At the end of my wine glass, I got what I wanted; Wesley came close to where I was seated. He raised his wine glass to meet the sun’s rays coming in from the slightly opened white sheer curtains of the series of sliding glass doors going out to the terrace. His back was to me. He drank down the remainder of the wine in one gulp.

He turned around to face me. “I don’t have much time. I poisoned Amora. After your visit that day with Detective Charles, I cut up her lifeless body. I buried her various body parts deep in separate places around the Rathbone Estate. The next morning before the gardener showed up, I dug up every body part.”

Wesley came close to me, so close tjat we were eye to eye. My heart began to race and my temples beat with sudden fear. He explained further as his blue eyes became almost black, “I proceeded to burn every part of her once beautiful head and body. Before her heart stopped, she bit my hand with a curse attached.”

He could see I was about to speak. Holding out his hand to stop me, he continued, “One more thing to confess before my end. She cursed me to crave human organs for the rest of my days. If I try to eat anything normal, my body goes into tremendous tremors of pain. Promise me you will do your job as you are programmed to do. Take your investigative skills to examine my storage in the rock cavern down by the canyon where the rocks meet the ocean.”

With that last request, he collapsed to the floor carpet. I jumped out of my seat to tend to him. His breathing was not evident. I ran into the kitchen to find some latex gloves.

Going back to Wesley, I took off his T-shirt and put my head to his chest. I took his right wrist and felt for a pulse. There wasn’t one. I checked the right side of his neck; nothing. I worked hard to keep my emotions in check. I got up and took his wine glass to smell the rim and the inside of the glass. There was a lingering odor of battery fluid; very faint, but it was there.

I called 911, then made my way to the canyon cavern he spoke of. Inside, I could feel the coolness right away, enough that I wanted to put on my jacket. I looked at each shelf of a tall metal shelving unit. From what I could see through thick plastic, there were what I thought to be animal organs. Then on the second to the last shelf at the bottom was what looked to be human feet. I jumped back; my breathing accelerated. I stood there frozen, then his words came back, “cursed to crave human organs.” Those sweetbreads he prepared with my watchful eyes were human pancreas; they could have been the pancreas of Irene, the local widow who left the Nepenthe with him.

I walked out onto the slimy rocks very carefully. My breathing seemed as if I would choke at any moment, leaving me to fall into the rocks and moving waves. The images I took in appalled me. As I took in cleansing breaths to slow my inner hysterics, I realized Wesley did the humane act of ending his life. He appeared to me by our first meeting at the Rathbone front door to be a most distinguished gentleman with a trained air of knowing how to serve the aristocracy.

Taking in the natural movement of the ocean hitting the rocks, I could hear the slamming of car doors. I carefully moved away from the series of pointed rocks and landed my feet onto a small green hill. I raised up to my tiptoes and saw two squad cars parked in the half-moon-shaped driveway.

When I got to the inside of the house, I heard loud pounding coming from the front door. I opened the front door. One officer said, “You called of a possible suicide?”

“Yes, I did. I was having dinner with the victim when I witnessed him collapsing from something deadly in his wine glass. Come on in.” I followed three officers making their way to Wesley’s lifeless body.

I stood there while two uniformed officers walked around the victim as the plain-clothed officer studied every orifice of the body. He got up and approached me, “I’m Detective Burley. Who are you?”

“I’m Detective Glenda McMahan from the APD Detective Division in Anderson, Indiana. Wesley knew some last-minute details of an investigation I was part of. He did this to himself after he had made me dinner,” I said, then presented Detective Burley with my badge.

Detective Burley scratched his tousled light-brown hair. “Yeah, Anderson, don’t tell me, you were part of that bizarre case of some wealthy beauty who manifested as a creature for a specific purpose to fulfill some phenomenon. In what country was that?”

