(Just joining us? You may want to start at the beginning.)
JD drove them home. They were all quiet during the ride, but no one fell asleep again.
Wendy passed out on the couch shortly after they arrived. She sat down and laid her head back on the soft, full sofa and before long JD heard her softly, rhythmically breathing. Dillon raided the refrigerator for a few minutes before saying goodnight. JD sat at the counter of the kitchen separating it from the dining nook and reflected. There was so much left to do, so many questions still unanswered.
Why didn't Jenkins blow the whistle?
Who is the shaded figure with no features? He felt Jenkins was the logical choice, but it could be anyone.
Why didn't anyone search for Robin Brown? Why didn't the state authorities get called in?
If Robin Brown had no family, was there NO one interested enough in his life to make the effort to find him?
Why didn't Jenkins leave a suicide note? It's very rarely done.
There were others, but his head was clouded with exhaustion and he wanted more than anything to just sleep and forget everything. But there was more to do later in the day. Another trip to the local library was going to be the first order of business. Well, the second. Getting Wendy back to her car would be the first.
Next would be another visit to the house. He hoped it wouldn't be as confusing, as puzzling and disjointed, as the last.
Finally, fatigue overtook him and he went to bed. He dreamed of dark holes and cold gravel and dirt. He dreamed of crushing boulders and not being able to breathe. He dreamed fitfully, tossing and tussling in his sleep, sweating and waking in a start with the burn of adrenaline in his palms before drifting back off to repeat the cycle.
He had no idea how long he slept, but when he awoke, the light scratched his retinas rudely, making him snap his eyes shut and turn his head.
And he could smell Wendy. Her soft fragrance touched him and soothed his tormented mind. He felt that flowery, peaceful sensation he got whenever he could just be still in her presence, close enough to feel her but not needing contact.
Then he felt something, warm and delicate, smooth and soft as he adjusted his position.
He opened his eyes.
She was lying there beside him, soundly sleeping.
He gently laid his arm over her shoulders and felt her warmth, and she stirred only long enough to press against him, wearing one of his shirts, her own clothes discarded on the bed by her feet. He wondered if she'd had a nightmare, as he had, and came here to lay beside him without waking him. She'd slipped under the blankets and was in a semi-fetal position, with her hands beneath her head, her eyes lightly closed. The sunlight from the window played on her hair, and it shone coppery and bright.
He smiled. He couldn't help it. Whenever she was this close -- whenever he could see her, in fact, or heard her -- he smiled. He rubbed her back softly, so gently, careful not to disturb her, and could feel her soft breath on his skin.
For a brief moment, the vision of them waking this way every morning pealed through his mind like thunder. It was only a flash, but it was so strong and clear an image, he had to open his eyes to re-acquire his reality.
He brushed a stray lock of her hair from her cheek and admired the shape of her face, the gentle curve of her jaw, the soft clearness of her skin. Her beauty overwhelmed him, and he nearly wept. He squeezed his eyes shut and commanded his mind to focus, to control the emotions welling inside him. When he was composed again, he twisted -- slowly, so he wouldn't wake her -- to see the clock. They'd arrived home after 3 a.m. It was nearly 11 a.m. now. He'd lost nearly half the day, and still wanted to get to the library. He inwardly cursed himself for not setting his alarm clock, but realized that Wendy would've been woken up too. He slowly, reluctantly, eased out of bed, leaving her beneath the covers, and slid onto the floor. He stretched, trying not to grunt with the delight, and then went about his business of getting ready to face his day.
A quick shower later, he threw his clothes on, and found Wendy still sleeping beneath the golden sunlight of autumn. He dressed quietly, but when he sat down to put on his shoes, she stirred.
"Mmm ... baby?"
"Are you okay? Did you get enough sleep last night? I didn't wake you when I came up did I?"
"No," he said gently, reaching for her. She took his hand in hers. "Not at all. Go back to sleep, Wen."
"What time is it?"
"Just after 11. I have to go to the library today and see what I can find. I'll leave a note for Dillon to drive you to your car when he gets up."
"No, don't go," she protested, pulling him toward her. "I want to go with you. I need a shower, that's all."
"You need sleep," he insisted. "It's okay, I can do this by myself so you can rest."
