Winch-Hunt: Part 9

From Part 8

“Three scratches – it’s the demon mark. Someone has summoned the spirits to destroy you. It’s that voodoo mix of theology, a little this and a little that, and three scratches. Tom, I can help you with the flu, but you’re the religious man. You’re on your own with this one. My guess would be that whoever cast that spell on your ankle is behind this as well.”

“Well Doc, that’s just what I wanted to hear! Mel said the marks are gone. What happened to them?”

“Once the mark appears, it often fades quickly. Its absence means nothing. The fact is that it appeared. I saw this in Louisiana twice, and both times the victims died within the year.

“Tom, I’m not much for your kind of religion, but you better pray that your God has things under control. The forces of darkness are very real and very powerful. Be careful. That’s all for now. Good night to both of you.”

It was a silent drive home as neither one spoke; maybe from surprise, maybe from fear, maybe from disbelief. Nevertheless questions were raised in the quiet of the night and could only be heard in the mind of the asker.

As Tom made the turn into his driveway he blurted out, “It’s Jeff. Mel, I told you he can’t be trusted. I knew it. I knew he was up to something since the day he arrived. Mel, I don’t care what you say. I’m done with him. He can go back to Indiana tomorrow.”

“I hate to say it Tom, but you may be right! But why? What would Jeff have to profit from your death? How could he possibly benefit?” “I don’t know and I don’t care. He’s done!”

Continuing

The Sunday morning sermon was over and the crowd slowly began to leave. As she was leaving, Mrs. Camp told Tom how much she enjoyed the message even if it was a little long. She also mentioned that Aunt Sophie would like another visit. Tom would have to check his schedule and get back to her.

Jesse Royer was next followed by the Carlson’s. Jeff seemed to be lagging behind the rest this morning, but that was good. Tom needed to talk to him in private.

“Uh, look Jeff, you got a minute?”

“Sure do Bro. What’s on your mind?”

“Jeff, I don’t know what your game is, but I’m out. No, you’re out. I don’t need you hanging around this investigation. Go back to Indiana and your paper. Just leave me alone!”

“Bro . . . what’s this all about? You can’t be serious. We’ve invested too much into this to stop now.”

“Oh, I’m very serious. I don’t know what you’re up to, but I’m not going to be part of your silly game. Head on back!”

“Part of what silly game?” Tempers began to flare. “Tom, you’re in this too deep. You don’t know what you’ve gotten yourself into. I couldn’t leave now even if I wanted to. I won’t leave
now – not until I find my brother.”

“Whatever! Just stay out of my way, and don’t you come near me or Mel.”

Jeff walked off the stoop and headed for a walk around the block to give him time to cool down. Things were moving slowly, but answers were beginning to surface. Tom needed Jeff and Jeff needed Tom. It was very clear in Jeff’s mind that Tom wanted him gone, but still, he had to find his brother. The past several weeks would be a total loss if he left without the prize.

Mel began to rearrange the furniture after the group left and tried to stay out of Tom’s way. She knew this was not the time to say anything. Even though she shared Tom’s conviction about Jeff, it almost looked to her like Jeff was going to cry. He was either for real or a good actor.

Tom went into the bedroom to change out of his Sunday best, proud of the way he handled the situation. He felt betrayed and now the score was even. As much as he had come to like Jeff, he was happy never to see him again – and he wouldn’t.


September was breaking fresh and clean on the beach. The briskness of the near-fall air filled Tom’s lungs and his mind was filled with hope. He missed the teamwork that Jeff supplied, but at the same time he felt it was for the best. There was a freedom in working alone. The goal hadn’t changed. The pieces of the puzzle were still intact. Tom just needed to finish what he and Jeff had started.

In ways it seemed that the case had gone cold. There weren’t any new leads, and the PI in Tom began to fade. Was this challenge worth it? It didn’t matter how Tom felt or what he thought about the situation. His life was on the line now and he had to see it through to the end.

Mel knew he had to as well, but she saw things from a different perspective. She really didn’t care if the owner of the hand was never found. She didn’t really care that much about finding Jeff’s brother – if there was a brother. She didn’t particularly care that justice be served. She was however, concerned for the safety of her husband. That made her choice to stay in the fight easy. She knew Tom wouldn’t change, nor could he at this point. That point had been passed many months ago – the point of no return was without a doubt crossed.

