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The Disappearance of Deacon Blythe (Pt. 2)

The Disappearance of Deacon Blythe (Pt. 2)

Silas took the long, winding road down towards Canyon Lake, which stood at the bottom

of the mountain. The drive was quiet and he left his windows rolled down, feeling the

warm breeze of the summer night on his skin as the wilderness on either side of him

bustled with fireflies.

Every so often, he’d see a deer ambling along on the side of the road. They’d stare now

and then as his rickety truck went by, and some of the braver ones would make noises,

as if to scare someone off the road. The new bucks, Silas knew, would have the stumps

growing, marking the younger deer from the older ones, which were nowhere in sight.

Time had taught the older deers that humanity was particularly cruel to those who had

survived long enough to see the horrors it was capable of.

As he rode along the dusty stretch of road, moving from the hills and plains to the more

wooded area of the lake, Silas took in the smell of tobacco, hay, and rotting wood.

These, along with the smell of oil and fresh linen, were the smells of his hometown. It

was comforting, in a way, as the day turned to night, the fireflies still guiding his way.

Silas turned his thoughts towards Deacon Blythe. It occurred to him that he’d never

actually seen the boy with his father as he grew older, except for once at a county fair.

Deacon had been stopped by Silas, who’d recognized him and asked him how he was

doing, when Charles Blythe showed up out of nowhere and finished the conversation.

That had been last year, right before Oktoberfest. Silas remembered thinking at the time

that it was strange, but had since forgotten the incident. Now it weighed on his mind.

And another thing. If Deacon had only disappeared, Silas thought, why would his own

mother use words that made it sound like he passed on? From all accounts, Lisa Blythe

was a devoted mother. Why, she was even the one who had urged Charles to come to

him, wasn’t she?

Then Silas remembered not having seen Lisa with Deacon or Jessa in the last few

months, not even at Christmas Mass. In fact, Silas didn’t remember seeing either Blythe

child at church that day, which was very odd. It was the one of the few times of year that

the whole town got together.

Silas found himself at the intersection to the lake. It was a nice road that hugged the

lake, showing drivers the beauty of the large body of water between the large trees and

the short stretches of the rocky shore. People could even park on the side of the road,

as they often did, to take pictures of the lake against the backdrop of Canyon Mountain.

He turned left on the road, smiling as he passed the large rock that stuck out in the lake.

He’d proposed to Maggie there, nearly 40 years ago. She’d been a giggling mess, he

remembered, and nearly fell into the lake after he finally got the words out.

And now here he was, his smiling sliding from his face as he caught sight of the marina,

searching for a missing boy. How times have changed.

— — — —

Silas caught sight of Jessa instantly. Her flame-colored hair was visible from the hiding

space she’d picked on her parents’ boat, between the cooler and the box full of fishing

equipment that was settled against the left side of the cockpit area. He could hear her

too, mumbling a lullaby under her breath.

As he got closer, he realized she wasn’t singing. She was crying.

“Jessa?” Silas said out loud, a little ways from the boat. He knew now she’d been the

one that sent the message. Not because she was on the boat, but because of the bags

he could clearly see stashed in the small cockpit. They were white and obvious against

the dark wood of the paneling. “Jessa.”

Jessa stopped crying.

“Jessa, it’s Owen Silas,” he said, still standing in the same spot. He didn’t know what to

do, so he continued to stand there. “You’re not in trouble, darlin’. I’m not here to hurt you

or cause no scandal.”

Cause no scandal — it was a term the townspeople used to let each other know they

meant no harm. He used it now to see if he could coax her out.

It worked. Jessa stood, tall and thin, unsteady on her feet. She turned to look at Silas,

her long hair flowing in the slight breeze. Her freckled face was streaked with tears, and

her large green eyes, which had always been filled with joy when he saw her, were dim.

“He’s dead, isn’t he?” Her voice was flat as she stared at Silas. “Deacon. He’s dead.”

“Well, not to the best of my knowledge, no,” Silas said, putting his hands on his hips.

Jessa’s eyes went to his belt, and Silas quickly moved his hands back down to his side,

hiding the pistol he kept handy. “He’s missing.”

“He’s dead,” Jessa said again. There was no sorrow in her voice, only resignation. Silas

was confused as she pulled her hair out of his face. “I should have known when he

didn’t show up Saturday. He never late, you know. When he says he’ll be somewhere,

he’ll be there.”

