Murphy celebrated his victory by buying Gregson lunch. They ate their hamburgers and walked to Murphy’s black Porsche.
“Is this company issue?” Gregson asked.
“If it was, the force wouldn’t need to recruit young blood.”
Gregson noticed his friend wince in pain when he got in.
“I was chasing a suspect a few days ago and caught my leg on a wooden fence,” Murphy said. He turned the ignition and before Gregson knew it, they were cruising down rolling hills diving into deep valleys.
“We’re almost to the mansion grounds where the killing happened,” Murphy said. The air was getting think with fog. They drove in silence for a few minutes, trying to stay on the road when out of nowhere an enormous hound ran in front of them. Murphy slammed his breaks. “That’s my suspect!” He shouted. Murphy got out and ran after the dog.
“I lost him; looked like a land gator! Wait a second, where am I? Gregson?”
“I’m here; follow my voice.”
“Anyone could get lost in this fog. Gregson?”
“Gregson? Oh, I found you.”
“Let’s find the mansion before this fog makes us invisible. I could go for some rum and modern comfort right about now,” Gregson said.
They drove slowly down the road, looking for a graveled driveway.
“That looks promising,” Gregson said. And Murphy turned down the lane. It ended in front of a dark mansion. “This must be it?”
“I hope so, but I don’t recognize anything. I’ll ring the doorbell; the owner is a bit eccentric.”
FOOTSTEPS…The door opened.
Standing in front of them was a blonde girl in her early 20s wearing a white spandex outfit. “I was just doing my butt exercises. Do you have an appointment? I’m Mr. McMasterson’s assistant.”
“I bet you are,” Gregson said. “We don’t have an appointment and we were hoping to look around the grounds before the fog rolled in, but now we just need a place to stay.”
“Mr. McMasterson’s last assistant was murdered in the mist by a hound from hell. I’m Darla.” She shook their hands. Now I need to get back to my body. Darla went into the downward dog position.
“I can’t believe I’m a bachelor,” Gregson mumbled.
There was a CLICK behind them. “Strangers… I don’t know what to do with you. McMasterson pointed a double-barrel shotgun at them. “I’ll mount you on my wall unless you talk!”
“Sir, don’t you remember me?” Murphy asked.
“No, and I would remember someone like you. You have an annoying quality. I can’t put my finger on what it is.”
“We spoke last week…about the murder…”
“Oh, yes. Now I remember. Police, right? Still haven’t caught the killer? Well, that’s not surprising. What do you want to know?”
“I brought Gregson along. He has talent.”
“Gregson…where do I know that name. Oh, you’re the fellow who solved the Chessfield Park Murders. Glad to meet you.” McMasterson lowered his gun and shook Gregson’s hand. Murphy held his out, but McMasterson ignored it. “What do you want to know?”
“For starters, is there anything strange that’s been happening? Anything out of the ordinary?”
“The howling is different. Can’t get any sleep. But Darla takes care of me. She dances on the weekends and studies for her nursing exams. Knows a great deal about anatomy.”
Murphy and Gregson exchanged looks.
“Sir, about the murder?”
“Oh, yes; but don’t you mean, murders?”