctor’s bag, full of pills and vials of medicine.

“Wasn’t she just a nurse?” said Dr. Orange.

Jimmy rifled through the paperwork on the desk. He showed some of it to Dr. Orange, who had experience with bureaucratic organizations. They quickly came to the conclusion that Bethany was really making all the day-to-day decisions at Joy Grove.

“I’m telling you, Jimmy, she could hide anything she wanted from Keaton.”

“Just what is going on?” muttered Jimmy.

Geronimo, realizing that their hotel was completely burned as a hideout, insisted that they drive straight to the airfield. Not long after, they were in the air, headed for Chattanooga—getting out the state being the better part of valor, in Ruby’s opinion.

“How will Jimmy and Dr. Orange find us?” asked Millicent.

“That’s why he’s a private detective, dear,” said Ruby.

Episode I: The Girl From Yesterday (Part 10)

“I can take you to the other facilities, but you’ve really seen our most interesting cases,” said Dr. Keaton, as he led Jimmy and Dr. Orange toward the entrance. A wall phone buzzed and he picked it up. “Yes, Bethany…I see…who got out? What are you talking about—no, no, I’m sure you handled it. All right.”

He hung up. “I’m sorry gentlemen, I have one or two administrative matters that require my urgent attention. If you have any further questions, I’m afraid I’ll need you to make another appointment.”

“Does this happen often?” said Jimmy.

“No, no, but we’ve had some other visitors, a family looking to make a private committal. Just between us, that is a large portion of our operating income. Do give my best to the fellows up in Washington. Thank you, gentlemen.”

Ruby rifled through the sheaf of forms Bethany hand handed her and tossed a few pages into the back seat of the car. Putting on her most determined face, she stormed back into the reception room and confronted one of the orderlies. “Look, I understand you’re busy, and everything is a bit unsettled. But I want to complete the paperwork you people gave me, and look? It’s missing these pages.”

“Look, lady, I don’t know nuttin’ about dat.”

“Well, I can’t legally complete this without it.” Ruby smashed the papers into his chest.

“I’ll go get someone,” said the orderly. He turned away from Ruby, who slipped the keys she had lifted from him into her purse. She walked out of reception, unlocked the doors to the ward, and started to sneak down the hall, heels clacking on the hard floor.

Bethany Mae Hampton stepped into Millicent’s cell. “Now, just what were you doing in the east wing?” she said.

“Can I talk to Miss Fitzgibbons?” asked Millicent.

“Why, no you cannot,” said Bethany in a voice like curdled honey.

“I was sent by Helen Taylor’s family to see how she’s being treated.”

“She’s being treated most well. Maybe you’d like to see how she’s being treated? Sugar, how old are you?”

“Twenty. I’m older than I look.”

“Well, if you’re twenty, I guess I can do whatever I want to you,” said Bethany. She took out a hypodermic. "But since you say the Taylors are expecting to hear from you. "

“They’re worried about their little girl.”

“Their little girl is just fine. She’s not the one we’re looking for. And if you’re twenty, neither are you. A little pentothal and some suggestion and you won’t remember a thing about this.”

[Intimidation spend by MP, which avoided her getting treated with the same drug as Helen—and possibly from being dumped in the swamp.]

Ruby skulked around a corner and stopped short. Through the open door to a cell directly ahead of her, she could see Millicent, trussed up like a turkey against the padded wall of the cell.

Ruby walked down to the nearest fire alarm and pulled the switch. Bells began ringing as Ruby ducked around the corner again. Bethany came storming out of the cell. “It never rains but it pours. Bruno, stay here and watch over our guest.”

As soon as Bethany had left, Ruby tried to sneaky-pete up to the guard, but the clicking of her high heels alerted him.

[Amusingly, Ruby has no Stealth.]

“Hey lady,” said the orderly. “You can’t be back here.”

“She’s also working for the Taylors,” called out Millicent from the cell.

“I don’t care who she’s working for! I’ll throw her in there with you.”

“You should know,” said Ruby, “that I have spent some time on the island of Okinawa.”

