Rudolph Von Rickenbacker scrunched down in this chair, his heart a prisoner of the images blinking and winking on the screen before him. His German Shepard Max lay at his feet, head resting quietly on her paws.
The woman beckoning to him from the screen, Candy, giggled away from the camera, letting it chase her around the beach… She blew a kiss, and then ran across the sand towards the waves.
Von Rickenbacker closed his eyes, drifting back to that moment, to the sea air, the sky and water of that moment. To the scent of Candy’s skin as they fell into the waves, laughing to the seagulls flight. It was Candy he missed, in his universe, and all actions were punctuated by her loss. He stopped the projector and stared at the image on the screen, his eyes misting over. He clutched the glass of wine in his hand so tightly he squeezed it to splinters. Max whimpered and licked his bleeding hand. Rain fell typing on the roof.
The images on the screen diluted the stark newspaper prints posted around the room.
Woman dies of injuries from gunshot wound. Assailant acquitted.
Lecampert escapes murder and rape conviction.
He opened up a manila envelope and took out some black and white photos. Candy lay on a floor behind a cash register, her right hand clenched. Later the police found a few strands of hair in her hand, tracing them back to Lecampert, along with his bloodstains. As he stared at the photo he couldn’t help but think she had done it on purpose, in the hopes that her assailant would be caught. She had always surprised him with her subtle intelligence. He closed his eyes and returned to the scene. Candy was sitting in the waves.
“The things of the universe
Are just bubbles on the sea.”
“Now where did you hear that?”
She flashed him a smile that lasted for eternity. “It’s a Buddhist quote.”
“So now you are a Buddhist?”
“You never know, I may shave my head and run off to a temple some day.”
He stared at the photo for a moment, and then slipped it back into the envelope. He walked out of the theater into the hallway. He tapped on the wall. A door opened into a spiral staircase descending into an underground black chamber dimly lit by flickering black candles with Nazi flags. He walked to the head of the table and stood underneath a portrait of Adolf Hitler and stared at the red swastika image directly across the wall from him. The voice in his head screeched to a halt.
“Someone’s gotta pay.”
The clock on the wall read 6:00. The meeting of the Aryan Alliance was about to commence.
Members began filing into the room. Von Rickenbacker took out a pearl-handled revolver, and carefully set it on the table. “I think we’re ready to begin.” He spoke in violet tones.
Madame Genevieve Rousseau took her place a few seats away from him. She coughed into a tissue. “I didn’t hear you. Must you always keep that thing next to you?”
Von Rickenbacker smiled. “You know how many death threats I’ve received, Genevieve.”
Wagner’s loud voice shook the room, in contrast to Von Rickenbacker’s soft tone. “From your enemies. Not us.”
“Let’s not waste any more time. We have business to discuss. The Fall of France for example” He walked to a diorama of a small town sitting on a table at the other end of the room. At the entrance to the town hung a Nazi banner, with the words “Summerheil.” He carefully placed a small yellow flag on the roof of the house of Mrs. Eva Strauss, a widow of 89. He smiled and looked over to Madame Rousseau. “We’re waiting.”
“Why does it have to be me all the time?”
“You are my assistant.”
She reluctantly stood up and walked to the diorama of Auschwitz. She picked up a tiny figure, tied a rope around its neck and hung it from the gallows. “Such a gruesome affair” she muttered as she walked back to her chair.
Von Rickenbacker placed his hands on the table. “Do you know what Hitler’s next conquest was after the fall of France?”
Wagner cracked his knuckles. “The battle of Britain. Which he lost.”
Von Rickenbacker glanced up at him. “Actually, he didn’t lose. Just suffered a major setback.”
“It was the beginning of the end for him.”
Von Rickenbacker walked to the diorama and pointed to a tiny house near the edge of the woods. “The widow of Phillip Lecampert lives here. I heard he has a hidden treasure worth millions on his property.”
Madame Rousseau shook her head. “Another elderly widow. Preying on the weak…”
He turned away. No one knew his torment over hiding the secret of Candy, their affair. She had been a stripper. Revealing this secret would destroy his reputation.
“One of our members works as a caregiver for her. She’s reported sightings of Lecampert’s spirit on the property. I’ve asked her to invite his widow to the next séance.”
Madame Rousseau stared at the clock. 6:15pm.
“I’ll need your help, Genevieve. To see if you can contact Lecampert.” He paused. “You will say to his wife that Lecampert wants to make peace with himself by donating the treasure to the local community, and that we need to know where it is.”
“Right. Don’t you think she’ll be suspicious?”
“Adolfa will administer a sedative that day, so that she’ll be incoherent…”
Wagner took a pack of cigarettes out and laid them on the table.
Von Rickenbacker stared at him. “You know I don’t allow smoking here.”
Wagner smiled. “I wasn’t planning on smoking them.”
Von Rickenbacker took out his revolver and placed it on the table.
Madame Rousseau stared at him. “What are you doing?”
Von Rickenbacker smiled. “I am not planning on using it.”
Wagner took a cigarette out of the box and laid it on the red tablecloth. “I’ve heard that Elektra Wave likes to have a smoke on her breaks at The Treasure Chest.”
Von Rickenbacker stiffened. “What does that have to do with anything?”
“It appears that your association with her has resulted in a decrease in our membership. Members who are paying dues.”
Von Rickenbacker fingered the revolver. “That decrease has nothing to do with in my association with her.”
“She’s a stripper. People of the Moral Right don’t want to be associated with such women.”
“My relationship with her is strictly professional. She’s needed some spiritual guidance…”
Madame Rousseau stood up, coughing. “This meeting is adjourned, as far as I’m concerned.”
“Rockwell would not approve of your association with this woman.”
Von Rickenbacker turned to Madame Rousseau. “Let’s go.” He picked up the revolver and walked out of the room.
Wagner stood up. “The membership dues have decreased. Don’t forget that.”
Von Rickenbacker turned around. “Stay out of this.” It was 6:28pm.
The tiny house at the edge of the woods was shrouded in evening fog. Rain clouds hung in the night, threatening to burst.
Hana Lecampert stared at the painting on the wall, stark in the fluorescent light. She imbibed the painting of a road into her bloodstream and entered through another
She inhaled the fragrance of the Bird of Paradise flowers lining the road. Her pores absorbed the cloud of dust left by a tractor. She walked down the road, and then paused. A shapeless mass lay in the middle of the road, stagnant in the fog.
She returned to the photos underneath her bed. Like a steel claw they latched onto the back of her consciousness and wrenched her into a swirling mist. She slowly brought them out. She felt the pendulum in her heart start to swing. From her son to Lecampert.
That night she dreamt she was falling through the clouds of cataracts floating in the vast blue sea of his eyes. He wrapped his arms around her heart but left her dead cold.
She felt a tugging at her skirt and looked down.
Her son Daniel stared up at her with red eyes. “Why didn’t you look harder for me?”
Her heart fell as she watched him crawl into Lecampert’s arms. She watched as Lecampert let his fingers drag along Daniel’s face, leaving a trail of caressing words. The dream exploded into the beam of light boring down on her. 2:00 am. She stared through groggy sleep into the light, wondering who had turned it on.
