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Shorty Dawkins
May 11th, 2012, 03:08 PM
(Shorty: This is another story based on a true incident. I didn't know Cheryl, but I knew her parents and was very good friends with one of her cousins. This incident keeps popping up in my life in different ways.

This is another part of The River Heals.)



Cheryl




There are many turns a river makes on its way to the sea.



When Johnny Brown was a Sophomore in High School, a young girl had gone missing. Cheryl Beeson was only eleven at the time. Johnny remembered it very well. It was the Autumn, his favorite time of year. The leaves on the trees were in their full, magnificent colors. The air was crisp and clear. He was sitting by the river, chatting with his Uncle Fred. Uncle Dick was napping, and all was well, until they heard the news of little Cheryl's disappearance.



Cheryl was a happy, pretty and friendly little girl, well liked by everyone. She was always smiling and very full of life. Folks smiled when she came near. The teachers at school were fond of her, and her parents were as proud of her as they could be, for she was never a problem, and she did her chores without complaining. She was walking down the street to visit her friend, Carolyn, when she just disappeared. She never reached Carolyn's house, which was less than a half mile away.



A massive search was undertaken to find her. All the men and most of the available women joined in the search. They searched along the river, in the fields and in the forest. They searched for three days. Not a trace was found of her. Johnny had helped in the search, looking for Cheryl or any shred of clothing or evidence of any kind, but no one found anything remotely considered evidence.



The town was in shock. That a little, eleven year old girl should just disappear was inconceivable. Had she been abducted? By whom? And for what purpose? No one wanted to think of the possibilities. This sort of thing couldn't happen in Riverside, but it had, and folks were in shock as well as mourning, for after three days of searching, the town had given up hope of finding her alive. Johnny and his family had attended a candle light vigil for Cheryl, but to no avail. Folks were uneasy for a long time after that. Something was not right in Riverside.



The Beesons ended up getting divorced, which saddened everyone, for they had once been such a happy family. Chad Beeson moved out of town, but Mary Beeson continued to hold out hope for Cheryl's eventual return.

I survived
May 15th, 2012, 03:55 PM
Sad but well written is there a rest of the story? Do we ever find out more?

Shorty Dawkins
May 15th, 2012, 06:17 PM
Sad but well written is there a rest of the story? Do we ever find out more?

Indeed there is more! Cheryl, and what happens to her are the heart of the story, along with all the people introduced thus far. The threads of these people's lives join together, as streams join a river, and flow together toward the sea. It is the course of that river that becomes what is shared.

Shorty Dawkins

Shorty Dawkins
May 15th, 2012, 06:39 PM
(Here, I continue where the River Heals left off. Cheryl has been missing for about six years. Marianne has thrown her husband, Mason Sheffield, out of the house. He and his cronies have done some bad things. What are those things?)


Evil Dispatched





Nothing matters but to look evil in the face and laugh.




“Gentlemen, I have asked for this meeting for a particular reason.” Marianne Sheffield began. “The four of you; Walter, Henry, Conrad and Ted, along with my soon to be ex-husband, comprise the Board of Directors of the Riverside Community Bank. Mason has signed over to me his voting shares in the Bank. I now own twenty percent of this Bank. Before leaving this room, I, and my son and daughter, will own one hundred percent of this Bank.”



The four men sat staring at her. Mason had contacted each one of them with the news that Marianne had evidence against each of them; enough to put them in jail for many years.



“By your lack of surprise, I guess Mason has warned you to expect me. Good, it will save time.” She placed her briefcase on the table and opened it. From it she retrieved four manilla folders filled with papers. “You will all sign these papers, transferring the ownership of your shares in the Bank to either me, my son, or my daughter. Your individual papers tell you to whom you are assigning them. You are agreeing to sell your shares for one dollar to each of you. You have used my money illegally to make big profits for yourselves, you will not get any more from me.”



“What guarantee do we have you will remain silent?” Walter asked.



Marianne smiled at him. “None Walter, just as I had no guarantee you wouldn't use my money without my consent. I will say that if you don't sign those papers and agree to my other terms, I will go straight to the police.”



“What are your other terms?” Henry asked.



“I'm glad you asked, Henry. First, each of you will turn over your homes to me, for one dollar. Second, Walter will tender his immediate resignation. The rest of you will either sell your businesses, or shut them down, within the next 24 hours. Third, you will sell any properties you own anywhere in the State within 24 hours. Four, you will leave New England and never return in 48 hours. Your families can take 30 days to pack and leave, but you four will be gone in 48 hours. Those are my terms. Take them or leave them. I have nothing but contempt for each of you.”



“What you ask is impossible. How can we sell our businesses and properties in 24 hours?” Conrad asked.



