Gone for Good Page 27

But I’d never really considered the case of Katy Miller, about what it must have been like growing up among those ruins, with your sister’s look-alike specter forever at your side. I looked at Katy again, as if for the first time. Her eyes continued to dart about like scared birds. I could see tears there now. I reached out and took her hand, again so like her sister’s. The past came at me so hard I nearly fell back.

“This is so weird,” she said.

Truer words, I thought. “For me too.”

“It needs to end, Will. My whole life . . . whatever really happened that night, it needs to end. Sometimes I hear on TV when they catch the bad guy someone says, ‘It won’t bring her back,’ and I think, ‘Duh.’ But that’s not the point. It ends. You catch the guy, it gives it some kind of finality. People need that.”

I had no idea where she was going with this. I tried to pretend that she was one of the center’s kids, that she’d come in needing my help and love. I sat and looked at her and tried to let her know that I was here to listen.

“You don’t know how much I hated your brother—not just for what he did to Julie, but for what he did to the rest of us by running away. I prayed they’d find him. I had this dream where he’d be surrounded and he put up a fight and then the cops would smoke him. I know you don’t want to hear this. But I need you to understand.”

“You wanted closure,” I said.

“Yeah,” she said. “Except . . .”

“Except what?”

She looked up and for the first time our eyes locked. I grew cold again. I wanted to withdraw my hand, but I could not move. “I saw him,” she said.

I thought that I heard wrong.

“Your brother. I saw him. At least I think it was him.”

I found my voice enough to ask, “When?”

“Yesterday. At the graveyard.”

The waitress came over then. She withdrew the pencil from her ear and asked what we wanted. For a moment neither of us spoke. The waitress cleared her throat. Katy ordered some sort of salad. The waitress looked at me. I asked for a cheese omelette. She asked what kind of cheese—American, Swiss, cheddar. I said cheddar would be fine. Did I want home fries or french fries with that? Home fries. White toast, rye toast, wheat toast. Rye. And nothing to drink, thank you.

The waitress finally left.

“Tell me,” I said.

Katy stubbed out the cigarette. “It’s like I said before. I went to the graveyard. Just to get out of the house. Anyway, you know where Julie’s buried, right?”

I nodded.

“That’s right. I saw you there. Couple of days after her funeral.”

“Yes,” I said.

She leaned forward. “Did you love her?”

“I don’t know.”

“But she broke your heart.”

“Maybe,” I said. “A long time ago.”

Katy stared down at her hands.

“Tell me what happened,” I said.

“He looked pretty different. Your brother, I mean. I don’t remember him much. Just a little. And I’ve seen pictures.” She stopped.

“Are you saying he was standing by Julie’s grave?”

“By a willow tree.”


“There’s a tree there. Maybe a hundred feet away. I didn’t come in the front gate. I hopped a fence. So he wasn’t expecting me. See, I came up from the back and I saw this guy standing under the willow tree and he’s just staring in the direction of Julie’s stone. He never heard me. He was just lost, you know. I tapped him on the shoulder. He jumped like a mile in the air and when he turned around and saw me . . . well, you see what I look like. He nearly screamed. He thought I was a ghost or something.”

“And you were sure it was Ken?”

“Not sure, no. I mean, how could I be?” She took out another cigarette and then said, “Yeah. Yeah, I know it was him.”

“But how could you be sure?”

“He told me he didn’t do it.”

My head spun. My hands fell to my sides and gripped the cushion. When I finally spoke, my words came out slowly. “What exactly did he say?”

“At first, just that. ‘I didn’t kill your sister.’ ”

“What did you do?”

“I told him he was a liar. I told him I was going to scream.”

“Did you?”


“Why not?”

Katy still had not lit the new cigarette. She withdrew it from her lips and put it on the tabletop. “Because I believed him,” she said. “Something in his voice, I don’t know. I’d hated him for so long. You have no idea how much. But now . . .”

“So what did you do?”

“I stepped back. I was still going to scream. But he came toward me. He took my face in his hands and looked me in the eye and said, ‘I’m going to find the killer, I promise.’ That was it. He looked at me a little more. Then he let go and ran off.”

“Have you told—”

She shook her head. “No one. Sometimes I’m not even sure it happened. Like I imagined the whole thing. Dreamt it or made it up. Like my memories of Julie.” She looked up at me. “Do you think he killed Julie?”

“No,” I said.

“I’ve seen you on the news,” she said. “You’ve always thought he was dead. Because they found some of his blood at the scene.”

I nodded.

“Do you still believe that?”

“No,” I said. “I don’t believe that anymore.”

“What made you change your mind?”

I didn’t know how to reply to that. “I guess,” I said, “I’m looking for him too.”

“I want to help.”

She’d said want. But I know she meant need.

“Please, Will. Let me help.”

And I said okay.


Belmont, Nebraska

Sheriff Bertha Farrow frowned over Deputy George Volker’s shoulder. “Hate these things,” she said.

“You shouldn’t,” Volker replied, fingers dancing on the keyboard. “Computers are our friends.”

She frowned some more. “So what is our friend doing now?”

“Scanning Jane Doe’s fingerprints.”


“How to explain this to a total technophobe . . . ?” Volker looked up and rubbed his chin. “It’s like a Xerox machine and fax machine in one. It makes a copy of the fingerprint and then it emails it over to the CJIS in West Virginia.”

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