“What?” said the guard, his face as blank as snow on a mountain.

“I learned the arts…of karate.” She smashed an open hand into the guard’s throat.

[Ruby has…two, two I tell you! Points of Scuffling. Which RP spent, and rolled a 6. Then I had to break the bad news about what -2 damage means in Gumshoe.]

Coughing and sputtering, the guard doubled over. “I ain’t gonna slug no dame,” he choked out. “But lady, you gotta stop doing that!”

“I can turn your nervous system off,” said Ruby. The guard stepped forward and raised his hands.

Ruby pulled a small automatic pistol out of her purse.

[Preparedness roll by RP to have her little Ladies’ Gun.]

“Whoa, lady, there’s no need to go to the gats. I ain’t gonna do nuttin’.”

“Toss me your keys. Now, into that cell over there,” said Ruby, gesturing to an empty cell. She slammed the door on the gorilla, then ran to Millicent and quickly released her bonds.

“We’ve got to get out of here and lay low for a while,” she said to the girl.

“I want to grab some files on the way out!”

The records room was next to the reception area. Ruby unlocked the doors to it with her stolen keys, and Millicent quickly opened several file cabinets and started pulling out files.

“How do you know where everything is?” said Ruby.

“I work in the library at school.”

The alarm stopped ringing.

“Let’s go!” said Ruby. Grabbing Millicent’s hand, she pulled the girl with her through the reception area. Geronimo saw them coming and threw the phone down, racing with the women for the car. As they pulled into the driveway, some orderlies tried to block their way. Ruby gunned the engine and shot past them, driving as fast as she could down the long tree-lined drive to the main road.

Episode I: The Girl From Yesterday (Part 9)

Millicent dashed through the empty halls of the East Wing, trying to get back to the day room. Suddenly something slammed into her from behind. She crashed to the floor, and felt hands lock around her wrists, pulling her around.

[MP was out of Sense Trouble, so with no points to spend the roll came up 1.]

A man in patient’s scrubs was scrambling on top of her, panting and muttering. He grinned, and Millicent saw that his teeth were filed to points, and that he had cut his cheeks horizontally to make his mouth bigger.

She rolled to the side to break his grip and then threw a quick elbow to his face. The man howled in pain and fell back. She scrambled up to her feet. The man rolled over, panting, and howled, like a coyote on a dark and evil night. “I’m Renfield!” he shouted.

[Scuffling to get out of Fred’s grip.]

Millicent, who had nightmares for weeks after reading the Stoker novel, screamed. She turned and ran down the hall. Patients banged against the bars of their doors as she fled past them, with the man barking and slobbering close behind.

[Fleeing Test to get away from him.]

She banged through a set of double doors and ran into a large man in an orderlies’ uniform. He threw her up against a wall. Behind him, another orderly stepped forward and cracked her pursuer over the head with a sap.

“Fred, what have we told you about getting out of your cell?” he growled, and smashed Pointy Teeth again.

“Who the hell are you?” said his partner, pushing Millicent hard against the wall. “Visitors are not allowed in this ward.”

“How do you know she’s a civilian?” asked the other orderly, giving Fred a vicious kick. “She could be an inmate.”

“Yeah, you’re right. We’ll just put you into a holding cell for a while. For your own protection.”

“I’m here with Miss Fitzgibbons,” said Millicent, desperately. “She has a lot of money.”

“Sure, sure,” said the orderly. “Well get that all straightened out. Now come on, girl. You’ve got nothing to fear. This is a place of healing.”

They frogmarched Millicent to a padded cell and restrained her to the wall.

“I’ve talked to our interns,” said Bethany to Ruby as they reached the reception room. “It seems your friend took ill and had a taxi fetch her back to the hotel.”

“That’s strange. We told her not to wander off like that.”

“Yes, well, I must return to my duties.”

“I’d like to call the hotel,” said Geronimo.

“Yes, yes,” said Bethany. “Go right ahead. Now I have a security matter to take care of…”

Ruby let Geronimo dialing the phone and walked out to her car. She lit up a cigarette, and paced back and forth. An orderly watched her through the front door, while another orderly stayed near Geronimo.

