The third installment of Wyrdtails
That I knew this young man’s father, when I, in turn, too wore a younger man’s clothes, was more true than I cared to admit, but admit it I did. More’s the pity. Landon was curious as to the nature of our friendship, which I played off as two learned men who had merely crossed paths over similar interests in the ephemera of one Aleister Crowley, notorious magician, author, and scoundrel. The young detective was not buying my ruse, I’m sure, but he did not call me on it. He had, it seems, bigger fish to fry. Addressing my deceit would have delayed the discourse that led him to my door. Landon Connors, Doctor of Mycology and opprobrious psychonaut, was many things, but most assuredly he was, above all else, to the point. Some might choose the word driven. I prefer obsessed.
It was in this that he most resembled his father, Ashton Connors. Landon may have taken his mother’s looks, but his mind was most certainly paternally imprinted. The elder Connors was devious in his pursuits, the weight, I fear, of being born into a family whose legacy was so intertwined with the Hart Cult.
Oh, they’d deny it with their dying breath, but the truth of it is plain to see. The Order of the Sacred Hart, as all hermetic secret societies do, thrive on their corruption of the truth, of replacing said truth with a puzzle box that only they hold the key to. That the Connors had embraced this legacy of manufactured heresies for five generations was a sad testament to the power of such lies.
Ashton Connors was in his early twenties when we’d met. I was on holiday, visiting the Egyptian Museum of Cairo and having a look at Lot A 9422, the infamous Stele of Ankh-ef-en-Khonsu, better known as the Stele of Revealing. The Stele had formerly been kept in the Bulaq Museum, under the auspicious inventory number 666. Little wonder that the Crowleys were drawn to it. As I looked upon the Stele, behind its glass enclose, a man’s voice echoed throughout the vaulted chamber.
“It’s a fake,” he’d said. “The imp Crowley made off with the original.”
“Is that so,” I had responded, doubting this young man’s statement.
“Quite, and I can prove it.” He took a business card from his jacket and handed it to me.
Intrigued, I agreed to look him up once I returned to the States, which I, with Thaddeus in tow, did some months later. And he did in fact prove to beyond a shadow of doubt that the Stele housed in Cairo was indeed a forgery. He did this by allowing me to examine the original in his home in rural Indiana. I, of course, demanded to know how he came to possess such an important artifact. He replied by trying to recruit Thaddeus and myself into his fraternity.
I will admit, it was a tempting offer, but there was something not right about any of this. Though it took great effort on my part to dissuade Thaddeus, we collectively declined, after a week of drug-fueled initiation. We swore upon ancient gods not to divulge the secrets we’d learned in those seven days of recruitment and we took those oaths very seriously.
I break said oaths only now because Thaddeus and Ashton are both gone and I am on my own deathbed. Let the ancients do their worst. I have served the son. Surely that will give them pause when Death accepts me into his embrace.
to be continued
Tuesday, December 16