“I see.” Silas looked around at the dock, the emptiness of the area creeping in on him.

He looked again at Jessa.

“How did you know I was here?” Jessa rubbed her arms, and he could see that she was

cold. “Did Dad send you?”

“I didn’t. I-uh, I found your brother’s phone,” Silas said. “He called me to investigate your

brother’s disappearance.”

“Did he? Bold move,” she muttered under her breath. She rubbed her arms again. “Did

you find anything out?”

“You’re my first lead,” he said.

“You got anything to eat?” Jessa asked. “I’m starving.”

— — — —

“Momma made this pie,” Jessa said. They sat side by side, Jessa and Silas, on the

boat, as she tore into the dessert on her lap. Silas’ jacket was over her shoulders. “I can

always tell, you know. She uses the blackberries from out near the woods. They got a

special taste.”

“Jessa,” Silas said, ignoring her words, “why are you out here and why was your brother

supposed to meet you?”

Jessa went quiet, putting down the plastic fork and knife in her hand.

“Jessa, I want to find Deacon. But you’re gonna have to tell me what you know, alright?

I just wanna make sure he’s okay.” Jessa nodded. “I’m not gonna say I know this is

difficult, because frankly, I don’t know what you’ve got to tell me. But I can promise you,

right here and right now, that I aim to listen carefully. Okay?”

“You and Dad go way back, right, Sheriff?” Jessa looked up at Silas as he nodded. She

nodded too, putting the pie in the space next to them. “Since before Deacon and I were

born.”

“Way before.”

“And you knew Mom too, right?” Silas nodded. “Dad said you were at their wedding.”

“Sure was.”

“Do you like my dad?” Jessa’s question threw him for a loop. “Honestly. When you think

about it, do you like him?”

“We’re not as close as we used to be, Jessa. I like him fine to say hello.”

“That’s a polite way of saying you’re not so sure.”

“Well, people change, Jessa. You don’t really know what’s at the heart of any one

person.” Silas got a whiff of what was coming. “You know, Jessa, if your daddy did

something, you can tell me. It won’t go back to him, I promise—“

“It’s not dad,” she said quietly. She crumpled up the paper napkin in her hand, rolling

into a ball and flattening it out again. She’d been doing it since they sat down, and he

only now noticed it. “It’s…mom.”

“Oh.” The word came out hollow. Silas looked over at Jessa. “Can you tell me just a bit

more?”

“Mom hits me,” she said, rolling the napkin in her hand tight. “Throws me around, does

bad things to me. Dad doesn’t stop her.”

“Why not?”

“Because he’s afraid of her. We all are.” Jessa unrolled the napkin. “She gets in these

moods, see, and when she gets going, you can’t really stop her. And it’s just a lot, you

know?”

“Oh, Jessa, I’m sorry.” Silas closed his eyes, shaking his head. “I wish I had known.”

“It started a while back,” Jessa went on, the story unraveling like a spool of ribbon. “She

found out Dad had an affair and that’s when it kicked in. About a year or so ago it

started. Then she started in on me. It gets really bad sometimes, and it’s happening

more and more.”

Silas didn’t speak. He knew there was more to the story, and he wanted to let her finish

it.

“I guess it’s because I look like the girls Dad had affairs with. He had more than one,

you know. Redheads and all that. Mom thought he was a sicko, thought the affairs were

a way of Dad wanting to sleep with me.” Jessa shuddered at the thought, rolling the

napkin again. “He didn’t, of course, he just liked women younger than Mom. But it didn’t

stop her from taking all her anger out on me.”

“And Deacon was trying to stop her?” Silas asked the question tentatively, not wanting

to put ideas in her head.

“At first, he and Dad didn’t believe that she was hurting me. She’d do it when they

weren’t around,” she said. “But then I showed Deacon the scars she gave me. He

promised to protect me. Mom didn’t like it, and she made him move out to the barn.”

The barn. It made sense now, why Lisa had been so strange when he came over. He

also understood now why she’d been happy then depressed, as if on a cycle.

“But every time Deacon would protect me, Dad would hit him,” Jessa explained. She

looked at him. “Doesn’t make sense, I know, but he didn’t want to upset Mom anymore

than she was, so he’d pull Deacon back.”

