by JR Bancroft
Chapter two of The Secrets of Lineage and Truth in Murder
|Chapter Two: Moving Forward
Richard was sitting at the desk sketching, William was doing the same but from the couch. There was a distinct difference in their methods. Richard was very organized and practical, William was messy and chaotic. They just finished lunch and had nothing else to do but work. William slumped over dozens of papers which caused several to make their way to the floor. "Do you know if Thomas is awake yet?" Richard asked, a bit concerned. "Yeah, I saw him rummaging around the kitchen earlier," William replied.
"Oh good," Richard said. "I'm glad he got back after we ditched him last night." “You know he would have done the same thing to us," William said in response to the hint of guilt that laced Richard’s words. "Obviously." He said, reassured. Both men kept their eyes on their designs. "I really like the solid disc wheels," Richard said smiling, a bit proud of himself. "Do you think it is bad that we are both using them?" "Nah, wheels don't make the car, but they do look nice on their own."
The wind fluttered past the window. The old glass panes framed with weathered metal shook violently in its wake. Richard looked up, his eyes were wider than usual.
It was very obvious that he was uncomfortable when any potential of a storm reared its head. He repositioned himself in the chair. "William sat up and stretched his back. “This trunk is giving me more trouble than it's worth.” He pointed to it with his drawing pencil. “Attaching it on the outside is the only option I can work out." William said looking at Richard. "That is not true." Richard retorted. William waved him off, "I'll figure it out." They suddenly heard a loud bang, they both looked at each other, "I really can't believe he made it back." They laughed.
Thomas was wearing the same pants he had on the night before, but a different shirt. He was hunched over, and his face was very pale. He smacked his large hand against the light switch turning off the light on the ceiling. "You fuckers." He said aggressively but with a hint of affection. Richard and William looked at each other again, they were trying to hold in their laughter. "I had to walk two miles to get back here. I'm so sore!" He threw his body onto the couch, crushing some of the drawings. "Well, at least you were well enough to change your shirt," Richard said trying to be satirically optimistic. "I only changed it because the one I wore last night was covered in vomit. Otherwise, I wouldn't have even bothered.”
William tried to calmly pull his papers out from under Thomas’ butt and legs. Thomas sat up to figure out what was moving beneath him. He pulled one of the drawings close to his face. "Eghh. I can't believe you guys are still working on this after yesterday." "It's a good product," William began. "I'm not ready to give up on it yet."
"I guess you guys weren't flattering me when you said it would work out." Thomas stood as he continued to speak, peering over Richard 's shoulder. Since we are only going to use one model, I will need to pick between your designs, as you know... that is if they are even good enough." Richard nodded, "I like having options." "Your opinion does not matter," Thomas said smugly. He laughed. "Blah. I don't even want to judge, they are both probably horrendous." Richard held up a colored version of his design. “It's sleek, no one will be able to pass this up." Thomas grabbed it, then went over to look over at his other option. Thomas laughed loudly as he looked at the model William handed him. “A clunker as usual." He said, not at all surprised. Richard laughed. William quietly and calmly defended himself. "It's durable."
To pass the time while Thomas decided to look over the cars and took the papers and left the room.
Richard picked up a newspaper and sat down on the couch. “I wonder if there are any events listed here that would be worthwhile for us.”
After a moment of silence, he answered. "That is a good point, we really don't have any knowledge of what events are common in this country, let alone this state." “It can't be much different from England," Richard said rationalizing. "We are brothers." "Weird step brothers if anything." William laughed at his comparison then pointed to a large bulletin on one of the pages. "What is that?" He asked. He pulled the page and looked at it closely. "I honestly have no idea," Richard said. "Wait what about this?" He asked again. "Oh my goodness, that's genius!" "I wonder what is required to be a part of this?" "Probably some logistics we are not ready for." Thomas entered the room. "What's all the excitement?" He said sarcastically not really caring about the answer. "Take a look at this." William said quietly yet proudly. "Holy shit, this might actually work. Get them on the phone now." Richard ran to the phone. Thomas grabbed the phone roughly from Richard and stood attentively waiting for the call to connect. .
While he waited the two other men entered the hallway. "Do you think we will be ready for what they need from us?" "There is no reason to worry yet, we don't even know anything about this fair." Thomas shouted from the other room "It does not matter what it takes, we are doing this."
