Mr. Mystery is a generic name that encompasses various collaborators specialized in the subject of the supernatural or paranormal, each of them with his personal criterion in this regard. This criterion ranges from rigorous scientific skepticism to the most naive credulity.
At the end of 1936, Bela Lugosi was in New York promoting a film in which he played the role of Count Dracula yet again. Universal Pictures had rented for him the same suite in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel that Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, the famous animated cartoon character, occupied every time he came to the city to promote one of his cartoons. Mr. Lugosi had played the Transylvanian Count so many times that he had ended up identifying with the character to the point of affirming in his interviews: "I am Dracula". Lugosi had become the character and Dracula the actor who played Lugosi from time to time. At night he used to be seen strolling along Park Avenue characterized as Dracula, with his long cape, his hair slicked with gel and his penetrating eyes, causing more of a faint of terror when passing. There was even a man who tried to pierce his heart with a stake, but Mr. Lugosi was faster and bit him wildly in the neck sucking almost a liter of blood from his aggressor. Michael and Jacob were totally oblivious to the presence in the city of the Hollywood star until they received a call from the mayor entrusting them with Lugosi’s close surveillance. Apparently, since he arrived in New York several complaints had been received from citizens who claimed they were attacked by Count Dracula. Michael and Jacob reluctantly accepted the assignment. According to them, spying on a Hollywood actor was not part of his duties. In the lobby of Waldorf Astoria Hotel they were told that "Mr. Count" did not receive visitors until nightfall. So, as soon as the sun went down, they knocked on the door of the suite where he was staying. Lugosi himself went to open them thinking they were journalists. He laid himself in a coffin and told them that they could start the interview. Michael and Jacob humored him and started asking him what he did at night. "Well, what we vampires do, naturally." “Do you mean that you howl and eat people?”, Jacob asked. But Michael hastened to correct him: “That's the werewolf, stupid!”. And addressing Bela: "You mean sucking blood?" "No, I mean tip-tap dancing.” And in view of the surprise of the two friends: “Of course I mean sucking blood!” And he said to himself: “Why do they always send me stupid journalists?" “You are wrong, sir. We are not stupid journalists, we are stupid detectives” Jacob specified. “Do you know that sucking blood is punishable by law?" "It's my nature. I can’t help it." “Then, you better control your nature, sir. You are warned.” And they left while Bela replaced the coffin lid. When it was fully dark, Michael and Jacob were stationed on the other side of the avenue, waiting for Bela to leave the hotel on his nightly walk. At midnight he left, and the two investigators went after him. They followed him down Park Avenue and then through the side streets for a long time. They were so tired of walking for hours that little by little they were relaxing their vigilance, opportunity that Bela took to sneak away. “Where did he go?”, Michael exclaimed, and turned to look at Jacob who was looking curiously before them at a bat that awkwardly flapped its membranous wings almost at ground level. “No!”, Michael exclaimed with a horrified expression. “What’s the matter?” “Don’t you know that vampires can become bats?” “Weren’t those the succubi?" “What if he is a real vampire?” Suddenly he came up with an idea: "We need a mirror!” “I don’t think it's time for coquetry, frankly.” “Vampires are not reflected in the mirrors!” “Weren’t those the witches?” “It's mind-boggling, I tell you. You make an amazing mess in your mind with all the monsters!” “Okay, okay, I'm going for a mirror” Jacob left running. After a few minutes, Michael's hair stood straight up when hearing a scream. He ran to the house where it seemed to come from. The scream did not stop and its trail leaded him to a middle-aged woman sitting in an armchair. "What's wrong?" "Count Dracula sucked my blood!" And she showed him the unmistakable mark on her neck. "Where did he run off?" "Through that window" Michael ran to the window and observed in the distance a bat that was flying away clumsily flapping its wings. On the street, he met Jacob carrying a huge full-length mirror. "Didn’t you find a bigger one?" "You did not specify anything about the size." "No matter. This will do it." Then they took a cab and went back to the Waldorf Astoria where Michael asked the receptionist: “Has the bat… I mean Mr. Count, returned?” "Yes, he's back from his walk.” Michael and Jacob ran to the elevators while the receptionist picked up the phone to warn Bela of the unexpected visit. Moments later, Bela himself opened the door and locked it behind them. "Go ahead, gentlemen. To what do I owe the honor of your visit?” "Don’t play dumb! We've been following you! We know you’ve been sucking blood!" Bela walked around them, licking his lips. “Oh, that was just the appetizer, now they have just brought me a succulent two-course dinner." "Jacob! The mirror!" Jacob planted the mirror before Bela, who avoided it. "Why do you shy away from looking in the mirror, Count?" "I'm not a presumptuous man.” Suddenly he grabbed a candelabrum and threw it against the full length mirror, shattering it. Then, he extended his arms towards Michael and Jacob, and began to stare at them with piercing eyes and to gesture before their faces. “And now, gentlemen, look me in the eyes ..." But at that moment, the door of the suite fell as a result of a kick, and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit burst made fierce: “Lugosi! What the hell are you doing in my suite? Your promotional tour is over! Now it's my turn! I just released a movie entitled “Fun Macroeconomics”! So, you are getting off of here right now! Under the amazed eyes of Michael and Jacob, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit grabbed Bela by the neck and threw him into the corridor as if it were a pile of rubble, then slammed the door shut. Immediately after, he turned to the two investigators: “Who are you two? Journalists?” Jacob was about to deny it, but Michael got ahead of him: “Yes. We come to interview you.” Oswald threw himself on the sofa. "Okay. Shoot!"
