Crispin Falls

Harvey Moss is a P.I that works within the realms of the Supernatural. But times are hard for Harvey as the work has dried up and he's addicted to demon blood.
To escape his demons (literally) Harvey accepts a job to investigate the mysterious deaths of Magician's assistants in the rural town of Crispin Falls, the very place where Harvey was born and raised. The very place that Harvey has been trying to escape from his whole life...

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3. Hank

 

The banging woke me up. If there had been no banging, I may have slept to doomsday. But here it was, threatening to rip my door off like a hurricane was on the other side. I had had no luck with doors over the last few days.

It rang on as I pulled on some clothes and checked myself out in the mirror. Never know. It could have been a hot broad at the door. My hair was up at the back and I had four days worth of stubble that needed to go. My breath was drier than an alcoholics meeting and I needed a coffee quick. I looked out of the window. The sun beat down and I could tell it was going to be a hot one. The wolf had gone. It was daytime after all. Thinking about my hairy stalker, I stepped over the line of rock salt and opened the door.

A man stood beaming up at me. He was podgy. A gut wanted out of his tight jacket. Curly ginger hair sprang from all sides of his round head. Freckles marked his cheeks. The suit didn’t wear well on him. A chequered jacket with a green tie. Something that a door-to-door salesman would wear. Grease stains dotted on the tie. He had a box in his hands. Donuts. Figured.

 

“Harvey Moss” he said, putting the box of donuts in one hand and patting me on the shoulder with his other one.

 

I was getting used to people knowing me before I recognized them. But it didn’t take all my detective skills to figure out who this guy was.

 

“Hank Reno”, I said, offering him a slight smile, the best I could muster up at this time of the morning, and doing up the buttons of my shirt before he saw the scars that lined my ribs. It wasn’t that I was ashamed of them. Embarrassed even. Got them in the line of duty after all. Just didn’t like talking about them. And one thing I had learned from humans. They loved to talk. But I didn’t.

 

Hank pushed past me and into the room. Not noticing the salt, he scrapped into it with his cheap shoes and messed it up. Noticing what he did, he looked down at the line and then back at me and then back to the line.

 

“Someone’s spilled a hell of a lot of salt there buddy”

 

Hank hadn’t changed. Still living in ignorance. Despite where he lived. Still hadn’t bothered learning anything about protection from the weird. But I guess that was some people’s way of getting on with it. Living their lives. Of course, he knew about the weird. I mean how could he not? We had grown up seeing the same things. But I had learned from it. Got out of the rubble and salvaged what I could of a life. Hank was still in fairyland where nothing would ever harm him. The reason he wrote to me had just got a hell of a lot clearer.

 

“I got the call from Barmy Brady this morning that you were here. Why did you not call? You could have stayed at mine in town”, Hank said, sitting down on the bed and dive bombing into the box of cholesterol ridden fat balls. In a second his mouth was full with dough and chocolate, “my wife did the best turkey. All the trimmings. Really was great. You should have come. We could have caught up good. God what’s it been twenty years”

 

He offered me the box with sticky fingers and I shook my head. Couldn’t eat any of that stuff anymore. Played with my guts to no end. Probably a side effect of the demon blood. I rarely ate anymore.

 

“It’s been twenty one actually. I’m okay here Hank. I don’t want to stay in town. I want to help you with this case and then I’ll be heading off. I appreciate the offer of hospitality but I like making my own arrangements.”

 

Hank looked at me as if I had just put down his dog. His chops still slurred the donuts rough and he eventually cleared his throat. His feet shuffled like they were on his first dance as he sat on my bed.

 

“Okay you know best I guess. I do really appreciate you coming here to help us out though Harvey. I’m at my wit’s end here. I don’t know what to do. And they’re piling up as well. The word serial killer has even been shouted around. Serial killer. Here, in our little town. I mean, can you believe it?”

 

Serial Killer in Crispin Falls? Yeah I could. Amazed that the town hadn’t had one before now. It most likely had. But the townspeople never did like facing the hard truth. I thought about me and my problems and how I had run away. Yeah I was from Crispin Falls alright.

