I chewed on a cover story all night instead of sleeping. Okay I slept a lot, but I somehow found time to work out a decent cover story. One that couldn't be contradicted and one that a person might easily buy.
"The cover story is you are writing a book, and I am a research assistant. The book is based on the disappearance of Mattie Hollis. It has to be big new in a town this small. The cops might tell us to stay out of their way, but nothing more, I assure you." I said all that over coffee that next morning.
"Damn, that is brilliant. No one can prove that it is a lie. I like it a lot. Hell I always wanted to write. Maybe when this is over I actually will write the story."
"In that case we really do need to find out what happened to Mattie."
"I'll call her former supervisor and get a list of her friends. How are you going to talk to her parents without a car."
"She was a local girl according to Ed's notes. I'll just ride the bike over to their house. A research assistant is allowed to be poor and a little out of step."
"True, so I will meet you back here right after school and maybe we can talk to a couple of her friends tonight."
"Why don't you see if you can set something up while you are at school. We can do as much as possible tonight. There is no real reason to rush though. She is still going to be gone even if it takes us a couple of extra days."
I spent the early part of the next day at the marina. M my mind was in limbo trying to turn the puzzle pieces around so that they fit. The biggest problem was that I didn't have many pieces. The first thing I wanted to look for was a reason for Ed to kill her or for her to just up and leave. Men just up and leave, women don't usually. They usually make sure everyone knows what a bastard the guy is and why she is leaving. Men tend to just disappear one day. They may or may not come back all sorry and begging for forgiveness. For a woman to just walk away, I figured there had to be a powerful reason.
It could be a man, or even a woman I suppose. Maybe Ed slapped her around some or she went looking for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. She could also have been fish bait. Several people held part of the answer. It was simply a matter of convincing them to tell us what they knew. Then it was up to us to figure it out.