THE WINCHESTER-NABU DETECTIVE AGENCY

Cats photoshopped as noir detectives

AMBER LOVE 13-NOV-2017 My work is supported by the generous backers who tolerate my cat stories at Patreon.com/amberunmasked and they also get first access to what’s happening with my books and podcast. Also, buy my books with these handy links below:

ADVENTURES WITH GUS – CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN: NIGHT OF TERROR

Where we left off…

Amber Love confessed to botching some evidence gathering. With only one photograph of the specimen, Detective Inspector Guster Nabu was forced to leave a case unsolved.

THE WINCHESTER-NABU ESTATE. AFTERNOON. EXTERIOR – NORTH SIDE FIRE TRAIL.

On separate perimeter checks of the property, Detective Inspector Guster Nabu discovered some clues. When examined separately, there were innocent conclusions drawn. However, when he took everything into one big picture, he decided an investigation had to be opened.

The first discovery was on the south side of the mountain, more than halfway down the widest trail. Gus found a tarp rolled up. The neighbors haven’t had a pool in many years. The trail would be an odd place to store a tarp like this considering the neighbors that once had a pool don’t have a direct pathway to the trail. They would have to go to the end and enter from the main entrance point. It did make us wonder if there had ever been a clear path directly to the trail since back then, the past residents tended to the landscape with more effort. It still wouldn’t explain why anyone would think the middle of a trail is a storage spot.

Gus

On a later date when autumn’s death removed much of the foliage from the unkempt bushes, another tarp was discovered a short distance away from the first one. This second tarp was deeply entangled in the overgrowth of branches and vines. A shed was just on the other side of the forest delineation. I hadn’t noticed it before because of all the shrubbery that was blocking the view over the summer. I pointed it out to Gus and we saw that a tarp covered the shed in that backyard.

Gus decided to spitball some theories and decided to consider the case of that second tarp separate from the first. According his logic, the tarp in the bushes was probably blown there by strong winds; this is what we accept as the main source for litter (garbage, not cat litter) we find too. He believes that discovery was a matter of careless residents who might have been too lazy to look for their tarp or perhaps, planned to get to it on a day with better weather, but forgot all about it.

Gus

His keen senses, mostly the Super Smeller™, told him that the first tarp had a more nefarious story behind it. It wasn’t until weeks later when we were on the opposite end of the estate that he put the pieces together.

Gus doesn’t check the fire trail on the north end as much as the others. Its access points are only from the main road and from the open area of the backyard rather than the driveway. Few people use it. This trail is one that Gus likes to use for practicing his parkour skills. It’s also the one where I got wickedly stung by nettlesChapter 22 he jumped into. There are a couple of four-by-four beams of wood along the path which Gus likes to use for practicing his balance. And there are tons of smaller trees and thick bushes for him to practice climbing.

As Gus slowed down at the end of one of the wood beams, he carefully got down, sniffed the ground, and pawed at it. I saw something, but couldn’t tell what it was. I also didn’t have any evidence baggies with me! Something glittered in the broken sunlight coming through the trees. I reached down and picked it up with only a couple of fingers trying to limit any DNA transferal.

Gus

The object was a torn piece of plaid with gold contrast thread. It seemed like something used during the winter holidays for ugly clothes or decorations. Gus began to pull me away. He was lead by a scent. I didn’t know what to do with the evidence so I dropped where we found it and followed him down the path. He kept poking through the bushes to inhale more of the scent that teased him. We didn’t find anything more. On the way back, I made him stop so I could take several photos of the holiday plaid fabric. We wouldn’t bring it back to the lab and hoped the photos were enough to begin our research.

In Chapter 25 you learned about the murder committed by Earl Robert Appleby. Now as we look back on that case, we can easily say Earl was justified in doing what he did. That doesn’t mean all the horrible crimes committed around this mountain were equally as rational.

The Story of Lillian Opal Foster:

In 1914, news of suffragette Mary Richardson attacking a stunning nude painting with her cleaver made headlines. The painting was Rokeby Venus by Diego Velázquez and on display in The National Gallery in London. Richardson was extreme. She was what we’d easily identify as a radical today. Before Richardson migrated to the fascist party in the 1930s only to realize they too, didn’t mean to create gender equality, she was a loyal follower of Emmeline Pankhurst who lead the Women’s Social and Political Union.

That vignette shows what life was like for women in Britain and it was much the same here in the states. Our suffrage had its own origin though. Anti-slavery abolitionists like Elizabeth Cady Stanton realized that women were still being segregated in matters of social importance — even having to listen to speeches in a room separate from the men. Certain states were granting women the right to vote, but it couldn’t be done on a national level.

One of the strongest visionaries in the US suffrage movement was New Jerseyan, Alice Paul. Her mother was a member of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). Alice Paul was a remarkable woman even by today’s standards. She learned to love others due to her Quaker heritage. She earned a bachelor’s in biology then a master’s in poli-sci, sociology, and economics. And then she met Emmeline Pankhurst in England, the leader of all rabble-rousers. After multiple arrests and having had served three jail sentences, Paul came back to America where she earned her PhD. in sociology in 1910. Before she continued on to law school, she made waves here.

