I jumped out of the car, deposited my fifty cents, and removed a paper from the corner stand. I motioned Tuesday to drive south, away from town, as I looked at the front page article. I suggested she turn left at Deadman’s curve and park down at Gibson cove where we could go over every word of the article in peace.

            We descended the steep, winding, gravel road down to where the famous art deco Kalakala ferry rested for twenty seven years before her repatriation to Seattle. The sheer cliffs of the area attracted ice climbers from around the world during the winter months but this time of year the cliffs belonged to breeding puffin colonies. Only an exciting headline in the Island Breeze could distract my attention from these colorful and comical Alcidaes.

            “LOCAL POLICE SEARCHING FOR MOTHER OF TWO”. I read the article out loud to Tuesday. “Libby Sinclair was last seen Saturday afternoon by her attorney Alan Johnson during a brief meeting at Mill Bay Espresso. After Mrs. Sinclair failed to meet her friends for a local quilt guild meeting Sunday morning, they attempted to reach her at home and by phone with no success. Mrs. Sinclair also failed to pick up her two children Sunday night after they spent the weekend with her estranged husband.” The article proceeded with a short biography of Libby, quotes from friends and neighbors, and the usual information on where to call in with tips or information concerning her disappearance. A related article recapped other Kodiak unsolved missing person cases.

            Tuesday spoke first. “Brinkley, what do you think happened to Libby? Do you believe for a second she ran off with some man as the gossip mongers are peddling? I mean, I have been babysitting for her and John since their first child and I just don’t see it.”

            “No, I just don’t see Libby having a secret lover. I mean, when? Sometime between midnight and 6am? She had two kids to care for, a part time job, was a homeroom mom, active member of several organizations, volunteered at her church, and maintained a large garden plot at the public pea patch.”

            “I hadn’t looked at it that way” she responded. “So if not a runaway, what do you think happened? Where is she?”

            I didn’t want to share what I really thought. “It may sound cliché, but I think the police need to look closely at her husband. I believe he has the answers”.

            “We’ll I hope it turns out to be some horrible misunderstanding and Libby left town unexpectedly.” That was a nice thought although I knew different. “She loved those children with all her heart. I know because I was around Libby and the girls a lot. John is the one I would expect to disappear because he always seemed so unhappy, so angry.”

            We both sat in silence for a few minutes as her words resonated through my brain.

            “I think it is time we changed our focus to your date preparation. You are in dreadful need of a mani-pedi and a few highlights in your hair. That will make you feel confident tonight.” I knew she was right and asked her to drop me off at Kodiak’s only full-service salon. 

            After a couple hours of beauty care at Victoria’s, I grabbed my shopping bag, crossed Rezanof Highway, and hiked up the hill to my house. When I was within earshot I heard the excited barks of Eddie and Daisey. I smiled anticipating my greeting but my pleasure lasted for only a moment. I hadn’t driven up the driveway for the ratties to recognize my car sounds. Plus, I was several houses away when I was able to hear their barks. Something was wrong.

            The barking I heard at the door was not the usual barks of anticipation. Instead, they were the sounds of two alarmed terriers. Someone must have been here and it must have been recently for them to still be excited. I entered the house cautiously and looked around slowly and quietly. Nothing appeared to be out of place but I was sure that someone had been here although I was not sure if they had actually entered my house or the dogs had scared them away. It was someone the ratties considered a stranger.



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