Continued from Mattoon’s Bench
The loss of her husband, Henry, left Rosetta’s heart in utter turmoil. It had been only three days since he’d suddenly vanished, and the entire town was desperate to find him. He’d been the Mattoon postmaster for as long as anyone could remember, delivering the mail in a timely manner, every day but Sunday, of course. Henry was well-known and well-liked; his unexplained absence in the townspeople’s morning routine had hardly gone unnoticed. Where could he be? Had something nefarious happened to him?
Rosetta tried to quell the tsunami of worrisome thoughts. She’d helped the police search their home for clues to Henry’s whereabouts. When that had turned up empty, they’d suggested looking through the post office, as well. Aside from Henry, only Rosetta had a key, just in case of emergencies. With a handful of officers accompanying her, she slid the key into the lock. With a small gasp of surprise, she jerked backward as the door swung open. Wherever Henry had gone, he hadn’t locked up first, which was most definitely a troubling sign.
The townspeople began to speculate about where Henry’d gone on that fateful Sunday afternoon. It was the one day he usually spent out of the office, so why had he chosen to go there? There was one person in the small town who had the answer, though he, himself, didn’t realize it until many years later. Henry’s apprentice, Samson Gell, known to most as simply ‘Sam’, had once been told the old of the drunken man and the mysterious package. For some reason, he’d always remembered, word-for-word, what Henry’d told him the note had said.
It was only out of boredom one day, nearly twenty years later, Sam sat bolt upright in his easy chair. He’d realized the very day mentioned in the note was, in fact, the day Henry had gone missing. There was no denying the obvious connection: Henry had gone to deliver the package. Without a moment’s hesitation, Sam dialed the police station, telling them everything he remembered. At first, they didn’t believe him, of course. The officers on duty had a good, hearty laugh before offering a stern warning about prank calls and promptly hanging up.
Frustrated, Sam knew he had to press on. He still lived in the same, small village; he wondered if Mattoon’s Bench still existed. In truth, he didn’t even know its location. His thoughts racing, he could only land on one plan of action – find Rosetta. Perhaps, if he mentioned the story to her, it might trigger a long-lost memory which would reveal the location of the bench. It was a longshot. Sam didn’t even know if Rosetta was still alive. She’d been much younger than Henry, by about ten years or so, but she was sure to be a very elderly woman by now. He only hoped he could find her, and that she’d be in a state where a few questions wouldn’t cause her too much anxiety.
Was it selfish of him to pursue a long-forgotten mystery? Sam sighed, thinking of his old mentor. Henry had done more than teach him the ways of a postmaster. He’d imparted some serious life lessons on a young Samson Gell, and, for that, he knew he owed the old man a debt. He set to searching; first through the white pages and then, when he didn’t find her listed there, he called a few old friends he thought might know what had happened to her. Small-town gossip never fails. Within the hour, he learned she’d moved to the next town over a few years after Henry’s disappearance. From what Sam was told, she was still just as lively as ever, and well-liked throughout the bustling town of Charleston.
He scribbled her address on a slip of paper and folded it neatly into his wallet. Leaving his home in a hurry, Sam jumped into his dusty, two-door Saturn and sped away.
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Part Three ~ Coming Soon