He then turned his attention back to the phone. Richard then said. "It's a good thing that we continued to work on our designs." William looked at him, "It doesn't matter how much more time we get I'm still not ready. I have a lot more I want to try." Thomas yelled from the room, "You can come back in." “Do you think we should have both prototypes there?" "I don't see why not, more options make more people happy." "No.” Thomas said forcefully jumping in, "More options confuse people. We are sticking with one for now. Giving the public an opinion is not cost-effective.” “So? What happened? What did they say?" William asked eagerly. "We discussed what we were looking for and I have to run down to the courthouse to get the forms. I'll get the official information that we need there." Despite not hearing a definite yes they all looked excited. "I'm going to head over right now." He threw on a long jacket that covered up his wrinkled clothes and walked out the door. "I actually think this is going to work," Richard said. "Well let's hope so, it is our only option right now. I really won’t mind if the project ends here.” “I would be disappointed but I would not mind that either, there are tons of jobs at home for us." "Let me see your design." He handed it to him and Richard looked it over. "This one is nice, the lines are very clean, though I don't know about this trunk." William nodded, " That's exactly what I have been struggling with."
Richard walked over to the desk and pulled up one of his design ideas. "To solve that problem I came up with this concept." William looked over it just as Richard had done his. "What about storage? Am I missing something?" He did not see the storage container. "Behind the seats," Richard answered strongly. "I tried that." He admitted, “I didn't like the confinement." "I understand that but my measurements are different than yours so it worked better for the size I'm working with." Richard responded. "I'm still convinced I will be able to get my idea to work properly." "Four engines?" Richard asked somewhat ignoring his last words. He nodded deeply, crouching further over his work. "So we're really just competing in physical appearance." "I wouldn't say that," he responded. "Physicality is my last concern, the function is more important." "I don't agree." Richard continued pointing to his car. "Creating something different and something better is important. We are trying to outdo the Model- T." He looked at William, he could tell his mind was churning. "That's why I made sure my car was obviously smaller, " he added. "Whether that will work or not, I do like your paint concept here." "I wanted something that influences the imagination to envision the car moving fast down the road." "I'm not worried about speed," William interjected. “Wow, what a shock...I'm not necessarily promoting that it's fast, I'm just implying it.” “The dream is important. “I wonder how Thomas is going to react to these, he is very particular.” “You act like I don't know him. He is gonna destroy us.” They laughed. “ Actually, as long as he can get his big head in the model we are fine.”
They went back to looking at their respective calculations. “Oh I've been wanting to ask you, do you have an estimated consumption?” Richard took a pause, “Should be the same as our Copans here, around 1600 km per 2 quarts of oil. mine's a little bit heavier but around the same.”
Thomas returned with the paperwork and explained what they had to do. The event was a worlds fair, they hadn’t ever been to one but they knew what they were like. They were going to bring their cars there and create a station where they could display them and show off their different features. Their goal was to drum up mass interest and drive investors to them.
Thomas filled out the paperwork and then they began finetuning their presentation.
They had a week until the fair. They didn’t have a lot to do since the cars were their products and they were already built. The picked out some posters to post on an information board to explain what they were offering at their display/ demonstration area. The fairgrounds were not far from where they were living according to American standards. In England a thirty minute drive was daunting but for some reason in America it was pretty common. After a long night out, William, Thomas and Richard returned to the house. They were all deep in a drunken stupor. Thomas was singing his own praise, loudly and obnoxiously. That usually annoyed the other two but they were too happy to care. In the sitting room, Richard continued to pour everyone drinks and the night continued.
The car spectacle was one of the most popular attractions that night at the fair. They were approached by dozens of people interested in buying on the spot. They were forced to start a waiting list for the first American models once they were manufactured.
Thomas tried to stand, he was topheavy and had trouble pulling his body up. When he made it to a reasonably stable standing position he started to sway. His uncoordinated movements turned into a sort of dance.
The action accompanied by chanting complete gibberish. William immediately recognized the dance as one they learned traveling in Africa years before. It was barely recognizable, yet very apparent by the tune of the gibberish.
After a few seconds, he fell to the forces of nature and collapsed onto the couch again. If anyone had seen their state they would've called the police. They were rowdy, crude and very loud. After eating to try and suppress the alcohol they all eventually passed out.
William found his way to the desk and slumped over it. His clothes were disheveled like usual and he was wearing a newspaper hat. Richard made it to his bed and Thomas somehow ended up under the phone table.
Despite the bright sun shining outside signaling the afternoon, the room was dark and frozen. The drapes were thick velvet and were usually drawn by Thomas. The sun did not have a chance that day.
