Blood in the Vestry
At that moment Foil was in the courtyard of the Convent of Angels in the early hours of the morning with his Aunt Eleanor. She had called to tell him about another incident that had taken place and that she and the Sisters were exceedingly frightened by the entire occurrence. It had only been a few days since he was at the convent last and he was beginning to see a pattern in timing of these incidents, even though there had only been three so far. There were so few people on the streets that Foil had arrived quite quickly to the convent, where he was met again by his aunt and this time also by Sister Joan who had discovered the horror in the vestry. She was middle-aged and sweet looking, with a kind smile. But she was visibly shaken and Foil could tell that she had been crying, so he said nothing to her but a mild greeting. He did not want to embarrass her or make her uncomfortable by asking her questions. He took all his cues from his aunt, who motioned for him to follow her and Sister Joan; they all walked together to a door off the courtyard and then down a hall, that led to the same chapel as before and through this to the vestry. This was a relatively small space for such a grand building but it did not feel claustrophobic at all because of the beautiful stained-glass window that rose above them. Here was an intricate picture of the Virgin Mary with angels all around her.
The sun was rising for the day, it had been that early when Aunt Eleanor had roused Foil from his bed to come to the convent, and now the rays were streaming in making colors dance around the room and giving a light, beautiful feeling to the space. But Foil knew the day would be anything but and in fact, it would turn quite dark and grim very soon when Sister Joan led him over to what looked like a pool of blood on the floor in the corner of the room and that seemed to come from nowhere. “Was this actually blood?” thought Foil to himself, as he leaned over to look it and saw that the pool was about the size of a tea saucer. He got down on his hands and knees and sniffed, using his nose like Hog to see if he could get a sense of what was on the floor. He caught a distinct iron smell; this could be human or animal, there was no way to tell without a test. No one had touched what was on the floor; when Sister Joan had found what she assumed to be blood, she went immediately to Aunt Eleanor and she, in turn, had called Foil. This was yet another clue in the mystery that was plaguing the convent. But now he couldn’t take any chances trying to guess. Foil had a buddy in forensics who worked for the Los Angeles Police Department and who he knew would do him a favor. He could get a sample now and probably get the results back in a week or so if he was lucky. It was the best he could do, under the circumstances.
Foil stood up and seemed to be thinking. He scanned the room, inspecting every corner and looking for something to indicate how the blood even got into the vestry in the first place. But he found nothing. His aunt and Sister Joan watched him as he moved cautiously and carefully around the space. He stopped and stared down at the pool of blood again. The blood just spilled there on the floor confounded him. It was such a perfect circle, as if poured from a low height. It certainly was done on purpose; he knew enough about blood spatters and patterns to understand that this blood was put here to scare and was not an accident. He hadn’t had enough foresight to bring anything to check for fingerprints and now he kicked himself for that error and regretted not being more thoughtful that morning getting out the door.
And then there was the matter of cleaning up this horrid mess. He had to do that himself. “I can’t possibly have the Sisters touch this nastiness; it is gruesome and unholy,” he thought to himself. It didn’t matter to him what kind of blood it was; he had seen plenty of it in his lifetime, but the Sisters were suffering under the duress and pain of not understanding what was happening in their own convent and he felt extraordinarily protective of them at this point. No, it was his duty to do the dirty work. This blood, whether it was human or animal, had sat for some time in the vestry and would definitely stain the wood floor. It would forever be something that the Sisters could not cover up permanently. Was this the intent of the person who had committed the deed, for Foil was sure that someone intended to frighten the Sisters. But what connected this incident with the others? This was an escalation, for sure, and he wondered whether this would ever stop. What did it all mean? The Sisters seemed plagued with these mysterious happenings in a place that was once full of peace and tranquility for the women who called this convent their home.
Foil turned to his Aunt Eleanor and Sister Joan, “I’ll take care of this,” he said simply. And Aunt Eleanor said, “But Seán, what does it mean? How could this be happening in our beautiful, holy convent? I don’t understand,” and here she wrung her hands and seemed on the verge of tears. Sister Joan put her hand on the Reverend Mother’s arm, and Foil stepped forward to look his aunt in the eye. “I will take care of this,” and he gestured vaguely behind him, and went on, “and I will solve this case Aunt Eleanor, I promise you!” She took Foil’s hands in hers and looked into his green eyes, “you were always my favorite, you know that Seán. I always believed you would amount to so much, and here you are filling your aunt with hope. God bless you, my boy! You do give me hope and the Sisters and I will continue to pray for the end of our torment. And I will say a special prayer for you, who has already given us so much comfort.” And here she let go of Foil’s hands and stepped away from him, ushering Sister Joan out of the vestry and to the Chapel where the other Sisters were already in morning prayers and contemplation.
