The People Finder is a spooky story about a man who has an uncanny knack for tracking down lost items and missing people.
The People Finder
Seymour Bellow had a strange knack for finding things that other people had lost. He became well-known around town for his unerring ability to track down anything that had been misplaced. Once, while on a picnic in the park, a wealthy woman dropped her gold brooch. Without asking a single question, Seymour walked into the park, groped around in the grass and produced the missing brooch.
Whenever anyone asked him how he did it, Seymour would just reply with a smile, “I’ve got a knack for this sort of thing.”
Often, when he recovered someone’s cherished or valuable possession, they would be so grateful that they would insist on giving him a small reward. Sometimes, his uncanny ability would lead him to find money that people had dropped in the street, which he would keep for himself. This was his only source of income, because for most of his life, he had never done an honest day’s work.
His wife, Marsha, was fed up his irresponsible behavior and grew tired of barely having enough money to put food on the table. She constantly nagged him, demanding to know when he was going to stop being lazy and find a real job. Whenever she criticized him, Seymour would fly into a rage and storm out of the house, slamming the front door behind him.
It wasn’t long before Seymour’s strange knack for finding things became the talk of the town and he found himself in great demand. now and then, the police even contacted him and asked if he would provide his services for a small fee. They called him The People Finder.
One day, a middle-aged woman went missing while out for a walk and, when the police couldn’t track her down, they turned to Seymour for help. Within a few hours, he made his way out to the lake and discovered the woman’s dead body floating face-down in the water. She had been crossing a bridge when she must have lost her footing and fallen in.
On another occasion, a twelve-year old boy ran away from home. Seymour found him hiding out in the woods, living in a makeshift hut and surviving on a diet of beans and stale bread. The boy had a nasty rash caused by poison oak, but at least he was alive. The police were happy to be able to reunite him with his parents.
While Seymour was basking in his new-found fame, his wife was telling him he was the worst husband any woman could wish for. He never repaired the house, never bought her new clothes and never made enough to buy her dinner at a restaurant. Seymour began to find it very difficult to control his temper in the face of his wife’s withering criticism.
As time went on, their arguments became worse and worse. Seymour longed to be rid of his wife and dreamed of spending the rest of his life as a single man. He couldn’t remember why he had married her in the first place and wished she would just drop dead. That way, he would collect a large amount of money from her life insurance and could live comfortably for the rest of his days, without ever having to work again.
It was on a humid Summer night, in the middle of June, that Seymour received another phonecall from the police. They told him that an 18-year old girl had gone out alone on the river with her father’s speedboat and hadn’t returned. The police managed to recover the speedboat, which was damaged, but the girl was nowhere to be found. They said she had been missing for three days.
“Why didn’t you call me sooner?” growled Seymour.
An hour later, he was walking up and down the banks of the river. Shaking his head, he led the police officers down to a marshy spot at a bend in the river. There, they found the missing girl’s body. She was floating in the muddy water, obscured by plants and weeds. Her corpse had been partially devoured by animals.
Apparently, the reckless girl had been going too fast in the speedboat. When the boat crashed, she was thrown out and hit hear head on a rock, knocking her unconcious. She drowned and her body was carried downriver by the currents until it got snagged in the reeds.
The chief of police thanked Seymour and shook his hand. “Without you, we never would have found her,” he said. “At least now, her parents can give her a decent burial.”
That night, when Seymour arrived home, he found his wife packing her bags.
“Where do you think you’re going?” he demanded angrily.
“I’m leaving you,” announced Marsha, her eyes wet with tears. “I can’t stay here a moment longer with a lazy, shiftless, good-for-nothing like you!”
“You’re not going anywhere,” Seymour screamed. His face turned bright red and his hands began to shake with rage. “You’re my wife and that means I own you! The only way you’ll leave me is in a pine box!”
“I rue the day the priest pronounced us man and wife,” she cried. “My father warned me you’d never amount to anything and he was right, God rest his soul!”
