The Sisters were always together. Jack Harper had gone in at staggered times every day for several weeks. He tried to pick up on a schedule they might have. A scheduled meal time, quiet time, something. As far as he could tell they never left during store hours. The little store sat along the road across from a grove of Pecan trees. It had clearly been open for years. The wood on the front of the building although as hard as stone looked worn and bleached. Large double doors with thick glass panes stood wide open during the day. A shingle on the porch post read “Come in Y’all”. He had also seen the other side which read “Goodbye Y’all” There was a set of high back chairs with little tables in between and each morning one of the sisters would put out a checker board set and a Chinese checkers game. He noted there were A & W, Coca Cola, Pall Mall, Pet Milk and so many other antique signs. He knew that a select few of these signs could bring in a nice chunk of change. He asked if he could photograph the signs. The oldest Sister said “No”. No reason, just no.
The oldest Sister was called Mert. He was not sure what that stood for, maybe Myrtle or Myrta. She had short curly hair. It was dyed a horrible red color. She had an up turned nose and bags under her eyes. She would talk to you while rotating a non-filter cigarette between her yellow rotting teeth. she had glasses on one of those chains you wear around your neck. When she would read something, she would pull them up and look through them. They looked as if they had never been cleaned, smudged and greasy. The counter and cash register were old. Oldest he had ever seen. Everything was cluttered.
The other counter had a meat case The Sister that manned that station was called Catinann. He could only assume it was once Catherine Ann. Catinann also dyed her hair red, but somehow it suited her. She curled her hair toward her face. It was a softer look. Her skin was darker. You could see that she might have been pretty once, like a cross between Susan Sarandon and Leslie Ann Warren. She wore glasses too. Small little square frames, she also wore a necklace that attached to her glasses. Hers had little seed pearls and delicate gold chains connecting each section of pearls. Catinann seemed much nicer but clearly listened to her Sister. He hoped to catch Catinann alone and try to at least get pictures of some of the amazing antiques in this place.
He had purchased candy that he was certain was outdated, a comb, a notebook, soap, matches, a root beer, a tire pressure gauge and a sewing kit. Every time he went in he felt he should buy something. He was staying just a few miles up the road. He had been to some flea markets and estate sales in the area. He was hoping to make money. He was also writing a book and needed photos to fill it cover to cover
. He got in his car and rolled down the window. He fastened his seat belt and turned on the radio. The DJ Lila Lewis said in a sultry, sexy voice “Here’s a little something for you Nazareth fans”. “Love Hurts” was the tune she played. He was at his Motel before the song was over. He needed to devise a plan. He knew they would never sell any of the antiques, but If he could categorize and photograph them all. He would have a completed book. He felt some of the items inside the store were so rare that they might be offered a great deal of money. There were old dishes, furniture, prints and what he thought could be a very old painting. If that was visible from the store-room, he could only imagine what else might be in their home. He was determined.
He sat and thought until his frustrations nearly took him over. He decided to take a shower and get a bite to eat. The one thing he liked about this motel was the shower. The water pressure was great. He wore a clean white tee, his khakis and a pair of deck shoes. He felt better after his shower and was thinking he might have a drink or two tonight.
The diner across the street had a pretty good menu. He ordered the Patty Melt, Onion, Pickles,. mustard. Fries and a Sweet Tea. His waitress was new. He had eaten here several times and had never seen her before. She wasn’t tall, she was not extraordinarily pretty, but she was a beauty just the same. Her dark hair was parted on the side and pulled back in a long braid. Her eyes were green with little yellow flecks. She had an inviting smile. Jack imagined kissing her for a split second. Then he noticed the ring on her left hand. Suddenly a teenage boy with a yellow ball cap jerked open the front door.. “Hey Everyone! Two kids gone from the ball field, Sheriff is asking everyone to look for them!” he bellowed and he ran out as fast as he ran in. The little dark-haired waitress started toward him with his food. “Wrap that up Sweetie, I guess I will go see if I can be of assistance” he said.
He had set his food in the console and ate on the way to the ball field. There were cars everywhere. Blue and red lights flashing. He could see a man and woman talking to two State Patrolmen. The woman was pregnant. She was holding a yellow jacket. She was crying. Jack took a second to tidy up and collect the garbage from his hastily eaten meal. He tossed it in a big blue can by the chain length fence.
An SUV pulled up and two men in blue uniforms exited the vehicle. Jack walked past them as they were releasing dogs to assist in the search. A big man in a Yellow long-sleeved Tee that read “Coach Reese” was talking to a group of people and giving out direction on where to look. A deputy looked Jack’s way and said “You!, you are from out-of-town?” Jack explained he was in town on business but he would like to help. The deputy asked Jack to come answer a few questions. That made perfect sense to Jack that he would be questioned. He was a stranger.
