The Post-Modern Masks of Nyarlathotep

Episode VIII: Les pas des amants désunis (Part 7)

It doesn’t take much work to track down the Ivory Wind, just arriving in Cherbourg Friday night. Francis remembers something and checks Jax’s diary. According to it, while she was en route from Ireland to Halifax, Nova Scotia, she said a giant winged serpent came to her ship, searching for her. She escaped on a lifeboat and was picked up by a tramp steamer—the Ivory Wind. When she made landfall in Halifax and went to the steamer that was to take her to New York—hoping to somehow buy another ticket—the porter told her that she had already been by that morning to drop off her luggage.

Of course, Jax could have been pretty insane by then.

In the morning they find a port inspector who is willing, after a little encouragement, to take them on board the ship. The crew is mostly Chinese, and the ship has Shanghai registration; but the captain is Norwegian, a drunkard by the name Lars Torvak.

“We already did our customs inspection. Drink?” he says, taking a swig from his bottle.

“Just a formality. We’re working with Interpol. Checking some cargo.”

“We move antiquities, for charitable foundations. What do you need to see? Wait. I can’t let you see that. You’d need a warrant.”

“Well, I could come back with a warrant, and impound the ship, hold all your cargo, bring a unit of…oh, five guys…”

“Whoa, whoa! Okay, okay, here’s the manifest, and my logs…”

The ship seems to bounce between Mombasa, Shanghai, Port Darwin (Australia?!), and Cherbourg. Right now they are bringing cargo from Australia to France, for transshipment…somewhere.

“We need to take a look at this,” says Francis to the port inspector.

“We can’t break the seals! That’s really illegal…well…I guess I can go have a cigarette…”

Francis pops open a few crates. He finds several unusual trinkets that he can’t place at all. Then he finds…highly machined parts, struts, and equipment that he has no clue about. All of it looks extremely new and very advanced.

“You’re going to leave this here,” says Francis to Torvak.

“I can’t do that.”

“How much is it?”

“It’s not a question of money. They’ll kill me. You may be a big scary guy from Interpol, but you don’t frighten me. You think I’m this way because I’m a loser with a cargo ship? No. I was in the Navy. I only got like this after I started working for them.”

Francis finds out that they are offloading the cargo tomorrow and then breaking port for Mombasa. He places a call to Jimmy in Paris, and despite having just left the hospital, he agrees to head up to see them that day.

Episode VIII: Les pas des amants désunis (Part 6)

Francis takes Guy on a fishing trip to the Atlantic coast—near Cherbourg. Eventually Guy opens up a bit.

“What did Hypatia say to you, Francis? Because when she talked to me…I realized, all the women in my life, I have been absolument merde to them. Marie, she is nothing but good to me, and I play around on her. My girls are going to grow up with people like me…I couldn’t stand it. I wanted to kill myself. I took a long look at who I am…and I hated it.”

Francis slaps him. “You’re a good man. We need you. People are dying.”

“I know. I’m with you to the end, man. I’ll go anywhere.”

Francis tells him about Gavigan, and everything that has happened except for the magic paintings and the crazy lizard lady.

“All right, I can help you with this boat.”

“I’m sorry I hit you,” says Francis. “I think it’s good that you’re trying to be better.”

“Yeah…I mean, I look at you and Isabelle, and you didn’t have any time together, and I think I shouldn’t be so horrible to…oh, I’m sorry Francis.”

Francis looks away for a long time. “It’s just…I don’t think I’ll ever find that again.”

Episode VIII: Les pas des amants désunis (Part 5)

Francis sends some flowers to Hypatia, and she invites him to come down to the Club Hippolyte, as she has renamed the Blue Pyramid.

“Frankie, Frankie, Frankie,” says Hypatia. “You sleeping in that bed yet?”

“I know Jimmy and the guys are getting in trouble. I’m worried about them.”

“That crew was born for trouble. They decided to meddle in this.”

“Anything you could give me about Gavigan?”

“Go to Ireland. Check out the castle he owns.”

“Anything I could take to the police?”

“That’s really not what you’re here about, is it Francis? There are two stage doors. Go out of door A, and you’re in Paris and everything is normal. Go out door B…and you get to see her one more time.”

“I came here to help you. You want to play this kind of game? Forget you.”

“You’ve got gumption. Dumb as a brick, but gumption. I like you.”

“I just want to see that my cousin didn’t die in vain, and that those of us trying to find out what happened…make it to the other side.”

“Oh, that remains to be seen. You’re meddling with powers you cannot comprehend. Well. There’s a boat called the Ivory Wind. Check that out.”

Episode VIII: Les pas des amants désunis (Part 4)

Francis O’Donnell spends a few days in the hospital recovering from his snake bites, the last day or so accompanied by Jimmy, who arrives after a nasty car crash; apparently, car crashes cause bullet wounds. He putters around Montmartre for a few days working on his own cases. He hears about Sheila vanishing, but chalks it up to her discontent.

When he drops by the Forgeron’s house for Sunday dinner, Guy’s wife Marie is clearly upset. Ever since Guy threw himself into the Seine, he has been despondent, refusing to go out, refusing to do anything.

“The girls and I are frantic! Take him to Normandy, go fishing or something! Don’t come back until he’s better.”

Guy is surprisingly not drunk. Francis notices his thousand yard stare and takes him to his place in Montmartre, where he force-feeds him a glass of wine. “Let’s go to the burlesque tonight,” says Francis.

“No. I don’t want that.”

“A nice restaurant?”

“Yeah. Okay.”

Guy spends a day or two at Francis’ apartment, not saying much, just sitting and smoking. Francis checks in a few times with Mickey Mahoney, who points out that nobody seems to be watching Gavigan. He makes a comment or two about the professionalism of Jimmy Wright.

Francis drops in on Inspecteur Jacques Melville. “I think the guy blocking your investigation is Edouard Gavigan.”

“Are you insane? Besides, he’s too rich.”

Francis hands him some of the photographs Jimmy took. “This guy is up to no good. Just put some pressure on him.”

“We can watch the place, I suppose.”

Guy doesn’t seem to get better no matter what Francis does. When he throws girls at him, Guy politely excuses himself. He’ll refuse to drink at first, and then get far too drunk far too fast. Using his pharmaceutical skills, Francis acquires some uppers; these just make Guy distracted. Finally, Francis hypnotizes him, trying to give him the suggestion to be happier and nicer to his kids.

When Francis suggests that, Guy starts to cry.

Melville gets back to Francis after a few days. He tells Francis that Gavigan dropped by Tewfik’s place the day after he got killed—he seems to have had a key. He left looking very disappointed. Melville also says that trucks occasionally drop by the Fondation Aubrey Penhew, heading to Cherbourg on the Atlantic coast.

Episode VIII: Les pas des amants désunis (Part 3)

The next morning Freddie, Charleston and Gilbert head over to Tewfik’s apartment. It is not locked in any way that Charleston finds to be an impediment.

When they come upstairs, they find three young women wearing not-quite-uniforms. Two are taking the mirror off of the wall while the other stands guard. Freddie recognizes her—it’s Yalesha.

“Don’t worry, we’ve got it in hand. You should probably leave,” she says.

“We thought we’d come visit Hypatia.”

“Yeah…not a good time, really. Let’s get a move on, girls.”

They ransack Tewfik’s desk, and bring several artifacts back to Dr. Mwimbe.

While Jimmy recovers, they try several times to see Hypatia, but the club is sold out every time.

Episode VIII: Les pas des amants désunis (Part 2)

Near dawn Freddie stumbles home to an empty hotel suite. He goes to Mwimbe’s room. Freddie asks her where Sheila is, but Mwimbe says that she does not know where Sheila is—and that anything else she knows was told to her in confidence. She suggests he go to the front desk.

The clerk tells him that Sheila left earlier in the day, with several large suitcases. She caught a cab and asked it to take them to Gare du Nord.

“What’s Gare du Nord?”

“A train station.”

Freddie gives him a hard look. “Is there anything else?”

“I…wouldn’t know what you’re talking about. I have nothing further I can say to you…I am a poor man, and I have a family…”

Jimmy enters the lobby. “Scotty, old man,” says Freddie “Sheila’s—”

“—missing. I know.”

“You’re a remarkable private detective! Could you find my valet too?”

At that moment Gilbert walks in.

“My God, Scotty! You’re amazing!”

“Could I have my briefcase?” says Gilbert. Freddie hands it to him, and Gilbert checks to make sure his sawed-off shotgun and pistol are inside. “We may have to kill some people.”

Briefly Gilbert explains the situation, and they decide to go with the agents waiting outside, with Jimmy following behind them. They get in the car. Freddie is frisked, but Gilbert quietly slips his briefcase into the car under his coat.

They drive in circles, to disorient their prisoners. “This isn’t necessary, you know,” says Freddie. “I don’t know Paris.”

“With all due respect, sir, shut the eff up.”

Meanwhile, behind them, Jimmy is in a hired cab. “Uh…suivez-vous ce voiture…”

“Follow that car, right.”

Finally they arrive at an apartment building in the west part of Paris. They take Freddie and Gilbert back up to the third floor and toss Alphonse and his suitcase into the closet. Anton is smoking a cigarette with his feet.