The next morning she woke up next to Puchi, her miniature poodle bundled up in a pile of silver blue fur shining in the cold light. She turned on the radio and listened to Pucchini’s “Madame Butterfly” for a few minutes, waiting for Adolfa, her caregiver. The black and white photograph of her grandfather perched on the dresser smiled at her. She pulled her silk red Japanese kimono around her. She glanced out the window at the glass copula perched on the roof across the street, bathed in morning fog. The weather forecast threatened light rains for the next week.
Adolfa walked in and set a tray of scrambled eggs, toast and a steaming cup of tea on Hana’s food tray. “You are still waiting for him to come home?”
Hana picked up a fork. “There’s blood in these eggs. I’m paying you to keep the cooking kosher.” She pushed the fork away. “This thing feels like ice.”
Adolfa picked up the plate of eggs. “You miss him, don’t you?”
Hana banged her cup down on the tray. “You’re gonna burn me inside out with this tea.”
Adolfa’s eyes narrowed. “Since your son left, you became a little…”
Hana looked up at her. “Crazy?”
Adolfa pursed her lips. “You sleep ok last night?”
“Who turned that damn light on?”
Adolfa shook her head. “Maybe it was a ghost. Maybe Daniel.”
Hana stared at her. “Danny’s not dead.”
Adolfa shrugged. “My father always used to say-”
Hana slammed her tea cup down, splashing hot water onto Adolfa.
Adolfa stepped back. She left the room and returned a minute later with a piece of paper. “Maybe you better go here.” The words came out tightly controlled, as if strangled in a vise of anger.
Hana picked up the flyer and slowly read it.
Séance at the Spiritual Church. 7pm, Monday night.
She removed the food tray, got out of bed, walked into the bathroom, and shut the door.
Adolfa walked to the door. “You want to talk to Daniel, don’t you?” She waited a few minutes for Hana to respond.
“You’re crazy cuz your husband left you. You couldn’t take it.”
“Why do you say such nasty things to me?”
“That husband of yours, he didn’t leave you any money. That’s why you work here. You just come here for the money.”
Adolfa stared at the wood. “How about you? Your husband left you lots of money didn’t he?”
“I don’t know where it is.”
“You said he buried it somewhere.”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
Adolfa waited a few seconds, then turned around and walked out of the room. She left the flyer on the bed.
Hana took a long shower, enjoying the sensation of hot water flowing over her sore muscles. The restless leg syndrome from her Fibromyalgia had kept her up most of the night. She let the water run through her hair, hoping to lift the fog enveloping her brain. She turned off the water and got out of the shower. Beads of moisture clung to her skin until she roughed them away with her towel. She slowly turned the glass doorknob, and peeked out. Cool air pierced the steamy shower. A whir in the kitchen slivered her ears. She slipped into her kimono and walked into the bedroom. She glanced again at the flyer on her bed.
The Summerheil Visionist church invites you to its weekly service tonight at 7pm. We invite you to explore the science and philosophy of the Visionists. She laid the flyer on top of a book her other caregiver had forgotten: Fascism: The beast returns. She hobbled over to the kitchen and stood in the doorway. She stared at Adolfa through the fog hanging in her head. Pain bathed her body in a deadly aura. She watched as Adolfa sharpened knives with a clean precision.
Adolfa turned around. “Is tomato soup ok for lunch?”
Hana stared at her for a moment. “No miso soup?”
“I didn’t have time to go to the Asian market.”
Hana turned around and walked back to her bedroom.
“That Sylvia. She forgot her book again.”
Adolfa returned to the cutting board and began chopping green onions. “That séance is at-”
“I know what time it is.” Hana hobbled back to bed then turned around. “What’s that sour cream doing out?”
“I was going to put it on top of the soup, like borscht.”
“You need to keep kosher. No dairy with meat.”
“Damn’t!” Adolfa wrapped a paper towel around her bleeding finger.
“Don’t mix any blood with the food.” Hana turned around and walked into her bedroom.
Adolfa slowly lifted the knife and slammed it into the wood. It quivered in the morning light.
Hana stayed in bed for most of the next day, due to the pain from her fibromygalia. In the early evening she hobbled outside to her mobility scooter and rode to the Spiritualist Hall.
She slowly walked on her cane to the verandah surrounding the hall, her face chilled numb from the ride. She glanced up into the sky. A white steeple soared into the rain clouds, directly above a statue of Rudolph Von Rickenbacker, the founder of the Summerheil Visionist group. She heard him before she saw him. The tap tap of his wooden leg on the church verandah. She turned around.
He stood six feet 6 inches, upholstered in a black leather coat, silver belt buckle gleaming in the early evening light. He smiled down at her, twilight illuminating the cold desert of his eyes. “I had a vision of you last night. I saw we would meet today.”
“I came for the séance. There could be a ghost in my house…my son, he's missing.”
She followed him into the church. He unlocked a door into a small office where computers were set up. The first thing she noticed were shadowy eyes staring out of a portrait on a wall. They seemed to follow her as she walked around the room. Founder Von Rickenbacker stood in a black cape against a stormy beach. Magnificent silk against gray sky.
She clutched her cane, hesitating at the entrance. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee reached her nostrils.
He turned around. “You don’t drink coffee?”
“I prefer green tea.”
He smiled. “I knew that.”
She walked into the office. He handed her a digital tape recorder. “This is what we use to record EVPS.”
She stared at it. “EV what?”
“Electronic voice phenomena.” He enunciated each word very carefully. “Your son may want to communicate with you. The best time to pick up their voices is around 3 am, so leave the tape on all night long. I’ll let you borrow it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must prepare for the séance. The hall is downstairs.”
He paused at the doorway. “The spirits.” He smiled and walked downstairs.
Hana followed him into the hall. A tiny woman in black gave her a ticket and a black hymnal filled with songs.She smiled. “You might win a book. Write your name down on it and put it in this silver bin.” She coughed. "This damn cold, I've had it for ages, I can feel it making its way down my throat to my lungs, like a serpent." She stood up and walked to some seats in the back of the room.
Hana wrote her name on the yellow ticket and tossed it into the bin. She sat down a few seats away from the woman in black.
Many townspeople filled the room, such as Mrs. Doubletong from the drugstore sitting in the front row and Mr. and Mrs. Blackhart from the supermarket. Their heads turned to a beautiful woman glowing in a ruby red dress. A frown appeared on Mrs. Doubletong's face. Mr. and Mrs. Blackhart turned away.
The lights in the hall dimmed. Von Rickenbacker strode into the hall. He turned to the audience and played the crowd like a finely tuned Stradivarius. He picked up the microphone. “Have you lost someone close to you recently?”He gestured to an elderly woman sitting in the front row. “Mrs. Crawfish, may I step in with you?”
She frowned. "I can't hear a damn thing you're saying sonny."
He leaned forward. “Your husband wants to tell you heaven was with you, not where is he now. It's your birthday isn't it?”
"Humph. That old bastard hasn't given me a present in over fifty years. I can't imagine he'd start now that he's dead."
“I think he feels bad about that and wants to start over.”
“Well, don't tell him about my new boyfriend coming over tonight to take me out to dinner. He ignored me for fifty years and I'd rather have one alive and kicking then dried out like an old scarecrow!"
