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- Travis's biological mother, Kathleen Bundy, showed up in King's Bay to see him. Though Travis bristled at first, he agreed to go to lunch with her.
- Following Sandy and Ryan's murders, business at the ice arena ground to a halt.
- Tori told Brent that she and her friends saw Helen Chase outside the arena -- not in her seat at the fundraiser -- just before Sandy's body was found on New Year's Eve.


Brent Taylor's entire body tenses as he steps out of the car. He has done this plenty of times before, but he has never been so uncertain whether he wanted to be right or wrong about a hunch. Doing his best to pack his confusion away, he crosses the cement walkway and rings the doorbell.

Moments later, Don Chase opens the door, his surprise evident. "Brent. Hi. What can I do for you?"

Helen Chase comes rushing up behind her husband. "Did something else happen? Oh no…" She lifts a hand to her mouth.

"No, nothing like that," Brent says. "I was just going over some stuff and was hoping I could ask you guys a few questions."

The Chases trade a brief look.

"Of course," Don says as he steps aside to let Brent in.

"Can we get you anything?" Helen asks. "Coffee? Tea?"

"Some water would be great." Brent isn't particularly thirsty, but anything that will put them more at-ease and make this feel like more of a casual social call should help. That is exactly why he dismissed the idea of bringing Detective Harris along with him; anything that makes this feel like official police business is only going to impede his mission.

  Brent Taylor

Don shows Brent to the kitchen table, and they sit as Helen pours three glasses of water. 

"How are your boys doing?" Helen asks as she delivers the glasses to the table. "I couldn't get over how big they'd gotten when we saw them at the funeral."

"They're doing well. Thanks," Brent says. "Getting bigger every day -- and I wish I had half the energy they have. You know?"

They both nod.

"We see that with Sophie," Helen says. "She's just so excited about everything. It's adorable -- but it's also like having a tornado in the house."

Brent grins. "You're telling me." 

"And how about your sister?" Don asks. "It's so terrible, what happened with her and Ryan."

"I know." He nods solemnly. "She's having a tough time. But if there's anyone I'd call a fighter, it's Danielle. We're just all trying to be there for her. Speaking of which…" He sets his glass down on the table, as if its placement will facilitate the shift that is happening. 

"So I'm trying to leave no stone unturned," he says. "Did either of you notice anyone who wasn't attending the party or working as part of the staff walking around the arena on New Year's Eve?"

Again the Chases look to one another as they consider this question. Brent knows it is ridiculous; it is so vague and aimless that he would never expect to learn anything useful from it, especially not at this stage of an investigation. But in this instance, it does have a purpose.

"I don't think so," Don ventures, and Helen bobs her head in agreement.

"I'm sure we would remember something like that," she adds. "It was such a nice party. Well, until…" She cuts herself off with a shudder.

"And how about the A/V booth?" Brent asks. "Did you see anyone at all go up there? Besides Sandy, obviously."

"I didn't," Don says.

"I'm sure someone would have noticed that," Helen says. "It's such a big, open space."

Brent brings a hand to his face. "I know. That's what's so confusing about the whole thing."

"I still think this has something to do with that Sabrina woman," Helen says. "It's too strange, someone with that name turning up here right after Sandy was killed. Couldn't she have already been in town?"

"That's definitely possible." Brent sighs. "Helen, what about the talk you had with Ryan at the arena?"

Startled, she sits up straighter.

"What talk?" Don asks.

Interesting that she didn't mention it to her husband, Brent thinks, attempting to keep all signs of this internal realization from showing on his face.

"I hear you had a chat with him at the arena on the morning of the day he died," Brent says, choosing every word carefully. "What was that all about?"

Edge of Winter Arena

"Knock, knock," comes the voice from the doorway. Jason Fisher lifts his head from the swarm of paperwork on his desk.

"It's freezing in here," Natalie Bishop says as she places a paper bag on his desk. "And it's gorgeous outside. You should get some sun."

He waves his hands over the work blanketing his desk. "I'm so behind. I think I had forgotten how much Ryan handled."

"Well, you can at least take a break to eat." She unpacks two plastic clamshell containers from the bag. "I got one turkey and one chicken salad. Which do you want?"

He is both famished and completely disinterested in food. Since Ryan's death, he has been filling himself mechanically with food when necessary, but he doesn't think he has really tasted, let alone enjoyed, a meal at all.

"You pick," he says, his eyes drifting up to the computer monitor.

"It's kind of nice to have a kid-free Saturday," Natalie says as she contemplates the sandwiches. 

"Wait, where's Bree?"

She levels a disbelieving look at him. "She has that Girl Scout trip to the pioneer farm or whatever."

"Oh, yeah." The information sounds familiar, but even after being reminded, he has the sense that it will float out of his head within seconds. 

