Ghost Marina on the Mississippi

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Chapter 20 – Start of an Investigation – Modern Day

For a while, all four men were dumbfounded, their mouths agape and they just stared at Jason as though he was some kind of alien who had just dropped in from space.

“Dexter, you’d better get another round in, we could be here for a while,” Archie said.

“Show me that photograph of the Streamer again,” Archie asked. Jason scrolled through the photos stored on his camera until he came to the one showing the name of the boat at the bottom of the marina. Jason passed the camera to Archie, he studied it, first with his spectacles on, then at the top of his forehead and then again, back in their correct position.

“Looks like the Streamer alright.” Archie confirmed, “and this is at the bottom of the marina you say?”

“Sure is.” Jason replied, “but if you are not squeamish, look at the next few photographs, I’m warning you they are pretty ghoulish.” In silence, the four men took turns at looking at the photographs. Dexter was the first to speak, he was tapping on the screen of the camera.

“This one isn’t underwater, what the hell is this?” Dexter asked.

“As I was leaving, I needed something to get some concrete out of my way, so I pulled out a re-bar that was in the broken wall. That head was on the end of it.” The four men looked at it again, shaking their heads in disbelief.

“I have more proof,” Jason said and reached into his backpack once more to pull out the log book he had taken from the dockmaster’s desk. He opened the book and flipped the pages until he came to the last two entries in the log. “There, see? St. Louis Streamer and a cabin-cruiser, my grandfather’s boat.” Jason passed the log over to Archie to read. Archie read the entries by repeating the same action with his spectacles. He shook his head, not in doubt but in amazement.

“That’s what it says alright,” Archie confirmed.

“O.K., my dad used to regularly visit that marina when it was opened to do on-site repairs to boats and docks. Old man Grimshaw used to make him register. Used to piss my old man off something awful,” Chuck said laughing about the memories of his father, “but what I’m saying, if that log is authentic, and I’m not doubting you for a minute son,” Chuck said, turning to Jason to reassure him, “but to prove the point, there should be entries in there for the ‘River Worker’.” Archie and Bill huddled over the log, flicking back over the pages.

“There,” Bill said, proud that he was the first one to spot it and he read out the entry:

05/15/44 09:45 Slip 108 River Worker 1 day 0.00 Occupants: 1

They continued to flick through the pages and discovered other entries for Chuck’s father, so now they were convinced that what Jason was telling them was true.

“Come on young fellow, what else do you have in that there bag of yours?” Archie asked.

“I have this,” Jason said, and he pulled out the radio he had found on his grandfather’s boat.

“Well, I never,” Chuck said, cupping the six-and-a-half-inch long radio in his hands and lifting it up and down as if he was weighing it. “It can’t weigh much more than a pound.”

“I’ve never seen the like,” Bill said, and Archie did that thing with his spectacles again.

“That’s a job for Rusty,” Dexter said as he finished delivering the drinks.

“Rusty?” Jason asked.

“Sure, Rusty would know.” Chuck agreed as he turned the radio over in his hands once or twice. “I have no idea about this one.”

“Sorry, who is Rusty?” Jason asked again.

“Rusty used to have a radio shop, way before Radio Shack came along. He started out with ham radio when he was just a young boy and he never let it go.” Bill said, “is he still living on Route 21?”

“Last I heard,” Dexter said.

“Looks like we’re going to have a little road trip tomorrow,” Chuck said.

“Well before we do that, here’s a couple of other little items that needs investigating.” Jason once more reached into his backpack and pulled out another sealed bag, it contained the bracelet and necklace he had salvaged. This immediately caught Dexter’s attention.

“Are they rubies?” Dexter asked excitedly, pointing to the jewelry.

“They sure look like it, Dexter,” Bill concurred.

“They’ve got to be worth a few smackers,” Dexter said.

“Need to take that down to old Harry’s, he’ll soon tell you,” Chuck said.

“Harry’s long gone, his son took over about five years ago,” Bill stated.

“Harry is dead?” Chuck asked surprised.

“Nah, he didn’t die, he retired,” Bill admonished Chuck, “he was having trouble seeing through those little binoculars jewelers use.”

“You mean a jeweler’s loupe,” Dexter said.

“Whatever,” Bill said with a wave of his hand, dismissing Dexter’s pedantic correction.

“Well, Jason, why don’t you and I go and visit Harry’s son tomorrow to see if we can get any history on these jewels while Archie and Bill go visit Rusty with the radio? How’s that sound?” Chuck asked.

“What about me?” Dexter asked indignantly pointing to himself.

“Someone’s got to run the pub Dexter,” Chuck replied.

“Yes, but I can get my wife to do that.” Dexter countered.

“Well, there is one more thing,” Jason said, and the other four men looked to Jason’s backpack to see what other goodies were going to be revealed. “There was a safe on board the cabin-cruiser, it is too heavy for my bag, I have it onboard my boat. It’s solid and there was no key and I have no idea how to pry it open.” The reaction Jason got was totally unexpected, the other four men all burst out laughing.

“What’s so funny?” Jason asked.

“Dexter here used to be a locksmith, only one for miles around that’s how he made enough money to buy this pub,” Bill explained.

“Really?” Jason said, “great, I can drop it off before Chuck and I take off tomorrow and you can crack it open.”

“Oh no,” Dexter said wagging his finger to and fro. “You need to be present when I open the box, that’s the way it is done. That way you can’t accuse me of taking stuff out of the safe in your absence.”

“O.K. why don’t we all meet back here tomorrow?” Jason said as a compromise, “we can all exchange information on what we’ve learned, then we can all witness the opening of the safe. But it is important we don’t tell anyone of what we have discovered, at least not until we know more. If there has been a cover-up of some kind the fewer people who are aware of what we have discovered the better. Hopefully, we will know more by tomorrow and between us, we can determine our next steps.” They all nodded their heads in agreement, finished their drinks, Archie picked up the radio and they all left the pub.

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