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grn_bt.jpg (687 bytes) Confronting Adam

A couple of miles down Route 140 at the Taylor funeral home, Alan Kittridge was leaving the premises with his ashes. The cremation had started earlier this morning. Alan was needed to sign for ashes and pick them up. Traffic in front of the funeral home was backed up as far as the eye could see in the direction of the city. The flow of traffic in the lane leading away from Westminster was dead, with an occasional car jumping the traffic island to get out of the stalled traffic.

He assumed there must have been a hell of an accident down the road a piece.

Alan drove out an alternate entrance and took the back roads back to his house. He did not learn of the explosion until later.

The urn that held Nora Kittridge's ashes was placed above the fireplace of their home until a memorial service could be arranged.

And who knew how long it was going to take until that happened with that damn killer on the lose threatening everybody who had even used the word 'scarecrow' out of its intended cornfield use.

There was no message on the phone machine from Ryan or Jarrod. Alan left a note on the table he was going to the college newsroom to do some work on the paper. They could meet him there later.

 

 

For all intent and purposes, the 140 Village was closed to the general public. And even it was open, there was no room. The parking lot was filled to it's border with various police officers.

The word came in that the FBI was on the way as the explosion was thought to be related to the serial killings.

That was Ryan and Jarrod's cue to leave. If the Feds were to find out about their involvement will any of this, it could spell certain doom on their efforts. Including big trouble for Ron and Perri as they were assisting civilians in their vigilante investigation.

Ryan managed to maneuver his car around the traffic and away from Westminster. He was going to his dad's house to get the Lexus. The Corolla was more damaged than it appeared. Ryan didn't know much about cars. However, he knew there was something terribly wrong with the suspension. The steering wheel was shaking violently over speeds of forty miles an hour, plus is was pulling to the left real hard. There was a loud clunking sound coming from the rear, and every time it happened, the car would jerk.

Top speed was forty miles an hour. Plus the wind factor was another thing as the windshield was gone. It took them about an hour to get to Geoffrey Thomas's house.

Ignoring the pangs of pain and guilt he was feeling, he switched his car with his dad's.

Ryan concluded that driving the Lexus was one of the best experiences of his life. It didn't even feel like he was driving. It was more like gliding.

They found Alan in the newsroom busy at work. Ryan explained what had transpired at the 140 Village. Alan listened with amazement as Ryan explained how Stewart was killed.

Alan said, "You mean this whole thing could finally be over?"

"Maybe." Ryan said. "Wouldn't that be a weight off our shoulders."

"I'll believe it when I see it." Alan said firmly. "When Adam Jones confesses or is killed."

"Has Mike called in yet?" Jarrod asked. "I'd like to know where he stands in all of this."

"Yeah, me too." Alan agreed. "No. I haven't heard from him at all."

Jarrod sat down in front of the computer and re-booted the mystery disk. "I guess I'll give this another try." He said dully and then bolted to attention. "Wait, I just remembered something. There is a program in the computer facility here at the college that interprets and analyzes computer viruses!"

Jarrod was speaking in another language again. Ryan said, "Layman's terms please computer nerd!"

"It would be hard to explain. What I can tell you is that using that program, I may be able to break that loop in the keystroke program that brings up the password screen. If that works, we could probably find the user ID and password."

"Go." Alan said. "Anything is worth a shot. I have a gut feeling that things are not always as they seem, to quote out sick friend. This may not be over yet. Don’t let your guard down. I would hate to lose one of you guys too."

"I'm on it." Jarrod said leaping for the door. "I'll be back before you realize I'm gone."

Jarrod left.

"How are you doing Alan?" Ryan asked with concern.

"Stewart's death doesn't even phase me. It's like I don't feel anymore." Alan said with sorrow. "My wife's ashes are above my fireplace right now. I think after the memorial service, whenever that may be, I'm going to scatter her ashes over the plot of land our first house used to sit on."

"What's there now?" Ryan asked.

"Nothing. After the house was tore town, nothing became of the land. I think the land itself might actually be up for sale. I thought I might have seen a for sale sign there in my travels."

"Maybe you should buy it." Ryan suggested. "You could build a house there. Assuming you plan to stay in Westminster."

"I don't know what I'm going to do." Alan admitted. "I'll worry about it after the killer is caught or killed. Whichever comes first. But it is a good idea Ryan. It's something to think about, later."

Jarrod came back about ten minutes later with another disk in hand. "Okay, lets give this a try." He enthused, loading the disk. He went to work doing his computer thing for about ten minutes.

No luck. Jarrod was clearly frustrated.

There was a knock at the door. It was an administrative office aide with the newsroom mail. Alan took the mail from the kid and proceeded to go through it. There was a bill from the local publishing company that handled the printing of the paper. A bunch of junk mail offering special services and office supplies, and a plain unmarked envelope. Alan held it up to the light to see what it might be.

"What is it Alan?" Ryan asked.

"I don't know, there's no address. Receiver or sender." He replied opening it up. It was a simple letter, printed with a laser printer, like the cards.

EAT SOUP, LOOK AT PICTURES - STEW-ART
HIS DEATH WAS PREMATURE
AND NOT BY MY HAND

I AM STILL ALIVE

"That answers our question." Alan said throwing the letter on the desk. Ryan picked it up and read it. "He's still out there, waiting."

"We need to find Adam." Ryan declared as Jarrod picked up the letter.

"God-damn!" Jarrod spat. "I really wanted this to be over."

"Calm down Jarrod." Ryan said. "We're really close now. All we have to do is find Adam. Either he's out killer, or our next victim. Either way, he'll lead us to the killer."

"He's here." Jarrod said.

"What?" Alan said standing up. "What do you mean?"

"I could have swore I saw him walking towards the administration building when I was coming back from the computer center." Jarrod explained. Ryan looked at Alan.

"Let's go!" Alan commanded. The three men ran all the way to Adam's office. It was Saturday, and nobody was in the office, but the door was unlocked.

Somebody was inside.

The three charged into Adam's office without warning.

