Long ago and far away
Rico’s American Restaurant and Pizzeria was a place of character and a place of characters.
Despite being a block away from the main drag of the small city on the shores of Lake Michigan, Rico’s did a fine business. In addition to its usual downtown business luncheon crowd, Rico’s waitress Angie had brought in a new clientele of women. They would enjoy one of Rico’s Luncheon Specials and have their fortune told before or after lunchtime by Madame La Zonga, AKA Angie in a gypsy dress. Rico dropped the word ‘Ladies’ from ‘Luncheon Specials’ as so many weightwatchers, vegetarians and health nuts were enjoying them just as much. As they were quick and cheap to prepare and he made a very healthy profit, Rico was delighted.
In addition to her salary and substantial tips, Angie had made a lot of friends amongst the women of the city. The most unusual one was called Miss Mac; the elderly spitfire Miss McGillicuddy, who loved everything about Rico’s except Rico. The feeling was mutual. Rico’s insult matches with Ray, Stash and Joey, known as the Down and Outers, were nothing compared to those with the refined ‘Miss Mac’.
As the gang said, ‘she gives Rico heaps!’
A creature of habit who would come in every Friday at a set time, she sat with a pot of tea and lingered through the afternoon with constant requests to Rico for hot water.
However, this Friday was different. Rico, dressed in his usual dress slacks, bow tie, white short-sleeved shirt, and white overseas cap tilted to the right, prepared for her entrance by dashing through his restaurant putting RESERVED signs on every empty table and even the vacant seats at the counter bar.
Wearing dress clothes from decades past, yet fastidious and meticulous, she entered Rico’s at her usual time with the look of a health inspector with inside information on the vermin. Rico met her with an expression that was more pathetic than sad.
‘Sorry, Miss McGillicuddy. We ain’t got no tables left.’
The Down and Outers watched from their regular table.
‘I haven’t seen so many crocodile tears outside of a Jungle Jim movie’, whispered Ray.
Like the Three Musketeers helping a damsel-in-distress, the Down and Outers rose as one, with Ray speaking,
‘Pardon me, Madam. Would you please do us the honour of joining us at our table?’
She turned to the three men then radiantly smiled and curtsied. If looks could kill, Rico’s face was Murder Incorporated…
‘Thank you, kind sirs. I would be delighted to join you. I was worried that I would never set eyes upon a single gentleman in this…joint…but now I find three...’
Rico thrust his thumb into his chest like a gorilla,
‘Whaddayuh think I am?’
She held out her hand and clicked her fingers against her thumb,
‘Yap yap yap! You are Satan’s Poodle!’
The restaurant exploded in laughter.
She loudly clapped her hands thrice, Rico’s eyes opened wide, and he shot his head backwards in surprise,
‘Satoodle! Fetch!...a pot of tea to my table! Your overworked and underpaid waitress is busy!’
‘Whoduhyuh thinkyuh are…’
‘Satoodle, could you please get it through your thick skull and stupid duggery that I know who I am? I also know what you are and where you are going because you are so low and slimy that you leave a trail like a slug!'
The guffawing became tumultuous.
‘I’m not gonna fight with an old lady!’, Rico fumed.
‘Good idea! She’d beat you senseless and knock you out with her walking stick.’
The hysterics roared again at Ray’s crack.
‘Every day is a cabaret’, Stash reflected.
All the ceiling fans in his restaurant didn’t cool Rico off as he stormed off to the kitchen; he turned for a parting shot.
‘You meeting the punk-in patch is like when Hitler joined the Japs to make the Axis!’
‘But today there is no room left for Mussolini at our table, so go to your kitchen with the other rats, Musso’, Miss Mac replied.
One could imagine a cloud of smoke, or hellfire and brimstone coming out of Rico.
‘How do you do, Madam. My name is Ray, this is Stash, and this is Joey.’
She warmly smiled at the three men wearing business suits.
‘How do you do, kind sirs. Dzień dobry, Stanislaus. I am Miss McGillicuddy.’
She shook hands with the three in a feminine manner. Stash spoke,
‘Twój polski jest doskonały.’
‘Thank you for your compliment. I worked in Poland after the war, never mind which one, with the League of Nations.’
‘She’s a frump and a grump! If she was my mother, I’d put poison in her tea!’
Her sharp hearing picked up Rico’s comment from the kitchen to his brother-in-law the dishwasher, though Rico called him the ‘Assistant Manager’ in the interest of family honour.
