Saturday, May 07, 2011

Stull #14

The Outlook at Stanton State Lake was swarming with police officers. Detective Edmund Bilko along with Frank, Matt, John and Katie stood at the bench as the man was loaded onto a stretcher and zipped into a bag. Detective Bilko rubbed his chin with his thumb and forefinger. “No sign of foul play. No trauma to the head or neck, no blood. More than likely he was poisoned,” Detective Bilko said.

“Did he have any identification on him?” Frank asked.

“Not that we could tell. We’ll check more thoroughly when we get back to Tontzville,” Detective Bilko said. “They’ve put me in charge of this case and I’ve asked if you could help me.”

“Why us?” Matt asked. “We’re not crime scene investigators.”

“But you know the area and it’ll be good to have extra sets of eyes on this,” Detective Bilko explained.

“That’s true. We rarely…” John looked down and put his glasses back on, “overlook things.”

Frank, Matt, Katie and Detective Bilko looked at him, confused. “What the hell was that?” Matt asked.

“I was trying to make a joke.”

“Well, don’t. A man died, John,” Katie chastised.

They started walking down the hill along the path away from the Overlook bench. John lagged behind.

“The Body”

Katie walked into the Society and sat down in a chair that was placed by the door. “What are you doing back? Where are the others?” Jen asked from behind her desk in the lobby.

“Detective Bilko wanted us to work on the case. The boys stayed behind but I had had enough of dead bodie,” Katie sighed.

“I bet. I’ve never seen a dead body before. At least not one that wasn’t in a casket,” Jen said. “How are we qualified enough to find a murderer? We’re barely qualified to open a can of beans.”

“That’s what Matt said. Detective Bilko likes the way we never overlook things. Frank is really the only one that doesn’t overlook stuff but I think Matt and John stayed just to not look scared,” Katie smiled.

Jen chuckled. “Frank’s not very young is he?” she asked.

“He’s 27, same as us—well, me and Matt,” Katie said. “Why?”

“I don’t know. This just seems like a weird occupation to have. How did he get into this?”

“Well, technically he got into it by having a crazy, murderous sister and believing in the Stull Curse but he got interested in history by doing some late-night ghosthunting while in high school,” Katie explained.

“So he was a dork even back then,” Jen laughed.

“Of course. He lived with grandparents and he would sneak out with Matt and a couple of other friends. They would drive around the county all night and go to abandoned houses to see if there were anything worth taking. Frank didn’t have his moral compass completely set back then,” Katie explained then continued. “It wasn’t until they went to the Old Stull Church that Frank got into the history of his community.”

“That’s that old church along 5th Street, right?”

“Yep. Been standing since 1834. When Frank opened the Society he immediately tried to save the church but most everyone just laughed at him. He was able to get enough money to have a sign erected noting the importance of the church to the community,” Katie said.

“Well, that’s good at least.”

“The sign was stolen eight months later. He refuses to put up another one.”

The man who does the autopsies in Tontzville is hired out from Dayton and therefore took nearly two hours for him to arrive despite only taking about an hour to get to Tontzville from Dayton.

“He looks Jewish,” John commented as the sheet was removed from the man’s body. His clothes had been removed and locked away for right now.

The medical examiner pulled the sheet down further. “Well, he’s not circumsized…” he said, slightly under his breath. “I’m going to start making an incision if any of you want to leave the room.”

“Well, go out and investigate his clothes. There may be some identification somewhere on him,” Detective Bilko said and led the guys out of the exam room and opened a locker where the man’s clothes had been placed in a plastic bag. He laid out the suit and the four of them looked at it.

“It’s spotless. Even his shoes and he had to walk up that dirt trail to get to the Overlook,” Frank pointed out. “Does he have a wallet?”

“No,” Detective Bilko said. “We checked at the Overlook.”

“Is there anything in his pockets?” John wondered.

Detective Bilko stuck his hand into the four pants pockets and the two jacket pockets. “Nothing,” Detective Bilko said. “I figured there wouldn’t be anything. It’s obvious he didn’t die of natural causes. He was murdered.”

Jen and Katie had locked up the Society and drove to Tontzville to get dinner. They were at a Chinese restaurant and Jen had just finished her meal. “So how did you and Matt get wrapped up in all of this?”

“Frank and Matt have known each other since Kindergarten. I moved to Stull in the sixth grade and, I admit, had kind of a crush on Frank. When…” Katie paused and looked down at her plate. “When my mom hung herself, Frank consoled me and told me about the curse. I didn’t really believe him but it made me feel better knowing that there was a better reason for why my mom did that.”

“Your mom hung herself? I’m so sorry,” Jen said. Katie shrugged. “How did Frank get the money to open to open the Society?”

“His parents had money—when he turned 18, he got their money which helped start it. When his aunt died, she left him her house, completely paid for. The Society made very little money but enough for Frank, Matt and I to get along,” Katie explained.

“Cool. Do you still have a crush on Frank?” Jen asked.

“Not really. I know more about him and I just don’t think it would work out. Especially after what happened with Lana,” Katie said.

“I didn’t think so. I’ve seen the way you look at Matt,” Jen smiled.

“What? I don’t ‘look’ at Matt,” Katie defended.

“Sure you do. I notice it. I don’t know if Frank does but John notices. However I would think you’d be taking his leaving harder.”

“His leaving? What do you mean?”

“I heard Frank and Matt talking. Matt’s going to become the Society’s out-of-state paranormal researcher,” Jen revealed.

Katie just stared at Jen.

“His fingerprints are not in any database, his dental records don’t match up with any on file,” Detective Bilko said. “He is definitely a John Doe.”

“That is so strange that there is nothing to identify this man,” Frank said.

The medical examiner came into the room. “I completed the autopsy. I found nothing in his body or in his bloodstream. I can tell he did not die from natural causes. His last meal was a Danish and from what I could tell, there was nothing in the Danish either.”

“There was a pack of cigarettes in a pocket. Can you analyze those and see if they are suspicious?” Detective Bilko handed the pack of cigarettes to the examiner.

“Certainly,” the examiner went back into the exam room.

“What if there’s nothing on the cigarettes?” John asked.

“Then we’re back to square one. Dead guy with no signs of death.”

“Then we get his face out there,” Matt said. “Plaster it on the front of every newspaper in the state and maybe even some papers in Indian and Kentucky. Someone’s got to know him.”