Sachem Pond was a special place to Brian Dunne. The small Long Island town where he grew up, stole his first kiss, tasted his first beer and learned how to draw was home.

It had only been a Herculean effort on his part that he was standing on the pond’s shoreline with sand between his toes. Convincing his wife Barbara hadn’t been easy. What was so damned important about getting back to the Island by the 4th of July anyway, she had wanted to know. She had grown up in California as had their two sons, Terry and Ryan, and had even tried to understand when he said they would be taking the red eye flight from Sacramento so they could arrive at nearby Mac Arthur Airport shortly before noon. But here he was on Friday afternoon, on the first day of the holiday weekend. At the Pond.

“Be careful, guys”, Brian called to the boys as they ran across the sand toward the water. They both had long skinny styrofoam surf boards under their arms, presents from his parents who had already left for Florida. The boards were meant to remind the boys of the California surf, but Brian’s parents didn’t know that surfing on the American River or at Folsom Lake was difficult if not damn near impossible.

The area here had changed and not for the better. The pavilions had burned down years ago. And the trees by the road were so overgrown he couldn’t see the water from the car when he drove up. But seeing it again for himself, the effect was more pronounced.

“Get out of the way, dumbhead”, Terry told Ryan who had broadsided his older brother in the shallow water.

“Be, nice, Terry”. Brian reminded his ten year old.

“Dad, tell him that seven year olds aren’t supposed to crash into surfers”, Terry said as he tried to stand up on his board again.

Brian was about to say something to Ryan when one of the lifeguards squeezed his air horn and signaled for everyone to get out of the water while the other lifeguard ran on the sand and dove into the Pond.

The two boys waded out of the water and stood by Brian.

“Is it Jaws, Dad?” Ryan asked while parents roamed the beach making sure their offspring were accounted for. Jaws was Ryan’s favorite movie this week.

“No, this is fresh water, Ryan, sharks live in the ocean.”

“Phew!” the young boy said. “Then what’s going on?”

An overweight woman in a one piece black bathing suit was screaming. Her thick New York City accent pierced the air for a lost member of her horde. Four small children followed her like baby chicks to a mother hen. The woman had panicked and her kids also wore a scared look.

Brian didn’t think the young ones knew what was really going on. Or what had really happened to their sibling.




The two lifeguards continued to dive into the water and search the area for the lost child. Mama paced the water’s edge for good news that it wasn’t her oldest. She hoped the kid had walked over to the delicatessen to get a soda or an Italian ice. And if the victim the lifeguards were looking for wasn’t him, she’d tan his bottom so hard he would have to ride his bicycle without sitting for a long time.

Both lifeguards exited the water after about twenty minutes and approached the now sobbing woman.

“Sorry”, one of the lifeguards said to her which made her cry even louder.

Terry and Ryan had their heads bowed down. Someone had drowned in Sachem Pond, they understood that.

“Yup, the princess got another one”, a man’s voice behind the three of them said.

“Oh, Jesus”, Brian muttered as he turned to see who had uttered such a statement.

“Don’t you believe in the legend of the princess of the Pond, Brian?” the man said. Who the heck was this, Brian thought.

The Indian princess who had lived in these same waters three centuries ago. And then the grieving girl took her own life in the Pond was now responsible for the drownings each year. All because of being jilted by a lover.

“I remember, but I don’t know if I ever believed in it,” Brian told him.

“Each year they drown because the princess searching for her missing love hugs unwilling victims who come here to swim where this boy lost his life.”

“Like I said, I remember. But the kid probably couldn’t swim, got into deep water, swallowed mouthfuls, panicked and…”. Some people were beginning to leave. Others had their children sit on their blanket with them. Those who stayed were visibly shaken. After all it could have been one of theirs.

The man went and sat back down in his aluminum beach chair.

The two boys meanwhile were wide-eyed and surprised at what Brian had said to this man.

“Terry, go ask the lifeguards if you can get your surfboards. You go with him, Ryan, but don’t go in the water.” They nodded.

“You used to come into my store all the time when you were their age, didn’t you?” the man said as Brian’s sons ran to the lfeguard stand.

“The Pond Hobby Shop, wasn’t it?”

“Yup, that’s right”, the man extended his hand, “Charlie Roberts”.

“You used to have those model car contests in the front window at the end of each summer”.

“Uh huh. I’m still sure it was a good thing. Hope it made it more interesting putting those models together.”

“My brother Teddy and I used to give you a lot of business in those days. But we never won any contests”.

“A lot of other kids didn’t win either, but it was my way of giving them something constructive to do. I guess those days are gone.”

“It’s hard to compete with Taiwan.” Brian’s memory of Charlie had made him remember something else about the man. “Didn’t you use to fish here every weekend?”

“I did, before the pollution and the algae took over. The Pond’s dead now. Nothing can live in that water.”

Ryan and Terry were back. Terry was holding both boards under his arm. “We’re hungry, Dad. Can we go?” Brian said, sure.

“Yeah, the politicians don’t give a damn about Sachem Pond. Probabaly want to fill it, lock it up and forget it. The township doesn’t have the money to fix it up.”

“Well, things are tough., but it is a shame. Hey, maybe I’ll see you here tomorrow, if you’re coming here after today.” , Brian told him.

“Yeah, I’ll be here. Body should surface by then.”





While her three men were at the Pond, Barbara had a chance to unpack and get to know her way around her in-law’s house. She had called her own parents to tell them that they had arrived, no real problems, but that she was tired from the overnight flight. Brian and her sons had been able to catch some sleep on the plane. She had read most of a book she was glad she brought while she sat next to Ryan listening to his little snores. And as much as she would have liked to get some sleep herself just hearing her son’s breathing had been a comfort to her during the flight.

Barbara ran a hot bath. She was thinking that about the time she was neck deep in tub water the car would pull into the driveway, then she would have to make lunch and listen to their latest adventures together. She didn’t mind. It was usually an interesting story they had to tell. But it was hard when she was overtired. Maybe that was why she locked the bathroom door. And then checked it again.

She was already toweling herself dry when she heard the car pull up. The crew was home again. The bath had refreshed her as she had hoped it would. She would be happy to hear about their trip to the Pond. It was her youngest son’s first trip here. Terry had been one year old the last time she and Brian were here, but that didn’t count because he was so young. She was sure Terry and Ryan would have a story to tell her.

“Hey, Mom? Mom?” It was Terry’s voice calling to her from the kitchen.

“We got some Big Bob Burgers,” an excited Ryan told her.

“So I see,” she said. Brian closed the door. The boys unwrapped hamburgers as fast as they could get them out of the bag.

“Mom, do you want a hamburger or a cheeseburger?” Terry asked.

“I think I’d like a cheeseburger”.

“Aw,” Ryan said.

“Did I say cheeseburger? I meant hamburger.”

Terry said ok and handed it to her. She took it as she saw her husband walk to the bedroom. Barbara told the boys not to mess up their grandmother’s kitchen and headed for the bedroom.

He was lying on the bed with his hands clasped behind his head and his legs crossed when she entered the room.

“Anything the matter?” she asked.

“Would you believe me if I said no.” She sat next to him on the bed.


He smiled at her then was serious again. “Some kid drowned today down at the Pond.”

She kept silent not knowing what to say.

“They didn’t see it happen,” Brian finally said.

“I feel sorry for the kid and the parents, but I’m glad they didn’t. How did the boys take it?”

Brian smiled again. “Ryan wanted to know if it is was Jaws”.

Barbara grinned back at him. She was more relieved than happy. ”Are drownings normal around here?’

“Every year, but nobody notices until July 4th weekend.”

“Well, where there’s water ... But I don’t remember hearing about many drownings at Folsom Lake, but half the time there’s not enough water to swim in it.”

Brian then told her about the old man Charlie, and the store he had had in town, but he wasn’t telling her about any princess legend. He told her it was nice to see him again and left out some of the things Charlie had to say about the victim.

“Hey, where’s Teddy and Sara?” he asked. They were sitting up on the bed now.




“They went for a drive. She wanted to see where her husband grew up. Then they were going out to lunch. They’ll probably be back in a while.”

He asked if she had slept at all while they were at the pond. She told him about her long bath.

“I’ll sleep good tonight,” she said.

“Me too.”

Then something crashed to the floor in the kitchen. “I’ll get it.” He pointed to the bed and Barbara laid her head on the pillow.

“Don’t cut yourself.” She smiled at him.

In the kitchen Ryan was standing next to the broken glass on the floor. He was wearing his guilty look.

“Dad, Ryan wanted soda in a glass. I told him he couldn’t do it himself,” Terry explained and then looked at his brother. “”You’re a real dog butt, you know, Ryan.”

“That’s enough, Terry,”, Brian said. Ryan began to pick up the pieces of glass and handed them one by one to Brian.

Terry was told to go watch TV while Brian and Ryan finished cleaning up the mess. “So now you’re a dog butt, huh?” He asked Ryan.

Brian’s own brother, also older, had a few choice nicknames for him while they were growing up. The name calling had made him a little closer to Ryan with Terry than he had been with Teddy. But when Teddy had to explain his black eye to their parents in such a way that Brian could never be the puncher, he gained a new respect for Teddy.

“Yeah, he’s got a million of them.”

After every piece of glass was found, Ryan ran through the living room to the boys bedroom where Terry was. And even though they fought together underneath the rivalry they were friends.

Brian sat in his father’s chair in the living room. The TV was on. World Cup Soccer on ESPN. He watched for a few minutes then picked up his sketch pad. A smile crossed his lips.

He had been out of college for almost a year when the newspaper syndicate that he had been negotiating with began distributing his comic strip, Kung Futball, in over 500 newspapers. And now years later, a new paper a week was agreeing to carry the strip. He still couldn’t believe that it had all started because a professor had seen his drawing in the school paper and told him he should try to do something with his gift. In other words, he might be able to get a job doing what he liked to do. In those days, he drew for the fun of it, doing any little request anyone wanted to spice up a story that had no picture to accompany it or just because he wanted to draw something. A lot of long gone bands got a lot of free logos from the pen of of Brian Dunne.

But lately he had been telling people who asked where he got the idea for the strip, he had been saying Australian rules football. A group of crazy he-men on cable tv who played a sport without a helmet with little regard for their own safety. These days he would tell them Extreme Fighting but with a ball.

The original concept for Kung Futball had been lacrosse, an equally crazy bunch who had the sense to wear some equipment. But the part he never told anyone was that the strip had been his reaction was to the old tv show, KungFu. Snatch this pebble, sensei. Indeed.

Abner Fu, the strip’s main character, was the captain of the futball team. Brian liked his character’s mail box with A Fu written on the side. He thought it sounded like a sneeze. And when Brian began receiving letters from the Asian community who he wasn’t sure if they would even like the strip, he was more surprised than anyone. Sure, he had done research on Kung Fu and even acupuncture, but when he got an email from a Japanese fan who told him fu in Japanese comics and even anime was the sound a ninja warrior made when he vanished in mid-air. For weeks Brian had his characters jumping from pane to pane. Then an acupuncturist wrote him that fu in acupuncture meant each of the organs of the body had a corresponding hollow organ like heart to lung. Even the






way needles used on the opposition were close to the real thing, straight up and down the body to corresponding nerves called meridians. It had just seemed logical to Brian, but he was only trying to provoke some thought and hopefully laughter in his readers.

Fu’s team wore a yin-yang symbol on their white helmets and uniforms while the opposing team, the Red Claws, wore black. The relationship between the teams was similar to the Harlem Globetrotters and their nemesis, physical but both lived to fight another day. A pyrrhic comic strip.

Three unfinished five by twenty inch sheets shook loose from the pad. Though he was months ahead, he was always aware of the six week deadline he had to adhere to. Even on vacation. And after twelve years of drawing the strip, it was always fun and that was all that counted.

After a while, Brian put away the pad and went to the bedroom to check on his sleeping wife. Terry and Ryan were still paying in the bedroom. Quietly for now, Brian thought.

Teddy and Sara returned.

“Is anyone home?” his brother asked and Sara looked at him for a moment. All the cars were here, but the house was quiet as a library except for Ryan telling Terry to let him have the blue truck for a while. In a low voice. Teddy was about to go to the boys room where their parents were when Brian entered the hallway.

“Barbara’s asleep. How was your trip?” Brian asked in a whisper.

“It was a nice ride,” Sara answered. Teddy was smiling. “First, he told me about the Famous Long Island Duck, and then he had to show it to me. Nice little store. And since we were almost in the Hamptons, we drove out to Montauk Point to see the lighthouse and walked along the ocean for a while. We ate in Sag Harbor and here we are.”

“Gave her the full tank of gas tour. The last time we were here, we hung aound the house with the parents, but I didn’t want to leave for Virginia again and not let Sara see some of the Island”, Teddy said.

“He talks about the Island all the time. I guess you must too.”

Brian folded his arms and nodded. He was glad to hear about their day, but he really wanted to talk to Teddy. Alone. He had questions to ask him.

But instead of having to ask Teddy if he could talk to him in private, Sara excused herself and went to go check on her nephews. Brian was fond of Sara but didn’t want to talk about the drowning in front of her. He had been fascinated with the accident and didn’t want any of his enthusiasm to be misread. Teddy would understand, but he wasn’t sure if Sara would. Or even her response to the drowning.

“Can I talk to you for a minute?”

“Sure. Trouble with Barbara??’ Teddy frowned.

“No, nothing like that, duck boy,” Brian shook his head. “Everything’s fine between us. No, I wanted to ask if you remember the princess legend.”

“Of the Pond? What brought this on?”

“A kid drowned today while I was there with Terry and Ryan.”

“No kidding. “ Brian nodded. “No, I don’t remember much about the princess, but I do remember something about the Pond being bottomless and a rumor about some kid’s mother letting a baby alligator that they got in Florida loose at Hanson’s Beach. The kid brought it back in a sock in a suitcase. But that’s about it, other than the fires that Dad told me about.” Teddy waited for Brian to say what he had just said was bullshit.

“Seems like everyone has their own version. I’ve heard about the bottomless part, but the alligator is a new one on me.”

“Well, the princess is a new one to me. You remember the day at church when everyone was convinced that the statues on the altar were moving?” Teddy asked.

“You mean the fingers moving and the crucifix winking? Yeah, I do.”



“Got so wild someone said one of the statues was running up and down the aisle. Well, I’m not

proud to admit it even now, but that was Billy Schmidt and me. We started it. But only the finger moving part was my idea. The rest was Billy. Like I said, it got a little out of hand. But I know if you

stare at something long enough, your eyes will make anything move.”

“That was you? I guess it is funny now, but …” Brian was laughing at his brother.

“Yeah, it is now. But then, it started out as a laugh, but if it happened today, CNN would be there with a full camera crew. “ Teddy paused. Ryan finally got Terry to give him the truck. “Now, what’s all this shit about a princess?”






The boy didn’t know what the man wanted with him or what he might do. But he was scared, sure he was, he’d be a complete jerk not to be, he thought. But sitting here in a dark basement on a plastic milk crate wasn’t his idea of fun. Dressed only in his wet bathing suit, he was cold. The man hadn’t offered him a blanket to wrap around him or food for his empty belly. He knew his parents would be worried to death about him and even mad at him for disappearing. They were always angry at him for something lately. For things he didn’t even do, not for the things he did do and didn’t get caught for. His mother always told him that things evened out in this life and not for him to be a wiseass or he’d have to answer to his father’s belt when his father and the strap got home from work. At least he missed another scene where he’d have to dodge that belt or a slap on the back of his neck when he was walking away from another confrontation with the parents. Even with the mess he was in, the boy thought about other families and did other kids have as much problem with their parents.

He could hear the TV upstairs. The volume was loud. The man was listening to the local news. Would a picture of him be on the TV with a shot of his mother crying for him. Probably not. He wasn’t anybody. He was just a kid.

The room was still dark, but he could now see. A little. The windows had been boarded up. Dim sunlight was leaking through a few of the slats, but not enough for him to really see anything clearly. But if you’ve seen one cellar you’ve seen them all, he remembered his father saying once.

The man was now pacing the floor, the boy could hear the heavy footsteps. And if his feet weren’t tied to the bottom of the crate and his hands tied behind his back to the top part where his butt was, he’d run up those stairs and beat the man silly with the milk crate until the man couldn’t move. Anger was rising in his young body, but all he could do was sit and gather strength. He would have to wait for his chance.

His stomach growled again. Hunger and another chill were unwelcome companions. It even made him miss his brothers and sisters. He loved them but sometimes they were in the way. It was an attitude his father had impressed on him while he was growing up. With his father he had never known the rules of the game in their house, where the boundaries were and how much he could push his parents.

The man upstairs, he hadn’t even seen his face and only heard his voice once. If he was going to get out of here, he wouldn’t be able to tell the police much. He couldn’t even remember if he’d ever even spoked to a cop. Where he lived cops never got out of their cars. They didn’t if they knew what was good for them, he heard his father’s voice again say.

The lock on the door at the top of the stairs sounded like it had been unlocked. He crained his neck to listen. His heart sunk. The man must have bumped against the door. He wasn’t coming down to untie the rope and give him something to eat. The boy was hungry enough to eat beets and creamed corn which he hated, and he had to go to the bathroom. Bad. He was holding it in, painful as it was, because he didn’t want to sit in his own urine.




“Hey,” he yelled again to get the attention of his upstairs jailer. But It hadn’t worked before so

why should it this time. The feeling that he would never get out of the basement was quickly enveloping him. At least let him pee and eat something to keep his spirits up. But it was more than

his belly and his bladder that needed to be tended to. There was also his head and his heart.

No more sounds from upstairs, just the TV. The man had the set even louder not to hear him. He didn’t exist. Down here. Anymore. He knew his family would be thinking of him. That was for sure and it was all he would have to keep him going. For now.

He would close his eyes and try to forget where he was. But it was no use. And every time he relaxed his shoulders, the rope binding his hand dug deeper into his wrists.

“Hey, mister,” he cried out again. Then he listened. The Jeopardy theme song was on the TV. It didn’t console him. It was his Mom’s favorite show, but even she probably wasn’t watching tonight. I’ve got to get out of here, he said to himself. Then the Jeopardy guy telling him to phrase it as a question. How am I going to get the hell out of here? His mind followed the game show man’s advice. But it was no time for games.

His eyes closed again. All he could do was wait for the man to come downstairs. If the ropes only had some give he could get free, break the boards off the windows and escape to freedom. But the more he struggled, the more the ropes dug deeper into his arms and legs and his bladder would throb. He would sit as quiet as he could for as long as he could. The man shut off the TV and the boy lost track of time. He passed out.

Light was no longer coming through the slates when he awoke. He knew it must be after 8:30 because at home he had to come in the house when the sun set during the summer. At least he knew that. He blinked to try to get his bearings.

A short while later the door jiggled again. He could hear the man fumbling with a set of keys to open the lock. The key was inserted and the tumblers turned. He sat not making a sound. Nasty, he thought, the man’s nasty if he doesn’t come down to him.

But the door did open and he heard footsteps on the stairs. He couldn’t see anything and the man hadn’t turned on the light. The reflection from the kitchen light shined and when his eyes adjusted, a figure was standing in front of him.

The man was wearing a Yankee hat and dark clothing. He guessed a t-shirt and a pair of jeans with the symbol of his favorite baseball team atop the man’s head.

So far the man had only said one word to him. Sit. Then tied his hands and feet to the crate, went upstairs and locked the door. When he squinted he could see something in the man’s hands. He didn’t speak because he knew he wouldn’t get an answer.

The man went behind him and untied his hands. The boy then placed his hands in his lap and rubbed his wrists to get the circulation going again. A can-like object was put in his hands. A spoon stuck out of the top. And he could smell something. Baked beans.

“Eat,” the man said. Then the Yankee cap turned and began walking toward the stairs.

“Wait! I gotta pee.” he told the man who stopped.

The man turned his head. “Use the can.”




“Gene,” Charlie rose from his aluminum beach chair to shake the sheriff’s hand. He had arrived at the Pond at sunrise.

“Morning, Charlie,” Sheriff Park said. Two deputies were still getting out of the car parked on



the asphalt with the two front wheels in the sand. The sun had been up for about an hour

and was peaking through the trees.

“Princess got another one yesterday. Probably get one today too,” Charlie told him and went to sit back down in the folding chair. The sheriff squatted down next to him.

“Maybe. When did you get here?”

“Just about when the sun started coming up. Thought I’d recover the body for you boys, but now that you’re here…”.

“I appreciate that, Charlie, but we’re here now. You can watch if you want.”

“Plan to, if you don’t mind.”

“If you like. “ His men were leaning against the front of the car. Park said something to one of the men who opened the passenger side door and began talking on the radio.

Charlie watched the three men for a while and then turned his gaze toward the water. The body would have to surface soon, he thought, before the beach opened to the public or Park would have to close the beach for the day.

But the water was calm. Not a ripple.

He looked to the spot in the Pond where the watersilde used to be. Squinting his eyes. He could barely make out the rusted relic that he gauged to be in water about ten feet deep now. The child could have become tangled in the undergrowth more than likely. Tangled about the victim’s legs. What a way to die, Charlie thought, When he died, he wanted a more pleasant ending for himself. Painlessly old. Asleep in his own bed would be nice.

The sheriff now stood by the open car door with a microphone in his hand. A deputy was still standing by the car hood.

With all eyes on the Pond, a motorcycle entered the beach parking lot from Sachem Pond Road. The rider dressed in black leather pants and jacket wore a silver helmet with a dark green visor. The bike parked next to the sheriff’s car and the rider walked over to Charlie. The sheriff followed on the sand.

“Hi, Charlie,” the rider said.

The sheriff had reached them. “Ok, Charlie. Who’s this?” His hand was on his gun still holstered and the two deputies looked up and watched the situation.

“Relax, sheriff. This is Lydia, my granddaughter. She’s staying with me for the summer. Just got in last night.”

Lydia took off her helmet and shook her head. Long blonde hair fell to her shoulders.

“Hello,” she said.

The sheriff nodded and went back to his car and the two deputies. The three lawman watched the water again.

“What’s he so touchy about? Slow day?” she asked as she unzipped her jacket.

“ Say, aren’t you hot in that thing?”

“Always, but what’s going on? This looks like a death watch.”

“Kid drowned yesterday and we’re waiting for the body to surface.” Charlie rubbed the two day growth of white beard on his chin with the back of his hand.

“Sorry.” Lydia glanced at the men by the car and then out at the water. The Pond was still calm. Two gulls were flying close to the water surface dipping their bills at floating bits of scum and an occasional insect flying harmlessly oblivious to the flying predator.

“Think I should ask them for permission to dive for the poor kid?” Lydia asked Charlie.

“The gulls?”

“Don’t be silly. The sheriff and his two friends.”

“Personally, I think you’d have better luck with the gulls.”

She sighed, but sat on the sand next to her grandfather. Her watch read 7:45. She would rather be home asleep counting air tank bubbles than sitting on her ass getting bits of sand embedded in the seat of her leather pants. But she did tell Charlie that she was awake when he called to her early this morning from the hallway. Then she rolled over and slept for another hour as she heard the front door close.




It was a few minutes after nine when Brian and Teddy arrived at the Pond. Brian parked the rental car next to the motorcycle and they both walked over to Charlie and Lydia.

“Hi, Charlie,” Brian said. Charlie turnd toward them, Lydia’s eyes were fixed on the water.

“That’s my granddaughter, Lydia,” Charlie said.

Lydia nodded and continued to watch the Pond surface.

Teddy chatted with Charlie. “Didn’t you use to have a store in town? I seem to remember some man chasing kids out of his store, but not before he made them buy something.”

“You forgot about woman cashier who worked for me. Kids used to call her ‘the Hawk’ because of the way she used to watch their every move.” Charlie tugged at his cap and looked up at Teddy.

“I remember. I was one of those kids.”

“Yeah, those were the days.”

Lydia got up and walked to the water’s edge. Brian followed. “You know Charlie?”

“From a long time ago, just remet him yesterday. Are you from around here?” Brian ran his fingers through his hair. He wasn’t used to the humidity here anymore. Summers in Sacramento were dry and rain wouldn’t come there again until early September.

She shook her head. “I’m staying with Charlie for the summer, I just got my degree in marine biology and when I go back I’ll be doing my thesis in teology.”

“What’s teology?”

“Big word for the study of natural phenonoma. What do you do?”

“When I’m not satisfying my curiosity about a Pond drowning victim?”

“Let me guess. You’re a government scientist who’s interested in debunking the Indian princess legend.”

“You’re close. I’m a cartoonist. You may have seen my strip, Kung Futball?”

“Is that yours? I’ve seen it in Newsday. Hope you don’t mind but I read Dilbert first.” She smiled.

“I don’t mind at all. I read that one first too.”

The sheriff and his deputies wre now running toward the water. Charlie was out of his chair three steps behind Teddy. Brian and Lydia turned in time to see the floating body cause ripples in the water where none had been before. One of the deputies had a pole with a hook on the end of it and waited for the body to float closer to him so he could snare it.

“Well, this is where I leave you. I don’t like this part,” she told Brian. She zipped her jacket and patted her hair to fit inside the helmet. “I’ll see you around.”

“Bye, Lydia.”

“Call me Lido. Like the beach. Only Charlie calls me Lydia anymore.” She waved to Charlie and he waved back.

“Okay, Lido.” The silver helmet nodded.

The body was floating slowly toward the shoreline where the deputy waited with his hook. Brian, Teddy and Charlie watched as a haze lifted above the water. They could see the shape of the body clearly now. A little too clear, Brian thought.

As the other deputy unfolded a black body bag on the sand next to the water, the sheriff guided his other man toward the victim. The body was more visible now. It was bloated from being in the water. The hook caught the boy under the left armpit and the officer pulled the body to him.

Wearing  ugly blue gloves, it took all three men to lift the body out of the water to be placed in the unzipped bag. When the arms and legs were inside the fold, the bag was zipped. The sheriif gave Charlie and the Dunnes a quick wave and the three lawmen carried the dead boy to the car. They put him in the trunk and then drove off.

Charlie went back to his chair. And he noticed both the brothers were staring at him. Brian thought Charlie almost looked relieved.

Teddy too noticed, but said to Brian, “Guess we better get going if I’m gonna catch that afternoon flight to Florida. I’ll be glad to get out of here. “






It was almost noon. The man was sitting at his kitchen table nursing a second glass of vodka to calm his nerves. It was always this way after he returned a child to the princess. First, he had to drown the boy to fill the lungs with water while still alive and breathing. Then he had to cut the rope he’d attached to the boy’s leg carefully so the body floated to the surface without any sudden jerk. But it was done. He had been careful because he knew people would be waiting for the child to reappear in the pond.

The phone rang.

It was the office in Hartford. The voice on the other end of the phone was telling him about a problem that one of his accounts was causing the staff. A problem that could only be solved by him. The caller asked if he could come by the office today for a few hours to take care of it and then he could continue his vacation without any further interruptions.

“You freaking call me on my vacation and on a Saturday too to tell me you can’t take care of something for me.” He wasn’t shouting but his voice was strained. If this shithead, he was thinking, couldn’t take care of a little problem for him then the man wasn’t management material anyway.

He was still listening to the caller. But then interrupted the converation, “Just call them and tell John, he’s the guy I deal with, that I’ll take care of it for him on Tuesday morning first thing. Can you do that for me or are you going to make me drive up there for a few hours work which can be taken cared of and fixed by noon on Tuesday.” He was angry now and was sure his tone had come out in his voice. “Let me talk to Harry, he’ll be able to take care of that for me.” He listened again.

“Oh, you can do it for me, Well, I appreciate that. It’s just that you caught me in the middle of something… Okay…Okay…Bye.” Jerk. Harry will have his job in six months anyway.

He was sure he sounded sarcastic but he didn’t care. They should be able to appease John who was one of his more understanding clients. Especially in this economic climate. It wasn’t that hard, you just had to be diplomatic with the accounts.

His glass was empty again so he reached for the bottle. Two fingers this time, but he did have to be back at the Pond by four o’clock.

The refridgerator door was opened. Two more cans of beans sat on the top shelf next to the carton of milk. He checked them. Cold beans. Just like in the army. It was all you needed to survive.

He then went down the stairs to the basement to make sure everything was ready again. The milk crate, the rope, and empty bean can were in place. Sunlight was coming through the boarded up windows.

As he picked up the can and the spoon, he noticed the drops of liquid on the cement floor. “Damn kid,” he shouted and scuffed his shoe over the offending sight of urine. Then he went back upstairs with the wet can and the spoon. He opened the screen door a few inches and threw the liquid in the flower bed. The spoon got quickly rinsed in the sink and the can was thrown in the trash.

Ready again, he thought. This year’s vacation on the Island would be perfect. He was going for three. For the first time. In past years, it had been one or two, but this time three. A new record, he laughed. It was a safe laugh, but if anyone had heard it they would think it was manic.

A thump hit the door.

He jumped, but then he remembered it was only the newspaper. The screen door was cracked open again and the paper pulled through the small opening. He sat at the kitchen table and began leafing through looking for the story on the drowning. Nothing. Not even an inch paragraph in the local news section.

He turned to the comic pages. Dilbert. He always read that one first, the poor bastard in the cubicle. His job also consisted of a cubicle at work which he had been calling a cubicave of late. Then he read Kung Futball. These were his two favorite strips and the men who drew them were definitely crazed. Like him. Mean with a mission. Again like him.

He put the paper down, it was getting time to get ready. In the bedroom he checked his face mask




and the oxygen levels in his tanks. They were good, both tanks would have to last the weekend. By Monday he wouldn’t have any use for them until next year.

At the table, he downed the rest of his drink. Now he would have to wait until it was time for him to leave. To enjoy his vacation, he thought.







The airport wasn’t crowded and Teddy and Sara’s plane was on time. The 3:03 flight to Orlando had just landed at MacArthur and its passengers who were staying on the Island were disembarking. There was a half hour until his brother and wife were to board and they still had to go through the security checkpoint.

Brian and Teddy had talked more about the drowning at the pond. They were sitting by themselves. Barbara went with Sara to return the rental car at the Avis counter and were settling the bill. Terry and Ryan had their faces glued to the six foot tall glass window watching the plane that would take their aunt and uncle to see their grandparents and would be playing at that house by Tuesday. They both secretly wished they were on the flight leaving today.

“Are you going to the Pond today?” Teddy asked.

“Later today. I don’t know why but I want to go. I guess it’s the kid in me,” Brian told him.

“You taking them with you?” Teddy pointed to the kids nudging each other for a better view of the plane.

“No, I don’t think so. They’ll put up a stink. I’ll have to promise to take them Sunday.”

“And Barbara’s going to let you take them then?"
“I guess so.”

“Even after seeing that kid’s face this morning?”

Brian didn’t answer him. Instead he chose to remember and think about Sachem Pond.

The town had been founded by the Pilgrims, the same people who landed at Plymouth Rock, but that was in the middle of the 17th century. The natives then lived by the body of water called Sachem Pond which was formed by the last glacier to pass over Long Island. When the sale of the land took place, all the Indians received were tools, clothing, knives and hatchets. The Setaukets, the tribe who sold the land thinking they were only selling the rights to use the land and not the land itself, were still able to hunt and fish. But the new settlers also brought a gift, small pox, which the natives had no immunity. The tribe should have had an Hollywood agent with a law degree.

Brian suddenly reminded himself that it was a high school history class term paper he was recalling. The one he did on Sachem Pond. He was also thinking about Wyandanch, the chief whose daughter had been kidnapped and that one of the more prominent settlers had aided in her return. The story was fuzzy and the rest of the facts were even fuzzier

Either the chief had given the area as a gift to the settlers or had accepted what the settlers had offered as a token gesture, but that didn’t matter. All Brian had known at the time that there were no pure blood natives left in the middle of the island. There were still some native-Americans in the Hamptons. And those of the original tribe who didn’t die of disease moved as far away as Wisconsin which happened to be the same name of the last glacier to cover the land.