Foil felt overwhelmed with emotion as he stood in the vestry, alone now and thinking; tears came to his eyes, but he shook himself and concentrated on the task at hand. On the phone, Aunt Eleanor had told him what to expect and so he had brought some swabs and a glass tube with him. Stooping over the pool of blood, he reached out to gather a sample and out of the corner of his eye he saw a movement. He stood up quickly and turned to see another Sister whom he had not met and he did not remember seeing in the kitchen with the others the first time he came to the convent. “Yes, Sister? Can I help you? You really shouldn’t be in here right now,” said Foil. I c-c-c-came t-t-o t-t-t-alk to you, a-lone,” stammered the Sister, who seemed considerably younger than the others and who was not wearing the full habit of the church that the much older Sisters wore. She also seemed quite shy. She looked down at the floor and held her hands together in front of her as if she were about to pray, but this seemed to just be the way she stood. “Yes?” said Foil, again, peering at the Sister and trying to understand why she was standing in the vestry with him at this early hour when she should have been in Chapel with the others. “I th-ink I h-ave a c-c-lue for you,” she stammered out quietly.
Foil didn’t know what to make of this confession to him as they stood in the vestry together. He needed to get on with his collection and cleaning, but he could use any clue offered and he didn’t want to scare the Sister off from saying what she knew. He waited in silence as she seemed to muster up the courage to speak again. He looked at her more closely as they stood there; she was pretty, he might even say beautiful and she was definitely considerably younger than the other women he had encountered so far. Finally, she seemed to take courage and she reached into a pocket of her dress and pulled out what looked like something long and thin. “I-I f-f-found this on the f-floor of the chapel” she said hesitantly, and she held out her hand, opening it and showing him a small pocketknife. He was amazed to see such a thing, and walked over to her, taking the knife out of her hand. She raised her eyes then, looking at him directly, but stepping away as if to turn and go. But he stopped her with a question, “what is your name, Sister?” “Oh, I’m not a Sister yet, I am only an aspirant; I felt called but I have not been accepted into the church yet. I have only been here for a short time with the sisters. Reverend Mother has been so kind to me,” and she ended this short explanation with a sort of curtsy, which Foil found amusing, but he only smiled. “And your name?” he asked again. “Julia Marie,” she said simply. “Well, Julia Marie, thank you for bringing this clue to my attention,” said Foil kindly.
He felt strangely interested in this young woman, but needed to get back to his work and the business of dealing with the horror that was plaguing the convent at this very early morning hour. But Julia Marie didn’t seem to be moving then, though she clearly had wanted to just a moment ago. “Is that blood?” she asked timidly, “I heard that Sister Joan had found something awful in the vestry, but I didn’t know what and then Reverend Mother said her nephew was here again this morning, and I thought this was my chance to give you what I had found because I felt it was a clue.” The young woman seemed to be warming to her subject and Foil didn’t quite know what to make of her sudden animated talk. They stood there for a few seconds, and then Foil said, “well, yes, thank you for this clue, it could be a mighty important one in the case, and you are very brave to have brought it to me,” and he moved towards the door to usher her out. And in that moment, she became shy again, and looked down at her hands. “Yes, sir, thank you sir, I shall leave you now. I’m glad to have been of some service to you,” she said hastily and took her exit through the opened door and disappeared into the chapel just beyond.
Foil stood once again alone in the vestry with the swab and glass vial still in his hands, along with the small pocketknife. He had a chance to look it at now and saw that it had a white, pearl handle and two small blades. He would look at it more closely back at the office. For now, he wondered where Julia Marie had found the knife, “why didn’t I ask her when she was just here?” he said out loud to himself. But he wasn’t sure it was very important; she had said the chapel and the knife could have been found there or not. He assumed she was telling the truth, but she had unsettled him for some reason and he wasn’t sure why. But now he had to focus on the unpleasant task of retrieving a sample of blood to determine whether this was animal or human. Then he had to clean up the floor and make sure that the Sisters found something to cover up the stain that would forever remind them of the horror within their home.
