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post #121 of 237
"All in good time, young lady!," the detective snapped at me. He explained that the janitor had undoubtedly watched as the lieutenant exchanged the valuable relic with a copy my father gave him. (It was not unusual for him to have many such copies for the classes he conducted at the local university.) Dad's reputation as an honorable man and an expert in the field was spotless.
"Your father left the station. The plan was that he secrete the necklace in a place known only to him and the lieutenant. Despite the fact that no one was in sight when the two discussed the plan, the janitor must have followed him. The next time he was heard of, he was lying in a pool of blood in your father's cabin. Your father called the authorities himself. There was an empty space in the wall display where a knife had obviously been kept, and the necklace was gone!"
"To the public it seemed clear; your father had murdered the man. It was a convenient way to hide the fact that he had intended from the beginning to sell the necklace to a private party. The cabin was to be the meeting place that would make your father a wealthy man. The lieutenant doubted, however, what appeared to be obvious-even to his superiors. That's when he called me."
post #122 of 237
The detective paused and reached again for his pipe. He appeared to be engaged in the rituals of pipe readying; dropping in pinches of tobacco from a golden pouch then tamping it just so. But I knew better. He was studying me. Waiting to see my reaction as I absorbed his story. His version was plausible, I thought. And I was sure my father didn't have the real necklace. He would have told me, wouldn't he? And if my father knew who was behind all this, why did he remain silent?

I chose my next words carefully. "If my father doesn't have the necklace, and it hasn't surfaced yet, then how are we to trace the actual murdering thief?"
post #123 of 237
Finally, he spoke. "You know your father was not permitted to contact anyone other than Lieutenant Brooks or myself. To do so would have destroyed the confidence the murderer had."
"But, if you were so sure you knew who it was....."
"We had no proof. Your father saw him for only a second, and from a distance. But we know he left the necklace here. He believes your father to have died in prison. That means he is the only person who could know where the necklace is."
I interrupted again, "But if he sold it?"
"He couldn't have. When your father returned to the cabin from the lake, he fled, hoping he had not been identified. There was no opportunity to search, even if the janitor had told him where your father had put it. As far as he knows, there is a four million dollar necklace still here, and the only two people who knew where it is are dead. He has announced his plans for retirement to the museum committee. If he returns here and begins to dig, we'll have your father's testimony and evidence to back it up. Only the murderer would know where to dig."
"The museum committee? Who is this man? And where is the necklace now? Why would he think it was still here?"
Detective Een Igma answered softly, "The necklace is in a vault, at the Mannheim Museum in London."
post #124 of 237
"...And I have already told you too much for your own safety. You really must leave. Now." Een Igma was getting very pushy.

As much as he told me, there was still too much that didn't quite add up. Integrity of the case be damned, my father would have contacted me! Unless either he or I wasn't safe if he did.

Then I noticed something out of the corner of my eye that made me take his advice. The big fur jacket that was laying on the back of the chair by the table certainly wasn't there when I walked out of the cabin. I still wasn't sure if the sasquatch impersonator was trying to scare me off or just lead me away from danger.
post #125 of 237
Somehow this all just seemed too fantastic. I gathered my things and started towards the door. So much for my peaceful vacation, I thought. Perhaps my time would best be spent doing a bit of sleuthing on my own.

"You can reach me at the Pines Hotel on the south side of the lake," I said over my shoulder as I headed out.

Detective Igma grunted noncommittally and remained seated as I shut the door behind me.

I pointed the car towards the hotel and thought about what I had learned. Something he had said niggled at the back of my brain. Something wasn't quite right, but I just couldn't pull it to the front of my mind. I turned into the parking lot, closed my eyes and concentrated trying to remember every word he said.

Finally, I had it! He never mentioned this lieutenant's last name! Several times he had alluded to a lieutenant. I wondered who this man was. An imposter? A crooked cop? A figment of the detective's imagination to throw me off the trail? That lieutenant may certainly be an important part of the puzzle.

