2004-07-12 - 5:36 p.m.

Chapter 9

Gil guided the car up the curved hill that was Parker Road. “Should we call the local police, tell them that we’re going to the house?” Sara wondered out loud. His eyes locked on the road he answered her, “If there’s tape we’ll call. If not, it’s my family’s house, no reason I can’t go in. I’d prefer not to have an audience for this.” Sara simply nodded.

The driveway was dirt and difficult to find, the mailbox overgrown with vegetation. They drove as far as they could and then left the rental behind, not wanting to risk it’s paint job or suspension any further. A pathway was trampled where once a driveway had been and they followed it. Grissom led, holding branches aside or above to allow Sara safe passage. When the house came into view it was larger than Sara expected but in obvious disrepair. It was difficult to believe anyone lived there in a long time.

Stopping at the door Gil hesitated, letting out the breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. He didn’t face Sara but asked her, “You’re sure?” Her hand, flat against his back “I’m right behind you.” The knob turned but the door didn’t open. “Locked?” Sara wasn’t sure why she was speaking in hushed tones. “Stuck.” He threw his shoulder against the wood and the hinges creaked loudly, a popping sound at the end signaled success. Rubbing his shoulder Grissom shared a plaintive “Ow” before stepping into the entry hall. “You okay?” He took her elbow, “I’ll live, watch your step there.”

They allowed their eyes to adjust to the relative darkness. There was some light streaming from rooms with windows that connected to the hall, but even that was dim given the cover of trees. “Fire the maid.” Sara tried humor to ease her nerves. Indeed there seemed to be a layer of dust and webbing over everything. A telephone table stood ready, a rotary dial phone on it’s top, a phone book underneath. Stacks of junk mail lay on the floor as if it had become a dumping ground. Grissom bent and with a pencil moved through the pile. Sara bent to read for herself when he didn’t speak.

Trina Grissom. Every single piece of mail had the same name and address. “It’s all junk mail, nothing worth taking here.” Sara mused. Gil slipped into instructor mode, easy and comforting, “What else?” “Ah, it’s all addressed to your mother,” she took his pencil and moved through the stack, “Older at the bottom, newest on the top, less dust than anything else in the entryway…”She pushed back the pieces he had moved, getting to the original top of the pile, “Jesus…the most recent postmark is only two weeks ago.”

Gil stood, wincing less than in the garden, but Sara noticed it just the same. It didn’t escape his notice how carefully she straightened herself, as much as she tried to ignore them, the pains of the attack bore down on her. He moved slowly down the hall working toward the light. There were two choices of direction and he chose the right.

He didn’t speak, but stood just inside the living room. Sara walked it in circles taking in as much of the room as she could. “Wallpaper looks likes it’s from the 50’s, furniture, what there is of it, same thing. Looks like he just took over a house that was abandoned in the late 50’s. There’s barely evidence that he was in this room.”

“He was here. There’s evidence everywhere.” Sara looked at him quizzically. Grissom walked solemn faced to the doorway through which they had come. He shook his head in amazement as he stared. “What is it?”

His finger traced the painted wood and stopped at a red mark, so faded and small she wondered at how he had seen it. “This is how tall he was at the age of 4.”

Sara leaned in close and squinted. “What? That line? Why would he mark out how…what the hell.”

“This was our house Sara. This is the home I grew up in. The house we lived in until…well, when Miles disappeared and the nightmares began, mom thought it would be best to move away. I didn’t realize how close we were to the original house until I was older. She never sold it, it’d been in her family forever and I guess she thought some day she might be able to come back and relive the good memories here.”

“So the red and blue marks are the two of you?”

“Red for Miles, Blue for Gil, it was her way of keeping straight the little things, drawers, toothbrushes, cups.”

“Gil?”

“Mm.”

“The red lines continue, but the blue end after 5.” “I noticed that. We stopped. After he was taken, we lost interested in those kinds of things, when he came back we were in the house she’s in now. There should have been no lines after 5.” Sara cocked her head at the lines drawn and faded as though they had been there for nearly 50 years. “So what, he estimated how tall he would have been at each age and marked it on the wall?”

Gil just shrugged and walked away leaving Sara to puzzle.

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