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Winch-Hunt Part 2

Updated on August 31, 2018

From Part 1

The Webster Cove Barber Shop was buzzing with news of the fishing accident. Although the men on board the vessel were not known to Tom, it seemed that everyone else in town knew them. The close knit community would certainly miss these men.

Not much was mentioned of the survivor. Apparently his name was Ronald Barry from Cape Elizabeth. The thought suddenly creased the edge of Tom’s mind. Ronald Barry was not found. How did they know that he was a survivor? How did they know he wasn’t just lost at sea? Of course Tom made the same assumption, but the Barber Shop group spoke with authority. Tom was now even more sure that the size 13 footprint was that of Ronald Barry.


Tom was pinned to the evening news hoping to hear of any new developments. There were none. How could a man just seemingly disappear – especially if he had become injured. The PI in Tom was starting to come out. There was an increased interest in finding this overgrown man. Why? There had to be answers. Someone somewhere was waiting for a father to come home – a son, a husband. Tom’s sixth sense told him that there was more to the story that was being released by the media. There was more to the story than the barbershop group told. Something was strange. Something was going on. How did Tom know? He just knew. And all he had to do to find the answers was to snoop enough.

The news went off. The windbreaker went on. There were clues that Tom felt sure were yet to be discovered. The beach – and maybe the rocks held the evidence. It just had to be uncovered. There was no way he could have known at the time what he was about to bring upon himself, but it was quickly becoming too late. The point of no return had arrived.

Out on the beach, under the evening sky, everything was peaceful. Stars twinkled diamonds on the waves, and the moon reflecting off the water cast a ghostly glimmer on the rocks. Tom understood the initial danger of being on the beach after sunset, but he had to find answers to his questions.

It seemed hopeless. The darkening night made investigation nearly impossible, not to mention that during the day the beach had been trampled by tourists. Still, it was the only place Tom had to start – and he must start somewhere.

The only good thing about night research was the quiet. Occasionally there was the squawk of a late night gull. The waves could be heard tumbling on the rocks; and from behind, near the lighthouse, came a strange, clicking sound.

Although it was not loud, Tom jumped in surprise. Certainly, this was not one of the beautiful sounds of nature that belonged to Sandy Hill. Tom continued. He held his breath and listened. All he could hear were the gulls and waves traveling down the beach.

Curving around the beach, Tom came to a pier. He could see something floating in the water near the end of the pier. Quietly, steadily, Tom climbed out to the edge. It was then that a huge wave washed the severed hand up on the pier. Shocked by the sight, Tom withdrew from what he saw. Then he realized this might be a piece to the puzzle. Carefully, he approached the hand. It was severed just below the thumb. The cut was straight and clean. It was the hand of a man, his left hand.

Now, what was Tom to do? He really didn’t want to take the hand to the police. That would be admitting that he had been on the beach after hours. Worse yet, it could cast Tom in a suspicious light. He really didn’t want to take the hand with him – period. Besides, what might he be able to tell from a hand without a body? Could this possibly be the hand of Ronald Barry? Too many questions – not enough answers.

Actually, the answer Tom needed was quite simple. Tom quickly ran back to the beach and grabbed a large rock. He laid the rock over the hand and left it for the morning. In the morning, Tom would come back, discover the hand, then notify the police. That sounded good – good enough to call it a night.

On the way back, Tom’s heart was pounding. He couldn’t erase the sight of the severed hand from his mind. The quiet sounds of nature and the beach were no longer on Tom’s mind. His mind was racing miles ahead. Tom quickened his step and was out of breath by the time he got to his front porch.

Melanie was not pleased when he returned. She knew where he had been. “Tom, what’s going on? What do you really hope to accomplish with all this nonsense?”

“Mel, listen! You won’t believe this!”

“You’re right. But also, why would I care? You’re going to cause more trouble than good. You’re letting your imagination run away with you.”