I made up my mind that I would start there. Find out who this guy was and just how he was involved.
post #126 of 237
When I arrived at the Pines the exhaustion finally hit me. I had driven for two hours, and arrived at the cabin by eight a.m. I had raced through the woods, been shocked by what appeared to be a huge man-like creature, and finally had almost been overcome by some sort of chemical. I was told that my father, who I believed to be dead, was alive and cooperating with the authorites. The shock of that revelation alone would normally have knocked me off my feet. I felt certain Dad was nearby; yet I had allowed the detective to convince me to leave. "I'm going back," I said aloud, but my head could not resist the pillow.

When I awoke it was dark, and the clock glowed 9:30-too late to start making phone calls, but was there a possibility of seeing my father tonight? My head pounded with a strong and regular beat. I hadn't eaten all day. I called room service and asked for a snack, then leaned back and tried to think logically. Brooks!! That was the name. The lieutenant's name was Brooks!! Now I had a place to start.
post #127 of 237
The jangling of the phone woke me from a fitful sleep and I was barely coherent as I answered it. The last diaphanous veils of sleep were quickly whisked away as I recognized Detective Een Igma's voice.

"We have a new development in the case," he said. "I think you should meet me at the cabin."

I didn't even have to time to respond when I heard the click in my ear. He had already hung up.

In a frenzy, I donned yesterday's clothes, ran my fingers through my hair, and splashed some cold water on my face before running out the door.

Never could I have anticipated what awaited me at the cabin.
post #128 of 237
The sun had not yet arisen when I pulled up to the cabin; yet I didn't see a glimmer of light in the windows. What kind of nonsense was this? I could have stayed at the hotel and made some calls! I grasped the handle of the cabin door when it suddenly opened. "Good Lord," I gasped as the Sasquatch-like creature stumbled out. I turned to run, when I heard the most beautiful voice I could have imagined call my name!
post #129 of 237
I stopped dead in my tracks, rooted like an old oak. I hadn't heard that voice in years, but I would always recognize it. I turned to look. Before I could utter a word, I heard a scream from deeper in the woods. It sent a cold shiver up my spine. What was going on here?
post #130 of 237
Without a word, my father began to run toward the source of the scream, and I raced behind him. I could barely keep up; roots and rocks hindered my path, as I circled bushes and pushed branches out of my way. We were no longer on the well-worn path we had used for so many years. Thankfully, my father's agility had not diminished in the years since I had last seen him. Finally he stopped. He began to rip off the costume as he looked down over the side of a steep hillside. "Hold on," he yelled, "I'm coming!"
post #131 of 237
No time for hugs or greetings now as my father was further galvanized into action. "You wait here for further instructions," he told me before plunging headlong down the steep hillside.

Quickly disappearing from my view, I could only do as he instructed. I stared dumbly at the discarded costume wondering why this elaborate scheme was necessary. I just couldn't quite make sense of it all. I was fairly hopping from foot to foot with nervousness and anticipation waiting for some sign from him when at last I heard him call out.
post #132 of 237
"It's Een," he yelled. "He's broken his leg. Call 911 and get some help and equipment up here!" I hurried back to the cabin, trying to follow the rough path we had made. Although I had been juggling the questions tumbling through my mind, and many things were far from clear to me, I noticed Dad's use of the detective's first name. Then I remembered how he had helped Dad during the initial investigation. It was he who reminded Lieutenant Brooks that the police had approached Dad for help, that his reputation was excellent. Dad must trust this man, and his judgment was enough for me. Detective Igma's maze of a story might be true. If so, the man who killed for the neclace would soon be coming to retrieve his prize.
Finally, the cabin came in sight. With nothing else in mind now, I rushed to the door, and shoved it open. I noticed the lighted ceiling fixture just before I felt my arm being grabbed roughly and twisted behind me.
post #133 of 237
I was so caught off guard, my struggle proved futile and I was quickly overpowered only to find myself pinned uncomfortably against my captor. Marshalling my reserves, and relying on the terachings of a women's defense class I had attended years earlier, I pulled in a lungful of air readying myself to stomp an instep. It was then the cloying sweetness hit me.