Freddie is brought before the well-dressed man who tells him that he is to come with him to London, where he will be stripped of his citizenship and tried for treason, insurrection, and various other crimes against the Empire.

Jimmy has the cab park outside. It looks like whoever is inside is using the entire building. The cabbie sits next to him in the front seat, reading Le Figaro. Jimmy can tell that the building is guarded, but his expertise doesn’t help him much in figuring out where the guards are.

Inside, Freddie tries to drop M’s name and gives his interlocutor a number to call. He sends out one of his underlings to call it. After a long pause, he returns and whispers in the interrogator’s ear.

“Why did you have me call the British Museum?” he asks Freddie.

In the storage closet, Gilbert asks Anton if he’s found a way out.

“No, they started to beat me when I untied the ropes.”

“Well, I could use some help…”

In a short while, the brothers have freed each other. The door opens and a guard enters.

Gilbert punches him in the face, twists him around, and puts him in a headlock. The guard collapses unconscious. Anton helps drag him inside while Gilbert peeks into the main room.

Three other agents are standing around in it; a door to the right leads to the office where it seems Freddie is being held.

Outside, Jimmy comes to a resolution. He crawls over the cabbie and shoves him into the passenger seat, then pulls the car around and backs into the building as fast as possible.

Two men with guns drawn immediately come pelting across the street, firing.

Freddie’s interrogator springs up and runs into the sitting room, locking his office behind him. “One of you go down and check…where’s Jackson?”

“He went in the closet,” says one of the agents.

“Mr. Gilber,” says the interrogator, “Are you in there?”


“You had better come out.”

“All right.”

Gilbert pulls the hammers back on his sawed-off shotgun.

Bullets shatter the windshield of Jimmy’s cab. One clips his shoulder and he ducks out of the way of two other shots. The cabbie screams as a bullet catches him in the chest.

Jimmy jumps on the accelerator and runs over one of the agents. As he drives away, another agent comes out of the front of the building; he and the remaining agent fire their pistols, and this time he takes one in the chest.

Bleeding heavily, Jimmy manages to keep the car more or less on the road until he manages to reach a hospital.

Back in the apartment, Gilbert and Freddie hear gunshots. Freddie starts fishing in his wallet for the handcuff keys he always keeps.

“I killed your friend,” says Gilbert.

“And then we’ll kill you.”

“Did you know him well?”

“Yes, sir, very well—” says one of the agents.

Honing in on the sound of the man’s voice, Gilbert fires his shotgun. It blasts a large hole in the door and a rather larger one in the agent.

The rest of the agents pour fire into the closet. The interrogator aims carefully and then shoots at Gilbert through the hole in the closet door, winging him.

“Take care of Blakely,” he growls. The remaining agent tries to unlock the door, only to discover that Freddie has jammed it.

“Give it up, Gilbert!” says the interrogator. “You’ve outlived your usefulness!”

The agent dispatched to the first floor comes back up, toting a fire ax. He begins to chop at the door to the office. Freddie tosses some brandy through the rents in the door and follows it with a match. The burst of flame enrages the agent, who begins cursing and describing the punishments he plans to inflict on Freddie.

Gilbert glances at Anton, planning a desperate last assault.

“What the—” says the interrogator.

There is a choking sound.

Then the sound of four bodies hitting the floor.

The ax is stuck in the office door. Freddie pulls it through the door and looks into the sitting room.

All the agents are dead, with a look of twisted horror on their faces.

Freddie uses the ax to start cutting his way into the hallway.

Eventually Gilbert and Anton work up the courage to leave the apartment. Freddie manages to chop his way through the office wall into the hallway, remarking that the odd bumps on his hands must be blisters.

They reach the wrecked front of the building. Across the street, dark figures dart in the shadows, keeping the building under observation.

Freddie sighs and picks up the phone in the front hallway. “M. l’Inspecteur Jacques Melville,” he says.

Eventually Melville picks up. “What ho, Melville! I hope you didn’t go see Hypatia last night.”

“I did. My wife is very angry at me now.”

“I have managed to find six dead British agents illegally in France. As a good German and ally of France, I thought you’d like to know.”

“I find that extremely improbable. I suggest you call the Sûreté.”

“Well, I’m here in the 20th, and you’re the only honest cop in Paris.”

“Oh,” says Freddie, at Gilbert’s urging, “there’s these Arab fellows outside. Maybe associated with Tewfik…”

“I’ll be right there,” says Melville, hanging up.

Soon a police car and a paddy wagon pull up in front of the apartment. The furtive figures across the street melt away as Melville begins the agonizing process of debriefing Freddie.

That evening Noor and Charleston are closeted in their room in Freddie’s suite, hitting the books as usual. The room is deathly still, so still that Charleston can hear the creak of a footstep outside the door. At the same moment, he sees a figure scurry along the balcony outside the window.

“Noor,” says Charleston. “You should go hide in the bathroom. Lock the door.” He stands up and puts his back into a corner, watching the door and the window. Then he flicks off the lights.

Simultaneously, the door three rooms along—in Freddie’s room—opens, along with the door in Charleston’s room, at the same time the balcony doors in Freddie’s and Charleston’s rooms open.

Masked figures with clubs enter the room. Charleston grabs his camera and flashes the men nearest to him, who reel away blinded. Charleston charges forward and kicks one of the men coming in from the balcony. He stumbles backwards and falls over the railing, crashing six stories to the ground.

Three men dash in from Freddie’s part of the suite and begin to scoop up books from the table, shoving them into sacks and then running for the door. Two others brandish clubs and charge at Charleston.

Charleston chants some words. His eyes glow red. One of the men with the book bags drops his sack and grabs the other book-laden intruder. They struggle toward the balcony, one bound to Charleston’s will. One of the men with clubs sweeps some books into a bag, grabs the other two sacks of books, and rushes for the door.

The other intruder clubs Charleston. The two intruders struggling together tumble over the balcony and plunge to the courtyard below. The man with the sacks of books dashes into the hall.

Harold and Maude, tourists from America, are arriving below when Frenchmen start raining down on them. “It’s one of those sex cults, Harold!”

“That’s what we came here for!”

Charleston leaps off the balcony and grabs a rainpipe. He slides down it, pulling it out of the masonry as he does. Water begins to spray from ruptured plumbing. He lands in front of the lobby. “Concierge!”

“Sir? All you all right?”

“Oh, I have some scuff marks on my face.”

“It’s just that people usually take the stairs…”

“That suicide cult tried to through me off the balcony! Luckily your crappy building was able to slow my fall by collapsing.”

“…suicide cult?”

“The one raining bodies down—and look, there’s the leader!”

The man with the sacks of books enters the lobby. With his mask off, he looks like an everyday Frenchman.

“What are you talking about?” he says. “I’m here to make a delivery.”

“I’ll sign for it,” says Charleston.

“It is not for you, monsieur. Now I must go and take this up with mon chef.”

A large car pulls up in front of the lobby.

The man with books starts to dash for the car. Charleston kicks him the head and he drops to the floor. The car doors slam and two toughs come out and stand between it and the lobby doors.

At this point the two last intruders come into the lobby, dragging Noor with them. One has a knife to her throat.

“Give us the books or she dies,” one grunts.

The concierge dives behind the desk. “Call some cops,” says Charleston. “Preferably American ones.”

A muffled “Screw you” can be heard from beneath the desk.

“How stereotypically French can you get?” says Charleston.

“Don’t insult us by calling us French.”

“Go to hell!” mutters the concierge.

“Look you guys are really tough. They spent six of you, right? Two of you are still alive. Why don’t you drop those books and we can duel to the death?”

As if on cue, a man steps out of the car. He is wearing an elegant suit with a trenchcoat over it and a fez—Tewfik al-Syed.

“All right, Mr. Charleston. We have the girl. Hand over the books and we will give her to you, and maybe you will learn you cannot steal from us.”

“I can’t just do that. Why don’t you take the books, and leave these guys for me to kill?”

A smile crosses Tewfik’s face. Charleston turns to the two thugs. “Look, can’t you see what’s going on here? He’ll let me kill you. Scram.” The two thugs glance at each other and then sprint out the back.

“Grab the books, Noor.” She sweeps them up and dives behind the counter.

“Do you think I came unarmed to a magic fight?” growls Tewfik. “A duel of sorcerers. I have not had one in a long time.”

“Do you want one?”

“You are an annoyance.”

Charleston speaks the first few syllables of the Dread Name of Azathoth.

“I see you are truly an initiate,” says Tewfik in Aklo.

“We both want knowledge,” says Charleston in the same language. “Why be adversarial when we could share information.”

“I think you are a dabbler, a little child who plays with his parents’ tools. You have nothing to offer me.”

“Well, I killed Shakhti, so I must know something…”

“The Master will return soon enough!” barks Tewfik, and blasts Charleston with a beam of black light.

Charleston screams in agony. Sirens can be heard from far away.

“I am going to take the books now,” says Tewfik.

Charleston says a Word. Upstairs in his room, the pieces of his Thompson gun slide out of their hidden locations and begin to assemble themselves in midair. Then the gun plunges through the floor, and the five floors below it, until it sails into the lobby and lands in Charleston’s hands.