But was she the chief’s daughter? The Princess of Sachem Pond? Lady of the proverbial lake? He couldn’t remember anymore, but wasn’t that what legends were made of? That and the winners wrote the history books.

“Brian? You look like you’re a million miles away,” Barbara said. She and Sara were standing in front of him and Teddy.





He didn’t answer.

His brother’s flight was announced over the intercom and was ready to be boarded at Gate 2. Brian and Teddy rose. Barbara called to Terry and Ryan. They took their noses from the glass and ran to her.

Brian shook Teddy’s hand and hugged Sara. Barbara hugged both of them. Ryan and Terry received pats on the head from the leaving duo. Barbara grabbed Ryan’s hand.

“Don’t go running after any ghosts while I’m gone,” Teddy whispered in Brian’s ear.

“I won’t, big brother. I’ll see you soon in the sun belt. Call when you get in. Say hello to Mom and Dad,” Brian told him.

“I will, but you stay out of trouble, okay? I mean it.”

Brian nodded.

Teddy and Sara walked through the airport security metal detector, turned and waved as they emptied their pockets, turned again and waved, and then they were gone. The two boys ran back to the window overlooking the tarmac to watch the plane take off for Florida. Ryan pointed at the plane saying he could see Aunt Sara waving to him from her seat.

“You can’t see her, dog brain,” Terry told him.

Barabara heard them and gave Terry her mad look that said don’t say things like that to Ryan. Brian just wondered how the older brother was going to explain his visible reminder when Ryan finally lost his patience.

The plane had lifted off without a hitch and the family walked though the parking lot to get to their car to return to his parents’ home. The house would feel empty now, he thought, with only him, his wife and the two boys. His parents were vacationing in Orlando for another two weeks and his brother and wife were now flying down to join them. And by Tuesday, his family would arrive to share their company for another week.

During the ride, he was quiet, Barbara looked over at him a few times but didn’t say anything. His sons were still rivaling in the back seat. To ignore his brother, Terry began counting New York State license plates on cars not realizing he wasn’t in the Sacramento Valley. Ryan laughed when Terry discovered his error. The younger boy received a punch in the arm for his sense of humor.

“Terry!” Ryan was rubbing his arm.

“Be nice to your brother,” Barbara scolded Terry. But Brian smiled. He never wanted to be the older brother. And at this stage of the game, he was glad he wouldn’t have to make the choice.

When he pulled the car into the driveway, the two boys bolted out of the car, but Brian sat for a moment with Barbara.

He mentioned that he wanted to go down to the Pond by himself before dinner. She told him he better be home on time like she was talking to Terry. Because she was serving the meal at six o’clock sharp. Then she kissed him on the cheek and squeezed his hand. Brian waved to her as she turned toward him before entering the house. He knew he shouldn’t be leaving her alone, but at least he hadn’t had to explain to her why he was going. He wasn’t sure himself, but he did want to talk to Charlie again about the legend. The Princess. The drowning victims every year. He wasn’t beginning to believe, but he was curious. About why things happened the way they did.

Just another adult, he laughed, confused with memories of his childhood. The ones he’d left behind in Sachem Pond.










It was four o’clock. The man went to the bedroom to get ready to leave. The tanks, the face mask, flippers and weight belts in his arms, he walked through the house then went out the door and put the equipment in the car trunk. He was already wearing the wet suit under his clothes. It made him look like a weight lifter.

He started up the car as it was time for him again to go to the Pond. Time for the Princess to go to work too.

The weight belt would help him more today than when he tried to dive without it yesterday. He had almost surfaced a couple times while he was dragging the kid to the brush covered shoreline and where he could safely enter and exit the water without detection. He didn’t need any nosy local to spoil his plans. Or ruin the legend.

The place he’d found to dive to enter the pond was across the street from where the old Pond Tavern used to stand. But that was before the fires and the only thing left of the bar were the cement stairs which stretched from the road to where the front door used to be. The tavern had been one of his old haunts after he graduated from high school.

He and his friends would drink beer together usually a few more than they should have. Those were good times, he thought. But everyone who was in his crowd back then had moved away for college or didn’t come back from the current war. The stairs were always a reminder. A sad memory of good times. He wished it was open now so he could get a cold one, but then remembered what he was here to do. Diving and drinking didn’t mix. Never did.

He had parked the car opposite the stairs. It was a force of habit because it was the spot he used to park whenever he went to the tavern. From the trunk, he grabbed what he would need and sat between two old oak trees where he undressed. His pants, shirt and shoes were stacked in a small pile. He pulled his arms into the sleeve harness which held the tanks, tied the weight belt around his waist and put two small weights in small pockets of the wet suit down around his ankles.

He spit into the mask and rubbed the plastic lens with his fingers for visibility. He would need all he could to see in the murky pond water and not get a fogged up mask. With a flipper in each hand, he stood up and began walking toward the water’s edge.

When he reached the end of the wooded area, he put on the flippers. He used both hands to stretch the face mask down from the top of his head. It was tough getting it over the wet suit hood, but making a few adjustments it slid down just the way he liked it. He was ready.

He turned toward the stairs and walked backward into the water watching for exposed tree roots. He’d tripped on one yesterday and he wanted today to be perfect. No mistakes. Not that there were mistakes during Friday’s dive, but today wasn’t a test run like yesterday had been. The water was warmer today. He could feel it on his chin, the only exposed skin not covered by the rubber suit. The one place, he thought, he was vulnerable. But he felt good and everything felt right for the dive. When he was in the water up to his waist, he sank below the surface of the pond.

The Princess was to be awakened again, but this time he didn’t laugh at the idea as he had done before he left the house. He didn’t want to choke on the oxygen supply or worse have to surface again. It was time to get another one.

He liked the idea of picking an arbitrary victim. Someone who was in water over their head.Without a care that the person he would choose was supposed to go on to be a scientist , someone who could change the world, or even a future sport star. They could be another name on a welfare roll or a soldier in the next war. He didn’t care. All he was doing was practicing the rule of survival of the species. Thinning the herd. But none had ever gotten away from him. Never. Not when the odds were in his favor. Unless they grew gills when he snared them, they were his to do with what he wanted . To show them. They couldn’t do what they wanted in this life. Let them struggle, or yell, or scratch at the wet suit. They were his. And it was up to him whether they lived. But they never did.

In front of him, about ten yards away, he could see three pairs of legs kicking to keep their young bodies afloat. One swam away and then there were two. He would wait. Oh he could wait. The




lungs on his back would allow him to wait for forty-five minutes if he had to. But he never had to

wait that long. Kids were too restless to stay in one place for any length of time. Yesterday he’d grabbed the leg of the last one to leave. Today he would do the same.

Two more legs left. He swam closed to the set that stayed. A couple more seconds and the legs would kick hard and then he would have another one.

They kicked. He moved under the legs and stretched his arms upward. The weights were working fine. They were holding him deep enough. He swam with the swimmer then reached up and grabbed an ankle and held on so he could finally pull the kid down.

The Princess had awakened.











The airhorn from the lifeguard stand was blaring again. Almost deafening. Brian had hoped that someone wouldn’t drown today, but it wasn’t to be.

The scene on the beach was a replay of the day before. Parents gathering their kids, lifeguards searching the water like crazy and telling everyone to get out of the water. A crowd stood around the lifeguard stand. Mothers screamed at their kids who whined about having to get out of the water. Brian caught sight of Charlie standing next to his beach chair with his hands on his hips.

“She got another one,” Charlie said referring to the Princess. “Damn fools.”

“You really believe it’s the legend, Charlie?”

“I have to. You probably don’t remember, but I can’t forget?’

“You act as if you’re keeping a vigil, if you don’t mind me saying.” Brian frowned when he said this.

The old man looked him staright in the eye, smiled and then began to explain. “I guess I am at that. Really never thought about it. I must be coming down here every 4th for umteen years now. You remember my son?”

“Can’t say I do?”

“How about a skinny teenager who used to work in the store on weekday afternoons?”


“Well, that was him.”

“Oh…yeah, yeah. Ronnie, wasn’t it?”

“Close. Donnie.”

Brian frowned again. He felt like he had stepped on someone’s grave. His guess was only off by a first letter of Charlie’s son’s name. Why was he able to remember so much from his childhood? He had a good memory, but this was boarding on almost total recall.

The beach had become too quiet and the water most still. Some people had left while others lingered on wool blankets and oversized towels.

“Your son helped me choose a model once. A 1956 Chevy Nomad. Two door wagon. But I seem to remember he was more excited about the choice than I was. I just wanted to build it.”

“It was his favorite car. And when he got out of the military he found one and fixed it up. It’s still in my garage. Under a blue tarp. I don’t have the heart to get rid of it.”

“Where’s Donnie now?” Brian asked, but as soon as he did he knew the question was a





mistake. Somehow he knew Donnie was dead and he was opening up an old wound.

“He’s gone, but you already guessed that. When he came home, he was depressed. Three months before he was scheduled to leave. He got hit by a piece of shrapnel in the head. At first it wasn’t a serious wound. But they couldn’t reach it. They did surgery, two of them. They said a third could either leave him a vegetable or a babbling idiot. So they left it.

“He got a plate in his head because of the surgeries and a table full of pills. Shut up and take his pills, he always said. But one thing happened that really changed his life, he couldn’t sleep anymore. Not a wink. He’d close his eyes, sure, but he was always awake. Made him a little crazy.

“I finally talked him into seeing someone at the VA hospital. They took care of veterans. And I tried to console him, you know, I loved that boy. But love wasn’t what he needed the most, he needed peace.

“So he went to the hospital and he did talk to some doctor who gave him some different pills and introduced him to some vets going through the same stuff. He seemed to feel better after that. I felt bad I couldn’t do anything for him, but I was in another war and it was, well, different.

“Everything had been going so well for him after that. He had a good job with the county, had gotten married and he and his wife were expecting a baby girl. They were happy. It lasted seven years. Then he had an espisode. A bad one. He went back to the VA again, they said the object had moved, pressing on some big long scientific thing, I can’t remember what they called it. Nothing was helping. He was in the hospital for a week, but came home because he couldn’t stand being cut off from his life. More bottles of pills and he came home.

“He quit his job, went on disability, his marriage was in trouble and he was depressed again. Then about a month later, he came down here to the Pond, walked right into the water and never came out.”

“I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to bring it all back,” Brian said and placed his hand on the man’s shoulder and squeezed it. Charlie put his hand on Brian’s and patted the fingers.

“Don’t be sorry. What do you think I’m doing here? I’m remembering. He’s part of the legend now.”

“So that’s why you believe in the Princess?

Charlie shrugged. “That’s only part of it. There’s another part of the legend that no one remembers. But I do because I talked to an old timer who’s dead now and he told me. Every so many years, the Princess gives one back. Gives him his life.”

“You know something, Charlie,? You’re gonna make a believer out of me yet.”

The man smiled and sat down in his chair. Brian sat in the sand next to him. They both stared off into the water so tranquill after the Princess had been satified.

From the parking area Brian could hear the sound of the motorcycle, saw it pull into the lot and park next to his car. It was Lido. He could tell by the silver helmet.

She left the helmet on the bike seat and began walking across the sand.

“Your granddaughter’s arrived,” Brian said but Charie’s gaze was fixed on the water. When he turned to look, a smile appeared on the old man’s face.

Her hair was tied in a pony tail and showed off her full face. Granddaughter, Brian thought and then it suddenly hit him. She was Donnie’s kid. The child Charlie had spoken about.

Ten feet away she waved. And when she reached them, she said hello to Brian and kissed Charlie on the cheek.

She sat next to Brian. I came as soon as I heard. “How long ago did it happen?”

“Not long ago. In the last hour,” Charlie told her.

“I’m diving this evening. And don’t try to talk me out of it, Charlie.” She had a serious expression on her face.

“I wouldn’t dream of it,” he said, “and besides I don’t have the strength to. Maybe somebody can find out what’s happening to these kids.”




“Could you use some company?” Brian asked her.

Her eyes perked up. “You dive?”

“It’s been a while, but yes.”

“You’re welcome to come along. I have an extra set of gear that should fit you. Why don’t you come over to Charlie’s about seven.”

“Okay, that will give me time to go home and eat some dinner with the family.”

“All right, but eat light.”

Brian nodded and stood ready to leave.

“I don’t want to put a damper on your plans,” Charlie said, “but have you thought what you’re gonna do if you come face to face with the Princess?”








The boy the man picked this time struggled more than any kid he had taken in the last couple years. When he had placed the respirator mouthpiece by the kid’s mouth, it was grabbed not just accepted like the other victims. No, this one had fire, but it wouldn’t last for long.

He had almost also broken the boy’s arm when he had to force the kid into the trunk of his car. And he nearly fell down the basement stairs as he held the kid around the waist in front of him. Then wrestling the kid onto the milk box, tying the arms and legs with one hand while holding the kid by the neck to prevent escape.

And now after quartering the boy downstairs, he was still breathing heavy. The struggle had been more than he expected.

The man got up and grabbed the bottle of vodka off the top of the refridgerator, He took a large glass tumbler from the sink, ran some water in it to rinse and sat down at the table. Three fingers were poured into the glass. He gulped a big swallow feeling the liquor all the way down to his stomach.

He relaxed again and turned on the TV. The remote was tuned to the local news channel. They’d give him the news. Would the talking heads tell his story today? He doubted it, but he would still watch. No one cared about Sachem Pond. They didn’t think about the legend of the princess. So how would they know about the drowning. It was one of the reasons why he had picked Sachem Pond. Everyone minded their own business.

The glass was refilled, two fingers. He took a sip, went to the freezer, got a Hungry Man dinner and put it in the microwave. From the fridge, he gripped the can of beans. With the can opener he removed the tin lid and placed the can on the counter next to a large metal spoon. The beans would be lukewarm when he brought them downstairs.

He killed the rest of the glass and refilled it. This time he just looked at the tumbler as the sound of the TV blurred in his ears.

The boy in the basement yelled, “Hey, man.”

A grin spread across the man’s face. He wasn’t going to answer the little bastard. The glass was in his hand once more. He sipped at it again and then put it down on the table.

The young voice called to him again. The man stomped his foot on the floor and turned up the TV. Now all he would be able to hear was the weather for the next five days. He knew it was a cruel trick because the kid in the basement wouldn’t live that long. He grinned again and finished the last of his drink.

His meal was ready. He peeled the see-though wrapping from the tray and ate. Beef in




gravy, mash potatoes, peas and some kind of biscuit. When he finished he threw the tray in the trash and rinsed the fork in the sink. Filling yet plastic tasting, he knew he’d be happy to get home.

He pushed his index finger into can of beans and licked it. Still too chilled to be served. He would wait a bit longer before giving it to the kid.

A cabinet door over the stove was opened and he searched for a bottle of pills.Valium had been typed at the bottom of the label. He took the spoon and began grinding up the pill. The kid would need it more than he would if either of them were to get any sleep tonight.

When the pill was a small pile of powder on the counter, he scooped it up with the spoon, added it to the beans and stirred it into the red sauce. Then placed the can on the table and went back to watching the news. Maybe tonight would be the night they reported the drowning, but so what if they didn’t. He was achieving his objective and what did he care if they didn’t. The deed had to be done.

Again the kid called to him. He picked up the can of beans off the table. He was tired of the news and changed the channel. He shrugged at the lack of story on the pond then laughed as he stirred the beans. He stuck his finger in the can again and this time the contents felt tepid to his touch. Just right, he thought.

And with the Jeopardy show theme in the background, he unlocked the basement door. Then he kicked the bottom door panel and sat back down. He would go to the kid right after Final Jeopardy. Maybe. If there were no new noises from the basement.







Brian was quiet all through dinner. He did tell the family he would have to go out after seven, but he didn’t offer any reason. It wasn’t that Barbara wouldn’t understand, but he didn’t want to have to answer the questions which would follow. And talking in front of the boys about another drowning was something he didn’t want to do.

The conversation would end with Barbara wanting to know what kind of place did he bring them to. Then Terry and Ryan would want to go with him. He knew they would because they were as curious as he was about the events at the Pond. No, he wouldn’t tell them anything and would sidestep the questions if they came up. He didn’t want to leave his parents’ house feeling like the bad guy for shielding the family. Barbara would get upset and his sons wouldn’t take no for an answer when they would be told they couldn’t come. Yeah, he was saving them all a lot of grief. Especially himself.

“The steak was a good idea.” he told his wife who smiled.

“Well, I appreciate you cooking it,” she said.

He returned the smile. But it wasn’t because of what she said. It was more for what she had done. When he arrived home the barbeque grill was set up and all he had to do was pour the coals and light the fire. Then cooked the steaks to medium rare while she completed the rest of the meal with corn on the cob and a big salad.

“There’s another piece left,” she said

“No, I’m fine.” He had eaten a little more than he should have but he was hungrier than he thought. Normally, he would have eaten the last piece too.

“Me, please.” Ryan had his plate in both hands.

“No, me. I’m bigger,” Terry said. Barbara smiled and began cutting the piece into two equal







And when she set it in front of Terry who noticed that his brother was given an equal-sized piece said, “Aw, Mom.”

Brian ignored his offsprings in-fighting and told Barbara, “I have to get going.”

“When do you think you’ll be back?’

“I’ll see you a little after nine.”


He got up from the table and went into the bedroom. With a pair of swin trunks in his hand he went to the bathroom to change. He washed his face, combed his hair and before exiting smoothed his pants so the outline of bathing suit couldn’t be seen. Very secretive, aren’t we, he thought.

He kissed his wife on the cheek and patted both boys on the head. A quick wave and he was out the door. To what? To find out what was killing young boys? To meet the Princess? To satisfy his own morbid curiosity? The engine turned over and he was driving down the street before he wondered whether it was a little of all three.

Brian arrived at Charlie’s and Lido met him in the driveway. Charlie was sitting on the front step and waved.

“Hi,” Brian called to him and followed Lido into the two-car garage.

“This is where I keep my diving equipment while I’m here.,” she told him.

They had walked through a side door to enter the garage and passed her bike. He could see tanks, wetsuits and other paraphernalia they would be needing this evening. But under a canvass tarp in the other stall was a car. The outline was that of a station wagon.

“Is that your Dad’s car?” Brian pointed to the tarp.

“Oh, Charlie told you about that, huh. Yeah, it’s the Nomad.” She was wearing a long blue robe and had begun movin the tanks to the middle of the stall.

“Let me help you with that.” Brian grabbed one of the tanks from her while she went to get the other equipment.

She removed the robe and Brian noticed quickly that she wasn’t wearing anything under underneath. He hadn’t noticed her figure before because all he had ever seen her in was the leather motorcycle suit. He was more surprised that she had done so without the slightest embarrassment.

“I hope you’re not doing that for my benefit.” He was staring but didn’t mean to.

“Oh. Sorry. No, I’m not doing it for shock value or anything like that. I’m not a tease if that’s what you’re thinking. I guess it’s a force of habit. I didn’t mean to embarrass you, “ she said.

“No, more like surprised.”

“Well, I just found that the suit fits better like this. You should see when I wear a bikini under this. I look like I spent the evening with a teenage octopus if you know what I mean. Top going one way and the bottom going another. “ She was smiling.

“I bet,” Brian told her and laughed.

“You would, huh? Here.” Lido threw him the other wet suit and he began to undress. She noticed his bathing suit and he left it on under the rubber suit. She let out a small laugh.

When he had the suit on, they carried everything they would be needing to his car. Masks, flippers, weight belts, flashlights, a combination depth guage-compas-thermometer, a knife, and two pairs of neoprene booties to prevent blisters which might be caused by the flippers. Everything was placed in the trunk of the rental car and fit without having to squash anything.

While they had been in the garage, he had noticed a pair of spear guns but hadn’t said anything to Lido. He doubted they would be needed because the only thing alive at the Pond this time of night should be them.

Lido excused herself for a minute. She wanted to say goodnight to Charlie. As she returned to the car, Brian waved to him. Charlie gave a wave from the front doorway and went into the house.

“I have to do that, he worries about me.” She zipped the front of her blue suit all the way up.





Brian adjusted the sleeve of his orange suit and started the car. They were going to see what the Pond had to offer by exploring its secrets and the only way that could be done was by looking inside.

He thought again about the spear guns and almost mentioned them to Lido. His feeling was that they would be needed might make her feel his fear. But of what? Diving with her? That wouldn’t be helpful. Of the Princess? No, he wasn’t a believer. How about whatever was claiming the lives of the drowning victims? That was it. But it was too scary a thing to say out loud.

No, he’d see what happened on this dive. And if they went again or if he felt they might be useful after he’d seen what was down there.








I know what he’s up to, Barbara had thought after she heard Brian drive away. Who is he kidding? He’s going to the Pond. His curiosity had been gripped by a ghost and he didn’t want to let it go.

She secretly wished her spouse wasn’t so infatuated with death and mystical things. But had known this when she married him. Her own mother had even found it an endearing trait and not morbid. How quaint, she had thought at the time. No, it was his sense of humor that had attached her to him and when her sons were born she felt an attentiveness on the occasion of each birth, just like when they had first met.

So let him have his time to discover. But there was a real magnetism to the Pond. She had felt it too. And she hadn’t even stepped on the edge of its shore yet. Maybe tomorrow she would. The four of them could take a lunch and make a day of it. Like the way she and her family used to on the Auburn Hills side of Folsom Lake. Where she and her boyfriends also went parking. But that was before she met Brian.

“Mom?” Terry asked. He and Ryan were on the floor in the living room watching a game show on TV.

Barbara came in from the kitchen. “Yes, honey?”

“Ryan and I want to rent a movie. And maybe get some ice cream too.” Ryan had been watching Vanna turn a letter for the contestant who Terry wanted to win.

“Yeah, Mom, that would be neato,” Ryan added and then burst into hysterics when his brother’s player wanted a P. Terry rolled his eyes.

“Okay, who’s got money?” Barbara asked them.

“Wait a minute, Mom. I want to see this lady take a pee.” They all watched as the woman’s face got redder at the joke made at her expense and finally smiled.

“I do,” Ryan answered after another letter was chosen and the game resumed.

“All right, let’s see,” she said. Barbara was only kidding when she had asked about money, but now she was curious.

From his pocket, Ryan produced a bill folded into the size of a dime. It’s probably a five, Barbara thought as he proceded to unfold it.

Showing her a twenty dollar bill, he said, “Grandpa and grandma left it for us. I can show you the note.” Once again he dug deep into his other front pocket and came up with a white piece of paper the size of a quarter. He was about to open it and show his mom when Terry interrupted.

“Nice going, lame-o, that’s supposed to be for Disneyworld.”

“No, it’s not. The note says we can use it for whatever we want.”






“Did not, odor man.”

“Well, my part of the note says I can spend it on ice cream and a movie if I want.”

“Does not, monkey lips.”

Barbara hid a slight smile at that one.


“Terry!. Okay, that’s enough. Anyway,we’ll have to wait until your Dad comes back, he has the car. We’re not home.”

Terry said, “We want to get a horror movie.”

Barbara grimaced for a moment. Those films weren’t exactly her favorites. They had given her nightmares since she was small. But she wasn’t a prepubescent boy.

“I thought both of you liked Pokemon?” she asked hoping for an easy out.

“Buttcake still likes them,” Terry told her.

But she turned and went out the screened door to the patio. “Let me know what you decide. But you’re going to have to ask your Dad about any horror movie.”










The dive was going well, Brian thought. He was swimming behind Lido who seemed to sense where she was going so he just followed her. He guessed they were in about twenty feet of water. Sunlight could still be seen above through the murky water, but the bottom was nowhere in sight even with the flashlight.

He didn’t know what the Pond or the night held since he had never dove here before. Sure he had swam underwater here as a kid but never at this depth. And before this dive was over, he knew they would be diving much deeper possibly even to the bottom.

When they had swam about a half mile out Lido stopped. He caught up to her and by accident he flashed his light in her eyes. She made what he thought to be a smile with her eyes through her mask. As they waited together, the weights which were attached to their belts began to pull them down. It was a gradual decline to the deeper part, Brian could feel it.

Lido motioned to him by pointing in a diagonal direction. She wanted to go deeper and more into the center of the Pond. He gave her the okay sign but wasn’t that confident about deepening their dive.

Lido swam ahead and again he followed. But his heart began to pound a little. Not fast enough that he thought he had to surface, but just enough to keep him scared as he swam behind her. What if they found the kid was beginning to fill his mind. And why was he thinking about that now for the first time? Inside his mask, he frowned.

Again Lido stopped, and he swam up along side her. She pointed to his flashlight which he wiggled. Then she pointed to a dark spot ahead of them. He aimed his light in the same direction as her light. She began to swim again and again he followed.

As they got closer, he began to see what the objects were. At first, they looked like metal boxes stacked in a neat row. But upon further inspection, he saw they were old cars covered with a green slime. There were four of them, end to end, buried up to their bumpers in the muddy pond floor. Lido went up to the nearest car and wiped the muck off a side window with her hand. This






surprised the hell out of him, he couldn’t see himself doing it. But here she was looking into the car and motioning him to come look. He swam to the car and looked in. It was empty. He breathed a collective sigh. The thought that if the Pond wasn’t without sea life, an eel or an octopus might have greeted them, but then the water would have to be salty too.

Lido checked the others while he waited. It was too bad, he thought, since the cars were buried so deep you couldn’t even check the license plate numbers to see who the cars could have belonged to. But from the age of the cars which he guessed to be from the 1940’s or 50’s, the owners were probably long dead. And these former machines were long forgotten.

Then he remembered something he had read or heard somewhere about it being illegal about driving on the ice during the winter when the Pond froze. Didn’t he see a picture somewhere? These cars must have fell through on some bygone January day in a time long past. And now here they lay for eternity where they settled in the muck. That was, until someone else on a dive, thought it would be a good idea to bring them up. But the cost would be high, even with a crane, he found himself thinking.

Lido had returned and waved to him to follow her. She had something to show him. A body in cement overshoes perhaps? Or one in cement moccasins in keeping with the Indian legend.

He didn’t have to wonder for long when they reached the sight Lido wanted him to see. Two horse skeletons on their sides. One still had the metal bit where its mouth would be. They must have drowned pulling a sled or something bigger just so they could rest here in this muddy watery grave. He was surprised they were so well preserved. Lido shrugged her shoulders and then pointed up. She wanted to surface and he was glad to follow.

When he broke the surface she already had removed her mouthpiece and the face mask was atop her head.

“That was fun,” she said.

His mouthpiece was out and he was getting the mask up. “Yeah, it wasn’t bad.”

“Not bad, It was great. Maybe you should get out from behind your drawing table once in a while.” She said it with a smile. He wouldn’t have gotten mad if she didn’t. He grinned back at her.

“You always go right up to things down when you dive and just look in? Aren’t you afraid of the unexpected?”

“Sure, I am. Didn’t I tell you I’d been down there before? I’ve seen the cars a couple of times. But I’ve never seen the horse skeletons before. They’ve probably been down there for fifty years. I’m surprised how good they look.”

“Me too.”

As they talked more, he had noticed it was already dusk and the sun would be setting soon. But he hadn’t noticed that they were still in the middle of the Pond. They had been diving dead center. He’d have to tell Teddy the next time he saw him that the Pond wasn’t bottomless. He could now attest to it he had seen it himself. It wasn’t bottomless unless another car had gotten stuck in its drain. He smiled at that thought.

“Want to dive again? We have about a half hour of light left,” Lido asked. She was pulling her face mask down.

“Okay, but I saw something when we first dove and I want to check it out,” he told her.

“I’m going to go down here again and then I’ll meet you by the car.” She stuck the mouthpiece in and was gone.

He kicked his feet a moment longer and thought about how the Pond used to be. When he was a kid here. A little mysterious but friendly. But not in the shape it was now.

With his mask down and mouthpiece in, he swam to the area where his curiosity captured him when they first dove down. It was something that had to do with about the Pond after a hard rainy period. In his memory the Pond never overflowed, but in its history this little body of liquid green had buried Sachem Pond Road more than once with mud.





He swam ahead. The flashlight aimed forward as he moved through the water. He wasn’t sure what he was looking for, but even if he didn’t it would satify any doubt he had. They still hadn’t found a body or maybe this could tell them what happened to it or where it had gone until it finally floated to the surface and the deputy speared it.

Brian reached the spot where he wanted to be and panned the area with the light. But when he aimed it downward he saw two half-buried corregated steel tubes with what looked like they had tarnished hubcaps on the exposed ends. These were what he was searching for. The Pond’s overflow tubes.

The reason he had thought of attempting to locate them had to do with seeing the mechanical platform, a cement slab in the sand which had been covered by overgrown brush. He had seen it when they arrived and had passed right by it when they walked into the water as they got ready to dive.

The platform was probably mechanical and had a switch to operate it, but still he swam close to the pod-covered openings. He tried to budge the cap on the right tube. Nothing. Didn’t move an inch. Then attempted the same procedure on the other. Again nothing. They were very old and was a good possibility they hadn’t been opened in years if not decades. But he thought the tubes could be part of the answer to the disappearance of the body after the drowning.

With the flashlight, he inspected the covers more closely. They were perfectly round and sat on the ends of the tubes like masks. On top of the one on his right, he saw a hinge the size of his fist and then realized the weight of the caps. He couldn’t move them if he was the Incredible Hulk and that wasn’t even taking into consideration the water pressure on each disc.

He was busy checking the caps when something hit one of the oxygen tanks. His first reaction was to freeze. But a second later, he turned around to see Lido’s blue suit in the glow of his flashlight. She was five feet from him. Her flashlight was at her side. A knife in her left hand. He blinked his light at her and pointed up. Together they surfaced.

“Son of a bitch! What were you trying to do? Scare the shit out of me?” Brian shouted as soon as he had removed his mouthpiece.

She didn’t hear what he said as she was tilting her head side to side to get water out of one of her ears. For the moment he was glad. He had begun to like her.

“What?” she asked, “I hope I didn’t scare you. I thought you’d know about the knife signal. I’m really sorry. But it was really the only way to get your attention.” He did remember that it was used by some instructors during a dive when you get separated. The darkness was quickly enveloping them.

“I know. I’m sorry I said what I said.” Maybe she did hear him.

“What did you say?”

“Never mind about that. Let’s get going. I promised I’d be home early. Maybe we can do this another time.”

“Fine with me. Let’s go.”








It was after one a.m. when Charlie woke up. He had had a hard time getting to sleep and





now that he had woke up he knew he wouldn’t be getting back to sleep for a while.

As he sat on the edge of the bed, he thought about the dream he was having as he felt the floor with his toes to feel for his slippers. The more he woke the less he was remembering the scene his nocturnal mind had created. But what he did recall was what had disturbed his sleep.

In the dream, he was standing in front of his chair on the beach at the Pond. He was alone. No one else on the sand. With moonlight providing the light and the reflection on the water acting as a mirror enabled him to see all he could even want.

He wasn’t cold and he wasn’t scared, and now that he was awake he knew he was standing there for a good reason. The water was as smooth as a pane of glass. In his hand a pairs of binoculars. This seemed weird since he didn’t own a pair. But it was just a dream, he told himself.

He put on his robe and went to the bathroom. In the hall, he passed the framed needlework that read, In Times Of Peace Sons Bury Their Fathers, But In Times Of War Fathers Bury Their Sons. Lydia had given it to him last summer. It had endeared her to him more than she already was.

“Every so many years, the Princess gives one back. Gives him his life.” What the old timer had told him and he had said to the Dunne boy. Then Charlie laughed. He was calling a 35 year old man a boy because that was how he had remembered him from the days of his store. Now in his mid-sixties, he knew he would have to consider Brian a grownup. Just like he had had to come to terms with Lydia, but he would also have a hard time adjusting to call her Lido.

“Gives him his life.”

Yes, he was remembering. First, there was a small ripple in the water, then a spot about fifty feet out began to gurgle like a chunk of dry ice that had been dropped into cold water. The water seemed to then boil in a small circle and Charlie hadn’t been able to take his eyes off it. He was mesmerized by the bubbling.

