The Mastin Twins - Chapter 3 - Greens Cove
Chapter 3 - Greens Cove
Jimmy slept fitfully that night. He was still tired when the morning light came through his window. He lay in bed staring up at the ceiling. Something he'd dreamed that night made him feel uneasy but he couldn't remember what it was. He was sure it was something important. The smell of bacon and eggs finally roused him from bed. He washed, dressed and walked down the hallway and into the kitchen.
"Oh there you are", said his mother. "I was just about to come get you. Breakfast is ready."
He took his plate from the counter and poured a glass of orange juice. His dad was already at the table reading the Elk Bow Herald.
"How's your new book coming Dad?"
Mr. Vaskelis put the paper down and looked happy.
"It going pretty well. I think coming here's made a big difference to me. It's almost as though the words are typing themselves. How about yourself? Got any plans for today?"
"Well not exactly. I was just going to explore a little more. Check out the woods behind the house I guess, see if there's anything interesting."
After breakfast Jimmy headed out the back door. The yard on this side of the house was mostly dirt. The shed was on the right and a little path on the far side of the yard went north and disappeared between the trees apparently leading up to the ridge. Jimmy followed the path for a short way and found a small open space the center of which was occupied by a single old elm tree. The tree was huge and looked like it would be good for climbing. Jimmy hadn't had much opportunity to climb trees when he'd lived in the city and he wasn't sure about this one but he decided to try it. He had climbed about fifteen feet up when he noticed some initials carved in the tree. W.M. and F.M. They looked like they'd been carved a long time ago, the tree's bark had almost completely covered them up. Then it occurred to him that the names of the Mastin twins were Floyd and William. Could they have carved their initials in this tree thirtyfive years ago?
Jimmy was still pondering this issue when he heard running footsteps approaching from the East. He looked down and saw the Fahey kids enter the clearing. "Hey", he shouted. "Up here!".
Kathleen and Robert stopped and looked around. When they didn't see him at first they looked puzzled. Jimmy shouted again.
This time Robert saw him. "What are you doing up there?" he asked.
"Come on up and I'll show you something", shouted down Jimmy.
The Faheys scrambled up the tree to Jimmy as if they were a couple of squirrels. Jimmy pointed to the initials carved in the trunk. "Think those were carved by the Mastin twins?" he asked.
Kathleen looked at the carving then at Jimmy and Robert. "Probably", she said.
Robert nodded in agreement.
"We're going swimming up at Green's Cove. We came over to see if you wanted to come with us."
"Where's Green's Cove?"
"It's about two miles from here out at the north end of Lakefront".
"Yeah sure! I'll come if my folks say its ok."
They climbed down the tree and walked back to the Vaskelis house. After making the three children explain exactly where they were going Jimmy's mom gave permission for the trip if they promised to be careful. They promised and Jimmy disappeared into his room to grab his swim suit from a bureau drawer and put it on.
On the way out the door his mom handed him a towel. "Lunch is at 1:00."
Outside Jimmy said, "I'll get my bike'
"Naw, lets walk", said Kathleen. "There's a shortcut over the ridge. Lets go that way".
The kids set out up the hill behind the house taking the path Jimmy had found that morning. They climbed for 5 minutes then came out on the ridge line. From up here they could see Elk Bow to the south, a valley and series of big hills to the north, and Lake Windsor to the northwest. The buildings in Elk Bow looked like small toys. Robert pointed north.
"There's Green's Cove."
Jimmy followed his finger.
"Hmm, I think I see it. Isn't that the Mastin house down there?"
"Yup, this path goes down and through the orchard before it comes out on Lakefront."
Another four minutes brought them down off the ridge and into the orchard.
"I wonder what kind of trees these are?", asked Jimmy.
"Dead ones", smirked Kathleen.
"No, I mean the ones that are still alive."
"Apple trees, I think."