Jessa turned to look at Silas, her bright green eyes like lanterns.

“Sheriff, I was gonna try to make it til after high school, honest,” she stammered, her

eyes welling. “But I couldn’t take any more. She was going nuts every day. And Dad

won’t put her in a hospital or anything. Then last week, she took a knife and carved into

me.”

Jessa lifted the pleasant blouse she was wearing to showcase a large, thick cut across

her abdomen. It looked like a horror show C-section scar. It was still raw and red, with

teardrops of blood still spilling out, and he could tell she needed stitches — the wound

was already infected.

“She did it because she said it was the only way to make me ugly. She was going to

carve into my face, but Deacon pulled her off,” Jessa said, her voice just above a

whisper. “They wouldn’t take me to the clinic, said I just had to take it.”

“And that’s when you decided you had enough?” Jessa nodded.

“Deacon said he had a friend up at A&M that would take me in for a week or so until I

could find some help,” she said. “But Mom and Dad wouldn’t let us leave. He knew it, so

he said we’d leave without telling them. He said he’d take me away and put me

somewhere safe and deal with Mom and Dad when he got back.”

“So you came up here separately, and you were waiting for him.”

“Right.” Jessa looked out over the water. “If Deacon’s gone and he’s not here, they did

something to him. Both of them. Dad does whatever Mom says. And she’s been getting

more out of control everyday.”

“All right,” Silas said, standing. “I’ve heard enough.”

“Where are you going?” Jessa said in a shrill voice as Silas moved to the dock. “What

are you going to do?”

— — — —

Silas arrived back at the Blythe property around 8 am the next morning. As he parked

the truck, he saw Lisa come out onto the porch, waving at him.

“Owen,” she said, smiling as he approached the steps to the house. “I just made a fresh

pot of coffee. Want some?”

“No thanks, Lisa, just came by to talk to Charles,” Silas said, pulling his hat off. He cast

his eyes towards the barn, just making out the tail end of Deacon’s car. It looked

different, however; like it had been moved. He shook the uneasy feeling and turned

back to Lisa. “Is he here?”

“He’s at work,” she said, leaning on the railing. “What’s it about? Is it Deacon? Did you

find anything out?”

“Not yet,” Silas said. He looked around. “Well. I’ll stop by his office then.”

“You sure you don’t want some coffee?” Lisa smiled at him, her teeth showing. It

unnerved him. “Was there something else?”

“Actually, if you don’t mind, I’d like to talk to Jessa.”

“Jessa.”

“Your daughter,” Silas said, waiting for a reaction. He got absolutely none. “Is she here

or at school?”

“What do you want with Jessa?” Lisa’s voice was now cold. “She doesn’t know

anything.”

“Well, she might.” Lisa’s eyes darkened, and Silas forced himself to keep calm. He gave

her a smile. “They’re close, right?”

“So?”

“So she might know of a secret lover or a new set of friends. He may have gone off with

one of them,” Silas said. Lisa started to relax a little. “Kids don’t tell their parents

everything, do they?”

“No, I suppose not.” Lisa shrugged her shoulders. “But she’s not here or at school. I

sent her to my mother’s in McAllen. I figured what with Deacon being missing and all,

it’d be best if she didn’t have to be here in case he winds up…gone.”

Silas stood, looking at Lisa, who was smiling again.

“Oh. Is there a number I could reach her at? I just wanna ask her a few—“

“No. My mom doesn’t have a phone. She’s old-fashioned,” Lisa said quickly. “I’ll phone

my sister and ask her to talk to Jessa for you. I’ll call you once I know anything.”

“You sure I can’t just call your sister—“

“No. She wouldn’t talk to you anyway,” Lisa said. He could see she was agitated. “You

know what? I’ve got a lot of things to do, so I think it’s best if you go and see Charles.”

Lisa walked down the steps, ushering Silas to his truck, her slim hands soft but insistent

on his back. He didn’t try to stop her and got into the car.

“Well, just let me know what you find out, alright?” Silas tipped his hat to her, giving her

a warm smile. “In the meantime, I’ll look for other ways to find out what happened to

Deacon.”

Lisa gave him a curt nod and turned back to the house. Silas couldn’t help but notice

that her jaw was tight and she was clenching her fists at her side.

— — — —

“The car was still there?” Jessa asked. Silas nodded as he sat next to Jessa at the long

kitchen table. “Like, in the same place?”

