Death at the Lighthouse

Author’s note:

Maryland’s Eastern Shore, that part of the state on the eastern side of the Chesapeake Bay, has long had its own culture, history and traditions. Until the construction of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in 1952, the agricultural Eastern Shore might as well have been an island as far as the rest of the state was concerned. From Baltimore and Annapolis, it could only be reached by water, unless you were willing to take a long and indirect journey north and then south over a piecemeal road system.

The result was a place that resembled the rural south as much as anything. The biggest industries were farming the land and harvesting the bay. In the 1920s, canneries shipped oysters from the water and tomatoes from the land. Watermen harvested oysters in the cooler weather and hauled produce for sale to Baltimore and Annapolis in the summer.

Towns such as St Michaels and Oxford shifted from shipbuilding to seafood production by the end of the 1800s and Crisfield became the oyster capitol of the world.

Because of Prohibition, however, many watermen were tempted to use their boats and their skills for some very profitable rumrunning. This was made possible by the vast network of rivers and ragged coastline coupled with a smuggling and blockade running tradition that dated back to before the Civil War.

 

 

 

Chapter 1

Local Celebrities

 

Allison Hurlock gently squeezed a tomato at the St Michaels general store, then put it in a sack. The store clerk looked on approvingly.

“Those are prime tomatoes Miss Allison. They’re grown right up the road near Unionville.”

“They must have the knack,” Allison replied. “Mine sort of withered on the vine while Max and I were off on investigations. I think they died of thirst.”

The clerk wiped his hands on his apron. “You know I heard about some of those investigations. Max solved that case with that society couple shot to death in a locked room. Mercy! Just like in those dime novels. So what happened? It was the butler that did it, wasn’t it?”

Allison smiled and picked out another tomato.

“Sorry, but there wasn’t any butler to blame, not even a housemaid.”

“And that poisoning case in that club for rich people in Georgia last winter…”

“The Jekyll Island Club.”

“Right. They must have had butlers there.”

“They had a few, but none of them killed anyone. Still, Max got to the bottom of the case even without them.”

“Why, here he is now,” said the grocer, hearing the screen door squeak and slam shut.

“Afternoon, Henry,” said Max. “Got any Rockfish today?”

“I’m way ahead of you, Max,” said Allison. “Henry has a nice one all wrapped and ready to go as soon as I get enough tomatoes. Ah, that’s enough. Now let’s pay the nice man and head on back.”

Henry the clerk took the money and gave Allison the change.

“You’ll like those tomatoes, folks. They’re set aside special. The rest of them go straight to the cannery. Say, are you investigating any more murders now?”

Max shook his head. “Not a chance. We’re still getting caught up from all the time we spent out of town on the ones we’ve already had fall in our laps. I think we’ll stick with our air service for a while and leave chasing criminals to the police.”

The clerk tried to hide his disappointment as the screen door slammed once again.

The main street of St Michaels was hot under a late fall sun. The leaves had started to turn and the corn was almost ready to harvest. Local children were working on Halloween costumes, and down at the boatyard, people were hauling out boats for the coming winter.

“It appears we’ve become minor celebrities around here, Max. All everyone wants to talk about is solving murders.”

“Pure sensationalism,” Max grumbled. “Nothing makes for better gossip than sex and violence. It’ll die down soon enough without anything new to feed it. Meanwhile, I guess we’ll just have to ignore it.”

“Typical modesty,” Allison replied. “You’re just doing the old ‘aw, shucks’ act to show how humble you are. It’s all right. You can admit it; you enjoy the attention.”

“I do not.”

“Says you. Why, Duffy Merkle was practically asking for your autograph last week to show his moonshiner friends, and I saw you grinning when Isis Dalrymple went all goo goo eyed at you about it yesterday at the library. I half-expected her to sigh and say ‘my hero’. That sure looked enjoyable to me.”

“All right, all right. I suppose basking in admiration isn’t entirely unpleasant, but I’m just afraid that everyone will think I’m some sort of private eye now. Next thing you know they’ll want me to spy on someone’s husband or help them find a lost cat.”

“That reminds me,” said Allison, snapping her fingers. “I’ve got a deadline coming up on that article I’m writing on spiritualism.”

“How does my newfound status as small-town celebrity semi-detective remind you of spiritualism?”

“Well, last week I interviewed a woman who was using a Ouija board to find her lost cat.”

“I had to ask.”

