The Final Walk Home
When I was seventeen my father was hurt in an industrial accident and became permanently disabled. Because of this my parents had to look for less expensive housing accommodation. After several months of looking they finally found an older home in what had become a decidedly lower middle class neighborhood. But, as the house was in fair shape they thought some fresh paint and a little sprucing up would turn it into a comfortable home for themselves, my younger brother, and me.
My little brother had no problems finding new friends his own age as the street had plenty of younger kids, but kids my own age were rarer, and as the few around were often seen in the company of the local police force I found it best just to keep my social life at school. (Fortunately we still lived within my old school district, and I had friends there).
One night several months after moving in I was coming home late from school after staying to help with a school newspaper project. This was late October and nightfall arrived early. That particular evening it was quite cool, and as I got off the bus a slow drizzle started to fall.
As I started to walk up the steep hill that led to home I noticed a young girl step out from near an apartment building on the corner. She sort of fell into step with me and as I looked over at her I realized I did not recognize her from the neighborhood. She gave me a small smile and said "Hi". Looking across at her I saw a small, somewhat conservative looking girl, with short, fluffy, dark hair, dressed in a maroon pleated shirt, white blouse, with the sleeves rolled up, a ruffle down the front, and little round collar. She carried a beige colored purse, without straps in her hands, and I noticed a small heart shaped necklace with a tiny pearl in it hanging over her collar. I said, "Hello. Some night, huh?" She nodded and said, "Yes, rainy" She seemed rather quiet and something about her behavior and the inflection of her speech sounded somewhat "flat" However she seemed friendly enough, and seemed to want my company.
I asked her if she lived around here and she answered, yes, and pointed to a house farther up the hill. This was one of the smaller homes in the neighborhood, and although I didn't know the owners myself, thought that only an elderly man and his wife lived there. But then I thought, "Oh well, maybe they have a granddaughter staying with them".
We had reached my house by then and I said I live here and she gave a nod and another of her small smiles and said, 'Okay....well..." I thought she was going to say goodnight, or nice to meet you, or something, but by the time I looked up and started to form my next thought I was looking at her back as she walked across the small alleyway dividing our house from our neighbor and around the high hedge that was planted there.
I took three steps out on the sidewalk to say something to her and looked at ....nothing. She just wasn't there! The house that she indicated that she lived in was four more doors up the street and even if she had sprinted I didn't see how she could have possibly gotten inside in the time it had taken me to step around the corner and look after her.
But by now the rain was pelting my head and I decided it would be better to ponder the question inside, where at least I would be dry.
When I went in I told my family about my companion of the evening and asked if they had seen a girl anywhere around that looked like her. I wasn't surprised that my parents hadn't, they hardly knew the neighbors. But my little brother said that unequivocally, no teenaged girls lived there.
After thinking about this, and describing the girl to my family I realized that rather then being conservative looking, the girl's appearance looked more dated then anything. nice, but like a picture in my mother's high school annual. Also. I thought that she was dressed rather lightly for the brisk night air. But when I walked past "her" house I would always look to see if she, or at least someone was out, but no one ever was.
Finally, a couple of weeks later I picked up my brother at a neighbor's house and decided to ask his friend's mother if she knew anything of this girl as they had lived in the neighborhood for some years. She said, no, it didn't ring a bell, but after a few minutes she came back and said, "You know, I probably shouldn't tell you this, but, and this is the story she told me she had been told by an old neighbor shortly after she moved in.
The people who lived in the particular house were named the Curries (Not their real name). In the mid-nineteen sixties, 1966, to be exact, their teenage daughter disappeared after visiting a friend whom she was doing homework with one spring night. When she didn't arrive home friends were contacted, the police called and the neighborhood canvassed, but no one had seen her after she left her friend's house a quarter mile away. She seemed to have disappeared into thin air. Since she wasn't the type of girl to disappear of her own accord her friends and family feared for the worst.
Three years later a middle aged man in the neighborhood died of a sudden heart attack. When family members were cleaning out his apartment they found the skeletal remains of what looked like a young girl with clothing, purse and books wrapped up far back in a basement crawl space. It was determined that the remains were Linda Currie, aged 16, who had disappeared three years ago. Police surmised that the pretty girl had been noticed by the middle aged bachelor around the neighborhood and on the night she disappeared he had probably saw her walking up the street, called her over and when she got close enough, grabbed her and pulled her into his basement, hitting her on the head to keep her quiet from his elderly mother who lived in the apartment with him. The blow crushed her skull and was what was believed to have caused her death. Her grieving parents were finally able to lay their daughter to rest.
After that I occassionally saw Mrs. Currie in her front yard picking up papers, or cleaning up leaves and have wanted so much to talk to her, but have only nodded and said hello. I would love to speak with her, but what would I say? I don't want to cause her more pain, or be thought of as the neighborhood nut case. Besides that, my parents have told me to keep my mouth shut on the subject.
I am now in college and one day when I have time I want to go to our main library branch and check archival issues of the newspaper to see if anything exists about the case. I would love to see a picture of the girl, although in my heart I already feel I know what she looks like.
And melodramatic as it sounds, I believe that Linda Currie wanted to take one last walk home, with a safe companion, that chilly and rainy night in October.