Von Rickenbacker had to speak loudly over the laughter of the congregation. He gestured towards the middle of the room towards the siren flashing “yes.”
"May I step in with you?”
The woman smiled.
“Spirit wants to tell you that new winds are blowing your way.”
She nodded and crossed her legs. “I’m open to change. My life is stressful now and I need change.”
“Your Aunt Dolly died recently?”
“You saw that?”
“She sent a message telling you she is fine and enjoying the after life. They’re having a party tonight and she wants you to come.”
She laughed. “I don’t think I’ll make it.”
The tiny woman in black coughed fiercely in the back of the room. Hana turned to find her shredding up the tissue in her hands.
Von Rickenbacker looked at Hana. “May I step in with you?”
“Spirit is trying to reach you now. Your husband.”
"The hell with him. I want to know about my son.”
"Your dead husband wants to make peace with himself, but he needs your help.”
Hana glanced at her ticket. "So when is this drawing?"
"Right now.” He took out the silver bin and shook out a number. “666.”
Hana walked to the front. "Must be my lucky day."
Von Rickenbacker handed her a book. She stared at the title. The history of the Visionists.
He smiled and returned back to the podium. He stood tall, commanding the entire congregation. “We embrace and communicate with spirits from all walks of life, holding no prejudice. Please come again.”
The woman in black stood up to collect donations at the exit. Hana walked over to the door, just as Von Rickenbacker reached her.
“How kind of you to contribute.”
Hana reluctantly opened up her purse. “Your contribution will help bridge the gap between life and death.” He turned to the woman in red, who had walked up to the door. She dropped an envelope into the basket.
Von Rickenbacker took her hand. “Thank you so much for your generosity.”
She let her hand linger on his for a moment before she reluctantly took it away. “It’s my pleasure.” She reached into her red leather bag and took out a business card. “I have some troublesome spirits I may need help getting rid of.”
He smiled. “This would be my pleasure.”
The woman in black, who had been watching this exchange shredded her tissue into the basket and quickly walked away.
Hana followed Von Rickenbacker outside to a group of people holding candles. It was just starting to drizzle.
A short man in red standing next to Von Rickenbacker spoke. “We are going to walk to the Jewish community center to commemorate the Night of Broken Glass.
Hana shook her head. “I can’t this year, my legs are killing me. Maybe you can say a prayer for-”
Von Rickenbacker nodded. “We’ll say a prayer for you.”
“Not for me but my grandfather. He was killed during that night. They set his shoe store on fire.”
The short man bowed his head. “I’m sorry to hear that.”
Hana nodded. “Thank you.”
He watched Hana’s figure disappear into the darkness. “They were pests. They had to be exterminated.”
Von Rickenbacker held his candle up to the drizzle and watched as the flame disappeared. He tossed it into a trash container. “Damn Jews deserved every minute of it.”
That night Hana left the digital tape recorder on all night long. In the morning she returned to the hall. Von Rickenbacker transferred the data to the computer.
As Hana stared at the screen she thought of the heart wave monitor for Lecampert, when he died of a heart attack; she remembered the flat line. It all came back to her, as she looked at the EVP waves on the computer screen. He was in a coma from a gunshot wound to the heart. A hunting accident. Lying on the bed, the beep beep of the heart monitor beside him. The room wrapped in shadows…Lecampert moments away from death.
She was staring at the numbers on the monitor, the heart rate, the blood oxygen saturation, when she saw his lips part and whisper in a weak grasping voice..….Daniel…Daniel.
She felt something strange in the way he said it, something that clung to her, like the scent of bad perfume. Then the screen flat lined.
Her eyes returned to the EVP waves on the screen. The wave pattern rose and fell with the weak raspy voice emitting from the speakers. “What's he saying?”
Von Rickenbacker put on his headphones and clicked the mouse on the “play” button. Hana watched his expression as he played the tape over and over again.
“I can hear a child’s voice.”
Hana’s heart soared. “A boy?”
He nodded. “Perhaps. A man’s voice too. They seem to be fighting. You may need the help of a psychic to understand what they’re trying to say…there’s someone I can call.”
“Thank you.” She started to leave when she paused and stared at the painting on the wall. “It looks different.” She looked closer. “A black cross. Where did that come from?”
He laughed. “You must be joking. That painting was done by spirits. They know my love of god.”
“By the spirits?”
“No paint was used. I was looking out to the sea one day when they captured my spirit and transferred it to the canvas.”
She peered at the painting. “But, what does the black cross mean?”
He pointed to the window. “See that cloud? What do you see?”
She gazed at the huge rain clouds floating in the sky. “I don’t know. Maybe a rabbit.”
“You see a rabbit. I see a tiger. What color do you see?”
“I see silver. You see a black cross; I see a symbol of God.”
Hana was at a loss for words as she hobbled on her cane outside to her scooter. She stared at the leather seat dappled with rain. A thought flew through her head. There’s something not quite right about that guy.
The residents of Summerheil never ceased to be amused by the sight of the Jewish woman speeding by on her motor scooter, high heels and auburn hair blowing in the wind. She arrived at her doorstep. She hobbled up to the door and was about to unlock it when she paused and stared at the mezuzah case next to her door. Someone had opened it.
It was an heirloom, passed on from her grandfather to her mother, and then to her. She could see the parchment peeking out of the case. She took it out of the case and unrolled it. Two letters in Hebrew were written vertically under the word shema.
“You aren’t supposed to touch the parchment.”
Hana turned around. Sylvia, her other caregiver, was standing behind her.
“Only the sofers should touch them, when they check them every few years.”
“Look at these letters. They look fresh.”
Sylvia shrugged. She closed themezuzah. “Let’s go inside.”
“But the ink is fresh. Who wrote this?”
“Where is your cane?”
Hana walked into the house. “I don’t know. It’s usually here on the sofa.”
Sylvia walked into the house. “Oh, here it is. In the kitchen.”
Hana followed her and stared at the cane on the kitchen table. “Things have been moved around lately.”
Sylvia smiled. “You’re just forgetful.”
Hana picked up her cane. “Shall we go to the park?”
Hana stared out of the open window of Hana’s car. California poppies dotted the iceberg lettuce lining driveways. She saw Emperor Palm trees, a sailboat floating in the sea through telephone lines. A kiss of the tropics smacked the air. Hills ran up into the mountains. They approached the main shopping area. Shops of Jewish origin lined the streets. Stein’s oriental rugs. Katz Kosher Deli. Kaufman shoes. Klein’s jewelry. Sadness gripped her. Lecampert had bought her wedding ring there.
They arrived at the park and walked to a bench in front of a small stream. Sylvia sat down. “Are you still writing?”
“I write for the Schooner sometimes. These people haven’t sent me an assignment in a while though.”
Sylvia turned to her, black frames perched on her head. “Why don’t you call them?”
“So why don’t they call me?”
“What have you got to lose?”
Hana reached into the water and picked up a blue glass stone. She flinched as she cut her finger on its sharpness. She watched as drops of blood polluted its clarity. Lecampert’s image was the illusion defiling her consciousness.