"Baby, I want to go with you," she insisted. "Please? Just wait for me, okay?"
He smiled again. "Okay. I'll get you some breakfast."
"No," she said, rolling onto her back. "Let's grab some lunch later, but let's get to the library first. I don't know what time it closes."
"I don't either."
"Does Dilly want to come too?"
She giggled. "JD! Don't be mean. Dilly's your friend. Besides, he's gone through this much already. Shouldn't he see it through to the end if he wants?"
"I so should, dude."
JD jumped. Wendy giggled again, propping herself up on her elbow. "Hi, Dilly."
Dillon was already dressed and ready. His hair was wet but his chin still unshaven. "Dudes, I'm all set."
"When did you take a shower?"
"While you were. I wanted to see if we could both take one an' not run outta hot water."
"What if we had, you dork? One of us would've frozen."
"We didn't," he grinned. "An' I do wanna go. Maybe the library'll be better on Saturday."
"Better for what?" Wendy asked.
"For hotties ... what else?" Dillon snorted. "See ya downstairs, slowpokes."
"And stay out of my bedroom!" JD called after him.
"I guess I'm the hold up now," Wendy said, then she licked her lips mischievously. "Long as we're already in bed ..." she purred.
JD stood up quickly. "Oh ... oh my God. Don't ... I can't ..."
She cackled wildly, throwing her head back onto the pillows behind her and slapping the mattress in mirth.
"You should see your face, hon! It's PRICELESS!"
"I ... I mean, of course, you're ... I would love to ..."
She laughed again, from deep in her belly, and sat up and gestured for him. He sat down again and he draped herself on him, kissing him softly.
"Don't worry, lover," she said softly, sensually, licking his ear and raising goose-flesh all over his body. "I know you want it. You're just a 'save it for the wedding night' guy."
"How ... we've never discussed ..."
"I know you, JD," she cooed. "I'm fine with that. Just don't make me wait too long, or I might get ... impatient."
"Would you ... would find ...?"
"Don't be stupid," she spat, shaking her head and smiling askew. "If I get impatient, I'll take what I want. From you."
He smiled, blushing deeply, and stared at his shoes.
"I love you, JD," she said more seriously. "Don't you know what that means? It means you and me, babe. No one else. You're it."
He looked at her. "I've ... I've never loved anyone as much as I love you. Never."
She smiled. "Damn straight. Now, unless you want to see me naked -- and I know you do -- get out so I can shower. I'm going to wear one of your shirts, okay?"
"Okay," he grinned.
She was ready 25 minutes later, with one of his thermal undershirts beneath one of his T-shirts. She'd tied it off at the waist and it conformed to her deliciously. He admired her as she bounced down the stairs. Dillon was shoveling the last bit of cereal down his throat, and began to guzzle the milk noisily. He put the bowl in the sink and stood up.
"Are we all ready, then?" JD asked.
"Bring on the boring, dude. I'm ready as I'm gettin'."
JD shook his head. "All right ... here's the plan," he instructed as they filed through the front door. "We need any and all information about the other two characters in the ... story, I guess."
"The killers?" Wendy said.
"Yes," JD confirmed, "but we only have last names. Migo and Stanton. I heard Brown say 'Rick', I think, but I'm not sure. And we don't know who that was in reference to. But I'm thinking we can find them if we check the roster of the police force for that time. At least one of them."
"How do we do that, love?"
"Uh ... I don't know yet." He unlocked the doors and they piled into the car, Dillon sliding into the backseat and sprawling across its entirety.
"Dude, you don't know? What're we supposed t'do, ask a Magic 8 Ball?"
"Well ... Internet first, I guess, then we have to ... I don't know. We can look for newspaper articles on microfiche I guess, but that could take a long time."
"Dude. I thought you had a PLAN."
"Well, I sort of do. But ... I'm just not sure how to execute it. Let's just start with the Internet and see where that takes us."
"What 'bout all the tapes from yesterday, dude? Whatcha gonna do with them?"
"I guess I'll have to analyze them tonight or tomorrow, depending. We know the stuff at the house will begin around nine, if it starts. As long as we're at the house by then, we won't miss anything. If we don't get anywhere at the library, I guess we can come back here and look at those before going back."