Adam, who was wearing jeans and a tee shirt jumped away from his desk when they entered his office. "Jesus, what the hell are you doing here?"

"I might ask you the same thing?" Alan asked, taking control of the situation.

"This is my office!" Adam exclaimed.

"That's not what I mean Adam and you know it!" Alan hissed. "You left town pretty damn quick last week and I want to know why! Just what in the hell are you running from!"

"Alan, how dare you impose upon my business!" Adam retorted. "You have no right too..."

"THE HELL I DON'T!" Alan barked. "I don't know what your involvement with 'scarecrow' is dammit, but know this. I am not leaving here until you tell me just what in the hell happened twenty five years ago that got MY wife and Ryan’s father killed."

"I don't know what your talking about!"

"The hell you don't!" Alan spat. "There are two possibilities here Adam. One, you are the killer. And your running from the law. Or two, the killer is after you and your running scared."

"And how do you figure this?!" Adam demanded. Alan took a sheet of paper off Adam's desk and began to write the names of the victims down the sheet of paper. The nine victims spelled out Adam's name. Alan thrust the paper in Adam's face.

"That's how I know Adam." He whispered harshly. "Now, enough is enough. What the hell happened May 23, 1970!"

Adam sat down in his chair, defeated. He motioned towards the door to have it closed. Ryan slammed it shut. Adam began.

"I am not the serial killer plaguing this college and the city of Westminster. I don't know who it is. If I did, I wouldn't be here talking to you. I'd be driving his ass into the ground."

"Does the name John Myers mean anything to you?" Ryan asked.

"It does." Adam replied.

"We think he may be behind these killing's" Alan said.

"Impossible." Adam said firmly, staring Alan directly in the eye. "The reason I know this is because I was one of the men involved in dumping his dead body."

"Jesus." Alan said. "Adam, I never figured you as the killing type."

"Neither do I. What happened twenty five years ago was an accident. However, accidents happen and have to be dealt with."

"What happened?" Alan asked with a touch of human compassion. "If you are truly innocent, and the next targeted victim, we may be able to help."

"Ha, I doubt that!" Adam snorted. "This guy has a way about him. The only one who can save me is me."

"You might be surprised." Alan said. "Talk to us. You can help us find this guy and put an end to this madness."

"Take a seat. All of you" Adam instructed. "We may be here a while." They sat in various chairs around the room. "Before I begin, you have to know something Alan, Ryan. You may hear things about your father and your wife you may not want to. I just want to warn you."

Ryan looked at Alan for approval. He nodded. "Okay Adam. The truth has been buried long enough."

Adam sat back in his chair and began. "The whole thing started when Geoffrey and I saw something that wasn't socially acceptable back in the late sixties, early seventies. A white man and a black woman together, as a couple. It was Geoffrey who pointed it out to me..."

"Christ, look at that shit." Jeffery complained, nodding his head in the direction of the student lounge building of Western Maryland College.

Adam looked in the direction Jeffery was speaking of. There in a remote corner was a black woman and a white man holding hands. "What is that shit about?" Adam asked.

"Hell if I know, but it's gonna end right now!" Jeffery advised and started in their direction. "Hey buddy! What the hell are you doing there?"

The white man looked over at Adam and Jeffery. "None of your business fellows, just leave us alone." The black girl was looking nervously at her feet.

"Leave you alone?" Jeffery asked. "You should be saying that to your 'friend'. Do you hear that honey? You should be leaving white men alone. Stick with your own kind!"

"I don't think I like your tone of voice, friend!" The man said. "I would advise you to move on."

"Wait." Adam said. "I know you, don't I?"

"I think you might."

"You're John Myers. We have the same Calculus class together."

"I think we do." John said.

Jeffery was looking harshly at Adam. "Great, I'm glad introductions are over. Now, if you want to carry on with one of their kind, fine. Just don't do it in front of proper folk like ourselves."

"You are a racist son of a bitch, sir." John said calmly. "We were not bothering you or anybody for that matter."

"This public disgrace bothers me friend." Jeffery continued. "Take it elsewhere, or else!"

"Or else what!"

"Hope you never have to find out, John!" Jeffery warned. John looked at Adam for some kind of support.

"Don't look at me." Adam advised. "I can't support this. It's wrong."

"What's wrong?" John asked. "She's a human being with a name, with feelings, just like you and me."

"I don't think so!" Jeffery snapped. "Last warning, take your nigger and get the hell out of here before you have real trouble." Jeffery was glaring at John with hate. John glared back with anger. Anger that any man could judge another human being on skin color alone.

"You haven't heard the last of this." John warned. He turned to his companion. "C'mon Beth, lets go somewhere else."

John and Beth walked away. Jeffery glared as they went. "Fucking blacks! Why we ever let them into this college, I'll never know."

"They're gone Jeff." Adam said. "I don't think they'll be back. They better not come back!"

 

 

"That was in December of 1970." Adam explained to Ryan, Alan and Jarrod. "That might have been the end of it if we hadn't of met up with Alex and Stewart the next week. Alex and Stewart were roommates and Geoffrey and I were. We were seniors then. Alex and Stewart were juniors. They took what happened one step further, and 'scarecrow' was born..."

 

 

"That kind of crap ain't gonna fly around this college!" Stewart Boswell exclaimed in the privacy of his own dorm. His roommate Alex West agreed without question. He was the one who had told Stewart about when Jeffery and Adam saw last week.

"It's wrong, plain and simple." Alex stated. "I had a talk with Jeffery earlier today. He and Adam should be over soon. We're gonna discuss what to do about it."

"I'll tell you what to do about it." Stewart snapped. "Run the black bitch of this college. And tell her if she ever comes back, we'll kill her!"

"That kind of extreme don't you think Stew?"

"Hell no. Send 'em all back to Africa I say!" Stewart declared. There was a knock on their door.

"That's probably them." Alex said opening the door. It was not Adam or Jeffery.

It was Austin Webb. "Hey Alex, what's going on?"

