Magee and the Haunted House: Parts 1-4 by, Steven Halpert

Magee and the Haunted House: Parts 1-4 by, Steven Halpert

Stephen Halpert

Magee and The Haunted House

Part 1

This story begins at Sunday dinner. We were at Captain Mallory’s old farmhouse on the banks of the Blackstone River. Two patrolmen, officers Matt Cane and Charley Brigham were bringing platters from the kitchen into the dining room. I was poised by the dining room table, watchful in case there was stray food.
Sippi Bopp, my owner companion was wearing her new fall dress. It was green with colored swirls that made me feel dizzy.
Just so everyone reading this knows I’m Magee, the nine pound Silky Terrier who started as the star of Dig Dog Dig on the Canine Channel.
I’m now the official dog detective for our police department. I’ve my own badge, and my citations signed by the Mayor and retired Chief Homer Redtoe hang on the wall in Sippi’s office.
Raven Jones came in carrying two six packs of beer. He grinned at Sippi and blew her a kiss. She grinned back and gave him her wide eyed look.
I was glad that they’d grown closer. Whatever came down between them while they both were in rehab after their pro basketball careers were sidetracked by injuries, had passed and now I notice that sometimes they hold hands.
Ku, the Siamese cat who lives with us had told me that one day Sippi will marry Raven.
A smile curled around the edges of her mouth. Her voice softened and she looked at him meaningfully. “Euro Dark?”
Raven smiled, slightly shook his head. “You gotta try this instead, gluten free.” He waved a bottle at her. “Put away as much as you want and not get fat.”
“Raven, I don’t get fat, never did, never will,” she snapped. “I hope you’re not thinking of coming between me and my Euro Dark.” Then she grinned and tossed me a spicy shrimp snack.
Raven wore his black tee shirt with the FBI insignia on its sleeve, jeans and his fancy black loafers. I love it that he lets me sniff them. And I must admit that sniffing freshly applied shoe polish is intoxicating.
He handed her a bottle. “All the guys at the gym…”
“You mean you didn’t bring me my Euro Dark?” Her voice was flat like she was writing a speeding ticket.”
Sippi winked at me and tossed me a spicy tuna ball. Captain Mallory hung up his phone and came into the dining room. He looked at us and sighed. “No rest for the weary.”
He shifted his attention to Sippi and Raven. I could tell something was upsetting him. He fidgeted in his shirt pocket for his smelly cigar stub.
“You’re not going to light that thing in here are you?” Sippi said as he started moving it toward his lips.
“It’s my house,” he said defensively.
“Still,” Sippi said. “Please don’t. Besides it doesn’t set a good example for our young patrolmen here.”
“Let him be,” Raven said. “He doesn’t usually even light up.”
“Young,” patrolman Matt Cane laughed. “Thank you Sippi. Please tell my wife that.”
Raven speared a slither of smoked salmon and devoured it faster than even I could. Then he took another. He must have been hungry.
“Before we break bread, “ Mallory said. He sounded weary. He looked over at me, “You especially Sherlock. I want you in on this from the beginning.” He flashed me his toothy grin I always took to be a warning to pay attention.
“Something wrong,” Sippi asked?
“Just when you think we might have a quiet fall something like this has to happen. That was Killbat I was talking to at the State Police. Three prisoners from an institution for the criminally insane have tunneled their way out of federal lockup and may be headed in this direction. I’ll have the file by morning.”
“Someone on the outside had to be helping them,” Raven said. “That
sort of escape takes ingenuity, manpower and money.”
“What do you know about them?” patrolman Bingham asked
Raven frowned. “What makes you think they’ll be coming this way?”
“One has family named Croft over in Twin Forks,” Mallory said. “That’s all we know. It’s a possibility we have to look into.”
“Same name as that abandoned Victorian mansion that once was a restaurant and after hours club.” Patrolman Jeff Hatch said. “Back when I was a kid I remember my parents talking about Croft House and the wild goings on. There was even talk of ghosts.”
“Pays to be a native,” Sippi said.
“Sometimes,” Patrolman Hatch said. “Sometimes not.”
“Wasn’t that the place that caught fire and was declared haunted by the press?” Officer Brigham Hill said. He set two bowls of vegetables on the table.
Mallory raised his eyebrows. “Haunted? I’m not so sure about that?”
“This whole thing’ sounds too creepy for me,” Sippi said. “I remember as a girl my Aunt Bea taking me to séances. They were all very real, and I felt ghostly presences.” She picked me up and hugged me protectively. “You find this frightening too, don’t you Sweetheart?”
I squirmed. I wasn’t sure exactly what she was talking about but I could sense her nervousness and that’s not a good thing because when Sippi gets nervous that’s usually when she puts me on my leash. Sippi calls it keeping me safe. I think of it as protective custody. I love Sippi but she doesn’t always realize I’m a cop and not some lap dog to be coddled.
“After lunch we ought to drive over and take a look,” Raven said. He handed Sippi a beer.
She took a sip, then another, wrinkled her nose and put it down. “Like I said, Raven don’t ever come between me and my Euro Dark again.”
He sighed and nodded. “I guess I owe you one.”
“Yes, might be good to drive over and take a look, “ Mallory said. “And bring Sherlock along. See what he can sniff out.”
I waged my tail. Whenever he called me Sherlock I know the game is afoot.
Stephen Halpert