“She had a few friends over and they all placed their hands on the planchette, that’s the sliding thing that points out the letters. After a while they had a message.”

“They actually got a message from a cat? What did it say?”

“It said something like grthh, sjik, bsds. The ladies were very disappointed.”

“Cats are notoriously bad at spelling, I suppose. So they never found the feline?” said Max.

“Actually, they did. It was asleep on the back porch.”

“Another triumph for spiritualism. Well, at least they didn’t ask me to whip out a magnifying glass and find it by deduction.”

 

They had reached the Model T and placed the groceries in the back. Max got in and started the engine, which responded with a roar and a shudder. They passed through the rest of the town, past the Episcopal Church, past the post office, and past the canneries at Navy Point. They continued their discussion as they drove, their voices vibrating slightly with the bouncing of the suspension over the oyster-shell road.

“Up until a few weeks ago I was Max Hurlock, local Eastern Shore boy, airplane jockey, and engineer. The only thing I was famous for was going off to college; well, that and marrying a Western Shore Goucher girl who looks like that movie star Mary Miles Minter.”

“Why, Max; you’ll make me blush.”

“I doubt it. Anyway, I don’t want everyone with an overactive imagination beating a path to our door with murder rumors every time someone hasn’t seen his neighbor around for a few days.”

Allison laughed. “Oh, I don’t know. A couple of creative wild goose chases might produce some good material for my next magazine article.”

“Well, that makes me feel better.”

“All this private eye talk adds some excitement at least,” said Allison. “I remember when we got married you told me that almost everyone on Maryland’s Eastern Shore raised either tomatoes or chickens from the land, or oysters from the bay. And the ones that don’t usually work in canneries and packing houses processing the products of the ones that do.”

“And the point is…?”

“The point is that, strange as it may seem, around here we’re considered exotic.”

They turned down the lane that led to their house.

“Look, Max,” Allison said, in her ‘reasonable’ tone, “Maybe you’re right; maybe soon it’ll become yesterday’s news and things will get back to normal. I mean, it’s not like people are waiting at our door with new cases to solve.”

“That would be very reassuring,” said Max, “except for one thing.”

“Oh? And what’s that?”

Max pointed at their house, appearing through the trees. Two men were sitting on the front porch waiting for them to return.

 

Chapter 2

Acting strange

 

“Max, what do they want and who are they?”

“I have no idea what they want, but I know who they are; Casper Nowitsky and J.D. Pratt. I’ve known them since I was a kid. They’re watermen. One of them probably caught that Rockfish we bought. I haven’t seen them since before you and I got married.”

The Model T pulled up at the porch steps and the visitors stood up. Max greeted them with a nod.

“Hey Casper. Hey, J.D.”

“Hey, Max,” they replied in unison.

“Oh, Allison, may I present Mr. Casper Nowitsky, otherwise known as No Whiskey, and Mr. J.D. Pratt, otherwise known as Five by Five. Gentlemen, this is my bride, Allison.”

The watermen seemed momentarily stunned, and stood slightly open-mouthed for a second or two. Allison often had that effect on men.

“I’m real sorry we missed the wedding, Miss Allison,” said Casper, who was the first to recover, “but it was duck season and…”

“…and we were up at the flats with a sneak boat. Wish we’d had a market gun. The canvasbacks were as thick as…”

“Why do they call you five by five, Mr. Pratt?” said Allison, in an attempt to break the awkwardness.

Pratt blushed slightly. “Well, see, I’m a little big-boned.”

“Don’t let that fool you Miss Allison,” said Casper. “Ol’ J.D.’s built like a beer barrel, but he’s strong as an ox. He can haul up a skipjack sail all by hisself.”

“And you, Mr. Nowitsky. Why do they call you no whiskey?”

“Well in my younger days, back before Prohibition, I used to get a little tight on Saturday nights. After a while, when the local bars saw me coming they’d say ‘No whiskey for Nowitsky.’”

“Never mind that, Allison,” Max interrupted. “As fascinating as their sordid histories might be, I’m sure Casper and J.D. Have other things on their mind.”

“That’s right, Max. We surely do.”

“Come on in and have a seat. We’ll get the groceries put away in the ice box then we’ll talk.”

 

A few minutes later they were all seated in the parlor. The late afternoon air was cooler and the electric fan hummed in the corner making the room comfortable. Casper Nowitsky spoke first.

