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Secret Triplets

By:Holly Rayner

It just couldn’t be. It was a week ago that I had said no, which had probably been another mistake.

“…She really just wants the best for you,” Kyle was saying. I could almost see his big, white teeth glinting as he said it, his eyes half-lidded, already lost in his calm, talking somnolence. If I’d let him go on, he would have talked for hours. Tiffany too; they both were talkers through and through.

“Kyle,” I said, interrupting, “please, I just really need this search done.”

A pause, and then: “All right, okay. What name am I putting in?”

“Brock,” I said. “His name is Brock Anderson. He has a scar on his left eyebrow.”

“All right. Let me enter the name into the system now.”

After another pause, I asked him, “Do you ever miss it, Kyle?”

“Miss what?”

“The cadets. That last year—Officer Brigley. The excitement.”

He exhaled; I could almost hear his wistful smile on the other end. I didn’t blame him. It had been over 10 years since we had been in the cadets together, and yet sometimes it felt like yesterday: the week-long camping that felt like months, singing campfire songs and tree climbing, the wild rush as our canoe plunged through the rapids.

“Yeah actually, a bit. There’s lots happening at the station most times, but even then, now that you mention it, yeah. Yeah, I do. Why?”

“Because I never do, Kyle. Even though I loved the cadets, I always felt like something was missing. That something was this—sleuthing out, the thrill of the hunt. I can’t stop being a private eye, Kyle. No. I’ll do this job until it drives me to bankruptcy or worse.”

“All right, all right, Alex. I’ll tell Tiffany you’ve made up your mind, though we both know that won’t do much good and—huh.”


“We have a file on your guy, Brock Anderson, the guy with the scar. Looks like he’s been suspected in a bunch of things, but he’s never been proven guilty or caught. Actually, we’ve got a reported location on him now: Nederland.”

“Nederland. That’s…”

“Just a 30-minute, 40 tops, drive away.”

“Yeah. You’re right. So why haven’t you guys picked him up yourself?”

“Got bigger fish to fry. We have this crazy multiple murder case that has everyone in the office up in arms.”

“Ah, okay. Could you send me an email with the picture of him so I know just who to look for? And thanks, Kyle.”

“Sure. Any time. And, Alex?”


“You haven’t seen…him, have you?”

“Who?” I said, though really, I knew already. I finally said the cursed name in a hush. “Charlie?”

“Yeah. He’s…well, he’s back in town. I just thought you might—”

“No, Kyle. No way. We are over, long over. He hasn’t contacted me, and even if he did, I wouldn’t want to see him. Not ever.”

Kyle didn’t say anything, though I could tell he wasn’t convinced. I didn’t blame him. Charlie and I had been on and off so many times that I’d lost count.

Finally, he said, “Just be careful, eh?”

“Yeah, yeah. You know me.”

I hung up and stared at the phone for a minute. Kyle had always been like an older brother to me, constantly worrying and looking out for me. But for the first time, I couldn’t quite laugh off his fears.

I clicked on the computer screen, where my former search for “Russell Snow Boulder” was showing no results. I should’ve asked Kyle about Russell Snow too, though I was secretly glad I had forgotten.

I went to my email, clicked on the attachment, and printed out the disappointingly low-quality photo.

Taking the still-warm paper into my hands, I stared into the eyes of the mysterious man I was hunting, who, in every line of his face, clearly had something to hide.

Yes, something told me this was no ordinary case.

Chapter Four

The drive to Nederland was a race against time. Agitated apprehension impelled me on, urging my foot to press harder on the gas. The car zipped ahead, and I pressed it on and on, all my thoughts focused on going faster, getting closer to my goal.

It was only once the trip was a third done that I noticed the almost unbroken line of trees lining the road on either side. Already I was nearing Wheelman, and it felt like I had just gotten into the car. Maybe it was because I was entranced by the printout I had beside me: Mr. Brock Anderson in his full, blurry glory. Every time I glanced over, his pixelated eyes seemed to be mocking me.

“I will find you,” I told him. “Wherever you are, I will.”

And to myself, I silently added, I have to.

Turning on the radio produced the final chords of some song I didn’t know. The next song, from the first twangs of the guitar and melody of the harmonica, however, was unmistakable. It was the song Charlie had serenaded me with in the middle of the night, guitar in hand, right outside my apartment window, yell-singing over my neighbors’ curses and a dog’s howls.

It would’ve been romantic if it hadn’t been after I had broken up with him for cheating on me.

My finger went to the button to change the song but stopped on the black knob.

I couldn’t quite press down and turn it off. The song was like an irresistible ice cream sundae with peanuts that I was allergic to.

It was heartbreakingly nostalgic, reminiscent of the bad old days I had never really enjoyed. Mesmerizing, in a word. And yet, no matter how I knew that the peanuts would swell up my face, still I ate relentlessly, uselessly. Charlie had never been good for me, and yet, still now, a part of me missed him. It always would.

My finger finally pressed down on the button and the song cut off, but it was only so my hand could grab my phone and check for messages. Sure enough, like clockwork, there his was: I’ve been thinking about you. After three months of no contact, what were the odds? Then again, he was in town.

I turned off my phone and shifted my attention to the road. I may have been thinking about you too Charlie, but not for long. I was embroiled in my biggest cas