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Accidental Policeman#1

My Three Mothers

Constable Orville Heades Series#1

Copyright 2017 Ernest F. Payne Jr.



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This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events in this novel either are products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. The exception is the name of the town Page and is the author’s birthplace.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

End




Introduction

In the year 1903, William Page, along with New York investors purchased a large section of land in Fayette County West Virginia. Using locals, hiring subsistence farmers living in the vicinity, became carpenters. As carpenters, they built the houses and other buildings necessary for coal mining operations. Naturally following those carpenters became coal miners. This improved the lives of those men and their families. However, he had no to keep the peace, so he chose Vesper Heades as the Constable. This was an open position, and not sanctioned by the state. Vesper was a severe law officer, giving little quarter to those who broke-the-peace. On his sixteenth birthday, Vesper appointed Orville, as assistant constable. At Virgil's retirement, Orville became the constable. At first, Orville became harsh as his dad, and unapproachable at first. He mellowed with time.

The Constables Office was in Vesper's home. The house was a ranch style situated on Deepwater Mountain Road also known as Route 61. The road is a north-south highway, but it lays east-west through Kincaid and Page. The east side of the house held three rooms, and Vesper made one room a holding cell. The cell had three objects resembling window seats, though there were no windows. The seats were for sleeping and had one pillow without a pillowcase or blanket. When Orville became Constable, the no one occupied the cells again. The offense most often dealt was drunk and disorderly. Vesper would cause bodily harm by jabs with his nightstick. Orville continued the use of the cells for D&D until one day he had a visitor. She was the wife of a customer of Orville's. She said, "I know you must do your duty, but when you put my husband in jail overnight, he loses a day's pay because he can't make the six o'clock ride up the mountain. It stressed us money wise."

Orville said, "Ma'am, I am glad you brought this to my attention. I will do things differently hence."

"Thank you very much, sir. If there is anything I can do for you, let me know."

"Don't worry yourself about anything."

The wife spread what the Constable had done for her husband. Orville's policy changed to taking the person to his home and deposited him on the porch into a rocker or the swing. His established himself as an upright man, that day.

Orville Heades age is 28, and he has no marital prospects.

TOP

Chapter 1 The Joke

Early 1930's

His name was Sonny, but everyone called him Marble Mouth because he was tongue-tied. When he spoke, what he said was not clear. It was because he sounded as if his mouth was full of marbles. Consequently, he didn't communicate. Soon, folks thought he could not hear, but on the contrary, he read lips. Accordingly, he mischievously played the part. At first, some tested him by approaching him from behind, and attempt to get him to react to something mean they would say. Sonny adapted to being deaf.

Sonny had two activities he enjoyed. The first was running extremely fast; he would play chase with the children his age. If caught, those chasing him would punch him in the shoulder. If not, they would leave off with no consequences. He was likable in a way; he just had no way of communicating.

His other pass-time activity was standing at the train depot platform, and listen to the miner's conversations. He called it 'watching the words' of the men. Consequently, he knew many secrets of those men. As it turned out, one Saturday morning, as the miners congregated on the depot's platform, three men stood alone away from the rest. They were the powerful men in the mine's social order. One was John Harper, Mine Superintendent, and the other was Don French, Mine Foreman. It was unusual for them to be here together, and Sonny watched their conversation. He saw words like, "he has our money, we want it back, and or else he is dead." One of the men noticed Sonny watching them, and the said, "There is his son. What should we do?"

"He can't hear us; he is too far away."

# # #

It was nine days later, and a crowd gathered in the cemetery on the hillside. The rain was cold, and they were wet as they stood, waiting for the preacher to finish his eulogy. The wife stood beside her son with many standing with her in support. Most were from the black community, and Millie stood closest, and none was coal-miners. The miners stood on the other side of the gravesite, nervously waiting for the conclusion. A sharp wind whipped the chill into the woman’s face; she shivered but stood her ground. She looked into the eyes of the group of eight as they stood opposite the grave, their wives standing as a cluster away from their husbands. The eight men were coworkers with her deceased husband.

The woman gazed at the men and acknowledged their presence. She knelt beside her son, and he looked at her lips as she whispered, “Take note of those men standing together; remember their faces. When I touch your shoulder, wave at them and smile.” After a few minutes, she placed her hand on his shoulder, then around him, pulling him to her. Sonny responded as instructed. The men managed to return a weak wave. Sonny continued to stare at the men, unwavering. One man took note of the intensity, and he whispered to his neighbor, “The boy knows.” The friend nodded, and said, "He can't know."

Sonny looked into the eyes of the man he watched talking at the depot's platform. He waited until the man, and he locked eyes, then Sonny crossed his index fingers into the sign of an 'X.'

The man faced showed the distress of what Sonny had implicated. "He put a hex on me. Somehow, he knows what we did."

His friend said, "He is the boy that saw us last week, but he was too far away to hear us."

"Okay, if you say so."

Finally, it was over, and folks began making their way home. The rain picked up again, and the deceased's wife waited until there were only them and an automobile parked nearby. She remained until the workers covered the wooden casket, and instead of walking home, they walked up the hill to the top, where a lone tree stood overlooking all the proceedings. They hid behind the tree.

One man returned to the gravesite. He was one working with her husband. The man gestured as if he was having a conversation with the occupier of the grave. She was not sure if he succeeded in convincing her husband of anything, but finally, he departed a second time. Sonny and his mother started home with the rain blowing into her face. Shortly, the automobile drove beside her slowly, and the occupant rolled the window down; there were two occupants. From inside, the driver said, “Ma’am, get into the car. Please, I don’t want you walking in this weather.”

