Bringing Maddie Home - Page 57

“Can we do something one of these days?” she asked hurriedly.

“Tomorrow. We’ll go cruise some old hangouts.”

“I came to see why you two disappeared for so long,” Helen said from beyond him.

“Just talking.” Felix winked at Nell. “Long time no see, you know.”

“I’d probably better get going,” she said, but as she passed her brother she murmured, “I’ll call you in the morning.”


“WELL, ISN’T THAT INTERESTING,” Colin murmured, staring down at the key card Backpack Boy had apparently been carrying. A key card designed to open doors at Arrow Lake Lodge and Resort—owned by none other than Marc Dubeau. “If a kid disappeared during a stay at Arrow Lake,” he said, “why wouldn’t we have heard about it? Have him listed as missing?”

Duane shook his head. “Couldn’t have been staying there. Maybe he’d snitched it and thought he could get into rooms to help himself to some valuables.”

Colin could think of half a dozen other possibilities without even trying, none of which explained the young man ending up dead and buried in the park. “It’s something,” he finally said. “We can show the picture to Dubeau and any longtime staff.”

He was only half-listening as the rest discussed the eight-by-ten photo. Protected from the elements by frame and glass, it was the first item from the backpack Colin had looked at. The damage around the edges hadn’t spread to the subjects, a dark-eyed, dark-haired woman and boy. From the resemblance, they had to be mother and son.

Jane Vahalik, part of the huddle that also included Ronnie Orr, her trainee, volunteered to contact the studio whose stamp appeared on the back. It was located on the west side of the mountains in Eugene.

“Good,” Duane said. “No guarantee that boy grew up to be our victim, but it’s worth a try. If we can identify the woman, she may be able to tell us something.”

Jane tapped her finger on the table, dragging Colin’s gaze from the key card and photo, lying side by side. “Here’s something interesting, too.”

A Purple Heart, he saw, startled. The ribbon was in bad shape, but Linda had cleaned up the medal.

“Damn,” Colin murmured, hit hard by his sudden understanding. “The kid was carrying around his memories of his parents. Why would he do that?”

Linda indicated the remnants of a few items of clothing. “Briefs, T-shirt, socks. A change of clothes, minus the jeans, which are maybe too bulky to carry all the time?”

Homeless. Shit. Colin didn’t like the thought that was taking shape in his mind. He couldn’t dismiss it, though. Homeless guy, sixteen, seventeen years old, probably good-looking—if he were the cute kid in the photo some years later. Killed, or at least buried, a stone’s throw from where Maddie had very nearly also been killed.

Say something? Or keep what he was thinking to himself until he could talk to Nell?

“This is all very interesting,” Duane said, “but here’s what I brought you down to see.”

Colin followed him to a brightly lit magnifier. Beneath it was a bank deposit slip, and his puzzlement became sharp interest when he took in the amount—$30,000.

“It survived,” Linda said, “because it was in a plastic bag, the kind you put green beans in at the grocery store. There were a couple of photos in there, too. I’ll see what I can do to restore the second one, but it may be hopeless.”

The better of the two suffered from smeared and faded color, but Colin could make out enough to feel a chill. The photographer had been standing a distance away and had nothing like a telephoto lens, but Colin was easily able to recognize Police Chief Gary Bystrom, talking to another man Colin didn’t know. Their expressions were intense. In the background... He leaned closer. “Isn’t that the airfield at Arrow Lake?”

Marc Dubeau’s resort was one of the few around Angel Butte that allowed small plane owners to fly in and out. The resort included some time-share condominiums and cabins, and a few larger, fancier ones leased year-round. An Oregon senator used one of the more impressive homes, a massive log structure, to host parties, offer getaways to staff and for vacations for himself and family. His passion for hunting didn’t help his cause with the Sierra Club crowd.

Duane was right beside him, staring down at the same photo. “I think so.”

“Anyone traced that deposit slip?”

“Yeah, that’s why you’re here.” Duane glanced at the others. “Linda, is that everything so far?”

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