* * * *

“It’s a curious case, Lieutenant,” the medical examiner said. “It’s fortunate I’ve dabbled a bit in psychiatry; I can at least give you a lead until you get the experts in. The child’s statement that his fairy godfather shot his father is obviously a simple flight mechanism, susceptible of two interpretations:

(A), the father shot himself; the child was so horrified by the sight that he refused to accept it and invented this explanation. (B), the child shot the father, let us say by accident, and shifted the blame to his imaginary scapegoat. (B) has, of course, its more sinister implications: if the child had resented his father and created an ideal substitute, he might make the substitute destroy the reality… But there’s the solution to your eyewitness testimony; which alternative is true, Lieutenant, I leave up to your researches into motive and the evidence of ballistics and fingerprints. The angle of the wound jibes with either.”

* * * *

The man with the red nose and eyes and gloves and wings walked down the back lane to the cottage. As soon as he got inside, he took off his coat and removed the wings and the mechanism of strings and rubber that made them twitch. He laid them on top of the ready pile of kindling and lit the fire.

When it was well started, he added the gloves. Then he took off the nose, kneaded the putty until the red of its outside vanished into the neutral brown of the mass, jammed it into a crack in the wall, and smoothed it over. Then he took the red-irised contact lenses out of his brown eyes and went into the kitchen, found a hammer, pounded them to powder, and washed the powder down the sink.

Alan started to pour himself a drink and found, to his pleased surprise, that he didn’t especially need one. But he did feel tired. He could lie down and recapitulate it all, from the invention of Mr. Lupescu (and Gorgo and the man with the Milky Way route) to today’s success and on into the future when Marjorie—pliant, trusting Marjorie—would be more desirable than ever as Robert’s widow and heir. And Bobby would need a man to look after him.

Alan went into the bedroom. Several years passed by in the few seconds it took him to recognize what was waiting on the bed, but then, Time is funny.

Alan said nothing.

“Mr. Lupescu, I presume?” said Gorgo.

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If you liked this, check out some of these other great horror classics.

Classic Horror Tales: A Haunted House, By Virginia Woolf

Classic Horror Tales: The Pit And The Pendulum, By Edgar Allan Poe

Classic Horror Tales: William Wilson, By Edgar Allan Poe

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