The Hopewell Democrat-Tribune newspaper offices kept their back issues in the basement. The county office bound theirs up nicely in cardboard endpapers. The Hopewell District Library paid to have their stock microfilmed once a year. Between the three of them, they had every issue of the paper since the Hopewell Democrat and the Hopewell Tribune had merged in September 1889.

Except one.

Someone, with exacting thoroughness, had made sure that wasn’t the case for September 18, 1927. The Democrat-Tribune bundles, done up with twine and silently disintegrating, were tampered with, the pile for September 1927 tied with a piece of twine much newer than the others. The county office copy had been sliced out, straight and clean with a razor blade, between September 17 and September 19. And the Hopewell District Library microfilm had been cut and taped up professionally, as if in a movieola.

As the Democrat-Tribune was the paper of record for the area, everything that happened on that far-off fall day had been all but wiped from existence. The obituary column was backed up by other records, and some small-town papers nearby picked up a few comings and goings, but for the most part some unknown malefactor had taken considerable pains to erase those papers from history.

To this day, no one can say why.

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