“Yes it was, where I saw it yesterday,” Silas said. Out of nowhere, a cup of coffee

appeared right in front of him. He smiled up at his wife. “Thank you, darlin’.”

“Welcome.” Maggie gave him a kiss on the cheek and headed out to the living room,

leaving the Silas and Jessa alone in the kitchen.

“She been taking good care of you?” Silas asked, referring to Maggie. Jessa nodded. “I

thought she might. Alright, Jessa. You were right. Your mom knows something.”

“Of course she does,” Jessa muttered, folding her arms and leaning back in her chair.

“I asked to talk to you,” Silas said, and Jessa looked up at him. “Yes, I did. Your mom

told me you were up at your grandmother’s in McAllen.”

“Lying bitch,” Jessa spat. She caught Silas’ look. “I’m sorry. Didn’t mean to curse.”

“S’alright. But she didn’t want me talking to you.” Silas played with his coffee spoon.

“Didn’t seem all that worried about Deacon either. But—“

“But?” Jessa leaned forward. “But what? Did ya see something?”

“Well, when I went to your parents’ yesterday, Deacon’s car wasn’t visible from the

drive. Today it was. Not by much, mind you, but enough to make me wonder about it.

Looked like it wasn’t on solid ground, like it was crooked.”

“Oh my god,” Jessa gasped. “He’s dead. I know it. Sheriff, they killed him. He’s dead.”

Jessa slumped on the ground, her body shaking as she curled her arms around her

knees, rocking back and forth.

“I know it I know it I know it,” she said. Silas knelt down on the ground. “They know you

won’t check the house, he hasn’t been gone that long. They killed him and buried him

underneath the car so no one would notice. Jesus.”

“Jessa—“

“Can’t you just check?” Jessa wailed, scaring Silas. “Just check under the car and tell

me that Deacon isn’t under there. Please.”

The word please came out in a scream, and a second later, Silas heard his wife enter

the kitchen.

“What is going on?” she asked, surprised.

“Take care of Jessa, Maggie. She’s real upset,” Silas said, standing up and putting his

hat on.

“Where are you going?” Maggie asked as she brought Jessa back to her feet. “C’mon

darlin’, let’s get you upstairs. You need some sleep. Silas?”

“I’m going to work. We’re gonna get a warrant to check the Blythe barn,” Silas said.

Jessa didn’t even register what he said. “You hear me, Jessa? We’re gonna go check,

okay? I promise. A warrant and everything, so your parents will have to let me check.”

“He’s dead,” was all she would say as Maggie led her out of the kitchen.

— — — —

Silas kept his word and arrived at the Blythe property a few minutes after two in the

afternoon with three officers. He’d called Charles only when he was a few minutes from

the house to ask him to come back to the property, making sure there wasn’t enough to

time for the Blythes to do anything before they could search the barn.

Lisa was livid.

“You can’t just come in here and tear our house apart,” Lisa screamed as Silas gave her

the news. She shook the warrant in his face. “Not without a good reason.”

“We got a good reason,” Silas said calmly. “I got reason to believe that Deacon may not

have disappeared and is still on the property. I got a responsibility to check, Lisa. You all

called me. This is part of my job.”

“Bullshit. We’re worried parents, not suspects. Why don’t you do your goddamn job and

find my son?” Lisa spat, her vindictive side coming out. She crossed her arms. “You’re

not going to find anything in the house.”

“The warrant isn’t for the house, ma’am,” Officer Danny Taylor said while walking past.

“It’s for the barn and the surrounding property.”

Lisa’s faced drained, and she slumped back to hit the porch door.

“What?” Behind him, Silas could hear the familiar engine of Charles’ car coming up the

drive.

“Lisa?” Charles came running up, catching his wife as she slid down the screen door.

“Silas, I’m gonna need an explanation.”

“Just a routine check of your son’s bedroom and the surrounding area.”

“You mean the barn?” Charles asked, incredulously.

“The barn, the car, and the exterior of the barn, Charles.” Charles voice also drained.

“It’s all routine, but I have to do it by the book. You understand.”

“How is searching the barn going to help? You already did that,” Charles said, getting

angry. “You said you found nothing.”

“Right. But I’ve got fresh eyes with me today,” Silas said, gesturing to the officers who

were already moving into the barn. “These old eyes don’t work as well as they used to,

you know.”

