Thursday, March 24, 2022

The Upper Floor (Part 3 of 3 parts) blog post #542

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Let’s see, last week, Jackson Marple hired an Oriental geomancer to give his house peace. Tommy Sung sounds more like a hipster than an feng sui expert to me, but what do I know. At any rate, Tommy’s efforts seem to come to naught. Let’s see how they go about solving the problem now.



                               THE UPPER FLOOR


Retired Detective Randy Mosquith, agreed to see us, so Tommy and I hied ourselves across town and knocked on his door. I was certain the tall man who answered the rap had once lived up to his name, but time had taken its toll. But he’d survived his twenty years in the police department with his wit intact.

“You must be Marple and Sung. Sounds like a vaudeville act to me.”

“Sometimes I feel like we are," Tommy shot back at him.

“Come on in. All I got’s beer and tap water.”

“Beer,” Tommy said.

“Tap water,” I rejoined. “With ice.”

Mosquith lived in a row house near the river, but he kept it neat and well cared for. His covered patio made a comfortable place to talk. We were no sooner seated with our refreshments in hand than he gave us the eye.

“So you’re interested in the old Dowd case, huh? How come?”

“I bought the house,” I responded.

“And I got it properly arranged.

Mosquith nodded and said to himself. “Feng sui.”

“Right,” Tommy said. “But it didn’t work.”

“So the rumors are true. Something’s there.”

“Something disturbing,” I added.

“Tell me about it.”

Mosquith had learned to listen while he was on the force. He didn’t interrupt either one of us as we poured out the story of the Dowd House. I’m sure we overloaded him with details since Tommy would fill in something I left out, and visa versa. He didn’t say a word for a full minute after we finally finished talking. Then he sighed and shifted in his seat.

“And you looked up the detective on the Dowd shooting because…?”

“Because the newspaper accounts are lacking something,” I said. “They’re not telling us anything except an old man accidentally shot his son while trying to protect him from an assailant. It doesn’t even name the assailant or tell us what happened to him.”

Randy Mosquith examined each one of us for a moment before speaking. “The newspapers didn’t tell the story. Not the way it happened, at any rate.”

“That’s what we figured,” Tommy said. “So we came to you for the real scoop.”

The detective’s eyes narrowed. “The Dowds are dead now, so I guess it won’t hurt anything. Like they say, the truth will out, even if it is twenty years late.”

He lapsed into silence again before sitting up straight and leaning forward like a kid who’s about to tell secrets. “Elmer Dowd was an influential man back in his day. Rich. Generous… especially with his political donations… and respected. The old man came home that night after attending a political bash. He’d had his share of liquor, probably so he could endure all the bullshit thrown around that evening. Anyway, he heard voices as he came up the stairs. Voices coming from his son’s bedroom.”

Mosquth straightened his back and drew a breath. “Marty—Martin, his son—was born relatively late in Dowd’s life, so he was only about nineteen years old at that time. His mother had died shortly after he was born, so Elmer Dowd raised the kid on his own. But Dowd was a workaholic. Had a very successful architectural firm the kid wanted nothing to do with.

“That’s an old, retired detective’s long way of saying the kid grew up more or less on his own. And he had a few problems. The other kids considered him a softie. A mama’s boy, even though there wasn’t a mama in sight. Anyway, his peers figured he was queer. I guess that’s ‘gay,’ today, but back then that’s what they called it.”

The detective took a swig of his beer. “I figure Marty hadn’t quite figured out who he was yet, but on that fatal night, he was busy figuring it out. He picked up a man a little older than he was at a bar that wasn’t keen on carding youngsters, and because he knew his dad would be out most of the night, he took the man home.

“From what I could piece together, the kid was getting his first taste of sex—of any kind—when the old man came home earlier than expected and caught him at it. Dowd peeked in the kid’s bedroom, saw what was going on, and went straight to his room for a gun. He made a good deal of noise coming through the boy’s door, and the man atop Marty turned just as the old man pulled the trigger.”

“So the bullet intended for the man ended up hitting his son,” Tommy said.


“Who was that man?” I asked.

Mosquith shook his head. “He’s not dead.”

“Okay, that’s fair,” Tommy said. “What happened to him? Hell, what happened to Dowd?”

Mosquith pursed his lips a moment. “Nothing. The old man went certifiably crazy over killing his only son. Died in an asylum. And no one saw fit to pursue Marty’s lover.”

“Let me get this straight,” I said. “You figure Martin Dowd got shot by his own father before the consummation of his first sexual experience?”

The detective nodded. “You got it.”

“How did you come to that conclusion?” Tommy asked.

“From talking to the other party involved and by grilling the one or two friends Marty had, I came away convinced the kid was shot dead in the act of breaking his cherry.”

“Damn, I’d be mad too,” Tommy muttered.

“So you think it’s the kid haunting the house, not the father,” I asked.

Tommy nodded. “I figure the old man wouldn’t want anything to do with the house where he killed his own son. But Marty, he’s still trying to get it off.”


As soon as we got back home, Tommy took off upstairs with me at his heels. He opened the door to the second bedroom across the hall from the master bedroom.

“So this is where it happened,” he mumbled.

“I dunno. Could have been either of the bedrooms on this side.”

Tommy looked around and shook his head. “No this is the one. I can feel it.”

Suddenly chilled, I rubbed my upper arms.

“Did you buy the house furnished?” my geomancer asked.


“So this is the bed where it happened.”

I dunno,” I said again. “Hell, Tommy, this house has had a bunch of owners since that night. Your guess is as good as mine as to what was here then and what was left by others.”

He laid his hand on the headboard. “Uh-uh. This is it. He was killed here.”

“I doubt if the mattress—”

“Yeah. Doubtless the bloody mattress was dumped, but this is the bed frame.”

I shrugged. “If you say so.”

“What do you figure he wants?” Tommy asked.

“Like you said, to get it off.”

“Naw. He can’t do that now.”

“So… what?”

Tommy turned and met my eyes. His black orbs bore into me. “He wants someone to finish what he started.”

I felt my eyebrows reach for my hairline. “What?”

“You want to be able to sleep in your own bedroom?”

I nodded.

“Then you gotta recreate the scene.”

I think my eyebrows reached my hairline. “I gotta find two gays to make love in that bed?”

“Yeah, or….”

“Or what?”

“Or we could do it.”

My brows did their thing again. “We? Like in you’n me?”

He nodded, and I noticed he was a good-looking dude. “You’n me, bro.”

“I… I wouldn’t know what to do. You ever done it with another guy?”

Tommy’s grin was wicked. “Thought about it.”

“Then you don’t know what to do, either.”

The grin broadened. “We’ll figure it out.”

Not only did we figure it out, we had a bunch of fun doing it. I’d been right about Tommy Sung, he had a bunch of muscles hiding under those baggy clothes, and he used every one of them that afternoon. Twice.


Have Jackson and Tommy successfully exorcised the Dowd House, or have they merely discovered they can have fun together? The story doesn’t say, and the author doesn’t know.

 Until then.

 Stay safe and stay strong.

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