Things to do in Freehold

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Chapter Sixty-five:

Sue Mackenzie (Early afternoon of September 13, 1994)

Louise went on to Jeff and I the story about the dead rat Adeline brought home one day when she was only a toddler. Apparently, she found it on the curb, just outside her house and brought it back inside to dress it up like one of her dolls. “She hadn’t even turned three yet,” Louise noted. “Seeing that unlucky creature on the side of the road was her first encounter with death. Therefore, Joseph didn’t think much of it and claimed that she was just curious, that’s all.”

“What did her mom have to say?” Jeff asked.

“Well, at first, she agreed with him,” Louise said, taking a sip of her tea.

“But then?” I questioned when she didn’t finish her thought.

“But then it became time to throw the rodent away and Adeline did not like that at all,” she continued. “She threw things, broke things. Joseph suggested to Liv that giving the rat a proper burial ceremony might calm her down, so they did.”

“And did she?” Jeff inquired, leaning back in his chair. “You know, calm down?”

“For awhile,” Louise half-smiled, taking another sip of tea. “But, then, three days later, Olivia soon found out that the grave had been dug up by Adeline. They tried to re-bury it, but Adeline, for whatever reason, just kept going back to it. She had made a habit of this. Finally, one day, Olivia was able to take the now rat skeleton and throw it in the dumpster when Adeline wasn’t looking. The moment she found out, though, Adeline became completely enraged.”

“Did she throw another tantrum?” I queried.

“No, what she did was far worst. Over the next few months, she began drawing pictures all over the walls,” she replied.

“Well, that doesn’t seem so bad,” Jeff commented. “I mean, plenty of kids do that when they don’t get their way.”

“True,” Louise agreed. “But not many of those children illustrate their own mother being murdered in the most violent ways possible.”

“Oh,” Jeff uttered. He then glanced over at me, who had the same fearful expression as he did.

“Then what happened?” I asked, voice shaking. I’m not sure if I actually want to know or not.

“Olivia begged Joseph to take her to a psychiatrist, but Joseph refused,” Louise said. “He said that it was just a phase and that she would ‘grow out of it’. He always was stubborn that one. He was right, though, a couple of years went by and Adeline did eventually stop drawing the pictures on the wall. However, she then started to scream bloody murder, in public, whenever her mother would go near her, making people around them believe that Olivia was hurting her. She’s a damn good actor, always has been. Anyway, by this time, Olivia was so desperate, she actually came to me, at the diner. I guess she figured if anyone could knock some sense into my son, it’d be me.”

I got up to grab some nearby tissues on the counter as Louise started to sniffle.

“I remember, vividly, her asking me if I believed in the devil,” she mentioned, trying hold back her tears, but failing, immensely. “Because that’s who she believed her daughter was: the devil. A week later, she turned up dead at the bottom of the staircase. The autopsy said that there was no suspected foul play, but I find that hard to believe, given the context.”

Suddenly, the phone rang and Jeff stood up to go answer it, while I stuck around with Louise. “Why are you telling us all this?” I asked her.

“Because I need you know the truth. My son, he would’ve done anything for that ratchet girl, even cover up a murder or six.”

“Wait, you’re not seriously suggesting—”

Louise nodded and the hairs on the my neck instantly stood up, along with the ones on my arm.

“No, because Adriene is—”

“C’mon, Sue, you really think Adriene killed all those people by herself? Even so, why would she want to kill their daughters? She hardly knew them. She knew Adeline, though, what she was. That’s why she recruited her to help with her dirty work.”

My heart sank and my throat tightened. This can’t be true. For Jacob’s sake, it can’t be.

“Sue,” Jeff said, re-entering the room. “That was the highschool. They said Jake has missed his last two periods and he’s nowhere to be found on campus.”

“What are you saying? That he’s missing?” I could feel myself coming undone. This can’t be happening. I’ve already solved the mystery; I’ve done everything right so far.

“Well, maybe he just ditched with her. Do you think she would’ve taken him somewhere in particular? Adeline?” Jeff questioned, crossing his arms.

I was about to answer when I glanced over at Louise, who had been staring at the ground in silence. “Louise, where did they go?” When she didn’t say anything, I leaned in close, seeing nothing but red. What else was she hiding? “If you know something, you better tell us now, or so help me God, I will bash your head in, myself.”

“I don’t,” she uttered, still refusing to make any sort of eye-contact with me.

I slammed my fist on the table. “Why are you still protecting her?”

Unphased, Louise had finally looked up at me. “Because those were his last words to me.”

“C’mon, Sue,” Jeff intervened, tugging at my arm. “We need to go and she isn’t going to tell us anything.”

I hesitated at first, but then agreed to follow Jeff out to his car. Louise watched us from our porch as he reversed out of the driveway. Jeff is right; we don’t have time to interrogate her. We need to find Jake; that should be our main priority. Although, I wished I could have picked her brain just a little bit more, just to see how much she actually knew about the murders.

“You him anywhere? Or her?” Jeff looked outside both mine and his window, while trying to drive at the same time.

“No,” I told him as he made a brief stop at a sign, then continued on. “In fact, I don’t see anyone. It’s as if the streets are completely empty right now.”

“Well, keep an eye out for them. Who knows how far—”

Before Jeff could finish that sentence, I could see, at the corner of my eye, a flash of red. It was the Sierra, charging at us at full speed while we were driving through the intersection. “Look out!” I screamed, seconds before it had t-boned us. We were both knocked completely unconscious.

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