The next morning, Raymond spent hours going over the footage he had recorded and transcribing the interviews into his word processing program. He took screencaps of the house. He then opened his bottom-left drawer and removed a large binder. Upon opening it, he flipped through centuries of pictures of houses, people, and even animals that become twisted by the demon in the attic. He paused at a picture of himself in old west attire for a few moments and continued to an empty page. He placed the printed pictures in the book and labeled the page with the address and the date. He looked up to see it was almost noon.
I am getting to old to chase this demon. I hope this is the last time.
Looking back on the transcriptions, he read how many of the neighbors witnessed the packing of the car and the father and daughter leaving in a hurry. He took a blue pen and bracketed the passage. He added, “Georgia’s house?” on the margin. He was in the process of punching holes in the transcriptions to put them in the binder when the door opened and the secretary peeked her head to look at him.
“What can I do for you, Stephanie?”
“Someone is here to see you, Father.”
“Who is it?”
“Rachel, she said you talked to her yesterday.”
‘Give me a few moments and then let her in.”
Stephanie nodded and closed the door. Raymond’s hands were a flurry of activity as he raced to store the binder and the transcriptions. He had just shut the drawer when the door opened for the second time and a young woman with chestnut hair walked in and stood with her back against the door.
Raymond stood and pointed to a chair, “Make yourself comfortable, Rachel. What brings you into my office?”
“Well, yesterday’s investigation was the creepiest one I’ve ever been to, but you acted like you’ve seen something like that before.”
“Sunday Mass isn’t the only thing I do. I get sent to investigate locations and assess people for possible possessions. I have seen a lot of creepy stuff.”
She looked down at her phone, “I guess so, but you didn’t even react to what the house looked like. Have you seen that before, too?”
Raymond nodded, “Yes, and I made the mistake of approaching the house. I got deathly ill and ended up in the hospital, not to mention I needed to be cleansed. I didn’t want any of you to be subject to the same. After all, I’ve had to detach things from you and your team before.”
Rachel turned her lips into her mouth and looked around like a chastised child, “Yeah, we’ve done some stupid things.”
Raymond agreed, “The important thing is that you learned from them. Have you?”
“Yes, we have learned how to protect ourselves and what to say and what not to say during an investigation.”
“Aaaand.” Raymond looked at her with a skeptical expression.
“We’re still working on not walking into places that are more than we can handle.”
The priest sighed, “Well, three out of four is progress I suppose.”
“Rachel said to drop it, but I can’t shake the feeling I’ve seen Father Raymond before and not in church.” Evan stood in front of the microfilm files trying to decide where to start. Something the way the priest presented himself stuck with him like the last vestiges of webbing you can’t pull off completely. It was an itch in the back of his mind. He went to the older papers and magazines in the medium not knowing what it was he was trying to find or where in history he had seen it. He closed his eyes and let his fingers do the walking. He pulled out a file and made his way to the microfiche and started scrolling through it. There in sepia tones was a man in Chaplin attire circa late 1800s.
Evan rubbed his eyes and looked again thinking it was the tone of the preservation that was distorting the picture. Looking behind the Chaplin, Evan saw a brothel whose wood was covered with darkness matching the house they were at the day before. Wrote down the date and put everything back in its place. He then gave the librarian his card and entered a room with a solo computer.
Normally Steph does this, but she’s talking to the priest. She wouldn’t have looked into Father Raymond.
She thinks I am imagining things. You would think after a few years of doing this, she would trust my gut feelings.
He spoke out loud while entering the words, “Supernatural phenomena 1865-1895”.
There in the same tones was the picture from the microfilm, and so was the darkness in the brothel. He tried enlarging the picture before cropping out the Chaplin’s visage and plugging it into the image search. Evan’s jaw dropped when the results popped up on the screen.
Holy shit. What is Father Raymond?