Pairings/Characters (this chapter): Mel/Johnny, Angie Marinetti, Carter Baum, Steven Cawley, Joey O’Grady
Fandom: Public Enemies
Genres: AU, Challenge, Drama, Holiday, (With A Touch Of Horror), Mystery, Romance
Rating (this chapter): PG-13
Warnings: Mention of suicide
General Summary: A decaying old house in a genteel Chicago neighborhood is the site of many strange and disturbing happenings. Special Agent Melvin Purvis is sent to investigate.
Chapter Summary: Mel and Carter go to Collinwood Asylum to visit the victim of the House at 1313 Maple Street.
Date Of Completion: September 28, 2010
Date Of Posting: October 30, 2010
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, Universal does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1535
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Notes: Written for my 2010 Guns_Fedoras Public Enemies Fic/Art Halloween Challenge. :)
All chapters can be found here.
Try and grasp
Try and grasp
Taste the moon,
Taste the sun,
Taste the terror,
When all is done.
"The Taste Of Madness"
The smell of the steaks sizzling was heavenly. Once freed of the oppressive house on Maple Street, Mel’s appetite had come roaring back, and Johnny felt the same way. They’d already chomped through an apple apiece and were impatient for dinner to be ready.
Johnny was chopping up tomatoes for a garden salad, Mel diligently washing the lettuce. The baked potatoes were in the oven and the green beans were simmering in a pot on the stove.
Neither man had spoken on the streetcar, Johnny keeping his fedora low, but no one had even thrown him a glance.
Back at the house, Mel had pitched in with dinner. He lost himself in the minutiae of meal preparation, but the events of early evening were crowding in on him.
Johnny laid down his knife. “Poor guy.”
“Poor Joe O’Grady. Surely he’d been just as scared as we were, but he was all alone.”
“What was that?”
“Damned if I know.” Johnny looked at him. “It’s probably best to just leave that house be. Hopefully the kid will snap out of what’s ailin’ him.”
“I hope you’re right.”
He wasn’t sure if he could. Not after earlier that evening at Marinetti’s Market…
The smell of fresh produce greeted Mel as he walked into the market, followed by Johnny wearing dark glasses and low fedora. Mel had given up trying to convince his notorious lover to lay low. Johnny liked to take risks.
Mel picked up an apple. “Fresh,” he murmured.
“Fresh from the orchards outside Chicago,” said a cheerful albeit loud female voice. “Hello, Mr. Dalton.”
Johnny smiled at the rotound woman behind the counter. Middle-aged, her dark-brown hair with peppered gray was fashionably-coiffed, her green dress covered by an apron with the market’s name on it. Mel could smell spices: oregeno, paprika, and something else. Rosemary?
“Well, now, that’s good to hear,” said Mel. He put six apples in a basket that Johnny took from a stack.
He added a fresh head of lettuce, a cucumber, and four large beefsteak tomatoes. He saw boxes of grape tomatoes and added one, rewarded by Johnny’s smile. His companion loved to eat them as a snack. After years of prison food, fresh fruit and vegetables were a king’s feast.
Johnny kept browsing while Mel brought the basket to the cash register.
“New to the neighborhood?”
Angie Martinetti was gregarious and engaging, perfect for making people feel a personalized sense of service.
“This is a fine neighborhood. Have you seen any of it?”
“Oh, yes. Fine houses.”
“Except for 1313 Maple Street.” She rang up the purchases.
“Terrible eyesore, that old house. Young Regenia Stanford killed her husband and his brother one cold October night in 1914. Stabbed ‘em with a carving knife over and over.”
“Yes.” She rang up the total. “And then there was the suicide in 1901. Regenia and Randolph’s mother, Rose, hanged herself from the old oak tree in the backyard.”
“How awful!” Mel felt sad and nervous as Angie kept up her recitation, relishing imparting knowledge to someone who hadn’t heard her spiel before.
Angie nodded. “There were suspicious deaths that occurred in that house, too.” She started packing Mel’s purchases into a paper sack. “There was a drowning in 1886 that the rumor spread may not have been accidental. Rose’s mother Lily was supposed to have been carrying on an affair and her husband was the prime suspect, but nothing was ever proved, just like the death of Rose’s grandfather Hiram in 1863, supposedly of grief over his son Jeremiah being killed at Gettysburg, but the whispers were about poisoning.”
“My goodness, it sounds positively Gothic.” Mel could feel Johnny’s presence close by.