“Now wait a second,” says Tewfik.

“Let me show you a trick I didn’t learn from my books.”

Charleston sprays out bullets. Tewfik drops, his gut perforated by .45 ACP slugs. Charleston plays the gun over the two toughs and then into the car until he exhausts the magazine.

Blood flows into the pools of water left by the spray from the broken plumbing. Charleston drops the gun, which launches back upstairs, disassembling itself as it does, and stands in the fall of water, trying to rinse off the blood. He is still standing there when the police arrive.

Episode VIII: Les pas des amants désunis (Part 1)

In the morning, Freddie goes out to a jewelers and picks up two wedding rings. He invites Sheila into his suite at their three-star tourist hotel.

He hands her a plain box containing the rings. “Sheila old girl, I know that I’m not exactly what you’d call an amazing catch. I have enormous amounts of family issues, mostly with the aunts, and I seem likely to be in trouble from now until the end of my potentially quite short life. However, you’re the most important person in my life, even more important than Bertie, who keeps me out of all sorts of trouble.”

“Oui,” says Gilbert from the corner, where he is smoking.

“So I thought I should give these to you,” continues Freddie, “and you can let me know if you ever have the dashed insane idea of you wearing one of these and me wearing the other.”

“I…I have to think about this,” says Sheila, stunned.

L’amour,” sighs Gilbert, with a shrug.

“Come in, officers,” says Freddie to the man in the neat but threadbare suit accompanied by two policemen.

Bon jour. I am Inspecteur Jacques Melville, of the Sûreté. You are Mr. Freddie Blakely, late of England.”

“I am German now. Republican, not one of those Second Reich types.”

“It is strange, but you have come up in two of my investigations. I am in charge of the cases of the Arab girls who vanish from the Quartier Latin. And this morning a body was found in Montmartre, and witnesses gave your description as having been in the area.”

Freddie explains that he had been to see Hypatia—an old friend from New York—and met this painter Shipley and visited him. He discovered that the painter was crazy, so he didn’t buy a painting. He doesn’t know anything about the body of course.

Melville mentions that his wife is insisting they go to see Hypatia’s show that night. He also mentions that Shipley has been put into a mental hospital. They also found parts of bodies in the basement.

“Ah, I see,” sighs Melville. “As they say down at the department, si c’est un travail plein de merede, c’est un travail pour Melville.. I will be frank with you. This is not the first unusual occurrence I have come across in Paris. I believe that there is a cult in operation here. Le culte de la fraternité noire.”

Melville explains that Shipley’s paintings show images that also occur in other sources—occult sources. He believes that he drew his inspiration from information provided by the cult. He also says that Le Pyramide Bleu has been a hotbed of cult activity—at least until l’Américaine bought it.

“Do you know a man named Tewfik al-Sayed?”

“Very rude man.”

“I think he is associated with the cult.”

“Well, I wish you the best of luck with that…”

“Please, sir. I do not think it is an accident that an associate of Jackson Elias should have come to Paris at this time.”

“Damnit, Jax, still getting me in trouble!”

“I met her. Her death was mysterious, but her accusations troubled me. She claimed that there was complicity at the very highest rungs of society. And I must tell you, monsieur, that my investigations have been blocked, as if powerful people were stopping them.”

Freddie, through some rather roundabout phrasing, manages to implicate Gavigan. Melville is surprised and a bit suspicious, given their recent history.

They part with a warning from Freddie not to go to Hypatia’s show. Melville asks Freddie if he could perhaps drop by Tewfik’s store, hoping that somebody not tied to his investigation might have more luck.

As he leaves, Melville shoots Gilbert a dirty look. “Hey you effing Red, don’t think you’re fooling anybody,” he says in quick gutter French. But he flashes one of the handsigns Gilbert used during the days of the Paris Soviet.

Freddie gathers Jimmy, and Alphonse and they head down to the spice shop of Tewfik al-Syed. They drop by Mahoney’s first to find out about Jacques Melville. Mahoney tells them that Melville had served as an officer with troops stationed near Verdun during the height of the German offensive in 1916. When he got rotated out to the northern part of the front, he defended several of his soldiers who were involved in the massive mutinies of late 1917. This killed his law career and has stalled out his career in the Sûreté.

“He’s honest enough, for a cop,” sums up Mahoney.

Alphonse also asks about his brother Anton, who hasn’t turned up for a few weeks. Mahoney offers to send out some “reporters” to look for him. He also tells Freddie that if he needs a plane to go to Ireland, to go to Orly airfield and ask for a pilot named JS.

The store of Tewfik al-Syed proves to be a bustling spice emporium in the Latin Quarter, near the Rue Monge and the Paris mosque. Elegant couples and the servants of the well-to-do browse the racks and loudly haggle over the wares. Freddie introduces himself to a man at the counter, and after a brief wait Tewfik descends the stairs from his private apartment. As usual he is beautifully turned out and wearing a fez.

“Mr. Blakely.”

Freddie explains that he has been sent by Hypatia to talk to him. Tewfik becomes upset at the mention of her name, calling her a vile name in Arabic.

“She took my club from me, and now I am not even welcome in it!” he spits.

Freddie tries to reassure Tewfik, indicating that perhaps he could help maneuver against Hypatia, mentioning in passing that he met her in Arabia after leaving Egypt. Tewfik is interested in this last fact. “You perhaps met a mentor of mine, Omar Shakhti-Bey?”

“We had a rather pleasant conversation.”

“The Bey informed me of your activities.”

“Our relationship was sometimes antagonistic, but sometimes friendly.”

“That was not his impression.”

“Well, I can tell you he was no friend of Hypatia’s.”

“And I will tell you, Shakhti-Bey will have his revenge.”

“Oh is he still alive?”

“Is Shakhti dead?”

“It certainly looked as if Hypatia killed him.”

Jimmy notices that one of the Arab-looking fellows in the front of the store is one of the same ones that have been watching his hotel. He points this out to Gilbert.

Gilbert surreptitiously trips a woman into a table display, bumping into another woman. They begin to argue in French, and are soon joined by their husbands. The clerks try and sort this out, and Tewfik leaves Freddie to clean up the problem.

Freddie slips upstairs while nobody is watching.

The Arab that Jimmy recognized slips out of the front door during the commotion. Jimmy takes off in pursuit.

Upstairs, Freddie finds a room furnished in the Turkish style, with lots of wall hangings. A rolltop desk is in one corner, and in another corner is a large, ornate mirror.

Downstairs, Tewfik has managed to placate everyone. He heads for the staircase. Alphonse give a polite cough to alert Freddie, who sneaks into the bedroom, slides open a window, and climbs down the side of the building—landing on top of a garbage can.

Someone shouts in Arabic from upstairs. Two rather large clerks immediately run out the back door and into the alleyway, followed by Alphonse.

Freddie dashes out into the busy street, but the two thugs stay hot on his trail, followed in turn by Gilbert.

As Freddie slips out into the street, he darts a look back at his two pursuers. And thus he doesn’t see the cabriolet bearing down on him. At the last second he notices the oncoming carriage and leaps up onto the traces.

“Two hundred francs if you go as fast as you can where you were headed!”

Tour Eiffel, bien sûr!” says the driver. He begins to turn the carriage. A car nearly hits him, but when it slams on the brakes traffic immediately backs up behind it. The carriage is rapidly caught in a sea of metal and screaming Parisians.

Freddie climbs up into the carriage and plops down next to its occupants, which turn out to be a very surprised Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. “What ho, Scott! What ho, Zelda!”

The two thugs reach the carriage. One grabs the reins, while the other starts pulling at Freddie’s sleeve. A policeman starts running over to the carriage.

Gilbert pauses for a second. On the one hand, his boss is in serious trouble. On the other, if he is nabbed by_ les flics_, well, Madame Guillotine is always open for business, especially for traitors.

Gilbert screams and runs straight into the man holding the reins.

Jimmy soon loses his tail in the crowds, but figuring that he would head towards the Mosque, he starts asking around the street vendors in the area around it. The Arab and Egyptian salespeople have little to say to him, but he finds some Americans painting street scenes.

“This guy?” one says, holding up a sketch of the man Jimmy was following. “He’s one of a bunch of guys who look like they’re heading towards the mosque but they never go in. They hang out in a café nearby. I was in the war, you know, but those guys look tough in the ‘crazy in the head’ way.”

Just then Jimmy notices a car prowling near the square, filled with some mean looking Egyptians. They seem to be searching for someone.

Gilbert throws the thug from Tewfik’s store to the ground. He cracks his head on the pavement and passes out. The carriage driver whips his horse and pulls away from the traffic jam. The remaining thug tries to pursue, but soon gets trapped in the crowd.

The policeman headed towards the carriage stops to untangle the traffic jam…until he notices the man passed out in the gutter. He blows on his whistle as several people point at a skulking Gilbert.

Gilbert starts to run, with the cop hot on his trail. He cuts around a corner out into the boulevard, looking desperately for a Métro station.

Scott, Zelda and Freddie head to Le Polidor in the 6th. There they meet their friend, Ernest Hemingway.

“When I was in Spain,” he tells Freddie, “I saw things that were true. Simple and true. And they were true because they were violent.”