“What happened? “Jack said. The deputy said “Sir can you account for your whereabouts for the last hour and a half.” Jack said “Well, yes, yes I can, I got out of the shower, got dressed, went to the Diner across from the Motel. The clerk was sweeping the walk in front of the office, I threw my hand up at him. He should remember me. I ordered food. I was there when a boy came to tell us You need help. “The deputy seemed satisfied. said he would check it out, in the meantime he was appreciative of any help” By that time about fifty people had gathered around the ball field . The deputy gave him a brief summary “Twin girls walking a dog at the edge of the ball field.. People searched the area and they have not found them yet, dog was killed by someone. Use caution, buddy up. call out if you find anything and don’t touch anything that might be considered evidence.”
Brenda and Scott Bays had been at the ball field with their oldest son Scotty. He hoped to play pro ball one day. He lived and breathed baseball. They had brought their youngest children the twins, Destiny Brooke and Serenity Neveah to the park. The twins were four years old. Tow heads someone said. They had been walking the Family’s wiener dog Ginger. Ginger had barked a couple of times. Brenda said “Scott I don’t see the girls”. Scott replied “I told them not to leave the field. I’ll go get them.” He stood up and took the last drink of his coke as he headed toward the woods. Then they heard Ginger yelp in pain. All eyes went toward the edge of the woods. Brenda said “Oh god, Scott go see”. Scott and Scotty Jr. ran into the Woodline. Everyone on the ball field watched them. Scott yelled “Teeny! Reeny! Girls get out here. There were pines planted all along the edge of the field for about 100 feet. The trees were far enough apart and the bright orange pine straw covered the ground. Serenity’s yellow jacket was on the ground. Scotty Jr picked it up and said” Dad!, Reeny dropped her coat “Scott looked at his son, he looked worried as he ran past the pines into woods. Scotty Jr. yelled “Renny! Teeny! ”Scotty Jr. had trouble pronouncing the twins names when they were born, Serenity became” Reeny” and Destiny became “Teeny “. Brenda thought it was adorable. The girls were now addressed as Teeny and Reeny. Only when they were in trouble did they use their full names. Scott yelled again “Destiny Brooke! Serenity Neveah!” Brenda started to run for the woods.
Coach Reese and the others watched, thinking Scott would walk out with the girls any second. Scott could not believe how thick the underbrush was. He held his hand back and told Scotty Jr to watch for snakes. He pushed through and what he saw next horrified him. Ginger was hanging by her leash. Her tongue was out. Scotty Jr. stood frozen. Scott said “Go get the law boy”. Scotty Jr. didn’t move. Scott said “Go Now Dammit”. Brenda ran up behind Scotty Jr. She screamed and fell down, holding her swollen belly. Scotty Jr. broke through the pines and onto the ball field like a rocket screaming, “Help! Call the police!” Coach Reese told his wife Nanette to call now. He and all the others ran into the woods. Scott helped his pregnant wife up and escorted her out of the woods. All the while saying “It’s okay Baby, we will find them, It’s okay. Everyone looked but they couldn’t find their precious angels anywhere.
Jack was in a group with two other men. They exchanged names and shook hands. A woman was passing out flash lights from a back of a police cruiser. It seemed that the whole town had descended on the ball field. Jack listened intently as a Deputy explained the procedure .”Everyone, Listen Up! We will all form a line each person about three feet apart. Sweep the area. If you find anything, anything at all, Do not touch it! A law enforcement official will handle any clues we find as to the whereabouts of these little girls. We do suspect they have been abducted. We did find the dog deceased. Let’s keep the chatter to a minimum and find these little girls!”
Jack and all the others formed a line. Jack wished he had worn boots and jeans. Thankfully he had a jacket in the car. It was dark and all the flashlights were on. They began to search the woods. They searched all over, came back in for the coffee and cookies the local bakery brought and searched again. Finally at 3 am the Sheriff called everything to a halt. “Everyone, if you have been here, go home eat and rest, we have some fresh eyes coming in, Thank you! and we would appreciate it if you can meet back here at 8 am, These girls are out here somewhere! We will find them! Thank you!”
Jack hurried to his car so as not to get stuck in traffic. News Teams were there and they had brought in a busload of people from a nearby college who were volunteering to look for the Bays Twins. Jack guessed this would be the second wave of searchers. He decided to take the long way back to the Motel and turned the radio on. Lila Lewis said” For all of you volunteers in Coltersville, Thank you, we are all worried and hope the little Bays twins are found safe. Destiny and Serenity Bays are missing. They are identical twins. They are both Three feet, four inches tall. They both weigh about thirty-five pounds, They have blonde hair and blue eyes. They are both wearing white long sleeve turtleneck shirts with green and yellow flowers. Blue jean pants with green pockets and yellow rubber rain boots with green polka dots, if you see them or have any information regarding their whereabouts please call the Sheriff’s department immediately. We will now resume our regular programming”. The Rolling Stones “Under my Thumb” began to play. Jack watched the road. Everyone must have went the other direction. He didn’t see any other cars. He could see the store just ahead of him on the right side of the road. He hit his breaks and came to a screeching halt. He put the car in park. Got out and walked in front of the car. There in the glow of his headlights was a yellow rubber rain boot with green polka dots. Jack had a lump in his throat. He was not sure what to do. He put his hazard lights on and walked toward the store. The lights were on inside. When he stepped up on the porch. The light went off.