A Failed Seduction
Arms returned to Mr. Skeffington’s estate the following week on Monday, determined to see Ruby again, preferably without her father in the room. As luck would have it, Mr. Skeffington had to go away on business and had instructed the servants to give full range to Arms of the house and grounds. Arms arrived on yet another sunny, breezy day ostensibly to explore the grounds around the house where supposedly someone might have scaled a wall and entered a small window into the office room where the safe had been opened; even in describing this scenario to himself, Arms knew that it was ridiculous and highly unlikely. No, the culprit was in the home, he was sure of it. He just needed to talk to the right people and he would figure it all out soon enough. But his first move would be to get Ruby to tell the truth about what she really knew concerning the jewels. A young woman who values jewels for their sentimental meaning doesn’t hide the only one left from her father, after a robbery. Arms decided it was best to start with Ruby and then tackle the rest of the household. He was let into the same grand hall by the ancient butler who had looked at him once again like he belonged elsewhere. Arms had not forgotten his first impression of this entryway, but he was confronted this time by new flower arrangements in entirely different shades and aromas. The vibrant colors and fragrant smells of dahlias, carnations, peonies, and hyacinths filled the hall and overwhelmed Arms with their scents. Every vase was filled to the brim with gorgeous shades of these flowers, which Arms knew cost a small fortune to keep fresh and bright. Clearly, Mr. Skeffington cared little for such showy creations, but Arms thought otherwise about Ruby who seemed to delight in showing off their wealth in flowers and bizarre design patters throughout the mansion.
Arms had asked to speak to Miss Ruby Skeffington and was shown into yet another sitting room, this time one that abutted the sprawling back lawn with floor to ceiling windows from which hung gauzy, cream-colored curtains and which gave the room a feeling of being in a breezy, dream-like state. Once again, Arms was dazzled by the intricate patterns on the furniture versus those on the rugs and walls. It was unclear why such designs were appealing to the inhabitants of this grand estate, but Arms assumed that it was meant to give the young woman of the house a sense that she had some control in her life when, perhaps, she had none at all. This time Arms hadn’t worn a suit, feeling that a more casual approach with the household and even with Ruby would achieve a greater gain in information than if he presented as a more serious and formidable detective. He held his brown fedora in his hands and stood waiting for Ruby to meet with him. As he looked around the room, he noticed the many wealthy trinkets scattered without form or fashion. They just added to the unsettling design of the home, nothing was quite stable or balanced in this house.
As he stood staring out at the rich, green lawn leading away towards what looked like a wooded area at the edge of the property, he heard the door open behind him and he turned to see Ruby enter. She was dressed in a lovely shade of scarlet, which accented her pale skin and black hair. She seemed more self-assured this time without her father to keep her in check, and she came right up to Arms and offered her hand to him in greeting. “It is nice to see you again, detective,” she said and again Arms heard a sweetness in her voice that to him was very attractive. “Thank you, Miss. I’ve come to speak to you again about the missing jewels and I was hoping that you might be more honest with me about what happened when you found the safe open. You seemed very nervous with your father in the room when I came the last time.” He paused, for she had walked away from him as he talked and motioned for him to sit down on one of the finer, but more loudly patterned couches in the room. He preferred to stand, but thought better of it; he hoped that she would relax and feel that she could talk to him as they sat together with the proper and polite distance between them on the couch.
Sitting, he took note of her dress again and its deep, plunging neckline, which accentuated the beauty and fineness of her neck and throat. Arms caught himself, and made a mental note to look away at all costs. He was there to find out information only, not to be tempted by a client’s daughter. Ruby was offering him a drink, some more of that high-end Scotch that he had drunk the last time he was in her home. Declining, he took out a notepad in order to denote seriousness on his part and readied himself to get down to business. But she was not interested in complying to him just yet; pouring herself a drink she walked casually around the room talking to him and explaining some of her décor choices. In order to be polite, Arms was forced to follow her, watching her every move and feeling himself more and more attracted to this fascinating young woman. He listened to her talk and her voice had a sort of sing song lilt that lulled him into complacency. But when she came around behind him as he sat on the couch, and casually touched his shoulders, he felt a zing of electricity run from her hand into his body, and he knew that he was in dangerous territory.