“Why, it does, doesn’t it?” Angie looked pleased at the notion.
Mel considered how much of his native South fit that description. Yes, he surely knew Gothic.
“Thank you, ma’am.”
Once the food was ready, the two men ate in the dining room, enjoying each other’s company. They had to snatch what time they could, considering their peculiar situation.
Mel appreciated the red wine Johnny served. It was no fancy French vintage but a good, solid California wine. The West Coast couldn’t compete with France, but maybe someday…
“Are you through with this assignment?” Johnny held his own wineglass.
”Hopefully so, but Jayee will probably want follow-up since he’s helping out an influential alderman.”
Johnny frowned. “Let him toady to the mucky-mucks. Why do you have to do his dirty work?”
“Because I am the Director’s favorite,” Mel drawled, sipping his wine.
Johnny’s frown developed into a scowl. “You’re my favorite, and don’t you forget it.”
Mel smiled as he said, “Yes, dear,” Johnny rolling his eyes.
And that night, Johnny showed Mel just how much he considered the Southerner to be his favorite.
The next morning, Mel had reason to remember Johnny’s annoyance with Hoover. After a phone call from his boss, Mel found himself at the front gates of Collinwood Asylum, grateful that Carter Baum had practically invited himself along. His fellow agent sat next to him in his beloved Pierce Arrow, which he drove through the gates once he was waved on in by the security guard, who had checked by phone with the Asylum Director’s office.
Mel parked in the visitors’ lot, he and Carter walking up the front steps of the administrative building. They reluctantly surrendered their handguns and met Dr. Steven Cawley, a dapper, balding man who smoked a pipe and possessed a soothing voice. Warm, brown eyes regarded the agents.
“I’m sorry, gentlemen, Officer O’Grady doesn’t respond to us. He’s lost in a world of terror.”
“Sorry to hear that, suh,” said Mel. “However, Director Hoover asks that I see him.”
“Very well.” Cawley shrugged on a coat and hat and led them outside. “It’s only a short walk to Ward A, gentlemen.”
“The security is impressive here,” Carter observed.
“Thank you, though it’s light compared to Ashecliffe Asylum on Shutter Island.”
Cawley nodded. “The institution is in the Boston Harbor Island chain. It houses the most dangerous of the criminally-insane.”
Carter shivered. “Sounds like a tough place to work, Doctor.”
“Ah, but a supremely challenging one. I hope to secure a position there someday. However, this job is certainly very challenging. Officer O’Grady will take every skill we have to bring him back, if ever.”
Mel and Carter exchanged an uneasy look.
Cawley led them down a dark hallway. The buildings had been built during the Victorian era, so there was none of the clean, sleek lines of Art Deco design. Still, the Victorian Gothic architecture seemed to fit this place.
Dr. Cawley opened a door at the end of the hall and walked in first, the agents close behind him.
In the corner of the room, away from the cot, crouched a young man dressed in a blue denim shirt and jeans, his feet clad in blue slippers.
He was contorted in on himself, arms twisted around as his hands tangled in his red hair. His green eyes were wild as he stared off into the distance.
Mel’s heart sank. Cawley was right. They would never get anything out of the young Officer O’Grady.
He could see Carter’s dismay and pity. Cawley turned to him.
“You may ask your questions, Agent Purvis.”
Mel sighed. “He was found like this? No change?”
Mel squatted down in front of the terrified man. “Nothing will hurt you, Joey,” he said softly. “It’s all right.”
Joey whimpered and tried to push himself further into the corner. Carter hovered just behind Mel.
Mel saw the fear, and his heart went out to this ill man. What must it be like, to be so terrified that you were lost in your own mind?
“So the poor kid’s out of it, huh?”
Mel nodded as Johnny handed him a bottle of beer. “Whatever he saw in that house burned into his mind.” He used the church key and twisted off the cap.
“Too bad,” Johnny said, genuine regret in his voice as he drank from his bottle.
“Well, at least that assignment’s over. Hoover can’t expect you to find out anything when your only witness can’t even remember his own name.”
Mel mumbled his agreement.
As Mel rested in Johnny’s arms in bed, the silvery moonlight dancing across the bedroom, his nerves didn’t allow him to sleep.
He couldn’t tell Johnny that Jayee had ordered him to return to that house tomorrow night with one of the agents completely loyal to Hoover: Doc or Rienecke, for godsakes. Men he didn’t trust like Carter or Charles…or Johnny.
So tomorrow, on Halloween, he was going back to the house at 1313 Maple Street.