It was Sunday, two days since Lisal’s disappearance, and there were no clues as to where she was. Nick’s mother-in-law had not heard from her. He decided to visit David and Allisa when they got out of church. He needed someone to talk to and didn’t know what to do to further search for Lisal.
He hoped Allisa and David would at least help to give him some hope and bring him out of his state of depression. Figuring that Allisa’s upbeat attitude might be what he needed, he decided to go over. The day was gloomy with a light rain, which only added to Nick’s dreariness.
Allisa and David’s house was a medium sized house with the white paint slightly starting to turn yellow. David had stated on occasion how he was no longer going to paint his house because they would raise his taxes. Nick attempted to verify this information, but couldn’t find any evidence that it was true. The houses on either side were no more than fifteen feet away. This row of houses had been built in the 1800s, although most had been remodeled to some extent. Since their home was on the edge of town, there was a forest which started at the end of their back yard. It was a forest mostly made up of pine trees. Many children in the area would sneak out there and play, often times getting scared because of the persistent rumors that the forest was haunted.
While most people took the ghost stories as stories that were made up, no one will forget the day that three girls went missing. It was two years ago when three best friends decided to go back and explore. One of the girls brought along her little brother.
Around three hours later the little brother returned home appearing to have been scared out of his mind. It took a couple hours to settle him down before he could tell his story.
He told of two monsters that took his sister and the other girls. Apparently, they both resembled the descriptions of what others had described as Big Foot. He was hiding on the girls when he saw the monsters pass by. He felt frightened and started to head back to his house because he didn’t know where his sister and her friends were. Not long after, he heard the screams of his sister and tried making his way toward the noise. By the time he arrived, they had apparently disappeared.
Search teams were instantly dispatched, and after several days, not a single clue to the girls’ disappearance was unveiled. It was as if they fell off the face of the Earth. While police and detectives did find evidence that the girls were indeed in the forest, there was no trace left of the creatures that the boy reported.
There had been other strange sightings in the woods, but people usually ignored those claims, passing it off as imagination or hype. Allisa and David had never spotted anything themselves, and whenever the subject was brought up, David seemed to dodge the topic.
Nick walked up to the door, as David undid the chain lock. As Nick opened the door to fit himself through, he knocked over a broom in back of the door. “Sorry about that” David said. “We have so much catching up to do on the house.” Nick looked inside the kitchen of the mobile home and saw it was a little messier than usual. The table next to the side window had a couple of stacks of papers on it, and the white floor had boxes placed in various spots. They were obviously trying to de-clutter their home, something Nick and Lisal had done a few months back. A good spring-cleaning always made things seem nicer in the long run, but the mess in the process was definitely annoying.
Upon arriving, Nick asked if they knew of anyone at the church who knew of Lisal’s whereabouts.
“I’m sorry man,” David responded. “No one has seen her. Pastor announced it to the church, and told anyone if they saw her to contact the police and get a hold of you immediately. Come in and have a seat.”
Nick’s heart sank through the ground. “Man, I hope she is alright. I can’t take not knowing where she is much longer.”
“Us too,” Allisa chimed in. “We will be praying for her.”
“Yeah, thanks.” The sarcasm in Nick’s voice was more obvious than he intended. He was always annoyed when people offered to pray for him when he was going through a tough time. It was a quirk that he was trying to improve upon.
He did believe in praying since he prayed to the Lord and Lady, and sometimes, to specific Pagan deities. It was just that people seemed to rather offer their prayers than to take the time to comfort another person during a tough time. However, he was sure this wasn’t Allisa’s intention since she did truly care about Lisal.
For once, Allisa didn’t start in with her typical Christian jargon. A sad look came across her face, and she went into the kitchen to make some lunch. Nick was relieved. The last thing he needed was a lecture on what specific spirituality to follow.
“She’s taken this whole ordeal with Lisal much harder than she shows.” David said when Allisa had left.
“I’m sorry, I’m just…”
“No, no, no, don’t apologize. I know this has to be very difficult on you.”
Nick took a deep breath, “Yeah man, it’s killing me.” He put his elbow on the table and hand on his forehead as if to emphasis his words.
“I’m sure it will all turn out fine.” David reassured giving him a pat on the back. Yet, a hint in David’s voice said that he had his doubts. Something else bothered Nick. David wasn’t acting himself. Usually he came across as a well composed and confident man, yet, oddly he seemed nervous and was twitching in his chair during the conversation.
Allisa returned with roast beef and cheese sandwiches. She seemed to be more herself with the exception of a melancholy look on her face. They discussed possible scenarios, but came to no conclusion. Nick thought the best possible scenario would be that she went to her mother’s and was staying there, and her mother was covering for her. He knew he was stretching since they hadn’t been in an argument for several weeks. If no one heard from her by the end of the day, they would begin to put up missing flyers all over town.
There was a knock at the door, which turned out to be Officer Derek Reynolds. He was also a member of the local Assembly of God and good friends with David.
David answered the door. “Hey Derek, how are things going?”
“Oh, alright I guess. I tried stopping by to see Nick and he wasn’t there, then I saw his car in your driveway.” Nick’s ears perked up, as he felt a hint of hope come over him, but he quickly diminished that hope by the tone in Derek’s voice.
