Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Devil at Dusk - Installment Number Three

1950's, Film Noir, Female Private Investigator.
Brooksie 1950's Private Investigator
Photo by Dave Haworth: http://davesphotoexploration.wordpress.com/ 
Just in case you missed installment number two, please follow this link: http://artdecogirls.blogspot.com/2013/05/devil-at-dusk-installment-number-two.html

Welcome all and thank you so much for joining me today for installment number 3 of:

Devil at Dusk.

I get up and step out of the room and go to speak with the nurse that is on duty. I tell her that I will be getting a guard first thing in the morning to keep a 24 hour watch on Mr. Slater. I fear that he will not be safe if he is left alone, in the meantime I will stay over to make sure things will be okay. Then I question the nurse to see if she has seen anything suspicious since Mr. Slater had arrived. The nurse said no, she had not seen anything out of the ordinary however she let me know to consider asking the day shift nurse the same question when she came on board tomorrow. The nurse tells me there is an extra blanket in the closet and if I need anything at all to let her know. I say very good and thank you, then I go back to JT’s room. I take a look around the room and do not see anything unusual. I go to the closet, take off my jacket and shoes, and then I grab the blanket. I then get my book, walked to the chair and curled up in the blanket, read for about an hour until I fell asleep.

The next morning I was up early because I had a lot to do. I  went up to the desk and spoke to the head nurse; I ask her the same questions that I had asked the night nurse. The nurse says she has not seen anything at all that had been suspicious. I tell her I will be getting a guard to watch over Mr. Slater because his life is very much in danger. I go back to the room and pick up the phone and call over to the Sheriff's office, I spoke with Sheriff Holifield. I ask him if he could possibly send over a man to stand guard over Mr. Slater and also to have a back up, one for the day and one for at night. Sheriff Holifield says he knows of a couple of men that are ex military who have done guard work before. He says he will talk to them as soon as possible and send them right over.

Within the hour two men came, Mr. Walker and Mr. Pruitt. Mr. Walker had been a firefighter and Mr. Pruitt had been a retired police officer, both as was mentioned above, ex military. Mr. Pruitt would take the day shift and Mr. Walker took the night one. I introduced the men to the head nurse, Ms. McClure. Then I took them into JT’s hospital room, I pulled out a chair and stationed it outside the room. I told them to contact me as soon as possible if he woke up or if they notice anything unusual. I then left the hospital and went to my room at the motor court. I cleaned up and made myself presentable for the day. Next I picked up the phone and called Bet. Bet answered right away and I said hello my dear one, this is your old pal Brooksie! Hi stranger Bet replied, Uncle JT said for me to be expecting you. I will be at the cottage all day getting my things moved out so come along anytime dear. I said I shall be there in two shakes of a lamb’s tail! I will see you then.

Bet is my very best friend in the whole wide world. Bet’s real name is Betty but her nick name is Betty Calamity (everybody had been calling her Betty Calamity since she was a child because of her love of horses and the old west) but most people just call her bet. I am several years older than Bet and had known her since she was baby. When I came to Laurel for the summers, Bet and I were inseparable. My dad and JT worked together for the Chicago Police Department, they were also best friends. My dad Fredrick Samuel van Pelt (everybody called him Rick) for many years was the Chief of Police and JT was the lead detective of homicide. Eventually I ended up working for the Chicago PD also, so we were all colleagues at one point. When I was growing up my her mom and dad would send me to Laurel Mississippi, a sleepy little backwoods town that I grew to adore. I stayed at JT’s grandpa’s estate (Wild Wood Estate), which had a big beautiful plantation style house, cottage and horse stables. My parents felt that it would be good for me to get away from the big city during the summers. This way I would have big city street smarts plus I had a chance to learn the small town and country ways of living.  I loved summers at Wild Wood and looked forward to them every year. However every other summer for a couple of years, just for the fun of it when Bet was a teen, she came and spent the summer in Chicago. This way Bet could experience the big city ways. We both had loads of fun but it was just not the same as Wild Wood and Laurel.

I get into my car and drive several blocks until I got to the Wild Wood property, then I turned down a long gravel lane which ended up turning into the driveway of the cottage. The cottage was the most adorable English style cottage that looked like it belonged in a story book. The cottage was located back in the wooded area behind the large beautiful main house on Wild Wood Estate. The large plantation style house was located on the main road headed into town. Wild Wood Estate was on six acres, the main house on the estate had a large front and back yard. The horse stable area had a huge field for the horses and the cottage was tucked away secluded from the main road in the woods on the back half of the Wild Wood property.

