Down by the River was published on 26th January. The story was originally written for my themed collection – The Missing.and I changed it and extended it slightly and present to you as an Electric Eclectic novelette.
What happened that night down by the river?
When Shelby’s best friend goes missing, she has to return to her hometown to search for her. As soon as she steps off the bus, she knows it is too late. Her visions are vague but the sense of foreboding is not.
What is Mary-Jo’s boyfriend not saying, and why is Sheriff Rawden Hughes so convinced he is guilty?
“The police are biased; they’ve always hated him,” Shelby told her Pa the next morning. He grunted saying nothing as he got on with his chore. She was sitting on the edge of the table in the kitchen watching him hand-washing socks, with a cigarette dangling from his mouth.
She glanced around the room realising how nothing had changed in here since her mom died, except now the cupboards were looking old and could do with a lick of paint. The rug on the floor, once vibrant, was now grubby and thin. A clothes rack hung with just-washed shirts was propped in the corner. Their dampness gave the room a musty smell. The plaster had fallen from the ceiling at some point, exposing the rafters
“I know what everyone thinks, but Ricky didn’t do it,” she went on.
He glanced up, and spoke, his cigarette on one side of his lips and his eye squinting against the smoke. “You know that boy’s reputation?”
“Maybe, but he loved her.” Even though Ricky hadn’t been very welcoming, she knew from Mary-Jo’s letter that he loved her back. She’d sensed it too. It hung around him like an aura.
“He’s a bad ‘un. He did it all right.”
Shelby looked at him strangely. He was still sober, and he still hadn’t quite looked her in the eyes.
“He didn’t. I know he didn’t,” she repeated.
“Mary-Jo was a beautiful girl. That boy took advantage of her.”
“They probably took advantage of each other.” Shelby put her fingers to her forehead. “I can’t believe she’s gone. It just doesn’t seem real.”
“You were the only friend she had. She missed you.” He wrung out the socks, pulled the plug and went to the yard to hang them on a line a line strung across the yard.
“I let her down, didn’t I?” she said following him. “If I hadn’t gone, she might still be here.” Tears sprang easily to her eyes, and Pa’s face softened.
“It’s all right, child, you go right ahead and cry.” He squeezed her shoulder gently as he returned to the house.
Wiping her eyes with her sleeve, she followed him back inside. “Y’know, Pa, I like it when you’re sober.”
Down by The River was based on Richard Marx’s 90s hit, Down by the River. I fell in love with the haunting music and then black and white video that told such a story. I added my own characters to it and made it in to a mystery murder, with a touch of paranormal.
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