Well hello! I am back with another fascinating look into my life! Yes my dears, I have heard as many fascinating tales from some equally fascinating characters, and some of those characters have been none other than myself! Although, you must know by now that your dear Dobson is quite modest. Quite modest indeed!
I was told this gem of a tale and I wish to parlay it to you. It was somewhere back around 1977 if memory serves, and if my memory is indeed correct, I was sitting in the Dominion Square Pub nursing a glass of vermouth. It was a sodden night it was, and this poor man walked in to the bar. He was so drenched in fact by that cold October rain that he may as well have sluiced right in.
He began to tell the barkeep how his life had disappeared. I moved over a few bar stools so that I could politely eavesdrop on the tales from this sullen man. As I bent my ear closer, I realized that he had said that it was his wife that disappeared! Oh ho! Well, old Dobson’s hearing never was very keen. Probably damaged from my years of spending too many hours listening to the incessant cacophony of coins dropping from slots in the adjacent casino. You wouldn’t know it, but gambling was once legal in this town.
I introduced myself to the poor sot and he told me that his name was John McClendon. Now this McClendon fellow had bored the barkeep just by mentioning that he was a jilted man, and was now having quite a time trying to get a drink. It was my duty to help this drip of a man, so I used my influence and got him just what he needed.
“Thanks old man, I owe you..pah!”, he spat. “What the hell IS this?”
“Why it’s vermouth! The finest liqueur a dollar can buy!”
“Well I’m more of a scotch man”, he said as he lit a cigarette before starting to cough.
I patted him on the back as he choked . “Not tonight you’re not. Not tonight.”
It took four more vermouths before McClendon began to loosen up. He told me how he had received a call from an old friend. A friend whose name he refused to repeat. This friend he said, was sick, and needed his help. So McClendon went to his motel to see what he could do. Room number 4. It was worse than he thought. The man was barely coherent and the room reeked of opium.
“John”, his old friend called to him, reaching a shaky arm in his direction. “John…have you ever heard about the colonists? The colonists of Roanoke?”
John didn’t. His history was shoddy at best. But his friend filled him in. Telling him how, in the 16th century, the last group of colonists under Sir Walter Raleigh, vanished without a trace, and the mystery in fact, has never been revealed.
“What does this have to do with anything?”, John pleaded. “You’re sick. How can I help you?”
“John. John McClendon…it has everything to do with everything.”
“Well I don’t see how.”
“John….come closer. I don’t have the strength.”
John leaned in, and that’s the last thing he remembers. He woke up hours later in that same motel. His friend had vanished.
When he had the strength to stand, he stumbled to the bathroom, dehydrated as he was, he desperately needed some water. And there, scrawled across the mirror, one word:
John rushed home and found his house empty. His car was gone and so was his wife. She’d left him a note. A one word note that simply said “CROATOAN”. Just like at the motel. He didn’t know what the word meant, but still, he knew what it meant. It meant he’d been played.
Now, as McClendon sinks further and further into the soft green embrace of 15 rounds of vermouth, I can’t help but wonder what happened myself. McClendon gave few more details besides the ones I’ve relayed to you, aside from the liquidation of his bank account.
Clearly his wife was in on the elaborate ruse, but why not just leave? And what of CROATOAN? What is the significance of the Roanoke Island mystery? Was it just a metaphor meant to confuse McClendon? Perhaps McClendon’s wife and her lover were now off the coast of Virginia’s Roanoke Island enjoying some luxury holiday?
Perhaps we’ll never know. What I do know, is that my billfold is 20 dollars lighter, and McClendon is twelve sheets to the wind.