So Jake and Pearl have managed to pick another odd case. This time they couldn’t help but spot an ununiformed cop talking with the Natural History Museums security guards and its old curator. The curator is one Mr. ,,, oh wait what was his name? I shall come back to that later.
Anyway one of the exhibits, the Ancient Africa Tribes exhibit to be exact had been senselessly damaged in what would appear to be a break in. The despondent curator initially refrained from interacting with any of us. Poor Pearl tried to sweet talk the security guards for information. “My brother owns an antique shop over on, er, Upper East & 5th” … and then if that wasn’t bad enough Pearl claimed to be married and then backtracked to say actually no she was a reporter for the Standard. Maybe Pearl was having an off day, or maybe she needs a few sweet talking tips from Jake. Either way it was painful yet amusing to watch … but still the conversation she had did the trick and the security guard got Larry (the other security guard) to cover his position while he gave us a run-down of the situation.
Jake must have spotted the curator at this point. I’m not sure when he’d come back to our location but Jake grabbed me and walked with deliberation over to him. On the way he mumbled something at me in a hushed voice. I looked at him but clearly there was no time to ask him to repeat it so I figured he wanted me to back him up in some way …
The curator had a medium stature, white hair (that was balding) and his mood was still less than chirpy. Jake offered our services to the curator; payment on completion or successful location of the missing items. Jake explained our usual $25 p/h fees + expenses and explained that while this incident was a priority to the curator himself, the police would put it on the back-burner … after all, there are plenty of murders, kidnappings and gang related incidents to keep the police busy.
I watched the curator (Mr. Barry Harkness … that was his name) for a reaction. He appeared to be pondering the situation but it was hard to get a good read on him. The silence felt like an eternity and just as I was about to look at Jake the curator spoke. The curator had concerns about the break-in becoming public and wanted a tight lid on the incident. Jake came out with some rinkydink line like “Don’t worry we put the PRIVATE in private investigation”. I think I became flushed with embarrassment at this point but thankfully the lighting was dim.
We managed to get a look at the crime scene well what was left of it as the cleaning of the area had already begun. We learnt that the glass display cabinets were made from some sort of reinforced glass and that to break them a blunt or heavy object would likely been used. The curator wasn’t sure if anything was missing and the exhibitor (Mr. Tom Danvers) unfortunately was away in Germany and wasn’t due to return until Saturday. The incident itself happened around 2-3am, and had been noticed just after 3am by the security guards on patrol. The strangest thing about all of this is that there was no evidence of forced entry, no signs of a struggle, nothing of notable worth in the display cabinets or diorama and the lights remained off during the night as normal … none of it made any sense. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was an inside job but the security guards seemed to back each other up when questioned by Jake, Pearl and Alisha. But why would anyone want to break into a museum to damage or steal religious artifacts of African tribes people when there were relics of other sorts elsewhere.
When I spoke with Mr. Danvers on the telephone he gave the impression that he was perplexed to why I would be questioning him however he did provide a little more insight onto the exhibit itself. The exhibit represented four gods – Nyame the Sky god, Anansi the Spider god, Tano the river god, Bia the Lion god and the exhibit had been there for some time now with no prior incident. Mr. Danvers was clearly reluctant to talk over the phone and expressed his concerns about anyone rooting around in his office whilst he was away. I could tell asking more questions would be futile so I gave up and thanked him for his time.
Back at the office Jake said he’d spend some time in the office and then head to chat with his cop buddies over the next day or so. Pearl will hit the books and Alisha as always said she’ll consult the cabal and check if Duo and Chris have returned. She mentioned something about some store in mid-town that sells crystals and other crap to tourists that caters for wizards on the side. A year ago I’d have laughed at the mere suggestion of wizards and exclaimed hokum but now … well I guess wizards, like zombies and necromancers are just another one of those things I didn’t realize actually existed before. I wonder what else there is out there … maybe I am better off not finding out.
Pearl managed to find out some more information on those African gods I had mentioned. Apparently the myths say that Nyame the Sky god was the god over man, Bia the Lion god is the cousin of Nyame and belives in law, power and tyranny. Tano the river god represents water, shyness and healing. Ananasi the spider god was believed to be the trickster. There was something about two of the gods crossing paths, I think it was the Spider and the Lion but I’m not sure, I think ONLY Pearl can get so excited about these types of things!
Jake confirmed that the cops were disinterested in the case and proudly showed me his newly ‘cleaned’ gun. I hope for his sake that this time around he didn’t fling one of the mechanisms half way across the room. He really should pay Pearl more and have her clean it.
Alisha was missing this afternoon. Pearl advised that she was likely checking out that mid-town store to see if the store owner could aid the investigation in some way.
Anyway, I better head back to the office as I only called home to check on Mother and to let Rose know I’d be home late. I keep expecting Frakes to call and tell me I need to get back to work but so far he’s made no contact. I should make the time to visit at some point.
But do I really want to go back there?
What would happen to Mother though if I lost my income?
I think father would resent me and how would I explain it all to him to make him understand? I’m not sure I even understand any of this yet!
Alisha called the office from a nearby pay-phone in the late afternoon to ask if we could head over to the store. Pearl brought Jake and I up to speed as we headed out.
