Red Island - Chapter 1

This is a free sample of the first chapter for Red Island.

Chapter 1

Drip, drip

I can hear something somewhere ahead.  Drip. 

I walk down an old road.  The last time a truck may have come down here was last fall, it‘s spring now.  The snow is gone.  Below my feet is last year’s grass folded down from the pressure of the snow like a spongy carpet.  My shoes are wet.  A chill crawls up my legs inside my pants until it reaches my groin, passes to my spine and makes me shiver.

Drip, drip

I can’t hear anything else but that one noise.  Drip. 

There are no birds in the trees.  Grey trees, still bare from the winter with boney fingers reaching up and out, line both sides of the road.  The branches move in the wind, but I can’t hear them scraping against each other.  The dead leaves still hanging from the high branches don’t rustle.  Every time my feet touch the ground there is a soft swish, more like a remembered sound, and then nothing. 

All I can feel is the cold dancing on my skin and what is inside me, fear.  The wind does not touch my cheek.  The cold is inside me.  With that is fear.  The fear makes me want to look behind myself.  My head won’t turn.


I see the sound before I hear it.  A red drop of blood hits a small pool in the grass erupting minute drops of red in every direction.  Drip. 

I stop walking.  I can’t breathe any more.  My lungs feel like someone is squeezing then closed.  My eyes move up.  Two feet off the ground, a red drop of blood stops on the end of a blue painted toenail.  It engorges itself, grows pregnant, then drops.


One foot is over the other like hands praying.  Rivulets of red fall down her legs switching direction off hairs and stubble.  How could this happen to you?  Chloe.  Why you Chloe?

Drip, drip

The wind makes her twist.  My eyes slowly travel the red streams up her legs, first over her firm calf muscles and then around the boney knee and onto her thigh.  What happened to you Chloe?

“Reid, wake up.  The phone is for you.” 

A shiny black raven sits on a tree branch over the woman’s left shoulder.  Its eyes glow red.

The forest is gone.  Light from the street lamps crack around the blinds covering the window.  The days clothes on the desk chair is a child’s boogie man.  The blue light from the laptop charger glows up the wall from behind my desk.  I can smell face cream, Tide fabric softener and Hillary’s shampoo.  I can hear hot air being pushed up through the air vent on the floor.  The cordless telephone dangles in front of my face.  A foot kicks me under the sheets.  The pads on the bottom are rough against my calf.

“It’s work.”

I push myself up with my back against the wall.  I put the phone to my ear, say my name, and listen.  I don’t know what time it is or how long until the alarm goes off.  I can hear the dog snoring off the end of the bed.  Hillary turns the television on and right away puts the volume down.  She fixes her pillows.  I hear a bottle of pop open, Pepsi most likely.  I listen to the voice on the phone.  As my brain starts to register what it is saying my body wakes.  My day is starting.

I respond with, “I’ll be there as soon as I can,” and roll onto my side to write down an address on an open notebook.  I hang up the phone and turn to my wife.  “Do we know a Chloe?”

The skin of Hillary’s face has that red shade of someone who was just sleeping.  She has a bit of sleep crud in the corner of one eye.  Proof that Sandman had come, our daughter says.  Her black hair, cut in a short angled bob, is messy from her tossing and turning but still looks good and suits her.  She runs her fingers through it and tucks it behind her ears.  All she has on is a long thin shirt with panda bears wearing blue and red pajamas over it.  If it wasn’t for the phone call I might be inclined to slip my hand beneath the shirt and see what could happen.  It has been a long time since I started a spur of the moment thing like that.  There were mornings, over a year ago now, when I would get home from a midnight shift and wake her with a good tongue lashing.  We have to plan sex now.  We fell in love a long time ago, but only got married when she became pregnant ten years past.  She stares at me for a while without saying anything.

“Chloe?  I don’t think so, why?”