They climbed over the stone wall at the edge of the orchard and were on Lakefront. Another ten minutes brought them to Green's Cove. Most of the shoreline near the ridge was quite rocky but here there was a small sandy beach. Next to this beach some of the local fishermen had built a little dock out into deeper water. The kids raced down the sand to the water pulling off street clothes from over their bathing suits as they ran.
Riotous splashing, water fights, sonar tag, and underwater explorations followed. Then they took turns leaping from the dock to see who could make the biggest splash. After an hour they were all starting to feel a little cold so towels were spread out and they lay in the sun. Big fluffy clouds were moving in stately procession overhead. One looked like a spaceship, another like a fish. One even looked like a dinosaur. They lay still admiring the show for a while. Jimmy consulted his new watch.
"Maybe we should be heading back", he said. "I bet lunch is ready."
Kathleen and Robert agreed that lunch sounded good so clothes were quickly retrieved and they started back.
The trip back got a little strange after they climbed the stone wall into the orchard. There were some bushes growing nearby and as they passed giggling came from behind them.
"Freddy Ostman, you come out of those bushes", shouted Kathleen.
The giggles came again. She marched into the bushes, pulled their branches apart, and stopped with a funny look on her face. There was no one there.
"Huh, where'd he go?" she puzzled.
"Where'd who go?", asked Jimmy.
"Freddy Ostman, he's a creepy kid who followed me around for a while when we first moved in. I think he had a crush on me or something." Kathleen looked disgusted.
"I didn't see anyone", said Jimmy quietly.
"Me neither", agreed Robert.
The kids stood for a moment then the giggling came again. This time from behind a tree. Kathleen raced to the tree and stopped again.
"No one there either?", asked Jimmy. "Remember the footsteps we heard in the house when nobody was there. I think we should get out of here."
Kathleen stamped her foot. "I don't believe in ghosts!"
Her brother looked nervous.
The giggling started again, farther away this time. Before either Robert or Jimmy could react Kathleen was running across the orchard.
"Are you nuts? Where are you going" shouted her brother.
"What's the matter? You're not scared are you?" she called back over her shoulder.
Jimmy and Robert reluctantly followed her toward the empty house. By the time they reached the edge of the orchard Kathleen was already standing at the front door. They crossed the yard and joined her. Inside everything was as he remembered it, a complete dump.
"I don't think we should be here. Remember what Mitzi said." Jimmy was also thinking about his father's warning about fooling around in the old house.
Kathleen ignored him and turned around looking in all directions. "I know that little twerp is in here somewhere."
The house was completely silent. Kathleen crept into the parlor followed reluctantly by the two boys. The three stood uneasily wondering what to do next when something began to pound thunderously on the floor under their feet. Frozen with fright for a moment they were unable to move. Abruptly the pounding ended and the giggling came again.
"That wasn't Freddy Ostman", said Jimmy in a dry voice.
The others didn't hear him, they were already on their way out the front door. Jimmy wasted no time following them outside.
"I want to get out of here", said Robert.
He looked scared. The other two didn't argue and they ran through the orchard and up the ridge trail without looking back. At the top they stopped and looked down at the Mastin house. Jimmy had the strange feeling that the house was laughing at them.
"Do you still think it was Freddy Ostman", asked Jimmy softly.
"Who else could it have been?", said Kathleen defensively.
Jimmy reached silently into his pocket, pulled out the locket and opened it.
"I think maybe that something awful happened to the Mastins. Maybe they were murdered."
Kathleen looked at the picture in the locket.
"Maybe we should see if we can find out more about what happened"
"And do what?" said Robert. "I don't want to have anything more to do with that house."
Kathleen and Robert looked thoughtful. At length Kathleen spoke, "Let's just see what we can find about the Mastins, then we'll decide what to do next, ok?"
She started down the south side of the ridge, Robert and Jimmy followed. They all felt better when the old house was no longer in view.
