Like the fish that had escaped the ice fisherman’s hooks, the shark had survived the winter. Now as bright yellow forsythia blossoms dotted the shoreline, he was in search of new prey.
The water was getting warmer each day. Patches of ice still remaining in the shallower coves were melting. Soon every foot of the lake would be free for him to roam in.
There had been four successful attacks last summer where he had tasted blood. This summer would bring even more. He knew better where to look now. Fisherman launching their small boats from Sunset Cove had resulted in success last year when he had toppled one. He would go there early in the morning, before sunup when the fish were biting.
He would also be biting.
He would go into shallower water where people still waded thinking they were safe. He would swim under docks where feet dangled over the edge.
People made mistakes. He turned them into deadly ones.
He swam through a school of small sunnies. They scattered in front of him. He was king. The lake was still his.
This summer the boats would come again.
Looking for him.
Their engines roaring overhead.
But he knew where to hide.
They would never find him.
It was going to be another summer of torn arms and legs.
And there was nothing anybody could do about it.
He was safe.
If they ventured into the water he would have his fill of their blood and flesh.
“Come into the water, I dare you,” he would like to say.
And some of them would.
They would think they could escape him.
But he was waiting.
Watching and waiting.
Jamie Phelps missed his weekly visits to his great grandfather Jumper. He had always gone to see him on Tuesdays and now there was a void when that day came around. He’d find himself thinking of Jumper’s disconnected ranting, especially his references to “that bastard Dolan.” Jamie continually wondered what Jumper had meant when he said “it wasn’t his fault. It wasn’t the lightning that did it and they had gotten there too late.”
Now the news was filled again with the shark having survived the winter and the lake being closed another season. Dolan’s name was all over the place. Another company was trying to buy Norton Utilities and the Marbury Register still claimed that whoever put the shark in the lake was an enemy of Dolan and the utility.
What terrible thing had Jumper known about Dolan?
The day Jumper died remained vivid in Jamie’s memory. Maybe if he hadn’t been excited about that nerf football he wouldn’t have died. But when he thought about it more, it really hadn’t been the football. It was his accidental mention of Dolan’s name that had gotten Jumper riled up and killed him.
Jamie couldn’t hold the whole thing inside him anymore. He had to tell someone.
He decided that tonight would be a good night to tell his mother and father. Dad had sold a car today at the Nissan dealership he worked for and his mom also seemed to be in a good mood. They were sitting in their screened porch as usual after dinner, dad reading his paper and mom reading a book. He came into the room and sat down in a chair next to them.
“I thought you were going to Brian’s house to study,” mom said. “That history final is next week you know.”
“I’ll go later. It’s early yet.’’ He said. “I know the stuff anyway.”
“That doesn’t mean you don’t have to go over it. It’s a final test Jamie.”
His father put his paper down, turning his attention to him. Jamie noticed that ever since Jumper had died both his parents paid more attention to him. Mom never got over the fact that he had been in the room when Jumper had suffered his heart attack. Neither did his father, who also felt guilty that he hadn’t been there to witness his own grandfather’s death. So while Jamie had been considered a bothersome teenager before with loud music and a weird vocabulary, now they paid more attention to him.
“Is something the matter?” dad asked.
“Nah, not really. It’s nothing.”
“Jamie if there’s something you’d like to tell us….” Mom said. Jamie could see what was running through her mind. Was he on drugs?
“It’s about Jumper,” he said looking away.
“Jamie I know how terrible it was for you to see your great grandfather die. We’re so sorry.” She reached over and put a hand on his shoulder.
“What about Jumper?” dad asked more concerned about specifics than emotions.
“He used to mention that guy Dolan,” Jamie began, “the guy in the papers they say somebody was out to get by putting the shark in the lake. He’s the head of Norton Utilities and…”
“We know about Dolan, Jamie. But what did Jumper say about him?”
“He hated him. Kept saying it was all his fault and that something shouldn’t have happened. They should have gotten there on time.”
“What shouldn’t have happened? What else did he say?”
Jamie shook his head. “He’d go off into something completely different then. Talk about scoring some big touchdown and jumping over everybody.”
“Well then it was the Alzheimers,” mom said. “He really didn’t know what he was saying.”
“Maybe, but he hated that guy Dolan for some reason. He blamed whatever it was on him.” Jamie thought for a moment trying to remember more specifics. “Jumper said he owned land before the lake was made.”
“That’s true. He sold it to Dolan’s company when I was only five or six years old and we moved to Marbury,” dad said. “That property is underwater now up near Reagan’s Neck.”
“Did he hate Dolan then?”
