“I need to talk to you about Timothy Logan.”
The private eye dropped that sentence and stood on it, waiting for a reaction. I adopted a poker face. Too late, I realized that a blank face is as good as an admission.
“Timmy’s been dead for twenty years. What could I possibly know about it?”
“Dead? I thought he’d disappeared into Indigo Woods?”
“Twenty years is a long time to be gone. Timmy’s dead.”
“But Timothy’s uncle isn’t. And he wants to know what happened. So we’re opening the cold case and seeing what falls out. You were the last one to see him before he vanished.”
Memories bubbled on up to the surface. Two decades of suppression and denial melted away.
I sighed. “Listen.
“Indigo Woods is a… a weird place. You look at a map, it looks like 30 square miles of greenery wedged up to the Appalachian mountains. But then you get inside it and…
“Listen. Detective. There are five streams that run parallel through the woods north to south. They shift course based on rainfall and snow melts. It’s really easy to misjudge where you are. The trees are thick enough that you can’t see the mountains when you’re a stone’s throw from them. Iron deposits nearby make your compass worthless. You can get lost really easy in there.
“Shit, man, people were getting lost up in those woods since before the Mayflower docked. Even the name. Indigo woods. There’s nothing blue in there. It’s a corruption of wendigo, a monster from Native American myths. You’re starving to death, you eat your buddy, boom, you’re wendigo. The local tribes warned the colonists these woods were filled with wendigos from all the lost souls-“
I cut myself off. I was clenching my fists and almost hissing. I got a hold of myself. I wiped my brow free of sweat, trying for nonchalance.
“So Tim Logan walked in, got lost, and that’s the end of it, huh?” the detective asked. “And the searchers never found a trace.”
“The searchers didn’t try, man. All the locals know about Indigo Woods. The adults, they walked around near the edge and shouted for an hour or two, then went home.
“Listen,” I begged him. “I got lost right alongside Timmy. We split from each other. No idea how; one second I’m clutching his school bag, next second I’m all alone out there. It was part sundown. Little slivers of moonlight cut through the trees. I huddle up by the trees. I heard…”
“Timothy Logan?” the detective asked.
I shook my head violently. No, I thought. That sure as hell wasn’t Timmy I heard.
“I got lucky. Picked a direction and walked. Timmy must have gone the other way. I’m sorry, I can’t help you.”
Later, when he’d left, I stared out from my porch at Indigo Woods as the sun went down.
Nothing came out the wood line.
I locked my doors and went to bed.