“Well, I have noticed that violent things bring out truth…”

“Have you met Gertrude? We’re having a little soirée tonight at her place.”

“Does this mean you’re inviting me?”

“I wouldn’t have told you otherwise.”

Jimmy huddles up with the American painters. “What’s the fastest way out of here?” asks Jimmy. They tell him the Métro is about ten minutes away, and he begins to run in the direction they gave him.

As Jimmy runs past the car, it promptly does a three-point turn and begins to follow him.

Alphonse races to a corner. A car is parked there, and the driver has just finished starting it. Gilbert jumps in and shoves the man—who is quite dapper in his boater and jacket—into the passenger seat.


“Don’t worry. I’m a cop.” Gilbert punches the accelerator and drives off into traffic. As he pulls away from the curb, he sees the cop on a police phone, calling for backup.

After several agonizing minutes, Gilbert jumps out of the car near Place S. Michel. As he nears the entrance to the Métro, he notices two men in good suits following him. He curses the fact that he did not bring his gun with him.

With nothing else to do, he stops and smokes a cigarette and lets the men come up to him.

“Excuse me, sir,” one says in British-accented English. “We’d like to have a word with you. Not here, sir.”

“I’d like to, but I have some responsibilities…”

“So do we, sir. Our responsibility is bringing you to our place.”

“Could I see some identification?”

“No sir, I’m afraid you could not.”

Gilbert shrugs and sets off with the two men.

Jimmy manages to slip his pursuers. He rides the Métro aimlessly for a while, and then heads back to Freddie’s hotel. He stops to pick up some flowers on the way.

When he gets up to Freddie’s suite, he doesn’t find anyone; Charleston and his girl are locked in their room as usual.

Sheila, though, is conspicuously absent. Looking around, Jimmy finds a note on the table:

_Dear Freddie:

I have decided to return to America. I am leaving on the train for Normandy tonight. I will then be in London for the next two weeks until I depart for New York.

Very best,

Sheila Brisbane_

“Are you a [sexuality slur]?” demands Zelda of Freddie as they arrive at Gertrude Stein’s apartment.

“I’m not sure what you mean.”

“I mean that I’m sick and tired of Scott and his little boyfriend—”

“Ah! Gentlemen friends! No, not one of those.”

The party is in full tilt. Freddie avoids the corner where Gertrude holds court and stands near the kitchen. A rather sour-faced woman comes in and out of it, fetching drinks.

“Hello, my name is Freddie, although some people call me ‘BLAKELY!!’” he says to her.

“I’m Alice. Alice Toklas.”

A smallish man with intense eyes walks by and says something in Spanish to Alice.

“You can only say puta so many ways, Pablo,” she says calmly.

Jimmy heads to Gare du Nord. He spends most of the night trying to talk to people. Finally he finds Thomas, a taxi dispatcher, who makes some calls. “Okay, yes, a cab was called for the hotel, it was to go to Gare du Nord, but it did not get here. The driver said that they changed their mind and asked to be dropped off at the Place S. Michel Métro station.”


“Yes, a woman and some men.”

Gilbert is taken to the outskirts of Paris, tied up, and thrown into a large closet. His brother Anton is also in the room, tied up.

“Hey brother.”

“You know why we’re here?”

“No. They picked me up, asked me where you were. I told them you ran off and you owed me a thousand francs anyway.”

Eventually Gilbert is taken into a sitting room. A man in an elegant suit is behind a desk. “Mr. Alphonse Gilbert,” he says. “Or should I say the first president of the Paris Soviet?”

“It’s really more of an advisory position.”

“The French call it treason. I don’t think you want us to return you to their graces.”

“Who are you?”

“Who I am is of no importance. Suffice to say that certain interests of mine have certain interest in Mr. Blakely. We have tried to catch him, but he has proved quite slippery. But you are on the inside. And one of the few people he trusts. Mr. Blakely doesn’t care much for his family, because they treat him like an employee; he therefore treats his employees as family.”

“There’s no way I’m going to do any of that.”

“Very well. It’s not as if Anton needs both thumbs.”

“Wait. I can come up with a better plan to catch him.”

“Please do. And act as if your life depends on it. Because it does.”

“All right. Just knock on his door. He’ll come with you if you ask nicely.”

“No time like the present, then.”

Episode VII: Mais la vie sépare ceux qui s'aiment (Part 3)

Jimmy, Freddie and Francis meet for breakfast in Montmartre. Jimmy, drugged out on opiates for his hands, rather slurringly relates the story of his adventure at the Penhew Fondation. Francis scoffs at the ideas of monsters. Freddie decides that the books belong in the Modern Charleston Library and promises to put them in his safe at the hotel.

The address Shipley gave them is a rather run-down boarding house in Montmatre. An elderly French lady greets them. “Are you here to buy a painting?”

“I’m here to patronize him, yes.”

“He is always working. He is very industrious. Come in. I am Madame Lafarge. He is upstairs.”

They climb to the garret of the building. Miles Shipley is hunched over a canvas. He starts with a cry as they come in.

“Wait!” he barks at Jimmy. “You. Stand over there. Hold your arm—so. Yes…yes…that’s it.”

Freddie cranes his head at the canvas. Shipley is painting nothing that looks like Jimmy—rather, he is doing a disturbingly realistic, if that’s the right word for it, portrait of a being that looks like a cross between a human and a snake.

“It’s very abstract—”

“It’s not Abstract!” shouts Shipley.

“Snake snake snakesnakesnake…” chatters Jimmy.

“Snake snake snake snake,” sneers Shipley back. “My paintings speak truth. I paint reality, Monsieur,” he says to Freddie.

Jimmy looks around at some of the paintings on the wall. One catches his eye—a huge winged flying snake. Francis recognizes it as something Jax wrote about in her diary—supposedly, such a creature attacked her ship on the way back from France.

Freddie recognizes the creature that destroyed his apartment in New York, and nearly killed them all in the Egyptian desert.

This painting is also disturbingly realistic.

“Miles,” says Freddie.

“What! I mean, yes monsieur.”

“No, you can say what.”

“Okay what?”

“I’ve run into one of those before.”

“No you haven’t.”

“I didn’t say I defeated it, just that I saw one.”

“Oh. In that case, yeah.”

“You’ve met them?”

“I’ve…seen them.”

“Where do you see these things?”

“I uh…why…in my imagination. I don’t feel so good. Would you excuse me?” He stomps down the stairs, followed by Francis and Freddie. “Madame!” screams Miles. “I need my medicine!”

Jimmy stays in the garret, taking pictures. He finds a closet, locked with a padlock. But not in any serious way.

Entering the closet, he finds an easel. A painting, covered with a canvas dropcloth, stands in the middle.

Stroking his lucky rabbit’s foot, Jimmy pulls off the cloth.

The painting is the most realistic of Shipley’s work yet—beyond photorealism, if that were possible. The composition, however, is disappointing. A small island, surrounded by trees, in a swampy morass, with a stone altar on it.

Jimmy peers closer, hoping to find a clue.

As he watches, the water…seems to start to move, as if it was a slow, swampy current. Marveling at the optical illusion, Jimmy is entranced.

The clouds seem to begin to move. The branches of the trees seem to move, blowing in a gentle breeze.

With a great effort of will, Jimmy yanks the cloth back over the painting. His mind reels, and he has a hard time separating reality from whatever was in the painting. He cowers in a corner and rocks in a fetal position.

“Oh my poor boy,” says Madame Lefarge, taking Miles into the basement.

Freddie looks out into the narrow courtyard. He notices it is blind—there are no windows opening on it.

For some reason, there is a large boulder in the courtyard. He looks at the ground around the boulder and finds some strange footprints. He studies them closely.

The prints are not human. They look like…some kind of lizard.

When he finds the track of a long tail, his mind reels temporarily.

“Gentlemen, please. Do not stand in this vile courtyard. Please. Come take some tea.”

Freddie tries to busybody his way into the kitchen. “I like to make herbal teas,” chatters the goodwife. Something not quite honest about the woman is bothering him.

Francis ambles around the rather dingy sitting room, hands in his pockets. He glances up.

It’s nothing, he tells himself. A trick of the light. That the old woman’s shadow doesn’t look human.

Francis catches Freddie’s eye and jerks his thumb towards the door. Then he heads upstairs to gather Jimmy.

Shipley comes back upstairs, pupils dilated. “Wanna buy a painting? Everybody should buy painting.”

One of his eyes begins to rotate independently of the other. “Freddie Blakely,” he mutters. “Oh. Wow. I thought I’d never meet…wow.”

“I never introduced myself, did I?”

“You don’t have to. I have some really special paintings down in the basement. You should buy them.”

“Blakely,” says Francis, coming downstairs, dragging Jimmy, “We’re going.” He yanks on the door handle.

The door is locked. From the inside.

“Why don’t you all have some tea?” says Madame Lefarge.

Freddie pours his cup out. “I seem to have spilled it.”

“Don’t look at the paintings don’t look at the paintings don’t look at the paintings…” mutters Jimmy.

“Madame Lefarge, you are going to open this door now, or things will get unpleasant,” says Francis.

“No, I won’t be opening the door,” says the delicate old Frenchwoman with resignation. “I would prefer not to let you go. After all, it’s almost lunchtime.”

