The Deferment: A Kolchak Story


Well, my Kolchack story was rejected from that antho. Not unkindly, but as I can’t do anything with it, here it is, free to read, as promised.

———————————————————————————————————-


At approximately 11:55 on the night of October the 6th, Gerald Fitzgerald, a twenty three year old student at Columbia College, rendezvoused with his paramour, one Miguel Pacheco, twenty two year old apprentice plumber, in a secluded, wooded area on the south end of Lincoln Park behind the Chicago Historical Society, which in recent years had gained a reputation as a meeting point for lovers of their particular persuasion.

It was while fumbling in the dark in a stand of bushes looking for a place to spread out a picnic blanket that the two ardent youths inadvertently stumbled into the penultimate chapter of what would prove to be one of the city of Chicago’s most unsettling family sagas, a story whose most macabre and fantastic elements had, in the nature of compelling narratives, been saved for last.

At some point close to the stroke of midnight, Fitzgerald and Pacheco perceived a strange muttering, and curious, followed the sound through the shrubbery to a manmade edifice which we now know to be the storied Couch Tomb. There, they perceived a feminine figure all in flowing white, luminous in the pitch black, facing its open doorway, arms upraised.

“Las tumbas pertenecen a los muertos, no a los vivos!” the ghost reportedly called out.

Mr. Fitzgerald, being of a more sensitive nature than Mr. Pacheco, cried out in alarm and found his exclamation echoed in a shrill, high voice by the ghostly figure.

Fitzgerald turned and ran through the bushes from the sight of the apparition, Pachceco in tow, and the two collided with Patrolman Anthony Diaz, who’d been assigned the unenviable task of dissuading the amorously inclined from further sullying the park’s long-suffering reputation.

The two did nothing to resist arrest, but entreated Officer Diaz to confirm what they had seen.

Diaz crept through the bushes, weapon and flashlight drawn.

He found no moon-white specter waiting for him at the now sealed iron door of the Couch Tomb, but there on the stone porch, he saw what he surmised to be seven neat, red drops of fresh blood….

Of course, I didn’t get this part of the story from Officer Diaz until a day after the events in question transpired.

Vincenzo, at his wits end after the pursuit of my last story had yet again failed to yield a publishable article for the INS, had assigned me an excessively boring task; covering the extensive renovation plans being enacted by the city to prepare Lincoln Park for the hosting of the Second Annual National Garden and Landscaping Convention next spring.

So, with my TC-40 over my shoulder, I made my way down to the Lincoln Park Cultural Center to the office of administrator Gus Skalka, whom I found engaged in a heated discussion with a woman of some official capacity.

“Gus,” the woman said, tiredly. “You’re not proposing anything new here. The city didn’t have the money to relocate the tomb in 1864 and it doesn’t have the money now.”

“Excuse me…tomb?” I interrupted.

“The Couch tomb,” the woman explained. “It’s the last remnant of the old cemetery.”

“You mean the park used to be a graveyard?”

“It still is, unless you believe the city actually relocated twenty thousand bodies. Who are you?”

“Ah sorry. Carl Kolchak Independent News Service.”

“My nine ‘o clock appointment,” said Skalka. “Apologies, Mr. Kolchak,” he said, looking at the woman pointedly. “It seems my eight thirty is running a little over.”

I planted myself in a chair against the wall.

“Oh go ahead, I don’t mind if you don’t mind,” I said, holding up my tape recorder.

“I don’t. Thank you, Mr. Kolchak,” said the woman.

 “Yeah, thanks a lot,” said Skalka, sighing and rubbing his forehead with the palm of one meaty hand.

“Carl, please,” I said, tipping my hat. “Uh…and you are?”

“Carol Davenport. I’m with the Historical Society.”

“Look, Carl…,” Skalka began.

“Hm?” I said.

“Um. Carol,” Skalka corrected himself. “OK, maybe we aren’t talking about relocation at all.”

“Surely you’re not suggesting demolition?” Carol exclaimed in disbelief.

“That thing is an eyesore.”

“That thing dates back to 1858!” said Carol, obviously impassioned. “It’s a van Osdel!”

“Excuse me, a van what?”

Skalka shrugged.

“John van Osdel?” Carol said. “The city’s first architect of note? It’s probably the oldest structure to survive the fire of 1871.”

“People don’t want to be reminded they’re picnicking in an old cemetery, Carol. Plus it’s become a hangout for junkies and a make-out spot for….”

He glanced at me and cleared his throat.

