Where on Earth is Greenville?
All I wanted was a cup of coffee. I was wondering if I would ever get it. I honestly liked Greenville, but I could not figure out what to make of everything that was happening. Was it always like this? Was it normal for Swain to behave like a serial killer? I wondered what normal life was like in this small burg. I knew that it was ridiculous for me to care what the place was normally like, since I was only a visitor, but I couldn't help wondering. It was so different from home.
I followed Ira out into the morning light and tried to keep up with him. "So, where are we going?" I asked. "And what is Camp Elephant?"
Ira had reached his truck and was opening the door when he turned to answer me. "We're going to the camp. It was originally called Camp Mount Elephant View. It's been there for nearly 100 years. Apparently that's the best they could do for a name back then. It got shortened over the years." He motioned to the passenger door. "Climb in. It's a long drive around the lake."
I climbed into the truck, nearly sitting on a briefcase. That surprised me. I moved the case over and smiled. Ira saw me.
"What?" he asked, defensively, as though he'd been caught with something bad. "I have to carry my paperwork around somehow."
I couldn't help but smile. There was still some Brooklyn in the man. "I didn't say a word. So, how long a drive is it?"
"Depending on how muddy the roads are, it could take a couple of hours."
This struck me as extremely odd. I was of the modern age, no matter where anyone else in Maine was living. I couldn't believe that it would take so long to go around part of a lake. I mean, if someone would just pave the roads around here, driving times would be cut in half at least.
"Two hours," I groaned. "Swain could be hell and gone before we get to the scene of the crime. Why is it that you people don't have any roads around here, anyway?"
"Winter, that's a reason?"
Ira was starting to be annoyed with me. "Winter does so much damage to the roads here that it doesn't make sense to pave most of them. It costs too much. Not to mention all the damage the lumber trucks do to the roads."
"Well, we can't get Swain if we can't keep up. He has a plane and we're traveling on little more than trails. We need to get there faster than that. Is there a boat or something we can just cut across the lake on?"
"I don't have a speedboat. There is another way, though. Let's go to Eddie's."
"What's an Eddie's?" I asked.
"That's the local air taxi."
"Well, let's go." Ira turned right out of the parking lot of Auntie M's and headed down a paved road. "So, how far is it to this Eddie's place?"
Ira turned left off the road onto a driveway that went straight down a sizeable hill toward the lake itself. "It's right here." He pointed to the small sign at the end of the driveway that said "Eddie's Flying Service."
There was a good sized hangar right next to the lake. There was a rickety old dock next to the hangar and a camping trailer on the land side. It looked like a ramshackle excuse for a business, but who was I to judge? It was the wilds of Maine. Things obviously worked differently around here than what I was used to. There was an old De Havilland Beaver sitting at the dock, and a man climbing out of it. I guessed that must be Eddie. I wasn't used to men named Eddie, simply because I was used to me.
Ira pulled as close to the plane as he could without getting stuck in the mud at the edge of the lake. "Okay, let's go and see if Lance will fly us over there."
I climbed out of the truck after Ira. "Lance. I thought his name was Eddie."
"Hey Ira," the man at the plane said as Ira and I approached him. "What's the word?"
"Hi Lance. I need a favor." He turned to me. "This is Eddie Carrington. She's here from Las Vegas, Nevada investigating some murders."
"Nice to meet you, Eddie. I'm Lance Macallistar." He looked to Ira. "You two are looking for Swain, I suppose?"
"You have no idea," I answered. "But, right now we need to get to a place called Camp Elephant."
"I don't suppose you want me to fly you, do you?" Lance asked. "I just flew a marathon supply run to most of the timber camps up north. I'm in no shape to fly, even to the other side of the lake."
Ira was watching me. He could tell that I was disappointed at the delay. "Lance, is there any chance that you'd let us take the plane?" Ira asked. "Eddie here is a pilot."
"Wait a minute," I objected. "What about Eddie? It's his plane."
"There is no Eddie," Lance said. "Eddie was the guy I bought the business from. Eddie is dead."
"Oh, well I've never flown a sea plane before," I replied. "I don't know if I could figure it out."
Lance turned to me. "You're a pilot, you say? If so, you could fly a beaver with pontoons. It's not that different. You need a little more power at take off and don't forget to pull up the nose at the last minute so that you can land like you're on water skis."
"I've never flown a De Havilland," I noted.
"It's just a small plane," Lance scoffed. "What have you flown? And how many hours?"
"I have forty hours in a Cessna Skylane. I've also flown a couple of Pipers."
"You can fly a beaver," Lance said. "Anyway, if I don't get some sleep, I'm gonna fall asleep right here." He motioned to the plane. "You have my permission to commandeer my plane for police business. Have fun."
I stood there and watched Lance walk off to his trailer. He never looked back. This guy must be crazy to let someone that he'd just met take off with his plane. I didn't know what to do. I didn't know if I should take him up on it, or if I should make Ira start driving.
"Well?" Ira asked. "What do you think?"
I didn't know what I thought. "This place is way different from Vegas. That's what I think."
Ira started walking to the plane. "Well, you're the pilot. Show me what you've got."
This was surreal, but I figured what the hell? I let Ira climb into the plane and I followed into the pilot's seat. I sat and stared at the controls. Lance was right. It wasn't that different. It was very old, and a lot of things were worn, but all the labels were readable. I found the altimeter, the air speed, the fuel, the rudder pedals. Upon first look, I thought I could handle it. Lance had said, more power on takeoff and nose up to land. I guessed it was time to give it a try. I would have much preferred Lance going with me on my maiden sea plane flight, but there was no time for formality. I had to go.
Ira was watching me. "Well, what do you think?"
I saw a playful look in Ira's eyes that said he was busting me again. I knew that he loved playing with me. It was time to play along. "Buckle up. Let's see what this thing flies like."
