What transpired next confirmed the nurse Anna’s prediction. Record temperatures of stifling heat and humidity up to 100 degrees blanketed most of the Midwest. Our department loaded up on night patrols at both Anderson parks, and the Greenway-Cardinal trail in Muncie due to the rising count of victims.

The victim roster caused Anderson, Muncie, and Indianapolis newspapers to pepper their local sections with stories of bizarre attacks targeting lone women in wooded areas in parks and mile-long trails. This advent of publishing activity led to pressure from Anderson’s mayor trickling into the APD chief of police directly to Mitch Gable’s office.

Luther and I were about to leave for the Rathbone residence in Indianapolis when we saw our sergeant studying our wall chart. “Sarge, any thoughts? We’re getting ready to chase up another lead,” I informed him.

He spoke to us with his head and eyes glued to every aspect of the contents of the chart. “We are now on 15, 18 victims, only one death. You two have comprehensively detailed the when, where, and why. I’m having trouble with the who or what!”

He turned around to face us, his crystal-blue eyes wide in alarm, his stout chest heaving as if he was going to rip us royally in verbal terms. “Questionable to grasp. Details of a human able to shapeshift into some mythical monster to satisfy some inner burning! And, to say out loud, a supernatural-type baby killer! How the bloody hell do you think this office can take your findings seriously?”

“Both of us realize how utterly out there the description of the assailant has been portrayed. For the last month, details match up. The fingerprints found on eggshells at Shadyside have been proved to be something the lab reported between human and animal!” Luther spoke up.

“I’ve got to alert you both. Yesterday, I got off the phone with the head of a FBI task force in the Chicago office on cases where normal predatory activity is on the unusual side. They are arriving Monday. We’ll see how they react when they view this chart,” Gable said, then brushed by us with his head shaking in utter disillusionment with our findings.

Our prime mode of thought for today was not to be deterred by a threat of all our efforts in jeopardy of going into the trashcan. We arrived at the large stonewalled gate of the Rathbone estate around 10am. Luther spoke into an intercom built into the uneven gray and charcoal stones. I looked to my right and then to my left, hoping to get some glimpse of the residence.

A voice from the metal square device said, “Sir, I will inform Master Ethan of your arrival.” At that, the black wrought-iron decorative gate opened. We drove up a slight rising incline of pavement, with a wall of evergreens on each side of Luther’s Esplanade.

The large, palatial house appeared in a clearing. I caught first the sight of a tall turret on the left side of the estate. My mouth opened in awe, I said, “Well, Luther, welcome to Indy Royalty. Who would imagine such grounds and such a touch of merry old England, smack dab off one of Indianapolis’s busiest streets.”

The structure of the house fell under the architectural style of Tudor Revival, built in the same uneven stonework as the gate walls. The enormous home contained four sets of flat roofs and castellations all around the many rooms. The strapwork surrounding the arched, ornately-carved front door was a sight to behold. My left hand clanged loudly onto the brass door knocker.

A tall, older, silver-haired gentleman dressed in gray dress pants and a red V-necked sweater, sporting a black tie around a white shirt collar, opened the door. Luther introduced us both with our unison movements of showing him our badges.

He spoke in a heavy Irish accent. “Detectives, I have informed Master Rathbone of your wish to interview him. Let me take you to him.”

“Oh, sorry, sir, I thought you were Mr. Rathbone,” I said from behind.

“No, madam detective, I’m Wesley Thornton, the Rathbone’s butler.”

He led us through a succession of stately rooms. As we passed the living room, there was a dark space where a stone staircase stood, looking similar to one of those from an English castle that had been built in the 14th century. There existed a strong, cold draft from the base of a rounding staircase, where the stone walls appeared quite thick

The butler noticed our reaction. He turned and said, “This staircase, built by a Welsh stone mason after World War I, is to the Tower where Amado and Amora share rooms on the third level.”

He turned to see a dark-haired woman in a dark red robe passing us to step up on the ascending the staircase. The butler only nodded at her, I gather in respect. Recognizing her, I spoke, “From your stunning photograph on your Saxony website, you resemble your great-looking brother.”

She stared at me, giving me a disgusting grimace. Her amber eyes turned to a noticeable dark red. She said nothing, then walked up the staircase. I wasn’t put off by her stark, unfriendly attitude, but inwardly, I shuddered by her eyes changing colors. Wesley Thornton cajoled us to move on to the library.

“Amora is not one for people. When she’s home, she only comes downstairs for food or drink. She’s been a loner since she was very young. Master Ethan is waiting for you in the library,” Thornton said, in his precise way of speaking.

Reaching the library, I saw Ethan Rathbone seated behind a large cherry wood desk in the Queen Anne style. He seemed in his dress and face like some distinguished lord straight out of the British royalty. His dark hair was slicked back, showing gray streaks from his side profile, as he was occupied on his lighted desktop computer.