The first news that Michael and Jacob had of the dragon of Chinatown was provided by an acquaintance of them called Clive. Clive frequented Chinatown because of a bad addiction he had: he was an opium smoker. That addiction would end up driving him crazy and leading him to be enslaved by an ant colony from Prospect Park. However, in 1937, he was still not crazy, so when he told Michael and Jacob about the dragon, they believed him. According to Clive, the dragon was hidden in the basement of an opium den called “Yinglong”. Clive said he had heard its grunts and grinding of teeth, and sometimes he saw tongues of fire escape under the door that gave access to the basement. Once, he was smoking next to the basement door when the Chinese in charge opened it, and then he could see it: a huge bug-eyed dragon with horrible jaws and more than eight yards long. When he asked the Chinese, he was told that there was nothing to worry about and, laughing, they added that it was the den’s pet.
Michael and Jacob consulted with the authorities, who informed them that pets more than six yards long spitting tongues of fire were strictly forbidden. So, as two public-spirited citizens, they informed the authorities of what they had learned… but the authorities turned the tables on them. Consequently, they left the City Hall with the express commission to kill the damn dragon. Jacob had argued that killing dragons was not a matter of their competence and that the city council should employ Saint George’s services instead of theirs. To which the city council responded by giving him a spear and a shield.
With the possible exception of the apartment of their neighbor Mrs. Kafka Needleman (who had the sacred and laudable mission to give shelter to all the vagabond cats of the city), Michael and Jacob didn’t know in all of New York a kind of place with a more rarefied atmosphere than that which existed in the opium dens of Chinatown. As soon as they crossed the threshold illuminated by red lanterns of the “Yinglong” den, a gust of stale air made Jacob dizzy and, as they went deeper into the den, he felt worse and ended up collapsing on a fat guy who lay on a bunk facing the wall. Hidden in a sack, Jacob was carrying the weapons he had been given at the City Hall to kill the dragon. And when falling, he accidentally poke the man in the butt with the spear. That generated a commotion that Michael took advantage of to slip stealthily to the back of the den where, according to Clive, the basement door was located.
This part of the place was very poorly lit and, to get to the door, Michael had to walk over seven or eight Chinese who slept soundly on mats. He bent down to look through the keyhole and, in the pale brightness of a light bulb hanging from the ceiling, saw something that sent a shiver down his spine. Clive was right! A gigantic serpentine creature more than six yards long was there (lying, like almost everyone in that den) staring at him with bulging eyes and jaws wide open.
Soon after, Michael and Jacob were lying on one of six bunk beds aligned on both sides of the aisle. They were pretending to give puffs to long, thick green pipes while discussing the steps to follow. Jacob advocated a flight at full speed. Michael, on the other hand, wanted to penetrate the cave of the dragon, kill it with the spear and save the maiden.
"Are you smoking that crap?! (Jacob said) What maiden do you speak of?”
“This is how it’s told in the legend of Saint George.”
Noticing that Michael had glassy eyes, Jacob pushed his friend's pipe away with a slap.
“Stop smoking! You are not Saint George!”
“But I would like to be.”
“The opium has gone to your head!”