"Literally sounds like hell on earth. I don't think I've ever been so glad that a group of parents has zero interest in having my help." She holds out one of the containers. "Take the chicken salad. It's fabulous."

"Thank you."

As she clears space for the container and a napkin on the desk in front of him, the computer monitor catches her eye. 

"Why are you reading this?" she asks.

"Kind of hard to avoid it these days."

Natalie scans the article. The Footprint Killer... knocking off employees of the Edge of Winter Arena... Is someone going to get mowed down by the Zamboni next?

"This is trash," she says, scrambling to close the browser. "You shouldn't torture yourself with it--"

"But it's true, isn't it?"

She pauses just long enough for it to serve as confirmation. 

"You saw how dead it is out there," he says, gesturing toward the office door and the still, lifeless rink below. "Who wants to come to a business where people are being picked off one-by-one?"

"This could have nothing to do with the arena--"

"But it has to do with me. My wife, my coach, and now my brother are all dead. That's not a coincidence."

"Jason, this is all bullshit--"

"Is it?" He slams his fists on the desk as he bolts up from the chair. "Do you want to end up the same way?"

322 Bar & Grill

"Free Fallin'" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers plays throughout the busy restaurant. Travis Fisher sits in a booth against the back wall, picking at a plate of waffle fries while he talks to a woman he didn't even know existed until a short time ago: his biological mother.

"Oh, I just love Tom Petty!" Kathleen Bundy says as she sets down her diet soda. "I finally got to see his show a few years back -- some girlfriends and I drove up to Seattle for it."

"It was good?"

"It was the best! You like music?"

Travis nods. "Yeah. Of course."

"What kind?"

"I listen to a lot of rock stuff -- but, like, indie and alternative. You know the Arctic Monkeys?"

She laughs. "I've heard the name. Think they're a little too hip for me. Give me the good old stuff any day."

  Kathleen Bundy

Travis smiles but feels it falling from his face as he steels himself to ask something he has wanted to ask since before he even met Kathleen. They eat in silence as he works up the nerve. 

"So why'd you give me up?" he asks, the words coming out in a rush. 

The question lands in the middle of the table like an anvil. Kathleen puts down her pulled pork sandwich slowly. 

"Really cut to the chase there, didn't you?" she says, offering him what looks like a forced smile.

"Yeah. Sorry. I mean-- since what happened with my uncle, I'm kind of like, why waste time? You never know when it'll be too late."

"Mm-hmm." Her glossy pink lips form a straight line as she considers this. "What do you wanna know, in particular?"

"I mean... What happened? How did you pick those people you thought you were giving me to?"

"I wasn't really planning to have kids," she says. "Or, I wanted to, but life kinda throws you off-course, you know? By the time I got pregnant, the father -- your father -- and I were really... off and on."

"Who is he?"

"A man I dated for way too long for no good reason. Not sure what became of him. I haven't heard from him since... well, since before you were born."

"Wow." Travis absorbs this information. He wasn't sure what he expected, exactly, but hearing it laid out in specifics -- having all the speculation boiled down to a set of fixed truths -- is strange, too. 

"I didn't know how I was gonna do it on my own," Kathleen explains. "I'm a lunch lady, I'm single -- not exactly easy to raise a kid. So when those people came to me--"

"The Ragans."

She wrinkles her brow at the name. "I don't know. It was a guy named Clayton. Came to me at the doctor's office and told me how he and his wife were having trouble getting pregnant, and if I wanted to give my baby a good home, we could work something out."

"You had no idea they were insane?"

"Insane? No. Lawyers did the whole thing, really. I never even met the wife."

"Oh." Travis picks up a fry and finds himself using it to point at her. "So you just, like, gave me away to the first rich guy who walked up to you? Nice."

"Travis. That's not what I said."

"That's what it sounds like."

She takes a sip of the diet soda and stares off someplace else in the restaurant. Finally, she speaks, her voice slow as if she is addressing a child: "I wanted my baby -- you -- to have more than I could give. Those people seemed like they could do that for you."

His instinct is to snap at her that she basically gave him away to crazy people without a second thought, but he reminds himself to take a deep breath first. 

"I'm real sorry everything got so screwed up," she says. "But would I say I regret giving you up for adoption? No way. Because I know I couldn't have handled raising a kid then."

Travis nods numbly. 

"I'm glad they pulled whatever nonsense they did, though," Kathleen continues. "Seems like Tim and that Claire lady were really good parents to you."

"Yeah. They were. They are."

"I guess all I can say now is I'm sorry I didn't get to be a part of your, you know, growing-up and stuff. But it's amazing to sit here and see what a great man you turned out to be. Kinda takes my breath away."

"Thanks." He feels a rush of guilt for having gotten snotty with her; everything she has said makes sense, but it's difficult not to feel that this is yet another person who was all too happy to cast him aside. 

