We were broke…again. Unemployed and down to our final German Mark. I remember flipping the coin to the bartender and telling him we would take one beer and an empty glass.
He caught the coin in mid-air, took one look at it, and asked, “That bad?” He had no idea.
As the man behind the counter was pouring our drink, I was trying to make my depressed friend merry. “Oh come on, Holds, cheer up. We will find work. Who knows, maybe we will even find work here. I mean, after all, even the smallest of German towns have criminals.”
He chose to ignore my positive attitude and instead chose to pour part of the beer, that had been placed in front of me, into the empty glass, that had been placed in front of him. “I appreciate your optimism, Wayson, but it is no use. We have roamed half of the German countryside without finding so much as a pickpocket. I swear I am starting to believe Germany is the most peaceful place on Earth. In fact, I am starting to think Germany is more peaceful than Iceland.”
“Oh, would you stop it, Holds,” I told my friend. “Crime is everywhere. You just have to look for it.” No sooner had I finished my statement did an idea pop into my head. “Holds, look where we are. We are in a bar. We are in a place where the elite, the middleman, and the underworld come to escape their troubles just like we are doing now. Why if there is anyone in this town who can tell us where the crime is, it is our good bartender.”
I immediately turned my attention away from Holds to call the gentleman over to where we’re sitting. I had no difficulty gaining his attention whatsoever, seeing as how Holds and I were his only customers on such a beautiful sunny afternoon.
As soon he was near us, I asked him. “Tell me, good sir, do you happen to know of any unique crimes that have happened around your fair village lately?”
I must admit, my question confused him a bit. “Why do you want to know?”
I explained our situation. “This is Mister Samuel Holds and I am Mister Josh Wayson. We are two private investigators, who happen to be in your country for only a short while longer, and we just so happen to be out of work and out of money and we were wondering if you by chance know of anyone who might be in need of our services?”
The entire left side of his face raised towards the ceiling before he asked me, “Say, aren’t you two…”
I stopped him before he could continue. “No. No. You are thinking of someone else. The two gentlemen you are thinking of only share similar names and a similar occupation to our own and nothing more.”
“I see,” he said, but I doubt he believed me. “It’s funny you two should be in town right about now, seeing as how something strange has been occurring.” He pulled out a paper and showed it to me.
At the top of the page, just underneath the name of the publisher and the date were five big, bold, black words; BODY LOVERS STEAL FIVE MORE!
“Interesting,” I said to the gentleman. “Who are The Body Lovers?”
He went on to tell us the story of what seemed to be a two-man operation. Two people were sneaking into graveyards at night, digging up graves, and taking the bodies right out of them.
“HOGWASH!” Holds exclaimed before he tipped my glass into his to take even more of the beer we were supposed to be sharing. “No one in their right mind would sneak into a graveyard to steal bodies. It’s disgusting. It’s inhuman. And it’s made up.”
“It’s true, I tell you,” our host said. “Bodies are disappearing right out of their graves. No one knows who is doing it and the police are completely baffled.”
I leaned over to my partner and whispered, “You know, Holds, this could be our big break. If we catch these ‘Body Lovers’ as the papers call them, we could become the heroes this small German town needs. We could be famous.”
“Forget about fame,” Holds told me before he poured the last of our beer into his glass. “We could get paid.” He downed the drink and rubbed his mouth. “Come, let us be on our way.” We left the bar and found a runner. Holds grabbed the boy and interrogated him. “What can you tell me about these Body Lovers?”
“These people are sick,” he said shaking his head. “They are taking bodies right out of their graves. Clearly, these people have no respect.”
Holds did his best to get more information out of the boy, but he refused to answer my partner until we told him who we were.
“Just a few gentlemen hoping to help the authorities with our talents,” I said before telling Holds to let go of the runner.
My partner was a little too obsessed with finding The Body Lovers before anybody else did. In fact, he was so obsessed, he began questioning everyone within his reach the same way he had questioned the runner.
After watching him do this to about eleven or twelve people, I suggested we get a map and visit the cemeteries in the area before sunset.
He thought it was a good idea too, seeing as how his current investigation tactics weren’t working.
After obtaining a map, we visited a local cemetery where The Body Lovers had taken a few members of the deceased from their graves. I watched Holds for about a half-hour as he crawled around on all fours. He went around the grave about a dozen times before making his way towards the cemetery wall. He then got up and walked around to the front. Once he came back, he gave me his explanation. “Look here, Wayson. It was a two-man job. One was a tall, thin man like me and the other was a short, fat man, like you.”
I ignored his remark and asked him to continue.
“Both men did the digging, but the short, fat man lifted the bodies to the top of the surface and dragged them over to the wall. While he was doing that, the tall, thin man went around to the front and got the carriage. Then, the short, fat man lifted the bodies over the wall and passed them to the thin man.”
“Wouldn’t it have been easier if he would have just brought the carriage into the cemetery?”
“Too risky,” Holds said. “If someone saw the carriage going in or coming out of the cemetery, the two men would have been caught. Now, the way they did it was perfect. The police are looking for a two-man team. The less time the two men spent together doing the job, the more successful the two of them would be.”
“True indeed Holds. But I am still confused as to how you would know the sizes of each man. The police can’t even seem to figure that out.”
“Why it’s rather straightforward my dear Wayson. Look at the ground.”
I did, but I still couldn’t figure out what he was getting at.
