The Mastin Twins - Chapter 7 - The Journal

mastin twins

Chapter 7 - The Journal

The morning sun had been up for awhile but the Vaskelis family was still asleep except for Jimmy. Reluctantly he sat up, casting an apprehensive eye on his dresser. After a minute it still showed no signs of movement so yawning he climbed to his feet and stretched, his body stiff with sleep. He spent an abnormally long period of time brushing his teeth, thinking about the nightmare as he brushed. Had the dream been real? Were the twins trying to scare him like they had scared Phillip Stroud? Or was it just a dream and hadn't really happened. His sense of something being wrong about the dresser in the dream kept bothering him. Why had the twins scared him? He was just trying to help and they had frightened him badly. His parents were right, avoiding the Mastin house sounded like an awfully good idea. But why had they come to his bedroom and done that to his dresser? He pulled on a shirt and pants then marched down the hall to the kitchen. A couple of slices of bread went into the toaster and he poured a big glass of orange juice. The clock on the oven read 9:33 when the doorbell rang. He opened the front door and was greeted by Kathleen and Robert.

"Hey Jimmy", they exclaimed following him back to the kitchen."What'cha want to do today?"

They stopped talking when they saw his serious expression and the rings under his eyes.

"Geez, didn't you get any sleep last night?"

The toast popped from the toaster and Jimmy mechanically buttered it before he explained about his nightmare. Kathleen and Robert listened with interest.

"The twins must be trying to tell us something", said Kathleen at last.

"Huh? If they were responsible for that dream I'd say they were just trying to scare me. Did a pretty good job of it too!"

"No, don't you see. There must be something special about that bureau. Maybe there's a clue hidden in it somewhere."

Jimmy hadn't though about that. "Well maybe, but what kind of clue?"

"I'm not sure but I think we should take a good look at it."

Jimmy led the way to his room. The dresser stood against the wall in its normal place. The Faheys pulled it out a little way and started examining it, going over it an inch at a time. Jimmy watched them while nibbling on his toast.

Robert cried out, "Hey look over here!"

Jimmy and Kathleen looked where Robert was pointing. Someone had carved some initials, W.M & F.M., into the side of the dresser, apparently a long time ago.

"William and Floyd Mastin", breathed Kathleen excitedly.

Jimmy snapped his fingers. "Wait a minute! Now I know what seemed wrong about the dresser in my dream."

He yanked open the top drawer and rummaged around briefly then pulled out the locket and flipped it open. Inside the Mastin twins were standing before a dresser in what might have been a bedroom. The dresser in the picture looked remarkably like the one in Jimmy's room!

"Do you suppose...", Kathleen's voice trailed off into silence.

"Somehow the dresser from the Mastin house, the one in that picture must have been brought here", said Jimmy. "Maybe the people who own this house bought it at the auction when the new owners of the Mastin place sold all the old furniture. The dresser in my dream must have been this dresser when it was in the Mastin house 35 years ago."

They continued with the search of the dresser, pulling out all the drawers and dumping their contents on the bed. The search was interrupted when Jimmy's mother stuck their heads in the door.

"What on earth are you kids doing in here?", she asked.

Excitedly the kids showed her the initials carved in the side of the bureau and told how the dresser looked the same as the one on the locket picture.

"Well", said Jimmy's mom unhappy about the mess they were making. "Be sure to cleanup after yourselves."

One by one the drawers were searched. After all the drawers were out Jimmy fetched a flashlight and they looked around inside the dresser frame. There was nothing there. They turned the dresser upside down and looked at the bottom and again found nothing. After a second and third look at everything they still had found nothing.

"Geez, there's nothing here", muttered Robert in a frustrated voice. "Must be lots of dressers look like that one in the locket and there are lots of people with the initials W.M & F.M.", he said in a very sarcastic voice. "I've got to use the bathroom".

He stood up and started for the door but one of the drawers stacked on Jimmy's bed slid off onto the floor landing upside down right in front of Robert. Robert tried to avoid it but lost his balance and stepped right through the bottom of the drawer.

"You clumsy oaf", laughed his sister.

"Are you ok?" asked Jimmy.

Robert pulled out his foot and picked up the drawer.

"Hey look", his voice trailed away. He held out the drawer.

It had a false bottom! Between the two bottoms was a small space. The false bottom was quickly pulled out and they were rewarded by the discovery of a thin black notebook.

Jimmy whispered slowly, "I think that drawer was the one that jumped into my lap during the dream. I bet it was no coincidence it fell off the bed so that Robert couldn't avoid stepping on it? That book must have something important in it."

The three friends looked uneasily around, half expecting the ghostly twins to appear but nothing happened.

The notebook turned out to be a personal journal. There were several entries in it all written in neat handwriting but it was the last few that drew their attention. Kathleen read aloud.

May 5, 1939 - While in France during the great war it was my misfortune to have under my command Frank Wheaton, a thief and blackmarketeer. After collecting evidence military police placed him under arrest. Unfortunately he escaped, probably with help from a person or persons unknown, and deserted from the army, disappearing completely. Today when I was in town I thought I recognized the blackguard Wheaton. If it was indeed him he must have managed to make his way from France across the Atlantic and move to Elk Bow some time ago. I did not accost him as the last time I saw Wheaton was in 1918, 21 years ago, and I can not be certain it was truly him.

