Tuesday, October 11, 2011

ExcerpTuesday: Stephen Brayton

My mind wandered between thoughts of the handsome detective and noticing the stores and businesses I passed. The K-Mart had been turned into a Big K, but it never seemed to lose the appearance of twenty-five years ago. An empty building once a carpet outlet and

a convenience store. The exotic pet store. The small shack (also closed) that used to be a drive up dairy mart. A small strip mall with a pizza place, hair boutique, florist, and

accountant's office.

I imagined Cameron in a kitchen, white apron tied around his waist, a pot of steaming boiling water on the stove, and pasta at the ready. On the counter, fixings for a

homemade sauce: onions, peppers, mushrooms, meatballs. Beef maybe, purchased at the Coventry Meat Wholesalers there on my left. Coventry had been a Moline landmark

since before I was born.

I slammed on my brakes without thinking about the possibility of someone behind me.

What had I just seen? Damn it, Mallory! I berated myself. How could I have been so blind?

Coventry Meat Wholesalers! I'd passed the place three times in the morning. To and from Denny's with Grandma and a few minutes later on my way to meet Lawrence.

Going north toward the avenue I could possibly understand missing it. A stand of trees bordered the south side of the lot and you had to be almost at the driveway before you

saw the building. With me now facing south, not half a mile from Grandma's house, I saw most of the building, even with the sun down. When I drove Grandma to and

from breakfast, I must have been distracted by her asking, for the fourth time, where my parents lived.

I turned the car around in the driveway of a Gospel Assembly Church. I drove slowly north for my subconscious had also registered something else. There!

Tucked in the shadows, next to the building, barely illuminated by the streetlight was a white van.

Reversing direction again, I inched past the Coventry driveway. Yes, definitely Econoline and I could just distinguish a dark stripe framing the rear doors.

I'd found the place! It had to be. This couldn't be a coincidence. My heart raced and my blood coursed with adrenaline. With renewed hope my nerves tingled with

energy. In my soul, I knew I had found the destination of Cindy McGee after she'd suffered the vile photo session in Oskaloosa.

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