She was sitting on the bench with Daniel staring into the stream where she saw Lecampert’s image in the water; when she turned around she saw alien blue eyes burning with a cold passion. A short clipped mustache. Nazis marching out of his tongue. He set his eyes on Daniel.
“Such a handsome boy.” He bent down and stared into Daniel's eyes. “How old are you?”
Daniel turned away.
Lecampert reached into his pocket and took out a piece of chocolate. "For a sweet boy."
Daniel remained silent.
"Now don't be that way." He took out a blue metal toy train from a paper bag. He set it on the ground and pushed the engine switch. Daniel’s eyes lit up as it began to circle around the ground. It was the beginning of the end of a short journey of a life that only lasted ten short years.
The years that followed after that left her empty. She knew he was having an affair. She remembered the tortuous nights that he didn't return. Sleepless nights where she wondered if the woman was young. Beautiful.
Friday night Shabbat. She cleaned the entire home, cooked a nice stew of cholent and bought two loaves of challah from the kosher bakery. She stared at the two candles flickering in the dark room, lit by the sunset outside the kitchen window. The clock read 6:20pm. Where the hell was he? She dozed off in her chair. When she woke again the flame had disappeared, leaving a trail of candle wax. The room was dark, the only light from the setting sun. She stared at the Ben Shawn painting on the wall of a one legged man climbing the stairs by a red sea. She heard the clomping of boots outside the door. She watched him step inside and open the refrigerator.
"What happened to the leftovers?" His voice was soft. He didn’t even glance at the dinner on the table.
She glanced at his boots, caked with mud. "Where have you been?"
He closed the door. "Meatloaf again. I'll get something outside."
"Listen Mister. I want to know where you were before you leave this house."
He turned around at the door. "Coyote hunting.”
"You're telling me you went coyote hunting at night? You think I'm that stupid to believe you?"
“That's when they feed.”
She pointed to a bloodstain on his shirt. “What the hell is that?”
He looked down. “Oh, I was in a tree trying to get away from a bear cub when I snagged myself on a sharp branch. Damn thing bled for half an hour.” He glanced towards Bobby’s room. “Where’s Bobby?”
“You don’t even know where your own stepson is?”
He turned around. “I’ll get something outside.”
“He’s staying with a friend tonight.” She listened to the door close in total darkness. She could barely see the branches of the beautiful ketabuh tree on her wedding contract hanging beside the clock.
That night the nightmares started of Daniel appearing to her with red eyes. The dream appeared over and over again.
She woke up at 3:00 am to the sound of water running in the bathtub, thinking what the hell Lecampert was doing so late. The next morning she found his wet clothes all over the bathroom.
Daniel never returned home. He went missing the next day.
Hana sat on the bench, trying to ignore the burning pain in the nerve endings in her feet. She opened the Visionist book. “I won this last night.”
Sylvia pointed to the image of an eagle sitting on a sun wheel. “I’ve seen this before. Where did you go last night?”
“To that church near the sea. They’re talking to ghosts over there.”
Sylvia looked away. “I don't believe in ghosts or spirits.”
“But I think that my son Danny, he’s trying to reach me, he-“
Sylvia stood up. “Let's go. It's getting late.”
The afternoon quiet was broken only by the whir of the fan in her computer. Puchi sat at her feet. The pendulum clock swung back and forth in the silence. On the wall hung the first article she had written for the local paper, The Schooner. Next to it a framed glass photo of her standing in front of the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto, on her last visit to Japan. The quiet of the afternoon was broken by the phone ringing.
“Hana? Jay Johnson.”
"Jay! I was just going to call."
“Listen, we're looking to do a series on the history of crime in this area. You think you can come up with something?”
Hana stared out the window at the dark woods. “What kind of something?”
“Like a murder mystery something. Some local action, something with history.”
“I don’t know if I wanna go there.”
“You don’t have to talk about your husband. We need something a bit older anyway. About a hundred years old.”
“When’s the deadline?”
“As soon as possible.”
“Let me think about it.” She hung up the phone and stared out the window, trying to shake the fog from her brain. She stood up, walked to her bed, reached underneath, and pulled out a pink box of file clippings.
She picked up an old yellowed newspaper clipping and stared at the faded letters.
Candy Morgan, a stripper at the Treasure Chest, died last night of a single shotgun wound in the chest. She had been sexually assaulted. A clerk at the shop described the area behind the cash register as “slam dunked with pepper spray. Could have been a god damn bear, there was so much.” This evidence has lead authorities to believe that the assailant was a hunter, and sprayed the victim with pepper spray to immobilize her.
Mrs. Morgan’s husband, Samuel P. Morgan, was away at the time of the crime on a hunting trip. An investigation is underway.
She took out some newspaper photos of Candy. A beautiful woman who used to help her husband at the hunter’s shop. She never knew that Lecampert waited one night in the rain while Candy closed up shop. Her husband was away on a hunting trip…the police found her body the next day, clutching something in her right hand. When they pried it open they found a strand of hair that through DNA tests eventually led them to Lecampert. One officer had commented that she “must have been a smart lady who took that hair from his head to lead us to her killer.”
She glanced up at the painting on the wall. The shapeless mass had morphed into a dead animal. She looked closer but could only make out a head. She thought of the painting at the church. Was she seeing things?
Later that afternoon she rode her scooter back to the Spiritualist Hall and told Von Rickenbacker of the strange things that were going on in her home.
He picked up the phone. “I'm going to send Madame Rousseau over to you. Our psychic.”
Hana looked at him. “She expensive?”
"Genevieve? I've got someone who wants to see you." He glanced at Hana. "What’s your address?"
She told him her address and was starting to leave when she glanced at the painting. The faint outline of a swastika band had appeared around his right arm. She pointed to the painting.
“What does this mean?”
He laughed. “The spirits, they know my love of world religion. Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism. The swastika is the eternal symbol of harmony and well being." He glanced out the window. "We keep seeing different clouds but we're both on the same earth."
“I hope you don’t think this sounds rude but are you a Nazi?”
He chuckled. “Now why would a Nazi be attending the “Night of the Broken Glass memorial?”
“I don’t know.”
He walked her to the door. “Go home and rest Hana. Wait for the phone call from Madame Rousseau.”
Hana walked away with an unsettled feeling in her heart.
When she got home she found the mezuzah open again. She walked in the house and told Sylvia. “I found some new writing.”
Sylvia turned to her. “What?”
“Some letters written in Hebrew.”
Sylvia shook her head. “That’s impossible.”
“I’ll show you.” They walked outside.
Sylvia stared at the parchment. “How can this be?”
“I don’t know but I’m freezing. Let’s go inside.”
Sylvia unrolled the parchment on the kitchen table, took out her cell phone and positioned it above the paper.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m going to take a picture and send it to Rabbi?” She snapped the photo. “Unless you can read Hebrew.”
That night Hana waited at home, listening to the relentless rain. The cold damp weather aggravated the aches in her muscles. Sylvia had left her alone with her thoughts and pain.
Madame Rousseau. A woman in an orange turban came to mind. She heard the sound of a door slamming. A car driving off. Then the doorbell. She hobbled over with her cane and opened the door.