While Tom was on the beach looking for clues, Mel was at home researching the Sandy Hill Lighthouse on the internet. Not much could be found. The lighthouse was located in a small, seemingly insignificant town, and it had been out of commission for over a century.

The lack of new clues eventually led to frustration. Tom fell to his knees on the beach. “Lord, I don’t know what You’re doing in my life, or where it’s even headed. I don’t even know what I’m about anymore. I don’t even know if You can hear me.” A single tear dropped from Tom’s eye as floods of emotion poured over his soul.

In the crash of the waves the Lord whispered back, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit. Tom, you’ve not been trusting me. Everything you’ve done has been done in the flesh.”

“So Lord, You want me to quit? This isn’t Your will for my life?”

“I didn’t say that. You’ve trusted in your wisdom. Your ‘wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.’ Let me run the show and my perfect will will be worked out in your life all the days of your life. Tom, you need answers. I’ve got them.”

“Lord, I used to be so sure of myself. Now I don’t know what to do, what to think, or where to go. I’ve been far from You, but how do I ever right the wrongs I’ve done? How can I ever walk with You again? Is there a way back?”

“Tom, you’re not that far gone. You’ve built the beginning to a wonderful church here. You’ve sacrificed your time and money to further the work I’ve called you to. You just let this investigation get the best of you. It’s time, Tom. It’s time to let Me lead.”

“Okay. So what do I do?”

During his conversation with the Lord, Tom had wandered directly in front of the lighthouse. As Tom looked up the hill, he saw a shadow pass behind the glass in the lens house. God was at work, and Tom was listening. Tom ducked behind a rock on the beach and kept one eye on the lens house and the other on the door. Fortunately for Tom, there was only one way out of the lighthouse – the heavy, iron door meant to keep the winter’s storms out. All Tom had to do was wait, and if he waited long enough someone was sure to open that heavy, iron door.

Tom’s vigil began early in the day, and now the sun was setting; time for Tom to leave the beach. Tom was thinking to himself that there wasn’t a chance of that happening, but then he saw the beach patrol heading his way. He knew his day was over, but he promised himself to be back at the lighthouse tomorrow.

As Tom headed back, a pair of eyes followed until he was out of sight. How could Tom have missed his chance? Another two minutes and the heavy, iron door opened. A size 13 boot crunched softly through the sand.


“Mel! Mel! Come here quick,” Tom shouted as he burst through the front door. “Mel, there was someone in the lighthouse this afternoon. I waited and waited, but they never came out. The beach patrol made me leave, but I think we’re on to something.”

“Yes, I think we are. Look at this! It’s a printout of one of Jeff’s stories about his lost brother. Go ahead. Read it.”

Shortly before Ronald Barry of Cape Elizabeth, Maine went missing, he reportedly telephoned a step-brother in South Bend, Indiana. He told Jeffrey Hunt that ‘he was entering the lighthouse now.’ That was the last time that Ronald Barry has been heard from. He remains a missing person.

“So there really is a Ronald Barry?”

“Looks that way, Tom. I think you owe Jeff an apology.”

“Now hold on just a second, Mel. Just because Ronald Barry exists doesn’t mean that Jeff isn’t trying to harm me in some way. Sure, maybe he really does have a missing brother, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t curse me. Nope. No way, Mel! No way am I taking Jeff back. Mel, we can’t trust anybody until we get to the bottom of this – and we will get there, one shovelful at a time.”

“Don’t you think you’re being a little unrealistic about all of this. Jeff never crossed you before. All he did was try to help you get to the truth. He was shoveling, too. Yes, he wanted to find his brother, but he was helping you. Tom he was, and you know it.”

“That’s easy for you to say, Mel. It’s not your back that’s marked with three scratches.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right. We can’t trust anybody. But at least we know that part of Jeff’s story is true.”


It was time for Aunt Sophie’s visit. Tom felt blessed to be able to visit Aunt Sophie without Mrs. Camp’s presence. It was a beautiful day, and the drive was relaxing. Without Mrs. Camp’s constant chatter, maybe Tom could actually talk with Aunt Sophie. Tom was determined to let the Lord guide him as he pulled into the Shady Rest parking lot.

He stopped at the same reception desk, greeted by the same receptionist, and escorted to Sophie’s room by the same grumpy security guard. Sophie was watching her favorite DVD when Tom came in.

“Hello Sophie. How are you today?”

Sophie never answered. She just roared with laughter over the DVD she was watching. Tom tried again to get her attention, but it was useless. After five minutes of listening to Aunt Sophie howl with laughter, he decided there were more important things to do. He patted Sophie on the back and dismissed himself.

