Kind Uncle Klaus (revised)

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Apr 17, 2008
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Per the original thread, Chapter 1 of the story complete, but still open for some editing... The story as a whole has no name yet. I am waiting for some key thing to leap out at me further along...

COMMENTS AND CRITS WELCOME!


Chapter 1

Kind Uncle Klaus


There was a rattle-click-clunk and the heavy ironbound, wooden door, coated with uneven brush strokes of faded beige paint, jostle-thumped and creaked open to reveal a short hall of like hue, illuminated by dimly glowing light globes. Several iron barred cell doors lined the walls on either side.

“Here he is, Miss,” the young deputy said as he proceeded to the last cell on the left – the only one with occupant. It was late, sometime after 10pm, yet the young officer was alert, clean shaven, uniform in fresh, perfect order as the sleepy timber and fishing town of Ophirport’s only on-duty lawman radiated with the aura of “new recruit on first assignment.”

Melinda Schmitt stepped through the portal and into the hallway. A distinct, deep male voice echoed through the hall with a German “Ach!” and Melinda’s mind soared involuntarily into rush of the warm childhood memory…

…kind Uncle Klaus stepping into little Melinda’s bedroom from years gone with his ritual announcement - “Ach! Ware ist meine Lindy? I haf her sweets!”

Melinda Schmitt’s attention returned abruptly to the present – the Deutschlander exclamation being followed by a mishmash of half-formed German words scrambled into mumbles, whispering and babblings of incoherent utterances. The voice of Uncle Klaus was unmistakable, regardless of the foreign manner of gibberish that dominated the familiar voice. Running her left hand nervously, subconsciously to smooth out a non-existent wrinkle in her overcoat, Miss Schmitt drew her black leather handbag in her right hand close to her belly and stepped cautiously close to the holding cell.

“Uncle Kl – ” Melinda began to speak before quite reaching full view of the cell. She cut short, seeing a bedraggled, wretched figure hunched on the floor in the far corner, wobbling and tottering as it performed some unseen task in the miniscule space between body and wall. The small chamber was a shambles, as much a shambles as any room containing only a metal cot, mattress and blanket could be. Shreds of what was once the blanket — irregular strips of the dark gray wool strewn about the floor, coarse threads likewise jumbled across the concrete in what, after brief consideration, must be some sort of patterns of whorls, lines and angles radiating outward from the occupant’s place in the corner. Too, between and intersecting the bizarre, labyrinthine web of textile were lines, circles and scrawls of some sort of reddish ink, brightly hued where still wet and darkened to near brown where dried, weaving along throughout the wool fragments to make the whole display all the more confusing, dizzying, and yet somehow captivating in a darksome, troubling way.

Lost in awe and shock, Melinda was jarred by a brush against her sleeve as the momentarily forgotten deputy touched her and coaxed her back a few steps down the hall. She quickly, involuntarily reacted, stepping out away from the scene, unable to speak.

Bright enough to forego the question, “Are you alright?” Deputy Stanley Allen said, “You made good time getting here, Miss. I hope your trip went well.” Gesturing to the doorway back out, he suggested, “Perhaps a cup of coffee?”

Still stunned, but recovering, Melinda stammered at first, “Yes… p-please. That might be good, Officer.”

“'Stan,' please. 'Stan' is fine.” Deputy Allen took his guest by the arm, gently guiding her back to the front office, pausing to close the door behind, blocking the disturbing scenario beyond for the time being.



~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~​


(continued)
 
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(continued)

Refreshed from the short recess of Deputy Allen’s coffee, Melinda Schmitt stood again in the hall, taking a deep breath. She poised her mind, eyes closed as she set to face the man in the cell again. Then, exhaling, she looked forward and found her place before the bars, gazing again at the figure hunched in its place at the far side.

Swallowing, she mustered all her strength and spoke. “Uncle Klaus?” rang through the din within, barely a falter in her tone. Relieved at that great success of self-will, Melinda felt encouraged to continue her encounter.

