A Thing Greatly Feared, Chapter 13

English: Cool, misty pine forest in Kuttikkanam

Somewhere out there, it lives. ... Image via Wikipedia

“So, sheriff,” said Darrell as he stood in the doorway of the police station, Wade behind him. “Mind telling me what’s going on?”

Sheriff Danscom had just picked up the bell and was now walking back to his desk, smoothing his flustered hair.

“Well, you know, I can’t exactly tell you everything that’s police business.”

“I know that, sheriff, but since I just heard part of your conversation with my brother, and since he just told me what this is about anyway, it’s kinda lost its privateness with me.”

“If your brother told you what this is about, Darrell, then you already know what it’s about, an’ I don’t really need to say anything.”

“Yes and no. I know what it’s about, generally speaking, but I think there’s more – more that you know.”

“But you see, Darrell, that’s where it gets into official police business, confidentiality. You know what you know – fine. But anything else? Well, let’s just say you’d have to be a member of this department.”

“Like a deputy?”

“Yeah, like a deputy.”

“So sign me up.”

“Nice try.”

“I really think it would be helpful if you tol– ”

CLENG! “Hang it, Darrell!” said Harvey as he slammed the bell onto his desk. “Don’t you get it? Your brother – and now you – are toyin’ with an official, police, investigation! Your brother pointed a gun at me – twice! And now you’re in here pryin’. I could have your whole family thrown in the lockup. Even your boy here’s been puttin’ his nose in it.”

Wade glared at him. “It was for a school project.”

“I don’t care if it was for National Geographic. You guys got no business gettin’ involved in this, an’ my suggestion to you would be– ”

“Let me tell you something, sheriff.” Darrell was as calm as could be. “I don’t have a gun on me, and I don’t have the temperament of my brother – which you should be glad for – but my family is involved in this because it got us involved, so therefore it is our business.” He turned to go, then stopped. “And my suggestion to you, sheriff, is to cover your head.” Harvey’s face was a blank stare. “Because when this all comes down, it’s coming down on you.”

Darrell and Wade left, and Harvey sank into his chair, leaned on his desk, and heaved a great sigh. After a few seconds he made a quick move for the phone.

“Hello? … Hi, this is Sheriff Danscom callin’. Is he available to talk?”

* * *

“What do we do now, Dad?”

Darrell pursed his lips. “I don’t know. Sheriff doesn’t seem to want to budge, and we don’t have any other leads.”

They rode in silence for a minute, Darrell keeping an eye on the road and Wade staring out his open window; a breeze blew in, the shadows outside well-defined.

“Dad?”

“Yeah?”

“This all might be my fault. Because of what I said about Uncle Hank.”

Darrell just looked at him.

“I know you told him, Dad; I could tell by the way he’s been actin’ around me. It’s okay, though; I shouldn’t have said it.”

Darrell shook his head. “It’s not at all your fault, Wade. We had no idea what really happened to your uncle all those years ago, and after what happened to Molly … I think that sealed his decision, regardless of what you said.”

They rode for a minute without speaking, the only sound the squeak of the shocks as they drove along a bumpy dirt road.

“I just thought of somethin’,” said Wade. “You and the sheriff were just talkin’ about deputies, and it reminded me of somethin’. When Sheriff Danscom was showin’ me the file from that bear mutilation, he said that his deputy at the time was James Morgan. Maybe he knows somethin’.”

“Yeah. Maybe he does. … But he moved a while ago, and I can’t remember where to.”

“That’s what the sheriff said.”

“An’ I don’t imagine he’ll want to tell us where Morgan lives.”

Wade scoffed. “No, prob’ly not.”

“Well, then – I guess we’ll just have to do it the old-fashioned way: call Information.”

* * *

Hank pulled off the washboard they called the Upper Basin Road and parked where he and Wade did. It was the latter part of the afternoon, plenty of sun left, no need to hurry … .

Hank managed to keep himself in the truck about thirty seconds, trying to enjoy the scenery but failing, before hopping out and grabbing his backpack from the bed. He slung it over his shoulders, adjusted it and looked around. It was a clear day, the kind that made death and every other bad thing seem far away, almost nonexistent.

Not today, though.

He scanned the hills again.

I know you’re out there.

Hank grabbed his guns and checked them – loaded, safeties on. He figured he wouldn’t see the creature during the daytime, but he had been a Boy Scout – “Be Prepared.”

