Damn the Luck
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by Ken Smith
Category: Mystery/Crime/Historical Fiction
Description: In the early hours of March 5, 1865, Lucas Brooks and Danny Boyle broke into the home of President Abraham Lincoln. They were hoping to find just a few semi-valuable objects left behind after the First Family had moved to Washington. What the two burglars found was much more than they had hoped for--or maybe not: a mysterious, and seemingly impenetrable, iron box. All the boys had to do was break into the box. Well, that was easy to say. Actually doing it proved to be much more difficult--and dangerous. In 2002, Springfield engineer Robert Voyles was living a successful and reasonably uncomplicated life. The discovery of a body on one of Rob's projects was a startling and troublesome thing. But a quick look and everyone present could see that the body was probably very old, just some archeological curiosity. However, as they poked around the mummified corpse, they made a more interesting discovery: the iron box. The contractor on site that day found it a lot easier to open the box than the pair of burglars did during the Civil War. And what he found inside quickly complicated Rob Voyles' life--as well as the lives of everyone present that day.
eBook Publisher: Wild Child Publishing/Wild Child Publishing, 2009 2009
eBookwise Release Date: September 2009
3 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [291 KB]
Reading time: 196-274 min.
In the five minutes it had taken Rob to drive to the site, what was a sprinkle at the office had become a downpour. The rain hadn't kept a small crowd from gathering beside a backhoe sitting in the center of the empty lot, though. Tommy and Kelly stood between Marion Peterson and someone Rob didn't recognize.
Marion Peterson was a large bear of a man. And grizzly would be a very good adjective to add to that description. Rob kind of liked the guy, even if he was a pain in the butt. c
Marion and his two sons were the Peterson Construction Company. Marion would have been operating the backhoe today. The young guy on Kelly's right was probably one of the two boys.
"What's up?" Rob asked of no one in particular. Rob wanted Tommy to fill him in but took care not to offend Kelly. She was the engineer in charge of this project. Tommy was just the construction observer, a title that, before the lawyers took over, was job inspector. But Ron needn't have worried about being subtle. It became obvious nobody wanted to answer.
Finally Tommy gave it a shot. "Look down there."
Tommy pointed to the far wall of the excavation, to a strip of soil darker than the surrounding dirt, as if someone had painted a three-foot wide vertical stripe down the side of the hole.
The sight puzzled Rob, but only for a second. "You hit a well or pit for an outhouse that's been filled in. What of it?"
Marion pointed at the base of the dark area. "Look again," he said.
At the bottom of the excavation, the dark earth was wet and soupy. The excavation wall was sloughing off there, Rob had assumed due to the rain, which was really coming down now. He squatted by the hole to get a better look. A flat rectangle of wood was partly exposed at the base. Maybe an outhouse seat or part of a well cover or.... He finally saw what had caused the urgent request for his presence.
"What the...? No, what is that?" Rob wasn't buying his first impression.
It was Kelly's turn to speak up. "It's a hand." Her voice sounded flat and emotionless. If she was shocked, it didn't show. Or maybe the novelty had worn off.
"Naw, it's not." Rob still wouldn't bite. He'd been taken in by practical jokers on construction sites as a young field engineer. Later on, he'd pulled a few stunts himself. "It's chicken bones." He squinted and wiped the rain out of his face. "It's a raccoon skeleton, maybe. Or just a few tree roots."
But, Rob thought, it looks like a hand. Not a skeleton hand from a Halloween party. It appeared kind of gray and shriveled, but with the flesh still on.
Tommy spoke up. "It's a hand, Rob. A person's hand. Definitely."
"No." Rob just wouldn't be the patsy for a prank. "No, it's not." Rob stood and took another step forward, getting as close to the edge of the hole as possible. "It's not a hand. It's a.... "He turned to the group huddled in the rain, staring at him.
"It's a hand!"