She spoke clearly to the kitchen,
‘Little Caesar, you are a chump in a dump. To paraphrase Sir Winston Churchill, if you were my son, I would willingly drink the poison. Your saving grace is that I save money on laxatives by coming to see you. I am sure that you are able to imagine why.’
Amidst howls and laughter, Rico put on his usual tweed hat and stormed out of his restaurant; he didn’t need a cigarette as he was already smoking…
Angie had the same look of joy and pride that she always did when she saw Miss Mac. As she brought her usual pot of tea, Joey remarked.
‘Put it on our tab, Angie.’
‘Thank you, gentlemen. Since you have invited me to be your guest today, may I reciprocate and invite the three of you for tea this Saturday afternoon at four o’clock at my house? I would also like to invite you, Angela.’
Miss McGillicuddy lived on a tree-lined miniscule street that their city called a ‘court’. Not only were all the homes Victorian, but the street was still made of the old red bricks that were slowly and sadly vanishing from their city.
All four Down and Outers were well dressed and wearing their usual hats; Ray’s fedora, Stash’s porkpie with the front and the back of the brim bent upwards, Joey’s Chicago Cubs baseball cap and Angie’s black beret. The gang had brought a lemon cake that Joey’s mother had baked and iced and a bouquet of chrysanthemums, that Ray said was his mother’s favourite flower. However, Angie became upset as she believed yellow flowers were bad luck; she placed some purple zinnias in the yellow bouquet.
Ray thought to himself that the haunted house jokes would fly thick and fast after the gang finished their visit. Her home had a small tower that would do as a belfry that no doubt contained bats. Ray knocked the brass old-fashioned bronze knocker with a lion’s head that reminded him of the one that transformed into Marley’s face in A Christmas Carol. As he knocked, a Westminster chime tolled the hour four times.
‘Welcome! You are as prompt as you are courteous. Won’t you please come in?’
The inside of her home was more curiously Victorian then the outside; it was like an antique shop of old wares, though everything was scrupulously clean. Coloured rainbow effects from prisms gave the room an equally other-worldly atmosphere. A tea set of attractive floral crockery was on a table surrounded by a matching set of chairs and a couch set off with white lace antimacassar. The sound of the pendulum of her grandfather clock and the rainbow prism lights seemed to hypnotise everyone.
‘May I have the honour of pouring, Miss McGillicuddy?’
Ray kept his surprise to himself at how refined Angie sounded, as if she had become a different person inside the house.
Angie hid her own surprise at how the boys on the couch were taking their tea, as if they took tea every day…for they didn’t…there were none of their usual jokes and boisterous behaviour.
After pouring the final cup of tea, Angie rose as if she were hypnotised. Holding her cup and saucer, she walked up to a photograph on the wall that had been turned into a painted colour portrait. It featured what looked like Katharine Hepburn dressed as if she was on an African safari. The wearer was clad in a pith helmet with a long dangling scarf, a jacket with a pistol belt, jodhpurs and boots, standing in front of green ferns, palm and banana trees.
‘Yes, that was me…’
Stash was fascinated by a golden harp.
‘Are you a harpist, Miss McGillicuddy?’
‘Yes again; it relaxes me and helps me to think…Stash, you prefer being called?’
‘It’s funny, Ma’am. I don’t know why. but I feel like Stanislaus when I’m here.’
‘You may need some relaxing with four strangers in your charming home…’
The gang were astounded by Joey’s unusually intelligent, sensitive and refined sympathetic voice. Angie resumed her seat in an overstuffed chair.
All of the gang wondered to themselves, what was going on in this house and what was happening to them?
The fascinating strangeness continued as she gave a summary of her life story whilst she played her harp softly and beautifully. Her childhood in Ireland, the death of both her brothers with the Irish Guards in the Great War, her parents being murdered during the bloody War of Independence due to her father being a detective of the Royal Irish Constabulary, the death of both her twin sisters during the Spanish flu epidemic, working with the League of Nations, then travelling the world on various expeditions. Her harp music reflected the lands she travelled, her triumphs and tragedies as she spoke of them; Irish tunes, then for the Guards, St. Patrick’s Day in the Morning and Let Erin Remember, then European airs, then Latin-American tunes…Everyone could see the woman in the picture being in those places and doing the things she described as if watching a movie in their minds. All the strange things in the parlour began to make sense as they were from the places she told them she had been…
Her harp stopped; it startled them as much as a loud clap of thunder or a gunshot.
