Winch-Hunt: Part 17

A Personal Note

Thank you to all who have faithfully followed the trails of Tom Winch and Jeff Hunt over the past few weeks. I hope you'll continue to do so for a few more installments as the story winds down, I had a total knee replacement performed on my left knee February 5. I thought this would be the perfect time to get caught up on the happenings of Tom, Mel, Jeff, Ronald, Doctor Warren, and the bunch, but I ran into complications with the surgery - two blood clots. But I'm, back! Hope you'll be too! A couple more chapters and all the secrets will be out!

From Part 16

The dim glare of blue light fell on Tom’s face from across the hall. He rolled over and covered his head with a pillow. Then he reached over for Mel, but she was gone. He jumped up and checked the time on the alarm clock – 2:38 a.m.

Awakened by her disappearance, he ran out of the bedroom and down the hall. The blue light came from Tom’s study, the last room before the stairs. He quietly began to crawl on all fours toward the room. As he edged up to the open doorway, he was startled

Continuing

There sat Mel at the computer.

“Mel! What are you doing? It’s nearly 3:00 a.m.”

“I’m well aware of what time it is, Tom.”

“So why aren’t you sleeping?”

“Because you were snoring – and not just snoring, but snoring in my ear. Anyway, I thought it was a good time to do some more research on the Bendith Diafol.

“You know I was just reading about the executioner’s job. “Well, he is to reveal himself to the sacrifice twice in one day exactly two weeks before the sacrifice. It’s a secret revelation. It certainly isn’t public knowledge except within the group. It’s almost like flaunting his power. So, the thing is this. If this secret is known to the victim, and the victim confronts him with the secret before December 21, then the victim is to be set free.“

Tom, think back to the Barbie Q. and the Pit Stop; that man in the kitchen, was that December 7?”

“Well, we finished up the Christmas shopping last Monday night. It was the day after that, so . . . yes, it would have been the seventh.”

"Tom, all you have to do is find this guy, and let him know the secret, that you know he’s the executioner, and you’re a free man.”

“Are you kidding? It’s really that simple.”

“According to the article anyway!”

“What if the article is wrong?”

“At the very least, they can’t sacrifice you until the 21st. You still have some time to play with, but we have to find this guy fast.”

“Mel, is The Pit Stop still open 24/7?”

“Come on, Tom. It is. Let’s go!”

Tom squealed the tires pulling out of the driveway, and they were off to The Pit Stop. He squealed the same tires as he pulled into The Pit Stop, making his arrival known to the few customers inside.

Mel walked over to the only waitress working the night shift. “We’re looking for a guy that works here. I don’t know his name, but could you help me out?”

“Well, the only guy working right now is Toby, do you want to talk to him?”

“No, how about the day shift? Do you know a Richard Banks?”

“Doesn’t sound familiar. He doesn’t work here if that’s what you’re asking.”

“That’s what I’m asking. He’s a big guy, maybe six-and-a-half feet tall, big boned. He was working in the kitchen on December 7.”

“Oh, Wait a minute! I don’t remember the date. Could’ve been the 9th, 10th, who knows? But he only worked one shift. Yeah. He was a big guy. The man was huge. Richard Banks? I don’t think so. I don’t know his name, but I could look through the old schedules and see what I can find.

“Why’s this guy so important anyway? Are you investigating a crime or something? I mean, not that it’s any of my business. Maybe one of those TV . . .”

“Um, could you just check the schedules. We’re in a bit of a hurry.”

“Oh – yes, of course. I’ll be right back. “Okay, we have the fifth, the sixth, and the seventh. Hey, there is a Richard Banks on the schedule. How about that!”

Now Tom was getting excited. “Could you tell me where he lives?”

“No. I wouldn’t have that information. You could check with the boss when he comes in, but that won’t be for another three hours.”

Tom and Mel headed for the door. They were halfway across the parking lot when the waitress flagged them down.