In the dream, he had imagined the event as an apparation. He wasn’t a religious man in that he believed that God was in a gothic building every Sunday. No, his sense of the man above was more literal. He, Charlie’s image of Him, was in a person’s head, psyche if you will. And heart.

The spot continued to gurgle as Charlie recalled standing on the sand. He would wait there forever if that was what it would take. To see. To see him again. His son. Donnie. Just one more time. Before he, Charlie, died. Then going to his own grave would be easier than it was going to be. Without.

Charlie checked the clock on the night stand table again. Quarter to two. He picked up the letter he had received yesterday in the mail and began to reread it one more time.



Dear Charlie,

It seems so long since we’ve seen each other. I’m getting sad.

Catch me when you can.



That was all it said. Unsiged and undated, he really didn’t know what to think about it. Who would send him such a message? Like this. He had no idea. And the more he thought about who would the more the typed note perplexed him.

He could name a number of people he hadn’t seen in a while. Some were dead, others no longer a part of his life, a few he didn’t like. But why the note and what the hell did “catch me when you can” mean?

Even the Sachem Pond postmark on the envelope wasn’t any help. He knew a lot of people in this town, but he couldn’t think of anyone who could have sent the note. If they wanted him they could get him on the phone or email him not that he ever checked them. He was either at home or at the beach lately and sooner or later they would get a hold of him. And the more he thought about it, he was getting mad.





Sheriff Park reached his office a little before six the next morning. He was always tired when he didn’t get a good night’s sleep. The secong night in a row. In an hour or two he would have to be down at the Pond with deputies Jerry and Glenn with the hook and the black body bag to fish somebody else’s kid who had been claimed by Sachem Pond. It was the part of the job he never liked. Could never understand.

Later in the afternoon he would get a full report from Riverhead on the cause of the first drowning. What a waste, he thought. He got up from his desk and poured a cup of coffee. A quick check in the small ice box for milk but it wasn’t worth the effort. He knew he was out, but out of habit had checked just the same. His eye caught the jar of coffee creamer which always gave his stomach a twist every time he used it. Use it he would because black coffee even more. This was going to be some day he could feel it in his bones.

Jerry came through the door. He was early too this morning. The day didn’t start until six-thirty but the deputy wasn’t really surprised to see the sheriff was here.

“Morning, Gene.” Jerry went to get a cup of coffee then paused.

“Hi,” Sheriff Park said, but didn’t look up from his desk. Jerry saw the almost full cup with creamer half stirred.

“You should have waited. Glenn’s bringing the milk in when he gets here.”

Gene shrugged.

“What time we going to the Pond?” Jerry asked.

“Probably around ten.“
Jerry put his cup on the desktop and went to the storeroom. On a top shelf he found a black body bag. “This the last one?”

“The ME’s office will send the other one back when they send the report.”

At six-twenty-five Glenn arrived. He greeted both of them and placed the quart carton of milk on the counter next to the coffee pot. Jerry joined him and kidded the younger deputy that it was about time he arrived. Glenn joked back about how his partner had to have his caffeine fix.

“You shoulda waited,” Glenn took a sip of his cup after he had added the milk.

“I already heard.” Gene pushed his cup to the front of his desktop.

The sherrif lost himself in the paperwork, he knew this was going to be a long weekend. Working Sunday wasn’t his favorite thing to begin with and then having to wait for another body to surface wasn’t what he would have planned for the day. Another victim. Last year there was only one and that was hard enough. But so far this year there were two. He wondered if there would be a third. He would always wonder if there would be more. Not to be morbid, but he just did. He was waiting for the summer when there would be none.

The office phone rang.

Jerry answered then gave the phone to Gene. It was Charlie. The sheriff put down his pen and breathed a short sigh before saying hello. Charlie wanted to know what time the sheriff and his deputies would be coming down to the Pond because he had something to show them.








Brian was up early this morning too. He had woken up at six-thirty and hadn’t been able to get back to sleep. The dive with Lido and then the ice cream with the family had wiped him out. And





with a full stomach he went to bed before midnight.

But woke with an image in his head and went out to the living room as not to disturb his wife. He wanted to get it down on paper before his two attached the TV in search of early morning cartoons or even Sesame Street if Ryan could talk Terry into watching Bert and Ernie with him.

In the overstuffed easy chair with the sketch pad on his lap, he began to draw. Was this going to be a new character for the strip or part or a half-remembered dream or even the woman who screamed her butt off in the horror movie Barbara let the boys watch. After a few minutes the drawing began to take shape. A woman with sad eyes and long black hair looked back at him from the page. All he had was a face.

He experimented with drawing a body but it didn’t feel right. Then he drew a small version of Fu and he looked like he usually did so it wasn’t because he was still half-asleep and trying to draw because he wasn’t quite awake. A few more lines were added to the face and a few strokes to the hair.

He filled his mom’s new coffee machine and waited for it to perk. He checked for breakfast. In one cabinet, he found some pancake mix that only needed water and put it on the countertop. He’d wait for everyone to get up before that went any further.

Brian went back to the chair. As he sat, his eyes caught the picture again. He noticed what was wrong. The reason the body was wrong was that he had been making the dress in Asian style. He had been drawing Kung Futball so long that everything he drew lately smacked of an eastern flavor.

He redrew the face but this time with casual attire. Better but still not right. With his eyes closed he tried to see the image in his mind.

What he saw was a woman in water up to her waist and wearing a dark top with a round neck. He drew the face again and then the clothing that he saw. He closed his eyes again and this time he could see even more clearly. She was Indian. Native-American. And what she was wearing was made from deerskin. Then it hit him. He was drawing the Princess. The Princess of the Pond.

Brian was staring at the image when he noticed that it also resembled Lido. In the face. But not the hair. Because she was blond. But still.
He could hear the two boys in their room. They were fighting already again about something new. He put the pad down, went to the kitchen to fill two cups of coffee then headed for Barbara and the bedroom.

But before seeing if his wife was awake, he stuck his head in the boys’ bedroom.

“I get to choose this time,” Ryan was saying. They were both still in bed, but Ryan was sitting up.

“You always get to choose, jughead. I want to watch one of my shows.”

“Okay, you guys, that’s enough. Your Mom might still be sleeping. So try to keep it down,” Brian told them.

He stepped back into the hallway when Barbara called his name. “Oh, great now I’m in trouble”. Both kids smiled at him.

He entered the room with the two cups in his hands. “Hi,” he told her.

“Hi, yourself. Oh, thanks.” She took a cup from him. “I must have been dreaming, but when I woke up I didn’t know where I was or where you were.”

“I’ve been up for a while. Couldn’t sleep. I was doing a little early morning sketching.”

She nodded. “Did I just hear our two darlings arguing again. I wish they’d, I mean, you know, they get like this when they’re away from their friends.”

“Don’t worry about it. They’ll figure it out after a while. But if they don’t,” he said with a smile, “I’ll just have have to start calling Terry by a few choice names and make Ryan do a couple things he doesn’t want to do. And if that doesn’t work I’ll just have to kill them.”

As she flashed a grin, they heard the TV go on in the living room. “You know all the answers, don’t you?”

“Nope, just the questions.”





“You want to do something today? I’m developing a case of cabin fever.”

“Sure, but first I want to see the old ball field where Teddy and I used to play. And then I want to stop by the Pond to see Charlie if he’s there.”

“Okay, but I’d like to go see the ocean or the Sound or something as long as we’re here.”











While Lido slept in the other bedroom, Charlie read the newspaper until it was time for him to go down to the Pond. Calling the sheriff had made him feel better. Charlie could have told Gene over the phone about the letter he had received in the mail yesterday. He could have. But at least today there was no delivery. But he had to wonder what the next mail could bring.

It wasn’t that he thought the sheriff would think him crazed. A face-to-face was always better when showing something to an officer of the law. And even though Charlie had known Gene for years, back when Charlie was just opening his store in a sleepy beach town and the sheriff was a deputy with aspirations.

But one thing ate at him after he had first read the note was that its author was someone he knew.


He didn’t know for sure., but somewhere deep in a part of his heart. The section of his heart that died when he first heard of his son’s death. And that numbing sensation when reality overwhelmed the loved ones left behind was returning and causing a knot to form in his stomach.

Charlie remembered how close he and his son had been before Donnie had gone into the military. To do his duty. For his country. He was so proud of Donnie. In his uniform. Yet scared for him all the same. But when his son returned, a wall had been constructed between them. One that at times could be penetrated, but at other times was impassible. Donnie had come back with an anger. A deep hurt that Charlie as a father couldn’t understand. But as a former soldier, he knew very well.

A car sped down his street, stopped for a few seconds and then drove off in a hurry. In an uneasy gait, Charlie walked to the front door. He had stepped on the newsaper which had fallen to the living room rug as he went to see who could have come by so early on a Sunday morning and then stop only for a moment only to drive off.

From behind the screen door, he glanced down the end of the street hoping to see the taillights of his wary visitor. But the corner of the street was empty and Charlie had no idea who it could have been. He was almost ready to return to his chair to finish reading the paper when he noticed the door on his mailbox was open. He wasn’t sure if he had closed it when when he picked up his mail yesterday. But it was his habit to keep it closed ever since he found a possum nesting in it a few years ago. He could have left it open because he always opened any letter he got right there at the box.

He could after he got the short note with the local postmark. He could have. Forgetfulness was becoming a new friend.

Opening the fence gate, Charlie snuck a peek in the box. He wasn’t sure what to expect, but he wasn’t sticking his hand in there without checking first to see what was in there. The possum had






given him a nice bite on the thumb.

A plain white envelope was all that sat there. Charlie reached in to grab it. There was no writing on the outside at all. With his index finger, he tore the envelope open. Inside was another note and a photograph which fell into the palm of his left hand when he tapped the botom of the wrapper.

He read the note first:



Can’t you see? Don’t you know?

The photo doesn’t do him justice, but you’ll see him again in the morning.

Yours truly

from Hell




Charlie hesitated to look back at the print. He closed the gate and up the path into the house. Sitting at the kitchen table he turned over the photo.

A young boy in a bathing suit sitting on a milk box. Arms behind him. Charlie got up and fished a magnifying glass out of one of the kitchen drawers then turned on a bright light under the cabinets over the sink.

A flash had been used and shadows that fell across the boy’s face would make identification difficult at best because of the way the head tilted. Charlie looked closer at the milk crate. He could make out a rope. It held the young legs at the ankle and the arms at the wrist. Well, the only wrist he could see. From the background he guessed the boy was in a basement, but that was all. Just cement walls and an above ground window which had been covered with wooden slats. In front of the boy on the concrete floor next to the right foot was a can of something and a large tablespoon.

He couldn’t make out the writing on the can, but he shook his head at the sight. Why he had been picked out to be the one to see this, he wondered.

The shower shut off. He hadn’t noticed it even running while studying the photo. Lido was up. She must have popped into the shower while he had been at the mailbox. He grabbed the photo and the note off the table and stuck them in his shirt pocket. Charlie didn’t want her seeing them this morning. Or any morning.

“Lydia?” he called to her through the bathroom door.

“Uh huh.”

“I’m leaving.”

“Charlie, I want to ask you something. “ But he was already out the door walking down the street on his way to the Pond.







By the time Lido had dried off, put on a robe and opened the bathroom door, Charlie was





gone. Through the screen door, she could see his back as he turned the corner at the end of the street. What was his big hurry, she thought.

She went to the stove and checked to see if the coffee was still. As she poured a cup, she wondered if Brian would be going to the Pond this morning. They had had a good dive last night and would make good dive partners on any future dives.

Lido looked up Dunne in the phone book. There was only one listing under Edward. She called the number.

“Hi, is your Daddy there? Tell him it’s Lido,” she told a boy who she guessed to be the older son.

“Okay,” Terry told her and he put down the phone. Then she heard him yell, ”Hey, Dad, it’s someone named Lito on the phone.”

“That’s Charlie’s granddaughter.” Brian said in the background. He was explaining the call to his wife, he told himself.

“Hi.” He finally picked up the receiver.

“Morning,” Lido told him, “I hope my calling isn’t gonna cause any problems.” She could tell he was nervous.

“No, no problem. It just seems funny to get any calls for us on this phone that aren’t from my parents or my brother’s family. What’s up?”

“Nothing, I guess.” While she was waiting for Brian to come to the phone she found the envelope on the table. “It’s just that Charlie left so strangely this morning. He didn’t even say where he was going. I know there was another drowning yesterday and that’s probably where he’s headed but …”.

“I’m sure he’s headed there too. He seems infatuated with the victims. I’m sure everything will be okay.”

“Yeah, I guess. You going down there today?”

“In a while, I have a few errands to run and I want to show the boys where my brother and I used to play baseball.”

“I might wait a while too. I’m not up for seeing any bodies this morning. Especially kids.”

“Well, I never am. I think I’ll try to miss that part too. Hopefully after yesterday, it’s over.”

“Yeah, hopefully. I’ll see you later then.”

“Later.” She hung up the phone.

Lido went to the bedroom to get dressed then on to the garage to make sure her diving equipment was ready for another dive if needed. Sfe had a feeling it would be. Then hop on her bike and motor down to the Pond to talk to Charlie. To see what had got him out of the house so fast and what was going on with him and the victims of the pond.









Even though the kid in the trunks had his hands and feet tied with a gag in his mouth, he was making a lot of noise. Every once in a while, the man would hear the sound of something being kicked. This kid was strong even after a night in the basement, but he still didn’t know where he was being taken.

“Shut the hell up,” the man yelled at his passenger in the trunk. The sound of the kicking







As he drove toward the Pond, he was glad the old man hadn’t come out of the house when he dropped the letter at the mailbox. He knew he was taking a chance by doing it himself instead of using the postal service, but there was no mail today and there wouldn’t be any tomorrow because of the holiday.

He trusted Charlie to take the notes and the photo to the authorities. A story would get in the paper. He would be infamous. By tomorrow. At worst.

Meeting his own eyes in the rear view mirror, he said, “I promised I’d be back.”

But before he had a chance to refocus on the road, a dog ran in front of the car and he had to slam on his brakes. When his car stopped and the dog ran into the woods by the side of the road to get out of the way of the car, he smiled. He had to. He had heard the thump of his victim as the tires had screetched to avoid the dog.

His diving equipment had probably hurt the kid and the other apparatus had to have surrounded the kid like a squid in heat. Then he thought about the possible damage to his gear. He swore he’d squeeze the life out of the kid right there in the trunk if anything was broke.

Another turn and he could see the water. It was calm though the sky had begun to darken. This time he would drive a few hundred feet from where the steps of the old tavern still sat. No sense being careless, he thought. And if anyone had seen him the day before, they wouldn’t see him in the same place this time.

The car pulled to a stop next to the overflow tubes. He got out of the car and walked around to the trunk. There was no noise coming from the trunk. They always made some sound when the car came to a stop and the kid knew he was getting out. But nothing. Not a peep.

The man fumbled his keys and was having trouble getting the lid open. He was rushing. When he finally raised it, he saw that both oxygen tanks had fallen on top of his unwilling victim. The kid wasn’t moving and was way too quiet. He moved the tanks to the side checked the neck for a pulse. But he couldn’t find one. Then his hand went to the youngster’s chest for a heartbeat.

This kid couldn’t die. Not now. Not with the body in the back of his car and out in the open like this. And vulnerable to anyone who might drive by. The kid couldn’t die. Not yet. Not before the man wanted him to.

He was so mad he hit the kid square in the chest and sighed.

Not for nothing , he thought, check the kid again.

A beat, then another. Damn. Good. He’d rather be lucky than good.

Waking up the kid was the next thought to cross his mind. The victim’s lungs wouldn’t fill with water he’d read somewhere on the internet if the kid was unconscious. Or dead.

“Come to, kid,” he said in a low strained voice.

The kid wasn’t out but he was sweating like a bad actor who could never remember his lines. He shook the kid, but there was no reaction. The small chest was still going up and down. Well, he’s alive at least, he thought and closed the trunk lid.

What the hell was he going to do? What if the kid got hit so hard from the impact of the tanks and had never woken up. What a freaking mess. His mind reeled with the thought that for the first time he could get caught. He had just put the tanks with the kids before and nothing like this had ever happened. Ever. So why now?

He opened the driver door and sat behind the wheel. This kid had a half hour to gain consciousness by himself. But if he didn’t then the shoulders would have to be grabbed and shaken until he did.

But what if that didn’t happen? If he didn’t wake up?

He still had to get rid of the kid. The evidence. This he knew. Also he knew he wasn’t bringing this kid back to the house. Again. And later today when he took another one he didn’t want to take two back with him to the Pond. He wasn’t doing it and it just wouldn’t work. Besides, he was






on vacation and this was turning into a lot of work.

And Charlie. He was probably on his way here to give the sheriff the notes and the picture. Of this kid. Who if he could would identify him in a minute.

The notes were one thing, but why did he have to get cocky and send the photo. Damn, he said aloud, and punched the passenger seat back with the side of his right hand.

Yeah, he really played into their hands this time. Even given them the evidence to hang him with. How nice of him, he thought and smiled. Then he gritted his teeth.

“You better wake up, kid. That’s all I know,” he said. And as he did, the sheriff’s car with the three officers drove by on its way to the public beach.










“Are you three ready yet?” Brian asked from the living room.

“Almost,” Barbara said. She was in the kitchen putting the finishing touches on a picnic lunch. Something she had wanted to do since they came to Long Island. It would remind her of a day they sat by the American River. The four of them happily eating a lunch she had made as the river rapids rolled by.

There was no response from the bedroom where the two boys were, but there was a lot of noise. Brian went to the room the see what the latest battle was all about.

“Okay, peanut brain, if you’re taking your board, then I’m taking mine,” Terry told his brother. Ryan stood up when Brian entered the room.

“Dad? He’s taking his board just because I’m taking mine,” Ryan said. He was playing on Brian’s sympathy and Brian knew it. Terry wouldn’t look at either of them. Instead he picked up the long white piece of foam plastic and went out in the hallway waiting for them to come out.

“I guess you can take them, but have you two looked outside? It looks like it’s going to rain.” Then Brian and his sons joined Barbara in the kitchen. Brian grabbed the basket of food and the Playmate cooler with the sodas, the mustard and the jar of dill pickle spears.

Boards and their lunch in the trunk, then Barbara whispered to him that she hoped they would get to eat before the rain came. He started the engine.

The field where the baseball games of his youth were played was less than a mile away and he was anxious to get there. It was one memory of Sachem Pond he always carried with him like an old friend. Whether it was watching an A’s game at Oakland or playing softball with members of Barbara’s family. Or just playing catch in the back yard with the kids, baseball was dear to his heart. As a kid he had aspirations of catching for the Mets when they won the next World Series. He dreamed of catching Doc, Darling and El Sid. Even handling Nolan Ryan, his Dad’s favorite pitcher. He smiled as he thought about the naming of his two sons. Terry had been named after Barbara’s father, but his younger wore the name of the Ryan Express. But Barbara like the name even without an explaination of where it came from.

Brian stopped the car by a wooden section on the road where he and Teddy and their friends always parked their bikes. He could find this place in his sleep.

“Is this it? I thought we could eat here,” Barbara said.






“This is the place. I’m sure of that. But it looks different to me,” he said.

He got out of the car and everyone followed. After walking a few yards Brian found the old path to the field. He motioned to his wife and sons who gave him a funny look, but he didn’t respond and kept on the path. When he got to where he thought the field began, he stopped. Was his memory playing tracks on him? Was it further?

Even though it had been a few years, he couldn’t believe it had been more than fifteen when he finally would calculate it. But it was the right place. Or was it like the house he had grown up in? The house where he had grown up in? The house where they were staying that when he had moved in with his family neither he nor Teddy could see out the bedroon windows because they were so high, but which were eye level now that he was an adult.

“What happened to your field, Dad?” Ryan asked.

Brian looked over at him and frowned, “I think this is it.”

He told them to stay where they were and he walked a few more steps through the brush. A parallel bare path ran for 60 feet in front of him. From the old 3rd base on the left to home plate. His eyes figured where 1st base used to be and when he focused on the pitcher’s mound a pine tree overwhelmed his vision. Its trunk sat where the wooden pitching rubber had been spiked into the ground.

Brian was somber when he walked back to Ryan and together they went and stood with Brabara and Terry.

“Did you find it?” Terry asked knowing his father did from his facial expression.

“I sure did. I just never thought it would be overgrown like this, I figured kids would still be using it like we did.”

“I guess, you can never …” Barbara had begun to say but he interrupted.

“… go home again? What is that, an ‘I told you so’. It’s just that I wanted to show them where their father played ball and where he spent…”.

“…his misspent youth?”

“Something like that,” he said, put his arm around her shoulder and with the two boys in tow they returned to the car.

With the hope that something new would be uncovered about the Pond’s latest victim, Brian made a U-turn and drove to where Charlie was keeping his vigil.










But Charlie wasn’t at his spot on the beach. He was sitting across from Sheriff Park who was seated behind his office desk. The two letters and the photograph lay on the desktop and the sheriff had many questions for the man who had received the perplexing notes.

When Charlie had arrived at the Pond, the sheriff and the two deputies were already there. This day Charlie had stood with them by the squad car at the edge of the parking lot while they all waited for the second victim to surface. Jerry had remembered to bring a pair of binoculars this time.

The two letters and photo were burning a hole in Charlie’s pocket like a check to be cashed.




But he waited. He had wanted the body to surface so they could compare the photograph with that of the body soon to be in their possession.

They didn’t have to wait very long. The body came to the surface in less than an hour. The deputies under the direction of Park fished it out with the hook and placed it into the last body bag. The three men were in their car and about to leave when Charlie gave the two notes and the photo of the boy in the black bag to the sheriff.

Charlie handed them over to Park without uttering a word.

“What’s this?” the sheriff had asked as he glanced at the type written messages. His eyes drew a fixed stare at the picture of the young victim sitting on the crate.

“Something I think you oughta see,” Charlie had said.

“Where’d you get these? Never mind. Get in the back with Jerry and we’ll discuss it back at the office.”

While the sheriff and his men had been at the Pond, the report from the medical examiner had come in. Gene Park was now reading it for a second time. Water in the lungs. Conclusion: drowning. Body dehydrated and suffering from exposure.

Charlie had already been at the office for an hour and from the questions he had been asked when they first arrived after dropping off the body, he knew he was in for a long day. He continued to look out the window trying to think of anything he had forgotten to tell them. But the only thing he was afraid of was something he felt, but he didn’t know for sure if it was the truth.

He did know that they only wanted information from him and he wasn’t under suspicion. Sheriff Park and Charlie had been friends close to forty years. Back when the town had only one traffic light and the Expressway wasn’t even a bumper-to-bumper parking lot yet. They weren’t going to arrest him for the drowning. Everyone on Sachem Pond knew about the legend of the Princess who lived in the Pond and claimed her male victims each year especially on the 4th of July weekend. Even if they didn’t, he wasn’t worried because he didn’t do anything wrong. And Donnie. What if it was Donnie? Could it be? Charlie and his wife buried him at the military cemetery out in Calverton. That killed his wife both mentally and physically. But was his son’s spirit back after all these years?

“Every so many years, the Princess gives one back.” Damn that old man.

That old timer words were in Charlie’s head. What that man had said to him, he again remembered. The same thing he had told to Brian.

“Gives him his life.”

The sheriff put down the report and lifted his eyes. “You remember anything else?”

“No, I can’t,” Charlie answered.

“Well, then let me see if I have the story right. The first letter came in Saturday’s regular mail. You didn’t give it to us because you didn’t know what it meant or who it was from because it wasn’t signed. Then that night your grand daughter and Brian Dunne who is visiting the area, he grew up here, dove in the Pond. But you don’t know whether they were looking for the body or just out for an evening  underwater swim.

“Then this morning you received the second note on Sunday, this morning, with the photograph. You had heard a car come down the street, stop, then speed off before you had a chance to see who it was. And while your grand daughter was in the shower, you left the house to go down to the Pond and didn’t ask her why she and Dunne dove last night. And also if Lydia had been out of the shower, you wouldn’t have asked her about the dive. Or at least not about them diving to find the drowning victim. Is that about the gist of it?”

Charlie nodded.

The sheriff continued. “And you don’t know what the notes mean? ‘It seems so long since swe’ve seen each other. I’m getting sad. Catch me when you can.’ and ‘Can’t you see? Don’t you know? But the picture doesn’t do him justice, but you’ll see him again this morning.’ But when you








saw who was in the picture, even though his head is turned to the side, you knew I should see it. But you didn’t show it to me until the boy surfaced this morning, that right?”

“That’s it. That’s all I know.” For a moment Charlie thought it was over and the sheriff having had all his questions answered would let him leave.

Park rose from his chair and looked out the window. “Do you know where the picture was taken?”

“How would I know? You know almost all the houses around here have basements. I don’t know what you’re asking?”

“I just thought you might since you’ve lived here longer than anyone I know.”

“Can I take a look at it again?”

The sheriff handed the photo to him and sat back down at the desk.

Charlie looked deeper into the picture. He could see the boy tied to the crate, the can and the spoon in front of the kid, the window all boarded up with the slats and the tilt of the head. It was the same thing he saw this morning. And he still couldn’t read the writing on the can.

“Notice anything different?” the sheriff asked.

Charlie shook his head.

“I only have two more questions, Charlie. And I feel bad about having to ask them. We’ve known each other forever. And I know you lost a son to the Pond. But I’ve got to ask. Just so you know. I’ve got to eliminate you as a suspect.”

“Ask away,” Charlie said in a tone that let Park know he wasn’t pleased to be considered a suspect.

“Where were you at the time of the drowning and who were you with? And do you own the type of camera that took this picture?”

“I didn’t see it happen, but I was there on the beach with that cartoonist fellow both times, didn’t I tell you that? I don’t understand the strip, but Lydia likes it. And the only camera I own is a Polaroid that I can’t get film for. The answer is no.”

“Well, I appreciate you answering.”

“No harm done.”

The sheriff stood. “I guess I better be getting you back.”

“Yeah, I could use a ride. Thanks. You can drop me off at the beach..” Charlie rose from his seat.

Park put on his hat and picked his keys up off the top of the desk. “Sure, no problem. Let’s go.” He opened the office door and said to his deputies, “If anything needs my attention give me a call on the radio. I’ll be back in a while.”

Both deputies nodded as Charlie left with the sheriff.

“Better get a line on Dunne the cartoonist and check out Charlie’s statement,” Jerry said. “Yours truly from hell, you believe that shit?”

Glenn was already looking up Dunne in the local phone book. “Yeah, real cute.”








Lido arrived at the beach shortly before noon. She parked her bike in the parking lot and





scanned the sand for Charlie. What had happened at the house to make him leave the way he did was what she wanted to know. And now that she didn’t see him here, it scared her. More than she wanted it to.

She ran to the lifeguard stand zigzagging through the people and their blankets. One small child wasn’t watching where she was going and Lido almost ran into her, but at the last moment the girl turned to her left. Lido missed knocking her flat on her back by inches. Well, that was how upset she was about Charlie, Lido thought, for no good reason this little girl almost got hurt. Slow it down, she told herself.

One of the lifeguards said that he had seen Charlie this morning, but only for a minute. He had arrived here early to set up for the day. The sheriff had already been here waiting for the second drowning victim. When the body floated to the surface, he and his partner had both jumped from the lifeguard stand to help the officers retrieve the kid but the deputies had already placed the victim in the body bag. It was so busy on the shoreline that they didn’t know whether Charlie had gone with the officers or not.

Lido ran to her bike slower than she had to the lifeguard stand. She reached the bike with no further mishaps, turned the key to start the engine and sped home to Charlie’s house.

The sky was overcast and the sun was momentarily hidden behind a cloud as Lido parked her bike on the street by Charlie’s mailbox. Out in the open where it would get wet if it began to to rain. But she wasn’t worried about that now.

“Charlie?” she yelled as she approached the front door. It was locked as she left it. She opened it with her key and stepped inside. He wasn’t in the front room so she went to check the bedroom, but it too was empty.

“Where are you, Charlie?” she asked aloud while sitting on the edge of his bed.

What the hell, she wondered. He had left the house while she was in the shower and gone to the beach. He was there for the second victim to float to the surface and now he was missing. What the hell indeed.

Lido didn’t want to spend the afternoon on Charlie’s bed so she went to the kitchen and looked around for any new signs of her grandfather. There weren’t any but she wasn’t expecting some if he hadn’t returned. She went out the front door to get her bike. Back to the Pond.

She was just entering the beach parking lot when she saw him getting out of the sheriff’s car. Charlie shook Gene’s hand and the car drove away.

“Charlie!” she shouted as she ran to him.

“Hi, Lydia,” he said.

“Hi, Lydia? Where have you been? I’ve been going crazy looking for you.” She hugged him.

“Just because I’m an old man doesn’t mean I’m stupid so don’t treat me that way.”

“I was worried about you. And when I couldn’t find you I feared the worst. That’s all.”

Charlie returned the hug. “Well, you can see I’m okay.”

Together they walked over to his folding chair which sat alone on the sand. There he began telling her about the letters and the photograph he had received and it all was in the hands of the Sheriff’s office. He also explained the conversation in the office but not the part where Park had wanted to know his whereabouts it the time of the drowning. And they were curious about Dunne.

She had the copies of the letters that the sheriff gave back to Charlie in her hands. “The writer likes Jack the Ripper.”












One more to go, the man thought as he picked up the tin can from the basement floor. This last kid had been more difficult to handle than the boy from the day before or any others from prior years. Maybe he was getting older and the kids were getting stronger. He shrugged at the idea.

The pee was again dumped in the garden bed and the bean can thrown into the trask with a hollow thud. The spoon was rinsed in the sink and set down on a paper towel to dry. Everything in its place. Later today the entire process would be repeated. One last time. Number three. He smiled.

Except for this last kid, things had gone smooth. And with the help of a crushed pill this boy to had gone the way of the others. But the tanks knocking the kid unconscious while in the trunk was not what he had needed. Or even expected. He had carried the boy to the edge of the water. The dead weight heavy in his arms. He would have to start working out when he got home so he would be ready for next summer’s vacation.

The last dive had been easier because the water supported the kid’s weight. He had tried to feed air to the boy when they first entered the water but without any luck. Then under the surface of the pond he punched the small stomach just hard enough to get the kid to swallow some water. This was important he knew. Getting water into the body. Because if there was no water in the lungs, the police would begin searching for a murderer. A killer. Even him. Hopefully he would be long gone by the time they discovered the body if they did find him out.

What was he thinking, he thought. They weren’t going to catch him. Not the small bumbling squad of sheriffs in this area. No, he had nothing to fear from them. Not a thing as long as he was careful.

But he wasn’t careful on the last one. He hadn’t been exactly careless, but things hadn’t gone perfect like all the others. They would in the future and he had to hope that the punch to the gut of the last kid had allowed the boy to swallow a few mouthfuls of water before the final act.

He had to relax. All keyed up. From the bottle of vodka he poured three fingers into a glass he got from the dish drain in the sink. He downed about half of it and felt better. Liquor could always take the edge off. He sat at the kitchen table, finished the rest of the drink and poured another. His neck muscles were tight from the stress of the events.

The third one would be have to be different. Just a little something to keep the authorities off guard. Chasing their own tails like like hungry dogs who thought their appendage was a meal they couldn’t ever catch. Just like the law in Sachem Pond, he thought.

So he wouldn’t be careless in the future, he began making a list of things that had to be done before he left the area. Before he went back to work.

The list included:

- Check tanks before next dive and return equipment before leaving. Get deposit


- Number three kid (later this afternoon or earlier!!)

- Take Three to a new location after grabbing him.

- Clean up basement and get rid of the crate and spoon.

- Last letter to Charlie, don’t forget typewriter.

- Be extra careful when dropping off letter.

- Get gas for trip.

- Get pint of vodka for ride home.