“Well, we’re supposed to be improving the park’s image. You know we had two arrests last night?”

“At the tomb?” I interrupted.

“Yes,” said Skalka. “Somebody tried to break in.”

“Did they get inside?” I asked.

“It would take a bulldozer to get inside,” said Carol. “It’s been sealed for over a hundred years.”

“Well, they claimed the door was wide open last night,” Skalka said, laughing into his coffee cup. “Maybe they really did see the ghost.”

“What ghost?” I asked, intrigued.

“It’s a local legend,” said Skalka, waving his hand. “Something about showing up at midnight and saying something and the tomb opens and you see the ghost of Ira Couch or his wife or something. The thing’s a magnet for all sorts of weirdness, especially this time of year. Dead animals and…”

“Dead animals?” I asked.

Skalka looked down at my tape recorder.

“Um. Mr. Kolchak are you recording?”

“Yes sir, I’ve been recording since I got here. The lady said she didn’t mind.”

He cleared his throat.

“Well, let’s just say it has a sordid reputation and leave it at that.”

Carol stood up, shouldering her purse.

“I have to go, Gus,” she said abruptly. “I’m late for another appointment.”

“Alright Carol,” said Skalka. “But listen, I’ll be pushing for removal at the next meeting.”

“And I’ll be petitioning for preservation,” she said from the doorway. “Good day, Mr. Kolchak,” she said to me.

I tipped my hat as she let the door slam shut resoundingly, her heels clacking off down the hall.

“Something I don’t understand,” I said, backtracking, “why is that tomb the only thing still standing from the old cemetery? I mean, there must have been other mausoleums.”

“Mr. Kolchak, wouldn’t you rather talk about the preparations for the upcoming National Garden and Landscaping Convention? I know I would. Anyway, isn’t that why you’re here?”

It was, of course, so I settled in for the long haul. I could almost hear Vincenzo laughing from his office.

As Couch’s tomb obstinately remained a part of the park, it settled into my craw as well, and I decided to take a closer look.

I found the tomb by asking around. It was just a stone’s throw from the back of the Historical Society where Ms. Davenport plotted like an enemy general against the machinations of Gus Skalka and the city parks and recreation department.

The tomb was a solid, grey bunker of cemetery stone, unadorned but for the name Couch over the iron door and various encroaching flora. Skalka’s talk about animals and a ghost and weird happenings interested me, but I didn’t see much of anything out of the ordinary beyond the fact that it was sitting in a public park only a few steps from the busy traffic of LaSalle Drive.

A city groundskeeper saw me taking pictures.

“Hey there!” I called to him. “What do you know about this old chestnut?”

“I know around this time of year I always end up picking dead chickens and such off the porch.”

“Dead chickens?”

“Yep. Throats cut and bled all over. Devil worshipping stuff, you ask me.”

“You ever see who’s doing that?”

“Nah, they come at night I guess, and they’re gone by morning. Doesn’t always happen. Just sometimes.”

“Mainly around this time of year?”

“Halloween. Yeah. Brings out the nuts.”

“You ever hear the ghost story? Midnight recitations and all that?”

“Sure. Two kids got pinched last night messing around here, said they saw it. Door open and everything.”

I looked over the vault door. It seemed pretty solid, and I didn’t see a hinge.

“What’s that thing you’re supposed to say?”

“The graves belong to the dead, not the living,” the groundskeeper said in his best Vincent Price voice, which actually wasn’t bad.

Curiosity was leading me to a midnight appointment in Lincoln Park. Maybe I could sell Vincenzo on a Halloween flavor piece.

I had a lot of time to kill, and as the Historical Society was only a few steps from the tomb, I decided to follow up with Ms. Davenport.

Her co-worker, Mr. Murray, informed me she had gone downtown to file the necessary paperwork to have the tomb in question declared a landmark, as she had said she would.

It turned out the Couch family was the subject of a book Mr. Murray was researching. As a man who seemed to spend most of his time perusing the lonely stacks of his dusty domain, when I asked him about the identity of his silent neighbor I found him excitedly forthcoming.

“Which one?” he said with a kind of macabre glee, so eager to speak into my mic for posterity that I had to pull it away a little to keep him from swallowing it whole.

“Well, let’s start with Ira Couch and go on down the line.”

“Ira was a hotelier,” Murray began. “He came from nothing, built the city’s first luxury hotel, Tremont House. Twice. It burned down once in October of 1839 and again in October of 1843.”

“October was an unlucky month for him,” I remarked.