“Hurry up,” he said to the bodyguard. “We only got that one line, Mex.”

“I am not Mexican.”

“Well excuse me. Anyway, get your hand off the phone, [racial slur].”

“I will give you back your phone when I have finished my duties for my employer.”

The orderly pressed his big thumb down on the phone’s cradle. “Guess you’re done.”

“If you don’t remove your thumb, sir,” said Geronimo with quiet menace, “you’ll be lucky to be employed. But I understand cripples can also stay in this asylum.”

The orderly’s face flushed red. “You’re lucky there’s so many people around,” he said, backing away. Then he turned and left the reception rooms.

Geronimo picked up the phone and began dialing again.

[1-point Intimidation spend; the orderly was a big tough guy.]

Episode I: The Girl From Yesterday (Part 8)

Jimmy leaned back in his seat and began to whistle a phrase of one of Walter Winston’s film scores. Doug looked at him intently, and uncrossed his arms. “Where you learn that song?”

“I watched a lot of movies.”

“Friend of mine wrote that song.”

“You knew Walter Winston? Shame that he stopped writing music.”

“Walter was a very good friend of mine. He was with me on the worst night of my life. The worst night of his life. So if his music died—well, a lot of things died that night. But I’m sure you’ve read the case file, doctor.

“I’m not a doctor.”

“No kidding. You’re not a doctor or a fed, are you. Why are you here? You’re not here to talk to Edgar Job, that murdering psychopath.”

“I just want to find out what happened to Winston.”

“Lots of people want to find out about that, but they never come to visit me. Who are you? What’s your angle? Why should I trust you?”

“I’ve got no angle. I’m just trying to find out more about this for a friend. She believes something horrible happened.”

“She? So somebody’s here, looking around? Spying on me?”

“No, just me. I’m here on her behalf.”

“So who is this her?”

“You can understand if I’m hesitant to say.”

“And you can understand why I ain’t gonna tell you shit.”

“Look, I really am an honest man. If anything is wrong, I will put it right.”

[Reassurance spend by JP.]

“I tried to tell Walter a bunch of things,” said Henslowe. “He never wrote back. But he should have been able to understand everything I sent him. Just in case he didn’t, though, I wrote everything down when I left here in ‘32. Outside world and I didn’t see eye to eye, so I came back here. I left my notes in the last place you’ll ever find me. But you go on up to my house, and that will give you a start. And if you’re working for who I think you are, those letters will explain things.”

Doug crossed his arms again, his lips tightly sealed.

“This is Edgar’s room,” said Dr. Keaton, unlocking a door. Julius peered inside, then stepped into the room, pushing Dr. Keaton aside.

Every inch of the walls were covered in mathematical formulae. Sheaves of paper with densely scribbled notes littered Job’s small desk and cot. As he looked around, Dr. Orange realized that there were symbols he had never seen used in a formula before. They looked Sanskrit, as if Job had run out of Greek and Latin letters and had to switch to other languages to capture all his variables.

He tried to follow some of the threads of Job’s thought. Some he recognized, Lorentz transformations and Riemannian equations describing the curvatures of space-time manifolds. But some made no sense, or followed no mathematical rules that he understood.

[Physics and Archaeology uses to recognize the characters & follow the equations.]

“We photograph it every six weeks or so for our files,” said Dr. Keaton. “It changes pretty rapidly. I can let you look at the photos, if you like.”

“That would be very helpful,” Julius whispered, eyes darting around the room.

Episode I: The Girl From Yesterday (Part 7)

Millicent wandered through one of the day rooms. It was a pleasant enough place—the carpet was thick, to help muffle the screams from the other wards, and the furniture heavy, plush, and lacking any sharp corners. A few hard-eyed nurses kept watch over the patients in case one of them tried to filch a spoon.

Most of the patients were too far gone under, either from drugs or their own illnesses, to even recognize a spoon in any case. Millicent tried to talk with the ones who looked more alert, asking if any of them had seen a new female patient.