"Nothing, we're gonna have a meeting soon. You want to sit in?"

"What's going on?"

"A friend of mine saw some dork named John Myers sucking on a black girls face!"

"Say what?"

"You heard me. We're gonna talk about how to stop this crap!" Alex said.

"That ain't right, a black and a white." Austin said.

Stewart rang out from the background. "Hey Austin, your a poet and didn't even know it!"

"Go spit Stewart!" Austin yelled. "Yeah, count me in. Let me see if Duncan wants in. He doesn't believe in that inter racial shit either."

"Good, the more the better!" Alex said. "Be back here in fifteen minutes." Austin left to go back to his own dorm.

Alex picked up the phone and started to dial.

"Who ya calling?" Stewart asked lighting up a joint.

"My bitch." Alex said. "I think maybe she should be here too."

"Hey!" Stewart yelped. "See if her roommate'll come too. What was her name?"

"Maria Hayes."

"Yeah, see if Nora'll bring her along to." Stewart said. "I wouldn't mind getting to know her a little bit better, if you get my meaning Alex."

"This isn't about your willy Stew." Alex advised. "This is about doing what's right. Getting the spooks out of this college!"

Adam and Jeffery got there first, followed by Nora and Maria. Austin and Duncan were late.

It was Adam who led the meeting. "I'm glad to see there are more people here who feel the way I do. Western Maryland should be an all white college. I don't care about what any law says. This college is for hard working career minded white people who deserve an honest education without interference from THEM! It was white men who built this college and white men who founded it. Why should the blacks reap the benefit of who our fathers and grandfather have sown. So now we have a little rich black girl who made it in who for whatever reason and was taken in by this John Myers fellow. Only I don't see it that way ladies and gentlemen. He was taken in by her."

"Exactly!" Maria added with spirit. "She's a little slut who is using sex to get what she wants. Only good hard working people with money go to this college. That's what the little tramp wants. White man's money. She wants to live in our world and that just can't happen."

"Maria, I love you." A high Stewart rang out.

"Stewart, shut up, I'm talking here!" Maria spat. "We don't want to use violence. That will get us no where. Look at Vietnam! I say we get to John and warn him."

"He ain't gonna listen." Jeffery said. "I talked to the traitor. He thinks she is some kind of human being!"

"Yeah, right." Stewart uttered.

"Maria is right." Duncan Porter said. "Violence will get us nowhere. We get to John. If that doesn't work, we go after his bitch."

"John said her name was Beth." Adam added. "No matter her name though. Her presence is bad enough."

"We should protest." Austin suggested. "We would be exercising our first amendment rights. If we can protest Vietnam, we can protest Negro presence at the college. That will be our first move."

Alex said, "I know someone who organizes protests. His name is Norman Miller. He's studying law enforcement. He knows how to push a protest to the limit before it gets out of hand. I'll speak to him about it. I don't think he would approve of a white guy and a black bitch together."

"Get him." Adam said. "We need to get started right away before more blacks come. And trust me my friends, they will come."

 

 

Ryan was appalled at Adam's story. Jarrod was staring off into space.

"You racist bastards." Jarrod muttered.

Alan spoke. "I can't believe you were into that kind of stuff Adam."

"That was a long time ago Alan." Adam defended. "Most of us aren't like that anymore. You learn that color makes no difference in the real world."

"Your not done." Ryan said. "I know there's more."

Adam continued, "It was Detective Miller who came up with the name 'scarecrow'. If we were going to protest, we needed to have a name..."

 

 

"You need a name for your organization." Norman Miller advised. "It will make you stand out from those little college based groups."

Adam, Jeffery, Alex, and Stewart listened attentively. They were meeting Norman in the student lounge the next afternoon.

"A name?" Stewart asked. "What kind of name stands out?"

"If I could make a suggestion." Norman said. "I've heard of a black protest group in Virginia doing the same thing you want to do now. They want the black's out of their college too. They call themselves 'The Scarecrow Project'. Now, that name is a little to fancy shmancy for me. Besides, you don't want to use the same name. My suggestion? Use the name 'Scarecrow'. It'll get the message across. If you protest blacks at this college, it might piss them off and they might retaliate, so be prepared."

"Are you in?" Adam asked.

"I might be persuaded to participate in a few outings." Norman admitted. "But I will not participate in violence. It could hurt plans I have made for the future."

"I agree." Alex said. "I hate the spooks as much as the next guy, but killing them isn't the answer. We need to drive them out with words, not actions. Let them know who is the superior race."

"A beating or to might help." Stewart rang out.

"Stewart." Alex said with an agitated tone. "You can do whatever you want with yourself. Only if you want to use violence, you may not associate yourself with us. The reason we will command respect from the people is because we chose non violence."

"Okay Alex, don't spaz out on me!"

Alex looked over at Jeffery. "What about you? I hear you may have violent tendencies."

"I'm with you and whatever rules we lay down, but know this. If I have to defend myself against on of them, I will use whatever means necessary to take them down!"

"I think we all feel that way." Adam said. "But lets not let it come to that. Peaceful protest is possible."

"I'll tell you what." Norman said. "I'm organizing a huge protest this spring against the war in Vietnam here at the college. We'll bring your group in with the others. There'll be lots of exposure that night."

"When were you planning this?" Adam asked.

"Tentatively, May 23rd. It's a Saturday."

"What?" Stewart asked with sarcasm. "That's almost six months away! What if Vietnam is over by then!"

"I don't think it will be, but if it is, we'll make it a huge party." Norman answered. "Besides, there's more to protesting than just marching and waving a big sign around. You need speakers. You need well planned speeches with carefully chosen words. And with enough notice, you can get all kinds of media coverage. I hope to have television at this one."

"Count us in." Adam said. "We'll do some small stuff for now. To get noticed and make our statement. The biggie'll come in May."

"You want to work on John first." Norman said. "I may have somebody who can help you. His name is Oscar Quincy, and he's very good with persuasion. Besides, he really hates the blacks. He lost his first three jobs to them."

"Christ." Stewart barked. "What is this world coming too!"