Hearing the woman’s voice, the unkempt, matted head of straw-and-silver rose, and the entire man stood, turning to face his visitor. The visage was appalling, making the most humble of street bums in New York seem “high society” in comparison. Wild tangles of long, ratty hair crowned a haggard face etched with deep creases of stress and age. Eyes deeply recessed, yet wide and unfocused, gazed from an expression of utter despair. Disturbing scars running amok across cheekbones, ripping chaotically over leathery skin and trailing etched gouges through a patchy beard that matched the man’s hair “style” (or total lack thereof). His clothing was complete tatters and shreds, stained with soil and splotches, though the form was still so intact as to indicate what was once flannel workshirt and blue denim jeans, over which he wore a an earth-toned business suit jacket.

“Ach! Ist that meine Lindy?” The words uttered were clear and right out of Melinda’s past. Eyes, initially sunken, hollow and glazed over amongst the desolation of Klaus’ face now reshaped, a look of family adoration coming over them. Despite this manifestation completely alien to Melinda Schmitt, she saw her uncle coming to the surface as he stood, straight and stately as her relative of old, and stepped across the floor, seemingly oblivious of his creation of chaos.

Holding forth his hands, open for embrace, Melinda gasped as she saw dark markings – tattoos – running across fingers, palms, and wrapping, entwining up into the shambling sleeves of his jacket. Between the whorls of skin-ink ran scars and scrapes which, while marring the unmarked skin, left the tattoo patterns undisturbed. One particular lesion running across the back of his left wrist was fresh, still seeping of blood.

Shuddering, she braced herself all the more as the man stepped close, casual and calm. Yet she could not help but notice that his worn leather oxfords found footing between the bizarre floor pattern, never touching the display.

“Come, Uncle Klaus hast chocolate for you, Meine niece!” His mouth, lips dried and chapped, cracked into a smile as his right hand slipped into the remains of a jacket pocket.

“Uncle... What... How...” she began as he now stood before the bars of the cell, a fist held forth, prompting his little Lindy to accept her candy.

Through anxiety and fear, Melinda managed to cup her hands, as in days of old, to receive Uncle’s gift. Tears welled in her eyes as she was overwhelmed with an assault of many conflicting emotions. She felt something soft, silky brush her palms, followed by a cold and hard shape as she saw a fluff of emerald green feathers adorning a silvery metal amulet and chain come to rest in her grasp.

“There, meine sweet!” Klaus Schmitt spoke intently,” Uncle never forgets his Lindy.”

Then the man’s eyes sunk again, widening as his mouth gaped and he stared into nothingness. A low, guttural moan began and his right hand seized his left wrist as he crouched and scampered back to the corner, fingers digging deep, purposefully working into the flesh and bringing new blood to the surface. Then he was back as before, hunched in the corner, and Melinda could see him taking blood-dipped fingers and setting to tracing new patterns, working now slowly up the wall. The moaning broke into the garbled babbles Melinda had heard when she first observed her uncle in the cell.

Wrapping her hands tightly about “Uncle’s Gift,” Melinda Schmitt trembled and turned, streams flowing from her eyes as she slowly retreated down the hallway, the heretofore silent Deputy Stan Allen following like a shadow.



~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~​


(continued)
 
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(continued)

Barely three day before Melinda Schmitt had been sitting at a small desk nestled in a remote corner of Law Office of Brettmaier and Johnson, Attys at Law. Surrounded by high shelves of untold numbers of volumes of black and red books she pored carefully over a steno-pad filled with the haphazard, scribbled handwriting of Meriwether Johnson, Attorney at Law, she intently worked to relay her employer’s notations into legible, neatly typed documents on crisp, white typing paper.

Concentrating on the difficult penmanship and tapping away on the glossy black typewriter before her, Melinda jolted suddenly as a loud “ring-ring” emanated from the telephone at the receptionist’s desk across the room. She looked at the clock on the wall which displayed 4:58 p.m. and contemplated whether to answer. The telephone rang again. Melinda let out a sigh, stood and hustled over to the phone, clearing her throat and composing herself as she reached for the receiver.

“Brettmaier and Johnson, Attorneys at Law. How may I help you?” she stated evenly, proud of herself for keeping steady and cool. It was her fourth day on the job, and while it was only a part-time position intended to tide her through during her second year at University, she did not wish to displease her bosses.

“I have a long-distance call from Ophirport, Oregon, for Lindy Schmitt?” came the tinny, faint, nasal-tone woman’s voice through the speaker. Blinking, Melinda let forth a breath. Who could be calling her here? And she had not been called “Lindy” in years, not since she was a teenager back home.