"Maybe now that we're both adults, we can, you know, do this our own way," she says. "Like, we be friends and see what that's like."

He regards her again, this woman who is both a stranger and the closest biological relative he has in this world. He can't help but wonder who he would be if he had grown up with her. 

"Sounds like a plan," he says. 


Helen looks from Brent to Don and back again as they both await her explanation.

"Well, frankly…" She seems to sputter a little before getting the rest of her statement out. "He was rather rude to me. You know, it wouldn't surprise me if he had all sorts of enemies, given his past, not to mention the way he treated me."

Brent furrows his brow in a show of concern. "Treated you? What did he do?"

"He called me a beast!" 

"A beast?" Brent and Don ask in near-unison.

"I know! How dare he." Helen leans forward. "It was very rude of him."

"You never told me that," Don says quietly to her.

Helen simply shrugs off the comment.

"What would have made him say something like that?" Brent asks, conscious of keeping his tone sympathetic. 

"I suppose he thought he was doing his brother a favor." Helen folds her hands atop the table. "I was telling Jason that I think… aspects of his relationship with that Natalie Bishop are sort of… distasteful. And Ryan felt the need to insert himself."

Brent sees a golden opportunity and pounces on the chance to win Helen's trust. "I'm no fan of the Bishop sisters myself," he says, and it isn't even a lie: between the way Natalie helped ruin Danielle's first wedding to Ryan and all the grief Diane gave him with Jimmy's bookstore last year, he wouldn't trust either woman as far as he could throw her.

"She's certainly not someone I want my granddaughter around!" Helen sounds relieved to have an ally, to be able to share this. "It was none of Ryan's business. Like I said, I can only guess what sorts of enemies he might have made along the way if that's how he went around talking to people."

Now is his opening, Brent knows, but he has to play it cool. 

"You didn't see him at all later that day, did you?" he asks.

She shakes her head quickly. "No. Thank goodness."

Brent scoots his chair in a few inches. "Were you at home that night? If there's a chance you saw anything--"

"I was here," she says. "All night."

He pauses slightly, not wanting to place too much weight on any aspect of this. "What about you, Don? Were you in all night, too?"

  Helen Chase

"Well, that was…" Don does a mental calculation. "I had my painting class that night. I take an evening class at KBU, just to stay sharp."

"That's good for you," Brent comments, as he makes a mental note to look up the time of the class without pressing for details right now. He checks the time on his phone. "You know what? I'm sorry I barged in on you guys like this. I'm sort of grasping at straws, and I thought asking around about New Year's Eve might help."

"It's no trouble," Don says. "We'll do whatever we can to help catch this maniac."

"Appreciate it." Brent pushes out the chair and stands. "Thanks for both of your time." He shakes their hands and, within a matter of seconds, is out the front door. As he makes his way back to the car, he feels that itch to get to his computer and look up the class times for evening painting classes at King's Bay University.

Because if things are as he believes them to be, Helen Chase has no alibi for the night Ryan was murdered.


Natalie backs away from the desk.

"What are you talking about?" she asks, her voice trembling.

"You shouldn't even be here," Jason says as he hovers over the desk. 

"Don't worry about me. There's a police officer right outside. And I want to be here."

"Why? So some psycho can come after you, too?" He shakes his head. "I don't know why this is happening, but it clearly has something to do with me--"

"Oh, what? Like you're cursed? Jason, we don't even know if this is about you. Sandy might not have even been the person they were after--"

"So what? It's better if I was the target?" 

"No! But we don't know the whole story, and all these people  spouting off…" She waves her hand in the direction of the computer monitor. "They don't know what they're talking about."

"I'm not so sure about that," he says with distress. 

"Don't be melodramatic."

"Melodramatic? Three people I loved are dead!"

"I didn't mean that you shouldn't care. You shouldn't be getting yourself so wound up over this--"

"I don't need you telling me how I'm supposed to think or feel."

"I didn't say that--"

"Yeah, you did."

She glowers at him. "You're being an asshole right now, you know that?"

Jason's jaw tenses. Finally he spits out, "You know what? I think you should go."

The statement strikes Natalie with the force of a punch to her stomach.

"Look, I wanted to do something nice for you," she says. "Some thanks I get."

Jason slumps back into his chair and folds his arms. Natalie picks up one of the containers off the desk.

"Enjoy your sandwich, jackass," she says before blowing out of the office. 

Jason sits there motionless, listening to the clicking of her heels on the stairs. As much as he wants to chase after her, he knows this is probably for the best.


Why did Jason blow up at Natalie?
What should Brent do about Helen?
Will Travis accept Kathleen in his life?
Discuss all this and more in the Footprints Forum!

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Thursday, June 04, 2015

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