from: "Condry, Mark"
date: Monday, September 20, 2004 10:40 PM
subject: the Archers


That was… strange. I met the Archers. I know what you said, last time I called, how I need to stop lying because it’ll make it harder on me later, but I wasn’t about to tell them I’m a good friend of the guy who killed Greg’s cousin. I said I knew the Madsons when they were in Houston. I had some burning questions about what happened to them, as (I claimed) they practically dropped off the map when they left town.
I hadn’t heard from them since.

Greg did most of the talking. His wife Helen was pleasant, in that stiff-smile way, but she found ways to interrupt my chat with Greg and remind him of other things he needed to get done. The more she did it the more I encouraged Greg to keep chatting.

The Madsons, as he tells it, had a long future planned in Houston. John got a transfer to Schlumberger Oil and looked forward to settling down. Then things started to go wrong after they moved in. Just little things that piled up. Their car kept getting flat tires. Lucy broke her ring finger while futzing with the dishwasher. Trouble getting mail. Their phone got disconnected when they didn’t pay the bill for two months; a bill they never got. That sort of thing.

Finally something happened, Greg doesn’t know what. It was enough to get them to put the house on the market. That same week, John sold all his company stock, gutted his 401k, quit his job, and put everything into a big RV. He and Lucy drove off in their new motor home and never looked back.

They’d been driving around the country the last five years, nomadic. Lucy got pregnant in 2002 but miscarried. They still kept on the road. Greg thinks they would have just kept driving through Idaho if the RV hadn’t broken down with an A/C problem. Greg says John called him up out of the blue and asked if he and Lucy could stay over. Greg made the guest room upstairs, and he and Helen welcomed them in their house for a week. This was right before the shooting.

Here’s where it gets stranger.

Greg took me up to the guest room and pointed to some spots on the carpet, right in front of the closet door. Furniture footprints, like something had stood there. Greg says it was the dresser, the one against the opposite wall. They barricaded the closet door for the duration of their stay. It was the strangest thing. He also noticed they kept the bedroom light on around the clock, and bundled up with the spare set of woolen blankets for the bed.

Greg never found the right way to ask a number of questions. I think he felt a little better talking to me about it. I’m not his cousin, but I’m someone who listened to him and agreed it was bizarre.

I left Greg and Helen’s not feeling any better. I feel worse now. I ache the way you’re sore right before you get really sick. I’m trying to put things together, I really am.

I have to go to the police now, don’t I.
I’ll go first thing in the morning. I promise, Eric.