She lunges at Francis, morphing as she does from a human being in an unfashionable dress to a large, humanoid lizard. Fangs sink deeply into Francis’ shoulder.

Jimmy, crying, collapses to the ground, sweeping the legs of the former Madame Lefarge out from under her.

Francis grabs his gun in its shoulder holster. Not bothering to draw, he swivels it at the creature’s head and fires.

Hissing, the lizard…thing pops up on all fours and bites Francis in the leg. He screams in agony. The room goes red for a second as blood spurts from the wound.

Freddie sweeps up the tea kettle and smacks the lizard-lady over the head. Hot tea spurts all around the room.

Francis pulls his gun free and fires another point-blank round into the creature. It shrieks and collapses, ichor welling up from the wounds.

Francis continues to fire until the clip is empty. He collapses next to Jimmy.

Freddie tests the door after he tends Francis’ wounds. The door remains resolutely locked. Jimmy continues to babble.

“Shipley old boy, do you think you could open the door?”

“Is momma dead?”

“She won’t be serving tea.”

“Did momma lock the door? She’s the only one who could open it. I need my medicine. It’s in the basement, where momma keeps her food.”

Francis cold cocks Shipley to shut him up.

Freddie goes downstairs. There is junk…mystic symbols on the wall…a bookcase full of grimoires not written in any human language…and a deep stone tub with a lid.

Freddie decides against opening the tub.

Eventually they make their way back up to the garret. A skylight is the only exit they can find in the house that they can fit through. They crawl across the roof to the next building and make their way down its stairs.

As they reach the car, Francis suddenly collapses. He feels as if his shoulder and leg are on fire. He screams in agony all the way to the hospital, where after several desperate attempts, doctors find the right mix of antivenins to treat him.

Episode VII: Mais la vie sépare ceux qui s'aiment (Part 2)

“Listen, Donnie, you’re a private eye. Do you think you could turn up Sheila?” says Freddie first thing in the morning.

“Sure. Let me go to the bar first.”

From a café, Francis calls Mickey, who tells him that Sheila found a hotel in the 6th arrondissement. Francis tells Freddie, bills him for an hour, and tells him to meet him by Jimmy’s hotel, the Lutetia, at four o’clock.

Freddie drops in at the new hotel. “What ho, Adelaide?”

“Where the hell have you been? Oh, whatever. It’s not like you care. I’m taking the day off and going to the Louvre. If you need me to do anything, that’s probably unfortunate.”

“Is there something I’ve done?”

“No. That’s really the problem. Anyway, I’m late to go see art.”

Freddie convinces Sheila to let him go with her, desperate to placate his secretary and self-described most important person in his life.

Francis picks up Guy at his house. Forgeron looks like he’s been sleeping on a couch too. “Those American girls have no inhibitions! I barely escaped with my life! And then Marie nearly killed me—what did you tell her?”

They head up to Mickey’s place, where they run into Jimmy. Guy promises to set up Jimmy with his brother-in-law Gaston, who can show him the city. (He tells Francis in French that Gaston can use the money.) After swallowing his anger that Jimmy didn’t follow Gavigan and his men, Francis tells Jimmy to go found out what he can about Gavigan—nobody knows him at the Foundation, so he can slip in.

“Arshewyeharoun’ Paree,” mutters Gaston, as he picks Jimmy up.

At the Louvre, Sheila and Freddie study the Egyptian artifacts. They find a bas-relief.

Freddie blinks.

The faces are familiar to him.




And…a strange woman, matching the photograph of “Vanessa” that they found in Jax’s diary.

The relief dates from the time of Cheops. Freddie can recognize the style and it seems correct to him.

“You’re not the first person to ask about that piece,” says the man, a young grad student. “About a year ago, this American woman saw it and started to scream. Very unusual, we had to call a cop to talk her down.”

“Let me guess. About this high, brunette?”

“That’s the one. I told her that the piece was very well dated, although to be honest, we don’t know what the stone is; it’s resisted all analysis. All we know is that it’s…green. Maybe manufactured, although by a process we have no knowledge of.”

“Very strange.”

“Well…you know, about four years ago there was a break-in here. They say some robed figures were chanting around it, in some weird language. Probably Arabic. But I think that’s just what they do to haze me. Still, it’s a great honor to be working for the Penhew Foundation…”

Jimmy drops by the Fondation Aubrey Penhew. After some time, he is met by Baldur von Hasselbach, who leads him on a guided tour.

The Fondation building is two stories high; upstairs is a large open bullpen, where various scholars are buried in their work.

Jimmy notices that Baldur seems to keep reducing the amount of personal space between them. He decides to take advantage of the German’s, um, interest in him. He also notices that the way the pipe and ventilation ducts are set up that there seems to be some kind of space in the basement, especially after Baldur introduces him to Gavigan. He guesses that there is some kind of room beneath the office.

Baldur lets Jimmy study in the library (his cover story was that he is a visiting scholar.) He notices that there is a focus on a strange period of Egyptian history between the Third and Fourth dynasties—the time of a (possibly) apocryphal figure called the Black Pharaoh.

“You know, Jimmy, why don’t we go have a drink? I have never visited America, you could tell me about it. I know an excellent café nearby.”

“When would you like to meet?”

“I have no duties today except to show around a charming American.”

“I would love to meet you there, but I have to look up a few things…”

“Oh, here? I shouldn’t tell you, but I do have some brandy in my locker.”

“Oh, you are tempting me so much…”

“Am I?”

“Well, maybe a drink or two…”

“Let’s go into Gavigan’s office. His brandy is better than mine.”

“I like your style.”

“I like your style.”

In the office, Baldur perches fetchingly up on the desk and asks Jimmy to tell him about America, and opines how horrible it is to be in the City of Light without…romantic companionship. Jimmy, looking for a way to get into the basement, asks if Baldur could find a more intimate location. The German offers to take him into the storeroom next to Gavigan’s office. Closing the door behind them, Baldur turns to Jimmy and says, “Now…”

Jimmy punches him. The German is so surprised that he drops to the floor, out cold.

The storeroom is full of old books, statuary, crates, a mummy case, books, a mummy case, some maps, waitasec a mummy case…

Jimmy investigates it. There is a discolored area near the case—as if it is moved regularly. He spends some time playing with the case, tracing the mechanism holding it to the floor, and eventually presses both of the eyes on the front of the case in.

Motors grind. The case moves aside, revealing a staircase. Jimmy descends into the basement, flipping on the light switch as he passes it.

The room is full of highly disturbing artwork. Jimmy’s eyes swim as he tries to process the images of naked women being mutilated by horrible abominations.

He takes some snapshots anyway. On an open crate, he finds a horrific statue of some amorphous creature with sucking mouths and lurid eyes. It is labeled “The Bloated Woman” and is being shipped to Ho Fong Imports in Shanghai, China. He finds a few other crates addressed to Port Randolph, Australia. Inside is a green stone statue of a winged, bloated humanoid with what seems to be an octopus for a head.

Along one wall is a bookcase with locked, barred doors. Flipping out his lockpicking kit, Jimmy spends fifteen minutes getting open the doors. Inside are bizarre, ancient books. He grabs several of the ones that look the most used and tosses them into his satchel.

As he goes through the books, one of the packing crates begins to shake.
The lights suddenly go out. The machine that closes the mummy case grinds as it closes the exit. A German-accented voice carries down the stairs: “Go **** yourself!”

Jimmy hears the box still shaking. A sound of splintering wood can be heard. He flicks open a lighter in time to see a human hand bunch through the side of the crate.

Meanwhile, outside the Blue Pyramid, Guy and Francis meet up. “Guy, do you still have that police badge?”

“Sure do, François.”

“Why don’t we run the ‘French Cop and American BOI agent’ play?”

They push their way in and are intercepted by an the maitre d’. “Welcome to Le Pyramide Bleu.”

“Hallo. This here’s French police.”

“We are very accommodating of the police.” In French he says to Guy, “What the hell? We’re paid up.”

“I’m here from Virginia,” continues Francis. “I’m from the Bureau of Investigation. Bee Oh Eye. We’re investigating criminal activities.”

“We are just a gentlemen’s club. You are gentlemen! Please come in and sit!”

“We’re looking into the new ownership.”

“Of course! Please come! Sit down! Stay to the show!” He drops his voice. “I must beg you. The owner is not someone to trifle with.”

People are filing in, mostly curiosity-seekers—far more white Parisians than is normal, according to Guy, who also says that the decor has been significantly revamped. There is a table at the front that is cordoned off with a velvet rope.

Francis goes to talk to the musicians, some African-American jazz players. Francis gives the trumpeter one of Freddie’s expensive cigarettes. “Listen, John,” says Francis. “I’m looking into the disappearance of these girls.”

“Don’t know about that, man. Just got hired. The new owner brought us in. She’s got style, man.”

“The owner is a woman? What’s her name?”

“It’s uh…um…well, I know her name.”

“Howabout you write it down.”

“Sure.” John writes something on a card and hands it to the PI.

It says Francis.

“That’s her name,” says the musician.

“It’s Francis?”

“I didn’t write Francis. Listen, I better get back.”