“It was in my dream.”  I spin to sitting on the edge of the bed.  My boxers are bunched up around my junk and uncomfortable.  I’ve always wanted to video tape myself sleeping to see how much I move around.  I saw a program somewhere that showed people freaking out in their sleep and not remembering a thing about it.

“So now you’re dreaming of other women?”

“I’m not dreaming of other women.  I’m not doing anything with other women.”  I go to the closet and won‘t look at my wife.  It’s April and in Canada that means it is still winter so I pull on a pair of thermal underwear first, then black slacks and a black shirt.  “If it means anything she was dead in my dream.”  I can’t look at her because I’m not entirely honest.  I’m not doing anything with other women, but I’ve thought about it.

Instead of looking at the guide, Hillary pulses her thumb on the channel button stopping for a few seconds on each show to see what it is and if it’ll pique her interest for a few minutes.  You’re supposed to love the little habits people have.  According to the movies and books those little quirks are supposed to be what endear you to your partner.  This one pisses me off.  She usually pauses long enough on a show for me to start getting into it then moves on to whatever’s next.  She quickly passes over the shows I would watch like Crime Scene Investigation, Law & Order, and Criminal Minds.  She likes the infomercials, talk shows, and reality shows.  She finally stops on an episode of Sex and the City.  She turns the volume up a little and rolls onto her side.  After I leave she will fall asleep with the TV on.

“You’re dreaming about crimes now?  I thought we moved here to get away from things like murder and death.  Aren’t we here so that Leigh’s daddy doesn’t get late night calls where he has to leave and comes home crying or drunk?  Or God forbid we get one of those calls that says, Daddy isn’t coming home.”  I can feel her brown eyes burning into my back.

“Don’t start, Hillary.”

“I’m going to start.  You said you wouldn’t get these late night calls.”

“It’s one call.  I’ve had three calls in four months.  You know it is part of my job.  You’re getting mad over nothing.”  I fasten a tie around my neck.

“It’s not nothing, Reid.  I thought you were going to ask for a desk job.”  Her voice has raised a little.  She takes another drink of Pepsi.  I don’t want to look at her.

I say, “There are no openings right now.  I’m needed in Major Crimes so that’s where I’ll be for now okay.”  It’s not a question.  I lower my voice and say, “you’ll just have to wait a little while before that happens.”  I won’t look at her because I am lying and she’ll know it.  She will see my eyes move off of hers or my lip will twitch.  I don’t want a desk job.  I like going out in the field and investigating real crimes.  I would go nuts sitting at headquarters making up new reports and procedures.

Hillary says, “at least the crimes here aren’t as serious as the big city.”  Again I don’t want to look at her.  I give her a quick kiss on her forehead without getting caught in her eyes.   “Can you get milk?”

She does not need to know what the call was about or where I have to go and what I might see.  In the RCMP strict confidentiality is first and foremost, even with your wife.  To be honest, I don’t stick to that as well as I should.  A lot of times I need someone to talk to or I need to talk out what is in my head so that I can figure it all out.  Right now what I am going to be involved with is not something she needs to know about.  All it would do is re-fire our argument and give her another chance to say, but you said you wouldn’t be doing that again.  She has had enough death in her life.  I have brought enough death into her life.  The last thing she needs to deal with at two in the morning is death.  She’ll find out when she listens to the radio in the morning.

Get milk, fuck.

I go to the door across the hall, Leigh’s Room, written in bold wood letters across it, and open it a crack.  Leigh has her limbs all kicked around.  Her legs stick out of the blankets and look like she is running.  Her long hair falls across her face.  I look up at the window.  On the wall beside it is a large framed photograph of her riding a black and white horse across one of the beaches here on the island.  Water splashes up from the horses hooves.  In the dark I can’t see Leigh’s face in the picture, but I know she has a giant smile across it.  Every time she rides her face lights up.  You try and give your kids everything while really just hoping they are happy.  Maybe Hillary is right and I don’t give our daughter enough of my time.