“New girl?” said one of the patients, a sad, shy man in scrubs. Medication or nerves gave him a little tic on the side of his face. “I saw them bring her in, sure. They took her to the closed ward, where they test the experimental medicines.”

“Where’s that?”

“It’s in the east wing. East wing, yup, that’s where they keep it. Boy, I miss baseball. You think you could get me Dizzy Dean’s autograph?”

“If I see him, I will,” said Millicent, getting up and sneaking over to a door on the east wall. She fell into her natural, stealthy rhythm, honed by countless walks with Uncle Jack and Vanessa. None of the orderlies looked up as she slid past their locker room. The nurse in the dispensary didn’t see Millicent trailing silently behind her. Neither did the interns making rounds.

Eventually she reached a locked door, with “Authorized Personnel Only” painted on it. She pulled a small leather case out of her purse, and went to work on the lock. After a few minutes, she heard the latch click and she pushed the door open.

She passed a few operating theaters, and a room full of drugs and needles. At the far end of the wing she found a long line of cells. From many of them came a low moaning.

It wasn’t a moaning of pain.

She opened the judas gate on a few of the cells. In some of them she saw groups of people committing the kinds of things that would have gotten Henry Miller not just banned for writing about, but lynched. Some cells had only one patient in them, but that man or woman was trying to join the party as best they could solo. In one cell she saw a woman screaming and pounding the wall violently, trying to rip the padding off the walls.

In the last cell she found her friend Helen.

She was wearing grey institutional pajamas and lying on a cot, a blissful expression on her face. Millicent had to call her name several times before she would respond.

“Oh, Millicent,” drawled Helen. “How good to see you!”

“They said you had the flu. What are you doing here?”

“I was tired…they said I was crazy, I don’t know why.”

“What did they give you?”

“Oh, the most amazing stuff! I have some! Do you want some?”

She languidly held out a small vial in one hand. It was filled with a honey-colored substance. Millicent uncorked it and took a cautious sniff. It smelled strange, mossy, but with some inexpressible other scent to it, something exotic and enticing and tempting. She sealed the vial and slipped it in her purse.

“What did they give it to you for?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” said Helen. “But it makes me feel soooo good. I don’t even remember what I felt like before I took it. You should take it. We should take it together!”

“Do the doctors give this to all the patients?”

“No. Not all the doctors. The woman doctor. The one who looks like a doctor. You should come in and we can take it and then we can have fun. Or take it back to school!”

Just then the door at the end of the wing slammed open. Millicent slid the observation port shut and slipped into a broom closet. Through the keyhole she saw an orderly sliding bowls of soup into the cells.

“Come on, you animals, here’s your slop,” he said.

From behind the locked doors came the sound of soup being lapped up.

“You said you’re from Marysville?” said Bethany to Ruby. “You must know Ida Perkins.”

“No, I don’t. My family is from there, but I was sent away to boarding school when I was young and—well, except for my father I don’t get along well with them.”

“Well, family is the most important thing. Why don’t we go back to the day room and pick up your little—what is she, your niece?”

“The ward of a friend, actually.”

“I didn’t see a ring on your finger so I knew she couldn’t be your daughter. Your friend doesn’t talk much, do he? Silent Latin type, is he? I can see why you keep him around, bless your heart.”

“He’s a trusted advisor, and my bodyguard. He saved my life once.”

“Did he,” said Bethany, giving Geronimo the once over. “Well bless his heart.”

Episode I: The Girl From Yesterday (Part 6)

“Then we tried two drops of Seconal,” said Dr. Keaton as he led Jimmy and Dr. Orange down a hallway to the secure wing. “But that didn’t work at all.”

Jimmy stopped for a second. Strange occult marks had been written and carved into the walls.

“Mr. Job and Mr. Henslowe like to write those on the walls,” said Dr. Keaton, noticing Jimmy’s interest.

“It seems a bit creepy and odd.”

“Well, this is a segregated area, so we don’t need to worry about other patients finding them. Now, would you like to meet Mr. Job and Mr. Henslowe separately or together? If it’s together, I’ll need to fetch some orderlies.”

