Serial Saturday: The Figurine, Part 27

“That sounds like great news,” Jefferson said. “Most likely.”

“Most likely, Mr. Quinn?”

“Well,” Jefferson said, and flicked off his cigarette, “Just because you maybe know what happened, it ain’t necessarily good news for Temperance, it seems to me.”

“Understanding the problem is the first step to solving it, wouldn’t you say? And in this case, we may be able to help Temperance.”


“First things first. How are you going to help us with Mr. Clyburne?”

“Thought maybe I’d lead your two torpedoes to him. You think they may be up to handling him if they have the drop on him?”

Mrs. Glass looked away from the figurine she was working on, craning her neck around to look at Gantry. “What do you think, Mr. Gantry?”

“We can handle him, but I don’t trust Quinn, here. It’ll be a trap.”

Mrs. Glass stared levelly at him for a moment, then turned back to her work. She picked at the figurine for a while. “Well, Mr. Quinn?”

Jefferson flicked his ashes once more, then sauntered over to the card table. Gantry and Farthing shifted as he moved, then followed him halfway back to the table where Gantry and Farthing had been playing cards. Both of them looked back and forth between him and Mrs. Glass a few times.

“Well, I’ll be right there, putting myself in harm’s way. I reckon these boys could make me regret any kind of treachery, I tried to lead them into something.”

He looked up to see Mrs. Glass smiling at him in a toothy fashion, yet lantern light glinting off her teeth. “How very confident you are in my associates. And yet you claim to have met Mr. Clyburne.”

Jefferson pushed together the cards that lay on the table, and began to shuffle them. “Oh, I agree he’s a formidable man. But ain’t you formidable, too, Mr. Gantry?”

“Formidable enough for you, tough guy.”

“There, you see? They can handle Mr. Clyburne. And me, if it comes to that.”

“Mr. Gantry is prone to overconfidence,” Mrs. Glass said.

“Hey, now,” Farthing said. “You just say the word and we’ll kill this joker right now, if you’re so worried about it.”

Mrs. Glass sighed. “The problem is not Mr. Quinn. The issue is Mr. Clyburne. You need help, if you’re going to deal with him.”

Gantry began to open his mouth.

We need help,” Mrs. Glass continued. That shut Gantry up. Jefferson had an idea that the only thing Gantry had more confidence in than himself was Glass. The fact that she was worried was finally sinking in.

“So if we’re agreed I’m of some use to you, we just need to get back to how you can help me,” Jefferson said.

Mrs. Glass made a non-committal noise as she turned back to her work. “Just to be clear, my plan is that you take the lead in dealing with Mr. Clyburne. Mr. Farthing can help you, while Mr. Gantry focuses on watching you for trouble. How does that sound?”

“I’ve heard plans I liked better, but it’s okay with me as long as it moves this along. Provided we can come up with some way of guaranteeing that Gantry doesn’t just plug me in the back once I’ve handled Clyburne.”

“I’m sure we can come up with something.”

Jefferson looked over at Gantry as he stubbed out his cigarette. “You catch that, did you, Gantry? Your boss seems to think I’m more up for taking on this bad old fella than you are.”

“Please stop provoking my people,” Mrs. Glass said mildly.

“All right. How about we get back to what you were saying before, about how the figurine is tied to what happened to Temperance?”

“Certainly,” Mrs. Glass said. “It is quite simple, as I see it. The figurines, as you have guessed, are designed to create a certain level of compulsion. To lead the weak-minded to…help the Sciribath.”

“Like Sullivan.”

“Like Sullivan. Like Reeves. A few others that we’ve dealt with.”

“How does that tie into Temperance? She ain’t what you’d call weak-minded, especially where the Sciribath are involved.”

“Did she, by any chance, suffer some sort of trauma recently? While in close proximity to one of the figurines?”

“Well, she got cold-cocked, but she…oh, hell.”

“And there you go,” Mrs. Glass said. She set down the figurine and the tool she was holding and wiped off her hands with a rag. “Poor Temperance is likely under the influence of the Sciribath. But if she is as strong-minded as you say, perhaps, with my help, we needn’t put her down, as we have with so many others.” She leaned back in her chair. “Now, tell me how you plan to get at Mr. Clyburne.”

Copyright © 2012 SM Williams

~ by smwilliams on October 6, 2012.