“Max, the thing is this; we heard about how you solved those murder cases and we always knew you were a smart fella, so we weren’t surprised.”

Max sighed. “And you have a case for me to solve. Right?”

J.D. Pratt took over. “Not a case, Max, just a…Well, let’s just say we got us a concern.”

“A concern? Say, I’ve known you boys since grammar school. You never have a concern about anything except drudging, tonging and gunning. What gives?”

“Well,” Casper began, “J.D. and me were out in the Karen Rebecca tonging for arsters down in Tangier Sound towards Crisfield.”

“Arsters?” said Allison.

“Oysters,” said Max, translating from the original Eastern Shore. “Go ahead. What happened?”

“Well, you know that storm that came up this afternoon? Well, the wind was blowing out of the nor’east somethin’ fierce, so we figured we’d hole up until it blowed over.”

Max nodded, but said nothing.

“Well, we were just a mile or so from the Devil’s Elbow light down near Crisfield, so we figured we’d drop in on Jack Coleman, the light keeper. We figured that ol’ boy could use some company and we could use a place to hole up for an hour or so before heading the rest of the way back to Tilghman.”

“Very sensible,” said Max.

“Well, Devil’s Elbow is a screw-pile light. You know, a six-sided house with a steel frame underneath. So we tie up below and make the Karen Rebecca secure and climb the ladder to the platform that goes around the house. First thing we notice is the door’s locked. Now we think what would a man in a lighthouse miles from shore need with a locked door?”

“We thought it was a mite peculiar,” Casper added, somewhat unnecessarily.

“Anyway, we knock on the door and hear a voice say ‘who’s there?’ real threatening-like. By this time the rain and the wind was kickin’ up pretty good and we were getting soaked out there. Finally, Jack Coleman opened the door and he was standing there with a knife in his hand, like he thought we were pirates or something. He finally let us in and settled down, but Max, he was all in a sweat about something.”

“Or someone,” said Casper Nowitsky. “When we asked him what spooked him, he just laughed it off. Said he wasn’t used to visitors.”

“And you think it was something else? Something sinister?” said Max.

J.D. shrugged. “Max, we don’t know what to think. All we know is that the Jack Coleman we’d see in town occasionally wasn’t the man we saw at the lighthouse. We ain’t saying he’s an imposter or anything. That was him sure enough; he just acted different. We think he’s either in trouble of some sort, or hiding something.”

“Interesting,” Max said non-committedly, “but what do you want me to do? Why not talk to the Crisfield police about it?”

“We did,” said J.D. “We stopped in to Crisfield and told the police what happened. They just said that being nervous wasn’t against the law. Told us to forget it.”

“Sounds like good advice to me,” said Max.

“That’s because you didn’t see him, Max. I’m telling you, that man was scared.”

“Which brings me back to my original question,” said Max. “What do you expect me to do about it?”

“Look Max, you know more about detective work than we do, and you can find out what’s really going on most of the time. How about coming out there with us tomorrow and see him for yourself? Maybe you can get him to talk about it, or maybe see some clues to figure out what’s wrong.”

“But…” Max began to protest.

“The Karen Rebecca’s tied up at the ferry dock in Claiborne just a few miles down the road. From there, we could get you out to the Devil’s Elbow in maybe three hours. We can leave first thing tomorrow.”

Max looked over at Allison, who smiled. “It’s lovely weather for a nice boat ride down the bay, Max. I’ll pack you a lunch.”

J.D. and Casper grinned.

“All right,” Max sighed, “but I’m not guaranteeing anything. Remember; detective work is one thing, but mind reading is something else entirely.”

 

After Casper and J.D. had gone, Max and Allison sat on their porch sipping lemonade and listening to the crickets and the ducks squawking in the distance as the sun went down.

“So Max,” Allison said, turning toward him, “What was that bushwa about market guns and sneak boats? More of the mysteries of the Eastern Shore?”

Max nodded. “Sort of. The flats he was talking about are the Susquehanna flats up at the northern tip of the Chesapeake Bay where the Susquehanna River dumps in. There’s a huge shallow area there that is full of canvasback ducks this time of year. A sneak boat is a small boat that floats almost flush with the water, so the ducks can’t see it until it’s too late.”

“And a market gun?”

“The biggest shotgun you ever saw; almost a cannon. It takes two men to handle it and it kicks like a mule, but it can take down dozens of ducks at one time.”

“Sounds awful.”