Magee and the Haunted House,

Chapter 2.

It was just starting to get dark when we left Captain Mallory’s dinner party. Raven was driving. Sippi was beside him. I sat on her lap. He gunned the Jag, turned to Sippi and said. “Why wait until morning; let’s check out Twin Forks now.
She petted me and waved her eyes. “And we’ll stop for some Euro Dark on the way back.”
“On a Sunday night?”
“Try,” she grinned. She reached over and touched his shoulder. “If push comes to shove I’ve got some tequila tucked away someplace.”
Raven smiled, reached across the seat and kissed her.
During this romantic interlude I was unceremoniously put in the back seat. Fortunately I was thoroughly enjoying the smell of the Jaguar’s polished leather. But so as we approached Twin Forks a wisp of a strange scent caught my attention and put me into my cop mode.
I cringed against the back seat. Something wasn’t right. I whimpered and tried to warn Sippi. But she took my message the wrong way and reached into her bag tossing me a spicy shrimp ball.
As the scent got stronger I sensed a snarling beast about to spring at us from out of the darkness, All I could think to do was make a low growl.
“I think’ Magee’s frightened about something.” Sippi said.
“It’s cool Magee,” Raven said. Then he chuckled. “You and me Magee bringing it down, whatever it is.’”
I wished for a lap robe or something I could crawl under. But no such luck. I barked softly again trying to warn them.
But Raven laughed. “Come on Magee, lighten up.”
“Here baby,” Sippi tossed me one of my favorite treats, a tuna biscuit. Normally that and the spicy shrimp ball would do the trick and keep me happy. But not tonight. I wasn’t hungry. I reminded myself that I ‘m a cop and need to stay vigilant and not lose this weird scent by drowning it in treats.
There’s always been something scary to me about Twin Forks. I remember being at the graveyard when Inspector Mallory unearthed the empty coffin in the nursing home case. I had seen long black snakes watching us, poised for attack.
“Twin Forks is a ghost town in more ways than one.” Sippi said as she peered from her window. “You’re right McGee. It’s spooky especially at twilight.”
We drove past a gas station and a motel, then down the road past two old brick buildings and some stores. I hoped Raven wouldn’t stop. I didn’t want to have to sniff in the dark. A dog knows that for certain scents once is enough.
Raven consulted his device. We left the town and passed the graveyard. Raven drove down a winding road until we came to a cornfield. To its right he turned up a dirt road that lead to what was left of a burnt out old mansion.
“You’d think whoever collected the insurance would have fixed that place up,” Sippi said.
Raven shook his head no. “Maybe sometimes its best to let sleeping dogs lie.”
I thought I saw shadowy shapes behind some fallen tree branches. I whimpered and caught Sippi’s attention.
“What you pick up Magee?”
“Whatever it is can wait till we come back tomorrow,” Raven said.
Sippi nodded. “I’ll wear my boots. I really don’t want to go walking around in these shoes.”
“I hear ya,” Raven said, but he drove closer to the ruined mansion before he stopped. He opened his car door, got out, took out his device and started taking pictures. Then he got back in, started up and we headed for home.
Raven drove past the cornfield. As we approached the cemetery he checked his rear view mirror. Moments later he checked again. “Sippi, we’re being tailed. Don’t look back. Whoever it is may just as well think we haven’t noticed anything yet.”
Sippi sniffed and took a small make up mirror from her purse. She held it carefully to reflect the back window. Whoever was behind us drew closer. “Green Chevy, Florida plates,” she said.
“Could be stolen,” Raven said. “Got any enemies gunning for you?”
“Not that I know of. You?”
“Could be, The Bureau just closed the books on an East Coast opiod ring.”
I sniffed and picked up the same scent I had detected earlier.
“I’ll drive around. No need to lead them anywhere near your condo.”
In the midst of this Marjorie’s spirit appeared to me as clear as if she were sitting beside me in her living room. “Be careful, Magee. Stay low to the ground and don’t go trying to be a hero.” Then she quickly faded away. I whimpered.
“Magee get down on the floor.” Sippi said.
The headlights behind us came closer, shining into the car. I cringed onto the floor.
“Party time,” Raven said. He gunned the Jag. Its brakes squealed as he accelerated. The green Chevy swerved, fell behind.
“Sippi, under the seat, holster.”
Then he floored it . Moments later he swerved and the Jag took an exit leading onto a dirt road that led into the parking area of an industrial park. He stopped and turned the car around to face the entrance. Then he grabbed his device and punched numbers.
Sippi took the pistol from its holster, cocked it and held it below the windshield. “Stay on the floor Magee.”
I stayed low. The green Chevy roared through the opening of the industrial park. It stopped fifty yards from Raven’s Jag.
I couldn’t understand the squawking from his phone.
He turned to Sippi. “Out. You go to the right. I’ll go left. From under his seat he took a shotgun.
“Stay in the car Magee,” Sippi said. “Mom and dad have some work to take care of.” Then she and Raven were gone.
I huddled against the floor of the back seat, not wanting to stay in the Jag alone and not wanting to get shot either. Besides Marjorie said not to try to be a hero.