"Shut up Stewart!" Adam snapped. "This is the first step in taking our world back!"

 

 

"Looks like you failed Adam." Ryan sneered.

"It's like I told you, we were all different back then." Adam insisted.

Alan asked. "So what happened next? You met Oscar Quincy?"

"Yeah, he was one BIG guy let me tell you." Adam said. "He would have made a good hit man. The next time we saw John without Beth, we introduced him to Oscar..."

 

 

"John. John Myers!" Jeffery called out as John was crossing the quad alone. John saw them and rolled his eyes. Jeff, Stewart, Adam and Oscar approached him.

"What do you want now bigot!" John snapped.

"Oooo, such nasty words for a white boy." Stewart sneered.

"I'd like you to meet Oscar Quincy." Adam said. "Oscar lost three jobs to Negro's John. I just wanted him to meet someone who supported their cause."

"I'm not supporting a cause!" John insisted. "Beth and I are two people who enjoy each other for who we are."

Jeffery laughed hard as the others chuckled. Oscar was not laughing.

"I hate the niggers." Oscar said. "It looks to me like you want to be one."

"Color has nothing to do with it." John insisted. "Why can't you guys see that?"

"This is like it is." Oscar said. "I'm going to be watching you. If I see you with your black bitch, I will hurt you, only a little bit. The next time, I have somebody rape your bitch. If you haven't learned your lesson by then, who knows what might happen."

"Are you threatening me?" John asked defensively.

"No. No threat." Oscar assured, towering over the little man. "I'm telling you like it is. Only truths. Enemies don't lie to each other like friends and loved one's do. If you can't understand that, then call it a warning."

Jeffery spoke then. "You see Johnny, we don't want blacks here at W.M.C. And we don't want your kind here either. Sympathizers. This is a respectable college that should be free of blacks and white trash."

John chuckled. "Then how did you get in."

"Watch your mouth punk." Oscar warned. "Or I'll take you down right here and now. Your bitch won't have any more white dick to stick in her."

"You need help." John suggested. Oscar advanced, but Adam held him back.

"Be careful Myers." Adam advised. "Scarecrow is here now, and were gonna rid this college of blacks and trash like you."

John simply smiled and said, "We'll see."

He walked away.

Adam and crew hung out in the quad till John came back with Beth beside him. They were walking at a fast pace towards the parking lot as Beth was being hounded by Maria with Nora trailing here. Alex was keeping a pace or two behind Nora, watching the whole scene with amusement.

Beth was looking down at her feet with John's arm around her. Maria was trying to get up in her face while Nora laughed at her. "What is it about a black bitch that makes me want to throw up!" Maria teased. "You must really be pathetic so that no black man would want you."

Beth said nothing as she and John hurried across the quad.

"Look at me bitch!" Maria hissed. Beth did not comply. Maria grabbed her arm. Suddenly, Beth pulled away and stood in defense of herself. "C'mon you spook slut. Bring it on."

"Beth, ignore her." John said. "She's not worth it."

"Shut up nigger lover!" Maria hissed. John ignored her pulling Beth with him.

"Tell her Maria!" Alex jeered

"She shouldn't be black." Maria continued. "She should be yellow!"

Beth suddenly turned around again and spoke. "It's a shame you are filled with such hate. It will always make you less of a woman. Less of a human being."

Maria attacked knocking Beth to the ground. John proceeded to pull her off of Beth.

It was all over then.

Alex, Adam, Jeff, Stewart, and Oscar jumped in and pulled John off, pinning him against the wall of the building behind them. Nora pulled Maria off Beth. The fight had drawn attention from the student body.

"Enough!" Adam bellowed. "We will not do this here this way!" Adam turned to his comrades who were holding John. "Let him go!"

They did. John scooped Beth off the ground a stood a piece away from the group of hate mongers.

"What are you doing?" John asked angrily. "Why must you be this way."

Jeffery pointed at him. "Leave now! Before this gets out of hand."

"It's already gotten out of hand." John declared. "I just want to know where it gonna end!"

Stewart answered the question. "It'll end when you both leave this college and the blacks go back to Africa."

John was shaking his head in disgust. "Your hate is going to consume you all. I have only pity for you."

Oscar was trying to advance. Adam yelled. "Just go. That is an argument for another time."

John turned around still shaking his head, Beth on his arm. They disappeared into the parking lot.

"I can't believe fucking her!" Maria hissed. "If he wasn't dirty from being with that black slut, he might actually be desirable. What a waste!"

"Hey!" Stewart snapped. "What about me! You could have me Maria. What does a geek like that have that I don't"

Maria turned around to face him. "A body."

The group laughed at Stewart who was turning red in the face.

 

 

"That was the first true confrontation." Adam explained. "There were no others like that one until May. Everything else we did till then was peaceful."

"You didn't harass John or Beth after that?" Alan asked.

"I wouldn't go that far." Adam said. "It was very immature upon reflection. It was like being in middle or high school. There was always that one kid that everyone picked on. John Myers was that kid."

"It was wrong." Jarrod said. "I know what that's like. I was that kid in middle and high school. No one should have to suffer that kind of torture. It's degrading and humiliating."

"I agree with you one hundred percent Jarrod." Adam admitted. "But that's how it was back in 70'. Age was not an issue, race was. And it was wrong. This is not a sudden revelation. I knew it the night John Myers was killed. Death changed everything. It did then, and it does today. If I die by the serial killers hand, then it's something I deserve."

"That's very noble of you Adam." Ryan said. "But it doesn't change a thing. What happened next?"

There were a handful of protests. We had quite a turn out. It was like a white collar version of the KKK. Or should I saw peaceful version. There were also a handful of people, white, who didn't believe in our message. The student body of the college became divided very quickly. So much so that it caused conflict in the education system itself.