A tiny woman with a butch haircut painted on her skull stood staring at her, five feet short in a pinstriped suit. She coughed. “Is this the place?”
Hana stared at her. She looked familiar.
The woman walked into the bedroom. “I can feel a presence.” Madame Rousseau walked around the room. “If there’s someone here, show your presence.” She closed her eyes. “Lamp-Is that your last name?”
Hana’s eyes widened.
“You want her to what? What treasure?” She paused. “You say there’s a hidden treasure on your property. You want what?” She paused. “You want someone to go to the White Lotus Temple to contact a nun…” Madame Rousseau sat on bed. “I think I lost him.”
“What about my son? Couldn’t you contact him?”
She shook her head. “Only your husband. If he was guilty of a crime before, he wants to make peace with himself now.” Madame Rousseau walked to the door. “He’s gone now. We’ll try again later.”
“What treasure was he talking about?”
Madame Rousseau shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know. Something buried on the property. Do you know anything about it?”
Hana shook her head. “No.”
Madame Rousseau smiled in the evening light. “I’ll be back.”
From that night on Hana became suspicious of the group and confided in Adolfa the next day. “I think they want money.”
Adolfa looked up from her chopping block. “Don’t you want to find Daniel?”
“She couldn’t contact Danny.”
“You never trust easily, do you?”
“Do I have to trust every person I meet?”
“My father always used to say-”
“I don’t know anything about this group.” Hana turned around and hobbled back to her bedroom, just as the phone rang.
“Don’t you want to hear what my father said?”
“Tell me later.”
Adolfa resumed her dicing of onions. “Never mind.”
Meeting of the Aryan Alliance November 16th, 6:00 pm.
The meeting of theAryan Alliance was about to begin.
Madame Rousseau sat down next to Wagner. She blew her nose and glanced up at Von Rickenbacker. She couldn’t deny that he looked magnificent, despite herself. The brown shirt, the black tie strangled him, the blood red swastika. The Nazi storm trooper. Then he spoke, breaking the spell.
“I’m waiting for a progress report.”
“I am not your pupil.”
“She is a nice woman. I don’t like this.”
“I don’t think you can make demands if it appears that your vision for the group is clouded by personal interests.”
Von Rickenbacker turned to Wagner. “We aren’t discussing this now.”
“Have you forgotten what our mission is?”
“We are waiting for a report. Genevieve.”
“More members have left. Quite frankly, they don’t want you associating with a stripper.”
Madame Rousseau sighed. “I couldn’t contact the son, so I don’t think she trusts me. Lecampert was there He wants to make peace with himself. He did say there was a something hidden on the property.”
She shrugged. “Then I lost him. He was hiding something. It must be about that heinous crime he committed against that woman.” She paused. “He said something about a temple.”
He stared at her. “Did you tell her you’re coming back?”
“I don’t want to go back.”
“We need to find out where the treasure is on the property. You need to earn her trust.” He walked back to the head of the table. “I think we can adjourn the meeting now.”
Wagner stood up. “The members are questioning the leadership and something needs to be done.”
Von Rickenbacker turned to Madame Rousseau. “Let’s leave Genevieve.” He put a shawl around her shoulders as she was standing up. She stole a glance at Wagner as they strode out of the room.
That night the light went on again in Hana’s bedroom. “Danny? Is that you?” She paused. “Danny, I need to get some sleep now. Can you turn off the light?” She held her breath, waiting. A few minutes later the light went out. “Thank you.” She snuggled under the blankets, smiling in the darkness. He had always walked a line between the mischievous and the obedient. “Such a sweet boy.”
The next morning she called Madame Rousseau. “I think my son wants to tell me something.”
Madame Rousseau came over that night.” “You know the history of this house?”
“What do you know?”
She turned away. "My son and I have lived here for over ten years. He disappeared last year."
Madame Rousseau nodded. “I think he’s here tonight. What's his name?” She coughed again.
She took out the digital tape recorder. “Daniel. I can feel you here. If you have anything to say just speak into the tape recorder.” Suddenly, she began to speak in a childish rant.
“That man would make me feel uncomfortable when I was at the swimming pool. He would watch me when I was diving off the board. There was another boy whose parents didn't believe him. They moved away because the boy felt ashamed.” She sat on the bed.
Hana stared at her. "You ok?”
“This boy is draining me. The batteries are dead in the tape recorder.”
“What does it mean?”
“We're trying to speak with dead people who have no energy. They need to communicate, so they suck it out of everything they can.”
“I don't have any more batteries.”
Madame Rousseau reached into her coat pocket and took out two AA batteries. She inserted them into the tape recorder and began to speak again. She scribbled furiously on a notebook.
“Remember when I broke your record? You got so angry at me. I ran away to the construction site next to the man's house. The door was open so I walked inside. I went upstairs to the attic and I found this room with pictures of little boy's butts; this wooden bed, it looked like he made it himself. Toys. That man locked me in the attic; the police came over to talk to him; he made up a lie; I was in the attic window but they couldn't see me, why didn't you look harder? Then he wrapped me up in brown butcher paper like a piece of meat; he kept me in the attic overnight. Then he put me in his truck at night and took me somewhere. There was the swish of trees. I was still alive when he thought I was dead when he came back two days later…then he…”
Madame Rousseau sat down on the bed. “What did he do to you Daniel? Who hurt you? Please tell me his name.” She coughed again.
“Always getting angry at me. I had to run away from her.”
“Why didn't she look harder for me?”
Hana stood up. The pain shot up her legs. “Sweetie, I called the police. I looked everywhere. Tell me who did that to you?”
Madame Rousseau stood up. “Lecampert? Is that you? Are you here?”
“Bobby, are you still here? Don’t go…” Madame Rousseau looked around the room. “He's gone. I felt his sudden fear.”
Hana sat on the bed. “He's still angry with me.” She covered her face with her hands. Tears spilled through her fingers like water oozing out from a cliff. “I should have looked harder.” Her shoulders shook with sobs.
“He wanted to tell you who the person was, who did that to him.”
“Was Phillip here?”
“My dead husband. Is he here?”
“I’m not sure. Someone else was here though.” She sat down on the bed next to Hana. “You know, I lost my son too.”
Hana wiped her tears. “Did he go missing?”
Madame Rousseau shook her head. “No. He drowned. In the sea. He was only twelve.”
Hana blew her nose. “It’s something a woman should never to have to go through, to lose her son. Her only son.” She looked up. “Now I remember where I saw you first. You were at the church last week. Talking with Mr. Von Rickenbacker and that blonde lady in red.”
Madame Rousseau’s face closed up. “Right.” She coughed again. “I just can't seem to get rid of this cold.”
Hana opened up the drawer of her nightstand. “Have a cough drop.”
“Thank you.” Madame Rousseau looked at her. “I didn’t think this would happen tonight, being able to contact your son.” She smiled. “But I’m glad we did.”
Meeting of the Aryan Alliance November 22nd, 6:00 pm.
Von Rickenbacker sat down. He smiled at Geneva. “You can start with an update.”
“I want out.”
“I contacted her son. She trusts me but I don’t want any part of this.”
