Good morning everyone!
A fine Tuesday it is, and seeing as it’s Tuesday I’ve got a story for you. Well, actually the end of a story. Our Occult Detective solves his second case! I hope everyone enjoys the conclusion of our tale.
If you’re just tuning in, you can check out A. Croste’s first case here: Double Croste
Didn’t catch the beginning of this mystery? Read the whole story here: Croste Your Heart… – or scroll down from the Homepage and check out Croste Your Heart parts one and two.
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Croste Your Heart (conclusion)
Then this “kaleidoscope” will be a lock pick to open a door that shouldn’t open! Arlo, we have to get back to that bakery before this fool opens a portal.
You really think he’s trying to make a portal, Alan? We’ve been on this road before…
I know the risk, Arlo. I’m worried too. But the Cops can’t do anything about this. It’s you and me.
We waved to Betty Lou as we made our way back outside. Wizards, warlocks, witches… We had no love for any of them. We climbed into the car and Alan drove us to the scene of the crime. The reporters and pedestrians would be gone by now, that makes our job easier. We parked across the street and fed a few nickels into the meter.
The sun was drooping and most folks were probably eating supper. The streets had cleared. The street-lamps would be coming on soon, we had move quick. We jogged across the road. The jewelry store was missing a section of wall from the second floor. The ground in the vacant lot was wet, no trace of blood or bone; the clean-up crew had done a good job.
We stopped short of the bakery, peeking through the windows. The shop was closed. But the thin line of light from beneath the door behind the counter told us someone was still there. The front door was locked and breaking the glass wasn’t an option. We patted our coat pockets down. No lock-picks. We needed another way in. How could you forget the picks, Alan?
I was a little stressed dealing the hangover you gave me. It was hard enough to drive this morning, Arlo. Take some responsibility for a change. I’m going around back to the alley. There may be an open or unlocked window we can reach from the fire escape.
Wait, wait, wait. I know I have some rosemary oil in here. We dug into a small pocket inside the coat. Luck was again in our corner. Okay, Alan. Open your revolver- the part that spins with the bullets.
The cylinder, Arlo. It’s called a cylinder.
That’s the part. A drop of this oil on each slug is going to save our lives. Well, only if you have to shoot him. Trust me, Alan.
We placed a single drop on each bullet and made our way around to the fire escape in the alley. The upstairs lights were dark and a single window sat open, curtains moving with the evening breeze. We took to the ladder like a spider.
Eww, no. Not spiders, Arlo. Rat, or a monkey, anything but spiders. Nasty little things.
We climbed the ladder, purposeful, quiet. The room was empty. Flower print couch and matching chair, covered in plastic, with doilies on the arms. Two lamps with beadwork shades sat like gargoyles at either end of the couch. We could hear the grinder running downstairs.
Alan pulled the .38 snub-nose as we made our way into the hallway. We slowly descended the stairs, pausing when the old wood creaked. When it seemed to have gone unnoticed, we continued. The stairs led into a short hallway that ended with three doors. One clearly led to the alley out back, another may have been a restroom or closet. The last had to have been the baking room, this was where the sound of the machine was coming from.
We leaned against the door listening. Someone was there, we could hear them moving. It was now or never. I yanked the door open and Alan took aim. The old man whirled, eyes wide, and dropped the eggs he was holding. Shaking, he put his hands in the air.
“No money. My son, he take to bank.” The old man’s voice was quivering.
The room was what you’d expect of a bakery. Thick wooden table tops covered in flour with large mixing bowls on shelves underneath. Big bins of flour and sugar. And in the corner, a beast of chipped white paint, sat an old refrigerator with the loudest cooling unit we’ve ever heard. No grinder to be found.
“I think you know I’m not here for your money. Drop the act. Where are the gemstones? Why’d you murder your partners?”
“I don’t know gemstones. I make bread, make pastry.” The old man was good, we almost believed him.
There were some dark powders in dishes on the table behind him, an open book that looked old and worn. “Step away from the grimoire. What’s the spell you’re working?”
“Spell? No spell, is cinnamon roll. Look, look.” The old man backed from the table, pointing. “Is cookbook, recipe. See?”
Alan kept the gun trained on him as we stepped closer. Shit, Alan. It’s a cookbook! What the hell is going on here? We looked back at the old man. We had another question but stopped when the front door opened. We eyed the door to the front room and waited.
The kid pushed through the door and froze staring at the gun. The same kid from the street earlier in the day that sent us to the bakery for coffee.
“You can’t be here. This is private property and you two aren’t cops.” The kid was smug.
“Private Detective. I’ve got every right to be here. It wasn’t your father, so it has to be you. All the clues come back here for the heist and the murders.”
“You can’t prove anything. Look at how those two died. You guys are just a couple of washed up drunks. I can smell the liquor from here.”
He moved his hands towards his pockets. “Keep the hands where we can see them!”
The old man was in shock, he looked bad. His face was pale and beading with sweat. This was a bad spot. How could we have missed this. The kid could obviously see both auras and knew there was two of us. He called it in the street, why didn’t we catch it, Alan?
“The stones are gone. Sold. You have nothing.” The kid laughed.
But we did have something the Police would like to see. The powder mixture he used. We could see the large mortar and pestle on a shelf below one of the tables. It was stone, we were willing to bet our jobs that fragments of bone were still embedded in the porous walls.
“We have enough. You’re pretty sloppy for a mage, kid. Your conduction material is fairly unique. It’s not the flour or powdered sugar that gets you arrested. But the human bone? That one ties you to the crime. We bet it’s still clinging to your shoes and a few other places.” We looked over to the old man. “Call the Police. Now.”
The kid glanced at his shoes and took a side look at the mortar and pestle. We got him. The old man dialed 9-1-1 from a phone in the corner of the shop. The kid looked up at us, a glint in his eye.
He began to wiggle his fingers. Mixing bowls and spoons trembled. We had no love for wizards, so Alan shot him. The bullet hit him square through the shoulder and dropped him. The kid screamed.
“That’s rosemary on that bullet, kid. I bet that hurts like hell. You do know what that does to a body that’s fused with arcane energy I trust. You’ll never work magic again, that’s a promise.”
Berkowitz and a few Uniforms came in after a few minutes and hauled the kid out. Paramedics took him to the hospital with the Cops. We explained the connection between the kid and the crimes to Berkowitz, leaving out the transportation magic. We played that off like we had no idea. Berkowitz wasn’t the type of Cop to understand or even believe that part. A forensic team came through and gathered the evidence we knew about.
The gemstones were another matter. The gate key the Guy on 5th spoke of, the kaleidoscope, was still in the wind. Maybe the Cops could get a lead on the missing stones. We only hoped they were out of our city. Still, we’d make some calls, reach out to others that worked to keep the supernatural out of the view of the natural.
It had been a long day, we were tired. We climbed back into the car and noticed the cannoli we hadn’t eaten from earlier. We opened the bag and took a bite. Delicious.