THE BEST VIEW OF PITT, ONTARIO
IS IN YOUR REAR VIEW MIRROR
Ada had described a red brick boardinghouse in a “dreadful neighborhood.” Archer finds it despite the darkness. He is greeted by Mr. Fredericks, an aged, emaciated creature with hard eyes and the patchy remnants of a beard. Archer, posing as a boarder, is shown a bare, filthy room.
From the moment Archer gives him the two dollars for the room, things start to happen rapidly.
- Fredericks admits to having a son, Theo, but says he ran away six years ago.
- Fredericks bursts in and tries to wrestle the money away from her husband before he can drink it up. Ada’s description is accurate, down to the voice like a kazoo. The two argue bitterly.
- She throws her husband out of the room and apologizes for his conduct to Archer, saying that he hasn’t been himself “since he was hurt bad.”
- Archer asks her about Pete Culligan; she admits knowing him as a boarder. When Archer tells her Culligan was stabbed to death, she assumes her son Theo did it, because Theo stabbed his father with a butcher knife six years ago.
- Archer examines a snapshot of Theo from high school and confirms that it’s John Galton.
- She said her son had “crazy ideas,” that he was born to riches but gypsies stole him away.
- Theo stabbed Mr. Fredericks after an argument; Theo wanted to leave home and go off with Culligan.
- When Mrs. Fredericks asks Archer who stabbed Culligan, he tells her that it was probably a hoodlum named Tommy Lemberg.
- She tells him that Tommy and his brother Roy have been renting the downstairs room for the last two weeks.
- Archer waits for the Lemberg brothers to come home. When they do, Tommy say he was sent to the Sable house by Otto Schwartz to pressure the Sables into paying the gambling debt Alice Sable had incurred. Tommy wasn’t expecting to meet Culligan there at all, let alone a Culligan armed with a knife and a gun. Tommy said that after sustaining a minor gunshot wound he knocked Culligan out and left. But Culligan was definitely alive the last Tommy saw him.
- Archer persuades the Lembergs to come back to California and tell their stories.
Archer accompanies the two back to Santa Teresa, but we are not done with Pitt. Not by a long shot.
While the police are taking the statements of the Lemberg brothers, things keep happening quickly.
- John Galton has disappeared, together with Sheila Howell.
- Archer confronts Dr. Howell, who is Alice Sable’s doctor, about whether she has confessed to murdering Culligan; he refuses to answer.
- Archer and Dr. Howell go to Sable’s house. Alice is there. She admits that she and Culligan were having an affair. She doesn’t remember killing him but she feels responsible after losing Sable’s money and cheating on him with Culligan.
- Archer and Sable have a private conversation. Sable admits that he was in on the plot to present the boy as the heir. Culligan had contacted Sable because he knew, from Alice, that Sable was the Galton family attorney. (In case you haven’t connected the dots, Culligan was the man Alice was living with in Reno.)
- Alice didn’t want to come back from Reno and only relented if Sable would bring Culligan along so the two of them could be together whenever they wanted.
- Otto Schwartz wasn’t a part of the plot, except that Sable owed him money from Alice’s gambling.
- It was Sable who came up with the Cleveland orphanage story because it was important that the trail not lead back to Canada.
- Culligan had been thinking about passing the boy off for six years, ever since he met him at the Pitt boardinghouse and recognized his resemblance to Anthony Galton.
- Culligan and the boy tried to sneak into the States six years ago. The boy got through, Culligan was caught and spent several years in jail on an old sentence he’d never served. Always one to land on his feet, the boy found a sponsor and finished high school and college.
- Sable decided to hire Archer and allow him to “find” the boy. He couldn’t take the chance of producing the boy himself.
- In return for helping things happen, Sable would receive more than enough to settle his debts.
- Sable admits to killing Culligan himself. Partly out of revenge for Culligan’s affair with Alice, but mainly because Culligan “had something” on the boy that was going to result in Sable being cut out of the payoff.
- Sable admits that the boy and Sheila were at his house the night before, demanding answers about John Brown’s death. According to Sable, “the imposture must have gone to his head because he seemed to have convinced himself he really was Galton’s son.”
- To get rid of them, Sable gave them some cash and the name and address of the nurse, Culligan’s former wife.
- Archer gets on the next plane and visits her. She tells Archer that he missed meeting John and Sheila by only a few hours. They had asked a number of questions about what happened in Luna Bay. When the nurse mentioned that Mrs. Galton had rubies, they left in a hurry, not even waiting to drink the coffee she’d made, saying they were on their way to Ontario.