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Borrasca (Part 3)


“Do you think she blames herself?”

“I don’t know, man. Probably.” I stretched out on the reclined seat of my Chevy and pulled the bill of my hat lower over my eyes.
“But do you think she’s okay?”

I didn’t answer him. I certainly hadn’t been okay when Whitney died and Kimber was even closer to her mom than I was to my sister. She was definitely not okay. “Sam, seriously. I’m fucking freaking out here, it’s been two days.”

I pushed my hat up off of my face and looked over at Kyle who was admittedly a wreck. His eyes were bloodshot, his face sallow and his red hair was greasy.

“Dude, her mom committed suicide. You how close Kimber was to her mom. She just needs some time but she’ll be okay.”

“She hasn’t answered any of my texts or calls. I’ve left her like nine voicemails, man, I think I’m going crazy.”

“You just have to give her space.”

“Yeah, but she’s my- my-…” He still couldn’t say it around me. “I’m supposed to be looking after her.”

I sat up and pulled the chair upright behind me. “Look, Kyle, I know you want to help Kimber and I want to help Kimber too, but she hasn’t answered our calls, been to school or come to the door when we’ve stopped by her house. She doesn’t want to see us right now and we have to be okay with that. Right now Kimber knows what’s best for Kimber.”

“What about the suicide note? You think that has something to do with it?” I sighed. “We don’t even know if there was a note.
Kimber’s dad was upset and messed up when he said that and it’s possible I misheard him anyway. I asked my dad and he said there was no letter.”

“Right, because your dad is such a beacon of truth.” One look at Kyle told me he’d immediately regretted his words. I shrugged.
“I don’t know what to believe anymore.”

The truth was that I knew what I heard. Mr. Destaro had said something to the cops about a letter, but I couldn’t tell Kyle that, not right now. He was already worried that his relationship with Kimber was part of the reason her mom had been so depressed.

I’d asked my dad about the letter when he’d come home after that long night and he’d sighed, run both of his hands through his hair in a tired away and said, “Sam, I don’t know what to tell you. Anne Destaro didn’t leave a suicide note and this is the first I’ve heard of it.”

With our best friend in mourning and our investigation on hold Kyle and I had been existing in a sort of suspended state. We went to school intermittently, skipping classes here and there, missing end-of-year tests and smoking more weed than either of us could afford. Without Kimber there to set us straight and keep us in line we were lethargic, brooding, and irresponsible. I’d never realized how much I relied on her.

Kyle and I skipped the last two periods of the day and debated on whether we should even go to school tomorrow, which was the last day of our sophomore year. We finally decided to show up for second period, which I was glad we did because Kimber showed up in Biology.

I didn’t even see her at first. I had my head down on my desk, resting on folded arms when I felt a meek hand pat my shoulder. I turned around to see her standing there, looking unsure and uncomfortable. I gave her half a smile and pulled her into a hug. But it wasn’t a Super-Comforting-Not-At-All-Awkward Kimber hug. It was a longer, weaker hug and I felt so protective in it that I was sad when it was over.

“How are you doing, K?” I asked her when she finally released me.

Kimber wiped a tear off of her cheek. “I’m okay.” And she gave me a wobbly smile and I knew it wasn’t true.

I wrapped her into another quick hug as Phoebe Dranger gave us a snotty look. “Have you seen Kyle yet?”

“No. I have next period with him.”

“He’s been worried about you.”

“I know,” she said, sliding her eyes to the floor. “Things have been…really hard for me at home.”

“It’s okay,” I said, “we’re here for whatever you need.”

“Yeah, that’s…that’s what I was hoping.”

“Whatever you need.”

Since it was the last day of school our teacher, Mr. Founder, was just happy to return our graded tests and let us bullshit the rest of the period. Kimber talked about the arrangements for the funeral that weekend and chided Kyle and I for skipping finals to get stoned. When the bell rang I could see that Kimber was both excited and nervous to see Kyle. As we packed up our bags I assured her that Kyle wasn’t mad, he was just worried about her. She threw her bag over her shoulder, set her jaw and nodded. She was trying so hard to keep it together.

As soon as Kyle saw her from down the hall he slammed his locker shut and walked towards us with such intensity that I began to wonder if maybe he was mad. He pushed past a dozen people without so much as glancing at them and left a curious, if annoyed, crowd in his wake. When he finally reached us Kyle threw his backpack against the wall and swooped Kimber up in the sort of way you’d see in old, black and white movies.

Everyone who’d watched all this unfold, including me, groaned in unison.

