Summer has a way of bringing changes, doesn't it?
The next morning I rolled out of bed and scrambled to do my morning chores, as usual, and came in to eat breakfast with my Pippa Passes family, I guess you'd call them. Mrs. Barnett is like my mother. She knows EVERYTHING.
"You kids looked a little refreshed this morning. Did you have fun last night?" she smiled.
"Yeah, I loved the fireworks," Jamie commented, making small talk.
"She loved more than the fireworks," Derek mumbled.
I saw Jamie step on his foot underneath the table. Hard. Derek bit his lip. Mrs. Barnett seemed to notice this and smiled. Dr. Schwan looked curious.
"What she love more than the fireworks?" Dr. Schwan teased.
"We saw Sheriff Jordan," I quickly changed the subject. I saw a sign of relief flood from Jamie.
"Oh really? He got any more details on.... my case?" asked Mrs. Barnett.
"No," Derek replied.
"He acted sort of suspicious," Jamie commented. So I wasn't over-analyzing things.
"Oh, now guys, I've known Bob for years, he wouldn't do that kind of thing," Mrs. Barnett scolded us. So we kept quiet.
I was out in the fields hauling hay when Jamie came running.
"Let me on the back of your tractor!" she screamed, holding something behind her back.
"Why?" I asked, turning it off.
"Because I have a glass of iced tea," she smiled, handing me the glass and climbing on.
"Jamie, how long ago was Mrs. Barnett's husband murdered?" I asked.
"Hmmm.... every bit of 10 years."
"What did he do for a living?"
"Well, he was a deputy. Sheriff Jordan's..... wait, are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
I nodded my head.
"He had something to do with his murder. And Mrs. Barnett's attempted murder. And theft....wait? What did they found stolen anyway?"
"A map of the barn," she shrugged.
"Do you think they were looking for...."
"The map of the farm that showed the cave?"
I smiled. We were on the same track. "But why on Earth would they want that?"
Jamie looked at me from out under her long, dark eyelashes. She used her most persuasive angelic voice I had ever heard a human being used.... and my natural instinct told me to be weary. "Why don't we go to the cave tonight....."
"Absolutely not! It's dangerous. We could get killed, get eaten alive by bugs, murdered by zombie corpses from a hundred years ago...."
Jamie stopped my protest about halfway through. She grabbed me and kissed my lips. I was silent.
"That' s not fair play," I sighed. "Fine. But why night?"
"Do you think that Mamaw would let me go around a century old cave with you? We sneak out after dark," she said.
"Alright, then, how are we supposed to find this cave anyway?" I asked. She smiled.
"We'll find out when we get there."
I snuggled in that night, reading my Bible, and about fell asleep until a heard my door swing open.
"Seth Lakey! Come on!" whisper-screamed Jamie. I jumped out of bed.
"What?" I asked.
"You know what! Do you have the map?" I reluctantly got the map out of my Bible. We slipped out the door and raced to the pond. I looked on the map.
"According to the map, the cave is... inside the pond," I gulped.
"Guess who's taking a late night dip?" she asked, letting her hair down.
"Oh no," I said.
"Oh yes," she smiled. She pointed at my arms.
"Up," she commanded. They flew up.
"Why?" I asked. She yanked off my shirt.
"Come on," she motioned.
"The map will get wet!" I objected. She jerked the map out of my hands and wrapped it in my t-shirt and laid it beside the pond with her hair bow.
"I could've pulled off my own shirt, you know," I complained.
"But you wouldn't have," she smiled, pushing me into the pond. Splasshh! As I went underwater, I heard another splash and Jamie was beside me. She took my hand and my heart started pounding. She pointed to something over far... and who would've believed it was an underwater cave.
We swimmed over and lifted ourselves up to the air pocket in the cave.... and gasped for air.
"How in the world did the mother slave get the baby slave down here without drowing it? Surely there is another way into this cave," I pointed out. But Jamie wasn't listening.
"Seth," she whispered,"look."
Crates lined a whole wall of the cave. The crates looked new; someone besides us had been here recently.
"Let's go see what's inside them," I said, and we ran to the crates. Jamie and I lifted, tugged, and lifted-and a white, powdery substance was inside.
"I've seen this stuff before," I said.
Jamie's voice softened. "Me too."
"Sheriff Jordan's glove?"
"Yes and no. They found this by Mr. Barnett's bed. He was forced to...sniff it. It's cocaine."
I stared at her in amazement. "How did they know he was forced?"
"Because he had bruises on his body where he was beaten. Mr. Barnett wasn't exactly in perfect health and whoever did it must've been at least 10 times stronger."
"You mean Sheriff Jordan."
"Exactly." We looked to another corner. There.... was an old bag. A really old cotton bag. A REALLY really old bag.
"Do you think...?" she began. I nodded my head. The bag was big enough to hold all 4 bodies....(and stinky enough)..... including the small body of the life that had just begun and suddenly ended. That poor slave baby....
"We should do something." Jamie looked at me.
"I don't know. Just something."
"I got it." Jamie picked up two stones and wrote on one with the other stone,"Gone but not forgotten." She placed the rock in front of the bag.
"Let's get out of here," I said.
"Let's try to look for that other way out like you suggested earlier," Jamie smiled.
"You were actually listening?"
"A little less talk and a lot more action, Seth Lakey." I obeyed. I looked behind the crates and...
"Jamie, come here, I've found something." A door. I opened it and there were old stone stairs... going up.
"Come on!" she motioned, grabbing me by the hand. "I wanna see where it lets out at."
I followed her up the stairs. Where it let out suprised me....
"Underneath the porch?" Jamie said the next day. I was feeding the hogs and she was with me... for moral support, I guess.
"I know. To think that it was right under our noses the whole time."
"I've got a theory.... why Sheriff Jordan killed Mr. Barnett. He was one of his deputies, right? Suppose he found out that he was stashing cocaine.... on his property. That would send him to jail and destroy his chances of ever getting re-elected as sheriff ever again. He took care of that."
"But why is he coming back to kill Mrs. Barnett?" I asked Jamie. She shrugged her shoulders.
"Someone is not telling us something."
"I think I know who it is."
"Mrs. Barnett," I said.