The woman stopped walking, and considered it for a moment; she decided to accept the ride. “Thank you Super,” she said, speaking to the supervisor of the mine operations, John Harper. “Get in on the other side,” she said to her son. He sat behind the passenger, Mr. French.

The driver said, “We are sorry for your loss.”

“Who are we, you, and your friend there?”

“Yes, we didn't want this to happen,” he responded. Waiting for many minutes, he stated firmly, “I don’t want you taking offense over what was an accident; it would cause trouble.”

“If it was an accident, how could there be any trouble?”

“I am just saying that is all I am doing.” Harper turned to look back, and he was looking into the face of Sonny. Again, Sonny crossed his index fingers. Harper clearly displayed shaken emotion; however, it was a reaction originating from his conscience. Sonny occasionally placed his hands in that position. Sonny knew who the conversation was about that Saturday ten days ago.

The mother said, “Well, I can assure you that if word reached my ears that it wasn’t an accident, I promise you I will make trouble. Furthermore, the fact you brought it up making a threat makes me suspicious.”

“There is no danger,” he furthered his case.

Quickly, she answered, “Why mention it; why stop and pick us up if it isn’t an issue? Halt the car; we want out.”

Without dissent, the automobile stopped, and the two stepped from the vehicle and watched it drive off in the rain. “Come on, we have to get home and dry out,” Sonny said nothing, but his head was working on a plan.

# # #

Harper and French drove to a home in the town. Parking at the west end of the Logan Road, they entered the residence. Inside were the miners from the funeral. They were the coworkers of the deceased. They all mumbled their hellos while dancing around nervously.

Harper, the mine super said, “We need to determine what to do; I just spoke with the widow, and I doubt she will be cooperative. She was very combative. Now we must stay with the original story we all agreed on before the accident; it will always be an accident. No other word can accurately describe what happened, understood?"

One asked, “Should we have our wives visit; it is what we would do in any other circumstance?”

“No, we must isolate her until her time is up to leave. Then we will have a going away celebration; that is after when is out of Page.” Everyone laughed a nervous laugh. “Pour some blue flame for the men; let us lighten the mood some.”

One miner said, “It's hard to do that when one has been involved in something we just did. I am just saying what everyone here feels.” The comment killed the final bit of enthusiasm for the meeting. It resulted in the men beginning to leave for hopefully some peace and comfort at home. Then Harper and French were quickly alone with the homeowner. “They will hold together; I am sure.”

###

Harper, the man that noted Sonny at the funeral, walked together with and the Mine's Foreman, French. Far from the others, Harper said, “You think The Boy can discern our involvement? He seems rather dull.”

“It is in his eyes; he knows I am telling you. We need to watch over him carefully.”

Later in the day, Harper said, "Son, I need to have a private conversation with you. Come with me." They went to their smokehouse and closed the door after scanning to see that they were alone. "This is about the funeral today. The man did not accidentally die, and I am certain his son is on to the fact. I need your help. If you should have the opportunity, and will not get caught, could you arrange an accident for the son?"

"Dad, you can count on me. I have a strong dislike for him."

###

At home, the wife shook the rain from her hair and coat before hanging it on the hallway tree. “Do you want a cup of coffee; I need one,” she said to Sonny.

He grunted, but his eyes were on his mother. “Are you sure?”

“Absolutely,” mom said. What does he mean by 'Are you sure.'

“What will you do,” he asked softly with a quiver in his tone.

“If possible I would want revenge, but I don’t know how I can do anything. It isn’t right to do what happened to your daddy, or to anyone for that matter. Someone planned it, for that, I am certain. Don’t you try anything of that nature; do you understand?”

“Yes,” he answered.

###

Two months passed and they had one month before they were required to vacate the company-owned housing. The wife had passed the days in a mental haze; she could not force herself to face what lay ahead. Sonny watched her suffer, but there was nothing to help. One fateful day, she went to make coffee, and they were out of grounds. “Here is a dollar, go to the company store and get some coffee, a small can. Bring back the change.”

Generally, he walked the path that skirted the town, but today he decided to go another way. On his return, he passed near a garage where youngsters of the area were playing cards. He noted the three of the five playing in the game, and Sonny passed without notice. At home, he delivered the coffee and made his mother a pot, and then went outside. “I am going to sit on the back porch,” Sonny called, closing the door. He sat in deep thought about what he was considering.

Soon, he walked down the steps and out of the backyard. In minutes, he found himself near the garage and the card game. He was fearful of these boys that had an intense dislike of him. He intended to call out to them, but his speech impediment made his words indiscernible. Instead, he ran into the garage and kicked the card table over. Money flew around with the cards and table. They were surprised, and Sonny made a quick getaway. He was slight in build but wicked fast on his feet. The players recovered, and eight took up the pursuit. Sonny ran a slow pace so they could have him always in view.

Three were in hot pursuit because five were not quick enough to maintain the pace, and they dropped off along Radford Road. "I can't keep up, and Jimmy will be angry if he gets away. I am going home."

"Me too," other said.

The chasers closed the gap at first, but Sonny allowed that to happen. Sonny ran towards his house, running on the Marshall Road just one house away. Then he turned onto Lang Road, soon arriving at the first of three vacant homes located on the hillside. The three followed Sonny into and through the first structure, and into the second building. Sonny stopped on the second building's porch and waited for them. Sonny called out, “Are you going to beat me up again?”

Jimmy Harper said, “No, we are going to kill you.”

