Wednesday, January 9, 2013

All-Seeing Private Eye Affair


by permission of Bartok House Press.

Chapter One.  Desdemona Zorn.
“Under no less a penalty than that of having my throat slit, my tongue torn out by its roots, and with my body buried in the sands of the sea at low-water mark, where the tide ebbs and flows twice in twenty-four hours, should I ever knowingly or willfully violate this, my solemn Obligation.” Saying these words, and other words of equally serious intent, Christopher Lowenstein became a Freemason in Jurisdiction of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Washington. He loves the poetry and imagery of the Masonic Rituals, and knows the modern fictions about Masonry, and knows the past moments of public hysteria over Masonry have nothing to do with actual Masonry as it is practiced my millions of men every day .

Christopher’s younger friends know Masonry only from the movies, and they want to know where the treasure is, and who really runs things. Some of them imagine a super-secret cadre of powerful puppet-masters, making world governments dance to the tune of a New World Order.

Christopher laughs at those ideas, and says, “If the Illuminati are running things, they are doing a piss-poor job of it! Right now, the New World Order looks more like a jumbo-jet crashing into a mountain. I wouldn’t get your panties in a bunch over incompetent puppeteers, who have managed to destroy the economies of Europe and the United States. If they were smart, they would now come forward with workable solutions to fix our Great Depression, and take over.”

That usually puts an end to the young men’s talk about Masonry, Illuminati and the New World Order. The young men either look into actual Freemasonry, or move on to other chatty and trending topics on the Internet.

On this bright summer day, what troubles Brother Master Mason, Christopher Lowenstein, and his fellow Brother Master Mason, Jensen Westcott, is the decaying body of Philip Julian Zorn. Zorn was famous sci-fi writer and his body was found on a beach near La Push, Washington. The body was buried in the sands of the sea, at low-water mark, where the tide ebbs and flows twice in twenty-four hours. His throat was slit and his tongue was torn out by its roots.

A jogger found the body after spotting the writer’s bald head and flabby shoulders sticking up out of the sand. Zorn had been buried standing upright and was holding a square and compasses in his hands. A cable-tow, a thick white rope, was tied tightly around his neck. This looked awful for Masons, as it implied some violent symbolic tie to Masonry. The incident would probably start a flurry of tabloid speculation and accusations against Masonic secrecy and an evil-sounding oaths and obligations.

It did not help that Philip Julian Zorn had published several novels involving Mason-like, Illuminati-like secret societies. His latest unfinished novel, Under the Dog-Star, contains references to the Illuminati, and a chapter on the ancient mythological, Masonic architect, Hiram Abiff. Zorn’s story is set in modern Cairo and offers secret and violent details of the return to Earth of space-traveling ancient Egyptians. The aliens in the story are direct genetic descendants of the Pharaohs of the Fourth Dynasty, who ruled between 2600 to 2500 BCE.  In Zorn’s story, Hiram Abiff will not give up a secret password. The space-traveling Egyptians kill him because he will not give them the password. It is not clear in the unfinished novel why the password is so important to the spacemen.

Within days of the discovery of Zorn’s corpse, some paranormal Internet sites were already claiming actual Egyptian-aliens had killed him. The aliens wanted to shut him up. He was revealing their dark plans for world domination. The websites claimed Zorn was simply writing true stories about these aliens, and that Zorn had inside information through his very strange wife, Desdemona. She was thought to be in direct psychic contact with the aliens, and was perhaps herself an alien.

Desdemona had heard of the famous Pacific Northwest detective team, Lowenstein and Westcott and their private eye agency, Beyond Plato’s Cave. Determined to find out who killed her husband, Desdemona called Jensen Westcott.

“Hello. Mr. Westcott, I am Desdemona Zorn. My husband was killed a few weeks ago.
You have probably read about it. I would like to hire you to find whoever killed him.”
Cautious as always, Westcott said, “Thank you, Mrs. Zorn. But, honestly I don’t know how I can help you. Our local police and FBI investigators are very competent, and I am sure they are making every effort to figure-out what happened.”

With some impatience, Desdemona replied, “They will get nowhere. The murder of my husband requires a wider view of reality than most policemen have, it requires experience with occult practitioners or mutants. It requires your special expertise.”

