Chapter 47

Jim had made the rounds of the territory where Trish was last seen. No clue had jumped to his mind. The next time he d on both occasions. The timing made sense to Jim so he went along with the plan. They rode the area again and again. There were no stores or no bus stops at that corner. Each hour took them further from finding her. Jim remembered reading police reports saying that timing was very important in finding a lost person.

They were back at the same intersection for the third time that morning. Moonie pointed to the Sunoco station. “Maybe they could give us an idea. Don’t you think, Mr. Martin?

“What have we got to lose?” He parked off to the side of the gas pump and together they went into the station. An attendant came from the bay and wiped his hands on an oily rag.  “Can I help you? You didn’t pull up to the pump.”

Jim held out his hand and introduced them. “I’d like to ask you a couple of questions if you don’t mind.”

“Shoot. I’m all ears.” The attendant perched on a stool behind the small counter.”

“We’re looking for a teen aged girl who was last seen around this area about a week ago.” Jim pulled out a snapshot from his pocket and showed it to the attendant.

The attendant held up his hands. “Don’t know nothing about her, mister.”

Jim had to laugh at the implication.  “No, no. I’m just looking for some information. Thought maybe you could help us.”

The attendant relaxed and gave a small chuckle. “That’s a relief.” The only girls I seen were a couple of ones selling flowers. They used to come every Saturday for about a month, but haven‘t been here for about a week now. Scraggly looking bunch. Selling flowers and giving out pencils to our customers.  None as pretty as the girl in the picture you just showed me.”

He studied the picture again. “No sir.” He added.

“You say they only came on Saturdays?” Moonie broke in. “Were they selling anything besides flowers?”

“They were Bible thumpers. Two girls and a guy. The girls did all the talking. He seemed different…maybe retarded?”

“Could the girl on the picture have talked to them?”

“Guess so, but I don’t remember seeing her, but I always had work to do in the bay when I didn’t have a gas customer, so I could have missed her.”

“Tell us more about them.” Moonie persisted.

The owner gave them permission to work the station as long as they weren’t interfering with the fill ups. That’s all I know. He comes later today to collect the…cash and close up for the night…about nine. You could talk to him then.

Jim sucked in his breath. “Know where to reach him before that?”

“I think he runs two more stations so I don’t know how to get him before that.”

Jim and Moonie returned to the car and sat a few minutes trying to digest the news they had been given.

“What do you think, Moon. Could they have spooked Trish into joining them?” Jim ran a hand through his dark hair exposing the few grey strands. “We’ve never been very religious, other than church every now and then…”

“I have to tell you the truth…I know it’s important now…but I don’t think Trish was very happy…I know she didn’t like most of the kids at school, but the few times I talked to her, mostly on those rides, she seemed to be weighed down…about something other than school.” Moonie closed his eyes and wished he had asked more about her.

The drive back to Moonie’s car was silent. Both were lost in their own burdens of responsibility.

At promptly nine o’ clock Jim met the owner of the station and came away with little more than he already knew. On his way home, he began to form a plan. With Moonie’s help they would begin canvassing the corners that might look promising to the group of Bible thumpers.