That night, I tossed and turned. My mind was restless but fought a deep exhaustion for fear I would experience images taking me into a dark realm I wanted no part of. After an early morning shower, I knew I had to face Wesley Thornton.

Finishing up lunch at one of downtown Carmel’s outdoor bistros, I called Luther. He bellowed, “Well, I was wondering when you would make contact. Any sign of Thornton in your California search?”

“Yes, I got an address. First, I need to ask some questions about the disappearance of a local woman Wesley was seen with at an infamous gathering place in Big Sur.”

“Are you thinking another victim of our escaped prisoner? Maybe, for some strange reason, Wesley moved to the West Coast because of some insane loyalty to Amora?”

I huffed, then answered, “You know, from a sleepless night, I have a hunch his move had nothing to do with Amora.”

“Hope you’ve got your handgun and badge on hand. In case you need them,” Luther said.

“Oh, for sure. Didn’t leave home without them. I’ll contact you when the dust settles; if it does. I’ve got such a dread rolling around in my head,” I told him, then clicked off.

The waitress came over to give me the check. I asked her, “Do you happen to know an Irene who is a widow living in the Big Sur area?”

She nodded enthusiastically. “Oh, yes! She’s my older sister’s employer. Irene owns and runs the art gallery down by the beach entrance at the end of this street.”

I walked down the steep hill, getting closer to the view of the crystal, glimmering ocean waters lightly moving along the sun-bleached shore. I came to a storefront with a sign reading “Oceanfront Gallery.” The white walls were graced with large, striking paintings depicting ocean scenes in contemporary modular styles and bright, bold colors.

A medium-height redhead dressed in a close-fitting green dress approached me. “Welcome to Oceanfront. How can I direct you today?”

“Well, I’m looking for Irene. Is she in today?” I told her, flashing my badge in case the young lady got cagey in wanting to talk to me.

The bouncy, overly-cheerful young woman changed into a somber person. She waved me to follow her away from the other patrons studying the artwork in the connecting rooms. “I haven’t seen her for at least a week. I’ve called her home several times and left messages. This isn’t like her.”

I pulled out my small notebook from my back pocket. “Could you give me an address? I can take a gander. See if I get any clues to help with this mystery.”

“Yes, by all means, Officer. Her home is a couple of miles past the Big Sur Village on Highway 1, 3555 View Terra.”


I drove past the village after getting a tip from a clerk at a gas station and combination minimart. I looked for the sign called View Terra, where the surrounding land became elevated. The clerk had told me the lengthy, curvy stretch was one treacherous climb. My car ascended, then on the right, I could feel a sudden drop. There were large evergreen trees on each side of a noticeable white-paved entrance. The driveway curved going up some. I passed a three-car garage where there appeared numbers in fancy script, “3555.”

I drove closer to a small neo-French estate in antique white stucco and light blue trim. I parked in front of the last garage door. I walked over to each window at each garage door. No cars to be found; I saw only a line of large garden tools along the back wall.

I knocked on the shiny brass front door. Getting no answer, I checked to see if the door was locked. The front door was securely locked. I walked through a natural fence of California blue pine to the back of the house. The long succession of glassed-in windows showed no one walking through the visible kitchen and adjoining living room.

In my mind, I imagined making my way through the naturally illuminated series of rooms out into the redwood deck. I couldn’t imagine how one person could live with such a vast space of living quarters when I had always been satisfied with my two bedroom walk-up apartment in Anderson.

I walked around the house to the bottom of the deck steps. I turned around, viewing the sun-glistened moderate-moving waves, kissing ever so lightly onto the jutted-up, dark-coned brown and purple rocks. Obviously, the woman was nowhere to be found. Perhaps, driving to my final destination in this exclusive paradise, she would be there under the captive company of my main focus. She was hopefully alive and well, mystery solved.

At the hour of the day brilliant colors gave a display of dusk, I came to the residence of Wesley Thornton. To my surprise, I spied the Rathbone black limousine parked along the curved driveway. Well, well, he kept something to remind himself of his station in life before his vast wealth landed him among the richies of Big Sur.

I got to the front door. To my surprise, it was opened only a few inches, but enough to give me access to the interior. I made my way through the spacious, naturally illuminated series of rooms decorated in a minimum of style, neutral colors with an occasional overstuffed sectional, then to my left, a long glass table I assumed to be the dining area.

I walked outside through the open sliding-glass doors to a huge, dark-red planked deck made of redwood. I got to the railing, viewing the sun-glistened, slow-moving waves kissing up against the jutted-up dark brown and purple cone-shaped rocks. I leaned over to realize the house was secured from several rafters over a canyon below.

My vision followed the sound of the waves to my far right. There sat a rock formation very large and domed. It seemed to be the exterior of a seaside cavern. In the center there was a weathered door, an odd presence in the midst of the waves and various sea caves making up the canyon.

A white-haired man opened the door, holding a towel. I squinted to get better focus as he came into view, carefully walking from rock to rock. It was Wesley, dressed in a white water-stained T-shirt and a pair of tan shorts.