He stood, then, and turned to look at her, serious in his gaze, and no longer complacent. She had seemed to be toying with him when he first met her and she was distinctly doing it again. She had stopped talking as soon as he stood, and now he took charge of the interview. “Miss, I need to understand what happened when you found the safe open in the office room upstairs,” he said in a somewhat demanding tone. She looked at him, and seemed suddenly resigned to the dullness of the interview. She sighed and sat down in a chair that she had just stood next to. He noticed only her resignation and her willingness now to talk and nothing else. Arms was not a man to be toyed with, but of course she did not know that, and when he felt that someone, especially a woman, was trying to take advantage of him, he automatically withdrew and took up the stance of defense. He always returned to the structure of his job, except of course that one time when he allowed himself to fall away into an abyss of pleasure with Rose.
But now was different. This wasn’t Rose, but a young, impetuous girl who thought that he could be easily seduced and would succumb to her enticing, womanly charms. Whatever those charms were Arms had no intention of discovering; he only wanted information and he would get it out of her with the least work on his part. He stood looking at her from across the room and realized how young she suddenly seemed to him. “Now, Miss Skeffington let’s have the truth about the day you found the safe open and the jewels taken. Why did you really have that large sapphire gem in your pocket? Let’s have the truth now!” He was firm and decisive and Ruby heard it in his tone. There was no fun to have now that the detective had decided he just needed her to talk to him. She sighed again, and began her tale, as Arms took notes intermittently, suspecting that some of what she said was still to be discovered. But at least this was a start.
“Well, detective, you see my Daddy doesn’t know this, but,” and here she paused, and Arms who had begun taking notes looked up and waited. She adjusted herself in the chair, rearranging her dress and moving so that Arms could see her in such a way as to catch his eye, or so she thought. But he watched her with physical disinterest, at a safe distance from across the room. When he didn’t respond to this little flirtation, she began again, “well, Daddy, he’s strict, you see, and I never have any fun. I’m always stuck in this house and all I do are flower arrangements and talk to the servants. My life is a bore!” and she said this last word with such emphasis that it almost seemed she might cry, but she did not. Out from under the thumb of her father it seemed that Ruby was more than the demure young thing she made herself out to be when Arms first met her. As he suspected, she seemed to be chomping at the bit to live a more vibrant life than the one her father prescribed for her. For at least five more minutes she complained to Arms about what she not allowed to do outside the home, until he interrupted her and brought her back to the subject that he was most interested in learning about, the reason she had that one large sapphire gem in her pocket.
“Oh, detective! You’ll find out soon enough, I guess, she said almost petulantly. Well, Ralph let me keep one of the jewels.” As it turned out, Ruby was protecting a boyfriend. Ralph, it seemed, was not a servant as Arms had suspected but a young man Ruby had met on one of her very rare outings to a nightclub in the city. Telling her father she was meeting some friends in a respectable establishment she had snuck off to the Frolic Room, and there she met Ralph who said he was some kind of wholesale jeweler. Her story might as well have been written for her at this point for Arms knew almost every word before she said it. The wining and dining, the whirlwind romance, the sneaking around behind her Father’s back, the requests, and then the inevitable discussion about her mother’s jewels. Arms felt as if he had heard this all before and then of course he remembered Bella Scorvino’s tale of woe about her love affair with Charlie Martin, A.K.A. Antonio Boudreau. “That was a doozy of a case, for sure,” Arms thought to himself, remembering the adventures he and the guys had in Warehouse 1. “What is it with these young, beautiful women, and their attraction to the worst kind of men?” He looked across at Ruby and could see she wasn’t done trying to attract his attention, but he only had one question: “where could he find Ralph?” “Oh, I think he spends a lot of his time in the Frolic Room, detective,” said Ruby, and then looked rather coyly at Arms, who ignored her, and ploughed on hoping to get through the rest of the interview quickly. And then Ruby went on for several minutes again about Ralph’s good intentions towards her; she insisted that Ralph would be getting the jewels appraised and she was sure that he would never do anything wrong against her because he said that he loved her and she was so in love with him too.
Arms sighed and suddenly felt old and weary. These young women were such trouble in the world of detectives and trying to solve simple cases. Arms was thinking that this couldn’t be the whole story; he still had a hunch that this robbery was an inside job. Something didn’t sit quite right about Ruby’s story concerning this Ralph guy, but Arms had to follow it up and find out whether Ralph was involved. The next question: “did he have a last name?” “Smith,” said Ruby. “Hmm, Ralph Smith,” thought Arms to himself, “it sounds like a pseudonym.” The final question to Ruby: “what did he look like?” And here Ruby described all the young men who Arms had ever seen hanging out in speakeasys; tall, good looking, liked to wear expensive suits, always had a cigarette in his hand, dark hair, dark eyes, and a magnetic personality. Ruby was smitten the first time she met him; yes, it was an old story of an ill-suited love affair and one that, unfortunately, Arms was very familiar with in his line of work.