Apparently another break-in occurred only this one had resulted in the store being burnt to a crisp afterwards. The shop owner (Ezio) dealt in mundane artifacts and prior to this incident there had been very few issues over the years that he has owned the store; after all the local gangs tend to steer clear of places like that. Pearl, told us that Ezio remembered two young men standing out somewhat from his usual customers. These men were well dressed, one was Caucasian and the other African American but Ezio believed not a local New Yorker. He had estimated their ages to be between 22 & 26 with the African American being the elder of the two. Both men had come across as knowledgeable to Ezio and he recalls that they chatted with enthusiasm about general lore and what have you. Alisha had told Pearl she would wait for us to arrive so that the investigation could begin.
We arrived at the scene and Jake acted the fool. I don’t think he meant to or maybe he did, but he really should talk less hooey! I should probably elaborate….
J: “Hey Buddy”
Cop: "Erm, wait how did you know my name is Buddy … Buddy? "
I watched as the cop nervously placed his right hand on his gun
J: “Ah you know, Jerry Stanislawski. He and I are old buddies. We got chatting about you and …”
I’m not sure if I switched off at this point or if this was when Alisha came down to greet us with the owner. The cop confirmed with Ezio that it was ok to let us pass and we spent a good while having a look at the scene.
Jakes close eye determined that the door didn’t look to be forced open and the ignition point of the fire looked to be where there had once been various oil based liquids. It was highly likely that such oils were used to spread the fire too, helping it to engulf the dry wall and hanging tapestries. Pearl spotted some broken vases and Ezio explained to us all that there had once been 3 vases of African origin that depicted three of their mythological gods. He recalled that the gods were Sky, Water and Spider but due to the fire there was no way to find out for sure. He was however fairly certain, adamant in fact that the two goons were looking at making a purchase or two of African keepsakes or items or lore to the folktales.
What with the museum and the store it was clear something was amiss. I began to wonder what I might have gotten myself into. I remember thinking that at least theft and arson are everyday affairs and there was nothing supernatural to be concerned about …
Jake found a partially burnt matchbook; The Bristol which was conveniently only 3 blocks over from where we were so it didn’t take us too long to get there. Just before we left Ezio’s store, Jake passed on his card and asked Ezio to keep in touch.
Now this is where things get interesting or concerning depending on which way you would like to look at it. Jake proved to be a genius once more by antagonizing the large, balding, grease covered goon behind a tattered reception desk. To be fair on Jake the greasy sleaze had made Jake as soon as he entered the building. I still remember my heart skipping a beat when the guy bellowed “Yo mac, I ain’t done nothin’” this had trouble stamped all over it. We should have turned and left there and then but oh no we continued in and instead of using any form of tact Jake opened with “We’ll see pal …” and then the sleaze jumped in “Listen mac, I don’t want no fuckin’ trouble. You hear me?!” At this point the sleaze was loud enough to wake the dead; he and Jake exchanged some more colorful words until Jake finally had the ledger in his hands. He described the men we were looking for and the sleaze pointed at some scrawled names in the left margin … A. Smith and G. Jones | Room 20 F2 | … how original. Jake snatched the key from the sleaze’s hand and made a beeline for the stairwell.
I recall that I was already beginning to feel panicked as we ascended the stairs. I had tried to muster some courage but as soon as I saw Jake draw his weapon and get ready to open the door I panicked. I breathed heavily and I could feel the change happening. I looked up to see Jake pistol-whipping the Caucasian man and Pearl rushed in quickly to put him down, knocking him to the floor with what looked like a brutal blow that could easily have broken his nose. In this same instant the African American jumped, without hesitation, out of the window. Alisha rushed past, vaulted the bed and peered out of the window after him, “He’s gone” as she turned she glanced up “He’s climbing the wall!” Pearl and Jake traded places. Pearl peered out of the window standing next to Alisha whilst Jake rummaged through the pockets of the bloody faced man on the floor.
Everything was a blur I ran tried to run to the stairwell and then I heard it … the sound of something heavy splattering onto the ground. I’m not sure if I had imagined it but I thought I saw something whiz past the window at the end of the hall.
Jake exited the room, stuffing his coat with what looked like a wallet and some spider pendant. He grabbed my arm and I see Pearl and Alisha running down the stairs. It sounded like one of them had called over to the sleaze that had been at reception. We were too far away to make out what was being said but at one point it sounded like Pearl was heading back towards the stairwell, either that or she was shouting. As Jake and I made our way past the room to the stairs I peered back into it, I could see that the guy was still face down on the floor and I could see some matches smoldering on the floor next to the window. I had no idea what had happened, what that sounds was or maybe I had a good idea but I wasn’t ready to accept it. That soon changed.
As Jake and I reached the bottom of the stairs we could hear that Pearl was in the middle of saying something to the sleaze “… must have been the ruckus I’d heard.” “What the fuck did you guys do?!?!” We look over and see Pearl in the doorway that lead to the ally. The sleaze pushed passed her and ran out.
I rushed over and peered around the door. That’s when I saw it; saw him … well what remained of him anyway. The African American lay there. His charred suit his only distinguishable feature. His head was like pulp; shattered, splintered and bloody. Everything fell into place, the sound, the shadow falling past the window. Alisha must have tried to use her fireball to get him off the wall, the only problem being of course that he was 3 and a half stories up the building. Time had seemed to warp and I could hear so many voices all mingling into one. There were people gathering and I could hear people saying “the coppers are on the way”, “I’ve called the cops” and all I could think was that we were fucked.
It was the late at night but there were people, witnesses everywhere. I must have been just standing there with my mouth open, staring at the body when Jake grabbed my arm and pulled me into a huddle.
I think I hear Rose leaving.
I better come back to this entry later …