"'Scarecrow' activities, which were in no way college sponsored, became outlawed by the college on campus. If we wanted to protest, we would have to do it somewhere else. Of course we threw up the first amendment. They said it was unethical, and was interfering with the learning process because there was so much controversy. From the standpoint of the college, you could do anything you wanted, if it was inside the law, and it didn't interfere with college policy. Policy being anyone who attended regardless of race, color, creed and origin had a right to an education. Anybody who fucked with that faced possible expulsion for the campus."

Alan said. "That must have put a damper on your activities."

"It did." Adam admitted. "We worked mostly underground after that. Until May 23, 1970. That was the day the whole thing got blown completely out of proportion.

"It was the night of the big rally against Vietnam. We were working within that rally as a kind of cover. John Myers was there that night. We had a proposal for him.

"Actually, it was a set up..."

 

 

The stadium field was full of people as the sun was going down over Westminster. People were meeting, exchanging ideas, beliefs, and opinions.

It started peacefully.

Norman Miller had been walking the grounds of the college with various members of the local police department, policing activities so that nothing got out of hand. This rally had been his brainchild and he was not going to let it turn into a blood bath.

Adam Jones and Jeffery Thomas were waiting on the edge of the field by the parking lot for Norman to make his rounds. Norman eventually left his police friends and joined them.

"Is it all set?" Norman asked.

"Yeah." Jeffery replied. "We're waiting for Austin now. When he shows, it begins."

"I hope you know what your doing." Miller warned. "This could get real ugly."

"No violence." Adam said. "That policy will not change. This is merely a proposal, so every one is happy."

"Ha!" Miller scoffed. "Somehow, I don't think anything is going to make John happy. That is unless you plan on leaving him and his bitch alone."

"Everything will work out fine." Jeffery reiterated. "Trust me."

"Hmmm." Miller pondered. "I've heard that one before." Jeffery smiled.

Austin Webb was running towards them from the direction of the quad. He was out of breath when he appeared.

"Well?" Adam asked.

"It's time, John is on his way." Austin wheezed. "Alex, Duncan and Stewart are waiting for him now. Oscar is following John and Maria is keeping an eye on Beth. I don't know where Nora is. She was supposed to meet Beth at their dorm, but she never showed up. Maria left without her."

"She probably wussed out." Jeffery spat. "Alex needs to slap his bitch around once or twice. Let her know who's boss."

"Your such a pig Thomas!" Austin declared. "I don't know what Donna sees in you!"

Jeffery grunted letting the comment go.

"Maria can handle this alone?" Norman asked.

"Yeah, I think so." Austin said. "She'll be waiting for her cue."

"Good." Adam said. "Lets get to it then."

The four of them walked across the campus to Alumni Hall. It was two level performance center with two different stages, one smaller than the other. Behind the building off the left side, hidden from the rest of the college was a small utility building. It was actually a glorified shed.

Standing around the shed was Alex, Duncan, Stewart and John. They were smoking cigarettes. John was looking nervous. He spoke when he saw Adam.

"Well, If it isn't 'scarecrow's' glorious leader Adam Jones."

"John." Adam said politely to acknowledge his presence.

"I don't mind telling you this whole thing is making me nervous." John admitted. "The only reason I agreed to this is because it's public knowledge that 'scarecrow' is non-violent."

"That's correct." Adam said. "Only words shall be shared here tonight."

"Then if you don't mind, I'd like to get right down to it." John said dragging on the cigarette and tossing it aside.

"Very well." Adam began. "We have a proposal for you."

John leaned against the building staring at Adam. Suddenly he laughed. "I can't wait to hear this."

Adam glanced off to one side to see Oscar looming behind a row of shrubbery. This had been a safeguard in case something went wrong. Adam looked back at John. "As you pointed out, 'scarecrow' does not condone violence."

"Not physical violence." John corrected.

"Whatever." Adam said. "However, that does not mean that other groups share our views on the subject. I know for fact that the local chapter of the KKK is planning a hit here in Westminster sometime soon. I have reason to believe they might act here at the college in lieu of recent activity on our behalf. You should know that there is nothing we can do, or would do to prevent such a thing from happening.

"As an act of faith to support our non violent policy, I wanted to give you fair warning. As you insist on carrying on with one of them, it could make you a possible target."

"What about Beth?" John asked. "She would be a target."

Jeffery spoke up. "It's a likely possibility. But she's not our concern. You John, can be saved from all of this."

"Thank you Jeff." John said with a touch of sarcasm. "But I don't need saving. You do. All of you."

"Your not listening to us." Adam said. "You could be killed. Because you are involved with her."

John rolled his eyes. He had heard this pitch before from these very same people. In an effort to move things along, John asked, "So what's your proposal?"

"Leave her." Alex piped up. "Get as far away from her as you possibly can. This could be your last chance to save yourself."

"I think I've heard enough." John said. He began to walk away.

"WAIT!" Adam called out. "John, if you can wake up and see how foolish this is on your part, fornicating and being seen publicly with a colored person, you can be saved."

"That's the hate talking." John said harshly. "I'm not the one with the problem. It's people like you who only see in black and white that need saving. People are people, black or white. We all think the same, we all feel the same, we are all the same in general. Why can't any of you see that? I didn't ask for this trouble from you, or anybody. I was living my life peacefully and privately before you came along. I was minding my own business. Why can't you do the same?"

Adam tried one more time to appeal to him. "John, this is the last time I am going to make this offer. We will do everything in our power to protect you from the violence if you would just get rid of her. Be what God intended you to be. A white man with white values!"

"Go to hell!" John spat and turned to walk away.

Behind Adam was the clicking of a hammer on a revolver being pulled back. Jeffery spoke then. "I don't think so!"

John froze in his tracks and turned around to see the gun Jeffery was pointing at him. Adam turned around. "Jeff, what in the HELL are you doing?"

"Oscar?" Jeffery called out. "Go signal Maria, it's time."

"Jesus!" Stewart swore. "This is getting good!"

Norman walked up to Adam. "What the hell is going on Adam. I thought we agreed. No violence. Obviously I forgot to tell you that guns were included in the package too!"

"I don't know what the hell this is about." Adam said glaring at Jeffery. "I don't suppose you'd like to share with me just what the hell you THINK your doing Jeff?"