Back at the Fondation, the crate is being rapidly torn apart from the inside. Jimmy frantically looks around for something that could help him. He spies a coal oil can near the stairs—maybe he could dowse the creature in it!

Unfortunately it is empty.

The crate is almost completely gone at this point. Jimmy sees what looks like a man inside. A man who is kept inside a crate, and doesn’t respond to any of his attempts to talk to him.

Jimmy races over to a steam valve. Wrapping his hands in rags, he yanks at the wheel holding the valve shut. With a screech, it rips open. Superheated steam jets out, splashing over the man in the crate, blasting the wood to pieces and parboiling him. Jimmy yells in pain as the vapor envelopes him.

Alarms start to ring from the steam pressure dropping suddenly and dramatically.

Jimmy races up the stairs. “Oh, that’s where the fire axe was,” he mutters, seeing it in a bracket at the top of the stairway. He chops through the ancient mummy case and pulls himself through. He races out into the hall, grabs a coat from the cloakroom, and sneaks out into the street, briefly passing through the milling crowd outside as the fire department arrives.

“Abigail!” says Freddie.


“So…Sheila. Is there a reason I’ve been getting the cold shoulder?”

“Yeah. I’m tired of being an accessory and I’m tired of always cleaning up your messes and I think it’s time I go home.”

“You are without a doubt the most important person in my rather precarious life. Unfortunately cleaning up after me is one of the things I ask for you. I could find an assistant for you.”

“I want to go back to school. Will the paper pay for that?”

“I imagine your salary will pay for that. You need to pay yourself more. Pay yourself whatever you need. I rely on you effectively for…everything.”

“I’m taking a vacation. For the next three days I’m not doing anything. And—I’m taking the weekend off!”

“Most people take the weekend off…”

“Most people don’t work for you! You never take no for an answer! Oh, let’s just go dancing. Can we do that?”

At the Blue Pyramid, a very upright gentleman in a fez takes the roped-off table in the front. Francis hazards a guess that this is Tewfik al-Sayed. The staff bring him a Turkish coffee.

Francis elbows in and sits down at the table. “Mr. al-Sayed?”

“I do not hear the words of an American infidel.”

“TewFIK al-SayEED?”

“I have cut the tongue out of men for pronouncing my name in such a manner.”

“Howabout I call you Mon-sieur.”

“Call me Pasha if you wish to retain your genitalia.”

“Can you answer some questions?”

“What is it you want, you annoying American?”

“We’re investigating the disappearance of some women…”

“What concern is that of mine?”

“I understand you have an interest in this place.”

“I do not. I merely patronize it. Everyone has heard about the disappearances. I have nothing to do with them. My women have not been touched.”

“You extend protection to them?”

“I am but a simple spice merchant.”

“Is there anything I can pass along to President Coolidge and my superiors? So I don’t have to interrupt and put my American uncouthness in your coffee?”

“If you wish to interview me, do it at my place of business, not my place of entertainment. Now step back or I will have you disposed of, agent of President Coolidge or not!”

However, as Francis steps back, a flunky brings him Tewfik’s business card on a silver platter. At that moment, the lights dim, and over the PA system a man solemnly intones, “Medames et Messieurs…Meinen Damen und Herren…Ladies and Gentlemen…we welcome to the Blue Pyramid…..Hypatia!”

Freddie and Sheila hit a few clubs near Place République, where they run into Jimmy.

“Sheila, this is…”

“Jimmy! What happened to your hands!”

“What they hell did you get me into!” says Jimmy. He explains to Freddie about his adventure at Gavigan’s.

“Sorry I’m late. I left Guy to watch Hypatia’s show,” says Francis as he comes up to them. “Jimmy, you look terrible.” He examines Jimmy’s wounds and tells him to come by his place in the morning so he can change his dressing.

“Sheila, we’re about to go and stop a slavery ring here in Paris. You can come along. It’s easy—I just run away screaming.”

“I can do that.”

“So Hypatia’s,” begins Francis. “These people have been targeted by deep hypnosis. The musicians can’t even say her name. And she does cold readings on the audience.”

“Should we go see here?”

“I left Guy to watch.”

“So you are saying she’s a master of hypnosis, and you’re leaving somebody to watch and report back to you.”

“…I can see a flaw in this plan now.”

A loud group of clubgoers enters the bar. An attractive young woman makes here way somewhat uneasily over to them. “Are you English?” she drawls at Freddie with Southern accent.

“No, I’m German.”

“You’re cute.”

“I learned my English in England, that’s why I have an English accent.”

“Wait, the rest of you are Americans, right? You should come down with us to the Blue Pyramid. Everybody’s going. It’s the thing to do.”

“Ah, the new singer.”

“I guess so. Oh, here’s my husband.”

“Hello. My name’s Scott. I see you’ve met Zelda.”

“Scott what?” asks Freddie.

“Fitzgerald, old boy. Say, you look familiar. Were you at any of those parties on Long Island about three years ago?”

“I showed up from time to time.”

“I thought so. I liked those parties—put them in my new book. Just came out recently.”

“Oh? What’s it called?”

“Scotty wanted to call it Trimalchio in West Egg!” says Zelda.

“Well, what’s wrong with that!”

“Exactly what I said!” says Scott. “That’s why I wanted it to go back to that. They didn’t listen to me. It’s called The Great Gatsby.”

They all head down to the Blue Pyramid. Scott and his friends have reserved a table. They arrive at the end of the intermission, just in time for Hypatia to take the stage. Freddie instantly recognizes her as Hypatia Masters, the same as he remembered her from Egypt, albeit with updated hair and wardrobe.

She sings in French, and English—quite charmingly. Then she begins to mingle with the audience, speaking with people at their tables. Everyone seems to be enjoying their conversations.

She reaches Freddie’s table. She looks at each of them in turn.

“You can sleep in her bed,” she says to Francis, “she doesn’t care anymore.”

She looks at Jimmy. “You had a nasty surprise today. You did the right thing.”

Before Freddie can get a word in, she turns to him. “Hello, Freddie. We’ll talk later. Come by my dressing room after the set.”

“Did you know old Gaffigan is looking for you?”

“Eddie doesn’t bother me. No time now, everyone else paid their fare.”

“This won’t be as disturbing as last time, will it?”

“Depends what you want, Freddie.”

Hypatia looks at Sheila without a word, but Sheila nods. “You’re right,” she says. “I should leave him.”

Freddie notices that the people at other tables are crying, or stunned, or sometimes laughing. “Sheila, what did Hypatia say to you?”

“She didn’t say anything.”

“But you seemed to respond.”

“Oh. Well, I was just thinking that I’m never going to get anywhere as long as I’m with you. I mean, you can give me vacations or money, but it’s not going to help me make something of myself. And it’s not like you love me or anything.”

Freddie pauses, for once at a loss for words.

“What’s the matter, Mr. Blakely?” says Mwimbe with a wicked grin. “Has the cat got your tongue?”

Freddie tries to say something. He starts, and then stops. “What a minute. Wait. Marriage?!!”

“I didn’t say anything about marriage.”

“You talked about love!”

“You’re a man of the world. You know they don’t have to have anything to do with each other.”

“Indeed, which is why I like them to go hand in hand.”

“You’ll never marry anyone. Maybe you would have once. But she’s dead.”

An usher creeps up to O’Donnell. “Hypatia would like to see you.”

“And I take it she does not like to be disappointed.”

“Indeed not, sir.”

“That’s too bad for her, then.”

“You are refusing? I will tell her. She will be unhappy.”

“What ho, Hypatia!”

Freddie comes into Hypatia’s dressing room. Tewfik is finishing an angry conversation with her in Arabic, which of course Freddie no longer understands. The Egyptian storms past Blakely.

“What ho, Tewfik!”

“Do not make me have to kill you!”

Freddie shrugs and sinks into a chair.

“So what brings you to Paris?” asks Hypatia.

“The diary of course.”

“Oh….Jax…whatever her name is. That’s fine. So you’re looking into Eddie.”

“Oh. Yes. I’m sorry, I thought you meant to ask me about…that other fellow. The one you work for.”

“I told you, I don’t work for him. We’re…colleagues.”

“I don’t think the Dark Lord has the same understanding of your relationship.”

“I didn’t say we were on the same level,” sighs Hypatia. “We just both inhabit…the same dimensional space…it’s complicated. Anyway, you just have to know how to operate with him. I’m living proof you can come to an accommodation.”

“And do you think I could come to a similar accommodation, and start speaking Arabic again?”

“I don’t think you have it in you, Freddie. Takes a certain…self-control. But once he’s got his eye on you, you need to come up with something. Or stop doing whatever drew his attention. Anyway, what are you going to do about Gavigan.”

“He seems rather fixated on you.”

“Yeah, I really can’t get my hands dirty on this one.”

“Maybe you can help us out?”

“You should go and find out about him. Where he’s from. What he’s about. The source.”

“You know, now that you’re the owner here, can you tell me about what happened to those girls?”

“Oh, I put a stop to that. The ones that were already taken, well, they’re someplace else. I won’t tell you where because I really don’t want you snooping around there. And frankly—this is a freebie, no strings attached—you really don’t want to be there either. Now, I have another show to do. So long, Freddie.”

