The Mastin Twins - Chapter 9 - Cousins

mastin twins

Chapter 9 - Cousins

Jimmy said good-bye to Kathleen and Robert at the foot of the Fahey driveway then slowly rode toward his own house. He parked his bike in the shed and went inside. His mom was in the kitchen making a beef stew for supper. It was almost ready and the smell made him realize how hungry he was.

"Hi Jimmy", his mom greeted him. "You'd better wash up before supper and tell your father it's almost ready."

"Where is dad?", he asked.

"He's been in his writing room all afternoon working"


Jimmy headed for the hall bathroom. While he was soaping up his hands his dad came in.

"Hi dad."

"What did you kids do this afternoon?", asked his dad.

"Oh, we rode our bikes into town. Talked with Angus McGee for a while and sat in the park."

Jimmy dried off his hands on a towel.

"Mom says that dinner's just about ready."

His father nodded agreement.

The beef stew proved to be as delicious as it smelled. Everyone was hungry and they dug in. For awhile the sounds of eating were all that could be heard in the Vaskelis kitchen.


"Yes Jimmy?"

"Do we have a relative named Martha Vaskelis?"

"Not that I know of. Why do you ask?"

"Well, while we were in town Angus showed us an old newspaper clipping from when Edward Mastin got married. It said his wife's name was Martha Vaskelis and her parent's were Reid and Susannah I think."

His father stopped eating and put down his fork.

"Are you sure? My grandparent's names were Reid and Susannah. What else did the newspaper say?"

"Not much", Jimmy admitted. "They were married sometime in 1927 I think..."

"Do you know which paper it was?"

"The Gary Gazette I think", replied JImmy.

"David", said Jimmy's mom. "Do you think there's a connection?"

Mr. Vaskelis shrugged. "I don't know. After supper I'll call my dad and see what he knows."

They ate in silence for the rest of the meal. After Jimmy cleared the dishes off the table his dad took the phone and dialed. He shifted from one foot to the other for awhile waiting for someone to answer.

"Hello Dad", he said. "It's me, David"

"Yes, we're still in Elk Bow.... Yes, everything is fine. I'm making a lot of progress on the new book, Jimmy made friends with the kids next door... Ok... Yes... Well actually the reason I called was to ask you about our family... Jimmy saw a newspaper clipping from a 1927 Gary Gazette. It talked about the wedding of a man named Edward Mastin and a woman named Martha Vaskelis. The woman's parents were Reid and Susannah Vaskelis and I thought that was one heck of a coincidence. I've never heard of a Martha in our family but I thought you might know something about it... Oh..."

Jimmy's dad listened for a few minutes before he said anything.

"Well how come you never told me before? This is incredible!... I'm sorry but she disappeared 35 years ago and is most likely dead. Edward was murdered, his body was found in a car that was recently pulled out of Lake Windsor... No, no one found her body but I think the Sheriff is looking... I wish I could help... Yes, I'd like to see you too... When?... Sure, that should be ok... Ok, bye dad."

He slowly hung up the phone and turned around. Jimmy and his mom looked at him expectantly.

"It appears that the Martha Vaskelis who married Edward Mastin was my aunt!"

They stared at him, jaws open with surprise.

"I didn't know you had an aunt", said Jimmy's mom finally.

"Neither did I. According to dad, he, Martha and their brother Ned, were at a New Years Eve party at the Royce Bartings estate in 1927. Royce was some big shot army officer, really rich with inherited money. I guess it was more of a formal ball than a party. Dad was nineteen and his sister Martha was seventeen. Edward Mastin was there and asked Martha to dance. Dad says Martha was absolutely beautiful and Edward cut a fine dashing figure in his army officer's uniform. They never separated and danced until the band stopped playing. It was pretty obvious they had fallen in love. Edward came to our house two days later to ask for Martha's hand in marriage but their father refused! He'd been planning for Martha to marry the son of a United States Senator from Ohio and was furious. Edward wasn't exactly what you'd call penniless, in fact he was pretty comfortably wealthy but he was more than twenty years older than Martha. Dad said his father used the age difference as an excuse to forbid Martha to ever see Edward again. That didn't work though. Martha started sneaking out of the house and meeting Edward in secret. She'd been doing this for a little more than a month when her father caught them together. As punishment Martha was locked in her room but late one night in February she climbed out her window and down the drain pipe to elope with Edward. When that happened Reid, my grandfather forbade anyone in the family to ever mention Martha's name again. He was so furious he burned all of Martha's things, pictures of her, letters from her, her clothes, even the furniture in her room. He raged around the house for days. Dad said he received two letters from Martha after that. She mailed them to a friend who delivered them when his father wasn't looking. The first said she'd been married and how sorry she was to not have had her family present at the ceremony. The second told how she and Edward were moving to a small farm they'd purchased. After that the letters stopped. I guess grandfather wasn't someone who was easily disobeyed because for all the years since then Dad hadn't referred to his sister. Now Dad wants to see where his sister lived... and died. He's coming here next week."

