Written by Cynthia Sperko
Editor’s Note: This is the final chapter in a four part series. Chapter 1, Chapter 2 and Chapter 3
Kurt was in his bedroom sitting at his desk. A knock at the front door, followed by a very familiar voice made him get up and race down the stairs.
“Grandpa?” Kurt said out loud hugging the elderly gray haired man. “This is quite a surprise. Looking at his father he exclaimed “Dad, why didn’t you tell me that Grandpa was coming to visit?”
A raspy voice answered before his father could do so. “Kurt, my boy, I wanted to surprise you. Also, your father invited me to attend the gala. Now, why don’t you tell me what has been happening with this history scavenger hunt your father told me about?”
Edwin was in the basement preparing for a much needed meeting with his friends. The gala was in a few days and there was a lot of work to do before the party, including figuring out who was behind this whole Marietta Mystery.
He was placing photos of the clues on a big white bulletin board that his mother had given him.
Edwin heard the doorbell ring and the shuffling of footsteps coming closer. Sylvia, her sister Claire, and Kurt had arrived. Meeting all three at the stairwell, Sylvia was the first to come down the steps, giving Edwin a hug before walking toward the bulletin board. Claire came down next and stood beside her sister looking quizzically at the photos on the board.
Sylvia had taken some photos of the encampment, as well as some from inside the First National Bank. There were also photos of Marly’s sister, Pam, Ms. Harris, and some of the townsfolk that the sleuths thought might be involved somehow.
“So, my question is, where do we go from here?” asked Sylvia.
“I think we need to do a recap of what we know so far” Edwin answered. “I laid out the board from when this mystery began. The first clue led us to Time Flys which then took us to the Union Meeting House. We learned about how people practiced their religion, had gatherings, and worked as a community.”
As he spoke, Edwin motioned for his friends to sit down on a large, brown sofa. In front of the couch was a coffee table with drinks, snacks, and the clues that they found.
“And the second clue had me wearing a stuffy wool Civil War uniform” said Kurt.
“We also discovered that the women had quite a movement going on during the Civil War. They really came through for the soldiers by baking bread and other food, sewing pillow cases and pajamas, and providing nursing care for them,” added Sylvia.
“Don’t forget that we may know who the calligrapher is,” exclaimed Claire. “Edwin, did you find out anything more about the calligraphy pen that you found at school?”
“As a matter of fact, I did find out something. When school started a few weeks back I was able to look up whose locker was at the location where the pen was found and it seems that it was Pam’s locker,” he answered.
Claire stood up and walked to the white bulletin board, snapping photos of it with her smartphone. When she was finished, she glanced at each photo of the suspects.
“Do you really think that Ms. Harris is involved? I know she’s the history teacher, but what’s her motive?” Claire asked.
“Maybe she wanted to teach Kurt the importance of history in a fun way,” Edwin answered.
“I suppose so, but someone Kurt knows well would have had to ask Ms. Harris first off,” Claire replied.
All four teens pondered Claire’s words for a few moments. Sylvia was surprised by her sister for speaking up. She also raised a good point that none of them thought of until now. “Kurt, didn’t you tell us that this whole thing began when your father found out how poor you were doing in history class?” Sylvia asked.
“I suppose so,” Kurt answered. “I know what you’re thinking but my dad still uses a flip phone. He’s not into technology at all. If he’s behind it, and that’s a big huge if, he would have needed help. Also, I still don’t understand why I was invited to the gala in the first place. It’s not like I’m up for any award or anything. I’m just a high school student trying to figure out my life.”
Sylvia was walking down the school hallway when she caught sight of Marly’s sister, Pam. She stopped to pull out one of the cream colored papers, took a deep breath, and approached the blonde haired girl. She wanted to know Pam’s involvement.
“Hi, I’m Sylvia. I think we’re in the same math class.” Pam looked at Sylvia briefly then reached inside her locker for a purple notebook. “Yes, we are,” she replied.
“Um, is this your handy work?” Sylvia asked, showing the teen the paper. She glanced at it without taking it and said “So what if it is? Is there a problem?”
“Not exactly, but I was hoping you could tell me…”
She cut Sylvia off and said “Tell you if I helped Ms. Harris with some calligraphy work? The answer is yes.”
Slamming her locker shut and looking at Sylvia she said “Look, you’re friends with Kurt correct?” Sylvia nodded yes. “Ms. Harris and Kurt’s dad were only trying to help him discover something new about himself. Now if you don’t mind, I have to go to class.” And off she went leaving Sylvia in the hallway taking in what she just learned.
Kurt threw his book bag on his bed, then he went to his desk. It was very clear that Ms. Harris, Pam, and his father were involved. Sylvia had filled him in on the bus ride home. The cryptic words from Ms. Harris had him baffled. “What was something new about myself that I had to know?” Kurt mumbled to himself.
Kurt’s dad entered the kitchen, poured himself a cup of coffee and sat down across from his father. Kurt’s grandfather started the conversation. “Kurt left for school already. Said something about meeting his friends at the bus stop. If you ask me, you should tell him the truth and I’m not just talking about the Marietta mystery.”
“Dad, I know you’re right, but trying to find the right time has been hard. And it’s up to Kurt to decide what he wants to do with his life. He’s not like you and I. I suppose you brought it with you?” asked Kurt’s dad, Russell. “Of course I did. It’s the rite of passage in our household that’s been handed down for generations,” his dad replied.
“I just don’t think Kurt is ready. This whole scavenger hunt was to get him excited about history and his future, but all I did was mess it up.”
Edwin was in his bedroom pacing back and forth, trying to piece the new clues together. Everything was pointing to history. Just then, a thought occurred to him. Walking quickly to his computer desk he opened his laptop and entered text in the search bar. What he found started to make a lot of sense. He had to tell the others. Grabbing his phone, he texted “911 meeting tonight.”
