Josie’s mind worked through the facts as she drove away from Ginger Blackwell’s house. So Ginger had been drugged. Josie had taken enough statements from girls at the college in Denton who’d been roofied to know that Ginger Blackwell’s abductors had used date rape drugs: Rohypnol, GHB, ketamine. It could have been any one of the most popular ones, or a combination. Any of them would lower inhibitions, sedate, and generally destroy any chance of her remembering what happened. That would certainly account for the flash-cut memories.
She wondered if the woman on the side of the road was involved. She must have been, otherwise she would have come forward after Ginger’s disappearance. Although it was difficult to imagine a woman nearing eighty being involved in abducting women. Josie had seen news footage of the salon owner who had found Ginger’s abandoned vehicle. She didn’t look sick, and she certainly wasn’t elderly. So who was Chemo Lady, and was she really sick or was the headscarf just a disguise to inspire sympathy in a passerby? If she wasn’t involved, what happened to her and why hadn’t she come forward?
Then there was the
rock formation. The one that looked like
a standing man. Josie vaguely remembered
something like this from her childhood but couldn’t remember how old she had
been or where she had
seen it. There was something there, at the edge of her consciousness, but she
couldn’t reach it. Mentally, she ticked through all the rock formations she and
Ray had catalogued during their childhood.
They used to use them as markers.
Meet me at Broken Heart. The one in
the woods behind Denton East High School that looked like a heart with one of its humps missing. I’ll be at Turtle at ten. The one a mile
behind Ray’s childhood home shaped like a turtle’s shell that they used to sit
on and get drunk and fool around on in high school. See you at the Stacks. That
one was used by lots of kids in Denton, in the woods near the old textile mill at the bottom of a rock face where several slabs of rocks had fallen from the side of the mountain, making large stacks of flat rocks. She and Ray had made out there too. She smiled to herself. There were many more, she knew; she just couldn’t think of them.
They would be in her photos from high school though. She could look through them when she got home. From the cup holder next to her seat, her cell phone rang. Glancing down quickly she saw a selfie of her and Luke, their faces pressed together, all smiles. She reached down, pressed answer and then speaker, and said, “Hello, darling.”
Luke’s voice sounded tinny. “Are you in the car?” “Yeah, what’s up?”
“Where are you?”
“I, uh, drove to the craft store,” she said. “The what?”
“The craft store. You told me to take up knitting.”
She could picture him shaking his head, that adorable little smile he got on his face that told her he was only half-serious about whatever it was they were talking about. “I said you should look into getting a hobby. I’m not sure you’ll be satisfied with knitting. Although, hey, maybe you could do it with your grandmother.”
“What’s the difference?”
A green sign to her right indicated the first Denton exit ramp was two miles ahead. She put on her turn signal and got into the right lane. “I’m not sure,” she said with a laugh. “Guess I should find out.”
“Will I see you tonight?” “Of course.”
“I got that file for you.”
Her heart nearly stopped. The car drifted a little too far to the right, and she jerked it back into her lane. “You did?”
“Yeah. I xeroxed it and brought it by this morning, but you weren’t home. I left it on your kitchen table.”
She slowed the car as she came to the exit ramp. At the end of the ramp she stopped for a red traffic light. “You xeroxed it?”
He didn’t speak. For a moment, she thought maybe the call had dropped. Then he said, “I didn’t want there to be any emails or faxes or scans or anything of it that could lead back to me. I’m really not supposed to be doing this, Josie.”
The light changed and she made her turn, heading toward home. “I
know, Luke. I am really sorry to have even asked, but it means the world to me that you did this for me.”
“Wanna hear something weird?” “Always.”
“There were four troopers who worked on Blackwell’s case. You know, before the DA’s office stepped in and took over.”
“They’re all dead!” Josie exclaimed.
Luke laughed. “No, Drama Queen. But they were all transferred within two years of Blackwell’s case closing.”
“Oh. Is that unusual?”
“Well, they were the only ones transferred. One guy had only just started his tour here. I just thought it was odd. Anyway, it’s probably nothing. I’ve been spending too much time with you and your theories. Look, we never had this conversation, because I never got you the file, okay?”
“Of course,” Josie said, pulling into her driveway. “Luke, I really appreciate this. I promise to repay you.”
There was a lilt of flirtation in his voice. “Oh really? What kind of repayment are we talking about?”
“Your favorite kind.” She hung up.