“Of course we want to see them in the most interesting way,” said Dr. Orange.

“Fine. Just sit down in there and I’ll be along presently.”

Jimmy trailed slowly after them. He had recognized one of the symbols—a three lobed Eye, symbol of a particularly malicious god whose cult he had tangled with. He pushed the horrible memory of a huge, three-legged form with a vicious tentacle for a head out of his mind and followed Dr. Orange through a door.

[Cthulhu Mythos buy by JP; I charged 2 Stability for recognizing the sign.]

The room Jimmy and the doctor found themselves in was one of a million rooms like it. It breathed the institutional miasma of despair, helplessness, and disinfectant. They pulled up rickety chairs next to a scarred wooden table. Heavy U-shaped bolts had been bolted into the wood.

After a while two very large men in plain white scrubs came in, followed by a tall, spare man. He sat down at the table, ignored by the orderlies. “Henslowe,” one of them grunted to Jimmy.

Doug Henslowe had a close-cropped, full beard, going to grey around his lower lip, and the leather skin and squint of a man who had spent long years outdoors. He crossed his arms and looked at Julius and Jimmy with an impassive face. If he was surprised to see them, he didn’t let it register.

From the hallway came some shouts, and two orderlies propelled a tall, disheveled man into the room. His hair was wiry and curly, and he wore filthy gold-rimmed spectacles. He hadn’t shaved for several days, nor, judging from the smell, bathed either. Heavy manacles were chained to a pair of leg irons around his ankles. One of the orderlies forced him into a chair and fastened the manacles to the U-shaped bolts.

“You’re interrupting my work!” shouted Edgar Job. “Get your hands off me! I cannot be disturbed right now.” He noticed Doug Henslowe sitting across from him. “Why am I here with this clown?” he demanded.

“What was so important?” asked Jimmy.

“I was in the middle of doing conic sections. It’s what it’s all about. Conic sections.”

“Conic sections?” asked Dr. Orange.

“I was mapping complex manifolds of spacetime. It’s very difficult and I cannot tolerate any interruptions! I don’t have time—time, that’s funny—for this. Who are you, and why am I here with Henslowe again?”

“Tell me more about your work.”

“My work? You couldn’t understand my work. You’re a psychiatrist. You don’t even understand people. I have made advances that you people couldn’t even conceive of.”

“I studied with Dr. Born.”

“Dr. Born? Dr. Born? That’s supposed to impress me? What’s he, an aerodynamicist now? Give me a break. Now, maybe if you had studied with a theoretical physicist, like Einstein, who kind of sort of has the glimmerings of what might be the very most outer reaches of my ideas. Or maybe that guy Orange. He had some good ideas once. Totally wrong about everything else. Complete moron too. The most boring, uninteresting papers I’ve ever read.”

“And which ideas was he right about?”

Job sighed. “It’s far too complex to explain to you. I see you brought your muscle,” he said, jerking his head at Jimmy. “Is he supposed to intimidate me? Well I’m not afraid of you! I’m not afraid of any of you!”

Job pulled one hand up as far as his chains would allow him and pointed at his head. "The walls here don’t hold me. They can’t keep me prisoner. They’re just one way of looking at things. But look at it another way, I’m free. "

Job slammed his hand back on the table. “I can’t even show you my work. It’s all back in my cell. They won’t give me enough paper. They won’t give me enough pens. I have to write things on the walls. Last year, they painted over six months work. Six months! And then just because I kicked an intern, they gave me three months in solitary. Chained up like an animal. But they couldn’t chain my mind. In my mind I am free.”

“Maybe we can get you some more paper,” said Jimmy.

“Oh I see,” said Job, leering at him. “You’re supposed to be the good cop.”

“I’m not a cop.”

“You know what I mean.” Job threw his head back, sighed, and started muttering to himself, worn out after such an extended period of agitation.

Dr. Keaton leaned in to whisper with Dr. Orange. “Fascinating, isn’t it.”

“It is. Do you think I could maybe see his room? We should leave Mr. Job here, he’s a little agitated. James and the orderlies can watch over him.”

