In the previous episode, Mr Giuletta tells Bill and Mark that Emmett Manley’s body has been discovered in the woods of Rivertown, the second recent death. As he’s speaking, the sheriff arrives to ask their help in finding another missing teen: Susan Nelson. As the sheriff takes Mark home, Mark asks him whether, like Silas had insisted, this sort of thing had happened before in Rivertown. The sheriff is visibly shaken by the question and wants to know where Mark got the idea. Readers chose that Mark answers, “Some crazy, raving wild man in a lean-to by the river told me.”
“Some crazy, raving wild man in a lean-to by the river told me.”
There was really no other way to say it.
Sheriff sat stone-silent, his eyes directly on mine. The setting sun was making him squint but he never broke gaze.
I don’t know what passed through his mind during those moments. All I could think, though, was how wrinkled his face was, how old.
Sheriff couldn’t have been much more than forty but the man was already ancient. He seemed fragile– strange word to use, I know it, but it’s the best I have. That was when I made the decision to protect him from knowing more than he had to.
I looked at the floor. “Guess I heard somebody mention it in the fruit market.” I waited a moment before chancing a look at him.
He blinked a few times, turned back toward the steering wheel. He put his turn signal on, got back on the road back into Rivertown in more silence.
My father was already home when we arrived. All the men had been brought up from the mines; all businesses in Rivertown would be closed the following day. Just as the Sheriff expected, I was not allowed to help search for Susan.
But by then my plans had changed, anyway.
I made a show of sulking a bit when Dad said, “No.” Even slammed my bedroom door, something I’d never done before. I listened to the low hum of conversation in the kitchen.
Soon, I heard the Sheriff and my Dad close the door, headed into town to meet up with the search, already underway.
Moving quickly in my room, I gathered what I’d need.
I heard my mother running bath water for my youngest two brothers. They were usually filthy. That would keep her distracted long enough. I raised my window slowly, cursing the occasional squeak the wood made. I lowered it just as carefully, stuck a small stick in to keep it from closing all the way.
St. Luke’s was less than four full blocks from our house. The building wasn’t locked– in those days, they didn’t lock churches. You went in as early or as late as you needed. Nothing in them to steal, anyway. Not in Rivertown, for sure.
The basement stairs were just off the main entrance. The sanctuary was lit dimly at all hours, but the rest of the building was not.
I’d had enough Sunday school classes to know where the lower-level’s light switch would be– at the bottom. I had to do it by touch. I didn’t dare put on lights. Not with half the town scrounging around looking for Susan.
I mentally calculated how many weeks I would be grounded if Dad heard I had sneaked out. Doing this small math distracted me from the utter, perfect darkness of the stairwell.
At the bottom of the steps, I started feeling the wall for the switch, but instead my hand found– Vote below on what will happen next or if reading in email click Take our Poll.