I stood fast as he made his way to the top step of the deck. Facing me, he spoke with no evidence of surprise. “I knew you would track me down. You’ve come just in time. I’m going to prepare dinner.”

Before I answered back, I noticed under the towel was a plastic bag containing some kind of pale-pink mystery meat. “Wesley, you obviously making dinner for your guest. I know about Irene.”

He brushed past me. “No Irene here. On the contrary, join me for dinner.”

I was hoping for more words about the missing woman. He offered nothing to my usual curiosity. I chose not to push in order to get what I had initially drove two thousand miles to find out.

I followed him to the open-air kitchen. Sitting down at the center bar, I could hear the soft movement of the nearby ocean waters gliding over the rock formations. Nothing of the blasting of wind and waves Kerouac would describe on his first initial meeting to his Big Sur experience at his friend’s small cabin under the Bixby Bridge.

“This place is truly spectacular. I might ruin your tranquil day with questions I’ve been mulling over since Amora escaped the Anderson jail.”

“No worries. You wouldn’t be true to form if you didn’t follow through with your detective side,” Wesley stated as he brought out what was inside the bag. He held the slimy contents in his hands like he was holding a newborn baby, rinsing the animal organs in the double sink.

“Tonight, I have a yen for sweetbreads. In the oven over there, I have pork chops, which you will probably prefer to eat over what I am holding here,” he continued.

“What is it with you gourmets loving sweetbreads? I only got introduced to that once.” I stopped; my mind went to the time I watched who I thought was Amado consuming the pancreas of an animal in only a few bites. Suddenly, I felt a panic. My mind reeled in a question. What in the hell is going on? Why do I panic seeing him prepare this?

I gathered up my inward shuddering. “So, you did expect me?”

“I got a message from one of my golfing buddies. He described you, then gave me a warning. You told him about being a cop. I’m sure he was taken off guard. He is known as the community playboy ever since his wife passed away.”

Even through my present state of fear, I found that comment amusing. “Oh, yeah! The guy who I had dinner with, looking like a Don Johnson clone. When I told him about being a cop, you should have seen his face. He bolted.”

Tossing a salad, Wesley juxtaposed movements to sear the sweetbreads. I decided to go for broke and ask an obvious question. “You know where Amora is, don’t you?”

“My dear detective, we will discuss your insatiable curiosity about Amora over our entrees. Be patient; you will get what you came for.”

I sat there, watching his calculated synchronization of preparing the pinkish-pale animal organ. Odd; it reminded me of how Amado/Amora instructed the waiter months ago his personal specifics on how the sweetbreads were to be prepared. Panic gripped my heart like someone had magically entered my chest cavity to grab onto my beating organ. The same precise steps were being taken.

My plate looked like I was being served from a chef in the most elegant of restaurants; two large pork chops smothered in a mustard sauce, complemented by a salad lightly tossed in a poppy seed dressing. I joined Wesley at the glass dining room table. I stared down at the head of the table to see he was only to eat the sweetbreads.

Enjoying the red wine served along with the delicious entrée, I had to probe. “Well, you promised to feed my insatiable desire to know about Amora.”

He swallowed the last bite of the sweetbreads, then took a sip from his wine glass. “Let me begin by confessing a conviction I have possessed. Amora had always been somewhat of a troubling soul even before her manifestation. After her escape, she realized her invincibility with her powers to control others by the legendary dark magic of this phenomena of aswang. She had to be destroyed forever.”

“How was that to be done?”

“Are you done eating?”

I wrinkled my nose, confused about the state of my meal consumption. “Why ask that?”

“My answer will not only repulse you, but will put you into instant fright,” Wesley stated, his blue eyes brightened in extreme intensity.

“I have to know. Screw how I will react!”

“Before I divulge what went on, I need to make an important trip to the master bath. Don’t go away.”

I sat there, my mind racing as to the reason for his sudden trip to the bathroom. Another fact that set my mind to wonder; he took his half-full wine glass with him. Nothing to do but wait, so I poured more wine into my glass.


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
  10. Chapter 10: There Came a Lull
  11. Chapter 11: Dangerous Mind
  12. Chapter 12: Luana Barba
  13. Chapter 13: Trip to Milwaukee
  14. Chapter 14: Enough Killing
  15. Chapter 15: A Parking Lot Visitation
  16. Chapter 16: The Restaurant
  17. Chapter 17: Late-Night Work
  18. Chapter 18: Grandpa Pete
  19. Chapter 19: A Group is Formed
  20. Chapter 20: Rendezvous with Evil
  21. Chapter 21: The Upside-Down of it All
  22. Chapter 22: Two Ways to Fight
  23. Chapter 23: I Have to See Her
  24. Chapter 24: A Funeral
  25. Chapter 25: Unaware
  26. Chapter 26: Synchronized Surprise
  27. Chapter 27: The Show Must Go On
  28. Chapter 28: Is it Business as Usual?
  29. Chapter 29: Going on Leave
  30. Chapter 30: Bungalow by the Sea