I did not want to leave yet as so much still remained unexplained. I felt like this was my last chance to get any information from Brown Suit; that as soon as I walked out of his house he would never speak with me again. Up to this point he had, for the most part, told me little although he had certainly been willing to talk about his rabbits and the mysterious evil in which he believed. I felt that was the real driving force behind the man, his lifelong battle against whatever myth he had created in his head. I still was not sure if he was trying to protect me from it, feed me to it, or just get me out of the way, but it seemed like the topic most likely to get him talking to me again.
“Do you know what I think about your rabbits?”
He stood silently by the door so I continued. “I think they are just a symbol of something you yourself are afraid of, some inner fear that you have. I do not know if it is real or imagined, but I think it exists only inside of you. You have spent all of these years running from that fear, refusing to face up to it, playing your little rabbit game instead. What do you say to that?”
His reply was slow and very clearly enunciated, the sound of his voice making the inside of my ears itch. “We are done. Get out.”
I stayed in my seat and tried a few more times to get him to talk but to no avail. Finally I stood up, placed my glass in the sink and walked toward the door. Just as I stepped outside I turned back.
“Just one more question. A quick one. Do you know where the red crow grows?”
He slammed the door in my face which was pretty much what I had expected would happen. I stood there outside the door, turning around so I could see back up the road. I was not sure if I considered my questioning of Brown Suit to be a success but I definitely had managed to get him angry again. Somewhere though, among that anger, a few things had become obvious to me.
First, there was certainly something which had happened, probably personally, to him which had caused this delusion of the evil presence to form in his mind. It made no rational sense to me that a dark force actually existed and was prowling the area. What kind of trauma would cause such a myth to take hold of someone? Was it these missing people that he mentioned? If so, what was his connection to them?
Secondly, the questions he refused to answer, about his name and whether someone lived with him, seemed odd but also possibly attributable to a desire for privacy. Given that no one else in the area, other that the reverend, had offered or given their name to me, perhaps that kind of privacy was just part of the culture in the area. But what then to make of his evasion around the presence of a child? Why would anyone ever want to hide one away?
It seemed my questions to Brown Suit had only led to more puzzles. I walked toward my truck but looked back as I did so and caught a flash of red back in the woods. It was the same thing I had seen before, something painted on the side of an old building. As my question about the red crow was fresh in my mind, it peaked my curiosity and I decided to investigate a little further. Believing that he might be watching me, I got into my truck and drove back up Cemetery Road, turning left and parking in the church lot. I sat there and tried to create a map of the area in my head.
I needed to return to Brown Suit’s property, but without going back down the road. There also were the other properties on the road to consider. Any hike through the woods was going to take me past those properties also and I had no idea how far back into the forest residents of the area might consider my presence a trespassing violation. I definitely felt that this area was a “shoot first” kind of place. I had fortunately acquired a few hiking and navigating skills in my life and felt I could travel deep in the woods without getting lost. That should keep me as safe as possible from any possible confrontation with the locals. It would be a little bit harder to navigate directly to that old building I wanted to investigate but I still felt I could pull it off. Leaving a “Ran Out of Gas” note on my windshield for the reverend in the event that he wondered why I was parked in his lot, I pulled on a jacket and entered the woods.
It quickly became very dark around me but the sun was bright above the forest canopy and I used its presence as a guide. I also had picked out a very tall, distinct tree, which was located in the approximate direction I needed to travel, as another marker to follow. I lost sight of it almost immediately but knew that if necessary I could climb up to check my bearings. It took almost an hour, and three trips up sticky conifers, but finally I was sitting on a small rise in the land looking at the faded old building on Brown Suit’s property.
I surveyed the area, just to make sure that he was not out and about, and then slowly walked over to the building. I approached from the eastern side, away from the wall where I had seen the flash of red. Creeping along its faded brown walls and stepping over old farm tools and various piles of miscellaneous junk, I reached the southwest corner and did another quick check. Seeing no one, I stepped out several feet and turned to look at the wall.
I bit my lip as the image which was there became clear to me. Although it was faded, it was still discernible. A bird in flight, with an exaggerated beak, an animal which did not exist in reality. It was a red crow.
I stood there in shock for several seconds, Eyebrows’ cryptic sentence coning true much too literally for me to believe. Finally, I shook off my surprise and looked again. Below the bird, in grey, peeling letters on a dirty white background it said “Red Crow Automotive – Best Service in Clyde Forks”.
…to be continued