Monthly Archives: August 2014

Chapter 9.

The Priest.



I had another awful night last night as I just could not sleep well, tossing and turning for no good reason. Things were going from bad to worse; I had problems at work with my boss and I was still thinking about the shadow. I then thought about what the doctor had said to me about that priest, John Verdi. I didn’t know him and it had been quite some time since I had step inside a church, but I thought that perhaps the doctor was right. Maybe everything was related to my mind. I decided to give him a call and maybe get an appointment for counseling. I thought that I had nothing to lose and least I would be doing something to solve my problem, or so I thought.

I located the number of the church easily as it was always in the newspaper ads. They were always looking for new converts. “Hello, I would like to speak to John Verdi, the priest at Hollytown church, please.”

“Just a second,” said a friendly voice. Probably the receptionist I thought.

“Yes this is Father John Verdi, who is this?”

“Father, my name is Walter Horn and I would like to meet you for counseling as soon as possible.”

“Well that can be arranged my son. How about next week, Monday perhaps?”

“No, this isn’t good for me. How about today?” I said in an urgent manner. I could detect some hesitation on the part of the priest.

“Today? Why this is simply impossible. I have a burial later on. How about tomorrow morning, 09:00?”

“Fine. That is perfect. So tomorrow it is. Thank-you.” And I hung up quickly. No, I thought, it wasn’t fine as I would have to miss work probably for the whole day. But I felt that I had no choice as I had to find out if another person would find my story absurd or if there was something that I was missing. I needed some sort of validation of my story or a reasonable explanation of what had happened to me.

Monday arrived and I was ready and happy to explain my story to another person, an intelligent person who might be able to make sense of it all. I dressed quickly and took the bus to the church and in a matter of minutes I was inside. There was a small office there, I presented myself and the receptionist quickly called the priest.

The man that arrived in front me was not what I had expected: he was a mountain of a man, at least 6’2″ and well over 250 pounds with arms as large as a tree. He must have been a football player in his youth. He was completely bald save for his goatee.

“Hello, you must be Walter Horn,” he said as he extended his massive hand towards me. He sounded like Barry White, the singer with that deep voice.

“Yes,” I stammered. “I am.” I was tongue tied in front of him, looking more like a frightened mouse standing beside an elephant.

“Come, follow me. My office is just at the back. You said you wanted counseling but you didn’t specify for what. Is it a divorce, or the bottle, drugs maybe?”

I looked at him and smiled. I thought that he would be surprised that it was none of the above. Even now I had trouble explaining it to myself what I was suffering.

“No you see, it is a very peculiar problem that I have. One of my shadows has left me.” He looked at me wide-eyed, and then laughed as if I had said a very good joke, slapping his thighs repeatedly.

“Surely you are joking Mr.Horn. Here is my office. Let us sit and talk about this, hum, problem of yours.”

I sat sit down and looked around. It was your run-of-the-mill kind of office; a desk, some chairs and religious paraphernalia everywhere. Behind him was a big crucifix, with Jesus looking at me. I winced and looked away.

“Now, you said something about your shadow separating from you, and this has caused you distress?”

“Yes, exactly.” I then proceeded to tell him in minute details what had happened, from how my shadow had separated to how it had gone into my house and how I saw it hanging over me at the police station. And of course, that black smoke seen at the murder of that girl. He listened to my story without any interruption. At times he smiled and I wondered if he thought that I was crazy. Maybe he thought I was possessed? Finally he slumped back into his chair, put his two large hands on the sides of his head and said nothing for a while. He then looked at me and said only two words.

“The devil.” I looked at him with a blank face.

“What? That is your answer, your best response to what is happening to me? The devil?” I thought that he was joking, but he was not laughing. In fact he was quite serious.

“Yes Mr. Horn, it is the devil or the work of the devil. You must accept that it is.” I thought that his answer was too obvious and conventional. I should have expected such an answer coming from a priest but the answer was too simplistic.