“Very. It burned a third time in 1871.” He looked at me expectantly.

“The Great Chicago fire,” I said. “What month was that?”

“October again,” Murray chuckled, happy I’d picked up what he’d laid down. “The 8th. Same say as the other two fires.”

“Say that’s a little more than a coincidence. He must have made a bundle to be able to keep rebuilding. Is it still standing?” I asked.

“Oh yes. The family fell into dire straits and sold it to Northwestern University around the turn of the century.”

“I guess the university had more luck. So what happened to Ira?”

“He died suddenly while vacationing in Cuba in 1857. There were provisions in his will to cover the cost of the tomb, which was a good idea as it was something around seven thousand dollars, more expensive than most houses of the time…by far.”

“And his wife was interred with him? It’s a big tomb for two people. Looks like it could hold more.”

“It might,” said Murray. “Ira’s brother, daughter, grandson…there could be up to eleven bodies in there. Generations. Or none at all.”

“You mean it could be empty?”

“I don’t want to hurt Ms. Davenport’s chances at having the tomb declared a landmark,” Murray begged off. “You know Mr. Kolchak, the presence of corpses tips the scale in such matters.”

He leaned forward into the mic again and I had to bring it further back.

“But Ira and his wife have headstones at Gracehill Cemetery up north. Their corporate office is very stingy with the old burial records.”

“Why?”

“Some say the Couch family pays Gracehill not to divulge that information.”

“Why would they care?”

“That’s hard to say, because there hasn’t been a living Couch in the last few decades. The family’s fortunes dwindled and the last descendent died off.”

“But then who’s paying Gracehill?”

“Ms. Davenport told me confidentially that she learned from an employee that the cemetery’s discretion was paid for in perpetuity by Ira Couch himself. In his will.”

“That’s pretty forward thinking,” I muttered.

I gave Mr. Murray my card and asked him to tell Ms. Davenport I’d been by, and to call me if he turned up anything else interesting concerning the Couches and their eternal abode. I made my way back to my car, thinking to go home and nap before the appointed hour.

I found an angular sort of gent, black haired, with a wine dark suit whose price tag would have made my seersucker blush slipping a business card under my windshield wiper while he whistled a catchy little tune.

“She’s not for sale,” I said.

“I’m not in the market anyway, Mr. Kolchak,” the man said in an accent that I pegged for Latin American.

“You have me at a disadvantage, Mister…”

“Forgive me. Domingo Seaver is my name. I’m a collections agent.”

“What are you looking to collect on, Mr. Seaver?” I asked nervously, trying to think of the last time I’d bet on the Cubs and when my next paycheck was due in. I fumbled with my keys and dropped them.

Seaver stooped and handed them to me.

“Rest easy. No debt of yours, Mr. Kolchak. I am seeking tardy remuneration for services rendered. The debtor has gone to great lengths to avoid repayment, even going so far as to steal an object of remarkable value from another party in the hope of….”

“Robbing Peter to pay Paul?”

“Yes,” he said, smiling a row of fine, even white teeth. “They have since gone to ground. Assumed a false identity.”

“Well, what does this have to do with me, Mr. Seaver? I’m no private eye.”

“Nevertheless, I have reason to believe your current investigation has crossed over my own. I ask only that you contact me should you happen across the individual in the course of fulfilling your duties, so that I might in turn fulfill my own.”

“My current…I’m covering a story about park renovation,” I said, slipping past him. Something about him got under my skin. He had movie star looks but dirty fingernails.

He reached over and opened my door for me. I’d evidently missed seeing him put my key into the lock.

“Thanks. Well, who am I supposed to keep an eye out for?”

“That is difficult to say,” said Seaver, closing the door. “The surest method of identification would be their possession of the stolen collectible. It is quite singular in appearance. A porcelain tureen with gold accents, inset with cowrie shells. The lid would be sealed with black wax.”

I turned my engine over and laid my camera and recorder on the seat next to me.

“Black wax? Well, Mr. Seaver….,” I said, looking up at him.

But there was no ‘him’ to see. Seaver was gone. I looked up and down the street, but saw no sign of him. I shook my head, reached over, and pulled his card off my windshield. There was his name and occupation in gold lettering, but no number anywhere on it – a sure reason for getting a new printing company if ever I’d seen one.

I drove off, whistling Seaver’s tune. Like I said, it was catchy.

After a modest dinner and what I had proposed to be a nap, I found I had overslept. I arrived at Lincoln Park around 11:58 on the evening of the 7th, sure I was going to miss my appointment with whatever was scheduled to appear at the tomb.

