Chapter 53 – Events Happen Quickly – Modern Day
Nothing much unfolded during the ensuing couple of weeks. Caroline and Jason worked loosely on building a case against the government, between trips to the pub and the odd boat trip down the river to check on progress at the old marina. It was on one of their regular Thursday trips to the pub that they encountered their first piece of news. They entered to join the boys at their usual spot at the bar only to see a pair of sad-looking faces. As soon as they were in the door, Helen approached them before they could reach the others.
“Hi, look, I have some bad news, I’m afraid Bill passed away last night.” Helen said, “we knew you were coming in today, so we didn’t want to email you or call, but to tell you personally.”
“No!” Caroline whispered as she put a hand to her mouth. Jason slowly walked over to Chuck and Archie and gave each of them a hug. Dexter had already poured the drinks for the new guests.
“On the house,” Dexter said solemnly.
“I’m so sorry,” Caroline said to Chuck and Archie, like Jason, she gave each of them a hug. Jason took the bar-stool next to Chuck and Caroline sat beside him. As Jason took a sip of his beer he happened to notice Bill’s old Chevy parked outside.
“What’s Bill’s car doing here?” Jason asked.
“It’s Archie’s car now,” Chuck said.
“Yeah, the silly old fart left it to me,” Archie explained, “he figured I could pull more ladies in a class car!” That brought a smile to everyone and Chuck asked how the trip went with Jason’s dad and the visit to Joliet. Jason brought them all up to date and the rest of the afternoon was occupied by listening to the boys reminiscing about their antics with Bill. Both Caroline and Jason had imbibed a little more than they should, certainly for driving back to St. Louis, so they decided to stay the night on the boat. It was then that Jason received the next piece of news. Just as they climbed aboard the boat, his mobile phone began ringing. This couldn’t be good news, very few people knew his number, among those who did, were his daughters and he thought it must be one of them.
“Hello,” Jason said as he answered the call.
“Mr. Clifford?” The voice replied.
“That’s right,” Jason replied succinctly.
“Agent Redmond here. Look, our investigations are complete, and we are heading out tomorrow. I wondered, could you make a trip to the marina first thing in the morning to discuss a few things?” Redmond asked.
“Why, yes, I guess,” Jason replied, sounding a bit confused by the surprise call, “what time do you call first thing?”
“If you could be here by 9:00 AM that would be great,” Redmond replied, sounding quite friendly, not the terse business-like attitude Jason encountered the last time they spoke.
“See you then,” Jason replied, and the call was terminated. Caroline was looking at Jason with some concern and he explained the contents of the call.
“It’s all happening,” Caroline said.
“We will have to leave here about 8:30 AM, no rest for the wicked,” Jason said.
Jason hardly slept that night in anticipation of the meeting with the F.B.I. agent but was grateful Caroline would be by his side. After showering and a quick breakfast they arrived at the marina well before the allotted meeting time. Redmond was outside his command module and walked over to them as Jason parked his truck. Jason was amazed at what had happened to the place since his last visit to the marina. The boats had all been removed from the water, together with the piles and docks they had been moored to. The wall that had surrounded the area had been completely torn down and the land restored to its original state. All evidence of the dockmaster’s building and the store had disappeared, there was nothing to suggest there had ever been a marina at the location.
“Like what we’ve done to the place?” Redmond asked with a smile. Jason just shook his head, astonished at what he was seeing, believing this to be another part of the cover-up. To accentuate his thoughts, Agent Jordan was approaching them with a security wand that Jason recognized as the type of apparatus that was used for searches at airports. It also sparked Redmond to return to his more formal approach.
“Before we start our meeting we need to ensure you are not wired for recording any conversation we will be having, and I am afraid our meeting will be restricted to just the two of us.” Redmond said indicating to Caroline that she was not invited.
“This is Caroline Ashdene, not only is she my lawyer but she is also a direct descendant of one of the people lost in this travesty of justice. So yes, she is most certainly part of this meeting.” Jason said with a degree of officiousness that startled Redmond and impressed Caroline. Having finished waving the wand all over Jason, Agent Jordan looked at Redmond to await further instructions. He merely nodded his head and pointed at Caroline.
“Follow me,” Redmond said once Agent Jordan had finished, and he began walking to the water’s edge, while Agent Jordan returned to the command center. Without looking at the couple, Redmond began to talk.
“We’ve carried out a thorough investigation of what we believe occurred during that night of the storm,” Redmond began.
“Don’t try to bullshit me, Redmond, I know what happened,” Jason said with some venom.
“Mr. Clifford, is this how the conversation is going to go? If it is, we’re done here.” Redmond replied authoritatively. “What I want to tell you is completely off the record and yes, to the best of our knowledge, there was no paper trail of the incident, our investigations certainly bear out your theory. But if you listen, there may be something that will be mutually acceptable to all of us.” Caroline put her hand on Jason’s arm in an attempt to subdue him and Redmond began to explain.