“Then maybe you should retire, you old, useless—“ Lisa began on a tirade.

“Lisa, stop,” Charles demanded, and Lisa was eerily quiet. “Now I know you got a job to

do, but this looks terrible on us. And Deacon is missing, he’s not dead.”

“We don’t know that,” Silas said, his old eyes hardening.

“What?” Charles asked, looking at his old friend. The realization hit him in an instant.

“Wait. You think we had—“

“Where’s your daughter, Charles?” Silas asked. He kept his voice even. “Where’s

Jessa?”

“She’s at school—“

“I sent her to my mother’s,” Lisa interrupted quickly. She shot her husband an angry

look and realized only too late that Silas had caught it. “I sent her after he left for work

this morning.”

“I thought you said you sent her a few days ago.”

“I-I…There’s so much going on,” Lisa stammered, now faltering. “I got it mixed it up. But

she’s fine.”

“Lisa, I’m going to ask you just one more time, and I pray you don’t lie to me,” Silas said,

folding his hands in front of him. “Where is Jessa?”

“I told you—“

“Your daughter is in town, and I’ve talked to her, Lisa.” She was still. “She’s told me a lot

of things that led to me being right here, on your lawn. And while I consider you two

friends, the safety of your children is important to me.”

“I never touched them,” Lisa protested, her anger apparent. “I’m a good mother.”

“Jessa gave me a statement that states that you have violent outbursts and you abuse

her,” Silas said quietly. “She also made claims that you had threatened to kill both her

and Deacon if they ever told anyone.”

“She’s a little lyin’ bitch,” Lisa screamed. Charles tried to calm her, but it only made her

more furious. “She did all that shit to herself, the cuts and everything, trying to get

attention—“

“Lisa, be quiet,” Charles said.

“Fuck you,” she said, spitting in his face. She turned to Silas. “Now you, you’re not going

to find anything because we haven’t done anything, so you give me my daughter back

right—“

“Sheriff!” Silas’ head snapped up to look at Officer Taylor, who was standing near the

barn door. “We found something.”

“Wait—“ Charles called, but Silas only heard it like a whisper in the wind. He was off,

crossing the large lawn and drive to the barn faster than he’d ever done it, turning the

corner of the barn.

“Jesus.” Silas saw what had been so important — the Corvette was nowhere to be

seen, and the only evidence of where it may have gone were tire marks taking off

across the fields. It had been a recent departure as well, because Silas could still smell

oil and gasoline mixing with the hay from the fields.

And in the spot where Silas first saw the Corvette was a long stretch of newly turned

dirt, long and wide enough to fit a person. It had been partially dug out at one end, with

dirt hitting the side of the barn and spreading across the back side of the barn.

Silas could hear Lisa and Charles shouting, but it sounded like a murmur. He kneeled

down at the dirt, looking for any more clues about what had been buried there, even

though he knew the answer.

Down in the dirt, just a few swipes away, Silas found what he was looking for — a

simple cell phone, the kind the kids used to send messages to friends their parents

didn’t want them speaking to. It was stained with blood and tufts of hair — the same hair

color, Silas knew, of Deacon Blythe.

Silas quickly scrolled through the menus, being tech-savvy enough to know that the

messages were the most important part. He stood as he found the last message, left

about an hour before his arrival.

I’m still alive. Coming to get you.

The old sheriff closed his eyes, breathing a sigh of relief.

— — — —

Down at the Silas property, Maggie woke up from her own nap to find that Jessa Blythe

was gone from the guest bedroom. So were her bags. Maggie knew better than to look

for the girl, so she didn’t, but she stopped at the doorway when she saw a slim piece of

paper folded over on the nightstand.

We’re going to be fine.

Don’t look for us.

Thank you for everything.

xoxo,

Jessa

— — — —

Two hours out of town, a small Corvette going fast on I-35 carried two young teenagers,

both scrubbed clean and looking tired. There was blood on both of them, but the smiles on their faces seemed to make it worth it.

“What do you wanna listen to?” The boy asked the girl. He was grinning.

“Anything,” she said, smiling back. She turned her attention to the open window, resting

her head on her arms as she took in the sights. “Anything.”

The Disappearance of Deacon Blythe

The Disappearance of Deacon Blythe