 

“How many deaths have there been?” I asked. The letter has been dated six weeks back.

 

“There’s three now. Latest one happened just two days ago. Christmas Eve”

 

My own murderous act sprang to mind. Police would have been searching for a body by now. Doing a bit of door to door. Showing his mug shot to neighbors and passersby. Someone might have seen him enter my apartment. Might have the heard the shots. Might have seen me leaving with him in a gym bag. Maybe. But I couldn’t think about that now.

 

“All magician assistants?”

 

“Yep. All on stage as well. All during the act. Carmel was the first. She was Travis Daytona’s assistant. Then there was Alfred’s assistant. That was Natalie. Then the other night we had Bridgette. That was Tom’s assistant. You remember Tom Staines right. From school. Well actually he goes by the amazing Stanzas now. These magicians and their stage names.”

 

“That name keeps coming up”

 

“Who Tom?”

 

“No. Travis. Travis Daytona”

 

“Oh yeah Travis Daytona”

 

“Yeah who is he? What’s the deal with him?”

 

Hank went into a dreamy teenage girl wonder. “Oh he’s great magician. He come over from England during the summer and has put on some wonderful shows. Really great stuff. Even for this town. He has decided to stay put. He really likes it here. You should meet him. You’d like him. He has put all the other magician’s to shame.”

 

“I’m sure I’ll meet him soon enough. After all. These killings have started since he has been in town. That strike you as just a coincidence?”

 

And what kind of spectacular magician would want to stay in this kind of town? Why not head to Hollywood or Vegas? Travis Daytona was a man that I had questions for already. And I hadn’t even been in town a day yet.

 

“Suppose that is a little odd”, Hank said thinking out loud. His hands fiddled with another donut. I could see now why he had written to me.

 

We stood in silence for a moment. Me wanting a bit of time to have a scrub and put on some fresh clothes. Hank, a little embarrassed I think that he wasn’t a better cop. Then the screams from Mrs Brady’s radio started up again just like they had done the previous night.

 

“Look Hank, what’s say we get out of here and talk about the next step down at the station”

“You think we could go to get something to eat for breakfast I’m starved”

 

I looked at the donuts. And Hank looked up at me with chocolate lips. His eyes blue and child like. The same Hank Reno that had reluctantly followed me into the haunted mine. The same Hank Reno that had bitched and moaned about summoning the spirits with that Ouija board. The same Hank Reno from all those years ago. I decided to cut him some slack.

 

“Sure thing Hank. Here is what we’re going to do. Go and get all the paperwork and evidence on the case. Let me have an hour to freshen up. And then we’ll meet in the town. Is Mickey’s still around?”

 

His face lit up. “Yeah course it is. Still best place in town. Remember the strawberry milkshakes Harvey?”

 

“Sure do Hank. I sure do. Now you get going. And don’t forget the evidence. That’s very important”

 

He jumped off the bed with a spring in his step. Leaving his empty box on my bed. He opened the door and looked back. “I’ll go and get the evidence now. Won’t be much. You can fit it in a matchstick box”

 

He stopped and looked down. I wondered what had made him stop talking. I leaned to see. On the floor outside the door stood a plate with a thick bacon sandwich on it. The pink flesh poured out between the white bread and ketchup ran down the crusts like a waterfall. Mrs Brady’s breakfast as promised.

 

Hank looked at me. The screams from her radio acting as music between us. He looked back at the grizzly slices of pork. Then back at me. “Barmy Brady?”

 

I nodded.

 

“I think I’ll wait till we get to the diner”

 

By the time I had got to Mickey’s diner, Hank was sitting in a booth with a stack of pancakes bigger than the case file that sat unloved on the table. Syrup poured down the layers. I slid in the booth opposite Hank and waited for him to take a breather from all the chomping.

 

“You should have the stack. It’s unbelievable. And they don’t charge cops here”

 

“I’m not a cop”, I said, looking out the window across the street and wondering if the Buick would be okay where I parked it.

 

Some kids were eyeballing it. Probably never seen a fairly new car before. Crispin Falls was still years behind the rest of the world. They moved along eventually. Busy drinking their bottle of cola and jumping on and off of curbs.