“You need to catch me first,” and off he went again. Instead of going through the third building, Sonny went out the door, around to the side, and beneath the last structure. He heard the three boys running above. Sonny went back into the second structure, and when the boy exited, his position was now behind the three pursuers. The pursuers were even angrier now and did not notice he was trailing them. Their anger caused them to pick up their pace. Soon, the trail led into tall trees and the woods surrounded him. The tree canopy made the forest floor clear without many obstacles; it suited Sonny's plan. There was a trail, though faint, where it split. The three boys took the most obvious trail that went uphill; it led to the rim of the sidewall. Sonny reached the split and took the lower trail. For some reason, one of the boys saw Sonny below them. He called out, "Jimmy, we are going the wrong way." Realizing the deception, Jimmy ran downhill towards Sonny. Sonny had walked this way many times before, but now he ran. Sonny followed the path until he arrived at the ravine; they were now about two miles from the town.

The ravine had a headwall of over 200 feet. The rock surface was white and smooth. Sonny stopped at the point where one would start to cross onto the ravine. He waited until the three were within view again. Then he stepped onto the rock. It was a point where two large rocks combined to form a fissure or seam might better describe it. It allowed a thin walkway that one could make headway with falling. He stepped on the seam with his body leaning into the ravine’s sidewalls. His hand’s help his body in place as he climbed. The sidewalls ended at the headwall, and the only direction to advance was up.

When the pursuers appeared behind him, Sonny had traveled only about fifty feet, but he could move faster. He intended to do so when they started to follow. He chided them again, “Not afraid to come with me,” he called. They did not understand the words, but they got the meaning. In single file, they stepped on top of the seam duplicating Sonny actions. He picked up his pace, deftly stepping as he had before and arrived at the point where the seam merged into a smooth surface. He waited, allowing them to walk the 200 feet.

The three approached Sonny slowly and stopped resting on the sidewall. Sonny said, “You should turn back; you might fall.”

“Not until we fix you up real good,” Jimmy replied.

The surface of the rock at this point was uneven and rough. It allowed one to get purchase with their feet and work up the ravine’s sidewall. The angle was about what a ladder leaned against a wall would be. Sonny started up, and the three boys began their trek to the end of the seam. At this point, the top was not visible. Further up the wall bent away to a less severe angle, and a small plateau had formed. He rested there. When the sounds of the heavy breathing from below arrived, he stepped into view. “Turn around Jimmy; you or one of your friends is going to fall.”

Jimmy understood what he said in his garbled tongue, and he became frightened.

Sonny warned saying, “Tell the others to go back; this is between you and me.”

They continued to climb after him. Sonny turned to face the sidewall and looked up. The climb was easy until one reached within ten feet of the top. There the change was to nearly vertical. Handholds, placed where the rock was rough were evident, but it was tricky. He thought, "I have made a mistake, they cannot do this." Putting that notion aside, he thought, "I have warned them." He finished the climb by quickening his pace near the top to give him the momentum necessary to grab hole of dangling roots. Laying on the ground, Sonny watched their progress. Jimmy, the leader, would look into the eyes and face of Sonny; anger seethed within him, but there was doubt.

The three reached the plateau, but not all pursuers could fit simultaneously. The last one had to wait, holding on while laying on the side until one other had left. Eventually, Jimmy reached the critical juncture of the climb. He was fatigued more than the others were. He asked Sonny, “How can I get up?”

“You should have watched me. Hold tight to the roughest surfaces and keep close to the rock; tension will hold you while you manipulate your feet.”

“Easy for you to say; you better not be there when I get on top.”

“Are you still intent on harming me?”

“I am going to throw you off the side. You are going to die as your daddy did.”

Jimmy was on the steep portion when he became even more fearful. He was high up, and looking back over his shoulder, he felt cowardly. “Will you help me, please?”

“Tell me about my dad first. How did he die?”

“Will you really help me if I do?”

“Yes.”

Jimmy said, “Sure enough?”

“Yes.”

“Okay, you didn’t get this from me. The other miners set your dad up by weakening a roof-support-post where he was be drilling. It was intentional; they were angry about something, and they thought he would tell on them.”

The words made him nauseated. “Was it one of the eight he worked with?”

“Someone else; from up the ladder wanted it done.”

Sonny said, "Your dad knows who?"

"Yes."

Sonny said, “We need a truce; you have to promise you won’t hurt me.”

“Okay, I agree.” Sonny thought, "He is desperate of course, he will say anything to survive."

Trusting Jimmy, Sonny lay on his stomach and extended his hand downward. It did not reach. “Climb a little higher.” Jimmy struggled, but he made it to the point that Sonny managed to hold his right hand, which was thick with perspiration and dirt. Jimmy worked his feet in a manner that made his body like a pendulum. He intended to sway to grab with his left hand. Released his left hand from the rock and swung to extend his other hand, and when he did, Jimmy’s hand slid out of Sonny’s grip. Sonny watched as gravity reached out, taking hold of Jimmy. He fell down, bumping into Larry. Those two slammed into the third boy, and it turned into a falling, screaming trio down the face of the rock, past the seam and onto the ravine’s floor. “Was this what I intended when I led them up here; truthfully yes,” he thought. “Now I wish it had not happened.

He thought, “Mom, I need an alibi, or this will fall on me.”

###

He did not climb down; it was senseless. He knew they were dead. Instead, he ran back home and burst into the kitchen. Mom didn't know he had gone away. “Mom, I need you to send me to the store; no questions asked.”

Mom was sitting at the kitchen table, sipping her “. "What have you gotten into now, son?"

"Nothing important," he replied.

“Okay, we need another can of coffee, mom said as she gave him the change from before.

Sonny went to the company store by way of the garage. The cards and money were still lying on the ground. Everyone was gone. He became sorrowful until he thought of his dad, and what happened to him; the tears ended. "Fair is fair," he said aloud.