In my hurry to reach it, I suddenly made the acquaintance of the aforementioned Patrolman Diaz.

“Park’s closed,” he informed me. “Didn’t you see the sign?”

“Well, it’s dark,” I said.

“Yeah well it closes at sundown. They all do. What are you doing out here?”

“Sorry, Officer, my name’s Carl Kolchak. I’m with the INS. I’m doing a story, a Halloween piece on the Couch tomb….”

It was at that point that we heard the spine prickling shriek, piercing at first, but then dwindling out in the dark.

We both ran towards it, towards Couch’s tomb, Diaz’s flashlight spot bouncing in front of us, until at last it fell like a stark stage light on some Grand Guignol performance. There, sprawled on the porch of the tomb, was a woman all in white, blood spilling brightly down the front of her dress, her dark eyes shrinking in the light of the policeman’s flash as she gasped her last breath.

Diaz went to her side to check her vitals, but hesitated. I saw his eyes go to a green and yellow bracelet on the victim’s wrist, and a series of colored beads around her neck. She was an older woman, Hispanic, and her dark face was marked with patterns of white paint.

Diaz checked her pulse and then recited something low in Spanish.

Then he arrested me.

“Kolchak, what the hell’s going on?” Vincenzo roared as I retrieved my camera and recorder from booking, having spent the night in a holding cell and playing dumb to a homicide detective with Oscar-worthy aplomb. “You’re supposed to be covering the prepwork for a flower convention!”

“I was, Tony, I assure you,” I said, scanning the station for Officer Diaz. “I was taking pictures of the grounds to accompany my piece. A before and after comparison. Should have been a literal walk in the park.”

“At midnight?”

“Night blooming flowers?” I suggested.

“What’s this about a murder?”

“Well you know, a good reporter, I think, has a nose for these kinds of things. He puts himself in the way and just attracts news.”

“I’ve got a nose for something too,” Vincenzo muttered. “And what you’re attracting is flies, Carl. What’s the story here?”

“Trust me, Tony! Good stuff for the Halloween edition.”

“Every edition isn’t the Halloween edition. I want the parks and rec story by tomorrow morning. Your extracurricular activities better not delay it.”

“You’ll have it and more, mein capitan.”

“And next time don’t spend your one phone call on me. It’ll be a waste.”

“Ja vol,” I said, saluting as we came out into the sunshine. “Hey I could still use a ride back to the park to retrieve my car.”

“Get a cab,” Vincenzo said, stomping off down the street. “I did.”

As fate would have it, Officer Diaz exited the station behind me in plainclothes, evidently finishing his shift.

“Oh,” he said. “Sorry about the detainment, Mr. Kolchak. We have to cover all our bases. No hard feelings, huh?”

“Not at all not at all,” I said, waving my hand. “Any word on who that woman was?”

He looked at me uncertainly.

“I’m not really at liberty to give you a press release,” he said, and began to walk.

“Off the record,” I said, keeping up with him.

“Off the record, no. But she had a Cuban passport.”

“Are you Cuban? I ask because of what you said over the body. Sounded like a prayer….”

“What are you asking me, Kolchak?”

“Well I noticed that woman had a green and yellow bracelet on….sort of like the one you’re wearing.”

“Pretty sharp,” Diaz said, holding up his hand so the bracelet showed on his wrist. “That’s an ide bracelet. It means that woman was a santera. A priestess.”

“Like a Voodoo priestess?”

“Santeria, man,” said Diaz.

“Her throat was cut wasn’t it? Is there human sacrifice in Santeria?”

“No, man. It’s a legit religion, not some kind of comic book jive. At least…not when it’s practiced for good.”

“Chickens, though?”

“We call it matanza,” said Diaz. “An ebbo – a blood offering to the oricha. The ancestral spirits.”

“Why would somebody make an ebbo at the door of the Couch tomb? Anything special about October the 7th? 8th?”

“Not that I know.” He stopped at an oldsmobile parked on the street. “This is me.”

“Oh one more thing,” I said snapping my fingers as he got in his car.

“I got two nights off, Kolchak. And I wanna get started on ‘em.”

“Do you use tureens in Santeria? Uh, fancy porcelain with cowrie shells…sealed with black wax?”

He looked at me sharply.

“You’re describing a sopera,” he said. “It contains the fundamentos of a Santeria temple. Sacred objects in which the patron oricha spirit dwells. But black wax? Nah, that’s not a thing. You should quit poking, Kolchak. This stuff ain’t for you, dig?”