“One last thing. I saw your portrait today on a 4th Dynasty sculpture.”

“That old thing! My goodness, they dug that up?”

“Indeed. Who’s Vanessa?”

“Now Freddie, that would be telling.”

Jimmy finds himself drinking next to a shabby, depressed looking man who is drinking absinthe.

“You look like you had a bad day.”

“I was blocked.”


“Blocked. I am a painter. I had a block today, and I couldn’t get out of my head. So I am drinking absinthe. Maybe it will help. They say this Hypatia could help as well.”

“Look, everything happens for a reason.”

“You know, you’re right.”

“What ho, Scotty!”

“Hi Freddie. This is my painter friend.”

“What ho, painter friend!”

“Miles Shipley.”


“You know about art, right Freddie?” says Jimmy. “Maybe you can help him.”

“Ah, be a patron of some kind?”

“I could use a patron,” mutters Shipley. “Come up and see some paintings. Tomorrow. They need natural lighting.”

The ensemble—Freddie, Mwimbe, Sheila, Jimmy and Francis—tumble out and pack into Francis’ car. He drops them off at their new hotel and then starts driving back to Montmartre.

As he crosses the Pont Neuf, he sees a man standing on the railing. As he brakes the car, the man leaps into the Seine.

Francis stops the car and leaps over the railing and dives into the river. The man is not struggling at all as Francis catches up to him.

It’s Guy Forgeron. “No. Let me go,” he screams.

Francis starts to pull him towards side of the river, but the current drags them under the bridge. “No, we must all die,” raves Guy.

Francis cold cocks him to keep him from preventing them from reaching the river. He drags Guy up onto the esplanade and coughs up riverwater.

With some difficulty he drags Guy back up to his car. A policeman is writing him a ticket. “Monsieur, monsieur,” says Francis.

“Hey, you can’t park on the bridge. It’s a thousand years old! You can’t use it as a parking lot.”

“Good Samaritan,” says Francis, flopping Guy into his car.

The policeman shakes his head. “If I’ve seen it once, I’ve seen it fifty times.”

“I know this guy. I’m going to take him to his wife.”

“Oops,” says the cop, ripping up the ticket. “I guess it blew off. Have a good night, man.”

Francis drops Guy off at Marie’s. “Why do you smell like the Seine? Was he out with you and some girls?”

“Can I wash up and change?”

Guy’s daughters gather around their father. “Papa, papa!” they pipe.

Marie sighs. “You know I don’t like you, François.”


“Guy used to be a different man before he met you!”

“He was drunker and fatter and even more of a womanizer!”

“But he was home on the weekends.” She pushes Francis into the bathroom.


“You’re still coming to dinner on Sunday, right? It wouldn’t be the same without you.”

Before she goes to bed, Freddie drops in on Dr. Mwimbe. “Doctor, as I recall we did bring you along on this Fellowship to…Egypt. I wanted to know if you wished to return to Egypt to continue your work.”

“Given the manner of our departure from Egypt, that may be rather difficult. If you wish to discontinue our partnership, I will of course go wherever it is necessary to go.”

“I think you misunderstand. I have no desire to end our partnership, it’s just that the Fellowship I gave you—”

“I understood that to be a thinly veiled excuse to bring me along. Am I incorrect in assuming that Miss Jackson visited Zanzibar? I could of course be quite useful there.”

“What do you think about Ireland this time of year?”

“It is spring, so it is raining.”

It’s past midnight when Francis gets back to his apartment. He pulls up a chair in the bedroom and takes out his lighter, a heavy silver Ronson lighter. One side is engraved, “Isabelle à François.” He stares at the lighter for a long time, and the bed that he hasn’t slept in since his wife died in it.

The sky is getting light when he finally tumbles onto his couch and falls asleep.

Episode VII: Mais la vie sépare ceux qui s'aiment (Part 1)

After a few days in the clink, Freddie manages to hire a lawyer with the right requirements (Sorbonne graduate, name with a de in the middle.) He springs him and Charleston. Colonel Pearkes is not in any French jail; Freddie’s lawyer speculates that he has been removed to England.

He drops in on Mickey Mahoney’s office near Place République. There he runs into Mickey’s “boy”, Francis O’Donnell, and Jimmy Scott, who “keeps pesterin’ me for an interview.”

“Scotty! Donny! Good to see you again!”

“Ye know each other?” says Mickey, incredulously.

“We’ve met before,” mutters Francis.

Mahoney shakes his head. “Listen, Freddie. Gavigan’s lawyer would be very interested in meeting with you. Like to iron the whole mess out. Meet him at La Tour d’Argent today, for lunch. Says you’re paying. You should go with him, Francis me boy. You—” looking at Jimmy—“I don’t care what the hell you do.”

“He can follow us and keep an eye on me keeping an eye on Freddie,” says Francis.

“Now listen,” says Mahoney. "What I’m gonna say next can’t leave this room. And by that I mean, if I hear that any of you have said anything about it, it will be one of the last things you do.

“So this Mr. Gavigan, he’s a piece of work, isn’t he? This Edouard Gavigan may claim to be a graduate of the Ecole Diplomatique and have dinner with the President twice a year at the Elysée Palace, but he’s no Frenchman. He was born Eddie Gaffigan. An Ulsterman, and a bad ’un. In 1915, he was a bombmaker and assassin for a pro-Independence militia. But in 1916, during the rising, he was in a unit of the British Army, one commanded by our old friend Sir Aubrey Penhew. Seems this Gaffigan betrayed some members of his old unit, led them into an ambush and they was all massacred.”

“So he switched sides,” says Freddie. “Why haven’t some of his old friends tried to—well—”

“I happen to know that there have been at least three attempts on his life, by some boys who knew what they were about. Not only did all three fail, but the lads were never heard from again. He’s rich, aye, and tight with everybody important in the Third Republic, but what that would do to keep him out of a coffin, I don’t know. Has an impeccable reputation as a philanthropist. So, not the kind of man to be frightened by sticking a gun in his face.

“Now, this Mr. Gavigan happens to own, via a bunch of dummy companies, a castle in Ireland, just south of the Ulster line—”

“That must piss you off,” says Jimmy.

“You have the American talent for understatement. He also has a villa on some island near Venice, and has some kind of connection to the fella that owns the Blue Pyramid nightclub—or rather, owned; it’s being sold to some American. If you’ll be needing transport to either, I’ve got a plane that can take you.”

“I still can’t believe you never told me you’re Jax’s cousin,” says Freddie, entering his hotel suite.

“I think I’ve spoken about fifty-nine words to you in my life,” says Francis. “So it didn’t exactly come up.”

“Well, you look nothing like her.”

“Freddie—Mr. Blakely—is there anything you need?” asks Sheila.

“I’ll need to change—oh, and clothes for Scotty and Donnie here, I’m meeting with this Gavigan fellow.”

“Oh. You’re going to lunch? I guess I’m not invited.”

“Well you could come. In your capacity as my personal clerk.”

“I’m much to busy anyway, and I have nothing to wear.” She heads downstairs to hail a cab.

“Do I need to tell you to give yourself a raise again?” shouts Freddie after her.

“Already did!”

When Freddie gets downstairs, the manager meets with him. Very apologetically, he tells Freddie that he must leave the hotel. When Freddie asks for recommendations, the manager hems and haws. Freddie soon gets the picture: he’s socially radioactive, and none of the better hotels will have him as a guest.

“We’re getting kicked out?” huffs Sheila. “Fine. I will take care of it. This is ridiculous…”

At La Tour d’Argent, Jimmy gets a table near the private room Gavigan has reserved for Francis and Freddie. Blakely is kept icing his heels for over an hour before finally getting led to the table. Jimmy notes that there are couple of men obviously keeping guns under their coats standing guard on the private room.

Freddie and Francis are ushered into a private room. Gavigan is sitting with his weasly looking avocat.

“Monsieur Blakely, thank you for coming. I hope we can put these…contentious circumstances to rest,” says Gavigan.

“No worries, Eddie, I’m sure it will be fine.”

“Ah, Mr. Blakely, I know you have been in l’Amérique for some time, but here we do not go for l’informalité. But if you wish to call me Edouard, we are on that level.”

“Of course, Mr. Gaffigan.”

“Ah, I know your French is not so sophisticated, but it is pronounced Gavigan.”

“Well, I did learn it in Lyon.”

“Wonderful food there. The other qualities are somewhat lacking.”

“This is Mr. Francis O’Donnell, my…avocat.”

“Ah, your lawyer. I’m afraid I don’t recognize the name from the court papers. No matter.”

“It seems that much like the best hotels, the best lawyers are suddenly unavailable to me.”

“What can I say, monsieur? In Paris, one must always be aware of one’s social position. Some things—such as threatening an important member of society in his office—are not done. And the Colonel, could only be your associate, after all. And much as it pains me to say so, your own history with the constabularies of several cities have created an arrest record that would make a passable Russian novel.”

Outside, the maitre d’ and a large waiter come up to Jimmy. “I’m sorry, monsieur, this table has been reserved. Tragic oversight. But you must leave. The meal, do not worry about it.”

“Monsieur would not want to make a scene,” purrs the waiter.

