Somewhere on Highway 27*, a businessman remembers he was sent a package from “the professor”, a woman. He tells his secretary to look for it later. The secretary does not make a note of it.
Sinister, relevant dealings indeed.
Meanwhile, back in the land of the plot, Marshall is just about to call Brummel when Brummel calls Marshall. You see, as far as I can tell, Bernice has no husband, nor is her father available – otherwise, she would have called either of them to bail her out. Therefore, it falls on her boss Marshall, the nearest available male with a vested interest, to sort out her affairs by going over her head and behind her back to broker a deal regarding her future. Once he arrives at the police station, Marshall is greeted by a welcome and proper sight: a woman on her knees. Sara, the receptionist, is caught “too late to rebuild her poised image” after a struggle with a file cabinet involving cursing and torn pantyhose on her behalf – and may I here interject, how does one tear pantyhose pushing at a drawer? And why does a jammed-open drawer mean getting on her hands and knees? I can see the bruised shins, and even the attempts to kick at it, but getting on her knees? How does that provide leverage?
Brummel continues being suspicious, mostly by living an expensive life that “belied his policeman’s salary”. Maybe it’s different in Ashton, but apparently, nationwide, average police chiefs make six figures, so that’d have to be a truly expensive lifestyle – and how is he maintaining it in a small town? I’m picturing a huge mansion, three Mercedes, the works. He’s probably holding the conversation in an Armani tuxedo just for the hell of it. Suspicious.
We see more of the office than we do the man: every pencil is sharpened, everything in place, with “a very attractive set of shelves and cabinets of oil-rubbed oak, with glass door panels and brass hardware” replacing the ugly cabinets his secretary had been fighting over. He has a new copier** and nice bookshelves.
And then this exchange happens.
“And another phone?”
“What’s that wire coming out of the wall?”
“Oh, that’s for the coffeemaker”
Try as I might, I cannot picture this setup. A random wire? Not connected to anything? Coffeemakers require one wire: a power cord. Usually they’d be sitting out in plain sight. Perhaps the cord is going into the file cabinet, or the bookshelf has a door on it that’s hiding the coffeemaker? But then, the cord would be behind the furniture, not in plain view for the reporter to notice it… I’m just lost. In any event, he has expensive furniture: Suspicious.
Marshall notices that Tuesday afternoons, while not Brummel’s day off ( how does he know that?), are all left free on his desk calendar. Suspicious.
Brummel denies ever being at the carnival. Suspicious.***
Brummel waffles about having met Young on “an occasional, professional basis”. But he doesn’t go to Young’s church! It’s not as though her were, say, the Chief of Police, whose business it is to know the influential people in town, or anything. And it’s not like it’s a tiny town, where everyone knows everyone. Suspicious.
It’s amazingly clear by now that he’s the villain. He might as well have a painted-on mustache and goatee!
Oh yeah, by the way, he also hypnotized Marshall using some kind of magical powers in order to get him to believe what he was saying:
[Marshall] suddenly felt very weak, and he couldn’t figure out where his anger had gone so quickly. And what about his suspicions? He knew he didn’t buy everything this guy was saying — or did he? he knew Brummel had lied to him about not being at the carnival — or had he?
[...]Marshal looked into Brummel’s gazing gray eyes, and he felt a little numb, like he was dreaming[...]
“Hey Alf, I think I see your point.”
But that’s hardly half so suspicious as the other points. Merely a trifle, easily explained away. In other news, Bernice’s sister killed herself and the previous newspaper editor was a child molester.
As Marshall leaves, our focus stays on
Snidely Brommel as he places a call to Hank. Apparently, he really wants Hank to change his mind on the Lou issue, but Hank keeps making appeals to Jesus and the Bible. Suspicious!
* Putting our time somewhere after 1927 and our place likely to be in Indiana, Ohio, or Kentucky unless we’re a lot further south than I initially guessed
**Making the time frame after 1959 unless this isn’t meant to be a photocopier but a ditto machine
***And, you know, stupid. Why not just say, “Yeah, I took a look around to see how my boys were handling the security”? Why risk getting caught in an obvious lie? Or better yet: don’t have your secret meetings in public in the first place.