“Think of your cut. It could be thousands…”
“I think that Lecampert murdered her son. He’s trying to hide it. I know what it’s like to lose a son.”
“Don’t let your personal emotions get in the way of our mission.”
Wagner spoke up. “But aren’t you doing the same thing?”
Von Rickenbacker turned to him. “Stay out of this.”
Wagner stood up. “I want you to step down as commander in chief.”
“I’m warning you, if-”
The phone rang. Wagner picked it up, listened, and handed it to Von Rickenbacker. “She’s calling during work hours.”
“I’ll take it in the other room.”
Madame Rousseau stood up to leave, her eye on Max. He stood up and wagged his tail when she reached down to pet him. “I always expect him to growl or something but he never does. This has got to be the worst watchdog I’ve ever seen.”
They walked outside into the cool night air. Wagner turned to her. “Genevieve. Leave him.”
She walked away. “I wish I could.”
“Come with me.”
She turned to him and stared at his facial relief in the moonlight. He had none of Von Rickenbacker good lucks or charm, nothing that held her prisoner.
He took her hand. “Let’s go.”
She looked up. Von Rickenbacker was calling to her from the balcony of his mansion. She wrapped the shawl tightly around her. “I want to stay but I can’t.”
Wagner watched her walk away in the moonlight.
Hana stared at the neon lit clock in the darkness. 2:00 Am. The closet was shaking. She lay petrified in bed for hours before she drifted off to sleep again in a sea of painkillers. The next morning she woke up and slowly got out of bed. Her legs burned. She opened up the closet and saw a photo lying on the floor. The backside of a boy, white skin glaring at her. Puchi stood behind her, growling. She turned around. “What's wrong?” She reached down to stroke his head, and then jumped back as he nipped her. “Ouch!” She stared at the blood dripping from her finger, then at the tiny trembling dog, staring up at the closet. It was the first time he had ever bitten her. She picked up the photo. It felt warm.
“Danny? Are you here?” She felt him listening. ”Did something happen in this closet.” In the silence she heard his answer. “You were always so clever.” Her voice broke. “Oh I miss you Danny. I miss you so much.”
Sylvia came that evening. She glanced at the band aid on Hana's finger. “Did you hurt yourself?”
“The closet was shaking last night.”
Sylvia shrugged. “Could have been a small earthquake.”
“It wasn't an earthquake. I think it was Danny! I know-“
“Hana, I don't want to hear this anymore! No more talk of ghosts, people will think you're crazy! Even I am beginning to think-“
“That I'm crazy?” Hana pulled open the drawer of her nightstand. “Then you tell me where this came from.”
Sylvia stared at the photo.
“I found this in the closet last night.”
“What are you telling me? That the ghost left it there?”
“I don't know, I-“
“You could have left it there before and forgotten.”
“I didn't! I've never seen it before.”
“I don’t think I can work in this kind of environment Hana.” Sylvia stood up and started to walk into the kitchen.
“I found more writing on the parchment.”
Sylvia turned around. “I haven’t heard anything back from the rabbi. I’ve sent him a few e-mails.”
“It’s Hanukah. He must be busy.”
The next day Hana sat down and worked on the story for the Schooner, wondering who could have been the person who committed the crime. It was an arduous task, in which she had to fight the numbness and tingling in her fingers. The pendulum clock swung back and forth. She made a mental note to change the battery.
Before she went to bed that night she asked Daniel. “Who did this to you?” She went to bed at 11pm. She was jolted out of her sleep at 2am. Her eyes flew open. A hand reached into her consciousness and shook her awake. A voice came to her in the darkness.
Crystals in snow. The light of the moon. A summer breeze. Rainfall in the desert. Purity fused in the voice of death and a child. The voice she heard floated in an untouched realm for a few seconds. She didn't move in her bed the entire night. She knew that Daniel was trying to tell her who the murderer was. The next morning the phone rang, breaking through her fog. “Hello?”
“How's that story coming along?” It was Len from the Schooner.
"When do you need it?"
"How's it coming along?"
Hanna glanced at the calendar by her bed. "When is the deadline?"
"Can you get it to us by Friday?"
She nodded. "I'll get it to you before then.”
“Good. I know I can count on you.”
She had three days. She walked to the closet and opened it. A blue train sat on the floor. She picked it up with trembling hands. “Danny, I couldn't sleep last night. You're scaring me. I know you're trying to tell me who the bad man is. But honey please don't shake the closet. It scares the hell out of me.” The next night was as quiet as a tomb.
Sylvia came the following night, wary and reserved, silver frames shimmering in the light.
Hana was half asleep on the couch. “I didn't sleep well last night. That damn closet was shaking again.”
“Hana, I told you before I cannot work here if you continue to speak this way.”
Hana stared at her. "About the spirits?”
“You’ll have to find someone else to help you.”
Hana’s eyes filled up with tears. "Please don't do this to me."
“I’m sorry.” Sylvia left the room to prepare dinner.
“Danny did you hear that? Help me out here please. Show her that you're here!”
An hour later Sylvia brought her dinner in on a tray and set it on her nightstand. “I'm leaving now.”
"Because of the ghosts?"
The lamp light next to her bed, switched on.
"Did you see that?"
Sylvia shrugged. “It could have been a short.”
“What do I gotta do to get you people to believe me?”
Sylvia stood up to go. “I'll see you later.” She left the room.
Hana was picking at her food when she heard a scream.
Sylvia came running into the room. “Something pushed me from behind!”
Hana grinned. “That was probably Daniel. He loves to play.”
Sylvia stared at her. “Are there really ghosts here?”
"What do you think? They sent a psychic to me last week asking about the ‘treasure’ on my property.”
Sylvia nodded and took off her glasses. “I'm going to look into this group.”
“Arigato gozaimasu. And can you also check the battery in the pendulum clock? I think it’s low.”
Hana leaned on her cane and looked out the window at the clouds. I need to know who the murderer was. On an impulse she went outside and looked at the mezuzah. The door was open. She unrolled the parchment. New Hebrew letters had appeared. She walked into the house and called the psychic again.
At 6pm Madame Rousseau stood in the doorway, dressed in jeans and a black t-shirt. “What happened?”
Hana showed her the parchment. “Can you tell me who has been writing these letters?”
Madame Rousseau stared at the letters for what seemed like ages. “It’s spirit writing.”
Hana stared at her.
“This wasn’t written by humans but by spirits.”
“Do you mean…like the painting in Von Rickenbacker’s office?”
Madame Rousseau turned away. “Exactly.” She looked at the parchment. “I feel it’s a kind of warning.” She walked into the bedroom and coughed into a Kleenex. “If there are any spirits here, please give us a sign.” She looked around the room. “Someone’s here.”
Hana stared into the air. “Phillip?” She leaned on her cane. “Do you know who the murderer was? Who killed Bobby? Tell me!”
She sat on the bed. “She’s still alive. I want someone to go to the temple, to talk her. To tell her I was sorry. For killing her sister.”
“Phillip. Is that you?”
Madame Rousseau began crying. “I’m sorry I killed her sister. I just didn’t know what I was doing that night. I was as crazy as a porcupine. Tell Candy I’m sorry.”
