The Mastin Twins - Chapter 13 - The Funeral
Chapter 13 - The Funeral
The Vaskelis family didn't get up the next morning until after 11:00. Breakfast was eaten very slowly and before they were finished the doorbell rang. Jimmy went to the front door and opened it.
"Hey Jimmy boy! Have you gotten bigger since the last time I saw you?"
Jimmy blushed then escorted his grandfather, Daniel Vaskelis, into the kitchen.
David rose when he saw who was there, went over and exchanged hugs with his father.
"I managed to get away a little sooner than I thought. Hope my arriving today isn't going to be difficult for you."
Jimmy's mom came over for her hugs. "Oh not at all. You can have Jimmy's room. Do you have a suitcase?"
He nodded yes.
"Jimmy why don't you go out to the car and get it"
Jimmy ran out the door and came back with the suitcase and Kathleen and Robert. He put the suitcase down and made introductions.
"Now", said his grandfather. "You want to tell me what's been going on around here. Did you find out what happened to my sister?"
Jimmy looked unhappily at the floor. "She's dead Granpa. Murdered by this guy named Frank Wheaton."
Jimmy told the story of his summer in Elk Bow, his parents and the Faheys helping when he left out a detail. When he got to the events of the previous night Kathleen and Robert who hadn't heard about it yet stared with wide eyes. When the narrative was finished his grandfather looked him in the eye.
"Are you sure all those parts with the ghosts of your cousins were real and not your mind playing tricks on you?"
Jimmy's dad backed him up. "I was in the basement with Mr. Fahey and Angus McGee and we all saw them. If it was a trick it was a pretty convincing one. Besides, how else could some of that stuff have happened?"
Daniel nodded, "Could we go out to what's left of the house? I'd kind of like to see it."
Everyone piled into the station wagon and five minutes later they were standing next to the charred basement of the Mastin house. Jimmy could see tears welling up in his grandfather's eyes then running down his cheeks.
"Martha was so gentle and sweet. How could anyone have done something like this. How could this happen..."
He stopped his voice trailing away. Jimmy stepped over, put his hand into his pocket pulled out the locket and held it out to his grandfather.
"This has a picture of Floyd and William, the twins in it. I'd like you to have it."
His grandfather flicked it open.
"They look a lot like their mother."
He looked at it for quite some time then handed it back to Jimmy.
"You're the one that solved the mystery and they're your cousins. I think you should keep this."
He looked around, at the falling down stable, then the trees in the orchard finally returning to the blackened basement at his feet.
"Do you think Floyd and William are around?" he asked.
Jimmy shrugged. "I don't know."
His grandfather appeared to be struggling with a decision. Finally he straightened up and said in a loud voice, "Floyd, William, I'm your uncle Daniel. If you're here I'd like to see you..."
Nothing seemed to happen for a moment then a couple of shimmering spots formed in the air, one on either side of the old man. The spots flickered then became more solid and took on the form of two young boys about 9 years old, dressed in somewhat old-fashioned clothing. They looked up at the old man's face and smiled at him then extending their hands to wave good-bye faded away leaving the small group in silence. Even the birds in the trees stopped their song for a moment.
Jimmy's grandfather said, "I wish I could have seen Martha one more time..." then turned away from the remains of the house and slowly climbed back over the stone wall to the car. The others followed him.
When they arrived home the phone was ringing. It turned out to be Angus McGee with some news he wanted to deliver in person. Eleven minutes later the sound of a car in the driveway and a knock on the front door announced his presence. He was ushered into the living where he took a seat and Jimmy introduced him to his grandfather.