“I never heard him mention the man while I was growing up,” dad said shaking his head.
“He kept saying something about lightning. It wasn’t the lightning, he said. They could have gotten there sooner.”
“Well Jumper was in the volunteer fire department for years. I remember him putting out grass fires in the summer. Some were caused by lightning when the grass was very dry. Maybe they were late getting to a fire, it got out of hand and they were blamed. That would make sense wouldn’t it.”
“Yeah I guess, but why would Jumper be blaming Dolan?”
“I don’t know.”
“He really hated him dad. That day he died he was yelling every swear word he could think of. Said he was responsible.”
“I honestly don’t know Jamie but don’t forget Jumper was very ill. Alzheimers plays a lot of tricks on the mind. He could have felt guilty about getting to a fire late his whole life and just by a fluke associated the guilt with a name you read out of the paper. It could be as simple as that.”
“Maybe…yeah maybe,” Jamie said getting up from his chair.
“You better get over to Brian’s and start studying,” Mom said returning to her book.
“Forget about this son,” dad said flashing him one of his smiles of reassurance. Most things in the world were good with dad. Especially on days when he sold a car.
Jamie nodded and left the room.
But he wouldn’t forget about it. The rage he saw on Jumper’s face every time he heard the name Dolan was etched in his memory. He didn’t know much about Alzheimers but that look of hatred was real.
Sally Benson couldn’t stop her phone from ringing off the hook.
Ever since the shark in back of Hammond’s General Store had attacked Harold, the calls had been incessant. Lakeshore owners who had been hopeful that it had frozen under the ice were scrambling to sell their homes. And they were a much larger group than last year’s. Now the fear was more widespread, the belief being that the shark was indestructible and would never be killed.
Inside of three days Sally and Beth had calls from twenty owners to sell. Nine of them in the million dollar plus range, none below a million. Some were the finest homes in the best locations on the lake.
The calls immediately prompted a request for more money from the Swiss account. Sally made the conference call from her recently renovated office with Beth seated beside her.
Rolf Welty picked up the phone at Union Suisse in Zurich. After a few pleasantries Sally got down to business.
“I take it you’ve read about the shark surviving the winter under Arrowhead Lake,” she began. Although she and Beth were reluctant to capitalize on the misfortune of others, the lure of profit seemed ultimately to win out. She had taken a lavish winter vacation in Provence where she had bought a small villa. Beth had put a huge addition on her home with a three car garage to house her new BMW and Audi sport convertible.
“Yes I have read about it and of course so has my client,” Welty replied.
Beth described the new homes that had come on the market for them to represent.
“We take it your client will be interested in all of them once we check out the details,” she said optimistically.
“I’m afraid my client is no longer interested in purchasing more real estate on Arrowhead,” Welty said. The statement was delivered without any emotion. It came out as a straight statement of fact.
After getting over her initial surprise Sally said, “ May I ask why? We thought he was interested in buying whatever prime properties came on the market in Arrowhead.”
“He was,” Welty said indifferently. “But now he’s reached his financial goals as far as Arrowhead real estate is concerned.”
“But this summer promises to bring in prime homes at even greater discounted prices,” Beth said. “When he decides to sell them his profits will be higher than ever.”
“I suggested that to him.”
The words came over the speaker phone between them followed by silence.
“And…..?” Sally prompted.
“He is firm in his resolve. He will not invest any more funds into Arrowhead real estate.”
“That seems to be final,” Sally answered realizing it was an understatement.
“Well I guess there’s nothing more to say, Mr. Welty,” Sally said formally. Up until now it had been Rolf.
“I suppose not,” Welty replied. “However I would like to thank you on my client’s behalf for the fine work your agency has done for him. It was a pleasure working with you. Also,” he said as his voice suddenly brightened, “he wanted me to convey to you both that he looks forward to working with you once the threat to Arrowhead is ended. He will have many properties to resell.”
Sally gave Beth a thumbs up. “We look forward to it too and hope that the threat will be ended soon,” she said pleasantly.
“Well then goodbye for now,” Welty said. “We will speak again soon.”
Sally and Beth said their goodbyes and hung up the speaker phone.
Beth had the first reaction to the conversation.
“I think he ran out of money,” she said smiling.
“So do I,” Beth agreed.
But Rolf Welty’s client at Union Suisse hadn’t run out of money. He simply had changed his financial plans.
He was now investing heavily in Patriot Power & Electric.
Other ebooks by Bob Neidhardt are
Kill The Author, Mr. Best Selling Author and Tarnished Bronze.
All are available on Amazon.com