THE SNAKE BIT CASE
It was April and Spring was starting with plenty of rain. Jen and Molly work were working quietly in the office. Molly saw the mailman on the security video feed and went to get the mail. She came back and sorted through the mail, tossing one item to Jen.
Jen looked at her piece of mail and said, “Krap,”
“What’s up?” Molly asked.
“Oh, it’s a reminder from my high school. Our fifteenth reunion is coming up. I need to RSVP. It going to be virtual.” She opened the letter. “Here’s a list of all the classmates they couldn’t locate. There’s a girl on here from my homeroom. I remember her. She left in our senior year, and no one has heard from her since. No one knows what happened to her. Her name was Erika Sorg.”
“What are you going to do?” Molly asked.
“I think I’ll try to find her. Afterall, I am a private eye.” Jen made air quotes. “I remember she was friends with another girl in my homeroom. If she’s on during the reunion, I’ll ask her what happened.”
The virtual reunion took place in late May. The woman that was friends with Erika Sorg was named Anwen Gladys. During the reunion, Jen sent a message to Anwen to call her. She called the next day. “Do you remember Erika Sorg?” Jen asked.
“Of course, I do. We were friends.”
“Do you recall why she dropped out of school in the middle of our senior year?” Jen asked.
“I might,” Anwen answered. “She told me she was pregnant. Her parents were very religious and strict with her. Apparently, they were very upset about it.”
“Do you know what happened to her? Did you very hear from her?”
“No,” Anwen replied. “One day she dropped out of school and was gone. Her parents are still around. I called them, but they just said she ran away, but that doesn’t sound like her. Why do you ask?”
“I’m a private investigator now. I thought I might try to find her.”
“Well, good luck. If you find her, tell her to contact me.”
Jen located the Sorgs and called them. Mr. Sorg answered the phone. When Jen asked about Erika, he just said, “She ran away,” and hung up. Jen decided to go to their home and try again. They lived in a poorer neighborhood of Atlanta called Grove Park. It was a predominately black neighborhood on the northwest side of town. Many of the people who lived there are older, retired seniors. Jen found the Sorg’s house near the freeway. It was starting to fall apart and was in a bad need of painting, but at least the lawn was mowed. Jen parked on the street and walked up to the front door. Mr. Sorg answered the doorbell.
Mr. Sorg was a heavyset man who walked with a cane. He wore a white T-shirt with a few food stains and a brown pair of trousers held up with black suspenders. His large gut hung over the top of his pants. He had on slippers and wore one hearing aide. His thinning hair was combed over in a vain attempt to hide his bawl head. His teeth were stained yellow from tobacco.
“Mr. Sorg, I’d like to ask you about your daughter, Erika,” Jen said.
Mr. sorg spit tobacco juice into the front yard. “She ran away.” He started to close the door when a voice behind him stopped him short.
“Who is it, dear?” asked a woman’s voice. Mrs. Sorg stepped into view.
“I’d like to ask you about your daughter, Erika,” Jen repeated the question.
“Oh, please come in,” said Mrs. Sorg. Her husband started to object. “Oh, hush and go watch your ballgame.” Mrs. Sorg motioned for Jen to follow her to the kitchen. The kitchen was tidy with a small table in the center with four chairs. “Please sit.” She was much short than her husband by nearly two feet. She wore her hair in a neat bun on top of her head and an apron even though she didn’t appear to be cooking. “Pay no mind to my husband. He had a stroke a few years ago and can’t work no, more. He’s very bitter about the hand the Lord delt him. What do you want to know about Erika?”
“Basically, what happened to her? I know she dropped out of school halfway through her senior year.”
“Did you know she was pregnant?” Mrs. Sorg asked.
“Yes, her friend, Anwen told me.”
“I remember Anwen. She one of the few friends that Erika had.” Mrs. Sorg lowered her head and sighed. “My husband and I are very religious people. We belong to a church that takes a dim view of sex outside of the marriage sacrament. When she started to show, we took her out of school and kept her home. She wouldn’t tell us who the father was.”
“Then what happened? Your husband said she ran away. Is that true?”
“Not right away.” Mrs. Sorg replied as she brushed off her apron. “My husband and I had low paying jobs. We knew we could not afford to care of Erika and a baby. My sister lives in Columbus and her husband has a very good job. They volunteered to take Erika in and care for her until the baby arrived. Later, my sister said, Erika could get a good job in Columbus.”