Since most of the teachers weren’t even bothering to take attendance that day I went to Calculus with Kimber and Kyle
where they had the same conversation Kimber and I had had last period. Towards the end of the hour the conversation faulted and became uneasy. Kyle and I exchanged a look over the top of Kimber’s head and I nodded at him.

“Kimber,” he said quietly, “did you mom leave a letter?”

“What?” Kimber asked in surprise.

“I heard your dad talking about a letter on the day that- on the day… On Tuesday.” I said.

“Oh.”

As we waited for her to continue the bell rang for lunch. Everyone filed out of the room but the three of us stayed still sitting on our desks.

“Kimber.” I finally said.

She sighed sadly and looked over at Kyle. “Yes.”

“What did it say?” He asked nervously.

“I don’t know, I haven’t seen it. I asked my dad for it when we got home and he said I’d misheard him and there was no letter. He said not to mention it to anyone else or I’d just upset people.”

“Well, then we both misheard him,” I said. “Which seems unlikely.”

“I’ve known my dad all my life. And I know when he’s lying.”

People started to filter in for the next period, sliding sympathetic glances at Kimber. Since it was our lunch period we gathered up our things and walked out to my car, as we always did. I sat in the backseat, letting Kyle and Kimber take the front.

Kimber took a deep breath and continued. “I know my dad is lying and I know he has the letter.”

“Are you sure?” Kyle asked. I could tell he was still terrified that some of the blame rested on him.

“Yeah. And I know it contains the name ‘Prescott’. I think I even know where it is.”

“Prescott?” Yet somehow I wasn’t that surprised. He was the axis around which everything that was bad orbited.

“How do you know it says Prescott?” Kyle asked.

“I heard my dad reading it once. I think he reads it a lot, actually. He was sort of sobbing and whispering the words and throwing things in his office. My dad…he hasn’t been well.”

“Do you think she was having an affair with Jimmy Prescott?”

I shook my head. “I’m guessing you need to think bigger than that, Kyle.”

“I agree,” Kimber said to her hands in her lap. “With everything we know about the Prescott’s I’m fairly sure this isn’t about an affair.

It’s all connected somehow, don’t you think? My dad was the love of my mom’s life but she only left a letter for me. I think that somehow I’m the one she wronged, not him. You know? I think she did something to me. Or…maybe she did it because of me.”

Kimber’s voice broke over the last sentence and Kyle pulled her over, kissed the top of her head and whispered words to her that I couldn’t hear.

“So we need to get the letter,” I said after giving them a minute.

“Yes. I really need to read it.” Kimber’s voice was still wobbly.

“How do we get it?” I asked.

“If it’s in the office we just need to wait until her dad isn’t home.”
Kyle said as he looked out the window.

“You don’t think I thought of that?” Kimber sighed. “He never leaves his office, not since we got home from the hospital. He sleeps in there.”

“So we need to get him out.”

“No, we need to get me in. Tomorrow is my mom’s funeral and half of Drisking will be there, including my dad of course. I need to leave without him noticing and run home so I can go through the office.”

“Okay, that’s easy,” I said.

“Without my dad noticing. And I need to be back by the end of the service.”

We both nodded but stayed silent because it looked like Kimber was weighing saying more.

“My dad…he’s been very cold and I think...I think he blames me.”
Kimber finally said.

“That’s bullshit.” Kyle spat.

“Can you guys help me?”

“Absolutely.”

“Of course.”

We spent the rest of the lunch hour creating a plan far more strategic than the mission probably needed. Kyle and I would engage Mr. Destaro in conversation and then Kyle would get a “text” from Kimber telling him she was having a breakdown in the bathroom. Kyle would leave to go “comfort” her and they would take my car to the Destaro house. I would stay behind and keep an eye on Kimber’s dad while they were gone.

I went to work that afternoon for the first time since Monday. Meera seemed to be in a much better mood and let me go home early since it was a Friday. I didn’t sleep well, though, and I got up at 4am to go through my clothes looking for something dressy and black to wear to the funeral.

My dad came in before he left for work and found his disheveled, panicked teenage son looking helplessly through piles of black clothing. He smiled pityingly and led me to his own closet. Since my dad and I had not only the same face but the same build as well finding something suitable to wear was easy. I thanked him and he asked me to apologize to Kimber for having to work through the service and that he sends his love.

Anne Destaro’s funeral was at an Episcopalian church on the other side of town. I picked Kyle up at 9 and saw he was also wearing a suit of his Dad’s though he didn’t fit it nearly as well and he was constantly pulling at the sleeves and readjusting the waistline. Unfortunately for Kyle he was much smaller than his dad.