TOC

Chapter 2 Lost Boys

Back home, his mother made no mention of his absence; she didn't know he had left. Sonny sat on the front porch, thinking through what happened. He felt it was a bad dream, but he knew it all was real and irreversible. After several hours, the lad went into the kitchen. His mom sat in the same place as when he left.

Sit,” she said, and Sonny obeyed. “We are going to talk seriously; pay attention entirely. If you don’t understand, anything I say, tell me.

Sonny nodded.

She said, “What you said before about your father, I knew or rather I suspected they did that. We cannot do anything about it. They are too strong for us. Nevertheless, your daddy left us some personal things. What we have are his clothing and some money; enough to make a new start; money that is. Getting it out of here without Big John finding out will take lots of slick work. We have one month left before we must vacate the house, so we have by necessity need to be cautious, sort of. I have been spreading the impression that I am seriously ill; you need to help fan that. If someone asks about my health, you say, “It is just a summer cold, and it will pass soon.” Claim that but leave that person with the impression it is serious. Can you do that?”

“Yes,” without emotion.

“Good; now nearer the end of our time here, I will sneak away. You are to say I went to visit my sister in Oceana; everyone knows where that is. Later, I will write you a letter that will inform you of when I will return. That is when you will meet me with the money. I will leave again, but later, I will write again notifying you of my return. You will meet me, and we will leave together, never to return.”

“Are you okay with that?”

“Yes,” again, without emotion.

She said, “Good, there is a satchel on the foot of my bed; get it.”

He returned, and she continued, “That is your father’s. Hide it where no one will look, but not in this house. Leave it somewhere safe. It is our future.” He obeyed without question or objection.

###

Night came, and people were about, much more than normal. Someone knocked on the front door. Sonny answered the door, “Yes, can I help you?” he mumbled.

“Have you by chance seen Jimmy or any of his friends?”

“Not since earlier; this morning.”

The caller said, “I am sorry, I didn’t understand what you said.”

His mother stepped in and said, “He saw them earlier this morning; probably when he went to the grocery.”

The person said, “If you see them, would you let us know?”

“Those boys will never come to this house; you know that. They are out up to no good as usual. They will show up soon enough.”

“They have never done this before; stayed out so late,” was the reply.

“I am sorry, I shouldn’t judge them. It is just those boys are always hurting my son, and for no good reason.”

###

Back inside, the mother asked, “What do you know of this goings-on?”

“It is best you don’t know; that way you won’t necessarily need to lie.”

“Who, then?”

“Jimmy, Larry, Little Eddie.”

“Oh, oh; I know their parents are worried; I would be. Tell me how you are involved.”

“I am not a partaker, but I can say that Jimmy said, ‘his father was responsible for my dad’s death, and I would be next when he caught me.’”

“Are they dead?”

“I cannot confirm it,” he replied. He paused before saying, "Yes they are dead. They fell a long way and could not survive."

“I am going to pray for them; that is all I can do.” Another someone knocked on the front door. The mother answered. Two women stood before her, all in tears. “Come in,” Sonny's mother said as she stepped aside.

“We are here for our sons; I know life has been hard on you lately, losing your husband, and having a son as you have. But, we want to see if you know anything about what has come of them.”

Knowing the truth, she said, “I know nothing at all, and I would like to have good news if there was some,

“Someone said, your little boy, he was playing tag with them this morning. We thought he might know where they went.”

Sonny stood in the doorframe of the living room and kitchen. They all looked at the hint of a person, questioning. “I know nothing about what they are up to, but we weren’t playing tag; they were intent on giving me a whipping, but I gave them the slip.”

“Someone said you upset their card game.”

“Yes, that was this morning; it is a game we play.”

He waited for a response, but none was forthcoming. “I am sorry you are distressed, but I have lost my father, and I know how you feel right at this moment.”

Embarrassed, they hung their heads, and thought, "Ours may still be alive.”

###

It was before midnight; the eight were meeting at the same home. “What do you make of it?" Harper paused a moment, “Anyone with a thought?”

The one that spoke at the funeral said, “The most obvious is who has disappeared; you will notice whose sons are gone without a trace. Seems to me who has done the dirty work on the husband is paying the piper.

“That had not escaped my attention. Maybe someone kidnapped those boys in return for what happened,” one man added.

“Yeah, but who; they don’t have any family we know of, and they can't take all the big boys alone. It is something else.”

Someone added, “The something else is they are dead. Maybe the young men met a sow bear: bears ain’t too friendly. Then maybe it was the boy or the mother.”

Harper said, "That boy wouldn't touch any one of ours. I hear the mother is seriously ill. It ain't them even together because Little Eddie is three times his size. It's got to something else."

Others added comments, but none were promising; everything was all a guess.

John Harper said, “I saw the constable about an hour ago; he will come over tomorrow morning. I suggest we all get some rest and start an organized search early after he arrives. I don’t see any other course or alternative; they must be somewhere.”

###

The constable arrived before daylight; the men were waiting at the railroad depot. He mounted the steps onto the front porch and asked, “Has there been any overnight developments?” “No must be the answer. Gather around men.” He waited until they quieted and said, “As you know, my name is Constable Orville Heades, and I assume you men are going to begin searching today. Do as through and organized search as is possible. Make it, so all the ground is covered. Do accept the fact that you think those boys could not be in a particular spot, but physically inspect it; look. Make notes of where you have searched and reported to the lead man. I will be looking into what transpired yesterday before the boys left the area. Good searching.”

“There was a groan and one man called, “We thought you would head up the search.”