“But I did not see a devil with horns, just my shadow and black smoke.” I replied glumly.

“I know, I know. But the devil can take many shapes and forms and for you, it was or seemed as if it was your shadow, but it was the devil I can assure you.” he said, seemingly convinced. He sat back in his chair and smiled.

I was not convinced. I knew that it could not be the answer. I knew then that a priest was not the person who could solve my problems after all. I decided to cut short our meeting as it was pointless to continue. I stood up abruptly, catching him by surprise.

“Where are you going my friend, the devil is after you and you need help!” he cried out. “Sit down and let’s pray to almighty God to save you. Are you saved?” he said in a hesitant voice, fearful of the answer.

“Hum, no, look, thanks for everything and for the time spent with me but I think that I have to leave now.” He looked at me astonished as I quickly left his office. As I was exiting the church I suddenly heard his booming voice.

“The devil will get you Mr. Horn, mark my words. He’ll get you when you least expect it!”

I hurried out of that church, eager to get away from that voice that offered only simple explanations to me, a sort of one-size-fits-all solution. I should have known better than to go to a churchman. For them, it starts with the devil and it ends with the devil.


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Chapter 8.

Detective Strong on the case.




This new murder had occurred in another part of town near the industrial sector. The victim was in the import/export business and was found in his warehouse pinned to the wall by a forklift. There were no witnesses as it was late at night and the other employees had left as the victim had a habit of working after hours often alone. His name was Andrew Trent. Detective Strong arrived in his car along with Detective Fisher. Fisher was new to this and so had been paired with Strong who had much experience.

“Has anything been touched?” asked Strong.

“No, nothing.” replied a policeman guarding the scene of the crime. The victim was still pinned to the wall with half the body slumped over the forklift. Strong began walking around the scene of the crime looking carefully at the victim’s position. The victim had probably suffered internal injuries and that would probably be the cause of death. Evidently, it was not an accident.

“Fisher, I want a list of all the employees that the victim had on his staff, and find out if any of them held a grudge against him. Look as well at recently discharged employees.”

“Sure, no problem. I’ll get on it right now.” Fisher proceeded to the office above the warehouse. One secretary had been asked to come down to give a hand and she proceeded rapidly in finding a list of employees and giving it to Detective Fisher. Meanwhile Detective Strong was still examining the scene of the crime. It seemed that the victim had been surprised as a look of shock was on his face. In his right hand he was still holding a crowbar. It was clear that the lift had been hit repeatedly but to no avail as it impaled the victim and pinned it to the wall. The special crime unit finally arrived and proceeded to do various tests. Strong wanted to know especially if there were any fingerprints on or around the lift. Maybe the murderer had been careless in operating the forklift. The foreman of the warehouse had been called down and as he arrived Strong began peppering him with questions.

“Your name is Pedro Silvio, is that right sir?” asked Strong.

“Yes it is. Am I in some sort of trouble Detective? Because I did nothing wrong here, just doing my job.”

“Don’t worry Mr. Silvio. I just want to ask you some questions, that’s all. First, did your boss have the habit of working late and alone most of the time?”

“Oh yes, Mt. Trent always used to do that. The employees left at 5 but he often stayed until 8 or even 9. I would often stay with him until 6 or 6:30.”

“So him staying late was normal then.”

“Yes, absolutely.”

“Among the employees, were there some who hated him, maybe wanted to harm him?”

At that question Pedro visibly squirmed. He had to tell the truth, he knew that he had no choice. “You know, Mr. Trent was a hard boss and he drove his employees hard. They were paid just above the minimum wage and he asked me to monitor how long they stayed in the bathrooms. He was a hard boss, no question.” he said shaking his head.

“Yes, I understand, but did you hear any employees wanting to take revenge on him, or were there any altercation at work, physical altercations that is, between the boss and his employees? said Strong.

