York waits with Ed, his eyes glued the window where warm sunlight streams in. “How is this helping?” The worried father asks at long last.
“My friends are sending help, Ed. Just wait a little longer.” York sips at his lukewarm, overly sweet coffee while his other hand presses against the letter in his pocket, the contents he’s read and reread a dozen times to make sure everything is right. Ed slumps forward and yawns before straitening and smiling as a portly woman pushes open the door to his shop the chime clinking together softly.
“Hello ma’am, how may I help you?” She smiles at him but her gaze seems to go threw him.
“Just looking thank you.” Her hand reaches out and her fat fingers grip a post card, she pulls it close and examine it.
“Are you here on vacation?” she looks back, slightly annoyed with Ed.
“Yes, third honeymoon. Just looking for something to send back to my daughter.” Ed nods and drops the conversation.
“Well,” York stands up, Ed’s eyes race to him “Time to get back to the office. Call me if you need anything Ed.”
“I need you to find Lily, Brett.” The store owner grips the detective’s arm.
“I can’t do that, Alexis owns the police force and most of this town. I can’t make a move against him.” He pulls free of the desperate grip. “So unless you want her, yourself, or me to die, just wait. Help should arrive tonight.” Ed’s gaze drops and he nods mutely, the chime indicates the departure. For several minutes the radio plays softly, the portly woman reappears and drops two post cards, two t-shirts, and some chocolates on the counter. He rights up her purchases.
“That will be thirty-eight dollars and fifty-two cents.” His voice is flat, the woman roots around her purse before handed him an even forty, he pulls out the cash box and sorts the money before pulling out change. He hands her a single and some change “Thirty-nine, forty” She smiles, the spare change gets dropped in the small coffee tin for some local ill-child as Ed bags the purchases. She takes the bag and leaves, Ed’s eyes go back out the window.
Greenfield was once so lively but the economic crash nine years back devastated the small town. The road outside the store is crumbling, the art and craft shows have ended; and no one really comes to the small town anymore. The bed-and-breakfasts have begun shutting down, the younger people are leaving at high rates, and the instances of death have risen. Yet, even with all of that, the houses are full of people, the stores make enough to stay afloat, and some of the people that do visit move to the sleepy town. He sighs, this is not the town of his childhood, something lurks in the shadowed alleyways but what no one is willing to guess at.
The hours tick by slowly, customers come and go as clouds roll in and the sun sets. Ed counts out the money and writes up the deposit slip before pocketing his earnings and locking up the store. He lives close so he walks home, the streets are almost empty, the wind is picking up, steadily turning from a breeze into damaging gusts. He rounds a corner and freezes, leaning against a well known black car is a well known man, the man shoves off the car and walks to Ed. “Edward, Mr. Howard wants his money. You have two weeks.”
“I’m trying to get- Hey!” The man, who seemed more like a brick wall then a person on the narrow sidewalk, grabbed him, large hands rifling threw his pockets before pulling out the wad of cash.
“What’s this?” The man smiles and pushes Ed back. “Thank you, Edward. Mr. Howard will be happy you’ve started paying us back.” Ed floundered for words as the man climbed back into the car which immediately sped away. With a sigh Ed trudges home, his house is empty and sad, devoid of his daughter and his wife but hopefully the help promised to come by York would arrive soon and return his child to him.
That night high winds whipped the trees and power lines, while thunder rolled, and lightning splits the dark sky over head. The rain is on and off, interrupted by hail or nothing. The street lights shake in the wind, an old bus creaks to a stop and hesitantly the door opens, a stranger climbs off, hood pulled up and eyes cast to the damp ground. It makes a run for the bus stop and then down the road to a small inn. The room is easily arranged, though the price is steep, not that they mind. The storm rages on all night, only breaking apart when the sun has already risen on a new day.