We parked as far away from the church as possible, where we hoped no one would notice a car leaving.

When we went inside the church we saw that Kimber wouldn’t have to do much acting to convince people she was having a breakdown. We found her at the back of the room, tucked into a chair and a puddle of curly orange hair and tears.

Kyle sat down next to her and pulled her into a hug. “Jesus, Kimber, what’s wrong?”

I kicked his foot and shot him a look that said ‘really?’. Kyle bit his lip. “I mean, ah… Fuck.”

“There’s no one here,” Kimber whispered against his chest “My mom grew up here, she had hundreds of friends in this town and no one came!”

We looked around and I had to admit, the turnout was sparse. A few groups of three or four people standing together, Kimber’s dad who sat in a chair opposite the room of his daughter with his head in his hands and some family I recognized from BBQs at Kimber’s house. Ex-Sheriff Clery with his wife Grace were there, standing with a few of my dad’s deputies and talking quietly in the corner. I could see why Kimber was upset.

As we waited for the service to start I realized I’d never been to a funeral before. I wished that we’d had one for my sister but I knew we never could since Whitney was still legally alive. It made me sad to think that she would never be laid to rest.

Only a few other funeral-goers trickled in and the Pastor began getting people seated for the service. I noticed the casket at the pulpit for the first time and was glad it was closed. Still, I had to wonder at the simple, unadorned, almost ugly coffin that had been chosen for Kimber’s mom. I knew the Destaros had money, quite a lot of it, actually. It was an interesting, almost insulting choice. Poor Kimber.

Kyle and I stood Kimber up and started over to the pews but she stopped abruptly. “I’m ready,” she said and brushed the hair away from her wet face.

“Ready for…?”

“To leave. I can’t be in here anymore, it’s a disgrace to my mother.” Kimber raised her head a notch and set her jaw. I knew this look and it meant there would be no reasoning with her.

Kyle and I looked at each other - this wasn’t the plan. It’d be a lot more obvious if Kimber was missing from the service, especially with the low turnout.

“You guys go over and say what we rehearsed to my dad. Kyle, I will text you in 30 seconds. Go.”

Kyle nodded and started over and I knew we weren’t arguing. Mr. Destaro was finally standing, looking over at the front pew reserved for him and his daughter with hesitation.

“Mr. Destaro?” I said as we approached. “I’m very sorry to hear about your wife. She was…” Shit, I’d forgotten my lines.

“-a great woman who raised a wonderful daughter.” Kyle finished.
“Yeah?” He spat. “Do great women commit suicide leaving their wonderful daughters alone in the world?”

“Ah…” Shit.

“Do great women jump off buildings and make spectacles of themselves? And leave their families to deal with the publicity and the grief?”

Kyle’s phone chirped. Thank god.

“Oh, that’s Kimber,” Kyle said a little too fast, before he’d had time to actually look at his phone. “Oh man, she isn’t well. Says she’s crying and feeling sick. I’m gonna go help her.”

“No!” Mr. Destaro yelled so suddenly that Kyle dropped his phone on the ground where it made a loud clatter on the stone floors. “Not you. You don’t help my daughter, you don’t even talk to her. He can go.” And he pointed at me.

“Ah…okay.” I stuttered. The plan had changed too much. I needed to somehow get the car keys from Kyle without being seen. Kyle gave me a shaky, sublte nod and then he and Mr. Destaro went to sit down. It was obvious Kimber’s dad was keeping an eye on Kyle. Getting the car keys from him was going to be nearly impossible.

I backed into the shadows at the back of the room while the pastor started the service. I texted Kyle four times asking for help but he wouldn’t dare touch his phone. He just stared straight ahead, flicking worried glances at Mrs Destaro every few seconds. After several minutes I went to find Kimber to see what she wanted to do but she wasn’t in our meeting spot by the back door. The plan was falling apart.

I pulled out my phone and sent her a text.

Me: Where are you?

Me: Kyle is next to your dad and I can’t get the keys from him.
I waited in the hallway, tapping my phone against my hand nervously. After a minute or two my phone vibrated.

Kimber: I’m sorry, I left without you guys. I had to get out of there. I’m so sorry, I’ll be back before the end of the service, I promise.
Shit.

Me: Be safe.

It was now imperative that I not be seen. I went to the men’s bathroom, locked myself in a stall and played Snake for the longest twenty minutes of my life. I knew the service wouldn’t go on much longer so I texted Kimber again.