Westcott was silent for a moment. Mrs. Zorn sounded serious and completely rational. It was true, past cases that involved witches and mutants had been outside the imaginations of traditional investigators. He said, “Please, Mrs. Zorn, come by and talk with us. I will call my partner Christopher Lowenstein. When can we expect you?”

Desdemona Zorn said, “I can be at your door in two hours.”

Looking at Desdemona Zorn, Lowenstein understood why the paranormal websites said she might be an alien. She was extraordinarily tall and thin, like a sculpture by Alberto Giacometti. She wore white make-up which made her pale skin ghostly, and dark black and turquoise eye-shadow. Each of her eyes was painted to be an Eye of Horus.

Desdemona wore a thick purple velvet cape over a scarlet body-suit. The body-suit so tight Lowenstein could count all her ribs from ten feet away. Her large breasts were compressed into squashed, rounded lumps, which looked nothing at all like human breasts.

Regardless of her appearance, when she spoke Westcott and Lowenstein knew they were in the presence of an intelligent and humorous woman. As she shook their hands she said, “Some people want Christmas to last all year long. I prefer Halloween. Don’t mind my look. I do it to throw people off balance, to open them up to new possibilities.”

After talking with Desdemona Zorn for over an hour, Westcott and Lowenstein were glad to take the case. They knew the usual investigators would not pursue the matter into all the obscure dark corners, nor accept the peculiar version of events, as told by Mrs. Zorn. Desdemona was not in psychic contact with space-traveling Egyptian aliens, but she had seen their ship. Philip and Desdemona Zorn were traveling together along the Nile River, visiting ancient sites in Hulwãn, Saqqara, Al Qibabat, and Beni Suef. In the desert, five miles east of Saqqara, at 2am, they both saw a spherical UFO hover and land, perhaps two hundred yards away from them.

Desdemona had taken some pictures with her cell-phone, but they were blurry and dark. She said she and Philip saw five humanoid creatures step from the space-craft. One of the images on her cell-phone did show five people standing near a small dark sphere. The sphere was plenty large enough to hold five people inside comfortably.

Desdemona said one of the people knelt down and buried a smallobject in the sand, then covered it with a boulder. The creatures spoke with each other for a few minutes, then re-entered the ship and flew off.
After the UFO had left, Desdemona and Philip walked over to investigate the place where the ship had landed. They found impressions in the sand from the feet of the landing pods, but no burn marks or residue of any kind. Then, Philip rolled away the boulder and retrieved a small, black stone, perhaps eight inches long, oval in shape. On the stone were hieroglyphs. Being familiar with the symbols, Philip quickly translated them as the names, Osiris, Amon-Ra, Ma’at, Hathor and the final symbols were not a name, but a phrase, “Master Student of Imhotep” The four names were two ancient gods and two ancient goddesses. Imhotep was the builder of temples under the rule of Djoser, a pharaoh of the Third Dynasty. No name was indicated next to the phrase, “Master Student of Imhotep.”

The stone was not worn in any way. It was not an ancient artifact. Later, Philip examined the stone under a microscope, and discovered the hieroglyphs had precise, laser-etched edges. There was no wear on the surface of the stone at all. The Cairo Museum experts said the stone was some modern prank, but they would not allow Philip to keep the stone. They said, regardless of its dubious origins, it was the property of the Egyptian people and would remain in the collection of the Cairo Museum. The Museum took six digital photos of the stone and gave prints to Philip. Philip and Desdemona then returned home to Shaw Island in the Puget Sound.

Desdemona took two 5 x 7 prints from her pink leather handbag, and handed them to Westcott. They were clear digital images of the black hieroglyph stone showing the top and side views. She said, “Those space people killed my husband.”
Her tone of voice was so self-assured, neither Westcott nor Lowenstein knew what to say. Desdemona Zorn clearly believed five people who traveled in a flying sphere has killed her husband. After a long pause, Westcott said, “Mrs. Zorn…”
She interrupted, “Please, call me, Desdemona.”

