THE DORLEY CYCLE
I knew that Dorley was incorporated somewhere in the 1600’s by some European fisherman and established as a town in the 1800’s, and all that it used to be in its earliest days was probably written down in one of the records in the archive. All the memories of my youth in Dorley are of struggling to spend a summer vacation in a fishy little town with a small harbor that held few solid fishing boats.
Inside the archives room was a metal shelf that ran from one side of the wall to the other and stacked some fifty yellow record boxes labeled with a red marker. There were a dozen brown boxes tucked into the corner of the room.
I knelt bringing my flashlight to those, first starting with their content. I pushed the lid off of the first one and took out a thin file that bore the police department’s sigil. I went through three or four reports, all recent and all of minor violations from the outside regions. I pulled another box towards me. There was a moist scent soaked into the cardboard, the smell of old age and dark rooms and when I tore the dried glue and pulled the first file in had the same authentic stench of decay plastered onto it. There was a picture clipped to the first page. I brought my light to it, looking at a crime scene photo of a naked girl, arms, legs spread on the beach and a circle drawn around her. My heart sank as I recognized the markings on her body, dark, swollen all over her shriveled skin. They were identical to those of the two teens laid on the beach. I took away the light and stared into the darkness, rectangles and bright spots swimming before my eyes. The 86’ murder had fallen into my hands with a picture of the body of which the local lore spoke to have been missing and never found. I took the photo out and put it in my pocket without a second glance. The page underneath was smoke soaked and the ink was smudged in redoing the bleak writing, but I read the year all right, and the name of the girl – Anne Henderson, 17. The rest of the file however was empty.
A voice above me hissed like a rattle snake in the quiet and the hiss sneaked to the pit of my stomach where it curled.
“The department archives got flooded couple of days ago, so some of the files were moved in here till’ the leak is fixed.”
I turned my light on Paulie’s face seeing the deep sores on his cheeks and the broken teeth in his limp mouth.
“Security will be here any minute. Got what you was looking for?”
I felt the picture in my pocket and nodded. All I needed was it, a verification that Dorley had secrets and someone was willing to sacrifice lives to keep them.
Outside the gulls were loud in their pathetic attempts to keep off the cold. The night had grown the wicked cold of the wind that came from elsewhere and it kissed my face in its harsh unwelcoming way, like a lover no more.
Whilst I shivered and cursed the change of heart of the weather, Paulie stood proud against the temperature, comforted in its embrace. I guess he was local after all.
“If you ain’t got a place to stay and do your thing while you’re here the place I rent in my room has an empty one just across mine.”
Paulie swallowed a big gulp of his frozen saliva and looked at me with his green eyes half-closed. He looked shit tired.
“I suppose I’m going to stay for a while after all, yeah.”
The building he led me into was one of the more luxurious, and few apartment buildings Dorley had built for the rich tourists that it never had. It looked less shiny today and with its glamour, its clientele had gone to waste.
“Landlord sleeps like a deadman, he’ll do you in the register tomorrow. I gots a spare key here in case someone comes and he ain’t around to serve.”
I was beginning to think Paulie was the Keymaster from Ghostbusters. Heck he even looked a bit like him.
“Paulie, do you know that murder from 86’ that was never solved? The upstate girl on vacation here?”
He gazed at me again with his sea deep eyes.
“I remember it. She was a pretty one, auburn hair and hazel eyes. Never found a body though.”
“Do you remember who led the investigation?”
“Chief of police Frank Wayman. Solid motherfucker.”
“He still around?”
“Chief then, chief now. He’s a righteous man and he’ll do his job.“
I nodded and bid him goodnight.
“It’s very strange how the mermaids got extinct and then the sirens stopped singing. I think scientists would say its total bull, but I go with the Old belief that the two species are very much important to one another, you know for their survival. This one guy in the pub said,” you want mermaid meat you gotta cut the tail with a diamond sharpened blade” and another said “behead the siren if ya want to use the feathers for the hooks.”
His words bubbled up and he laughed with his teeth clasped together. His eyes were mere dark slices that stretched along the sides of his face. I thought again how much I hated the tales and how much those people loved them.
“They will come you know.”, his hiss pierced my ears and itched down my system, putting needles in my guts.
He closed his door and locked it.
I sat on my bed feeling the cold wool cover, not wanting to get under it and shiver through my nightmares. So I left as quiet as possible, patting the inside of my jacket for the Smith & Wesson feeling its weight reassuring. I hoped chief Frank Wayman was a solid motherfucker as Paulie had said.