Me: You on your way back, yet? Did you find it?

I sat waiting, watching the minutes tick by. I texted her again.

Me: I think the service is ending soon. Where are you?

After another seven minutes of no response I tried calling but it went to voicemail. I tried again with the same result. I was getting nervous. I was about to try a third time when two people walked into the bathroom and my phone vibrated with a text. It was Kyle – the service was over.

Kyle: Kimber has the keys. Why aren’t you guys back yet? Did you find anything?

I left the bathroom without washing my hands and received dirty looks from the two strangers at the urinals as the door closed behind me. I found Kyle staring out the window looking for my car.
“Kyle.”

He jumped. “Where’s Kimber? What did you guys find?”

“I don’t know, she left without me.”

“What the fuck, why? Where is she?”

“I don’t know, Kyle, she left without me.” I reiterated. “She’s not answering my calls or my texts.”

“Fuck, mine either.”

“We have to keep an eye on her dad until she gets back.”

“We’re not the only ones,” Kyle said gesturing across the room. “What the fuck is going on?”

Three men were talking to Kimber’s dad in a corner across the room. Chief among them was Killian Clery, who was flanked by his two former deputies. Drisking’s retired sheriff had his hand on Mr. Destaro’s arm and was speaking to him in an angry, hushed tone. Kimber’s dad was shaking his head and desperately objecting to something. The two deputies walked out the front door of the church and Mr. Destaro sagged against Killian Clery who sat him in a nearby chair. Something was happening.

“Call Kimber. Now.” Kyle said. I tried again and this time the call rang twice and was sent to voicemail. I ended the call and threw up my hands, looking desperately at Kyle.

“Again.” He said and took out his own phone. I got the same result but felt a jolt of relieve when someone answered Kyle’s call. But it wasn’t Kimber.

“Phil, what part of town are you in? I need a ride. It’s an emergency.” I waited.

“Yeah, man, I’m at North Ridge Church. As fast as you can. I’m with Sam. I’ll owe you.”

Kyle hung up and then immediately tried Kimber’s phone. “She’s sending me to voicemail, too.”

We both stood at the window anxiously waiting to see Phil’s silver Mazda pull up. Kyle chewed his lip and I tapped my phone. Come on, Saunders. We threw occasional looks back at Kimber’s dad until Clery stood him up and ushered the now inconsolable man out of the church.

Suddenly Kyle’s phone chirped and we both looked down to see Kimber’s name flash up on the screen. Kyle’s knees nearly buckled in relief and he sagged against the wall.

Kimber: I found it.

Kyle opened the text and furiously typed a reply.

Kyle: they’re coming for you, K

We both stared at the phone waiting for a response. And just as the sun blinded us as it reflected off of Phil’s approaching silver sedan, we got one.

Kimber: They’re here.

It was the last message we got from Kimber. When Phil dropped us at the Destaro house we found the front door unlocked and no home. My car was sitting in the driveway, unlocked with the keys in the ignition.

Kyle and I drove back to the church but the funeral was over and the few people that had attended it were already gone. We drove back to Kimber’s house again but it was just as we’d left it and no one was home. Kyle had lost it by this time and was an absolute wreck. He’d called her so many times, I was sure he’d killed her battery. His calls went straight to voicemail and his texts were unanswered.

After an half an hour of begging from Kyle, I finally called my dad. He answered immediately.

“Sammy? What’s wrong?”

“It’s Kimber. She’s gone, Dad. We’ve looked everywhere but her and her dad are missing. She left the funeral early and- and- Killian Clery was talking to her dad and then Sampson and Grigg left and I think they went to her house and they got her, Dad. I think they’re still working for Clery on the side or something and I think they’re doing something bad. She-“

“Whoa, whoa, slow down! Come by the station and let’s talk. I’ll take a statement from you boys and I’ll send a couple officers over to investigate the house right now. Just calm down, Sam, we’ll handle this.”

I hung up and threw my car violently into reverse, jerking the wheel to the left as I hit the end of the driveway.

“Sam. Sam, how we you know? How do we know we can trust the cops?”

“I’m not trusting the cops, I’m trusting my dad.” I said, my words sounding hopeless, even to me.

I turned into the Sheriff’s office and Kyle was out of the car as soon as I slowed down enough to park. By the time I got inside, my dad had Kyle by the shoulders and was nodding solemnly at everything Kyle was telling him. When my dad saw me, he motioned for an officer to take us to his office. After a few minutes he came in and sat down across the desk from us.

