Ella closed the journal. She wondered what happened to Elsie? She knew she had died a few months before Anna but she never really questioned what had happened. Could that have something to do with Anna’s death? It seemed far fetched but she needed to look into it.
Forgetting that she had an entire house to clean or that she had barely eaten in the last few days, she decided to take a trip to the library. With any luck, they would have copies of all the newspapers from that time and it may tell her something. The librarian was an old family friend and also the biggest gossip in town so if she couldn’t find what she wanted in the newspapers she knew Miss Patty would have some answers for her.
The library looked just as she remembered it. The smell of the books assailed her nose as she walked in. To her they smelled of the adventures that were in the pages of the books. She assumed it was the teacher in her, though she had always loved reading. She walked up and down the aisles to get reacquainted with the layout when she heard her name called out.
“Ella Mattox, is that you sulking around my aisles?”
Ella smiled, “Miss Patty, it’s so good to see you again!”
Patty York slowly made her way to Ella and enveloped her in a big hug. Her girth had definitely not shrunk in the ten years that she had been away. “It has been too long Ella. What brings you back to Mineral Creek?”
“My father passed away a few days ago and left me the house so I left my teaching position and decided to come home.”
“I’m sorry to hear about your father but I am glad you came back. This old library has been very lonely since you’ve been gone. So, what can I help you find today? Mystery, Suspense, Poetry?”
“Actually, I’m looking for some old newspapers.”
“We have every edition since this town became a town. What year are you looking for?”
“1919, July and later would be great.”
Miss Patty gave her a strange look. “Why would you be wanting to read about ten year old news?”
“I’m looking into Anna’s death. Everything was a blur back then and I just want to get some clarity on what happened.”
“Your sister died from pneumonia, Ella. That would hardly make the news column.”
“Then answer me this Miss Patty. How come when I mention my sister and her death all of a sudden no one will look me in the eye? Right now you can’t even look at me. Something was wrong back then. It took me years to see it. Why did my family grab just the clothes we could carry right after her funeral and leave everything behind?”
“Some things are better left buried in the past Ella. It will do no good stirring up ghosts.”
“These ghosts will haunt me until I have laid them to rest and to do that I must find out what happened to Anna.”
Miss Patty sighed in resignation. “If you must, then you must. When you get done looking at the newspapers might I suggest you visit your sister. That’s where the story begins but I must warn you to take care. You don’t know the Pandora’s Box you will be opening on you and this town.”
“That seems very ominous Miss Patty, but as you say this is something that I must do.”
Miss Patty showed her to the newspapers and left her to her research. The first thing she wanted to find was the death notice of Elsie. She wasn’t sure why but thought that was the beginning.
“Ah there it is,” she said. “‘July 29th 1919, Elsie Marie Potter succumbed to a lingering illness yesterday’. Well, there doesn’t seem to be anything strange about that.”
Giving up on her newspaper theory, she decided to listen to Miss Patty and visit her sister. She hadn’t been to the cemetery since the funeral and she felt bad for not visiting Anna in all these years. The cemetery wasn’t a large one and it didn’t take her long to find Anna’s grave. The engraving on the stone immediately caught her attention, “Killed By Human Wolves”.
“Why would Mama and Papa put such a strange saying on Anna’s grave? What did they mean by ‘Human Wolves’? Oh, I wished I had asked more questions while they were still around to answer them.”
Now she had to find someone who could answer the question about the human wolves but who would know? She had to talk to Miss Patty again. She quickly made her way back to the library but found that it was closed.”That’s strange, I have never known Miss Patty to close early.”
“Well hello again, Miss Mattox.”
Ella turned at the voice. “Good afternoon, Mr. Moore. It seems we are always running into each other.”
“Yes, it is a small town. I was on my way to return some legal books but Miss Patty has decided to run away for the afternoon I see.”
“It’s rather strange of her. I have never known her to close early and I had an important question to ask her.”
“May I be of any help?”
Ella studied the man. He seemed sincere and since he was the district attorney he may have ways to get her questions answered. “Perhaps, I have just visited my sister’s grave for the first time in ten years and have discovered a strange engraving on the headstone.”
“It says “Killed By Human Wolves” and I was curious about it’s meaning. I thought Miss Patty would know.”
“Killed By Human Wolves? That is quite mysterious.”