He checked once more to make sure he had everything, locked his truck, then headed off up the road.

* * *

“Alright, Wade. I called Information, and the lady gave me a list of all the James Morgans in Maine – eleven of them.”

“Eleven that they know of.”

“Right. Hopefully he’s one of these. You take half and I’ll take half, and we’ll find out soon enough.”

“Half of eleven is five-and-a-half, Dad – how’s that gonna work?”

“Very funny, smartaleck. I’ll take six and you take five. Let’s get to it. If you find him, give me a holler.”

Wade used the phone in the kitchen while Darrell went into his office and used his business line. Five minutes passed.

“Dad! Hey, Dad! I got him. C’mere.”

Darrell came out and took the phone. “Hello?”

“Hello. Is this Darrell Daley?”

“Yeah. James?”

“Yeah. How the heck are you?”

“Oh, pretty well. Where you at?”

“Down here in Malta. It’s small, kinda like Foster’s Glen, only not as remote. We like it, though.”

“How’s the family?”

“Good, real good. Karen and I just had our third.”

“Oh yeah?”

“A boy – Stephen.”

“Congratulations.”

“Thanks.”

“Listen – why I’m calling– ”

“Yeah, what’s goin’ on?”

“Well, uh, this might sound kinda weird, but … you remember way back when my brother got attacked by that bear?”

“Yeah. I do.”

“You remember shortly after that, you guys found a bear mutilated?”

Silence.

“James?”

“Uh, yeah, I’m here. … Yeah, I remember that.”

“Look, we’ll be straight with you, James: We know what did that – Hank told us, because he saw it himself; he was there, and we– ”

“I know what you’re gonna say, Darrell, but listen, that’s police business, and I got outta that racket when I left Foster’s Glen. I’m a carpenter now. Besides, I got three kids now and– ”

“It killed Molly Laske, James.”

Silence.

“What?”

“It killed Molly Laske.”

“Little … Molly Laske?”

“Well, she wasn’t so little anymore, but she was young – twenty-six.”

“What happened?”

“Well, uh– ”

“Nevermind. I know what happened. Foolish question. … Was it in the woods?”

“No. On her back lawn.”

James sighed. “Look, Darrell, um … give me a few hours to get things situated here, then I’ll come up.”

“Thanks, James. We could really use your help.”

“It’ll be late when I get there; you still live in the same place?”

“Yeah, but don’t worry about the time. I’ll be waiting up for you.”

“Okay. I’ll see you then.”

“Thanks, James. Bye.”

“Don’t you mean we’ll be waitin’ up for him?” said Wade.

“You’ve got school tomorrow, kid.”

“You’re forgottin’ somethin’, though, Dad.”

“Really. What’s that?”

“This is part of my history report, and you’ve always told me to study hard.”

* * *

When the phone rang about an hour later, Darrell figured it was James calling with an update – not a cancellation, though, he hoped.

“Hello?”

“Hello, Darrell?”

“Sara?”

“Yeah, hi. Is this a bad time?”

“Um, no.” Kinda. “What’s going on?”

“I was just calling to see if … you and Wade and Hank would like to join me tonight for supper, followed by a rousing game of charades. Or Scrabble, perhaps, whichever you prefer.”

“That’s very nice of you.” Dang it, Hank. What was I supposed to tell Sara?

“It’s the least I can do after all you guys have done for me. I shall never cease to sing the praises of the famous Daley generosity.”

Darrell couldn’t help chuckling at that. Yeah. Now what do I do? “Hey, Sara, could you hold on just a minute?”

“Sure.”

Darrell covered the receiver and whispered: “Wade, it’s Miss Kremshaw. She wants us over for dinner. What are we supposed to do?”

“I don’t know. Uncle Hank didn’t say whether to tell her anything.”

Darrell sighed and looked around, searching.

“Um, Sara?”

“Yes? I’m here.”

He was about to tell her “no thanks” when a vision of a terrified Molly Laske flashed through his mind.

“Darrell? Are you there?”

“Yeah. Yeah. Sorry. Heh. The coast is clear, so we’ll be up.”

“Oh good.”

“Around six?”

“Six is fine.”

“Okay. We’ll see you then.”

“Alright. Bye.”

“Bye.”

Darrell hung up. Great, Hank. Just great. Leave me to do the explaining.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. lyricalmeanings
    Mar 05, 2012 @ 16:18:35

    Must go back and read what i’ve missed now!

    Reply

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