“No Mr. Strong, none of that. There were occasional shouting matches but usually the employees were too scared to respond as they needed to work to put food on the table for their families. You have to understand that most of the employees were either recent immigrants or they were Latinos. Very few whites wanted to work here. But I do remember one white who worked here some years back. He was not an easy fellow.”

“Oh, tell me more about that guy. Did he get often in skirmishes with his boss?”

“Yes, I must say that there were often disagreements between them. I often heard shouting matches and I remember the employee left in a huff after a couple of years.”

“Would you remember his name by any chance?”

“He had a peculiar name. I remember that his last name was like a musical instrument…Horn, yes, that was his last name. His name was Horn.” said Pedro Silvio, happy that he had remembered the name.

“Is it possible that his first name was Walter?” asked the detective.

“Yes, yes that’s it. It was Walter Horn.” beamed Pedro. “Do you know him?”

“Well let’s just say that this Walter Horn is a person of interest in several cases.” said the detective smiling. He thought that to have the same name appear in two different murder scenes was more than a coincidence. It would have to be pursued.



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Chapter 7.

Why me?



I took the bus home, still unsure of what to make of this nonsense. Now the shadow appears and now it doesn’t. And to appear just outside the police station! I was amazed at this brazen act. It seemed to be taunting me. There was no doubt in my mind that the murder of that girl and the black smoke were connected and yet, I still could not understood how this smoke could have killed her, except by being frightened, or so the police said. I admit that I was afraid of this apparition but that it could lead to death seemed to me far-fetched. I decided that it was best to try and forget this and prepare myself for work tomorrow morning. I went to bed early but could not sleep. In my mind I turned over and over the facts of my case; something or someone was pursuing me and now it seemed that it might be reaching back into my past and hurting people that had injured me. I thought the whole idea was ridiculous. At that thought, and after some more tossing and turning I slowly fell asleep. But not before an old employer of mine appeared in my thoughts.

Andrew Trent had been my first employer a long time ago. At first he had been a pleasant boss to work with but it soon turned into a nightmare. After some time had elapsed he had reverted to his true self; a mean son of a bitch who liked to squeeze his employees. He had begun asking me to stay longer and longer after regular hours, but he didn’t report these hours faithfully. When I complained that not all of my hours where on my pay slip he argued that it was normal! I was young but I wasn’t dumb. At some point he stopped even saying hello to me. He was an incredibly rude and nasty fellow when pushed around. After a few weeks of this I complained to the authorities about his way of doing business with his employees but when he was contacted by them he conveniently denied it all. He marched me in his office and we had a good old screaming match, with him at some point throwing a book at me. I simply took the hint and walked out, cursing him loudly. I could still hear his hideous laugh which sounded more like an animal than a human being. I had forgotten all about him until tonight as I lay in bed. Finally, after re-living this episode of my life I fell asleep.

I did not sleep well, tossing and turning and still thinking about my old boss. I dreamt that I was in his office, shouting and cursing at him. He responded but I took a chair and hammered him repeatedly until he was on the floor, simply a mass of tissue oozing blood and guts everywhere. I was smiling at what was left of him and continued hammering him till he simply disappeared. I awoke satisfied and smiling to myself. I got up and dressed, ready to go to work. Putting on the radio I heard the news; another murder had occurred and a black smoke had been seen in the vicinity of it. It was the same thing as in the murder of Nancy all over again.

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Chapter 6.

The police asks questions.



The police began looking into the past of the unfortunate girl and identified her as Nancy Sweet. The case was given to Detective Strong, an experienced detective. He looked at the file and began to question all those who had previous dealings with the deceased and that included me, Walter Horn. I was asked to pay the police a visit to answer some questions. I arrived promptly at 09:00 am the next morning. I entered the station and after a few minutes of waiting a man came towards me.

“Hello, my name is Detective Strong. I am happy to see that you came quickly Mr. Horn.”

“Well I have nothing to hide about Nancy. We had our ups and down in our short relationship but nothing that was very serious.” I replied in a friendly manner.