“Well, I guess you were wrong to assume that. This isn’t a crime, not yet anyway, just missing persons now. You men are more motivated then I would be to find these boys. I am looking for evidence of a crime, and this is just for your information.” He turned to the man and said, “What is your name?”

“It is John Harper.”

Well, Mr. Harper, what is your part in this fiasco?”

“First, it isn't a fiasco. This is serious business. James is my oldest son; he just turned 18.”

Show me where they were last seen, Mr. Harper.” They arrived at the garage after crossing the tracks; it was directly across from the depot. The Constable looked over the disarray of the table and chairs, cards and strewn money. He took several photographs. “What exactly happened here?”

The group was playing cards, and another young man rushed in and kicked the table over; he then ran off. The three missing boys took chase, and we haven’t seen them since.”

“Were you here; I see evidence of gambling, and we have laws concerning that.”

“No; my information is second hand; I was told by a fellow that was at the game.”

“Who is the other chap that interrupted the game?”

“I don’t know his name; he has trouble making his words clear when talking. He isn’t very bright, and I hear he is deaf. But he is mischievous.”

“Where might I find this lad?”

“I will take you to him.”

“I see,” replied Heades. “Do you have photos of these boys?”

“Yes, here in this school yearbook. I thought you might need some way to identify them.”

Heades studied the photos as Harper pointed them out. “Your son is a big boy just as you are.”

“Yes, it is a family trait.”

Heades paused a bit and looked around again, “Okay, let me get this straight. The missing boys were gambling here, and some youth comes from that direction, kicks the table over and leaves going back the direction he came from; correct?”

“Yes, and he lives in that direction.”

“Did he go home?”

“We don’t know, but he was there in the evening; we asked him.”

“I assume you asked about your son; what did he say?”

“We couldn’t understand him, and his mother wouldn’t help.”

“Hmm, interesting,” Constable Heades, whispered for Harper’s sake.

“Are you going to arrest him?”

“Oh, what charge should I use?”

Mr. Harper adamantly replied, “Well, murder; isn’t that obvious”?

“Murder; you think he killed those boys?”

“Well yes, I do.”

“Let me have that book again,” and Heades looked at the photos. “It seems Sonny is at least half the size of any of the three. What evidence do you have?”

“It is in my gut; I feel it in my inner self the young men are gone.”

“Okay; yeah, that should stand up in court. The judge will know your gut immediately has all knowledge. Leave the detecting to me.”

“I don’t like being ridiculed.”

“Well, you are ridiculous; we need something substantial before anyone can be charged with murder. I would suspect you before I would suppose the lad. You are big and pushy, and if your son were out of line, I wouldn't put it past you to go off and slay him and everyone in sight.”

“What,” Harper demanded sharply.

“If we had dead bodies it might help substantiate what your bowel incontinence has to say; you are way ahead of yourself here, sir.” The constable walked around, just observing the area without offering an opinion; he was contemplating what he learned. He thought, "This guy is off his rocker, or he is involved somehow. What can I say that would provoke him; nothing now."

Harper asked impatiently, “What are you going to do?”

“I am going to lunch, and then I will visit Ms. Wesley; she is a teacher living near me. I will see what she thinks of the young boy.”

“Can I accompany you?”

“No, you should be concerned with your son’s well-being. By the way, what was your position with the mine?"

"I am the Superintendent of the Mine.”

"How did you get the position, using your bulk and pushing people around? It must be so because you have no brain." Harper turned red but said nothing.

# # #

Constable Heades lives in Kincaid, which is adjacent to Page. The railroad passes through both towns, barreling through on two tracks on its way to Norfolk and the coalfields. In Kincaid and Page, Loup Creek flows to the south side of Deepwater Mountain Road and mirrors the creek's path. Baptist Church Road is a dirt lane that connects the two towns, but the bridge washed out at the Overcreek Tavern. Consequently, the constable's route is crossing Loup Creek at the bridge to Deepwater Mountain Road, turning right and exiting right to Glen Station Road while crossing back over Loup Creek and using the railroad crossing there to Baptist Church Road. It is a lengthy drive considering they are within walking distance. The Constable thinks he needs his automobile close. He thought, “This may be an embarrassing visit. I don't know what to say.” He felt this because he had a notion of love for the woman since high school, but he lacked the courage to tell her.

TOC

Chapter 3 The Constable

At the door of her house, he knocked, and the door opened immediately as though someone was waiting. “Good afternoon Miss Wesley, how are you.”

“I am well Constable Heades, what brings you to my door; to arrest me?”

“Perhaps another time; I was wondering if you would join me for lunch. I have some police business to discuss with you.”

“Let me get my purse,” she spoke without hesitation.

He was talking apologetically, “There is only one place to eat other than the Beanery, but I wanted to get you alone.”

“Alone, that sounds promising or threatening, you a policeman and all.”

Embarrassed, he said, “I didn't mean it to sound that way. Let's talk at the restaurant."

After ordering hot dogs with chili, coleslaw, and onions, Orville said, "Actually, it is a serious subject; did you know three boys disappeared yesterday from Page.”

“No, who?”

He named them, “Jimmy. Larry, and Little Eddie. I would like some history on a couple of them. But first, who is your worst student?”

“That is easy, but it was the first two of them, and I am afraid the last one is following in their footsteps.”

“Is your best student a slender boy with a speech impediment?”

“Why yes, how did you know?”

“He has something to do with the disappearance according to one father. Tell me about him.”

