Irving Fletcher broke the door stumbling in. He fell to the hard wood floor with a thump and a groan. Blood oozed from his head in a black river and a woman screamed.
I got to him first. Ashley called an ambulance.
When I turned him over, he screamed at me. Not a waking struggle like some accident victims, but a horror filled sound that told of something broken. He clutched at me. Irving’s head looked different without the Cubs cap riding high on it. He was balding. He fell silent and held onto me.
“Irving,” I said. “What happened?”
“The moon. The moon came down and told me what to do.” He grinned and his teeth were covered in blood. “The wheels go round and round on the moon and it knows.”
“The Wheelers? Did Courtney Wheeler do this to you?”
At the mention of her name he screamed again. His throat was done, though, and it came out a dusty squeak. He held me harder and pulled closer, crying into my chest.
The ambulance arrived and the EMTs pried him off of me and strapped him down. They gave him the once over, saying things to each other. One nodded and I followed the nod to Irving’s hands. The little reporter had clawed his fingernails off. They gathered him up on the stretcher and took him away.
Parker came by an hour later. Probably at the hospital watching over the little guy. Or maybe he was having lunch. Detective Gerald Parker hated me, with good reason. When I came back into town he had tried to arrest me and been stopped. Never matter I was innocent of the crime, he saw it as my family’s influence.
“Man’s dead,” he said, picking at his teeth. Lunch then.
“You tell me.”
“Christ, he banged through my doors a bloody mess. I just kept him company until the boys showed up.”
“Said you knew him.”
“Came in a few weeks ago. Photographer from Chicago doing a piece on Freedom Summer. Sent him out to Improve, the revival.”
“Far as I know.”
“We didn’t find a camera.”
“Don’t know about that. He came by a little after. Let me know some things about a visitor in town. Courtney Wheeler.”
“Who’s Courtney Wheeler?”
“Jesus, Parker. Are you a cop?”
He took a step toward me. Staring me down, right in the eye. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“The head of the Wheeler Mafia is right here in your town and you don’t know? You want me to do an Internet search for you? Print you out some pages. Whole reams of dead bodies gone in interesting ways. I think we have a police discount for copies.” I waited a moment, gathering my temper. “She killed him.”
“They don’t know what killed him. Think he snapped. Heat exhaustion.”
“Go over to the Inn on Main. Talk to her. Ask around first, though. She’s… evil or something.”
“Evil or something? Fuck you, Banned.”
“I gotta clean up this mess.”
“Mess or message?” he said as he stepped over the puddle of blood and left the library. I sat and waited for the police clean-up crew to come and take away all the blood. Four hours later I scrubbed it down myself.