Ether! This wasn't in the class scenario, I thought, before slumping to the floor when complete unconsciousness engulfed me.
post #134 of 237
I awakened slowly with a groggy haziness that wouldn't clear my brain. I knew what had happened, but I couldn't make myself move. I lay on the floor for several minutes before attempting to get up. The sofa was several feet away, so I maneuvered my way across the floor and leaned against it for a minute, them gradually pulled myself up. My father! What if he came looking for me and was attacked?

Thank heavens the phone was close. I put in a call to 911 and another to Lieutenant Brooks and explained the situation in as clear a manner as I could muster. The lieutenant said he would start the trip immediately after he called the state police. I hung up the phone and stood, rather unsteadily. The sensible thing now would be to wait. The paramedics and state officers would need details, but I kept thinking of my father's situation...
post #135 of 237
I wasn't really able to ascertain just how long I'd been out. If the shadows on the wall were any indication, it may have been an hour or so as near as I could figure. I paced the wide open combined living kitchen area from one end to the other. In my quandry, a snippet of lyrics by The Clash echoed endlessly in my head. "Should I stay or should I go? Should I stay or should I go?" I shook my head and tried to think rationally. I supposed I could leave a note explaining best I could where the detective and my father were or I could wait impatiently for the distant wail of sirens. on the other hand, they really might need my help. Then again, I could be taking a bigger risk. I might be leading my captor right to them.

Frustrated with the seemingly endless risks and possibilities, I rummaged through the bathroom cabinet for the first aid kit and tucked it under my arm. I hastily scrawled a note explaining where the emergency team was to look and told them to follow my trail of white bandage tape that I would leave on the trees.

Feeling a bit like Gretel in the woods, I moved as quickly as I could down the trail and towards my father leaving white bandaging taped to low limbs and fluttering like butterflies behind me.
post #136 of 237
I approached the door, opened it, and made certain no one was in sight. I noticed there were clouds gathering quickly and slipping in front of the sun; a storm was on its way. At this time of year, thunderstorms were common, and could be severe. By the time I reached the woods, a few large drops hit my arm, and were followed by a rumble of distant thunder.

It seemed to take forever to drape the gauze over the bushes, but I knew it was necessary. The rain fell so fast now it felt like needles hitting my skin. After some minutes, I heard voices and stopped to listen. By this time, the dirt under my feet had turned to mud. In spite of the dense nature of the woods, the trees bent against one another, and the sky was black. I approached the angry voices cautiously, remained in the thicker part of the woods, and observed a frightening scene. There was a tall, rotund, grey haired man holding a gun on my father, who stood near him at the top of the hill. The detective was nowhere to be seen. I felt completely at a loss, until my foot slipped and I almost fell. I looked down at the mud and realized the rain might just be a blessing.
post #137 of 237
The noise of the progressively harder rain masked any sounds my movements might make. I edged around in a wide perimeter picking my way through the underbrush until I was in front of my father and behind the stranger, remaining obscurred by several yards of forest growth between us. If I poked my head up just a bit, I was sure I would be able to catch my father's eye. We had always shared an uncanny intuition with each other before and I was desperately hoping despite our long separation that our silent communication ties were still strong. Their voices had been swallowed by the rain and I could no longer pick up strains of their conversation.