All four teens were sitting at a back table at Marietta Pizza. Kurt was silent as Edwin began to tell his friends what he found out. Kurt’s great-great grandfather was a historian in his day. For generations after, each male member of the family followed suit.
“My dad never told me any of this. Why didn’t he?” Kurt said out loud. “Would it have made a difference if he did, Kurt?” Sylvia asked, looking at him.
“Not likely I suppose,” Kurt replied. “I really need to talk to my dad. I cannot wait until this whole mess is over.” Getting up from his seat, Kurt told his friends he would see them tomorrow and left.
Kurt’s dad was sitting on the front steps outside under the street lights. In unison they both said to each other “I need to talk to you.”
Kurt began. “Dad, my friends and I know that this historic scavenger hunt was your idea. And we also learned a little bit about my family history. Is it true that you want me to be a great historian like my great-great grandfather? Well, is it?”
“Kurt, you can do whatever makes you happy. If history isn’t your thing, it’s OK. I just thought that…”
“You just thought that I would be a great historian like grandfather, and you? And you thought by throwing a scavenger hunt in the process that I would grow to like it? Really, Dad? You couldn’t be more wrong.” And at that Kurt went inside, quickly went to his bedroom, and slammed the door shut.
It was the day of the gala. As much as Kurt wanted to forget the whole thing, his friends convinced him to go as planned. Grabbing his phone and wallet from his dresser, he went downstairs. His grandfather was waiting for him in the kitchen. Motioning Kurt to have a seat, he pulled out an old, wooden box and instructed Kurt to open it. Inside was an old hardcover journal.
“Before you say anything, I want you to read it. Our family history is inside and there’s a lot to be proud of. Your father loves you more than life and he only wants what’s best for you. Oh, and if you haven’t figured out who the text master is… you’re looking at him. My lady friend, Darlene, taught me everything I need to know.”
“Grandpa? It was you sending those weird texts? I don’t understand,” Kurt questioned.
“I’ll be happy to explain it to you later. I’ll see you and your father at the gala.” And with that, Kurt’s grandfather got up and left the room.
Kurt leafed through the journal and read bits and pieces of his family history. Before he could read any further, his phone signaled an incoming text. It was from Sylvia telling him that she was running late and would meet him at the gala.
Edwin was waiting for Kurt outside the bank when he arrived. “There you are. What kept you?”
“You wouldn’t believe it, then again maybe you would. No matter. We’re here to settle this mystery,” said Kurt. Both men went into the building.
Once inside, Kurt looked around for Sylvia and found her talking to his father. Walking towards them, Kurt started the conversation.
“There you are. I see you made it on time after all, Sylvia,” said Kurt. “Yes, I did,” she answered.
“Hello, Dad. Have you seen Grandpa?” Kurt asked.
“Your grandfather is speaking with a few of his friends,” his dad answered. Looking toward the open vault, Kurt’s dad entered and motioned for his son to follow him inside. Once both men were inside, the vault door closed shut leaving father and son alone.
After a few moments of silence, Russell spoke. “I suppose we should talk about last night.”
“What else is there to say?” answered Kurt.
“Well, for starters, I would like to apologize to you. Someday when you have a family of your own you will understand what I did for you, but for now, let me explain.”
“OK,” said Kurt.
“Ms. Harris reached out to me and told me how you were doing in history class. We both decided to join hands and try to get you to see how wonderful history is.”
“For you and Grandpa that’s true, but…”
“Kurt, I wanted you to give history a chance…”
“Why? So I could follow in your footsteps?”
“That’s part of it, but also for you to better understand the importance of it. I told your grandfather that it’s your choice to do what you want for a career and I don’t expect you to suddenly have an urge to study history like we did.”
“Well, I didn’t like it at first, but the scavenger hunt was a little fun.
“And you met some good friends along the way, too,” his dad replied.
“Yes, I did, but Dad, you lied to me!” stated Kurt, looking away from him. “Grandpa also gave me the journal.”
“I was wondering when he would do that. He gave it to me when I was your age and thinking back, I rebelled, too.”
“What made you choose history?”
“A wonderful teacher named Mrs. Gibson. She gave me the confidence to study it after she read a history report I wrote about Gettysburg. I really enjoyed writing back then, and her encouragement started me on the right path.”
Sylvia was standing outside the vault with Kurt’s grandfather, who had been waiting for his son and grandson to enter the vault. He purposely closed the door. Looking at him, she asked “Why did you lock them in the vault?”
“No worries my dear. They need to work out their differences and find the last clue,” said the elderly man.
Both men inside the vault were now looking for a way out. Kurt noticed a piece of paper sticking out from one of the safety deposit boxes and reached for it.
It was an old newspaper article that had a photo of a young man wearing a Civil War uniform who looked a lot like Kurt. “Dad, look what I found,” Kurt said, handing the piece of paper to him. “That man looks a lot like me, but how is that possible?”
“It’s possible because that’s a photo of your great-great grandfather,” Russell replied. “I believe your grandfather had a hand in this.”
“Don’t you think we should open the door? They have been in there for over ten minutes.” Sylvia asked with pleading eyes. A minute had passed before Kurt’s grandfather agreed to open the vault.
Once it was open, Sylvia rushed in to make sure both men were alright. Seeing them come out of the vault smiling and arm in arm made her smile, too.
Sylvia asked Kurt what happened. He replied “I’m beginning to realize the importance of history and keeping family traditions alive.”
“Does this mean you’re going to be a great historian?” she asked. “Hey, don’t push it,” Kurt replied, placing the newspaper article in his pocket.