The rain began falling weeks ago. Day after stormy day, the river rose, the wooden porch boards swelled and tempers shortened. It was after dark when the rain burst from the sky like uncontrollable tears from heaven’s watchful eyes. The crying and screams of thunder started the moment the dreadful deed was done!
They sat in silence, listening to Alex tell the tale. Eager to hear what was to come, (How perfect), Alex thought, (the rainstorm tonight). He looked at his young audience—inquisitive little detectives, each one longing to be the first to unravel the mystery. They were captured by his words so he continued in his deepest voice.
Our small country town changed from a peaceful happy place to a city where no one could be trusted. How could they? It wasn’t known who did it, or why. The cash was gone and the boys were dead.
The bank vault stood empty with no apparent signs of entry. Across town in the field next to the railroad tracks, two bodies were soaking in the heavy down pour.
Mrs. Carter’s boys never returned from fishing. She feared something horrible happened. She was up all night pacing, worrying and waiting. The gloomy morning brought a knock on her door. It was Ben Reynolds—the sheriff. He confirmed her greatest fears. Buddy and Sam were dead. Murdered—fishing poles and stringers still in their hands. Their young lives quickly ended, each with a single gunshot through the heart.
Two young men in the audience gasped, looking at one another in horror. Their eyes wide and mouths open in shock. They looked to Alex and he shook his head. Yes, they heard the names correctly. The increasing rain pounded hard on the corrugated metal above them and Alex had to raise his voice to be heard.
Speculation and rumors ran rampant through the town. Mrs. Brooks was sure the robbery and killings were linked. Others believed it was just a coincidence. One thing was certain—it wouldn’t stop raining until the killer was brought to justice.
Sheriff Reynolds was having a tough time of it. The rain washed away most of the physical evidence. Twenty long days and nights had passed since the murdered boys were found. Mrs. Carter lost her sons and he didn’t even have a motive, mush less a suspect.
The sheriff was exhausted but continued reviewing the pile of statements gathered from the investigation. He leaned back and took a long drink of his strong coffee. This black hot fuel was the only thing keeping him upright. The last time he slept for more than a solid hour was the night before the rain came.
The case was all consuming. He continued his search and once again he found nothing of value on his desk. He turned his attention to the large chalkboard against the wall. The board was a mass of confusing facts and unreasonable possibilities. Most of the information seemed to be useless trivia. Still he kept going back to it. Studying every diagram, reading each word over and over. It had to be there. The illusive clue was staring back at him like a sneaky fox, half hidden behind a tree, waiting to be discovered.
He carried his cup to the board for another thorough examination. Rubbing his chin and feeling all but defeated, he sifted through the chalk.
All movement stopped, he stood frozen while his mind verified the proof. His steely blue eyes widened and he leapt to his desk. Discarded statements flew until he uncovered her statement. He quickly read it again, and then raced to his patrol car with the evidence clutched tight in his fist. He threw the car in gear and headed for——-
The strong wind peeled the roof off the clubhouse. Excited screams filled the air and the boys found themselves scrambling for flashlights. It made such a ruckus, the neighbors ran to see what happened. The boys were wet and startled but in good shape.
These young adults were between thirteen and fifteen years of age. Moments before they were all screaming like little girls running from a garden snake but now they were men, tough and fearless. They spent several minutes bragging about their bravery and planning the re-roofing of the clubhouse. It was also decided, the sleepover would continue the next night.
The rain was ending when Billy Sampson’s long gangly legs carried him across the field to his house. The twins, Sam and Buddy, hopped on their bikes and pedaled home to share the excitement with their mom, Betty Carter. And the eldest of the boys, Alex Reynolds, headed for his dad’s office.
When Alex arrived at the police station, the librarian was coming out the front door. No doubt, Mrs. Brooks was on another fact-finding mission, gathering information only a policeman would know. Her suspense novels were always written with a flawless accuracy and the officers loved giving her advice.
Alex waved and hurried past to share the night with his father. When he was finished relaying every detail, Ben Reynolds said, “You know son, I do believe Mrs. Brooks is going to have some competition soon. You are turning out to be a great Spook Master.”
Imagine that, Alex Reynolds—Spook Master!
Author’s Note: This story was developed based solely on the title. It was written in April of 2010, and has become one of my favorites. The photograph was shot by Dann De Boer at the top of Mt. Wellington. What a perfect picture for this story!