Secret of the Family Tree: Digging Up Old Roots

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Chapter 18: Girl Detective

“Don’t dawdle in there,” Anna yelled above the running water of the shower. “I don’t want to be late. You sure you don’t want to stay home and catch up on your sleep?”

“No, I’m coming,” Samantha yelled back.

“I’ll feed Gypsy while you finish dressing. Meet me at the car when you’re done.”

She’d slept in again after staying up too late, trying to figure out her mom’s whereabouts the previous evening. However, Samantha decided to put her mom’s escapades aside and place her focus back on the murder investigation. This would involve going to the library this morning.

“I didn’t expect to see you again so soon,” Ms. Emily remarked, when she spotted Samantha.

“I thought I’d look through your Nancy Drew section,” Samantha said. Her ulterior motive was to ask Ms. Emily about Officer Bevin. She had a hunch the old librarian knew about everyone and everything in the village.

“As I mentioned to your mother, for a small library, we have quite a nice selection of Nancy Drew books,” said the tight-lipped Ms. Emily. “Is there a particular title I can help you find?”

“No, I just figured I’d browse through the shelves.”

“I’ll leave you to it then. By the way,” Ms. Emily said, turning back to Samantha, “how did your mother react when you showed her the article in the Hearthshire Ledger?”

“Actually, I haven’t showed it to her yet.”

“Oh, have you decided it was best not to share this information with her after all?”

“Not exactly, we decided to try and find out more information surrounding the murder. The newspaper article and the internet didn’t tell us things like if the murder was ever solved, or who did it.”

“We, is someone else helping you with your search?”

“Oh yeah, my cousin Zen is helping me to track down information.”

“I see.”

“Ms. Emily, do you know if there is an Officer Bevin who works at the local police station?”

“Why yes. He’s the Police Chief here in Hearthshire. Police Chief Michael Bevin. Why do you ask?”

“We read, that is, me and my cousin Zen—”

“It is Zen and I dear, not me and Zen.”

“Right sorry, Zen and I read Officer Bevin helped with the investigation.”

“I vaguely remember Michael working closely with another officer.” Rubbing her forehead, the elderly librarian confessed, “It was so long ago you know, and my mind is not what it used to be.”

“He was working with police officers from the Clarkstown Police Department,” Samantha reminded her.

“That’s right… a detective from the Clarkstown area. You certainly have done your homework. What a clever girl you are.”

Samantha smiled at the compliment. In the short time in knowing Ms. Emily, she got the impression the librarian didn’t hand out words of praise often. “Do you think I can go over and talk with Chief Bevin?”

“I don’t see why you couldn’t speak with him. He is a public servant.”

Pulling on her coat, Samantha headed for the library doors. “Thanks so much for the information, Ms. Emily.”

“You’re not checking out a book?”

“I may come back later.”

“Good luck,” Ms. Emily called out, “I hope Michael can help you.”

Samantha felt safe in knowing her mom wouldn’t come looking for her at the library. They had already discussed Samantha would make her way to the flower shop by lunchtime. Glancing at the clock on the old stone fireplace, she saw she still had at least three hours to gather as much information as she could.

But will Chief Bevin even tell me anything? This passing thought made Samantha slow her pace as she neared the police station. Her only goal had been to find out if he was still in the village. She didn’t think of what she’d actually say to him. Now standing on the bottom step of the Hearthshire Police Station, she hesitated about going inside. What was I thinking? I can’t go in there!

“What do you think they’re gonna do, arrest you for asking a question? Some detective you are.” Zen’s teasing words came back to haunt her. I’ll show you what type of detective I am! Determined to prove to Zen and herself she didn’t just read about detectives, that she, Samantha could be a detective too, she took a deep breath, and pushed through the front doors of the Hearthshire Police Department.

“Can I help you young lady?” Almost immediately, a lean young officer with jet-black wavy hair approached her.

She was about to answer him but found her mouth had gone dry, as if she had swallowed a cup of dirt. As the officer stared at her with up-raised eyebrows, she rolled her tongue around the inside of her mouth, managing to create enough moisture to say, “Officer, I mean Chief Bevin please.”

“Okay, but let’s see if maybe I can help you first. What is it you need to see Chief Bevin about?”

“I…I wanted to talk to Chief Bevin about a murder case.”

The officer’s facial expression changed from being inquisitive to one of deep concern. “Why don’t you take a seat at my desk, and let’s start again,” he said, flipping open his notepad. “Now, what is your name, and when did this murder take place?”

“My name is Samantha Keen. Ameara Fairland and—”

“Fairland, are you talking about the Fairlands who own that piece of land near the end of the village?”

“Yes,” she answered, turning to address the voice coming from across the room.