The lunch basket which Barbara had packed was empty as the Grand Canyon with room to

spare. Brian couldn’t believe she had been able to pack all the food into it that she did and he had even helped her fill it. But the one thing they were both sure of was that with their sons, this family outing was just the solution for this short week on the Island. Barbara even remarked that it reminded her a little of the last time they had picnicked on the American River back home.

“Drink your soda slower, Ryan,” Barbara said.

“Aw, Mom, how come you never say anything to Terry when he gulps his?” Ryan asked.

“You too, Terry.”

“Nice going, bugle beak,” Terry told his brother.

“All right, that’s enough from both of you,” Brian told them.

Yes, it was like every picnic they’d been on. Good food, good company, the usual assortment of flying insects and Terry fighting with Ryan. Everything in the world was status quo. The great at least outweighed the worst. And he hoped he wouldn’t ever have to see the worst for a long, long time.

Terry and Ryan continued their private war and Barbara remained faithful as referee because she didn’t like to see her sons fighting. Brian scanned the beach. Charlie was in his usual spot sitting his aluminum chair staring out into the water. A small group of swimmers didn’t think it was too overcast to swims a few laps. His thoughts must be of his son this entire weekend, Brian thought.

Sitting there so still, Charlie looked like the statue of the Thinker except he had one leg crossed over the other. But he did appear deep in thought. Brian wasn’t sure what he was waiting for, but Charlie seemed intent to wait for it.

The sound of a motorcycle winding down and coming to a stop in the parking lot echoed behind them. It was Lido. She gave a wave as she went passed Brian and his family. Barbara also waved back and then asked Brian who she was. She smiled when Brian explained that Lido was Charlie’s granddaughter and added that she was a pretty girl.

As Lido sat on the sand next to Charlie, Brian glanced at her bike in the parking lot. She’d brought the diving equipment with her. Both sets. How she had balanced the two tanks and all the other gear on the bike amazed him. She must be a hell of a rider too, he thought.

Brian excused himself telling Barbara he was going to talk to Charlie and would be back in a few minutes. He walked on the sand between the blankets that dotted the sand. Again, he wondered, why there were so many people here on a day like this. Maybe they were here on vacation or just here for the weekend milking every minute until they had to return to the life they had left at home.

“Hey, Brian,” Lido said as she saw him approaching.

“Hey. Hi, Charlie,” Brian said.

“Hi.” Charlie’s short reply didn’t sound like he was in any mood for conversation.

“I see you brought your diving gear. You plan on getting in some underwater time today?” Brian was only making conversation when he asked Lido about the equipment he had seen on the back of her bike.

“I might. But I’ll have to before it rains or Charlie will have a kitten.”

The old man grunted.

“I would have liked to have seen your balancing act on your way here.” Brian grinned at her.

She smiled back. “Oh, you would have liked that. I almost lost it on the Eaton Street turn. I wouldn’t have gone to get it if Charlie hadn’t told me about his little episode at the sheriff’s office this morning after yesterday’s drowner surfaced.”

“Damn it, Lydia. Are you going to tell the whole world. Bad enough the sheriff made me feel like a criminal. I don’t have to listen to this from one of my own.” Charlie got up from his chair and walked toward the water’s edge. Lido frowned and then grimaced. Brian nodded and ran after








Charlie. He had to speed up to catch up to him.

“Charlie?’ Brian was sure if he was wanted right now.

“Look, I really don’t want conversation, but you can walk along if you like.”

Brian kept his silence and his pace with the man he knew from his youth.

“It’s a free country last time I looked,” Charlie added when he saw Brian was still with him.

So they walked. Brian at his side closest to the shoreline. Neither didn’t seem to mind if nothing would be said by the time they got back to where Lido was sitting then so be it. Maybe Charlie didn’t have a thing to say, he thought. After all they only remet two days ago and the old man wasn’t about to treat him like a long lost friend he hadn’t seen in years. And Brian was a kid the last time they’d seen each other.

Walking along the wet sand, he was surprised at Charlie’s pace. He stepped like a man with a mission who knew what he had to do and that he would probably doing it alone. But this scenerio only existed in Brian’s mind. Charlie had given no outward sign that any mission was in the offing, but the pace remained until they reached the part of the Pond where the brush met the water and they would have to turn around or be prepared to wade up to their hips to the next beach. They turned around.

Brian fell out of step when Charie finally spoke.

“I was with you on both occasions when those young boys drowned?” It was a question that disturbed the younger man.

“Uh, yeah. Why?

Charlie scratched his head and slowed the pace. “Because the sheriff or one of his deputies will in all likelyhood be asking you about my whereabouts at the time of the drowning. And I just wanted to make sure your memory was as good as mine.”

“Oh. But you were standing next to me both times. Why would…”.

“Because they don’t have any way of explaining the drownings each year. And I don’t have to tell you that the sheriff doesn’t believe in any Princess legend even though he grew up on it like you and me. He needs a suspect and for the moment I fill the bill.”

Brian continued to listen now that Charlie was in a talkative mood.

“God. How long have I known the guy? Well, longer than I want to admit. Hell, I knew him when he used to deliver fertilizer from the back of his father’s hardware store. When some of this area used to be farmland. Back before the land developers thought the wave of the future was little cookie cutter houses on postage stamp-sized lots that are now going for $250,000 each and up.”

“Did he come right out and accuse you?”

“Nah, he’s too subtle. Guess I can’t blame him. If my ass was on the line with the county, I’d be searching for straws too.”

“Well, if you need me to talk to them, I’ll be glad to…”.

“Don’t worry, they have a few questions for you too.”















The man would have to get ready for Number Three soon, but he still had a few minutes to

think. There was still the question of what he was going to do with this one since the basement or for that matter the house was no longer in consideration.

The vodka bottle had been put away in the cabinet over the fridge, but he wanted to take another drink. Just one to take the edge off, as he was fond of saying lately. But he wouldn’t because he had a dive to make and didn’t want to swallow his tongue or get a cramp. After the last kid, he knew he would need all his strength.’

The equipment was in the car and ready. Maybe a little more ready than he was at the moment. This third time might be a little more than he had bargained for, but he would go through with it if only for the goal of attaining three. His inside feeling hadn’t been fulfilled after the second kid. There was one more in there, he laughed.

Where was he going to take this kid clouded his thoughts as he went out the front door. Just let it take care of itself, he knew it would come to him. Eventually.

He drove in the direction of the Pond for one last time. When he got back he would watch a little television, get a good night’s sleep and around noon set off for his home in Connecticut. This schedule he was working out in his head would allow him to be well rested for Tuesday when he returned to work.

But this time the drive seemed longer and his tires like marshmellows. Soft on the road and twice as quiet. He was glad this would all be ending with this dive. Until next year when his private demons would rise again like they had this year. And this was the only way he had found to quell them for the eleven other months of the year.

He didn’t even understand it himself but who said he had to. Most of the guys he met across the big pond and fought with in Asia had had enough by the time they finally got home. They didn’t want anything to do with violence unless some jerk picked a fight with them or did something stupid to incur their wrath. He wouldn’t have known this if he hadn’t spent time at the VA Hospital. They had helped his demons, not cured them, but showed his how to put them in ‘’little metal boxes’’’ when he didn’t need them if they were ever needed. He was in control. Maybe it was time for a change, but at least he had control in the decision.

He glanced at the gas guage and deceided that filling the tank now would be better than doing it later. And it might even give him a much needed diversion. His tires might even turn back into rubber at the pump.









By the time Brian returned to the blanket. Barbara and his sons were waiting for him. All evedence of their picnic had been returned to the car and any trash thrown away.

“Hi, stranger. Everything ok?” Barbara asked with a smile.

“Sorry. Didn’t mean to take so long, but I wanted to talk to Charlie about something,” he told her.

The two boys were sitting on the blanket with the surfboards on their laps like two surfers who had heard that the perfect wave was in the vicinity.



“Now that Dad’s back, can we go in the water now? It’s been long enough since we’ve eaten. Okay?” Terry asked.

Barbara looked at Brian who shrugged. “You’re a lot of help,” Barbara told him. Then she said to her sons, “Okay, but just in the shallow water.”

Both boys said thanks and ran toward the water like two men who had been granted parole.

She frowned as she asked Brian, “Is anything the matter?

“Well, I just heard something I don’t want to believe.” He straightened the blanket and propped himself on his elbow then faced her.

“What happened?”
“Charlie just told me he’s under suspicion for the drownings.”


“Uh huh. But he was with me both times and I’ll tell the sheriff that so I don’t think there’s anything to be worried about.”

“I was watching you as you walked along with him. He looked really upset.”

“He and the sheriff go way back. I think he’s more mad than anything. I don’t think he can believe that the sheriff could consider him a suspect?”

“I’m glad you told me. We haven’t talked much about the accidents down here.”

“I know. I was trying to insulate you from it. You and the boys. Am I wrong to try to protect the family from all this?”

“I guess not, but I’m a real girl. I can take it. But I just can’t help wondering?” She kissed him on the neck.

“What’s that?”

“What kind of town is this anyway what with all the mystery?”

They sat up and watched their sons floating on their boards in shallow water as Barbara had asked. She then grabbed Brian around the neck and pulled him to the blanket . This time it was Brian who started kissing her on the neck and around the ears like a machine gun with lips. After the fourth kiss, she was laughing hard and hugging him. It was good to hear her laugh, Brian thought, and then he stopped kissing her so she could catch her breath.









The man parked the car further down the road than he did on the last visit. That was only yesterday and a few hours earlier than today, but time was slowing down on him. Not like it did on other vacations he had taken. But he did know he would be out of here tomorrow. Noon at the latest.

He took his time getting out of the car. From where he was standing he could see the cement stairs leading up to the front door of the long gone tavern. The Pond was calm but he could hear the muffled voices and laughter coming from the beach area. He found himself being surprised that so many people would come to the beach on such a cloudy day. But better for him, he thought, always better for him.

He scanned the area all the to the pond. The brush and the tree roots weren’t as bad here as the area he had picked the first day. If he hadn’t wanted to park across from the old tavern steps, he might have found this place and had an easier time entering the water. But he found it now and that was all that counted.

There was a concrete structure about four feet tall and three feet wide with an iron wheel on



its face. For a minute, he wasn’t sure what it was. He walked closer to the water which came up

almost halfway up the side of the structure. Through murky water, he could see the corregated steel tubes measuring about five feet across. He returned to the iron wheel, placed his hand on it and attempted to give it a turn. I wouldn’t budge. He laughed when he couldn’t. It probably took about three men or more to turn it.

But what he could do was trace the tubes. From the direction the tubes were aimed under ground and then below was the concrete piling, he walked in a straight line across Sachem Pond Road. From the road shoulder, he could see a dimple in the ground ten yards ahead of him.

When he reached the spot he turned around only to see the ends of both tubes with metal gates across their mouths. This must be where the excess rain water went when the Pond flooded.

The water would come through the tubes, then exit through the openings and filled the area where he was standing and a smaller pond formed. And then that water gradually evaporated or was absorbed into the ground water table. Hell of a piece of engineering, he thought. He was always amazed at what men could do when they put their mind to it when nature had overdone itself. Yup, he liked this.

He pulled the grate off the tube closest to him. Except for some leaves and a few thin broken tree branches inside it was empty. He wasn’t sure but it wouldn’t have surprised him to find a possum family living in there. But they never would have gotten through the grate never mind turned the iron wheel.

If this had been a cartoon a light bulb would have gone on over his head. This was where he would place the last victim. Close enough to the water so he wouldn’t have to travel far and with the depression in the ground around the tube opening he would have some protection. All he had to do was replace the grate when he was done and leave knowing his latest kid was sealed in. And he wouldn’t have to mess with the beans or deal with the kid having to take a piss. And he could watch the TV news and Jeopardy in peace for a change.








The sky had suddenly become darker. Rain was becoming more and more apparent and by the end of the afternoon the beach would be empty. All that would be left would be the wet sand and an empty soda can or other debris.

When the air horn sounded from the lifeguard stand everyone on the beach knew what it meant. Most had thought the tragic accidents had ended. But the Princess had taken another.

Barbara screamed. Brian ran to the edge of the water. Charlie was now standing in front of his chair and Lido was sprinting toward the parking lot where her diving equipment was. Charlie cursed as Brian raced by him.

Brian almost bumped into Terry who had been running towrd his parents on the blanket. His father grabbed him by the shoulders. The boy’s face was pale and looked anxious. And he was scared.

“We were playing ‘Jaws’. And when it was his turn to be eaten, he didn’t come up. He’s okay, isn’t he, Dad?” Terry asked, he voice shaking.

“Slow down. Now tell me the whole thing. You weren’t in deep water? Over your waist, I mean.” Brian had one eye on his oldest son and the other eye on the lifeguards diving in the area where they had seen the boy go under.

“No, we were doing as you guys said. We were both swimming on the boards on our





stomachs. And we were both paddling like crazy. I got eaten twice and he’d been eaten only once so it was his turn. He said ‘Ugh’ and then slipped off his board and went under the water. But he didn’t come up. Then I started waving to the lifeguards and the siren went off. I got out of the water with the rest of the people and then I saw you.”

Brian put his arm around Terry’s should and gave him a squeeze.

“Are you alright?” Brian asked him.

“Yeah … is Ryan gonna be okay, Dad?”

But Brian couldn’t answer so he nodded.Thoughts were racing through his mind at a light speed pace. What could he do, not much, he told himself.

He grabbed Terry’s hand and together they ran toward the blanket and Barbara was even more hysterical when she didn’t see her youngest.

“Where’s Ryan? Why isn’t he with you? No, no, it can’t be him. Not him, please God, not Ryan.” Her eyes were enormously wide.

Brian tried to hug her and then wondered why he was being so calm under the circumstances. Barbara broke away from him and ran toward the water. Terry started to run after her.

“Stay here. She has to be alone.” Brian watched his wife as his son sat on the blanket.

Barbara paced the shoreline while she screamed at the life guards to keep looking.

As Brian had been watching Barbara, Terry stood up and placed his hand in his father’s much larger hand and held it tightly. Terry was quietly crying. And when Brian leaned over to comfort his son his own tears fell on both his cheeks. He didn’t even know he had cried. His whole body was numb. His knees weren’t weak but rigid and thought he hadn’t cried but he did. Brian picked up Terry and the boy wrapped his legs around his waist. His hard hug made the boy cry even harder.

“I didn’t mean any of those things I called him,” Terry told his father.

“I know,” Brian said, Teddy and he had taken each other for granted too.

When Brian looked up Lido was standing in front of them. She was already wearing her wetsuit and the diving equipment for both of them was on the sand at her feet. Lido shrugged her shoulders. She wasn’t sure what Brian wanted to do but if he wanted to dive and see what happened to Ryan she was ready.

Her right arm was going through one of the tank straps when Barbara arrived back at the blanket. She grabbed the other tank, face mask, and flippers, and ran back toward the water.

Barbara used to dive with him on the American River. When they met she was one of the best divers he had ever seen and encouraged him to get better. One time at a crawdad feed at her uncle’s home in Hood, a town on the Sacramento delta, she dove with others for the crawdad traps. Brian thought the day was going well until he had eaten about seven of the tasty morsels when her uncle told him not to eat the dirty parts. Basically, the man was telling him to clean the crawdads carefully, but Brian lost his appetite and to this day couldn’t eat another one.

“Is she okay to dive?” Lido asked.

“She taught me and I don’t think we could stop her if we wanted to,” Brian answered.

Lido pushed her equipment toward him on the blanket. Brian’s eyes raised to her.

“What the hell are you waiting for?” She handed him the mask and the flippers then shoved a loaded spear gun into his hand. They smiled at each other and Brian ran toward the water.

When he got there Barbara was already was in the water and the lifeguards were clearing the last of the swimmers out. Their whistles blew as Brian put the tank on his back and strapped in. He stepped into the fins and adjusted the mask. His mind was racing. He knew he had to find out what had happened to Ryan and that he had to be with Barbara. But her head start had surprised him and he would have to catch up with her under the water. Then he remembered that he had left the underwater flashlight on the blanket in his haste to dive.

As his father dove below the water surface, Terry grabbed Lido’s hand and her other arm




hugged him around the shoulder. She was trying to keep out memories of her own father under wraps, but it was difficult. She knew she wanted to be near Charlie. With a nod of her head to where her grandfather was standing in front of his chair. She and Terry began to walk the stretch of sand between them and the aluminum lookout.

Under the water, Brian could see Barbara’s flashlight beam ahead in the distance. He hadn’t see her grab the light when she took the equipment from Lido, but he was glad she had. As fast as he could he began to swim up to her. Barbara was hovering and looked like she didn’t know which way to turn next.

Charlie’s eyes weren’t fixed on the Pond but on a large storm cloud quickly approaching in the western sky. It will be a big one, he told himself. He checked where Lido was standing next to Terry and saw that they were approaching him with her arm still about the boy’s neck. She was looking at the oncoming storm too. It would come across the Pond too.

Brian was almost alongside Barbara, but he wasn’t sure how to get attention. He didn’t want to bang on her airtank with the spear gun like Lido had with her knife. Scaring her was the one thing he didn’t want to do at the moment. What he did do was blow some extra bubbles through the snokel and she turned around. She flashed the light directly into his eyes blinding him momentarily. Her hand was outstretched as his vision began to return and he grasped it. Through gestures he asked her which way she was going. She shrugged her shoulders. He then pointed in the direction of the corregated tube not sure if it was the right way to go but the area had fascinated him during the dive with Lido. He took the flashlight to lead the way.

The storm seemed to hover on the other side of the Pond as if waiting for Brian and Barbara to eemerge. Its patience had an almost human-like quality in that it would give them more time to search and maybe find their son.

“Let’s get under something. That storm’s not going to wait forever,” Charlie said. He picked up his chair and Lido and Terry followed him to a cement overhang, the only part left of the original structure which hadn’t burned in the pavillion fire.

“Do you think we’ll find him? Terry asked both of them.

Charlie wished he hadn’t asked because he didn’t have an answer and didn’t want to upset the boy even further.

“They’re going to do the best they can,” Lido said and Terry nodded. It wasn’t much, Lido thought, but we can’t let him think we’ve given up.

Barbara swam next to Brian. The flashlight in his hand was extended forward. The area was getting familiar to him as he watched the underwater parts of the Pond illuminated by the light. But it was only the second time he had been down here and wasn’t sure. The shock of the probable loss of Ryan was beginning to cloud his perception.

As they got closer to the tubes, Brian thought he saw a figure swimming alone by the left tube. There was no sign of Ryan. Whether it was nerves or that his hand and fingers just clenched, the spear gun fired it’s missle. When Barbara saw the projectile speed away, she didn’t follow it’s path but instead grabbed the light and flashed it in Brian’s face. The gesture she made with her hands said, what the hell are you doing.

But he ignored it and grabbed the light back and aimed it back on the spot where he thought he had seen the diver. Nothing. No one was there now if they had even been there or had enough sense to swim away when they saw the spear coming at them.

And as much as he hated to do it, he pointed up to the surface. He wasn’t giving up and when their heads popped up out of the water, he would tell Barbara just that. But there was only so much the two of them could do. Twenty divers would be needed to cover the entire Pond and they might not find anything either. But they had taken a chance that they would or could find him so soon after he had gone below the surface.

Barbara was staring at him when he could see her in the darkness. “What are you crazy?”

“Probably a little,” he said and tried to smile. But the smile wouldn’t come and he knew it wasn’t the right time. If there was a right time anymore. “My hand slipped. But I thought I saw




someone by the tubes. In a black wet suit. But my eyes may have been playing tricks on me.”

Barbara didn’t answer. She was beginning to feel the loss of her son. The storm was directly overhead and raindrops had begun to hit the surface on the far side of the Pond.”We should go in,” she said in a quiet voice and then pointed to the sky which looked like it would downpour on them any minute.

Brian nodded. He had no more words. He didn’t want to give up their search for Ryan, but he also knew they weren’t going to find him tonight and with the coming storm their dive would be made more difficult. But he was glad that Barbara also wanted to return to the beach. It was one decision he didn’t want to make for both of them. And he was about to have to suggest it when his wife came to the same conclusion.

One day this would all make sense, Brian thought.








Ryan and the man both lay on the ground next to the left tube At first the raindrops made little round wet spots on their backs and then larger round wet spots as the storm got closer. For the moment neither was moving. The exhaustion from the swim and the sharing of the air tank supply had worn them out.

The man was the first to raise his head. Ryan was two feet to the left of the man when the man attached a vice-like grip to his arm. Ryan’s arm would let go before the man would let go.

“Son of a bitch,” the man said. He was looking down at his left calf. A spear had gone through the diving suit and was sticking out through the other side. Blood surrounded the penetration points on both sides, but the wound didn’t seem to be bleed that badly. The pain was excruciating, he knew he wasn’t going to bleed to death anyway. But not enough to take his mind off the situation he was still in and what he had to do. It made time almost seem dream-like to him.

“This is your fault,” he told Ryan. Then with his free hand he touched his leg just above the wound. He grimaced, then flinched, and quickly drew his hand away.

Ryan noticed this and wondered if he kicked the man in his bad leg he could get away. Maybe he could even loosen that grip the man had on his arm,. But he lay still to see what the would do next.

In a single move, the man let go of Ryan’s arm, turned onto his back and put his full weight on Ryan’s legs. The young boy couldn’t move and was mad at himself for waiting so long to kick the man’s leg. The man was just glad the projectile didn’t have an arrowhead tip and pulled.

Ryan watched the man remove the spear. He turned his head away as the shaft was pulled through the meat part of the calf. Gross, Ryan thought. When the spear was out the man threw it a good ten feet. With both hands the man took the strap off his face mask, unhooked it and tied it to his leg above the wound to act as a tourniquet . Lucky for the man, blood just trickled instead of oozed when he first removed the shaft. He knew he did it backwards. But it still hurt and the pain knew no limit was reason enough to do it the fastest way he could, damn the order. The man gritted his teeth until he could tolerate the pain.

The rain was heavier now and they both shivered from the coldness. The man had moved off Ryan’s small legs and the hand had reattached itself to his forearm. Bent over and with a pained expression on his face, the man attempted to stand. His other hand had gripped the closest tube and the man was sorry that he had thrown the spear so far from them. He could have used it as a walking stick. But he began concentrating on the boy and crossing the street.





To the tubes where he would leave this kid and then tend to his wound before it got infected.






The rain inched its way across the Pond. From the protection of the overhang, the storm was almost upon them. The only sound was the wind starting to pick up, but otherwise there was no other noise. The beachgoers were already on their way home and the lifeguards had left their stations for drier turf until the storm passed.

Brian’s memory recalled the last time he had seen a storm cross the Pond like this. His parents had just started letting him come alone with his friends. That day, his friend Artie was the first to see the rain and let out a yell when he saw it. The other bathers either left or went and sat in the old pavillion. Brian and Artie sought refuge under the boardwalk which used to stand by the beach area near the the fence closest to Sachem Pond Road. He couldn’t believe he had forgotten about it.

Artie, the last one under the wooded walkway, also had the foresight to place their thick green blanket over the planks above their heads. Without it they would’ve gotten soaked to the skin. But it had been fun to watch the bathers run like hell and to also see nature. The time they had to wait until the storm had reached them was well worth it if only to appeciate that the world had slowed to accommodate them.

And so as Brian stood with Charlie, Barbara, Terry and Lido, he wished this was a happier occasion and that they were lying on their stomachs under the old boardwalk watching the rain.

“Brain, I want to go to the house.” Barbara wore a look that conveyed that she wanted to jump out of her skin and hoped that someone would have the courtesy to stuff her back in after it happened. Brain was quick to notice it since he was experiencing the same feeling.

“You really should wait until this storm blows over, Missy,” Charlie told her. He was about to say something else when a bolt of lightning lit up the dark gray sky. The display made everything look eerie. A thunder clap that followed echoed for what seemed like a whole minute.

“Goddamn, did you see that?” Charlie said.

“Yeah, it was great,” Terry answered.

Brian just thought, how could you miss it. It reminded him of a map of the Mississippi River flowing south into the mouth of the New Orleans delta. A long crooked white arm that about halfway down broke into about ten different directions. Some of which could be seen hitting the water and the ground. One struck the middle of the Pond and if there were still any fish living in this body of water they would have been cooked all the way through. They would flake if you dove in and tried to touch one. Brian was dreaming now. But then another bolt landed in a grove of trees a quarter mile away. One more he could see hit the overflow tubes. A small puff of smoke hung in the air. The bolt that landed in the middle of the Pond was dying out like dry ice in cold water. A bubbling, steaming effect.

The one vein that Brian had thought only hit near the tubes had in fact struck the hollow steel duct landing exactly between both and fusing the the lids that wouldn’t open when the height of the Pond warranted it. No one would even notice it for two years when the biggest rainfall during Long Island’s worst hurricane and the tubes wouldn’t open leaving Sachem Pond Road under five feet of water.

Lido began checking her dive equipment. She was almost ready to go.





“You want to dive again?’ Lido asked Brian in a very calm tone. She wasn’t expecting him to say yes but it was something to say and she hoped he would. Maybe they could even make some sense out of what was happening at the Pond.

“I want to take Barbara and Terry home first, but yes. I’ll be back in a while,” he said. “Are you guys ready?” Brian asked.

His wife gave him a silent nod.

It was drizzling again as they walked across the wet sand. Terry placed his head next to Brian’s arm and his father put his arm around him. Brian’s other arm was around Barbara. He thought she felt stiff even tense, but understandable if she was. Then he wondered if it could be him who was the one who was tense. But he knew he had to find out what had just happened and when he came back to the Pond and dive with Lido he hoped he would.








Ryan could tell from the man’s limp that the leg was hurting bad. His own legs which the man had sat on were painful too so he didn’t feel the slightest sorry for the man. Together they made it from the tubes to the middle of the street. The man wanted to stop because of the pain but was pushing himself to make it to the grassy area beyond the curb.

“C’mon, you little bastard,” the man told him. Dog butt, back at you, he thought to himself.

But Ryan was too scared to say anything so he didn’t. As they reached the shoulder of the road, the open ends of the steel tubes were visible. The man leaned against the hollow ducts to keep walking. When they arrived at the openings, the man motioned Ryan to sit and with a pained grimace on his face sat down next to the boy. The vice-like grip was again attached to his small arm.

The man then took deep breaths to gather his strength before he removed the grate he had taken off before when he had first found it was where he was going to leave this kid. Ryan thought about kicking the man in the bad leg again. But he knew the kick would have to be perfect. The man might kill him if he missed.

But as Ryan was getting his aim ready the man began to stand up. Ryan’s kick caught him in the ankle. The shot didn’t have much force behind it. Ryan had hoped to at least knock the man off his feet. It wasn’t that the kick hadn’t had any effect, it had caused the man to grimace again, but it just didn’t knock the man off his feet so Ryan could get on top of him and stand on his throat or head like he had seen wrestlers on TV do. But the man did relax his grip on his arm. Ryan broke loose, but he found he couldn’t run. His legs were numb and wouldn’t hold him when he took his first step.

The man had recovered and took a swipe at Ryan striking him on the left side of the neck. The boy went down.

“What are you stupid, kid?” the man asked

Ryan glared back at the man with hate in his eyes. “Did your mother have any children who lived?”

The man stepped on Ryan’s leg but the boy just smiled. He was thinking that it would be a great line to use on Terry. If he ever saw his brother again.

The foot stayed on the leg, but the hand let go of his arm. Ryan rubbed the spot where the man’s grip had been.




With his two hands the man gripped the grate and pulled. When the metal skin came loose he placed it in front of the other tube opening. He pulled the boy to his feet and then pushed Ryan into the duct entrance. The boy fell on the damp leaves on the tube’s curved floor and he lay still until the man had reattached the grate.

A panic rose in Ryan’s throat as he saw the man begin to limp away. He couldn’t scream or yell. From the tension of the event he had lost his voice. Vocal paralysis, a term Ryan had never heard of. If he ever got out of this, he was gonna ask what vocal sporagaligigus meant and hoped a doctor would explain it to him. And maybe he help him use it in a sentence without the word vocal in front of it. And with that thought he closed his eyes and fell asleep.







His parents’ house was quiter than usual when Brian entered with his wife and Terry. This was the home he grew up in and now where he felt uncomfortable as hell in.

They walked Terry to the boys’ bedroom. Barbara pulled down the covers while Brian went to the window and closed the curtains.

“Try to get some sleep. We’ll talk later when you wake up,” Brain told him. The boy wiped tears from his eyes and hugged his mother. Brian bent over and kissed him on the neck.

“Find him, Dad. Okay?”

“I will.”

Brian then followed his wife into the master bedroom. She pulled two pillows from under the bedspreads as she lay down. He sat next to her and placed his arm around her neck.

“I have to go back to the Pond,” he said.

She buried her face in the pillow. “I know. I don’t want to do anything except lie here. I’m numb. I know you have to find out what happened. I want to. But I just can’t.

“If he’s gone, I’ll believe it. I don’t have to accept it. I have this empty feeling and my heart is breaking even as I …”.

Brian kissed her hair. “You know I feel the same. I may not know how to put it into words how I’m feeling at the moment, but I do know I have to find out why. And I can’t stand still until I do.”

“I know.” Tears began to stream down her face.

Brian was glad because the emotional stress they were feeling was like a balloon full of air that had to be let out a little at a time. His eyes had welled up when she cried and he wiped them away with an index fingers.

“I’ll see you later, okay?” He looked at her but she had her head turned to the far wall.

Before leaving he looked in on Terry. He couldn’t tell if his son was asleep because he lay on his side on the bed. He was worried about all of them. His anxiety had coupled with his adrenalin and he had to go back to the Pond to find out what had caused this pain to his family.

But because he hadn’t believed there was a Princess legend, he wasn’t sure but something else was at work here. Kids did drown, he knew this. But it ate at him more than the other drowning had. This was Ryan. His kid. And Lido also knew something. He probably would dive with her again if Barbara hadn’t grabbed the second set of diving gear.

Lido did have a feeling too. After all, her own father had died in the Pond too. Maybe the

Pond would give up its secret, he told himself, just maybe.







The man was sitting on the toilet lid, his feet on the tiled floor. He had cut away the part of the wet suit that covered the wound. From mid-calf to ankle, his leg was covered with blood. Careful as to not touch the mask strap he had tied around his thigh, he began by washing around both sides of the wounds using a hand towel he had soaked in warm soapy water. Most of the blood came off easily.

When he had gotten off as much as he could, he unscrewed the top off a bottle of hydrogen peroxide. He probably could have used a mild salt water solution, but he was afraid of infection and getting tetanus. And the foaming effect of the peroxide would make him feel that the wound was healing faster.

As he picked up the bottle, he tilted the outside of his leg, where the shaft had entered, upward and began pouring the solution onto the wound. He screamed as it hit his leg. Tears streamed down his face from the pain, but the peroxide felt cool at the puncture point. The pain was more from the turning of the leg than the peroxide. He had to do the other side but this time he would know how much pain to expect. When he poured it on the inside leg wound, he found himself concentrating on the cool sensation, waiting for the pain to come and when it did he let out a sigh.

From a box of guaze pad, he grabbed about a half dozen and placed three on each side of the puncture. Then he wrapped the leg with a roll of bandage and taped the edges. He sat quiet for a few minutes then he loosened the mask strap still tied to his thigh. Spots of blood appeared on the outside of the bandage. From this he knew he would have to release the strap a little more slowly and when he redressed the wound later he would apply salve to the puncture, but for right now it was just too sore and still bleeding. Maybe he could even be able to wrap an Ace bandage around the leg for support.

Since he knew he would have to use the same materials later that evening he left everything where it was. On his good leg he hopped to the kitchen and he sat down on one of the straight back chairs. He elevated the leg up on one of the others.

He was as comfortable as he could be under the circumstances. Reaching the middle of the kitchen table, he flicked on the remote. As he watched Ellen hold the microphone in front of a member of the audience, he could feel the numbness in his leg begin to subside and when he moved the pain increased just enough to allow him to feel some pain. He welcomed the pain. From this he figured the leg will eventually be all right.