‘I met Millie…’
She continued her musical tone poems, but it now sounded more conventional, like background music at a soiree of the well-to-do. Indeed, Millie was a member of the oldest, wealthiest and most renown family of their city. She became Millie’s lifelong travelling and lady’s companion, personal secretary and friend; the gang smiled to themselves when she also said the word ‘bodyguard’. Her harp played music of Europe, the Mediterranean, the Near and Far East, the South Seas and Hawaii. Her travels gradually stopped, and they remained in the city, and in this house…
She stopped her harp again.
‘Until Millie died.’
Her family bequeathed her Millie’s house and had people clean her home and sometimes cook for her, but she preferred to cook for herself…she was passing the time waiting to join her family and Millie…
Unexpected memories flashed through Ray’s mind of his lifelong exploring of the wooded ravine in Powell Park and elsewhere in their city. As he followed the flowing waters of the creek, there would be little inlets where some of the water would find itself going into, where it would stagnate. This house was an inlet where time had stopped…and that’s what he and the others felt whether they realised it or not…
She warmly smiled,
‘You all must believe that you are with Miss Havisham, Lady Morbid or Madame Macabre. Thank you for your beautiful bouquet, and Joey, please thank your mother for this truly wonderful fresh and delicious cake…Lady and gentlemen, my reasons for inviting you to tea were threefold. A thank you for your invitation to join you, my sincere desire for your friendship, and my wish to engage you as very private detectives.’
The gang simultaneously sang and snapped their fingers,
’77 Sunset Strip!’
After late-night shopping together, they watched that show and The Twilight Zone every Friday night with Angie and her parents at their house.
Ray had an incredible feeling of relief; the gang were themselves again, making a joke and being together last night watching TV. For awhile it seemed as if they had been permanently transported to a land between the worlds, a place where time stood still or crept towards the crypt of oblivion…The Twilight Zone in real life…
After removing her tea service, their hostess led them into her library. If her parlour was a museum, this was the repository of knowledge. Stash eagerly examined her titles of forgotten lore as if he were in Aladdin’s cave.
As she had prepared their tea, so she prepared their briefing on a table filled with documents, photographs and newspapers surrounded by high backed chairs that they sat in. Again, there was a loud grandfather clock endlessly marking the time in her house of infinity.
‘I first met Dr. Xander when I was serving in British Honduras…’
‘Doctor X the mad scientist?’
‘We will not give the penny dreadful theatrics of the gutter press mention in my home, Stash. He was a renown and respected scientist when we met in Belize City on behalf of His Majesty’s Government…’
Stash stuck to his guns,
‘Wasn’t he struck off for medical malpractice, then he practiced without a licence?’
‘He was struck-off in the United States, Stash.’
‘Why are you sticking up for him, Miss McGillicuddy?’, Angie inquired.
‘I fell in love with him, he became my fiancée. Due to my expertise in the Yucatec language and culture, His Majesty’s Government released me to participate in his expedition to the Yucatán. As you see, he was then held in very high esteem in the highest echelons, as he was engaged in what was regarded as very important work…not known to the general public…We were to be married on our return to Belize City, but on our expedition he lost his heart to a local woman of a fine family who was everything that I was not…young, beautiful, exotic, and amenable to his every desire.’
‘She’d have to go pretty far to beat the woman I saw in the photographic portrait in your parlour, Ma’am, but I can tell you failed on the last point’, Ray interjected.
‘And so you should!’, added Angie. ‘A woman without self-respect is not a woman!’
Stash didn’t ask anything. He merely cleared his throat and gave Miss McGillicuddy a questioning look that she understood and responded to.
‘We went our separate ways, eventually I met Millie and travelled with her around the world, and back here when her adventurous desires ceased. She also never married, so the two of us only had each other and our memories…Then, on Friday morning I went to visit my general practitioner, Dr. Engle.’
‘You went to the haunted house!!!’
‘Yes, Joey. He does have his practice in The Gables, a house that like Dr. Xander has a lurid reputation in the same low quarters that I have previously mentioned. I definitely heard his voice, for my hearing and vision are still of a strong standard…’, as if reading his mind she turned to Ray, ‘I do not hear things that are not there, and…well, I have never ceased to think of him, but I am still able to discern between fantasy and reality…’
She faced Angie,
‘A woman never forgets her first love.’
She showed them one of the lurid tabloids about the shocking exploits of Dr. X that proved Stash’s points, for the American police were trying to find him. On the front page was a large recent photograph of the doctor.