An older man with receding blond hair stood in a doorway. His navy blue tie looked too tight around his thick neck that supported his square head. Tossing a file onto the desk of the young officer helping Samantha, the man said, “I’ll handle this Roberts.” Then he introduced himself. “I’m Chief Michael Bevin.”

Chief Bevin directed Samantha into his office. “Have a seat,” he said, while pulling out his own chair and sitting at an old battered looking desk. “Tell me, how do you know the Fairlands?”

From inside her coat, Samantha could feel herself beginning to sweat. “My mom is Anna Fairland, Innis Moor’s daughter.”

“That’s right. Innis had two daughters that moved away when they were quite young.” Chief Bevin picked up a baseball littered with signatures and rolled it between the palms of his hands. “How can I help you?”

“Well, I was wondering about the murder of my grandmother and Great-grandmother, Ameara and Nanna Fairland.”

Chief Bevin stopped playing with his baseball and tossed it into a tray of neatly stacked paperwork. “What about it?”

Okay good, he’s open to questions. “I was hoping you could tell me what happened with the investigation.” Trying to keep the sweat from running down her armpits, Samantha squeezed her arms close to her sides.

Leaning forward in his chair, he asked, “Is your mother looking to have this case reopened?”

“No, my grandpa never told my mom her mother was murdered. She doesn’t even know I’m here.” Gosh, why did I say that? He’s going to call my mom!

“If you say your mother doesn’t know the circumstances surrounding the deaths of her own mother and grandmother, how did you find out?”

Come on you can do it, Samantha, lie. Just do it. “I came across some notes in my grandpa’s desk and read a newspaper article about the murder. This is how I found out you were part of the original investigation.” That was easy. Zen would be proud of me.

“I see. Innis kept track of what had happened concerning the case?”

“Yes.”

Chief Bevin came to sit on the edge of his desk facing Samantha. “I’m not sure what you found in Innis’s notes, but I was only assisting Detective Davies of the Clarkstown Police Department. The murder happened in his district.”

“Well, can you tell me why they were murdered, and if the person responsible was arrested?”

“If Innis kept good notes it would have told you the investigation went cold after a week for lack of leads, which means it was never solved.” Throwing his hands in the air Chief Bevin said, “That’s it, nothing else I can tell you.”

“Only one week?” Samantha couldn’t believe what he was saying.

Walking behind his desk, Chief Bevin unlocked his right hand bottom drawer, retrieving a folder. “It’s not unusual for this to happen in some cases. But if you want to know exactly what we found out during this investigation here it is.” Sitting at his desk, he opened the folder and laid out the facts for Samantha. “Nothing was taken from either victim. Nothing was taken from Professor Fairland’s office or from the university. Neither woman was ever involved or connected to any past crimes or people with criminal backgrounds.”

“What about the suspicious man the newspaper mentions that the student said he saw on the morning of the murders? Did you ever find and question that guy?”

“You’re talking about what Kenny Randall reported to the police back then. It was speculated this suspicious man drove to the airport in Ameara Fairland’s car and boarded a plane. He was never questioned.”

“There were no other suspects?”

“Like I said, this was Detective Davies’s case,” Chief Bevin said, returning the folder to his bottom drawer. “So unless you or someone else has new evidence, this murder case remains, cold.”

Samantha got the impression Chief Bevin was about to ask her to leave, and she rushed to ask another question. “I saw a man’s name in Grandpa’s paperwork. It was a Mr. Lin. Who is he?”

“Mr. Peter Lin’s name was written on Professor Fairland’s calendar. It was verified by your grandfather that Mr. Lin did have an appointment with Professor Fairland that morning. We couldn’t locate Peter Lin to question him. It was suspected Mr. Lin and the suspicious man were one in the same.”

“So Mr. Lin was the suspected murderer?”

“This was the theory.”

So, Ameara was right to be worried. “Have you ever heard of the name Maskhim?”

“Maskhim?” Chief Bevin narrowed his eyes as he looked at Samantha. “Is that spelled M-A-S-K-H-I-M?”

“Yeah, this word was next to Mr. Lin’s name.”

“No, can’t say that I have.” Walking over to the door, Chief Bevin held it open for Samantha. “I’m sorry I couldn’t give you the answers you were looking for. If it helps, I can tell you your grandfather seemed to have come to terms with his wife and mother-in-law’s passing. He seemed at peace in the end.”

At peace in the end, that’s what Kitchet said after Grandpa Innis met up with whoever called him. “Chief Bevin, did you call my grandfather before he died to discuss anything about the case?”

“No. Actually, I saw less and less of Innis over the years.”

