As Wyla and I concentrated our efforts on researching all we could on the IndyMerck facility of Saxony, there appeared to be two weeks of no victims found. The other three agents concentrated on finding out the progress of Rathbone’s new drug, Divinia.

Wyla joined me in the break room for lunch. The other agents she referred to as John, Paul, and George brought in supreme pizza and Stromboli sandwiches from Scampy’s. I ogled over the taste of the Stromboli. “How did they know about Scampy’s best sandwich?”

“These three had filled me in on the best places in Anderson to eat, especially the places that aren’t widely known,” Wyla said, taking another slice.

“Why do you call them, John, Paul, and George?”

“I call them those names for two reasons. One, they are all originally from Liverpool, England. Second reason, they have the same haircuts as the Beatles did when they came to the U.S. in 1970,” she said, giggling to herself.

We finished our high-caloric lunch by chasing down a more sensible beverage of bottled Dasani waters. “Glenda, how close have you gotten to sexy-looking Amado?”

“Well, I got real close on two occasions. I brushed closely with him at a neighborhood bar where he told me he was attracted to me. Another time, I joined him for dinner with the first victim and her longtime boyfriend at a trendy bistro in Muncie. We kissed; pretty heavy exchange on both our parts,” I told her, my face getting flushed when I mentioned our kisses.

She gave me a half-assed grin, as girlfriends do when talking about strong exchanges between a potential crush. She was all ears as I remembered something I thought was really peculiar about him.

“He ordered sweetbreads, and went through a very detailed explanation on how he wanted his order prepared.”

“Which organ of the animal did he order?” Wyla asked. I was impressed with her knowledge of the gourmet offal dish.

“He told the waiter to sear the pancreas of the calf lightly on each side with no breading. I couldn’t help but gag when the waiter brought it to him. The color of the calf’s internal organ was a fleshy-pink; not something I found very appetizing,” I said, visibly shuddering with my head and shoulders.

“Mmmm, quite the turn-off on a dinner date. This description does give my theory on Amado some strength.” Wyla pointed, raising her voice. “And this has great bearing on what happened to Luther’s fiancé. He couldn’t get what he wanted, so he went for her liver instead.”

As both of us experienced our appetites completely sated, the agent with the round silver frames who Wyla called John entered the break room. “Ladies, this is interesting. That group session up in the Twin Cities happens to be nonexistent. The guys and I checked out St. Paul and Minneapolis, every convention center and every educational institution known to hold seminars.”

“So much for Amado telling us the truth. I bet he is taking the drug himself,” Wyla said while she was washing her hands.

“John, round up Paul and George to get some solid information on what side effects Divinia is known to have.” Wyla turned to him, drying off her hands.

“Sounds good, but there is more. This tidbit of info adds to his lying,” John said.

“Well, I’m ready for anything now!” I burst out.

“There was a birth record of Amora, born to Ethan and Divinia Rathbone. There was no record of Amado.”

“Who the hell is Amado?” I asked.

“I believe that is a question for Ethan Rathbone. He won’t receive any of us at his home. John, you and the guys track him down at IndyMerck in Indianapolis. Do a cold call which he cannot run from.

“We need some evidence to get a search and seizure order. We’ve already called the office of Ethan Rathbone. All our calls refused. I fancy a cold call would be thwarted by some efficient secretary,” John said, shaking his head.

“Wait, I have an idea. It’s outside the police procedure area. Somehow, we need to get access to the Tower at the Rathbone estate. I’ve been wanting to see what it is like up there since Luther and I heard catlike noises coming from the drafty staircase,” I suggested, with both John and Wyla showing keen interest.

That day, John, Paul and George made a cold call to the office of Ethan Rathbone while Wyla and I put together a plan to get to the Tower quarters. On the drive to the Rathbone estate, we came up with a shaky plan; parking our vehicle close to the residence but away from blocking any driveway. We walked from a convenience store on the corner of 38th Street and North Meridian. Four blocks down on North Meridian Street was the gate.

