It was still early in the day but I decided to retreat to the motel for the remainder of it, both to ponder all of the mystery I seemed to be caught up in and also to figure out what I was going to do next. My financial situation was still precarious and would be getting critical fairly soon. After checking in, once again to what was becoming my usual room, I placed the small metal car on top of the banged up dresser and sat down to think.
Where was I at? I knew I had plenty of speculation running through my mind, but what real facts were there at this point? I wrote this in my journal that day:
Facts I know:
– Has a collection of odd but so far relatively harmless residents (Shotgun excepted) who live in nondescript houses of varying degrees of upkeep
– No observed names on mailboxes
– Few children live or have lived in area (confirmed by mention in newspaper article)
– For an unknown reason no one has moved to Clyde Forks in the past few decades (is this really a fact? …maybe I need more info on if this is true)
– Religious leaders don’t stay long
– Older man but age hard to determine – his stories seem to indicate he is elderly
– Is definitely hiding something
– Troubled by past, incl missing persons in area
– Truly believes mine is dangerous / possibly “evil” and links it to missing persons
– Believes in an evil presence that he keeps at bay by releasing rabbits, supposedly to feed this entity
– Has new toys and swing set on his property
– Is definitely shook up by whatever happened when he was in mine (real or imagined)
– Probably knows more than he is saying – not exactly a fact but I feel it is true
– I definitely heard a child in the immediate vicinity of Cemetery Rd
– A girl did go missing (Jenny) and is not one of the missing persons detailed by Brown Suit (and note to me – there was one person he refused to talk about…this one?)
Looking at that list I felt one thing very strongly – you do not know much, do you? Basically, I seemed to have uncovered that Clyde Forks was a strange place, one that few people wanted to move to and where few children were born. It was populated by people who fit my idea of odd, but who may very well have been perfectly normal. Some of those people held strange ideas, all unsupported by actual corroborating evidence, and they did not seem very receptive to outsiders. That was hardly a basis for all of my fascination with this place. But then, I had definitely heard that child, a youngster that no one seemed to want to talk about, and who remained hidden from me. It was all a tantalizingly elusive mystery, one I decided I could not resist. With that decision though, came the need to make some more money, so I slept in the remainder of that day and night, and headed out to Almonte in the morning.
It was not a large place but it was definitely a more centralized town, one where a person could expect to find some work. The location was picturesque as it sat right on the Mississippi River (not the same as the one that cuts through the United States) and the winding bends of the river gave the area a lazy and comfortable feeling. I went around to the various small stores and other businesses and soon had picked up a job helping to unload shipping containers.
I spent a week that way, working fourteen hour days and collapsing into a bed at a shabby motel outside of the town at night. Almost everyone that I worked with had some version of my “on the road, in need of money” story and they all seemed to be from places far away from Almonte. It was on my last day of work, a cool Tuesday filled with drizzle and an occasional strong wind, that I finally ended up working with someone who had grown up in the area. It had really not been my intention to get into the whole reason I was working, or what I was doing in Clyde Forks, but the man I was teamed up with was a real talker and drew it out of me. He was tall, maybe six foot seven, and had the look of someone who did a lot of hard labor. He had a face etched by wind and sun, big forearms covered in tattoos of various women’s names and a casual but determined manner, like unloading the Titanic by himself would not be a big deal but he was going to take his time doing it. I resisted his repeated inquires into my situation for a few hours but then told him the whole story, partly because I wanted to but also so he would stop talking about his various, and colorful, past experiences. They were fascinating but inevitably vulgar and over-dramatized.
When I was done, he blew some snot out of his nose, set down a long, black box he had been carrying and spoke for the first time in fifteen minutes.
“You oughta check out that towheaded boy that disappeared last July at that lake a little ways north of here. People been wondering if he didn’t just get snatched up and taken away instead of drowning.”
I was so shocked by his statement that I tripped over a box and fell, twisting my wrist when it slammed awkwardly into the wet ground. Getting up rather clumsily, I replied.
“Just last year a boy disappeared around here? Are you sure?”
He nodded slightly. “Not exactly here, but up north, maybe thirty miles from here I think.”
“I spent a lot of time at the library and didn’t see it mentioned anywhere there?”
This time he shrugged. “Thirty miles is a long way in these parts. It wouldn’t have made the news over here. Maybe check up in Calabogie.” With that he moved on, starting up another story, this time about “that god-damned gypsy traitor Fallon.”
…to be continued