“Someone is out to get you? In what way?” Inquired Josh curiously.
The whole situation was becoming more and more strange. Could the man who brought the camera to Josh’s shop be Ted Hayden? Does Ted Hayden now know where she lives, and was it he who had followed them in the green car?
There were too many questions, and not enough answers; it made Jane’s head swim, and she wished she had more definite clues.
“Josh, do you know anyone by the name of Sadie?” Jane asked.
Josh thought deeply for a few moments as he shifted the camera roll in his hands.
“Yes, actually I do; but it might not be the same Sadie. There’s a waitress at the truck stop, just a few miles from here.”
“Not that dirty truck stop!” groaned Margaret, “That place is a dump, I’ve never been myself. I hear only tramps and casual passersby go there. And they say the food is old, to boot!”
“That’s all true!” Josh laughed, “But I go because it’s quiet. They don’t get a lot of business. Sadie’s always working there, she’s a nervous woman with some odd habits; maybe she’s who you’re looking for.”
“That sounds like her. We think she’s mixed up in something nefarious going on here in town.” Margaret said quietly, leaning over the counter.
“We’ll be back in a few hours, will you be done by then?”
He nodded and motioned to a sign on the wall.
“My motto; From Flash to Finish in 30 Minutes!“
The girls laughed.
“We’ll hold you to that! Expect to see us later; we’ve got some detective work to do.”
Margaret didn’t waste any time on the trip over to the truck stop; she knew every road in town by heart, and travelling with her was a real comfort. Jane knew with Margaret around, there wasn’t any chance of getting lost.
The faded sign outside of the truck stop was weather-beaten, and the door had seen better days. Paint was peeling around the window panes, and the cracked pavement was overgrown with small weeds.
Once inside it had a tense atmosphere; with a few surly looking travelers sitting at various tables eating what looked like a sandwich, or a bowl of soup.
“Hello!” a stout man behind the bar called out jovially, “Don’t blame you for comin’ in here, it’s hot out! Have a seat!”
Jane exchanged glances with Margaret, and they sat down at the bar on the stiff stools.
“What’ll you have?” he asked, tossing his brown tinged, threadbare towel over his shoulder.
“Coffee please.” Replied Jane politely, “Do you have a waitress here by the name of Sadie?” she asked.
The man’s eyebrows narrowed and his forehead began to brighten in color from a deep suppressed anger. Jane could tell he was irritated.
“Sadie!” he huffed, “Used to! If she comes back here I’m tossin’ her back out. She called this mornin’ and said she was leaving for a bit, to take care of her sick mother or somethin’. Hah, she hasn’t got any sick mother. It was a load of malarkey, that’s what!”
“Are you sure she hasn’t?” Jane inquired further.
“She’s got a sick mother like I’ve got a pet monkey! I bet she’s skipped town, that gal never struck me as a stable sort. I told myself not to hire her, but she worked for cheap so I let her stay and help where she could. If you ask me, she’s up to no good.”
The thought of Sadie fleeing town made Jane start thinking, and she turned over several possibilities in her mind, none of which suited her. The most obvious reason to Jane, was that she must have been scared after last night’s encounter; and afraid she would be reported to the police or investigated.
“I’ll tell you what,” the man continued to jabber on, “The last few days she wasn’t even worth what I was payin’ her. She showed up late, kept watchin’ out the windows, and bit off every single fingernail. Knocked over the condiments, broke the dishes; even spilled coffee on one of the customers. No she won’t be workin’ here any longer, and nowhere else in town if I have anythin’ to say about it!”
Jane Darcy could barely keep up with everything he said, and miraculously he served two cups of lukewarm coffee whilst he continued to babble.
“And there’s another thing!” he began once more,
“Thank you very much!” Jane cut in, “How much do we owe you?”
“Not a cent, miss, not a cent. This is your first time here; anythin’ you order is on the house!”
She left a tip on the bar beneath the napkin out of kindness. She and Margaret slid off of the uncomfortable stools, leaving behind the coffee and venturing back outside into the blinding sunlight.
“Wasn’t he corny!” laughed Margaret, “I guess we won’t be seeing anymore of Sadie. Do you think Ted skipped town too?”
“Not a chance.” murmured Jane, retreating to the car.
Suddenly she turned on her heel, her hair swaying from the rapid movement. Focusing on the nearby trees, she could tell something had darted behind them.
“Margaret, did you see that?” Jane said, pulling her friend’s arm. “I could have sworn I saw something!”
Cautiously they started for the forest edge. As they approached, Jane gasped when she caught sight of what emerged from behind the large poplar tree.