I carefully close the door and head down the stairs.  Time to leave the lovely family and make my way to hell.

*  *  *

“The middle of fucking nowhere,” I sigh to myself and pull my car off of Blooming Point Road onto Tulloch Road.  The moment I do that I am in the Tulloch Pond Provincial Wildlife Reserve.  I pass two houses and the road instantly goes from paved to gravel and mud.  Further up large puddles span across the entire road.  It has been raining for almost two weeks straight, stopping two days ago.  One puddle is deep enough to touch the undercarriage of my car.  I have to fight the steering wheel.  I cross a bridge, the river underneath is part of the Tulloch Pond waters, and turn a corner to see the growing collection of vehicles between large puddles of spring thaw waters, rain, and mud.

Sgt. Marilyn Moore stands behind her car which is parked right behind the Mobile Command Post.  She looks at my car and then turns away from the bright light.  Her hair dances around her head.  I have to admit she looks rather sexy standing there silhouetted out by my lights.  I am an asshole.

My dash clock says three thirty when I turn off the car.

Outside I can hear the waves crashing against Blooming Point Beach about a half kilometer further down the road.  Somewhere between the beach and where we are, are the high sand dunes patch worked with grasses that are famous in scenic photographs of PEI.  From November to May it is next to impossible to get to the beach because of snow and thick mud that can bog the best of trucks down.  In the spring fishermen come up here, most fish off the bridge but some will try these waters.  In the autumn hunters come down here for geese and ducks.  I’m not down here for any of that.

Marilyn crosses the dirt road to the opening of a bush road cutting off from the main road into the woods.  It has probably been there for years, but few people rushing down the road in the summer trying to find the beach would notice it.  Marilyn is now covered from foot to neck in a white protective suit.  We call then bunny suits.  They are to protect investigators from leaving their own traces at a scene.

“Morning,” she says.

I say, “What’s with the ring?”

“It’s nothing; she quickly pulls the diamond ring from her finger and hides it inside her suit.  I don’t say anything about the bruise on her wrist or her red knuckles.

A small handful of RCMP officers, what we call Regular Members, mill around between the MCP and patrol cars pulled off to the side of the road.  They all wear dark blue cargo pants and dark blue jackets with slits for easy access to their gun and radio.

I walk up the back ramp of the MCP and drop my duffle bag.  The long white trailer, pulled behind a black four by four, is a converted RV pull behind.  At the top of the ramp, where an all-terrain vehicle would have been parked in its RV days, are a desk with radio equipment and a folding table set up for collected evidence coming in.  The next room is the kitchen area, I can smell the coffee brewing, and then there is a small room that once was a bedroom and is now a mini office with a drafting table for maps and a small desk and chair.  I pull my own bunny suit out of my bag and start pulling it on over my clothes.

“Hi, Reid.  Sorry to wake you.  We need you here.”  Sgt. Wayne McIntyre joins me from the kitchen area.   He looks wide awake for this early in the morning.  His black hair is shiny and in its proper place.  His goat-tee is well trimmed.  He has a coffee in his hand.  Red mud has splashed up his pant legs.  The island is red soil and in spring the mud covers everything.  In summer the gritty beach sand gets into everything, whether you go to the beach or not.  “This is, ah, I’ve never seen anything like this.  This doesn’t happen in PEI.  I hate to think something like this happens anywhere.”  He pauses long enough to shake his head and take a breath.  His hand runs down his tie and straightens it.  “I want you to be the lead on this one.  I haven‘t dealt with something like this before, you have.  Moore‘s going to work closely with you.”

I pull a black toque down over my bald head. 

McIntyre continues, “A group of kids were coming down the road,” he points to a red Honda Civic in front of the Mobile Unit, “and didn’t like the mud so they tried this trail hoping to find another way to the beach.  We have them separated in cars.  The girls are pretty freaked out.  I don’t think they know much so I’ll interview them if you want to head down to the scene.”