“Boy, I’m glad I got to you before you left. Here. It’s the boss. He just happened to call to see how things are going.” She handed Tom the cell phone.

“Hello, this is Tom Winch. I need to find one of your employees. His name is Richard Banks. Would you happen to have his address?”

“Mr. Winch. I need to talk to you. I’ll be right down. Can you wait around for – say, ten minutes? It’s really important.”

“Yeah, sure. I don’t have anything else to do at 4:00 in the morning. I’ll be here. See you.”

The waitress brought two cups of coffee and ushered Mel and Tom off to a small side room away from the main dining area. It was much more quiet, and the cold December night was negated by the warm fireplace across the room.

“Mel, these past months have gone by like a whirlwind. It seems like such a long time ago I saw the lighthouse for the first time, but yet in reality it’s only been a few months. Think of what we have accomplished – with God’s help, of course.

“We saw the start of a wonderful, little church. We moved right here in Sandy Hill. This is one place I would not have thought about. The town seemed so spiritually cold in the beginning. We’ve gone through those summer months of planning and building. God put us in the middle of a lighthouse mystery. So many days – and nights of looking for answers; now it’s almost December 21, almost the end of this phase of ministry.”

Tom’s thoughts were interrupted. “Mr. Winch, Ross Martin.”

“Great to meet you, Mr. Martin.” “Call me Ross. Mr. Winch . . . “

“Call me Tom.”

“Yes, okay. Um, Tom, you asked about Richard Banks. I really shouldn’t be here now . . .”

“Would you like us to come back in the morning?” “No, I mean I shouldn’t be talking about Richard Banks to a total stranger. Okay . . . anyway Tom . . . this is just between you and me, right?”

“Oh absolutely – and Mel. Oh, this my wife Melanie, Ross. It’s okay. We work together.”

“May I ask just what kind of work it is that you do?”

“Sure, we’re working to expose the Bendit . . .” Tom took an elbow to the ribs as Mel pretended to drop her purse.” He knew he could not tell Ross the real reason they were investigating Richard Banks. Tom continued.

“You see, Ross. I’m a reporter for the South Bend Tribune in Indiana. Remember that fishing accident a few months back.” The heel of Mel’s right foot landed promptly on the instep of Tom’s left foot. He jumped.

“You see, Mr. Martin,” Mel interrupted, “There were some family ties to people in Indiana. We’re just doing a piece on how the accident affected people half way across the country.”

Tom was thinking, “Mel, what a great way to avoid telling the truth – lie. Wonder where she learned that from?”

Ross continued, "I was at the restaurant late one night. I never work past 5:00. They had to have been watching. They knew I was here. It wasn’t just by chance . . . .”

Mel was on a roll. She interrupted, “Who knew you were here, Ross?”

“These two men. I never saw them before, and I haven’t seen them since. It was just me and the cashier. Business was slow. They put a gun in the cashier’s face. She thought it was a robbery. Turned out all they wanted was to talk to me in private. I’m not sure why all the show of force, but they made their point.”

“Which was?” Tom interjected.

“Which was, they wanted me hire Richard Banks to work one shift – December 7, 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.”

“And then what?” Ross had Tom’s complete attention.

“And then what? That was it. Knowing they had a gun, it was very easy for me to work Richard into the schedule. Look, I’ve said too much already. That’s all I know, but if you find him, would you let me know? He was in a hurry to leave after his shift and he rammed into my car. Hit and run, you know.”

Mel cut back in to the conversation. “Well, that’s why we’re here. We need to find him. Do you have his address?”

“No. The address he listed on his application was false. I already checked it out. Phone number, too. It was kind of like he was here and gone – just gone, but if I had the information I’d gladly give it to you. I want to nail that guy. He was a terrible worker and he ate more than he worked.”

“You have no idea how we might contact him?”

“Absolutely none. Be careful. I still don’t know what the guns were about. He may be dangerous. He may be a drug runner – I don’t know. Just be careful.”