‘I asked Dr. Engle to explain what I just heard, and we had quite a donnybrook, as we call it in Ireland.’
The Down and Outers gave her smiles of knowledge on the verge of snickering; their hostess smiled as well and started the quiet laughter.
‘First it was denial, that I said it was not a river in Egypt I heard, but the voice of Dr. Xander. Then he said that there were people who had rented upstairs rooms, but he had to respect their privacy…Of course, I marched straight to the police station. The policeman on the desk met me with ridicule that he rudely made no attempt to conceal...’
‘Who do the cops call when they’re in trouble?’, asked Joey.
Miss Mac continued when everyone’s laughter subsided.
‘I demanded to see someone of higher authority, and my request was granted. They made me understand that the police have been notified on a frequent basis of strange things that occurred at The Gables for decades. As a result, they take no action unless they are contacted by Doctor and Mrs Engle who rarely leave the premises…I…shall be brutally candid with you…I have no other friend in the world but Angela, and I had to see someone…Mr. Rico attempted to refuse me entry, until three brave knights of the round table came to my rescue…’
All the gang felt emotionally touched. Miss Mac’s voice became determined,
‘Lady and gentlemen, what I require are bold detectives who will report to me after their Sunday morning expedition if this man’, she held up the tabloid photo, ‘and this woman…’, she produced a wedding photo of the young Dr. X with a truly beautiful young bride, ‘are in the upper floors of The Gables. I do have to know…and you can understand that he keeps his whereabouts a secret.’
‘You don’t want detectives, Miss McGillicuddy, you want burglars’, Angie responded with a cold disappointment.
‘I can well understand if you are frightened…’
‘Miss McGillicuddy, do not ever try to get us to be crooks. My brother was pressured into being a big tough-guy and nearly went to prison for it. Fortunately, a Marine recruiter and a judge whose son was a Marine in Korea gave him another chance that he’s earning the hard way on Okinawa. Good day!’
Angie had never been haughty before; Ray could sense the hurt and disappointment in her heart, for she genuinely loved as well as looked up to Miss Mac. She was the fearless, adventurous, well-travelled and exciting woman with strong intelligence and refinement that Angie had always wanted to be.
‘Sit down, Angela…please. I have the strongest respect for all of you, for your kindness and courage, and now your honesty and adherence to the law. But I shall ask you a question…Is it housebreaking if the owner of the building has provided you with a key for that purpose? Here is your invitation...from Doctor Engle.’
She held up an old key…
In the B-movie double features at their city’s second run bargain Times and North Star theatres and the old films on television, the gang loved watching movies about haunted houses together.
Their city had its own mystery house that broke all the rules of those in the movies. Rather than being in a quiet neighbourhood, the mansion known as The Gables was constructed in the 1890s over an old Indian burial mound that now was on top of the bluff overlooking Lake Michigan on the busy Sheridan Road. It was across the street from the stately Carnegie Public Library, and just up the road from the Chicago North Western Railroad Station. The former mansion was a dreadfully repellent colour of dried blood, and there was a large black streak on the outside wall of the house from a fire that had happened long ago and had never been repainted.
The house was not vacant.
On the ground floor was Dr. Engle’s office. What were on the floors above the first floor where Dr. Engle and his wife lived were a mystery.
Many normal people felt uncomfortable walking by the ugly mansion. Many abnormal people swore they had viewed ghosts, monsters, and recently, a werewolf in the area. As these events only happened late at night to people who had had too much to drink; everyone put their apparitions on the level of pink elephants.
In the gang’s childhoods, they had heard a variety of silly stories about the house. Ray recalled some of the big kids would dress in Halloween costumes, then hide near the house and scare little kids who had come out of the library. They had once chased him down the street; on one occasion a kid was nearly killed running away from them onto Sheridan Road.
The gang met early Sunday morning and walked up Sheridan Road that had nowhere near the traffic of a weekday.
On arrival at The Gables, they watched Old Doc Engle and his wife drive off to church at the time Miss Mac informed them that they would. They entered the door she specified with the key she gave them; there was no need to look at the doctor’s office or living quarters.
‘We’re going up the stairs, Joey. Keep watch outside and give us the whistle if you see anything.’
The hallways looked old and unclean as if, as Stash put it, Bela Lugosi was their interior decorator.
‘It’s the quiet…’, Ray whispered.
He had perfectly explained the unease that everyone felt.
