Micheal Fitzhugh - Introduction.   Posted by Keeper.Group: archive 5
Keeper
 GM, 172 posts
Tue 6 Oct 2015
at 04:58
Micheal Fitzhugh - Introduction
It is a cold morning in February, 1920.

Michael is sipping his coffee sitting behind the desk in his studio. He is visited by a new customer, which is more than welcome, given that in recent weeks, nobody showed up.

He´s a well-dressed elderly man, very friendly and polite with his ways. He speaks in a very low voice, almost whispering. His eyes seem a little sleepy and they´re half hidden by his thick white hair. His face has many wrinkles as an evidence of a person that has seen many things happening in his years of life.

The man introduces himself.

"My name Girst, Albert Girst. I'm a professor of anthropology, now semi-retired,
He smiles
at Harvard University."

He greets Michael and sits down slowly.

I'll try not to make you lose too much time.


Recently, something happened that has  worried me. I would like to know if I can hire you for this. So .. .. about two weeks ago, I received a visit from a policeman, Joseph Sallivan.


Michael knows him, he is the police detective of the Boston Police Department. A smart guy, lively, very confident about himself. Sometimes the investigations of Michael and Joseph have crossed their ways and the policeman encouraged a sense of competition that often made Michael nervous.

Well, this policeman came and told me that a black boy was killed in a bar in Beacon Hill. The murderer fled away. His face was half-covered, he was white. The black boy had a train ticket in his pocket. He had come from New Orleans. He looked like a poor peasant. Well, the policeman told me that that boy, some days before being killed, had asked how to get to the campus of Harvard. The police wanted to know if I knew him, since I'm the only person at Harvard who is from Louisiana.

I say no and the police was not very keen to move forward with the investigation.

However, last week ... I returned to campus to take some books. I met Jack, a janitor. He teold me that actually a black guy, dressed like a farmer, was on campus some days before. He only spoke with Jack.. saying he was looking for me, Albert Girst. Jack got very suspicious. He said he didn´t know me. The boy went away and a few days later got killed.

You see Mr. Fitzhugh .. the police will not investigate further. Especially if the investigation leads in Loisiana, outside their juristition. But I am concerned. That boy could have come from the plantation of my brother Caleb. I spoke on the phone with him yesterday, he said that is all right down there. But my brother is a very unreliable and he´s unstable .. emotionally. I´ve always felt responsible for his attidute. In short, I need your help .. to see if I can find out something more about this poor boy killed.

This message was last edited by the GM at 02:58, Sat 17 Oct 2015.

Micheal Fitzhugh
 player, 6 posts
 Fast talker
 Fast thinker
Tue 6 Oct 2015
at 12:09
Micheal Fitzhugh - Introduction
Harvard...! This was a step up from the usual missing persons and lost wedding rings he's been doing recently. 'Retired', though. Probably meant he was on a small fixed income and didn't plan on digging too deep into that bank account. Still, if the family had a plantation, there was something of value to check into here.

He brought his mind back from its brief wandering and focused on the man himself. His eyes drifted over the man's clothing, his facial features, his nervous movements, his hairstyle and teeth. You could learn a lot from a person's hygiene, Fitz had learned.

"How long since the last time you visited your old hometown, professor?" He asked the question casually, an opening line meant to determine if there was more to the mysterious visit, or the relationship with his brother, that wasn't being said yet.

"...and when you've visited in the past, have you ever had the chance to interact with the workers on his staff? Would you have ever suggested to any of them that they could be accepted at Harvard one day, or that you could use your influence to get them in?" He thought for a moment more, then added, "Perhaps one of them found something valuable that was hidden in the house, like a will or a deed to more property? A lost family heirloom or journal from the Civil War?" He didn't want to seem like he was grasping at straws, so he stopped and waited for the man to give him some answers. before continuing.