Madame Rousseau opened her eyes. “He was channeling me. That woman Candy is still alive. I think she has a twin sister and she’s the one who died.”
She turned to Hana. “He told me where the treasure is. It’s buried underneath the fountain. Go to it and get it now!”
Hana stared at her.
They heard the door opening. Adolfa walked into the bedroom. She stared at Madame Rousseau. “You can leave now.”
“My business here is not finished.”
“Yes it is.”
Madame Rousseau walked quickly past her and out the front door.
“Wait!” Hana slowly hobbled over to the door.
Adolfa took her arm. “It’s cold outside Hana. I don’t think you should go.”
“I need to speak to her.” Hana walked outside and peered into the foggy mist.
Adolfa walked up to her. “Take a flashlight.”
Hana thrust the light into the darkness. Two red eyes appeared. She thought of Daniel and the dream. She directed the light towards them and saw a coyote. “It’s caught in a trap.”
Adolfa came and stood next to her. “Poor thing.”
The office of Von Rickenbacker was quiet, except for the sound of wings flapping over Germany. Madame Rousseau glanced at his profile. What a handsome bastard he is.
He turned to her. "Does she suspect anything about the treasure?"
She pet Max, who was lying at her feet. “Her senses are buried in painkillers.” She paused. “She's in constant pain, this woman, you know.” She stared at the screen. Jews were flying over Germany as pests in a Nazi propaganda film.
“Did she believe her dead husband was trying to contact her?”
She coughed into a tissue. “She doesn’t care about her dead husband or the damn treasure. She wants to know about her son.”
“But she won’t reveal where the treasure is?” He smiled at her. “Why didn't you call me last night?"
She noticed the green specks in his eyes, the scent of his cologne as she felt herself losing in a battle against her attraction to him.
He put his arms around her and she felt her body and emotions yield to him, despite herself. She glanced at the painting on the wall. The moment was shattered by the phone ringing. Max jumped off the sofa and barked.
Von Rickenbacker picked up, and then walked towards the door. “Yes.” He lowered his voice. “I'll call you later.” He walked back into the office.
Madame Rousseau stared at him. “It was her, wasn't it?”
He picked up his coat. “I need to leave for a while.”
“She's got you wrapped around her finger.”
“She needs help exorcising a sprit.
“I saw the doctor. My cold is turning into pneumonia.”
“I will be back in two hours.”
“You're leaving me to go to her.”
“Stop it.” He held her but it was different. It was the not the embrace of someone holding a person, or even a tree, but of someone holding a metal pole. She pulled away from the field of attraction in which he held her prisoner.
“It’s over. Whatever we had is over. She pointed to the painting. “Look at that. The spirits have shown what’s inside of you.”
Von Rickenbacker stared at the painting. A black swastika had appeared around his left arm.
“You don’t feel anything, do you? Rob a handicapped woman of all she’s got. I never realized what a cold bastard you are.”
“Talk about rob. It was the Jews who robbed this community of business from other races and took over. They came to Summerheil and took over everything. Especially that dead husband of hers. He raped-“
“She had nothing to do with that. Let her be.”
“Get the information on the hidden treasure on the property. Half would go to you.”
Madame gestured to the painting. “Ask the spirits to help you.” She strode out of the office.
“Fine traitor you turned out to be.”
She paused and turned around. “I’d be betraying myself if I stayed with you. That’s something I can no longer do.” She paused. “Go to your mistress.”
“Stop talking like that.”
“Go to your true love.” She paused. “Apparently she is not dead, your Candy.” She stared at him. “She wasn’t killed. I heard it from Lecampert.”
He slowly sat on the sofa. “What are you talking about?”
“It was her twin sister who died that night, not Candy. She’s at the White Lotus temple, up in the mountains. She became a Buddhist nun.”
He stared at her. “What?”
She put on her coat. “I’m just telling you what I heard.” She strode out of the room.
Von Rickenbacker sat on the couch for a moment. He heard a door slam. He walked to the window and looked out. Through the fog he saw Madame Rousseau getting into Wagner’s black Mercedes.
Hana walked back to her house between raindrops. Daniel. The red eyes. The coyote. At that moment she knew who had killed him. She hobbled into her room and sat on her bed. "Adolfa, what does that symbol mean?"
“The pin on your sweater.”
Adolfa picked up a teacup. "Japanese green tea or black lemon?"
"What does it mean?”
Adolfa pointed to her sweater. "You talking about this?"
"What does it mean?"
Adolfa shrugged. "Someone gave it to me, I forget who." She walked into the kitchen.
Hana listened to the rain outside her window. She glanced at the calendar. January 27th. Holocaust Memorial Day. She stared at the photo of her beloved grandfather on her dresser and the engraving on the gold frame. Never Forget.
Adolfa walked in carrying a tray of green hot tea. "You drink this, you feel better."
Hana raised the cup to her lips. Adolfa watched her for a moment, and then quickly looked away. She picked up the tray. “I’ll do the dishes." She walked out of the room.
Hana closed her eyes. A wave of drowsiness swept over her. The ringing of the phone pierced her haze. Sylvia’s voice filled the bedroom.
“I remembered where I saw that symbol, from a book on the neo Nazis. That’s what that symbol means. And I finally heard back from the rabbi. He told me what the words mean. “Beware of”-’ Lightning exploded across the sky. The answering machine died.
She came back into her bedroom and stared at the painting on the wall. The shapeless mass had become clear.She stared at the dead boy lying on the road, bleeding from his heart.
“Get out of here boy. I’ll skin you alive!”
She suddenly realized that Lecampert had ‘skinned,’ or raped Daniel, and then murdered him. The boy had probably died from a hemorrhage. She stared at the painting and suddenly thought of the night that Lecampert had missed the Shabbat, the night he came home with mud on his boots. He must have killed Daniel and buried him in the woods. She remembered the wet clothes in the bathroom the next morning. He had washed them to remove bloodstains.
The deadline for the story was tonight. She was determined to reveal the truth about Lecampert. She hobbled over to her computer and wrote for two hours, then walked to the fax machine in the living room. She was passing the top of the stairs leading down to the basement when she heard a noise. She felt dizzy…she took a tentative step when she felt hands on her shoulders…the next thing she knew her head was smashed against the cold of the concrete.
She heard someone walking down the steps. She opened her eyes to see Adolfa staring down at her.
“Where is the money?”
Her voice was barely a whisper. “Help me.”
“I know he buried treasure on the property. Where?” Adolfa brought her face close to Hana. “I deserve money from you, I worked so hard here. Tell me. Before you die.”
Adolfa leaned closer. “You’ll never see Daniel; he was never here. That was me turning on the lights.”
Hana closed her eyes.
“Did you hear me? That was me turning on the lights.”
Hana opened her eyes. “The voice…”
“Tell me where the treasure is. Tell me or I will kill you!”
Hana closed her eyes. “Please.”
“Where’s the treasure?”
“Yes. We are Nazis, and we are rebuilding the Third Reich. Right here in Summerheil.”
She pulled her face closer. “You remember my father?”
Hana opened her eyes.
“You never wanted to hear what he had to say. You listening now?”
Hana moaned in pain.
“Ran over by a damn Jew.” Her voice trembled with anger. “You and your people. You killed my father!”