“Desdemona, what makes you so sure the people you saw killed your husband? I understand the entire experience was very strange, beyond belief, but I don’t see how it adds up to murder.”
Desdemona smiled, “Yes, I certainly sound like a wacko, don’t I? You two have probably not seen the autopsy photos or the police report. When the coroner showed me Philip’s body, I saw the same hieroglyphs. They had been tattooed on Philip’s back, under an All-Seeing Eye. They weren’t on his back three days before he disappeared. I took a shower with him, and I didn’t see any tattoos.”
Lowenstein asked, “Who knew about the stone, besides yourself and the curators of the Cairo Museum?”
“As far as I know, only Philip and I, and the two men at the Museum. But, the men at the Museum may have shown the stone to others. I can’t say.”

“Did Philip say anything about the incident in the desert?” asked Westcott.
“He was mysterious about it. He said he had been ‘expecting something like this.’ But he did not say what he meant by that.
When I asked Philip who the spacemen were, he replied, ‘The Illuminati, my dear. They have come back looking for the tomb of Imhotep. You will understand the whole thing, when I finish my book.’ That’s all he said about it”
Lowenstein asked, “Desdemona, did Philip say why the spacemen wanted to find the tomb of Imhotep? Do you have any notebooks, any of the research he did for his books?”
“My husband was very secretive, even with me. I have a few notebooks, but many facts are already out. My husband’s publisher has already started marketing Philip’s novel, Under the Dog-Star. The story is only half-written, but the publisher will probably make a bundle off it. Perhaps you have seen it on the Internet.”
Lowenstein nods, “Yes, I have read most of what is posted.”

“Then you know, Philip wrote that the five people on the black stone— Amon-Ra, Osiris, Ma’at, Hathor, and the un-named “Master Student of Imhotep”— are all living descendants of the Pharaohs of the Fourth Dynasty, who ruled over 4000 years ago. In Philip’s story, the “Master Student” is identified as Hiram Abiff.
Hiram Abiff will not give up a secret password. The space-traveling Egyptians kill him because he will not give them the password.
I believe my husband was the character, Hiram Abiff. He refused to tell the space-people what they wanted to know, so they killed him. Philip was foretelling his own death when he wrote that part of the novel. Of course, I have no proof of this, and it sounds like complete fantasy, but my gut tells me this is what happened.”

Westcott sees tears well up in Desdemona’s eyes. Westcott stands up, walks over to where she is sitting and puts his arm around her shoulders. “Desdemona, we will find out what happened. The first thing we need to do is see your husband’s notebooks, whatever you have.”
Too overcome to speak, Desdemona’s nods her head.

The next day Lowenstein and Westcott spent ten hours looking at every detail of Philip Zorn’s notebooks. Desdemona had found only three with references to the novel, Under the Dog-Star. What was not mentioned, seemed almost important as what was mentioned in the notebooks.
For example, Zorn writes: “I met with Ma’at today. Ma’at says I am making Amon-Ra very nervous. I took this to be a warning. Still, I cannot betray my own race. I need to find a way to deliver the key to Amon-Ra and Osiris without allowing them to cause harm to the civilizations of Earth. I do not know if this is even possible.”

On the face of it, the writing appeared to be just a normal sci-fi fantasy. A human hero protecting planet Earth from aliens. However, if it is read as a personal diary of Philip Zorn, that single paragraph might shake the world. That paragraph contains the only reference to
meeting or speaking with the space-traveling Egyptians, or aliens or whatever they were.
As much as he hated to admit it, Westcott tended to view the notebooks as a personal diary more than scattered ideas for a sci-fi novel. He reached this conclusion because some of the details would have no purpose in a fictional novel. At one point Zorn writes: “I wish I could tell Desdemona about the jackpot I hit at the Tulalip Casino. But, she would only yell at me for going to the casino. She hates casinos and thinks everyone-else should also hate casinos. Well, it’s a fun distraction for me playing the slots. And I sure don’t mind having an extra $2000 in my pocket!”

Westcott wonders why that personal note would be in the notebook, if the notebook was only a collection of ideas for a sci-fi novel. In another place, Zorn scribbled a reminder to himself to call up his cousin Kathy, who was having a birthday in a few days.
“Lowenstein,” said Westcott “This will be something completely new for us. We have never tracked down space-traveling Egyptians before.”

Lowenstein quietly replied, “They can’t be any worse than mutants.”