She thought a few seconds and began, “They call him Marble Mouth for obvious reasons. He never talks conversation talk. It takes some time, but one can learn to understand him. As a result, in the classroom, I often interpret what he has said. The others his age accept him but are most distant. When there is an open question in class, he never answers until everyone has had a chance. Then, knowing he knows, he answers. He seems to know everything. Once to test him, I asked the class an obscure question about the nation of Moldova, and he knew; it was remarkable to me, anyway. Most people have never heard of the country. He has one thing that shows how lonely he is; there are his imaginary friends. For example, he pretends Jimmy Harper is his buddy; they have imaginary conversations and do things together. He tells me that often. He intimidates in an obscure dark way. It appears unintentional, but it isn't.”

Heades said, “That is interesting. I am going to see him this afternoon, and I want to be prepared; I am not sure why, but it seems he is a formidable character as you sort of alluded to. Plus, Mr. Harper thinks your boy has murdered those three. I find it impossible to believe, but Harper is obsessed with it.”

Emily said, "Let me give you an example. Jimmy Harper is mean to Sonny, intentionally. Once upon a time, Jimmy willingly participated in the class discussion. However, when Jimmy made any comment, Sonny would follow with an account of what Jimmy said. It embarrassed Jimmy to the point he will not say a word unless I directly ask him. It was amazing to see him talk for such an extended length of time. Even more amazing is the class watched him speaking and I think they got the gist of his speech.

Orville said, "Perhaps that is why Jimmy dislikes the boy so much."

“You are probably right, and I am sure it is partially true at least. It is odd, the kids are still missing, and his father is counting them dead; maybe he did it,” she suggested.

"Maybe so, but does the lad have any other unique talents?"

"He reads lips. I noticed he watches my mouth when I am talking. I try to always face the class when lecturing. Is that what you mean?"

“Yes, but I have an idea; would you be interested going with me to the picture show in Oak Hill tomorrow. It is Saturday you know.”

“Constable, I thought you would never ask.”

“How about we kiss to seal the deal?” She offered her cheek.

She waited some, and then asked, “Why did you wait so long?”

“I was afraid you would say no; rejection is problematic for me.”

“Why not call me by my name; it is Emily in case you have forgotten.”

“I didn’t forget; you fluster me. You always have.”

# # #

The door opened immediately as he knocked. Sonny stood in the doorframe, but he didn’t speak. Heades said, “Is your mother at home?”

Sonny turned and called out a fuzzy word. Soon the mother arrived, “Yes.”

“I am Constable Heades out of Kincaid. I would like a word with your son, and I understand he needs some help at times; it concerns the missing boys.”

Defensively, his mother said, “I know who you are, and he knows nothing about the lost souls.”

“Perhaps, but he had an altercation with them yesterday morning, and I imagine he is the last person to see them alive.”

“I see, come in,” she said with an irritated sigh.

He looked at a thin lad, and his heart went out to him. He thought, "This boy could do no personal harm." Heades said, “Did you kick over a card game yesterday?”

He looked at his mom and answered “Yes.”

She said, “Why do that? You know it angers them.

With his mom interpreting, Sonny said, “It is a game we play, doing stuff to each other.”

Heades said, “Explain to me how this game goes, and what the rules are?”

“Yesterday, when I interrupted the game, those boys were supposed to chase me. They did until I got completely away, or if caught, the gang would punch me in the shoulder. I win most of the time because they can't catch me.”

“That is some game. What happens later, say the next day. Do they hit you?”

“No, they aren’t supposed to; it lasts only for one day, but they do sometimes catch me. I am cautious; always.”

“It may be a game to you, but I don’t think you know the rules, or if there are even rules.”

Heades waited, but Sonny did not respond.

“I see, you know children are missing; when did you last see them?”

“I saw them when they went into the empty houses on the hillside near my house.”

Orville said, “Explain that; better yet, take me on tour and let me see what happened.” He looked to his mother for approval.

Heades said, “I catch the drift of what he is saying; that won’t be a problem.” She nodded in assent, and she spoke to her son using words that didn’t exist. The constable thought the communication was a secret betwixt them. “Let us start at the garage and work from there.”

Sonny said, “I saw them playing when I went shopping for mom. I hatched the plan on the way there and back. After delivering the groceries, I returned here. Without pausing, I ran in, kicked, and went back out. What I did was unexpected and cause mayhem for a moment. But, quickly, they struck out after me calling me names and making threats. I ran backward some just to tease them.” They walked, and Heades listened as Sonny spoke. The constable did not interrupt. They walked up the street until they reached the three vacant houses. “Here is where I lost them. These houses are empty and have been as long as I can remember. You can see they stand on stilts and involve climbing stairs to enter or exit. I checked to see that they were a safe distance behind before entering the first house. I watched from the porch, and when they were close to the steps, I began running through the rooms. I went out the back set of stairs, and up the next stairs, and into the second house. When I exited that house, instead of continuing running away, I went beneath the house and moved back to the entrance. As I walked back, I could hear them running the opposite direction above me. When they were entering the third house, I was running home. I didn't see them after that.”

Heades strolled in small deliberate steps, observing the ground under the houses. Under the second house, he says, “Are these your footprints; allow me to look at your shoe's soles. They match; okay I have seen enough. You are claiming that after you ditched them, they continued up the hill supposedly chasing you until they were out of sight."

"Yes," Sonny said unwaveringly.

Heades continued to study the surroundings, then asked, “You went home; what happened then; where did you go or what did you do?”

“When I went in the house, mom had another list for the store; I had forgotten something. I went back to the store, returned home, and stayed until people came around asking about the missing boys.”

The Constable and boy were back at Sonny's house and climbed the stairs of the back porch. Heades said, “I want to sit a moment,” and he did. Thinking about what he saw and heard, he thought, "This is a plausible explanation, but then it isn't. Certainly, those youngsters would have realized the boy could not have vanished that easily or quickly."