Suddenly, Michael snatched the spear and the shield and made his way to the back of the den where the opium smokers lay half fainted on mats. Then he got a running start and, rushing over the opium smokers who didn’t even complain about the stomps, attacked the basement door, knocking it down. Without hesitation, he began to pierce frenetically with the spear over and over and over again the horrid giant head of the dragon.
When, minutes later, the infuriated managers of the den appeared, the dragon's head was already unrecognizable.., just like Michael's face shortly after, before he realized he had destroyed an extraordinary piece of craftsmanship: the good fortune dragon that every Chinese “tong” took to dance through the streets of Chinatown to celebrate the Chinese New Year.
In February of 1936, the American archaeologist Mrs. Martha Cunningham, began in Alexandria a long journey by ship to transfer to America the mortal remains of her husband. She was so attached to him that at no time wanted to separate from his coffin and it was said that in the transatlantic that was driving them back home, they were seen walking both of them on the first class cabins’ deck. Naturally, the coffin did not walk by its own means but was pushed in a cart by a baggage handler. In the New York harbor, a vehicle awaited them that took them both to their residence of Park Avenue. Before embarking on their trip to Egypt a year before, all the servants had been dismissed, but Mrs. Cunningham was in no hurry to replace them. Naturally, her family and friends knew that in that coffin did not travel her husband for the very simple reason that she was not married and, in fact, she was proud of her spinsterhood which gave her the freedom she wanted. Many members of the New York upper class had courted her in vain. Well, the day after his arrival in New York, on the recommendation of his friend Mayor LaGuardia, Mrs. Cunningham knocked on the door of ENIGMA CONSULTANTS S.L. Michael Schlimazl and Jacob Schlemihl were aware of the return to the city of the rich heiress. What they did not know was that she had brought with her from Egypt an overwhelming mystery. The wise reader will have already guessed that this mystery was contained in the coffin that had crossed the Atlantic with her. But as the movement of the coffin in the company of its owner through the streets of New York would have made her the talk of the city (the previous year, without going any further, the walks through Central Park of Mrs. Silverman in the company of a penguin had generated a lot of gossip in the upper echelons of New York society), Mrs. Cunningham asked Michael and Jacob to move to her house on Park Avenue to witness the mystery that she wanted them to solve. Mrs. Cunningham had prepared rooms for them to spend the night. Their hostess had been elusive when it came to explaining what the mystery she wanted them to investigate was. She just told them they would find out for themselves. And most certainly, that very night they discovered it... An old wall clock struck twelve chimes, awakening Jacob who was a light sleeper. After a short while, he clearly heard footsteps in the corridor. Finding it odd that someone was walking around the house at that hour of the night, he opened the door half-way and what he saw made his head swim. A figure completely wrapped in strips of brown linen solemnly paraded down the corridor with arms outstretched. When the figure rounded a corner, Jacob hurried to knock on Michael’s door. He persevered until waking his friend, who was sleeping soundly. "What the hell happens to you? Have you seen a ghost?" “A mummy” “What?!” “There is a mummy walking around the house.” Michael giggled. "Don't say nonsense.” “I've seen it with my own eyes.” “I don’t doubt you've seen a mummy. The house is full of antiques. Mrs. Cunningham is an archaeologist. What I don’t believe is that this mummy was for a walk. “Accompany me if you don’t believe me.” Michael put on a robe and went out into the corridor. “You'll have dreamed it.” “In that case, you'll also dream it now, you'll see.” They both moved down the corridor, Jacob stealthily, Michael with aplomb. After a while of touring the house, the mummy suddenly appeared around a corner. It walked slowly without bending her knees and with her arms extended forward, just as Jacob had seen it minutes before. Michael stopped in his tracks, shocked. “What do you say now? Do you still think we're dreaming?” “Let's hide! It is coming here.” “It can’t see us.” “How do you know?” “Because it has no eyes. They are covered by bandages. It's hard to see anything without eyes.” "Shut up, smart ass! It's gonna hear us. Or is that it doesn’t have ears either?” "I don’t know. I haven't seen them. But if I'm not wrong, mummies are dead people wrapped in bandages. And as far as I know, the dead can not hear anything even if they have ears.” “And as far as you know, smart ass, can the dead walk? Come on, let's hide.” They both hurried to hide behind a curtain until the mummy passed by. "Now what do we do?" "Go to sleep. There will be time tomorrow to discuss this with Mrs. Cunningham.” The next morning, during breakfast, Michael brings up the subject on the sly: "Do you know, Mrs. Cunningham, that there is an