As he pulled away from the curb and I began my long, thoughtful walk back to the car, whistling that tune.

I returned to the INS office to write up the parks and rec story, and while taking a break to grab a coffee, the regular thunderous passage of the L train outside the office windows nearly made me miss my ringing desk phone.

It was Mr. Murray.

“Mr. Kolchak!” he said excitedly. “I wonder if you’d be interested in drumming up interest in my book with an article on the Couch family.”

“Well I was thinking about a Halloween piece, Mr. Murray,” I said. “I’d be willing to cite you as a source and mention your book. Did you find something new to add?”

“I’ll say! Something revelatory,” Murray said. “Remember how I told you the last living Couch descendant passed away? I’ve found another and,” he said, lowering his voice to a whisper, “you won’t believe who it is. Miss Davenport. Right here in the Historical Society! Can you believe it? I feel like I’ve been working alongside hidden royalty the whole time!”

“How’ you figure this out?” I asked.

“Well the fortunes of the family did dwindle drastically in the last decade. That part’s true. But I was digging in the Cook County vital records and found her petition. She legally changed her name. Probably to avoid the back taxes the family had incurred over the years. Isn’t that fascinating?”

“Very. Is she in today?”

“No she called in sick. You know as her coworker I’d feel a little weird approaching her about this but as you’re a reporter…”

“Sure sure, that sounds swell, Mr. Murray! Why don’t we both compile a list of questions and you get back to me?”

I hung up.

Miss Davenport wasn’t in.

But I had a pretty good idea where she’d be.

I didn’t bother to sleep this time, so I arrived at the park at 11:45 with plenty of time to make my way to the tomb. It was surrounded by police tape and sawhorse barricades, but I got a good vantage to watch the action, whatever it was.

Some kind of ritual had been interrupted by the arrival of the santera the night before. I knew there was nothing stopping it tonight. Not even Officer Diaz.

I kept an eye on my watch.

11:55.

11:56.

Then at 11:58 I heard it. A low female voice chanting in Spanish.

I crept closer. The approach to the tomb was clear around the bushes but I hadn’t seen anybody enter.

No doubt somebody was there, though. The closer I got the louder it was. There was a faint orange glow under the lip of the door, flickering.

I crouched down, leaning against the door to slip my mic as close to the gap as I could get, so as to get a clearer recording.

And then I heard a grinding noise, and the door swung inward.

I tumbled inside.

I found myself inside a kind of small foyer lined with funeral drawers. I counted ten, made out Ira Couch’s bronze nameplate, others. Seated against each of the drawers was a hand sewn doll. Their costumes ranged from white Victorian gowns to modern suits. But what got my attention was a second door set into the far wall. Inside was a candlelit altar, blazing. In the center was the white tureen, the gilded sopera Seaver had described, draped in colored necklaces and surrounded by severed black chicken heads, deliberately arranged. There was a smoking cigar in an ashtray and a large botte of clear fluid.

I peered into the inner room. The chanting had stopped. I got out my camera to take a picture.

As I moved into the inner doorway, a horrific, painted pale face shrieked at me from the dim corner, and a blur of white came at me, brandishing a silver knife.

In surprise I triggered my flash, blinding the figure, and dove into the room to duck the knife. I fell against the altar, and tureen, beads, ashtray, and poultry head came crashing down in heap. Whatever was contained in the tureen exploded in a flash of light as blinding as a lightning bolt.

Then a tremendous, howling wind blew into the tomb, snuffing out the candles. It was a hurricane gale, so loud it sounded like the roaring of a great voice. It knocked me flat.

When I looked up blinking through the red spots, I saw the outline of a man standing in the tomb’s outer doorway.

Carol Davenport saw him too and screamed.

He stepped inside, and the dolls in the outer foyer burst into flame.

I couldn’t make out his face, but he held out his hand beckoned, and Carol Davenport went to him as if in a trance, taking hold of his elbow as though he were an old fashioned suitor.

They turned and left the tomb.

I picked myself up off the floor, found my camera, and stumbled outside between the burning dolls.

There was no on outside just the cool, dwindling wind.

At 6:30 in the morning after a sleepless night of listening to my tape recordings, I returned to the empty INS office, whistling that same tune that had been stuck in my head all day to keep my hackles down.

I poured myself a pot of coffee, threw my hat on the tree, missing as usual, and plunked myself down in front of the typewriter to begin punching out the events as best as I could parse them out. The only other sound in the place was the hum of a fan somebody had left on.