After a few minutes, Ellen and the conversation was about Women Who Love Men Who Don’t Love Them. He wondered if it was a repeat. He shook his head and put on Ellen who was asking her guest if the human mind could heal the body.

The man watched and then listened to the pain in his leg.








Sheriff Park had just got off the office phone with the County Medical Examiner. Jerry was on the other phone line and Glenn had driven to the Pond to talk to Charlie again. None of them knew about Ryan yet.

Park was glad to get the call. He had been on the phone all day trying to rush the latest autopsy finding to his office. The caller said they would would send the preliminary report in the




morning but he did tell the Sheriff what they found.

Jerry finished his call and looked over at the sheriff. “Same as the other?” he asked. He had been listening to Park’s call while he was on hold with his own call.

“He didn’t drown. There was no water in the lungs. He died of an injury to the head.”

The sheriff shook his head. Each year, he never looked forward to the 4th of July weekend because it was always the same. Kids visiting from out of the area drowned while swimming in Sachem Pond. The timing and the legend always made him feel there would never be an answer. But since this kid hadn’t drowned, it was the first real break he had ever had on the legend.

“So you think he was killed out of the water and wasn’t hugged by the Princess.” Jerry could be a bit dramatic.

“Screw the Princess, this one was killed.”

“But he bobbed to the surface like the other one. Would have bumped his head on that sunken slide or something else down there.”

“Could have. Would have. But why no water in the lungs? No, he wasn’t in the water when he died. He would have swallowed some water even if he hit his head on a pipe.”

The sheriff picked up the autopsy report from the first victim. He read it for a few minutes, but it said the same thing as last time he read it, accidental drowning.

“Has Glenn called in yet?”, the sheriff asked.

“Not yet,” Jerry said.

“Well, get him on the radio and tell him to wait for me. “I’m going to take a ride down there.”








Brian parked the car in the public beach lot. He saw that a few people had returned and were sitting on their blankets with their kids. No one was in the water.

Both lifeguards were on the stand and peering out over the water. Charlie was still here. He had reset up his lookout post in his aluminum chair and was puffing on his pipe. The smoke rose like a small fog from where he sat.

As Brian got closer, he saw the set of diving equipment next to the chair.

“Hi, Charlie,” he said.

The old man turned his head yoward him. “Oh, hi. Lydia’s already in the water. She couldn’t wait. She told me to tell you.”

“Thanks, are you okay?”

“I think that’s my question for you.”

“I’m still in shock, I guess . Everyone’s lying down at the house. I don’t believe it yet so I can say for the moment say I’m okay, but kinda numb.”

“That’s good because if you weren’t there’d be no way you’d be able to dive.”

Brian began putting on the diving gear so he’d be ready when Lido surfaced.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about Donnie. It’s been fifteen years ago this weekend that we lost him.” Charlie shook his head. “Fifteen years and I still can’t say he died.”

“I think today I can say I know what you mean.”

“I guess you can. Up til today I didn’t think there was anyone who could know how I feel. Hey, look I’m sorry. There’s still a chance and we won’t know anything until tomorrow anyway. I apologize for being so damned realistic, but like I said, today has brought back a shitload of



memories. Listen, if you need an ear, someone to talk to, I’ll be glad to hear what you have to say. But I’ll tell you one thing, you never get over it.”

“I know, I’m sorry too. And I will take you up on your offer for a talk.”

“Good, I’ve got a bottle of the good stuff back at the house that will take some of the edge off too.”
Brian nodded and then sat down in the sand next to the chair.

A few minutes later Lido broke the surface. When the water was at her knees, she reached down and removed her flippers. Sunlight reflected off the wet diving suit until the sun went behind the remaining clouds and then came out again.

She frowned.

Brian called out hello to her.

“Hello again. I didn’t expect to see you. How are your wife and Terry?”

“They were sleeping when I left. I just had to come down here.”

“Good, I know. I covered quite a bit of area while I was down there. But I didn’t see anything. I’ll just rest here and then you can dive with me if you like.”

Brian raised his foot with the flipper already on “That’s what I’m here for.”

She nodded then smiled.

Charlie meanwhile was looking out over the Pond when the sheriff’s car pulled into the parking lot. He crained his head in the car’s direction as the engine was shut off. Then he returned his gaze to the water.

“Oh, shit,” he said and Brian thought he had meant to say it under his breath. Charlie just said a mouthful, Brian told himself.








The man’s leg seemed to feel a little better as he lay down on the bed. The two valium he took had also helped. The pain was more manageable, but he still winced whenever he moved the leg.

It had taken two trips to get him into the bedroom with all the comforts. First with the portable tv and then the bottle of vodka with the empty glass. All this on one foot. He laughed that he must have looked funny doing it.

This was after he had eaten a tv dinner and watched the local news. There still wasn’t anything on the tv about the drowning. But he was glad because he would be able to leave the Pond without any hoopla from the media. He did want to get some credit for his acts even though it would be anonymous.

He reached over to the night table, picked up the now filled glass and took a sip then a gulp. A few valium and his drink. Together they would keep his mind off the pain. If a doctor heard about him mixing the two, he wouldn’t hear the end of it. Life was too short, he thought. And if that was what it took then he would take it. Anything to keep him calm until Jeopardy came on and he would change the leg dressings.

Tomorrow he would get up early and test the leg. Then he would be able to tell if he would have to call in and tell them he wouldn’t be in. He’d need another day. It wouldn’t look good, but it would be better than having to explain why he was bleeding all over the office rug and limping. But if the leg was better he would make the drive and arrive in time for business to open at 9 a.m.

He was beginning to doze but then remembered he had to write another letter to Charlie. He swung his legs over the side of the bed and then stood up on the good leg. After getting his balance, he hopped over to the dresser where the pen and pad of paper where. Two hops back and he fell onto



the bed. The leg was throbbing as he placed two pillows behind his back so he could sit up.

The man began to write:




I have pleasure in telling you that I am the one who has committed the

Disturbances in Sachem Pond. There will be no more this year.

Master Of The Art



He stopped for a moment and thought about when he would get time to type the letter he would drop off at Charlie’s mailbox. He could try when he got up to change the bandages again or just wait until morning. A hand-written note just wouldn’t do. And who said he would be able to sleep this night because of the pain. He would have plenty of time then to type the note if that occurred.






Brian and Lido had been in the water for almost an hour and they hadn’t found anything of use yet. The storm with its lightning show had clouded the water. They used the flashlights and attempted to pan them as they swam, but the lights acted like car headlights on a dark misty night. But when light turned to the left, Brian and Lido thought they had seen something off to that side in the distance. Each light was making them feel like they were driving in that low ground fog and both lights had to be turned at the same time to see anything. This was taking a lot of time which they didn’t have if they were going to find Ryan. And the chance of finding him was getting slimmer by the moment. Where was he, Brian wondered.

Charlie had waited in his chair for the deputy to approach. His eyes remained fixed on the Pond since Lido and Brian had entered the water. His worry wasn’t for Lydia since she was an excellent diver and it was the males who were drowning on this holiday weekend, but it was Brian he was wanting to see break the surface. He was vulnerable to the legend too and Charlie doubted Brian was even aware of it.

“Mr. Roberts?” Glenn asked when he reached Charlie.

“Hello, deputy. Still tilting at windmills?”

The deputy managed a small smile which Charlie hadn’t seen because he hadn’t looked at Glenn yet. “Look, I’m just doing my job. I’m not here to hassle you. I didn’t know about your son either, but you were the one person in the right place at the right time,”

“Well, that’s understandable, but Sheriff Park should have known better after all the time we’ve known each other. Besides, come to think of it, I probably have a beach load of witnesses as well as Brian Dunne.”

“’Where are Mr. Dunne and Lido?” the deputy asked in a tone he thought would make Charlie feel that the sheriff’s office no longer doubted his innocence.

Charlie pointed to the water. “In there about 30 feet down. They’re searching for his son who drowned a couple hours ago. But I doubt they’ll be able to see much because the rain stirred up the bottom.”

The deputy stared at Charlie. “Why didn’t somebody call us?”

“Because Brian and his wife and kid are in shock. Terry’s the other kid. And Lydia’s been in and out of the water since it happened and this event has left me numb with memories of my own son. The rest of the bathers left glad that it hadn’t been one of theirs. Maybe you should ask the




lifeguards, have a talk with them. Ask them why they didn’t call it in when they had their hands full.”

The sheriif’s car pulled into the beach’s asphalt lot and parked in the front row.

“Here’s Groucho now,” Charlie said.

Glenn ignored the old man’s Marx Brother reference and ran toward the lifeguard stand motioning Sheriff Park to meet him there.


                                                                              [ ]




The debris and algae had already started to settle. Lido and Brian were now swimming near the overflow tubes where he had shot the spear gun. Nothing looked out of place and he didn’t notice that the tube covers had been fused. It wasn’t apparent to the naked eye.

Brian was interested in finding the steel shaft if only to return it to Lido to get another use. He swam into the shallow area. When the water was about four feet deep, he stood up, popped his head out the the water and looked around. Lido followed his lead.

“What are we doing?” Lido asked him.

“I thought we could retrieve the spear I shot. It should be around here somewhere.”

Brian’s eye was caught by sunlight hitting an object on the sand. He guessed it would be a piece of broken glass or a discarded aluminum can, but he chose to investigate anyway. He began walking toward the water’s edge. Again Lido followed. She did realize he was in shock because of his son so she would let him lead. Therapy was where you found it, Lido thought.

Where the water met the sand Brian stepped out of his swim fins while Lido was still in knee deep water. The object he had seen when he had surfaced was the broken off steel feathered end of the spear. They were still covered with blood. His first thought was that he had hit Ryan and the idea sickened him. He leaned against one of the tubes.

He told Lido to swim back alone because he was going to walk back to the beach along the shoreline. She nodded, replaced her mouthpiece and submerged. He was glad that Lido knew he wanted to be alone. As he walked he knew he wanted to give the spear to the sheriff to see if he could find out if the blood was Ryan’s. But he did have one hope. The person shot by the steel spear had to be alive because they had pulled it out or it had been a through and through. But that person also would have lost a lot of blood from such a wound. With each step he wiped away tears for his son.

The sheriff and his deputy were now standing with Charlie after questioning the lifeguards. Park wore a grimace. The deputy’s smile was long gone. They had more questions Charlie knew and this time they were angrier that he again knew more than they did.

“So when did the kid drown?” the sheriff asked.

“Over two hours ago like I told your deputy here.”

“Who said your granddaughter and Dunne could dive?”

“C’mon, Sheriff. You know there was no authorization. There also wasn’t any for when the man and his wife dove when it first happened. If it was your child what would you have done?”

Both officers fell silent.

“That’s what I thought,” Charlie said.

“Don’t get smart with us, Charlie.” The sheriff then glanced at his deputy.

Glenn asked, “Why was the diving equipment here anyway?”

Charlie explained Lydia’s interest in the Pond, her course of study, and her expertise in diving. Also that she and Brian who was also a diver had come down here last night to search for yesterday’s victim. The he recounted when Ryan went under water, the panic on the beach, the




lifeguards searching the water, and Lydia pulling up on her motorcycle with the two sets of diving equipment not knowing of today’s accident. Ryan’s mother who was also a diver grabbed one set

and dove then Dunne followed her a minute or so later. And when Dunne returned later he and Lydia continued the search. They should be back any time now, he told them.

Lido emerged from the water as Charlie was finishing his story for the officers. She waved to her grandfather and then pointed toward Brian who looked composed again.

In his hand was the metal feathered spear end which he held by the unbloodied part. He said hello to the sheriff and Charlie. He winked at his diving partner.

He handed the steel shaft to the sheriff who gripped it the same way he did.

“What the hell is this?” the sheriff asked.

“I accidently shot this when we dove earlier. Just found it now. Would you check the blood type? My son Ryan’s is A Positive.”

The sheriff sighed “You know whovever you hit with this lost a lot of blood…and a young boy wouldn’t be able to pull it out by himself. Never mind break it off.”

“I’m counting on that.”

“Listen … I’ve got a few questions for you if you don’t mind.”

“I would like to get back to the house and to my family.”

“Make the time,. I need some anwers. I won’t keep you that long.”






The taxi cab was waiting in the driveway for Barbara. She stuck her head out the door and told the driver she’d be out in a few minutes. He waved to her. What did he care, she thought, the meter was running.

She signed the letter that she was leaving for Brian and put it in an envelope. His name on the outside in big letters and then placed it on the kitchen table so he wouldn’t miss it when he came in. She patted the letter like comforting a human hand, grabbed her suitcase, and went out the door.

The man from the local cab company took the bag and put it in the trunk as she got into the back seat.

“Where to?” the man asked.

“The airport.” She looked in her bag for something to wipe her eyes.

The driver nodded and pulled out of the driveway.

Barbara felt terrible about leaving a letter to tell Brian and Terry she was leaving. That she wasn’t able to face the death of her youngest son. But whenever anything bad had happened to her in her life, she ran. Ran home to her parents. Ran to where she would be consoled and doted upon by loving voices like when she was a little girl.

She didn’t want to believe she couldn’t handle this, but today was the worst day of her life. Of their lives. And she didn’t want to face the inevitable. Barbara wanted to be strong for her family, but she was overwhelmed. She smiled a small smile. Overwhelmed wasn’t even close, she said to herself., devastated was closed or even annihilated. And someone had taken her heart and ripped it into a hundred tiny pieces, stuffed it back in her chest and expected it to pump smoothly. Fat chance.

“You okay, lady?” the driver asked. His eyes were on her in the rearview mirror.

“Just great.” She wiped her eyes again.

The tears were coming when she least expected them. Her eyes were red and she looked upset. The driver kept his eyes on the road for the rest of the trip because she had said she was great. He didn’t want to get involved when he only received a sarcastic answer for his troubles.





She tried glancing out the window to take her mind of the tragedy. It wasn’t working. But she did see the Sachem Airport Motel on the left. She hadn’t noticed it on the way to Brian’s parents’ house.

As the driver was about to make the left turn into the airport, she asked him to make a u-turn and take her to the motel. The man nodded again and thought another upset woman in his cab who couldn’t make up her mind. But he also knew that she had a great weight bearing on her mind. It showed that much and it wasn’t just a fight with her husband.

Her decision to go to the motel was to give her time to think. By herself. This was the worst, but she had been through a lot of things in her life. But nothing ever came close to this.

Brian was running on pure adrenelin and trying to find out what had happened to Ryan was his immediate therapy. But the drowning had stolen every ounce of energy from her body as well as broken her heart.

The cab stopped in front of the motel entrance and the driver got out, popped the trunk to get her suitcase and then opened the door for her. She paid him fighting back more tears. He frowned as tried to give her the change from the fare. She didn’t even look, he put the money in his pocket.

She picked up her bag and walked toward the motel entrance. It was such an effort, she thought, every move she made. Every muscle ached. She would check in, take her longest shower ever, then call Brian tonight but tell him she was in Sacramento at her parents’ house. She would tell him this so he wouldn’t come get her, then she would call him again in the morning so he wouldn’t have time to call her folks. The time difference would help. And time was what she needed the most. This way she would have that wish.






When Brian got home, Terry was sitting at the kitchen table eating a sandwich. A glass of milk was next to his plate.

“Hi, pal,” Brian said. He tried to smile.

“Did you and Lido find Ryan?”

“Not yet. We’ll try again in the morning. How are you doing?”

“Okay, I guess. The house is so quiet.”

Brian felt it too. A stillness had enveloped the interior of the home he grew up in. And while Terry looked at him for a dose of parental wisdom, Brian found himself remembering the death of his grandfather in this very house. Grandpa Dunne had moved in with them three months before he died. Brian’s father wouldn’t hear of the old man going to a nursing home when he could no longer take care of himself. When he died, Brian could feel that same emptiness . And how no one had been able to comfort his father.

“There’s a note for you ,” Terry told him and took another bite from his sandwich.

“Thanks, Where’s your mom, still sleeping? Brian was standing in the kitchen doorway as Terry finished chewing.

“No, she’s not here. I checked on her when I woke up.”

Brian mind raced as he tore open the envelope. When he had unfolded it he saw that his drawing of the princess had been folded with it.



Dear Brian,




I feel bad that you have to be reading this. I am miserable and don’t really know what I’m

doing, but I know if I stayed another minute in that house I would fall completely apart.

Please understand.

As you read this I will be on a plane for Sacramento. My parents will pick me up and I will

stay with them for a few days and then fly back to be with you and Terry. You had to go

back to the Pond to see if you could find Ryan and I had to do this. I’m so sorry I can’t be

there with you. Part of my decision for running is to remember Ryan how he was. Not how

he’ll be when they find him. Please know I love you and Terry very much. Maybe even more

than I ever had.

Please don’t be mad at me. I had to do this. I’ll call you when I get in.

Love you both,




Brian sighed when he finished reading his wife’s letter. He wasn’t happy that she had gone running to her parents after Ryan’s accident. The letter was still in his hand. He tore it and the princess drawing into pieces. He hadn’t heard Terry come into the living room. His son had seen him tear the letter into shreads. Brian walked over and gave his son a hug.

“You mom has gone to stay with Grandpa and Grandma Stewart. She’ll be back in a few days. Brian had tears in his eyes while he and Terry were still in embrace.

“Then can I sleep with you tonight? I don’t think I can go to sleep without Ryan.”

Brian held Terry at arm’s length and saw he had tears in his eyes too. His throat was dry and couldn’t find any words so he nodded and hugged the boy again. And shock or no shock, he knew he had one question for Barbara. He would control his temper though he was angry with her for leaving but he had to know why.

“What did you have to eat?” Brian asked.

“Peanut butter and jelly, Ryan’s favorite,” he said and then realized what he said. Terry started to shake as he began to cry for his little brother.








The sheriff left Charlie and his granddaughter standing on the sand at the Pond. He and Glenn had both departed at the same time and went back to the office. Brian had gone home earlier to comfort his family.

As Park drove along the familiar route, he had been glad Dunne and Charlie had been cooperative. He knew his question and answer session had been lengthy but it was what he had to do. It was the part of the job he hated, talking to people who had just lost a loved one. But at least he didn’t have to be the one who had to break the bad news to the family. That was the worst, he told himself.




“Sheriff, I’m glad you’re back. I haven’t been able to contact Dunne. I was waiting for you before I drove over to his house,” Jerry said as Park walked in the office door.

“Don’t bother, I just saw him,” Park said.

“Did he clear Charlie? “

“Yeah, he did. Dunne’s also in the clear because his kid is the third victim.”


The sheriff nodded. “Right before the storm hit. Any problems from the lightning?”

“Just a couple spots, but there haven’t been any calls.” He followed the sheriff into his office as Glenn came in the front door.

Park frowned and called to Glenn to come in too. The two deputies sat in the chairs opposite Park.

“Did you believe their stories?” Park asked Glenn.

“Sure, didn’t you?”

Park nodded. “Gentlemen, we have a big problem. We have three drowning victims . One accident and one possibly involving foul play. And then we have today’s. Dunne’s son.” He paused. “And no suspects to chose from if these weren’t accidents.”








Terry was asleep by the time Brian got off the phone with his brother Teddy. All tucked in and comfortable in the big bed in the master bedroom, Terry looked much younger than he was, Brian thought, when he had put his son to bed. Brian was glad the boy slept because he had more questions than Brian had answers.

Brian was sitting in the same over-stuffed chair where he had sketched the princess drawing. But he wasn’t thinking about that now. His thoughts were that he hadn’t been able to tell his parents about Ryan. His mother had answered the phone and then his father got on. He told them all was well, but that he and the family were going to stay on the Island for a few more days and he hoped they would be down by the weekend. It was a lie that Brian felt uncomfortable telling because he didn’t know where he’d be in the next hour. But his conversation with them went well and they said they said they would see them all soon.

When Teddy got on the phone, Brian told him what he had told the parents and for him to just listen. And not to react in front of the parents while he was on the phone. But Teddy instead of observing the game rules Brian had laid down, told him to hold on and got on the extension in the bedroom that he and Sara were staying in.

Brian gave Teddy the whole picture of the day’s events and felt himself welling up with tears as he told Teddy the story. He must have told his brother at least four times that it wasn’t 100% that Ryan had drowned during their conversation. As the end of the call, Teddy asked if Brian wanted him to come up and be with them. Brian told him thanks, but he didn’t want him to because it would upset their parents too much if they found out why Teddy had to leave. And if anyone had to tell them it would be Brian. He couldn’t ask anyone else although Teddy did volunteer. Brian thanked him again for the use of his ears and said he would call again in a day or two. Teddy said his hopes were with him and hung up.

Brian’s thoughts turned to Ryan again. How he missed him already. And the he began thinking about all the things Ryan would miss if he didn’t get to live to maturity. He got up from the chair and tried to clear his head. Push those kind of thoughts out of his head was his thinking and




he went into the kitchen. He grabbed a beer from the fridge and went into the bedroom to check in on Terry.

The boy was restless throwing his covers one way and his body the other. He was dreaming, Brian told himself. They would be spending a lot of time together until Barbara returned and Brian was fantasizing about the things they would be doing when Terry called to him.

Brian sat down on the edge of the bed. “How are you doing, sport?” Sport? That was what his dad called him when he was small. Brian tried to smile both at the memory and his son.

“Okay. I was dreaming about you, me and Ryan. We were swimming and right before Ryan goes under the water he says ‘I’ll be okay. Don’t worry, fuzz brain, and then I woke up.”

“Well, keep a good thought. I also happen to think he’s okay too.”

“Yeah, me too.”

“But just the same, I want to go down to the Pond early tomorrow. You want to come with me?”

“Okay, but only because I know he won’t be there.”

“I hope so too. Go to sleep now, I’ll be in after I talk to your mom.”

“Alright.” He pulled the covers up and turned on his side. Brian closed the door on his way out of the room.

He went back to the living room, took a sip from the beer and sat down in the chair. His thoughts turned again to Ryan, but he did wonder what he might find at the Pond in the morning. He didn’t like the thoughts he felt.

C’mon, Barbara, call, he thought.






The man’s leg was stiff but the pain had lessened since he woke up. The fact that he had been able to fall asleep at all had surprised him even more. He turned to his left to check the time on the digital clock on the nightstand. But he must have moved too quickly because a searing pain attached itself to his calf. It was almost seven o’clock.

When he sat still long enough for the pain to subside, he turned his body to the side of the bed and put his uninjured foot on the floor. So far so good, he thought. But when he placed the injured leg next to the other, the pain returned. He lifted the leg and the pain began to ease. He waited again and this time the pain was shorter. On the tv he had noticed that Jeopardy had come on.

He was beginning to think that he would be able to make it to the job tomorrow and excuses he could give seeped their way into his brain. There were so many to choose from but only the best one would work and the only one his boss would fall for especially on the first day after a vacation.

On his good leg, he tried to stand with the hurt one off the floor bent at the knee. He hopped to the dresser where the tv was, turned up the sound then continued his one-legged journey to the bathroom. Again he he sat down on the toilet lid and began the tedious act of changing the dressing on his leg.

He began to think about the boy he had left in the overflow tube. If the kid was smart, he’d be catching a nap like he had. Leaving the kid in a place not far from the Pond had been new for him. He had always brought them back to the house, then the water, drown them and let the body surface. He wanted to go back and get the kid but his leg wasn’t going to allow it. And from the look of the wounds, the best thing he could do was to stay off his feet. But his best thought was that he knew the boy wouldn’t last long.

When he had finished putting on the new dressing, he again stood on the good leg and began




his hop to the bed. On his way he went to the closet in the hall and got the typewriter from the top shelf . With the portable under his arm he continued to the bedroom. He placed the machine on the bed and carefully lowered himself as not to jar the leg and start the pain again.

As he attempted to get comfortable to finish writing the letter he had started earlier, he began thinking about his parents. The letters to Charlie must have sparked it for he could think of no other reason. This used to be their house, he was staying at, but that wasn’t it.

No, he was just missing them.Their deaths were a shock to his system when they happened and every once in a while their memory would reach out and grab him. But he didn’t mind. It was the one memory he allowed himself the rest of the year. The tragedy was that they had both died within hours of each other.

But the one thing that the memory did recall was that he was alone in the world. He had no brothers or sisters. And he wasn’t dating. His marriage had gone to hell. His wife, the bitch, as he liked to refer to her, no longer had a name and he had burned the last picture he had of her last New Year’s Eve after drinking in the new year by himself. He recalled the match he had used as being well spent.

He and his wife had fought over everything the minute the honeymoon was over. After a while she had begun throwing things all over the house too. She couldn’t understand what the war had done to him. And he thought he could solve his problem by beating the shit out of her at least once a month. All this because she couldn’t understand. But he really couldn’t fault her because even the white jackets at the VA were giving him a hard time, but they didn’t nag them about his moods. They wanted to help. That was all they wanted to do. But they need the bed space.

And when she filed the divorce papers from a home for battered women after getting an injunction served for him to stay away from her, he really wasn’t surprised. He was relieved.

He read the last lines before he added to the hand-written note:



You had better be careful because this is all for Donnie.

Yours truly

Ha ha



Let Charlie and the local law figure this one out, he told himself, while he and his car were safely aboard the Port Jefferson ferry crossing the Long Island Sound to Connecticut.







It was 9:30 PM when Barbara called Brian. She hoped he and Terry weren’t in bed yet. But even if Brian was asleep she wanted to talk to him.

A half hour before making the call she had asked herself a lot of questions and all the things she had wanted to ask him when he answered the phone.

For one thing she knew she didn’t want him calling her parents though she had already called them. She couldn’t get herself to tell them about Ryan but she did tell a small lie about her and Brian having an innocent fight. And that she had told him she was going to Sacramento to think things out. She was fine, she had said. Yes, her room was nice and the boys were fine, she had told them through teary eyes. She had wanted to cry and just tell them everything, but like Brian had




said, they didn’t need to know what had happened and it wasn’t proven yet. Besides, she didn’t want to upset her parents until she was sure herself. She also wanted Brian to understand why she had to get away

Barbara smiled for a moment glad that she had seen the motel during the cab ride instead of flying away from the situation. And the reason Barbara wanted Brian to see why she had done what she had done was so he could tell Terry and neither one of them would be mad at her. This way, she thought, she could be in the area in case a miracle occurred. Oh how she was wishing for that.

“Uh, hello? Brian?” she asked when he answered the phone. All the confidence she had built up while waiting to make the call had vanished the moment she heard his voice.

“Hi.” Pause. “How was your flight?”

“Okay.” First lie. She felt bad when she said it.

“Good, did your parents pick you up at the airport?”

“Uh, yes.” Barbara then paused . “How’s …”

“We didn’t find him. Lido, Charlies granddaughter, and I swam for almost an hour and she had searched while I was home with you. Nothing. If he was in that Pond we couldn’t find him. And we tried.”

“I know you did.” Then she fell quiet. She was glad he wasn’t mad at her, but that was probably because he was still in shock like she was. She was sure the anger would surface later. She would be able to deal with it then because she would be with him in a few days. But she knew she wouldn’t be able to handle his wrath over the phone.

Brian began explaining the episode on the beach when he went back there. He told her about his talk with Charlie. She liked that. Then finding the spear on the sand with the blood and he told her he didn’t think Ryan was capable of pulling it out. She smiled to herself. There was hope, small as it was. Then the questions the sheriff had about Charlie, why he and Lido had dived, and why he and Barbara had dived too all without any authorization. Brian also told her about the letters and the photo Charlie had received in the mail. He paraphrased the notes but ignored the physical image in the picture. He added that Charlie was pretty upset about Ryan because it was also bringing back the grief the man had for his own son.

When he finished she was crying.

“Terry and I are fine,” he told her, “And you take care of yourself too. I’l see you in a couple days. Okay?”

“Okay,” she managed to say in a small voice. “I love you.”

“I know. We love you too.”

“Say goodnight to Terry for me.”

“I will. He’s already asleep. He’s sleeping in the bed with me.”

“Don’t wake him, just tell him I called.”

“I will.” And he hung up the phone.

And as she put down the phone, she began to think about what she would do if she never saw Ryan again. Probably not a lot for a while, she wondered, how you do go on.









Charlie had been lying awake in his bed for nearly an hour trying to fall asleep. The July 4th weekend was one thing but to see another kid, one he knew, drown in front of his eyes had been too




much for him. It was adding to the memories he had for Donnie, his own son. And know someone else knew how he felt. Empty.

He was already in bed because if he received another note in his mailbox with another photo, he wanted to catch the bastard or at least see what kind of car the maniac drove. Maybe even get a glimpse of the license plate. He’d be up with the birds if that was what it would take to stop this f-stop idiot.

“You still up, Charlie?” Lido asked. She was standing in his bedroom doorway. Her hair was pulled back in a pony tail and she was wearing one of those long t-shirts she liked to wear when she went to bed.

“Yeah, can’t sleep. My mind’s all wound up thinking about tomorrow. You can’t sleep either?”


“You got enough air in your tanks for tomorrow when you dive again.”

“Uh huh. Brian said that he and Terry would be by around seven. I wish I could go to sleep because I want to be ready when he gets here.”

“What time is it?”

“Almost midnight.”

Lido shifted her weight from one leg to the other like she had a question to ask.

“Lydia?” he asked.


“Something troubling you?”

Her silence seemed to tell him.

He said, “I’ve been thinking about your dad too all this weekend. He’s always with me but it’s stronger when the Fourth comes each year.”

“I have too, but this feeling just came on. I really can’t explain it. It’s just that it doesn’t feel like the way I usually feel about him. Like I said I can’t explain it. “ She began to rub her mid-section.

“Stomach bothering you?”

“Yeah, it feels like someone is griping my insides.”

“Yeah, I know exactly what you mean. I’ve got it too. But don’t worry, it’s not permanent. It’ll go away in a few days.”

“I hope so because I don’t like the feeling.”

“You’ll be okay, just sleep on your belly tonight.”

“Thanks, Charlie.”

“Goodnight,” he said but she had already left for her bedroom. Charlie turned on his own belly and tried again. He would need his sleep if he was going to see who the rotten bastard dropping off the letters was. That was if he showed up. And this was his last thought for the night before he dropped off to sleep.






The man woke up again and didn’t notice any pain until he moved his leg. He had to grit his teeth. The deep ache subsided after he decided he wouldn’t move again for a few minutes.

His sleep had been interrupted almost hourly. Once, he had gotten up and hopped into the bathroom to change the dressing on his leg, another time to use the bathroom and then again to get a drink in the kitchen. Vodka wasn’t the best thing to drink the first thing in the morning, but it was




helpful. Then the three times he got the leg caught in the bottom of the blankets. Carefully he had to untwist the ankle from the bed covers only to have to wince in pain when he had to flex his calf muscle. This was going to be a real pain in the ass, he thought at the time. And then spent the rest of the night with the injured leg hanging out from unders the covers,

He took a glance out the window. Still dark out. The envelope with the latest letter to Charlie sat on the nightstand.

He got out of bed and raised himself on the good leg and wished there was someone to drop the letter off for him. He didn’t place the injured leg on the rug. It was no use in testing the leg or trying to put his weight on it. He was in no mood to hear himself groan.

After he came back from the bathroom, he began to dress. He opted for a t-shirt and a pair of running shorts. No way was the leg going to slide easily into a pantleg and the rubbing of the material on the wound wasn’t welcomed this morning.

In the kitchen, he settled for a cup of coffee and a banana. It was quarter to six now. He would call the job when he got back if he decided he wouldn’t be going in today. It all depended on the leg. And that wasn’t looking that good.

Out in the driveway he started the car and the engine purred at the early hour. It wasn’t used to being up before the sun either. He put the car in reverse and rolled onto the street, drove to the end of the block and made a left turn.

The envelope sat on the passenger seat next to him. He was glad the car was an automatic, not like the five-speed he had traded in only a year earlier. The one with the stiff clutch which would have given the bad leg a real workout.

When he reached Charlie’s street he parked at the corner. In the darkness he planned the timing and strategy of the even to take place. Last time had gone smoothly and there was no reason why this one would go any different.

