Tuesday, March 6, 2012
After reading his Pa's journal, Dusty was even more certain Al Blanchard's fall from the scaffolding of the job site in Greensboro was not an accident. He was also certain that the man responsible was Leo Carlisle. Dusty knew Leo's threats were to be taken seriously and his mother was in serious jeopardy if Dusty didn't do exactly what Leo told him to do.
Dusty was surprised Ernie Black gave him a job on the hospital project. He couldn't hide his nervousness. He couldn't stop thinking about his Pa's fate and what may lay ahead for Ma. He knew Ernie only hired him because of his father and shuddered to think what Leo would have done if he came home without the job on the project.
Reggie went with Ernie back to the job site. Reggie told Ernie all about his visit to the Dalton Sawmill and let him know the first part of their order would be on its way in just a day or two. Ernie asked Reggie if Josie was feeling alright.
“She looked a little pale to me”
“Josie? She's just fine. Had a great time with Effie Dalton. If she didn't love Camden Corners so much, I don't think I could keep her away from Dalton's Mountain. Sure is beautiful country down there.”
In the meantime, Josie had her head over the commode in the McMillan home. Her mother was sympathetic but couldn't keep the smile off her face because it looked like she would be a grandmother very soon.
Josie joined her mother at the kitchen table.
“I wanted to ask you if you thought I might be expecting but I can tell by the look on your face that you suspect it too.”
“It's probably too soon to tell but maybe you should talk to your sister. I would guess you are suffering from morning sickness. I'll bet Reggie is beside himself.”
“I haven't mentioned it to Reggie. He is so preoccupied with troubles with the lumber order. I want his full attention before I let him know he might be a father in a few months.”
Reggie and Ernie were in Reggie's office discussing how the order could possibly have been switched. Ernie was quiet for a moment and then spoke up.
“I was walking from the wagon across the street when a fellow bumped my arm. I remember thinking it was odd because there was plenty of room for him to walk by me without running into me. The envelope dropped to the ground and he picked it up and handed it to me. Our eyes met and I remember feeling a chill for a moment. I then walked over to the Post Office and handed the envelope to Jackson Parker. We chatted for a few minutes and I returned back here.”
“Let's start with Jackson Parker.” said Reggie “We'll have him look at his log and see where that envelope actually went.”
They rode to the Post Office. Reggie noticed Josie and her mother were going into the doctor's office next door to the McMillan house. He didn't think anything about it since they were all in the family.
Jackson brought out the log and scanned the pages until he came to the one that named the recipient as Dalton Mills, Box 808, Pineville, NY.
“I'm sorry boss.” Ernie said quietly “It was so careless of me not to check that envelope. I should have known something was fishy about that guy. It was all my fault. I cost Miss Lucinda a bundle of money. I will have my resignation letter on your desk first thing tomorrow morning.”
“Ernie, you will do no such thing. It wasn't your fault. Why would you even look at the envelope? You had no way of knowing someone was on the lookout for you. I just wonder how this Carlisle guy knew that order was going out at that time and knew you would have it in your hand when he bumped into you. I'm afraid we may have a spy in our organization.”
The crew was called back to the job the following morning. Dusty thought he saw Leo standing next to the light pole as he walked from the worker's camping grounds to the job site. He knew he had to let Mr. Blackburn know what Leo was capable of but the veiled threat against his Ma was constantly on his mind. An hour later, Dusty tripped over his tool box hurting his arm and was taken to see Doctor Tom Campbell.
Tom entered the examining room just as Dusty was removing his jacket without any obvious pain.
“Sorry Doc I didn't hurt myself, I just needed to talk to you or your wife or Doc McMillan. I know you are related to Mrs. Blackburn and I have to get some information to her husband without anyone knowing.
Tom was leery of the boy but willing to listen to his explanation. Dusty showed him the journal. Tom knew of the recent mix up with the lumber and that Reggie was very worried about who was sabotaging the hospital project.
“Has this Leo Carlisle threatened you Dusty?” Tom asked after he had read a few of the incriminating pages.
“No sir, not me. He has cast some kind of spell over my mother and he has hinted that harm will come to her if I don't do as he tells me. So far he hasn't told me to do anything except sign up to work on this job.
Tom wrapped the boys arm and placed a sling around his neck.
“We will say you have a sprained arm. That way if Leo sees you he won't be suspicious. My wife and I are expected at the Blackburn house this evening for supper. I will give the journal to Reggie then. Dusty, you are a brave young man. I didn't know your Pa but I'm sure he would be very proud of the way you are handling this situation.”
Dusty was walking back to the job site when Leo slithered from behind a tree.
“Looks like you will be given a job in the office for awhile boy. That works out very well. You will be of more help to me there than out working in the field.”
Later that evening Reggie read over pages of Al Blanchard's journal. He was furious that the man was apparently murdered because of Leo Carlisle's greed.
“Ernie said the kid acted nervous. It's no wonder. From reading through the journal, it appears that Leo is either lurking around the job site of his current victim or he has intimidated someone else to do his dirty work.”
Josie spoke up “Reggie, do you remember that young girl we hired to do the filing and help with some of the paperwork? Her name was Pamela. I would find her crying at her desk almost daily. She never let on what was wrong and one day she simply didn't show up for work. She said she was staying with Evelyn Keys but when I checked with Evelyn, she had never heard of the girl. Maybe I should have looked into it further.”