“Alright boys, I’m going to have Officer Raminez come in in a few minutes and take a statement from you both. I want you to know that at this point in time it looks like the Destaro’s left town voluntarily.”

“No, no way, Mr. Walker, Kimber would never-“

My dad held up his hand for silence. “Let me rephrase: Jacob Destaro left town voluntarily. Kimber is a minor and has no legal rights here. If her dad said they’re leaving, then they’re leaving.”
“But she’s not answering her phone and we went to that house, Dad, nothing was packed.”

“Maybe they’re just getting away for a while, maybe going to a relative’s. I can’t theorize as to why she wouldn’t answer her phone, other than maybe she wants to be left alone for a while.”

Kyle was exasperated. “But-“

“Look, I know it’s hard for you to understand but losing a family member takes a toll on a person, Sam you know that. We don’t know how people are going to grieve and we don’t have a right to. I think it’s very likely that Kimber will be back by the fall for school.”

“The fall?! Sheriff Walker, that’s two months away, you need to investigate NOW.”

“Kyle, I know you’re upset and no one said we’re not going to investigate thoroughly.”

“Like you investigated Whitney’s disappearance thoroughly?” I spat and I didn’t regret the words.

“Sam!” he snapped with more force than I’d ever heard him use. “I am tired of listening to you insulate that I didn’t do everything I could to find Whitney. I love your sister more than you can imagine, she’s my daughter, Sammy. And I will never give her up.”

“And what about the deputies that left the funeral to go after her?”
Kyle interrupted. My dad raised an eyebrow at me.

“Sampson and Grigg.” I ground out through clenched teeth. He sighed. “Boys, Sampson and Grigg left the funeral because I sent them out on a call.”

I stood up violently, knocking over my chair in the process. “Oh come on, Dad!”

“Alright, that’s enough!” The sheriff slammed his hands on the desk and stood up.

“I told you I would tell you what I know and I have. I understand your friend is important to you and goddamn it, the Destaros are friends of mine, too. I promise you that I will use the full extent of my resources to track them down and put your minds at ease but until then all I can offer you is the assurance that there is no sign of foul play at this time. You boys need to get off the warpath and let us handle this. Now Ramirez is waiting in the hall to take your statements and then both of you are going home. Understood?”

I said nothing and glared at my dad, seething with rage. Kyle stood up and walked out of the room with no emotion whatsoever. He walked past Ramirez and I followed him out to the car. We got in and I waited for Kyle to say something. I heard a loud sniffle and looked over at him to see his face slick with tears. It was the first time I’d ever seen Kyle but not the last.

“He’s lying.” He whispered.

I just shook my head. I didn’t know what to believe.

Kyle turned his face away from me. “I know he’s lying. Something bad has happened and he’s lying about it.”

“What? What happened?”

I heard more sniffling as Kyle tried to collect himself.

“Dude, fucking talk to me. What do you think happened?”

“Kimber’s gone like all the others. So she’s at the place where bad things happen.”

I punched the steering wheel. How the fuck had this happened? Not Kimber, please not Kimber. Was all of this because of me? Had her mother killed herself because of something I’d done? Something we’d found out? Was Kimber taken because of me? If I thought for one minute that that was true I knew I would crack into tiny pieces.

“No. Not Kimber. No.”

“Yes, Sam, fucking think about it!” Kyle yelled at me. “It’s the treehouse! It’s all the same! Borrasca, the Skinned Men, the Triple Tree, your sister, the mountain; it’s all the fucking same! It’s the Prescott Empire and now Kimber has been fucking consumed by it!”

“Where do we go?” I could feel the warm tears of my own desperation and hopelessness sliding down my cheeks. “What- what do we do? What do we fucking do!”

Kyle threw his hands up in frustration. “We have to go to Ambercot, right? It all starts and ends at the Triple Tree, Sam.
Surely you’ve figured that out.”

“We’ve been to the treehouse a million times, Kyle, there’s nothing there!”

“I don’t know where the fuck else to go, Sam!”

RAP RAP RAP

I jumped as someone tapped on the window of the car and wiped the tears off my face. I rolled down the window as Officer Grigg leaned down and looked in the car. “You boys move along home, alright?”

“Yep.” I said, and turned the key in the ignition. Officer Grigg waved at us as we pulled out of the parking lot but we didn’t wave back.

“The treehouse.” Kyle said.

