Lucifer: Chapter 8
Records Of Things Past
"GRANT, DEBBIE. GRANT, Edward. Grant, Shelley. Grantner, Philip. Whoever he is, he's not listed."
Damien set down the phone book, and dropped his head upon the kitchen counter, frustrated. He and his uncle had looked through every Cheboygan and Straits Area phone book they could find, dating back as far as the mid-Eighties; even Harvey and Ez had helped, searching the phone books for Emmet, Presque Isle, and Charlevoix Counties, with no luck. Derrick Grant was an unlisted number. Damien sighed and brushed the book off the counter, and it fell to the floor with a plop. Father Damien automatically bent over and picked it up, setting it back in place. Harvey and Ez, meanwhile, sat on chairs at the side of the room, bobbing their feet and squirming uncomfortably. Phone books littered the floor around them.
Father Damien turned to them. "All right, you two can go now," he said.
The kids, relieved that at least their job was done, jumped down and bolted out the kitchen doors as fast as they could, disappearing in an instant.
"I actually had to bribe them with the promise of cookies." Father Damien shook his head, smiled, and turned back to his nephew, his smile fading quickly away as soon as he saw the serious look on his nephew's face.
"Why wouldn't he have a listed number?" Damien demanded, flinging up his hands with a snort. "Is he not from around here? Or does he not have a phone? Like the Amish maybe? Or is he hiding something?"
"Don't get all worked up, Damien. Maybe he's from downstate."
"Like where? We checked all the local phone books!"
"No, further downstate. Like Grayling or Traverse City. Maybe even Kalamazoo! An unlisted number doesn't prove anything. You should know that."
Damien was quiet for a few moments, tapping the counter with his fingers. Then he got up abruptly and headed for the living room. "It may not," he agreed, an idea striking him, "but a birth certificate does."
"Now, wait a minute!" Father Damien exclaimed, standing also and following him through the house and laundry room and to the front door. He took his nephew's arm as if to stop him. "Don't tell me you're going to do a full check on this guy!"
"That I am," Damien said, for some reason glancing around for his coat before realizing it was summer and eighty degrees out, then turning back to the door. He opened it and Father Damien caught it as it started to swing back, following him out onto the porch. The singer glanced back over his shoulder. "You coming?"
"I suppose I really have no choice!"
"I suppose not. Well, then, get your stuff together and let's go."
They went to the hospital first and, not quite knowing what else to do, asked to look through the birth listings. The supervisor there was suspicious at first, but Father Damien's presence must have allayed that, for after some haggling he led them to the records room. For several hours the three of them pored over the files, searching for anybody named Grant. They found several, but none of the names matched, and the few whose names began with D were born either too early or too late.
"He's about my age," Damien told the supervisor. "Brown hair, blue eyes. Probably born around October or November," he added, on a whim.
"I'm sorry, but we've looked through every single file. There's simply no one in here who fits that description," the supervisor answered, sounding exasperated.
Damien turned to look at his uncle, and sighed, flustered. "All right then, if that's all you've got." As if he expected the grand tour.
"I'm afraid it is," the supervisor replied, looking eager to get them out.
"All right," Damien said again, "thanks for the help." He didn't mean it though, and Father Damien shot an apologetic glance at the supervisor as they turned away to leave. The supervisor, left to his own wiles, sniffed irritatedly and went back to work straightening out the files.
"It's like he doesn't even exist!" Damien said, once he and his uncle were back in the Lamborghini and pulling out into Main Street, away from the hospital. "No phone number, no birth certificate! Just what the heck's going on here, anyway? What normal person doesn't have birth records?"
"Maybe it's a pseudonym," Father Damien suggested lamely.
"Yeah, but then that just compounds the mystery, doesn't it? I mean, why would any honest, decent person give you a false name? It just doesn't make sense." He sighed and thumped the steering wheel with the heel of his hand, then fell silent. They drove on for a short time before Damien put on the right turning signal. Father Damien started as he pulled in at the state police station.
"Now what are you doing?" he asked, almost afraid of the answer.
"Seeing if he has a record," Damien replied. The idea had just struck him, and its source he hadn't liked very much. Nevertheless, it was better than nothing. He got out, slamming the door and disappearing inside the building. Father Damien groaned and followed.
Inside the station it was small and cramped, and the air conditioning must have been off or else broken, as it was stiflingly hot. Though Damien could hear other people in the back rooms and upstairs, there was only one person in sight, an officer at the front desk who looked up and snarled at him as he entered.
"Shut that door!" he snapped.
Damien simply screwed up his face and chattered soundlessly in a mock impersonation of the officer, and let it swing closed. A moment later Father Damien entered and closed it behind him. He looked around him; he'd never been in a police station before. Damien started moving around the room, picking up things, looking them over, and putting them back down.