With the car lights off he headed up the block.






Terry was in the kitchen eating a bowl of cold cereal when Brian emerged from the shower. He joined his son and had a cup of coffee as he gave a pull on the belt of his robe. His son was still in his pajamas. Halfway through the cup Brian got up and fixed himself a bowl of what Terry was eating. He wasn’t much of a cereal person but this morning it tasted good.

The table felt strange with only the two of them sitting and eating. Normally it would be four Dunnes because Brian and Barbara always liked to have the family eat together whenever possible. It was something they had both enjoyed with their parents and wanted to pass it on to their children. But today the kitchen table was half-full. Or half-empty. Brian wasn’t sure anymore.

“Are we going to the Pond to look for Ryan, Dad?” Terry asked between bites of cereal.

“Uh huh.” Brian said.

“And we’re going to find him, right?”

“If he’s there to find we’ll find him.” It wasn’t much of an answer to his son, but it was the only optimistic one he could think of. And optimism was what he wanted under the circumstance.
“Good.” Terry finished his breakfast, put the empty bowl in the sink and went to get dressed.

Brian sat for a few minutes thinking about Ryan and the dive he and Lido would probably be making this morning. Glad that he was alone, he placed his head on the kitchen table for a moment. He was going to face this head-on, but every once in a while he had to take a time out. Or he wasn’t going to make it.





The phone rang. It was Lido. She was ready any time that he wanted to come and get her. He said that he and Terry would be there within the hour, by seven, to pick her up. She added that everything was ready and all they had to do was stop the car, load the equipment, and they’d be off for the Pond. When he replied in a soft tone, she asked if he was going to be okay. He cleared his throat and said he was. He really wasn’t, but nothing was going to stop his effort today. Not even his own feelings. He wasn’t completely sure that Ryan was still alive. But he couldn’t and wouldn’t let himself think that way and would just keep going until he knew for sure. One way or the other.

After they were both dressed and ready, he and Terry drove over to Charlie’s where Lido was waiting for them. Brian parked in front of the driveway and Terry hopped out. The double garage doors were open and Lido stood in the middle of the building as Brian and Terry entered.

Brian saw that she had the equipment ready and he looked toward the far wall where the spear guns had been. Then he glanced at the equipment again and saw that they were there too with extra spears this time.

“Hi,” he told her, “You all set?”


Then Brian looked around. “Where’s Charlie? I thought we could give him a ride to the Pond.”

“He’s gone and so is the Nomad.”

He suddenly knew what was missing when he glanced at the empty garage. Donnie’s car.

“You sure he took it? A car that old would be worth a lot of money to someone. Do you want to call the sheriff’s office and report it missing?”

“No, not yet. Maybe Charlie did take it. And I don’t want to get him in trouble. He and the sheriff haven’t been seeing eye to eye on things lately.”

“Okay, but if Charlie’s at the Pond waiting for us I’ll take you to a phone and you can call them. That is, if the sheriff isn’t at the Pond already.”


They loaded the diving gear into the trunk and when they got in the car Terry sat between them. It was something he hadn’t done since he was four right before Barbara gave birth to Ryan and Terry had both parents to himself.

When they arrived at the Pond, the area looked like it had been invaded by light-colored vans with satellite dishes on the roof. On the side of each truck lettering from the local tv and radio stations. As he pulled into the parking lot, the sheriff department cars were parked side by side. The three officers were on the sand near the water.

“The price of fame,’’ Brian said sarcastically. Two news crews. one with a videocam, were running toward their car.

“What?” Lido asked.

“Welcome to the zoo.”





Charlie had gassed up the Nomad after he ate breakfast. He had used a syphon set up to drain the gas from the five gallon gas can into the old Chevy’s tank. Adding oil to the crankcase only took a few minutes. He had wanted to be ready when the mystery car dropped off the latest letter in his mailbox.

Around six-thirty, a light blue sedan with only one rider stopped briefly at the mailbox and parked against the traffic. Charlie was in the garage but saw the arm place the envelope into the




opening and drive off leaving a blast of dust and gas fumes.

Charlie started up his son’s car which hadn’t been run in at least five years. It roared to life. He quickly opened the garage doors and slowly eased down the driveway then onto the street to give chase. The blue had turned the corner before Charlie put his foot into the gas. The pedal responded and the Nomad left its own puff of smoke and dust.

He knew he couldn’t follow too close because the other driver could become suspicious of the wagon wagon with the white top. Though it was early and a workday, most of the traffic was on the Long Island Expressway at this hour. And quiet enough, he could hear the tires on the cement freeway. The car made another turn and Charlie let the Nomad creep to the corner. He watched for a moment before he proceeded. The other driver didn’t seem to be aware of him. The blue car’s headlights were now far ahead but he could still see them.

Charlie wasn’t sure what he was going to do if he caught up to this jerk but he could see the car’s license plate maybe for his troubles. Then he thought that what if the car were a rental or worse stolen. He followed carefully as the car ahead made another turn. Charlie hoped this wasn’t a wild goose chase and the other driver knew he was behind him in the dark.

Another turn. To the left this time. And again Charlie waited at the corner. This time he was glad he did. The car pulled into the driveway of the fourth house on the right side of the street. Charlie would wait a few minutes until he thought the man would be in the house. The Nomad’s big engine idled while Charlie sat for what he thought would be enough time for the bastard to get inside.

After five minutes passed, he began the nonchalant ride by the house. With no traffic coming towards him and no obstacles in his way, Charlie kept his head straight ahead as he drove but his eyes were on the rear bumper of the blue car. By the time the Nomad was by the house, he had the license number. When he reached the corner, he got a pen and paper out of his shirt pocket and wrote it down like a man who knew the winning lottery numbers. No one could say he wasn’t prepared. There might be snow on the roof, but this old man was home.

He wanted with all his heart to ride passed the house again, but he fought the urge and the Nomad headed for home. Charlie had taken a big chance and won so he didn’t want to chance a careless second drive by and have the person inside the house see the car. After all, his son’s car was very recognizable. Everyone would look whenever Donnie drove the car around town. But the car had been off the road for fifteen years now, but it was a classic and still turned a head today.

After the short ride home, Charlie backed the car up the driveway into its resting place in the garage, he remembered he had had to pick up the car on the day Donnie had chosen to walk into the Pond. He rubbed his eyes with the back of his hand as he got out of the car and locked it. He would drain the gas and oil later but he was more interested in what was in the mailbox. He wanted to see what the son of a bitch he had followed had for him today.

When he reached the box and stuck his hand in, he pulled out another white envelope. He tore the end open and began to read.







Ryan wished he could call out. Someone would hear him. But as he would tell everyone later, his throat just wouldn’t work. He couldn’t talk. No words would come. His thoughts of what he would say if the ability was there were in the thousands.

During the night he had used leaves to cover himself to stay warm. Some had even stuck to his his skin and he had to brush them off. But before using the leaves, he did look for crawly things. All he found were the ones who rolled themselves into little balls like armadillos. Pill bugs, he thought




they were called or should be called, with ridges on their oval backs and about a hundred legs underneath became his companions in the metal tube. All he knew was they didn’t bite and were probably as scared of of him as he was of the situation he was in.

What was he doing in here? He hadn’t done anything to anyone. And who was the man in the diving suit? His questions brought no answers. And he was too tired and scared to think clearly about what he should do.

He had woken up about fifty million times during the night. An exageration but not far from the truth. Ryan was burnt, Terry would have said. He also missed his mom and dad. They wouldn’t know what had happened to him. But they would be looking for him, he knew that.

He remembered the time the two brothers had gotten lost in Discovery Park by the Sacramento River when he was four and Terry was eight. When they were found he thought his parents were going to kill them for getting lost. But they just picked them up and hugged them until Ryan thought his ribs were going to break and said so. But this time he was alone.

He had been abducted by a crazy man who was shot in the leg by someone who had a spear gun. Wow, he thought, if he had made up a story like this he’d be in real trouble, but this did happen and they would have to believe him. It was the truth and he didn’t lie. And his parents knew that.

Ryan was sitting up now and studying the metal grate. He kicked with all he had but the grate didn’t move an inch. Standing he put all of his weight, all sixty pounds of him, into it and still nothing happened. The man who had pulled off the grate and then reattached it and he had done all that with a hole in his leg. C’mon, he told himself, and gave it another try.

Admitting defeat, he sat back down. What was he going to do now? Whatever if was, he wasn’t going to give up. Nope, no way, he thought. Out side the tube, the leaves rustled. A small dog appeared at the opening. Ryan motioned, “Here, boy”. He couldn’t guess what kind of dog it was. His dad would call it a Heinz 57. The dog was brown and white with black on its ears and a black nose. Probably a mutt and enough reason for his dad to come up with the nickname.

Ryan called the dog Heinz. He whistled low, clapped his hands and made believe he was going to throw something for the dog to fetch. The dog responded each time, even went to look for the fake throw. It also barked back when he clapped his hands so he kept clapping.

When his hands got sore, the dog stayed and watched him. He began to whisper to the dog what his problem was and what he wanted his new friend to do. The animal at first tilted its head back and forth as it didn’t know what he was talking about. Then got a look on its face as Ryan thought it was beginning to understand. Even if it didn’t, Ryan thought, it was someone to talk to.

“I’m stuck in here, boy. And I’m going to need you to get someone to tell them I’m here,” he had said.

The dog’s ears had perked up and began wagging its tail. Ryan had also added, “Are you someone’s dog? Do you have a master? Can you get someone to get me the heck out of here?”

The tail kept wagging but Ryan felt that his words were falling on deaf ears or at least ears that didn’t know what he was asking. Once more he pretended to throw something and the dog went to find it. After a few minutes, he knew it had been a mistake because the dog didn’t come back.






Brian had parked the rental next to the sheriff’s car in the beach parking lot and begun the walk toward Sheriff and Charlie when the news crews descended upon them. They had asked a few questions about the drowning and Brian answered politely, but one reporter who had called Lido, Mrs. Dunne, asked a very personal question. The question wasn’t as important as the fact that the man had used the past tense when referring to Ryan.




Terry spit at him and Brian pulling his son along with him told the other reporters no more questions.

Lido who was there and didn’t hear any of the questions was standing next to Charlie when Brian and Terry reached them. The sheriff had a sheet of paper in his hand and Brian knew at once it was another letter from the man who had turned Brian and his family’s life upside down.

“Charlie got another note in his mailbox this morning,” Sheriff Park said.

“Mind if I see it?” Brain asked. The law officer handed it to him.

As Brian read the letter, Park added, “Then Charlie chased the man who dropped it off.”

“Charlie!” It was Lido and she was mad.

“Damned fool could have got himself hurt or worse.”

The Charlie glared at the sheriff. “I may be a fool, but I got his license plate and I know where he lives.”

“You were taking a big chance, Charlie.” Brian said. He gave the letter back to Park.

“Don’t you think I know that. It was a risk I thought worth taking.”

The sheriff placed the letter into a leather bag and zipped it up. He looked out over the water. The body which he was waiting for to surface had a large crowd but he knew it would be a while until it appeared. Park didn’t like people around when he had to fish someone’s son out like a freshwater catch. He did know that he and his deputies he would have to be even more careful when they used the hook with the family and the news people watching his every move.

Brian asked Park, “Do you have any more leads on who could have written the notes?”

“None yet. Why? Do you have something you think I should know about?”

“Well, more of a theory than a lead.”

Park sighed. “Then give it your best shot. I’m all ears and I’ll take anything I can get right now.”

“I haven’t seen the first two letters, but I have been told the gist of them. But ‘catch me when you can’, ‘yours truly from hell’ and ‘I am master of the art’ are straight out of Jack the Ripper. Well, the letters of the Ripper to the London police. I became intrigued by the letters he wrote. I went online last night. There was a book by Robert Bloch, the guy who wrote ‘Psycho’ and I found them in there.”

“’Psycho’, huh?”`

“I’m not saying this is Norman Bates grabbing kids at a Long Island pond. Like I said, it’s a theory, but I’m sure the person writing them has a pretty healthy attachment to Jack. He must be a really sick guy.”

“But didn’t Jack the Ripper kill prostitutes?” Lido asked.

“Yes, but these kids aren’t much different. Helpless swimmers. They …” Brian stopped. Ryan’s face had flashed in front of his eyes and he couldn’t say anymore.

“So now we’re on the trail of a crazy man who only attacks children, boys, on the holiday weekend. “ The sheriff was looking at Charlie.

“And if he isn’t found quickly, at least according to this last letter, he’s leaving. And soon,” Charlie said.

“Well, at least he feels like he’s done for this year.”

“How’s that?”

“What do you think ‘there will be no more’ means?”

Lido had gone to the car and got her diving equipment. Brian hadn’t seen her go, but then ran over to help her carry the gear when he did. They were standing by the shoreline when the sheriff came over to them. Park wore a grimace and Brian noticed that Park didn’t appear to be too happy today anyway.

It was still early and the water was calm. Not a ripple. Brian was hoping the Pond bottom had settled so they would have more visability than yesterday and be able to see what they have come to find. At best, an empty body of water and the hope that Ryan was alive, or at the worst, finding his small body. He couldn’t continue the thought because all he wanted to find was a healthy son who



wanted to know why all the TV people were at the beach. And what was going on.

“Where do you think you’re going? I can’t let you dive?” Park told them.

“Why not? “ Lido had her hands on her hips. She was defying the sheriff to come up with a reason that would make sense to her.

“This is a crime scen and you may unknowingly destroy evidence important to the situation.”

“Oh, c’mon, sheriff.”

“Can’t you see those people with the cameras who …”.

“That’s okay, Lido,” Brian said, “My heart really isn’t in it. He’s right and besides, what if we did find him. I don’t want to remember him that way.” He picked up the equipment and began walking to the car. Lido with her gear in her arms ran along to catch up with him.

“You don’t even want to try? C’mon, I can talk him into it.”

Brian stopped on the sand. “I want to find him. Believe I want to find him, but not this way. And didn’t Barbara and I swim all over the bottom of the Pond and then didn’t you and I do the same thing? So why didn’t we find him?”

“I don’t know.”

“I thought I was up to this, but now I just don’t know.”

“Well, I’ll dive later today if you change your mind. Maybe the circus atmosphere will die down too.”

“Maybe. But I have a feeling the circus is just beginning.”

Charlie finished talking with Park and approached them. He asked Brian if he could give him a ride home. Because he had an idea. Something that might help them figure out what was driving the person who had committed these crimes. Charlie also wanted to know how the man knew his name and why he was sent the letters. And if he knew Donnie and what if any the two had in common.






When the man had returned to the house his leg was throbbing like a muscle spasm. He knew he should be off the leg and resting it in bed but he had to drop off the letter at Charlie’s. It was all part of the plan. He wanted to feel he was putting something over on the people in this town, but in the back of his mind he was tired. Perhaps, it was the dull ache in his calf and it was also the first time he had been hurt while on vacation. But his secret thought was that he did want to be caught and even if he did hide behind the words of the Ripper in his letters he didn’t want to do it any more. But the decision was no longer his to make, this summer practice had become an obsession that he had no control over. And as much as he enjoyed rubbing the nose of the residents in the muck, he could only follow its path to wherever it would end.

But that didn’t mean he was going to make it easy to get caught. The thrill of the hunt should never be an easy one. He smiled at the thought. And who said he was going to get caught. Sure, seeing old Charlie driving Donnie’s Nomad had both scared him and made him laugh. Seeing the white hair scrunched down behind the station wagon’s big steering wheel was cause for humor, but the old man now knew where he lived and that was no good.

After tossing back three fingers of vodka on two successive jolts to calm himself down, he knew one thing. He had to get out of the house until he could leave and maybe get another car. And he just wished his office had been more understanding when he called. He knew they weren’t going for him getting hurt while he was gone. Who the hell gets hurt when they go away, he wondered then smiled again. The moments he had spent on hold while waiting to explain the situation to his boss had caused him the most anxiety. It wasn’t falling apart but it could if he got sloppy. But he always took




extra care that it never would. So this would be the closest . But why did he have to bring up old wounds by sending the notes and the picture to Charlie? It wasn’t Charlie’s fault. He didn’t understand what had happened to Donnie, but he didn’t do all he could to save him.

The man tossed the thought aside. He was beyond this point. The time he has spent in therapy had told him that. But again he just told himself he had sent the letters to Charlie to tittilate Charlie’s soul. Also make him wonder who in the hell was helping the Princess and what did Donnie have to do with any of it. He laughed harder this time as he imagined the mental sommersaults the old man would be experiencing.

He grabbed the phone and called the Sachem Pond Motel by the airport to find out if they had any vacancies. The man who answered said they did.

One or two days . Check in early this afternoon. He hung up the phone in the middle of the motel man telling him thanking him for calling Sachem Pond. All he wanted to do was collect his thoughts. It would take an hour or so to clean up, change the dressing on the leg again and then wipe every fingerprint off every thing he had touched since he’d been in the house.






Barbara let the phone ring ten times at her in-laws and then hung up. Where was Brian, she wondered, at the Pond waiting for the inevitable to occur. But, oh how she wanted to talk to him. She would even tell him she never got on the plane to California and was here at a motel on the highway on the way to the MacArthur Airport.

She had called her own parents early in the morning, but right after they picked up the phone she knew the call had been a mistake. There was nothing new to tell them and the call had just made them feel more helpless than they were already feeling. What she really needed from them was a hug and maybe even some parental affection. The phone company hadn’t lived up to the part where you could reach out and touch someone yet.

Barbara had been to the gift shop and the dining room twice today and it wasn’t even noon. She may have settled for a motel room to collect her thoughts but inside she was running a mental marathon. The sleeping pills from the bottom of her purse hadn’t worked. They were old but she took them anyway. She wasn’t surprised when they weren’t effective as a glass of milk. The pills wouldn’t have dented the suit of armor she had wrapped her emotions in. She couldn’t do much at the motel except feel sorry for herself.

The tv set in the room was on but the sound was off. As she took a glance, she saw Brian standing with the sheriff at the Pond, Charlie and Lido on the sand near the water. She quickly turned up the volume.

“ … Dunne’s son is thought to have drowned here at Sachem Pond yesterday afternoon …” the female voice read over the picture.

She screamed at the set, “He did drown, you jerk.”

“ … but Sheriff Park said his department was doing all that could be done …”

She shut off the set and called room service. Was it feed a cold and starve a nervous breakdown or the other way around, she thought as someone at the front desk answered her call.






“I didn’t know that Nomad would still even run?” Brian asked Charlie. They were back at Charlie’s house.

“Well,” the old man smiled, “Yeah. It purred like a kitten. Donnie really loved that car. But I really don’t need it to keep him alive in my heart .”

They were all sitting at the kitchen table. Terry was in the living room watching an old MacGyver episode. Lido had made sandwiches and Charlie had gotten out an old bottle of scotch. The bottle must not have been opened in a long time because the neck and the cap were covered with a thin layer of dust. He poured some into two glass tumblers with ice and he added water to his own.

“Here’s that drink I promised you. Sorry about the dust but it’s been a long time since I’ve had a drink,” he told Brian.

Brian nodded. “No problem.” He had found a similar bottle of bourbon in the same condition at the house when he was searching for pancake mix.

They clinked glasses and took a sip.

“Now what are we going to do about that son of a bitch I followed. I’d like to string him up by his …”

“Charlie!” Lido was starring at him.

“ … uh, gonads. Where was I? Oh yeah, and I want to find out what all this has to do with Donnie.”

They all sat in silence with their thoughts.

Lido sipped at an iced tea while the two men acted as if they were enjoying their drink. Brian knew that his would have no effect at all on him because liquor didn’t take its toll on him during times of stress. Though he would only have the one drink.

Charlie kept thinking about the person who had sent him the messages. What did this guy really have to do with Donnie? Did he know him from school, work, the war, the store? That was a lot of territory to cover. And what about the VA hospital, a bigger area and more difficult to locate those people. I would be hard either way, but he couldn’t sit and do nothing. The man who wrote those letters could have been instrumental in Donnie’s death by helping with the task or by performing the deed itself. But for now he would just think about how the path of his son and this man had crossed lives somewhere. And that would be enough to keep Charlie going if only to help Brian find out what had happened to Ryan.

Lido was fighting an urge to dive and was trying to figure out why the sheriff hadn’t allowed her and Brian to make the dive today. There was no evidence to spoil or any laws involved to her knowledge. Well, maybe Park just didn’t want a public relations mess on his hands as well as having a murderer or even a serial killer on his hands. Can’t wash something like that off easily. But one thing she knew for sure was that she didn’t want to be in Park’s shoes.

Brian’s thoughts were of Ryan. If he wasn’t in the Pond, where the hell was he? It would take a lot of people and time to put on a full out search for his son. He really didn’t know what to do next. With Barbara home to her parents and Terry drinking his ice tea waiting for  MacGyver’s next brainstorm, Brian was beginning to feel lost. Maybe this was all a bad dream and he would wake up soon. But this was reality and he was having the hard time believing all that had happened.

Charlie got up to use the phone as Brian called to Terry and told his hosts he was going home. He was worried that Barbara might be trying to call and would get upset when she couldn’t get a hold of him. And he didn’t want to upset his wife anymore than she already was.

“I’m going to make a few calls and I’ll give you a buzz if I hear anything,” Charlie said.

With Terry now at his side, Brian looked at Lido and Charlie. “Okay. I’m going to try and relax for a few hours.”

Lido walked them to the door. “Give me a call later if you want to dive again. I’ll be ready.”

“Thanks.” He then opened the screen door and walked down the path to the car.

Charlie picked up the phone again. From his address book he looked up the number of




Donnie’s doctor at the VA. He wondered if the number was still good and hoped the man would remember him. It was over ten years since they’d talked, but maybe he could point the way to the man who thought Jack the Ripper was one of the good guys.







Jerry and the sheriff were parked two houses away from where Charlie had followed the blue car. Glenn the other deputy had stayed behind at the Pond with the body bag and the pole with the hook to retrieve the body. He would report on the car radio if he had anything.

Park had had it with the reporters’ questions when he and Jerry were leaving. He gave a few pat answers but didn’t play his hand like telling them about the house they were about to drive to and go knock at the door. Hi, is the serial killer of the house at home, he’d always wanted to say that one, but he’d never even seen it in a movie or a cop show. But he did wonder if Glenn would be able to handle the body himself. Though he wasn’t optimistic about the body.

But he put those thoughts on hold as Jerry shut off the engine. They had talked over the procedure they would use to approach the house. Like parking a couple houses away so that by the time they arrived they were both on the same wavelength.

“You’re not going to need that,” Park said as Jerry’s hand reached for the shotgun attached to the dashboard where it rested in the middle of the car’s front seat. But Jerry took it anyway.

He told the deputy to go around the back of the house while he would knock on the front door. “Be ready for someone running out the back door.”

Jerry nodded and disappeared around the side of the house.

Park advance up the front path, waited for a moment when he thought Jerry was in place and tapped on the screen door. He listened for movement inside. Nothing. He knocked again harder and this time he opened the aluminum screen storm door. With his ear against the heavy wooden inside door, he again listened. When he felt there was no one home and since he hadn’t heard Jerry cry out that he had the suspect in custody, Park tried the knob. To his amazement it turned.

He stepped inside and went to the back door to tell Jerry the coast was clear. When he opened it, the shotgun was aimed at him.

“Nobody’s here. C’mon.” Jerry put the gun to his side.

“The place empty?”

“Looks like they left in a hurry.”

“Maybe the guy saw Charlie and tore out of here like a bat out of hell.”

The sheriff took out the picture Charlie had given him from his pocket. “If this is the house of the man we’re looking for, he’s probably a bit paranoid, but that’s just a guess. You look around here upstairs, I’ll take the basement. You have those latex gloves so we don’t get our fingerprints all over the place.”

“Here.” Jerry handed him a pair and walked off toward the back bedroom.

As Park went down the stairs, he glanced at the picture. At the bottom of the steps, he put on the lights and then switched them off quickly. His eyes focused and he knew he was standing where the photograph was taken. All that was missing was the flash of the camera strobe of the young boy sitting on the milk crate. All tied up. He hit the switch back on and checked the room.

Jerry found nothing in the bedroom. The bedspread was rumpled like it had been slept on for a nap. He went and checked the hall closet. On the top shelf was an old portable typewriter. He took the machine down and placed it by the door jamb so he would remember to take it when they left. He went back into the bedroom and checked the wastepaper basket.




He emptied it on the bedspread. Two crumpled pieces of writing paper and a bloody gauze pad with two strips of first aid tape still attached fell out. He unfurled the pieces of paper after placing the bandage in a plastic bag.

Jerry began to read:



Charlie. Beware! I have pleasure in telling you that I am the man …



Sheriff Park called to him. “You ready?”

“Yeah, found a few things.”

Jerry showed Park the items he found in the room. He grabbed the typewriter and followed the Sheriff to the front door. Park took the shot gun.

“Told you you didn’t need this thing?”

“Better safe than sorry.”

Park smiled. He’d found the place where at least one of the drowning victims was kept until they were taken back to the Pond. This day may turn out okay anyway, he told himself.







Barbara tried calling Brian again. He answered on the second ring.

“I called you earlier,” she said after they had asked how the other one was.

“I figured so that’s why I came home,” Brian told her, “There’s still no word.”

“I know, I mean that’s good news, isn’t it? How’s Terry? Is he doing alright?”

“As well as can be expected, he spit at a reporter.” Brian paused. “He needs you, you know, I need you too.”

She changed the subject. “Did you see Charlie?”

“I just came from his house. He was going to make a few calls when I left. Something might come from it.”

“I’m sure it will.”

“But he did chase somebody in a blue car who dropped off another letter in his mailbox this morning.”

“Another letter?”

“It’s the third one he’s received. He’s gotten one after every … He said it’s the first time he’s ever got them.”

Barbara was silent. She thought again about telling him where she was. But she didn’t or couldn’t.

But she did say, “I’ll see you in a day or so. I don’t know whether knowing or not knowing about Ryan is good or bad anymore. But it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through.”

“Me, too.”

“It’s just that …”

“I know. Don’t explain. It’s just that it would be easier on all of us if you were here.”

“I’ll see you soon. I promise. I feel like I’m near you.” Her subconscious was trying to give her away.





“Okay, I’m going to hold you to that.”

She smiled at the phone receiver. “Will you?”

“I sure will. Call me tonight.”

She said she would, said goodbye and hung up.

Barbara sat down on the bed and looked out the window. A man in a blue car had just opened the driver side door and limped around the back of his car to the trunk. He removed a small suitcase walked toward the front door of the motel with a noticeable wobbly gait. She noticed the Connecticut license plate. She’d tell Terry. He was fascinated by state plates. She sighed at the thought that the person who dropped off the letter to Charlie also had…, she stopped herself. Didn’t finish the thought. But she was more surprised that she would be thinking that it would be someone from Connecticut. And how many blue cars are there on Long Island. Stop it, she told herself, you’ll drive yourself crazy.

She stretched out on the bed with her head atop the two motel pillows and thought about what she had to do. Her thoughts should be of when she was going to see her husband and Terry, not about some guy with a limp. But it would make for a good tv show, she thought. No, she really had to decide what to do. Tomorrow? No, that would be too soon. Then the day after when things were calmer in her mind and she would be able to deal more effectively with the stress. That was it, later she would call Brian and tell him she was coming back.

And later when they would really be able to talk, she would tell him she hadn’t been able to go home to California and leave them. But that she had needed time to think, to absorb everything and not being with them had been the worst thing she had ever had to do. For herself. For her sanity.








The phone call Charlie made to the Veteran’s Hospital didn’t supply him with the answer he was looking for. After getting transferred from department to department, he finally talked to someone could tell him who his son’s doctor had been. Charlie remembered the man’s voice more than his name. But as soon as he had the name he was told that the man had retired and was living in Florida. So all he was able to get was a name and a town. Dr. William Robinson was living in Stewart, Florida.

He was alone in the house. Lido went out on her motorcycle, for a ride she said. He knew she would be going by the Pond and then drop by to see Brian.

Charlie had noticed her restlessness after the sheriff had told her that she couldn’t dive right there and then. They had talked for a while. Not really about anything. But Charlie thought it best that she go down to the Pond and see what was going on for herself. He knew she would feel better but who was going to hold her back when she had her mind set on something. So he gave her his blessing and she was off.

He dialed 411 for both the number and the area. The automated recording gave him the area code and then the doctor’s home phone number. He punched in the numbers not knowing what he was going to get. The doctor’s wife answered on the fourth ring.

She sounded out of breath as she asked who was calling. Then proceeded to tell him that she and her husband were out in the garden. She said she would get him if Charlie would hold on. While he waited he thought about the leisurely pace of life in her voice and he wondered what the heck he




was still doing here on the Island where the word hectic applied more. But before he could answer his own question, the doctor was on the line.

“I don’t know if you remember me. My name is Charlie Roberts and you treated my son Donnie, uh Donald Roberts, a while back. And we talked after his drowning. “

“I’m retired now, Mr. Roberts. I saw a lot of soldiers back then. Most for depression and anxiety among other ills. Where did you say your son drowned?”

“Please call me Charlie. Sachem Pond. He just made up his mind one day and walked right into the Pond.”

“Well, Charlie. I seem to remember something about it but I’ve seen so many patients it’s hard to sort them out without my records.”

Charlie paused before he replied. He was thinking about Donnie while the doctor spoke. He didn’t imagine it being this hard to talk about his son to someone who knew the story even though the doctor’s memory was a bit tarnished.

“If you could check your records would appeciate it.” Charlie didn’t tell him that children were drowning at the Pond because he didn’t want to alarm the man. But if he had to he would to get a direction to follow.

“What exactly are you looking for, Charlie?”

“Anyone who was close to my son while he was in the hospital and under your care. They should be from Suffolk County on Long Island.”

“Well, that is confidential, but I usually did treat both men in a room. So I guess I can tell you his roommate, I can manage that.”

“I just want to ask them about Donnie. It happened so many years ago this past weekend. I want to talk to someone who might remember him.” Charlie wasn’t very comfortable with the lie but the truth was far more frightening to say out loud.

“For a reason like that, I’ll do my best. I won’t make any guarantees. Some of the patients have moved away without a forwarding address, but I’ll try.”

Charlie thanked him, gave the doctor his home phone number and then hung up. He sat quietly at the kitchen table to collect his thoughts. He hoped he wasn’t chasing ghosts, but then ghosts didn’t write letters. And by tomorrow he should have a few names and addresses to check. Maybe even an answer or at least be able to eliminate that the person knew Donnie at the VA.






Park and Jerry arrived back at the Pond to see if the reporters left. He parked the car next to Glenn’s and then waved to the deputy before treking across the sand. When he and Jerry reached him, he saw the pole and the black bag in the same place when he left.

“Nothing?” Park asked.

“It’s been calm since the radio and TV people left,” Glenn told him. The sheriff could tell that the deputy wanted to leave and had probably had seen enough water for one day. Nevermind what he was waiting for.

“Well, come back to the office with me.” Glenn then began walking to the car glad to be out of there.” Then to Jerry, he said, “Just watch until it gets dark. If you see anything suspicious call it in to get back up. We don’t need any heroes on this one.”

Jerry who was already looking out onto the Pond turned and nodded. Glenn threw him his keys. The sheriff added that he would see him back at the office.

On the ride back, Park informed Glenn about what they had found at the house where



Charlie had trailed the blue car. The old typewriter, the hand-written notes in the bedroom trask basket, the basement area matching the photo, the spoon in the garbage can, the empty cans of beans in the outside trash cans along with the TV dinners and the liquor bottles, and the diving equipment in the garage made him feel like he had the right man. Whoever that was. And that when they got back to the office they would send out the bloody gauze pad to have the lab test the blood type against the spear that Dunne found on the beach.

“Do you remember what blood type the Dunne kid is?” the sheriff asked Glenn. Neither noticed that the reference had been made in the present tense.

“A Positive, I think. I have it in my notes back at the office.”