“Here, let us sit down and talk. Do you want a cup of coffee?”

“No thanks. I had one already.” I sat down and looked around me while the Detective fished out the file of Nancy. He took some paper and pen and then looked at me carefully.

“Mr. Horn, could you tell me how long you dated Miss Sweet?”

“Well, it was a few years, maybe two I think. It was five years ago.”

“Fine. Now tell me, what was the reason of your break-up?”

“If I recall correctly, she dumped me for a lawyer.” I said, trying not to let my feelings spill out in an too overt way.

“And how did you feel when she left you for that lawyer, did you feel angry?”

I knew that this was dangerous territory. I did not want him to know of my anger towards Nancy and how I still harbored negative feelings towards her. I had to be careful in my answer. I had not kill Nancy but I didn’t want the police to look at me as a suspect. “Well, at first I was sad at our break-up, and then I was not surprised at her leaving me.” I tried to answer in a nonchalant way.

“And why not? Why were you not surprised? Or angry?” asked the detective.

“Nancy really wanted to move up in society and she knew that my job in a meat-packing plant gave me no opportunity to do so. I was stuck and my wages would not move up that much.” I said.

“I see.” replied the Detective. He was furiously writing on his pad. “Would you say her social standing and money were important to her then?”

“Yes of course.” I replied. “She lived for money. She often told me that I was not making enough.”

“Well you know women,” said the Detective. “they need to shop and they need lots of money.” He said smiling at me. I smiled back. “And so by leaving you for a lawyer she obtained both objectives, a higher social status and more money, right”

“I guess so.” I replied gently. I was happy that my true feelings about her would remain concealed. I was happy that the little bitch was dead, but I would not have lifted a finger to do this evil deed.

“A final question Mr. Horn. Where were you on the day of the murder?”

“I was at work of course, at the meat-packing plan. People can vouch for me.” I replied nervously.

“Well Mr. Horn that will be all, thank-you very much for taking the time to answer my questions. Much obliged.”

“Is that all, I can leave now?” I asked in a cautious manner.

“Yes of course, let me accompany you to the door. And thanks again.” said the detective.

With that the door closed behind me and I left the police station. His questions and my answers had taken only twenty minutes. I was about to walk out the station when I felt a strange tingling in my spine. I looked up and there it was, the hideous shadow looking at me and pointing its finger towards me! It was over my head and it stayed there for less than a second and then it disappeared.

I ran out on the streets like a madman, looking behind me and above. Nothing. It had disappeared. I continued running with my heart pounding in my chest when I finally sat down on a park bench facing the street. My bus was on the opposite side but for now I decided to rest and think about what had happened.

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Chapter 5.

The Murder.


The newspapers reported that the girl had been killed in broad daylight in her apartment and that a thick black smoke had been seen escaping from one of the open windows. Firefighters had been called to the scene of the crime and had discovered the body but curiously enough, no fire was discovered.

I had heard about the murder on the evening news. I didn’t think much of it until I learned about the smoke, its color and how it had escaped from the apartment. Naturally I bought the newspaper the next day to learn more about the details, but there wasn’t much. It is only when I read the name in the paper that I realized that I knew the girl; she had been an old girlfriend of mine that had ditched me in favor of a lawyer. She liked money and I had none. She wanted to move up the social ladder and with me that was not possible. I realized as I reminisced that I still had negative feelings towards her as well as some anger. Even five years later, I still felt it. I wasn’t proud of holding such a grudge for so long, but I just could not forget.

The police were perplexed at her death as no apparent cause was present. The coroner investigating had decided that an autopsy was necessary to find the cause of death. It seemed that she had died from a heart attack or a sudden shock to the system according to the coroner. The body had been found in the bedroom, on the bed itself. She was obviously ready to go to bed when she died. The body was intact with no traces of foul play. The only thing that was disturbing was the expression on her face when she was found; it was a mixture of disbelief and fear. Something or someone had scared her to death it seemed.

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