He explained. “The tall man was digging from this side because the dirt is further away from the grave. The short one was digging from that side because the dirt is closer to the grave. After the digging was finished, you will notice there is only one set of footprints in the grave. This set of footprints are close together, but you will see there is another set of footprints outside of the grave walking away from the hole. The footprints that belong to this other man have a greater stride, which means the man was tall.”
“Cleaver Holds! Anything else you think the police may have missed?”
“Yes,” he said pointing his finger up in the air. “All of the stolen bodies have two things in common. They are all male in gender and they are all of someone who has died and been buried recently. Just look at the tombstone. The name on this tombstone is John Jingleheimer and he died last week. Another man named Jacob Schmidt died the same week Jingleheimer died and his grave was robbed too.”
“Fascinating, Holds, but why would someone want the bodies of Jinkleheimer and Schmidt?”
“I don’t know Wayson.” He took a few moments to think. “Perhaps someone familiar with human anatomy can help us. I heard some of the villagers talking about a Doctor Victor Frankenstein. Perhaps we could pay him a visit?”
As the sun was setting, we made our way to Doctor Frankenstein’s castle. Holds introduced the two of us before telling him the purpose of our visit. “Doctor Frankenstein, we are two private investigators who have come to see you this evening because Wayson and I are on a search for the infamous Body Lovers, as the newspapers call them. If we could ask a few questions?”
The good doctor started to shake and within seconds, beads of sweat began to pour down the tall, thin man’s forehead. The more I tried to calm him down, the more he tried to push us away. We weren’t the only ones he was trying to push away as his servant, a short, fat man who was fighting for the doctor’s attention, was being pushed away as well.
“Doctor, doctor,” I repeated the word calmer-and-calmer each time. “We just have some questions about anatomy. We were wondering, what would inspire two people to steal bodies from a cemetery?”
As soon as we started asking questions about human anatomy, his nerves seem to calm. “There could be several reasons,” he said before wiping his forehead. He went into a long explanation of everything from personal study to the sexual. My questions were more about the personal study. Holds were more about the sexual.
We continued to ask the good doctor several more questions for several more minutes. The more questions we asked, the more on edge he started to become. Finally, he looked at us and said, “Gentleman, as much as I would like to answer your questions, I am rather quite busy and it is important that I finish my work before the storm comes.”
“We understand,” said Holds. “Thank you for your time.”
Holds and I left Doctor Frankenstein to his work. We went back to the bar to compare the little notes we had taken during the afternoon and that early evening.
It was during our time at the bar where we learned that a criminal named Solomon Grundy, who died on Saturday, was buried the day before on Sunday afternoon.
“Holds,” I said to my partner in the hopes of gaining his attention. “Based on this information, there is a good chance The Body Lovers will be at the cemetery this evening, and that they will make an attempt to steal Grundy’s body.”
He thought about what I had said before repeating it back to me. “Wayson, based on this information, there is a good chance The Body Lovers will be at the cemetery this evening, and that they will make an attempt to steal Grundy’s body. Come on, the game is at hand.”
We arrived at the cemetery well after dark, but no carriage was in sight. After walking around the cemetery walls a few times, we came to the conclusion The Body Lovers may already be inside. We leaped over the wall and crept towards Grundy’s grave.
Holds found two objects near the tombstone. He picked one of them up and called to me. “Look, Wayson, shovels.”
“Now we’ve gotcha,” a deep voice called to us. Policemen came out of the shadows and arrested both Holds and me. We were taken back to the bar, where a kangaroo court was being held for us.
“Yes, I know those two,” the bartender told the police. “They came into my place this morning pretending to be those two policemen from London.”
Another person said, “I overheard them talking about going to the cemetery. As soon as I heard what they said, I went to find the police.”
Holds and I spent a few days in a holding cell. We both thought we were done for. Even though there was no evidence proving we were The Body Lovers, we knew the fear of the villagers was enough to hang us.
Then, one night, I heard footsteps coming from outside of the cell of our window. “Hello, you there, can you please help us?”
Out of the darkness, two green hands grabbed the bars on our window and pulled them out of the wall. The fellow was as strong as an ox and the bars to him were almost like butter.
I woke Holds and the two of us managed to escape. I wanted to thank our friend with the green hands, but he was gone before I could do so.
Figuring we should do the same, Holds and I made a break for it. We tried to seek refuge at Doctor Frankenstein’s castle, but he was gone.
Two weeks went by. Holds and I managed to make it out of Germany and into Switzerland. The people there had never heard of The Body Lovers, but they did hear of Doctor Victor Frankenstein. It was then we heard the news that many of Frankenstein’s relatives had been brutally murdered and the good doctor was on a one-man quest to find the killer.
“Perhaps we should help him?” I said to my friend.
“No,” he said sipping out of the one cup of coffee the two of us were supposed to be sharing. “The people of his village are looking for us. It makes very little sense for us to go looking for him. Besides, based on the way he is traveling, he is probably to The North Pole by now.”
I agreed before I reached across the table. “Well, if that is the case,” I said as I took the cup of coffee out of my partner’s hand, “then, a toast to Doctor Victor Frankenstein. Here is to him and to the hope that he finds the murderer of his family.” Holds reached across the table and took the empty cup from my hand. He took a quick look at it and after realizing it was empty, he decided to raise it up anyway. “To Doctor Frankenstein and his quest. Best wishes to him. May God be with him as he travels the world to find this monster.”
Andy Lind is a third shift factory worker, but by day, he is a writer of romance, suspense, mystery, and a combination of all three. He has been writing since 2013 and is the author of The Galena Romance Series along with several other published poems. He lives in Rockford, Illinois but spends most of his free time traveling up and down The Mississippi River.