by jason gusmann
visuals by rhoda penmarq
Chapter Three: An Unpleasant Discovery
Hap lies awake in his bed, Bodie at his feet.
He turns to the left, then the right.
How I wish I could fall asleep! he thinks.
But that clue...I can’t stop thinking about it!
WHERE DO THEY PUT THE EMPTY ANGELS HAP WHERE DO THEY HIDE THE BROKEN VESSEL
What could it mean?
Empty angels...broken vessels...
Angels have wings and fly, just like...
And a vessel, that’s another word for...
Finally, Hap falls into a fitful, dreamless sleep.
In the morning, Hap is awakened by Dad firmly rapping on the bedroom door.
Up and at ‘em, Hap!
Hap rubs his eyes as Bodie hops to the floor.
Hap dresses quickly and goes down to the kitchen.
In the white and yellow kitchen, there are no smells of breakfast cooking.
Aunt Cindy stands by the pantry door, her arms crossed.
She is smoking a cigarette and ashing on the kitchen floor.
She is not wearing the short black dress.
She is wearing an even shorter white dress.
Her long white legs seem even longer and thinner.
Her short black hair seems even shorter and blacker.
Aunt Cindy’s white dress is made of a light, gauzy material.
It makes Hap think of something an angel would wear.
Hmmm...the empty angels, Hap thinks.
Dad comes up behind Aunt Cindy.
Hey, Hap, your Aunt isn’t ready with breakfast just yet.
Why don’t you and Bodie go play for awhile?
Bodie and I are hungry now!
Then Dad frowns.
Hap, you and Bodie go pick some apples if you’re so hungry!
Hap kicks unhappily at the floor.
Okay, Dad, if you say so.
Aunt Cindy glares at them as Hap and Bodie leave.
Hap and Bodie walk along the sidewalk through the morning sunshine.
Jeepers, Bodie, Hap sighs, what gives with Dad?
I know Aunt Cindy doesn’t like us too much but...
Bodie looks up at Hap sadly.
Then, suddenly, Hap just shrugs.
Aw, nuts to all that!
Let’s go pick us some apples!
Hap picks up the pace and Bodie happily follows.
Now, Bodie, let’s see if we can figure this out...
Hap and Bodie begin walking towards the Reillys’ house.
Now, angels make me think of angelfood cake, and vessels make me think of boats.
How could they...of course!
Hap snaps his fingers.
What do you do with a cake boat when it’s empty?
You throw it in the trash!
Bodie barks excitedly.
The clue is telling us to look in the Reilly’s trash bin!
Again, Bodie barks happily.
Now I’m going to need to go alone for this next part.
I’m sorry, boy, but I’m going to need to use all my detective skills to look in the Reillys’ trash bin without Mr. Reilly seeing me.
From the side of the house, Hap creeps up to the Reilly’s trash bin.
All the curtains on that side are drawn.
Hap slowly and quietly lifts the lid off the bin, then slowly looks through the assorted garbage until something catches his eye.
He gingerly moves some trash and finds a clump of bright white napkins soaked red with blood.
Oh no! exclaims Hap.
These must be what Mr. Reilly used to soak up the blood after he killed Mrs. Reilly!
I had better tell Officer Dan!
Hap Dixon peers through the eyepiece of Yardley Shaw’s telescope and looks up at the stars.
Oh, boy! says Hap.
There must be dozens of them up there.
Yardley gently takes the telescope from Hap and repositions it.
Sometimes if you look closer to the horizon you can see some of the more nearby planets, like Venus or Mars, he says brightly.
When Hap looks through the eyepiece again he sees a window across the street on the second floor of the Reilly’s house.
He is just about to tell Yardley that the positioning is wrong but in the window Hap can see Mr. Reilly and Mrs. Reilly moving back and forth within the frame.
Mr. Reilly holds Mrs. Reilly’s hair and has his other arm around her waist.
Hap cannot hear due to the distance but Mrs. Reilly appears to be in pain and her mouth is open as if she is screaming.
Mr. Reilly pushes Mrs. Reilly down out of the line of sight and smiles.
Then Mr. Reilly follows her down, also out of range.
Hap takes his eye from the telescope and looks at Yardley.
Oh no! exclaims Hap.
This looks like a murder!
Let me see! exclaims Yardley.
He squinches his face up and puts his eye to the eyepiece.
After a moment Yardley moves back and looks at Hap.
I don’t see anything!
Hap grabs the telescope and looks again.
The light is off in the Reillys’ window and the shades have been drawn.
Hap looks at Yardley and says, But I saw them!
I saw him killing her!
Yardley reaches over and begins to compress the telescope.
I better take this in, Hap.
It’s getting late!
As Hap walks Bodie home he says, I don’t think Yardley believed me, Bodie.
But you believe me, right, boy?
Bodie barks once.
When Hap and Bodie get home, Dad is waiting for them in his robe and pajamas.
Dad has become cross.
Hap, it’s late!
Get to bed this instant!
Hap looks downcast and nods, Okay, Dad.
Bodie follows Hap up the stairs.
Aunt Cindy is nowhere to be seen but her black high-heeled shoes remain lying on the orange rug.
Hap puts on his pajamas and gets under the covers.
Bodie jumps up onto the end of the bed.
I’m sure I saw Mr. Reilly murdering Mrs. Reilly, Bodie! Hap whispers with conviction.
Bodie whines sadly.
But how can I go about proving it?
Suddenly, a high-pitched pinging sound comes from upstairs.
Oh boy! Hap enthuses.
The shortwave set!
Hap looks over at Bodie, concerned.
But what if Dad catches me?
I’ll never solve this mystery if I don’t find more clues!
I’ll just be very quiet and go up to the attic!
Bodie lies down, his head pointed away from Hap.
Oh, I’ll be careful, boy!
Don’t worry so much.
Hap takes the flashlight off the wooden table upon which all of his detecting equipment lies and tiptoes out of his bedroom.
The attic is dark and brown.
Hap kneels down in front of the shortwave radio by the window.
He depresses the button on the microphone base and says quietly, This is HDWXY 1, over.
There is an immediate response.
The high-pitched pinging sound returns, and it is followed by a man with a low voice. The man says, WHISKEY HOTEL ECHO ROMEO ECHO DELTA OSCAR
Hap uses the pad and pen he keeps by the shortwave set and writes down the first letter of every word in the transmission. The high-pitched pinging sound repeats, and then the man with the low voice repeats everything he said the first time. Then the high-pitched pinging sound transmits again, and then there is silence.
Hap looks down at the pad and reads the lengthy completed message.
It says, WHERE DO THEY PUT THE EMPTY ANGELS HAP WHERE DO THEY HIDE THE BROKEN VESSEL
Oh boy! exclaims Hap.
This is the strangest clue I’ve ever seen!