Jimmy's mom was in the kitchen looking out the window when the kids arrived in the Vaskelis yard. She opened the door and motioned them inside and noticed how quiet they were.
"What's wrong. Didn't you have fun swimming?"
"Nothings wrong, the water was fine", said Jimmy.
"Yeah, we had a great time", agreed Kathleen.
"Well lunch is ready" Barbara told Jimmy and then to Fahey's, "If you'd like to stay you can eat with us."
Kathleen used the phone to let her parents know where she was then they all sat down to eat. The swimming and the hike to and from Green's Cove had left them all with good appetites despite the events at the Mastin house.
After munching down a B.L.T. Jimmy asked "Is it ok if we ride our bikes into town this afternoon?"
His mom nodded, "Be back before 6:00 for supper."
Kathleen and Robert left to get their bikes and Jimmy rode his slowly down the driveway. By the time he got to the Fahey's mailbox Kathleen and Robert were waiting and they all rode toward town.
Their first stop in town was the newspaper office. The Elk Bow Herald was a tiny newspaper but lettering on the door proudly proclaimed it had been in existence since 1905. They pulled open the door of the office, went inside and bumped into Angus McGee.
Jimmy said "Hi Mr. McGee. What are you doing here?"
"Well, after talking to you kids yesterday I started getting curious about what happened to the Mastins so I decided to come over here and see what I could find out."
Kathleen brightened. "That's why we're here too! Did you find anything interesting?"
Angus pulled several sheets of paper from his pocket, unfolded them and laid them on the counter. "See for yourselves", he said.
The papers were photocopies of several old newspaper articles.
May 11, 1939 - Mitzi Gaynor reported today the disappearance of Edward Mastin and his family. Mitzi, the local school teacher, had become concerned when Floyd and William, the Mastin twins, had not attended class that day. Fearing they were ill she made the trip to the Mastin home near the northern end of Lakefront Drive to visit them but discovered the Mastin house empty. Sheriff Phillip Stroud says Edward Mastin's new Packard automobile is gone but nothing appears to be missing from the house leading him to speculate that they are probably on vacation. Edward Mastin was the only son of shipping magnate Horace Mastin and his wife Abigail Mastin.
May 15, 1939 - The town of Elk Bow remains mystified by the unexplained disappearance of the Mastin family. Sheriff Phillip Stroud says that no traces of foul play have been found and he suggests that Edward Mastin for reasons known only to himself decided to move his family out of the area. Sheriff Stroud cites the disappearance of the Mastin's new Packard as evidence for this theory. Other locals, including Mitzi Gaynor, the town's school teacher fear the Mastins may have become victims of foul play saying that the Mastin's roots in the Elk Bow community make the Sheriff's assertion ridiculous. Floyd and William, the Mastin twins, had missed three days of school and Mitzi was checking on them when she found the apparently abandoned house. The last time any of the Mastins were seen in Elk Bow was the evening of May 5th when Edward came to town to buy supplies. Edward Mastin and his beautiful wife Martha moved to Elk Bow in July 1928 after buying the old Green farm at the end of Lakefront Drive. They were known and well liked by all in the community.
May 16, 1939 - John Luther, the clerk on duty at Johnson's General Store in Elk Bow believed to be the last to have seen Edward Mastin on the evening of May 5th reports that Edward Mastin seemed quite upset that night raising suspicion that the recent disappearance of the Mastin family may have been due to foul play. Sheriff Phillip Stroud continues to state however that the search conducted by his deputy in conjunction with the state police turned up no evidence indicating the presence of any criminal activity. The official explanation remains that Edward Mastin for reasons unknown decided to move his family out of the area. Many of Elk Bows citizens however believe this to be hogwash. George Fenner, a close friend of the missing Edward Mastin, said "If they were moving why didn't they take their furniture and dishes?" Sheriff Stroud has no explanation for this.
