Chapter 33. Eplerman's Peach Farm

Start from the beginning

Sam clearly didn't take the criticism very well, I can't say I did, either. He unfolded the Pacific Northwest map to its full extent so he wouldn't have to look at me.

It was nice driving in silence for a bit. The storm showed no sign of stopping, and once again I remembered no one but Charlie knew where we were off to. And if anything were to happen to us I was certain Charlie Derrick would not gallantly come our rescue.

"How old is this map?" Sam asked.

"I don't know, it came with the car."

"Well, I can't find Peachbode on it."

"How hard can it be?" I complained. "Just look for Lake Grenada."

"That's what I'm doing," he said. "And it's not here."

"What?"

I stopped the car - it wasn't very likely we'd bump into any other drivers. I dragged the map toward me and stared at it for a good twenty seconds. Sam was right. I traced the familiar route from Portland to Peachbode with my finger, I had it memorized by now. What I hadn't noticed before, though, was that Lake Grenada was nowhere to be seen.

But, why not? No, I couldn't think of this right now, I needed a steady course.

"We don't have time for this," I said. "Let's just find this kid and get outta here."

*

One of the dozen mistakes I made on this mission was only buying one shovel from the Home Depot. The second mistake was trusting two flashlights would be of any help at all under these conditions. The third was underestimating how large the peach field that gave Peachbode its name really was.

My brave car made it all the way up the dirt road of runny mud and slush, past a sign that wrote 'Eplerman's Peach Farm,' and straight ahead toward an old farmhouse that - just like everything else in this godforsaken town, looked like it hadn't been touched for twenty years. 

The peaches are dead, the last entry in the Peachbode news rang in 1974. Surely the peaches must have returned at some point, but whoever owned the farmhouse did not, by the looks of things. The gothic estate must have looked incredible before it began to rot, leaving the steep roof mossy and the long windows on each of the three floors broken.

The peach field itself was situated on the farmhouse's left, and for a city kid like me, it was hard to grasp the mere size of it. It left you feeling dejected, nearly powerless in the face of its enormity.

I locked the car door as Sam grabbed the shovel from the trunk. We had been smart enough to buy two pairs of rain boots on our way there, but sadly, that was the full extent of our wits.

After a full three minutes outside the heavy rains had already soaked through my parka, I won't even begin to describe the toll it had taken on Sam's thin windbreaker. He zipped up the hood of the novelty Trail Blazers jacket, but it wasn't much help.

"Let's stay motivated, alright?" I suggested as I made my way over to the field. "If we find Scottie's body, this will all be over."

Sam followed right after me with the shovel over his shoulder, I couldn't hear it over the rain, but I imagined he was scoffing right now.

"And what about Shadrach, Marsh?" He asked. "What do we do about him?"

"I was hoping you wouldn't ask."

We had to keep the conversation at a yelling volume to hear each other, making me fear someone else may hear us. The rain was one thing, the wind was something else. As skinny as Sam was, I thought he'd get blown away every time another gust from the North hit us.

ShadrachWhere stories live. Discover now