Ruby’s entire tale had the flavor of fiction, but Arms couldn’t be quite sure and since he was never one to leave information untouched or undetected, he was compelled to look into everything that Ruby had told him and then some. A simple case of beefing up security and appeasing a wealthy banker had just become much more complicated. Arms was definitely going to be earning his hefty fee now, and he realized that his hope for an easy case and even easier money was just a dream.
Friendships and Secrets
Hog was present at the meeting with Foil and Arms to discuss their respective cases, but he was barely paying attention. His mind was elsewhere, and certainly his heart was full of worry and anguish. It was hard for him to concentrate because he had received another small package addressed the same way as before: “To Mr. Hog: Please Deliver Promptly.” He knew what was inside and he could not bring himself to open it. His entire life was one of dread now, and secrecy. This was a very new existence for him, especially with his friends, but on his wedding day after he met Tommy for the first time in so many years, he had quickly promised that he would not breathe a word about their agreement. He had thought nothing of it at the time, but that moment had since come back to him and he felt bound by this bargain, which now seemed like a pact with the devil. He and Tommy had been soldiers on the fields of war together in Europe and their friendship had been a deep one, in many ways much closer than anything he had experienced in his years of friendship with Foil and Arms. When men go through war together, and see the brutality of senseless violence in order to fight for the freedoms of people and country something very particular connects them that is hardly breakable. This was the situation between Hog and Tommy; they had met during basic training and become fast friends then. They had felt the same fear, crawled through the same trenches, held the same guns, and protected one another from shell fire. Any amount of time in war can feel like an eternity, and two young men who had entered and found one another in moments of despair and loneliness share more than the friendships made later in life. Or so it seemed that way to Hog.
They all sat in Foil’s office, which was just like Arms’s own office; slightly dim, and serving a utilitarian purpose like everything else at the Swine’s Detective Agency. Foil had all his files out on his desk and he was walking the boys through the case concerning the Convent of Angels. As well, Foil had drawn on his long-ago training at university as an architect to map out the convent itself and the spots where the various attacks had taken place, for this is what he was calling them now. Hog looked at the rough sketches of the plans that Foil had in front of them and saw only lines on a page, without focus or meaning. Foil’s voice was far away, going on about his Aunt Eleanor and the serious nature of the problems that the Sisters were experiencing. Foil had been confronted by an intense feeling of helplessness as to what to do. He had a general sense of how he might carry on but his need for the boys to help him with this case was pressing on him. The recent discovery of blood in the vestry, animal, and thankfully not human, as his buddy in the forensics lab at the LAPD had told him, was frightening for the women who felt that their convent was cursed, if one believed in such things. Foil did not, and he knew that at the heart of these dastardly acts was a vengeful and evil person who clearly had some kind of purpose in inciting fear in the convent. But the questions were who and why?
The mention of blood, seemed to jolt Hog into awareness for a moment and bring him back to the conversation. “Animal, you say, Foil? What kind of animal blood? And where did it come from?” Foil looked at Hog with curiosity and said slowly, “I just said that the animal blood is unknown Hog. Welcome back to the land of the living,” and here Foil laughed in his jovial way, but Hog felt embarrassed at his lack of attentiveness. Foil went on, “I don’t know where it came from, that’s why I’m talking to you guys about it,” and here he stopped and said, “you okay, Hog?” “Yeah, fine, fine, no problem, I just want to make sure is all. Just thinking about the case, mulling it over in my brain, that’s all, Foil,” and he looked down at the plans on the desk in front of him. Foil looked at Arms and Arms nodded just to carry on for now. Neither of them had much noticed that Hog was checking out of the conversation until that moment, but now they kept glancing at him intermittently. Hog never gave either of them much worry; he was the responsible, steadfast one of the three. He was at home at night, unless he was on a case, with his family on the weekends, unless he was on a case, and could always be reached, unless, yes, he was on a case. Foil and Arms learned that it was Hog they could count on for a lot. So, when he seemed preoccupied with anything other than a case of his own, the two of them or his family, they took notice, as they did now.
