The Grey Girl

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Chapter 12: 1936

Edgar lay slumped against an old fallen tree. He was wet and cold. His head was pounding, and what little contents were in his stomach threatened to rebel. That would be the last time he bought moonshine from old Jake. The sun was barely beginning to show above the mountains when Edgar’s vision cleared enough to see the hand barely visible under a pile of leaves. Slowly he crept forward, startled by the clatter of his hunting rifle falling from his lap. He leaped back, holding his breath. The hand didn’t move.

“No, no, no,” he muttered, moving again closer to the mound of leaves. The musky dampness mingled with a sweat perfume. Brushing away the leaves and dirt revealed a young woman’s face. Her eyes were open, and her face still held the look of shock. Brushing more detritus off the corpse, Edgar could see the large, damp red stain in her disheveled clothes. It was then he noticed the red covering his hands.

Edgar scuttled back to the fallen log, quickly checking his rifle. He was missing a bullet. He found the casing nearby. “I must have shot her when I was drunk.” He whimpered, “Not again, not again. I can’t go through this again.”

There it was again, that soft whisper in his ear. “That’s OK; these things happen.” Edgar stared at the dead girl. She looked familiar. “What you have to ask is why was she out in the woods at night?” Edgar studied the face. Finally, it hit him. She was a waitress at a diner in town. He had asked her out once or twice, even offering her a ride home a couple of other times. Every time she had refused him.

“She lives on the other side of town,” Edgar slurred. “Why is she out here?” He got unsteadily to his feet. Stumbling in a circle, he tried to figure out where she had come from. He was about twenty feet into the woods. The spot lay just in view of a small pasture on the back property of his house. He could see one of the chimneys just above the trees on the other side of the clearing.

“This is private property.” Edgar nodded. “No one comes back here.” Edgar was looking around trying to see if anyone else was around. “Just cover the body back up, and leave it to nature to take care of. She’ll never be missed. Just like all the other girls who have run off to the city to find better fortunes.” Edgar laughed, immediately covering his mouth as the implication of his statement threatened to infect his mind. Through the stupor he covered the body with more dirt and leaves. While bending over to cover the girl’s face, the drink kicked back in, causing him to fall. The girl groaned as Edgar’s weight pushed air out of her lungs. He was back against the log, pointing at the corpse with a shaking finger. “No, no, it’s all right. She’s dead. Just cover her up, and we can go home.” Edgar closed his eyes tightly, praying when he opened them again that he would be back in his bed. He counted to ten and opened his eyes. She was still there. He knew what he had to do. Pushing himself up, he found a bottle next to his feet. Taking a long drink to steady his nerves, Edgar continued to cover the body.

The sun was fully up and shone bright when he returned to the house. Richard was there to help him up the porch steps. Edgar swayed dangerously. “You were out all night. Then you come home drunk and filthy,” Richard chastised. “Mother will not be pleased. To say nothing of what father will think.” Richard pulled his brother through the empty sitting room. “Best to just get you to bed. I’ll tell them you’ve taken ill,” he explained pulling Edgar up the stairs.

“Thank you, Richard,” Edgar slurred. “You are always looking out for me.”

“Yes, and I always will, dear brother of mine.”

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