“Sir, these are the detectives from Anderson you agreed to speak with,” Wesley Thornton announced.

“Thank you, Wesley. Detectives, would you like coffee?” he offered as he stood showing us where to sit down.

“Yes, by all means, Mr. Rathbone. We didn’t get a chance for coffee at the division. Oh, by the way, I’m Detective Luther Charles, and my partner is Detective Glenda McMahan.”

“Detectives, I’m somewhat fuzzy on why you wanted to see me,” Rathbone said, sitting back down.

“Well, sir, as you know from newspaper updates, my division has been caught up in an unusual rash of savage attacks. When I saw your daughter in the hallway, she looked to be of Philippine lineage, as your son as well. Those professional folk in Anderson who are also Filipino have talked about their knowledge of a fierce legend going after female victims who are pregnant. We have had 18 in total around the Anderson area,” I explained.

He walked to the front of his desk, close to where we were seated. “I am fully aware of Aswang. My wife Divinia came from Capiz, a province on the island of Panay.”

Luther asked. “Where is she now?”

“Sadly, we are divorced many years now. Because of our daughter, Divinia could not cope with Amora’s severe schizophrenia.”

“Oh, that’s the reason for the drug Divinia. I met your daughter before we came into the library. She seemed to look right through me, those eyes very alarming,” I interjected.

Thornton brought in a tray with our coffees and a plate of triangular-shaped biscuits. He was so attentive, serving to our personal taste. “How do you both like your coffee?”

“I want two sugars and some cream,” Luther told him.

“I want cream only. What are those puffy-looking biscuits shaped like triangles?” I asked.

“Those are English tea biscuits, scones made with a marbling of cinnamon. Do you want one, detective?” he asked, smiling my way, with both of our heads bobbing up and down like a couple of kids.

I bit into the warm scone, tasting so wonderful. It sure was superior in taste and texture to the balut on Saturday. When I compared the two taste tests in my head, I voiced a question.

“Mr. Rathbone, Detective Charles and I went on a road trip to a Chicago suburb, where they served a Filipino delicacy quite unusual called balut. We were given a party that orders a case every month with a specific email. Do you have any idea why the email address mentioned in part with ‘arathbone?’” I explained, seeing that he began appearing quite nervous. He rubbed his hands back and forth as though they were dirty and needed to be cleaned.

He lowered his head and moved back close to the arched open door. “You have to forgive me, detectives. Suddenly, I’m not feeling well. Both of you finish your coffee, then Wesley will escort you out.”

I stared at Luther, and said, “Seriously. Did you see the way he just blew us off in his elitist style!”

I took the two last yummy bites of my scone, chasing it down with the rest of my coffee. Luther got up. “I guess we better leave.”

The house was so big. We were not sure which direction was the front entrance. Wesley Thornton caught up to us as we passed the stone-clad staircase. I stopped due to hearing voices high up into the cold vacuum, probably on the third floor of the Tower. I motioned for Luther to stop and listen.

We both heard a sound like that of two cats in the middle of their unnerving mating ritual. Whenever I heard that type of noise in the middle of the night outside of my bedroom at Grandpa Pete’s, I got up in such a state of fright. Those savage noises would always run a shudder through me at whatever age I was. As an involuntary response, both Luther and I put a grip on our guns resting in our shoulder holsters.

We stood there waiting on a repeat of that haunting set of noises. Ten minutes went by; nothing. Wesley Thornton spoke up in a breathy whisper. “Are you two done with being on guard duty? Amora has two female cats and has not spayed either one. Sometimes they get into a beastly ruckus once in a while.”

I wanted to ask more questions. By the expression of the butler, we had worn out our welcome. I was beginning to entertain thoughts we would be back to this estate repeatedly despite our icy reception.

Without missing a beat turning left onto a crowded street, Luther pulled out onto North Meridian Street. “Did you believe the butler’s explanation for that noise up in the Tower?”

“Not for a minute. Both Rathbone and Wesley Thornton are hiding something major. They knew we didn’t have a search-and-seizure court order. Here we are, a threat of some FBI agents taking over our case, and a house full of secrets we can’t get near,” I said, shrugging my shoulders. “We have entered an investigation in untraveled waters.”

“I hate to suggest this.” Luther said.

“Go ahead. I’m ready for anything you might come up with.”

“Well, Glenda, you have this obvious interest in Amado Rathbone. Get close to him, and you might get some ideas on how we can proceed despite those agents at the division.”

“I tried at Unc’s one night, falling flat on my charming butt.”

“Althea was told about a talk at Hartung Hall in the auditorium from her boss at St. Vincent’s Mental Health Center. Your growing crush is giving a lecture on Tuesday night next week,” Luther filled me in on one way to proceed.

“So, you’re saying, show up looking alluring within reason. Try on a little undercover tactic. Why not?” I expressed, showing some compliance.


Monday morning circumstances were defined to both my partner and I as “it is what it is.” We were introduced to a four-person team: three male agents and one female. They came on to us as very stiff, unfriendly, indifferent, and quite robotic.

