Chapter 14. Peachbode, Washington

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After everything we'd been through, it was impossible to think if Peachbode, Washington without spinning our own myths around it. It was the only clue we had to work with; a mystery in itself, why did Johan drop that big a hint on us without context? Did he want us to follow him? What was his deal?

Sam and I packed our bags and went to see for ourselves Saturday afternoon, and threw outlandish theories at each other as we drove through the newly fallen snow that glistened in the sunlight.

Johan had business in Peachbode, we knew so much for a fact, it had some sort of significance. It was one of the few advantages we had over the police in the investigation. We couldn't come up with a single, logical suggestion as to what it was, but one thing was for sure: we could barely contain our excitement as we headed off to find out.

Which is why I was so disappointed when we finally got there.

"Here we are at last, Sam," I said, glancing at the arched sign stretching over the road into downtown, "Peachbode, Washington."

Sam blinked fast at the sight of the sign: 'Peachbode, Washington welcomes you', generic as it was untrue. There was no one out in the street, not a single human.

"Is this it?" Sam moped, zipping up his jacket as we stepped into the cold. 

"Guess so," I sighed, sharing in his disappointment but feeling as though I had to make up for it, after all, I was the one who dragged him along for this, "at least rounding up suspects won't be hard." 

"Yeah, 'cause there's no one here." 

"Maybe it's a bank holiday." 

"There's no bank here."

He wasn't wrong. We parked by the foot of what a rusty sign named 'Main Street', rendering it Peachbode's own downtown. All I spotted on our first stroll down Main Street was a pint-sized grocery store, closed, a bar & grill, closed, and a bookstore, closed.

The town was a pit inside a bowl-shaped valley, the mountain tops were veiled by a thick mist, not at all reminiscent of the sparkling weather we had on our way there. The nothingness of Peachbode was not just characterized by the lack of people or recreational opportunities, there was really nothing there.

Everything existed in shades of brown, rust, army greens and gray. So much so that Sam's bright red Trail Blazers windbreaker stuck out like a sore thumb. I wore my father's green parka, per usual, even that was bright enough to make an impression.

"What do you think of this place?" I asked. 

"I'm not sure what to think," he mumbled, staring at the ground as he walked, "I feel weird."

"Do you wanna go home?" 

"No, no, it's paid work," he shrugged off, "I can feel weird for two grand." 

"One grand each, if we don't solve it," I corrected, "so... how do we solve it?"

Sam looked up, catching something on the horizon. He pointed:

"I think I know where to start."

I squinted, getting closer I could see what he saw. A block down was a simple, brick building with a sign hanging from a single, metal chain: 'Peachbode Sheriff'.

"Do we just walk up there and ask if they know anything?" 

"Unless you have a better idea," Sam challenged, "it's hard hatching schemes when we've only gotten this far on luck." 

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