Ray and Stash lived downtown with its traffic, trolleys and loud noises of city workers and shoppers by day and drunks by night. Angie and Joey lived with their parents and the sound of their voices, the radio and TV. Even Miss Mac’s crypt of eternity had the grandfather clock that was her and her home’s heartbeat. The Gables was well insulated from the traffic sounds of Sheridan Road and the Chicago North Western Railroad.
They heard a squeak and saw a rat on top of a chair in a long corridor. Angie shrieked, put her arms around Ray and jumped so he was holding her in his arms with one hand and holding her mouth with his other.
‘Man, this creepjoint is so scary that the rats jump up on chairs!’ whispered Stash. He looked at Ray holding the wide-eyed silent Angie, ‘I now pronounce you man and strife!’
Angie squealed and kicked her legs, then nodded her head. Ray put her back on the floor.
Outside the house, two tough looking men came out of a door and surprised Joey who was walking beneath the old house on the ledge facing the lake.
‘What do you want?’
Caught by surprise, Joey felt the best defence was offence. He shouted at the men,
‘I want you to keep your cat out of my garden!’
The two men looked at each other with expressions of shocked disbelief.
‘We don’t have a cat!’
‘That’s OK, I don’t have a garden.’
‘Beat it, Baby Huey!’
Joey loudly whistled with two fingers between his teeth and ran away.
Upstairs in the house, Ray and Stash heard the whistle and told Angie to stay put as they went around a corner to look out a window for Joey and what he whistled at.
Angie paused to look at herself in an ancient mirror.
‘There’s nothing to be afraid of’, she whispered to herself.
Her reflection displayed the wall behind her move. A hand was placed over her mouth, and she was dragged inside the hidden door in the wall. She looked up into the face of the man she was about to punch…and saw a werewolf!
Ray and Stash came back to find Angie missing.
‘I didn’t think she’d ever leave a full-length mirror! Where’d she go?’
They heard steps and turned to see what looked like a fully dressed werewolf coming towards them.
Ray and Stash outdid the US Olympic Team running away from him.
They turned the corner to see Joey.
‘Two creeps chased me away downstairs, but otherwise I found nothing.’
‘Look what found us!’
Joey dove to the floor, grabbed the werewolf’s legs and threw him over him, where he landed on his back. Joey jumped on him to pin him to the floor.
‘Good one, Joey!’, Ray elatedly shouted.
The hairy one slapped the floor three times, Joey let him up. The werewolf rose and the two faced off against each other, grabbing each other’s shoulders.
‘What are you doing? This isn’t All-Star Wrestling on TV!’
Ray gave a sound of concentration.
‘Ray! This is no time for one of your angles!’
The werewolf quickly crouched down, grabbed Joey behind his knees and raised him throwing him on the floor and pinned him. Joey slapped the floor thrice.
‘OK. It’s a tie! What’s going on here???’, Ray asked.
Joey rose and smiled, pointed to himself and his friends.
‘Me Tarzan…you insane’, Ray said as he shook his head.
The hairy creature smiled and pointed at himself.
He shook hands with all of them, the gang smiled back.
‘A talking werewolf???”
Stash responded to Ray.
‘The excessive facial hair growth is called hypertrichosis. I read about it in The National Enquirer.’
‘Don’t you get trichinosis from eating uncooked pork?’ asked Joey. ‘Hyper trichinosis must be a really bad case; he must’ve eaten the whole pig.’
‘What do you say to the Wolf Man? Parlez vous français?’, Ray wondered.
Maynor gave a questioning expression.
‘Habla español?’, Stash enquired.
Maynor gave a hand expression that signified that he knew a small bit of Spanish.
‘Where’s Angie?’, Joey asked.
Stash tried to recall his Spanish phrases and used his hands to make a woman’s figure.
Maynor leered, gave a wolf whistle, winked. clicked his teeth and growled like Bob Hope.
‘He’s a wolf, alright!’, Joey declared.
‘Ahhhh, nuestra mujer…Angie…Donde?
Maynor had a questioning expression.
‘Mujer…pequeña…boca…grande…’, Stash also used hand movements.
Maynor immediately knew it was Angie when he understood the phrase ‘small woman, big mouth’. He beckoned his new friends to follow him.
He opened a door and inside were five tough-looking poster boys for the rogue’s gallery. Two of them recognised their encounter with Joey.
‘That’s the big retard I saw poking around on the grounds!’
The gang knew they hadn’t wandered into a lodge meeting when they saw Angie seated in a chair with her wrists tied to the armrests with another white towel tied over her mouth so tightly that her eyes were bulging. Only a faint groan came from her.
