Good Morning, Everyone!
Another fine Tuesday! I’m glad you could join me for the second part of The Drowners. Things are getting stranger for the inhabitants of the small mountain town. I hope to see you all through to the end of this dark tale.
If you missed the beginning of this story, feel free to check it out Here.
Your comments are always welcome and appreciated. Have a great day and thanks for stopping by!
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The Drowners (part 2)
By all accounts they should be dead. The words rolled around Al’s head for a moment. That was usually the kind of thing you heard about accident victims and bar fights. Al absently rubbed his ring finger; the old and worn ring had been on his finger since the divorce ten years ago. Like the drowned Murphy boys, he couldn’t let go.
“This makes no sense to me, Don. What are we supposed to do with them? Is this one of those moments where we should call the CDC, or some other kind of medical experts?”
“I just don’t know. This isn’t the kind of thing they teach you in Med. School. I’m stumped, Al.” Don leaned back in the chair massaging his temples. “For now, I think we should just wait and see what happens. They might just, I don’t know, wake up or stop being dead? I just don’t know.”
Don stood with a sigh, he sounded just as tired as Al felt. They shook hands and Don left the office. Al slipped back into his chair and flipped through the report before tossing it back onto the desk. He took off his glasses and knuckled his eyes. As he stood, he cleaned the lenses with a handkerchief from his pocket and set his glasses back on his face.
Al slowly made his way to the door and clicked the lights off, shutting the door behind him. There was nothing more to do today. Dolores waved him over from the front desk with a slip of paper. He smiled, taking a cigar from the case in his shirt pocket.
“Hey, Sheriff, Deputy Lester called over from the lake. He says the drag line got snagged up something awful; says they need divers to see about getting it free.”
“Divers? Shoot, that boy must never been fishing in his life. Tell him I’m coming. Thanks, Dolores. I’ll see you in the morning, heading home after I fix Lester’s blunder.”
Ten minutes in the car brought Sheriff Al Todd back to Aedin Lake. Lester waved from one of the two boats floating out in the middle. Al shook his head as he climbed out of the cruiser with the radio in his hand.
The radio crackled, “We got all stuck out here, Al. This drag line won’t free up for nothing. Over.”
“Dammit, Lester, did you think to back up? You might be hung up on a ledge. Over.”
“We tried everything, Al. We fought with it for about an hour before I called you at the Station. I really think we need divers for this. Over.”
Al looked down at the shoreline for a moment, thinking. “Alright, Lester, you boys secure the ends of the line with floats and leave it for the night. I’ll get a hold of Bristol County and see if they have any divers or equipment. Over and out.”
He took the cell phone out of the cup-holder and fumbled with the small buttons before finding the number for Sheriff Carlson in Bristol County. Paul Carlson was married to Al’s ex-wife’s sister; made for a small world.
The line rang for a moment and Al got his voice mail. He left a quick message about the drownings and the request for assistance with divers. It may have been a long shot, but Bristol County had a big lake and just might have the equipment and people for such a thing. He shook his head at the thought of his small town needing to send people swimming around to the bottom of his lake, it almost seemed preposterous.
Al climbed back into the car and clipped the radio mic on the dash. He spent a few minutes on the road as he wound his way through town to his home. The air was filled with the tangy, yet crisp scent of pine trees and mountain air, one of the main reasons he had moved here in the first place. As he shut off the engine his eyes trailed over the chipping paint and loose cedar shakes on the roof. Al stretched in the driveway as he closed the car door, thinking that he should slap another coat of paint on the house when the weather turned warmer over the summer. When he was younger he’d have thought about doing the roof as well, but now it was a job for someone with a better back.
He pushed through the creaky door and flipped on a light. It was always quiet inside, his two kids were grown and living their lives at opposite ends of the country, and his ex-wife was down in Texas with her mother. Al sighed quietly and un-clipped his gun holster from his belt, setting it on the console table with his keys and wallet.
After a quick meal of microwaved Salisbury steak and a beer, he kicked his feet up on the coffee table and flipped through channels with no real intention of watching anything.
He started awake when his phone rang. Al looked around his living room, he was still in the recliner wearing his unbuttoned uniform. The phone was still ringing as he searched for his glasses. He found them still on his face and shook his head, laughing at himself. He shuffled across the room and pulled the phone off the cradle. No LCD screen, no caller ID; he liked things simple and had used this same phone for nearly thirty years.
“This is Sheriff Todd. How can I help you?” He squinted at the clock on the wall, it was just before six in the morning.
“Morning, Al. This is Paul Carlson. Sorry about the hour, but I just found your message. I had to have my granddaughter show how to listen to it. Damn new phones.”
Al felt the same frustration with the direction cell phones had gone. So many little buttons and “inter-webs” and cameras… “Morning, Paul. Yeah, we have a hell of a thing over here. Any help you can send us would be great.”
“Sorry to hear about Jake, Mike, and Dale. They were hard working boys and did their Mom proud. Listen, she’s not doing so well herself out here. I can pass on word if you like; you probably found you can’t get her on the phone. But, anyway, I’m sending two of my Deputies up the mountain today with some gear. They should be able to help you out. Let me know if there’s anything else I can do.”
“Thanks, Paul. I appreciate it. Tell Wilma and the kids “Hello” from Uncle Al. Talk to you later, Paul. Goodbye.”
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The noon sun was high overhead as Sheriff Al Todd stood on the shore near the boat launch at Aedin Lake. Deputy Lester was out in one of the boats while the two Deputies from Bristol County worked below the surface in their diving gear. It had been nearly an hour since they went under.
Al worked a cigar around in his mouth, gnawing gently on the tip as he smoked. He checked his watch again and set back to pacing in front of his cruiser. How long does it take to free up a drag line?
Al watched as one of the divers broke the surface and started passing his gear into the boat. He was helped aboard as the second diver surfaced. Al sighed with relief; finally the job could get finished. He was fairly sure there was no one else down there; no one in town had been reported missing. It felt to him like case closed. Al just had to figure out what to do about the dead, but not dead, bodies of Mike and Dale Murphy.
Al’s attention was pulled back to the boats when his radio crackled to life.
“Al, we got a situation out here. Come back.”
What’s Lester going on about now? “This is Al, Lester. What are you talking about? Over.”
“We’re coming in, Al. You need to hear this face to face. You’re not going to believe this. Over and out.”
Al watched as the one of the boats sped towards shore. He chewed the end of his cigar, taking one final puff, then dropped it to the ground as the aluminum frame boat slid onto the bank. Lester jumped out and waited for Deputy Collins to join him as Al approached.
“So what’s this thing I have to see?” Al said, looking to the diver.
Deputy Collins held out a rusted piece of tin with barely recognizable prints stamped into its flat surface.
“A license plate? I don’t get it,” said Al with a shake of his head.
“It came from the bottom of your lake, Sir. The drag line was wrapped up on a light post and an old Ford. We’re talking like 1920’s or 30’s.”
“At the bottom of our lake?”
“Yes, Sir. But there’s more. It’s not just one car. We found a whole town, Sheriff Todd! Church, houses, shops. It’s amazing. The cars were all parked on the streets and in driveways. Everything’s covered over in silt and mud, but holy damn, Sir, it’s a whole town!”
A whole town; how is that possible? There would be some record of an eighty year old town at the bottom of the lake. Al remembered hearing stories about the damn that formed the lake, but there was nothing about a town being relocated.
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Join me Thursday for the next mysterious installment of The Drowners.