Sunday, March 27, 2011

Stull #11

Previously on Stull, Frank York was hired by Judith Lawrence to investigate the death of her husband and son.  Judith then hires Frank and his friends and co-workers Matt Stull and Katie Anderson, to investigate the Stull Curse.  Matt, a descendant of the original town founders has lost his father and his Uncle John to the curse.  Frank, Matt and Katie are now looking for a book that has a detailed history of the founding of Stull to see where the curse originated.  Their search has proved futile.  Judith, wanting Frank to succeed, willed his Historical Society $5.6 million shortly before she passed away.

Frank sat at his desk with his phone pressed against his ear.  "I know he's not the best driver but you tell him that you want to drive on the way back.  It's a company car and I'm the boss so he has to listen to me," the front door opened and two people, a tall, lanky young man with slight pointy chin and glasses and a short, freckled girl with dark eyes and brown curly hair, came in.  "I have to go.  The new employees are here."  Frank got up and greeted them.  "Hello, John Garner and Jennifer Cramer?"

"Yes, and you're Frank York?" John asked shaking Frank's hand.

"Yes.  The other two, Matt and Katie, are not here.  They are in Columbus at the history museum," Frank explained.  "Well, let me tell you a bit more about the job.  I have a rule that two people go out on investigations.  There have been times where just one person went out but I would prefer at least two people go.  Jennifer."

"Jen," Jen corrected.

"Jen, your main function will be to man the front desk.  In the past, if all three were out, we had to close the Society which I don't like doing.  Occasionally you will go out into the field which we talked about over the phone during the interview."

"Yes.  I don't mind.  I like the outdoors."

"John, you had extensive knowledge about Stanton County which impressed me so you will be out in the field a lot with me, Matt and Katie."

"I look forward to exploring the county with you," John said.

"Now to give you an idea of what we actually do out there, we have been invited to investigate the ballroom at the Delia Hotel.  It's been locked to the public since the 1940s."

"How come?" Jen asked.

"I'll tell you on the way there," Frank smiled.

"The Delia Hotel"
Katie was on her fifth book on the history of Stanton County. Matt was on his second book on the history surrounding Stull and Fort Bradshaw which was about seven miles to the southwest of Stull in Grant Township.

"I didn't know my great-great-great grandpa played such a big role at Fort Bradshaw. And did you know that before 1840, Rock Creek Township was an Indian reservation for the Comchau Indians," Matt said.

"I did not know that. I didn't even know that there was a fort in Stanton County."

"It sounds familiar but it was probably something I ignored Frank on when he would talk about it. It looks like it was pretty short-lived--1817 when the reservation and the county was created until 1832 when the reservation was disbanded when Comchau Township was established--the township would be renamed Stull for two years until being named Rock Creek in 1835," Matt read. "It appears that it was requested that Fort Bradshaw be closed after 'the controversies surrounding the Stull founding and massacre,'" Matt concluded.

"Massacre?" Katie asked. "What massacre?"

"I don't know. It doesn't say in this book and the other book I had didn't even mention a massacre."

"The books I read didn't mention a massacre either. They didn't even mention the Comchau."

"It's like some sort of century old conspiracy. Whatever happened must've been terrible. And since it appears the people staying at the fort are covering up then it must've been something the town founders did," Matt said. "Something my great-great-great grandfather helped do."

"Now don't think that way. It was a different time back then and I'm sure it's not as bad as the term 'massacre' leads it to be," Katie reassured, taking Matt's hand.

"I'm going to ask the researchers if they have any other information on the massacre then we can go get some lunch," Matt said, standing up. He then walked over to one of the people that worked there.

Frank, John and Jen were a few miles west of Delia and they could see the town on the horizon. "So in 1947, a homecoming dance was being held at the Delia Hotel. The dance was then crashed by Curtis Montgomery, a serial killer that had been leaving a trail of dead bodies along the Ohio-Indiana state line. There was a stand-off for nearly 24 hours and while some of the kids managed to escape, Montgomery was able to hold onto some slicing their throats when he needed to. The police were able to capture Montgomery but not until after he had killed thirteen students. The ballroom has been sealed up since," Frank said as he drove them to Delia.

John and Jen remained silent for a few seconds. "You're making that up!" Jen exclaimed.

"I agree," John said. "It sounds too much like a movie plot to be true. Maybe a Lifetime movie. And I'm pretty sure, as an employer, you cannot legally haze us like we're in a fraternity."

"I'm not hazing you," Frank said. "The new owners of the hotel are doing some renovations and want to renovate the ballroom into a bar."

"I still say you are lying," Jen sighed.

Frank pulled into the gravel hotel parking lot and parked. "All right. You'll just have to see for yourself," Frank shrugged. The three of them walked up to a man who was stacking crates in the back. "Mr. Bruce? Frank York from the Rock Creek Historical Society. This is John Garner and Jen Cramer. It is their first day with the Society and they don't believe a serial killer crashed a homecoming dance in the 1940s."

"Oh, it happened. Made all the papers in a five county radius and the big papers in Indianapolis, Columbus and Cincinnati. In fact, rumor has it that the ballroom was sealed up so soon that the blood is still on the dance floor," Mr. Bruce said. "Come on, the only way down is through the hotel. The outside door was sealed up by bricks."

They went to the front of the hotel and went in. Despite being closed for fifteen years, the hotel interior was still in great condition. Mr. Bruce led them past the front desk and into a large room labeled 'employees only.'

"The kitchen was remodeled after the murders and the door was hidden by a gigantic refrigerator along with being padlocked. We are completely renovating the kitchen also and when the fridge was moved, the door was rediscovered," Mr. Bruce picked up an axe. "Ready? We don't have a key for the padlock."

"We're ready," Frank said.

Mr. Bruce struck at the padlock on the door several times until the clinked to the floor and the door clicked open. Mr. Bruce grabbed a flashlight and Frank pulled one out of the pack he was carrying. They all slowly descended the steps into the ballroom. A thick layer of dust coated everything. Giant spider and cobwebs were everywhere and the slight scurrying of either rodents or insects could be heard.

"Well, this is gross..." Jen scoffed.

"Don't open your mouth too much. You never know what could fall in it," Frank said. Jen clamped her mouth shut.

They all looked around for several minutes. The stage at one end of the ballroom creaked and groaned as Frank pushed against it. Frank found something on the floor and called Jen and John over.

"What is it?" Jen asked.

"See for yourself," Frank pointed the flashlight at the floor and a faded red spot dried hard to the dust-covered dance floor.

"Is that..." Jen began.

"Blood?" John finished.

"I'll show you the newspapers when we get back to the Society," Frank smiled.

Matt and Katie had left the historical society and went to a restaurant to talk about what they had learned. "So from what that lady found out about a massacre in Stanton County, it is--or was--called the End Road Massacre. It happened a year before Stull was founded. It was apparently a fight between the Comchau and the soldiers at Fort Bradshaw. She didn't have any details on what the fight entailed but that it was requested that Fort Bradshaw be shut down," Matt said. "I think my ancestors did something horrible to the Comchau."

"You have no proof!" Katie exclaimed. "We can give Frank this information and we look into this further. We have a name for it now. The End Road Massacre. I'm sure your ancestors didn't do anything wrong. And if they did, so what?! It in no way changes who you are," Katie reached across the table and took Matt's hand.

They both froze and looked at each other. "So we'll call Frank when we're finished with dinner?" Matt asked.

"Yeah. Sounds good. He can start looking while we're driving back to Stull."

"Or we can go see a movie before we head back," Matt looked at Katie who blushed and innocently took a drink of her tea.

"That sounds even better," she smiled.