"Doing what should have been done a long time ago." Jeffery replied. He waved the gun at John. "Okay sympathizer, get back here, nice and slow."

"I'm sorry." Norman whispered to Adam and took off in the direction of the quad.

"HEY!" Jeffery called. "Where the hell do you think your going, pussy!" Norman disappeared over the hill. "Aw, fuck'im. We don't need him anyway."

"Jeffery, what are you doing?" Adam asked.

"Your not in charge anymore Adam. Consider it mutiny!"

Adam looked at the rest of the guys. The only other one who seemed surprised by this sudden outburst was Austin.

"And you are?" Adam asked.

"I'm taking care of business." He replied. "Anyone who doesn't want to be part of the new 'scarecrow', this is your chance to get out. But if you go, you'll be considered a sympathizer."

"Jeff, this is wrong." Adam warned. "Violence isn't going to get us any where but in trouble with the law. Is that what you want? Do you want to flush your life away even before you've had a chance to live it?"

"Shut up Jones." Jeffery snapped. "We haven't made an impact as all. A little violence might get the message across a little clearer."

John approached the little building nervously. "I'm not afraid to die for something I believe in."

"Ha, you may just get your wish yet." Stewart sneered.

Jeffery was staring at Adam. "So what's it going to be brother? Do you stand with us or do you coward out and take their side?"

"Your wrong Jeff. Just because I don't believe in violence doesn't mean I support his kind of activity." Adam said hitching a thumb at John.

John was smiling at them. "This is exactly what hate breeds, conflict within the ranks. I was waiting for this to happen."

"Shut up!" Stewart barked. "You lucky we don't hack off that infested noodle you call a dick and beat your bitch to death with it!"

John laughed. "Really Stewart, you are a strange bird!"

Stewart got up in John's face. "I'll give you a fucking bird nigger lover." He hissed holding his middle finger in John's face. "Right up you ass!"

John looked away.

Duncan looked around the corner. "Here she comes!"

The group looked around to the side of the building Duncan was standing by.

"Johnny?" A female voice was crying out. John glared at Jeffery and Adam with pure anger.

"You sons of bitches." He muttered. "Don't do this!" Beth appeared around the building with Maria at her heels. She saw the gun pointed at John and froze. Oscar stepped out from behind the bushes to keep watch.

Alex stepped forward. "Good, now everybody is here." He looked around bitterly. "Except my cunt of a girlfriend, but no matter. It time to do what we set out to do and rid this college of this riff raff!"

"Why can't you just leave us alone?" Beth cried. "We have done nothing to you!"

Jeff scowled. "Bitch, your mere presence is enough to make me vomit. Your kind does not belong here. Not now, not ever."

"Amen!" Maria rang out.

"Please just let us go." Beth pleaded. "We'll leave your college, I swear!"

"Beth!" John exclaimed. "What are you doing?"

"Its not worth it Johnny." She sobbed. "The trouble ain't worth it anymore. We'll go somewhere else. Let these people have their college, I don't care!"

John was boiling angry now. "It's the principle of the matter. We won't give in to these hate mongers. We have just as might right to be here as they do."

"Johnny, PLEASE!" Beth begged.

"Listen to the bitch!" Jeffery said. "Its probably the smartest thing she's ever said!"

"Your a prick!" John hissed. Jeffery pointed the gun in Beth's direction. Beth cried out in fear.

"You want to repeat that?" Jeffery asked. "Go on punk. Say it again." John was silent. "Yeah, that's what I thought."

"Jeff, stop this." Adam warned.

Jeffery turned to face Beth. In the instant he did so, John stepped forward and kicked the gun out of Jeffrey’s hand with all his might. The gun went flying across the grass and landed some feet away. The force of the blow knocked Jeff over. Oscar wasted no time in tackling John.

All hell broke loose.

Beth, in all her might attempted to free John of Oscar. Maria tackled her and in the process knocked Stewart against the wall, smashing his head on the brick. He fell over semi-conscious from the blow. Duncan was still busy keeping watch between glances of the excitement. Duncan and Alex freed John of Oscar and pinned him against the wall, punching him in the gut.

Beth and Maria were struggling on the ground.

It was Adam who retrieved the gun. "STOP THIS!" He yelled pointing the gun in the direction of the group. The hoopla ceased. Everyone was breathing heavily. Maria pushed Beth in John's direction. He pulled her to him.

Jeffery stood up looking tasseled. "Thank God Adam, you've finally come to your senses."

"SHUT UP!" Adam snapped. "Enough of this. I will not condone this kind of violence. It will end now." The gun was pointed at Jeffery.

"Adam, what are you doing?" He asked holding out his hands.

"This has gotten out of hand!" Adam declared. "Oscar, go find Norman. I think he went back to the rally."

"Why?" Alex asked.

"Just fucking do it!" Adam snapped looking at Oscar. He took off.

Jeffery was still staring at the gun pointed in his direction. "Adam? You maybe want to get that gun out of my face?"

"Listen to me Jeffery. I hate these fucking people as much as you do. But killing them is going to get us all in a lot of trouble. Shit rolls downhill. If you got pinned for this, we would all fall. I'm not going to let that happen."

It was Nora who charged Adam from out of no where. She was going to get the gun out of his hands. It was not her intention to participate in tonight's activity. Norman had run into her at the rally and told here there was a gun involved and that he had gotten out before it got ugly.

Nora ran all the way to the meeting place to stop Jeffery from making a mistake. When she got there, she saw Adam with the gun pointing it in somebody's direction.

She thought Adam might kill someone, and that was not acceptable. Instead of approaching calmly and assessing the situation to discover it was only Adam keeping Jeffery at bay, she charged to knock the gun out of Adam's hand with the element of surprise.

No one saw her coming.

When she tackled Adam, the gun went off.

She and Adam fell to the ground.

The gun flew out of Adam's hand after the shot had rang off. It thudded quietly to the ground behind them.