“Oh, we will. Thank you Ross.”

On the drive home, the picture was beginning to fall into place for Tom and Mel. They were sure they would get the same story from the owner of the Barbie Q. Still Tom had to find Richard Banks to avoid becoming the main menu on December 21.

Time was running out. Tom was never at his best when it came to meeting deadlines – and December 21 certainly was meant to be a dead line. He knew he would have to let his church know that he and Mel planned to be away for the Christmas holiday. Tom felt sure this would upset the plans for the sacrifice. He was hoping that word would be passed to the Bendith Diafol. He certainly would not be around to be abducted. Then he could appear as the true prif was y diafol. Tom knew things didn’t always work out the way he envisioned.


Mel was on the phone with Doctor Warren’s office “Yes, Mel? This is Shirley at Doctor Warren’s office. We’ve been waiting to get you rescheduled for your injection. When can you come in?”

Mel didn’t want to lie again. “Well, actually Claire, I made an appointment for a second opinion in Webster’s Cove. Anyway, Tom and I won’t be around much until after Christmas. I’ll have to get back to you then, but thanks for the reminder.”


Tom was torn between trying to find Richard Banks or surveilling the lighthouse. He made the hard decision to go to the lighthouse and see what was happening. He made the right choice. From the west hill he could see the now familiar two men inside. He quietly crept close to the door and hid himself under a row of snow-covered shrubbery within earshot.

“You know, the full moon is almost here. There’s not much left to do. We’ll be ready for the sacrifice to end all sacrifices. After five generations of Winches, we’ll be free.”

“Yeah, but you know there’s still the problem with Melanie Winch. She has to be removed as well. Doctor’s orders, you know. Maybe if we get her out of the way first, Tom will be more compliant? What do you think?” “

You know, I don’t think we’ll have any trouble with Winch one way or another. He’ll be easy to control once we get him into the pit. The problem’s going to be getting him there. Still, I think if we follow the plans laid out by the Almighty Mother we should have no problems.”

“Yes, I do agree it’s a good plan and is almost foolproof, but you never know. We have to be ready for the unexpected. Anything can happen at any time, and we’ll have to be ready to move to Plan B if you know what I mean.”

“So, let’s go over the plan again just to be sure.”

“Well, the first thing is we need to get rid of Melanie Winch.”

Tom became very still, intent on listening closer to every word – but then a gust of ocean wind blew the door shut. Tom quickly and quietly crawled around to the other side of the lighthouse, up over the sandy hill, and went back home.

“Mel! Mel! He shouted as he threw open the front door.

“Tom! What is going on?”

“They’re going to kill you, too – before the sacrifice. We have to get you out of here! Go get packed. You’re going to Mom’s until this stuff is all past. Hurry! Hurry! Huury! They may be coming right now.”

“Tom! Get a hold of yourself. Calm down and tell me what’s going on.”

Tom took a deep breath. “Mel, just get your stuff. I’ll explain on the way. We’ll get you on the first plane to Indiana. Wait there until I call for you. Now – quick! Go, get ready!”

On the way to the airport Tom told his story while Mel put the pieces together. News traveled fast from Doctor Warren’s office to these henchmen. If Mel wasn’t going to get the shot, there had to be another way. Jeff was right.

The last minute ticket called for a long delay at the airport and Tom continued to grow nervous and paranoid. Every person that passed represented a possible killer. What if the killer and Mel ended up on the same flight? How could Tom protect her then? Still, reason said this was the best and safest way to go. After hours of waiting Mel was off with the promise to call Tom as soon as she arrived.

That’s not to say there weren’t arguments from Mel about going. She didn’t want to be away from Tom, especially in his hour of greatest need, but inside, she knew it was for the best. She knew Tom would drive her nuts, watching over her every move, if she stayed anyway.

At exactly 9:42 p.m., the plane touched down in Indianapolis, a full two minutes early. By 9:49 Mel was on the phone to Tom. Both felt much better.


