I processed that for a few more seconds and then ducked back around the corner of the building. I tried to remember exactly when Eyebrows had spoken the words to me, what the context was at the time. I was fairly sure it had been the last thing she had said to me, right after I asked her if taking kids pictures was taboo because it might steal their souls. She had fallen asleep after that, peacefully if I remembered right, maybe the sleep of someone who had relieved a burden from themselves. In that light, this particular clue seemed incredibly important and I decided to investigate further. Walking slowly back to the eastern wall of the building I scouted the area with my eyes.
There seemed to be quite a collection of things, big and small, that cluttered up much of the land back here in the unkept part of Brown Suit’s property. Farm equipment displaying varying degrees of rust, old cars, water & oil tanks, barrels, pieces of sheet metal, one odd looking tower with a hose hanging from the top of it, flapping in the breeze. There were a couple other building also and I knew that somewhere back here was where he parked his car. There were also several paths cut through the brush and tall grass, ones which were well beaten down and clearly still in regular use. I checked the sight lines back to Brown Suit’s house and saw that I would be fairly safe back here, at least from any observation from the house. If he chose to walk out my way though, well I might end up playing a rather tense game of hide-and-seek. It seemed a good risk to take so I stepped off down the closest path.
It tracked fairly straight for about one hundred feet and then curved off to the south, ending is a small clearing with pieces of garbage strewn about and a rusty barrel that looked like was used to burn trash. That was a dead-end so I went back and started again at the Red Crow building, talking another path that went in a northeastern direction, cutting under a very tall White Pine and then around a copse of cedar trees. I could see scattered light and vague shapes of metal poles through the trees as I walked along but was shocked when I finally was able to get a clear view of the mowed-down clearing beyond. The poles were the tall parts of a swing set, blue and green in color and showing no rust. There also was an old tractor tire, lying on its side and filled with sand. I walked over and picked up two of the small trucks that lay on the side of the makeshift sandbox. They also showed no rust and their paint was bright red. I knelt down, surveying the area more closely.
The grass here was well-maintained, cut down to about one half inch high and mowed in what looked like a fairy regular circle about forty feet in diameter. A couple of other toys were scattered around; a blue bouncing ball, a small metal car and a white ladder that looked like it had broken off a toy fire truck. There also was a dirty sock, small enough for a young child, wadded up under the slide part of the swing set. A few footprints were visible in the sand within the tire and the area looked like it was used recently. The path resumed on the north side of the clearing, so I picked up the small car as proof of what I had observed, and continued walking. Three minutes later I was outside another old building, this one in much better repair than the one with the Red Crow sign. It had two windows, and looking though one I saw the Colony Park Wagon. And a small blue bike.
I stood there, peering through the glass but not seeing much else as my mind was scrambling through the clues I had found. Certainly this was confirmation of what I had suspected, proof that there really was a child being hidden somewhere around Clyde Forks, quite possibly right on this property. Suddenly I heard some noises, ones that were getting closer, and realized someone was coming back toward the garage. I crept off into the woods, into the darkness of the trees, and several minutes later Brown Suit drove the car out as I watched, leaving the door open. Once he was gone I took a look inside. The bike looked old but taken care of, and certainly had been used recently as the chain was in good shape and the tires were full. There was nothing else of interest though, just oil cans, a lawn mower and tools, so I resisted the impulse to look around more and walked back through the woods to my truck.
Tired when I finally made it back, I leaned up against the back bumper and took the toy car out of my pocket. Who played with this? Where were they being kept? And again, why? What did these new clues mean about what was really going on with Brown Suit?
…to be continued