“It is for the ducks, but the gunners can bag a big catch pretty quickly.”

“Still, I’m surprised they allow it.”

“They don’t. Market guns have been illegal since 1910. The problem is, it’s so profitable some of the old gunners still use them when they can get away with it.”

“Sounds like Prohibition. Well, I hope you have a good time tomorrow with your very interesting friends,” said Allison. She frowned, suddenly remembering something else. “Wait a minute; that explains what gunning is, but what did you mean by …what was it…drudging and tonging?”

“Drudging is local talk for dredging; dragging a sort of cage over the bottom to scoop up oysters. Tonging is the old way; picking them up off the bottom with  tongs. Tongs are sort of scissor-like contraptions with claws on the ends.”

“Sounds like a tough way to earn a living,” said Allison.

“It’s brutal and dangerous; especially in the winter. Before I went in the navy, I helped Casper and J.D. a few times when they were shorthanded. I’d never want to do it again, but most of these watermen wouldn’t want to do anything else.”

“Very commendable,” said Allison. “Nothing like freezing and risking your life so palookas in bars can slurp some slimy sea creatures. You should have a grand time with those boys when they take you out tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow. I knew it; this is exactly what I was afraid was going to happen,” Max grumbled, staring straight ahead into the deepening shadows and gesturing with his glass. “Casper and J.D. get spooked because a lighthouse keeper didn’t welcome them the way they thought they deserved, so they go running off to me. If I wasn’t suddenly the great local gumshoe, they would have just forgotten about it. So what am I supposed to do; get out my magnifying glass and examine Coleman’s cigar ash? Then I gather all the suspects in the library and pronounce the solution?” Max’s voice rose in exasperation. “For the love of Pete, there isn’t even a crime!”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Allison chuckled. “Is overacting a crime?”

“I’m serious,” Max insisted. “I’m being asked to investigate someone’s state of mind.”

“Well,” said Allison, “you have to admit the light keeper acted pretty crackers when Casper and J.D. showed up.”

“Look. You’ve met Casper and J.D. If they showed up unannounced at your front door in a storm, how would you act?”

“Good point. Those two would make a grizzly bear nervous.”

Max sighed. “Well, I guess running out to the light is harmless enough. The weather is supposed to be good and it’ll be a nice trip. Jack Coleman will probably act normally and the boys will think I’m a genius.”

“And then they’ll tell everyone and you’ll have even more clients.”

Max put down his glass. “Oh no. I hadn’t thought of that.”

Allison rose and walked over to Max’s chair. She sat on his lap and wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him.

“The price of fame, darling; but you bear it so bravely. How you must suffer.”

Max pulled her closer. “I really do. But you know, suddenly I’m feeling a whole lot better.”

She kissed him again, then whispered in his ear.

“To paraphrase Al Jolson, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”

 

Chapter 3

The Devil’s Elbow

 

The next morning, Allison remained at home behind the typewriter working on her article on spiritualism while Max prepared reluctantly for his trip to the lighthouse.

“I’m sure you and the good old boys will have a much better time without me tagging along,” she told him. “No need to overwhelm the keeper with a crowd of uninvited guests. If two people spook him, four might make him jump in the bay.”

Max nodded. “I should be back by late this afternoon. I figure three hours to get to the light, an hour visit, then three hours back. Maybe around four or so. Will you be home?”

“I’m not sure yet,” said Allison, rustling through some notes. “I may go into town or up to Easton for another interview for my spiritualism article if I can get some information on Madame DeSousa from Isis Dalrymple. That way I can ask her some good questions.”

“It seems we’re both chasing shadows. Well, if I need you maybe I can call you by telepathy.”

 

The Karen Rebecca was tied up at the steamship wharf in nearby Claiborne. She was an old solid deadrise workboat, the kind that resembled oversized rowboats with small cabins near the bow and plenty of deck space for working on the water. The boat smelled of fish, oysters and gasoline, and was badly in need of a fresh coat of paint. One area along the rail was worn down to the bare gray wood from Casper and J.D. hauling oyster tongs and crab traps over it. Twin exhaust pipes jutted upwards at a rakish angle from the amidships engine.

“Hey, this is like old times, Max; like when we went out on the water together.”

“Yeah,” said Max under his breath, “ and I didn’t like it then either.”

J.D. started the engine with a rumble and a cloud of oily black smoke, and nodded approvingly. “She’s runnin’ smooth today.”

