2009 – seven minutes after the explosion.
She was on her back looking up at the sky trying to understand what had just happened. Her ears were ringing and the pain in her right leg was bad but nothing compared to her left. She tried to sit up but fell back after moving her upper body only a few inches above the grass.
She moved her right hand to her forehead and felt the blood from a cut on the top of her head running through her blond hair and down her face. She turned her head slightly and looked towards the house. All she could see was a cloud of smoke hanging over the yard and blowing out across the lake. The beautiful old log house was gone.
She tried to sit up again but the pain in her legs was so bad she nearly passed out. As she lay alone in the grass she believed she might be dying. She had heard many times that when a person was dying a fast history of their lives as a child flashed through their minds. But her thoughts were not of when she was a child. She was thinking of Roy Hunt, the old man who built the log house and how she came to know his grandson.
A smile was just beginning to appear on her blood smeared lips when the pain finally won and she passed out.
Gary was not smiling when he dialed his sister’s number. His greying beard could not hide the worry on his face about his father. As he listened to the ringing phone he reached across his desk and picked up the picture in a gold colored metal frame which had been taken several years earlier when the entire family was at his father’s log house on the lake in Maine.
He looked at the smiling faces of his father surrounded by his two sons and daughter along with his five teenage grandchildren. His father was wearing an old pair of camouflage pants and a green t shirt and a hat on his head with the word BEAR embroidered across the front. His father looked healthy and happy. Gary remembered the day the picture was taken. The entire family had traveled from Atlanta to spend ten days at the lake to escape the nasty humidity of the south and enjoy the cooler Maine weather in addition to visiting with his father. It had been a good ten days.
He heard his sister say, “Hello.”
“Hi Linda, I think we may have a problem. Have you talked to dad in the past few days?”
“No, why? Has something happened?”
“I’m not sure, all I know is I haven’t heard from him for over week. I talked to him several days ago, and he told me he’d been spending a lot of time deer hunting. I have tried to call him a few times since then but I can’t get an answer. I called last night up until one o’clock in the morning, and still had no answer.”
He could hear the worry in her voice, “Oh my GOD! That’s concerning. Do you have the phone number of his friend Lonnie that lives up the road from him? He might know where he is.”
“I’ve already tried to call him too. I can’t get him to answer either. I hope they went off together somewhere and just forgot to tell me.”
“I hope that is all it is.”
Gary told her he was going to call the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s office to see if they will check on him and he would get back to her as soon as he knew anything new.
She asked if he had talked to their brother Chuck.
“Yes, I just got off the phone with him a few minutes ago. He has not heard from dad for about two weeks.”
“Jesus, I hope he is ok.”
He ended the call by telling her he would get back to her after calling the Sheriff. He twisted in his chair to face the computer on the left of his desk. He logged on and found the phone number.
The person answering the phone sounded more like a teenager girl than an adult.
“Hello, Sheriff’s office.”
“My name is Gary Hunt and I am calling from Atlanta. I am calling about my father Roy Hunt. He lives on Eagle Creek Lake in your county. I’ve been unable to reach him for several days and I am concerned something may have happened to him. I’m calling to ask if one of your officers could check his house to see if you can find him, to make sure he is okay.”
The girl said, “Hang on, I will let you talk to the Sheriff.”
He heard two clicks in his ear before a gravely tired voice said, “Sheriff Grimes.”
Gary again gave his name and explained about his dad not answering his phone. He asked again if a deputy could be sent to his father’s lake house to check on him.
“Give me the address.”
“He lives at 1141 Mossy Oak Rd. His house is a two story log house with a green metal roof. There is a metal cut out of a large fish at the end of his driveway. The house number 1141 is under the metal fish. His house backs up to the lake.”
“What kind of car does he drive?”
“It is an older red Jeep Cherokee, maybe a 1992 or so.”
“Give me a number where I can call you when we find out something.”
He gave the Sheriff his office number, his cell number, and his home phone number.
“As soon as I know anything I will call.”
As soon as he clicked off from the Sheriff he called Linda and then his brother Chuck to let them know the Sheriff was going to check the house.
About three hours later, Gary got a call back from the Sheriff.
“I had a deputy visit the house and look around. He found all of the doors on the house closed, but none were locked. He went inside and looked around but found nothing unusual. There was no one there and the red Cherokee was in the driveway. The car keys were lying in the center console. Does your father have a boat?”
“Yes, he has two. One is a pontoon and the other is a Bass Tracker. I think it is a 16 foot aluminum, with a sixty horse power Mercury.”
“Gary, there was no bass boat at the dock behind the house. The pontoon is on a trailer inside the shed. Do you know if he had taken the bass boat in for repair or any reason why it is not in the boat dock?”
“No, as far as I know the boat should be there unless he is out on the lake.”
“Other than being out on the lake, do you have any idea where he might have gone? Does he have any friends in this area?”
“If his boat is not there, I would say he’s out on the lake someplace. But I have been trying to call him for several days, and he has not been answering the phone. Did you check his phone line to see if the phone works?”
“Yes, we checked his phone and it works fine. Does he have any friends in this area?”
“He has a friend named Lonnie Smith that lives on the same road. I don’t know Lonnie’s address, but I know he lives about a half a mile north. I have been trying to call him too, but I can’t get an answer at his number either. Could you check with him to see if he knows anything?”
“Yes, I’ll get a deputy out there and see if he is home. I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.”
About forty five minutes later Grimes called him back.
“My deputy found no one home at Lonnie Smith’s house. He talked to one of Lonnie’s neighbors and found out that Lonnie was at his daughter’s house in Florida. He got a phone number for his daughter and called him. He told my deputy that he has not talked to your dad since last Wednesday. He said your dad was doing fine, and had been fishing and hunting almost every day. He said your dad had not been complaining about any health issues and believes that your father’s only concern was trying to kill a deer with his bow.”
Gary took a deep breath, “I am very worried about him Sheriff. Can you search the lake to see if you can find his boat? I hope he hasn’t fallen out of the boat.”
He heard Grimes let out a sigh. “It’s about dark so we can’t do much tonight but I will get some people on the lake in the morning.”
“I appreciate your help Sheriff. Do you think I should get on a plane and come up there.”
“I know you are concerned Gary, but I suggest you wait a couple of days. Give us a chance to search the lake.”
Gary was quiet for a long minute. “I’ll wait until Friday.”