“For fair market value? You can't. But I could care less that you get fair market value.” Marianne smiled. “No, I have made my terms such that you will get nothing for your businesses, which is what you deserve. I will make you an offer. I will agree to assume all debts of your businesses and properties, and give you each one thousand dollars. You will give your attorneys power of attorney to complete the process of transfer of ownership on that basis. If you can manage something else, bully for you, but I doubt you can. Take it or leave it gentlemen. At least you will no longer have any debts to worry about.”



“That's highway robbery!” Ted Gosling exclaimed.



“Precisely, Ted.” Marianne replied. “It is the same highway robbery you four, and Mason, perpetrated on many victims. No doubt you have money stashed in various Banks and Safe Deposit Boxes. There are probably many victims I am unaware of. After you leave, I will do my best to make it up to this community for your years of plunder and pillage.” She stared at each one of them individually. “You really are a pathetic bunch. How do you live with yourselves?” She opened her briefcase once again, taking out four more manilla folders. “Here are the papers for you to sign, selling me your businesses as I outlined. Sign them now, or get out of my sight. Have your attorneys contact me. I want no more to do with you.”



The four men, after exchanging glances among themselves, signed the additional papers. Without a word, they left the room. Marianne lit a cigarette and breathed a sigh of relief. It was done. She had pulled it off. She was under no illusions, knowing she now had five bitter enemies, but her future was unimportant. If they killed her they would all go to jail. If not to jail, she had arranged for other punishments for them in the event of harm coming to her or her children. No, her detectives had uncovered some other remarkable information. It was this further information that now occupied her mind. She had bigger fish to fry. She would need help, she knew, and she had an idea of just where to find that help. With Janet, Tom and herself, along with her Detectives, combined with several very interesting people who had courage, she would stir up quite a hornet's nest.

Shorty Dawkins
May 15th, 2012, 06:43 PM
The River Heals continues.

Gretchen




Beside the river live many different people.




“Welcome to The River. We are glad to see you. I'm Sue and my partner is Jill. What can we get you?”



“I'm Blair. Blair Williams. Trent's younger brother. I just moved into his old place. I'll have a large regular coffee with just cream, please.”



“I thought you looked familiar. Jill and I were two years behind you in school. It was very sad about your brother. I wasn't in Riverside at the time, but I remember he was a nice man, and a wonderful woodworker.”



“Yes, thank you, he was a nice man. My family wanted to sell the place but I wanted to keep a connection to him. It's weird, but when I wander through his workshop, or the house, I can feel his presence.” Blair smiled, sheepishly.



“There is no reason to be embarrassed, Blair. We all deal with the death of loved ones differently. You'll notice we have Laurie's book for sale over in the book department. Gretchen, who is over handling the books today, was a friend of Laurie's, back before she left Riverside. You and she could have a chat while you drink your coffee.”



“Thank you, I think I will if she doesn't mind. We have a connection, of sorts. It's a sad one, but it's a connection.” Blair paid for his coffee and wandered over to where Gretchen was putting out some new books. Blair noticed it was copies of War Is Hell, by John Brown. “It is out now, is it?” Blair asked, pointing to the book. “I'll definitely want a copy. I've been looking forward to reading it. I was in Vietnam, as John was. Allow me to introduce myself, I'm...”



“Blair Williams. You are Trent's brother. I recognized you when you came in.” Gretchen said. “I'm Gretchen Sanderson. I was a friend of Laurie's.”



“So Sue just said. My condolences to you. It was all such a huge loss.” Blair said. “Trent, Laurie and Will Stromberg all on the same day. All had so much to look forward to, and so much to give. It was tragic.”



“I heard you moved into Trent's old house.” Gretchen said. “Perhaps we can get together, sometime, and reminisce about the two of them. Laurie sent me a bunch of her photographs just before she left to come back here. We could enjoy them together. I've had thoughts of asking her family if I could publish them.”



“I'd like that very much. I've been painting a picture of the two of them, as they might have appeared had she made it back to Riverside. I'd like to show it to you. It is almost done.” Blair said.



“You are a painter?”



“Yes. I also do illustrations for books, also; mostly children's books.”



“Really. I'll have to introduce you to Carl and Barry. They are Sue and Jill's husbands. They are publishers. They published this book.” She pointed to John's book. “I'm sure they could use a good illustrator and cover designer. Have you ever considered having your paintings photographed and printed in a book?”



“Actually, I have. I think I have enough good work to do it. I just haven't gotten around to finding a publisher.” Blair admitted. “How about you come over to my place some night. I'll show you my paintings, and you can show me Laurie's photos. I'll cook us a nice meal. I'm a good cook. How does Friday night sound?”



“Friday night sounds good. Shall we say seven o'clock? I'll bring the wine.”



