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Secret Triplets

By:Holly Rayner

e yet.

Now I was passing through Platt Rogers Memorial Park, where the road was bordered by even more trees, whole hills full of the tall proud pines, some even craning out of cliffs of rock.

A forest-green sign with white words flashed past my window: Nederland – 5 miles.

Funny, Nederland was so close to Eldora, where I grew up, and yet I had only been there a handful of times. I had gone out of town rarely as a kid. Mom and Dad always meant the best, but sometimes I wondered if they had protected me too much. In any case, there was no time to go on a nostalgic trip down memory lane; I was almost in Nederland. In less than 10 minutes, I would be there.

It seemed to take only seconds, however, before I was passing the gorgeous aquamarine sheet of the Baker Reservoir and encountering the first buildings on the outskirts of town. I pulled into the parking lot of one, which turned out to be a garage, and parked at the edge. Then I looked at the printout beside me again.

Where would someone like Brock Anderson—a criminal in hiding—go? Would he go anywhere without worrying, or would he hide away indefinitely, send someone out for supplies, or just have everything delivered? Maybe he’d only go places he had to, like the grocery store. Everybody had to eat.

My hand went for my phone as a smile slunk onto my face. The only result my internet search showed made my decision easy: B&F Mountain Market.

I pulled out of the garage, back onto the road, and sped into town past more spaced-out buildings and a small park. Farther down the road, I turned into the parking lot of a brown and green shopping complex.

I parked in a spot as close to the front as I could, grabbed the photo printout, and then walked up to the massive building with the sign that read “B&F Mountain Market.” Inside, luckily, it was just as empty as the parking lot outside. I walked up to the portly, older cashier.

“Hi,” I said, holding up the picture of Brock Anderson. “Have you ever seen this guy around?”

Her dark brown eyes squinted at the picture for a good while, as if she wished she had seen him.

“Naw,” she finally said.

Then she opened her eyes wide, showing the whites on both sides.

“Why?”

“Just want to talk to him,” I said.

Which wasn’t really a lie, but it was still pretty darn unlikely considering how intense he looked in the photo.

The other cashiers I asked hadn’t seen him either, so I left the supermarket with nothing but a banana to show for my efforts. I slunk back to my car and gulped the banana down in three big bites, my mind buzzing with ideas of where to try next.

A grocery store had been my best bet. Were there any others? Maybe a general store?

Back inside my car, a second online search gave two popular Nederland eating spots I could check out: Kathmandu and New Moon Café.

Kathmandu had décor as interesting as I’d expected. Located in a squat, pink-bricked building with a wooden sign, its interior was wood-finished, had red linens, and contained only one drowsy-looking Pakistani man who tilted his head at my entry.

A glance at the triangular wall clock revealed that it was 3 p.m., not exactly high dining time.

When I showed him the picture, his response was as I’d come to expect.

“Nope. Never seen him,” the man declared, shaking his woolly-haired head so vigorously that a napkin at his table blew to the ground.

My experience at New Moon Café was just as disappointing. The cute little bakery with wooden furniture and floors, charming vases of wildflowers, and walls covered in beautiful art contained a few more customers. They all eyed me with an unconcerned sort of curiosity as I interrogated the braided-haired girl behind the front counter. I asked whether she’d seen the man as I thrust forward the photo printout.

She lowered her head and, beneath fluffy blond bangs, demurely replied, “No. Oh no, no, no.”

So there was nothing to do but buy a well-marshmallowed cup of hot chocolate and slink out of there.

The rest of the day passed more or less the same. On my desperate, fruitless hunt, I zoomed through so many restaurants and fast-food joints that I lost track, wound through the community library and its many desks of clueless employees, and popped in and out of every other lodge or hotel where polite but unhelpful employees all shook their heads the same. No one anywhere had seen him.

The only dent I’d made by the time it started to get dark was on my wallet, having spent more money on snacks and coffee than I could afford. At this rate, I was going to be losing money on this job, not earning it.

Finally, having searched basically every place that looked like a public establishment in town, I returned to where I had started, the garage parking lot, to regroup.

I sat there in my car, the picture of the nonexistent man, Brock Anderson, crumpled in my hand.

Maybe there was no such man. Maybe Russell Snow and his fake name had given me a fake job too, and I had no one to blame but myself for having believed him.

I turned my phone back on and the text returned to the screen: I’ve been thinking about you.

There was another one from Tiffany: Helloooo? Kyle said he talked to you??

I turned my gaze to stare out the window desolately at the outskirts of the town where I’d searched what seemed like everywhere. There was no point in continuing to look, but this couldn’t be the end of the line, the dead end of my search. It couldn’t be.

I stared vacantly at the sign beside me: East Street Garage. East Street Garage, Garage, Garage—why not try it? I straightened myself up and paused, squinting at the not-so-promising red-brick building at the end of the line of cars. Why try it at all? What was the point? Out of all the places Brock Anderson would go—to eat, to buy supplies—he probably wouldn’t go to a mechanic. How often did you need to eat versus go get your car looked at? If I hadn’t foun

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