“The curse originated in the Philippines. Let me be clear. Wesley Thornton was previously the butler to the Rathbone dynasty of big pharma in Indianapolis. He confessed to me of poisoning Amora, who was the attacker and killer of all our 28 victims. Before she died, she bit his hand to pass on a curse to him. There is proof of that curse down below in the canyon off of the terrace. I went in there,” I told the detective, my hysteria growing with every word.

The detective did not say a word. He went over to where the wine glass sat on top of the dining table. He took out a small kit, dusting it for prints, then dusted Wesley for any prints, making sure I wasn’t lying. He smelled all around the glass.

“This glass inside and around the rim smells like battery fluid,” he said, looking over at me. I chimed in, “Like you, getting some gloves, I came to the same conclusion. Let me take you upstairs to the master bath.”

The other officers followed us upstairs to the spacious bathroom. Detective Burley carefully went over every part of the sink and the cabinets underneath and over it as well. He found a bottle with only a few pills inside. He handed the pills to one of the officers. The other officer brought him a ceramic apothecary bowl where it was evident something had been mixed together.

Detective Burley smelled the white powder left in the bowl. He nodded; his green eyes seemed fascinated. He handed me the bowl. “Take a whiff and tell me what you smell.”

“That is the battery fluid smell. Before he confessed all to me, he took his wine glass up to the bathroom. Came down to where I was still seated and drank the remains of what was in the glass.”

“Looks to me, Detective, that so far, you’re kosher enough. Give me some kind of card so I can get back to you,” he said.

I gave him my card. “Let me warn you that what you and your men find in that cavern is as strange as what you had read about my case back in Indiana.” I left him and his men to figure out the details from here. My emotions were kept in check. I left Detective Burley without a whimper.

From a tip at a local Big Sur Village gas up station, I drove to Pfeiffer Beach. From getting halfway through Kerouac’s book, I took his lead to experience what Big Sur could do for me, especially in my present manic state of mind. I parked my car underneath a cleared area from a group of cypress trees.

I walked with no thought to how many miles I put under my sand-spattered tennis shoes. I took off my shoes when I came to a large rock formation out into the deeper waters of the ocean. The buff-colored slanted rock possessed an opening about the size of a double-garage door. One of the locals I talked to when I filled up my car with gas told me about “Neptune’s Door.” She said it was along Pfeiffer Beach and really something to see.

I walked into the slow-moving surf where there was shallow water. I stopped at a flat area of rock large enough for me to sit down. I rested with my feet as the aquamarine waters cooled my ankles. I looked down to see tiny fish swimming around my toes from the transparent water.

I broke down and cried, my tears drenching my face and neck. Anybody within earshot would have thought I was going through a nervous breakdown. My sobs were extremely loud and I let out a blood-curdling scream twice amongst the demonstration of sorrowful tears. I took the ankle-deep salt water and washed my face, then looked up at Neptune’s Door.

I stopped crying and stood up. I took my badge out of my left back pocket and threw it as hard as could into the moving waters coming towards me. My eyes followed the shiny object giving way to the natural propelling velocity. I sighed a deep breath of one who had discarded a heavy weight of consciousness and sorrow.

Suddenly, a strong noisy wind forced the deep blue waters to crash up onto the large rock formation. The foam on the tops of the incoming high waves beat against the rim of the door, opening seemed like some ogresome castle dripping wet with the ocean’s slaverous lips of foam.

I immediately moved back onto the damp nut-brown shore. I screamed out in the direction of the waves hitting up against Neptune’s Door. I don’t know why I did this. It could have happened due to the culmination of trauma I witnessed from Wesley’s confession. His suicide mission, a pathetic way to get his soul back, somehow almost made me physically ill.

I shouted out, “Amora, your memory is gone. You cannot torment me anymore!”

The waves noticeably died down. I could now see the blue sky appear from Neptune’s Door. For the first time since I arrived in California, I thought about Grandpa Pete. Which meant it was time to get back to Indiana.


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
  31. Chapter 31: Dinner with Wesley