Trinity Island – Chapter 14

January 6, 2013 at 10:03 pm (Trinity Island)

Galen’s phone was ringing, but he couldn’t remember where he’d left it. Claire was tucked into his side and he hated to move her. It was dark, only three in the morning. He’d been asleep for an hour. Angling her away, he carefully slipped from the bed, trying not to jar her. His coat hung on the chair and he found his phone in the inside pocket.

“O’Brien,” he answered

“Detective, O’Brien, this is Dr. Eberly at Trinity Memorial Hospital. I have a patient who was brought in with severe head trauma and signs of abuse. I’d say she was in a fight.”

“Any idea who she was fighting?” Galen asked. He reached for his pants, figuring he’d have to head in to the hospital to take the woman’s statement, if she was up to it.

“That’s not why I’m calling, Detective. The lady was carrying a letter in her purse. The letter was from you.”

Galen swore under his breath. He’d not been able to contact Kay Hager to warn her about the potential hazards of dating the mayor, so he’d left a note with his card attached to it. “Is she alright?”

“It’s too soon to tell that, Detective. She’s sustained severe head trauma, as I said. She’s in a coma.”

Claire woke before he ended his call with Dr. Eberly. He gave her a quick rundown and told her not to wait up for him. Claire hopped out of bed and walked into her closet. She returned in less than two minutes, fully dressed. He didn’t argue with her because, in truth, he appreciated the company and her concern for the woman.

The hospital was at the far end of the town, almost to the ferry. It was a two-storey box with a small emergency ward and room for fifty long-term patients. A care home for the elderly took up the southeast corner of the large lot. Galen parked in a spot designated for emergency vehicles, placing his business card on the dash. He led the way into the hospital, asking at the front desk for Dr. Eberly.

“Detective O’Brien?”

Galen walked toward the man, his hand held out. Dr. Eberly looked to be barely out of med school, but he already had the tiredness around the eyes that Galen had seen of seasoned professionals. He introduced Claire to the doctor and then asked for an update on Kay’s condition.

“Ms. Hager is still in a coma and there’s no way to determine how long that might last. There is some swelling that we’re a little concerned with, so we’re keeping a close eye on her. If need be, we’ll medi-vac her to Vancouver. They’ve got a chopper on standby.”

“I’d like to see her.”

Dr. Eberly led the way down the hall. Kay was in the second of four trauma suites. Her head was bandaged up, making it difficult to see her. What little of her face was showing was puffy and bruised. Her hair was swept off to one side, a dark waterfall against the crisp white sheets.

Galen stared at her hair for a moment before turning back to the doctor. “You’re sure this is Kay Hager?”

“Yes, she had her purse on her.” Dr. Eberly left the room for a moment and returned with an evidence bag containing Kay’s purse and car keys. “Her car was parked down by the ferry, with the back door standing open. One of the ferry workers found her as he was doing his last rounds before heading home.”

Galen pulled the ID from her wallet and stared at the picture. She was not the woman he’d seen leaving the mayor’s company the other day. “What time was she found?”

“Just before eleven. We don’t know how long she had been there though. The worker said he hadn’t been near the parking lot for about an hour before then. So she could have been driven there anytime between ten and eleven.”

“She didn’t drive herself there?” Galen asked.

“No, she wouldn’t have been capable of driving in that condition. And she had dirt in her clothing, suggesting that she’d been dragged, which couldn’t have come from the paved parking lot at the ferry. Any further details will be provided to you once our forensics expert finishes his examination.”

Dr. Eberly left to complete his rounds and Galen stood there, staring at Kay, but thinking of another woman. Claire touched his hand, reminding him that she was there.

“I had a chat with the mayor the other day and he told me that he was having an affair with Kay Hager.”

Claire shook her head. “Jenna told me that Kay has been linked to my father.”

Galen nodded. “The mayor lied to me. Claire, I need to know who he’s seeing.”

“I can probably find out,” she said.

Galen sat her down in the chair across from Kay’s bed. “This has to stay confidential. The mayor admitted to having had affairs with each of the missing women. As I said last night at dinner, I don’t know if he’s involved, or if he’s just being used, but those women are in danger because of him. I have to warn whoever he is currently seeing.”

“He’s seeing my mother,” Claire reminded him.

“Yes, I already contacted your mother and warned her about the potential danger, though I didn’t tell her what my reasons were.” He hadn’t trusted Jillian not to blab all over town that someone was hurting the mayor’s lovers. “I saw a redhead leaving the house the mayor was using.”

“Ok, I’ll call Jenna. She’ll know who it is.” Claire left the room and walked outside the hospital to place her call. It was the middle of the night and Jenna had a young son, but she knew that her friend would understand the late call.

Claire walked back into Kay’s room five minutes later. Jenna had known exactly who the mayor was seeing, because the girl had blabbed about it at the school where Jenna often volunteered in her son’s class.