All I needed was eye contact with him and a few motions from me, and I was sure he would understand the plan.
post #138 of 237
Initially I had thought of throwing a rock into the bushes to the side of the armed man, but the pounding rain would have muffled the sound. Finally, I thought of something that might work. I stood cautiously, and finally waved my arm several times. Dad saw me! With a prayer on my lips, I motioned my intentions and the action I wanted him to take. I edged as close to the two as possible while Dad kept the man's attention by talking rapidly. Finally, I was no more than fifteen feet away. The whole plan was so risky, I hesitated for what seemed like minutes. Then the decision was made for me. "Turn around and stand over there," the man yelled over the wind, while motioning to the side of the hill. I took a huge lungful of air, and screamed as loudly as I could as I leapt forward. The man's head snapped around in my direction, as I had hoped. I saw Dad's arm move toward the gun as I lunged toward the two adversaries.
post #139 of 237
I swung the metal first aid box that I still clutched tightly by the handle in a high arc and it connected with the side of the man's head emitting a satisfying thunk. He blinked once in surprise before going down and I had a flash of momentary panic thinking it didn't phase him. Dad's tackle was needless; the man was out cold.

"The gun, where is it?" my father asked.
post #140 of 237
"There it is, Dad, by that rock," I sputtered. "Are you all right? What about Detective Igma?"
Dad picked up the gun and walked to the side of the hill. "Ean's still down there. I was splinting his leg when Albright showed up. Thank God you made it back quickly or neither one of us would be here!"
"Albright? The man with the gun? Is he the man from the museum?"
"Exactly. Let me explain after we get out of this situation-if we ever do! Did you call 911? How about Lt. Brooks?"
I reassured my father that help was on the way. We tried to communicate with the detective, but he had become unconscious. Dad held the gun on Albright as we waited in the rain. I finally did something I had been unable to do for five years. I put my head on my father's shoulder, hugged him, and reminded him how very much he was loved.
The sound of sirens interrupted our reunion. The paramedics or the state police had arrived. "Thank God," I muttered and ran towards the road.
post #141 of 237
As the paramedics unloaded the stretcher for Det. Een Igma, the police arrived with Leutenant Brooks leading the charge. I hurriedly led them to my waiting father, over a semi-conscious Albright. The paramedics worked quickly on both injured men, handcuffing Albright to the stretcher just in case.

Leutenant Brooks led my father and I back to his waiting car.

"That was very brave," Dad said with a tinge of being proud, but his tone turned very serious. "But you shouldn't have risked yourself like that. Albright is a very dangerous man."

"Right now, all I care about it that you are alive and we are together," I said giving Dad a squeeze around the waist. "What happened all these years? Heck, what happened just now?"
post #142 of 237
"Wait here a minute, kiddo!" Dad put his hand on my arm a second and then turned back to the woods. When he emerged the Sasquatch costume lay across his arm, dripping like a dog wanting to shake! "I can't forget this fellow," he laughed. "He was my alter ego! Now let's get to the cabin and get dry."

We arrived at the cabin to find Lieutenant Brooks waiting for us. The state police and paramedics had gone. "Roger, it's finally coming to an end," he said, with his hand outstretched. Dad shook his hand and nodded. "Can you stay-at least until you're dry? I'd like some help filling this young lady in on the details."

Brooks declined. "I want to follow the paramedics to the hospital and make sure Albright is secure. He'll have to be watched while he's there, and I want to assign the guards personally. I would like to see both of you tomorrow morning at the station, though. Make it ten a.m. You need some time together."

We watched Brooks pull out; then my father and I entered the cabin. It felt like a safe haven now, not a hiding place for fear. I dried myself and threw a robe on while Dad hunted for something dry to wear. When he emerged I had hot coffee waiting for him, along with five years worth of questions.
post #143 of 237
He almost wound up with coffee all over him when he gave me the biggest bear hug of my life.

"I've missed you so much, honey. I had to be content watching you from afar, and I wanted so very much to contact you. Please understand that I just couldn't put you at risk by doing that. Forgive me?"

"Of course, Dad. You don't have to ask for forgiveness. Just please explain what happened!"

