The Secrets of Lake Road

Free The Secrets of Lake Road by Karen Katchur

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Authors: Karen Katchur
longer caring about making noise, about being seen, about being chased by a dog. She thrashed through brush and tore up the hill, slowing only when she reached the dirt road that led to the colony. She tiptoed as she got closer to the cabin, her stomach twisting and turning. She slipped under Willow’s branches and crawled through the window before putting the screen back in place and curling into a ball on her bed.
    Everyone on the lake knew about snappers and what they were capable of. Snappers bit off fingers and toes, chewed through fishing lines and nets, fed on dead and decaying flesh.
    She pulled the covers over her head and tried hard not to picture Sara’s body at the bottom of the lake covered in mud and grime. And bite marks. But no matter how hard she tried, the image flashed in her mind’s eye over and over until she thought she might scream.

    Jo walked through the colony, checking her phone every few minutes, searching for a signal. Slivers of moonlight sliced through branches of trees, lighting bits and pieces of the dirt road. She sidestepped potholes, the ones she could see, and kept walking.
    The colony consisted of roughly thirty cabins. Most were named after birds that populated the area— Wren, Sparrow, Meadowlark . Gram caused a commotion with the lake association when she named her cabin, The Pop-Inn . Heil and a few other cabin owners claimed she had broken tradition and interfered with the continuity of the summer rental properties. Gram argued that she owned the cabin and could name it as she pleased.
    Besides, Gram enjoyed the play on words—“popinjay” named after the bird, although not a local bird, “pop-in” visitors coming and going as they wished, and her favorite, “Pop’s” Inn, the idea that amused Pop immensely. But the most compelling reason Gram fought hard to name the cabin The Pop-Inn was to piss off Heil and let him know she couldn’t be controlled the way he manipulated the other members of the lake association, the community, and even the sheriff.
    Gram had gotten her way.
    Jo continued walking and searching for a signal, her thoughts on Caroline, regretting rushing out on her when Gram had walked into the kitchen. But Jo had found herself shying away from Caroline. Sometimes the way her daughter looked at her made her uncomfortable. It was as though her daughter could see through her, as though she could see straight through to Jo’s own guilty heart.
    She kept moving, not having any luck getting a signal in the colony, so she decided to walk down by the lake. Across the parking lot, the first floor of the Pavilion was dark, but the second floor bar was lit up. Voices were hushed. Under the circumstances, it was a slow night for Eddie. Heil must be losing a whole lot of money. She checked her phone again and finally had a connection.
    “Hello, Rose,” she said. “Sorry to call so late, but something’s come up and I’m going to need a couple days off.”
    “Oh no, you need to give me more notice. Who am I supposed to get to cover for you this late?”
    “I know. But this is important.” It’s Billy. They may have found his bones. But she couldn’t say this so instead she said, “My mother needs my help.”
    Rose continued as if Jo hadn’t spoken. “I’ve got a full workload. People want to come home from their vacations to a clean house. And I’m already down two maids this week.”
    “I wouldn’t normally ask.”
    “Then don’t.” Rose was a fair boss, but she demanded a minimum of two weeks notice if you needed time off.
    “But I only need a few days,” she said. “Can’t you make an exception this one time?”
    “If I make an exception for you, then everyone else will expect the same kind of treatment.”
    “I understand. I do. But just this one time. I swear, I won’t do it again. Rose?”
    The other end was silent.
    “Hello? Rose?” She shook her phone. “Can you hear me? Rose?”
    The line was dead.
    It wasn’t as

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