Friday, November 19, 2010
Magpie Tales: Eleven, Eleven
Tires squealing, Chris Hatcher sends his car into the small gap opening between the tractor trailer drifting back beside him and the pick up truck in front on him. His eyes flick between the road and the dashboard clock. Five minutes, going fast. Rounding the front of the pick up truck he cuts across traffic to take the exit ramp, scraping a side panel on the concrete restraining wall.
Slamming his foot against the brake pedal, he drives it into the floor, his car sliding quickly toward the line of cars backed up on the ramp. Wheels stutter and realising he is not going to stop, he puts the car into the wall, plastic and metal tearing away as it grinds to a halt.
Throwing open the door, he glances once more at the clock. Three minutes, he will never make it in time. Retrieving a black permanent marker from the satchel bag on the passenger seat he begins scribbling words on the drivers door window.
"Ma'am, is your husband home?" Jessica stands in the open door, staring at the uniformed officer in front of her, hearing his words, but unsure how to respond. He gives a name, but it is lost before she can grasp it.
"Come in," she finally says, leading him into the living room, beckoning the man to a couch.
Taking a seat on the far end away from him, she fights to control the emotions flooding her, from what she already knows, "No, I have not heard from him since he left work at 10:30 this morning to come home."
"Do you know why he left early?" the officers tone is gentle, not demanding as she expected.
"He was coming home to have lunch with me. Why?"
"We found your husband's car wrecked and abandoned on the Carrington Street exit off of Interstate 235. As far as we can tell it happened a little after eleven this morning."
Tears tip the edge of her eyes, racing down her cheeks, "Is...he...," she stammers.
Expelling a deep breath, the officer settles a bit deeper into the couch, "No, we have not found him. I have to be honest, this is really strange. There was a partial message scrawled on the window."
"What did it say?" Jessica pushes the words through her sobs.
"'See you soon' and then there were numbers, like a bible passage, '11:1', does this mean anything to you?"
Burying her face in her hands, her body shudders, wracked by her intense sobbing. Her thoughts scatter then settle on one hopeless question, why couldn't he have made it home?
Richard Pingham turns the key, throwing the bolt on the door of his shoe repair shop. Business has not been the best of late and so an afternoon off is a treat to the soul, just not to the pocketbook. The downtown crowd disappears back into their office after lunch, leaving little opportunity other than tourists. Turning to his car, he notices a shape separate from the wall, dashing into the street.
"Hey son! Come here!" Richard yells to a boy scurrying across the cross walk.
One hand gripping the waist of pants far too large for his small frame, the cloth of the legs dragging beneath his feet, the boy is little more than a pile of clothes. Shirt sleeves flap from the end of his arms. Richard hurries after him, his heart heavy at the apparent homelessness of one so young.
Looking over his shoulder, there is a wildness in the boys eyes and seeing his pursuer, he propels himself faster behind the corner of the brick building. Losing sight of him for only a few seconds, Richard draws up short after rounding the corner to find the alley empty, except for refuse discarded haphazardly, never making it to the sludge covered dumpster.
Tipping the lid, Richard looks into the dumpster, to see if the boys perhaps hid there, afraid of who might be following him. Bags of trash and a malicious stench great him, flies stirred from their meal swarm his face.
"Ugh," he lets the lid slam back into place, surveying the alley once more, then heads back towards his car.
The cell phone nearly vibrates off the bedside table before its ring pierces the consciousness of a nearly comatose Jessica, draped across the bed, still dressed in yesterday's clothes. She had stayed up most of the night, waiting to hear from Chris. He usually would call by now, she must have fallen asleep. Chris!
She grabs the phone, thumbing the button to receive the call, "Chris!"
"Mrs. Hatcher? This is Officer Kennedy. I was at your house yesterday."
"Oh, hello officer...," her voice heavy with disappointment.
"You have not heard from your husband, I take it?"
"No. I am sorry, I was just...I must have fallen asleep," she runs a hand across her face, into her tangled hair.
"No problem ma'am. I wanted to see if you could come down to the station. We found some of what we believe are your husbands belongings and wanted to have you take a look at them."
Mind snapping to attention, she inquires, "What did you find?"
"Again, this is going to sound odd, but we received a call about a young boy wandering downtown. When a patrol car picked him up, he was wearing your husband's clothes. His wallet was still in the pocket of the pants."
"Is the boy okay?" she stammers, hope rising with in her.
"Yes, why? Do you think you know him?"
"Um, maybe not. I am...still trying to wake up. Give me an hour and I will be down," she answers, knowing full well she will be racing to get there as fast as she can.
(To be continued Monday in 'Shafts of Grace')
This is a Magpie Tale and 10DOM.