The Armitage Files

Legwork and Leads

As Mahone rejoins the group after a reconnoiter of the caravans they discuss what they have learned. Mahone’s close encounter in the field was with a man with a swollen face. The Doctor noticed that one of the roustabouts lounging in front of the caravans around the fire was being waited on by his companions. No positive identification was made, but Mahone and Stumpf could not help but link the attack from earlier in the night and the apparently battered men.

Even more curious was Mahone’s niggling recognition of the upper class woman leaving the red caravan. The vague memory of seeing her somehow connected to Boston could not be shaken. Also of note was the intense curiosity of the carnival master observing the woman leaving the red caravan.

Deciding to leave the carnival before pushing their luck too far the team beats a retreat to the safety of Arkham to prepare for a fresh start the following day,

Thursday the 3rd of December 1936

The Doctor and Mahone decide to follow up on some leads and visit St. Mary’s Hospital in Arkham, curious about the incident mentioned in the Document 1 and wondering if the assailants from the previous night had presented for treatment. The Doctor asserted his authority and demanded the files of Claudia Brazda, Oliver Gardiner, and the two strongmen from the beleaguered nurse. She could only find a very thin file for Oliver Gardiner, with one entry from August 1926 in which he had been delicately recorded as a temporary fugue state. The entry was signed by Dr Oscar Fairfield.

Stumpf proceeded to question Dr Everett Lynch about admissions the previous day and he learns that Tony Webb, a young sailor, was admitted with a bandaged hand, apparently crushed in a loading accident. The astute detective, however, questions Dr Lynch about the timing and establishes that it was several hours before the assault.

With Professor Jones delivering lectures and the Major laid up in bed resting from the serious beating he received at the hands of the ruffians, Mahone and Stumpf decide to follow up some leads at the Sheriff’s Office. They quickly learn that Austin Kittrell, mentioned in the first Armitage Paper, is a notorious cad, famous for drunkenness and carousing with young socialites. He is a minor heir to a large fortune and often frequents the Bison Club, a Private Gentlemen’s club in Arkham.

Mahone asks the Sheriff about the Helping Hands and is startled to learn that the Sheriff is a member of the local Arkham Chapter. He tells them the annual meeting is the second Tuesday of every month (next Tuesday) and that the Helping Hands can be found feeding the poor in a soup kitchen by the docks most nights. Not sure whether they can now trust the Sheriff they resolve to tread lightly around the subject of the Helping Hands for the moment.

Deciding to follow up on some unattended leads the pair info themselves once more on the University grounds at the Orme Library and soon learn that the Home Encyclopedia has its business headquarters in Providence, Rhode Island. Feeling this is a good lead to follow up the Phillips character and his story about the Helping Hands they embark on a road trip. The small office has two employees: and older man named Harold Spencer and a younger man in his 20s, but not matching the description of Phillips. After convincing Spencer that they are here on behalf of ‘a young lady’ regarding a delicate matter, Harold gives them the address of Phillip Hughes in a poor part of Boston. He tells them that Hughes is prone to ‘flights of fancy’ sometimes seeing the worst in people.

Dropping in at the precinct, Mahone learns that Phillip Hughes does not have a record and isn’t known to Police as a ‘concerned citizen’. In following up the lead on the socialite leaving the red caravan they make a startling discovery after a search of the social pages in the Boston papers. Her name is Florence Hutchinson and she is non other than the new wife of Horace ‘Diamond’ Walsh, notorious racketeer.

Making their way to Hughes’ apartment they encounter instead his neighbor at #8, an old lady who tells them that Hughes is away during the week, but always returns on Fridays from the road. They decide to return to Arkham and visit the Helping Hands soup kitchen.

There they meet the two Helping Hands members on duty, a fellow by the name of Edgar Lyon and Dr Kenneth Dawn. Mahone makes a connection with the unfortunates while Stumpf discusses medicine with the Doctor. Between them they learn that the hobos have stopped traveling north of Ipswich, talking of fellow travelers going missing and commenting that the hobo sign for “not a safe place” (three diagonal lines) marks a lot of the roads heading further north. They learn that should a hobo need to travel north they go far inland to avoid the area north of Ipswich. They learn that “Old Henry” went missing in the winter of ‘34. And was last seen by Christmas of that year by Maynard Steinore. Then again maybe the cold got him, it’s a tough life on the road in winter. Another hobo, Wilson also went missing last summer (1936).

They also learn that the sailors have seen some funny goings on along the coast and don’t like going out on dark nights, where their superstitions get the best of them. An Old Salt, Sherman Berns, gave the investigators some insight into the goings on of the Kingsport Yacht Club, talking of regattas and laughing about the entrance criteria…

Ya need to be a millionaire just to join that club!

He talks of how crazy they are sailing their yachts around in the dead of night and talked of all the shipwrecks along the coast up and down from Kingsport in the ‘old days’.

Dr Dawn admits to treating the hobos and sailors for free outside of his regular surgery hours. He keeps an eye out for any of the poor who visit the soup kitchen and suggests they drop by his surgery early in the morning before the regular patients start to show up for their appointments.

It being late they hit the hay and return to Boston on Friday evening to talk to Phillip Hughes under the pretense of looking for witnesses to the missing persons, Wendy Hower. He is extremely nervous and Mahone uses his police position to question him rigorously, alternatively reassuring him that he isn’t in trouble and asking pressing questions to get the most from his witness. Eventually Philip Hughes breaks down and confesses to having seen a couple of men dressed in suits and with the armbands of the Helping Hands leading a struggling hobo into a barn at a farm on the outskirts of Rowley. He recalls in vivid detail chanting that sounded like Ai! Shut-Niggurath followed by an anguished scream and recounts the terrible guilt he has carried since.

Gee whiz Mister, I was just so scared I didn’t know what to do, I just ran and ran and I ain’t never been back to that town not ever. Those men, they looked so respectable like, I swear I saw ‘em in town, respectable men of business like. Gee whiz Mister! I couldn’t tell no-one I didn’t know who I could trust!

Mahone asks him if he remembers the date and he gives them the exact date as the 15th of October that year from a small diary he keeps of his sales routes to help remember which houses to try again and which ones to skip. Convinced that Hughes is telling the truth a he knows it, Mahone and Stumpf return to Arkham to plan their next move and check in on Wessex and the Professor.

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