‘Hey, I’m in your camp! You know how to handle her!’, Ray gloated.
Angie glowered and stomped her tied feet in anger.
‘What are you punks doing here?’
‘You wanna buy some Boy Scout cookies?’
‘OK, we’ll go home and bring some Girl Scout cookies.’
Two of them pulled out revolvers.
‘They’re not that bad…’
Ray looked at a table covered with a red and white chequered tablecloth that was full of sliced breads, cold meats, cheeses and other items to make sandwiches. The room looked like a party without the music. He whispered out of the corner of his mouth to Stash.
‘…Your magician routine…’
‘What did you say, punk?’, shouted a hood.
‘Hey, we’re hungry. Can we have a sandwich?’, Ray answered.
‘You think this is a bum’s soup kitchen?’
‘Well, you’re here.’
‘Listen, wise guy…’
In one motion Stash pulled the tablecloth off without moving the plates. As the gang assumed, the five hoods were fascinated…until Stash threw the cloth over the heads of the two armed men. The gang crashed into the other three and began punching them out. Joey lifted his opponent over his head, spun him around and threw him against a wall.
Angie shot her bound legs out and tripped one of the hoods. One of the hoods who had been covered with the tablecloth pointed his revolver at Joey, Maynor grabbed the man’s hand and bit it, making him scream and drop his pistol.
‘He bit me! He’s got ray-bees! I’m gonna turn into the Woof Man! He bit me!!!’
Maynor jumped on the other man’s back and bit his ear that made him drop his pistol.
‘Get him off me! Get him off me!’
The first man who Maynor bit grabbed a huge plank of wood and prepared to knock Maynor off his friend.
‘Maynor!’, shouted Ray.
Ray had his opponent by the throat; he removed one hand to give Maynor a signal. Maynor understood and leapt off as Ray swivelled and used his other hand to throw the hood he was holding; just in time for the hood to catch the full benefit of the plank of wood his friend swung to his head knocking him across the room.
‘Lou!!! I’m sorry!!!’
‘O…K…Ray!’, smiled Maynor.
Maynor ran to the man with the plank then instantly took him down to the floor with a scissors kick takedown and pinned him with his legs. The screaming thug would be there until Doomsday, or until he thought to slap the floor three times. Joey had his opponent pinned down as well. Ray and Stash were still trading punches with their own opponents. By hopping like a kangaroo, Angie moved the chair she was tied to and placed it on top of the hood who had been knocked out by his friend with the plank. Stash remembered his Army National Guard training and threw his opponent in a G.I. jiu-jitsu move then placed him in a stranglehold. Ray had his hood bent over in a Full Nelson wrestling hold and moved him over to Angie.
‘Untie her or I’ll break something!’
Grimacing in pain, the hood managed to untie one of Angie’s wrists. She pulled her gag down then began untying her other wrist and ankles.
She held her towel bonds in her hand and vowed vengeance,
‘Now it’s gonna be…my turn!’
A chair thrown against the wall sounded like an atomic bomb!
Everyone turned to see Dr. X pointing his revolver at them.
‘Stop playing around and lock them in the room next door!’
Joey looked up and spoke in the voice of a curious child,
‘Why are you always angry?’
‘I’m not always angry!’
‘Then why does everyone call you a mad scientist?’
Maynor angrily began shaking his head and shouted at Dr. X in some unknown language. Everyone could sense that he was sticking up for the gang, as they argued and argued, with it becoming heated on both sides. Dr. X struck his head with his pistol, Maynor was shocked, then cried like a baby. The thugs gave Dr. X vicious looks…
Ray looked at the doctor with disgust.
‘Did your mother ever have any children that lived?’
Joey comforted Maynor as he put his arm around him.
‘Doctor X is a creep, Maynor! You belong with us.’
Ray grabbed Maynor’s hand in a handshake and put his other hand on top of it. Angie put her hand on top of Ray’s as did all the others of the gang. Ray pronounced,
‘Now you’re a Down and Outer!’
Maynor broke out in a broad smile and put his other hand on top of theirs.
‘You’re all clowns, and she’s a shouter!’, quipped Dr. X that made his hoodlums laugh.
’Doctor…’, Stash sneered, ‘you’ve got a PhD in being a jerk!’
‘What’s a PhD’, asked Joey.
‘Everyone knows what BS means…MS is More of the Same, PhD means he’s Piled Higher and Deeper!’
‘So that’s what I smelled when he came in the room…’
All the hoods roared with laughter.
