Susan found she couldn’t let the mystery go. As a journalist she was successful here, a big fish in a small pond who often yearned for bigger seas and to take her career further. But this battled with her love of the smaller town’s lifestyle and its people. She was part ambitious and part domestic, and the two sides of her battled often within, though the town-loving side had won for the moment.
But now she had the scent of something. It was probably nothing – a friend’s dream, her proximity to the reputedly haunted house with its dark, shrouded history, and the excitement of a new man in her friend’s life, writ large against a nightmare with oddly occult accuracy. Still, she felt something, deep in her bones, and that there was more here than her more pragmatic side would tell her.
It was the connection of the cards, and then the connection to the house of the Hanged Girl that made her think. She’d come to the town many years after the tragedy and only heard the overview most new townsfolk shared. She’d never looked into the past history because her focus was on the here and now, her reporting concentrating on what was modern and of import in the moment. She wouldn’t have a job for long if she just dwelled on the past, and particularly on aspects of the town most people eschewed. But in any case she had been personally future focussed, so she’d just never paid all that ghost talk, and the story behind it, much attention.
Now, with her friend so close to what might be a deeper mystery, she wondered why she’d never looked backwards, to the past, to this case. Because really the Hanged Girl was the most interesting feature of the town’s history she knew of, and nothing more interesting – or more dark – had happened since.
So she took her rare spare time over the next few days and devoted it to research. Google is your friend, she thought, and used that for some background though little on the topic had made it far enough up the google search engine to give much joy. So she resiled to more old-fashioned methods and went to the local library to look up old newspapers- now luckily digitally restored and available rather than on microfiche.
And as she researched she started to realise that the story of the Hanged Girl was more complex than she realised.
The girl in question was named Carlotta Manors, and she lived with her uncle from her father’s side, Jeffrey Manors, after her parents died in a rather horrendous train accident in Sydney. She became remarkable in death, because nothing about her apart from the tragic loss of her parents – a multiple death tragedy that affected many other families and lives at the time – distinguished her in any way that might have been deemed newsworthy.
But prior to her mysterious and unsolved death and the disappearance of her uncle, there was a scandal close to her of another kind. It seemed that Jeffrey was a financial advisor of some sort and that he had either ineptly lost, or possibly swindled, many townsfolk out of their life-savings with flawed – or bogus – investments. Which it was – incompetence or malevolence, was not clear. But the result was. And for a brief period the police considered that perhaps Carlotta was not the only murder victim, but one of two, and that somewhere they might find the uncle’s body also.
It seemed the theory of the time was that some aggrieved customers of his less than successful advice might have banded together like vigilantes of a sort and taken to retribution based murder. But his body was never found, and no connections could be made to anyone conclusively in relation to the Hanged Girl’s death, and over time the urban legend overtook the actual investigation and the ghost story was born.
Retribution, Susan thought to herself, an interesting motive.
She closed the window on the library computer with this information and opened another for Google, following a hunch. What was the card before the Hanged Man in the pack?
And then she saw the answer and something in her journalist soul truly woke up, purred and stretched. She was sure, she was sure, there was something here.
The card before The Hanged Man is Justice. Justice is rough perhaps, it can be retribution. There’s a deeper mystery here, and a body of a man buried somewhere also, I have no doubt, she thought, but if so, what could it possibly mean?
And Justice is the 11th card in the tarot pack, she continued, fevered, so how far back might this actually go? Could the theory ever, ever possibly hold?
(c) Helen M Valentina 2015, All Rights Reserved