"That's too long a trip, baby," Wendy said, twisting beneath her seatbelt to face him. "Let's just plan on doing that tomorrow."
He sighed. "You're probably right. I did leave them in the car, though, so we can at least view them while we're waiting at the house."
"Dude, we LIVED it; why ya wanna WATCH it?"
"We need to see if there's anything on the tapes we didn't see in the actual ... performance."
"You don't think it was a playback anymore?" Wendy knit her brows as she asked.
"Well ... yes and no. It's not the imprint type of event I thought it might be. But they're definitely 35-year-old events, so I'm not sure what to call it now."
"Haunted, dude. Real simple."
JD raised his eyebrows. "Maybe. At least until someone better at this than I am takes a look at those recordings and tells me otherwise."
"I thought the tapes were ... blank?" Wendy said, recalling what they'd seen earlier.
"I didn't take a thorough look, though. I'll be more careful this time through."
"Nothing, it's just that ... blank is blank. If you fast-forward blank it shows the same thing as if you just play it. And those tapes seemed blank to me."
He sighed. "You're probably right, but ... I guess my brain can't understand how we can have five hours of blank recorded. We have to check and make sure there isn't' something we can see on them."
"Okay," she said, and took his hand to press it to her lips.
"'Kay, here inna car, that crap's gotta go," Dillon said. "I can't even go someplace an' hurl."
"Oh, stop it," she said matronly. "You act like you've never seen a romance going on before."
JD blushed. They rode the rest of the way chatting about other things, and when JD went down the main street of that tiny, sleepy town, he was amazed that not much more life was evident. The Post Office was bustling, and the diner seemed more lively, but when he pulled up to the library and parked, it seemed as sleepy and lonely as it had the day before.
They parked, and went up the wide concrete stairs toward the tall, stark white pillars.
"How cute," Wendy said. "It's such a pretty little building."
"It's actually pretty sophisticated," JD said. "I don't what I expected, but I was pleasantly surprised."
"Dude, they gonna have chicks this time?"
JD shrugged. They went to the heavy wooden doors and pulled them open, JD standing aside to let Wendy and Dillon through before following. His eyes adjusted quickly in the tiny foyer, and when he strode into the main lobby, he found the library was bustling with activity. Parents and children were murmuring about, trying to be quiet, but so many people stood in the building the buzz of their whispers was fairly loud. People of all ages, from university students to retirees to grade school children were moving in the aisles, sitting at desks, shuffling papers and opening and closing file index drawers.
"Wow," Dillon said, his head panning from one side of the building to the other. "Sure is busier 'n yesterday, dude."
"No kidding," JD said. "What the heck?"
"Must be test-time in school or something," Wendy added, lowering her jacket from her shoulders and leaving her arms in it.
JD stepped toward the desk, where there were two young women and one older lady. She was matriarchal and had a double-chin that wobbled when she walked. Her locomotion was more like a shuffle, shifting her considerable weight from one leg to the other and sort of rocking along. Her glasses hung from a chain around her pudgy neck, and the corners of her mouth vanished into her puffy cheeks when she smiled at them.
"May I help you?" she asked, and her voice was soft and melodic, like a woman who had been a life-long singer.
"Hi," JD said, smiling in return. "I'm looking for another librarian ... I don't see her today, but I spoke with her before. Her name was Bea. Is she in today? Or do you know how I could get in touch with her?"
"You sure it was Bea?"
"Yes, I read her name tag. She was very helpful and I was hoping to work with her again."
"Can you describe her?"
"Kind of a tall lady, wears her hair in a bun? Thin?"
"And you're sure the name was 'Bea'?"
JD raised his eyebrows. "Yes, I'm quite sure. Is -- is anything the matter?"
"I'm sorry to tell you this, but Bea passed away Thursday before last."
JD's jaw dropped and Wendy gasped.
"But ... but that's impossible! I ... I saw her just yesterday! My friend and I were working with her here!"
"Yesterday?" the librarian said slowly, her eyebrows raising. "I'm sorry, that's wrong. As I said, Bea passed away week before last, and this library was closed yesterday for Founder's Day. It was the anniversary date of the day our benefactor turned this building into a library and bought the first books for the town. We celebrate it every year and close on that date."
"I ... I ..." JD stammered.
"I'm sorry, you're mistaken. You must be."