“We need to get this information to Sheriff Mendenhall but I'm afraid Leo is watching every move we make. For Dusty's safety and his mother's we will have to be very careful.”
Doc McMillan who had been sitting quietly listening to the conversation said “I'm having breakfast with the Sheriff and Oscar in the morning. I'll make sure he gets the journal. Oscar will have some ideas too.”
The sheriff was indeed interested in Al Blanchard's journal and the implications. He had recently returned from a convention of area sheriffs and it seemed Mr. Leo Carlisle had been under suspicion in several cases. None of the cases had ever been resolved because witnesses were unwilling to implicate Leo in any of them.
“I'll check the whereabouts of Pamela Fuller. It sounds like she may have the proof we need to arrest Leo Carlisle. I'm sure the Sheriff in Greensboro would be interested to know that Al Blanchard's death may not have been accidental after all.
Josie really liked Dusty Blanchard. He was still very worried about his mother but he felt assured that Leo's reign of terror would be coming to an end soon. Josie had told him not to worry. The matter was being handled. They never knew who might be listening so they limited their conversation about the matter.
Dusty was sleeping soundly in his bunk that evening when he was suddenly awakened with a poke to the ribs.
“Find the order for bricks and meet me in the park near the library tomorrow at 12:00. Bring your lunch, we'll have a picnic” Dusty couldn't mistake the evil cackle of Leo Carlisle.
Dusty reported Leo's demand the following morning. Josie quickly drew up an order with false information. She knew it would be impossible to fill the order even from a disreputable company but she hope when Leo was transferring the information to his own order forms he would not recognize the errors.
Josie was still suffering from morning sickness. Her sister had given her some medication to ease the nausea but she had left it at home this morning. Her stomach felt a little queasy but she was determined to fight it. She was sorry she had eaten so much last night but she was terribly hungry and she couldn't seem to stop herself from reaching for that second helping. She still hadn't told Reggie her news. She wanted it to be a special time for them and with the uproar with Leo and his shenanigans Reggie was still preoccupied.
There was a knock on the office door. Josie opened it to see Pamela Fuller standing there.
“Pamela, where have you been? You just disappeared and we had no idea where to find you.”
“I'm sorry Miss Josie, I have been dishonest with you and you were so kind to me. I met a fellow named Leo Carlisle. I've never had a beau before and he was so very charming I'm afraid after a few kind words I developed a crush on him. He wanted me to help him with a plan to swindle your husband and take money for himself. Oh, Miss Josie, I told him I couldn't do such a thing and suddenly he turned on me. What I thought was charm became pure evil. He threatened to hurt my dear Mama. I couldn't bear anything happening to her and I went along with his plan. I started working here and copied the lumber order and gave it to Leo. Leo bumped into Ernie on the street and exchanged the envelope with the bogus one. He then took the check made out to Dalton Mills and was able to cash it at the bank in Greensboro. I suspect he may have been blackmailing someone at the bank to illegally cash the checks. I felt so guilty all those times you found me crying but I couldn't tell you. I had confided in my cousin Muriel who lives in Pennsylvania. She arranged for my mother and me to board the train under false identities and come to stay with her. My mother passed away in her sleep last week. I decided to come back here and face my punishment. Now that my mother is safe with the Lord, I am no longer afraid of Mr. Leo Carlisle.”
Leo had been watching Ernie Black from across the street and hadn't noticed Pamela Fuller walking into the office until it was too late to stop her.
“I should have gotten rid of the insipid woman a long time ago” he whispered to himself.
Leo practically ran to the office door, put his ear to the door and listened as Julie spoke.
“You did the right thing Pamela, I'm very sorry about your mother but we will keep you safe from Leo. You stay here while I find Reggie. We will call Sheriff Mendenhall and have Leo Carlisle arrested.
Leo backed away from the door. They weren't going to catch him. His way out of town was right here in plain sight. Josie Blackburn was a fine looking woman and his insurance policy.
Josie was walking quickly to the construction area where Leo was talking with Ernie and a couple of the men. She felt the bile rising in her throat but had to get to Reggie before Leo got to Pamela. Suddenly she felt an arm around her waist and felt metal in her ribs. She wasn't surprised when she turned and her captor was none other than Leo Carlisle. She heard Pamela scream and Reggie shout her name. Leo was holding her tightly and was looking into her eyes when she couldn't hold back any longer. She regurgitated directly into Leo's face. He jumped back, dropped the gun and started retching himself. Leo had no qualms about killing someone in cold blood but couldn't take watching someone vomit. Especially when it was directed at him.
The crew wrestled Leo to the ground and held him there and hosed him down while they waited for the sheriff to arrive and haul him off to jail.
Reggie held Josie closely. “You have been doing that often lately. Do you think we should get you over to Doc's so he can check you out? A stomach flu shouldn't last this long.”
“It's not a stomach flu, Papa. I was waiting for a special time to tell you but I think our little baby just saved my life and I would say this is a very special time.”
Reggie picked her up and swung her around until he thought better of it. Josie was looking a little green at the moment. Instead he put his arm around her and walked her back into the office where she could rest after her ordeal.
Leo confessed to Al Blanchard's murder and several other crimes insuring that he would be spending the next 99 years in prison.
Pamela was exonerated from any criminal charges and went back to Pennsylvania where she met and married Arnold Swanson who charmed her in only good ways.
Dusty was welcomed with open arms upon returning to Greensboro. He became sought after whenever a new construction project began.