Shortly, he said, “Ask your mom to come out, please.” She did, and the constable said, “Son, please sit on the steps looking away from us while I speak to your mother.” Sonny complied, and Heades said, “Would you account for your son’s whereabouts for yesterday and try to put in the times if possible.”

She started, “Let me collect my thoughts, Sometime after breakfast, I sent him to the grocery, and he returned, and left after putting the food away. He departed immediately, or it seemed so. He was gone for an hour maybe; I am not sure; my thoughts were elsewhere when he left. It didn’t seem an inordinate length of time. When he returned, I sent him back to the store. He came back and was in the house the rest of the day.”

“Thank you,” the constable replied. “I may return to talk some more, but I am satisfied with what I heard. Now I must determine if they rehearsed what I just heard. The woman didn't seem to have her thoughts together.

Heades started to leave. Instead, asked, “What is your relationship with Mr. Harper?”

“He was my late husband’s boss of the mine, but Mr. French is his boss inside. Other than that, I don't want to know.”

“I don’t want to disturb you, but Harper seems to have an excessive and unwarranted fascination that your son is involved in the disappearance. Do you know why?”

“His son disliked my son; that is all I can say.”

“What about the game they played; it seemed rough, but it was described as friendly.”

“Jimmy had no idea it was a game; my son wanted it to be that they were friends. You see, he has none, that is friends and those he pretends are his abused him. He would do most anything to have a friend. As things are, I am it.” Sonny blushed at what his mother divulged to a stranger.

Orville said, “Thank you for being candid. Goodbye son, if I may call you that.” Sonny waved.

“Oh, where do you think they are?”

Sonny said, “They have run away from home.”

“Hmm, I never thought of that; thank you.” "They haven't run away I am certain, and I think this boy knows where they are."

# # #

Heades waited at the depot for the posse to return. In the meantime, he spoke with the depot manager. “Do you know the boy with the speech problem?”

“Sure do; he comes in often; nearly every day. I let him send my shipping reports to headquarters.”

“Send? How so?”

“Telegraphy; he has learned Morse Code and is very proficient at it, and very fast. Some receivers complain of his speed.”

“How did he learn it?”

“On his own I suspect.”

Heades asked, "What do you make of him?"

"He is a loner and lonesome. Don't let that timidity fool you. I think he would act if he had a chance on someone that wronged him. He is too intelligent for his own good."

"Really, I didn't see that; thanks. I wonder if the agent is telling me the truth? What a person would think is if it were as he said he wouldn't have any contact."

# # #

They sat in the swing on the porch watching the constable walk away. She had her arm around him, holding tightly. “I am afraid, son.” Sonny remained silent. “Did you; are you involved in this?” He shook his head. “You know they are the sons of the miners your father worked with?”

“Yes; not at first but later I realized it.” "That is mostly true," he defended his response

“Are they …?”

“Yes,” the son said.

“Not from you?” He didn’t answer.

She asked, “How?”

“They killed themselves chasing me. Jimmy claimed he was to kill me as his father killed daddy. You shouldn’t know anything. That way you don’t need to lie in case this comes back to me. If they find out, I will say I am glad it happened.”

“That is what he said? Oh my your daddy, why would they want that to happen?”

"I don't know."

# # #

The only person arriving at the depot was Mr. Harper. “We searched back to Bear Wallow; nothing, no sign of anything. The men are very concerned as a result.”

“How far is that? They will just need to keep looking.”

“Five miles; tomorrow we are going to walk Loup Creek, up and downstream.”

"What about Coke Oven and Glenco hollows? Have you looked there?"

"We didn't think they would cross Loup Creek or go that far away, but we will."

“Bad idea, you should have looked today. Have you considered that may have run away from home?”

“No, they wouldn’t do that. Did you talk to the son?”

“Yes I did, and he is uninvolved in this other than interrupting an illegal card game. What has happened that you want this boy out of the picture; something is not right about your obsession?”

“It is nothing; trust me on this,” Harper explained.

I don’t believe a word you say.” “Tomorrow is Saturday, and I have an appointment in Oak Hill. If nothing develops by Sunday, I am calling in the cadaver dogs. I am assuming if nothing is found, you will continue to search.”

Harper whined, “I wish you were here; we could use your expertise.”

“I don’t have expertise in searching for anything; I am a law enforcement officer. I solve crimes; give me a crime, and I will be working on it,” Heades retaliated sternly.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to offend you.”

I will check-in with you Saturday late afternoon and Sunday after church. Goodbye,” and he turned to walk to his automobile.

# # #

The Constable arrived at Emily ’s home an hour early. “My, you are punctual; we have plenty of time.”

“I was just sitting and waiting, and I decided to wait here; that way I would be with you. Also, I thought we might have a bite before the show in Oak Hill.”

“I am for that; you driving or me?”

“If you want you can, but I thought we might have lights and siren part of the way.”

“Oh, that would be fun.”

# # #

After the movie, they sat at a lunch counter sipping coffee. “Do you want to eat or is it too soon. We could go back and have hot dogs with chili, coleslaw, and onions. Or we could eat in a restaurant here.”

“No, I am not hungry so soon. I would rather you tell me when you were first interested in me.”

“Oh, I wasn’t ready for that one. Let me think a minute; it was in the eighth grade as best as I can remember. I was captivated by your thick red hair.”

“I knew you were playing with my hair when you sat behind me; I didn't object because I enjoyed it. The eighth grade; how come you never said anything?”