“Find out what they saw, what they touched.”  I look over at the car then back. “Call Crops and tell him we’ll need whoever we can get.  At least a half dozen here in three hours to canvas.”

“Time to wake everyone up, I guess.”

I pull the hood of my white suit up over my toque.  I just want to get down there.  Something in me tells me I need to walk down this road and see what is there.  With a head lamp from the folding table I walk out to my partner and say, “let’s go.”  Marilyn tucks her red wine-colored hair under her hood. 

If I did not know Marilyn I would never think she was a police officer trained to fight.  She has a trim body with curves in the right places standing at least six feet, a good two inches over me.  She has little make-up on, as always, and she doesn‘t need any to look pretty.  I would be lying if I didn’t admit to noticing that Marilyn is a very attractive woman.  I worry about her though.  Her boyfriend is not the nicest of men.  Worse than that, she doesn’t like talking about it.  In my opinion people who talk about their problems have a greater tendency to do something about it.  A battered woman with a gun is never a good thing.

We put our headlight beams on the ground and walk the taped off path along the right side of the bush road.  The Forensic Identification Unit, Ident, searched the pathway as they walked toward the scene.  The old grass is spongy beneath our feet.  The golden grass is folded down like a woman’s flattened long hair.  I can hear the water from the spring thaw and rain beneath the soft carpet.  The right side of the road is lined by thick patches of thin red barked willows, with spots of aspen, birch, and spruce struggling to grown through them.  An oddball collection of rubbish is scattered in the bushes from plastic bags to candy wrappers and glass bottles, everything faded.  On the left side the trees are faring better, not giving the willows a chance to overcome their roots.  Spotted on the ground hidden by a canopy of evergreen are tiny piles of snow not yet touched by the sun.  The trees look grey.  Even the evergreens in the blanket of night give off a dark grey feel.  We can still feel the crisp cold air blowing in from the shore, over the dunes, and through the willows.  In another month you would not be able to walk down here without being eaten alive by mosquitoes.  Some animal shuffles in the dead leaves on the tree side.  There are shadows in the trees.  If it wasn’t for Moore beside me and the gun inside my jacket I would be sweating with fear right now.  I can’t stand the dark.

“What did Hillary say about this call?”  I jump a little.  My mind was away from where we are so much that I forgot Marilyn was walking beside me.  Our feet touch the grass carpet in unison as if I am the only one here.  Thousands of crickets rub themselves at the river in a giant symphony.

I sigh, “What do you think?  I didn’t tell her what it was about though.  The last thing I fucking need is to be nagged at about PEI not being as safe a place as I told her it was.”

“They have to bitch and complain about something.  The other halves, I mean.  I get it almost every day.  Only I,” I turn to her in time to see her bite her lip and look away.  She pulls her face mask down over the nose and mouth.

“You need to talk?” I ask.

Marilyn says, “We’re here.”

Ahead of us is a bend in the road with a lot of light breaking the black from around the bend.  Large spotlights on tripods have been set up by the crime scene guys.  We’ll have a little light to look around the scene and see what we can find.  I can’t figure out why one spotlight is shooting up into the sky.

“You ever get déjà vu?”  My stomach turns over.  A voice inside doesn’t want me to walk around the corner into the artificial light.

“No.  You mean like feeling you’ve been somewhere before?  No.”  Her voice is slightly muffled from behind the mask.

“Okay, let’s go.”  I’ve been on this road before, but I can’t say that to her.  Hey, partner, I dreamed this very thing just an hour ago.  I know what is coming up, but there is no way for me to know.  All I know is a dream.  A chill rides up my spine.  We have not been told anything about what we will find.  We were told the basics - female DB found in the woods by Blooming Point Beach- no details to skew our initial thoughts.

I moved my family to Prince Edward Island for the mild weather, the quiet countrified life – until 2010 they only had Sunday shopping during tourist season and at Christmas, before 2008 they only had glass bottles – no cans or plastic -, the fresh seafood - Hillary loves lobster - and the low crime.  The last thing I expected to see was a woman hanging from a tall white birch. 

