At the supermarket in town, Ree pushes a broken shopping cart through the aisles—Ned sits in the basket, and Gail helps with the shopping. While Ree picks out groceries, she wonders aloud to Gail what her father might have done. She says she “can’t see [Jessup] squealin’.”
Even in the middle of banal, everyday tasks, Ree is unable to focus; she is consumed by the need to know her father’s fate, and perturbed by the secrecy surrounding what he might have done, and how he might have paid for it.
Upon returning to the house, Ree sees a white car parked nearby; Blond Milton and another Dolly man are talking with a stranger. Ree approaches, and asks the stranger what he wants. He introduces himself as Mike Satterfield, and explains that he holds the bond on Jessup, who is now being classified as “a runner.” Ree insists that her father didn’t show in court because he must be dead. Jessup being dead, Mike says, would be “no good for nobody.” Mike tells Ree that something has “felt a little funny from the giddy-up,” and that the house and land didn’t nearly cover all of Jessup’s bond. He explains that a man came by his office one night, and left a sack of money to cover the rest of the bond. “It seemed,” he says, “like somebody needed him sprung in a hurry.” Mike tells Ree that the man who left the money did not give a name—the cash is “all he recall[s].”
The mystery of Jessup’s disappearance deepens with the addition of Mike Satterfield’s revelation of the fact that Jessup was hurriedly sprung from jail by a “stranger.” Whether Mike was bribed with cash and now is withholding that individual’s identity willingly or, through his own ignorance, truly doesn’t know the stranger’s identity, it’s clear that more is at play in Jessup’s disappearance than was originally assumed.
Mike tells Ree that she and her family have about thirty days left on their property before it’s repossessed. Ree panics, and lunges at Mike, begging him to tell her that there’s something she can do. Mike tells her there’s nothing, and begins to walk away. After a few steps, he turns to face her; “nothin’,” he says, “unless you can prove he’s dead.” Mike leaves, and Ree turns around to see Gail standing in the open doorway. “Don’t you dare go back there,” Gail tells Ree. They both watch Mike’s car pull away. “How else is it goin’ to happen?” Ree asks Gail.
The imminent loss of her home and property frightens Ree into violence and desperation. The need to prove that Jessup is dead overpowers, in this moment, any remaining emotional impact that the fact of his death might have had; the need to uncover the truth for her own sake, and for that of her brothers, is of paramount importance now.