No one spoke when the round had been fired. It was deathly quiet. Nora and Adam looked up from where they lay.

John had fallen against the building, clutching his chest. Blood was spilling from his hands. A look of shock and horror was burned on his face as he slid to the ground. He did not scream, he did not cry. He simply fell.

Beth's hands covered he mouth as if to hold back a scream. She fell to her knees beside John who was hitching his last breaths. From the placement of his hands on his chest, it appeared the bullet entered his heart.

The members of 'scarecrow' did not move or speak. They simply watched in horror as John fell.

"Beth." John whispered, coughing up blood. "Go. Get out of here."

She looked at the men standing around her. Adam helped Nora up off the ground after he stood up himself.

She looked back at John. "No my love. I won't leave you."

"Go." He managed a little bit louder this time. "Get out of here now. You have to save yourself..." John started to spasm. "Beth...I...love you...go."

He died.

Beth held his limp body in her arms and looked up at Adam with tears streaming own her face. "Look what you've done."

"It was an accident." Adam pleaded. "I never meant to kill anybody."

"MURDERER!" Beth screamed. Adam looked around nervously. Somebody might have heard the shot and people would come soon.

Adam Jones's worst fear was about to come true.

It was Nora who broke the silence. She rushed forward to Beth and pulled her away from John. "Get out of here, NOW!" She yelled at her. Only she was not doing it out of hatred. She was doing it to save Beth. "Just go. Before it's too late."

"Nora, what the HELL are you doing!" Alex barked.

"I knew this was going to happen!" Nora screamed. "It was only a matter of time before you and your friends took this thing one step to far! It was all fun and games in the beginning, but look at what's happened. A man is dead! Where is it going to end!" Nora turned to Beth. "Please Beth, just go. Run, and don't look back."

Beth looked into Nora's eyes with gratitude. "Thank you." She whispered. Nora closed her eyes and nodded.

Beth ran.

She was never seen again.

Norman Miller appeared from the other side of the building with Oscar. They stopped short of the circle around John's dead body. "Oh God." He sighed. "What happened."

"It was an accident." Adam said. "John kicked the gun out of Jeffrey’s hand and I picked it up. Nora tackled me from out of no where and it went off."

"You'd better hope a jury will buy that if we don't get this body out of here and quick." Stewart said rubbing his swollen head.

"Where are we going to put his body?" Austin asked nervously. Norman was looking around.

"I don't know." Jeffery said.

"I do." Norman said. "For now, we'll hide it in this shed looking building. No one should be down this way for a while. I think I know a place where no one will ever find him."

Norman, Adam and Oscar pulled John's body into the shed, being careful not to get any blood on themselves. Inside the shed was a hose connected to a water nozzle. Discreetly, Norman flooded the shed and the area outside of it to wash the giant pools of blood away into the grass.

He gave instructions then. "Okay, Stewart, Austin, I want you guys to round up some blankets, sheets, anything to wrap the body in. Adam, Jeffery, find a way into the Alumni Hall. I don't care how you do it. just get in. I need to get into the lower level auditorium. Maria, Nora, do back out to the rally and be sociable. People will be expecting members of 'scarecrow' there."

"I don't want to do this anymore." Nora objected.

"I don't care!" Norman blasted. "Fake it if you have to. We have a serious situation here we need to cover up. Our followers are going to wonder why none of us are out there. Just go for appearances sake. After were done here, I don't care if you quit and I never see you again!"

Nora shot him a look of contempt and walked off with Maria.

Norman continued. "The rest of you scatter, but don't go far. When you see Stewart and Austin get back, meet back here, now get going."

It didn't take long for Adam and Jeffery to get into the building. They crawled through one of the windows to a basement office. There was a back door on the left side of the building that the actors and actresses used to come in and out of the backstage area. They opened that door for Norman.

"What's you plan?" Adam asked.

"My father worked for the company who re modeled the stage on the lower level auditorium. If memory serves me correctly, there should be a trap door to some kind of cellar underneath the stage." Norman explained as they walked into the lower auditorium.

"How do we get under the stage?" Jeffery asked.

"That's the catch." Norman sighed. "I don't think there is a way in. It's sealed off. We might have to take a section off to get inside."

Adam asked. "You really think nobody's gonna find him there?"

Norman looked at Adam with seriousness. "I don't think anybody knows about this little cellar anymore. It was here before the college was. I think there was a house here before there was a building. The cellar survived. If you asked my dad about it, he probably would not remember either.

"The only reason I remembered is because I've always wondered what was down there."

Adam said. "Looks like you might get your chance."

Norman surveyed the entire stage. There was no accessible way underneath. Jeffery discovered a loose layer of plywood on the other side of the stage that made a hole big enough to get underneath the stage if the wood was removed.

Austin ran into the auditorium out of breath looking for Norman. "We have the blankets." He yelled.

"Keep your voice down. I'll be right out. " Norman snapped. He turned to face Adam and Jeffery. "Okay guys. Find some tools backstage or something. There has to be a hammer back there somewhere. Pry this thing off without breaking it, then see if that trap door is underneath."

"How are we supposed to see?" Jeffery asked sarcastically.

"Find a flashlight!" Norman replied frustrated and left to go back outside.

After much searching, Adam and Jeffery rounded up a hammer and a flashlight. They had found some nails too. The plywood came off without a problem.

They both crawled underneath the stage. It was dusty and dirty underneath. Adam shined the flashlight around to see if there was any kind of a door on the floor. About fifty feet ahead, in the middle of the floor was some kind of cover.

"There it is." Adam whispered, crawling his way forward. Jeffery walked on his heels. There was about five feet clearance from the floor to the top of the stage.

The cover itself was a piece of plywood, nailed to the floor. It was about the size of an average dining room table.

"Did you bring the hammer?" Adam asked.

"No."

"Well go get it. This thing is nailed down."

"Jesus Christ!" Jeffery swore, fetching the hammer. The plywood came up with ease. Underneath was a hole about twice the size of a manhole one would find on any street. It was covered by a lid with a ring handle and looked very old.