“Oh my God.”

The moment I began walking down this road I knew what I would find.  Probably even before that I knew.  Drip

Our eyes ride the lights that are set up to the woman swinging from a tree in the breeze like a child’s old abandoned tire swing.  She doesn’t look real.   She looks like a mannequin up there as a Halloween decoration.  Trick or treat.  Her neck is stretched as long as it can without coming apart.  The thick rope holds her chin upward.  Black mascara has trailed down her cheeks with tears.  Her eyes are closed, her lips thin, mouth open slightly.  The woman, young woman, - I think she is in her early twenties - has long blond hair stained crimson so much that the blond is barely visible.  Red streams of dry blood cover her naked body from cuts and slashes on her face, torso, and legs.  Her skin is pale below the dark red from blood loss and lack of sun.  I am guessing her natural color is still very light.  I hope there is no place in the world where you would expect to see something like this.  The sea wind catches her and she starts to turn.  The rope creaks against the tree.  It’s the same sound as the tire swing in the wind.  A tire swing long forgotten.  We see her profile first, she is thin with a flat stomach, breasts more than a handful - one has a thin slice almost all the way around it - muscular legs, and a round buttock and then her back covered in more lacerations.  The only place not touched by the bladed weapon is a large black and grey rose with a small stem and two leaves, tattooed on the back of her left shoulder.  Bright bruises of a deep purple in the middle fading to pink on the outer edges cover her body.  I stare up at her, her feet at my eye level.  Her toenails are painted blue.  From here the skin of her face looks flawless.  I cannot hear the sound of the blood dripping from her fingertips and toes into the pool of red below her because her blood no longer runs.  Drip, drip.  I hear it in my dreams.  I can hear the creaking of the rope, the scraping of branches against each other, and the officers doing their work.

“Shit,” is all I can say.  What else is there?  I do not turn away from the body but say, “she was beautiful.”  I probably would have taken a look at her if she walked past me on the street.  When I was younger she would have been one of the girls I wanted to be with and daydreamed about when I was alone at night.  She was good-looking.  Now she is dead.  Dead, dead, dead.

“You okay?”  Marilyn asks.  The smell of her perfume hits my nose and distracts me.  It wakes me.

I look at her quick.  “It’s a bit shocking.  Not what I expected to see today.”

“You, and the kids in the Honda.”

The only two members of the Forensic Identification Section, small island, make their way around their scene all dressed in the white suits.  They search the ground with flashlights and their head lamps.  Camera flashes go off every couple of seconds as they capture something.  One studies the tree the rope is tied to.  Greg Eckhart, the head of Ident joins us.  He has a D700 Nikon around his neck and has a black covered notebook in his hands.

My mouth goes dry from being stuck wide open.  I slowly, unconsciously, let my eyes trace her form.  They draw lines around every vertical stream of blood that crossed down her whole body until ending at her fingers or toes where the blood fell.  Drip.  She took care of herself.  She probably worked out at a gym somewhere or maybe she jogged the Confederation Trail.  “She was cut while lying down.  I mean she wasn’t strung up first.  Not for all of them.”  Marilyn’s green eyes stare at me over her mask asking for me to explain.  I say, “Her hair is caked in blood.  That wouldn’t happen if she was hanging first.  The blood from the cuts to her face flowed to the back of her head and not down.”

“So you don’t think COD is strangulation?”  She opens her notebook and taps a new page with her pen. 