Ira buckled his belt and that smile left his face somewhat. "Can you fly this thing?"
"I better be able to, cause I can't swim," I told him.
"Are you serious?" he asked, his face turning white.
I grinned from ear to ear. "No, but I love that look on your face."
I had to give it a lot of power to taxi the plane out onto the lake. Lance hadn't mentioned that. It made sense, so I didn't see it as a problem. I taxied over to where the Katahdin was, turned around toward the other end of the lake, and made a run for it. Surprisingly, it didn't take as much power as I'd anticipated to get off the ground. Once I was in the air, I was relaxed. I loved to fly. No matter how stressed I was, flying calmed me right down. Nothing was better than feeling like you left the Earth and were soaring like an Eagle. It was the greatest feeling in the world.
Not everyone agreed with that. I looked over at Ira and saw him holding onto his seatbelt and the door, staring out the side window and down. "Are you all right?" I asked.
"I've never flown in a small plane before," Ira replied. "It's quite something.
I was looking around at all the planes on the lake. "How is it you've never flown in one of these little jobs? You have a airport and a lake that has, from what I can see, at least a dozen on it. How'd you miss out?"
"Lack of cahones," Ira answered.
"How are your cahones now?" I asked. "By the way, if you don't direct me to this camp, we could be flying around up here all day."
Ira smiled. He let go of the belt and the door. "My cahones are feeling much better." He pointed directly in front of us. "The camp is dead ahead, all the way at the other end of the lake. You'll see it when we get closer. It says Camp Elephant right on the roof of the main building." He smiled at me again. "So, is there anything about you that won't surprise me?"
I smiled back. "No."
It only took about fifteen minutes to reach the other end of the lake. It had to be much easier than driving through the mud and bogs that seemed to be everywhere around Moosehead Lake. From the air, the lake was one of the most beautiful spots I'd ever seen. There was an island a little over halfway across that had a huge kind of a mountain cliff thing on it. It was beautiful. Ira said that it was called Mount Kineo. It did kind of look like a mountain, but I was used to the Sierra Nevada's, so I didn't think it was big enough to be called a mount. From the air I could see all the lagoons and inlets, harbors, and islands. It was quite a place, this lake. Soon, I saw the building that said "Camp Elephant" on the roof.
"So, this place must have a view of that mountain with the crashed B-52 on it, hunh?" I asked.
"Yeah," Ira replied. He pointed out his window toward the back. "It's the big one over there."
I glanced and saw the hill that he was referring to. "They do have a view of it." It was time to land. "Hold on. Let's see if I can land this thing. He said do everything normal and pull the nose up at the last minute." I smiled at Ira. "How hard could it be?"
Ira grabbed the door and the seatbelt again. His face got white again too.
I surveyed the area and decided to come straight in to land. I circled back around and went for it. I pointed the nose down and decreased my speed. Everything seemed normal. Rudder was fine. Flaps were fine. Horizon looked good. I got almost to the ground and pulled the nose up like Lance had told me to. It was my first time and I did it a little bit late. The plane hit pretty hard and felt like it was going to flip over backwards. I had trouble reaching the throttle in the midst of all the bouncing, and the plane's speed didn't go down quite as it should have. Finally, I reached the throttle and jammed on the brakes as if they would do anything in water. The plane fortunately, stopped right in front of the dock at the camp.
I took a deep breath and looked over at Ira. He looked a little green around the gills. "You can let go now," I told him.
"Do these things always land like that?" he asked.
"I told you I'd never flown a sea plane before. I know how to do it now. It'll be better next time." I opened the door. "Come on. Let's see what's up."
Ira got out of the plane behind me. I saw an older man approaching. He reminded me of Santa Clause, but he didn't have on a red suit. He was wearing camouflage.
"Ira, so glad you came," the man said. He looked at me. He came over and shook my hand. "I'm Chaim Weismann. I run the camp."
"Hi, I'm Eddie Carrington," I replied. "I'm here from Vegas working on this murder case."
Ira had cleared his head. "Sorry to hear you had such an unpleasant event, Rabbi. How can we help?"
"Well, the children are anxious to get on with it, I think. The body in the water isn't good for encouraging swimming." He started to walk down the beach from the dock. "She's right over here. I feel so bad for her. We didn't want to touch the body. I saw on TV that the police like to see the crime scene first."
I didn't wait for any more conversation. I walked out to where the body was, just off the beach and turned her over. She was swollen with water logging, and drowning was obviously not the cause of death. She had cuts and bruises all over her swollen body. Her neck was so bruised that I thought that she may have been strangled to death. Regardless of all the distortion, it was Asia.
I was seeing red again. I didn't want to arrest Swain at this point. I wanted him dead. Dead like all the girls he'd killed. I wanted him drowned, shot, strangled, stabbed, drawn and quartered and blown the hell up. Oh yeah, then we could paint him gold.
Ira's voice brought me back from the land of thoughts I don't want to have. "Is that our missing girl?"
I pulled her into shore. "That's her. She doesn't look good."
"You know her?" Chaim asked.
"She's from Vegas," I replied. "The question is, how did she get here? You just found her floating in the water?"
"No," Chaim said. "It was disturbing. I was taking a walk early this morning. I don't sleep so well since the Mrs. Died. I heard a noise that sounded out of place. I thought it was a boat, but it was a plane flying real low. They tossed her right out and she landed right there off the beach."
"Someone threw her out of an airplane?" Ira asked. "Did you happen to recognize the plane?"
"It was that fancy beaver that Mr. Swain flies," Chaim replied. "I'm sure of it. I've see him fly over here a hundred times."
Tears welled up in my eyes. I was so angry that I didn't know what else to do. I looked up from Asia's body to Ira. "Can we arrest him now?"