“Obviously,” said Max, suppressing a cough. “I just hope I live to be as old as this boat.”

“All right, Max. I’ll just take off the bow line and we’ll be on our way.”

The boat headed out of the harbor into Eastern Bay and turned south past Poplar Island, a low area slowly sinking and eroding from the elements. Soon they were passing the mouth of the Choptank River and spotted the white sails of Skipjack workboats.

“They’re drudging over towards that bar,” said J.D., squinting in the sunlight, “but that spot’s pretty played out about now. You got to go south to get the good beds. That’s why we were there yesterday.”

Max nodded. “How did you do?”

“Thirty bushels. Of course the storm cut us short.”

“Does it get crowded down there?”

“Not too bad. There’s plenty of boats from Crisfield, but the place is big enough for everybody. ‘Course we got to watch out for drudgers sneakin’ up from Virginia.”

“What do you do then?”

J.D. motioned to the small pilot house on the boat. There, in a rack below the window, was the dark form of a double barreled shotgun.

“We try to discourage ‘em.”

Max looked at the shotgun for a moment.

“Have you used it?”

“You mean on a Virginia drudger?”

“On anyone.”

“Well, I ain’t actually pulled the trigger on ‘em, but I waved it around a few times. It gets their attention.”

“I’ll bet.”

 

Mile after mile of rippled water passed under the hull as the long low lying green shoreline drifted steadily past. They saw a steamboat on the horizon heading north, probably the Norfolk-Baltimore run. Black smoke drifted from its stack and made a smudge on the horizon. Later they saw several Skipjacks, the graceful sail powered workboats, clustered around a buy boat to sell their catch directly to a middleman.

Finally, they turned around a finger of land and saw the Devil’s Elbow light, a speck in the distance. As they got closer, they saw another boat that seemed to be heading for the light as well.

“What do you make of that, Max?”

Max peered through an ancient pair of binoculars.

“Looks like the police,” said Max. “What do you think, J.D.?”

“I do believe that’s Detective Sergeant Fred Bentley from the Crisfield Police,” said J.D. “That’s who we talked to yesterday. What’s he doing way out here? Casper, can you intercept him?”

“No sweat,” said Casper, swinging the wheel slightly. A few minutes later, they were able to hail the boat and pull up alongside.”

“Well, if it ain’t Five by Five and No Whiskey. Morning, boys,” said Sergeant Bentley, a thin, dark-haired man in his early forties. “Say, is that Max Hurlock? You look like married life agrees with you, Max.”

“That’s me, Fred. Where are you headed?”

Bentley pushed his hat back slightly on his head. “Oh, I’m just taking me a little run to the Devil’s Elbow light.”

“That’s where we’re headed. We can go together. Give Jack Coleman a real party.”

“So is something going on at the light, Fred?” Max asked.

“Probably not, but we got a couple of calls early this morning that the light wasn’t on last night. Of course that’s really the job of the Lighthouse Service, but things were a little slow today, so the mayor thought it wouldn’t hurt to have a look.”

Max smiled. “Elections coming up next month, eh?”

Sergeant Bentley smiled slyly. “Now, Max; I’m sure he’s just keeping the taxpayers happy is all. Anyway, here I am.”

Casper and J.D. anxiously reminded Bentley of their experience the day before.

“Yeah, I remember you boys told me about your visit. One of our Crisfield watermen told me he saw your boat tied up at the light long about one or two yesterday, so I guess that was you.”

“That was us, all right,” said J.D., “just like we said. But why would the light be out?”

“I try not to have an opinion unless I have some facts,” said Bentley. “Who do you think I am, the mayor?”

“Well…”

“All I know,” he continued, “is that that’s an important light. If it isn’t on, people notice.”

“Have you had any reports of the light being out before?” Max asked.

Sergeant Bentley shook his head. “Not a one. Jack Coleman is pretty reliable. Still, he could have had a problem with the lens or maybe the kerosene supply. It happens. Nothing to do but go out there and see. Then I can set the mayor’s mind at ease.”

“Wouldn’t it be easier to just call him on the radio and ask him about the light?” Max asked.

Bentley shook his head. “I already tried that. He isn’t answering.”

 

Allison looked through her notes for her spiritualism article and found she still hadn’t been able to talk to Easton’s top medium, Madame DeSousa. She had one of Madame DeSousa’s handbills and noticed she gave séances on weekends and “spiritual instruction” on weekdays. She placed a call to the phone number on the handbill and was pleased to hear the call answered by Madame DeSousa herself.

