chocolates only to be told she no longer worked there, that she had quit.
exact time because I was just about to leave for home when the phone rang and I debated if I should answer it or not," the moon-faced lady behind the desk informed him. “She phoned in and said she was quitting, to forward her papers to her address, that she would not be back in. She added that Clare was taking a long-deserved vacation and she had a better job with an adoption agency when she returned. “That's as near to her exact words as I can recall. Just what is your interest in her?," the lady asked.
times at coffee shops and this was going to be our first date. It just doesn't make sense, when I left her around three that afternoon she had agreed to meet me here today. Does that sound like some one that was going to quit her job?", George asked.
"Anything is possible. A lot of people do funny things on
impulse," the lady countered.
enter her last job report?"
left her purse there. I offered to go back with her but she
insisted it was OK. I left after that."
passage still smudged the river bottom, indicating it had gone in a northerly direction. He had one more place to check out to confirm his already forming suspicions.
End Impound. It was towed away just this morning, It had been sitting at the same location on the side of the highway for two days. Twenty-four hours is the statutory limit" the sergeant informed him.
announced. He then proceeded to report to the sergeant every
thing that he knew.
"You say indications are that the river boat went north?,"
the sergeant asked.
"Yes I do sir," George answered
"Would you happen to know the name of the owner of the riverboat?”
"No sir. All I know is that there were three children and
their mother living aboard but I suspect the mother was no longer with the children."
children?," the sergeant inquired.
"Because when ever I would go by there on the river to go
fishing farther up stream, all I saw was the two older children and on occasion I think the baby was by herself.
"You know him?" George asked.
"We certainly do, a nasty man when he's drunk. He spends
more time in lock up than on the street, a bar room brawler is what he is. We have a list of misdemeanors on him longer than this room, but nothing serious enough to send him to the big house, but I'd lay a bet that some day he'll end up there. Haven't seen him for a while though," the sergeant informed George.
missing persons report? Possibly two missing persons." George added.
look at every possibility before we go public with something like this. Furthermore they could turn up any time while the investigation is taking place. At any rate we usually give four days for adults and twenty four hours for children from the time of report. You did say she told her superiors that she was going on a vacation?"
"It could have broke down and she just never bothered to
return for it. We find abandoned vehicles on the highway all the time where the owners never come back for them."
before I go, I'm also taking a vacation." George informed the sergeant.
caution, If you see Dan Everett around, stay away from him and call us."
Duffy." George drove home and loaded his twenty four foot
Catamaran. Next he drove to his service station and asked Jim, his attendant, to take over and manage things for him for a few days, that he had other business out-of-state to attend to.
For three days he had continued northward, only stopping
for gas and a new supply of Scotch whisky. On the last night he had run out of gas and rowed the last two miles to Helena, Mississippi. Finding the closest bar, he had gone on a binge and had picked a fight with one of the patrons. Two of the town's rough necks who served as the bar's bouncers had beaten him unconscious and thrown him in a trash bin at the back of the bar.
drink, but more urgently he needed the money to buy it. Using a service station washroom he cleaned himself as best he could and walked down to the marina where he had left his boat. Luck had it that he was able to obtain a job as a gas jockey. That night in a secluded cove, he filled the stolen boat with rocks, pulled the plug and watched it sink slowly below the muddy waters of the Mississippi.
job well he would gain their confidence sufficiently so he could run about the place at will, allowing him to case the business for a later heist.
the right cheek. He would see her falling sideways and hitting her head on the corner of the counter with a dull wet smack, her limp body going to the floor and convulsing twice, then lying still - too still.
had to get her out of there before the kids discovered it.
on her. Going out again he drove the pick up down to the river's edge and cleaned all traces of any blood then returned it to the owner.
drinking until the bottle slid from his fingers and he fell over sideways in a dead weight and passed out.
of police investigations yet. Maybe they won't find her in that cabin up there in the woods. He had grown a beard just on the outside chance that someone might be looking for him. Every day he would go to Billy Cline's Bar not to have a drink, but to watch the news. Each day he came out of the bar a little more relieved.
“A week from tonight Danny, that will be the night for the
heist. With that festival in town the marina will close early and there won't be any one around except Ralph, the
your mother!" He screamed at them, then lunged forward towards them. He stopped, something was happening, Hair grew on their faces and they grew in size like deformed apes. What used to be Ray, opened its mouth to reveal incisor teeth that could easily tear him apart. Ray walked slowly towards him saying, “I'm not afraid of you and you can't break my arm any more. You're not going to hurt any one ever again, father!" Dan backed into a wall. There was nowhere to go. He was cornered.
"Cornered like the rat you are, father," Ray Spoke as if he was reading his father's mind.
asked himself. I wish I could leave now, this place gives me the creeps! It's still to close to home,” Dan said, shivering from the cold - or was it from his sickened conscience? “How could I have sank so low on the scale of life? I once had a loving wife and two beautiful children, a good job and good friends. How could this happen to me? Now I have nothing and I've killed my wife. Nothing matters any more except to survive at any cost and drink
myself into oblivion where there are no dreams. What kind of
monsters have I made of my children, that they have begun to
haunt my dreams?” Dan curled up in the fetal position and pulled the covers over him, wishing for the oblivion he knew alcohol would bring him.
of the persons he described. George jumped onto the catamaran and pushed away from the dock, no further enlightened than when he had left Morganza, Louisiana. They apparently had not stopped any where along the way not even for fuel, he thought.
without fuel. They could not. Sooner or later they would have to put into port and refuel. He hoped it would be sooner. His only disadvantage is that he had to sleep. The two teens aboard the river boat could take alternate shifts.
"This is it mister! That's as far as I go," a voice from the
barge brought him out of his sleep. Sitting up he saw the captain of the barge throwing down his tow rope.
He had covered a good forty miles while he slept.
the sails. There was a warm wind blowing and he sailed smoothly through the choppy river. For mid-April the air was warm, but he knew it wouldn't last. There would be cooler temperatures and rain ahead further north.
know?," a little voice inside his head seemed to ask him. “Maybe I'm not just doing it for the woman anymore. After watching those children from a distance for the last two years, I've come to know them in some ways and I come to think of them as my river friends. I don't particularly want to see that drunken animal catch up to them. I called