2 Harry Hogan: Ghost in the Wood Shed

Harry looked at him. “Two different visitors in as many days stopping at an abandoned old sheep farm? What are the chances of that?”

“Pretty slim, I guess. Harry, you don’t think... I mean, could it possibly be drug dealers?”

“Anything is possible, and you can’t be too careful.” They got into the car. Harry called the station as Bruce was pulling out onto the highway. They hadn’t driven far when they passed a very dusty black pickup going the other way. Minutes later Bruce stopped and pulled off onto the shoulder of the road.

‘What’s up?” Harry asked.

“That truck we just passed turned into Thompson’s place. I saw it in the rear view mirror.”

“Then what are you waiting for? Turn this thing around and let’s get back there.”

Bruce did as instructed and within minutes they stopped at the old farm entrance, pretty much in the same place as they had stopped the first time. They got out and headed up the old road once more, still not wanting to mess up the tire tracks.

Walking carefully and quietly, they approached the old wood shed where the truck was parked outside, a 4-door Ford F-150, complete with cap, which looked to be no more than a year old. The driver’s door was open and a backpack lay on the passenger seat. “Keep your eyes open,” Harry whispered. “The owner of that truck is no vagrant or homeless person. And he’s not far away.”

Bruce nodded as they walked up to the door.

“Can I help you?”

Harry and Bruce both whirled around. A thin man of average height, wearing faded jeans, blue plaid flannel shirt and a ball cap that said he was a Blue Jays fan, was coming towards them from the lake.

Harry showed his badge and ID. “Who are you?” Harry asked. “Have any I.D. on you?”

“Name’s Bert Branson.” The man unbuttoned a top pocket of his shirt and pulled out a wallet. He removed his driver’s licence and handed it to Harry.”

“I’m Hogan, he’s Parkins. What are you doing here, Mr. Branson?” The licence looked legit and was not outdated. Harry passed it back.

“Hoping to catch a few days rest before moving on. The place is obviously abandoned so I didn’t think it would do any harm, Detective.”

“Not if that’s all you’re doing,” Harry said. “Mind telling us a bit about yourself and how you came to be here?”

“Not at all.” Branson gestured toward the backpack. “May I?” Harry nodded. Branson reached in and extracted a letter-size zippered leather folder which he opened and held out to Harry. “Take a look.”

The man seems to have money, Harry thought as he took the folder. Bruce stepped up closer as he and Harry perused several news clippings in the folder. “This is you?”

Branson nodded his head. “Cut the hair and shave the beard and... yeah, that’s me.”

“I don’t get it,” Bruce said. “All this money and you’re out here holed up in an old wood shed... what happened? Why not some top-notch hotel?”

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Now retired, after 39 years as a Librarian, Fay Herridge is a voracious reader, avid family historian, and a love of writing. She also enjoys walking, gardening, knitting, crocheting and photography; and is active in church and community events. Her poems and stories have been published in newspapers and magazines. “Satisfaction comes when others enjoy my work while inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere.”
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