The Grey Girl

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Chapter 30: Research

After the events in the woods, it took a couple of days and the combined arguments of Chloe and Albert to get Alex to leave Chloe and the house. It was a question posed by Aaron that finally got Alex motivated. “How many more girls did Edgar kill?” The silence that followed was deafening. Alex looked over at Chloe and decided to make it his mission to find out.

Chloe remembered Brenda from the diner. Although other than remembering she was always very nice, there was nothing more she could tell him. Alex began spending less time helping with the restoration and more time at the library and local historical society. He would return every evening to do a few things, but mostly he spent his time talking with Chloe to the annoyance of his brother. He never said anything because of the look he got from Arthur whenever he started to complain.

More and more often, Alex would return to find Chloe with his father. Sometimes they would have their heads together working on the electric; sometimes they would argue over the HVAC. Sometimes it was just quiet conversation about Alex’s grandfather as a youth.

“I miss working with my father on the tractors. This feels good,” Chloe had explained.

“On top of that, I don’t need to rip out the walls to get things done. Our girl”—Albert waved at Chloe, who blushed at the statement—“can really get into those hard-to-reach places.” Alex knew she was still trying to find the missing items taken from her, however many others were out there. The thought of more people trapped in the places they died gnawed at him at night.

Aaron still wasn’t as eager to work with Chloe. They were very courteous with each other. Aaron remained rather standoffish. They chatted occasionally while he worked, but mostly he stayed distant. Chloe shrugged at his coolness as if it didn’t bother her, but Alex could tell it did. She stated she liked Aaron but had no idea how to talk to him. When Alex asked Aaron why he rarely interacted with her, Aaron explained, “I just don’t want to get too attached.” He gave Alex a pointed look that Alex brushed off, but the feeling in the pit of his stomach only grew.

A new day found Alex back in the library. He had already been through the newspapers that covered Chloe’s disappearance. It annoyed him how little enthusiasm the reporter had for the story. The reports angered Alex. There was never any mention of the police interview with Edgar. It took hours and hours of combing through the columns for Alex to even find Brenda’s name. She had disappeared six months after Chloe. He found another name in a newspaper six months after the mention of Brenda. The young woman was Gay Cleary. It was then that Alex noticed the date. It was the one-year anniversary of when Chloe had gone missing.

Going back in his research, he found the date of Brenda’s disappearance. It was exactly six months after Chloe’s. Excited but dreading what he might find, he checked ahead another six months. There was nothing. At the two-year anniversary, another girl went missing. Oddly, at years three and four, there was no mention of any missing girls. At the five-year anniversary, he found a small article about another girl gone missing. The disappearances were getting further apart. Alex tried to do the math, coming to the conclusion that there had been thirteen deaths so far, and the day for the next murder was fast approaching. That was if Edgar had lived. With a note of anger, Alex noted more column space was devoted years later to the death of the elder Mr. Davis and passing of the family business to Edgar than to any of the missing women.

It was weird, though. It didn’t look like Edgar was keeping his end of whatever bargain he had made. There was trouble at the mill, layoffs, union troubles, and safety violations. This is when he found Edgar’s name in prominence. It was always connected to some scandal or bad business dealings. After 1947, Alex couldn’t find any more missing-persons reports. After weeks of research, he decided he had found out all he could from the old newspapers.

Next was the county courthouse. The land deeds and tax records told little, but a clerk he met turned out to be the curator of the county historical society. Here, Alex was told many interesting stories. This was the source of information he needed, he thought.

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