Rita Nelson opened the door for them. “Come in. I told them you were coming.” She gestured toward the darkened room behind her. An older woman with short gray hair pointed a remote control at a softly murmuring television set, and the orange-skinned characters faded away.
The man, slumped in a worn brown recliner, continued to stare at the screen. His hands were folded across his stomach; light from an overhead fixture glinted off his scalp through his thin strands of hair.
“This is Kate McGuire.” John said as he stepped into the room. He bent down in front of the woman, taking her hands in his. “Hello, Mrs. Nelson. May I ask you a few questions? I don't want to open old wounds, but something has happened, and I need your help.”
Kate followed him in and, at Rita's nod, slipped into a stuffed chair on the other side of the silent man.
The woman held tightly to John's hands. “I know you don't mean no harm, son, but there’s not no more we can tell. Harlan here don't talk to nobody nowadays, and Rita don't know nothing.”
“I'd like to try again though,” he said, sitting on the sofa beside her without letting go of her hands. “Do you know about the girl who was just found in
?” Lake Jocassee
“Heard it on the TV,” Harlan said, still staring at the screen.
“It's possible that the same person who … took Charlene from you, is responsible for her.” He tried to avoid using the words they hated, words that pierced the heart. He caught Kate's eye and saw that she understood.
“Is this one rich? Maybe the police'll try a little harder this time,” Harlan answered, turning to John. “They didn't find nothing, just quit, when we lost our girl.”