I Found A Knife

A Story site from EldonHughes

Chapter Three --
The Morning Glory Cafe

It had been nearly two weeks since I'd been to see the Sheriff. I hadn't heard anything, but I really hadn't expected to. Things do not move quickly in the Hollow.  Besides, I figured state cops have real work to do. They'd fit it in when they could. Not hearing was making me antsy, though.  My wife was off to Chicago for a history conference for the week. I figured I could goof off some, ask some questions on my own; and I knew just who to ask.

Max Tatum was third generation Joshua's Hollow. Going on 83 years old, he had lived his entire life here; in fact, in the house where he was born. He was also a born historian and storyteller. He knows details and stories about the town and the county, and the entire downstate area, that faded from the history books and the town gossips' memories decades ago. If you wanted to buy him breakfast, and linger over a few extra cups of coffee, he's usually happy to share.

Joshua's Hollow has a weekly newspaper, The Progress, but folks only buy it for the comics and the crossword puzzle. Any news anybody wants, they get over breakfast at the Morning Glory Cafe.

Gloria Morning's parents opened the place 75 years ago on what was then the main road through town. They were open from 5 AM until 6:00 PM, six days a week, and had been since that first morning. Gloria was named after the cafe, sort of, and learned to write by taking lunch and dinner orders. By then, Gloria had become "Glory," and no way were the town folks ever going to call her anything else.  She and her Mom ran the place after Glory's dad died. Mom's 94 now, and she still runs the register. Glory waits tables and her husband, Ike, works the grill. Just like when the place opened, there's no menu. You eat what they feel like fixing or go home and cook. It's always crowded around meal time, especially breakfast.

“A lot of fine folks have lived in that house,” Tatum said as we finished our eggs and toast. “You know, it's more than a hundred years old.”

“Yes sir, I know,” I nodded. “I spent some time in the library. I found the house listed in the town directory in 1903. A family named Schaefer lived there then.”

Mr. Tatum waved me off. “Aah, that's just because that was the first year they printed the directory. The Schaefer's weren't even the first family to stay there.”

“Really,” I asked. I thought the house had been built in 1900. There was a cornerstone, on the side of the ivy covered front porch, with that date on it. I had just assumed the Schaefer's had built the house.

“Oh, no.” Tatum said. “The house was built by Jack Molloy starting about 1898. He built it for his new wife, Katherine. Molloy was the manager of the old Enterprise Coal Mine, south of town.”

“The Enterprise Mine?”

“Yeah, that's what they called it when it opened. It's had probably a dozen names since then. I think when the company shut it down in the sixties it was called Mine Number Two, or Three, or something else unimaginative  like that.”

“1898? The house must have taken a year or more to build back then. The Molloys sure didn't live in it long.”

“Actually,” Tatum said, “They never did. Molloy went to Cleveland, to fetch his bride. It was some kind of arranged marriage, I'm told. But they never made it back to Joshua's Hollow. They died in a train wreck.”

“No kidding.”

“Yup,” Tatum said, and waved his empty coffee cup at Glory. “A railroad bridge collapsed as the train was coming across the Wabash River. It had snowed heavy the winter before. It was near the end of Spring when he went.  Water run off had swelled the river up so high it washed away some of the bridge foundation. They said the back half fell into the river and pulled the rest of the train in on top of it. Word is, the Molloys were near the back of the train, riding in some kind of luxury Pullman car, it being their honeymoon and all.”

“That's sad,” I said, holding up my coffee cup as Glory arrived with the pot.

“That it is,” Tatum nodded. “Malloy did a real good job on that house. It would have made a fine home.”

“It does now,” I said. “But I don't think the knife was his.”

“Knife?” he looked at me.

I told Mr. Tatum about finding the knife, and about the tin box it was in. I'm not sure why, but I didn't mention the old bus ticket. 

"I'm not sure how old it is," I said, "But not that old. The Sheriff said he thought it was maybe fifty years old.”

Mr. Tatum took a slow sip of his coffee, his eyes off in the distance somewhere. “Tulley said that, did he? Well, fifty years would be about right.” The coffee cup near his lips didn't quite hide his small smile. “Bet nobody around here expected to hear about that again.”

I leaned forward eagerly. “About what, sir?”

Maybe Mr. Tatum didn't notice my sudden interest. He looked at his watch and took a final sip of his coffee. “Tell you what, young man. How about tomorrow I let you buy me some more breakfast?”

"Tomorrow...?"

The old man smiled, and waved me off again.  "Son, we get started on this story?  You're going to be good for breakfast and lunch... at least a few days."  

With that he was waving goodbye to Glory as the screen door closed behind him.

Up Next: 1956 -- The First Time


 

Book One of the Poison and Wine series by C.H. Valentino and Eldon Hughes.

    There's a battle underway in New Orleans. It's a game being played between the voodoo Barons Samedi and LaCroix.

    Danni Toussaint has a nail in her chest, the mark of her debt to The Baron Samedi. To repay him, she steals souls.

   Michael Belew works for the Sisters of New Orleans. Nuns in the 9th Ward are missing, and he suspects voodoo is the cause.  He's desperate.

    He drafts Danni to help find them. Now they are pawns in the Baron's game.

There is no winning the game. There's only survival. But even that could cost Michael his soul.

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I Found a Knife

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