Chapter 24 – Next Steps – Modern Day
They all looked at Chuck, it was a good point but what use was this snippet of information in solving the mystery?
“What else could it be?” Archie asked.
“I don’t know, but I bet you dollars to donuts it wasn’t oil,” Chuck replied confidently.
“O.K. we know the beginning and end of the trip, we don’t know the why and we don’t know anything about this Mystery Man. What else do we know?” Jason asked the group.
“We know they had a company of soldiers guarding the marina immediately after the night of the storm,” Archie said.
“Is there any way we can find out what brought them to the marina? Someone somewhere should know.” Jason asked.
“Wait a minute. What about old man Laarsen?” Bill said.
“What about him Bill?” Dexter asked.
“He was from Minnesota way, he was posted at that barracks just outside the marina and he married Jessica Winslow if I remember rightly. He was stationed there until they closed the barracks down.” Bill explained.
“I remember him, but even if he’s still alive he would have to be in his nineties by now, probably can’t remember a damn thing,” Chuck said.
“What? You mean like you? You old fart.” Archie chipped in.
“Alright, I get it.” Chuck responded belligerently, “but where does he live now? Poor Jessie died years ago.”
“I didn’t keep in touch with him but my son and theirs were good friends. I’ll find out.” Bill said and immediately began to call his son on his cell-phone. While Bill was talking, the others skipped through the log-book once more on the off-chance they may have missed something. There was something bugging Jason, but he couldn’t put his finger on it. Once he returned to his boat he would scrutinize each entry of the log and try to determine what it was that was nagging at him. But by then, Bill had finished his phone call to his son.
“O.K., apparently, Laarsen is in a small, private, old people’s home out Barnhart way, he’s not very mobile these days but apparently, his mind is still as sharp as a pin. Likes to watch Jeopardy every night on T.V. My son said he’s always glad to have visitors, we could pop around to see him any morning.” Bill explained.
“Well, why don’t we go there tomorrow?” Chuck asked.
“What? All of us?” Archie said.
“Why not?” Chuck asked, his hands extended out as if to say, ‘what’s the problem?’
“No can do tomorrow, beer delivery in the morning,” Dexter said.
“Well that’s more important, but we can still go. I’ll drive, meet at the marina at 9:30?” Everyone except Dexter nodded their heads in agreement.
“Wow, Lorla will think we have left town, that will be two mornings in a row we haven’t gone to the café.” Chuck said.
“By the way Bill, did you get the address of the home Laarsen is in?” Jason asked.
“My son is going to let me know tonight.” Bill replied.
After another couple of beers, the masters of sleuth decided to disperse, one or two of them needed a nap. Jason decided to go for a long walk, buy some groceries and think about what he had learned during the last couple of days. It was early evening by the time he returned to his boat, still, none the wiser about the reason for his grandfather’s demise. Should he just go to the authorities with what he already knew? After all, he thought, the corpses of more than 35 people and the suspicious sinking of at least two boats were certainly justification for an investigation. Jason decided he would wait at least another day before contacting the police and then, he would have to think very carefully on how it was reported because up until now it had obviously been a very thorough cover-up.
Jason snacked on cheese and biscuits and drank a soda while he checked his emails. Both of his daughters had acknowledged his previous communications and he sent them a quick update saying that he had made real progress and would fill them in presently. After his light repast, he flipped through the log book one more time, remarking to himself on the meticulous, neat, notes his grandfather had made. As Jason read of various places and items of interest mentioned in the logs he would google them when suddenly, a chill went through his entire body. As he looked at the map of one of the rivers that his grandfather had negotiated a nearby town caught his attention. Jason was then reminded of something Chuck had said earlier that day which prompted him to carry out a further search on google. The result of that search sent a shiver down his spine. Jason calculated a quick timeline of all that he had discovered to date and as incredible as it seemed to him, if he was correct, what his searches had just revealed would most certainly explain the cover-up and would also account for the events that had taken place all those years ago.