“Why, yes, Mrs. Hurlock. You say you are writing for a magazine? I’d be glad to talk to you about spiritual things, as long as you use my name in your article.”

Allison assured her she would use the name if she used any quotes or material, and Madame DeSousa agreed to meet later that day.

Allison cranked the telephone and asked Thelma the operator to put her through to Isis Dalrymple at the library in town. In addition to being the town’s part-time librarian and wife of the biggest tomato farmer in the area, Isis was the local know-it-all, who acted as sort of a human encyclopedia for St Michaels. Although she often volunteered knowledge without being asked to, and in far more detail than was needed, she was generally considered a good egg.

“Hey, Isis. This is Allison Hurlock.”

“Hail, Allison. Are you perchance thirsting after enlightenment this fine day?”

Isis Dalrymple talked like that. People said it was the result of her extensive reading coupled with being named for an Egyptian goddess.

“Aren’t we all?” said Allison. “In fact, that’s what I’m calling about. I’m interviewing a spiritualist up in Easton, a certain Madame DeSousa. Any chance you could find some background information on her in the reference section?”

“The St Michaels library is better known for what it doesn’t have than what it does, I fear,” said Isis. “All we carry are some old clipping files from the Star-Democrat. I seem to remember reading something about Madame DeSousa somewhere, though. Let me cogitate upon the matter and see what I can glean from the old cerebral cortex.”

“Thanks, Isis. When it comes to research, you’re the eel’s eyebrows. No need to make a big project out of it, but if you find anything, could you give me a call? I’ll be here until noon. Thanks a lot.”

“Sure, Allison. As Plato said, ‘Knowledge is the food of the soul’.”

“I’ll tell my editor that.”

Allison looked over her notes with satisfaction. If Isis could dig up something juicy on Madame DeSousa, this could be an interesting interview.

 

The Devil’s Elbow light appeared first as a smudge in the haze; then solidified into a red-roofed one story hexagonal building supported about ten feet above the water by a frame of steel columns and braces. Waves lazily lapped against the supports and a lone seagull slowly rode a wind current overhead.

“I don’t see anybody yet,” said J.D.

“Maybe he’s inside trying to fix the light,” said  Max. “We’ll know soon enough.”

J.D. raised a pair of binoculars to his eyes.

“Well don’t that beat all?”

“What is it?” said Max.

J.D. handed the binoculars to Max.

“He left the door open. Shoot. Yesterday he had the thing locked and today it’s wide open. He’s liable to get a seagull flying in there and stealing his lunch if he isn’t careful.”

Max examined the lighthouse, now appearing larger as the boat got closer.

“Maybe there was a fire that damaged the light and Coleman’s airing the place out.”

“Can you see inside?” Casper asked.

Max shook his head. “No. The angle is wrong and so is the light. We’ll just have to get closer.”

As the two boats came up to the light, Sergeant Bentley in the next boat stood up and cupped his hands over his mouth.

“Ahoy there at the light. This is Detective Sergeant Fred Bentley of the Crisfield Police speaking. Is everything all right in there?”

There was no answer, only the lapping of the waves and the monotonous throb of the motor.

The Karen Rebecca bumped gently against a piling and stopped alongside a small platform close to the water level. Sergeant Bentley’s smaller boat did the same. Casper and J.D. cut the engine and tied up the boat as Max and the Sergeant Bentley stepped off and started to climb the ladder to the platform that surrounded the building.

There was still no sound from inside the station.

“I don’t mind telling you, Max; this is getting spooky,” said Bentley.

Either Coleman is hard of hearing, or he isn’t here,” said Max. “That is, unless…”

“Unless what?”

“Never mind. Now my imagination is getting carried away.”

They reached the platform. Casper and J.D. were close behind by this time, but no one spoke. They all stopped for a moment, listening, but heard nothing.

“Mr. Coleman? Jack?” Bentley shouted as they made their way along the deck toward the open door.

Max and Bentley stepped into the doorway at the same time and looked around.

“What the hell?” said Bentley.

Casper and J.D. had caught up, and crowded in behind them.

“Damn,” said Casper almost reverently.

“Holy…” said J.D.

 

What is in the lighthouse? What was the lighthouse keeper afraid of?

Read the rest of Death at the Lighthouse