“No Mel, listen. I was over at pier 16. There was this . . . this thing floating in the water. When I got close enough to see what it was, a wave washed it up on the pier. Mel, it was a human hand! It was incredible. But now we have to find out who it belongs – uh, or belonged to.”

“What’s this ‘we’ stuff! I’m not included in this – whatever this is. And you need not get involved either. Tom, listen. Your focus has changed. You’re more interested in this whole mystery thing than your ministry. Tom, that’s not realistic.”

“Mel, you’re right, but this was a human hand. It has an owner somewhere. I’ve got to find that person. There’s something going on that isn’t right and if no one does anything about it, evil will continue to win. This is my ministry.”

“Yeah, I’m not going to change your mind, but Tom, please promise me you’ll be careful.”

“Oh, I will. I plan to keep both of my hands.”

Morning brought clear skies and a light sea breeze. The sun had just come up and Tom headed down to pier 16. He had to get to the pier before anyone else. Making sure he was alone, he crossed the small strip of sand that led to the pier. The rock was still in place. He made sure he was alone as he reached for the heavy stone.

Tom’s cell phone was in his pocket. He was ready to dial 911 and make his legal report. As Tom lifted the rock, he felt nauseous. All of his hard work was useless. The hand wasn’t there, but in its place was a note which simply read, “BACK OFF!” Someone knew about Tom. Someone knew what Tom had found. Someone might be watching right now.

Tom slipped the cell phone from his pocket and casually looked around. No sign of anybody, but then again . . . . He quickly scooped the note into his pocket and left the rock in place. He needed to take some time to think. What would be his next move? Not only had a crime been committed, but now someone knew that Tom knew. In the back of his mind rang the words, “. . . Tom, please promise me you’ll be careful.”

“Okay, now let’s see . . . we have a hand without a body; a missing person from the wreck. Maybe the hand belongs to him, maybe not. We have someone that knows that I know. We have someone that wants to keep me from knowing more . . . .”

Tom ran through the situation in his mind. How could he not get involved? He was beginning to see there was more happening than he ever realized. He was also beginning to realize the danger. He was beginning to realize it was already too late. There would be no turning back. This was it!

“Tom, someone called for you today,” Melanie said between stacking the dishes in the dishwasher. “He didn’t say who he was or what he wanted so I didn’t give him your cell phone number. He said he’d call back later.” Just as Mel finished her sentence, the phone rang.

“Hello, is Tom Winch available?”

Mel answered sounding a little unsure. “Yes, he is. Just a minute. May I tell him who’s calling? . . . Hold on, please.”

If you were Tom, would you be willing to meet with Jeff Hunt?

See results

“Mr. Winch, my name is Jeff Hunt. You obviously don’t know me, but I believe you might be able to help me. I write for the South Bend Tribune and I’ve been working on a story. It’s a personal story. It deals with my step-brother, Ronald Barry. He’s been reported missing. I need to find some answers. They say he was lost at sea after a fishing accident. I don’t believe that’s the case at all.”

“And what do you want me to do? What makes you think I would know anything about your step-brother?”

“Mr. Winch, I’ve been following the developments very closely from here in Indiana, but I can’t tell you much right now. This is bigger than both of us, and for what it’s worth someone may be listening to our conversation right now. I need to talk to you face to face. Mr. Winch, would you please be willing to meet and talk with me if I make the trip to Sandy Hill? This is really important and I’ll explain everything when I get there.”

“If this is bigger than both of us, how do I know you’re really who you say you are? Maybe you’re planning to take me out of the picture just like Ronald Barry. Maybe you’re a part of the prob . . .”

“Mr. Winch, What did you say? What do you mean just like Ronald Barry? You do know something, don’t you?”

“Yes – no – I mean, I, I don’t know what’s going on. Prove to me you are who you say you are.”

“Mr. Winch, call the Tribune. You can verify everything through them. You can see my picture and information on their website, but we need to get together as soon as possible. I’ll be in touch. I’ve said too much already. Thank you, Mr. Winch.”

With that the phone was silent.

© 2015 William Kovacic


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