“Come right in, officer.” David said, knowing also there wasn’t good news.
Derek was a chubby guy with a spare tire around his belly area, but his arms were hard like saplings. His bushy mustache often appeared as if he was eating it when he talked. He lacked intimidation, which had both an advantage and disadvantage in his occupation. He was able to get information out of people more efficiently than most of the other cops, but was often mouthed off to and taken for granted.
He was an open guy and often talked about his job more than he should. Fortunately, the people he talked to were usually trustworthy and didn’t repeat what they were told. Nick had heard stories where he would arrest a teenager, and the young man would call Derek things like “fat slob” or ask him if he enjoyed a dozen donuts before making the arrest. While some officers would be harder on kids like this, Derek had a way of letting it pour in one ear and filter out the other.
Nick had known him for years and held a deep respect for this man. If it were up to Nick, he would make him county sheriff. However, Derek was too modest to run for the position.
With a serious look, Officer Derek sat down with Nick and David. “We have not heard from your wife, Nick, however another missing person has been reported. I don’t know if there is a connection. Her name is Mandy. Unfortunately, there is no description of her anywhere. In fact, the only evidence was a witness that saw her from afar when she got kidnapped.” He paused to take a breath. “He had just talked to her a few minutes before, and all he could give was a brief description. He could give no description of the kidnapper. Two adult kidnappings in one week, that is rare for Watersburg. I mean we have had children wander off at the local daycare never to be seen again, but not adults.” The town of Watersburg had an unusual problem with kids suddenly disappearing. Most of it happened at the local daycare. It was believed that some kids would sneak out hoping to find their parents, only to mysteriously disappear. Some people had theories that the daycare itself was behind the missing children, but they were often scoffed at due to lack of evidence.
“However, brace yourself because I have a little news,” Derek stated in a serious tone. He paused, and both men had their eyes focused on him. By this time, Allisa had sat down and was listening. “It appears that the car Lisal was driving was found in the river.” Seeing the shocked look on Nick’s face, he quickly added, “no bodies were found, and no evidence of violence was discovered.”
“How do you know she wasn’t in the car?” Nick asked. Fear welled up inside him, even though he was reaching out for a glimmer of hope.
Officer Derek leaned back to take a breath. “Well, for one, all the windows were up, the doors shut, and the trunk closed. I don’t see how it was possible for her to disappear. Secondly, no body was found. and no footprints have been found leading away from the river.”
Nick didn’t know what to think. He was certainly glad no dead bodies turned up, but this was more involved than he thought. What would someone want with my wife? “Now officer, why would someone dump my wife’s car in the river without a body?”
“It could be to get a rid of some sort of evidence.” Derek replied. “But I have to admit, it is quite strange. Do you know anyone who would have something against your wife?”
“Not that I know of, I mean, some people don’t like her because of religious beliefs, but we are not living in the days of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Nick gave a sarcastic chuckle, and Derek gave a faint smile to the joke. “She did mention something about Deacon Boomhower at the church but didn’t say too much. That happened the same night as she disappeared. I don’t know why she finds the deacon’s behavior strange. I guess I should have taken her more seriously.”
“Ah, the deacon; he is a strange man, but I can’t imagine him going this far with it. I will file this in the report and try to keep a better eye on him, but we need more evidence before we can further pursue the deacon. We will do our best to get to the bottom of this: I promise. Oh, by the way, don’t let anyone know I mentioned the other kidnapping. I’m supposed to keep that confidential, but I thought y’all should know because of Lisal’s disappearance.”
“Thanks officer, anything I can do to help?” Nick asked hoping he could do something to be a part of this. The last thing he wanted now was to sit back and not be involved. It would only torment his mind if he stayed home thinking about the situation. However, he was disappointed when Derek replied.
“Just sit back and hold tight, if you think of anything that could help, you know where I’m at.”
“Will do,” Nick replied, as Officer Derek got up and left.
David put his hand on Nick and reassured him that everything would be OK. Nick was having a hard time believing him. Images flashed in Nick’s mind of his wife being brutally murdered and her car being thrown in the river. No amount of reassurance could destroy the imagery that polluted his mind. He could not imagine what someone would want with his wife, but he knew there were a lot of people out there who were sick in the head. He wished his wife didn’t remain alone at the church while doing the bulletin, especially now. Someone could have protected her. Just like the death of his brother, Nick started blaming himself for the disappearance of his wife. He could have gone with her; protected her if needed. But it was too late; Nick felt his self-hatred grow.
He then decided to head out and go over to Jane’s house to spend some time with the kids. Not only did he feel the kids needed to see him, but he wanted their company. He hoped they would cheer him up a little.
A light spring rain began to fall, as he went out to the car. Memories flashed before him of days when he would take Lisal outdoors in the light rain and dance. Then they would go for a walk through the woods and allow the serenity of nature relieve all their tension. The rain today did not relieve Nick of his stress. He could feel his tears mix with the rain, as he thought about Lisal.
As he got into his car, he noticed a brown Buick a couple of houses down. There appeared to be a man inside looking down reading. Nick didn’t think too much of it and left.
