With that she leaned back heavily into the cushions of the sofa, her eyes closed tight. Over the course of the next thirty seconds her face relaxed completely, the wrinkles around her eyes and mouth smoothing out slightly, her mouth sagging open just a bit. I wanted to ask her to repeat what she had said but instead stood up and walked out of the house, taking care to lock the door behind me. It was still early in the day, the cool air from earlier still lingering around especially in the shadows of the trees in her yard. I sat underneath one of them and thought about what to do next.
On top of all of the other weirdness about this place I now had the cryptic question from Eyebrows to ponder, even though I thought it possible it had just been the ramblings of a tired old woman. I needed to find someone in the area who would tell me about the actual history of Clyde Forks, not just when people were born or to whom they were related. Most of the residents seemed to be poor conduits for this kind of information and I eventually decided that finding a local church might be a better option. Surely a pastor or priest who had been in the area for awhile would have some good historical details to share. I had no idea where to find one but it seemed to be the only plan I had so I started driving back east on Clyde Forks Road.
I had only gone a very short distance, and was just coming around the soft curve near Cemetery Road when I saw Brown Suit turn right off of that road in a Mercury Colony Park Wagon. At least I was fairly certain it was him as the fedora and color of his clothing seemed unlikely to be repeated in this small place. Tossing aside my other plan I made the decision to follow him. I did not think he had seen me as he had completed the turn and was already looking east when I came around the corner. There was very little traffic in this area, and long stretches of open road, so I believed that I could hang back a good distance and remain unobserved as I followed him toward wherever he was going. And then we drove for a very long time.
I later knew that it had only been thirty-two miles or so as the crow flies, but that is not the route we traveled. The roads meandered all over the wilderness out there, cutting back north and south as we picked our way east, passing through small villages and scattered towns. We also passed through the much larger municipality of Mississippi Mills before turning right onto Upper Dwyer Hill Rd. This was the only place where I almost lost him, as I stopped to let a young boy on a bike cross the road and ended up trapped at a stop light that Brown Suit had just passed through. I did manage to catch up though, and finally, after one hour and ten minutes of driving, and a final turn onto a dusty dirt road, he came to a stop.
I had been hanging well back and being cautious yet I still almost went too far, stopping just as the rear bumper of his car came into view, the vehicle parked on the far side of a small group of cedar bushes. Feeling I was too close, I put my truck in reverse and eased back up the road, going about five hundred feet and pulling into a break in the tree line. Grabbing a jacket I had stuffed behind my seat, I set off carefully back toward where Brown Suit had parked. When I got there, he had already exited his car, but I caught sight of his fedora fading into the shadows of another tree line about four hundred feet east of the road. I did not think he knew I was there but I still wanted to be careful in following him now that we were on foot. Waiting a few minutes, I then walked in the general direction I had seen him go, doing my best to stay in the shadows as I walked along. The first few minutes were easy as the land was relatively clear, but then I had to plunge into woods, which were close in places and then would fade to scrub brush and collections of dead fall. I could hear someone ahead of me making plenty of noise, and I assumed it was him as that was the only guide I had to go on. My own steps were tentative and light and I felt that I was falling further behind. Ten minutes later the sound ahead of me stopped just as I climbed over the trunk of a large, dead oak tree. I froze, the rough edges of the decayed bark pressing against my palm, a mosquito buzzing around my ears. Slowly I lowered myself to the ground and looked around.
Everything was screened by the trees and I could not make out anything other than the gentle swaying of their branches. I tried standing up a little bit more but the results were no different. I needed to be much closer to wherever Brown Suit was in order to figure out what he was doing. Without the sound I had no idea which way to go, but I did at least know the general direction it had been coming from before it stopped. Starting off toward that location, I crept along in a crouched position, pushing branches aside carefully when I could not avoid them, stepping down gingerly on the twigs and leaves that littered the ground. After four or five minutes of this I caught sight of him, leaning down to take something out of a large green sack on the ground. My view of him was screened by the heavy, drooping branches of a white pine tree and at first I thought he had brought out a fur hat, which seemed like an odd thing to be carrying into the woods. That was quickly corrected as he turned more in my direction and I could see that he was holding a rabbit.
…to be continued