Search Chapter 4 – Tuesday, 25 December 73

Search is loosely based on a real incident. The incident remains, the story is greatly different.

Enjoy. And remember, it’s still a work in progress. These chapters are rough drafts. I’ve completed twenty chapters so far and it seems I’ll complete the novel this time. We’ll see.

Read Search Chapter 3


Search Chapter 4 – Tuesday, 25 December 73


Where were her children?

Pam drove her Marquis Brougham down to the coast, took US Route 1 for a while, then cut down to 1A, the coast road, looking for a place to forget things for a while, a coffee shop or knickyknacky tickytacky tourist shop open out of season, a place she could laugh at what brought people to Maine, people who summered there, what the locals called “Leave your money and go home” people.

She left Bill standing on their front walk. He thinks I didn’t see him, waving his hands to get her attention.

It was his fault. He said things he shouldn’t’ve. About her. And the church. And Dave. And their boys.

All of which was true.

But that didn’t matter. He didn’t have to say them. She wanted to call the police. Demand an update. She wanted details. What were they doing to find her boys?

Bill laughed. “Why, Pam? You going to give them a piece of your mind? You going to yell at them? Demand action? Ooh, scary, scary Pam.”

She planted her hands on her hips and looked him in the eyes. “You smell of drink, Bill Thompson. Are you a drunk?”

“Are you a bitch?”

Her eyes went wide and her head snapped back. “Why, I never – ”

“Say shit even if you have a mouthful. Try it, Pam. Say it. Say shit. You’ll feel a lot better if you do.”

She passed a small strip mall, three of the five stores closed for the season, and saw a blinking “Homemade Jelly Donuts!” sign. She turned around and pulled in. “I’ll bet their coffee tastes like shit, Bill. Shit. See? I can say it. I’ll bet their coffee tastes like shit. Shit, shit, shit.”

The sign stopped blinking as she got out of the car. “Damn.” She laughed. “How about that, Bill? I can say shit, I can say damn. How about we throw in a couple of good old ‘fucks’ for good measure?”

“You can’t get rid of your guilt by swearing at it.”

Pam spun towards the voice. She placed a hand over her heart to hold it in.

A middle-aged Penobscot woman, dark skin, long braided hair, wearing some kind of ceremonial costume complete with beaded earrings and necklace, held a coffee cup out to her.

“You startled me.”

“Didn’t want to interrupt you.”

Pam looked at the coffee. The woman held it up to her. Pam took it hesitantly, her eyes dancing back and forth from the cup to the woman and back. “Thank you.”

“No milk or sugar in it. Didn’t know how you take it.”

Pam nodded towards the coffee shop. “You work here?”

The woman pointed one store down. “I work there.”

Pam turned and looked at a sign in the window; Running Water’s Native Crafts and Keepsakes.

“Saw you pull up to the coffee shop. It’s been closed a few weeks now. Damn sign has a short in it. Keeps flickering. I called the owner to fix it. They haven’t done a thing yet. You got to stop swearing at your guilt. You got to own it to get rid of it.”

Pam shook her head. “Sorry?”

“Your guilt. You blame yourself for your boys going missing. You say it’s grief but it’s not. It’s guilt. You brought that boy into your house, bullied your husband and your church to let you have him. That’s what you said, wasn’t it? ‘Let me have him. I’ll put the love of God into him.’? Now he’s missing with your boys and you think it’s your fault.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

The woman nodded. “Uh-huh.” She smiled and walked past Pam back to her store. “Keep the cup. A gift. Someone needs to see it. To stir a memory.” She locked the door behind her, switched the OPEN sign to CLOSED, turned off the lights, and was gone.

Pam peered through the windows. Nothing and no one. No sound of a car starting up and no second story for an apartment above the store. She tossed the rest of the coffee and looked for a trash can to get rid of the cup.

Running Water stood in the parking lot. “Keep it.”

Pam looked at the cup. Handmade. “Ha. Native crafts.” No writing, only a picture of a stream in a woods on the side. The stream burbled as she watched. She blinked and looked again. Just a picture of a stream in a woods. “How do you get the picture to do that?”

She looked up. The woman was gone.

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