The Mastin Twins - Chapter 5 - A Watery Grave

mastin twins

Chapter 5 - A Watery Grave

They tied the little boat up at the dock and climbed up the ramp to the parking lot. The kids looked a bit uneasy.

"What do you think the sheriff will do?", Jimmy asked his dad.

They were halfway though the parking lot before Mr. Vaskelis answered. "I really don't know. Guess we'll have to wait and see."

The sheriff's office was inside the town hall next to the Elk Bow park. They pushed open the glass and aluminum doors at the front of the building and stepped inside. A sign indicated that the sheriff's office was at the end of the hallway ahead of them. They solemnly marched down the hall toward the rear of the building and stopped in front of a glass door with the words Elk Bow Sheriff painted on it. The door opened at a push and they went inside. A deputy was seated at one of the desks and he turned as they entered raising an inquisitive eyebrow.

"Can I help you folks?"

Jimmy blurted out "We found Edward Mastin's Packard. You've got to go get it...", His voice trailed off when his father gave him a stern look.

"You found what?", asked the deputy obviously confused.

Mr. Vaskelis tried to explain. "We moved here recently and our kids have gotten interested in the disappearance of the Mastin family. Apparently Edward Mastin drove a Packard and Kathleen" he nodded in her direction, "hooked this while we were fishing."

Mr. Fahey produced the old hood ornament and laid it on the counter. The deputy picked it up and examined it.

Finally he said, "What is it?"

"It's the hood ornament from a Packard."

"How do you know? Are you sure?"

Robert chimed in "My dad restores old cars. He knows all about stuff like that."

The deputy put down the hood ornament. "Who are these Mastin's and when was this supposed to have happened? Packards are pretty old cars aren't they?" He was still rather confused.

Kathleen answered him. "They were the family that used to live in that abandoned house in the orchard out beyond Rock Point near Greens Cove. They just disappeared around 35 years ago, nobody ever heard of them again."

"35 years ago? What do you expect me to do about a 35 year old disappearance?"

The door of the office opened and the Sheriff came in. "What disappearance, Jeff?" he asked his deputy.

"These folks think they might've found a car they say belonged to some family that disappeared thirty five years ago."

The sheriff looked from the two adults to the kids then back to the adults again. "Which family would that be?" he asked.

Jimmy answered. "The Mastin family, Sheriff. They lived out in the orchard just past Rock Point. They had a Packard and we found the hood ornament from it in the lake." He pointed to the muddy figure laying on the counter.

The sheriff picked up the flying lady and peered at it. "Well I'll be" he muttered to himself. "Never thought I'd see one of these again. Where did you find this?"

"We were fishing off Rock Point and it snagged my fishing line", said Kathleen.

The sheriff continued to look at the hood ornament. His brow furrowed while he thought. "I think I'm remembering now. I was about 12 at the time it happened. There was a big stink after the Mastins disappeared. Some folks thought they'd been murdered. Some thought they'd just packed up and left town." He turned to his deputy. "Jeff, I want you to call the state police and tell them were going to need a couple of divers out here A.S.A.P.".

The deputy went back to his desk and began punching buttons on a phone. While he was talking the Sheriff walked over to a plastic covered map of Elk Bow and its surroundings that had been screwed to the wall. He pointed at Lake Windsor. "Now about where did you find that thing?"

Jimmy walked over to the map. "Is that the place where Lakefront Drive widens out when it goes over the ridge?" He stabbed a finger at the map.

The Sheriff nodded yes.

"We were fishing just below it maybe 50 feet from shore."

The Sheriff picked a marker out of a tray and made an X on the map. The deputy hung up the phone and said "We're in luck Sheriff. They said they'll get the divers to us sometime early this afternoon."

The Sheriff nodded. "Now call Earl's garage over in Glenview and ask `em to send their big tow truck over here."

The deputy punched some more numbers and held the receiver to his ear waiting for an answer.

The Sheriff said "Where are you folks staying around here?". The dads gave their addresses and phone numbers. "Why don't you go back home for awhile. I may need you though so stay near a phone, ok?"

