The Armitage Files

Tales of the Sea

in which Whateley hears a fish story and things get hot for Diamond Walsh

Not finding a Zora Smallidge in any police or other public records he has access to, Jackson enlists Dr. Whateley’s help. Whateley looks up “Smallidge” in A Survey of Family Names in Rhode Island, Eastern Massachusetts, and Southern New Hampshire (Miskatonic University Press, 1924) and finds a reference to an Elihu Smallidge in the tiny fishing village of Dixon, Massachusetts. Jackson contacts the Essex County Sheriff’s office and talks to the deputy in that area. He confirms that Elihu has a granddaughter named Zora who’s probably 22 or 23 years old and has been living in Boston for at least a couple of years.

Dr. Whateley meets with Samuel Hepburn and gets a few old family stories. He recommends that she speak to the Yacht Club’s barman, Lem Finlayson. Finlayson tells her his story of the penultimate voyage of the SS Cordelia (incidentally mentioning that Dixon “ain’t there no more.”)

She then meets with Oliver Gardiner at his company office. She mentions talking to Lem and Oliver wants to know what Lem told her. She relates the Cordelia story. Gardiner is dismissive but also seems to want to make sure she doesn’t think there’s anything to it. She asks if any Gardiner ships ever had hostile run-ins with the Marshes. He says they didn’t, mainly because they operated in different areas. He seems bothered by her questions.

On her way out, she overhears a man (whom she suspects – and later confirms – is “Diamond” Walsh) arguing with Gardiner’s secretary. “It’s a Yacht Club. I got a yacht, ain’t I? So what’s the problem?” After getting back to Arkham she telephones Gardiner to warn him about Walsh. He appreciates her concern and tells her that the club knows who Walsh is.

Dr Throckmorton has been through the New England League of Amateur Astronomers newsletters he picked up and thinks he’s noticed a strange pattern in the logs of the members’ observations. He’s not sure what it means, but it seems as though the members are going to some rather remote and sometimes nearly inaccessible places only to record observations that could have been made just about anywhere. Dr. Whateley wonders if the coordinates might be coded messages, and Throkmorton agrees that they should find someone with expertise in cryptography to take a look. He’s also interested in seeing if the next issue of the newsletter mentions the strange atmospheric conditions associated with the Billington’s Wood case. In the meantime, he’s planning to drop in on a few of the NELAA members as they make their nighty observations and see what he can find out.

Noting the reference in the second document to the Circle Rite Lodge, they turn to Warren Rice (“I guess I’m still a Mason, officially”) for background. He tells them what he knows and agrees to discreetly inquire about the membership. On a related topic, they send a couple of grad students to plow through local newspapers, city directories, and so forth to compile a list of Helping Hands members. The intent is not to investigate all these people, but to have a handy list for finding connections between names that come up during other avenues of investigation.

Dr Gleford is able to give them more information on the Miskatonic Valley Sanatorium. Even though they’ve officially said they’ll be ready to take patients “before the first of the year” it seems that they’re ahead of schedule and will probably open quite a bit sooner than that. Construction of the facilities is complete and they’ve engaged almost all of the medical and clerical staff they’ll need.

Finally, on the morning of the 25th (a Wednesday), Jackson gets a call from Andy Lane. “Diamond” Walsh’s Boston home has burned down in the early hours of the morning, but due to a last-minute change of plans nobody was in the house. Rumor has it that Teddy Moore, Walsh’s right-hand man, has been angling to take over Walsh’s operation, and Lane thinks Moore’s the kind of guy who’d think it was smart to use an apparently accidental house fire as opposed to just shooting a guy. Moore seems to have skipped out of Boston in a hurry, possibly around the time it became known that nobody was hurt in the fire.

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StevenHoward

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