With an unspoken agreement, Luther and I gave over what we had compiled in the last six weeks. What we already knew and what we were about to do was also saved on files in our respective computers in our residences.

Luther was surprisingly approved for a short vacation from our sergeant. I’m sure Althea was so thrilled she would not question why he did this. I was content to be at Mitch Gable’s beck and call for surveillance with one of the other detectives at the various farms where there had been reports of savage killings of livestock.

Tuesday evening brought with it a nervousness I had not experienced since prom back in my senior year in high school. In order not to alarm Amado of my sudden appearance, I came into the auditorium with Melanie Rossen. I agreed wholeheartedly to wait with Melanie for Manny and Amado.

Amado’s reaction to my presence proved to be much different than that night at Unc’s when my electricity was out. His smile directed at me made him more charming than our first meeting at Bobber’s Café. Manny suggested the four of us grab some dinner at Melanie and his favorite restaurant, Vera Mae’s Bistro in Muncie.

With Amado and Manny’s shared taste for the gourmet side of dining, I agreed to meet them at the restaurant downtown Muncie on East Jackson St. This type of restaurant ran on reservations only, but Professor Foy possessed a carte blanche status. The 20-minute drive was sufficient time for the maître d’ to prepare a table of four.

Right away, I spied an empty chair next to Amado which I gladly took. I leaned in close to his left ear to ask, “What do you recommend? I’m more of a meat and potato gal.”

“I believe you would enjoy the shepherd’s pie. Our family butler rates that dish as his personal favorite,” he answered me, almost coming close to kissing distance. His breath smelled of peppermint and white chocolate.

“By the way, my partner and I met your butler when we came to interview your father,” I added to see if he would become squirmy by my statement.

“When was that?”

“Last Friday; we were following up on a lead,” I answered. Still, he seemed calm and very charming.

Before offering any kind of reply, he noticed the waiter coming closer to our table. He ended our close exchange by asking Melanie something. “Melanie, are you partial to shepherd’s pie?”

“Oh, Yes, the shepherd’s pie is the only dish I order.” She answered laughing over at my adjacent direction. “You will love the way they prepare it. The combination of mashed potatoes on top, carrots, onions, celery, and the tender beef underneath is delicious.”

Amado ordered a dish I was embarrassed to admit seemed like a total gag, but I held back on my facial expression. I offered instead a curiosity to know more about what he ordered. I sat there intently listening to how Amado instructed the waiter on every detail of his order.

“What in the sweetbread category do you have?”

The waiter thought for a couple of minutes, then answered Amado. “Sir, we have the pancreas in calf or lamb.”

“I will have the lamb pancreas, searing on each side for only a brief amount of minutes,” Amado instructed in a precise manner of speaking.

Showing my complete ignorance, I blurted out, “What in heaven’s name is this sweetbread?”

Manny offered a brief explanation. “Basically, sweetbreads are offal. Pluck or organ meats referring to the internal organs and entrails of a butchered animal.”

“Is it any good? It sounds like eating something on a dare like the Filipino balut I tried,” I said with a look of horror.

Melanie interjected, “Glenda, you’ve been doing your homework. You know about balut!”

“Sure do. I took the plunge last Friday from an Asian restaurant outside of Chicago. To look at its outward appearance, it was horrid. It tasted like cheese and toasted oysters,” I said, looking over at Amado.

He showed no sign of uneasiness. He offered his take on sweetbreads. “Sweetbreads taste richer and sweeter than muscle meats you are used to, Glenda. In France and Italy, chefs serve them in a rich, smooth, brown sauce. I prefer less roasting with no sauce.” He took my hand as he finished talking, something I wasn’t expecting at all. It felt nice.

His affection heightened as I agreed to drop him off at the Hartung Hall parking lot. His black sleek Lexus was waiting for him. We made some lame bit of small talk. He interrupted my ramblings about how I entered the police academy at such a young age by an alarming set of passionate kisses up against the driver’s side of his car.

His lips drew me in so hard I thought I was to fall into a dead faint. My conscious mind was fogged up by a growing passion for him. Suddenly, as forceful as he grabbed me to him, he pulled me away so hard I almost tripped onto the asphalt lot.

“Glenda, I can’t love you the way your lips are speaking to me. I’m cursed to fail at performing like the man you so desire. I couldn’t help myself when you were trying so hard to be clever tonight. You are so lovely, and so raw in the way you talk,” he told me, then slipped quickly into his car.

Out in the lonely dark parking lot, I was left with confusion and disgust in myself to totally lose any sensibility I had when Luther and I agreed to get closer to him. That night, I tossed and turned in bed. I tried to make sense of what he said: “I’m cursed to fail at performing like the man you so desire.”

True: making love with him could be disastrous to our investigation. I could not help feeling deprived of the opportunity to let him spoil me over and over again with his lovemaking.


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