intruder in this house?” “Ah, I see that you have already discovered for yourselves the mystery for which I’ve hired your services. Have you heard about a similar case? No? I haven't either. All the mummies I’ve known behaved as they should. That is, as what they are: corpses. But this one… It's a rebellious mummy, and I want you to bring it to order. I have smuggled it from Cairo to swell my collection of antiques, not to wander around the house. Under these conditions, it’s impossible to have servants or guests.” “Do you want us to ... kill it?” “Well, it’s already dead, so I don’t think that makes a big difference. But, above all, do it without spoiling it.” The next night, Michael and Jacob were stationed behind a door waiting for the mummy to pass. Michael held a rope. Suddenly there were footsteps in the corridor. Immediately Michael tensed the rope while Jacob opened the door. Michael pounced on the mummy and placed the rope around its neck. Then, each one pulled strongly from one end. At that moment, the mummy’s head sprang from its body, which went on its way as if nothing had happened. Michael and Jacob watched it, speechless. "What do we do now?", Jacob asked. "Get the baseball bat, hurry!" Jacob rushed to his room and came back with the bat. Michael snatched it from his hand and ran after the mummy. And when he caught up with it, he started hitting it with the bat. With every thump, the mummy became more misshapen until there was nothing left of it but a mass of bandages. Michael and Jacob waited to see if it kept moving. But no. This time it was really dead. "I don’t think that Mrs. Cunningham likes how it looks”, said Jacob. "Because the head is missing. Go look for it!" Jacob returned right away with the mommy’s head, which Michael placed on top of the pile of bandages as if it were the icing on a cake. Needless to say, Mrs. Cunningham was not satisfied with the services rendered by the two investigators.
In 1937, Joe Louis won the title of Heavyweight champion. But few people know of an incident that occurred to this legendary boxer when he was still an amateur. Here is the scoop… Joe Louis had 69 professional fights with only three losses, And the balance of his previous career as an amateur was even more spectacular: he had lost only one fight, and most surprising of all is that he did it in front of a blind fighter. Do you understand now why the incident was silenced when Louis reached the stardom? However, it must be said that the fault was not Louis's or the merit of the blind boxer. I’ll tell you what happened. It turns out that in 1935 ENIGMA CONSULTANTS S.L. received a commission from the coach of Louis, a certain Harold "Bux" Clinton. Mr. Clinton was sure that someone had given his promising pupil the evil eye. Louis had been in an hospital for a week then. He had several broken ribs, a broken nose, purple eyes and bruises all over his body. Two weeks earlier, Mr. Clinton had signed a contract on behalf of his pupil for a bout in New York. But he didn't know that the fight was rigged. The New York Mafia had organized the fight to the purpose of highlighting the skills as a boxer of an Italian-American protégé of them. But they were going to bet a lot of money on him and they did not want to risk losing it. So, without the knowledge of Mr. Clinton, they proposed to Louis that he let himself be beaten by his opponent. Naturally, Louis refused strongly, and then the Mafia decided that it would be more convenient for their finances to assure the shot, so he resorted to a dirty trick. They gave their protégé a choice: he could pretend to have a broken leg or he could really have a broken leg. Of course, the Italian-American chose the first option and therefore the mobsters had the excuse to replace him with another boxer. They hired Moshe Yskovich, a young Jew from Brownsville strong as a bull but who was blind. That disability, however, was not obvious: Moshe had beautiful brown eyes and at first glance nobody would have noticed. The afternoon of the fight, the stadium was full to overflowing. The Mafia had bet a lot of money on Louis, and judging from the random way Yskovich punched the air, that was certainly a safe bet. However, the bout lasted five rounds and Yskovich did not receive a single punch whereas Louis had to be evacuated on a stretcher. But what the hell had happened? An amazing thing, which was the reason for the presence of Mr. Clinton in the office of Michael and Jacob. According to the story of the coach, as soon as Louis went out into the ring, he began to punch himself, in the face, in the ribs… In a word, he took a real beating at his own hands. All in all, he withstood five rounds, proving the legendary boxer's strength. Naturally, the Mafia was not very happy, so now both Mr. Clinton and his pupil were forced to hide. Louis had entered with a fictitious name in the hospital and Mr. Clinton had to get the hell out of the stadium and buy the first disguise he found. Unfortunately it was a cat’s disguise, which caused him great annoyance because he was forced to walk down the street on all fours. Michael and Jacob told him that he could stay in their office while they investigated this strange case and their proposal was accepted. Mr. Clinton had revealed to Michael