"The Sheriff got a call this morning from the hospital where they'd sent Phillip Stroud. Seemed Phillip stopped babbling and was coherent again so the Sheriff went over to question him. Sheriff said when he started asking about Frank Wheaton that Stroud just clammed up, claimed he'd never heard of the guy. Claimed he didn't remember being in the old Mastin house either. Sheriff suggested that maybe going back out to the house might jog his memory. When he said that Phillip Stroud went nuts saying there was no way he'd ever go back there. Sheriff asked him if the house and Frank Wheaton had anything to do with each other then told him he was going to have to take him out to the house. At that point Phillip Stroud cracked and confessed. It was pretty much the way you figured it Jimmy. He and Wheaton grew up together in one of the poorer parts of Lincoln Nebraska. They were in and out of trouble until finally they were caught breaking into a store. The judge gave them the choice of jail or the army. They chose the army. They were both shipped over to France. Phillip was assigned to the officer's motor pool and Frank was assigned to the Quartermaster Corps. It was an ideal setup for them to steal stuff from the army and sell it on the black market but then Frank blundered and was caught and tossed in the brig. Phillip figured the only way to keep from getting caught himself was to spring Frank out of the brig and he managed to do so. Frank got himself smuggled back to the States in the hold of a cargo ship. Phillip remained in France and served for the remainder of the war before being released from the army. Frank had a friend in the army who had told him about Elk Bow, it seemed like a good place for a deserter to hide, a small town out in the boondocks, and he moved there taking the name Jason Stuart. Phillip came and joined him as soon as he was out of the army. Stroud lied to the Mayor of Elk Bow about a law enforcement background and he was appointed a deputy. Everything seemed to be going fine but without their knowledge Frank's old commanding officer Edward Mastin whom Phillip had never met bought the Green Farm. Meanwhile Frank Wheaton got married to Alice Fleming, a local girl and less than a year later Jason Junior was born. In 1939 Frank had a chance meeting with Edward Mastin on the sidewalk outside the general store. Frank immediately recognized Mastin and although Mastin had done nothing to show it he was suspicious that Edward had recognized him. He promptly told Phillip, now the town's Sheriff, about the meeting. Phillip agreed to keep an eye on Mastin and Frank's fears were proved true when a few days later Edward came to town to mail a letter. Sheriff Stroud intercepted the letter which they opened finding a request for the army to investigate a deserter, Frank Wheaton. They burned the letter and tried to decide what to do. Phillip wanted Frank to leave town but Frank thought that Edward would keep trying to catch him if he ran and resolved to eliminate Mastin. They setup an ambush where Lakefront Drive went over the ridge at Rock Point by chopping down a tree to block the road. When Edward Mastin came driving up from his farm he had to stop and Frank hit him on the head with a baseball bat. They loaded the body into the trunk of the car and pushed it over the cliff where it rolled down into the lake and sank. Then Frank started to get paranoid. What if Edward had left any other documents around telling his secret? Phillip tried to talk him out of it but he headed down to the Mastin home to search it. While they were looking Martha and the twins found them, Frank beat her head in with his bat and strangled the two kids. Phillip helped him bury the bodies in the basement below the potato bin. They turned the house upside down looking for any papers that Edward might have hidden but found nothing (they missed the journal hidden in the bottom of the dresser drawer). When the police investigation of the Mastin's disappearance started Phillip made sure it didn't find anything. It seemed like they were going to get away with it."
"Then 35 years later you kids showed up and started poking around. When you found that car in the lake Phillip panicked and went out to the house to check it again. When he got there the twins were waiting to greet him with a suitable surprise."
"What's going to happen to Phillip now", asked Jimmy's grandfather.
"The Sheriff had him moved to the county jail and he'll stand trial for to murder, obstruction of justice, and some other charges and when the state gets finished with him the army may want to prosecute him for black marketeering, arranging a jail break, and aiding and abetting a deserter. There is no way he'll ever live long enough to get out of jail."
"Does he know what happened to Wheaton last night?" asked Jimmy.
"No, that's another nasty surprise he's in for. I think when he finds out he'll be a lot more worried about the twins than he will be about going to jail!"
Two days later a funeral was held for the Mastins. Five of Jimmy's aunts and uncles showed up for the ceremony and it appeared that Martha had finally been allowed back into the Vaskelis family. Mitzi and Angus as well as a number of older Elk Bow residents who had known the Mastins were present. Afterward they stood next the four holes in ground in the cemetery behind the Elk Bow Catholic Church. The priest finished with `... ashes to ashes and dust to dust..." and the caskets were lowered to their resting places.
A week later Jimmy was in the living room doing a jigsaw puzzle when the phone rang. He picked it up and the familiar voice of Kathleen said, "Hey Jimmy, what you want to do today?"
"I don't know, you got any ideas?"
"Why don't you come over here."
Jimmy told his mom where he was headed and trotted along the path leading to the Faheys. Kathleen and Robert were sitting on their stoop waiting for him.
"Come on", they said, pulling him toward the garage.
Inside under the bright lights the `39 Chevy had been finished and had moved to one side. Up on jacks in the middle of the floor was Edward Mastin's old Packard. The slime and mud from the lake had been removed and Mr. Fahey was in the process of separating the engine and transmission.
Jimmy's eyes popped. "Hey, how did you get that?"
"I bought it at auction from the county. By the end of the summer I should have it running again."
Jimmy didn't doubt it.
Chapter 8 The Mastin Twins
The Mastin Twins - Copyright © 1996 by Charlie Comstock
Permission is granted for personal reading. All other rights reserved.