“Very good. I won't take any more of your time. I look forward to Friday night. Thank you, Gretchen.”



Blair paid for his book and walked out the door. Gretchen looked after him as he crossed the street and disappeared. There is something very interesting about him, she thought to herself. And he certainly is nice. Good-looking, too. Friday night could be interesting.



Sue saw the way Gretchen watched Blair as he crossed the street and smiled, inwardly. She said nothing to Gretchen.

Offeiriad
May 15th, 2012, 08:02 PM
I like everything so far. :)

Shorty Dawkins
May 16th, 2012, 07:36 AM
(Shorty: Now we start to get to the meat of the matter.)





The Book Signing




The river can be a treacherous place.




Today was the day set aside for a book signing event at The River. Johnny would be there, along with Uncle Dick and Uncle Fred. Barry and his co-author of the book, Counter-Culture Revolution,Tom Harkness, would be there to sign their books, also. Carl and Barry had advertised the event far and wide. They were expecting a good crowd. Word of Johnny's book was spreading, and sales were picking up as a result. This book signing event should really perk sales up, Carl said. They were expecting Independent bookstore owners to show up, as well as the general public.



“There are four people outside, waiting to come in. Shall we open a little early for them?” Jill called out.



“Tom and I are ready. How about you, Johnny?” Barry asked.


“I'm ready. I'm sitting here having coffee the stars of the day.” Johnny grinned. “This is their day, not mine.”



“Let them in, if you ladies are ready.” Uncle Dick agreed.



Jill opened the door with a friendly “Welcome to The River.”



“That was very nice of you to open early, though we could have waited.” A man in his early sixties said.



“We were ready, so there was no reason to keep you waiting outside.” Jill told him. “Are you here for the book signings?”


“Indeed we are.” The man replied. “We all came together from Franklin. We saw the advertisement in the local paper. John, here, has read the book already. He was over here last week and bought a copy. He said he cried or laughed all the way through it. Said he couldn't put it down.”



“That's right, Jim. Damn realistic it is. War is Hell, goddammit.” A second man, John, said. “I want my book signed and three more for my cousins. They were in the European Theater. They saw heavy action, too. They'll understand.”



“Step right over to the table with the one-armed man. That's John Brown, the author. The two older men with him are his Uncles, Fred and Dick. The book is their story. There is a pile of books on the table for you to purchase.”



“Thank you very much, young lady.”
The men stepped over to the table where Johnny was sitting.



“That nice young lady says you are John Brown.” John said.


“Yes, sir. I am he.”



“And these two gentlemen with you are Fred and Dick; the fellows in the book?”



“That is right, sir. They are my Uncles. My book is their story.” Johnny said.



“Allow me to salute the three of you.” He jerked to attention and held his salute. Johnny stood and returned his salute, as did Fred and Dick. “You have done a great service, all of you. The people need to know the true nature of war. You have put it in this book of yours. I'd be honored if you signed my copy and I'd like to buy three more, if it is not a big trouble to you.”



“Thank you for your kind words, sir. And it is no trouble at all. This is why we are here today.”



As Johnny signed their books, Fred and Dick started chatting with the men. Before you knew it they were having coffee outside on the deck with them. That was fine with Johnny. Let them enjoy their day anyway they wished. Gretchen helped him by holding the books open for him so he could sign them.



Throughout the day people came in steadily. Johnny was surprised at the turnout. Five bookstore owners came in. Carl was in conversation with them about carrying the full line of Price-Jenkins books. They all walked out with several cartons, Johnny noticed. That was nice to see.



As the day wound down to nearing and end, Johnny saw Marianne Sheffield enter the shop and sit with her son and daughter and another man at one of the cafe type tables. They ordered coffee, and Johnny noticed Mrs. Sheffield whisper something in Sue's ear. Sue turned and looked in Johnny's direction, then nodded, yes, to her.



Just before closing, Mrs. Sheffield bought four of each of the Price-Jenkins books, but didn't ask any of them to be signed. When Sue closed the door and locked it, Mrs. Sheffield and her people were left inside.



“Mrs. Sheffield would like a word with all of us.” Sue announced. “Gather round, everyone.”



“What can we do for you, Mrs. Sheffield?” Carl asked.



“Let me begin by saying I have read The Counter-Culture Revolution and War Is Hell. Both are extraordinary in their own way. They are brutally honest and never shy away from exposing evil. It is the matter of exposing evil that I have come to speak to you about. There is a big evil I need your help exposing. If you haven't heard the rumors, my husband and I are divorcing, and several prominent businessmen have sold me their businesses. They are connected to the evil I am speaking of. They are the mid-level characters in this drama, or tragedy, as I should call it.



“Johnny, you probably remember the little girl, Cheryl Beeson, who went missing.” She looked at Johnny.