“He’s seeing a Grade Two school teacher named Alyssa Fields.” Claire gave Galen the address that Jenna had provided. The girl lived alone and wasn’t dating anyone, aside from the mayor.  “She’s twenty-three, but Jenna says she still behaves like a flighty teenager.”

Which would have made her ripe for the plucking by an experienced player such as the mayor. Galen left the hospital with Claire, heading straight for Alyssa’s home. She lived in one of only three apartment buildings on the island, an eight-storey, thirty-four unit complex not far from the police station. He buzzed her apartment twice with no answer. He buzzed the manager and waited five minutes while the man shuffled down the steps to let them in.

“Bit early for a house call, isn’t it, Detective?” the manager said.

“Sorry about that, Mr. Stumpf, but it can’t wait, I’m afraid.” Galen followed the man up to Alyssa’s apartment and waited while he unlocked the door. Galen stepped inside and had a quick look around, but nothing appeared amiss. If Alyssa was missing, she hadn’t been taken from her home.

Galen drove directly to the mayor’s residence and banged on the door until it opened. Jeff Anglove stood there in his robe, his hair disheveled, anger staining his face. Before he could say a word, Galen demanded to know about his affair with Alyssa Fields.

“Kay Hager was attacked tonight. I just came from the hospital. She isn’t the woman I saw leaving the house the other day.”

“I don’t have to answer these questions. I’m calling my lawyer.” Anglove started to shut the door, but his wife’s voice stopped him.

“Jeff,” Rebecca Anglove stood at the base of the stairs, her pregnant belly stretching her robe to the limits. She kept one hand on the rail and another at her back.

“Rebecca, go back upstairs.”

“No Jeff, not this time. I think I need to hear this.”

Galen stepped inside before the mayor could close the door on him. He assisted Mrs. Anglove to a chair in the living room and waited for the mayor to sit down. He explained to Mrs. Anglove about his conversation with her husband this past Wednesday, providing only the salient details, and how the results of that conversation led him to offer a written warning to Ms. Hager.

“I was unable to contact her in person, but still felt the need to warn her. My note to her was still in her purse when she was brought in, so the hospital called me.”

“Ms. Hager isn’t having an affair with my husband, she’s having one with Reginald Wallis.”

Galen nodded, grateful that Claire had stayed in the car. He knew she was mostly beyond the emotional attachment most kids felt towards their parents, but to have their behavior continuously shoved in her face would push anyone to their limits.

“There, so–”

“However,” she interrupted her husband, “he is having an affair with Ms. Fields, among several others.”

That shut him up, Galen thought. People always thought the spouse never knew. They were fooling only themselves.

“Did you meet with her tonight?” Galen asked the mayor.

When the mayor refused to answer, Mrs. Anglove spoke again. “Is she in danger from my husband, or because of him?” Rebecca ignored the sharp look she got from her husband, her attention focused solely on Galen.

“I believe she is in danger because of him.” And God, he hoped that was true.

“Then answer the man, Jeff, or I will.”

His shoulders hunched, Jeff admitted that he’d been with Alyssa that night. He said they’d met at the same house Galen had been to at seven and they’d parted ways at eleven.

“How did she cross the water?”

“She borrowed a boat from a friend and tied it to the wharf near the pinch point.”

Galen made a note in his book to check the wharf for the boat. “How did you get there?”

The mayor sighed. “I have my own boat. I docked it at the house and returned to the marina after.”

“Why didn’t Alyssa dock at the house, too?”

“I didn’t want her to. It wouldn’t have been discreet.” He ignored his wife’s disbelieving cough. “During the day, people will think I’m showing the house. In the evening, they will know that’s not the case.”

Galen didn’t think anyone believed the mayor was actually showing the house, no matter the time of day. “Did you walk Alyssa to her boat?”

“No, why would I?”

Galen thought that that comment spoke volumes and it looked as if the mayor’s wife agreed. The disgust on her face was evident now, where before she’d simply been displeased. “So, knowing that women who are acquainted with you have been disappearing, you didn’t see fit to ensure the lady’s safety by walking her to her boat last night,” he said.

It wasn’t a question and Anglove ignored it. Galen had heard enough anyway. He stood, assisting Mrs. Anglove to her feet as well. He asked how far along she was and was surprised to hear that she was due any day.

“Do you have family here?”

“No, my family lives in Regina and we weren’t that close.”

He took his leave then, but gave his card to Rebecca, telling her to call him if she needed anything. He closed the door behind him. Claire was on the phone when he got back into the truck.

“Ok, we’ll be there in a few minutes.” She hung up and told him to head over to the bakery.

“Why the bakery?”

“Because that’s where everyone is meeting.”

Galen didn’t understand, but he put the truck in gear and backed out of the driveway. “Why is everyone meeting at the bakery?”

“You need to organize a search of the island for Alyssa, and you can’t do that by yourself.”

