Chapter 6: The Terror Continues
Yawning, Abby grabs the coffee pot and pours herself another cup. Watching the hot liquid stream into the mug, she yawns again. She had trouble sleeping after what’d happened last night. Every time she’d start to doze a strange noise would startle her awake. When the noises finally stops, Adam decided it was time to get up. I’d give just about anything for a little more sleep, she thinks, plopping in the antique chair. As she’s sipping her coffee she starts thinking about the conversation she had this morning. She told Greg how scared she is and suggested they install an alarm system, which he quickly agreed. He then suggests she leave the Arnold’s deaths alone. Stating that she’s putting their lives in danger with her investigation. Abby tells him she understands his concern, but wants to find out what really happened to Suzanne and the girls. After a long heated debate, he agrees to her doing research in their home.
She starts heading towards the office when she hears a loud knock on the door. Glancing out of the peephole, she sees her landlord standing on the bottom step. With a huge sigh of relief, she quickly opens the door.
“Good morning Mrs. Jenkins.” Taking a hankie out of his pocket, he wipes it across his forehead.
“It’s a scorcher today,” he says, wiping his brow.
“Would you like to come in and cool off?” she asks, waving her hand through the air.
“No, no I’ll be fine in a minute,” he says, wiping his forehead again.
“How about a glass of water?” she offers.
“I have a jug in the truck, but thanks anyhow. The reason I’m here is because I heard someone broke into your home yesterday and I want to make sure you guys are ok.”
“We’re fine but thanks for checking on us.”
“I’ll change the locks if I’ll make you feel safer.”
“They’re alright, but thank you for asking,” she says, trying to close the door. He pushes it back open.
“I want to let you know that Randy didn’t do this. I picked him up as you were leaving and he was with me the entire day. That’s the reason why he didn’t get around to your lawn,” he says looking across the spacious yard.
“The police already told me.”
“He plans on mowing your yard this evening if that’s alright with you.”
“That’ll be fine, thank you.”
“Randy may not be the sharpest tool in the shed and he’s not the snazziest dresser but he is a good boy, a real hard worker.”
“I’m sure he is.”
“He wouldn’t hurt a soul,” he quickly adds.
“I’m sure he wouldn’t.”
“If there is anything I can do for you, let me know alright.” He says, turning to leave.
“There is one thing.”
“What’s that?” he asks, spinning back around.
“You can tell me what really happened here.” she says, glancing inside the house.
“What are you talking about?”
“Suzanne Arnold’s disappearance and Jack’s death.”
“What about it?” he asks, nervously shifting his weight.
“I was told that his wife left and he hung himself.”
“That’s what I’ve been told. His wife left with another man took the girls with her. Jack became really depressed, started drinking a lot. Then one day his neighbor found him in the barn with a suicide note in his pocket.” Seeing his peculiar reaction she decides to press on.
“Why does everyone act so strange when I ask about it and why did someone ransack the house looking for something?”
“The people around here are real touchy on the subject. Guess they don’t want his suicide to tarnish the town’s reputation. As far as breaking into the house I don’t have a clue as to who’d do that.” He starts to leave when another thought occurs to him. He turns back around.
“You’ll leave the Arnold matter alone if you know what’s good for you.” Turning on his heels he dashes to his truck.
“Is he warning me too?” She wonders, walking back inside.
Jerry is working on the computer at his desk when he sees Rachel walking by.
“Sergeant, I’ve been thinking about the break-in at the old Arnold house yesterday.”
“Yeah?” she says, walking towards his cluttered desk.
“We thought someone was looking for something, right?”
“Go on.” Moving a stack of files to the floor, she sits across from him.
“We assumed it was the previous tenants so I looked them up and found out they’re both serving time in prison.”
“Ok, so what about the renters before them?”
“That would be the Arnold’s back in the late 70′s.”
“The house was vacant for a long, long time.”
“It’s hard to believe that beautiful house was vacant for so long.”
“No one wanted to rent it because everyone believes it’s haunted.”
“Haunted?” She leans in, hoping to hear a good ghost story.
“They claim Jack runs off anyone who tries to live there.”
“What happened to him?”
“The police believe he committed suicide after his wife left. The town’s people don’t think she left or that he killed himself either.”
“What do they think happened?”
“They believe he did something to her and the girls but no one could find any proof.”
“Was he abusive?”
“Very abusive. She was so scared of him that she’d refuse to press charges.”
“Why didn’t the police do anything about it?”
“Things were a lot different back then. The law wasn’t so quick to step in on domestic disputes like they are today.”
“So you think he murdered them and then killed himself?”
“I think he murdered the family and then someone killed him.”
“So whoever killed him was looking for something that might incriminate him?”
“Exactly, but what?”
“I want you to go back out and talk to the Jenkins. See what you can find out. I’ll pull the old case file, see what I can find.”
Greg is sitting at his desk when he hears someone knocking on the door. Looking up, he sees a few coworkers standing in the doorway. This can’t be good, he thinks; remember what they’d just been through. Pasting on a fake smile, he waves them in.
“We heard your house was broken into and we want to make sure you’re alright,” a worker replies.
“My wife and I are a little shaken up, but other than that we’re fine.”
“Was anything taken?” a second one asks.
“No, but they tore the house up pretty good.”
“Who’d vandalize your house like that, Mr. Jenkins?”
“I don’t know and the police don’t seem to know either.”
“We’re glad you’re alright. If there’s anything we can do for you please let us know.”
“I will and thanks for your concern, guys.” He wanted to ask how they heard about the house but after what happened yesterday he wasn’t so sure he should.
Abby researched all the names in the diary, but none of them had a criminal history. The police report wasn’t any help either. According to the coroner, he died of asphyxiation caused by the hanging and that he was intoxicated at the time of the accident. It went on to say that the suicide note was written by Jack Abbott. Since the only fingerprints found on the rope and the chair were his, the police concluded that he hung himself.
“Maybe he felt so bad for killing his family that he really did hang himself,” she concludes. She starts to walk towards the front of the house when she hears banging coming from the back door.
“Who is it,” she asks, but there was no reply. She glances through the curtain but didn’t see anyone standing on the steps. Grabbing a knife from the kitchen counter, she runs back to the door.
“Who’ is it!” she yells. There was still no reply. Holding the knife up in a striking position, she quickly throws the door open. She sees one of Lilly’s dolls swinging by its neck from the door frame. Its beautiful pink clothes were torn to shreds and it was covered in what looked to be fresh blood. Screaming, Abby slams the door.
“Who is it, mommy?”
“No one, honey, go back upstairs and play,” she instructs, quickly hiding the knife behind her.
“Ok, mommy.” Halfway up the steps, Lilly turns back around.
“Mommy, Suzanne wanted me to tell you to leave it alone.”
“Leave what alone?”
“I don’t know,” she says, running up the remaining stairs.
“She doesn’t want me to look into his death either, but why? Is she covering for someone? Maybe she’s protecting her lover. Protecting him from what? Maybe Jack was murdered after all.” Remembering the doll she quickly scoops up the phone.
“I wonder what the police will do about this,” she thinks, dialing 911.