by Bargis Tryhol on 22/08/11 at 2:52 pmMoorview Institute
The Very Strange Ways of Dr. Ward
The sixth floor rooftop was deserted. Like the rest of Moorview, it too was quiet this time of night when most inmates were settled into sleep. The crunch of a bare foot on crisp leaves was the only evidence that someone was on the prowl. On the distant horizon, a faint line of cream-colored red showed evidence of a breaking day. In the distant an owl hooted and was back greeted with an even further away response from deeper in the forest.
In the ‘D’ wing an occasional dream-shout of terror came from a tormented mind, momentarily stopping the prowler. He listened carefully and continued onward. Another sound temporarily broke the late night’s stillness. It came from the fence area… the squeal of a rare woods rat falling into the grasp of one of Moorview’s wild felines that patrolled the large hospital grounds. Late night hours at Moorview were usually quiet, darkly drawn as if light corrupted all souls, and continuous as they had been for over 100 years.
In the ‘J’ wing, the kitchen area was ablaze with grease-hazed light as Boswell Krebbs worked feverishly to ready breakfast for staff and residents. Biscuits, donuts, dry scrambled eggs, famous Moorview Mystery Meat, and a gray-hued gravy made from who-knows-what, were the usual fare topped off with gallons of strong coffee and table top pitchers of tepid powdered milk.
From the rooftop, the naked figure crouched down and peered over the edge. His gray eyes followed the old watchman as he slowly made his rounds among the buildings. His breath pattered wisps of condensation as he regulated his breath, and allowed his eyes to dart from side to side seeking any movement or other prying eyes.
The watchman had a real name, but most just called him Pappy. His job as night watchman started in 1951 when, as part of his discharge from Moorview, he promised to take on the job as the institute’s guardian during the time when most slept.
Pappy would stop every so often at a pre-determined check-point and insert a stationary watchman’s key into his leather-bound clock as proof that his rounds were completed and every important station was checked. He walked slowly and on schedule, not caring to finish in a particular hurry, his mind focused on 7:30 when his shift ended and a brewing cup of Krebbs’ coffee and a fresh donut would warm his chilled body.
As he walked, he thought about the grave little secret he discovered two nights ago when his usual and predicable schedule was interrupted by a leaking water hose. The strange white delivery truck parked by the infirmary, and the haste in which it took off, piqued his curiosity. The discovery shocked him. He wondered if Krebbs would be interested in listening, perhaps, even advising him on what to do next. He briefly thought about telling Dr. Lipshitz, or even the Administrator, but he felt both might be in on the little secret as well. His first idea seemed the best since Krebbs would know first-hand what to do.
Grimacing against the pre-dawn chill, he glanced at the pinkish horizon and pulled his jacket tighter against the chill. Silently, he rounded the last corner before his final check-in station.
The naked man walked over to a box with neatly arranged clothing and began to dress. First, the gaudy bright red Ronald McDonald wig was snuggly fastened to his head and white make-up was applied to his face. Next, a large red bulbous nose attached with an elastic string. Finally, a garish yellow jumpsuit over a red stripped shirt completed the costume.
The apparition now wiggled into a harness with a long bungee cord attached. He fastened one end to the vent stack coming from the roof. Patiently, he waited and watched the walkway six stories below.
The clown-man saw Pappy stop and insert his final key. He was ready now. Both legs were over the roof’s parapet, his arms outstretched and away from his harness, as he perfectly timed his last movement. With clenched teeth he shoved himself off.
Pappy inserted the key and turned the clock to its final setting and hoisted the bulky instrument around his shoulder. Instinctively he froze as he heard a whooshing sound coming from above.
The dark blur momentarily suspended itself in front of Pappy, then disappeared into a whooshing upward movement of cool air! Pappy staggered backward from shock, surprise, and horror. Again, the whoosh and it then reappeared just inches from his blanching face, and yet again quickly vanished upward. Breathing within the old man faded and his heartbeat became irregular. He felt himself clutching his throat as his eyesight became dim and his mind disorganized.
Again the figure dropped into view and almost instantly disappeared. For Pappy, the last tunneling vision he saw were a pair of large black, clown shoes pulling up and away into the night. He fell onto the sidewalk, gasping, dying and alone.
The bungee cord pulled the figure up for the last time. With a deft movement, the clown horror grasped the pipe and stopped his fall, then hoisted himself onto the rooftop.
Quickly, he looked below and saw the lifeless body laying on the loose gravel walkway. It looked small and worn now, Hardly the man of just a few moments ago. Now, it was just a bundle of faded memories clothed in the dark blue uniform of Moorview. Glancing at his watch, the clownish figure made a mental note of the time.
The Ronald McDonald clown outfit was hastily removed and re-packed into the cardboard box. Pre-moistened wipes removed all makeup traces and were discarded down an unused chimney. The bungee cord and harness were placed in the same box as the clown outfit and taped shut. The loose pile of clothing nearby was quickly retrieved and the night walker dressed in the shadows.
With-in a few minutes, he became a familiar figure of authority once again. The transformation from killer clown to Dr. Augustus Ward, radiologist, surgeon, and the Chief Medical Administrator for Moorview Institute was complete and his little secret was contained once again.
The plan was perfect. He had reviewed the medical records of Pappy and knew his Achilles heel…Coulrophobia! The extreme fear of clowns, coupled with a very weak heart, made the perfect vehicle for an untraceable death.
He rounded the corner to his darkened infirmary and glanced at his watch again. Another two hours and his inmate patients with scheduled surgeries would begin arriving. A kidney dialysis. A heart valve replacement. A pacemaker update would make it a busy day. Grinning, he also knew Moorview would have three new vacancies by nightfall.
Continued…Go to Chapter 4 (magazine section)