She recovered from the odd thought and replied, “This is Melinda Schmitt,” to which the operator responded with a crisp “please hold,” followed by a brief silence.

A male voice spoke next. “Hello, this is Sheriff Mike Tichenor of Floras County, Oregon. Do I have Lindy Schmitt on the phone?”

“This is Melinda Schmitt,” she repeated her previous correction to the new voice. “What may I do for you, Sheriff Tichenor?”

“Miss Schmitt, I have a Professor Klaus Schmitt in the jail here in Ophirport, and have been attempting to reach his family. Do you know him?”

Melinda’s heart froze. An image of Uncle Klaus, her father’s only sibling, came to mind. She remembered at once her childhood uncle – a stocky, middle-aged man with fair hair and complexion, steel-gray eyes softened by his warm expression of affection for family, and niece in particular for whom he always had some sugary treat in his right coat pocket. His voice, heavy with a distinctly German accent, calling out to his beloved niece Lindy…

Uncle Klaus and Melinda’s father, Hans Schmitt, had fled Germany in the 930s to seeking a new life in the United States just after Adolph Hitler’s regime had begun to strengthen its grip the German people and begun in earnest with plans of spreading across Europe. Hans had pursued work as an engineer, doing contract work for the U.S. Government, while his older brother, Klaus, had continued his profession as a college professor and research archaeologist, securing a position at Arkham, Massachusetts’ Miskatonic University .

She had not seen Uncle in over ten years, not since he had taken one of his frequent field trips to some Latin American country she could not remember, after which he never returned. Melinda had collected a number of odd items as gifts from Uncle Klaus – pieces of stone, pottery or bone from his expeditions. Then, in 1947, he simply disappeared. No one knew what had become of Klaus Schmitt, Professor of Archeology at Miskatonic University. However, expeditions into primitive areas of Latin America were never considered safe, and unfortunately the more remote the travel, the more likely tragedy could occur.

“Miss Schmitt? Are you there?” came the voice on the telephone.

Flustered, she replied quickly, “Yes. Yes, I’m here.“ Taking in air, and then letting it out as quietly as possible, Melinda spoke on. “I had an uncle named Nicklaus Schmitt.”

“Miss Schmitt, you are the only family I’ve been able to reach. Is there any way at all you can come to Oregon? Your uncle is in bad shape and needs help. He had a small notebook with ‘Lindy Schmitt,’ and ‘University of Massachusetts enrolled 1955,’ written in it.” The sheriff went on to explain how he had managed to get information for reaching Melinda through her college admissions office, followed by a call to her apartment and speaking with her roommate, Susan, who obligingly provided the contact information of Brettmaier and Johnson office.

“Sheriff, I’ve just begun Fall term, and really don’t know…” She fell silent, realizing Uncle Klaus would be her only living relative, and vice versa. Melinda’s family circle was small with no other extended relations still living. Her father had passed away after a serious automobile accident when Melinda was very young, and Momma had been taken by a tragic fever two years past, just after Melinda had finished high school. Melinda’s older and only brother had lost his life in the Korean Conflict, serving the U.S. Army in 1952.

Money was not an issue. Her parents had left a sizable, though by no means endless, inheritance of stocks and bonds from Daddy’s pension. But she could not just drop her studies, could she? There would be no easy way to pick up without starting over next year. It was bad enough that she was, at twenty-five, several years older than most of her peers.

Uncertain at the moment, she begged for Sheriff Tichenor to let her think and get back to him. Taking down his contact information, she fretted as she moved to set the receiver down. “Miss Schmitt, please consider quickly. He needs help, soon.” Those last words were unnecessary in any case. Lindy had to see Uncle Klaus again.

She was able to get her school affairs put on hold. The college assured her they could allow for her family emergency, and there would likely be little trouble picking up where she left off. It would mean some extra work to catch up, but a week or two of leave from classes was not unheard of. Since she was just beginning her second year a lot of her coursework still involved basic curriculum requirements required of any liberal arts major. For that matter, Melinda had yet to really decide on her exact field of study, purposely keeping with mainline courses until she could decide between History, or deciding to follow her secret dream of pursuing Uncle Klaus’ pursuits of Archeological Research. By staying with History, she was able to keep the latter vision in reach without making a firm commitment.