“I am shy and fear rejection more than talking to you, I suppose. Anyway, you wouldn’t have been attracted to me then.”

“Maybe I was, but you should have at least tried. Here I have waited for all this time for you, “Emily replied.

“Then we need to make up for lost time.”

As they drove back to Kincaid, she asked, “What about the lost children; aren’t you worried?”

“No, if they haven’t found them by now, they won’t find them alive. I don’t want to sound insensitive, but the facts are self-evident. They have either fled or are dead; there is no other explanation, and Sonny isn’t involved.”

She said, “Oh yes, Sonny; did you know his mother is very ill in fact.”

“I didn’t know, but I noticed she was very slim. Speaking of the lad, I talked to him about the gang-of-three. He said he had a game with them, at least with Jimmy. They would play tricks on each other, and the idea was to escape without being caught. I wasn’t entirely buying that story because he didn’t seem to understand there weren’t any rules.”

“He does have a tendency to fantasy. But I don’t think Jimmy would be given to such a game, and he wouldn’t forgive a trick played on him.”

“That was what kicking the card game over was; a stunt. The gang chased the lad, but he eluded them and very handily,” the constable mused. “He was way too quick for them.”

She added, “I doubt he has ever had a real friend; sad isn’t it? Let’s stop by your house and visit.” It was quicker to walk from Orville's house to Emily's than to drive.

# # #

The time passed quickly, and suddenly the daylight faded. The two sat together on the sofa after an evening of enjoying their company. He was saying, “I don’t know if you are aware, but I get called out all hours of the night. My schedule is no schedule.” Then the phone rang, “See.”

“Hello,”

“Where are you?” Mr. Harper asked.

The constable said, “What number did you call?”

“Yours,” was the reply.

“I guess I am home then; you should be a detective with skills like that,” came the sarcastic reply.

“You should be here where the action is.”

“You don’t say, what have you found out?”

“They aren’t in the creek.”

“That is all you have, and I should be there; I have other duties. Don’t ever call me again or I will arrest you for obstruction of justice. Do you understand?”

“Yes, I am sorry, but I thought you would want to know.”

“Mr. Harper, at the risk of sounding as though I am insensitive, your boys have fled the coop; most likely they are on the run from you. However, I will call the cadaver unit Monday, and they will arrive when they are able. You need to keep looking or just wait until those dogs come.”

“Okay, I will talk with the men here. If the cadaver dogs find them, will they be alive?”

“Look in the dictionary for the definition of the word. I may drop over tomorrow afternoon late. Good night.” He hung up.

“You were hard on him.”

“You didn't hear his side of the conversation, and that man keeps pushing the kid as the culprit, and we don’t even have a body or bodies. He is an idiot, or he did the feat himself.”

“It is time for me to go home,” she stated sadly. “It went so quickly, and I enjoyed every minute of it.”

“Yes, me too; do you want me to pick you up for church tomorrow?”

“Have you forgotten my driveway nearly ends at the church; I will see you there. But I would like you to walk me home.” He did, and on the porch, she offered her cheek for a good night kiss.

###

When Heades returned home, he took his car and drove to Page. He stopped after the passing the depot; there was no one around. Parking at the depot he walked to Lang Road.

When he approached Sonny’s house, he paused waiting to see if anyone were out. There were no lights visible as he approached. There were no curtains, but the rooms were dark. After passing the house to the other side, he saw the light on in the kitchen. A few steps further, he could see them sitting at the table, a cup was in the mother’s hand. They were in a conversation; reasonable it seemed. They were not arguing. “I would like to hear what they are discussing,” he mused. "I will see you soon, young man." He turned and made his way back to the auto and home.

# # #

The next day, Sunday, after church he ate dinner with the Wesleys, Emily 's Parents. After eating, he visited until late afternoon. Then he went to the depot where Mr. Harper sat away from the group. When Heades stopped, Harper came running followed by the others. “Any word,” he asked breathlessly.

Heades replied, “Harper, the news would be coming from you, and that brings me to you. Where were you the day those youngsters vanished?”

Harper stuttered around, searching for words, “You keep trying to put the blame on me. My shift at the mine started at 6 A.M. We let off at 2:30, so I was around my house in the afternoon.”

“Can anyone verify you were home or did you leave on some errand?”

“I was alone or out in the smoke-house doing some repairs.”

“Why wouldn't your wife be at home? Was anyone out there with you in your shed?”

“No, I work alone on such projects.”

“So, by your own admission, you don’t have an alibi for the afternoon, and you could have done in the boys.”

“No, that isn’t true. I would not do such a thing. I loved my son.”

‘True, all fathers say that about their sons, but they also butt heads over trivial and fundamental subjects. You and your son butted heads often and violently. Perhaps, you found him alone and started in nagging about one of your pet gripes. He reacted, and you killed him in a fit of anger. The other boys saw what happened, and you disposed of them forthright to protect yourself. I am right that is how it happened.”

“No, no, no; I did no such thing. You said that before and it isn't true. We would fight and argue, but I could not harm my child; my flesh and blood.”

“You are trying to push the lad as a suspect before I find a body points out you are trying to deflect your guilt away. Mr. Harper, if these boy's bodies are found, you will be my prime suspect.” He hesitated and then said, “Have you looked everywhere; I mean are their places you haven’t looked because you have thought they would never go there. If so, look again.” The constable left for Kincaid in a slightly foul mood. "That man tries my patience."

# # #

Don French's wife watched out the kitchen window the Constable leave Harper. They seem to be having a heated discussion. She said to her husband, "Your boss is always arguing with the policeman. Tell me, Donald, have you done something that has caused this tragedy to come upon our families?"


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