The Pandion Prophecy ... Part 4
Welcome, and thank you for visiting the continuing story of “The Pandion Prophecy.” There are eight chapters in all.
A link to the first chapter appears below:
The Pandion Prophecy
The music videos at the end of each chapter are an integral part of the story.
As a companion story to “Neptune’s Cradle,” this chapter reintroduces Carrie Pugsley, who has been the Martin-Baron’s housekeeper for several years. A good-humored soul, large of heart with a straightforward manner, Kate and Jack consider Carrie a trusted member of the family. Her husband, Abe, runs modest-scale fishing charters off Stellwagen Bank -- a marine sanctuary located at the mouth of Massachusetts Bay.
Sunday morning brought rain that fell hard and without warning. Kate sat in her kitchen nook near the bay window overlooking the Barons’ backyard. She leaned her head against the tall bench and watched the sudden downpour persuade life on the other side of the glass. Wrung from the clouds, torrents pummeled the roof and surged through gutters like water from a fire hose. Birds sought refuge by hunkering down in the waiting limbs of a large maple tree, while on the ground below, spring tulips bowed as though paying homage to a mourning sky. Sitting upright on their haunches, two rabbits swiped the wet from matted heads and licked their paws before scurrying off to sanctuary.
To Kate, the eerie arrival of the rainstorm seemed to underscore the events of the previous twenty-four hours. Looking down at Ray’s photos she’d printed out the night before, she rubbed a shivering chill from her arms as the prospect of an otherworldly presence invaded her comfort zone. “That thing on the beach." "I can feel the whispers as well as hear them.” Her friend’s unsettling words tested the standard credo of all journalists when researching a story: Appearances seldom match reality. Ray was her cynical touchstone. The fact that she knew he believed the phantom had somehow distorted the fluid measures of time revealed more to her than the photographs.
In light of Lynch’s parting remark to them at St. John's, the Barons disabled all mobiles and exiled them to an old filing cabinet upon returning home. Since patients weren’t allowed to receive or make calls on hospital room phones beyond visiting hours, Kate kept in contact with the staff. Ray had slept comfortably through the night and was scheduled for discharge. She could pick him up when Sunday visiting hours commenced at 10:30 am. He’d need a fresh set of clothing. At 7:30 am, Jack received an urgent call from the Kelsey’s, asking to meet with him at the FPD crime lab. He left shortly thereafter. All of these conversations, and more, took place on the their house phone.
The leaden, pounding noise of the squall continued without relief. Hearing approaching footsteps on the back porch at the rear of the kitchen, Kate slipped Ray’s photographs into her shoulder bag. She rushed to the door and held it open as Carrie Pugsley shook the clinging remnants of the storm from her umbrella before laying it on its side to dry. The housekeeper bustled past her, kicked off her shoes and hung a backpack on the coat bar, breathless over the morning events.
“What a peculiar day, Kathryn. First, my Abe calls me from Stellwagen early this mornin’. He’s all spooked about a huge megapod of humpback whales off the Bank. Nearly a hundred of ‘em. Biggest pod there ever was. And this crazy storm hits outta the blue…almost biblical like. Only thing missin’ is frogs droppin’ from the sky,” she said, winking playfully.
Kate laughed, thankful to feel some of the worry slip from her thoughts if only for a moment. “There was something about the whales on the news before but I didn’t pay much attention to it,” she replied.
Thinking nothing more about the anomaly, she closed the back door, poured a cup of tea from a brewing pot on the counter and placed it in front of Carrie, who had settled into the kitchen nook.
“I’m sorry you were caught in this awful rain. I should have driven to Ray’s beach house myself.”
“Weren’t no trouble at all. You had enough on your plate to take care of here at home. And that cottage is right on my way into town from Farhaven Point. I’m pleased I could help.”
“Was the policeman waiting there for you?” Kate asked.
