[s long 2/?] The Sound and the Furry

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Scott Robert Dawson

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Jan 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM1/18/99
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"The Sound and the Furry"
Part Two: An Observant Police Officer

Officer Elmer Lofkrantz of the Ontario Provincial Police drove quickly
east along Highway 60. He was about ten minutes west of the West Gate
of Algonquin Park.

There had been a report of trouble at a roadside store in the village
of Dwight, Ontario, not far west of the park. Two large bearded men
had disturbed other customers, had 'intimidated' a woman into getting
into their truck, and had driven noisily out of the store's car park,
turning east.

Officer Lofkrantz had returned to his cruiser and had driven east,
advising the police station of his actions. The descriptions of the
men sounded suspiciously like those of the FitzWilliam brothers, two
locals who were large, loud, and pushy. They had run into trouble
before: several of the locals had complained of their behaviour, one
complaining after being abandoned on a country road after a
'disagreement'.

There was little traffic on the highway. It was dusk of a rather
unpleasant late fall day; abnormally warm temperatures had prevented
snow from falling, and there was just a pervasive dampness, two
degrees above freezing.

Soon there was another report from the despatcher. A passing motorist
has seen a woman walking alone on the Tea Lake bridge a few kilometres
inside the park; the motorist had not seen a car.

Just as Officer Lofkrantz acknowledged the report and sped up, putting
the cruiser's flashing lights on, a large pickup truck passed him
going west. Elmer thought he recognized the elder FitzWilliam's truck,
but on the guidance of his intuition, he decided to continue to the
Tea Lake bridge.

He passed the west gate of the park, shut off the flashing lights, and
slowed. Soon he was at the Tea Lake campground.

Officer Lofkrantz noticed muddy tire tracks on the highway as he
entered the campground; some vehicle had accelerated messily out of
the campground entrance and had headed west. A search of the
campground revealed tire tracks, signs of a struggle in the bushes,
and a single set of bloody footprints heading back out to the highway.


Officer Lofkrantz returned to the cruiser and reported his findings.
He then followed the footprints to the Tea Lake bridge. Clearly
visible in the soft mud beside the road was the imprint of a human
body. There was also a second set of footprints, which came out of the
brush, went over to the imprint, and then, significantly deeper,
returned to the brush.

Officer Lofkrantz began to have an uneasy feeling in the pit of his
stomach. He looked around the area and noticed a large number of
smaller tracks at the edge of the roadside gravel. He half-recognized
them. The uneasy feeling became a nasty suspicion. He ran back to the
cruiser and called base.

"I have found signs of a struggle at Tea Lake campground. Tiretracks
at the campground indicate a vehicle's hasty departure to the west.
There are also tracks of a single wounded individual leading away to
the east. The wounded individual may require aid for hypothermia.
Request paramedics and tracking."

"Acknowledged. ETA thirty minutes."

Twenty-five minutes later, a rescue-squad van and a tracking-squad van
arrived. Two tracking-squad officers leapt out of their van with their
dogs. Officer Lofkrantz led them to the tracks and the imprint by the
bridge.

The dogs immediately went to the human footprints and pulled strongly
at their leashes to follow them, yet they hesitated at the other
tracks. The trackers looked at the campground and the bloody
footprints, shone their flashlights into the brush, and conferred
among themselves. Then they turned to Officer Lofkrantz.

"We'll have to go after them. It's cold and damp enough that whoever
we're tracking could get worn down quickly, especially with a wound."

"Okay." With flashlights showing the way, they turned away from the
highway and followed the dogs into the bush. The rocky ground was
rough, and they had to walk slowly to avoid sprained ankles. Yet their
route was not as difficult as they first expected; the trail was
relatively level and they made better time than expected.

Up the hill near the Outpost Warren, rabbits took note of the
approaching police officers and dogs, and faded back into their
burrows, closing little camouflaged doors behind them.

After an hour or so the police officers found themselves in the open
on a granite ledge. The footing was good, but they moved carefully.
They were well aware of a sharp drop on their left, where they could
see the lights of the rescue squad van and the police cruiser
reflected in the water of Tea Lake.

Suddenly the dogs slowed, and began to search around aimlessly. One of
the trackers said, "The dogs've stopped. The people we're looking for
should be around here somewhere." A search found nothing, and the dogs
found no further trail.

There was a pause. All three of the searchers looked at the lake.
Officer Lofkrantz said, "Could they have fallen?"

"There's no sign of broken brush or disturbed earth..."

All the same they shone their lights down the cliff to illuminate the
shore and the cold dark water. No desperate face pleaded with them; no
unconscious form sprawled across the rocks. "There wouldn't be many
signs if someone fell, would there...?" ventured Officer Lofkrantz.

"No, not here."

"I can go back to the cruiser and use the spotlight to search the
shore below us. Someone weak and unprotected wouldn't last long in
that water. If he or she doesn't turn to soon..."

"We have diving gear," said the tracker. "Tomorrow morning we can
search the lake."

They started back towards the campground, moving more slowly. The dogs
helped them to find their way. But Officer Lofkrantz remained uneasy.

In the chill grey morning, they returned to the cliff by the lake. In
the light, they could see faint tracks, both of their own and of the
quarry's boots; the latter simply seemed to disappear at the rock
face. There were other faint tracks, and several scars and scrape
marks that led over the cliff. Midway down the cliff, hanging on a
branch, was a hat. The water below remained dark and silent.

"I'm sure that wasn't there before," said the tracker accompanying
Officer Lofkrantz.

"Me too. But what else could have happened?"

Below, a small motorboat appeared at the bottom of the cliff; a diver
rolled overboard and splashed into the water. The other person in the
boat waved to the officers on the cliff.

"The shore search turned up nothing. Now we find out whether there's
anything obvious in the lake."

The morning passed.

Officer Lofkrantz had a good look at the clifftop and found a number
of suspicious cracks and colour changes. He said nothing.

The tire tracks in the campground were shown to match those of the
elder FitzWilliams' truck, and questioning of the FitzWilliams
brothers yielded a rough description of the woman.

A bullet found at the campsite did not match any weapon possessed by
the brothers.

In the end they found a body, and the body indeed had a foot wound.
However, the body only roughly matched the description of the missing
woman. When Officer Lofkrantz found out that the foot wound consisted
of missing toes, the pieces began to fall into place.

Alone in his cruiser, he picked up his phone and called long-distance
to Kingston, Ontario. The call was answered almost immediately.

"Hello! Officer Elmer Lofkrantz of the OPP here. I have a report of
possible fluffer activity in Algonquin Park. Yes, I'll hold..."

TBC!

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