“It’ll keep. I won’t be needing it until tomorrow when the blood report on the spear comes back. The ME’s going to love me when I ask him to put a rush on the gauze pad. Should make him appreciate his next vacation.”

Glenn smiled then shook his head.

“Something else bothering you?” Park asked.

“It’s just that I can’t believe you couldn’t find any evidence in the house that would tell you who owned it. I know you and Jerry went over it from stem to stern, but to find nothing really surprises me. I know if you went through the kitchen trash or the outside trash cans you’d know I was the resident in a minute.” Glenn sighed.

“Well, nothing about this job amazes me anymore and the longer I do the less it does.”

“We should give a call out to the county seat in Riverhead when we get back so that by morning we’ll know the name of the home’s owner.”

“And then maybe match up the info from the ME’s office with the home owner.”

“Well, I’m not a betting man, but the way this case is going I wouldn’t bet the ranch on it.”

“You never can tell.”







Brian was resting in the living room when he heard the knock at the front door. He peeked in on Terry and saw that he was sleeping.

“Hi,” Lido said through the screen door.

“Hello.” Brian opened the door for her. “Any news? Did you find something?”

“No, but I wish I had good news for you. How are you guys holding up?

“Okay, I guess. When I answered the door I hoped you were my wife.”

“Sorry. Have you heard from her?”

“A couple of times. She called after I got home. Everything’s okay as it can be except she’s in California and I’m here. Even my parents and my brother and his wife are already in Florida where my family should be. My whole family.”

“Thanks a lot.”

“You know what I mean.”

“I know, I was only kidding.”

Brian forced a smile

“There I knew you had one left in you,” she said. “Listen, I can’t imagine what you’re going through now, but I can sympathize because of my dad.”

“I almost forgot.”

“I can’t.”

Terry came running into the kitchen and asked if they could go out to eat. For some pizza maybe. With some pepperoni too. And some soda. Brian said yes, not only because he also was




hungry but he couldn’t say no to his son right now. Eventually he would, but for now he was going to spoil the shit out of him.

“Have you had dinner yet?” Brian asked Lido.

“No, I usually eat dinner with Charlie so he doesn’t have to eat alone. I guess a slice won’t spoil my appetite. Besides, I never turn down free pizza in Sachem Pond.”






The room at the Sachem Pond Motel was fine. Fine if you weren’t a full-sized person like himself. But it would have to do.

A full-sized bed in the middle of the room opposite a dresser with a large mirror made the room feel a little bigger. Bigger if you were an idiot with a depth perception problem of the first magnitude.

Using cash to pay for the room instead of handing over a credit card had been a good idea at the time. It would keep his real name off the motel’s ledger, but would put a crimp in his lifestyle if he had to stay any longer than a couple of days.

He put his clothes in the closet by the bathroom. The pint of vodka from the house was placed on the dresser next to one of the glasses from the bathroom. In a short while he would finish half of it and then kill it if his leg began hurting. Even if it didn’t it would help him sleep.

Dream of the woman across the hall with the brown hair. Too bad she was married. Rings on the finger. So what, he thought, it didn’t matter to him. Not on this weekend. Not this time of year. When he was free to do anything he wanted. Anything at all. Any whim that occurred to him.

He unscrewed the cap of the pint bottle and poured two fingers. It was gone in a gulp. He refilled the glass as a pian shot through his leg. The corner of the bed was the closest place for him to fall to. He had to stay off the leg as much as he could. The pain began to subside. Why do motel parking lots have to be so far away, he had to walk himself through the pain.

On his good leg he crept his way to a position on the bed where his head hit the pillows. He pulled them out from under the bedspread and placed one atop another. His head sank into the middle of them. He was calm and relaxed until he saw he had left the glass and the bottle on the dresser.

“Shit!” he said when he saw them, but he would get them when he was good and ready or when his leg began its nightly throb.

And so with as much strength he could muster he stomped the injured leg on the motel floor. He grimaced at the pain that went from his toes to his crotch. The he stood up on the good leg and hopped over to the dresser.







Lido walked in the front door as Brian and Terry drove away. Charlie was on the phone.

“Yes, Doctor,” Charlie said.

That was good, Lido thought, the doctor calling back already. She was glad that over a part mushroom and part pepperoni pizza that she and Brian had decided not to dive tonight. It wasn’t




that any of them had given up, but rather that her air tanks were too low that made a dive of any length impossible. A snorkle and a mask would have made more sense. And that second slice was a little more ballast than she really didn’t want to dive on.

“Yes, yes, I can hold on,” Charlie said. He didn’t look up but in anticipation of news and better yet a name, he picked up a pen and placed a small tablet of paper in front of him on the kitchen table.

Lido almost interrupted to ask him a few questions but decided to wait until later or at least until he got off the phone. She headed to her bedroom to get a change of clothes and then onto the bathroom shower to scrape off today’s humidity. The stickiness in the air wasn’t what she was needing today. Not when her thoughts were with Brian and his missing son. But where the hell was he, she asked herself as she closed the bathroom door.

“I’m here,” Charlie told the doctor. “”Yes, yes. I have a pen.” The impatience was showing in his voice, but the Florida caller ignored it. Charlie took a breath.

“Uh huh.“ Charlie wrote on the pad and then underlined it. Then drew a circle. His eyebrows raised and he wrote again. Another line, another circle. Charlie continued to listed as the doctor spoke.

“I’ve got both names. Those are some stories. I’d like to thank you for your time, Doctor. And the information. This should help me deal with the loss of Donnie. I guess it just got to me this weekend. I’ll look them up in the phonebook and give them a call.”

Charlie hated lying to the doctor, but he was only half-lying. He was missing Donnie especially with the new deaths this year at the Pond. And then Ryan’s disappearance had brought it home again after Charlie’s talk with Brian.

He tried to forget about the notes and the pictures too. The small boys tied to the crates in that basement. The early morning ride in the Nomad when he followed the blue car through the dewy streets of Sachem Pond.

If he was still a drinking man, Charlie thought, all this would drive a man to drink.






Barbara saw the man move in across the hall. The limp made him creepier than he already was. Great, she said to herself, something close by to give her a nightmare when her frayed nerves were so on edge. She shivered as his appearance again popped into her mind behind the closed door.

She had just got back from eating dinner at the Airport Diner across the street. A chef’s salad with crab meat. It was all she thought she would be able to eat and keep down. Her stomach had been queasy enough but she hadn’t been nauseous yet so she wasn’t taking any chances. Besides, the light meat would keep her mind off that she always binged during times of real crisis.

But food was the least of her problems, she had to call Brian again tonight. And this time she would tell him she would be home. Back to his parents house. Sure, she thought, call his parents house home. That’s a good one, she said. Better the phone call to pick her up at the airport, she could get a taxi ride to there. Be all ready with her bag in front of the terminal building as he pulled up.

Maybe she could get away without telling him that she had spent the last few days at a motel. And not with him. Because she was so broken, crushed over Ryan. Brian had had to take of Terry and himself too. She had almost forgot about her oldest son. With time it would pass. They still had to know to happened to Ryan. In time, in time.

She heard another noise from across the hall. This time time sound was louder. A thump against the door. What was he doing in there, she wondered, wrestling a gorilla?

Men like him had always scared her. Too thin, baseball hat down over the eyes with nothing




to say. Just a cool stare when you saw the eyes. But this one wore a grimace like he was in pain. And that was even more confusing to her.

But as long as he didn’t bother her, she would be okay.

She always seemed to attract the creeps. High school dances, outside Macy’s on the K Street Mall, or in the parking lot in Old Sacramento, she drew them to her like they had radar. A real weirdo magnet. None of them had ever hurt her or the boys, or even postured like they were going to. Like moths to a flame, her sister used to say.

But that was then and this was now. And it all seemed like a hundred years ago. She might even welcome, well not exactly welcome, but be able to handle all this if Brian was here in the room with her. Or with Brian and the boys at the house. They could fight their brains out for a month. She wouldn’t mind or care because she would know they were all healthy and safe.

However, she thought to herself with a small smile, on that thirty-second day she would lower the boom and lay down the law to all the Dunne boys.

The smile disappeared after another thump and Barbara found herself wishing that she could let Ryan and Terry get away with hell.







If only someone knew where he was, he would be okay he just knew it. Ryan didn’t always have a lot of faith in wishing for something. Either you got it or you didn’t, that was what he and Terry had always told each other. And he wished he could tell his brother so right now.

“Don’t go wishing for something you know they’re not going to let you have,” Terry once told him about their parents. In the dampness and the dark of the tube he remembered. His head sunk deeper into the pile of leaves he was using as a pillow.

“You mean I should cross out the tiger,” Ryan had answered. Then he made believe he was crossing it off the Christmas wish list he and Terry had compiled. They they both laughed like hell. Each holding his stomach from the pain of their laughter.

But at the moment all Ryan could muster was a smile which didn’t last more than ten seconds. About five minutes less than their laughing session. Still he remembered.

He’d attempted to get the grate off three times. Each time he had thought it had moved, but he checked a line on the tube to see if it had. It didn’t. That guy must have mega-strength, he thought, or more than a kid had. All he could do now was wait for someone to come and get him out. He couldn’t even yell, but it didn’t matter because even if he had been able to he would be hoarse by now.

Ryan stayed in his comfortable position on the bed of leaves on the tube’s curved bottom. It hadn’t rained and the temperature hadn’t dropped too far at night. But the humidity and the bugs during the day were so bad he found himself waiting for the sun to set or at least go behind the trees that encircled the Pond. That took care of the little bugs, probably gnats, but the night brought the sound of crickets and locusts, the buzz saws of the insect world.

But before he went to sleep he watched the lightning bugs fly outside the tube opening. Their butts would light up, well that’s what Terry had told him.

And even though he had remembered what his brother had said about wishing, he hoped that every lightning bug he saw would come into the the tube so it wouldn’t be so dark. So he wouldn’t be scared. He waited but none came.

But just before nodding off, one bug did manage to fly into the tube flashing its light off and on like a car blinker. He smiled at it as he dropped off to sleep to dream about getting out of the tube.





Brian hung up the phone. He and Barbara had spoke for almost an hour. The line was so clear she sound like she was close by and not with a whole country between them, he thought.

“Did you tell Mom I miss her for me?” Terry asked.

“Of course, I did, pal.”

“And did you ask her when she’d be here?”

“Did that too. Is tomorrow soon enough for you?”

“It sure is.” Terry paused and cocked his head. “You’re not kidding me, are you?” He had a small smile on his face.

“Would I kid a kid?” Brian’s mind the raced back to his own childhood again. He could hear his father saying those same words to him when he was about Terry’s age. Sure, he had remembered them. The question had been posed to him and Teddy over a hundred times. It was a family joke. Their response had always been instant laughter. But this time Brian felt like wiping a tear which wasn’t there from his eye. The past few days had turned his mind to mush and separated his family.

It was somewhat understandable considering the amount of stress each family member was under. And the loss of Ryan, his physical absence, had broken their hearts. Corpus delecti. Body of the crime. They found the other kids, where was Ryan? His worst thought, which would probably scar him for life, but he had to know, was gnawing at him.

“Dad, tell me Ryan’s and my favorite story. The one Uncle Teddy told us before he left.” Terry was sitting on the bed. His eyes on Brian. Like he did when he was small and like Ryan still did. Or used to.

“I’m afraid I didn’t hear that one. What happened to Kung Futball? You tired of it already? Brian was baiting him.

“Uh, no. Not really.” Terry couldn’t tell if his father was serious or not. But when his father smiled he knew it was okay. After all, Terry thought, hadn’t he enjoyed the comic strip since he was born. “The one about the man who drops pennies off the Empire State Building.”

“Oh, maybe you should tell that one. I’ll stop you if I’ve heard it.” Leave it to Teddy to tell them more stories while he was here. They always gave Ryan nightmares and Barbara would get mad at Teddy after a visit, but only when he had already left.

“Okay, but I don’t tell it like Uncle Teddy.” No one ever told a story like Teddy, Brian thought. He hoped it didn’t have anything to do with Teddy starting the rumors about those church statues moving. The whole idea since the tragedy was troubling him because if Ryan was indeed lost and he wanted to sit in church to say a few prayers for his son he wouldn’t be able to keep a straight face.

“A penny is a small thing,” Terry began, “a cent. But still capable of many things. A hundred make a dollar. Fifty make a roll. But one. One penny when dropped off the Empire State Building will go through the top of a car through the floorboard and inbed itself in the road beneath. Sometimes it will even pass through a person’s …”.

“Heard it,” Brian lied. He would say something to his brother next time he saw him. No wonder Ryan had nightmares.

“Oh, okay. I was just getting to the good part. Guess I can save it,” Terry said.

“That’s a good idea. Did I ever tell what the Pond was like when I was your age?”


















“Damned leg,” the man said aloud. The injured calf woke him up for the fourth time this night. He was supposed to change the dressing once during the night and he had yet to do it.

He got off the bed on the good leg to catch his breath from the sharp pain which was shooting through the penetration point of the wound.

If he ever found out who shot him, he would inflict the same wound. On both legs. Just to let them know what it felt like. He continued the hopping motion he had adopted since being shot and he was getting good at it. Though at these times when the dressing had to be changed or when he had to take a leak he would never admit it. One- legged pissing would never become an Olympic event if he had anything to do with it.

As he sat on the toilet lid, he thought about the woman across the hall. He didn’t care what she thought of the noise he had made last night, but he knew she had heard it. The knock which came at the door shortly after had said that someone had heard him fall into the room door. It probably wasn’t her who called the management, he thought. No, she wouldn’t do a thing like that. Or would she? And she wouldn’t laugh at the sound against the door of his room. She wouldn’t. He would have killed her if he heard her laugh.

He didn’t like women who laughed at him. No sir. And when they did, they didn’t last that long after. That was guaranteed. Bet your ass on it.

When he was done with the new dressing he hopped back to the bed and put the light on. He was awake now or at least for another hour or so. The TV remote was on the night table right where he left it. Flipped it on and kept his thumb on the channel changer button.

Mary Tyler Moore…somebody talking about growing hair on bald men … some show about getting rid of cellulite …

Fat chance, he thought. About as much chance as him getting up and walking out of the room without a limp. “Suckers.” He switched the channel back to Mary.

Every woman he knew was a Mary. All caught up behind the image of what they should be, that they should do this or that to keep the fantasy alive of what they should be doing. Even the whores acted that way except they had a shitty attitude. But you could always beat a change of disposition into them, he smiled.

He wondered if the one across the hall was a Mary too. Probably. They all were so far. He’d yet to meet one that wasn’t.






It would be hours until the Medical Examiner’s office opened. So Gene Park sat behind his desk and waited for one of his deputies to come in. Meanwhile he would have to wait for the workup




on the spear and gauze pad. There had to be enough blood on the shaft but the ME had surprised him before with even less evidence. Park knew in his gut that the blood type wasn’t going to belong to the Dunne kid.

“Morning, Sheriff. You been here all night?” Glenn asked. The deputy went to the coffee pot and filled his cup. Then placed a new quart of milk in the ice box. “Refill your cup? Milk you used was probably sour.”

Park rubbed his stomach that was full of early morning acidity and told him to fill it up.

Easy, Glenn, the sheriff thought, it’s early. Too early for answers.

Park asked, “Have you seen Jerry yet?”

“Nope, anything up?”

“Does anything have to be up to get answers around here?”

Glenn took a sip of his coffee. “Look, I know this summer hasn’t been easy so far. I feel it too. Those kids drowning at the Pond every year affects me too. My Jimmy’s around their age and so is your Jason. And Jerry’s kid is just a few years younger.”

“The sheriff didn’t say anything. He didn’t have to. He and Glenn had had this one-sided conversation before. The sheriff sitting behind his desk feeling every bit of what was happening in the pit of his stomach and Glenn telling that both he and Jerry understood. All this every year. And alone while they waited for Jerry to come in.

Every damn summer, Park thought as Glenn spoke and his own son’s face popped into his head. He didn’t know what he would do if it was his kid. But he consoled himself that he would do everything the same way just a little more frantic and with a hell of a lot more parental anxiety.






The sun had only been up an hour, but Charlie had risen nearly an hour before that. He couldn’t sleep late any more. He knew it was probably age catching up with him, but he’d be the last person to admit that out loud. Yeah, it was that and all the dreams about Donnie he had been having of late. And throw that all together with the Princess, the drowned kids, and the notes from someone who committed the act. And that the author of those notes had known Donnie were too much for a man to juggle. Never mind an old man or a father who just lost a child.

Crap, Charlie thought, after Donnie he had hoped he would never know another child lost to the Princess of Sachem Pond. But now he knew Brian and his son Ryan. And Ryan was with the Princess now. Together with her. His little body hadn’t surfaced like the others. Like Donnie’s had back then.

But Charlie wasn’t going to the Pond this morning. He knew the sheriff and his men would have that covered as they had each morning after a drowning. Gene must be going crazy with three this year. There had never been more than two on the 4th.

Charlie ate a couple bites of toast. He hadn’t been eating well lately. The thought of Donnie had brought all the old memories back and the loss of Ryan conjured up those feelings. When Donnie died he had lost twenty pounds in a short time and wasn’t even aware of it until someone asked if he had been sick. Even cancer. And when he realized what he saw in the mirror, he began eating again, like a horse. He also invited Lydia to stay with him for a few days during her summer vacation. And this year she was going to spend the entire summer with him in Sachem Pond. He felt reassured having her here. Her youth and energy were welcomed. But since his wife died, he didn’t share his inner thoughts with anybody. He wished he could share them with Lydia. She was his blood. His granddaughter. But it was still hard.




Charlie had finished one cup of coffee while eating some toast and now stood in the middle of the garage bay admiring Donnie’s Nomad. She was a little rough when he started the engine up, but once he got it going it was smooth sailing. Not bad for a car that hadn’t been on the street for many years. Driven by a driver who hadn’t driven for nearly ten years, but renewed his driver’s license whether he drove or not.

He pulled the tarp off the car, folded it and put it over by Lido’s diving equipment where she would see it if she didn’t notice that the car was gone. It never hurt to let someone know you’ve gone even if you didn’t tell them where, he thought. Or why.

The key eased into the ignition and the old engine roared to life. Charlie feathered the gas until the choke shut off. He then got out to open the garage door, eased the car forward onto the driveway apron, then got out again to close the bay doors. He had never installed the automatic door opener. It sat on the garage workbench way in the back. It had an inch of dust on it and it was going to stay like that. Donnie was going to help him install it.

With tears in his eyes he sipped the last of the coffee, opened the glove box, placed the cup on the slotted shelf supplied by Body by Fisher and drove down the street.







Lido woke with a start when she heard the Nomad’s big engine roar to life. This time she wasn’t in the shower when Charlie took off in the wagon without a word. It only wasn’t like him, but she hoped he hadn’t got another one of those sick notes in the mailbox this morning.

In the kitchen, she filled a cup from the coffee pot on the stove. It was still warm. Lido searched the room for a torn envelope or any other evidence that Charlie had received another letter. There was none, but it didn’t matter because he could have taken it with him.

Damn, Charlie. Why didn’t you let me go with you this time, she asked herself.

With the knot now in her stomach she knew she wouldn’t be able to eat any breakfast. But an empty stomach with only coffee in it was asking for bitter aftertaste in the back of her throat later.

She wanted to call Brian again. She had taken to the man who did the comic strip, who may have lost his son, his wife took a powder, who was probably in shock without realizing it and who had to have an answer as to what had happened to his missing son. She felt guilty as she picked up the phone but she was worried about Charlie. Again. She couldn’t bear seeing her grandfather go through the pain of losing his son all over again. And she was sure that it was taking its toll on her about her own father though if she was asked she would say she wasn’t feeling the pressure. Maybe she was too worried about everyone else. And Brian whether he knew it or not needed help to find his son and to share the pain of the loss if that was what it turned out to be. She was going to be there for him and Charlie if they would let her.

“Hello.” It was Terry.

“Hi, this is Lido. Is your Dad there?” she asked.

He said yes and put down the phone to get his father.

“Lido? Hi. What’s up?” Lido felt reassured to hear his voice. She could tell him.

“Charlie’s gone.”

“What? Where?”

“I don’t know. He took my Dad’s car.”

“Maybe he just went to the Pond.”

“Could have. I’m afraid he got another one of those notes this morning by the guy you said




thought he was Jack the Ripper.”

“Well, let’s assume he did.”

“He went passed the house where the first two kids were … last time. That’s what he told me.” She had paused. She was talking to Brian like they were both once removed from the situation.

“Are you there?”

Another pause. “Sorry. Yeah. My imagination just went on overdrive, I was thinking the worst.”

He chose not to continue their line of conversation. “What are you doing? Can you be ready in a half hour?”

“Sure, what’s going on?”

“I suddenly feel like taking a long ride around Sachem Pond.“

“Uh, okay, what will we be looking for?”

“The best as opposed to the worst.”





Barbara was sorry she had waited so long to call Brian. He was gone. There was no answer when she called, just the answering machine and she didn’t leave a message. Well, maybe, she assured herself, he had taken Terry out to breakfast. Yes, that would be Brian, trying to make the best out of a bad situation. It was one of the reasons she loved him.

If she had only been able to get to sleep at a decent hour last night, but she would be more worried today if she had. But because she slept late she had missed Brian. She had wanted to call him and sort of make up on the phone and then have her pick her up at the motel or at the airport terminal depending on how the phonecall went. But now she didn’t have to deal with it. Just call a cab and have them drop her off at her in-laws’ house. The empty house. No thanks, she told herself , standing in the bedroom Terry and Ryan were staying in and her floodgates would make Niagra Falls seem like a trickle.

But she picked up the phone again and called the local cab company. She could have the driver take the long way by the Pond, even have him stop for a minute or so. Maybe she could see if the rental car was in the parking lot. But other than that she didn’t have any other ideas. Maybe something would come to her during the cab ride.

Just as long as she didn’t have to run into the man across the hall. He scared her.








The man with the hole in his leg knew he had to get out of his motel room, get on the road and back to work. And even when he got to the office when they would all notice his limp he would have to listen to their comments and rude remarks. That was the way he was in his office not the way he was during his two week stay at his parents’ old house in Sachem Pond. He would let everyone slide except for Dillon. That guy had a mouth on him.




He couldn’t be any crazier than he had been during the time in the town. But new doubts were creeping into his mind and it was definitely time to leave. His thirst had been sated. Three. He no longer had the urge to take another victim. But his leg, he patted it easy, was keeping him from getting back to his job in the Nutmeg State.

And the sitting around the motel room was making him very restless. He had slept well last night but that was because he had taken a valium. With a vodka chaser. But there was only one pill left now so he had to think about getting out of town and get over to the Port Jeff ferry. Just drive the car on and enjoy the view from the deck. He closed his eyes for a moment and he could almost feel the sun on his face and smell the salty air of the Long Island Sound.






Brian, Terry and Lido sat in the rental across the street from the beach parking lot. They watched Glenn and Jerry leaning on the hood of the department’s cruiser.
“Are they waiting for Ryan, Dad?” It was the one question from his son he had been waiting for ever since they left the house. And then when they picked up Lido at Charlie’s. It had been on his mind but he didn’t have an answer. Lido’s mouth dropped open at the young boy’s query.

“I don’t know, pal,” Brian told him. He didn’t and he couldn’t lie to his son even at a time like this. Even to make them all feel better. And he and Barbara always had told both boys there was no question that wasn’t worthing asking. If they didn’t know as parents they would tell their sons they didn’t know. It was as simple as that. And this was one of those times.

Brian’s answer also seemed to give Lido some solace but she asked, “Shouldn’t he have surfaced by now? Forty-eight hours is usually the longest. Seventy-two at the …”

Both Brian’s and Terry’s faces showed the stress of the shock they were under. Neither would have noticed if they were staring into a mirror, but Lido saw it before she finished her sentence.

“ … oh, Jesus, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean anything. It’s just the scientist in me coming out … I’m really really sorry … shut up, Lido, shut up.”

Brian saw the wetness at the corners of her eyes. “It’s okay. I know how you meant it. It’s alright, really.”

“No, it’s not. It was a cold thing to say. Look, I haven’t exactly been myself since this all started. Accept my apology.”

“Don’t be so hard on yourself. Nobody can expect you not to be at least a little upset since this brings back the memories of your father’s death here.”

Terry looked at both of them and wore a surprised expression. “Your father died? I don’t know how I would feel if I didn’t have a father.”

They sat in silence again until Brian started up the car. The two deputies were now sitting on the car hood and didn’t turn a head when the rental pulled away.







The Nomad was riding just fine. Cornering in the turns wasn’t like an Indy car but all





Charlie cared about was that he had transportation. He only wished the old Chevy was a little less flashy. But that was what Donnie had asked the car to be. A flash of bright metal and chrome. The tarp kept part of the sheen, but dust and dirt would be inbedded into the paint forever.

During the first part of his morning ride around Sachem Pond, Charlie passed by the local beach and saw the deputies waiting for the body to float up. He wasn’t ready for that today. All this had drudged up too many memories of Donnie but even though it was to be Brian’s son, the body in his mind would have Donnie’s face and he would have to relive his son’s drowning in the flesh.

He knew the scene by heart from his own dreams. Or the nightmares. And he knew he wouldn’t or couldn’t go through it all again though it remained in his final thoughts each night when he closed his eyes.

So he continued on to the house where he had trailed the blue car that had parked by his mailbox, dropped off the note and sped away.

Charlie took each turn slowly as he drove the streets toward the house not knowing what to expect. Or from what direction. And not having power steering on the old girl wasn’t helpful on his old bones.

He parked the Nomad across the street from the house. There was no sign of the blue car, but that didn’t mean the occupant wasn’t in the area. And before he had parked he had looked carefully for the sheriff’s car too. Though they had locked horns in the last few days, he didn’t want Gene Park to find him here. Probably try to charge him with returning to the scene of the crime without saying he did it or at the very least disturbing a crime scene though no signs were posted. But signs didn’t have to be posted for Park to designate an area. If he said it was, it was. Charlie remembered this from when Donnie drowned. The entire Pond had been designated until the body was found.

Charlie opened the door quietly and closed it the same way. On tiptoe he crossed the street and walked directly to a large juniper bush that should have been trimmed and pruned if not cut down all together. But today he was glad it was here. Charlie tried to peer through the branches and all he got for his trouble was a face full of stickers. It would have been worse if the white stubble he always on his cheeks wasn’t there. The damage was minimal.

He approached the side of the house keeping the shadows and between the oak and maple trees. There was no sound coming from the house not even the TV. But he wasn’t really surprised, the person he was looking for might be asleep at this early hour. After all, it was 7:30 and the whole world wasn’t up yet.

Maybe he had a chance to catch this Ripper between snores. Or better and safer, see that someone was here then get back in the car and call the sheriff.

Yeah, that would be the smart thing to do, Charlie thought as he proceeded to the bedroom windows.







Sheriff Park sat in his empty office waiting for a break in the drowning at the Pond. He threw his pen down on the desktop and picked up the phone.

“This is Sheriff Park over here in Sachem Pond. You have that blood report for me yet?” The call was into the Medical Examiner’s office at the county’d big new executive offices.

“What the hell are you people doing over there? I need that information. I’ve got two dead kids on my hands and maybe a third so do you think you could put a rush on the results.” His




frustration was in full bloom.

“Maybe you didn’t hear me. I said ‘dead kids’. Okay. Yes. An hour. I’ll call back then. No, thank you.” And then slammed down the phone.

They better have it then or I’ll have to send Bram Stoker over there to get the info about the blood out of them, he told himself. Give them a new facility and they get slower. If he ran his office like they ran theirs, he’d be on the carpet and out of a job faster than you can say Charlie Manson or Marilyn Manson or whoever. And that was the truth.

He got on the radio and put in a call to Jerry and Glenn at the Pond. Maybe they had some news on the latest victim. One that didn’t want to surface. And if he didn’t soon, by tonight or tomorrow at the latest, they would have to get a diving crew together and maybe the dredge. The family had to be kept out of the way when the dredge was used. It tended to mangle the body and Park really didn’t need those faces in his head if he ever got to sleep on that night.








Barbara asked the cab driver to wait. As she stepped out of the taxi in the beach parking lot, she noticed the deputies. She knew they were there waiting for Ryan. Her eyes welled-up and she touched the tears back with her index finger. Today wasn’t going to be a good day, but she would get through it even if she was only being strong for Brian and Terry.

When she composed herself enough she got back in the car and sat silently. Her mind racing between what the deputies were waiting for and where Brian was.

“Where to next, lady?” the driver asked. He didn’t turn around, but his eyes were on her in his rearview mirrior.

“Home,” she answered and then gave him the address of of her in-laws’ house.

As the cab rode along the streets of Sachem Pond, Barbara wondered what she would do if they weren’t there. She wouldn’t go in. No, that wouldn’t look right to the driver. Then she smiled. Now she was worried about what a cabbie was going to think. She almost smiled again. Then Ryan’s face popped into her mind and she felt a twinge.

Great, she thought, she was waffling back and forth like an emotional yoyo. So she stayed silent for the remainder of the ride hoping to quell her thoughts.

When the taxi pulled up in front of the house and stopped, the driver told her the amount of the fare. She paid him and gave him a generous tip by again not waiting for her change. The man’s “thank you” raised her spirit only slightly. But just enough to give her the idea that sitting at the kitchen table waiting for Brian and Terry was a better one than staring at the empty driveway from the stoop.

She stuck the key in the lock, turned the knob and entered as the cab drove away.







The man was glad that the woman across the hall was gone, but she had seen his face when




he opened his motel door. He was going to go out for a while, but didn’t hear her open her door. That was when he changed his mind. He tried to act like he forgot something inside the room, but he knew it didn’t work. He probably just looked like he was hiding something.

But who cared if she left, he told himself, good riddens, he didn’t need another Mary across the hall. But there was one thing that was important to him. Had she seen his limp?

No, she couldn’t have. It just seemed longer to him but it couldn’t have been for more than a minute. But it was one of the ways he could be identified. Next year, he thought, he would work the other side of the Pond. Just for luck, just to be safe. Throw off the scent.

But it was time for him to check out of the room and get on the road because the last ferry left at five o’clock, but he had plenty of time. He did know that by the time he dressed the wound again, paid the bill, picked up another pint and got the car on the boat, the time would slip quickly through his fingers. Not like when he was whole. With no hole on both sides of his leg.





Lido and Brian were waiting at the kitchen table for Charlie. Her grandfather’s house seemed emptier when he wasn’t there. Terry was watching TV in the living room. An X-Men cartoon was on and he was absorbed in it.

“Don’t you think you should be getting home? I’m not asking you to leave and I don’t want you to, but I just thought … “ She put her hand on his shoulder. He didn’t pull away.

“Barbara? Yeah, I know. What if she comes to the house and no one’s there. Maybe I should go. Will you be okay alone here?”

She almost frowned at him. “Charlie’ll probably be back soon. When he gets here I’ll act like I’m mad or scared and then hug him and everything will be all right. Then he’ll tell me about his latest adventure.”

“Okay. I feel better leaving you and going home. Terry?”

“Thanks, but I’ll be okay.”

“Yeah, Dad?” Terry answered with one eye and ear concentrated on the TV.

“Let’s go,” Brian told him and the boy grudgingly shut off the set and came into the kitchen.

All Lido could do was stare. She didn’t want him to leave, but he did have a family and she knew he should be there. For them. Not for her. They needed him. She just wanted him. Just.

Brian said, “Okay, well.” he squeezed Lido’s upper arm.

She started to walk with them toward the front door. “You have to go. Your family needs you. I’ll call when Charlie gets in or if I get any news. Whichever comes first.”

“Whichever.” Brian smiled at her. She returned a small grin.

Terry went out the door ahead of Brian. “Bye, whichever.”

Brian nodded. Lido called to Terry. “Bye, whichever, yourself.”

She was smiling. Again.

“I guess with one parent in shock and the other out of town, he’s feeling his oats.” Brian said.

“No, I think it’s cute. It didn’t sound fresh. Now go. I’ll talk to you soon.”