Stephen Halpert

McGee and the Haunted House, Part 4

It was the following morning. I was in Chief Mallory’s office with Raven and Sippi. The diamonds were spread out on a dark cloth on the worktable beside his desk.
Sippi’s eyes widened. “Must be worth a considerable fortune.”
“Wonder if that’s why the escaped convicts went there,” Raven said. “To retrieve these rocks?”
“Makes sense,” Mallory said. “Break out of the penitentiary, retrieve the diamonds, vanish forever into thin air. But Sherlock got there first, sniffed them out and dug them from the wall.”
Mallory chuckled and grinned at me. “Sherlock you’re like that nonstop bunny in the battery commercials on TV. I’m proud of you,”
Sippi spoke up. “Maybe a little token of appreciation. A small diamond he can wear on his collar.”
“I wouldn’t go that far.” Chief Mallory sputtered.
“But Captain,” she persisted. “Magee found them, dug them up. For all we know they could have been in that hole in the wall since even before the Civil War. After all that mansion was built in 1793.”
“Don’t start,” Mallory said.
“But Sir,” Raven intervened. “Sippi has a valid point. Magee unearthed what could be classified in federal statutes as ancient treasure and therefore eligible to be shared.”
“Bah,” Mallory’s mouth set into a grim line. “If there’s any reward from those rocks it would go to benefit the Department. Town always chops back our budget. This might give us a few extra bucks to get a little ahead.”
Sippi laughed. “Captain do you have any idea how many millions those diamonds are worth?”
“Magee deserves something for this,” Raven said.
“All right, how about a case of dog food for the holidays!” Mallory huffed.
He turned to Sippi. “But knowing you he gets better fed than me.” He
reached for his cigar stub. “I remember Marjorie telling me how much she’d spent feeding him: prime rib, steak tips.” He shook his head. “If you ask me he’s mollycoddled and spoiled rotten.”
“That’s all very true,” Sippi said softly. “He’s also a very sensitive dog and must be handled carefully.”
But Captain Mallory wasn’t finished. “Why when I look at you Magee sometimes I see Marjorie standing right there beside you.”
I wagged my tail and wished Sippi could say the same.
Raven bent down and petted me. Then he said. “Magee’s not a snob Chief. He just turns his back on the puppy chow of life.”
“As well he should,” Sippi said. She reached into her bag and
tossed me a smoked tuna ball.
I nibbled at it but I was too excited to eat. I was on a case and wanted to confront that strange scent I kept sniffing when we were near or at the mansion.
Sippi looked over Mallory’s shoulder. “Says here in the file that it was over twenty years ago those three escapees were incarcerated for murder. Nothing is mentioned here about any stolen diamonds or major jewelry heist.”
“Could just be coincidental,” Raven said. “But I doubt it.” He rubbed his chin. “My thought: Let’s get some fake diamonds and put them back in that hole in the wall. Then take a wait and see.”