Jimmy was incredulous. "If Martha Mastin was your aunt then I guess Floyd and William are my cousins! Wait `til I tell Kathleen and Robert!"

His mom asked "Did you say your Dad was coming next week? When will he be arriving?"

"Oh dear, he didn't say and I guess I forgot to ask. Sorry honey, I guess I wasn't thinking."

There was more discussion of the newly discovered relationship between themselves and the Mastins but at length things calmed down. Jimmy's dad went back to his workroom while Jimmy and his mom curled up in the living room with a couple of books. While they were reading the wind began to pickup until it was gusting strongly. Jimmy's mom put down her book and took a look out the window.

"I think we're going to get rain tonight", she announced. "A bunch of clouds have blown in and hidden the stars and moon."

Jimmy took a look and had to agree. They continued reading until sometime shortly after 9:30 the electricity went off.

"I guess were not going to finish these books tonight Jimmy."

Jimmy's dad came blundering down the hall in the darkness. "Barbara, where are the candles?"

They fumbled their way into the kitchen and rummaged around in a cupboard briefly before pulling out a couple of candles and some matches. Once lit, the candles cast a dim glow around the kitchen. Outside the wind seemed stronger.

"I guess that's all the work I get done tonight. Oh well, might as well go to bed", said Jimmy's dad.

Jimmy's parents took one of the candles and he took the other. At least with the power off he wouldn't have to take a bath. He brushed his teeth by candlelight then undressed and climbed into bed, looking a little uneasily at the dresser. The candle was flickering a little, a draft must be coming from somewhere. Jimmy lay still for a while watching the shadows in his room dance before he blew out the candle and tried to sleep. It wasn't easy. The excitement of finding Edward Mastin's diary and discovering Floyd and William were his cousins made it hard to relax. The sound of the wind gusting like crazy didn't help either. Something outside was banging back and forth, making quite a racket. Finally sleep came to him.

Jimmy sat up with a start but he wasn't sure what had made him wake up. He looked around but it was very dark. He looked to see the time but the clock wasn't visible. "The power is still off", he thought and reached for the candle he'd left on his night stand, but it wasn't where he thought he'd left it. He fumbled around in the dark finally managing to locate and light it. Now what had awakened him? He looked around confused, there was definitely something wrong here... Then it came to him, he wasn't in his own bedroom! He looked around the room again, where was he? There was a picture hanging over the bureau. A closer examination showed it was the picture of a family, mom, dad, and two boys. The boys looked familiar, who were they. Jimmy suddenly realized they were Floyd and William Mastin. A horrible thought struck him, somehow he had been transported to the Mastin house. How had he gotten here? He was looking around again when he heard a scratching noise, apparently beneath his feet. The floor gave a little quiver.

"Who's there", he called out, his voice quavering slightly.

His answer was silence, then the scratching came again, a little louder this time. It must have been the scratching that had awakened him, it came once more and again it was louder.

"Who's there", he called out again.

The faint quivering of the floor turned suddenly into violent shaking. Jimmy could hardly stand. The scratching noise was now thunderous. There's something in the cellar trying to come up through the floor he thought. Something in the cellar that's after me!

"Go away", Jimmy tried to yell but it came out as a hoarse croak.

He tried to yell again but his voice failed him completely. Cracks were starting to appear in the floor boards now, the noise was deafening. Jimmy flung himself onto the bed and cowered there, unable to run, unable to do anything except watch the cracks in the floor get bigger. The shaking was so powerful now the bed and other furniture was leaping around the floor. The picture fell off the wall with a barley audible crash then the candle tipped over and went out pitching the room into utter darkness. Jimmy got his voice back. He screamed. He screamed again and again, over and over. The thing had come through the floorboards into the room and was clutching him in its arms now, shaking him. He fought and struggled to escape but it wasn't any use. His eyes were closed tight, he didn't want to see this horrible creature...

"Jimmy! Jimmy! Wake up! You're having another nightmare!"

Slowly Jimmy recognized the voice of his mother. He cautiously opened his eyes and looked. His mom was sitting on the bed, holding him. His dad stood next to the bed holding a pair of candles. There were concerned expressions on both their faces. Jimmy looked around and realized he was back in his own room again. He sighed and relaxed.

"Jimmy, what were you dreaming?", his mom asked.