But Hog wasn’t letting on about anything in particular, and they weren’t prying men. If one of them wanted to talk, they would talk, otherwise each left the other alone until he was needed. Hog was thinking about Foil’s case, but also thinking about the package that was delivered that afternoon. In this moment, he realized that he was losing his grip on time and that he needed to act promptly or else he would be buried under these packages that he assumed would keep coming. How many would there be? He hated to think about it, and roused himself to listen to what Foil was saying. Foil was asking for direct advice from them both about how to move forward with the Convent case, and Arms was suggesting some kind of surveillance that would help Foil understand what or who the person might be targeting. “Yeah, that might work,” said Foil, “but I need to be careful because I don’t want to scare the women or make myself known to others.” Hog had a flash of an idea at that moment and said, “maybe you need an inside person.” Arms and Foil stopped talking and looked at him, interested but skeptical, and Hog clarified, “you know, someone who would fit into the convent and who could help you gather information but would be able to take care of herself.” “And where would this superwoman come from?” asked Arms in an incredulous tone. “Well, what about Alice?” asked Hog, looking directly at Foil.
“Alice!” cried Foil, “absolutely not! And his heart swelled with protective love for the young woman who had saved his life and stood by him when he would otherwise have died in Warehouse 1. “Why not?” returned Hog, who saw Alice as an entirely viable option for such a case. “Alice can take care of herself, as she showed us all in the warehouse last year. She’s smart, and totally capable. Why sell her short, if she’s willing to do it, she would be perfect for the job,” said Hog emphatically, warming to his subject, and happy to move away from his own problems for the moment to someone else’s. Foil looked unconvinced. Even though he knew it was a good idea, and that Alice would probably say yes, he didn’t want to ask her. And then there was the matter of his Aunt Eleanor agreeing to such an arrangement. He would have to take it delicately with her and convince her of Alice’s determination and dedication to help, which if truth be told, he knew he could absolutely count on Alice. He trusted Alice implicitly and, secretly agreed with Hog that if he couldn’t have Hog or Arms with him, then Alice was the next best person for the job. Foil sighed then, and turned to Hog, “yeah, okay, I’ll call Alice and ask her.” Hog looked at Foil and heard the resignation in his voice, but knew that Foil only took his advice, not because Hog was right but because Foil, himself, knew it was the best decision to make given the parameters of the case.
Arms was talking now about his own case concerning Mr. Skeffington, the missing jewels, the daughter, Ruby, and the problem of a man being introduced to the mix, a Ralph Smith. Hog drifted in and out of the report that Arms was giving to them, thinking more and more about the second waiting package that had arrived earlier in the afternoon post. Arms was explaining that it was Ruby who seemed to be causing trouble in the case, and though Arms had hoped for some easy money for the Agency, this was going to be anything but easy now that he had to pursue yet another playboy who preyed on unsuspecting young women. Arms sighed audibly at this moment, and said, “I’ve got to find this Ralph Smith, whether that’s his name or not, and make sure he’s not going to keep asking Ruby for money. I suspect he’s got many women floating around on the same game.” And here he looked at Hog and said, “Hey, I got to go to the Frolic Room, Hog. You’re familiar with that place, aren’t you? Why don’t you come with me, and we can hunt this guy down together?” Hog looked up, seemingly surprised to hear his name spoken, and said slowly, “Yeah, Arms, I’ll come with you.” His brain seemed to catch up with the conversation and he realized that he could probably find out something about this guy at the card table, and said, “maybe I’ll take in a few games while I’m there and see if I can find out anything; guys like to talk when they’re playing cards.” This seemed to satisfy both Arms and Foil, and Hog felt like he had passed a test and sat back, letting his thoughts follow their own path now that a plan of sorts was made with both Foil and Arms for future actions in their respective cases.
Hog knew that he would give his life for Foil and Arms, but he would keep secrets for his friend Tommy. Those secrets made their bond far more powerful than anything he experienced after the war with his two new friends. Despite the cases that the three men had solved at Swine’s Detective Agency, despite their support for one another, despite their loyalty and their connections from their time at university, nothing compared to the devotion and bond that Hog had with Tommy. These two men shared knowledge that kept them connected even when they did not see one another in life. It was the knowledge of secrets on the battlefield that kept them harnessed together forever, and which now Hog knew would make it impossible to share anything with Foil and Arms. The deepest, darkest secrets of his life were slowly surfacing in his brain and even though he had pushed them away for a very long time he knew that he would have to confront them soon enough. For he was in Tommy’s debt, and now he would have to prove that debt by carrying out a request or many requests that would forever change his life and the lives of those he loved, including the very friends who sat with him right then in an office in the middle of Los Angeles on a grey, overcast day in May of 1955.