May 6, 1939 - The more I think about it the more certain I am that the man I saw was indeed Frank Wheaton. My duty is clear, I must report this to the authorities at once! I have written and will go to town tomorrow to mail a letter to the army detailing my beliefs. Once mailed my duty will be done. Then it will be the responsibility of army investigators to determine if my beliefs regarding Wheaton are true.

May 7, 1939 - While in town posting the letter to the army yesterday I again passed by Wheaton on the sidewalk. I am certain it is really he that I saw.

May 9, 1939 - I have been unable to sleep for the past two nights. I have become increasingly suspicious that Wheaton has recognized me, his old commanding officer, and realizes that I have recognized him. I am afraid for the safety of my wife and two boys. Being faced by courts martial and hanging for desertion during time of war will doubtless make him desperate. I am hoping the army investigators arrive soon. Perhaps I should ask the sheriff for protection.

There were no further entries.

The others silently looked at each other until Jimmy took the book and headed out the door to find his parents, Kathleen and Robert following behind. They found them seated at the kitchen table drinking coffee. They looked up when the kids marched in. Jimmy laid the journal on the table in front of his dad.

"I think that my dresser used to belong to the Mastins. One its drawers had a fake bottom and we found this book in it. Looks like it's some kind of diary or journal that Edward Mastin was keeping. The last couple of entries seem to have been written just before he was murdered."

Mr. Vaskelis quickly flipped pages until he reached the last few entries. Silently he read them then passed the book to his wife. Jimmy, Kathleen, and Robert waited impatiently for Mrs. Vaskelis to finish.

She looked up when she finished. "It sure looks like Edward Mastin was killed by this Frank Wheaton fellow."

"But what happened to Mrs. Mastin and the twins?" asked Robert.

"Probably murdered too", suggested Kathleen.

"Then why weren't their bodies in the Packard?"

"Think", said Jimmy. "I bet Wheaton ambushed Mr. Mastin on Lakefront Drive where it goes over the ridge. You know, hit him on the head, stuffed him in the trunk then pushed the car over the edge and let it roll down into the lake.

"Then he probably went and killed the others."

Mr. Vaskelis shook his head. "The others, especially the kids, wouldn't have known who Frank Wheaton was. He had no motive for killing them."

"But David", said Barbara. "Why would he have stayed in Elk Bow? He must have known that Mastin had told the army. When the investigators arrived they'd have pictures and fingerprints and finding him in a town the size of Elk Bow would have been simple. A sensible man would have just left town without murdering anyone."

Jimmy wrinkled his forehead in thought. "I don't think the army ever came to investigate. None of the newspaper clippings Angus found said anything at all about army investigators. If the army had shown up you'd think there would have been something about it in the paper. Maybe Wheaton managed to intercept the letter so the army never go it."

No one could think of an answer for that.

"I wish Edward Mastin would have written down the name of the man he thought was Frank Wheaton", said Robert.

"Yeah, it would have made him a lot easier to find", Jimmy agreed.

"Whoa there!", commanded Mr. Vaskelis. "I don't think looking for this Wheaton fellow is such a good idea! He most likely isn't in town any longer but if he is and you go poking around it might get pretty dangerous. Looks like he's killed at least once already. I think we should tell the sheriff about this book and let him do the looking." He rose and headed for the telephone.

"WAIT", shouted Kathleen. "I know who Wheaton is!"

Everyone stared at her.

"Who?", asked Robert.

"Phillip Stroud! We found him in the Mastin house yesterday and he was Sheriff 35 years ago when the crime was committed. He would have been able to cover up the murders easily. Remember the newspaper clippings? They said the Sheriff kept claiming there were no signs of foul play. Stroud must be Wheaton!"

Jimmy sat up. "That makes sense. Maybe he panicked when they dragged the Packard out of the lake with Edward's body in it. He probably went back to the house to make sure there weren't any clues there."

Kathleen beamed at the support for her theory. "Yeah! He must have been afraid that there was something there that would incriminate him and went back to check one more time but the twins scared him. Remember what we heard him saying when we found him? Something like `go away, you're not real'. William and Floyd must have appeared to him and scared him silly."

Both Vaskelis adults stiffened in their chairs.

"William and Floyd? What are you talking about?"

Kathleen looked uneasily toward Jimmy for aid.

Jimmy gulped, what should he say? He didn't want to lie but what would his parents do if they found out their son had been seeing ghosts? They might not believe it and just think the kids were nuts. But, if they did admit there were ghosts who knew what they might do. They might move out of Elk Bow and he'd never get a chance to solve this mystery. He hesitated.

"I bet he felt really creepy going back into that old house where he did the murders. It is a spooky place and he probably imagined that he saw their ghosts in there. I mean, there wasn't anything physically wrong with him was there?"

Kathleen and Robert looked at each other, relieved expressions on their faces. His folks looked like they didn't quite believe this but there wasn't any other explanation they wanted to believe. They all just sat for a while without talking.

"Well anyway", said Mr. Vaskelis standing up. "I guess we'd better tell the sheriff about this book you kids found."

He walked over to the wall phone and began to dial. After a brief conversation he hung up.

"The Sheriff wants us all to stay here. He'll be right out in a half hour."

Chapter 6   The Mastin Twins   Chapter 8

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