Ikil kicked open the door to Jackson’s room to reveal a horrible sight. The room had been ransacked, and Jackson lay on the floor in a pool of his own intestines. Three men wearing cheap, shabby suits and foul headdresses of white linen and red leather were in the room. All three bore long, curved knives. At the sight of the intruders, they attacked.
Cooly, Ikil shot two of them dead before they could hurt anyone else. The third managed to slash the redoubtable bodyguard across his left shoulder before Ikil and George shot him dead as well.
Quickly Dr Dudley rushed to his fallen friend’s side, but he could do nothing for Jackson. The globe-trotting author was dead, and a strange symbol had been carved into his forehead. While Dr Dudley ascertained these sad and disturbing facts, several of his friends searched the author’s assailants. They found a queer assortment of papers and so on in the men’s pockets, but before they could examine their finds, two uniformed police officers arrived.
Explaining what had happened, the group produced Jackson’s telegram summoning them to the Hotel Chelsea and talked the officers through the scene. They seemed satisfied with the explanations, but Jackson’s friends had to go through the entire process again when Lieutenant Poole arrived. Because deaths had occurred, the six men had to accompany Poole to his precinct to give full statements.
This process took the balance of the day, but it was not a complete waste of time. Poole mentioned that this was the ninth such murder in the last two years. All the dead had a strange symbol carved into their foreheads, and Poole related how Dr Mordecai Lemming, an eccentric Manhattanite and folklorist, thought an African death cult might be at work in the city. A man—Hilton Adams—had been convicted of the other killings in October last year, but this new killing threw doubt on his guilt or, at the very least, suggest he had accomplices.
In any event, by dinner time, the group was back in Charles’ hotel room. There they toasted their dead friend and vowed vengeance on anyone connected with his death. They had no shortage of clues: they had recovered a couple of business cards and letters along with a handbill for a talk, a matchbox from the Stumbling Tiger Bar Shanghai and an intriguing photograph of a boat in an exotic Far Eastern location. They had much to go on.
Friday 16th January
The friends were up early; they had much to do. The morning papers were full of stories about Jackson Elias’s murder. Reading the accounts over breakfast, the friends also learnt Jackson’s funeral was the next day (which they vowed to attend).
Even the foul weather did not deter the group from trying to learn more about Jackson’s murder and what he had been investigating.
Several of the group—Ikil, George, Dudley and Jacob visited Prospero House—Jackson’s publisher—and met Jonah Kensington. The publisher was genuinely sad at Jackson’s murder and gladly cooperated with the quartet. He provided a great volume of correspondence sent to his office by Jackson over the last year or so and related how Jackson believed he was on the trail of a “plan or conspiracy of monstrous, worldwide proportions”.
Meanwhile, Charles visited the docks to discover where the MS Antenor had set sail from. It transpired the vessel had sailed from London, England. (This later tallied with certain notes recovered from Prospero House.) The harbourmaster could not identify the ship in the photograph recovered from one of Jackson’s killers but suggested Charles ask around—maybe a widely-travelled sailor would recognise the location. Cunningly, Charles decided that when the weather cleared, he’d heard over the China Town to see if anyone there recognised the scene.
Finally, Tom was busy investigating Emerson Importers (the business card of which had also been recovered from one of Jackson’s killers). Here he learnt, after intimidating the owner, Arthur Emerson, with threats of extreme violence, Jackson had been interested in importers operating from Mombasa in Kenya. He learnt that Emerson Importers had but one customer interested in items of African origin—Silas N’Kwane at the Ju-Ju House in Harlem.
Later that night, Tom dragged Charles to Harlem to scope the joint out. Sadly, the shop was closed, but Tom was convinced the place was connected with Jackson’s death. He would have broken in under cover of darkness, but the presence of three drunk beggars and Charles’s obvious reluctance dissuaded him. He did resolve, however, to return during the day to visit the shop and meet its owner…
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