Nov 20, 1941 - The Mastin home at the end of Lakefront Drive was today sold to John and Rachel Soder. The Soders plan to move into the house on the 30th. The house was seized by the town last year for non-payment of property taxes after the Mastin family mysteriously disappeared. The whereabouts of the Mastins remain unknown and it is suspected by many that they may have been the victims of foul play.
Dec 2, 1941 - The Soders who recently moved into the old Mastin house at the end of Lakefront Drive have in one of the shortest residencies in Elk Bow suddenly moved out. They gave no reason other that to say they no longer felt comfortable living there.
Feb 18, 1942 - Yesterday Elias and Emily Horne along with their three children, Ethel, John, and Elizabeth moved into the old Mastin house at the end of Lakefront Drive. They had purchased the house from the previous owners, John and Rachel Soder, on Feb 12th.
Feb 22, 1942 - Today much of the furniture left behind when the Mastin family inexplicably disappeared was sold by the new owners of the old Mastin residence to the highest bidder in an auction. The bidding for many of the valuable pieces was fiercely contested with many buyers coming from outside Elk Bow.
Feb 26, 1942 - In a truly bizarre twist of events the Horne family which less than ten days ago moved into the Mastin house has moved out again complaining of strange sounds and occurrences in the house. They were unaware of the mysterious disappearance of the Mastin family from the house nearly three years ago and are upset that the Soders who sold them the house did not disclose this to them prior to sale. Rumors are running rampant in Elk Bow that the house may be haunted by the ghosts of the mysteriously disappeared Mastin family. Sheriff Phillip Stroud once again denies that any evidence of foul play was uncovered regarding the disappearance. Given the talk in town it seems unlikely that the Hornes will be able to resell the house.
The kids looked thoughtful after reading the articles, especially the last. Angus McGee looked at them anxiously.
"Is something wrong?"
"Umm,", said Jimmy. "We were out there this morning and there were definitely a bunch of strange sounds."
Kathleen looked sideways at Angus. "Do you believe in ghosts?"
"Well now", said Angus. "That's not a question I believe I have an answer for. What were you kids doing out there anyway?"
Kathleen explained about following the giggling into the house thinking it was another kid playing a trick on them.
Angus opened the door and they all stepped out into the bright light of the afternoon. "Why don't we go over to the Historical Society. I've got some more stuff I found about the Mastins over there that I'd like to show you".
Angus led the way around the block, unlocked the door and held it open while the three kids trouped inside. He followed them in reached into a desk drawer and pulled out a small handful of old photographs. The first one showed a farmhouse with two adults and two small children standing on the steps leading up to the front porch. The second was a portrait of a man wearing a fancy tuxedo and top hat. The third was a picture of a beautiful woman sitting on a chair in an ornate parlor. She was holding an infant in each arm. The infants looked identical.
"I dug these pictures of the Mastins out of the society archives though I have to admit I don't know how or when they got there"
Jimmy pulled out and clicked open the locket placing it on the desk next to the picture of the family on the farmhouse steps. The kids on the steps of the house were the same as the twins in the locket.
Angus produced some mugs of hot chocolate and the four of them sat and talked for awhile about what must have happened. The consensus was that the Mastins must have been murdered by robbers who were intent on the valuables in their house. The only problem with that theory was that nothing had been reported stolen from the house.
Late that afternoon the kids fetched their bikes from the rack in the park and rode back around the lake. A wind had come up from the south and it helped blow them along making the pedaling easier. They didn't talk much until at the Fahey's mailbox they said good-bye.
At dinner that night Jimmy's parents noticed that he seemed rather preoccupied and tried to draw him out. Should I tell them what happened today thought Jimmy. I want to but if I do they're likely to freak out. He finally compromised and told them about visiting with Angus at the Historical Society. He did not mention strange noises in an old house.
Chapter 2 The Mastin Twins Chapter 4
The Mastin Twins - Copyright © 1996 by Charlie Comstock
Permission is granted for personal reading. All other rights reserved.