"I will, but first I want to show you something." He went into the bedroom and returned with one of Mom's old jewelry boxes. I never knew why they kept all of her old costume jewelry here at the cabin, but it had always been here - about 4 jewelry boxes full. He dumped the contents on the kitchen table and carefully picked up one particularly gaudy piece.

"Here it is. This is what men have literally killed for."

I had to laugh. "Dad, that is truly hideous! And you - you stinker - hidden in the most obvious place, but where someone with an untrained eye couldn't pick it out."
post #144 of 237
"But, Dad...Detective Igma told me the real piece was in a museum in London!"
Dad laughed, "First of all, Een trusts no one," and then more seriously, he added, "and the less you knew about the necklace, the safer you were. We knew Albright would come back once he retired. None of us thought he would wait five years! Everyone thought I was dead, so we felt certain he could come back here, retrieve the necklace, and leave the country. He would have sold the necklace in Europe for more than the estimated four million dollar value. The real value, of course, is intrinsic, but dollar value depends on what the collector is willing to pay. On top of the value of the piece itself, it also came complete with a legend. Albright could have lived in luxury the rest of his life."

"What made the police so sure Albright was behind the theft? He had been the curator of some of the biggest museums in the state. Surely he would have been considered beyond reproach.....
post #145 of 237
"He should have been beyond reproach, but wasn't smart enough to stay there. He was smart enough to get to that position, I'll give him that. They found out that he had actually been arrested in the past for theft of priceless historic artifacts, but never convicted. He created a new identity for himself, including education and past employment experience. Unfortunately, besides the requisite background checks, etc. no one forced the issue to find the truth. We only found out when we ran a fingerprint from the murder scene. We knew he hadn't found the real necklace, so we knew that eventually he would have to return. We've been keeping an eye on him since. When he made an unexpected trip to this area, we knew what he was looking for and set up surveylance on the cabin.

"You were a complete surprise, though. I thought you were vacationing 3 months ago, at which time there was no danger for you here. Why did you wait to come here?" I explained the situation with the mother cat having kittens just when I was trying to leave. "Silly girl," Dad said with a laugh. "I should have known only newborn kittens would spoil your vacation plans!"

"Ok, Dad, I think I understand the background, but please explain what happened here. I mean, between sasquatch wearing Red Wings and being knocked out I'm very confused."
post #146 of 237
Dad settled back and began filling in the details. "Ean called me and told me about the plan to catch Albright in the act. Of course, I'd been in contact with him and Brooks since day one. I'm sorry I couldn't let you know, honey, but we couldn't take chances. Believe me, when I got the call to come back, I was on the next plane! Since the airport was a good thirty miles from home, the only precaution I took to hide my identity was a mustache, sunglasses and a basball cap."

"I took a taxi straight here, with no problem," he continued. "I ran into a situation not long after I arrived that could have put some kids in danger, though. They were rowing over from the hotel and camping in the woods. So, any time I heard talking or anyone approaching, I put on old 'Harry.'" Dad pointed at the Sasquatch outfit, and we both laughed at the ridiculous nickname. "That frightened off the kids and hid my identity. Even though I kept the shutters closed and used only a candle at night, I didn't want even a hint that the place was occupied."

"Now, I guess I have to tell you about the night of the murder." Dad looked down at the floor, and I knew the vision of that night was still causing him pain. "I arrived here late that afternoon, and hid the necklace in with the costume jewelry. Then, since it was only six o'clock, I decided to surprise your mother and clear a bit more ground for her flowers."

That struck me as funny, because Dad always teased Mom about her "weed garden," but the look on his face stopped my laughter immediately. He was obviously suffering with the memory of that day. "I'm sorry, Dad; continue, please."