Being back in town had got me all wired up. I had tried to relax with a bath and a shave but it had been no use. On the way over to the diner, I had been thinking of ways I could let down Hank and just get out of here. Get back to a city. Find a case. Being in Crispin Falls was bad for your health. And as a private dick that specialized in the freaky and had a demon blood addiction to boot, it wasn’t the greatest place to be.

 

“What can I get you?” a large waitress said.  She had just about managed to squeeze into her pink uniform and her apron was grime free meaning she’d probably just started her shift.

 

“I’ll just have a coffee”

 

“Get him a coffee and a stack like mine would you Rita?” Hank said with a mouthful not looking away from his plate.

 

The blonde scribbled something on her notepad and flashed me a rosy smile. Big smile meant bigger chance of tips. But the emergency fund of yours truly was low as it was. Couldn’t afford to treat fat broads. She wheeled away before I could cancel the stack.

 

“Hey Rita”, Hank shouted after her, making me jump a little of the hard leather of the booth.

 

Rita spun round before she disappeared entirely through the door marked kitchen. I caught sight of a glimpse of anger on her face but it got quickly taken over with a big false smile. Probably sick of carrying endless amounts of food back and forth for old Hank here. Maybe he wasn’t such a great tipper either.

 

“What is it Hank. Another stack as well?”

 

He clicked his fingers and pointed them in my face. Spit and syrup hit me. “You know who this is?”

 

“Hank, can we not do this...”

 

“This here is Harvey Moss”

 

Now I was certain that I didn’t know this broad. She was the good side of thirty and would only been a kid when I left. But her eyes lit up like she had won a year’s supply of ice cream and she shuffled back over to our booth. It was as if the president has just pulled up in town. She wasn’t the only one. The mere mention of my name had caused stalls to swivel. The men sitting on them glared across at me. Eyes low. Mouths full of food. The jukebox still played modern day hits from the corner.

This Rita then came rushing back over. Her face full of more enthusiasm than a dog with a bone. I looked past her through the trucker types that were on the stalls. Slowly they turned back round. Harvey Moss hadn’t been enough to put them off their breakfast for long.

 

“Well I’ll be dammed. Hank hasn’t shut the hell up about you in years. You’re a legend around these parts Mr Moss”

 

“That’s nice. Although legend is a bit much. I haven’t been here in a long time”

 

“Hank heard that you are some big shot detective in the city now. That true?”

 

I squirmed in my seat. I felt eyes back on my again. Cooking me alive with their stares. No one wanted a big shot detective in their town. Not this town anyway. A town with plenty of skeletons in the closet. Some literally.

 

“Well not exactly Rita. I’m a private detective now. I quit the force some years ago”

 

Rita couldn’t hide her disappointment. Her hopes and dreams of a John Wayne type guy coming into town and rescuing her from the bad guys were fading fast. She nodded her head and slapped on her fake face again.

 

“Ah okay. Good for you Mr Moss. So what brings you back here to Crispin Falls?”

 

Hank stopped carving into his pancakes for a moment and interrupted us. I was half glad.

 

“Rita, have you got shit for brains? I told you last week that Harvey here may be coming up to help me on the case”

 

She looked puzzled. Hank elaborated for the broad.

 

“The Magician’s assistants. Cooked alive on stage”

 

“Jesus Hank, try and keep it down would you? People are trying to eat and it’s not good to have everyone knowing our investigation inside and out”

 

Hank sure did have the same big mouth he had always owned. One not so careful owner. He looked embarrassed.

 

“Sorry Harvey. It’s just that everyone knows anyway. Everyone was there that night”

 

“That’s the truth Mr Moss”, Rita said, “I saw it all. I couldn’t sleep for a week after. Still had it in my head. And that awful smell. Just makes my skin crawl just thinking about it”

 

I leaned in across the table and over Hank’s pancakes.

 

“From now on we’re going to do our best to keep everyday residents out of our investigation. If you want my help with this case, that’s the way it’s going to be Hank”

 

He nodded and looked down like a kid that had just been grounded, “Sure thing Harv”

 

Rita saw that she should really get back to it and shoved her notepad back in her pocket.