OOC: Rolled Spot Hidden to pick up additional clues on this guy based on appearance. Go Sherlock!
Failed Psychology test to see if he was lying or hiding something he might know. :(

This message was last edited by the player at 16:03, Tue 06 Oct 2015.

Keeper
 GM, 177 posts
Wed 7 Oct 2015
at 03:05
Micheal Fitzhugh - Introduction
Michael observes the old man and tries to point out some details. The professor tends to bpw his head while talking, and often avoids looking Michael in the eye. He has little interess in what is around him. It seems that this man has spent his latest years reading books and writing articles.

Girst responds:
"Well, I was born and raised in Thibodaux, not far from New Orleans. My father had a plantation. Now the plantation is run by my brother Caleb. Caleb and I do not have a good relationship. Nor I had a good relationship with my father. I find myself here in Boston, because I´m the black sheep of the family. My father was a convinced slaverist, he fought with the Confederates. My brother is very similar to my father. After the war, the former slaves of the plantation became sharecroppers. Until about ten years ago I´ve been visiting the plantation regularly."

He stops to think a moment, closing his eyes.

"Yes, the last time was ten years ago, I remember that my niece January was still a child.

In short, anytime I was there visiting the plantation, I saw that sharecroppers arguing with Caleb. I never saw any act of violence, but the mood was never good.

Yes, I interacted with them. Nice people. They complained about their percentage from the crop and I think they were right.
We can say that.. I was more interested in going to the plantation to meet them than my brother. They practice Obeha, which is a religion... a syncretism of Christianity and African religions. The religious community is large, many traditions have been preserved... a rarity.
"

The professor's voice changes. Now he talks with the scientific interest of the anthropologist. He would be able to continue talking about this for hours.

Girst replies to Michael slightly shaking his head.

"My brother did not have much of value in the house. When he has some money saved, he buys new land. No.. none of those peasants have possibility to enter Harvard .. and I honestly think they are hardly able to think of a different life from that of the fields.

They know that I teach at Harvard. I told them. That boy has come here, looking for me. Maybe I'd better go down there... But first, I would like to see if we can find out something more about the murder.

It's very strange ... even if a fight had happened, Caleb would never have sent someone up here to kill a sharecropper.
"

This message was last edited by the GM at 03:08, Wed 07 Oct 2015.

Micheal Fitzhugh
 player, 8 posts
 Fast talker
 Fast thinker
Wed 7 Oct 2015
at 11:30
Micheal Fitzhugh - Introduction
"I would strongly advise against going back home at this time, professor." Fitz sat up straighter in his chair as he scribbled a few more notes down on his pad. "If you think your brother is unstable, there's really no telling what he's capable of at this point. Er...what exactly do you mean by that, anyway? If not violence, is he prone to wanderings? Outbursts? Hallucinations?" He hoped this wasn't going to be a case of some drunken farm owner sleeping with the slave women and beating his half-children. But then again, that would make for an easy case to handle.

"Could you tell me the boy's last name again, professor? I think I missed it earlier, when you said he came to the university to see you." Truth was it hadn't been given, but maybe that was just an oversight on the part of the man. He did seem a bit distracted. "And did your associate happen to mention where the boy said he was staying or how he got into town? Did he have family up here that was freed after the war? Would they have driven a family car or used the train, perhaps? Did the boy leave any other notes or messages for you?" He needed to tie up these loose ends before he could make a plan on where to start his investigation.
Keeper
 GM, 181 posts
Thu 8 Oct 2015
at 02:46
Micheal Fitzhugh - Introduction
The old man denies with his head.

"Caleb? Oh .. nothing so serious. He is a very short-tempered ... impulsive, stubborn and intractable person. That´s it. If he had a fight with the sharecroppers.. there´s no way to convince him that they are right.. "
Girst shakes his head
"but.. no.. he has never used violence against them.."

