Extracts from The Diaries of 'Professor' Cornelius Crane

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July 26th, 1969

Today, at 14h00, my folks and I were present to bid our last farewells to Marnie.

I had decided to attend the funeral even though my mother had emphasized that is wasn’t necessary for me to go along.

I guess I just wanted to make sure that they were putting the bastard in the ground. And, as it had turned out, I wasn’t the only one there for that particular reason.

The turnout was rather large. Even Detective Inspector Tallis had made an appearance to pay his last respects.

In light of all the recent events, I had, at first, found his presence to be somewhat disconcerting. But he hardly even paid any attention to me. In fact, for some strange reason he seemed to have a keen interest in the chief mourners – Hannah and her mother.

Although unable to console her daughter, Marta had a permanent expression of the vilest disgust.

And at the point when the coffin had been lowered into the freshly dug grave, she had stepped forward and spat into the open hole before muttering something indiscernible, but clearly acerbic.

The crowd had responded with exclamations of shock and disbelief, but I had managed a large smile of accomplishment and understanding. At least one person attending was not afraid to show their true feelings.

I glanced over at Tallis, and was surprised to notice that he too was smiling. He nodded slowly to himself before walking off.

I suddenly had a sense of dread that his action was not one of agreement or condoning. And although it had also been one of understanding, there had been something…menacing about it.

During the entire procedure, Hannah had clung to Marta. It was as if she was afraid that she might lose her mother as well. This had made it impossible for me to speak to her, beyond giving my condolences in a short, matter-of-fact manner to the both of them.

Anyhow, after Marta’s inexcusable action, a number of the mourners had chosen to avoid talking to the immediate family, and had departed soon after the final part of the burial ceremony.

My main concern now about Hannah is this:

With her father out of the way, I fear that there are certain undesirable elements in this society that may use the opportunity to their advantage. With papa bear out of the story, baby bear has become easy prey for the hungry wolves.

Some would say that I have only managed to replace one evil with another, but there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that I have eliminated the greater of two evils.

But, let those undesirable elements beware – for I have declared myself Hannah’s protector - Her Guardian Angel that has no qualms about manifesting himself as The Angel of Death if the need should arise!!!

Will what I have done manifest itself in a good or bad fashion?

Will Hannah at last manage to find true happiness?

Only Time will tell!!!

I didn’t imagine that I would be seeing Tallis or Hannah so soon after the funeral, but at 20h15 they both turned up together at our front door.

My heart skipped a beat as my father ushered the pair into the living room. I was busy watching TV.

Tallis gave me a quick nod and a smile before his gaze turned to my mother who had just come from the kitchen.

My mother was just as concerned.

“What’s going on?” she asked frowning.

Tallis greeted and explained, “Evening Mrs. Crane. I’m Detective Inspector Tallis from the downtown precinct. I’m here with an important request. The late Mr. Marnowijk’s widow has been taken into police custody. I know it’s all very sudden and at very short notice, but she asked if you would look after her daughter in the interim. She said that you were the only one who she could…”

“What? Why?”

“It’ll be in the paper tomorrow, so I guess I might as well tell you the truth. Marta Marnowijk has been arrested for the murder of her husband.”
Hannah ran into my mother’s arms and started weeping uncontrollably.

My mother loudly voiced her disbelief. “What? My God, no! Marta wouldn’t hurt a fly. I thought Marnie was stung by a bee? There must be a mistake?”

“I’m afraid not. We…the police have reason to believe that foul play was involved.”

“What? Why?”

“I’m afraid that’s…classified information.”

“This is terrible! Poor Marta!” She patted Hannah’s back. “God, Marta and Hannah only buried him just this afternoon. Why now?”

He ignored the question and asked his own. “Do you see a chance to help out?”

“What?”

“If it’s going to be a problem, I’ll make arrangements for her to travel to Philadelphia. She has an older sister living there.”

“No! It’s fine! Hannah can stay with us as long as she likes. I’m sure this silly ridiculous mess will be sorted out quickly. What absolute nonsense! I can’t believe it?” Then she spoke to Hannah. “Hush now. You poor dear child. Don’t you worry; it’s going to be alright. Don’t you worry yourself none, you hear? You can use Connie’s room while you’re here.” She looked at me, and I nodded my consent and approval. “Oh, my! First your father, now this?” Then to Tallis again. “Don’t worry we’ll look after her.”

“I’ll fetch her stuff. She’s got a suitcase outside in the car.”

“I’ll help fetch it!” I offered a little too cheerily.

At the moment Hannah seems to be inconsolable. I’ve witnessed people mourn the death of a loved one before, but never to this degree.

Each time, just as it seems as though she’s finally exhausted herself from her incessant weeping, she suddenly seems to find the energy to start again with revitalized vigor.

I’m beginning to feel helpless and uncomfortable in her presence. Even with my superior intellect, I am unable to find any words of lasting comfort.

My mother, who had also become concerned at Hannah’s extreme depression, had finally opted to use medication to calm the poor girl’s frayed nerves.

I was almost about to suggest that a shot of whisky might not be a bad idea when she produced half a sleeping pill from my father’s medication that he occasionally uses whenever the pressures of his workplace produce bouts of insomnia.

To the relief of all in our household, she had finally succumbed to the affects of the medicine around 01h15.

Thank goodness it’s Sunday tomorrow…I mean today; we can all lie in late.

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