“I am a lawyer,” starts Jimmy. “A very good one. And if you kick me out—on your fault—you will have hell to pay.”

The two speak rapidly in French. They look at Jimmy. Finally they slink away.

“So, monsieur,” continues Gavigan, “this social disaster, should be ended. I am happy to offer you a settlement now that the Colonel has returned to England.”

He hands Blakely a paper with a large figure written on it.

“That’s quite generous,” says Freddie.

“You misunderstand,” says Gavigan, “you will pay me.”

Francis and Freddie confer.

“We are also willing to negotiate,” says Gavigan, “although you are clearly wrong. Right now this is a civil matter, but—Devil’s Island is lovely this time of year.”

“I would think you’d be a bit generous, given that I prevented you from coming to harm,” says Freddie.

“I was in no real danger,” says Gavigan.

“And I was the one who was hurt. I still have the bandages.”

“I am willing to waive the fee, if you tell me about this alleged meeting with Hypatia Masters.”

“Would this be easier if I switched to French?” says Freddie in French.

“Yes, although you speak it like a whore,” says Gavigan in the same language.

Francis, who is fluent in French, nods blankly and acts as if he does not understand.

“Tell me about Miss Masters,” says Gavigan. “It is impossible that you have met her, but I wish to know what it is that you saw.”

“It was more along the lines of one of those, whaddaya call ’em, effing lucid dreams. I met her in a dream, in Arabia.”

“What do you mean?”

“One minute I’m in Arabia, the next in a nightclub. Middle of Arabia.”

“Near a place called Irem?”

“Don’t know. But it was quite definitely a dream, because in the Empty Quarter, there aren’t fountains of water.”

Gavigan switches to English. “I’m sorry, sir, this is no longer a matter for the lawyers.”

“If we stay in French,” says Freddie, “Francis can’t understand us. He’s thoroughly American.”

“Irem of the PIllars is a fantasy, it does not exist. And you claim you met Hypatia Masters in a dream. What did she say she was planning to do.”

“Something about world domination—changing the fate of things—returning…mostly she spoke to Mr. Chiu.”

“One other thing. I believe you met a contact of mine in Egypt. Omar Shakhti Bey.”

“Ah, that bastard. He tried to kill me.”

“Do you know his current location?”

“I assume in his villa.”

“You give me the lie, sir. He is missing.”

“Well, in my dream, Hypatia killed him. But that was just a dream.”

“Very well. I hope you find the agreement satisfactory, as it will avoid prosecution and the stripping of a large portion of your wealth.”

“Or yours. I was the injured party.”

“Mr. Blakely, I will be frank. This is the Third Republic. If you think you can find a magistrate willing to swear out a complaint against me, you are welcome to try. But you are not French. My attorney will contact your…attorney.”

“He really has a degree.”

“Yes. They give out all kinds of degrees in America.”

Freddie and Francis leave just as Jimmy’s lunch arrives. Freddie tries to join him, but the waiters wave him off—sorry, almost time to close til dinner—and we just can’t let people sit anywhere you want? What are you, some kind of stinking democrat?

“A dream?” says Francis suspiciously as they slide into a taxi.

“Some kind of magical fugue state. He knows I lied, but only about it being a dream. Though it does make it clear why Mickey’s friends never came back.”

They head back to the hotel they were evicted from, but they have neither a room nor a forwarding address—apparently Sheila did not leave one.

“I have a couch,” says Francis.

Francis and Freddie head back to Mahoney’s. A thin, dour young man is walking out of Mickey’s office as he arrives.

“Sammy me boy,” says Mahoney, “journalism not’s for you. Why don’t ye go back to Dublin, get a teaching job, then maybe come back in a few years. Plenty o’ writers could use a good secretary, and you could write yer own stuff at the same time. God, oh, knows that we’ll be waiting fer ye when ye get back. Ah, Francis me boy!”

“We have some information,” says Freddie. “First, Mr. Gaffigan does not like to be called Gaffigan. And also why your associates never came back. But first—do you believe in magic?”

“Do I look like a leprechaun?”

“Then never mind.”

Back at La Tour d’Argent, a blond woman walks in and asks Jimmy if he had seen an annoying Englishman. “Sheila Brisbane, Mr. Blakely’s assistant. Good to see another American—I don’t speak any French, and we just got kicked out of our hotel…”

“How are you alive and sane?” asks Jimmy.

“It’s been pretty close. I was attacked by Arabs in the desert, and I think some Egyptian wanted to kill me. Freddie’s mixed up in something, and I just want to go home.”

Jimmy passes over the bottle of Napoleon brandy the appreciative staff brought him.

“Thanks.” Sheila sighs. “Let’s just say that you can’t compete with somebody who’s dead, you know what I mean?”

“It’s unfortunate what happened to Jax.”

“Waitaminute—you know Jax—you know who Freddie is? Listen, if you see Freddie—because apparently I’m not important enough to tell personally—tell him I got us into a tourist hotel on the Left Bank—”

“Listen. I don’t work for Freddie. I’m sure we’ll find him.”

Sheila swigs out of the bottle. “Muriel’s right. Why am I chasing after this guy? I could go back to the States, make something of myself…maybe meet somebody who will actually marry me. Yeah, Muriel’s right. He’s supposed to be all torn up about Jax, but she’s been dead for months and she didn’t even like him anymore.”

“You know anything about her death?”

“Just what was in the papers. But when she came back out of nowhere, and weird stuff happened. Her diary is crazy.”

“Uh…do you happen to have it? Could I borrow it?”

“You know what? Go right ahead.” Sheila digs out Jax’s battered journal and hands it over to Jimmy. “Just get that back to me, in case his nibs asks me for it.”

“Take some time off, Sheila. I’ll keep Freddie off your back.”

“Thanks. What’s your name?”

“Jimmy. Say, you want to have a drink tonight?”

“That would be lovely.” Jimmy walks her to a Métro station, and then drops the journal off to get a typescript made of it.

Freddie and Francis talk for some time, about Jax, and her quest, and whether Francis believes in magic (he doesn’t). And Hypatia Masters, and her duel with a five thousand year old vampire.

Francis asks about the Blue Pyramid. He treats the idea of human trafficking with disgust. “And these guys are the ones after you here and in England?”

“That seems to be about the size of it.”

“I have a friend who knows quite a bit about the nightclub life in Paris. I’m going to run this by him.”

Francis finds his partner Guy Forgeron at his favorite cafe. “François! This is Bunny, and this is Jen. They are American co-eds visiting Paris! Isn’t that fantastique?”

“Listen, Guy. Do you know about this place the Blue Pyramid?”

Guy of course knows it well. He explains that there is a man who “owns” it—an Egyptian named Abdul Nawisha. But the real owner is a spice merchant named Tewfik al-Sayed, another Egyptian.

“But the thing about Le Pyramide Bleu is that it is being bought, buy some American—nobody seems to know exactly what is going on.”

“Thanks, Guy. I’ll call your wife soon and tell her I sent you on a stake-out.”

“A job—oh, I see what you are doing. Tell her I love her. Now girls! This drink is called absinthe…”

On the way to the Métro, Freddie suddenly finds several of these posters plastered everywhere:


“Oh Donnie, hello old man,” says Freddie as Francis enters the tiny apartment. Freddie is smoking at the tiny window. Across the narrow alley Francis’ neighbor waves at him.

“Bon soir, François.” He hands Freddie back a bottle of wine they are sharing.

“Martin has great insults!” says Freddie.

“You hear about that crazy American, Shipley?” Martin asks Francis. “He’s making lots of money.”

Francis nods at Martin—like many inhabitants of Montmartre, he’s a painter. “Haven’t heard of him.”

The apartment is small, but well-kept, perched on the top floor of a dilapidated but neat building. A communal bathroom is at the end of the hall. Inside the apartment there is a living room with a small kitchenette. Two couches face each other—Freddie is to sleep on one; the other looks like it is frequently used as a bed. A tiny bedroom in the back holds a brass bed, carefully made up, that shows no signs of having been slept in recently at all.

Jimmy meets Sheila at a tourist bar on the Left Bank. “How’s it doing?”

“Better. I talked to Muriel, that always makes me feel better.”

“Who is this Muriel?”

“She’s a doctor—an African. She’s traveled with us since New York. She’s really brilliant—she’s a medical doctor, she studied with Jung, and an anthropologist. She makes me want to do more with my life, you know? I mean, I could be more than a secretary. I went to teacher’s college for two years! I could be a teacher! Or a doctor! It’s not like I’m living in my mom’s world, I mean, I can vote now.”

“Here’s your journal back.”

“Oh, thanks! I wasn’t sure I was going to see that again, actually.”

“I am an honest man.”

“I know that now.” Sheila pauses. “Listen, Jimmy, are you going back to the States anytime soon? Because I kinda want to go home. I love Paris, but I don’t have anybody to do it with. I mean…in Cairo he said he was going to spend a lot of time with me, and protect me…but I haven’t seen much of him since.”

“Well, you know…we have really short lives.”

“I know! People have tried to kill me. You’re right. I’m going to book a trip back, make Freddie pay for it, then give him my resignation. No wait. I’m going to spend a week in London first! Then I’ll go home.”


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