“Soon.” He went out the door.

As she sat again at the table, she looked for a possible clue Charlie may have left behind. But nothing this time again. Not even something she could use to dwell on to calm her imagination which was trying to figure out where her grandfather had gone.

She could ride all over town on her motorcycle looking for him, but she really didn’t know where to start. He wasn’t on foot like he usually was. There was the beach chair at the Pond, and the




new owner of his old store or the candy store across the street where he knew the husband and wife who ran it. That would take a grand total of five minutes. And when she had done that and not found him she would be twice as worried. And he would continue to be among the missing.

Where are you, Charlie, she was thinking when the phone rang.

“Hello?” She was almost hoping it would be him. It wasn’t.

“This is Doctor Robinson. Is Mr. Roberts there, please?”

“No, he isn’t. He should be in any moment. Can I take a message? He’s my grandfather. I’m Donnie’s daughter.”

“Well,” the doctor said and paused. “The information I have for him is very sensitive.”

“I’ll make sure he gets it.”

“Okay, I do have to go out and I won’t be able to call back until later tonight. You better get a pencil.”







Charlie knew he should be home waiting for the doctor from Florida’s call but he felt he was accomplishing more by being at the house where he had followed the blue car. In his hand was the old tire iron partly for protection and partly for opening a locked door as easily as popping a hubcap. But mostly for his nerves. He could never figure out why people in this town could feel so safe when most of their homes could be broken into inside a minute. But then there wasn’t a whole lot to steal. And that was why most of the young people moved away. Those who did move did come back once in a while to visit the parents. Like Brian. Like Donnie. Like the guy who was writing him notes and sending him photos of kids. And who knew Donnie.

The wooden door opened with a nudge after Charlie placed the iron blade between the door and the jamb. Inside, he closed the door behind him and went to the small round kitchen table which was straight out of the 50’s with its pearl formica top and pastel foam rubber padded chairs. A small color TV set sat on a lazy susan in the middle of the table.

But what Charlie really want to see was the basement. He walked to the door, unlocked it, and put on the light. Slowly he descended the stairs taking one step at a time. When he reached the bottom, he saw the slats over the windows, the bare foundation walls and the plastic milk crate on its side on the cement floor. He knew he had the right place, but something felt wrong. The pictures didn’t look like this. They were eerier. This was too everyday.

Charlie stepped back and studied the picture in front of him. It was darker, he thought and the box with the boy sitting with his hands and feet tied. He went over to the bottom of the stairs and shut off the light.

When he turned around, his heart jumped into his throat. The picture he remembered had come alive in front of him. He took a moment to compose himself and studied the new image. A walk over to the milk crate allowed Charlie to walk in the footsteps of the killer. He felt a chill as he bent to right the plastic crate.

Then he sat. He wanted to feel what the victim saw. First his eyes fell on the dark floor then went to the staircase and finally to the door at the top of the stairs. The place where the man would come from, My God, he thought, what a monster. What a way to live. Or die. Charlie shivered again and stood up. He actually felt cold. It was hot outside and the temperature in the basement couldn’t have been under seventy degrees, but someone had stepped on his grave.

Charlie found himself wanting to get out of the basement. Out of this house. Now. And never come back. There was an air of death here. You could taste it.







Ryan woke with leaves stuck all over him. One had even attached itself to his forehead. He grabbed it and threw it to the side of the tube where it stuck anew. I made him quietly laugh.

He sat up and looked through the grate. All he could see was the same grass and same trees he saw yesterday. All the same.

Where was everybody anyway? Where was Dad? Where was Mom? Terry? Uncle Teddy? Aunt Sara? Grandma? Grandpa?

He was on the brink of giving up and succumbing to what ever you succumber to when you were left for dead inside an overflow tube. The dog who had made an appearance the day before chose that moment to bump his wet black nose against the grate.

“Here, boy,“ Ryan mouthed.

The tail wagged and the nose stayed where it was until Ryan could get over, stick an index finger through the mesh and scratch the nose above the nostril. It was all the dog wanted. Just someone to pay attention to him and not beat him like the owner he had run away from. The dog was friendly until someone tried to hit him.

Ryan continued to pet the dog through the grate. He wondered for a moment why the dog had come back, but he didn’t want to jinx it. He had no way to restrain the dog to make him stay with him so he kept petting him one finger at a time. But Ryan did need help and the dog had to be part of the answer. And giving the dog a big hug around the neck would have probably done more for both of them.

As Ryan began whispering, the dog’s head went side to side then the ear’s went up and down. He didn’t know if his new furry friend understood but he felt better having the here again right now. After a while he would have to send the dog to find help. To help get himself of this tin can with the grates on the end.

But right then the dog did something Ryan didn’t expect. The black and white dog with the brown marking on his side barked. A throaty bark that came from the animal’s gut.

“Keep it up, boy, that’s it. You can do it,” Ryan whispered as the dog’s tail wagged.






Lido had driven her bike to the beach, parked it on the asphalt and then went to talk to the lifeguards. The taller one had remembered her. They hadn’t seen Charlie. His empty aluminum chair should have been a sign to her that he hadn’t been to the Pond, but she had to ask to make sure, so she asked.

Seeing the water was giving her the urge to hop back on the bike, go home, get her diving gear and keep diving until she found Brian’s son. Good or bad. But she fought against it. She had to find Charlie and tell him what the doctor had told her on the phone.

The two deputies were now leaning against the hood of the cruiser. Neither had looked her way as she drove in and were staring out onto the water when she glanced at them. She could have asked them if they’d seen Charlie but didn’t. The sheriff had thought Charlie was involved somehow in the drowning and probably still did. And she knew he didn’t. But she wasn’t going to change anyone’s mind without proof and no one had much of that.

So she walked back to the parking lot and was about to start up the cycle when Charlie pulled into the beach entrance. He looked funny to her seeing him behind the wheel of the Nomad




because she wasn’t used to seeing him drive. When he parked next to her in the lot she still had the smile on her face.

“I was about to leave. Where the hell have you been, Charlie? I’ve been worried.” The smile was starting to disappear.

“I had to check on something. If that’s okay with you. I really didn’t think I’d need your permission. If I do it’ll make for a really long summer.” Charlie frowned as he waited for a reaction.

“Of course not, but …”.

Charlie smiled at her. “You know, you’ve got the same disposition as your grandmother. Too bad you didn’t get to know her.”

“Well, maybe that’s why I bug you. The only people I have left in the world are you and my Mom. So that’s why, okay, that I get scared when you disappear and I can’t find you. Even in a small town like this.”

“I thought you were gonna call me an old coot?” Charlie laughed and Lido grinned back at him. “Listen, Lido …”.

“You called me Lido.”

“That’s your name isn’t it?”

“Yeah, but …”.

“But I still want you to call me Charlie. I’m too young to be a grandfather. Now why were you looking for me?”






The phone on Gene Park’s desk rang. The ME’s techie should have the information about the blood type and maybe something on the fishing spear.

“Well, give it to me. First, the blood type,” Park said. “Okay, got it. O Positive. And any fingerprints on the spear?
He put down his pen.

“One? But it was smudged. No, no, that just seems to be the way my luck’s running. Hey, while I’ve got you, will you work up a DNA test on the blood so when we catch this guy we can hold onto him with something.”

He swivled in his chair.

“You’ll give me a call when you have it and I won’t have to beg you for it? Okay, okay. Thanks. Talk to you soon."

He placed the phone back in its cradle, then stared at the office wall clock. Ten to twelve. He had waited all morning for a blood type. We have a great bureaucracy here, he thought and it just gets worse every year. Maybe this year would be his last.

He would take this small bit of news out to the deputies at the Pond and wait. Some more.





Barbara heard the rental car pull into the driveway. She wondered for a moment if she should stay seated at the kitchen table or throw open the front door and hug the hell out of the two of them.




When she heard the car doors slam she decided to open the door, stand on the front stairs and try to smile.


Terry ran to her and she knelt to hug him. He kissed her on the cheek. She didn’t realize the depth of how much she had missed him. It was so much more than she had imagined in her motel room where her thought had been stopped up because she didn’t know what reaction she was going to get from Brian,. A hug or blind rage.

“It’s good to see you, honey,” she told Terry who then stood beside her as he and Barbara looked up at Brian.

“Hi,” she said.

“Hi,” Brian answered. He kissed her on the cheek and then held the screen door open for his son and wife.

Oh boy, Barbara thought, this was going to be some return. She had hoped she hadn’t made a mistake by not going to Sacramento for those few days.

Barbara told Terry to go wash his hands. He frowned but did so without any argument.

“Are you mad at me?” Barbara asked. There it was, she thought, out in the open.

“Not exactly. Disappointed maybe. But not mad. I haven’t been angry for a while now. At least two hours.”

He sat on the couch next to her.

“I’m still numb.” She paused. “They haven’t found Ryan?”

“If you were here, you’d know that.”
“Damn it. I knew you were going to say something like that.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it that way.”

“I wasn’t here because I’d be some crazy woman running around and thinking the worst all the time.”

“I said sorry. But you should have been here. Do you know what I’m talking about?”

“Don’t talk to me like that. I’m not a child.”

“Well, Terry needed you. I needed you. I was lucky I had Charlie to talk to. He lost his son to that Pond years ago.” He decided not to mention Lido. With good reason.

For the next five minutes they went from looking at each other, then to glancing around the room, to finding each other’s eyes. Terry wisely was in his room waiting to see what was going to happen.

“So what are we going to do now?” Barbara asked. The answer would be rhetorical but Brian shrugged anyway.






Jerry walked away from the sheriff car. His legs were stiff and Glenn hadn’t said anything for almost an hour.

“Where you going?” Glenn asked.

“It speaks,” Jerry told him, “my leg fell asleep.”

“Your middle leg is always asleep. At least that’s what your wife says.”

Jerry just smiled back at him and then shook his head. “You don’t talk for an hour and then you insult my manhood? What were you thinking about? All I can think about is that barking dog.”

Ryan’s furry little friend.

“I guess I was wondering what I’d be doing if it was my kid.”

“You’d go nuts for a while, then you’d wait like the parents and like us here.”




“I guess, but you always feel like you should be doing something else. Something more.”

“I know. It’s anxiety. But sometimes the only thing left to do it is …”.

“… wait. We’re already doing that. The only thing left to do is drag the Pond for bodies. But tomorrow is soon enough for that. It’ll be 72 hours by then and if the kid doesn’t surface by then, we won’t have any choice.”






Checking out of the motel was easy for the man, he paid cash. They guy behind the counter did give him a funny look, but it was only because he was used to people paying with a check or with plastic.

Getting into the car had been easier this time and sliding behind the wheel more manageable. Maybe the leg was getting better. Or just maybe he was beginning to tolerate the pain more. But he knew he had to if he was going to catch that ferry.

Get gas, buy a pint, then the ten mile jaunt to Port Jefferson. Drive the car up to the ticket window, pay the fare with cash, watch them load the car on the lower deck and he was on his way home free.

Forty-five minutes and just those ten miles, he thought, and that would be that. They’d all be shaking in their boots again this year when they couldn’t figure out what had kept happening at the Pond in their dreary little town. He may have been born and even grew up here. But he had the good sense to leave even if it had been courtesy of Uncle Sam and the U.S. Army.

But each year the Pond had drawn him back. It was beyond his understanding so he hadn’t fought it all these years. Drawn like a nail to a magnet or like the moth to the flame. He could understand the infatuation, but not the reason. But it didn’t matter, he’d be back again next summer. Maybe he would try for three again or even four. He would have to psych himself up for that. It hadn’t been easy. This year hadn’t been, but the experience would be imprinted on his brain like a schematic so nothing could be a surprise again.

But as he drove across the overpass above the Long Island Expressway, he thought he should drive by Sachem Pond one last time before he left. Maybe even look in on the kid, he laughed, if the boy was still with us.

He took a last swig from the old pint and made the turn onto Sachem Pond Road. The empty bottle shattered into a hundred pieces as he tossed it out the car window at a large rock. Just like the kid, dead as a doornail.





The tension between Barbara and Brian had subsided into an air of stress. A reminder that Ryan had not been found. Dead or alive, they had to know. Alive would be best, but the limbo they had been thrust into gave them both a feeling of togetherness.

When Terry’s head hit the pillow he managed to fall asleep right away. Brian had noticed when he entered the room. He and Barbara had moved from the kitchen table to the living room couch where they would be more comfortable. Brian started by telling Barbara that Terry was in dreamland and they whispered about what they had to do.




“I think the time would be best spent at the Pond. Don’t you think?” Brian asked her.

“I don’t know. But sitting here waiting isn’t great for my nerves.”

“Think you could handle it down there? But if you go I don’t know what to do with Terry. I don’t want to leave him here by himself. And I’m not sure if taking him down to the Pond is the right answer either. Your input would be nice.”

Barbara grimaced then just answered him. He did have a right to be a little mad at her, she thought, she had left him holding the ship together alone but now was time for figuring out what happened to their son.

“You can be mad at me later, but we have to find out what happened, number one. And then, what we do after that.” Then she started to cry. She couldn’t hold it in anymore.

Brian put his arm around her shoulder and they sat in silence for a minute but felt like an hour.

“I should try to call Charlie to see if Terry can stay at his house. Terry likes him. And then we can go to the Pond if you’re up for it,” he told her.

“Call him and we’ll see what happens. I just want to take this one thing at a time. Okay?”


Brian called Charlie’s number from the kitchen. If Lido answered that would be good too. He let it ring until he got the voicemail, he hung up before leaving a message. No one was there. His mind raced between Lido diving by herself, Charlie taking out the son’s car again and just what could he do beside wait at the house with Barbara.

“He’s not there. Want to go down there? I can’t stay here,” he said.

Barbara frowned. “I don’t want to stay in this house either. Yeah, let’s go. I know I’ll be a basket case if I see him bob to the surface, but not knowing is the hardest. I don’t know whether to be hopeful or just give up and resign myself that his little body will float to the surface.”

“I know. But whether we’re showing it or not, we’re in shock. I know because I had three beers the other night then two scotches just to get to sleep. And you know that that’s not me and way more than I can handle in an evening and it didn’t have any effect. None at all. And the kicker is that I didn’t fall asleep until four in the morning.”

“I had a similar experience with some sleeping pills I had in my purse and instead of knocking me out they wired me up. I couldn’t even shut my eyes.”

“Well, let’s just be careful with ourselves.”

“Agreed. And I know this is probably a big favor to ask, but if you see him floating before I do, don’t let me look. Alright?”

Brian nodded.

“Because, I don’t know if it’s just the mother in me, but I don’t think I can take carrying around a memory like that. And if you do have to see it I’ll give you the biggest hug I’ve got in me that you’ll be glad I was there with you.”

They hugged, but out of the corner of Brian’s eye, their son was standing in the hallway.

“So when are we going to go find Ryan?” he asked.








The sheriff stopped the cruiser in the beach parking lot just short of the where the sand began. His walk was a tired one. His legs carrying him to the edge of the Pond waterline.

“Anything new?” he asked both his deputies.




“No,” Jerry answered with a shrug.

“Sheriff, we’re going to have to dredge this thing first thing in the morning if we’re gonna know for sure if there’s still a kid in there.” Glenn was looking Park in the eye.

The sheriff thought for a moment at how cold that sounded and if he was the father of the missing boy he may have taken a swing at Glenn. But Park did know he really didn’t mean it. It was just this long holiday weekend which had dragged into a new week. Besides, they all had kids of their own around the age of the boys who had drowned. But the sheriff didn’t give him an answer about the dredging of the Pond, he knew his department budget just wasn’t there for something so expensive.

“Have the parents been back?” Park asked.

“No, haven’t seen them, “ Jerry said.

Gene Park pointed at Charlie and Lido. “And how about them?”

“The girl pulled in first alone. Then a short while later the old man appeared in the wagon. They’ve been here ever since.”

The sheriff turned and went to his car. He got a themos out and three plastic cups with lids, came back to his men and began pouring a cup of coffee for each of them. The gesture seemed to put some life into all three. They were a close knit team in a small town fighting against the local crime and the bureaucracy. But each July, Park felt older and thought about retiring or at least finding something else to do. Let one of these two see if they can get it done and keep the politicians happy, he thought.

“I do have some good news though.” Park took a sip from his cup then touched his finger to his lips the wipe the excess. The blood on the spear didn’t belong to the Dunne kid. So we’ve got a whole new ball game. And I don’t know who the hell was hit by it. No one on the system matched it anyway. But we’re going to have to charge Brian Dunne if someone turns up with a hole in them from a spear gun.”






The man pulled the blue car up across the street from the overflow tube. Parking there was to keep his confidence high. It was where he left the car when he dove to get this kid. And it was also the same place he had to punch the second kid in the stomach.

The dog watched him get out of the car and walk toward the tube. Quietly he must have thought it was his old master come to beat him again so he hid behind a couple of tall elms.

The boy was sleeping and the dog had stopped barking a while ago and had been sitting on his haunches watching over Ryan like a babysitter until the man showed up.

The man peeked into the entrance of the tube. “Hey, kid. You awake? You alive?”

Ryan was no longer asleep, but he didn’t move. He had heard the man clear as a bell. Through squinted eyes from his position on his side, Ryan could see the man but if the man thought he was going to move then he was crazy as hell.

Ryan almost smiled. He remembered something Terry had said “And you know how crazy hell is.” Bonkers, Ryan thought, totally bonkers.

“C’mon, kid. I have to know,” the man said.

But there was no way Ryan was going to move a muscle. All that stood between him and this boogeyman from the dark lagoon was a metal grate and this monster could remove it with one hand. With an injured leg. And Ryan was tired. And dirty. And he couldn’t remember the last time he had eaten.

No, there was no way he was going to move. This dog head from under the bed wasn’t going




to know he was alive even if he had to hold his breath, Ryan told himself.

“Kid?” the man asked one last time.

Ryan continued to lay as still as he could, not breathing deeply, but the man stood in front of the grate and kept staring into the tube.







Brian and Barbara didn’t speak to each other in the car. It was just that they had said all they had had to say at the house. And with the thought of what they might find at the Pond weighing heavily on their minds, they say in silence as Brian turned onto Sachem Pond Road.

The sun was high in the sky and the trees lining the Pond were casting their shadows onto the street. While Brian concentrated on driving, Barbara stared out the passenger window at the water. Terry looked out both side windows and even out the back window. He was playing spy as they rode along and it was safe, he thought, no one was following.

“Hey, look, a Connecticut license plate,” he shouted.

“Settle down. We’ll be there in a minute,” Brian said.

“Yes, we do see it, but no yelling, Ryan,” Barbara told him.

“Okay,” Terry answered. Did she just just call me Ryan, he asked himself. He watched both parents for a moment. No reaction. Really weird, he thought.

It was normal whenever he or Ryan saw anything out the car window, they would loudly announce what they had seen. Then his father would say something to them then his mom would add something else about noticing it too. And that would be it. Then he and Ryan would look at each other and laugh in silence. Their own private joke. The parents wouldn’t get it.

But on this day Terry had no one to look to for understanding. For the quiet laugh to mean something. It was just a license plate, but she had called him by his brother’s name. And while he wasn’t a worrier, it did trouble him. It was crazy as hell.

Brian had also heard her call Terry by the younger son’s name, but chose not to call it to her attention. The timing was wrong. Thinking about Ryan was consoling her so what if Terry thought she was going quietly nuts, and he had the good sense not to mention her error.

Barbara hadn’t even noticed because she used to do it all the time. When she was growing up, her mom used to screw up the names of her and her sisters until one of them thought her name was BarbaraAnnieDebbieKelly. Her mom had laughed and said it sounded like something Bill Cosby remembered about his childhood. One of those shared truisms.

But it was the blue car with the out of state license plate that bothered her. Why did it seem so familiar to her? She hadn’t seen much of the area. Just the house, the airport, the Pond and the motel. Not enough to base anything on. And seeing a Connecticut plate wasn’t that out of the ordinary considering she was used to seeing ones from the Golden State.

She wanted to dismiss it but she couldn’t let go of where she had seen it. Barbara thought about the airport where they had landed and rented the car. Teddy’s rental, the parent’s car at the house. Nope, none of those either. This was going to be only her second time to the Pond so she wrote that off too. That left the motel.







Charlie and Lido were standing with the sheriff and his deputies as Brian entered the asphalt lot and then parked.

“What do you want?” Jerry asked Charlie.

“Same as them,” he said and nodded at the Dunnes who were approaching them.

“Oh, I see,” Park said.

“If you don’t find anything today, are you going to dredge this puddle?” Charlie asked in return.

When Lido heard that she went to Brian and his family while Charlie asked his questions. She knew he didn’t want to ask them in front of the Dunnes, but she knew he had to ask.

“Maybe tomorrow, but you already knew the answer.” Park wasn’t happy with Charlie at the moment.

“Guess I did. Wasn’t making fun of you or trying to get your Irish up. I just wanted your answer to be different.”

“I would too. I don’t even know if dredging’s in my budget but it’ll have to be done one way or the other if nothing surfaces by the end of the day.”

Lido greeted Brian and Barbara. But she didn’t say much else. She grabbed Terry by the arm and they ran down by the water’s edge. Brian and Barbara continued on toward the four men.

What the hell are you doing here, went through the minds of the four men as the couple stood in front of them. But instead greetings were exchanged.

“Hi, Brian,” Charlie was the last to say.

“Hi, everyone,” Brian answered though it was almost painful.

He hadn’t felt like talking at all but there was no reason not to be social or at least polite to the people here. After all, they were trying to help. And even though it was the job of the Sheriff’s Department, Brian didn’t feel the men were trying to appease him by going through the motions though that was what it felt like to all of them. But then he didn’t know what it felt like to talk to the parents of the other victims and pulling the small bodies out of the Pond. No, he couldn’t even imagine what it would be like. He couldn’t even comprehend the pain he and Barbara were going through. Something that would subside. Eventually. But be with them the rest of their lives. Something he would never forget.

“If there’s anything else you can think of or remember that might help us,” Park voice trailed off He had his head slightly bowed. “I haven’t given up on finding your son …” He couldn’t continue. A mental image of his oldest son had popped into his mind. He had never told anyone how all this effect him every year. And even though his oldest son was twenty-one and in college, the spitting image of himself, his memory of Gene Jr. was always as an eight year old with a crew cut.

Brian sighed. Charlie turned his head away. He wasn’t happy with the local authorities. Since Donnie. Since he died, drowned. Charlie’s memories of his son sat on a bare nerve. So close to his skin’s surface the last few days.

Barbara’s eyes were focused on her shoes as she stood with her husband and the other men. They were to the sole. Or the soul. The tops had a few grains of sand and on the shoelaces too.

She said, her eyes now on Brian, “I just saw something on the way here.” She shrugged her shoulders, frowned her brow and made other motions which convinced everyone there that she was sure about what she saw. But she was going to tell them anyway. “There was a blue car with Connecticut plates parked on Sachem Pond Road by those big steel tubes. I don’t know where I’ve seen it before. Not here at the beach, not at the airport, not at the motel.”

Barbara winced for about a second after she had said the word, motel. The Sachem Pond Motel. She was wishing she had never heard of the place.

“When were you at a motel?” Brian just stared at her. “”You didn’t go home?”

As Barbara shook her head, Charlie said, “The car I followed to that house was blue. I don’t remember the plates. Could have been from out of state.” Then he shrugged.

“It had to have been at the motel,” she added. Then just in a nervous way to keep silence from creeping into the conversation, or before Brian had anything else to say to her, she said,




“I would have slept better if that guy from across the hall with the limp hadn’t kept me up most of the night making so much noise. He must have fell against his motel door at least three times.”

Park then smiled and said, “Mrs. Dunne, maybe you’d like to become a member of my department. In a space of a few minutes you may have managed to locate the car we’ve been looking for and maybe the man your husband shot with the spear gun. And now if we can link them both together, we maybe be able to solve this, uh, situation.”

He then told his deputies that he was going to check on the blue car, that Glenn should go to the motel to see if the man could be still there and talk to the management, and that Jerry was to stay here. And with a stern look he asked the family and the others to stay here too.






The kid in the tube still wasn’t moving. The man had called to him, shouted at him, even cursed at the youngster. As the man was about to leave, he thought he should get a stick to poke his last victim through the grate. Just to make sure, he told himself.

The dog was behind a giant oak and watched the man’s every move. The animal was standing his ground waiting for the human with the limp to leave then go over to the tube to the boy. The dog lay silent among the underbrush which grew at the base of the large tree.

The stick the man had found was a long crooked branch from the oak. He snapped about five feet off the end over the knee of his good leg. When the branch broke, he almost fell on his ass. This time he didn’t have a wall or a door to hold him up out in the open.

He had walked over to the open end of the overflow tube with the stick through the grate as the sheriff’s car pulled up. No siren, just lights. The town beach was less than a block away from the tubes. Behind the cruiser was Brian’s rental and the Nomad. Terry had talked his parents into letting him ride with Charlie and sat between the old man and Lido.

The man had ducked down when he had seen the sheriff park his car. He was bent over in front of the grate with both eyes around the edge of the steel tube watching the road.

Park had a flashlight in his left hand. He was going to give the blue car the once over twice. To really check it out. The windows were open a few inches so he could look inside. He’d get a warrant later, but for now he was considering this car abandoned.

Even though it was empty, Park could smell liquor. There was no bottle visible, but that didn’t mean anything. The trunk was probably where the bottle was and maybe even the car owner’s luggage. So he would need a warrant after all. It wasn’t like the old days when he was just starting. You could pop a trunk with a tire iron on the first attempt. But then most of the time whatever evidence you found was inadmissible so this way was the best.

While Park had been searching the car, Barbara had been watching him. She was ninety percent sure that this was the car that belonged to the man with the limp, but she was positive now that she had seen it at the motel. And she would be able to recall more later at the hearing.

“Nothing,” Park said aloud and turned to the others now with him. Glad they listen to instructions, he thought. “”Mrs. Dunne, does this look like the car to you?”

Ryan noticing that the man’s attention was not on him and concentrated down by the road, he wrapped his small hand around the stick. He had to do it carefully because the man’s hand was on the other end.

The dog also restless began to creep on his haunches toward the figure by the grate. He could see the boy’s hand now on the end of the stick. The man was watching something by the road.

Ryan pulled the stick as hard as he could and the man’s grip came loose. He fell to the ground with a thud. The dog seeing this began barking and attacked the man by locking his jaws




around the man’s left wrist.

The man’s concentration was immediately on his arm where this animal had come out of nowhere and had attached itself to him.

“Get off me, you son of a bitch. You hear me?” the man was shouting.

Ryan mouthed, “Get him, VanHalen.” He had renamed his newest friend during the night.

Gene Park unsheathed his gun, handed Brian the microphone from the car radio and told him to get his deputies over here. “Pronto. The rest of you stay here this time.”

The sheriff started to run toward the yelling and the barking. Charlie strained to see what was happening as Brian summoned Jerry and Glenn. To avoid any misunderstanding, Brian also added that he was calling for Sheriff Park when Glenn had questioned his authority and Jerry wanted to know if the sheriff had been hurt. After both were quickly satisfied, the conversation ended when each officer signed off that they were on their way.

When Brian came back over to them, Charlie said, “C’mon.”

Barbara began to object, but Brian grabbed her hand and they both followed Charlie. Terry was in the Nomad with Lido and tried to get out of the car when he saw his parents and Charlie run after the sheriff. Lido did her best to keep him there and had succeeded until they heard the gunshot.

Park had his gun on the man when Brian, Barbara and Charlie reached the scene. “I pulled the dog off this jerk’s wrist and he decides to bolt.”

The man was on his stomach and hands were handcuffed behind his back. The sheriff then turned the man over. He raised both of the man’s pantlegs. One had a bandage on the calf. When Park asked what had happened to the leg, the man answered by saying he had cut his leg shaving. The sheriff felt like kicking him in the wounded leg. He didn’t but he wanted to. Only because of all the trouble this man had caused him and the families of the victims over the years.

Charlie suddenly said as Lido and Terry arrived, “Boy, is it you? Billy Schmidt?”

Both Park and Brian looked closely at the prisoner. Neither had seen Schmidt in nearly twenty years. Crinkled about the eyes and mouth, a few gray strands in the hair, residue of teenage acne pitted the cheeks, but it was him. Brian thought, wait until Teddy hears about his old friend.

“What the hell did this town ever do to you?” Park yelled in his face.

Charlie grabbed the sheriff by the arm and began telling him the story that the doctor in Florida had told Lido.

The dog was barking again. Brian walked over to it and was going to pet it as a small reward for holding the man until he looked inside the tube and saw Ryan lying on his side. A weak smile was on the boy’s face as Brian ripped the grating off the opening. He bent over to pick up Ryan and exited to the sound of sobs and shreiks from family members and friends when they saw them.

Park got the man to his feet and pushed him all the way to the cruiser with a vice-like grip on the right arm. With Schmidt contained in the back seat of the car, the sheriff got on the radio and called for an ambulanace.








While Barbara spent time with Ryan in the hospital room at Sachem General, Brian sat with Charlie in the waiting room. Lido had asked if she could do anything. She was told all that all was okay so she went outside to sit with Terry and the dog. Terry had already named the dog, Jason, after the hockey mask and axe guy from the Halloween movies. He didn’t know anything about Van Halen yet. The dog happy to be around people again was ready to answer to any name.




“I don’t feel real lucky, Charlie,” Brian said. Then he sighed. He could relax now that Ryan had been found.

“The princess gave one back. I consider it that if you don’t,” Charlie told him.

“I guess. But knowing it was Billy doesn’t make me want to believe in the legend anymore.”

“Well, at least the boy’s safe now. And from what the doctor said before he’s out of danger. The first twenty-four hours were the worst and he’s passed that so …”.

“I know, I know. I’m just still a little stunned. I didn’t know how this was going to turn out, but I wouldn’t want it to happen any other way.”

“Yup, I understand. When I lost Donnie, I was lost in a fog for months before I wanted to deal with it. And then I didn’t want to talk about it to anyone who hadn’t gone through it. But like the doctor said about Donnie and Billy spending time together in the VA hospital. Did you know the Schmidts both died in a car crash while the son was in the army? Just like that singer from Huntington. Harry Chapin. A big truck.”

Brian just frowned while Charlie continued.

“It was a big deal here when it happened. The doctor thinks he got mad at the parents for dying while he was in the service. Coulda happened. But I think he was just plain scared. Felt his mortality, he was gonna be all alone. An orphan if you will.

“Now I don’t think they should let him go just because Billy got a bit crazy from it. He’s done some real damage to families who didn’t deserve it. Not at all.”

“You think he had anything to do with Donnie’s death?” Brian had to ask. He was uneasy with the question but his curiosity and his renewed friendship with Charlie almost forced him to need to know.

“Wish I knew, but I don’t know. I don’t think that’s for me to ask. Park’ll probably put two and two together and something will get done. He’s a good man, Park. Just think he’s tired. I think we’re all a little tired.”

Barbara came out of the room and joined them. She sat down on the couch next to Brian. Charlie was again seated in his chair after he had risen when she appeared.

“He asked for you again, but he’s sleeping now.” She sighed loud enough for everyone to hear. Brian thought that the color had drained from her face. But he knew it would return when they would find out that Ryan would be able to travel again.

“That’s good,” Brian said.

The old man nodded.

“Charlie, there’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you. Do you think this is the end of the Princess of the Pond ?”

“Not sure,” he said and rubbed his chin with his knuckle. “Maybe one day next winter when the air is crisp and the Pond is frozen over, I’ll get some old friends together and we’ll cut some plywood to size to fit over the ice. Then we’ll blacktop the plywood with asphalt. And then when spring arrives and the ice melts, the whole shooting match will float like a big black pancake.”

Both Brian and Barbara began to smile.

Charlie continued, “And if someone wants to know if I remember the Pond before it was paved over,” he smiled knowing that the paving will never happen, “I’ll just say ’Have you heard about the legend of Sachem Pond?’”































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