Day 1: 30 October 1926 Elmwood Military Hospital, Haiti.
I pick up the tale of this bewildering and seemingly endless day with the realisation that Jonah’s breakout has made the navy uneasy – there are guards on our door. I have confirmed that, at least according to the charts kept by the medical staff here, we have all been falling unconscious at exactly the same time and for the same duration – all the charts are identical. However, I take some comfort from the fact that our bouts of incapacitation are becoming less frequent.
I consented to Herr von Gruber examining me to determine whether there was a physical cause to our group unconsciousness, but there were no signs of any physical trauma. There is also no evidence that drugs have been administered. There must therefore be a psychological reason, though the shared nature of our ‘episodes’ is strange.
Doctor Kelly looked at us strangely when Henry asked if we had been found (by locals) together – we still have no recollection of that time. His inexpert opinion is that we may have, together, witnessed some horrific act of violence. He has asked us to, in effect, try to appear sane when Major Medwin arrives. He wants us to leave Haiti as soon as possible.
Nurses arrive with some chairs and a table – we shall see the Major soon. I have requested some small items to assist in my remembering and continuing this investigation. Gratifyingly, I did not pass out this time on conversing with the nurses.
Jonah is clearly anxious, he attempts to leave via the window, but we convince him to stay, though he appears to need a weapon to provide him comfort (a clipboard clip) – is he dangerous?
He overhears Doctor Kelly trying to convince someone in the corridor (Major Medwin) not to see us. This is odd, does he want us to leave or not?
Major Lloyd Medwin arrives and begins to interrogate us with the customary arrogance of a short military man with red hair. His clerk records the conversation, to our disquiet. The Major demands to know what we last remember; for his records I said I last remembered getting off a bus in Boston a month ago, Otto just said he was getting ready for bed, but not in Haiti, the others stay silent.
Major Medwin informs us there have been reports of foreigners going missing a few days ago – could these refer to us, or part of our group? A newspaper provided by one of the kind nurses on our way out later confirmed these reports.
He demanded to know why we were Haiti and what we were going to do. We countered with our own questions. The navy has clearly been investigating our situation – we now understand we were staying in the Hotel Olafsson in Port-au-Prince, we arrived by boat and we checked in together (but unsure if there were others). But nobody knows why we are here.
Tobias asks Major Medwin if he may telegraph his friend in New York who may know why we are here, since he had been intending to visit him. There is no telephone out of Haiti, unfortunately. His friend is one Jack Sterling (a wealthy businessman). Tobias’ passport indicates he did in fact visit New York in the last month. None of us recognise the name.
Major Medwin agrees to let us go as long as we inform him as soon as we know anything as to our visit to Haiti. He kindly arranged a jeep for us and we now have a map of the island. He has warned us to be careful in the city – Henry had asked if we are welcome – as some of the populace do not welcome white people (Haiti being under American occupation for the last 7-8 years).
Tobias drives skilfully, but perhaps a little too enthusiastically, back to Port-au-Prince. We appear to be followed by another vehicle from the military complex. Major Medwin clearly is interested in what we are here for. During the journey I find a newspaper article from the Tuesday 28th edition of the Haiti Progres about the disappearance of foreigners, screams and blood. We are disturbed by the thought that this could refer to us.
On arrival in the city we note there seem to be preparations ongoing for a festival – crucifixes, flowers and dead chickens. This would be the Fete Gede, a voodoo festival of the dead due to take place at the weekend (1 and 2 November). I keep having to remind myself that it is Thursday, today.
We find the address for our hotel and park up outside. A few of the locals give curious, but not hostile looks. Anticipating answers, we enter the Hotel Olafsson.
Day 1: 30 October 1926 Hotel Olafsson, Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
The hotel is new, perhaps two or three years old, and styled to attract foreigners such as us, no doubt. There is a sign in Creole over the desk, but I do not know what it says. An elderly black man sits behind the reception desk. He gives us a curious look at our attempts to explain that we have lost our memories. He re-introduces himself as Nathaniel and attempts to reply to the barrage of questions we fire at him. He explains that we have not been back here for a few days.
There is initial confusion, possibly caused by the language barrier or cultural differences, where we mistakenly understand that a room has been paid for by Otto (in fact we have three rooms paid for by Tobias, more on that later). Our belongings are either in the room or in the safety deposit box. It is quite large and rattles in an interesting way as Nathaniel carries it into a back room. Once alone we open the box.
Contents of the safety deposit box:
10 revolvers (5 of 38 Automatic Pistol and 5 of .45 revolver) none of which we remember as being ours.
$300 (not a sum we were expecting to find as an accumulation of our previous funds)
A List of Names
A map of Port-au-Prince to go with our Map of Haiti
Open return boat tickets on the Louisa Queen to New York
A Letter from Shaw Investigations*
A Sterling Industries report@
*Shaw Investigations is a private investigation firm based in New York.
@Sterling Industries is the corporation owned by Jack Sterling, Tobias’ friend.
Our Purpose has been revealed! On perusing the letter from Shaw investigations, which is addressed to Tobias Black, it appears that we have been retained by them to assist Tobias in locating one Jack Sterling who is believed to have gone missing in Haiti. The Reader may note on inspection of the letter that it refers to one Rupert Haze. This refers to my good self regardless of the inaccurate portrayal of my name in that letter and the false assertion that I have experience of the criminal underworld. But I digress. Now we had a purpose, the finding of Tobias’ friend. However, on examining the report on Sterling Industries, the matter became more complex and potentially more dangerous.
The report claims, such claims as yet to be substantiated or verified by us, that Sterling Industries may be supplying weapons to the Haitian rebels (the company already being known to supply weapons to the US military). This puts us potentially in the middle of a potential uprising, notwithstanding the illegality of the smuggling of weapons. By helping Jack Sterling we may be aiding a terrorist and become wanted criminals ourselves. But this is all supposition, and assumes the worst about a man most of us have yet to find let alone meet. I reveal these things merely to provide context to our investigation and not to slander a well respected businessman.
We retrieve all the items and are shown to our rooms. I will briefly set out what we found there in the order we found it as this aids my memory and even the tiniest detail may be of significance later, when hopefully our memories return fully.
Otto and Jonah’s room
In Otto’s suitcase, Otto discovered that his precious Luger pistol was missing. There was ammunition for the guns previously discovered in the safety deposit box, and some shotgun shells. There was also hiking boots, a rucksack and flashlight, not Otto’s as far as we can tell. Lastly, a matchbox from a speak easy ‘The Sugar Cane’ in New York, proof at least one of us had been there. The matchbox contained a large dead moth with a skull pattern on the back. This is known as a death’s head moth. Very curious.
Jonah’s suitcase contained the disassembled parts of a shotgun.
Tobias had a single room. It was extremely, suspiciously tidy. So was Tobias’ suitcase. In it we found a shipping manifest from the Sterling factory (the Motthaven, Bronx) to Labaddie Imports and Exports (Port-au-Prince) for agricultural machinery. Sterling Industries do not manufacture farm machinery. Immediately we are suspicious that this could be a cover for weapons shipments. But the tidy nature of the suitcase may mean it was planted here.
Jonah had gone to check the bathroom while the rest of us were checking out the suitcases. He came out rather abruptly and declared he needed a drink. He left immediately to find a bar.
Henry and Rupert’s room
We did not find anything out of the ordinary in this room or in our suitcase which thankfully contained our notes. However, I discovered with alarm that someone had removed several pages from my precious notebook, in fact all those pertaining to the period of my missing memories.