The next day, bright and early, Melinda Schmitt had her suitcase packed, loaded on a passenger plane and was flying out of New York, across the continent to Portland, Oregon, after several short stops in between. From there she caught a smaller plane to North Bend on the southern Oregon Coast where she was met late in the evening by Deputy Sheriff Stan Allen who had been sent by Sheriff Tichenor to escort Melinda on an hour-and-a-half drive along the snaking coast highway to the small town of Ophirport.

Stan Allen had said little for the whole drive, and something in the air suggested that Melinda should wait before asking any questions.

When arriving after dark in Ophirport, Melinda insisted on seeing Uncle Klaus straight away. Deputy Allen was reluctant, but did not resist. He drove her to the jailhouse and guided her to the cell where Uncle Klaus was being kept.


~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~​


(continued)
 
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Melinda Schmitt now knew the reason for Stan’s silence. What could one say? How would one prepare another for what she had just experienced?

As if sensing her distress, Melinda’s feet drifted almost of their own accord as her mind processed (failed to process?) the disturbing, unreal event at hand. She proceeded silently back through the jail’s front office and out into the night. As if anticipating the already chilling event within the jailhouse, a damp, cold marine fog had come in off the Pacific Ocean, coupling with the dark of night now wrapping about Melinda’s form. A tremble ran through her body as she drew her arms about herself. In the distance she could hear the sound of the Pacific Ocean launching its relentless assault of waves upon sea stacks and beach sand.

Stan still lingered a few steps behind as the young woman stopped a few paces beyond the building’s threshold. He came up beside her and, after slight hesitation, placed his hand gently upon her shoulder. She did not seem to respond, so he waited a few moments before speaking.

“Doc Schmitt appeared about a year ago, returning to his old workshop one day, years after anyone had last seen him.” His voice spoke of Uncle Klaus with obvious familiarity with the man now being kept within the jail.

Melinda turned at that and faced the young man, appraising him again. Stan Allen looked to be in his early twenties and held a seemingly inherent expression of caring, despite his young age. “You knew Uncle Klaus?”

Smiling softly, Stan replied, “Yes, as a kid I’d got a job washing windows, sweeping and taking out his trash. I think I was ten when he moved to Ophirport.” Stan went continued on about how Doctor Schmitt was something new and different to the remote, unchanging little town. The stranger had called out to young Stan as the boy was on his way to Johannsens’ Market to buy a soda. Doctor Schmitt gave him a job taking out the trash, cleaning the floors and windows, and performing various errands.

“At first I was scared to death! Us kids knew about ‘the Kraut.’ Well… we knew stories we’d heard on the radio and newsreels at the theater about the war and Nazis, and we mixed things from our own brains. And who could forget Donald Duck?

“When he called out to me, I froze like a rock! I thought he was gonna… well, I had no idea what! Too many choices!”

Melinda let out a short laugh. It was always amusing to hear someone else’s view of her loving uncle. Stan’s tale took her thoughts away from the ruined person inside. Uncle Klaus was a figure from her earliest memories. The effects of American views toward Germans due to World Wars One and Two were secondary for her; she saw her uncle and father as exceptions to “the normal Germans over the ocean.”

Stan grinned in recollection and continued. “He had so many nifty things in his shop. Stuff from other places – places you only heard of, or read about in National Geographic! When he was away I’d watch every day for his coming home from his long trips. Whenever his little truck appeared, it always brought great stories of adventure and a bedload of crates with strange treasures from places I could only dream of.”

Apparently Doctor Klaus Schmitt had set up his own retreat in Ophirport, where he brought finds of his archaeological excursions to Central and South America. Inn this isolated part of the States, far from his northeastern home, he would review his finds before return to Miskatonic University for further presentation and settling back to his academic work. While in Ophirport Doctor Schmitt had acquired an avid fan in little Stan Allen. Stan had become as learned in the professor’s research as anyone lacking formal schooling and books.

“Then, on the last return before disappeared, Doc Schmitt was too busy for me… didn’t ‘need help this time – maybe later.’ I watched and came day after day only to be turned away with a ‘not now, Stanley, maybe later.’ No smiles, no time, no nothing. The shop’s drapes were always pulled closed, but now Doc painted them white inside and there was no seeing anything except shadows on the paint. And one day he was gone again, the door was locked, the hidden key wasn’t in the crack in the wall. And that was that, until last year.”

