Ghost Marina on the Mississippi

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Chapter 32 – Investigation Time – Modern Day

Jeremiah was right, things did move fast. The very next day a team from the EPA scaled the wall at the State Marina of Missouri. Using ladders and scaffolding the EPA operatives climbed over the wall, their theory was that if tests for radio-activity proved positive it would be best if the wall remained intact. As it turned out, tests proved to be negative and during the ensuing days, a construction team was brought in to tear down the wall that was built across the road at the marina’s entrance. At the same time, a floating crane was despatched from St. Louis to clear the entrance from the river. Meanwhile, a team of F.B.I. investigators descended on the marina, complete with mobile offices and live-in trailers. Jason and the rest of the group were amazed at the flurry of activity that had been initiated by Jason’s findings. But the disappearance of a few grams of plutonium was a big deal and the alleged deaths that had occurred because of it certainly necessitated an investigation. Jason was contacted as soon as the F.B.I. was ensconced in the marina and they sent one of their logo-laden SUVs to fetch him for an interview.

Jason was directed to one of the mobile offices in the marina and there he was greeted by Agent Gary Redmond. The G-Man came in at about the same height as Jason, around six feet tall, but that’s where the similarities ended. The Fed. was broad-shouldered and extremely well-built with hardly an ounce of body-fat, he gave the impression he worked out with weights, a lot. His eyes were dark and beady, darting from one thing to another as though he was constantly watching every move in his immediate surroundings. The agent subsequently introduced Jason to another agent, Audrey Jordan, who on the other hand was short, petite and very attractive. The kind of girl Jason could imagine being used in an undercover sting.

The three of them sat down to discuss Jason’s findings to date. Jason did almost all the talking, displaying his photographs, the dockmaster’s logbook, his grandfather’s log book and of course, mentioning the body at the waterside entrance to the marina. Because of Jason’s research to date and what he had learned from Laarsen he also provided a theory about what had happened. Jason believed Beardsley had overseen his grandfather’s mission. Because of the accident, the plutonium was compromised so Beardsley used his undercover operator experience to cover-up the whole mess by sinking the two vessels, with all hands on board, together with the dockmaster. He then arranged to build the wall and when that was finished he killed off the only other men who knew about the plot.

The two agents listened to Jason’s facts and theories without blinking an eye-lid. Jason thought they either thought he was a crank or there was real substance in what he was telling them.

“Do you mind if we keep these log books, as part of our investigations, and take copies of your photographs for our records?” Agent Redmond asked.

“Not at all,” Jason replied. Jason pushed forward the logs then ejected the memory card from his camera and handed it to Gary who went into a back office to copy the photographs.

“Just inquisitive, what made you take a second dive to look at the boats?” Audrey asked while they were waiting for Gary to return. At first, Jason didn’t know what to say, he could hardly tell the agent that he had a dream where a beautiful woman had beckoned him onto the boat.

“It was just a feeling, it felt like unfinished business that’s all,” Jason said, trying to sound convincing.

“It’s just that diving on a wreck by yourself is a risky business,” Audrey replied with a hint of dubiousness. Fortunately, at that moment, Gary returned with Jason’s memory card and the interview was effectively over.

“Right Jason, thanks for your help, if we need you, we know how to contact you. I’ll have someone take you back to your boat.” Gary said pleasantly but perfunctorily, then added in a more serious tone, “one other thing, it would be best if you kept your theories and any other information about this incident to yourself until our investigations are complete.” Jason’s recent conversation with Jeremiah in the pub suddenly came flooding back to him with all too much reality.

“Absolutely, but there is just one thing,” Jason said, “I believe there has been a major cover-up perpetrated here, my grandfather, his shipmate and over thirty other people have been murdered to hush up a shipment of some radioactive substance. I would like to see justice carried out for all of them. I’m prepared to take it up with the media if necessary.”

“Mr. Clifford, we would like to thank you for bringing this information to our attention. However, I believe your interest in this investigation is now terminated.” Gary said, “we will be conducting our search for the truth in the most professional manner possible.” Then his voice took on a serious, ominous tone, “however, your assumptions of a cover-up may be a little premature and I would advise you to keep any outlandish ideas of a cover-up to yourself. All you have here are a few fuzzy underwater photographs of skeletons, which quite frankly, could have been taken anywhere. The badly decomposed head you claimed you saw at the marina’s entrance, probably just the remains of a foraging animal.” Gary waited a few seconds as Jason let that information sink in before continuing on a more somber note, “I can also tell you, Mr. Clifford, that the government bought this property in May 1944, so remember, anything you discovered once you entered here from the river; you did while trespassing on federal land, ignoring the numerous ‘keep out’ signs that are clearly displayed and in the process, damaging government property, i.e. the wall, to gain illegal access to a restricted area. You then proceeded to remove articles from the property. Those actions would not be too highly thought of in a court of law if you decided to go to the newspapers trying to sell a story.” Gary then smiled but it wasn’t a smile of amusement it was cynical and was meant as a warning.

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