“Yes…just like you said he would. He’s a real gentleman. He let me into the cottage and I packed up a few of Ray’s things. They’re in that bag for you,” she said, pointing to the backpack. “I found some clean clothes and other personables. I no sooner finished and the rain started. When that nice officer walked me to my car, there was this man standin’ in front of a big black SUV parked at the side of the road. It wasn’t there when I arrived. Ford, I think.”
Carrie paused for a moment, her face taking on a pitying look. “What a sight he was...out in that cloudburst, bareheaded, no umbrella or raincoat, starin’ at the beach like he’s waitin’ for somethin’. Poor thing ain’t got the sense the good Lord gave a cat.”
Kate reached for her notebook. “This man…what did he look like? “
“Taller than most, dark hair; eyebrows thick as caterpillars. Maybe late 40’s or early 50s’. He’s an odd one. It’s none a my concern but if he’s one of Jackson’s detectives, someone best have that fella on a short leash is all I’m sayin’.”
Ethan Lynch. Kate thought the description fit him well. The agent’s features were strangely familiar to her but she couldn’t place the why of it. She scribbled something in her notes, then circled the date and time of the agent's visit to the beach. “You know, Ray hasn’t stayed at his folks’ cottage since before they were killed. Yesterday was the first occasion he’s been able to spend any real time there.”
“Losin’ his Mom and Dad last summer hit him hard…the way they died and all…way out there in Arizona. It took ‘em long enough to find that drunken bastard’s body.”
“The desert’s a big place,” sighed Kate. She recalled the details of the accident with bitter clarity: On a hot August night in the Foothills of Northern Tucson, Ray’s parents were walking across the road to their parked car when a stolen Mercedes careened around a curve. The driver lost control and crashed into the couple, hurtling them to the asphalt. He quickly fled the scene. The Stiegel's were killed instantly. The car was discovered a week later, several miles down a remote side-road in the desert. The abandoned vehicle reeked of stale whiskey. A recent dust storm had obliterated all but a few foot tracks leading deeper into the desert. Although a search of the immediate area yielded nothing, the local sheriff's office advised the media that the driver, drunk and isolated, could never have survived the summer heat. The vagrant’s decomposed body was found the following winter; the keys to the Mercedes were in his jeans pocket.
“The owner of that stolen car said it was the only time he ever forgot his keys in the ignition. What were the odds? Talk about fate,” reflected Kate.
“Everythin’ we do or don’t do affects everybody else. We’re just not awake to it.”
“Ray hasn’t been himself, but I can understand his depression. I was devastated when my father died from that heart attack. I can’t imagine losing both Mum and Dad in such a violent way.”
Carrie glanced about the cozy kitchen. Cradling the teacup in her hands, she thought about the isolating sorrow that could haunt a child of any age when a parent, a life-long custodian of wisdom and unconditional love, disappeared into memory. “When you and Jackson bought this house from your mother, it was the best present you could have given her aside from your weddin’. She loves Florida and Marco Island so."
Kate nodded. “This will always be her home. The New England winters were brutal on her arthritis. By spending her summers here with us, she has the best of both worlds.”
“You were gonna drive to Marco this comin’ week for your vacation. What’re your plans now?
“We’re still taking the week but staying here to help Ray. Jack has to turn the case over to his sergeant, Jim Kelly. He’s updating him with all of the facts at the crime lab this morning before they both meet with the CSI’s.”
“He has to give the case to Kelly? How come?” Carrie asked between sips of tea.
“Ethics. Investigators have to focus solely on the dynamics of what happened. They can’t allow any emotions to interfere. If they know the victim, personally, the case is normally handed off to somebody else.”
“Well that explains it. You two are family to that lad.”
“So are you,” replied Kate. “And it’s time for me to pick Ray up at the hospital." She dropped the notebook into her bag and tugged the strap over her shoulder.
The instant the women rose to their feet, the rain stopped all at once, as though a giant crack in the sky had suddenly healed itself. Carrie’s ample form tensed. Her bright green eyes turning somber, she placed a hand firmly on Kate’s shoulder. “You hear me now, Kathryn,” she said with earnest. “Be careful out there. Somethin’s happenin'...I can feel it.”