The phone rang in the still hours of the afternoon. It's metallic bell, buzzed, echoing off the walls. There was a break, as though they hung up, then they began to call again. Richard was the only one responsible enough to be awake, he had just finished eating and staggered in the dark through the hallway. His shirt was still unbuttoned and was only wearing long johns on his legs. “Hello?” His voice was raspy. “What? Wait…” He tried to shake off drunken stupor, though he was not successful. "Excuse me one moment." He looked down and saw a glass of water on the table amongst the garbage and while holding the receiver away from his face he tossed it covering his head with water. He let the cold liquid drip down his face and returned to the phone seconds later. "Sorry about that. How can I help you?" He stood silently listening to the strong American accent spew what seemed like dozens of words a second. "Yes, very much so." He paused, not sure if he could believe what he had heard. " We are very open to that. Thank you very much! We will be waiting to hear the rest of the details! Thank you! Goodbye!”
He hung up the phone and stood staring off into a dark corner of the room partially too excited and partially succumbing to the alcohol. He could not fathom the news he heard. After snapping back into reality he began to yell excitedly. "William!" He ran over to the desk where he was slumped over. "We got an offer!" He looked around to see if Thomas was around and jumped back when he saw his enormous gorilla-like arm hanging out from under the table.
He ran back to him. Knowing he was most likely not hurt from their hundreds of other drunken nights in the past. "Thomas! We just got a call!" William stirred behind him, but Thomas did not move at all. Richard, whose voice was less than loud ran to the window and pulled open the thick curtains. The bright light flooded the room uncomfortably. Every corner was revealed to the outside. Even Richard, who had been awake for a bit feeling the light cutting right through him. Thomas, who was very particular about the lighting he slept in, began to wake up. "What the hell is going on?" “Thom! Get up, I have good news!" Thomas groaned hating Richard with every fiber of his body in that moment. "Shut up unless we got an offer." He said, assuming they hadn't, for his time was stuck in the early morning, a completely unrealistic time for business calls. "We did. That is what I've been trying to tell you!" His athletic body seemed to bounce with his words like a young child trying to wake up his parents.
Thomas sat up, lightly bumping his head on the table. "Damn it. You better be serious about this." As Thom’s booming baritone voice filled the air, William awoke. "What's going on?" " Richard said we got an offer." "We did." He interjected. “A company in Columbus Ohio called they want to manufacture the Copan 12. He said he would call back with more details later today.” "Oh my god the fair really worked." "I'm glad, I feel like I've been through the wringer." "That's how you know you did a good job," Thomas said trying to stand.
"Alright alright, we can call it a day, let's all get some food and go back to bed." William was so relieved he did not say a word and slowly shuffled off, with one shoe missing, to the kitchen. "Was he wearing only one shoe?" Thomas asked not shocked in the slightest and very amused. "I did not notice," Richard said laughing and running to the hallway to see. "He's already in the kitchen." "He was definitely only wearing one shoe." Thomas walked to the window and closed the drapes. "Ah, that is so much better. What time is it?" "Quarter twelve," Richard answered precisely while still looking at his beautiful gold watch. "Good lord, only quarter twelve, I'm definitely going back to bed.” ''Oh what the hell, I will too." The three men ate then went to their respective bedrooms and collapsed into another round of sleep.
Hours later there was a knock on the door. A light tapping at first, but after a minute of no response, the knocking got louder. "See I think something is wrong." The older lady said to the man in front of her. The man was still waiting for an answer, as the lady watched on seemingly concerned.
The man was about fifty, he was tall and distinguished and very kind. He was Richard’s, Thomas’ and Willuam’s landlord. He only lived a block away.
The lady was in her late sixties. She was wearing an ankle length dress with lovely gray curls tightly pinned to her head. "I know they had to do with the crazy noises I heard last night.” 'What did they sound like again?" The man asked. "Like a loud screeching, I heard the sounds peak as if they were traveling to this house then they stopped. After that yelling and then silence." "It's very true that I don't actually know these men personally enough to call them friends, but they are respectable businessmen." "The noises, I'll never forget, they were horrific and machine-like, I don't know if I feel comfortable living next to someone who has a mysterious past." "Now Carol, you know they aren't that sort of men. They are from England, and in the automobile business from what I've seen. I bet those noises were their cars." Carol looked suspicious, "The automobile business? I didn't realize there was business like that in England.” The man held back is negative judgment regarding her comment and tried to tell her how blind she was with kind words. "Well, the automobile is very modern and on the breaking edge of the technology world, everyone is going to try and jump on the bandwagon." "Oh goodness not me, it seems foolish." The man pulled out a key to the door and opened it slowly. "Hello?" He yelled in a friendly manner. "Hello?" He leaned into the hall. "I don't hear anything, probably aren't home." He was about to step back when Carol pushed past him. "We can't take that risk, we must make sure they are all okay." She walked briskly through the hall and into the sitting room. It was still dark and haunting.