“Yes, I remember it very well. No trace of her was ever found. It has been, what, five or six years?”



“I remember her, too.” Jill remarked.



“So do I.” Sue added. “She was such a nice little girl, too.”



Marianne nodded at William Hatcher, who produced a locket from his pocket. He placed it on the table in front of Johnny.



“This locket was found several days ago. Mrs. Beeson confirms it is the locket she gave Cheryl on her tenth birthday.”



“Where was it found?” Jill asked.


“At Deer Lodge, which my husband and four others owned. It was found at a stone patio, circular in shape, with stone benches surrounding it, a half mile into the woods.” Marianne let that sink in.



“Just to satisfy my curiosity, how many benches were there?” Tom Harkness asked.
“Six stone benches.” William Hatcher answered. “Do you study the Occult?”



“Yes. I have always found it interesting.”



“We will need your assistance. There are many symbols scattered around, though some have obviously been removed.” William said “They cleared out a lot of Occult symbolism, but they didn't get it all.” He placed a photograph in front of Tom Harkness.



“Baal, unquestionably. They were Baal worshipers, it appears.” Tom said.



“As you can see from this picture that painting of Baal once hung over the fireplace mantle in the Great Room of the Lodge. When we arrived to check the place out, it had been removed.” William said. “We found this photograph, along with a whole album full of them in the attic. Whoever cleaned the place out forgot the attic.”



“Show Johnny and the ladies the car photo.” Marianne requested.



He laid a picture of a man making out with a young girl who was sitting on the trunk of the car.



“We found this picture, which is of Phillip Barlow making out with an unidentified young female, who doesn't look more than thirteen or fourteen years old. The car is his. We have traced it. It was purchased, used, just three months before this picture was taken, if the date written on it is correct. The location is at Deer Lodge. That garage you can see behind the car is the same as the one at Deer Lodge. It is also four months before he shot himself.”



“Who is this Phillip Barlow?” Barry asked.
“He was a local jack-of-all trades who Mason sometimes used for repair jobs. He killed himself in front of his wife, Mary, who had a serious mental breakdown because of it. Their son Jimmy, turned out a little strange and ended up killing a bum who had camped out by the river.” Johnny explained.



“The Father is involved with the Occultists, somehow, and ends up shooting himself, the wife has a breakdown, and the son ends up killing a bum.” Tom Harkness said. “All right, what next?”



“We have uncovered a mass burial site at Deer Lodge.” William said. “There are at least ten bodies, all skeletons, buried there. Our expert tells us they are all female of between ten and seventeen years of age. At least the ones he has been able to assemble. There are twelve skulls.”



“What do the Police think?” Fred asked.



“That's our big problem. We don't know if we can trust the Police, the Sheriff or the State Police to investigate.” William laid a picture on the table that was like a team photo, or a Class picture. “This is one of the photographs we found with the others. We have identified most of the men in the picture. There are the current Governor, the previous Governor, the local Police Chief, the County Sheriff, the Speaker of the House, the Head of the State Police, the Attorney General and two State Senators in that photo. Can we trust any level of the police with this investigation?”



“I see your dilemma.” Fred said. “What do you want us to do?”



“If you are willing, there are several ways you can help.” Marianne said. She explained about taking possession of the four men's businesses and properties. “We need help searching some of these properties, and asking questions, about the four men, and Mason, of the people who work in the businesses, or live on the properties, or even the neighbors. We need help organizing flow charts and connecting dots. And, down the road, we may very well need Security support. I have no illusions. We are up against a bunch of kidnappers, molesters and murderers. It is that simple. If you agree to help, you might be in danger, also. I intend to see this through one way or the other. Steve and Janet are with me, and so are William and his two men. It is so enormous a situation we need help. We are asking for your help.”



“I'll give Carlos a call. He'll want to get involved in this.” Tom Harkness said.
“You are right.” Barry agreed.
“Who is Carlos? Johnny asked.



“A friend of ours who can ferret out information on anything. You'll love him. He is a crazy hippie.” Carl grinned at the thought of him. “He's brilliant, too. He can juggle multiple concepts in his head at the same time. We can rely on him to connect dots.”



“I guess this means we are helping.” Johnny said. “How about you ladies? How about you, uncles? Are you with us?”



“Why not? Gretchen said. “I'd love to nail a bunch of perverts.”



“She just said what I was thinking.” Fred said.



“Twelve bodies and how many more we don't even know about? You're damn right I'll help.” Dick said.



“I'll see if Blair wants to help.” Gretchen offered.



“Blair Williams? I heard he was in town. How do you know him?” Johnny asked.



“He came in here and bought your book.” Gretchen smiled. “He and I had dinner last night.”



Johnny just shook his head. “Damn! You work fast.”