American Gods by Unknown

American Gods by Unknown

Author:Unknown
Language: eng
Format: epub

The cold snap was easing when Wednesday dropped Shadow off in the small hours of the morning. It was still obscenely cold in Lakeside, but it was no longer impossibly cold. The lighted sign on the side of the M&I Bank flashed alternately 3:30 A.M. and —5°F as they drove through the town.

It was 9:30 A.M. when Chief of Police Chad Mulligan knocked on the apartment door and asked Shadow if he knew a girl named Alison McGovern.

“I don’t think so,” said Shadow, sleepily.

“This is her picture,” said Mulligan. It was a high school photograph. Shadow recognized the person in the picture immediately: the girl with the blue rubber-band braces on her teeth, the one who had been learning all about the oral uses of Alka-Seltzer from her friend.

“Oh, yeah. Okay. She was on the bus when I came into town.”

“Where were you yesterday, Mister Ainsel?”

Shadow felt his world begin to spin away from him. He knew he had nothing to feel guilty about (You’re a parole-violating felon living under an assumed name, whispered a calm voice in his mind. Isn’t that enough?).

“San Francisco,” he said. “California. Helping my uncle transport a four-poster bed.”

“You got any ticket stubs? Anything like that?”

“Sure.” He had both his boarding pass stubs in his back pocket, pulled them out. “What’s going on?”

Chad Mulligan examined the boarding passes. “Alison McGovern’s vanished. She helped out up at the Lakeside Humane Society. Feed animals, walk dogs. She’d come out for a few hours after school. So. Dolly Knopf, who runs the Humane Society, she’d always run her home when they closed up for the night. Yesterday Alison never got there.”

“She’s vanished.”

“Yup. Her parents called us last night. Silly kid used to hitchhike up to the Humane Society. It’s out on County W, pretty isolated. Her parents told her not to, but this isn’t the kind of place where things happen . . . people here don’t lock their doors, you know? And you can’t tell kids. So, look at the photo again.”

Alison McGovern was smiling. The rubber bands on her teeth in the photograph were red, not blue.

“You can honestly say you didn’t kidnap her, rape her, murder her, anything like that?”

“I was in San Francisco. And I wouldn’t do that shit.”

“That was what I figured, pal. So you want to come help us look for her?”

“Me?”

“You. We’ve had the K-9 guys out this morning—nothing so far.” He sighed. “Heck, Mike. I just hope she turns up in the Twin Cities with some dopey boyfriend.”

“You think it’s likely?”

“I think it’s possible. You want to join the hunting party?”

Shadow remembered seeing the girl in Hennings Farm and Home Supplies, the flash of a shy blue-braced smile, how beautiful he had known she was going to be, one day. “I’ll come,” he said.

There were two dozen men and women waiting in the lobby of the fire station. Shadow recognized Hinzelmann, and several other faces looked familiar. There were police officers, and some men and women in the brown uniforms of the Lumber County Sheriff’s department.



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