“How about Detective Davies, do you think he would’ve contacted my grandpa with new information?”

“Detective Davies? No, he died eight years ago. Why do you ask?”

Lie number three coming right up, “A note was stuck in with my grandpa’s paperwork that was dated recently. It said something about new information concerning the case.”

“Interesting, as far as I know, the murder case of Ameara and Nanna Fairland is still unsolved.” Chief Bevin handed Samantha a card. “If there is anything else I can clear up for you, or if your mother needs to speak with me, just let me know.”

“Thank you.”

Standing outside the police station, Samantha was now filled with more questions than when she went in. I need to think, she told herself, as she headed back to the library.

Ms. Emily wasn’t at her regular post behind the front desk. Instead, a younger woman with short mousy brown hair was stacking books onto a library cart. Samantha walked straight to the children’s section, taking a seat as far back in the corner as she could get.

Being around books gave her clarity. Not that she searched the books for answers to her concerns. It was the way books created a wall that shielded out all unwanted noise and static. With her journal and pen in hand, she wrote down what she had learned from Chief Bevin.

1. The police had only one suspect, a Mr. Peter Lin, who the police felt was the suspicious man reported to police by Kenneth Randall.

2. The case went cold after one week. Police felt that Mr. Lin boarded a plane the same day he murdered them, because Grandma Ameara’s body was found at the airport.

3. Nothing was stolen from Nanna or Ameara. Nothing was stolen from the university. So, why were they killed?

4. Chief Bevin said he didn’t call Grandpa Innis and Detective Davies has been dead for 8 years. So who called Grandpa with news about the murders?

Tapping her pen against her open book, Samantha studied her notes. How did Great Grandma Nanna know Mr. Lin? And this word Maskhim, what does it mean? Samantha put her pen down and stared at the word Maskhim, as she did, something her grandpa wrote in the front of her oak bound book popped into her head.

There is power in words, Samantha, and how people chose to use them. Always chose your words with care when you write in your journal. Someday, others will read your words, and from your words, de-code who you are.

She wrote the word Maskhim again by itself, on a clean page in her book. Okay, let’s really see what this word is saying, she said to herself. It is a compound word of the two words mask and him. Mask meaning a disguise. To literally put on a mask, to hide ones face. The word him, well that’s simple, a man, a person. Hmm, a man hiding his face, does Mr. Lin wear a mask of some sort? That can’t be right. The student, Kenneth Randall would have said that Mr. Lin was wearing a mask. I’m sure he would have noticed something like that.

Samantha looked at the word again, trying to figure out if the word had any other meaning.

Maskhim, if I take off the “M” I find two other words. Ask and him. Maybe Grandma Ameara put the word Maskhim next to Mr. Lin’s name because she wanted to ask him something. That can’t be it either! “Forget it.” She looked at the clock on the wall and saw it was after 11:17a.m. I better head over to the flower shop. On her way out of the library, she found Ms. Emily had returned to her post behind the front desk.

“So, you have come back. Did you get a chance to talk to Chief Bevin?”

“Yeah.”

“The word is “Yes” dear. It sounds so much nicer than, yeah,” Ms. Emily smiled as she corrected Samantha. “Was he able to give you any new information?”

“No. He said the case went cold, for lack of leads to follow,” Samantha said.

“Oh, I’m sorry, Samantha. By the way, has your mother enrolled you in our local school?”

“No, I’m homeschooled.”

“Oh, I see. ‘To each his own,’ as the old saying goes.”

Samantha thought she heard a hint of disapproval in the librarian’s voice. Since Ms. Emily was a stickler for words, Samantha thought she’d ask her about the word, Maskhim. “Ms. Emily, have you heard of the word Maskhim before?”

“Maskhim,” Ms. Emily said, adjusting her glasses against her face. “Now, where would you get a word like that? Did Chief Bevin mention it to you?”

“No, I just saw it somewhere, and I’m trying to figure out if it’s a last name, or a place.”

“It sounds like a word children make up in those silly computer games. If the word is not in the dictionary, then it means nothing.”

“Yeah, I mean, yes, you’re probably right,” agreed Samantha, even though she knew that wasn’t the case. The word Maskhim had meant something important to her grandma Ameara, and she was determined to find out what it was. “Thanks again for your help.”

“Weren’t there any Nancy Drew books in our little library that interest you?” Ms. Emily asked, raising a single eyebrow at Samantha.

“Oh yes there are many, but I better come back with my book list. I like to read them in order by release date.”

As she made her way across the village square, Samantha noticed her mom standing in the flower shop window smiling and waving to her. What Samantha didn’t notice was the black SUV parked not too far from the library, and the man sitting in the driver’s seat, intently watching her.

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