The last time Bet and I had seen each other was a few years ago when I came and spent a week for vacation. Bet sees me pull up in my car, so she gets up and opens the door then stands on the front step of the little stone cottage and waves for me to come inside. I get out of the car and walk to the cottage and Bet reaches out to give me a big hug. She tells me to come inside out of the rain and have a cup of coffee; it had been raining off and on all day. I follow Bet inside and sit down on the couch while Bet heads off to get coffee for both of us. When Bet returns she sets the coffee cups down on the coffee table then joins me on the couch. Bet asks me how the drive was from Chicago to Laurel. I tell her it was a little wild that I was caught in the middle of the storm on the way down. Bet says here let me give you these and she pulls the keys to JT’s office, out of her apron pocket then hands them over to me. I take them out of Bet’s hand and say, well I guess this makes it official.

 Bet says we need you to catch this bastard! I say to her how have you been holding up? She said she has been okay, just really scared is all. I then ask her about the town’s people, what have they been saying? She says everybody in the town is scared, young women are afraid to leave their houses alone at night. This monster had been targeting young women in their early 20’s to mid 30’s. The young women will disappear one day and the next thing they know they are finding a body somewhere. It is horrible, Bet looked terrified! It was so awful for me to see my friend this visibly shaken. I said do you have any suspicions at all as to who it could be? Bet said no that she had no idea. I then asked Bet when she talked to JT last? She said she talked to him on the phone on the 17th. She had been to the hospital every day since he had been admitted on February 15th. She talked to him for about 20 min on the 17th and then he said he had to get off the phone to give you a call.

I asked Bet, what did he talk about? He cut straight to the chase, he said he did not think he would be around for too much longer, Bet said with tears in her eyes. He told her she must remain strong though and that you would come to help out with the investigation. He told Bet to move into the main house and to let Brooksie move into the cottage, that way it will be convenient to get to the office (within walking distance). She wholeheartedly agreed with him plus she just felt safer having me there, I gave Bet a hug. Then I asked how has Will been? Will (William) was Bet’s 7 year old son. Bet said that William had been doing really well. He had been helping her and the guys (the stable hands and neighbor guys) move all day. He was really excited to move into “the big house” as he calls it and he was also pretty excited to see “his” Brooksie. That was what he used to always call me, when he was first learning to talk. Will would hear that was coming out that way, he would say… momma when is “my” Brooksie going to get here? Bet said he and the guys were taking a break from moving things right now so they were hanging out in the stables, which was Wills favorite place to be. He loves those horses just as much as Bet does.

Bet said why you don’t come into the kitchen, I need to get started on dinner; I am making a pot roast. I would love to have you eat dinner with us just like the old days. I told her I would absolutely love too! I told her I would step inside the kitchen for a moment but after that I felt the need to go right away to uncle JT’s office and have a look around, then check in with the Sheriff. When I was done I would come back in time to set the table for dinner. Then after dinner we can all go see how uncle JT is doing. Bet said sounds like a plan! Bet and I finish our conversation and drinking coffee in the kitchen.

I get into my car and drive over to JT’s office. As I am getting out of the car I grab my camera, note pad and pen. I pull the keys out of my pocket, unlock the door and has a look around. I see the files on JT’s desk, I walk towards the desk and in front of the desk I see something that looks like a wad of beige fabric. I bend down to take a closer look, I notice that it looks like nylon stocking material. I stand up for a moment to get my camera ready because this is something that does not belong in JT’s office, when I notice a note on JT’s desk. The writing on the note was JT’s and it said, Mr. B February 15th 3:00 pm (that was the day that JT ended up in the hospital). I start a new file (one with JT’s name on it) then I made some notes and add them to the file. I take my gloved hand and take a small plastic bag out of my pocket and put the note that I found on JT's desk in it. I then snap a picture of the wad of fabric with my camera. Then I pull a plastic bag out of my pocket and I set the bag on the desk. With my gloved hand I pick up the fabric. Upon further inspection I realize it is an individual nylon stocking. I put it in the bag and I will drop it off as evidence as soon as I get to sheriff office. 

What a curious note to find on JT’s desk and a strange object to find in JT’s office…

Well everybody that concludes installment number 3! Stay tuned next time for installment number 4!

*This entire story is a work of fiction by Brooksie van Pelt however there maybe similarities in real life or things that are actually true, those things will be posted at the end of each story. In installment number three we introduce the Sheriff of Laurel MS as Sheriff Holifield and back in 1955 the Sheriff's name was indeed Sheriff Holifield. 

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