Persistent Memory


September 16, 1924—Tillamook

While Douglas is at the diner waiting for the order, he notices some sharp-dressed men in a booth. They stand out from the other patrons of the crowded restaurant. Judging from the state of the table, they’ve been there a while. The rest of the diners are studiously ignoring them, possibly in hopes that they’ll go away. Douglas doesn’t recognize any of the men. One of them gives him a long look over the top of his newspaper, but quickly dismisses him. A young man that Douglas remembers from the hotel enters, shakes the rain off his hat, and joins the men in the booth.

After getting the food and returning to the hotel, Douglas tells the rest of the crew about the men in the diner; upon comparing notes, they figure that the young man Douglas recognized is Charles, the same man who solicited Marion, Mulligan’s henchman.

Now that they know Charles is out of the way, they decide to check out Mulligan’s room. Troy successfully picks the lock withoutdamaging it; he looks inside and points out something strange: the room looks fairly normal, except for a bizarre chandelier next to the wardrobe. Marion thinks at first that it’s a piece of surreal art…it consists of coat hangers and electrical wiring (still in its cotton insulation) that has been shaped into a rough ovoid. It is dotted with small lightbulbs, and five vacuum tubes are suspended behind it. In the center, a snowglobe of what appears to be the Washington Monument hangs upside down.

Troy head out into the hallway to keep watch in case Charles or one of the other gangsters comes back from the diner unexpectedly.

Marion hears a high-pitched, almost imperceptible tone. Nobody else hears it…she assumes it comes from the chandelier. Douglas and Clara enter the room and inspect the chandelier more closely. Douglas ascertains that it is indeed a snowglobe of the Washington Monument. The ‘snow’ is hovering around the tip of the monument. Now Douglas and Clara both think they can hear the tone that Marion heard. They also notice small pieces of some kind of machinery hanging behind the contraption.

A search of the rest of the room turns up (for Douglas): an ashtray with several Galois cigarrettes, as well as two hand-rolled butts which smell like the ones from Gatineau and the apartment building in Bay City. clara collects oe of the butts. She then checks the wastebasket and finds a crumpled note. It smells like fish.

The note reads:
Mr Milligan (sic) Sir

These were all I could get from the last catch. I know it is not as much as you wanted so I also return half of the money which I hope you will find fair.

The men think it is distastefull (sic) keeping them so it is a hardship to convence (sic) them otherwise. I have a plan though and all I need from you is two or three days and I should have everyone in line. Best regards.

Also in the wastebasket are three pieces of brown wrapping paper, with Corrigan’s Ice Block printed on them. They are damp but do not smell fishy.

Douglas opens the bedside table and finds a pocket bible, a folded piee of paper, a photograph, and a scrawled chalk symbol. As he looks at the chalk symbol, the chandelier lights up for a moment and the sound gets louder. The vacuum tubes glow ultramarine blue,the small bulbs light up, and the snow in the globe spreads out.

Douglas and Clara look at each other…both see on the wall by the bed a picture of the room in which they are standing…like a still from a movie projector…it shows Clara inspecting the trash and Douglas looking in the side table. The colors are lurid—-shocking. Half a second later, the picture slides up the wall and disappears where the wall and ceiling connect. The chandelier goes dark and the humming stops. The smell of hot electical wiring permeates the room.

Douglas looks back to the symbol with the intention of copying it for Marion, only to find that it in now a blackened spot in the drawer, similar to the mark left by a burning cigarette. He attempts to recreate the symbol from memory, but isn’t very confident that he has it right. He shows it to Marion, explaining what happened at the same time.
Marion can tell right away that Douglas’ reproduction of the symbol is inaccurate. However, it does look somewhat similar to something she remembers described in the Azure Crown…and that it is basically and occult signal flare of sorts.

The photograph in the drawer appears to be of a man-made cave or open cairn…it brings back the mention of a dolmen during the talking board session. They decide to pocket the picture. On the back is written the following:
The numbers are preceded by a symbol resembling an uppercase cursive L.

Also in the drawer is a bill of sale for Kellerman’s General Provisioners. The list consists of 4 shovels, 4 flashlights, 6 toothbrushes, 6 suit brushes, 3 garden spades, and 5 oilcloth sacks.

Troy alerts them that Charles and a dark-haired man with a pencil mustache are exiting the diner….the two men can be seen standing under an awning in the rain, holding a surreptitious conversation while darting furtive glances back at the diner.

Our heroes close the room back up and leave, acting like nothing is amiss. Troy relocks the door just as the hotel door opens below and Charles and his companion enter.

The group passes the men on the stairs. Charles greets Marion, but the mustached man pushes past, barking at Charles to follow.

Troy peers back around the top of the stairs and watches as Charles and the other man go into Charles’ room.

Marion inspects the photograph further and recognizes the symbols as being British pounds sterling. The second entry is negative…what does this mean? There’s no total. The group is mystified.

They spend the afternoon playing cards in the lounge. Around 6 in the evening, Charles and his budy leave. They’re all business…Charles doesn’t even acknowled Marion. The men can be seen going into the Diner…and then the group of men from the booth file out and get into their fancy cars, heading off in the direction of Bay City.

The group decides to follow. Douglas is at the wheel. It is raining…a steady, heavy downpour. Douglas swerves to miss a crumpled mass in the road, skids, bumps the thing and goes oof the road. Nobody is hurt…the group ventures out to inspect the thing in the road and find that it is a man. They recognize him as one of the men from the diner…the one who had scoped Douglas out over his newspaper. It appears that our group drove over his legs.

Clara ascertains that he is dead. His neck has bee broken and he has some kind of blunt trauma injury to the back of his head. There are also bruises around his neck, as if someone had throttled him. Checking his pockets, they find a wallet…the drivers license identifies him as Emmet Kline there’s also a large wad of money and a folded picture of four men. One of the men in the pic is circles. The circled man is Mulligan. The photo is of a street scene. The two men with their arms around each other’s shoulders are Marty and Johnny Smith, both of whom were killed in the cemetery standoff. Nobody recognizes the fouth man, but he looks like a mobster, too.

They pocket the cash, the pic, and a cigarette case (the contents appear to be normal cigarettes, not the special Gatineau variety). They decide to return to the hotel instead of following the killers.

Charles doesn’t show up for his ‘bible study’ with Marion. They decide to retire for the night.

Around 2:30 AM, Troy, Douglas, and Clara awaken from a fitful sleep. They hear that high-pitched sound again. They spend the remainder of the night pacing, going out in the hall, smoking. The fancy cars are still missing.

When they meet up for breakfast, they discuss what happened in the small hours of the morning…and the three of them realize that the shadows in the corners had been much darker than they should have been…just like the tunnels under Portland.


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