Stan, along with every other town resident, had seen the return of light to the old shop. The old whitewash on the windows glowed softly from the yellowish light inside. And there was the shadow of someone moving about within, presumed to be Doc Schmitt returning after a long absence. Dale Johannsen, proprietor of Johannsens’ Market, verified to all that Doc Schmitt had returned, telling inquiring minds of the professor coming in late the second evening to buy groceries and staples. A few other locals spotted him as well – including Sheriff Tichenor and Deputy Sheriff Stan Allen when performing their rounds.

Doc Schmitt was seen only late in the evening, making for Johannsens’ Market after Mr. Johannsen had closed for the night and was doing his bookwork. He would pound on the door and insist on purchasing a few items, accenting his insistence of need with a five or ten dollar bill held firmly forth, even if purchasing only a pencil or pad of paper. He never spoke to anyone except when purchasing commodities from the market, and then ‘strictly business.’

“No one knew what to think or do. Being the small town we are, we just can’t stand having strange things go on and not know what they are.” Stan chuckled at the nature of small-town people, then went somber. “But Sheriff Tichenor said there’s nothing to do. Doc’s not broken any laws, and he ain’t bothering anyone. Leave him be and that’s that. Sheriff reminded me I’m not just little old street-strolling Stanley anymore. I’m a law officer and I gotta keep my priorities straight with my responsibility. So, while it ate me up to know what Doc’s got going on, I kept my space.”

Stan paused, staring into the dark and in the direction of the invisible but clearly audible crashing of ocean waves reverberating through the night.

“Then, a little over a week ago, George Boren was at the jail’s front door, pounding intently at seven in the morning.” George Boren was an old codger that used to work on the local dock and cannery until his age outdid his usefulness. How he roamed town and spent his time lingering on the dock giving free advice to the younger workers or drinking coffee at the Ophir Café. In his late seventies, he still made the most of his physical abilities.

“I was just finishing my night duty, waiting for Sheriff Allen to check in. Old Georgie walks the beach every morning bright and early before settling in at Ophir’s for his cup o’ Joe, and that day he was all shook up. ‘Ya gotta come quick to the beach – that crazy Kraut’s down there calling up the devil outta the ocean!’

“Well, that was the reason I needed to act on the Doc Schmitt mystery.

Stan pointed into the dark beyond Melinda, toward the sound of the ocean waves pounding in the distance. “Indian Rock Beach is right across the way there,” Georgie stayed behind, all rattled and not wanting to go back. So, I told him to get some coffee and wait for Sheriff Mike. I’d go look, and please send Sheriff Mike as soon as he showed.”

Deputy Stan Allen then jogged the few blocks across the way, over Highway 101 and to the bluff overlooking Indian Rock Beach. As he came to the trailhead leading down the hillside, he saw it.

“There, drawn in the damp sand near the surf was a huge pattern of wiggling lines and designs a lot like what’s in Doc’s cell. And standing in the middle was Doc, stripped bare! He was hollering at the waves, and jumping and dancing and… well, just plain off his rocker! I couldn’t understand a thing he was saying. It was all babbletalk!

“I ran down to the beach and stopped at the edge of the drawing. Doc didn’t pay any mind to me, just kept on ranting and chanting in nonsense noises. Or maybe some language I don’t know. Anyway, I shouted at him to stop, that he was causing a scene and people were gonna see! No matter, he kept right on as if I wasn’t there.

“Sheriff Tichenor got to the beach pretty quick … I didn’t know what to do, and figured he’d be on the way any minute after Georgie filled him in. Sheriff wasted no time, he told me to grab Doc’s clothes – they were in a pile off nearby, and he crossed straight to Doc. As soon as Sheriff stepped into Doc’s drawings, Doc turned and faced him and started yelling, ‘NINE!!! NINE!!!’ along with bouncing about and waving frantically at Sheriff Mike, shouting I think in German at him. It sure wasn’t the weird chatter he was doing before.

”Doc wasn’t wearing a stitch of clothes, and I quickly saw that the clothes he had were not much as far as stitches went. But they were all he and we had. So we come on Doc together – he wasn’t willing to give up his spot in the sand. We had to wrestle him down and cuff him… then drag him kicking and screaming all the way back to the jail. There we got old Georgie to pitch, taking Doc back to the last cell and between us forced his ratty old clothes back on him.