"Well, you know... the strange thing is ... this boy, was found dead.. but he had no documents.. nobody knows his name .. the police detective said that the people who saw the boy in that bar.. before he´s been killed.. they said the boy looked extremely lost and confused, as if he had never been in a city. The sharecroppers of Caleb are farmers, but sometimes they go to New Orleans.. there is something strange. The boy traveled by train and spent the night in a cheap hotel near the bar where he was killed. To get other infos, we should talk to the police detective.

The old man reflects a few seconds, as if he had a kind of intuition

"It seemed that policeman was willing to put the case in a drawer and forget about it."

Joseph Sallivan is a proud and arrogant person. Michael is almost amused by the idea of ​​taking a case that Sallivan wasn´t able to solve...

This message was last edited by the GM at 02:47, Thu 08 Oct 2015.

Micheal Fitzhugh
 player, 10 posts
 Fast talker
 Fast thinker
Fri 9 Oct 2015
at 01:42
Micheal Fitzhugh - Introduction
Fitz nods as the professor finishes his tale with a snide remark about Officer Sallivan.

"Missing persons cases are notoriously difficult to solve. Murders of a kid from another state with no identification or kin...he's probably more worried about never closing the case than anything else." He made a note in his journal to follow up on some other leads.

"You say he was staying at a low-rent flophouse near the bar. Which hotel, and which bar are we talking about?" He furiously scribbled as the man responded to his questions.

"And the name of the janitor who informed you about the visitor was Jack. Did he happen to tell you what made him suspicious about the boy? It was a boy, after all. Why lie to him about your whereabouts?" Fitz liked when people played things by their gut - it was usually on to something that the mind hadn't caught up with yet. But this time it had cost a young man his life. Of course, it may have also saved Professor Girst's, too.

"Oh, and one more thing...how was the boy killed? Was he shot? Stabbed? Thrown from a roof? This is something that only witnesses and the police might know; it would be a good place to start when I'm asking around the area for clues."
Keeper
 GM, 183 posts
Sat 10 Oct 2015
at 00:31
Micheal Fitzhugh - Introduction
Girst slightly smiles, he seems heartened to notice that the detective is interested in the case.

"The boy was killed by gunshots, as he walked out of the bar, the Clerys bar in Joy street, near the church of Beacon Hill. He was staying in a small hotel, within walking distance. The hotel is so bleak that does not even have a name. It is located right across from the church."

Michael knows the area, it is in the Southend of Boston, a community of African-Americans lives in this neighborhood.

"There were many witnesses. Sullivan was afraid that the boy was from the local community... he thought the murder could have been caused by racist motivations. He feared the possibility of disorders. But then, when he found that the boy was not from Boston, he just closed the case."

When Michael asks about the janitor, Girst responds with a little embarrassment.

"Mr. Fitzhugh... you know how these things work... unfortunately... I mean... we are talking about the Harvard campus and we're talking about a black boy dressed in rags. The boy was lucky that no one called the police as soon as he set food on campus. Can you imagine someone giving him informations about a professor...."

This message was last edited by the GM at 00:34, Sat 10 Oct 2015.

Micheal Fitzhugh
 player, 11 posts
 Fast talker
 Fast thinker
Sat 10 Oct 2015
at 20:30
Micheal Fitzhugh - Introduction
"So...a white man in a half-mask shot and killed a black youth in a negro section of town and got away with it?" Fitz made a face caught somewhere between amazement and disbelief. "That's definitely something I'll have to bring up with the local police when I get around to listening to their side of the story." He wasn't too happy about how that conversation would turn out, either. Best to be prepared for a night in the drunk tank, just in case.

"I tell you sir, I'm not just intrigued by your situation, but I'm also eager to see this solved. Murders aren't usually a small thing, and this boy couldn't have been carrying anything valuable. I'd say you've got something big going on between here and Thibodaux, and I aim to find out what it is."