 

“Well I for one am glad you’re here Mr Moss. You don’t remember me do you?”

 

I really didn’t. I looked up again at her. That coffee would sure feel good right about now. How long does it take? Couldn’t she talk whilst pouring me a cup? This Rita broad looked down at me with the same dumb expression on her face, hoping I would click me fingers and go “sure I do kid, who could forget a pretty thing like you?” I didn’t.

 

“My second name is Hunt”

 

I looked up. Didn’t say anything. Hank didn’t help.

 

“Susie Hunt’s little sister”

 

Shit. Susie Hunt. Now there’s a name that bought back a train full of memories. Hard not to forget Susie Hunt. She had been my girl throughout high school. I had lost my cherry to her and all. In the back of her dad’s truck which we had borrowed for the night. On top of lover’s lookout. I wondered if it was still there? Susie Hunt. Now there was a broad. Come to think of it, she did have a pudgy little whiny sister back then? All spots and chocolate sauce over chops.

 

“I’ll be dammed Susie Hunt hey”, I said, not being able to hide the smile that Susie brought to my face.

 

“Yep. I’m Rita. Remember her little sister?”

 

“Sure I do Rita. Sure I do. So how is Susie doing these days?”

 

Rita ignored my question. “You know something. Harvey Moss. I had a crush on you the size of a July 4th celebration. You were the best thing about this god forsaken town for a young girl like me”

 

Hank snorted a laugh. I shot him a glance.

 

“Well that’s mighty sweet of you Rita. So how’s that coffee looking?”

 

“Can I do something Harvey Moss?”

 

Hank snorted another one. I glanced again.

 

“Umm well that depends on what it is now don’t it?”

 

Like a lightning bolt that had seen metal, Rita shot over next to me and placed her sweaty hands on both my cheeks. She then planted a big sloppy one on me. All lips and stickiness. It lasted longer than any kiss with this broad should. I could hear Hank laughing again and stalls spinning round. She tasted off cigarettes and coffee. Sure could have done with that coffee now.

 

“What the hell is going on here?”

 

Rita released her grip from my face and I took in some much needed air. Good to be back in the world of the living again. She stood up straight. A look of horror on her face. All eyes were on the swinging double doors. I think even the jukebox had been turned down. I followed everyone else’s stare and saw that a big grease ball of a man had walked in.

He wore jeans that were covered in patches of oil. A red shirt tucked up in with rolled up sleeves that showed off thick arms. A hat from some auto repair shop or other sat on his thick, round head. He stared at me. Then Rita. Then at me again. His mitts were clenched.

Now I could handle myself. I fought dirty but I always mostly won. But even I had doubts over me getting the upper hand on this guy if it came down to that. Maybe I should have put the last of funds on this guy on kicking my ass. He walked towards me. I stayed put. Maybe this meathead would believe the fact that no one would want to kiss Rita. Least of all me.

 

“Hi Sweetie”, Rita said approaching him and placing her hands on his barrel chest.

 

“I came here to see my girl and I see her with this son of a bitch all over her”

 

He brushed past Rita and stood at the end of our table. He looked down at me. Beard lined his face. Eyes were grey but still fiery. And that’s when I noticed it. One of the eyes. The left one. Half of it wasn’t grey but black. You wouldn’t even notice but this guy was eyeballing me so much that it was hard not to. But he had told me something. Demon.

It came from when the demon would enter the human’s body. As they entered mostly through the eyes. The color of pupils would sometimes become affected. On this case it had.

 

“Clyde I know this guy. He’s an old friend. He used to live round here”

 

Clyde wasn’t listening to Rita who was pulling at his arm and having no effect at all.

 

“You smooch every old guy friend you know Rita? Especially out of towners”

 

“I ain’t no out of towner friend”, I said, “I was born and raised in these parts. Which is more than I can say for you”

 

Now I did want to shout out from the rooftops that I came from this town but I wasn’t going to have some demon shake me down either.

 

Clyde leaned towards me. Yeah I caught the smell of brimstone even over the cheap aftershave he had doused himself in. He placed his mitts on the table. Nearly as big as Hank’s pancakes.

