Chapter 5: The Cover Up
Greg glances towards the phone again, wishing his wife would call. He hadn’t been able to reach Abby all day and her long departure was starting to worry him. I’m sure she’s just out having fun, exploring the new area, he reasons, trying to concentrate on the report. No matter how hard he tried to make himself believe it, an unsettling feeling keeps gnawing at him, telling him differently.
“I can’t take it anymore. I just can’t!” he screams, springing up from his desk. His chair falls backward, clanking across the white tile floor. Startled by the sudden noise his secretary jumps in her seat. Looking up she sees her boss pacing like a mad man across the concrete floor.
“You still can’t get a hold of your wife?”
“No, and I’ve tried for the last four stinking hours.” Glancing at his watch he realizes it’s only been two.
“I’m sure she’s fine, sir.”
“I hope you’re right, Betty.” Seeing the concerned look on his face she continues.
“I can have one of my cop friends do a wellness check on her if it’d make you feel any better.”
“I’d sure appreciate it,” he says, straightening up his overturned chair.
“Let me see what I can do.” She says reaching for the phone.
“I bet that’s her now,” she says, scooping up the receiver.
“Greg, the operator says you have a call holding on line two.” A stack of papers flies to the floor as he reaches for the phone.
“Are you alright Abby?” Greg blurts into the receiver.
“It’s awful, just awful, Greg” she tearfully replies. Something really did happen, he thinks, plopping down in his chair. Seeing the terrified look on her boss’s face, Betty runs to his side.
“Are you and the kids alright?” Greg asks again.
“We are but the house is torn to shreds,” she cries.
“Go somewhere safe and call the police.”
“I already did.”
“Where are you now?”
“I’m at the house with the police.”
“I’m on my way,” he says, slamming the phone down in the cradle.
“Is everything alright, Mr. Jenkins?”
“We’ve been burglarized,” he states, running for the door.
“Whoever did this is long gone by now,” Jerry says, pulling a notebook out of his pocket.
“Thank god,” Abby replies, plopping down in the chair.
“Do you know anyone who would do this to you? Do you have any enemies, disgruntled co-workers, neighbors?”
“We don’t know anybody yet, we just moved in a few days ago.”
“Well, there doesn’t seem to be anything missing. So If I had to guess I’d say whoever did this was looking for something.”
“What?” she asks, waving her hands around.
“You said that you just moved in here a few days ago, correct?”
“We moved in over the weekend, why?”
“Maybe the old renters forgot something.”
“Why did they have to destroy all of our stuff looking for it?” she cries, scanning the cluttered mess.
“Abby, oh thank god you’re alright,” Greg replies, running into the house. Jerry holds up his hand to stop him.
“Her husband, Greg Jenkins.”
“Do you live here?”
“Yes, me, my wife and our two kids. Where’s the kids, where’s Lilly and Adam?” he asks, anxiously looking around.
“They’re asleep in the van.”
“Good,” he says, plopping down beside her.
“I was telling your wife that we believe whoever did this was looking for something. Since there doesn’t seem to be any forced entry and the front door and windows are locked, they must have entered from the back door. So either they have a key or you forgot to lock up.”
“No, I remember locking the door. In fact, I locked the door and the deadbolt. See, our landlord had one of his workers come out to do a little yard work, and he looked a little shady so I made sure I locked up,” she quickly explains.
“Was he still here when you left?”
“Yes, he was getting equipment from the back of his truck when I pulled out of the drive.”
“Do you remember the guy’s name?”
“He said his name is Randy.”
“Can you describe him?”
“He’s short around five four, five-five, heavy set. He has short brown hair and brown eyes.”
“We’ll look into it. In the meantime, I’d advise you to change the locks.”
“We will officer, thank you,” Greg replies, wrapping his arms around his trembling wife.
“Why are the police here, mommy? Daddy,” Lilly says, running to her father.
“Someone came in and threw our stuff all over the place. So the police are here to find out who did it. Abby explains.
“I know who did it, Mommy, it was a guy named Mike. He’s looking for Suzanne’s diary.”
“How do you know that, princess?”
“My friends told me. They told me to tell Mommy that she forgot to lock the door.”
“No, I remember locking it. Wait, no I didn’t. I was going to go back and lock it but the guy had me so spooked I completely forgot.”
“He had you spooked?”
“Yeah, he looks kind of creepy and there is something about him that I just didn’t like,” she says, trying to recall the encounter.
“Did he do anything to you?”
“No, no he just gave off a bad vibe is all. It might have been the way he stood or how he spoke, I don’t know for sure. Do you think we should tell the police who did it?”
“Sure and when they ask how we know we can tell them that Lilly’s dead friends told us.”
“Yeah, you’re probably right. Why would he be looking for the diary and how did he know I found it in the first place?”
“Who else knows about the diary?”
“Just you, me and Lilly. Wait, I told the librarian too.”
“So maybe she’s the one who told Mike.”
“Why would Janet do that?” Abby asks, puzzled.
“Where’s the diary now?”
“I took it to town with me so I can look up a few names. That’s it, that’s why he wants it.” Pulling the book out of her purse, she flips through the pages. “Suzanne wrote that a few people threatened Jack, and Mike is on the list,” she explains.
“So, maybe Mike is afraid that something in the diary will tie him to Jack’s...” Remembering his daughter is still in the room he stops.
“Lilly, could you check on Adam for me, please?”
“Sure Daddy.” Seeing Lilly walk out the door he continues.
“Tie him to Jack’s death.”
“The librarian said that Jack hung himself after his wife fled with the girls.”
“What if he didn’t hang himself? What if he was murdered?”
“That would explain why everyone acts so strange when we ask about the house.”
“It’d also explain the neighbor’s warning,” he concludes.
“If the librarian told Mike I found the diary that means Janet is in on it too.” Her thoughts drifted back to her original conclusion about how Jack killed his family and the town folk killed him.
“I wonder how many others are covering this thing up.” Greg says.
“You know the cop didn’t seem overly concerned about the break-in. They searched the house to make sure the intruder is gone, but that’s about all they did.”
“So you think that the police are a part of the cover-up too?”
“Mommy, Adam is awake.”
“What do you have there, Princess?” Taking a piece of notebook paper out of the child’s hand he quickly unfolds it. He sees the message is written in bold letters with red ink dripping off the sides. A puddle of red ink lay directly below the message.
“Where did you get this?”
“In the van,” she explains.”
“What does it say, Greg?”
“Leave it alone,” he says, handing it to Abby.
“Oh my god the baby,” Abby exclaims, rushing through the door. She hears Adam screaming as she runs towards the van. Unbuckling the car seat, she quickly scoops him up.
“Is he alright?” Greg asks.
“I think so,” she says, assessing the screaming infant.
“Look, mommy, another note.” Lilly rips a piece of paper loose from the back of the car seat. Abby snatches it out of her hands.
“What does it say, honey?”
“Watch your back.”
“Get in the house, now!” Greg yells, hustling his family inside.
“What are we going to do?” she asks, watching him lock the door.
“I don’t know,” he says, nervously glancing around.