and Jacob his pupil's whereabouts, and when they met the future legend of boxing Joe Louis, he was lying in a hospital bed with his face kicked in. After reassuring him saying that they came from his coach, they interrogated Louis about what had happened to him that night in the stadium: why he had come back on himself. But poor Joe was too bruised to talk. It was then that Rabbi Wiesel emerged from behind a curtain. Rabbi Wiesel was a highly respected figure in the Jewish community of Brooklyn. Not only was he a magnanimous man and protective of the weak, he was also a profound connoisseur of the Hebrew Kabbalah and he was said to possess magical powers. But what was he doing there? The rabbi was taking care of Louis because “he felt guilty”, he said. And taking Michael and Jacob to an aside, he clarified what had happened. It turns out that he knew Moshe Yskovich well. Being a good young man and a pious Jew, he had accepted the offer of the Mafia to participate in that rigged fight even knowing that, due to his blindness, he had no chance, for the purpose of donating to Rabbi Wiesel’s charitable foundation the sum that the mobsters had offered him. However, the rabbi could not allow him to receive a beating for that cause, hence before the combat he manipulated Yskovich’s opponent's gloves by means of a kabalistic formula. Those gloves were no use to Louis anymore (they were spellbound forever), so Michael had no qualms about picking them up from the floor and keep them as a souvenir.
Ernest Jennings never studied hypnosis techniques. He was just a born hypnotist. He didn’t need to use any technique, he just stared at you with that stupid face he had, and he got you under his control. However, he was not aware of his power until the day he went to ask for an autograph to Rita Hayworth after seeing her in the film “Charlie Chan in Egypt” and immediately she was signing not only the autograph but the marriage certificate by which both they became husband and wife. Naturally, she asked for a divorce immediately after the judge declared them as such, that is, as soon as the hypnotic effects wore off. She alleged mental coercion and the forensic psychologist ruled that, indeed, Jennings had a hypnotic power that he was unaware of until that moment. That also explained why when he went to ask for a job as maintenance worker at Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., he was designated chief executive officer. Of course, when the Lehman brothers realized that the new CEO had difficulty distinguishing the stock market from the Fulton Fish Market, he was kicked out. The secret was not to look him directly in the eyes. When he went to ENIGMA CONSULTANTS S.L. accompanied by his two sons, he was already fully aware of that anomaly in his eyes, so the first thing he did was to warn Michael and Jacob, who got used to looking at him from the side, out of the corner of his eye. The reason for his enquiry was indirectly related to his ability (or his problem, depending on your perspective) because, unwittingly, the night before he had abducted a couple of extra-terrestrial beings who had tried to abduct him previously. As a result, he now had a flying saucer in the backyard of his Rockaway home, and two big-eyed, little green men who followed him everywhere. And so saying, he took his children's cap and coat off, and Michael and Jacob found themselves face to face with two aliens. The fact is that Jennings wanted to get rid of them, but he did not know how. That's why he had resorted to their consultancy. If he had been fluent in their extra-terrestrial language or they had been fluent in his terrestrial one, that would suffice to order them to take their flying saucer and get out of this planet. But, unfortunately, this was not the case. (You, children, do you realize how important it is to know more than one language?). After carefully examining the little green men, Michael and Jacob took a cab to Rockaway in the company of the unwitting hypnotist and his two "sons". As Mr. Jennings had claimed, in the backyard of his house, hidden under a tarpaulin, was a strange circular contraption about ten yards in diameter and a transparent dome at its apex. The two investigators considered putting the case in the authorities’ hands, but on realizing that probably the little green men would not come off well, they dismissed this possibility. The only solution, they concluded, was for Mr. Jennings to stop exercising his hypnotic power over his "sons". However, that was not an easy task because they didn’t take their big black eyes off him. Under the watchful eyes of the aliens, therefore, Michael and Jacob thought up a trickery. In an unguarded moment, Mr. Jennings would leave the house unseen while Michael and Jacob stayed at home “babysitting”. With a little luck, the aliens would regain their free will and they would skedaddle on their spaceship. In general terms, the trickery went as planned. Except for the small detail that, for a gap of two days, Michael and Jacob’s whereabouts were unknown to everyone, including themselves. And when they appeared again, they didn’t remember where the hell they had been or what had happened to them during that period of time. Not even hypnosis was able to unravel that mystery.