Claire wasn’t kidding when she said everyone was at the bakery. Mrs. T had already made countless pots of coffee and tea. She’d cooked up several loaves of bread to go with the deli meats her middle son brought and the cheeses her daughter brought from the supermarket. Mac had a map of the island tacked up to the wall and was marking a grid on it. Sarah and Jenna were pairing people into twos and making a spreadsheet of which pairs were in charge of which grid squares. Even Alyssa’s building manager, Mr. Stumpf, was there, wearing his hip waders and offering his boat for the shoreline searches.

The inside was packed with people he knew. Outside, people he’d never met before were milling about, waiting to hear what grid they got. Galen was impressed that people had assembled so quickly, and at such an early hour of the morning. Even as he worked his way through the crowd, more people were showing up to sign up for the search.

“Here son, have a coffee,” Paddy O’Brien said, handing him a steaming mug. He had another one ready for Claire. “How’s Kay?”

Galen nodded his thanks for the cup. “She’s in a coma. The doctor says it’s too soon to tell how she’ll do, but he’s ready for anything.”

“That’s a shame. I hope she’s a strong girl and can come through it alright.” Paddy sipped from his own cup, gesturing to the crowd. “Your ma, sister, and Jenna will man the fort here. Everyone else will be scouring the island for Alyssa. You got any place in particular you want us to focus our attention?”

Galen had a look at the map. The middle island was marked off into forty grids, each one approximately a square mile. The house the mayor had met Alyssa at was in Grid 8. Galen tapped it with his finger.

“I’ll need to check this area. Alyssa was with the mayor until eleven last night. She boated over, parking it at the wharf at the pinch point. I’ll need to see if it’s still there. But I want the grids surrounding this one to be searched first.” The killer, as that’s how Galen was thinking of the man now, wouldn’t want to have to take a struggling girl too far.

Jenna wrote Galen’s name down for Grid 8 of the middle island. He requested to be paired up with Mac, since Mac already had a fair idea of where the investigation was going. Galen went over to his mother and pulled her aside. “Do you know Rebecca Anglove?”

“Well, I suppose I know her about as well as anyone on the island, which is to say, not well. She tends to keep to herself.”

“She’s due to have her first child any day now and she doesn’t have any family on the island or anywhere nearby. Her husband was out with another woman last night and she knows it. Likely, she knows that if he’s out when the baby comes, she’ll be on her own.”

Mrs. T muttered under her breath, but Galen caught the words and grinned. Her opinion of the mayor couldn’t get any worse. “I’ll go by her place once we’re underway here.”

“Thanks, ma.” Galen kissed her cheek.

“You’re a good boy, most of the time.” She patted his cheek like she used to do when he was a boy.

“I had a good example. I didn’t realize until recently how difficult that is to come by on this island.”

She waved that away. “It’s not all bad. Look at this turnout. People aren’t willing to turn a blind eye to the disappearances anymore. It’s gone on far too long already. It’s time for you to put an end to it and they’re going to help you.”

Galen addressed the group, giving them a quick rundown of what they were looking for. He stressed that the individual responsible for the disappearances could become violent, so under no circumstances were people to split up. Each person had a cell phone and one or the other in the group was to check in with the base at the start and end of their grids.

“We don’t have warrants to search private property. If a resident doesn’t allow you onto their land, stay off it. Make a note of the area that didn’t get checked and I’ll take care of it personally. Any untenanted land is considered public. Any issues that arise from that will be dealt with later. Are there any questions?”

Galen cleared up the few questions that were posed and then watched as the groups left to start their search. It was just past 5am and dawn hadn’t quite broken through yet. Each group of searchers had at least one flashlight between them. They had copies of their grids, hastily written on extra paper. Jenna had made sure the boundaries overlapped a little, so there were no grey areas and nothing got missed. Galen left her to get settled in, collecting Mac and heading for his truck.

***

He’d volunteered for the search so he could keep an eye on them. They were fools, thinking he’d leave something for them to find. Nothing could be seen or heard from outside his shed, and it was locked up tight, but his mind still teased him with doubts. He’d wanted to search his own grid, but it had already been assigned by the time he and his partner got to the front of the line.

Instead he had to search way over on the other side of the island, where he knew it was a waste of time. But he had to look enthusiastic anyway. And just his luck, he got paired with the town chatterbox. Cora Ling didn’t care if people answered the questions she asked. Half the time she talked over them anyway. He just hoped he could get through the search without strangling her. There would be no way to hide that, he was sure.

He hoped they didn’t find Alyssa. She wasn’t the one he wanted, but he still wasn’t finished with her. He’d barely gotten started before he’d heard about this damn search and figured he needed to check it out. If they found her, they’d find his work room. He didn’t have a backup spot yet, though he was looking into a couple of potential ones. There were so many useful places on the island that were currently uninhabited. It was a good thing he hadn’t picked one out yet. If it wasn’t ready to go, someone might have noticed his attempts to upgrade it. This way he didn’t waste any efforts on something that became useless to him.

“You got something there, Marty?” Cora asked. “You’ve been staring at that house a long time.”

Marty shook himself and walked up beside her. “Nothing there. What’s next?”

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