Ghost Marina on the Mississippi

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Chapter 50 – Connection with the Past – Modern Day

Caroline was thrilled to hear about the sale of the currency, but she was also excited about the news she had received from Chicago.

“Monsignor Costello has come through,” Caroline said enthusiastically, “apparently, the parents of one of his parishioners were very good friends with an Angelo and Sophie Lorento who used to live in the neighborhood. In fact, he had known Sophie since he was in kindergarten, Sophie had been born in the U.S. Apparently, Angelo used to work on the rivers, she thinks he used to own a company called Lawless Tugboats & Sons. Too much of a coincidence I think!”

“Sounds promising.” Jason agreed, “but I’m a bit confused about the Lorento, Lawless thing.”

“Well, apparently after Angelo arrived from Italy he started his tugboat business but felt he could get more trade if he anglicized his name,” Caroline added, “but what happened was that both of his sons, Antonio and Mario, were killed during the war. Angelo was devastated, and as he had made enough money to live a comfortable life back in Italy, he persuaded Sophie to go and live in Italy for the rest of their lives. They then reverted back to their Italian name, Lorento.”

“That would explain why we had difficulty finding a hit on the Lawless name!” Jason said.

“You got it,” Caroline said.

“But where does that leave us, is that the end of the trail?” Jason said

“Not quite,” Caroline said mischievously. “It appears that our Mario was a bit of a lad, a woman in every port type of lad. He had gotten a girl pregnant in Joliet and being the honorable grandparents that they were, Angelo and Sophie sent money to her for the child’s upbringing, right up until their deaths, which were in the ’70s. When they finally passed away, the grandchild, a daughter, by the way, inherited what was left of the estate, apparently a sizeable sum.”

“How have you discovered all this since yesterday?” Jason asked, quite amazed.

“Follow the money,” Caroline replied, “Uncle Sam likes to monitor financial transactions coming in from abroad. I’ve been assigned too many lawsuits involving fraud and money laundering not to know the ways and means of investigating money transfers. So, finding a regular payment to a bank in Joliet from Italy wasn’t too difficult.”

“Do you have a name?” Jason asked.

“Sure do, Esther Grant, she still lives in Joliet, I have an address and a telephone number,” Caroline replied, passing Jason a post-it with the details written on it.

“Maybe I should give her a call,” Jason said looking at the number.

“Maybe you should, otherwise all the work I’ve done would be a waste of time, wouldn’t it?” Caroline said, joshing him.

“Now that we have found someone, I’m not sure what to say to her,” Jason said.

“Just pick up the phone, make the call, it will come, you’ll see,” Caroline said sympathetically and handed him the phone. “I’ll go and prepare lunch.” Which was really just an excuse for Caroline to leave him alone in the room.

Jason just stood there, looking at the phone in one hand and the post-it in the other. Eventually, he summoned up the courage and dialed the number, albeit with some trepidation, then waited for someone to reply.

“Hello.” A gentle voice answered.

“Hi, Esther, Esther Grant?” Jason asked.

“Yes.” Esther replied with that, ’is this yet another scam’ type of reply.

“Hi, my name is Jason Clifford, you don’t know me, but your uncle was on the same boat as my grandfather during the war.”

“I don’t really know anything about that,” Esther replied.

“Am I right in saying your paternal father’s name was Mario Lawless or Lorento? Jason asked.

“Yes.” Esther’s tone, even with just a one-word reply, was one of suspicion and Jason could tell he would be losing the call if he was not careful.

“I have been doing some research on the disappearance of my grandfather and your uncle Tony which led me to the discovery of the boat they were on. I have recovered a few artifacts, photos and such that I thought you might like have returned to you as you are the heir as it were.” Jason explained.

“I wasn’t told much about my father’s family and I only met my grandparents once. I suppose it would be nice to have some memento.” Esther said as though she was thinking it through. “Maybe you could drop it in the mail?”

“How about I bring it to you a week Monday?” Jason asked, a scheme suddenly developing in his mind.

“Sure,” Esther replied.

“I have your address,” Jason said, then read it out to her to confirm, “see you about 2:00.”

Jason joined Caroline in the kitchen and told her the news.

“So, I said we would be there at 2:00 a week Monday,” Jason told her meekly.

“We?” Caroline asked, surprised.

“Ah yes. Well, forgot to mention.” Jason began nervously, “next Thursday, to celebrate, we are all having another lunch at the pub, my treat, we’ve also invited David.”

“And that’s relevant to going to Joillet, how?” Caroline asked, looking a little confused and now standing arms akimbo.

“I’m getting to that,” Jason said as he continued to stutter through his plan, “I thought perhaps, rather than return home after the meal you could spend the night on my luxurious yacht. I mean, you would be able to have a few drinks and not have to worry about the drive home.”

“Again, Joillet?” Caroline asked, beginning to get a little frustrated with Jason’s meanderings.

“Well, what I was thinking is that we could drive up to Cleveland and spend the weekend at my place and then on the Monday we could drive across country to Joliet.” Jason managed to finally blurt out. There was a pause as Caroline stood at the kitchen sink staring out of the window.

“So, we would be meeting your family,” Caroline said softly as she continued to gaze outside.

“Yes, possibly, yes, that might happen.” Jason replied, sounding more like one of the players in a Monty Python sketch than a mature adult, “it would also give me an opportunity to give my father his share of the money.”

“Isn’t this all a little sudden?” Caroline asked, finally turning to face Jason.

“No, we should have the money by then,” Jason replied.

“NO silly, I mean us!” Caroline replied.

“Not if my daughter’s intuition is correct, which it usually is.” Jason countered, beginning to regain his composure. This was followed by another pause as Caroline merely stared at Jason until she finally spoke.

“What the hell will we do in Cleveland for an entire weekend?” Caroline said.

“Are you kidding?” Jason replied, relieved, “the Indians are playing a series at home and there’s always the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. You know, I’ve lived in Cleveland all my life and I have never visited the hall.” They were both laughing now and decided to abandon lunch at home to spend the rest of the day in St. Louis.

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