Wyla motioned for me to join her some half-a-mile on the left from the gate, where there was a dense area of bushes. We climbed the bushes, which took us out of the security range of the butler’s intercom system. In the back part of the house, we both looked at the high and almost impossible climb of the Tower constructed in uneven stone.

Wyla, for some reason I did not question, had brought a rolled-up long parcel of strong rope, the rough kind that hurts while climbing. “Oh, shit, that is high with not too much for my feet to anchor onto. Well, somehow get over to the front door and pound on the door. Hide when it opens, and watch the butler come out to see if anyone is around. Move quickly and slither in, if you can without him knowing it.”

Wyla forgot one matter, pulled on me as I was about to move. “Take this rope. When you get up to where the quarters are, throw the rope down for me to climb up.”

I had so many questions rolling around in my head, but failed to ask. I pounded on the door as hard as I could. Like Wyla said, Wesley came to the door. He opened it wide, came out onto the front step, then walked a ways down the path to look around. I had enough time to slip in and run like a bandit to the stone staircase.

With each ascending step, my heart beat harder and faster. The surrounding air got so cold, I could almost see my breath. The hallway was extremely dark and formed in the shape of a large circle constructed in the same configuration of stonework as the outside of the Tower. There were four doors very worn-looking. When I got close to one door, I could see parts of the wood rotted away. I opened the door to a veil of cobwebs so thick that as I walked through them, they got in my hair and all over my clothes. When I got through the unpleasant veil, I saw an altar towards a back wall. There were unlit candles with large globs of dried wax on both sides of a long dark wooden table. In between the candles were framed photographs of women. I got closer and, to my amazement, recognized every woman in the array of frames.

I looked for a window; there was none. I got out my cellphone to take pictures of the overall altar, then took a photo of each woman. I moved on to the other closed doors. One door was full of metal racks of men’s and women’s clothing, wooden shelves full of shoes, undergarments, nightgowns, and hosiery. There was an old-fashioned white vanity table and a chair decorated in pink roses in some unique form of metalwork. The last door I went through had to have been the bedroom: an elaborate queen-size bed, end tables with Tiffany-glass lamps and a chaise lounge, and, to my great relief, a window.

I opened the vertical window to throw Wyla the rope. In a matter of 30 minutes or so, she climbed up for me to drag her into the interior of I assume was Amora’s bedroom. “You won’t believe what I found,” I told her, breathless with excitement. Wyla pushed her hand into my face. “All in good time.”

We walked to the fourth door. We both experienced another see-through curtain of cobwebs. Trying not to cough from the stench, we got deeper into the room. It was bare, except for a full-size mattress where there was one sheet, no pillows. There was no other furniture in the room, except for another window to the outside. The odor in the room smelled like stale blood and a lingering breeze of iodine.

We decided to run down the staircase and out the front door. The arrival of us reaching our vehicle did not take too long because of the yelling of Wesley Thornton on the heels of our departure. We got into the car, and I did not hesitate to make our journey back to Anderson.

“Wyla, the first room I entered had an altar with the photos of the women who had been attacked since June. I got pictures on my phone. Take a look.”

Wyla went through the display of photographs, all the while yelling some kind of triumphal yelp. “Well, now we can get a court order for the Saxony facility, Ethan’s office and his children’s offices, and one for the estate as well.”

“That last room gave me the creeps. Someone must hate their existence so much to live and sleep in such stench and filth; pathetic! I’m more confused, though, especially about Amado. John told us of no birth certificate for him. In one of the rooms, there were men’s clothes: suite jackets, pants, dress shoes, and men’s undergarments,” I said, shaking in frustration.

“We will get more answers. From the evidence on your phone, Gable must believe we are on to something. Today was a good day, believe it,” Wyla said, folding her arms and laying her head back onto the seat.

I was about to say something when my cellphone on the seat close to my thigh vibrated. Now on the straight run on I-69, I could pick it up without disturbing the steering. It was Luther.

“Hey, nice surprise! How’s things?”