We drove in silence, both of us trying desperately to get ahold of ourselves. If we were going to be of any help to Kimber we needed to be calm enough to think logically. I parked in the space next to the trailhead and saw several bikes tied to the post. As we made our way up the West Rim Prescott Ore Trail we passed Parker and a couple of his friends coming down it.

I nodded to him but Kyle said nothing, just stared up the trail reaching for the only place he knew to go. It was almost dark by the time we got to Ambercot and there was little light left to search for whatever Kyle hoped to find. It took half an hour in the darkness before I finally convinced Kyle that there was nothing there to help Kimber.

And though we didn’t speak of it, I knew that he and I were both painfully aware of all the sounds of the night. We were scared, terrified down to our very bones, that we would hear the piercing scraping, grinding and metal screams of the monster at Borrasca that we’d become so accustomed to over the years. We both dreaded it, prayed it would not come and we did not speak of it.
I dropped Kyle at home and promised we would find Kimber tomorrow. I swore we would. He gave me nothing more than a shallow nod and disappeared inside his house. My dad was waiting for me in the kitchen when I got home a few minutes later. I didn’t look at him and walked over to the fridge, realizing I hadn’t eaten all day.

“Sammy. Sit down, I want to apologize for today.”

I took out some chicken and cheese and went to the pantry for bread.

“I know you’re scared. And I know that a lot has been going on that you can’t exactly relate to.” He sighed. “Anne…Anne had been depressed for a good long while, Sam, over twenty years. That’ll weigh on a person.”

I ignored him and continued making my sandwich. I was dying inside, wondering if I could even trust the man I’d called dad my entire life.

“She was suffering, Sam, and sometimes people who suffer that deeply don’t know of any other way out. She knew her depression was hurting her husband…and her daughter. And maybe she mistakenly thought she was doing them a favor.”

“Mom’s depressed.” I said without taking my eyes from my task.
He sighed. “Your mother is coping okay and this was very different, Sam. Kimber’s mom has been depressed since she was in her 20’s. Early in her marriage Anne suffered multiple miscarriages. Infertility can be very hard on some couples and not even Kimber’s birth could totally ease her pain.”

“Dad, with all due respect, I’m tired and I’m going to bed. Kyle and I are getting up early to look for Kimber.” I threw the knife in the sink with a loud clang and turned to look at my dad for the first time. “Please tell me you’re still trying to find Kimber.”

The sheriff stood up from the kitchen table, looking as tired and disheveled as I felt. “I promise, Sammy.” And I finally believed him.

The next morning when I pulled up to Kyle’s house, Parker came out to meet me.

“Hey, Parker.” I said when I rolled down the window and cool morning air wafted in.

“Kyle’s not here. He left around 5. Stole my dad’s truck. He’s pissed so you’d better go.”

“Thanks, man.” I said, and then rolled up the window and took off down the street. I drove around all morning looking for Kyle and calling his cell but he didn’t pick up until around noon.

“Sorry, man. I couldn’t sleep.” Kyle sounded a bit more stable than yesterday.

“That’s cool, where you at?”

“I don’t know, exactly. A rare spot where I’m getting service.”
“You in the woods?”

“Yeah. She’s out here, Sam, somewhere in these mountains. I can feel it. I know it.”

“Alright, well let me meet you.”

“Ok. Just come down to the West Rim Trail and I’ll meet you there.”

I was only five minutes away so I arrived before Kyle had time to get down the mountain. Mr. Landy’s red Dodge Ram was parked haphazardly in a no parking zone and I figured it would probably be towed by the time we got back. I doubted Kyle cared at this point, though.

I crossed my arms and leaned against my car as I waited for him, staring up the dirty, red trail in impatience. When Kyle finally showed half an hour later, he was covered in sweat and dirt and dejection.

“So?” I said, pushing up off the car.

“No, nothing, man.”

“Alright, well let’s keep searching.”

We hiked miles and miles of the mountain that day but we didn’t find any sign of human life. And for the next few days if the sun was out, so were we. Kyle was growing more and more desperate: crossing onto private property to look for logging equipment and mapping out the county’s many mines to search the abandoned buildings. But the mountain was big and the needle buried deep in the haystack. And as the days slipped away so did Kyle’s sanity.

Every time I saw my dad he would give me a sober look and promise me that they were still looking. It seemed to me that even he was growing concerned. The Destaro house remained as empty and dark as the space between the stars above it.

On was the 11th night of our Kimber-less existence I was awoken out of a troubled sleep by the piercing, whirling, screeching sound of death at Borrasca. I cried myself to back to sleep to the tortured sounds of Kyle own agony next door. We had failed her. Kimber was dead.

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