As he walked down the hall Mumbles was at his door waving for Tom. As Tom went in Mumbles’ direction so did the security guard.

“No you don’t, Preacher. I told you before you have to make an appointment for each patient you want to see.” Call the office and schedule a time. Let’s move on. I’ll see you to the door.”


The darkness once again found Tom and Mel on the beach. From a safe vantage point, they watched the lighthouse. The full moon was three nights away. Maybe they would see some pre-moon activity. It was obvious from a distance that someone was indeed inside the old lighthouse. Another piece of the puzzle might be revealed at any moment. All they needed to do was wait.

“Mel, I’m going to crawl over and see what I can see.”

“No, wait! I heard something.”

Someone had pushed the door open. This is what they were waiting for. The dark figure crossed the beach silhouetted only by the near full moon. As he looked back over his shoulder, moonlight flushed his face. It was Jeff! Anger rose up in Tom. “I knew it! I knew it!” He whispered to Mel. No doubt Jeff was behind the whole mystery – a major piece of the puzzle. It was time to put on their tracking shoes and see where Jeff was headed, but it was already too late. Jeff had disappeared from sight.

“Okay Mel, Plan B. Give me the lighthouse key.”

“I don’t have it. I thought you had it. Shhh. Someone’s coming!”

A late night gull fluttered past. “Okay, so it wasn’t someone. It was something. Now come on, Mel. Give me the key.”

“Look, I told you I don’t have it.”

“Then who does?” The realization set in and with one voice they said, “Jeff!”

More by this Author


Comments 10 comments

Abrushing1968 profile image

Abrushing1968 11 months ago from USA- Florida

Hmmm? What is Jeff up to?

Will Tom and Mel become voodoo Chowder? Will they be thrown from the top of the lighthouse by a maniacal Jeffry Hunt who is really a Voodoo Witch Doctor?

Bump Bump Buum!

Perhaps Jeff will be thrown from the lighthouse by a paranoid schizophrenic preacher?

Bump, Bump, Buum!

No I know, Jeff is really a undercover FBI agent whose brother is a maniacal voodoo witch doctor!

Bump, Bump, Buum!

Let us not over look the possibility that Mel and Jeff are really secret lovers; that they are plotting Tom's demise so they can run off together. Jeff and Mel discovered early on that Mrs. Camp is really the Voodoo Witch Doctor who killed Jeffs brother during a voodoo death ritual. They are actually black mailing her. Forcing her to Curse poor Tom. It is just a matter of time before Tom finds himself in a nursing home laughing hysterically at a TV show, oblivious to the world around him.

Stay tuned for the next installment of:

Bump, Bump, Buum!

Winch-Hunt: Part 10

Way to much fun Bill, thank you for writing this piece and letting me have fun with you. Its a wonderful story and I am really enjoying it. Looking forward to part 10.

Aaron


lifegate profile image

lifegate 11 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

Looks like maybe you had a day off, and I'm just sitting here laughing. I love your questions. They keep me going. Oh, and the curse thing - if you still have questions after you read the ending, remind me. I'll straighten that all out for you. See you in Part 10.


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 11 months ago from The Beautiful South

Hmm, I am wondering if Jeff's brother is his twin but that is just me trying to solve mysteries instead of just waiting!


MsDora profile image

MsDora 11 months ago from The Caribbean

Now the reader is also being vested in the story: going through these struggles with Tom concerning his call to ministry, the distraction, the doubt, Mel's input and everything else. No turning back, we have to see this through. Good work!


lifegate profile image

lifegate 11 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

I'll never tell, Jackie. But aren't mysteries for trying to solve before we get to the end. Glad you're still following. The answers lie ahead.


lifegate profile image

lifegate 11 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

Glad you're going with us to the end, MsDora. it wouldn't be the same unless you're along. Thanks for being a part!


lambservant profile image

lambservant 10 months ago from Pacific Northwest

I can't wait for the next chapter.


lawrence01 profile image

lawrence01 10 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

Bill

The mystery deepens! Is Jeff really up to no good or is he simply 'going it alone' since Tom cut ties? And what treasure?

Enjoying this story

Lawrence


lifegate profile image

lifegate 10 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

It's on the way, Lori.


lifegate profile image

lifegate 10 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

Hi Lawrence,

Can't answer yet. You'll see it all soon. Hang in there!

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