He couldn't answer for moment then he told them. The looks of concern on his parents faces grew deeper.

"Jimmy", said his dad. "I really think it would be a good idea if you stopped poking into this Mastin business. I think you're having trouble keeping yourself separate from what happened 35 years ago. I think that finding out the Mastins are relatives was responsible for this dream."

Jimmy had to agree with him. Still the nightmare had been frighteningly real. He hadn't slept with his parents since he was six years old but he finished the night sleeping in his parent's bed and wasn't troubled further by dreams.

In the morning the electricity had come back. The sky was still overcast and it was raining, heavily at times. It looked like playing outside was going to be out of the question today. After breakfast Jimmy stood at the living room window watching the rain drops fall into the muddy puddles in the driveway with little splop, splop, splop sounds. As he watched the intensity of the rain eased a bit until he could see across Lake Windsor to the murky outline of Elk Bow. One of the trees by the lake had lost a large branch in last night's storm and the severed limb lay across Lakefront Drive blocking it. With a sigh he recovered the book he'd been reading the night before and plopped down on the couch with it. It was a book about great naval battles and he'd been reading how the Allied naval forces had tracked down and sunk the German battleship Bismarck during World War II. He read slowly and stopped to examine the pictures and diagrams showing how the Bismarck looked. She had been a very powerful ship with eight huge guns but the English navy had caught and sunk her although she'd almost escaped. The English, had lost their most powerful ship, the Hood, too. He finished the chapter then put the book down and decided to call Kathleen and Robert to see what they were doing.

Jimmy got up and headed for the phone but just before he got there it rang. He picked up the receiver and put it to his ear.


It was Kathleen.

"Oh hi", he said. "I was just going to call. What's up?"

What was up was she wanted to know if they could come over for a marathon Monopoly session. Jimmy got the ok from his mom and told Kathleen it was fine. Five minutes later a somewhat damp and muddy shoed pair of Fahey's showed up at the kitchen door. Jimmy's mom took one look at their feet and made them pull off their shoes as soon as they were inside. They'd brought the Monopoly set with them and all three kids quickly disappeared into Jimmy's room.

They'd set up the board, the bank had issued $1500 to each player and Robert had already bought Connecticut Ave. when as casually as he could Jimmy mentioned, "By the way, I found out who Martha Vaskelis was."

He could see that he had the Fahey's complete attention. "Who?" they demanded simultaneously.

"She's my dad's aunt", he said nonchalantly.


"Yeah, and Floyd and William are my cousins", Jimmy continued.

"How did you find this out", Kathleen asked. She obviously wasn't sure if she believed him.

Jimmy explained about his dad's call to his father and finding out about how Martha Vaskelis had run off and eloped with Edward Mastin. The Fahey's were quiet until he'd finished.

"Maybe that's why the ghosts of the twins showed up for you", Kathleen said after a moment of consideration.

Jimmy looked sobered. "I had another dream last night."

He told them about his frightening nightmare.

Kathleen said "Geez, I'm glad I didn't have that dream. I would have been really scared. Weren't you?"

Jimmy who hadn't mentioned sleeping the rest of the night in his parents bed said nothing.

Robert looked at him closely. "Were the twins in this dream?" he asked.

Jimmy shook his head. "I'm pretty sure I was in their house but I didn't see anyone."

"Do you think they had anything to do with this dream?"

"I dunno", said Jimmy. He didn't really want to talk about the dream anymore and was sorry he'd told them about it. "It's your turn," he said in a rather irritated voice to Kathleen shoving the dice at her.

Kathleen and Robert took the hint and the three friends resumed the game. After they'd played for an hour Robert had the only monopoly on the board, the yellows, and it looked like he'd win but Jimmy talked Kathleen into a trade of some property giving them both monopolies. Robert was obviously displeased by the deal, especially after they both promptly built a bunch of houses on their properties. He was even further displeased when he landed on Kentucky Ave. which was owned by Kathleen and had three houses on it. Kathleen used the money to buy more houses then rolled the dice landing on Community Chest and pulled the property tax card. She didn't have enough cash left to pay and had to sell back some of her houses. The game seesawed back and forth for anther 40 minutes before Robert bankrupted Jimmy. This gave him three more monopolies and he quickly defeated Kathleen. They played five more games stopping only for a quick lunch break. By that evening Robert had won four of the games, Jimmy and Kathleen had won one apiece. The Fahey's donned their raincoats and muddy boots, said good-bye and headed home shortly before supper time. Jimmy waved good-bye from the back door and watched them go. The rain was still coming down but now it was only a drizzle. When his friends were out of sight he closed the door and went inside.

Chapter 8   The Mastin Twins   Chapter 10

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