Chapter Three, Part One

I didn't get back the next day. Or the next. Arlo had some work for me, and I got a callback from a legitimate job I had applied for at a pawn shop. The interview went beautifully until I asked if I could be paid off the books. Things took an awkward turn after that, but as I was leaving I ran into a guy who I'd once gone to bed with for twenty dollars after a night of cheap beer at the pub. He wanted to repeat the performance, and since he was offering another twenty and I didn't find him particularly objectionable, I complied.

When I returned to my apartment later in the afternoon, two damp tens wadded in my coat pocket, I found Father Cash waiting at my door.

"Don't you ever answer your phone?"

His question and tone were so out of line with his usual manner that I was taken aback. I had seen the missed calls, but hadn't thought much of it. "I was with a customer."

He let out a sigh of frustration. "Sella is missing. I had been hoping she was with you."

I fumbled for my key and opened the door, motioning Father Cash inside. "No, of course she's not with me." I scrambled for ideas. "Maybe she went to the store. I showed her where it was the other day, and–"

"She's been gone for hours!" It sounded like an accusation. "There's no note, and I don't even know how to call her. If she has a phone, I've never seen it."

"Could she have gone back home?"

"All her stuff is here, except her coat."

"Well, wherever she is, at least she's warm."  I could tell from Father Cash's glare that this was the wrong thing to say. "We could try calling the cops, report her missing."

Father Cash paced my bare floor. "It's not considered a missing person case unless one has been gone twenty-four hours or more."

"We'll say it's desperate. She's a minor."

"Borderline. If there's no reason to suspect foul play, they don't bother with seventeen year-olds, especially runaways."

"Tell them she's sixteen, then. You're not her dad. If they find her and get mad, just say you misremembered how old she is."

For a moment, Father Cash seemed tempted by the idea, but then he shook his head. "If something bad happened, the cops in this town will probably only make it worse."

I silently agreed. "How about I check with my contacts? Put out a sort of informal APB?"

"Would you?" He turned to me, an absurd light of gratitude his eyes. "I'll do the same with mine, and if we find out nothing by tomorrow..."

"We'll call the cops, no matter how incompetent they are." I finished.

"Yes." He threw his arms around me and squeezed me in a hug that nearly broke a rib. "Thank you, Judith."

And then he hurried out the door, leaving me alone in the suddenly disquieting hush of my apartment.

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4 comments:

  1. Sharp, pungent, intriguing...

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  2. I hope Sella is okay. great turn in the story

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  3. Twenty is waaaay too little.

    Might she have jumped in the water? I got the feeling before that she'd like to. Still, I think the story would be more interesting if she refrains, or at least survives.

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  4. I think their trip out the other day has whetted Sella's appetite. Judith should retrace their steps.

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