Death Lives In The Water – Snippet 21

Death Lives In The Water – Snippet 21

-18-

Charity was disturbed. Arthur’s abrupt departure was unsettling. He only said that Jim needed him at Harve’s pond. Charity needed no further details. She knew it would be about the missing boys. Jen and Bridgette knew, also. Bridgette wanted to go there immediately. The boys were friends, schoolmates. But Jen and Charity were having none of that.

“Once people start going down there, everyone in town will be over there. And then they’ll start talking about Harve. And getting in the way of Jim and the state police.”

Mom was right. Bridgette knew that. But they were her friends. She desperately wanted them to be okay. She looked at Charity’s face, then at her mother, and knew that nothing about this was going to be okay. Jen pulled her close.

“I’ll call Jim, ask him if he can let us know when or if they know anything. Okay?”

The girl nodded, deliberately slowing her breath. This was the kind of thing she was training for. All her family had trained for it. She felt the wrongness as strongly as the other two women, perhaps more so. Was it because it was her friends? No, that couldn’t be. She had felt this wrongness long before she learned that Arthur had been called to Harve’s pond about the boys.

Jen dialed her cell. It went directly to voicemail. She frowned. That wasn’t like Jim, not like him at all. She tried Arthur instead, and again got voicemail. This time she left a message, asking Arthur to call them the minute he learned anything that might be of interest.

“Come on then,” said Charity. “Let’s get this lamb put away and the dishes washed. They aren’t going to do themselves.”

-19-

Harve led Jim, Arthur, and Blake Meadows into his tidy sitting room. There was a large window where they could sit and observe the pond in the distance. Clay Murdoch stayed behind, watching for the divers and the tow truck to arrive.

Jim was struck with the construction of Harve’s home. He noted that the walls were planks put together with mortise and tenon joints. The floor was the same, and the planks gleamed in the afternoon sun. The furniture was all wood, handmade by the looks of it, and polished to a high sheen.

He could see the kitchen from the comfortable chair he had chosen near the front door, and it appeared to be an add-on.

“How old is this house?” he asked Harve.

“I think it was built in around 1809 or so,” said Harve. “My great-great-grandfather, Yuri Harasemchuk, built it along with his father-in-law, Maksym Molovna.”

“That’s a mouthful of a name,” said Blake.

“Yeah; he changed it to Harper when he arrived here from Ukraine. But the family papers, diaries, journals, and such, all refer to the old name.”

“So you’re another Harper?” asked Arthur.

“I guess. There seems to be a lot of us. My great-great-grandparents had two kids: Jennie and Levi. Levi died young, of the flu. Jennie, my great-grandmother, married Louis Collier. They had a passel of kids, couldn’t begin to tell you all the names. But my grandfather, Henry Collier, married a local girl, Melissa Farmington. They had a son named Willard. He married some foreign gal, think her name was Ariel. She died in childbirth. The daughter, Linda, grew up here and stayed here. That’s Linda Collier, the newspaper lady. Took her maiden name after her husband died in the mill accident. Guess that means she and me are related somehow.”

Harve suddenly stopped, realizing he had been babbling on about family and probably bored everyone to death. It was nerves; he knew it, and it probably wasn’t doing him any good. And if he talked much longer he might forget and tell them about his family, too.

Arthur, however, had been taking copious notes which he now stuffed into his inside pocket. It would be interesting to construct a timeline later, and perhaps Charity and Jen could fill in more details after they found their family journals. Once this was settled, he would ask if he could borrow Harve’s diaries, or at least read them. He was beginning to think that most if not all the longtime residents of Harper’s Landing were related or had strong family connections. And he was damn sure Harve was hiding something.

Blake Meadows had pretty much ignored Harve’s nerve-related narrative. Instead he was focused on the connections between this mild-mannered man and the various locations where animals and/or people had gone missing. He was jumping to conclusions, and he knew it. But it was hard not to assume that they were not going to like what they found in the bottom of that pond.

Just as the wait for Martin Rutledge to arrive was becoming interminable, a large tow truck rattled up to the pond. The driver hopped out, and after a brief conversation with Murdoch and the CSI, backed his truck up in line with the car in the pond and turned on the winch. The CSI technician and Clay took the large hook at the end of the cable and slowly walked into the pond. They reached the car without incident, and Clay, taking a deep breath, ducked under the surface and wrapped the chain around the back axle. He secured the hook, and then resurfaced. The two men walked back to the edge of the pond and signaled to Mick to pull it out. Mick put the winch in reverse and set the motor for slow. At first, nothing happened, and then Mick turned off the winch motor with a shout. His truck had begun sliding toward the pond. Jim, Arthur, and the others came bounding out of the house and down toward the pond. Just then, Martin Rutledge arrived at the outer gate and headed down Harve’s long driveway.

The group stood staring alternately at the pond and at the deep ruts where Mick’s truck had slid toward the pond until he turned off the winch. All three of the state police — Meadows, Murdoch, and Jim Cleveland, the CSI — agreed nothing further would happen until the divers arrived. Clay hadn’t seen an obstruction when he was under placing the winch chain and hook, but he hadn’t been looking for anything special. Mick’s truck was much larger and heavier than that Mustang; it should have pulled it out easily. They would wait.

No one was in a mood to talk, let alone ask questions. And none of them wanted to leave the pond, just in case something was to happen. So they stood around, each lost in his own thoughts, waiting for the divers.

Except for Harve Sanders and Martin Rutledge. The two men were sitting on handmade Adirondack chairs on Harve’s front porch, deep in conversation. Martin wanted to know every detail about any connection Harve had to the location where Rory was last known to be, the place Rory’s head had been found, and where the pets went missing. The pond connection was obvious.

At long last the divers arrived, pulling up in a large van and accompanied by two additional CSIs from the state headquarters in Jefferson City. The divers stood at the pond’s edge, assessing the situation. They asked who the landowner was, and Harve was hailed down from the porch. He loped over, trailed by Martin.

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