“My dear father…” Her voice broke. “Ran over by a damn Jew. He was riding his bicycle early one morning. He used to get up at 3 am to start his route. He did this for 25 years, worked two jobs, so that he could send me and my brother to college.” Her voice trembled with controlled rage. “Sent me to college so I could cook kosher for a god damn Jew! Are you listening to me? He’d start his regular job at 8 and work until 5. That one morning the fog was so damn thick. Thick enough for a Jew taxi driver to run him over and leave him in the street to die.”
Hana closed her eyes.
“He bled to death. It was a hit and run. They caught him a few weeks later.” She stood up. “Where’s the treasure? Tell me. Or I’ll let you die.”
“I don’t want to hear about your grandfather. You never listened to me about my father. Tell me where the treasure is now or you’ll never see Daniel.”
“Underneath the fountain.”
Adolfa smiled. “You shouldn’t trust so easily.”She stood up and walked back upstairs.
A few minutes everything went black. When Hana woke later she was in a small room. . A warm liquid flowed over her skull. She touched her head and her hand went right through her hair. It took her a few minutes to realize she was dead. In the world of phantoms.
As she walked around the darkness she could make out a woman sitting in a rocking chair in the corner, humming. A girl sat at her feet, counting colored glass. She looked up at Hana and pointed a wispy finger down a hallway.
Hana turned around and slowly began to float down the hallway, casting shadows on the stone. She marveled at this new mode of movement. A door to a room stood partially open. She floated inside and around the room but saw nothing. Did the girl want her to see something? She started to leave the room when she paused. She could see a faint line in the wall. She floated to the wall and tapped. It gave way into a secret room with a spiral staircase. When she stepped onto the staircase she discovered she could still walk. She slowly made her way up the staircase and found a closed door at the top. She was about to push open the door when she heard something click behind her. She slowly turned around. Lecampert was standing in the doorway, pointing his hunter's rifle at her.
She stared at him for a long time before she spoke. “What the hell you think you’re doing.”
“You don’t need to go in there.” Even in death his voice was soft. Smooth.
“I skinned him. Just like any other varmint.”
“You bastard. You took him that night when he was staying with his friend. That’s why you were washing your clothes at 3:00 am, to get rid of his bloodstains.”
“He came to me, to get away from you and your ANGER. He came to the construction site to play.”
“And then you took him and raped him.”
“I skinned him. Now get away from the door!”
“You can’t kill me. I’m already dead.” She turned the knob of the door, ignoring the click of the gun.
“Hana!” Sylvia’s voice.
She floated past Lecampert down into the basement.
Sylvia was bent over her corpse, crying. “Who did this to you?”
“Sylvia I’m here!”
“Did Adolfa do this to you.”
Hana looked around. Where was Adolfa?
Sylvia stood up. “You haven’t sent the story yet. We still have time.” She walked to the living room and sent the fax immediately, and returned to Hana’s corpse.
Hana smiled. “Thank you Sylvia.” She heard a sound and looked up. Adolfa was walking down the steps of the basement towards Sylvia, holding a kitchen knife above her head.
Hana screamed. “Sylvia! Watch out!”
“You shouldn’t have come today. Should have taken the night off.” Adolfa said.
Sylvia turned around. “Oh my god.”
Adolfa tossed a painting onto the floor. “Here’s the treasure that I waited ten years for. A picture of his lover.”
Hana stared at the portrait of a handsome young man lying on the floor and then she knew where Lecampert had spent his nights, “coyote hunting.”
Sylvia backed away from her towards the wall.
Hana looked around. Her old mobility scooter was parked against the other wall. She floated over, got on the scooter and drove it towards Adolfa.
Adolfa watched in astonishment as the riderless scooter came towards her.
Sylvia paused for a moment and looked around. “Hana?”
“Get out of here!”
Sylvia ran up the stairs of the basement.
Hana picked up the painting and an old lighter in a box next to the wall. She floated back to the room upstairs. Lecampert was standing in front, blocking the entrance.
Hana smiled. “Look what I found.”
He stared at the portrait. “Arthur.”
“You want this? Open the door.”
Hana lit the lighter and held the flame up to the portrait.
“You should be ashamed of yourself. Now move aside or I’ll burn it.”
Lecampert slowly floated away from the door.
She peeked into the room. It was just as Daniel had described it. Handmade, with magazines photos of naked boys' butts. Just like the photo she had found in her closet. A teddy bear…a blue train. And Daniel, handcuffed to the bed.
She turned around. “Unlock the cuffs.”
Lecampert took out a set of keys from the pocket of his overalls and walked over to Daniel. “I never meant to hurt you boy.”
Daniel floated over to her. She embraced him. “Let’s get out of here.”
“Where are you taking the picture?” asked Lecampert.
Hana smiled. “I’m kidnapping him and holding him for ransom. Just like you did with Daniel.”
The next morning the police found Adolfa in the basement, pinned by the mobility scooter. Hana watched from the window as they led her away in handcuffs. She also noticed the headlines of the paper sitting on her doorstep.
Blood in the House of Lecampert. Local respected businessman revealed to be murderer and pedophile.
She looked out the window and smiled. Sunlight burst through the rain clouds in a brilliant beaming light. A rainbow had appeared over the sea.
The pendulum clock stopped, still in the morning light.
Von Rickenbacker stood at the entrance of the White Lotus Temple. Clouds swirled in the mountains in the distance. His heart pounded as he walked up the steps as he thought of seeing Candy…he entered the meditation hall. Sitting at the front was a figure in white. He took a seat behind her. She finally turned around. She stared at him.
“Rudolph.” Her voice was a whisper in a glowing castle.
He stared at her, not believing his own eyes. She had aged wonderfully. Her skin was taut and smooth. The strong desire he had held onto for years was about to burst through a dam. He wanted to rush to her and hold her but found he couldn’t. “Candy.”
She smiled. “I’m not Candy anymore. I am a Lay nun.
He stared at her close cropped hair.
“I never died, Rudolph. It was my sister who died that night. She was working for me, because I was sick. But everyone thought it was me, so it was the perfect chance for me to reinvent myself…but at her expense.” She turned away. “I’m guilty of a crime and have been paying penance.” She turned around. “Are you angry with me?”
“Candy. I can’t believe it’s you.”
She shook her head. “She no longer exists. In a sense, I did die that night. I came to this temple a few days later and have been here ever since. I think I have finally found the peace I’ve been searching for.”
He stared at her helplessly.
“I know we had something special but that time is gone.
The person you loved has gone…somewhere else.”
He watched her bow and walk back to the altar. There was nothing left but for him to leave. He was walking down the path in front of the temple when he stopped dead in his tracks. A red swastika burned on the outside of the building.
Back in his underground tomb he stared at the projector. Candy was running across the surf, blowing bubbles in the summer air. He stared at it for a moment, then stood up and walked to the diorama of Summerheil. He looked at a house near the sea. Mrs. Ariel Stein, widow, Age 85. He glanced at the clock on the wall. 5:55pm. The meeting of the Aryan Alliance would begin in five minutes. And twenty seconds.
Copyright 2009 Avia Belle Moon. All rights reserved.