"Should we open it?" Adam asked.

"Why not, we're going to have to sooner or later anyway." Jeffery replied, coughing from the dust.

"Gimme a hand."

The two men, with much effort, pulled the lid off the hole and slid it to the side. Adam shown the flashlight down inside and peered around.

It was nothing more than a great big hole in the Earth, supported by some wooden beams. It smelled of age and decay, like some small animal had died here decades ago.

Jeffery strained for a glimpse. "Well, what do you see?"

"Nothing. It looks like it might have been a wine cellar at one time." Adam reported. "I wonder, if we dump John's body down here, will anybody smell him once he, you know, rots?"

"I doubt it." Jeffery answered. "That fucking lid was heavy. It might be airtight."

Norman called to them from outside the stage. "Guys, are you in there?"

"Yeah." Adam answered.

"Stay there. Were going to bring it in."

Adam looked at Jeffery with horror. "I can't believe we're doing this." Adam said with remorse. "I don't want to touch a dead body."

"Me neither." Jeffery agreed. They heard the scuffling of feet dragging across the floor knowing it was the others carrying John's dead body across the auditorium.

"Okay." Norman called out. "I'm coming in." They heard Norman warn the others not to get blood on the floor when they pushed the body through the hole into the stage.

Norman crawled underneath. "Is there anything down there?"

"No." Adam replied duly. "Norman, when the body is rotting, how are we going to explain the stench?"

"We won't." He replied. "If that happens, we know nothing! Were going to take that gun and destroy it so the bullet can never be traced to us. Or should I say Jeffery. It was his gun.

"Thanks." Jeffery smirked.

"Fuck you asshole. Your the genius who brought the damn thing to begin with." Norman retorted

Austin called into the hole. "C'mon Norman, this thing is getting heavy. And I don't like touching it!"

"Okay, send it in."

Adam, Jeffery and Norman pushed John's body across the floor once it was safely inside. Some blood smeared across the floor, but not a lot. They dropped John's body in the hole. It hit the dirt ground with a sickening thud. Norman jumped in and dragged it to the far corner of the hole.

The cellar was sealed back up and the plywood re-nailed to the stage.

John Myers body was never discovered.

'Scarecrow' was disbanded.

An oath was taken between it's ten members never to speak of the events that transpired on May 23, 1970 ever again.

Yet somehow, it managed to appear in every yearbook entry for the 'scarecrow' alumni.

Adam Jones was the only surviving member of the troop. The rest had been murdered by a serial killer bent on revenge.

It was now, twenty five years later that Adam Jones broke his silence.

 

 

"When I became dean of the college, I personally supervised another remodeling of the lower auditorium." Adam explained. "I had that hatch to the cellar sealed permanently." Ryan threw Alan a doubtful look.

Adam offered his theory behind the murders. "I think it might be Beth." He said. "We never heard from her again. I think the reason she never turned us in was because she was scared. Things are different now. She's fighting back."

"Beth Myers is dead." Ryan said. "She died back in '93."

"Did she?" Adam asked with surprise. "I wasn't aware of that." Adam stopped to consider something Ryan had just said. "You called her Beth Myers. I don't think that was her last name."

"That's still a big mystery." Alan said. "It was the name that appears on her death certificate. There was no maiden name listed."

"Myers was not her last name." Adam insisted. "I don't remember what it was, but I can tell you for certain that it was not Myers. I think it was Brown."

"I thought they had either been married or related." Ryan said. "It looks as if she changed her last name to John's. I wonder what her old last name used to be?"

"What does it matter?" Adam asked irritated. "She's dead. Now, what is it that you can do that makes you think you can help me?"

"Your going to go into hiding." Alan said. "At a location only known to us four here. Somehow the killer knows everything we know. We'll spread the word that you have gone into hiding but, we'll reveal a different location. The killer should somehow find out and go to the false location. Waiting there will be a fucking SWAT team! Killer caught. End of mystery."

Adam looked partially intrigued. "Okay. I might be open to suggestion. Where exactly do you have in mind?"

"I have an idea." Ryan suggested. "For tonight, you should stay at my dad's house in Woodbine. The security system in the house is top of the line, plus we can all stay there if need be until we can figure out a place to go public with so it gets back to the killer. We'll have to tell Perri so we can get some police force there."

"Okay." Alan agreed. "I'll go contact him and Ron. We'll get this thing started."

"I'll go with Alan." Jarrod said. "I'm going to work with that disk some more."

"Good." Ryan said. "I'll catch up with you soon." Alan and Jarrod left leaving Adam and Ryan alone in the office.

Ryan looked at Adam shaking his head. He said, "That certainly does explain why Alumni Hall is haunted."

"What are you talking about?" Adam asked irritated.

"That was the last story I was working on for The Forum before all this ‘scarecrow’ stuff started. The haunting of Alumni Hall. Turns out that its John Myers’ fucking ghost!"

"You don’t seriously expect me to believe something like that do you?"

"Been there recently Adam?" Ryan asked. "I have, and I can tell you that there is something weird going on down there. Cold chills, students being tripped by an unseen source. I’ve seen it all, although I never believed any of it. Till now."

"I think you have been reading to many ghost stories Ryan."

"Check it out sometime Adam."

Adam looked at Ryan suspiciously. "So Stewart bought it this morning?"

"Yeah, he blew himself up." Ryan answered. "Seeing we know he isn't the killer now, I'm curious at to why he might blow his own business up the way he did."

"Pizza-To-Go blew up?"

"Yeah, Stewart must have started a gas leak. Jarrod and I went inside to get some stuff out of a locker and out of the back room, appears Stewart telling us to get out."

"Suicide attempt?"

"No, I doubt it." Ryan said. "Stewarts' crazy, but not that crazy."

Adam gazed at Ryan again. "If were gonna do this, then let's do it. The sooner they catch this guy, the sooner we can all get on with our lives."

"We'll see." Ryan said. He didn't tell Adam that he had planned to have John Myers' body exhumed.

Confronting Scarecrow

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