Robert pulled the door open walked out into the hallway and paused, waiting for the others. Mr. Fahey led the way down the hall and out onto the sidewalk. The kids were very excited. Divers, state police and a big tow truck, who knew what might turn up! They crossed the town park and walked across the parking lot to the boat rental shack. The kids were sent down to the boat to fetch the rental fishing poles while Mr. Fahey discussed payment with the clerk. The clerk finally agreed to refund some of their money since they'd only had the boat for 2 hours instead of the 4 they'd asked for. The fishing gear was returned and they climbed into the car for the trip back around the lake.

They arrived at the Fahey's house and found Barbara Vaskelis and Nancy Fahey talking in the living room. When the fishermen came through the door they looked surprised. "Oh you're back early. No luck today?"

The events of the fishing trip were explained to the two moms.

"Do you really think you've found the old Mastin car?" asked Mrs. Fahey.

"Can't be sure", replied her husband "But Packards weren't exactly common around here. What else could it be?"

The kids huddled in the kitchen trying to decide what to do next.

"Why don't we go out to Rock Point and wait for the Sheriff", suggested Kathleen.

They went back into the living room and explained where they were going to their parents then split up to get their bicycles. Jimmy raced over the path to his house, collected his bike from the shed where he'd parked it and zipped down his driveway reaching the street just in time to meet Kathleen and Robert. They pedaled hard and reached the picnic table where Lakefront Drive crested the ridge in a few minutes. The bikes were left piled against a tree while they sat on the table waiting for something to happen. Below the lake was empty but across it in Elk Bow they could see a boat with police markings tied up at the town wharf. The kids soon grew bored and began to guess what might turn up on the bottom of the lake. Finally the faint sound of a motor interrupted their discussion. They watched the police launch leave Elk Bow and head across the lake toward them. At the same time two cars left town, driving around the lake. One of the cars was the Sheriff's but they couldn't tell who the other belonged to. The boat came nearer and nearer finally stopping near the shore just under where they stood. Five minutes later the cars arrived. The kids parents were riding with Jeff Spruance, the sheriff's deputy in the first car. Mitzi was driving the second with Angus and the Sheriff in the back seat. The cars pulled off the road and the sheriff led the way down a steep path to the lake.

He turned to Kathleen. "Now exactly where were you when you hooked that hood ornament?"

Kathleen pointed but Jimmy disagreed and pointed to a slightly different location. The dads weren't sure where they were and Robert was silent. The Sheriff used a walkie-talkie to tell the pilot of the boat to move a little further inshore. An anchor dropped over the side with a splash and two divers in black wet suits pulled on their masks and swim fins, leapt into the dark waters of Lake Windsor and disappeared. The watchers on the shore waited, walking back and forth. Before the divers surfaced the tow truck from Glenview arrived. While its driver was maneuvering it into position a little orange buoy popped to the lake's surface followed quickly by the two divers.

"There's a car down there all right", one called out. "But we can't tell what kind it is. Looks like its been down there for a long time though. It's sitting about 35 feet down on a little flat area."

The Sheriff used the walkie-talkie to talk to the men on the boat. The anchor was pulled up and the police launch nosed gently up to the shore. The towing wire from the truck was brought down the hill and passed to the police on the boat. The boat backed away from the shore out to where the divers waited next to their buoy. When enough wire had come off the tow truck the divers disappeared again to hook it to the sunken car.

The hookup took ten minutes then the divers climbed back into the boat and the boat moved out of the way. The tow truck operator slowly took up the slack in the towing wire. The wire came taut and everyone moved well away from it for safety. The tow truck's winch pulled hard, emitting a groaning noise. Nothing happened at first then the truck began to slide backward toward the lake! The car at the bottom of the lake must be stuck there pretty hard thought Jimmy. The truck slid backward a little further then stopped when its tires hit some rocks poking up out of the dirt. The winch groaned louder. Something was going to have to give.

Then the wire quivered and began to move. The groaning noises from the winch died down. The wire slowly reappeared from the lake and finally at the end of the wire a big lump became visible. The lump was pulled up onto the shore and the tow truck operator stopped the winch.

Mr. Fahey was the first to say something. "It's a Packard all right", he breathed.