Michael and Jacob held one of their periodic discussions about the convenience of carrying a weapon with them. On that occasion Michael was especially angry because his friend had bought a gun without consulting him before. While Jacob’s attention was briefly distracted, Michael confiscated the weapon arguing the danger posed by that gun in his hands because, when Jacob stared at something, he tended to become cross-eyed and also his pulse trembled and once, in a shooting cabin of Coney Island, the manager had to hide under the counter in view of the erratic movements of his shooting hand. But the discussion was suddenly interrupted when someone knocked on the office’s door. Such was the elegant way of dressing and distinguished bearing of their new client that Michael and Jacob thought they were in the presence of an English lord, or of a direct descendant of an English lord, or of an English descendant of a Chinese lord, or maybe of a squirrel in a tux. -Good morning, my name is Richard Staples Mathiesson, I am involved in the buying and selling of pigs and I am an inhabitant of Brooklyn. The reason for my presence here is quite gloomy, to tell the truth, because it has to do with a cemetery, the Green-Wood Cemetery to be precise, where several generations of my family are buried, all of them pig dealers, except Aunt Eleonor who was a stevedore in the harbor at the time of the Boston Tea Party. That reference to Boston explained everything. - The fact is that my father has disappeared. The last time we saw him was in the Green-Wood Cemetery, surrounded by his whole family. We said a prayer for the dead and everyone went home, except for him who stayed there, the poor thing. We shouldn’t leave him alone. -It’s the way of nature. You should resign yourself to that. Suddenly, the fake Englisman forget his good manners: -How I'm gonna get resigned?! I’m telling you that my father has disappeared in the cemetery! And you want me to resign?! I want you to find out what the hell happened to him! Michael and Jacob look at each other as if saying "This man isn't in his right mind”. -Do you want us to find out what happens when ... the threshold is crossed? -I want you to accompany me to the cemetery to start investigating. An hour later, Michael, Jacob and the fake Englishman were standing in front of a grave in the Green-Wood Cemetery. -It happened here. The two investigators took off their hats as a sign of respect for the deceased. Jacob approached to read the inscription on the tombstone. -Your father's name is Susan? -How is gonna be Susan my father's name?! His name is Archibald! -Well, Then they messed up when they carved out the inscription. In the tomb says Susan Mathiesson. -There is no error. In that grave is buried my grandmother. At this point Michael intervened to clarify things: -We thought the deceased was your father... -For Heaven's sake! You’ve not even begun to investigate and you’re already imagining the worst! -Let’s get this straight. Where exactly was your father when you last saw him? -I already told you! Right here, kneeling in front of this grave. We had just honored my grandmother's memory with a pray. We all left, but he wanted to spend some time alone with his mother. -Now I understand it all. -In that case, I leave you alone to continue the investigation. The fake Englishman said goodbye to them, wishing good luck in their inquiries. He rode in his car and left. There was no one else in the cemetery. -Well (Jacob said), now that he's gone, show me what this is all about. Did they bury the son in the same grave as his mother? Michael explained the situation clearly. Then he knelt to examine the tomb more closely. -Why do you kneel? Was Susan Mathiesson also your relative? -Don’t say foolishness. Look at this. This slab has been moved recently. You help me? -You will not desecrate the grave, right ?! -Come on, let's just have a look. Between the two they pushed the heavy marble slab and, to their surprise, found a ladder underneath. Michael turned on his flashlight and began to descend slowly followed by Jacob. After some minutes of descent, both arrived at a corridor at the bottom of which a yellowish light shone. Jacob wanted to go back, but Michael managed to convince him to move on. Very stealthily they advanced along the corridor until, hidden in the darkness, they stopped to observe a macabre ritual that was about to take place in the wide hall lit by torches where the corridor ended. Five people hooded and wrapped in a black cloak surrounded another hooded individual who was tied to the ground face up in the center of the hall. Suddenly, the five hooded men spread their arms towards the one who was stretched. Each of them held a knife. Then all began to recite in unison a kind of poem in which the name of Lucifer abounded. Horrified, Jacob couldn’t stand the tension and exclaimed "my God!", being therefore immediately discovered and captured by a pair of the hooded ones who move him to the hall. The others rushed to release the one who was tied to the ground, who now was over the moon because he had providentially found a substitute. Jacob struggled trying to prevent the hooded devils tie him to the ground. Then Michael, who had remained hidden in the darkness of the corridor, turned up suddenly and, wielding the gun confiscated from Jacob that very morning, shouted orders to release his friend and throw down the weapons. Being faced with the gun, the members of that satanic sect had no choice but to obey and wait patiently for Jacob to return accompanied by the police. During the wait, Michael entertained himself looking for the words he would use to apologize to Jacob for having scolded him for buying that gun.
