Death Lives In The Water – Snippet 22
“Have you ever drained this pond?” asked one of the divers.
“Nope. Never had cause.”
“How low does it get during the summer?”
“I’ve never seen it much lower than this.”
“Have you ever been in?”
“No. I don’t swim. I did try to fish once, but nothing there.”
“So where does the water come from?”
“Well, I reckon from somewhere down in the center. Great-great-Grandpa Yuri owned this cabin, and his in-laws owned the other one back there. The pond was here when they claimed the land.”
Harve stopped himself from launching into still another Harper Family genealogy lesson.
“Why didn’t you call this in sooner? Looks like the car’s been visible for at least a couple of days.”
“I really didn’t notice. I’ve been working long hours, leave about 6:00 a.m. and stop at Morey’s for breakfast. Stop back there at about six at night for dinner, and then home after dark. The only reason I noticed it today was I saw a deer down there drinking when I came back to get the lunch I forgot. Don’t see that much lately.”
“Okay,” said Meadows. “The divers want to drain the pond. They have the hoses and the pumps to do it, and they would send the water down toward the road and that depression on the other side. Will you allow it? I should warn you that if you say no, we will get a warrant. I’m sure Mr. Rutledge here will have some questions about it all too.”
“Oh, you bet,” said Martin. “I think you should give permission, Harve, but first I want it understood that he hasn’t been charged with a crime. And the minute you see anything that sends you in that direction, I want him Mirandized.”
“Of course,” replied Meadows.
“I will do it,” said Jim. “But I don’t think we are talking arrest yet.”
He wondered why Harve kept looking back at his house. Or was he looking farther, toward the old log cabin by the woods?
The big police van contained a large pump and two equally large hoses. They attached one to the input valve and the other to the output. The output hose was stretched down across the road and into the tree-filled area beyond. Then the input hose was put into the pond and the motor started.
At first nothing seemed to happen, but rather quickly they all noticed the pond level going down. Bullfrogs hopped about complaining loudly. Arthur grabbed a large bucket which he filled with water and started dropping bullfrogs in. Harve joined him, and once the bucket was full Arthur emptied it into a small depression he had located near the pond. They continued the process until they had captured and relocated all the frogs they could find.
By then the pond had been almost completely drained. The blue Mustang was nose down, apparently stuck in the mud. Before they attempted again to remove it, the divers and the CSIs slogged about in the muck and mud of the now empty pond, looking for anything that seemed of interest or out of place.
As they drew close to the front of the car, one of the CSIs called a halt. While the others remained in place, he bent down and retrieved what appeared to be a shoe. It was a red Nike Jordan. Jim’s heart sank. He knew from experience that Gary Miller wore red Nike Jordans. The CSI called for Jim to retrieve a body bag from the van, and once he reached the shore he put the shoe in the bag. Jim could see what appeared to be the remnants of a foot. The smell of decomp was slight but detectable. His heart sank further.
“I’ll call the parents,” he said. “I guess we should have them out here.”
The lab tech sighed. He knew it was necessary, but it was a part of the job he hated. He returned to continue the search.
As the waters receded they could see that the driver’s door was open. They searched diligently in the muck around the car. Nothing more was found.
“Let’s get this car out of there so we can process it,” said one of the CSIs.
When Mick showed the CSIs what had happened when he tried to pull it out, the state guys decided to add the winch on their lab van.
While all this was going on, Jim retreated slowly to Harve’s porch. He grabbed a soda out of the Explorer on his way and sat sipping it slowly. He didn’t want to make the call. When a child dies you lose a piece of your future. How could he tell these parents that their hopes and dreams were buried somewhere under a Mustang in a pool of mud and muck? He knew, in his gut, that those boys were gone. What haunted him now and would haunt him for some time was the very real prospect that they would not find their bodies. They might find pieces, if they were lucky, but it seemed apparent to him that the boys, all but Gary, had gone skinny dipping and were somewhere under that Mustang. How the Mustang got there, however, was a complete mystery. There were tracks. He had seen them. But why had Gary driven into the pond? The crime lab boys were going to have their hands full.
He, in the meantime, had his hands empty, except for the cell phone. He still hadn’t dialed anyone. The red shoe haunted him. He hadn’t liked that boy, hadn’t given him a chance. The kid never really did anything wrong, other than occasionally skipping school. He was just a smart-mouthed kid who rubbed him the wrong way. And now apparently, he was dead. Or at the very least missing a foot. He was fooling himself. The kid was dead, as were the other three. And he got the grand prize: to call the parents and tell them to come down here.
Charity let out a whoop. She raised the journal high, waving it at the two women who were digging through chests on the other side of the cottage.
“Jackpot!” she exclaimed. “1812, written in English, by Stephan Farmington. It refers to his sisters, Katya and Jane. And his brother Mikhail. It’s the first one in English I’ve found.”
Jen and Bridgette sat down next to her, peering over her shoulder at the tight, crabbed hand. The diary was bound in soft leather, probably goat or sheep hide, and knotted together with rawhide. The paper was obviously handmade and quite fragile. They handled it with care. Charity laid it open on the table, the small oil lamp illuminating it. She read aloud:
The great earthquake has done serious damage. People and animals have disappeared into the earth where fissures suddenly opened. The Mississippi ran backward for a while, which caused the waters here, both in the river and underground, to suffer changes and disturbances. Some of the wells have overflowed, and the pond on Yuri’s property has risen several feet.
Last week Kateryna told us that the herd of deer that regularly drinks from the pond has disappeared. She also said that several sheep have gone missing and that the bullfrogs no longer sing along the edges.
Although it is early, and he should have slept for another month at least, we all agree that the bolotnik has awoken, probably disturbed by the great quaking of the land.