Chapter 3. The Art of Thinking.
“I wouldn’t be too surprised if she did run away. There were rumors that Raymond liked to beat them. Or something like that. I don’t know much about it, they seem like a nice family but you never know. World is strange and crazy.”
The waiter wasn’t too helpful but that rumor seemed to be going around as it was the third time Jennifer had heard it. Sherry must have run away from an unhappy home was the popular belief. But the time Jennifer’s appointed time given to find any clues alone expired, she was worn out. This was definitely not in the job description. She had expected more of a desk job considering she hadn’t much experience in cases. Will was waiting for her in the gas station.
“Any luck?” He asked as she approached.
She shrugged. “Many are convinced she ran off on her own free will to get away from Raymond. I don’t know, this whole thing is so confusing.”
“Hey, we’ll get it eventually. There are a few B.J’s but I already scratched them off the suspect list. One is married with kids and the other doesn’t fit the description. The last one wasn’t even in town when she disappeared. His wife said he needed a vacation a few days prior. So she sent him on a fishing trip with some buddies.”
“Ok, let’s think. One of us should take the running away point or the kidnapping point.”
“Hmm, I’ll try the kidnapping point. Good luck. We only got 20 hours left.”
“This is ridiculous!” Jennifer thought to herself as she waited in line at the police station.
“Next. Oh, please, what do you want?”
“I’ve heard rumors that Sherry might have run away on her own will. Have anything that proves or disproves those rumors?”
“No. We prefer to investigate and follow procedures, not rely on rumors.”
“Ok, what is your opinion of the rumors? Do they have some truth to them?”
“Listen, my shift ends in a couple minutes. Meet me at Dina’s Diner.”
Jennifer smiled and left. That was all she could do for now. No other person wanted to talk anymore about Sherry. Seemed like everyone was trying to sweep it under the rug. Which infuriated her. Something happened to the girl and no one wanted to find out what or why. Well, except for her, Will, and the police department.
For the tenth time since she had been here, Jennifer wished she had been able to have her wallet with her. Gas, food, and practically everything else at such cheap prices made her almost cry. Her attention was snapped back when the door jingled. The officer nodded her way before taking a seat near the exit.
“Ok, so, what do you have?” She began.
“Not much. Look, with open cases like these it can get pretty complicated and we don’t want any rumors that could damage someone’s reputation.”
“Someone like Raymond?” Will injected.
The officer glanced around before nodding.
“His wife doesn’t like to talk much about their life. They live in a pretty secluded area. Now and then we get reports that she has some bruising but she shakes it off. Working on the farm, lots of stuff happens. I agree, there’s many opportunities to get hurt. But those bruises didn’t look like the average farm accident.”
A waitress walked over, he stopped talking and ordered coffee and a grilled cheese sandwich. When she left, he continued.
“I don’t like rumors. Nothing like spreading false information to sour someone’s reputation or mislead an investigation. Do I believe Raymond beat them, yes. But do I believe Sherry ran away? Maybe. We don’t have all of the facts.”
The waitress returned with his food and coffee. He took a sip, calculating his next words.
“See, folks around here are pretty laid back. The only cases we ever get is someone getting drunk and a bit disorderly or the occasional peace disturbance. Nothing too bad. But this, this is something else. It’s like she disappeared in thin air. We got no leads, nothin’ to work with. I have two parents that are bordering on hysterics. I need something fast.”
Jennifer and Will shared a look before she began.
“We might have something. She might be with someone by the name B.J.”
“That’s it? We have at least five B.J’s in this town alone. Or the guy could even be using a fake name!” He downed his coffee and rose from the table.
“You folks sure don’t know what you’re doing. That’s for sure. B.J. that’s all you got?” He muttered before leaving the Diner.
“Well, that went well.” Will cheerfully admitted.
“We have less than 20 hours to figure out where she is and who took her. This is hopeless. How are we supposed to solve this case?” Jennifer complained as they made their way out of the diner.
The waitress who served the officer passed Will and bumped into him. When they made eye contact she nodded outside.