‘LOCK THOSE PUNKS UP!!!!’
‘I told you he was mad…’
Angie kicked Ray in the shin that made him hop on one foot as everyone laughed.
‘”I’m in your camp”’, Angie sneered.
As the hoods opened the door for their new room, one of them lamented,
‘We could’ve sold monkey boy to the carnival to be in their freak show!’
‘You could’ve sold your mother to the carnival to be one of their rides’, Angie countered.
They were locked in a room with no windows.
‘What can they do to us?’, asked Joey.
From outside the door, they heard one of the hoods laughing,
‘Bernie’s bringing the boat tonight. We’ll take them with us, wrap chains around them and drop them halfway across the lake!’
Miss McGillicuddy determinedly walked down Sheridan Road. If anything happened to those wonderful young people because of her she would never forgive herself. A horn beeped, she looked to see a Buick pull up alongside her and park.
‘Need a lift anywhere, Miss McGillicuddy?’
Rico’s smile dropped off his face, for Miss McGillicuddy was crying…
‘I need the Marines, Mister Rico. I am worried there is great danger to those I care about…because of…me…’, her voice was breaking.
‘How about the 16th Infantry of the Big Red One? We never ran from a fight, and we never lost one.’
The fighting blood of Ireland went back into her veins with a vengeance!
‘The 16th Infantry is exactly who I need, Mister Rico…’, she replied in triumph as she sat down in Rico’s front seat…
* * *
Miss McGillicuddy found the door she told Rico about still open. The pair of them began a search of The Gables, floor by floor.
They were greeted by two of the thugs who had revolvers in their hands.
‘What is this, open house day? Keep quiet and come with us.’
‘Young men, it is not polite to point…with anything!’
Miss Mac threw her walking cane up to the ceiling, the thug’s eyes followed it, she grabbed it, then knocked the pistols out of the two men’s hands. They froze in surprise.
She then hit a metal wall ornament that made a ringing noise.
‘Round one’, she said with a satisfied tone of voice, as she rested her hands on the top of her cane, ‘All yours, Mister Rico…’
The two looked at the diminutive Rico with superior expressions.
‘Come on, shrimp!’, one of them sneered.
‘You had better pray he does not arrive…’
Both men laughed, the first threw a punch; Rico dodged it then crouched down into his boxing stance.
‘Oh boy! Shorty wants to fight!’
It wasn’t much of a fight…it was a massacre…
Rico instantly replied with two left jabs to the man’s stomach and a right cross to the man’s head that made him unconscious before he hit the floor. The second man threw a wild roundhouse punch that Rico ducked, then he gave the second man an uppercut to his chin that knocked the thug into the air…and into dreamland before he also hit the floor.
Miss Mac raised Rico’s hand into the air.
‘The winner, in a double knockout in the first round! The bantamweight champion of the world, Mr. Rico!’
Rico never felt prouder.
‘You can call me Rico…Miss Mac…’
As Rico removed the hoods’ shoes and tied their wrists and ankles with the laces, Miss McGillicuddy picked up the two revolvers off the floor and twirled them like a Wild West gunfighter. Rico impressively whistled and picked up her cane.
‘I never haddyuh figured for a two-gun gal.’
‘I never doubted you were a two-fisted man to count on when trouble came. Before we clean up the joint, I beg your forgiveness for my rude behaviour.’
‘Naaaah, you’re just like the gang. Your bark is worse than your bite. It’s the people that talk nice to my face that I got problems with…I never doubted you were a lady…’
Dr. X and three hoods were eating at the table when they heard a movement at the door. A proudly smiling Rico held the door open as he carried Miss McGillicuddy’s cane. The lady was holding the pair of revolvers in her hands and glaring vengeance.
‘Slowly throw all your weapons to the floor, then quickly put your hands up.’
The two thugs rose with Dr. X remaining in his chair staring in astonishment.
The two hoods broke out laughing.
‘Hey, Annie Oakley! Do you know how to use those things?’
The barrel of Miss McGillicuddy’s revolver she held in her left hand went into the solar plexus of one of the men that bent him over. She fired the revolver in her right hand shooting off one of the legs of the chair that sent Dr. X to the floor; the shot sounded like a cannon within the room. She then placed the barrel of the revolver in her left hand into the shocked third thug’s open mouth and pulled the hammer back until it locked with a click.
It had all happened within the blink of an eye…
‘Do you believe that I know how to use these things?’