 

Hank decided that it was time he stopped eating and started to police.

 

“Now Clyde. We don’t need any trouble here. This here is Harvey Moss. He’s assisting me with the case we got on our hands. Now Rita was just being a bit friendly. Nothing in it. Harvey here used to go steady with her sister. He aint been back in town for twenty years”

 

“That right?” Clyde asked smirking, “Well twenty years is a long time Harvey Moss. Things change. This town aint the same as it was”

 

“Oh I don’t know about that,” I said

 

“Harvey come on now”, Hank said from across the table

 

I carried on, “seems the same to me. Scum on every corner. Can’t have a coffee without some slime from hell trying to stir up trouble”

 

“What did you say?” Clyde leaned in more. His mitts pressed against the table so much it squeaked.

 

“You may have these deadbeats fooled but I know what you are and I know where you come from. I here its hot in your home town every day of the year. Scorching in fact if you get my drift”

 

He looked at me dumbfounded. Rita and Hank was struggling to hear us.

 

“I’m not like every other dumb fuck in this town Clyde. They don’t want to see what’s in front of them. But me, I can’t get enough of it”

 

“Maybe I should kill you then. You know so you don’t tell Rita or anyone else my little secret”

 

“Now that’s a great plan Clyde but how are you going to explain the burning that’s going to come when they slap on those silver cuffs?”

 

He looked for the next option. Sweat ran down the side of his head. After finding his next option, he came back to me.

 

“And how about if I just give you a good beating. Make it so you cant talk to anyone?”

 

“Now see there’s using your head. Now that’s an option”

 

I grabbed the cutlery that had been next to my hand the whole time. It was the fork. Didn’t have time to be fussy. I stuck it into the middle of Clyde’s juicy hand in an instant. He screamed in pain. Rita screamed as well.

 

“But there would be the fun in that”, I said

 

“Jesus Harvey”, Hank said shuffling out of the booth.

 

Clyde pulled his hand away from the table. Fork still attached. Black blood dripped across the table. Ah the good stuff. The urges came back. I could have licked that sweet stuff off the table right at that moment. Screw the coffee.

 

“It burns. It burns”

 

“Yeah I told you it would”, I said pushing myself out of the booth and past Clyde who was still pulling at the fork. What did you know that really was stuck in there good?

 

“Hank I think we should go to the station. Remember to pick up the case folder there”

 

Hank did as I told him as I whispered into Clyde’s ear, “Like I said, I was born and raised here and I know certain things about your kind. Now I’m going to be in town for a few days. Maybe a week. I wont get any more trouble from you. And be extra nice to Rita here will you?”

 

He didn’t say anything and staggered off to the men’s to clear himself up. All eyes on the diner still locked on me. Welcome back Harvey. They eventually went back to their food. Rita’s stayed on me. Her mouth wide open. No doubt questions in that noggin of hers.

 

“Rita it was sure nice to see you again. Tell Susie I’m in town and I said hi. Sorry about the table and the fork. If Mickey feels he has to, he can bill me for the damage”

 

We left the diner. Hank behind me mumbling about what I had just done. Just like he had done when we were kids. I didn’t explain myself. Hank was the cop here not me. Time he started acting like it.

We got to the Buick but I didn’t get it. Something was troubling me. I felt left out. Everyone and their dog had seen at least one of these’s murders except me. It was hitting midday. Sure was hot out in the sun. If only there was a way I could see what had happened. I looked across at Hank as he held the wafer thin case file in this hand. Hank and his case file didn’t fill me with much hope that I would get answers. Then an idea hit me.

 

“Gypsy”

 

“What about her?” Hank asked.

 

“She still on the creek. On the reservation”

 

“As far as I know. I haven’t been up there for years. No business to. Why what you thinking?”

 

He saw me staring at his case file and the thoughtful face I must have been pulling.

 

“Oh no Harv. Not her. Does a man no good to be going up there”

 

“Hank. We got a case to solve. We have to use every tool at our disposal to do so. Just so happens we live in a town which has plenty of freaky tools”

 

I opened up the Buick.

 

“Come on, get in and I might buy you a strawberry milkshake on the way”

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