A feeling came over me as I hammered away at the page. A cold draft, as if someone had walked over my grave. There was a subtle shift in the dim morning light and shadows spilled into the room like black paint. The fan stopped. I couldn’t even hear the clock ticking.

And there he was, standing over my shoulder.

Domingo Seaver.

I could only stare. I was sure I hadn’t hear a door open.

“I thought perhaps you deserved an explanation, Mr. Kolchak,” Domingo said. “You and your readers.”

“That was you in the tomb tonight, wasn’t it?”

Seaver only raised his eyebrows patiently.

“Well, I said, leaning back in my chair to affect an air of nonchalance I did not actually have. “I’m all ears, Mr. Seaver.”

“Tell me what you think you know and I will fill in the blanks.”

“Why?”

“Because it amuses me.”

“Alright,” I said, swiveling in my chair and narrowing my eyes at the strange figure standing in the dark. “Ira Couch showed incredible fortune in managing to go from nothing to a wildly successful hotelier. I think he must have made some kind of high interest business arrangement with some extremely influential party. I think he attempted to renege on his end of the deal, whatever it was, and the person to whom he was indebted burned his hotel to the ground. He still had enough pull though to raise it up again. A remarkable feat. Maybe he convinced his unknown business partner that this time he’d be good for it.”

“Or he offered something more valuable as collateral,” said Seaver.

“OK…October 8th 1843 comes around. Seems like that’s the agreed upon deadline for him to repay his loan or whatever it is. The hotel burns again. But…Couch rebuilds again. Whatever he offered his business partner this time, it must have really been something.”

“It was,” said Seaver.

“But this time Couch develops a scheme to duck his debt. He travels to Cuba….”

“And?”

“Well Mr. Seaver, there I’m a little at a loss. Whatever it was, it involves Santeria. I guess it depends on what it was Couch was dealing with. What was his collateral?”

“First, his soul,” said Seaver. “The standard contract. The second time, to extend his contract, it was the soul of every subsequent generation of his family. A precious thing, an innocent soul. But the souls of generations? Incalculable. ”

“Souls,” I said quietly, gripping the arms of my chair. “Where was I?”

“Cuba.”

“In Cuba then, he steals what the santeras call a sopera. It contains the ancestral spirits worshipped by the locals.  He seals it by some method I don’t understand.”

“Couch was a nefarious and clever sorcerer,” said Seaver. “And he knew he could hide the souls of himself and his loved ones in the glow of a trapped orischa.”

“Sure,” I said. “I imagine his debtor had trouble even approaching something like that. But what about the fire of 1871? The hotel burned along with most of the city.”

“An attempt to flush a rabbit out of hiding, Mr. Kolchak. Quite unavoidable.”

 “Alright,” I said. “Each generation of Couches defends the hiding place of the Couch souls. Feeds the trapped orischa with blood every October to keep the wolves from the door. Who was the Cuban woman who was killed?”

“I told you I wasn’t the only interested party.”

“She’d come looking for the stolen sopera.”

“And Ms. Davenport stopped her.”

There hadn’t been any sign of the killer fleeing the scene because Carol Davenport had been inside the tomb. All she had to do was hide till the coroner hauled the body off.

“Tonight, that flash. The wind. The orischa broke loose.”

“Thanks to you. Very good, Mr. Kolchak. Very impressive.”

He looked out the dark window.

“Well, you have your story, and I at last, have my payment. Fair and square, as they say.”

I looked over Seaver’s shoulder at the clock on the wall. The second hand had stopped.

“Your payment. So you’re….” It was a lot to wrap my head around. “What happens now?” I asked.

Seaber smiled and raised his eyebrows.

“Now you decide how much to publish yourself, and how much to allot to Mr. Murray’s book. Have a good day, Mr. Kolchak. Be seeing you.”

He turned and crossed the empty aisle, went to the door, and out into the hall, whistling the same tune I had this morning.

The fan began to blow.

The clock resumed its ticking, and the sun came bright through the window.

I turned back to my typewriter and fished in my pocket for his business card.

D. Seaver.

As soon as I held it up to the sunlight it went up like magician’s flash powder in my fingers.


This was intended for Kolchack’s anniversary, so as you can see, I thought I’d come up with a story for what was going on in the famous opening sequence, and an origin for his catchy whistle. Oh well. C’est la vie!

Published in: on June 14, 2022 at 6:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is: https://emerdelac.wordpress.com/2022/06/14/the-deferment-a-kolchak-story/trackback/

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: