Dr. Phineas Gill receives a call from a former professor, Dr. Harvey Walters, of Miskatonic University.
Dr. Walters reluctantly reveals that a rental property of his may be at the center of some disturbing activity and asks Gill, a trusted former student, to investigate both it and his “man”, a property manager who oversees many of the rentals including the one in question.
A Mr. Dale A. Bacus has been watching several of my homes for me. He has been especially helpful since my health began to falter after retirement. And while he is very efficient in the performance of his duties, over the past four years of his employment I have noticed an ever increasing number of police reports of thefts from neighboring homes in the local papers. I simply cannot continue to believe it is merely coincidence that absolutely none of these thefts intersect with Mr. Bacus. The authorities do not connect the dots as I do, being unaware of the pattern of movement of Mr. Bacus and the fact that I own a property next door to each of the burgled homes. I am afraid the odds are simply overwhelmingly against the innocence of Mr. Bacus.
Then why not just call the local police and tell them what you know?
I wish it were that simple, but unfortunately things have become quite a bit more complicated. One property in particular, an unremarkable clapboard house in central Boston, has sat unoccupied for the past two years after the renters suddenly left. I’ve gone through three families in less than 10 years, all leaving suddenly and under mysterious circumstances!
But your association with Mr. Bacus is relatively recent?
Correct. The first two renters left before Mr. Bacus even entered my employ. And even though the most recent tenants did leave after his tenure began, I do believe that while he likely had nothing to do with their departure, that this particular unoccupied house, centrally located relative to all my others properties, would make a very convenient base of operations for any illicit activities that Mr. Bacus might be engaged in. And it is during these past two years, while the house lay empty, that I became aware of the pattern of thefts.
But wouldn’t people notice unusual activity at the house? Why not just go inside and see if there’s anything going on?
That is the nut of the problem my friend. The neighbors are convinced that the house is haunted and has been so for some time. Mr. Bacus is the only person that has been within 100 feet of that house since it was abruptly vacated. I certainly have not been able to convince a rental agent to open the front gate, much less go inside. Even the police avoid it, making a it a perfect “safe house” as the local scoundrels like to say. I’d have better luck renting ocean front property in the depths of Hell than getting to the bottom of this on my own, given my infirm condition.
Yes, that is where you come in my friend. I phoned Mr. Bacus a few minutes ago and asked him to meet you out in front of the university library tomorrow at 10am. If you kindly accept my request for help I would ask you to join him there and my driver, Mr. Ogilvie, will transport the two of you to Boston where you will inspect the home as a potential buyer with the assistance of Mr. Bacus of course. At this late hour he’ll have no time to travel there and undo any misdeeds that lay hidden in that infernal house.
So you really want me to investigate… him?
Well, both, I suppose: the house and the man. Who knows? Perhaps that house is haunted after all…. And if you find nothing of the illegal sort going on I can put away any more foolish notions about Mr. Bacus.