In the thirties, due to the economic depression, paradoxically the show business moved higher. People needed to get away from their everyday worries. The less privileged went to the movie theaters. Wealthy people filled Broadway shows. The lights of Broadway at dusk were already a spectacle in itself. But in 1937 it was scheduled a show titled "I’ve got a stain in my pants" that drove the agency ENIGMA CONSULTANTS S. L. nuts. George Firstein, the show’s producer, contacted Michael and Jacob because of a strange phenomenon that happened at the end of each performance. It turned out that while the audience was leaving the theater, Wagner's “Ride of the Valkyries” sounded. And what was so strange about this?, someone might ask. Plainly and simply, the strangeness lay in the fact that the orchestra had already stopped playing. The pit was empty and yet not only did the music sound but it sounded so loud that many spectators threw themselves to the ground thinking that the nazis or the communists were bombing the theater. Besides, the “Ride of the Valkyries” was not related to the show that had just been staged. In fact, it was totally antagonistic. The play is about a school teacher who only has one pair of pants and, unfortunately, a huge seagull (a mechanical device that almost occupies the whole stage and looks more like a plane than anything else) drops a by-product of its digestion on the schoolmaster's pants. The huge stain is of a bright yellow that contrasts horribly with the jet black of his pants. The poor man tries frantically to clean it, but it’s impossible. No cleaning product is able to put up with the stain. The main part of the show consists in the pathetic pilgrimage through all sort of institutions of the protagonist in his underpants and with the extended arms holding his only pants (this pilgrimage favoured some poignant songs in the manner of the great Al Jolson) in search of a detergent strong enough to eliminate the fateful stain. At the end of the play, the public left their seats with the grief gripping tight their hearts, moved by the sad ending (the play ends with the return of the seagull, which drops another “gift” on the poor schoolmaster, this time on his head, thereby turning his black mop of hair into a ridiculous yellow beret). And in that precise moment, (tatatatxan!!) the Valkyries began to ride at full gallop. In the course of several performances, Michael and Jacob moved behind the stage trying to discover the origin of the music. But they did not find anything suspicious. No orchestra concealed in the attic or in any other room. No gramophone. Nothing at all. The music filled the whole theater with a deafening sound without seeming to come from any particular place. But the most serious thing was that lately this sudden outburst of decibels happened at the most colossally inconvenient time ever: What a pathetic thing it was to see the schoolmaster in his underpants at the very moment when, with a pleading look, was lengthening his pants to a sales agent of cleaning products and suddenly was shaken by the Valkyries’ ride!). Other times the outburst happened late at night, when the theater was silent and the only audience was the security guard. It was not until Michael and Jacob heard about a phenomenon called psychophonies on the radio when the enigma began to be deciphered. In his favourite radio show, "Mysterious Universe", one night they heard an interview with a member of the American Society for Psychical Research. This man, who was an expert in this kind of phenomena, had the theory that the old houses were impregnated with certain sounds that had once echoed on their walls. And he illustrated his explanation with an audiotape recorded in an old house in Charlottesville, Virginia, where in the midst of total silence, suddenly a distorted and almost imperceptible voice apparently said "Tell Susan she have to put the socks in soaking". "Psychophonies!", Michael and Jacob jumped, “that must be the answer to the enigma". They quickly contacted the ASPR expert who came provided with a very sensitive voice recorder, able to record the slightest sounds. He refused to be informed of the nature of the psychophony on the grounds that it would be a spoiler. This caprice was about to cost him his life because, when late-night they carried out the experiment, an absolute silence reigned in the empty theater. And then, all of a sudden, Wagner's “Ride of the Valkyries” burst at such a high volume that the ASPR member suffered a collapse and, since then, at the slightest unforeseen noise, he jumps out the window.