“He’s been there since… barely eating anything we bring, and drinking only a bit more. He started on his drawing right off, and anything we do to try and stop him only sets him into a rage. So, we let him be and got hold of you as soon as we could.”

Melinda stood silently, nodding to Stan.

“Miss Schmitt, it’s late and you’ve had more ‘n enough for one day. Maybe I ought to take you over to the Ocean View Motel. We took liberty of getting you a room there. I got the key and all’s good for now. Then I can check on you in the morning when I get off?”

At that, Melinda turned to face Stan, nodded again, numb from the whole ordeal.


~end chapter 1~​
 
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Chapter 2: Morning Coffee and a Straightjacket

It took me some time to get this in order, after some revamping, rehashing, and reworking over and over as time allowed... but... here is Chapter 2...

CHAPTER 2

Morning Coffee and A Straightjacket


Melinda was unable sleep after Stan left her at the motel. Though she tried, her mind was harassed by the bedraggled, hideous visage of the man she once knew as her loving Uncle Klaus. She tossed about beneath the blankets through the dark night as her mind swam amongst a jumble of childhood memories of Uncle Klaus intermingling with remembrances of the spectacle at the jailhouse.

Morning came too soon (in some ways not soon enough), and with it the expected knock at the door. Melinda was already up, having managed to shower and freshen up somewhat prior to Stan’s arrival. Dressed in a simple white blouse and dark blue skirt, she had decided to forego make-up, simply combing out her lengths of blonde hair and drawing the lot back into a basic ponytail. As an afterthought she decided to apply a fresh gloss of burgundy lipstick. Finally, she slipped on her stockings and was just stepping into her black, low-heeled pumps when the knock came. Melinda took up her overcoat and purse, then greeted Stan at the door.

“Good morning, Miss Schmitt,” Stan said, standing at the front step and smiling as Melinda opened the motel room door. Deputy Allen had come directly after his night shift. Again the young officer appeared bright and ready for the day, despite just finishing his vigil at the jail and having fetched Melinda from the airport.

“Good morning, Deputy,” Melinda replied with a slight smile. Anxious to get on with the impending business, she continued, saying, “Could you take me to the jail? I’d like to get through with things.”

“Of course, Miss Schmitt,” Stan replied in a serious tone. “If you like, we could stop at the the café for –“

“No – maybe afterward. And please, call me ‘Melinda,’” she replied, managing to smile again in the hopes of smoothing her moment of bluntness.

“Yes, ma’am,” Stan nodded and made way for Melinda to join him. She slipped into her coat and made her way out into the cold morning air, anxious to get through with the difficult day ahead. The fog from the night before lingered as a shroud so that Melinda had yet to see the source of the ever-present sound of the surging waves.

Deputy Allen escorted Melinda to his patrol car – the same one that had brought her to Ophirport: a black and white 1952 Hudson Hornet with a single red dome light and bell-shaped siren horn perched upon the roof. A gold star-badge shape with the words “Floras County Sheriff” adorned either side of the car. Stan, in gentlemanly fashion, walked with Melinda to the passenger side and opened the door for her, closing it gently after she was situated in the seat.

The drive to the jailhouse was short and Stan was quiet. Melinda was likewise silent. Thoughts of what she had to face floated in her mind continued, obscured like the ocean unseen in the morning mist.

Painted in a plain white scheme, the jail – simple, small block-style building – stood alone on a short dead end road. Its only distinguishing features were a single door in the middle of the front, flanked on either side by a two plain square windows fitted with iron bars. A dark green 1940-something Ford pick-up truck was parked in the gravel parking lot.

As Stan parked the car next to the other vehicle, he turned to Melinda. “Sheriff’s in and waiting to meet you. He’s a good guy, and he’ll take care of whatever you need,” Stan smiled his assurance to her and got out, moving quickly around to open her door.

Just as Melinda stood from the car a man appeared at the front entrance of the jail. Sheriff Michael Tichenor looked to be in his early fifties, medium height, stocky and beginning to bulge at the waistline, with neatly combed and parted salt-and-pepper hair. As Melinda and Stan came close, the sheriff smiled warmly (a glint of gold lining one of his upper canines) and held his right hand out to Melinda. She responded in kind and he gently gripped, then released.

“Good morning and welcome to Ophirport, Miss Schmitt. I’m Sheriff Tichenor.” The sheriff, still smiling hospitably, let Melinda on through as Stan brought tailed behind. “Can I fetch you some coffee?”

