The Thunder of Nautilus

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Inspector Detective Green

A week after Marie arrived at the manor, she heard the bell ring, and when she opened the door, two men who introduced themselves as Detective Sergeant Jones and Detective Inspector Green greeted her. They asked for Dr. John Byron, and Marie invited them in and guided them to the library, saying that the doctor had gone on an errand but should be back shortly. She then asked if their visit had something to do with the mutilated man at the chapel and explained that she was one of the two people who’d found the body.

Detective Green said, “Are you Marie von Amberg?”

“I am,” she replied, and the officer continued. “Pleased to meet you, Miss Amberg. We’d like to talk to you as well as Dr. Byron, but we’ll wait until he arrives, if you don’t mind.”

“I don’t mind at all,” Marie said, and then asked if she could get the officers a glass of wine or a cup of tea while they were waiting. Sergeant Jones said that a cup of tea would be nice, and Inspector Green said that a glass of white wine would be lovely. While Marie was getting the drinks, she heard John arrive and went to meet him in the foyer, where she told him about the visitors before they both entered the library.

John greeted the officers and. after introductions, said, “Please have a seat,” while he walked over to the sideboard, and after looking briefly at Marie, who held up her glass of wine, poured himself a Scotch, then turned to the two officers and asked, “So how can I help you gentlemen?”

Inspector Green said, “I assume both of you have not yet been informed of the identity of the man found by Miss Amberg here, and”—the detective quickly checked his notebook—“a Mr. Nigel Wordsworth of London?” He looked at Marie first, who shook her head, and then at John.

“No, nobody has informed us as yet,” John replied.

The detective then asked John if he recalled having treated a forensic patient by the name of Malcolm Macbeth while working at the Bristol clinic, and when John replied, “Yes, of course,” the Detective continued.

“It appears that the body found at the chapel by Miss Amberg is that of Malcolm Macbeth.”

John took a drink before he replied. “I’m sorry to hear that, but I assume you’re thinking that this is not a coincidence?”

Detective Green answered, “At the moment we’re just following leads, and I must ask if you gained any knowledge of a kind of occultist, or satanic involvement of this patient, Malcolm Macbeth, while you were treating him?”

“Satanic involvement?” John repeated. “No, definitely not. Why do you ask?”

Detective Green said, “I’m guessing that you already know through Miss Amberg that the murder was staged and looked like a ritualistic killing. However, we haven’t found a specific connection in the life of the victim, and we’d hoped that you, as his treating psychiatrist, may have gained greater insight, which could help us in narrowing the field of inquiry in regards to motive and specificity of the killer.”

“I really wish I could help you,” John said, “but Malcolm wasn’t my patient during the entire time I was working at the clinic. I had to reduce my patient load about a year before I left, and one of my colleagues took a few patients on, including Malcolm. I did ask after him, as I did with all my patients, but my colleague never mentioned anything but progress in his case.”

Detective Green then turned to Marie and asked her about the day she and Nigel found the body. She responded by saying that she’d given a statement to the police that day, and she really couldn’t add anything else . . . except perhaps—she glanced at John, who nodded—that she’d heard a bizarre story told by the gardener, who also cared for the grounds at the chapel. She related the story Duncan had told her.

When she finished, Detective Green said seriously, “I’m glad you told me this story, Miss Amberg.” Then, turning towards John, he said, “Do you know if any of your patients knew about this story and possibly acted out some fantasy to try to hurt you, or impress you? Patients who would have been inmates at the same time as Malcolm Macbeth?”

John, during the time in which Marie had spoken, thought about the day in court when he’d been asked to present his view on the state of mind of then eighteen-year-old Malcolm, accused of attempted murder by . . . and suddenly the name came to him. He asked, “The lawyer, the woman who’s been missing from these parts, was her name Glynda Gemein?”

“Yes, that’s correct,” Detective Green replied.

John said, “I cannot think of any of my patients being close to Malcolm. Part of his problem was that he was a loner—a ‘lone wolf’ he liked to call himself—but there’s a connection to Glynda Gemein. She was the prosecutor in his case of attempted murder, and I was consulted as a forensic psychiatrist at the time.”

Detective Green then said, “I’m aware of this connection, doctor, but unfortunately I was unable to find any other link between the victims. However, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that one victim was missing and the other found in close proximity. You say part of Malcolm’s problem was that he was a loner. Can you elaborate further? I’d also like to know why you declared him to be of unsound mind when he’d tried to strangle a woman.”

John said, “Malcolm’s childhood was marked by isolation— physically, intellectually, and socially. He grew up in the far north of Scotland with a single mother, who homeschooled him and neglected to socialize him in other ways. Malcolm was, in my opinion, of above average intelligence, and while I treated him it became apparent that he experienced the privation of being intellectually and socially isolated, profoundly. His mother had sent him to stay with a distant relative to start an apprenticeship at fifteen, a butcher with his own shop in Bristol. According to Malcolm, his first romantic contact was with an older woman, a customer who lived in the neighborhood, and the affair started when he turned seventeen and ended a year later, when she told him that she’d found someone else and their affair was over. The woman, however, had denied ever being romantically involved with Malcolm, but declared that she’d repeatedly seen him outside her house and, feeling that he was stalking her, confronted him, and when she told him that she was going to call the police, he tried to strangle her. She then took him to court for attempted murder. When I had to give my opinion about Malcolm’s state of mind, I’d spent a relatively short time with him, and I was almost convinced that he’d imagined the relationship. Still, there was this nagging voice of doubt, because Malcolm had admitted to feeling insanely jealous and to attacking the woman, and he was showing deep remorse for his irrational behavior.”

Detective Green had been listening attentively, and after John finished, he said, “Thank you for the additional information. It’s indeed helpful, but I have to ask, since Malcolm had shown remorse, in your opinion was the length of his internment justified?”

John replied, “In my opinion, Malcolm was deeply troubled, but he had a way of covering his true feelings. He was very smart and very manipulative.”

Detective Green then asked bluntly, “Do you think he was capable of murder?”

“Yes,” John said, “yes I do.”

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