The frightened three nodded their heads, and quickly complied with her request, for she was the type of lady no one could refuse...
‘Tell us where our friends are, or my gentleman friend will play baseball with…’, she moved one of the revolvers around pointing at each one of the three’s heads as she silently chanted something to herself, ‘your head…’
Rico smiled and ‘choked up’ on the cane by moving his hands upwards and tighter, then moved into a stance as if he was on home plate at the World Series.
The man she pointed at with her revolver in her right hand staggered on his feet as if he was going to faint; he immediately unlocked the door holding the gang.
Stash had summoned the police on a telephone at the nearby Martin Gas Station.
Maynor and Miss Mac were having a long happy chat in Yucatec, where she was able to assist the police as well as gaining a friend.
She asked Dr. Xander,
‘I fail to understand how and why you became friends with these gangsters, George.’
Detective Granville responded to Miss Mac.
‘It was a marriage made in heaven, or maybe hell. The doctor needed money and he planned robberies for them. They found safe accommodation together, and the doctor had bodyguards for his experiments. Everyone was happy with the money and the set-up. Dr. Engle and his wife had no idea who was upstairs, but kept their word to them by not telling anyone, though he was suspicious. Then he gave a certain feisty lady the key to their doom!’
The detective smiled with the smug expression a cop does when he feels that he’s said something profound that would look good in the press.
Doctor X spoke,
‘Bridget, I have only one favour to beg of you. Please look after Maynor. He was the son I never had. I would only let him go out at night as you can well understand. He is not a bad child, for he is a child in his mind, and everything he has done he thought a game.’
One of the hoods spoke up,
‘He’s right. Do what you want with us, but Maynor had no idea what he was doing.’
All the hoods seconded the motion.
‘Me and him was just playin’ Cops and Robbers’, Angie added, ‘He didn’t hurt me at all.’
One of the hoods brought the house down with an unexpected impersonation of Jerry Lewis,
‘We like him! We like him!’
Joey pointed at Dr. X and gave his legal opinion,
‘Parents Patti-a Page! “The power of the state to intervene against an abusive or negligent parent, legal guardian, or informal caretaker, and to act as the parent of any child, individual or animal who is in need of protection!”’
‘Now you’re thinkin’ like Lincoln!’, Stash proudly declared.
Miss Bridget McGillicuddy turned to the detective.
‘As you are a detective of this city’s police force, you know the family who has adopted me as one of their own. They own the newspaper and have, as you colourfully say, a finger in every pie of our city.’
‘I do, and it’s like you say, Ma’am.’
‘Then there will be no objection for me to keep Maynor at my home with me.’
‘Madam, I’m sure the judge and everyone else will see it like you and I do.’
Maynor put his arm around Miss Mac, ecstatically smiled and pointed at her.
A tear came down Miss Mac’s face,
‘He shall receive a wonderful education from me, and I will tend to all his needs.’
Detective Granville looked as proud as Miss Mac and Maynor.
Ray made a pronouncement,
‘And he’s our buddy! We’ll keep an eye on him as he’s with us!’
‘I can vouch for these punks…gentlemen’, added Rico.
Suddenly his eyes brightened,
‘Is there a reward?’
As the police were taking away the occupants of The Gables, Miss Mac asked,
‘If I may ask, Doctor, where is your beautiful wife, Madame Xander?’
‘She is upstairs in the cupola; she always admires the view of the sunrise over the lake.’
‘We didn’t see anyone upstairs’, one of the policemen remarked.
‘Come, and I will introduce you.’
Miss Mac, Rico, Maynor and the gang followed the detective, a policeman and the handcuffed Dr. X up a stairwell that was hidden behind a false wall.
Inside the cupola was the body of a young woman expertly preserved inside a glass coffin as if she were Sleeping Beauty.
‘She died not too long after we were married. I spent the rest of my life trying to bring her back to life or extend the lives of other people. Orthodox medicine admires results, but never experimentation. My only fear is that I don’t know what will happen to her…’
He began to cry.
‘I shall be honoured to share my home with her…’
Author Notes: I am the author of three Extra Dimensional/Ultraterrestial military science fiction novels MERCENARY EXOTIQUE, OPERATION CHUPACABRA and WORK IN OTHER WORLDS FROM YOUR OWN HOME! as well as two travel books THE MAN FROM WAUKEGAN and TWO AUSTRALIANS IN SCOTLAND (all from Lulu.com). I live happily ever after with my wife in paradise (coastal Kiama, NSW Australia).