Kate put her arms around the housekeeper with a quick hug. “I know,” she whispered. “I’ll be back as soon as I can.” Pulling the pack from the coat bar, she looked at the housekeeper with a reassuring smile and hurried out the door.
The break room at the FPD crime lab was empty. Jack welcomed the solitude as he poured himself a large cup of steaming black coffee. The meetings with Jim Kelly and the Kelsey brothers had taken most of the morning. Paul’s photography and the CSI reports were met with immediate disbelief, followed by acceptance and utter astonishment.
Like all good detectives, Jack was plagued by the sole motivation to investigate, to seek out the truth and reject the impossible. Yet every point of reference he had acquired during his thirty-eight years of living -- every constant and truism -- were abruptly challenged. An unknown entity from another world or dimension had seized the thresholds of time, triggering a series of events that tilted the foundations of human reality. The very nature of reason collided with possibilities he’d never before imagined. He sat down at the corner table, gulped the hot caffeine and waited for the jolt to his senses.
Kelly walked into the room, his face as pale as the walls.
Jack motioned to the coffee machine. “There’s a fresh pot made.”
“I’d go for a double shot of whiskey right now if I wasn’t on duty.” The sergeant closed the door, folded his arms atop his middle and leaned against the counter. “I know you don’t want to hear this. What the FBI tried to pull was way outta line, but we have to talk with Lynch and the Boston Field Office. This E.T. stuff is some pretty scary shit.”
“Sure we do. Still, it bothers me. They’re involved but being covert as hell. And that agent is too old to be doing field work. Plus, he’s a Bureau specialist but not with the Justice Division. My gut tells me if we hand over everything to them we’ll get nothing in return. They’ll bury it like that chest in the sand if they haven’t already. It’s that overwhelming. They couldn't care less about Ray or how he’s going to have to deal with all of this.”
“I get the need for secrecy. If mainstream media caught so much as a whiff of what went down… Is Ray still in the hospital?”
Jack nodded. “Kate’s picking him up this morning and bringing him to our house.”
“Good. We need to keep him away from the cottage and safely under the radar for awhile. I’ll put a mobile unit on your place to keep an eye on things.”
“Since I’m off this case, officially, you get to meet with Special Agent Lynch and his entourage tomorrow. Kate and I won’t be available. Obviously Ray won’t be either for the time being. Keep me in the loop. Landline or burner only.”
The sergeant grinned at the thought of Lynch’s annoyance over the change-up. “The hot swap of Paul Kelsey’s camera card we can handle. What about Doug’s samples…the ones he squirreled away on that beach?”
“Let’s take this one step at a time. We wait for the warrants and whatever else the Bureau brings to the table; then, we bring in the Commissioner. We can’t minimize what went on out there or what may be happening elsewhere. It’s vital we cooperate to help in any way we can. But by-the-book jurisdiction and protocols work both ways. The Bureau is mandated to operate under the same guidelines.”
Jack rose from the table and tossed his empty cup into the trash bin.
Concerned for his boss and friend, Kelly saw determination cinch his neck and jaw line. He had no doubt Jack would pursue the case independently. “LT, for the record, whatever you might run into this week…call me. Don’t take on any risks. You’re way too smart for the lone wolf bit.”
“No worries. For the record. You’re lucky the Kelsey’s want to stay on this case. Those boys are a credit to their field and the department.”
“They’re keyed up over their close encounter with the chest. They don’t yet know what that thing put Ray through.”
“Neither do we, really.” Jack looked at his watch. “I have to get home.” He thanked the sergeant for his help and left the break room. With each step down the long hallway he quickened his pace, driven by the certainty of his intuition and a growing unease. The search for the truth had never been more profoundly urgent…or foreboding.
Music composed by Hans Zimmer; the video was created by Gladiator33111 of YouTube.
A link to the next installment appears below...
Written and copyrighted by Genna Eastman (Genna East) 2014; all rights reserved.
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