After driving for about five minutes, he looked back and saw the brown Buick not far behind. Is he following me? Nick thought to himself, as he could feel his nerves tense up. The light rain turned into a thunderstorm, as flashes of lightning pierced the sky. Rain pelted down on the windshield and the roof of the car. The Buick was getting harder and harder to see.
He decided it was time to take a few back roads to see if his thoughts were true. He took three right turns in a row, looked in his rearview mirror and sure enough, the brown Buick was behind him. He tried to slow down to get a better look, but the other driver slowed down. Nick thought about doing a K-turn and possibly confronting the driver, but decided against it because he didn’t want to have to face the barrel of a gun.
In his mind, he connected the pursuer with his missing wife. He grabbed his cell phone to alert officer Derek of what was going on, but as he looked at his phone, he saw that there were no bars for a signal. Great, Nick thought. If I get caught up in something, I can’t call for help.
Instead, he sped up. There were rarely any police out in this area. After about fifteen minutes of speeding around on country roads, he finally lost the car. He made sure the Buick was gone, and headed over to Jane’s, hoping he wasn’t endangering anyone.
He missed his daughters every time he went a couple of days without seeing them. Nick remembered the birth of both of them and what a joyous time it was. It was both Nick and Lisal’s dream to have three children, and they had been hoping for the third one to be a son. However, after years of trying, they still could not seem to reproduce. Although he loved his daughters dearly, Nick always wanted his own son. Both Nick and Lisal were tested to see if there was something interfering with fertility, but nothing was found. It appeared that the reason she wasn’t getting pregnant was by chance alone.
As soon as he arrived, both his daughters, Natalie and Kiere rushed to see him. Their joy turned to slight disappointment when they realized their mother wasn’t with him.
“Where’s mom?” Natalie asked. She may have been only nine years old, but she could always tell when something wasn’t right.
Nick was not ready for this and fumbled for an answer, while his two daughters looked up to him. “Um…well…mom went away for a little while.” He lied so poorly that even his seven-year-old picked up on it.
“I don’t believe you daddy; I want to see mommy.” Kiere defiantly demanded, throwing Nick off guard.
Nick had nowhere to turn, so he had to tell them the truth, at least part of it. “I’m not sure where mom went, but I can assure you that I will find out.”
His assurance didn’t help; both of his girls broke down crying. He held them close, one in each arm. “Everything is going to be all right.” He said, not really believing it.
Jane came out, and Nick wasn’t surprised to see dark circles around her eyes. She was obviously taking the disappearance of her daughter quite hard. Ironically, she was easier for Nick to tolerate. For once, he felt his mother-in-law was on his side. He was glad, knowing he did not need the extra stress of fighting with his own family members at this time.
After a few minutes upon arriving, the thunderstorm ceased; leaving again a light rain with the sunlight pouring through.
“Kiere, daddy, and grandma!” Natalie called out, as she was peering out the window. “Come look, there’s a rainbow! Maybe it is a sign that mommy is OK. Isn’t it daddy?”
“I suppose so.” Nick replied, hoping he could appear hopeful since he felt that was what his kids needed at the moment.
He took the kids out and played for a while. They did not play with the excitement they usually had. Nick wasn’t certain whether or not it was his own grief that was affecting his time with his kids. He was never one to fully hide his emotions. The outdoors did have freshness in the air that did help alleviate some of the stress. It was as if the spirits within the environment around him were trying to tell him that everything would be all right. Yet, Nick was uncertain. He had a strong connection with nature, but he struggled with doubt.
He told himself that at some point, he needed to go out in the woods and meditate. That usually helped him to relax when he was having trouble with anxiety and stress. Many times, when he was having financial difficulty or hitting a rough patch in his marriage, he would retreat to the woods and spend twenty to thirty minutes with nature just meditating. When he found out about Lisal having an affair on him he would sometimes visit the woods two or three times a day. He could definitely feel the benefits. It helped him to fully forgive her, so they could move on with their marriage.
Eight thirty came along, and Jane and Nick put the kids to bed. Jane agreed to give the kids a ride to school in the morning, so Nick could continue his search for his wife. He took the opportunity to catch Jane up on what Derek had told him. As Nick expected, this only increased Jane’s worry. He had to at least be honest with her. He thanked her for watching the kids another night and headed out.
The sun had set, but it still gave a glow across the horizon. The stars began to dot the sky. The aroma of fresh rain filled the air, as Nick hopped into his car.
When he got into the car and pulled onto the road, he noticed a set of headlights turn on behind him. Whoever it was, seemed to have their bright lights on since it blinded Nick through the mirror. Why the heck can’t people turn their brights off when they are behind someone? Idiots! The light made it impossible to see the car. Suddenly, Nick had a thought, as he remembered being followed. A feeling of fear came over him, as he could sense something was amiss. He wasn’t sure whether to high tail it out of there or turn around and find out what was going on. Nick built the courage to do a K-turn and see what car it was. Sure enough, it was the brown Buick that had followed him earlier.
“What the hell!” Nick yelled out loud. “How the heck did he find me when I parked the car behind the friggin’ house?”