“I’ll be happy to take you down there.”

Episode I: The Girl From Yesterday (Part 5)

The Ruby Dawn was a Lockheed Electra—the same kind of plane Amelia Earhart was planning to fly around the world—painted bright red with a rather risqué portrait of Ruby herself on the nose. On the flight out, Jimmy told Millicent that a friend of his at the FBI had confirmed that her friend Helen Taylor was at Joy Grove Asylum in Georgia.

The tarmac shimmered as they climbed down from the plane. The air was muggy, heavy, oppressive, full of dank and mossy scents. The heat hit them like a physical blow, knocking the wind from them and causing sweat to trickle unpleasantly down their backs almost immediately.

They set up camp in an old hotel near the center of town—the kind with faux colonial architecture, wrought iron balconies and quaint pictures of men and women in frock coats and hoop skirts hanging on the wall. Miserable little electric fans meekly tried to stir the air around them. They had about as much luck as a guy stirring tar with a chopstick.

After some discussion they decided to infiltrate Joy Grove in two separate parties; Jimmy and Dr. Orange would impersonate government officials of some kind, and Ruby, Geronimo, and Millicent would pose as a family looking for a place to send a relative.

Dr. Orange worked the phones for a few hours and several buckets of ice, arranging an introduction for Jimmy and him as federal investigators. Eventually he placed a call with Joy Grove to set up an appointment.

“This is Bethany Mae Hampton, Dr. Keaton’s personal assistant. How may I help you?” She had a rich Georgia drawl, sweet as honey and just as sticky.

“I’m calling to arrange an inspection for the State Medical Board. My name is Dr. Orange, I’ve cleared it with all the relevant authorities.” For once, Julius reflected, his German accent would actually be an advantage, given American stereotypes about psychiatrists.

“We haven’t had a visit from anyone like you in a long time! Well, shall we say tomorrow at 10 o’clock? I’ll let Dr. Keaton know.”

“Excellent. I need to let you know our policy to bring along a layperson, so that we can make sure that your facility is accessible to all potential patients. It’s a new thing but very helpful, I wouldn’t know what an American would want in such a place.”

“Are these people from Georgia?”

“It’s a works program, you know Federal government.”

“Oh, one of Mr. Roosevelt’s ideas. Well, he’s helping the country, I suppose. I’ll let the security people know to expect you.”

Jimmy and Dr. Orange took a black, not very new car up to Joy Grove to make them look even more like government officials. Bethany Mae Hampton met them in the reception area, a quiet place with old carpets and dented teak furniture.

“Our founder is really our administrator emeritus now,” Bethany confided to them as she took them into the administration wing. “Dr. Keaton is responsible for day to day operations, and I assist him closely.”

“Thank you,” said Dr. Orange, who had done most of the talking; Jimmy was trying to preserve a strong, silent image, which Dr. Orange gave out as being a result of the WPA not always assigning the best candidates to him. “I just want to know,” he said, “how you can take this heat?”

“Your blood thins out, I suppose. You’re a European gentleman, aren’t you? Are you Austrian?”

“I’m from near there.”

Dr. Keaton’s office was festooned with diplomas, framed commendations, and the odd trout fishing trophy. From behind his desk, Keaton looked at Julius and Jimmy over his glasses. “Gentlemen, welcome, how can I help you? I assure you our certifications are up to date.”

“I’m not saying there’s any trouble, but I was sent to inspect you,” said Dr. Orange.

“We have many patients here at Joy Grove. But you’ll find that our facilities are very modern.”

“I’ll first run down a checklist, and then my associate and I will want to speak with some of your patients.”

“Yes, Bethany filled me in on all that. Is there any patient in particular you wish to see?”

“I looked at your patient records and found myself very interested in this Job fellow.”

“Edgar Job? He is one of our most interesting patients. I hope to write a paper on him.”

“I would very much look forward to reading something from such a distinguished physician,” said Dr. Orange.

[Flattery use by the good doctor.]