“Meet me by the door in a minute,” she whispered, then louder, “Oops, I’m sorry.” Before heading into the kitchen.
A few minutes later, she exited the diner.
“Sorry, boss doesn’t like me leaving so soon. I heard you talking about Sherry and Raymond.”
“Yes, do you have any information we could use?”
“I don’t know if I should say. I’m friends with the family. That is until a couple months ago. They were having some marital issues. I didn’t want to get involved. But a few weeks ago, Sherry started acting weird around me. Like she was trying to tell me something.” She shook her head.
“Then she stopped. It was like everything was alright. But I knew it wasn’t. Raymond is a hard man. But he wouldn’t hurt them, no matter what anyone says. Whatever happened, it was not his fault. I just wanted to tell you that.” She paused at the door.
“Sherry kept a diary. Perhaps you might find something in there. No one knows about it except for me. Not even her mother.”
Will turned to Jennifer. “We need to go back to the farm. Chances are her diary is still there.”
Of course getting into the room proved more of a challenge.
“The police already searched her room. I doubt you will find anything there. Sherry didn’t keep any secrets from me. She doesn’t have a diary.” Betty persisted.
“We are just doing our job. The police searched and gathered various things that might help. Sherry might have hidden her diary to prevent it being found. This is just a precaution.” Jennifer explained again.
“Well, I suppose searching her room again won’t hurt. Just don’t leave the place a mess like the police did. Took me hours to clean and put back her things. I want it to look nice when she comes back.” She started sobbing but held back. “I’ll leave you to it, then.”
The room looked like an average preteen girl’s room. Posters of random artists crowded her walls while various trinkets occupied her shelves. Her closet door was slightly ajar, showing an overflowing amount of clothes and other things stuffed away. The diary could be anywhere. Will started looking through her desk but gave up when he surveyed the mountain of papers scattered about.
“If I were a preteen girl who never kept secrets but wanted to hide my diary, where would I put it? Jennifer mused.
“I was never a preteen girl so I wouldn’t know.” Will admitted.
“Well, obviously. But you can imagine. Any kid trying to hide something from their parents would try to find the perfect hiding spot. Where would that be?”
She decided against searching the closet, unsure of how to open it and then close it once more. Besides, a diary needs to be within reach in case of a need to write down something without being discovered. Jennifer sat on the fluffy light pink bed. It looked like the most popular bed at the time. A half canopy that tucked into the headboard. A perfect bed to dream in as a girl. Then, on an impulse, she lifted the mattress and reached her hand. Sliding it back and forth until her hand made contact with something. In the far corner almost impossible to reach, lay the secret diary. Carefully using her fingers, she was able to grasp the book and inch it towards her. Opening it, Jennifer flipped to the more recent entries.
Today Raymond and I went to the store and I got to see Steven. We looked at the different plows and talked. We have a lot in common. Raymond doesn’t like me talking to him though, says he isn’t a pleasant fellow. I like him. He doesn’t seem to talk to anyone but me. I guess that makes me special.
Jennifer skipped a few pages.
Life at home is awful. Seems like mom and Raymond are constantly arguing. He left the house to go to the fields without me. Even though he promised that Saturdays are strictly our day. Mom went to work in tears. Will life ever be normal?
That was written a few weeks ago. Coinciding along with what the waitress had said.
Joy! Raymond and mom have quit arguing! Mom said it was just a rough patch and they were over it! I’m so glad. Things are finally back to normal.
It will never be normal! Mom just had a huge fight with Raymond. It was over me again. She wants me to start acting like a girl and not like a boy. My Saturdays are now to be used to learn how to cook! Raymond is on my side and is trying to reason with her. Saying I don’t have to learn such stuff.
I’ve decided that if I can’t live my life, I’m going to leave and find a place I can be myself. A huge farm with just myself. I have about $10 stashed away from all the times Raymond thought I was getting soda. At first I just put it away because I didn’t actually feel like soda, but now I have a plan. I’m leaving this place. Raymond is taking me to the store. I have to tell Steven somehow. Maybe he’ll come with me! We can both start new lives!