“Yes, thank you,” Melinda replied as the sheriff turned and gestured to a chair before a simple wooden desk. He nodded to Stan, who proceeded immediately over to a nearby coffee pot and began pouring two mugs.

Melinda sat and Sheriff Tichenor took his place behind the desk, rifling several papers upon the surface, and looking to Melinda.

“I’m glad you came so quickly, Miss Schmitt. Your uncle needs help, more help than anyone in little Floras County can muster. He’s been here longer ‘n we ought to have kept him, but we just aren’t used to this sorta business.”

Stan handed Melinda a cup of coffee and she noted he had added cream and, sipping, she tasted sugar as well. For a moment she wondered at how he knew her preference, then she vaguely recalled something about having coffee at the jailhouse the night before. She smiled in gratitude and returned her attention to Sheriff Tichenor.


(continued)
 
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(continued)

The sheriff proceeded, “this may upset you, but I took liberty to call the State Mental Hospital in Salem and explained what we got here. Salem’s a long way from here, but they have a facility in Coos Bay –up near where you flew in.” He paused as Melinda began to realize the inevitable decisions coming. “The folks there insisted that Doctor Schmitt be admitted immediately, with your consent, and they’ve got an ambulance on the way now. They want to set Doc up for observation as soon as possible.”

Melinda’s mind was filled with images of dark, dank cells and walls, crazy nutcases screaming and giggling, bound up or strapped to gurneys. She shuddered at the thought of her uncle being submitted to anything like that.

“Doctor Bogner – he’s the director in Salem – assured me your uncle will be well cared for. He called Doc Schmitt’s old college – Miskatonic University? Apparently Doc’s got a pretty good arrangement there, and Doctor Bogner be giving him the best of attention.” Hesitating a moment as he observed Melinda’s blank expression, Sheriff Tichenor added, “It seems Doctor Bogner himself’s flying down in the next day or so to review your uncle personally.”

It was too much, too fast, but Melinda stifled the urge to break into tears. “Sheriff, can I see Uncle Klaus, again now?”

“I don’t see why not, Miss Schmitt. Oddly, Stan said that Doc’s gone quiet in the night for the first time since he’s been taken in. I peeked in on him when I got here, and he seems fine, and at peace, all things considered.”

She drank of her coffee, breathed in and sat the cup on the desk, standing and turning to face the hall door.



~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~​


Standing again a few steps before the bars of Uncle Klaus’ cell, Melinda saw the same shambles of the man whom she had visited the night before. He was still on the floor in the midst of the grotesque display of patterns, but he now sat motionless, legs crossed, eyes closed and silent. Stanley had stayed and stood a few paces up the hall, out of view of Doctor Schmitt.

As Melinda stepped close to the bars, the eyes of the figure at the far end of the opened and looked back to her. The gaze man’s shifted from her face, down and up again, inspecting Melinda as she tried to decide what, if anything, to say.

“Lindy, ist das you?” came the words, clear and distinct with the sharp German edge, a voice Melinda Schmitt had known her whole life. “You haf grown so, a beautiful young woman!” A warm smile came across Uncle Klaus’ face, completely contrary to the aging features and scar-torn features.

Melinda leaned forth, grasping the bars of the door, suddenly not quite able to stand. Hoarse at first, but then gaining some vocal composure, she replied, “yes, Uncle, it’s me. I was…” she paused, catching a breath. “I came to see you, Uncle. What’s happened? Where… why…”

Klaus Schmitt stood, remaining in the same spot upon the floor. “It has been a long time, yah. Much happens, meine niece.”

“Uncle, please, people are coming. They want to take you to a hospital. I don’t know…”

“Look, look, Lindy. Do not fret, Uncle will be fine. Do you haf thee chocolate?”

Melinda blinked, and recalled the strange object Uncle Klaus had given her. There was so much on her mind she had forgotten having slipped it into her purse. Opening the handbag, she looked in and saw the strange object of metal, feathers and twine. Gingerly fingering the string, she withdrew the item and held it for her uncle to see.

“This, Uncle?” she said, looking from the object to him, and then back again.