The way that Mary Richardson and Alice Paul revered Emmeline Pankhurst, they too disseminated influence on women they met. The historic Women’s March of 2016 owes a great deal to Alice Paul and her friend Lucy Burns who organized the first women’s protest in Washington D.C. in 1913 which included more than five thousand participants. Back in the early 1900s, rural America was not ready for radical women like this (to be honest, some people still aren’t ready). One of their infamous moments in history was being arrested and then tortured in what became called the Night of Terror in 1917.

A particular group of violent men didn’t require the blood of the famous radical feminists. They would settle for local feminist blood. Seventeen-year-old Lillian Opal Foster was the answer to their prayers.

The Fosters weren’t from this area. They moved in when Lillian was fifteen. She had three sisters: Jane, Margaret, and Ruth. Lillian was the rebel. She cut her hair short. She dared to raise her hemline and even sported trousers and a men’s suspenders from time to time. To her, it made sense for getting things done and all around comfort. She also loved to piss people off which is why it’s no surprise that Lillian was enamored by the news of Alice Paul.

Lillian’s penchant for cross-dressing went to another level. At times, she presented herself as a young man, not as means of exploring gender identity for herself, but as a social experiment. No one suspected a boy her age without facial hair. She had plenty of muscle because she enjoyed hard work, especially outdoors, unlike her sisters who were perfectly happy learning how to play instruments and study until men wanted to marry them.

One bitter evening in the early winter, Lillian donned the boys’ clothes she bought from a charity bazaar and decided to see how many people she could fool. She walked all the way to the nearest tavern located at the inn built in 1790. It was risky for a woman to be there, especially a young girl. The inn didn’t have snugs for women like pubs in Ireland and it was considered terrible etiquette for a woman to stand or sit at the bar. Lillian tried to follow the mannerisms of the men around.

Harold Ramsey noticed Lillian’s awkwardness. He offered to buy “him” a drink and was told the name was “Paul.” It was Lillian’s personal inside joke taking the surname of her idol to use as a masculine first name in her disguise. The whiskey burned and made her choke. That’s when Ramsey and his friends formed a tight circle around her. Her hat was torn off followed by her jacket. They pushed her out the back door and continued to tear at her clothes. Harold ripped her button right off and exposed her bound breasts. She had them mashed down with Christmas ribbon trying to eliminate her curves.

suffragette dress style

Lillian ran and they followed. They screamed at her and scared her to death. She tripped over rocks and cut open her forehead but kept trying to drag herself. She got back to her feet and nearly reached the top of the main road’s hill when she was cut off by Harold Ramsey. He and goons closed in. They made squealing noises like farm animals being slaughtered which made sense to them since they worked at a pig farm.

They were on her turf. She knew that part of the mountain better than her own bedroom. She steered them off the street and into the woods. She finally reached a point where she could move in the darkness. Her feet knew where every rock lay. She feared that her white shirt was too bright and removed what was left of it. Her skin wasn’t much darker, but she felt freer. She could reach out and feel the branches at each side of the trail. She paused and stood still to wait and listen. She backed into the bramble of blackberry bushes on the right side. The thorns scratched at her freezing cold body.

The binding of Christmas ribbon snagged on one of those bushes. As soon as Lillian began to creep away, she realized the branches were trying to go with her. She pulled herself free from the prickly clutches, but left behind the torn bit of ribbon.

Soon, Lillian was in her own backyard and sneaked through the root cellar into the kitchen. She managed to find a dark coat hanging on a peg and put that on. Lillian wasn’t going to run away from those men and hide. She came up with a plan.

Lillian set her first trap that night. Knowing every single divot in the ground, stumps from felled trees, and even where the walnuts were buried by squirrels, Lillian planned to lead Ramsey’s gang through a maze. She set the less harmful version of tiger traps. The men walked over branches thinking they were following level ground only to crash through and twist their ankles. It wasn’t as violent as what they wanted to do to her, but it was enough to make them stop their pursuits. Lillian saved her Paul disguise for venues further from home.

Word spread until it became it legend that a crazed hermit in the woods would seek revenge on people harming innocents. Our research came to all of points of speculation then. It seemed to be that each generation had someone setting traps and even used modern tools like tarps. It’s even believed by some that the movie Predator is actually based on our little mountain’s legendary woodsman (or more appropriately woodswoman). Gus and I definitely are not setting traps in the woods. We’re strictly investigating.

Resources:

Pruitt, Sarah. “7 Things You Might Not Know About the Women’s Suffrage Movement.”History.com, A&E Television Networks, 12 Jan. 2016, http://www.history.com/news/history-lists/7-things-you-might-not-know-about-the-womens-suffrage-movement.

“Suffragist Alice Paul Clashed with Woodrow Wilson.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/suffragist-alice-paul-clashed-woodrow-wilson/.

**Lillian Opal Foster is completely fictitious. Don’t write any term papers about her.

If you’ve enjoyed the Adventures with Gus, consider supporting us on Patreon or sharing the links!

Patreon.com/amberunmasked