"I took the shovel out back and began to dig. I had my hunting knife with me. You know, it came in so handy for cutting tap roots. I never thought killing a weed would make me look like a murderer and keep me from my family..." His voice trailed off, and I turned my head until he was able to speak again.
post #147 of 237
His gentleness had always shone through his actions. Taking me to the park on Sundays, bringing flowers home for mom "just because", stopping by the side of the road to help an injured bird one sweltering Saturday afternoon. I could see how painful this recounting would be. His strong hands repeatedly gripped and relaxed on the arms of the chair, knuckles white, and it seemed he aged 10 years in just these few short minutes. It made my heart ache, seeing him so. I could only recall one other time I had witnessed this heaviness of burden.

At his trial he was outwardly stoic, But I knew inside he was crushed.The evidence of that damned knife was was the proverbial smoking gun; the rest was purely circumstantial. The jury bought it all and during sentencing, his shoulders slumped when the verdict was read. I wanted to stand and shout, "He is not a killer! Not my father!" As officers lead him from the courtroom, I saw the weight of the world settle upon his shoulders.No more Sunday walks in the park, no more flowers "just because", no first aid to animals in need. No father.

I heard him clear his throat. I swiped a finger under my eye to dispell the threatening tears then met his gaze.
post #148 of 237
His voice steadied now, he continued. "If I hadn't been so thirsty, I would never have known what happened, but I decided to go back to the cabin for a drink of water. Just as I was coming around to the front I saw a man running down the road. He was running rather briskly for a man his size. I don't even think he knew I saw him. It seemed strange to me that the museum curator would even be there, since we knew each other only professionally. Although he knew I was familiar with the necklace, I had been informed by Brooks that no one except Igma, Brooks himself and I would know that I had helped them make the switch. I yelled, but Albright never turned around again. It was then that I heard moaning coming from the cabin."

"I ran to the door, which had been left ajar, and saw a man who looked vaguely familiar lying in his own blood."

"The janitor from the police station," I said, and he nodded.

"I still had my hunting knife when I came in, but I dropped it somewhere near the doorway. I never gave it another thought; I went directly to the wounded man and tried to reassure him, but he was no longer conscious. After I called 911, I went over to the man again, located his stab wounds to try to stop the bleeding, but he was already dead. The state police were the first to arrive, and they immediately started questioning me. I saw an officer pick up my knife and put it in an evidence bag, and realized then that I would be charged, so I urged them to call our police station and speak to Brooks."

He stopped talking and I said nothing. The whole experience had been so horrendous; I waited until he was ready to continue.
post #149 of 237
"So there I was, blood on my hands and my fingerprints on the knife,and a dead body in my cabin," he said with a sigh."It just easier to go ahead with the phony trial, put me into protective custody, and wait for their next move.It seemed like a good idea at the time and a way to insure your safety."

One one hand, I was resentful. So much missed time with my father. On the other hand, he protected Mom and me the best way he knew how.
post #150 of 237
"I have to say, they did a good job with the trial. I was almost conviced that I had killed him, not revive him - greedy :censor::censor::censor::censor::censor::censor::censor: that he was. That janitor was supposedly promised half of the money that the necklace would bring. He should have known better. No one makes that generous of an offer. Een, Brooks and I figured that Albright thought I was burying the necklace in the garden since I was doing that yardwork. We assumed the necklace was safe where it was originally hidden. Ironically, I was going to bury it...just put it in the box until I had the chance to." He gave a little chuckle.

"So, did you kill yourself off to try to bring him out? Why didn't they just arrest him with the evidence so fresh? Couldn't there have been some link to Albright that would have cleared you?"

"Honey, this is where it gets complicated. We had to fake my death so that there wasn't a real one to report. Albright was almost as good as John Gotti. He hired men on the inside to off me. Fortunately, a snitch caught wind of it, and hoping to knock some time off his sentance, reported it to a prison guard. Once Brooks got word of it we faked my death so Albright would think he succeeded and I would no longer be in danger. And so I could get out of prison and into a witness protection program. Prison isn't all fun and games, you know."
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