She looked around as the man followed. She turned on the light in the sitting room. Her intention was to get these men to move out, she was not into the publicity and noise they brought into her town. She walked over to the desk. “Look at these sketches, they are lovely.” The man walked over trying to limit the snooping. “Yes, I have seen a lot of their work. Like those cars, they keep outside." "They made those?" "Well not by hand but they designed and manufactured every single inch." The man began to walk around the room looking at all of the garbage scattered everywhere. "Looks like a good party." He said while picking up a bottle off the floor. " I suspect they are still in bed, considering the remnants on the floor and all of the cars seem to be parked out there. How many people are staying here? You know there can't be more than there are bedrooms. Unless there is a couple." The man rolled his eyes without her knowledge. "Yes I am aware, I have been a landlord for many years now. There are only three of them, all men." "Three?" There are more three cars out there! One car per house is too many but one for each person!” The man looked at her, "I told you that is their business." "It seems excessive Sean, I don’t think I like them living here.”
"It is an odd site for sure, but they won't be here for long." "Really?” She said gratefully but with an odd touch of disappointment. The lady had been speaking loudly, not caring for the men who were asleep. She jumped as she heard a noise coming from the back of the house.
The men heard the noises coming from the living room. Willian and Richard peeked out of their rooms. “Do you here voices?” He nodded. “Let’s go investigate.” They walked down the stairs to the hall. They saw the door was open, maybe it’s Thomas?” Richard ran into the living room. He realized it was Sean, and relaxed. "William, it's only Sean... and some lady,” Richard yelled back. William entered
He looked at the lady waiting for an explanation. "I'm sorry, It's my fault we are here, I heard loud noises last night and I was concerned." "Then why didn't you inquire last night, or call the police?" He said not believing her actions or excuse. Richard jumped in trying to lighten the tension. "We don't know they didn't, we were very gone." "Actually, she did not pursue this last night because of me. She called me first and described the noise and I suspected what it was so I told her not to call the police and I would bring her here this morning to check everything out.
"Were we really making that much noise?" "Yes," Carol said indignantly. "Oh, I'm so sorry." Richard said, "Though I can't imagine how our voices carried out of the house. You must live next door." "No actually two houses away." "The engines," Thomas interjected. "Oh, of course, We were celebrating last night." “Oh did you get an offer?" Sean asked excitedly. “Well actually, we hadn't at that point, we were just happy with how well the fair went." "We got one this morning though!" "Celebrating?" Carol questioned. "How did you make those loud noises?" "Oh, it's simple." Said William. “We were revving." "Revving?" She looked just as confused as she sounded. She was unfamiliar with the topic and a little mesmerized by Williams' face. "It's when you hit the gas while keeping the car in place. It essentially displays the engine sound." She nodded. She was completely bewildered but his answer seemed logical enough that she didn’t press any further.
There was an awkward pause. "Oh I'm so sorry, let me introduce you. Carol, this is Wiilam and this is Richard, they have one other partner, Thomas, but he’s not here at the moment. They are the borders here, and men this is Carol, she rents the house two doors down from you." Richard put out his hand,"Lovely to meet you." William followed suit. "Well, I’m sorry we
intruded, we were just concerned about your well being." "Yes, I'm sure that the sound of revving cars can be terrifying if you are not familiar with them.” The two exited, leaving the men alone in the sitting room again. "Bollocks," Richard said shaking off the drowsiness. “We should have mentioned to Sean while he was here that we might be leaving." "I'm sure he already expects that since we told him that we got an offer." "Very true." "I can still go after him?" William offered. "No, I'll just call him later."
Thomas exited from the dinning room having just finished eating. “What’s going on?”