“I won’t go that far.  I‘m not stupid.”  In criminal investigations you cannot assume anything.  Remember what your mom said about assuming and you and me?  In investigations you cannot say anything until the proper person, in this case the medical examiner, says it is so.  We cannot even say it was a homicide until the ME says so.  It has to be apparent or possible.  I take out my Blackberry to dictate what I see.  “Victim is a Caucasian female, approximately twenty to twenty-five years of age, approximately five foot five in height and one hundred pounds in weight.  She is not clothed.  There is a rope tied around the victim’s neck which holds the vic., approximately six feet from the ground.  Rope goes over a branch high up a birch tree with the end tied to the trunk of another tree.”  I walk in a semicircle around the woman and the tree holding her careful about where I step.  How the hell did she get up there?  “Any personal effects, clothes, ID?”

“We haven’t found anything yet.”   Eckhart pushes his glasses back up his nose with the back of his hand.  “But we’ve only done a white light search so far.  The lights are enough to see what we are doing here, but there are a lot of shadows.  I’m hoping to do a forensic light search before the sun comes up otherwise we’ll have to bring in a tent.  Honestly, we‘re not finding much of anything anywhere.  We took photos of wheel treads from the main road, but almost a dozen different kinds of tires so I wouldn’t get your hopes up.  I took a few casts of the ones I could.  There isn‘t much mud between the grass on this road so tire tracks and footprints are obscured.  Killer had to get her up there somehow so there has to be something.  This isn’t an easy place to get evidence from.  I’m going to request police dogs come in to check the woods and maybe divers for the river.”

“Time of death?”

Eckhart shook his head and raised his eyebrows.  “It’s been cold the past few days which would have slowed decomp.  I’d say she’s been up there two or three days, but we’ll wait for the ME to make a better guess.”

I say, “Make sure you preserve the knots.”

“I know how to do my job, Jacob.”  Eckhart watches his partner.  She is crawling her way toward the body to try and go over a thick path so other work can be done.  She looks at every centimeter with her flashlight.

“It’s not Jacob.”

“Tim, Pablo?”

Marilyn lets out a laugh.  She moves her flashlight along the tree line.  Eckhart plays a game with me every time we see each other where he tries to guess my first name.  I promised him I would say yes if he ever guessed the right one.  Marilyn doesn‘t look away from her light, but says, “Give it up, Greg.  Even his wife calls him Reid.”

“I don’t like my first name.  Never have, sue me.”  I still have trouble taking my eyes off of the hanging woman.  Drip.  “And my middle name is no better.  The only thing that’s good with my middle name is that it’s the same as MacGyver’s first name from TV.  You remember that show?”

“He had a first name?”

“You guys are such geeks.”

Eckhart pushes his glasses up with the back of his hand again.

I look at my watch.  Sunrise is in about two hours. 

I stare up at the floating girl and say, “what happened to you?”

“Whoever did this tortured the hell out of the poor girl.”  Marilyn takes a grouping of photographs with her small digital camera.  She looks at me and asks, “Are you sure you’re okay, Reid?”

I can feel light green eyes on me.  There are times when I enjoy the feeling of those eyes on me, but right now they’re making my skin itch.  Marilyn and I have worked in the Major Crimes Unit since I arrived in the province over a year ago and have been partners on almost every case.  MCU has six officers in it and we fold in others depending on what we are working on.  We deal with everything from violent assaults to B and E‘s where someone gets hurt to rape.  For the most part we look into crimes and peoples stories for other areas of specialty.  Homicide falls in our scope of investigation, but killings are not a common place thing on PEI.  Two homicides come to mind.  One in 1988 which is still unsolved and that of a woman killed on the Confederation Trail in 2002.  I guess Islanders can control themselves.  I guess something had to let go.  Just my luck.  “I feel like I’ve seen this before,” I say quietly and more to myself.  I would almost bet on her name being Chloe.  “Where the hell’s the ME?”

