A Short Story by Susan Sidell
“They found his diary under his bed”
Casey handed the purple book with tattered edges to me, a cloud of glitter and fluffy feathers falling from her hand. I kept my hands at my sides, not wishing to touch the book that, forgive my gender bias, looked like it belonged to a seven-year-old girl and not a 38-year-old logger who had not shown up to work for three days in a row.
“Uhhhm, how do you know this is his diary?”
“Well, it is under his bed and it has his name on the inside cover.” Casey used their pen to open the cover and show me. In a scrawling and angular script was the name of the missing logger. I peered at the pages, noting the smudge on the left-hand corner.
“Anyone know the logger? Which hand was dominant?” that smudge, and the angularity of the writing usually means the writer was left-handed.”
I looked around the sparse room. No sign of struggle in the small cottage. Through the window I could see a handful of other small buildings spread on the perimeter of the clearing. During the summer months, this was a fancy camp for wealthy kids and the cottages were for the caretakers of the camp. In the off-season the camp owners leased a couple of the buildings to the ranger station for housing the few extra workers that came on in winter. These owners were influential, that much was obvious, that they could dictate when the surrounding national forest could, and could not, get logged. They did not want the sound of machinery interrupting the kids’ nature walks.
“Was there anyone staying in the cabins nearby?”
“Yes, a silviculture intern is in the one two buildings down the row. Pat went up to the ranger station to talk with her.”
“So, Casey…, why would the logging crew wait three days to report a missing crew member?”
“Yeah, about that. I asked the boss. Apparently, this guy is known for missing work. The boss guy says when he does show up, he works harder than two people so the boss puts up with it. But never has the guy gone off for more than a day or two.”
Casey was still holding the diary.
I eyed the purple fluff in their hand, still keeping my distance, “Have you read any of it?”
“You are bothered by the incongruity of a logger keeping a diary, aren’t you?” Casey was giving me an out but only a small one.
“Umm, yeah, I guess so. That’s why I wondered if this was actually his diary.” I gestured toward the glitter bomb and saw purple and gold glitter snaking up Casey’s sleeve. A few more minutes with this thing and we would both look like we’d been to Mardi Gras. “You wanna put that in an evidence bag and we can let the guys in the office check it out?”
“Seriously? You want to hand this off?”
I stared at Casey and uttered the single word explanation for my refusal to get close to the diary
“Ahhh, sure. I understand, boss.”
Monique’s infamous temper was unmatched in the entire county. School teachers and administrators quaked when she showed up at the PTA meetings. She was explosive, but in a subtle, menacing way; much like a brain tumor that grows silently until one day it takes over and shuts down all operations. The only thing worse than her temper was her jealousy. There was no way I was going to risk going home to my wife with glitter on me.