Crime Time (Chapter Seven, page 2 of 5)

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"Look familiar?" I asked, breaking the reverential silence.

Betsy pulled to the side. "Let's walk," she said.

Howie bounded out of the car and crossed to the newer side of the street where he had a better view of the few older buildings that remained. We followed behind him. Most of the store fronts were boarded up and a fifty foot blackened gap separated the two largest structures. Howie moved forward for a better view. Suddenly he stopped in his tracks and abruptly sat on the curb. With his hands to his face, he burst into tears, shocking us. Betsy scootched down and put her arm about him.

"I'm sorry, Howie. I wanted it to be your Alder's Bridge too."

He tried to speak but it took a few moments before the words were understandable. "It is," he said, slowly rising to his feet. "This is where I visited." He rubbed his face with his sleeve. "God, I'm sorry, breaking down like that. It's just so . . . impossible."

Betsy took his hand and we moved further down the sidewalk.

"It's as if the town died. There were so many people and cars. Now it's a ghost town." He pointed. "Whatever was between those buildings must have burned down. It was where the barber shop used to be located. The place next to it that's still standing was McGuire's Dress shop. It's even painted the same color and I recognize the molding and cornices." The store front he pointed out was boarded up. Next to it was a bar. "It's changed a lot; almost completely, but I'm a hundred percent certain I visited Brockville."

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