The amulet was strange. It appeared to be made of thin, wiry silver coming down from the string and twisting, bending, doubling back and forth in an inconceivable path with no apparent pattern. The wire varied in thickness, swelling and contracting along its path, and was covered with bumps and facets. For all its complexity, the entire object was only the size of a half-dollar coin. Melinda found herself slowly bringing the curious bauble into closer view as she tried to make sense of the shape, and there was a brief, soft flash as the myriad of angles reflected suddenly as one into the form of a star-like outline with crisscrosses and curls running through, and then it was gone, lost in the rotating sway of the metal meshwork.

“Good girl, meine niece. Now put it away, keep it close. Do not loose!”

Caught off guard by her uncle’s admonition, she quickly obeyed and slipped the strange item back into her purse, closing it up.

“Uncle, what is it? Why…”

“Now, now… Look, look! You just keep it close, yah? Do… not… loose!” With that, Uncle Klaus sat back to the floor, and closed his eyes.

“Uncle, please? Tell me what’s happened to you?” But there was no further response.

Still, Melinda stayed, standing at the cell door, not wanting to leave her last living family member alone.



~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~​

(continued)
 
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(continued)


The ambulance came and went, two men in white outfits escorting Klaus Schmitt, Ph.D., in a straightjacket, off to Oregon State Psychiatric Hospital – Coos Bay Facility. The patient did not complain, did not resist, did not move as the men worked to prepare their patient for transport.

Melinda watched as the ambulance pulled away, and with it the morning fog was thinning, hints of blue sky beginning to materialize above the town.

Sheriff Tichenor likewise stood near as the ambulance drove off with its patient. Stan was still lingering as well, though by all rights he ought to have been off-duty and gone to do what ever Stan did on his own time, most likely sleeping to recover from his night shift.

“Sheriff, I’ve got the next two days off,” Stan said, breaking the silence. “Maybe I could see Miss Schmitt’s looked after.”

Both turned to face Melinda, and she realized something was expected in response. She also realized she was a long way from anywhere, without a car, without any real idea what was next. “Stan, I don’t want to put…” she began.

The sheriff interjected, “Stan, that’s really good of you. Take my truck, go on and see to Miss Schmitt. Maybe a meal, a bit of show about town, what ever you two decide.”

It appeared that Melinda had a host, at least for the day, or until Stan grew weary and needed rest. “Thank you, Sheriff, I won’t be a burden,” she said. Then she turned to Stan as Sheriff Tichenor handed his keys over to his deputy. “Stan, I know you must be tired, and I’m not really hungry yet. Could you take me to Uncle’s shop and then see you yourself?”

“Of course, Miss Sch… errr, Melinda. Be glad to,” and the two turned to make for the pick-up truck.

“Hold on a sec, Miss Schmitt,” Sheriff Tichenor said and hurried back into the jailhouse, coming out again a few seconds later. “You might want these,” he said, holding forth a large envelope.

Melinda took the envelope and peered in, seeing an old photo of a young girl within, and a metal loop with several keys upon it.

“Those were all Doc had on him, besides the bauble you got,” the sheriff said. “Now take yer time here, and don’t worry. We’ll take care of you.”

Melinda thanked the sheriff and, as Stan opened the passenger door of the pick-up, prepared herself to find out what she could about Uncle Klaus.

~end chapter 2~​
 
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:confused: oh, and... as before... PLEASE COMMENT! (I feel terrible for having re-started the forum and losing everyone's invaluable input... only to have no one ever speak again
 

DWhatley

Kraken
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I am totally enjoying the story. If you don't finish it on TONMO your name will be MUD! I am afraid it is too much fun to read to have to look at it critically. One little comment is all I can add in that your revision of chapter one read much better when you removed a few of the adjectives in the opening paragraph and Chapter two might benefit from the same first paragraph review. Love it!
 
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Alright, I was advised back in May that I should keep going with this storyline, here... So, a bit of update on development... I had to go into non-active for awhile, and have resumed work. However, there are now TWO books working side by side...

BOOK 1 (circa Klaus Schmitt's Career Begins - 1974)

BOOK 2 (circa Klaus Schmitt's 2010 or present day experience-The original story project)


That said, I began Book 1 this week as it is necessary to keep the story consistent. It should be useful and either book is intended to be read without direct need of the other, but it serves as a good exercise in "keep it fresh" for my drive, motivation, etc.

So, here I am sharing the development of Klaus Schmitt's "Early Years".... and simply attach the original story (book 2), chapters 1-4 (complete).

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