Lake Kathryn Village Mall. You’ve passed it hundreds, maybe thousands of times as you entered or left Key Peninsula, but have you ever been to the lake itself? No? And why is that? Is it because the lake is hidden back in some trees like some people claim? And only fills with water during part of the year? Or is something more sinister going on? I was sent to find out.

The obvious place to begin my investigation was at the Lake Kathryn Village Mall. Starting with the Minter Veterinary Hospital, I went door to door, and asked each person I met the same question: “Where is Lake Kathryn?”

“I heard it was a swamp out back,” a lady named Sandy replied.

“I don’t know,” Shannon answered.

“Maybe they paved it over,” Kathy put in. “You should talk to Don Zimmerman. He would know.”

Maybe they were telling the truth, and maybe not. I went next door to the Coast hardware store, where I met Dave. “So, where’s the lake?” I asked, fastening him with what I’m fairly sure was a steely-eyed gaze.

“Out back,” Dave replied. “It’s a seasonal lake. The original plan was to clear the area, and build retirement homes, but they couldn’t because of the wetlands.”

“So, can I go out there?”

“No,” Dave replied. “I’d rather that you didn’t. Not without permission from Don Zimmerman.”

Dave was hiding something, I figured, and left the store. My next stop was the Peninsula Market Deli, where I ran into Dawn. She was out on the loading dock taking a break. When I asked her about the lake she shrugged. “When people ask I tell them it’s back in the woods.”

“And they buy that?”

“Sure.”

All the people I had spoken to were nice, but maybe a little too nice. Maybe that’s the way they are, or perhaps there was something sinister behind those smiles. Why would every single one of them give the same sort of answers? And refer me to the same man? Unless they had agreed on how to handle such inquiries ahead of time…and hoped to pull the wool over my eyes.

But one thing was obvious. The person at the very center of the potential conspiracy was the mysterious figure known as Don Zimmerman, who, clever man that he is, was hiding in the CostLess drugstore. Though evasive at first (he felt his customers were more important than the Key Pen News), I eventually managed to corner Zimmerman, and demanded the truth. “Where,” I wanted to know, “is the lake?”

“It’s out back,” Zimmerman insisted, “back beyond the trees. We bought 37 acres…and developed eight. The original plan was to deepen the lake and build a restaurant next to it. But you can’t alter the environment within a hundred feet of the lake without a wetlands permit and that isn’t going to happen.”

It sounds innocent enough, doesn’t it? But did you notice the way that all of the different accounts match up? As if everybody came together ahead of time? Yeah, that’s what I thought too. What if the real Lake Kathryn is hidden somewhere on the Peninsula where only a chosen few are allowed to enjoy its warm, crystal-clear waters? Leaving the rest of us to swim in chilly Horseshoe Lake?

But not to worry… The search goes on. And if Lake Kathryn is out there, I’ll find it—and let you know.

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