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Mr. Casiuss Monroe: Burden of Proof- Pt. 7 Historical Fiction

Disclaimer: 

This is meant to be a piece of historical fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of history and the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely historic and a work of fiction to guide the reader through history in an engaging way.

The following may contain mild language and references to historical traumatic events. Reader discretion is advised.

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It was a dark and stormy night as I was sitting in the parlor smoking my pipe and combing through the newspaper, classifieds, comics – ahh here it is – the obituaries. It has been more common lately these days, because you never know who will come up dead. The lamp next to my old chair was on and it seemed to pierce on through the darkness of the storm in the all be it dark home. I was the only one awake.  

The storm raged on outside and a loud crash of thunder shook the house, and lighting spewed from the sky. As I continued to read the paper, all of sudden there was a loud crack and all went dark. I pulled my pipe from my mouth and grumbled a little, but I was used to it, growing up without electricity and all. I went to the mantle and lit the lamp that sat there every day collecting dust just waiting for a moment like this one.  

A few minutes passed as I settled in, my eyes began to adjust to the oil lamp’s dim glow and I continued reading the newspaper when Robert came down the stairs and into the parlor.  

“Grandpa, I can’t sleep I’m afraid of the dark,” Robert said whimpering a bit from the edge of the stairs.

“Come here Robert you can sit with me for a while, we can read the paper together,” I said whispering to him not to wake up anyone else 

“Right here is what I was reading, obituaries, but we won’t read them. They would just bore you,” I said chuckling. “Let’s read the comics, shall we?” I swiftly picked through the paper trying to find a good one for Robert to read. “Ah-ha here it is Marmaduke, you love Marmaduke!”  

In this week’s paper Marmaduke was getting a bath and Mr. Winslow was having a hard time of it. He shouted to his family “Man your battle stations,” and the family was cowering far away preparing from the chaos that was about to ensue.  

We both laughed and I heard a creak on the stairs, it was Lilly. 

“I’m sorry for waking you up,” I said to her.

“No, I was already awake, I didn’t want to ruin your moment there with Robert,” she said crawling into the chair next to mine.   

“Well since we’re all awake do you all want to hear more of my story?” I asked.

“Sure,” they both said in unison.

It was a dark and stormy night as I was sitting in the parlor smoking my pipe and combing through the newspaper, classifieds, comics – ahh here it is – the obituaries. It has been more common lately these days, because you never know who will come up dead. The lamp next to my old chair was on and it seemed to pierce on through the darkness of the storm in the all be it dark home. I was the only one awake.  

The storm raged on outside and a loud crash of thunder shook the house, and lighting spewed from the sky. As I continued to read the paper, all of sudden there was a loud crack and all went dark. I pulled my pipe from my mouth and grumbled a little, but I was used to it, growing up without electricity and all. I went to the mantle and lit the lamp that sat there every day collecting dust just waiting for a moment like this one.  

A few minutes passed as I settled in, my eyes began to adjust to the oil lamp’s dim glow and I continued reading the newspaper when Robert came down the stairs and into the parlor.  

“Grandpa, I can’t sleep I’m afraid of the dark,” Robert said whimpering a bit from the edge of the stairs.

“Come here Robert you can sit with me for a while, we can read the paper together,” I said whispering to him not to wake up anyone else 

“Right here is what I was reading, obituaries, but we won’t read them. They would just bore you,” I said chuckling. “Let’s read the comics, shall we?” I swiftly picked through the paper trying to find a good one for Robert to read. “Ah-ha here it is Marmaduke, you love Marmaduke!”  

In this week’s paper Marmaduke was getting a bath and Mr. Winslow was having a hard time of it. He shouted to his family “Man your battle stations,” and the family was cowering far away preparing from the chaos that was about to ensue.  

We both laughed and I heard a creak on the stairs, it was Lilly. 

“I’m sorry for waking you up,” I said to her.

“No, I was already awake, I didn’t want to ruin your moment there with Robert,” she said crawling into the chair next to mine.   

“Well since we’re all awake do you all want to hear more of my story?” I asked.

“Sure,” they both said in unison.

 

“Very much like tonight, the rain pelted down and I had been sent to do my first job by Mr. Chancellor.”  

The rain came down and the rain spilled off of my hat and splattered around me and splashed up onto my trousers. This would’ve been a good time to have owned a coat, but oh well. I was sent to watch and watch I did there was a warehouse to which the hotel owned, the whereabouts I will not divulge even all these years later, because they might still use it, I do not know. Essentially it was storage, at this storage facility we didn’t keep a lot of items there except for incoming products, such as food, whiskey, and standard hotel items. The problem started a few months ago and Mr. Chancellor hired someone to deal with it, the problem was that the trail had gone cold.  

And so, this was my job, to sit and watch this warehouse in the rain, a part of me was not happy, but most of it had to do with the rain and not the job itself. It was, in fact, an honor to be doing this, but I had a feeling I would have to hone my old skills from the docks into a fine blade like an eloquent swordsman, rather than the roughness of the butcher’s cleaver. Again, there I was hours going by, I puffed my pipe, pack it, and smoked it again and again, and then a cigar and a nip of whiskey just to stay awake. On and on the rain came and the hours drifted on it was two hours past midnight and I started to nod off.  

Then I saw a black streak flash in front of my field of vision darting at the end of the alley. I jumped up to go investigate and I peered over a set of boxes, nothing. Again, I heard a noise to my left and I looked over and it was just a stupid alley cat. I mumbled under my breath at it and turned to walk away, and then I noticed a wire laying on the ground that had not been there before. Bending over I noticed that it had been molded into a pattern, knowing what I know someone was making a make-shift key to open the lock on the side door that was in the alley in which I currently stood. 

