I Finish Reading The Manuscript And Realise I Have More Questions Than Answers


Nine months go by in Janet’s life and it is now March 1976. Janet seems to be doing the brunt of the work on the farm while Fred appears to be suffering from depression; he is either now scared of the horses due to his accident or just refusing to work the fields. He is curt and snappy with Janet. “Just fuck off and leave me alone” are the words he uses on more than one occasion.

Fred has never farmed with tractors so, the fact he is reluctant to work the horses means that he is doing no work on the farm at all. He is now 55 years old, almost 30 years older than Janet. His wife and young daughter left a long time ago, before Janet appeared on the scene, accusing him of being married to the farm.

Everyone knows Fred in New Mills although, once I get immersed in the research, I don’t find one person who speaks particularly highly of him – apart that is from Janet. When I ask her if she ever had a relationship, other than a business relationship, with Fred, Janet says, quite convincingly, that the thought never entered her head. She describes him as not in any way good-looking. When I see a photo of him later I find I don’t completely agree with this statement.

Nine months after his accident Fred disappears. This is when Janet’s nightmares begin. The five days before he disappears i.e. 14 March 1976 to 19 March 1976 is the time she has ‘lost’. She has no recollection of what she did for five whole days. Bear in mind that the only person who would have seen Fred during that time – in fact during any time since he appears to have been a workaholic recluse – was Janet. She would visit the farm pretty well every day, before or after work and was working there full time when he disappeared. No-one else would visit the farm on a regular basis.

The police were contacted on 19 March 1976 after Janet told her parents that Fred had disappeared.

Now that I’ve finished reading the manuscript I’m as confused as everyone in New Mills. Where on earth has Fred gone?

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