Surprisingly the car was not in bad shape. Water was draining out from around the doors and its bottom was covered with sticky lake-bottom mud and slime. Thirty five years of submersion in the fresh lake water hadn't rusted the body too badly and even the glass wasn't broken. The sheriff tried to open the driver's door but it was stuck. Jeff, the deputy, ran up the hill to get a prybar from the tow truck. He returned and inserted the bar into the door and heaved. The door popped open and a flood of foul smelling water came rushing out. The inside of the car wasn't in such great shape. Almost all the upholstery was gone as was the wooden dashboard. The floor of the car was covered with more of the lake-bottom mud. Jimmy peered into the car and felt a little disappointed. He wasn't sure what he'd been expecting but it hadn't been an empty car. A shout from behind the car roused him.

The Sheriff and Angus were standing behind the car. They'd cleaned the mud off the license plate. Its paint was gone but the embossed numbers could still be read, A3941. The sheriff was holding a piece of computer paper. "It's Edward Mastin's Packard all right", he announced. "I got his old licence plate number from the DMV and it matches."

"But how did the car wind up in the lake?", Jimmy asked.

The deputy said "Obviously Edward missed a turn thirty five years ago, went down this hill and into the Lake. He must have drowned."

The Sheriff looked at him. "Then where's his body. The doors were closed and there wasn't anything inside. If he'd been in there at least his bones should be left."

The deputy looked crestfallen.

Angus McGee pointed to the trunk. "Anything in there do you suppose?"

The trunk was as stubborn as the door had been requiring an application of the prybar before it popped open and let more water and mud spill out.

Mr. Vaskelis had been silently watching all this. Now he raised his finger and pointed. It was dark in the trunk but here and there a few whitish objects showed in the mud. "It's a body", he whispered.

They all stood still for a moment. The sheriff leaned over the back of the car. "It's a body all right", he announced.

It took the county coroner a half hour to arrive after he was called. The police launch and the divers had left, their job done. Everyone else had climbed back up to the picnic table and was sitting around. The coroner followed the Sheriff and deputy down to the car. He put on a pair of plastic gloves and poked around in the ooze in the trunk. Finally he stood up. "This appears to be what's left of a man in his mid-fifties. Impossible to say how long he's been down there until we get him to the lab. He was about six feet tall. Cause of death may not have been drowning, the back of his head was bashed in. Oh, and he was wearing this on his ring finger." The coroner held up a shiny, golden ring.

Mitzi gasped and would have fallen if Angus hadn't steadied her. "That's Edward Mastin's ring. I remember the unusual design."

The coroner turned to Mitzi then back to the Sheriff. "Who is this woman?"

"Fred, meet Mitzi and Angus. I brought them along because they've lived in Elk Bow long enough to have known the Mastins. Thought they might help." The Sheriff grinned at the coroner. "Looks like they did help."

Jimmy and Kathleen couldn't decide whether to look in the trunk or to look away. In the end they just stole a few furtive glances at the trunk and its grisly contents. Robert just looked away. So that's what happened to Edward Mastin thought Jimmy. But how did he get here and where is his family?

The county police arrived and took over. The kids and their parents were shooed away and went back home. The remains of Edward Mastin were removed from the car and the tow truck pulled the car up the hill and onto Lakefront Drive. Dollies were put under what was left of its back tires and it was towed away. The Sheriff and two county police dropped by the Vaskelis house to take statements. By the time they left it was getting dark. Nobody had eaten since that morning and despite having seen inside the Packard's trunk they were all hungry. A quick trip to the Elk Bow BurgerVille by Jimmy and his dad provided food. A number of theories regarding the end of Edward Mastin were put forward over the dinner table but none seemed to make sense. If he'd been the victim of a robbery why hadn't the thieves taken his ring. What had happened to his family? Could his family have killed him then run away? That didn't make a lot of sense either. The only answer seemed to be that he'd been murdered for some unknown reason. The more Jimmy thought about it the more uncomfortable he became, especially after he remembered the strange occurrences at the Mastin house.

The Fahey's left around 10:00 and Jimmy brushed his teeth, put on his pajamas and went to bed. He lay in the dark for some time unable to sleep. The moon was full and it was casting strange shadows in the trees outside his windows. Finally his eyes closed.

Chapter 4   The Mastin Twins   Chapter 6

The Mastin Twins - Copyright © 1996 by Charlie Comstock
Permission is granted for personal reading. All other rights reserved.