"Cut that out," the officer said. "We just had this place dusted."
"For fingerprints, I suppose? How lovely," Damien murmured, picking up a glass paperweight with the elk-and-moose state seal inside. He hefted it.
The officer fairly bristled. "Cut that out!" he barked.
Father Damien watched the whole act proceed. He couldn't understand why Damien was being so cocky. Am I missing something here?
Damien just turned and grinned at the cop. "And how's your day been, Jonesy?" he asked in a sweet voice.
"Don't call me that," the officer growled, very nearly baring his teeth. "It's a hundred degrees out, the air conditioning's broken, and I haven't the patience to deal with the likes of you."
"I assume you two know each other," Father Damien finally said, puzzled by this exchange.
"Oh, of course," Damien replied, smiling graciously. "Me and Jonesy go way back. Ain't that right, Jonesy?"
The policeman snorted. "Your English leaves much to be desired, Damien. And it's Jones."
"Yeah, whatever." Damien reached up for a penholder atop a file cabinet. He was rewarded with a slap to the hand. He looked at Officer Jones with mock surprised innocence.
"I said cut it out," Jones hissed. "I really don't have the patience. Now tell me what the hell you're here for and git."
Damien paused just long enough to make the cop snarl. "We're checkin' up on somebody," he said. "Name's Grant--Derrick Grant? You ever hear of him?"
"Now why the hell should I know? There's probably a million Grants in Cheboygan!"
Damien smiled at the thought that Kat would be correcting Officer Jones's estimation of the number of people in Cheboygan, as she had his. He tipped his head forward. "But this is Derrick Grant. Think you could check that out for me, sweetie?"
"Don't call me sweetie!" Jones snarled, turning and tugging open a file drawer so violently that it nearly flew out of its slot. He ruffled furiously through the files, then rounded back on Damien. "No Derrick Grants! You satisfied?"
"Not yet. Are there any Grants?"
Officer Jones huffed but looked again anyway. After a brief pause he spoke up, slightly subdued. "Yeah. One. Amelia Grant."
Finally! "Mind letting us see that?"
Officer Jones pulled out a folder and handed it over, a storm-blue scowl in his eyes.
Damien opened the file and skimmed it briefly. After a moment or two a strange look came over his face.
"What's it say?" Father Damien asked; when Damien didn't reply, he looked at Officer Jones, who merely shrugged.
"How'd I know?" he muttered. "It's before my time."
"Way before," Damien murmured, still studying the file. They both looked at him. "This here's a missing person report. Amelia Grant, age twenty, disappeared 1967 on her way to the store. Never seen or heard from again. Alive, at least."
"Alive?" Father Damien echoed, uneasy. "What do you mean, alive?"
"Her body was found. Shot full of holes." Damien closed the file and handed it back to Officer Jones, seemingly half in a daze. The officer opened it again and Father Damien saw a picture of a young woman with wavy brown hair just past her shoulders. "Out in a field. Nobody ever caught the killer. Or killers, it'd seem, with all those gunshot wounds. They say it looks like she was trying to run away from something as most of the shots were to the back." He stared across the counter at nothing in particular, then turned to his uncle and spoke, dropping the bombshell. "Evidence says it looks like she'd just given birth not too long before."
Father Damien fell silent a moment. "When was her body found?"
"Two years after she disappeared. 1969." A small, almost imperceptible shudder passed through his body. "The same year I was born."
"Was any baby found?"
"No. That's what's most confusing. There was some kind of swaddling clothes or something found near her, but no baby. Just her. All shot up. And left there." He leaned on the countertop, stunned. Officer Jones didn't even yell at him to get off. "Do you know what this means, Uncle? It means she had a baby--let's assume it was Derrick--and was trying to run away with him. Away from somebody or something so terrible she didn't even take the time to recover from her labor. And whoever it was, or they were, they shot her before she could get away. And they took the baby." He looked his uncle in the eye. "Whoever it was, they wanted that baby. Which means they wanted Derrick." He closed his eyes and placed his head in his hands, rubbing his temples and frowning with thought. "But why?"
"I don't know," Officer Jones said musingly, not even quite sure what they were talking about, "but whoever they were, they were pretty high 'n' mighty to just leave the body there and not even pick it up. Almost like a calling card."
"Or a warning," Father Damien corrected him. Officer Jones looked at him, curious. "A warning for others not to make the same mistake she made. By running away."
"Almost as if she were trying to escape something big and powerful and deadly," Damien said.
Father Damien nodded. "Something, I'd say, rather like a cult."