“I’m coming.  Don’t get in a bunch.”  A flashlight bounces up and down in the hand of Dr. Walter Norton.  He wears a big bulky jacket under his bunny suit that makes him look fifty pounds heavier than he truly is.  I can hear that his shoes are soaked.  Red mud is splashed up his pants.   He has wavy black hair that is grey and white along the temples.  His well-trimmed beard, hiding behind a hairnet, is white as snow with it going grey and black at the tip of his chin.  He walks up in front of the hanging woman and points his flashlight up at her.  The doctor is retired from general work and now teaches at the university and goes out on calls to go check out old timers who passed in their sleep.  On this island there isn’t much call for a doctor to check out possible homicides.  He says, “I can’t examine the body until we get her down.  Multiple lacerations.  Vaginal bruising.  Ligature marks on her wrists and ankles.  I need to check her over, but I would say she went through a hell of a lot of pain before she died.  Any idea how long she’s been here?”

“We’re hoping you can tell us.”

“When can I get her down?”

“We have to clear the scene, tree, rope, and even road before we can bring in the equipment to get her down.  You have to give us time.”  Eckhart pushes his glasses again.

Dr. Norton throws his hands up.  “That’s going to take forever.  I don’t have all day to sit here in a puddle of water waiting for you guys to crawl around with your forceps looking for twenty year old garbage and fox hairs.”

“Everything is possibly a clue or evidence.  You’re going to have to wait.”

“Jesus Christ,” the doctor turns and heads back down the cleared path with heavy steps.  “I’m going for coffee.  Come get me when you’re done.”

We watch Dr. Norton walk away for a while.  It is a moment without looking at the women.  When we turn back she is facing us head on.  The multiples of lacerations and puncture wounds cover her face, limbs, and torso.  I try to count, but there are too many.  Too many are covered in blood.  How many times can a human being be cut before passing out or passing away?

“He cut her fingernails.”  The woman’s hands look so small dangling at her side. 

“So she might have fought back,” Marilyn takes pictures with the small camera she carried under her notebook.

“She might have.”  I go back to staring at her.  I have to stare at her.  I say, “It means he’s smart.  He knows enough to get rid of possible evidence.”

“Then he’s probably smart enough to not leave anything anywhere else.  You don’t think this is a new thing then?”

“I don’t know.”

“She didn’t die that long ago.”  Eckhart starts walking back to do his work.  “I’ll get a dental imprint and fingerprints when we get her to the hospital, see if we can ID her.  If we can‘t find any ID, that is.”  He looks at me and waits until I return his gaze.  “This is going to rock the island, isn’t it?”

I watch Eckhart walk back toward the tree where the rope is tied.  There is not much any of us need to say.  An unsolved murder occurred in Prince Edward Island over twenty years ago and people still talk about it.  The papers still ask for answers on slow news days.  The farmers that meet in the corner stores for a morning coffee still shake their heads and ask each other if they ever heard anything.

Prince Edward Island sits in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence where the fresh waters of the Great Lakes meet the salt waters of the Atlantic.  It is 246 kilometers across and is covered in fields, patches of forest -there are so many colors of green- and small villages.  Churches seem to spot the horizon over every hill.  There are cattle and horse farms everywhere.  People here believe in being self-sufficient with gardens, beef, poultry, and pork farms, wild mushrooms, and everything else natural anyone could want.  There are potatoes in the fall and lobster in June.  Then there is the debate of what is better - North shore or South shore lobsters.  Beginning in May the island turns on and the population quadruples almost overnight with tourists coming to see the home of Anne of Green Gables.  There is a water park, amusement park, drive-in movie theatre, and countless beaches around the island.  In October it shuts down, most of the restaurants outside of the cities and towns close down as well as anything fun to do.  People have nothing left to do.  The island usually has a relaxed feel, showing up fifteen minutes late is still on time, but something of this magnitude will tilt the whole island.  This will change everything.

“This is pure anger,” Marilyn says as if reading my mind.  “This wasn’t just killing, this was hate.  Stabbing a few times is anger, but this went well beyond that.  The killer wanted to make a statement.”

“What was that?”

“That this was pure hatred.”

I don’t say a word.  There isn’t anything for me to say.  She is right.  Instead I think, “And this is only the beginning.”

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