 Just short of the wire I noticed a pebble that was sorely out of place that you could only get far away from the water’s edge. It would only be possible to get those pebbles on your shoes in the hills outside of Parkersburg, hmmm… Things were most definitely taking shape, but I needed more information to catch whoever it was before I presented anything to Mr. Chancellor.   

Scanning the area around the warehouse I couldn’t find much on this side, except I noticed that the lock was sagging ever so slightly in the darkness, then it all began to click into place. The person was actively inside and I had to catch whoever was in there. I quietly went up to the door and pulled the lock off and put it into my vest pocket. I slid into the warehouse silently. I then placed the lock on the inside of the door. Now, he was trapped in here with me.  

I crouched down and looked for footprints due to the rain outside, clearly outlined on the earthen floor of the warehouse was a faint footprint of a laced-up Derby boot. I silently made my way following the footprints, and then they got further apart meaning the intruder was running. Don’t get me wrong, this was a large warehouse, it took a solid 10 minutes of walking to get from one end to the other. Just as long as I followed the footsteps, I could find whoever was in here.  

I searched and searched and all of a sudden, I heard a loud crack and the splintering of wood. Someone was prying open the crates. Quickly and quietly, I followed the sounds, eventually, I rounded a corner and I saw a figure prying open the boxes, in the pale light of the moon that shone through the skylight windows. Stopping abruptly my heart pounded, what was I going to do? Then I saw some of the pebbles tracked on the muddied floor and I picked them up. Climbing some of the warehouse shelving I crouched on top and threw the pebbles on the other side of the figure into the darkness.  

The man bolted in the opposite direction of the noise which was right towards the shelving I was on. He ran franticly, and in my direction, and then I jumped off the shelving and I smashed into him, we hit the dirt floor hard, he whined out with a groan and I rolled off of him the air rushing from my lungs. It took a few seconds for the air to return to me, I was simply jarred from the fall. The man was now lying face down in the dirt, his breathing was shallow, he was unconscious, I must’ve hit his head when we collided. Finding some hemp rope I hog-tied the man’s hand and feet, looking around I saw that he had been breaking open crates with silver in them. Classic, ha, he was going to melt it all down and sell it to a broker, I used to do the same with silver watches.   

I found some nails and a hammer and replaced the top he was trying to pull open and shoved it back under the shelving. Returning to the man he was slowly waking up and I couldn’t have that while carryin’ him back to Mr. Chancellor. 

“You know I can’t have you yelling and squirming while I carry ya right?” I chuckled a little “I can either gag you or we can play it the hard way” I said cracking my knuckles.  

 “When I get untied, I’m going to bust your hea…” before he could continue, I busted him in the mouth with the back side of my hand. 

“Ow! You son of a bit….” I kicked him in the head and he went silent. I didn’t kill him but he was out cold.  

“You talk too much!” I said to him even though he was unconscious, it made me feel better about being sopping wet from the rain.  

I picked him up and headed out the door I had come in, replacing the lock on the outside of the door. I loaded up my pipe and took a big long draw and held it in, slowly I let it and stood in the street for a couple of minutes resting a bit. I had to stay calm to not look suspicious while carrying a large sack over my shoulder. After a minute or two I started towards the rendezvous point that Mr. Chancellor had told to me in the strictest of confidence. I was to meet him in a back-alleyway room that he kept for more private affairs near the hotel. 

When I entered the room, it was dimly lit with a desk and a few chairs; I noticed it was sparsely decorated with a big fireplace behind the desk. It being late Augus,t it was not lit – but the gas light sconces were lit which gave it a very simple, but serious ambiance to the place. He was playing cards with another gentleman who I had remembered from the hotel was Mr. Chancellor’s shipping manager. I could see from the doorway, sopping wet, that the shipping manager was winning with a three-of-a-kind. Mr. Chancellor had a horrible hand and was trying to bluff his way through. He wasn’t sure of himself, if he was, he would have stroked his mustache and smoked, yet he just held the cigar in his mouth. I walked in and allowed my eyes to fully adjust to the dim light, after my eyes had adjusted knowing I wasn’t going to hit anything, I threw the man on the floor in front of the desk, he had started to wake up groaning ever so slightly.  

“Mr. Monroe, very good so what’s the story as to why we have a thief,” Mr. Chancellor said standing from his chair and walking over to me and the gentleman hog-tied on the floor.  

“I surmise sir, that he was stealing your fine silverware to melt it down to sell, He was breaking in by matching the pattern of the keys by feeling the lock with a wire. Then he would simply break open the boxes and slip out the same door he had entered. The problem was he had pebbles in his shoes and left the wire by the wayside when he had entered.” I said like an orator presenting to a large crowd.  

“Very good Mr. Monroe, let’s get down to business and find out how far this rabbit hole of his goes shall we.” He said throwing a leather-wrapped satchel at me. 

It was about that time that the electricity flashed on and off, on and off several times and eventually it flashed one more time and…. Yes! It’s back on.  

“Alright, it’s time for bed, for all of us. Even I get tired ya know.” We then all ascended the stairs and I patted Lilly on the head and sent her back to her room at the other end of the hallway. I then picked up Robert and carried him to his bed, he almost fell asleep just walking up the stairs, and I laid him down and covered him up. I stood there and stared at him and a smile crept across my face and then I wandered away to bed.  

 

About the author:

My name is Logan M. Saho I am the Concierge at The Blennerhassett Hotel. I have been in the tourism industry since my thirteenth year of life, I started out as a tour guide at the Beauchamp-Newman Museum in Elizabeth WV. I also since that time have become an early American period reenactor (1730s-1890s.) Beyond that I have a dual-degree in History and Political Science with a minor in communications concentrating on theatre. After my college years I worked as a living historian at Blennerhassett Island Historical State park for 2 years which geared my path to be working where I am today.

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