Edwin was sitting on a wooden oak chair in the dining room at the Harland residence. Standing near him was Amy’s father, a middle-aged man with dark hair and a mustache wearing a pinstripe business suit.
“So, Edwin, my daughter told me that you witnessed an elderly gentleman giving her this envelope” he exclaimed as he held it in his right hand.
“Yes, sir. That is correct” Edwin replied nervously. “I glanced away for a second and both Ms. Harland and the gentleman were gone… so.. I… went about my business…”
“It’s also my understanding that you sat next to my daughter on the train.”
“Uh…actually, she sat next to me…”
“Father, it was the only open seat” Amy added as she entered the room with a tray of drinks and cookies.
Edwin rose from his chair to help Amy, but a stern look at her father made him sit back down, but not before he reached for a glass of water from the tray. The only sound now was coming from Edwin swallowing his drink hard. Realizing this, he put the glass down and watched Amy set the tray on the table and stand next to her father.
“Edwin, my father, Charles Harland, was a wealthy man. He came from a very poor family and learned at a young age what hard work was. After attending law school, he set roots here and made a good name for himself. He left a legacy behind, as well as a mystery. It’s my understanding that you would like to help unravel it.”
“Yes sir. That’s true” Edwin said, grabbing the water glass again.
The teen sleuths were walking along the Northwest River Trail. Apart from a slight breeze swirling leaves around the ground, the only other sound was from their shoes.
“Edwin, is it true that you were questioned by Amy’s father?” Sylvia asked.
“Grilled was more like it” Edwin replied. “I thought I was on a witness stand. He’s so intimidating…”
“But, you still offered to help him and his daughter?” Claire asked.
“Yes, I did” Edwin answered. “I really don’t know what I was thinking…”
“Well, I’m all for helping” Sylvia exclaimed.
“I like solving mysteries.” “I’ll help, too” Kurt added.
“I’ll assist as I can, but…Marly and I are involved in career day at school…” Claire explained.
“Oh, good old career day” Kurt murmured.
“It’s open to former graduates. You should come. There’s going to be someone there from the Armed Forces, State Police, and the Smithsonian” Claire added.
“Sounds interesting, Claire. Perhaps we should get back to the conversation though and talk about career day later” Sylvia said.
“Okay, okay. I just thought that it would help Kurt and you out” Claire replied.
“So what happens next?” Sylvia asked, looking at Edwin.
“Well, we have been summoned to have dinner at the Harland residence tonight” Edwin stated, smiling.
Dinner, which was held outdoors, consisted of burgers on the grill, and all the fixings. Amy’s father looked out of place wearing tan pants and a navy blue polo shirt. Amy’s attire consisted of a flowery sundress and sandals and her long red hair in a ponytail. Edwin and his friends were overly dressed.
After the necessary greetings, they gathered around the picnic table to eat. One by one Amy’s father asked Kurt, Sylvia, and Edwin what they wanted to do with their lives. Kurt and Sylvia still were figuring that out.
“Forensic science is my major” Edwin answered when his turn came. “Analyzing clues scientifically has always been a passion of mine.”
“Forensic science…strides have been made in that over-populated field. I suppose you’re a fan of the once popular CSI television shows?”
“Uh, I suppose so?”
“Are you kidding Edwin?” Kurt asked. “You took the entire DVD collection with you to college.”
Edwin felt his face turn red and excused himself from the table. Sylvia glared at Kurt, then she excused herself to check on Edwin. She found him sitting on the front porch.
“Are you okay? That wasn’t nice of Kurt to embarrass you like that.” Sylvia exclaimed as she sat down next to him.
“No, it wasn’t” Edwin answered. “That’s Kurt for you, though.”
“Are you okay?” Sylvia asked again.
Edwin nodded yes. “We should get back to the party” he said, getting up.
They returned just when Amy’s father was opening the mysterious manilla envelope.
An old map of Marietta was pulled out first, followed by a small compass, and a photo of five men dressed in Civil War uniforms.
Edwin picked up the photo and flipped it over. It was dated June 1, 1979, and it listed the names of each soldier. Civil Renegades was written in red ink.
“Mr. Harland, who were the Civil Renegades?” Edwin asked.
“They were an elite group of Civil War reenactors and my father was one of them, but he isn’t in the photo.”
“Well, that’s strange. I think we should do more research on this group” Edwin said only realizing afterwards how he just sounded. “I mean… it’s a place to start…”
“Edwin, I agree” Amy’s father replied, looking at him.
The crew spent the rest of the evening combing through the clues.
Upon further research and assistance from an office staff member who worked for Amy’s father, they learned that Charles Harland left the group due to a disagreement with one of the members
– the elderly gentleman who gave Amy the mysterious manilla envelope. A younger version of him was one of the men in the photo. His name, Winston Ames. A search for him was also in the works.
The map had a few “X” marks on it, which Kurt, Sylvia, and Amy agreed to check out in the morning.
Edwin convinced Amy’s father to let him hold onto the photo. Although he knew it was already compromised, Edwin wanted to analyze it under a microscope.
The compass dial appeared to be stuck at “Southeast” instead of “North”.
Edwin was in his room laying on his bed. He was relieved to be home. He thought about the evening and wondered how quickly things were going with this mystery he was now a part of. Sylvia, Kurt, Amy, and her father were a part of it, too.
Amy seemed to be a rebel at heart. She wasn’t afraid to stand up to her father, unlike Edwin who still found him intimidating. She had this aura about her.
“Oh, stop it” Edwin thought to himself. He would help solve the mystery at hand and go back to his life at college. After all, that was his plan. Or was it?
Kurt, Sylvia and Amy were at the ruins along the Northwest River Trail. Marietta map in hand, Sylvia glanced at the building then looked at the map.
“I think this is the place, but I have no idea why there’s an “X” on the map” Sylvia exclaimed as she handed the map to Kurt so she could take a few photos of the area.
Amy followed behind Sylvia as she was curious about what she was doing.
“That camera looks complicated. Wouldn’t it be easier to just use your smartphone?” Amy asked
“Maybe. I prefer this camera. I like the results” Sylvia answered.
“Whatever…” Amy mumbled.
“Hey, I didn’t get much of a chance to talk to you last night. It was nice of your father to have us over for dinner. I had a good time” Sylvia said.
“Well, that’s my father for you. He likes to entertain the younger generation” Amy replied. “If you don’t mind me asking, why did you choose to go to Temple?”
“I received a full four year scholarship. It made my father really happy. What about you? Are you happy?”
“I suppose so.”
Once Sylvia finished capturing photos of the ruins, the group set off to find the second “X” on the map.
Later that day Edwin and his friends met for dinner at Marietta Pizza. They needed to regroup.
Edwin’s findings from the soldier photo were inconclusive. So was the search for the second “X” on the map. Sylvia took a few photos of where they thought the place was, but there were no indicators of any clues. Not at first glance.
“So now what do we do?” Sylvia asked before eating a french fry.
Before Edwin answered her, he received a text from Amy that read:
“My father wants everyone to come to the house immediately. There’s new info.”
Edwin, Kurt, and Sylvia did what they were told. Upon being let in the foyer, Amy met the group and led them to the living room, where her father was waiting.
“Thanks for coming so quickly. We located Winston Ames. Unfortunately, he is deceased.”
To be continued in the next issue of the Marietta Traveler.