They all convened in the dining room to spill over some papers and maps in the large table. "Columbus..." "Yes" " I don't even know where to begin.” "I believe Ohio." He suggested knowing he was completely right. Thomas turned away as the other two searched for the exact location on the map. He braced for the possibility of a long journey. To them, the USA was terrifyingly large and unmanageable. "Hey, it's not that bad." Thomas turned towards them. "How far?" "A few hours." Thomas immediately relaxed, "Fuck that is much better than I expected. How many routes?" “From what I can see here so far it looks like there are a few viable options.”"Well, we have three cars, we could get transport for them, or we could each drive.” Richard, without hesitation, jumped in. "I'm definitely driving myself.” "I think we should transport all of them and travel together," William said. "That is practical but not fun at all." Thomas retorted. "Does everything have to be a race?" "Yes." "I'll make arrangements.” Richard said trying to cut through their tedious games "Go ahead, this is the perfect time to look over your final design proposals." "Perfect," Richard commented while gathering his things. "I'm not sure how I feel about mine," William admitted. Thomas gestured for him to bring over the portfolio. "I don't care, let me see it.” Richard put on his coat then handed him the folder. “I will back mine all the way." He said handing it to Thomas. He laughed, "Of course." William placed his on the table. "Mine may not be the prettiest but it will stand the test of time" All I hear is ‘slow’” Thomas said, teasing him. Thomas and Richard laughed.
"I better go. See you in a bit." Richard said as he left. William was about to leave the room also but Thomas called him back. "While he is gone let's talk about your design" "Well," he began, " Keeping the basic true Copan 12 form the chassis is an A-frame 747cc inline with four engines. Right here you can see I used solid disc wheels and horizontal hood levers." "So far you both have those features." Will continued "The difference obviously is in appearance, mine has a more classic look and this is the boot, it's made out of steel and it's detachable."
After a few seconds of silence. Thomas spoke. "It's not horrible, I'm worried about the boot, let's see what Richard came up with. Okay.... he has a fuller classic outline, but I don't see storage capabilities. Oh wait, it says there is dedicated space for luggage behind the seats. I'm fond of the Duesenberg style painting across the doors here." "Should I leave?" William said feeling uncomfortable while Thomas described his competition. "No, wait, I need a sounding board." "You are going to pick Richard’s design aren't you". "Yes, with a few tweaks it's the best bet, I think. Your boot will cost too much, which defeates the point of our mission, to supply American families with a simple second car" William mouthed the words with him. He had heard the goal so many times before. "Hopefully with the rise of cars, the dual carriageway will spread.”
As their conversation was dying down the phone rang. Its measured terse trills pierced the peaceful ambiance of the day. Thomas swiftly rushed to the phone in the sitting room. "Hello? Oh, that's most convenient, thank you." William entered, "the investors?" He nodded. “The transport has been arranged for the cars. The train that runs nearby here only has one stop between here and Columbus." "Oh wow, that is wonderful. When do we leave?" “One week.” “Oh, good we can get everything ready by then.” He began to gather all of his papers pertaining to the design of his model and laid them in the wastebasket. "What are you doing?" Thomas asked. William looked up at him. "Well, you're not using my model so I figured I might as well toss it." "Well yea, but I figured you would want to still keep them." "Oh." He laughed. These are all the bad copies. Of course, I am keeping the final ones.”
With all of the good news, Thomas's attitude and demeanor took a complete turn since the days before. He was walking tall and was much louder and cockier. William and Richard occasionally glanced at each other rolling their eyes at his peacock show.
“What else needs to be done?" William asked. Thomas walked over to the drink cart and poured himself a drink. "Eugh, after last night how can you want another drink?" Richard said feeling sick just watching him. "It's nothing hard, just some sherry." He lifted up his tiny glass. "OK sherry and a hint of something a bit stronger." They laughed. "Either of you want a drink?" William looked at him and answered quickly "No, I have some things to work on." He took his papers to his bedroom.
"What's wrong with him?" Richard asked, "I didn't pick his design." He said cavalierly. "Oh... OH! you picked mine!" He said gleefully. "Yes, I liked it, though I, of course, could make it better." Richard, not even bothering to look at him, spoke. " I really don't think so, every aspect is appealing" "Yeah to you..." Thomas said while staring out the window. "Well, I think it will have a wide appeal." He said staying positive. "We will see." Thomas stood unmoved, barely listening to him. He stared off into the sky catching snippets of chimneys and smoke in his line of vision. Richard turned to him, "If you don't think it's ready, what would you change?"
They ran around and tried to get everything in order before they had to meet with the investors. One night, around eight o'clock they were going over paperwork in the dining room. The phone rang. It jolted William out of his deep thought and he immediately stood up, which was not in his character.
He walked to the living room and answered the phone. He returned to the dining room several seconds later, ”Richard, it's for you.” Thomas picked up on the uncomfortable expression that William was projecting. Richard returned to the room about five minutes later, his demeanor had changed completely. “My father is dead.”