With that, Marsha wrenched the wedding ring from her finger and threw it at him. Something inside Seymour snapped. The years of seething anger and resentment finally boiled over. He flew into an insane rage and attacked his wife, his fists flailing wildly. She tried to fend off his blows, but the poor woman was no match for him. By the time Seymour’s anger was spent, his wife lay dead at his feet.
When he came to his senses and realized what he had done, Seymour was terrified. He didn’t want to go to jail. After a few panicked moments, he began to formulate a plan.
First, he unpacked his wife’s suitcase and placed her things back in her wardrobe. Then, he cleaned up the room, making sure that there were no signs of a struggle and nothing was out of place. He didn’t want to give the police any reason to suspect him.
A few hours later, under cover of darkness, he rolled his wife’s corpse up in an old piece of carpet, carried her out the back door and threw her into the boot of his car. Then, he drove out to the lake and parked by the water’s edge. Ensuring that there was nobody around, he dragged the dead body out of his car and rolled it into the murky waters.
He watched as his wife sank beneath the surface and, with a smile on his face, waved her goodbye. The currents would carry her out to the middle of the lake, he guessed. He bundled up her hat and coat and tossed them out as far as he could. They landed on the water and floated away. The police would find them and assume his wife had drowned.
His dark deed accomplished, Seymour drove home, humming a happy tune to himself. He poured himself a drink and waited for dawn to arrive. Then, he called the police and reported his wife missing. Although he had no training as an actor, he was able to convey the correct level of fear and concern.
When the police came out to interview him in person, he managed to act as if he was genuinely worried about his wife’s wellbeing. He told the police that the last time he had spoken to her, she had mentioned that she was planning to pay a surprise visit to her friend, who lived on the far side of the lake.
“When she didn’t come home last night, I thought the worst,” he said, holdinf his head in his hands.
“Don’t get yourself all worked up, Seymour,” advised one of the police officers. “I’m sure she’ll turn up safe and sound.”
The next day, Seymour received a phonecall from the chief of police. He sounded uncomfortable.
“I’m sorry to have to be the one to break it to you, Seymour,” he said, “but we think your wife may have drowned. We found her hat and coat floating on the surface of the lake.”
Seymour let out an anguished sigh, attempting to play the grieving husband. The chief of police paused for an appropriate time, then continued.
“Do you think, under the circumstances, you might be able to lend us a hand. I mean, I know it’s a difficult time for you, but…”
“I will, of course,” said Seymour, trying to sound as if he was holding back the tears. “It’ll be hard going, but I’ll find her… and this time, I’ll won’t charge you a fee.”
Late that afternoon, Seymour drove out to the lake once again, and met the police at the dock. They provided him with a boat and he rowed out to the middle of the lake. As the boat drifted to a standstill, he switched on his flashlight and moved it back and forth over the water.
He leaned out over the side and peered down into the murky depths. There, just visible below the surface, was a white and bloated hand. He could see it clearly and the fingers waved back and forth with the motion of the waves. It was a woman’s hand.
Seymour turned and yelled to the police waiting on the dock, “Over here! I’ve found her!”
Suddenly, the woman’s hand shot out of the water and grasped him by the hair. Before he had time to react, he was jerked out of the boat and tumbled head over heels into the lake. He began thrashing about in the water, his arms flailing wildly, but he couldn’t escape its clutches. The hand dragged him down and his head disappeared beneath the water, leaving just a ripple on the surface.
On the dock, the police officers saw Seymour fall into the water. They scrambled to another boat and quickly rowed out to help him. By the time they reached the spot, it was all over.
When they fished Seymour’s dead body out of the water, another corpse came with it. The white and bloated remains of a woman were clinging to him, her decomposing arms wrapped tightly around him, her nails digging into his flesh. The police officers were horrified at the sight.
The People Finder had finally found the dead body of his wife, or maybe she had finally found him.