“I’m getting sick of this house, but Althea is getting much better. She’s back to her sassy self. She wanted me to ask you to come over for dinner tonight.”

“Althea said that? Huh? Yeah, I will. What time?” I answered back somewhat excitedly. I wanted to share with him about what I took on my phone.

“Get here at 6:30 pm. Be nice to see your face.” He clicked off.

Wyla had me drop her off at the Hampton Inn. The climb up the Tower wore her out. I had enough time to get a shower and put on some clean clothes.

This was the first time I had set foot in Luther and Althea’s new home. I shook my head in amusement when I saw a pan filled with steaming dry ice on the front step to the front door. Luther opened the door, showing me in, looking casual and quite rested.

The living room was decorated in light wood Mission-style contemporary furniture accented by several full-size floor plants. I could smell the “come-hither” odors of dinner being prepared in their kitchen, which was in the center of the first floor. Luther showed me into the dining room, which I assumed had Althea’s stamp of colors: chocolate-brown walls with a slight sheen in between the stark white molding.

I sat down on one of the chairs on the longest side of the dining table while Luther sat at the end of the table closest to me. The woman of the house appeared at the kitchen archway looking stunning and very tall in a flowing purple blouse and matching dress pants. “Glenda, I’m glad you came. Do you want white or red wine? I’m serving a roast pork which can go either way.”

“I would like white, thanks.”

“Glenda, you look ragged, all drawn in the face,” Luther observed.

“We got a break today, but it was pretty touch and go. Wyla and I went back to the Rathbones’ without an invitation,” I said, taking my wine glass from Althea.

I did not get a chance to further divulge what the break in the case was, as Althea had brought in our entire three-course meal on a giant ceramic platter. She put the platter in the center of the table. “Now, you two, don’t be shy. I did Luther’s job of carving the roast in the kitchen. Serve yourselves; I’m no servant!”

“Well, I can tell you both this. The FBI agent and I broke into the Rathbone place and I was able to get some vital evidence in the Tower. I’m praying I won’t hear all shit hit the fan with Mitch,” I said while spooning the carrots, potatoes, and celery next to my slices of roast smothered in brown gravy.

Althea said, “I don’t know if you will get a balling out from your sergeant. He came to see me at the hospital.”

Luther added, “My outspoken lady told him every gory detail of her attacker. He got up, bent over, and kissed her forehead like he was her father.”

“Glenda, with Althea you have a solid confession from a professional in the mental health profession. And we have a trip coming up which will give this bizarre case more tooth,” Luther said, taking in some of his dinner.

All of us went about consuming our delicious and savory dinner before Althea scolded us for letting it get cold. Through the dinner and on into drinking more wine, I forgot about bringing my news to the table talk. Althea dropped a curious tidbit of information to me.

“Luther and I are going to Algiers with a flight to New Orleans in the morning out of Indy International.”

“Why Algiers? I assume this is not a pleasure vacation. Algiers is known to be quite dangerous,” I said, putting down my wine glass.

“Well, it is about who we are to see not what we want to see. There is a shaman there who has agreed to see us,” Luther said, then stared at me seeing I looked totally clueless. “A shaman has healing powers, known to interact with the spirits. Her name is Luana Barba; she is Filipina, originally from Roxas City in the Philippines.”

I sat there almost on the verge of tears. The rarity of this type of bubbling emotion came from complete exhaustion and the fact Luther was still in the game. I had not been a fan of Althea, but tonight, she seemed so different. She became another believer to the small group forming who was willing to take on an unknown evil that all of us knew would not stop the gruesome violence until we became like that shaman in Algiers.


For all installments from The Islands Tell of It, click here.

Previous installments:

  1. Chapter 1: The First Victim
  2. Chapter 2: Four Months Before October
  3. Chapter 3: Bobber’s Café
  4. Chapter 4: Heat Wave
  5. Chapter 5: Deep-End Dining
  6. Chapter 6: Rathbone Estate
  7. Chapter 7: Althea’s Run
  8. Chapter 8: Emergency Interrupts
  9. Chapter 9: Girls Talk Turkey