“What’s even more mysterious is the fact that everyone in town is avoiding the topic of my sister. The only information I’ve gathered is from a couple of neighborhood kids and what little I’ve gotten from my sister’s diary.”
“If it will help you out I can do some research at my office. Surely if there was some sort of foul play it would have been documented by the last district attorney.”
“That would be a great help! While you do that, I will read more of her diary and see if I can find anything that sounds out of the ordinary. If you’re free tonight, I can fix us dinner and we can compare our notes. That is, if you would like to meet at my house.”
“I think that’s a wonderful idea. Is six o’clock good? I will even bring the dessert.”
“Six will be fine. Until this evening then, Mr. Moore.”
“I look forward to it, Miss Mattox.”
Ella watched him walk away and mentally slapped herself on the forehead. What has she gone and done now? Her mouth had a tendency to run away with itself and she always found herself in trouble because of it. Now she had to prepare a meal in a few hours in a kitchen that hasn’t been used in ten years. She hadn’t even had time to stock the kitchen with the simple necessities yet.
She hurried to the general store to buy all the staples for the kitchen, then made a quick trip to the butcher and bakery and rushed home to prepare tonight’s meal.
The kitchen didn’t take near as long to clean as she had feared but she did experience a moment of panic when she couldn’t get the stove to light. After giving it a good cleaning, it finally lit and she was able to get her chicken in the oven to roast. Now she could get Anna’s diary and see if she could find out anything else that might help her.
She skimmed through the entries that didn’t have anything of importance to them until she came to the date May 18th, 1919. Anna had titled this entry where she hadn’t titled any of the previous ones. The name of the entry immediately caught Ella’s attention, “Trouble is Afoot”.
“Oh Anna, what did you get yourself into?” she asked the air around her.
I am so worried for Elsie. Ever since she started seeing that Mr. Rogers, she has not acted like herself at all. She is never around anymore and on the off chance I run across her in town she quickly finds an excuse to leave in a hurry. I spoke to Miss Patty about her odd behavior but she said that girls in love often act odd in the beginning and that she was sure it was nothing to fret over.
You would think Miss Patty would show a little more concern considering Elsie is her niece and she is responsible for her well being. I have also been told by what I consider reliable sources that Elsie has been seen sneaking out of town at dusk every evening. The Elsie I know would never chance leaving the safety of town alone at night. What could be so persuasive that she would go out into the night alone? Was she having a clandestine meeting with Mr. Rogers? Surely Elsie would never do anything like that. Well, tomorrow I have decided it’s time for some answers. So until then my friend.
“So Elsie was possibly having an affair with this Mr. Rogers and Anna wanted to try to talk some sense into her but she was avoiding her,” Ella said to herself. She wanted to read the next entry but the smell from the kitchen told her that her chicken was done and Mr. Moore would be there soon.
She finished making dinner and was just putting the finishing touches to her hair when there was a knock on the door. Taking a deep breath to steady her nerves she opened the door. “Good evening, Mr. Moore. Please come in.”
“Thank you and please call me Johnny.” He handed her a cake from the bakery, then removed his hat and coat. As they sat down in the sitting room she couldn’t help but notice how much smaller the room was with him in it.
“I hope you like roasted chicken and potatoes? I’m afraid that was all I had time to prepare.”
“Anything home cooked would be wonderful. I get tired of eating at Maude’s all the time. I spent all afternoon looking into the death of your sister but it seems that for some reason all the files from that time frame seem to be missing.”
“Missing? That seems very odd.”
“Yes it is. When I asked my secretary about it, she just said they must have been misplaced but she is so meticulous that I can’t imagine her misplacing anything.”
“I believe that my sister’s death had something to do with the death of her best friend, Elsie Potter. In her journal, she speaks about her meeting an older man and then she started behaving strangely. Elsie died a few months before my sister did. I’m beginnin0g to think that Anna stumbled onto something sinister that happened to Elsie and she had to be silenced.”
“Do you happen to read a lot of mystery books, Ella? May I call you Ella?”
“Oh, yes of course. I do read a lot, Johnny, but I’m not inclined to the fanciful side. Something strange was going on here in Mineral Creek and in some way it involved Elsie and my sister and I plan to find out what it was. Are you prepared to help me open Pandora’s Box, Johnny?”