In the year 1937, the "On Leong", one of the tongs or Chinese secret societies of New York City, declared war on a rival tong, the "Hip Song", because of a dispute regarding the length of the queue that Chinese men should wear. At that time there lived in Chinatown a reputed Chinese magician named Cao Xing who felt a great affinity for Jewish culture. To the point that he used to walk around Jewish neighborhoods disguised as an orthodox jew with a long false beard, long false payots, long false hair and a long false brain that enabled him to speak and understand Yiddish with the exception of some loose words like fridn, kvetch or mishposheh. Thanks to this good characterization, he had managed to make friends with a Williamsburg rabbi called Weinman. This rabbi instructed him in the Kabbalah and, at the request of Cao Xing (who when disguised as a Jew was called Gershom Alishpensky), taught him the secret procedure for building a Golem with the strength of three hundred men. Well, at the beginning of the fratricidal war between the aforementioned tongs, Cao Xing get down to work and, following the instructions given him by the rabbi, manufactured a Golem for the purpose of promoting the peace in Chinatown by means of punching and kicking and slapping. But as I have said, he did not understand some loose Yiddish words, and one of those loose words turned out to be fundamental for the mental stability of the Golem. So, it did not come off very well. Instead of lashing out at the two tongs at stake, the Golem resolved to introduce Cao Xing in a glass bottle. Terrified, Cao Xing locked himself in his workshop and, disguised as an orthodox Jew, ran to ask for help from his friend Rabbi Weinman. When the rabbi learned that the Golem had gotten that one idea in his mud head, he gave up on his friend Gershom Alishpensky. But it so happened that Jacob was present when Cao Xing, burst in to the synagogue asking for help. And despite his partner's warnings not to stick his nose in where it was not wanted, Jacob was curious to see the Chinese Golem. So he offered to accompany Cao Xing (who disguised as an orthodox Jew felt safe) back Chinatown, where they found the Golem drinking a bottle of soda. Jacob marveled at that terracotta giant. And he marveled even more when he witnessed how the Chinese Golem reduced Cao Xing, aka Gershom Alishpensky, and stuffed him into the empty bottle. "What an enormous strength! Hopefully that strength could be channeled to do good!" thought Jacob. But then he saw the Golem drinking another bottle of soda, and his survival instinct suggested him the idea of running without stopping to look back. And he had the healthy habit of obeying all the suggestions of his survival instinct.
One day Jacob Schlemihl went walking through the Bronx when he witnessed something that for most people would have gone unnoticed, but that a mind used to mysteries could not ignore. A middle-aged woman was flying over the rooftops by the simple procedure of waving her arms. Jacob’s curiosity led him to climb the stairs of one of the tallest buildings in the area, access the roof and from there climb a metal ladder to the top of a water tower. From that privileged position, he was able to follow the flight of the woman and discover her landing place: a rooftop a few blocks away. When he told his partner what he had seen, Michael did not believe him. But at the insistence of Jacob, finally he decided to accompany him to the building where supposedly the flying woman had landed. Before that, however, he took the precaution of calling the City Hall to verify if there had been any human cannonball performance in the area. The answer was no. So Michael had no choice but to accompany his friend. Starting from the attic, they went down from floor to floor asking at each door if someone knew how to fly. On the fourth floor, a man said yes, which led to a long interview that ultimately resulted in a total loss of time since the man was a pilot of light aircraft. When they had almost lost hope, they reached the first floor, where the door was opened by a woman whom Jacob recognized as the woman he had seen flying the previous day. Unlike most of the rest of the neighbors, this woman did not slam the door in their faces upon hearing the question. She just made excuses and pled an alibi, which made the two experienced investigators suspect. When a woman is asked if the previous afternoon was flying over the rooftops, she would not plead an alibi unless she actually had been flying over the rooftops. (This is the kind of reasoning that Sherlock Holmes would have done, which shows that the partners of ENIGMA CONSULTANTS were not as stupid as they pretended to be.) Aroused in this way their suspicions, Michael and Jacob placed themselves on a nearby roof. Michael was provided with binoculars. After about two hours of surveillance lying on the roof, they saw the woman on the roof of her building. Suddenly she started waving her arms and getting off the ground. Michael followed his flight with the binoculars without being able to believe what he was seeing. So shocked was he that he ignored Jacob when he tapped him on the shoulder, yelled something and ran. Michael stood alone on the roof without taking his eyes off the binoculars until suddenly the woman disappeared from view. Even though he swept the horizon with the binoculars, he could not see her again until he removed the binoculars from his face. Then he saw her perfectly since she was standing right next to him. Michael jumped in surprise and then received such a slap in the face that the binoculars flew away as if they too had the ability to fly. When he came around an hour later, he was lying on the sofa in the office with Jacob, who had to promise his friend not to stick his nose in where it's not wanted.