Chapter 7: Investigation

Alexander learned two things very quickly: everyone in Hallowdale knew about the couple in the mansion, and no one seemed particularly concerned about their well-being. Beyond that, however, extracting information from the villagers was an exercise in either patience or frustration—the latter being more the case as the day wore on.

Either this place has a nasty secret they don’t want to share, he thought, or there’s nothing at all worth sharing. Which leaves me exactly where I started. He gazed hopelessly at the door in front of him. If I knock, will I learn anything new? He finally decided there was no harm in trying, so he pounded on the wood and was greeted a moment later by a man. The man said nothing, but glared at Alexander expectantly.

“Mind if I ask a few questions?” Alexander said. He’d found there was no need for preamble with Hallowdale’s residents. They didn’t care if he was a cop or a bum, and nothing seemed to surprise them.

The man stepped aside, letting Alexander enter. “Been seein’ a lot of new faces here lately,” he muttered. “Makes you wonder if—” He stopped himself and shot a suspicious glare at Alexander. “Ask your questions.”

“Well, about these new faces, I’m sure you’re aware of the couple that’s moved into the mansion.”

“Yeah. Paid ’em a visit myself last night.”

“That was thoughtful of you.” Actually, from what Alexander had seen of the villagers, thoughtful was an understatement. Taking the time to check on the newcomers, this guy was a saint by Hallowdale’s standards. Maybe he wouldn’t be a dead end after all. “So why did you?”

“Young couple like them movin’ into a place like that, figured there must’ve been somethin’ wrong. Nobody goes up there.”

“So you were worried something might happen to them?”

The man gave Alexander another one of those suspicious glances, and didn’t answer.

An idea suddenly struck. Alexander reached into his shirt and pulled out the pendant he wore around his neck. “Do you think it would be a good idea to give this to those people in the mansion?”

The man stared at the device. His expression held weight, but was hard to interpret. At last he said, “Can’t say one way or the other. Wouldn’t hurt, I guess.”

Alexander sighed. He’d thought that would get a reaction for sure. Maybe he was wrong after all. Maybe she wasn’t here. “Is there anything at all you’d like to tell me before I go?” he asked.

The man shook his head. “Can’t say there is.”

Alexander nodded in resignation, then turned for the door.

“I really can’t,” the man called after him. “Except, maybe, that thing around your neck, it wouldn’t hurt. And what doesn’t hurt can only be good. Beyond that, I can’t say anythin’.”

Alexander turned and nodded once more. “Thank you. If you don’t mind, I think I’m going to try and get that couple out of the mansion. Can I send them here?”

“If you can. I offered last night, but they weren’t too friendly to the idea. I suppose it doesn’t really matter one way or the other.”

“What do you mean by that?”

A long, hard stare. “Goodbye.”

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