“Well,” said Dr. Keaton, obviously pleased to have a new audience to regale, “Mr. Job’s case cannot be considered in isolation. I think what I have is a most peculiar case of folie á deux. It seems he and Mr. Douglas Henslowe—also one of our patients—are locked into a pattern of mutually reinforcing psychosis.”

“That’s not so unusual, when patients meet in places like this…”

“Ah, but their entanglement precedes their mutual incarceration here! They were both involved in some violent incident out in California. Mr. Henslowe is a native of the area and came under my care by the good graces of his family. His grandmother, Virginia, is a real Southern belle of the old school. Marvelous woman. I quickly diagnosed poor Douglas as a paranoid schizophrenic. This incident in California is the focus of his psychosis—the details are quite shocking, I assure you doctor. Through my treatment of Douglas I came to realize that Mr. Job, the only other survivor of the incident, figured prominently in his delusions. I managed to convince the State of California to turn over Job to my care and have been treating them together ever since. Their interactions are quite intriguing! The things they believe together—astounding.”

“Can you give me an idea?”

“I’ve been utilizing a brand new therapy of my own design. I call it ‘confrontational therapy’. I force the two of them together in the hopes that it will help to crumble their delusions away. Unfortunately, when I do this without medicating them first, the results are rather unpredictable. One time they came nearly to blows. Mr. Job was extremely agitated, and shouted at Mr. Henslowe, ‘You tried to kill me! But I’m still here!’”

Ruby, elegantly dressed and somehow managing to barely show any signs of being affected by the heat, marched into Joy Grove, trailed by a flustered Millicent and a darkly glaring Geronimo. Various flunkies tried to get her attention but she shrugged them off with a regal demeanor and long experience in expecting people to be invisible around her. Finally, Bethany Mae Hampton appeared and blocked their way.

“I’d like to see Dr. Keaton,” said Ruby.

“The doctor is currently engaged speaking with two other gentlemen, but I am his personal assistant. How can I help you?”

“Well, then, you may help us. First, I would like some lovely iced tea.”

“Joan, go fetch these fine, fine Yankees something cool to drink.”

“I have,” continued Ruby without acknowledging Miss Hampton’s ire, “a bit of a kerfuffle.”

“A ker-what?”

“A kerfuffle.”

“Is that some sort of…pastry?”

“It’s a problem,” said Ruby with a sigh.

“Well, why didn’t you say so, bless your heart!”

[“Bless your heart” can be used by Southerners to mean, among other things, “Go eff yourself.”]

“It all started about a year ago. My father’s mental health has begun to deteriorate. He has these, these, backflashes, where he remembers his time in the wars. On his worst days, he becomes quite childlike.”

“I am sorry to hear that! I’m not sure if we can help you. Is he Georgian? Or from Virginia or South Carolina or other fine places like that.”

“We’re from Tennessee.”

“Oh, I love Memphis.”

“Memphis is lovely, but not at this time of year. We haven’t found a proper facility for him. They tend to want to put the other patients first.”

“My dear Miss—it is Miss?—Fitzgibbons…of the Nashville Fitzgibbons?”

“No, the Marysville Fitzgibbons.”

“We have a state of the art facility here, but you should know that our fees are somewhat high…I wouldn’t want you to find yourself in an embarrassing…”

Ruby gently primped her hair, the gold bracelet with enormous blood-red rubies on her wrist flashing in the early morning sun.

“…however, I can show you around the facility,” continued Bethany, mollified. “You understand some portions are off limits—we are still one of the busier ports in the South, and sometimes have to take in our share of violent foreign sailors who are dumped here when they grow too unruly. Drug addicts, or poor men driven mad by separation from their families.”

“Excellent, my man will keep notes. However, my niece has a rather delicate disposition…”

“She can wait in one of the day rooms, we only allow nonviolent patients there. I don’t suppose,” Bethany whispered, “you’re thinking of admitting her as well? We do offer a discount on multiple placements…”

“No, she’s just a wallflower.”

“Oh, I sympathize. I was a bit of a wallflower myself once, hard as it is to imagine today.”


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