Tom awoke somewhat rested even though he lay awake most of the night. Grabbing a glass of orange juice, he turned on the Channel 10 news. A quick flash of a mugshot caught Tom’s eye. It was Richard Banks. The anchor went on to say . . .

“The Cape Elizabeth Police Department make an overdue arrest last night in the case of The Restaurant Smuggler. Richard Banks was taken into custody shortly after he finished his shift at The Lobster Shack last night.

“Banks has been involved in a series of drug smuggling restaurant shifts that began in northern Somerset County and worked its way south.

“One restaurant, one shift at a time, the drugs were smuggled via Banks to supposed restaurant customers. Banks was the little man in a big man operation. Authorities are hoping that Banks’ arrest will lead to others.

This morning Banks sits in the Cumberland County Jail awaiting a preliminary hearing. Bail was set at $50,000.”

Tom had to face the facts. Richard Banks was not the “RB” he was looking for. Even if he was, Tom doubted he was on Richard’s visitor list. Just then there was a knock at the door. Two strangers stood on the stoop waiting for Tom to answer.

More by this Author


Comments 11 comments

Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 9 months ago from The Beautiful South

Another "Oh, no!" Very climatic and exciting getting to the end.

Sorry about your knee, who would have thought blood clots, is that a possible side effect? Scary stuff, do take care and whatever you do don't sit or lay too long! Worst thing with blood clots as I am sure they have told you. Will keep you in my prayers, friend. Heal real soon.


lifegate profile image

lifegate 9 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

Hi Jackie,

Yeah, I suppose it a side effect of the surgery. It's not all that uncommon, just a lot of blood monitoring etc. Thanks for the prayers. I'll never turn them down, and thanks for the visit.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

I enjoyed the story, of course, but more important is that knew of yours. Blessings my friend. Be well soon!


lifegate profile image

lifegate 9 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

Thanks Bill, Each day brings me a little closer to "normalcy" - whatever that is!


lambservant profile image

lambservant 9 months ago from Pacific Northwest

Prayers for quick healing. Love thi story.


lifegate profile image

lifegate 9 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

Thanks Lori.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 9 months ago from The Caribbean

You did it again Bill. Do you want us to stay awake waiting to see who's at the door? Hope your knee heals all right.


lifegate profile image

lifegate 9 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

We're almost done Dora. A couple more chapters and you can get some sleep. lol.


Abrushing1968 profile image

Abrushing1968 9 months ago from USA- Florida

Bill I am sorry to hear about the complications. However if you can get through them, I understand you will see a difference in your ability to get around. A couple of folks at work had both knees replaced. The difference in them was startling..You are in my prayers.

I am a bit disappointed that Mr. Banks didn't get thrown from the Lighthouse. Also that was mean of you to throw out a Red Haring. Although I must admit it was masterfully done. Good job! That is ... If it was a Red Haring. Hmmm?

What is Tom thinking? Showing up at the sacrifice in a costume? Not me! I might show up with two or three Smith and Wessons. We'll see how that goes..

I am Glad Mel's at her Mom's house, but is she really safe? If she could get on a plane, so could size 13 shoe!

Off to read 18

Aaron


lifegate profile image

lifegate 9 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA Author

Hi Aaron,

Thanks for the prayers. I can't imagine having both knees done at the same time, although I guess it's not that uncommon. I'm just glad to have a sense of normalcy back.

Sorry to disappoint you about Richard Banks, but of course he may resurface at any time. Never give up hope, my friend, A size 13 shoe could ba hiding anywhere


lawrence01 profile image

lawrence01 9 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

Bill

Glad to hear that you're recovering from the Surgery, and that it wasn't Doc Warren!

Thoroughly enjoyed this episode and glad that Tom and Mel are finally working out what's going on, but who are the two strangers, guess I'll have to keep reading!

Lawrence

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