But Sippi wasn’t so sure. “You think whoever might want to retrieve them would fall for cheap cut glass like that?”
“Not ultimately,” Raven said. “But long enough to incriminate themselves.”
Mallory nodded. “Worth a try. Better yet a bag of zircons won’t punch holes in the Department’s budget. Meanwhile we’ll keep these locked up in a safe place.”
Mallory clutched his cigar stub and looked me in the eye. “We’ll figure this one out, won’t we Sherlock?”
I wagged my tail; I wasn’t sure what he was talking about.
“Well, let’s drive back and see what else we can find, Mallory said. He hoisted himself out of his desk chair and pulled his car keys from his pocket. We all climbed into his cruiser and set out for the mansion.
“Nothing about this case makes any sense,” Mallory said as we drove past the overrun, neglected graveyard in Twin Forks. “That voice we all heard, and the strange apparition!” He shook his head.
Raven checked his device. “Timing seems weird. Convicts broke out early Sunday. Must have taken at least four plus hours to reach the mansion. Now they’ve gone into hiding. Hope we can lure them out into the open.”
“Could be they were planning on meeting others,” Mallory said. “Maybe to collect the diamonds.”
“This is all conjecture. For all we know those diamonds could have been hidden there since before the mansion even burned,” Sippi reiterated. “We’ll find out, won’t we Magee?” Sippi hugged.
As soon as I jumped from the cruiser a whistling wind made me wish I had on my down vest. Back inside the ruin my eyes stung from a terrible stench: the bad smells both of the ghosts and of the burnt stuff.
A splintered board crashed onto the floor.
“Duck,” Raven said.
Sippi jumped out of the way. “Another reception committee?” she said.
Mallory took his pistol from its holster. “Just in case.”
“Can’t kill a ghost that way,” Sippi said.
“Unless you’ve got silver bullets from the Lone Ranger,” Raven chuckled.
“Oh,” she said. “I thought they were only used against vampires.”
Raven grinned. “Lone Ranger never went up again vampires. Tonto maybe.”
Carefully we proceeded from the foyer down a corridor leading to the kitchen. I ran ahead tracking another odd scent.
“Stay away,” came a screaming voice. Leave here!”
“Who are you?” Mallory called.
But all we heard were peals of crazed laughter, reverberating around the burnt walls.
I sniffed along behind the kitchen and followed a hallway into a small room, probably once a storage space or pantry. I jumped over some pieces of wallboard but instead of landing on my feet I fell into the dark.
This was scary! I had landed on a wet stone floor. I smelled rats and heard squeaking. I barked as loud as I could.
“Magee! Where are you?” It sounded like Sippi was far, far away. I felt a hand touch my back. I yelped. The hand reached again. I barked and tried to run but it was strong and held me down.

To Be Continued

Yall make sure to drop back by to find out what happens next!

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