Chapter 34 – The Lady of the Streamer – Modern Day
Jason climbed hurriedly onto his boat expecting to see that it had been ransacked, but much to his surprise everything was pretty much as he had left it. It was obvious, however, that a thorough search had taken place, things were not quite as he had left them, but tidy nonetheless. His computer was still there but when he turned it on he discovered that all the photographs he had taken had been erased. Jason checked his camera; his memory card was empty. That annoyed him, but fortunately, he could console himself in the knowledge that he had sent emails to himself, with attachments as well as backing up the photos on the cloud. But after further checking, there was no trace of his emails and the files on the cloud had disappeared. The only other thing that seemed to have been taken was the radio and the safe he had found on his grandfather’s boat. What the authorities were not aware of was the jewelry, left with David for safe-keeping, the photographs and money Jason had found in the safe; they were in his wallet. He also had a backup of the photos he had taken retained on a memory stick on his key-chain.
Jason was extremely angry by this affront and considered confronting Agent Redmond, but after careful consideration, he realized that nothing of importance had appeared to have been taken. Furthermore, the F.B.I. would not have carried out the search without the appropriate authorization. Consequently, he decided not to give Redmond the satisfaction of a confrontation which Jason knew he would end up losing anyway. Chuck had now boarded the boat and he could see that Jason was still seething.
“Anything taken?” Chuck asked sympathetically.
“Looks like the logbooks, the radio I found and the safe,” Jason replied, not wanting to mention the photographs.
“They didn’t leave it in a mess though, I suppose that’s something,” Chuck remarked. “Although, they could have done the washing-up while they were at it!” Chuck said nodding towards the dirty breakfast dishes sitting in the sink. At which point they both burst out laughing.
“Come on son, I’ll buy you a beer,” Chuck said, and he began to leave the boat.
“Bit early for a brew isn’t it?” Jason replied after a quick look at his wrist-watch.
“It’s mid-day somewhere in the world and you look as though you could do with a drink,” Chuck told him.
“You’ve got that right.” Jason agreed, and he began to follow the old man off the boat, taking his laptop with him.
When they arrived at the pub Dexter was behind the bar and he immediately began to pour them a couple of beers. It was still a little early for Archie and Bill, so Jason and Chuck sat at the bar and explained the day’s events to Dexter.
“So, Jeremiah was right, it looks like the Feds. want to keep this under wraps.” Dexter said once he had heard the gist of what had happened. “They seem to be eliminating all your evidence.”
“Seems that way,” Jason replied although he didn’t tell them about his memory stick. Jason’s thoughts harkened back to his conversation with Agent Redmond, the photos could be of anything and they certainly didn’t have the resolution required to distinguish the bullet holes in the skulls.
By the time they were on their second beers, Archie and Bill had arrived and they too were brought up to date.
“So, are we all going into St. Louis to look through the paper’s archives?” Archie asked.
“Not sure we have to,” Jason replied, opening up his laptop, “let’s see if they have anything online.” At that, the others sidled their chairs around to get a better view of the screen, Dexter just stood over Jason’s shoulder. Jason connected to the pub’s WiFi and typed in a few search parameters and Jason selected one of the more promising results, which turned out to be exactly what he was looking for. It was a site containing St. Louis Post Dispatch archives dating as far back as 1874. There was a small fee necessary to enter the site, which Jason paid for by credit card. The excitement amongst the men was almost palpable and the only thing that could be heard was the clacking of the laptop’s keys as Jason speedily entered data. It didn’t take long before he hit pay dirt.
“Got something,” Jason said, and the others huddled closer to his computer to read what he had discovered:
‘St. Louis Elite Feared Dead’
was the headline on the front page of the edition dated May 25th and they all began to read the article which stated:
The recent storm that barrelled through the area may be responsible for taking the lives of many of St. Louis’s top businessmen and women. A representative from St. Lawrence Boat Cruises have informed us that the St. Louis Streamer failed to return to port on the night of the 24th May. There has been no word from the captain of the vessel, Jean Deschamps, and it is feared that the paddle steamer possibly encountered difficulties during what appeared to have been one of the worst storms on the Mississippi in recent memory. Amongst those believed to have been on board were Robert Sinclair (Sinclair Steel Manufacturing) and Lady Ashdene.
More to follow as information becomes available.
In support of the article were a couple of stock photographs of both the Streamer and Robert Sinclair. The photograph of Sinclair showed him standing in the middle of a group of people that was taken during a recent benefit concert. On the edge of the group, although her face was turned away as the photograph was being taken, was what looked like Lady Ashdene. Jason could only surmise that was who it was because she was wearing the jewelry he had recovered from the boat.