Dr H.H. Holmes
I had suspected that the insurance companies would be curious about me and the business with Caleb and Benjamin. It seemed all too easy before, that I must have gotten so complacent, as had they for some time.
A little while later, a police officer came around to the Hive, and I offered him refreshment, and he took a glass of soda water. He asked about the whereabouts of Julia and Pearl, and I said they’d scarpered, to where I hadn’t a clue. He asked me why I was the beneficiary of so many life insurance contracts, and I said, I was a businessman and that sort of thing was the norm, since people dropped like flies (which I didn’t actually say; I wouldn’t have been able to keep a straight face, and even a rookie would have gotten suspicious), and he just hummed and harred, and left, his notebook quite the more full for the visit. They would be back for sure. (As it happened, the insurance people refused to pay up for fake Benj.)
The Hive might have been offended by that visit, but if so, it shook it off and rapidly got back into shape, growing and improving, unto its ultimate form. That said, I was beginning to think that anyone who died of unnatural causes within chez Hive would have to be disposed of in the incinerator, and the Hive could have the ashes, and if the Hive didn’t like it, I’d burn the mother down.
I can’t keep on telling all of the details of this story – I’m not Sherardize. You’ll get your fill, and if you want seconds come as the buster Oliver Twist, groveling.
A nice young filly called Minnie Williams turned up in Chicago, exactly what her ambitions were, I couldn’t have told; though she’d gotten a single slot as an actress, I thought she was a deluded dreamer, and as such, her rightful place was in somewhere like the Hive, working, as it happened, as a stenographer for me. For a pure fraud like me, she presented myriad opportunities, and as soon as I came to know about her family’s wealth, I was quick off the mark. She was a complete fool! I schmoozed her good and got her to sign over the deeds to her property in Fort Worth to an “Alexander Bond” = me, and I acted as notary on that one. Benjamin ended up with the deed under the name "Benton T. Lyman”, but with me and his wife the beneficiaries.
So, things having gone somewhat rotten, with too much interest in me and the Hive from the police and people I assumed were private detectives, I went on the run and was in St. Louis and selling mortgaged goods, which seemed like a shitty way to make money given my glory days, the life insurance hoot like taking candy from a baby. The Hive! Oh…Dear Lord, my mind seemed to be at its limits; everything seemed to revolve around the Hive, the place seemingly the fulcrum of my existence, wrecking ball of sanity, I’d had enough – buzzzzz.
With that mental transaction, my admiration for – if not love affair with – the hymenoptera seemingly well and truly water under the bridge, emotions took place on their part – and as a thunderstorm will grow after so much heat and humidity – there was bad blood (or whatever the hell it is they have), so while on the run, I got stung six times by various permutations of the creed, apropos of nothing, and of them I’ll tell you this: the European hornet delivered the nastiest blow, but I hear that that of the tarantula hawk makes its seem like a loving caress, and apparently there is one called the cow-killer ant which is velveteen and pretty nasty, and there is an ant in whatever Hell exists beneath the Rio Grande which is the bee’s knees in the pain department.
I was beginning to look like a hobo, and hobos selling items on the street will garner the attention of the law. In short, I was arrested and charged with selling goods likely either stolen or mortgaged, was treated like Caleb deserved to be if it hadn’t been for my gullible God-sick brother and his sympathy for such fraudulent wretches.
Well, in the clink, I met this formidable young character named Marion Hedgepeth. He was an outlaw (lawed) of various proportions, in for a bungled bank robbery he’d told me. Marion was a 24-carat cold-blooded killer, you could see it in his eyes. I had at one point considered myself one of the best-looking villains around, a bona fide bourreau des cœurs (Lady killer to you philistines), but not in context to Hedgepeth. He was one slick, suave, debonair mankiller, his eyes pure deathstares, gunbores, but still, he was prima facie a dynamite prospect through a young filly’s prism, refined or no (check him out). Caleb would have liked him too, but not the other way around, and Caleb wouldn’t have liked what he’d got for giving him his dirty winking eye, if he’d survived it.
I wasn’t frightened of much in this world, but surely so of him. Just imagine him…In the lounge of a hotel, dressed like some D.A. or Investigator, in his three-piece suit of the finest cut of twill, a bowler hat, shiny Bluchers. He’d have his equally well-dressed posse with him, them sipping their Manhattans in silence, cool as you like, having killed a Joe or two on a train robbery – the dudes. The bartend would be looking at them admiringly, pandering to their needs effusively, the peanuts topped up, a drink on the house, please these big spenders, and who knows what sort of tip you might be in line for, but maybe your deference and geniality towards them was for a very good reason, not that you understood quite what.
Marion is a Jewish girl-name, but you wouldn’t have wanted to apprise him of that, S-P of a bartend you might have been between terms at college.
We talked life insurance scams. He gave me the name of a crook lawyer – Jeptha Howe.
I was released after a short while and returned to the Hive, as if summoned. I had concocted a plan to fake my own death under an alias and claim under an alias. It was hilarious, except it didn’t work. The corpse was just that of some old hobo I’d picked up in Washington Square Park and finished off with laudanum. Some people came around to speak with me about that one, and by dint of the others, private dicks. I didn’t press it, was on my guard, and so was the Hive.
I then reconciled with the hymenopterans. I consumed a whole jar of honey over a week dissolved in M-L and approached a nest of some variant of the order that was subterranean (not myrmidons, some which all can fly) – I knew not what. I gifted them a chunk of flesh, and watched from a distance I deemed safe, and after two and a bit-hours, it was safe to say that they distained.
By now Benjamin was turning out to be much more insidious than I had at first taken him for. I guess it was arrogance on my part, or distraction re the Hive; I’d simply accepted him as a fellow, a friend, a brother. He was not on my side, which meant he was liable to die, and maybe end up an offering to the Hive. He was a smart cookie – no doubt – corrupt to the core, but I simply couldn’t stand him. He was blackmailing me, and by dint of that the Hive! He was threatening to tell the police about Caleb, and some others, so I threatened to have him killed, showed him a picture of Marion from the wanted posters he’d given me in clink, told him I’d tell Marion that he’d said he was a sissy whose name was a Jewish girl-name and that having such a name, he was both Jewish and a man who was the sort who Caleb was, a man with a penchant for other men’s derrieres, and that sort of arrangement, and impotent with the fillies. And my that did that do a power of good. We were going to do the life insurance scam on Benjamin again.