He stood up and came around from behind his desk. Micheal was a rather short man, maybe 5' 6" with a hat on, but lean and fit, and with a healthy complexion that showed he ate well, drank a little, and found himself outdoors as much as inside. His outfit was a current style of cut, with neatly pressed trousers and a nice, if slightly worn, jacket. He'd never be mistaken for a banker or a mobster in this suit - and that's exactly how he liked it.

"I'll need to know how to get in touch with you as things develop, professor" he said, extending his hand to shake the other's. "I charge fifteen dollars a day, plus food and travel expenses. Yeah, I know, Pinkerton's only ask for eight bucks on their advertisement posters around town, but when you're done adding on their fees and extras, and then paying for a guarantee...well, you're better off with me, I assure you. And, my guarantee is genuine." He smiled broadly.

"Eh...there is the matter of a small retainer, of course. Usually two days' fee is enough to get me started on things. Paper or silver; either is fine." Fitz moved back around his desk to open a drawer and fish out a book of receipts for the man.

"Interesting name, Girst. I served in the war with a man by that name...." he added casually as he sat down and began filling out the top sheet in the booklet.
Keeper
 GM, 185 posts
Sun 11 Oct 2015
at 16:08
Micheal Fitzhugh - Introduction
The professor grins He puts his hand in his pocket and slowly counts the money needed to pay the first two days.

"I'm glad that you have accepted the case. My nephew has served the war, his name is Grant. Well , sir, I'll see you again in two days and I hope you´ll come up with something by that time."

The man greets Michael with a handshake and prepares to exit.

How Michael will start the investigation?
Micheal Fitzhugh
 player, 12 posts
 Fast talker
 Fast thinker
Sun 11 Oct 2015
at 18:07
Micheal Fitzhugh - Introduction
He nods and smiles, moving to close the door behind the man as he leaves the small office, then sits down and exhales once, deeply, as if he'd been holding his breath the whole time.

Going over his notes, Fitz flips to a new page and writes down the basic outline of a plan on how to approach this case. Two weeks had gone by and he didn't need to delay any longer. Fortunately, it was the dead of winter, and freezing cold outside, so there was probably far less activity than, say, if it had happened during the holidays a few weeks earlier. Sweeping things under the rug so you can dance on it with your eggnog was sometimes the order of the day with the local police.

He wrote a bit more, then set down the pad and lit a cigarette. He looked in the pack and was surprised to see it was still over half full. He remembered buying it the day after New Year's, at a corner market near his old elementary school. He was glad he wasn't one of those chain-smokers. He really only lit one up when he needed to think...and judging by this pack, business had indeed been slow lately.

Returning to his notebook, he read back to himself:

Check with morgue on loc of body
Talk to bartender/witnesses at scene - bring camera!
...call Billy at the paper and ask about any reports on shooting
Ask hotel owner about boy
Find Jack the janitor & ask about boy
Train sta - ask teller about boy & fam(?)
...check sched for Thib & other ticket buyers
Sallivan


Whew...it sure looked like a lot of work for one young negro. Fitz was sorry to hear of the death, but if someone wanted to hide something badly enough, that's what happened in Boston. You woke up dead, or somebody fished you out of the harbor at low tide.

He opened his top right drawer and pulled out the shoulder rig he wore when he went out on a case. Beautiful brown leather, perfect stitching, and fit like a glove under his sport coat. He'd paid good money for this when he got back to town a few years ago, and it was worth every penny. The .32 revolver he slipped into it was plain by comparison, but flashy guns had a way of causing their owners trouble, he'd found. Showoffs and gangsters always wanted people to see them, handle them, watch how they fired. Nah...ordinary was plain, and plain was not worth noticing.

He got back up and stuffed some spare bullets into his pocket. Didn't expect trouble, but then again, neither did the little negro when he set out that day to find the professor. Tearing the page off his pad, he tucked that away into his other pocket and walked out the door to his office, locking it behind him and heading for his car.

He wondered idly if the city bothered to keep the bodies on ice during the winter, or if they just left a window open until they were claimed by next of kin?