Ghost Marina on the Mississippi

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Chapter 21 – Investigation Fully Underway – Modern Day

Jason decided to spend the night on his boat, despite the kind offers from each of the men to stay at their respective homes. Fortunately, by the time he had returned from the pub his bedding was dry, otherwise, he may have taken one of his new friends up on their gracious offer. The first thing he had to do after he climbed on board his boat was to send an email to the girls. To surprise them, he also attached a picture of their great-grandfather’s boat, together with a couple of smug remarks about them thinking he was wasting his time. Although he didn’t mention any of the gory details, he didn’t want to worry them unduly. For the rest of the evening, he just sat on the boat playing music and thinking about the events to date and how he was going to unravel the conundrums he had created and what he was going to do about them. He still felt that he wanted to back off from talking to the authorities until he had as much information as he could so that he could paint a picture of what he thought had led to all these people’s demise.

The next morning, around 10:00 AM, Chuck arrived in preparation to visit the jewelers. Jason looked around for a car but was told it was only a fifteen-minute walk up the hill to the store and the other two wouldn’t be back until well after lunch, so they had plenty of time. Around twenty minutes later Chuck and Jason arrived at the entrance to the jewelers. Jason went to open the door only to discover it was a sophisticated electronic entry system controlled by a worker on the inside of the store. As soon as the person inside saw Chuck, a young lady pressed some security buttons, there was a loud click and the door began to slowly swing open electronically. As soon as Jason and Chuck had entered, the door quickly closed behind them.

“Chuck, how are you?” A smartly dressed man said as he suddenly appeared from the back of the store.

“Fine David, just fine. How’s Harry doing?” Chuck replied cordially, shaking the man’s hand.

“A lot of fishing, that’s how he is doing,” David said as the person who had opened the door for us, her part in the proceedings obviously over, disappeared into the same room David had appeared from.

“Hi, my name is David Horowitz, I own the establishment,” David said as he turned to Jason and shook his hand.

“Jason Clifford,” Jason said, eyeing up the man standing in front of him. David was tall, slim, clean-shaven, meticulously groomed with not a hair out of place and his perfect teeth, accentuated by a sincere smile, were immaculately white. His smart suit was obviously tailor-made, and his shoes were well-polished. Jason would normally pin this type of guy as a salesman and would say anything to make a sale but for some reason there was a demeanor about the man that he liked, and he felt he could trust him.

“I understand you have made quite an interesting find,” David said. Jason gave Chuck a quick sideways glare.

“He’s a busy man, I made an appointment,” Chuck said with a shrug of his shoulders.

“Yes, I have,” Jason said and withdrew the jeweled items from his backpack. David’s face was impassive when he saw the jewelry and began to don some white gloves before opening the plastic bags. Jason had only been able to provide a perfunctory clean to the items, but David dropped both the bracelet and the necklace into a bowl containing a clear liquid. He waited a few seconds then began using various brushes and cloths to clean out all the silt and algae that had accumulated on the intricate links of the jewelry. By now, the poor man’s gloves were filthy but once he had the jewelry cleansed to his satisfaction he dried the items, discarded the dirty gloves and put on a new pair. Using a jeweler’s loupe, he began to inspect the items, muttering incoherently as he did so. Finally, he laid the items down on a soft piece of cloth, took off his gloves and walked into the back room. He returned about ten minutes later carrying a binder, it was open at a page showing an old black and white photograph of the very bracelet and necklace that was lying on the jeweler’s counter.

Throughout this entire performance, neither Jason nor Chuck had uttered a word but as soon as they saw the photograph of the items Jason had salvaged they both exclaimed simultaneously.

“That’s it!” They both said.

“It appears to be,” David replied calmly. “I found the hallmark,” David indicated the mark with a probe and I managed to find details in this old collection of jewelry. What I can tell you is that it was designed and created by Raymons of New York. It was a very successful company between the two World Wars and was responsible for some fascinating pieces. This particular collection appears to be a one-off design that was created circa 1925, as you can see from the photograph, there would have been a pair of earrings completing the set. You don’t happen to have those do you?”

“Unfortunately, I don’t,” Jason replied.

“Pity, anyway, I can tell you that this is a marvelous piece of art-décor design, large rubies surrounded by small diamonds encrusted in platinum. The workmanship on the linkage of both the bracelet and the necklace is quite exquisite.” David paused for a few seconds. “Do you know the owner of this collection at all?”

“No, that’s one of the mysteries we would like to get solved. It may help us with other questions we have.” Jason replied.

“Well, although Raymons is no more, their records may have been inherited by the company that took them over when the original owner retired. If you like, I can contact them to see if they have any history of the items.” David said.

“Could you? That would be fantastic.” Jason said.

“No trouble,” David replied.

“Oh wait, how much would that kind of a search cost?” Jason asked.

“No charge, I would love to know who once owned these, she obviously had good taste.” David said. He had put on yet another pair of gloves and was placing the now completely clean items into a velvet protective bag.

“How long do you think it will be before you hear anything?” Jason asked.

“Difficult to say, it could be a few days or a month,” David replied. “I will contact Chuck as soon as I hear anything.”

“Well thank you David,” Jason said. For a few seconds, there was an awkward silence as Jason waited for David to return the items to him.

“Where exactly are you keeping the jewelry while you are in town Mr. Clifford?” David asked.

“On my boat,” Jason replied.

“Would you like me to secure them here? Again, no charge, I just think they would be far safer here.” David said casually.

“I hadn’t given it any thought. Why do you ask?” Jason said slightly confused.

“It’s just that the bracelet alone is worth approximately $350,000 and the necklace, probably, the same again!” David said, still as calm as he had been throughout, “had you have included the ear-rings you could probably add at least another $100,000. But where you leave them is entirely up to you of course.”

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