Kill for me. A terrifying request, but Gavin will take this request and do his best to complete it. He will suffer. He will reach the edge of his sanity. He will live in pain. But he will do all he can do to protect the people and the town he loves.
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Ernie Holsten, wiped his mouth on a napkin and put down his barbeque sandwich when the older couple approached his desk. He registered their age as early fifties. Both had grey hair, eyes dark and droopy from lack of sleep, and stress lines covering their faces. The woman had at least tried to pull herself together by fixing her hair and putting on makeup. But the man wasn’t hiding his sorrow. He had a thick scraggly beard peppered with white and the red eyes of a drunk, those eyes said more than words could ever say. The couple took turns shaking Ernie’s hand and then he offered them the two seats in front of his desk, cheap seats with fake leather cushions and tarnished silver legs and arm rests. The couple sat down with a thump almost in unison.
“How can I help you?” Ernie asked, adjusting his slacks and collared shirt. It was a thing he did when he was nervous or when he sensed that trouble was about to find him and from the looks of these two, trouble was all they were bringing.
The woman welled up with tears, trying to form the words she wanted to say, but they weren’t there. Her husband took a photograph from her shaky hands, a photograph that was wrinkled and filled with fingerprints from too many people touching it. The man handed the photograph to Ernie, who took it and looked at it, and then he looked at them.
“Our son, Fred Greenberg never made it home for Thanksgiving. He’s always been a good kid and he’s never late. This isn’t like him. Can you help us?”
“I assume you’ve filed a missing person’s report.”
“We have. A few days after he disappeared. And we’ve looked from the college where he attended all the way back to our house. He’s vanished. We can’t find a single trace of him.”
Ernie leaned back in his chair, it squeaked its disapproval, as he started thinking, the cogs in his brain turning slow. How could someone vanish in a world filled with technology? And the answer that came to him was an obvious one, but he was trying to push that answer away.
“Do you think you can help us? The man at the desk said you were the best at what you do and if anyone could find anyone you could.”
Ernie thought for a moment. There was nothing urgent to work on, nothing that had to be done before the holidays, and if he had to postpone the few things he had to do in order to canvas the area he thought he could do it without getting behind. He also thought it might be nice to get out of the office. The air inside the building was starting to get stale. “I can start looking for him. But I need you to – Ernie paused and rummaged through his desk until he found what he was looking for – send all you can about him, school, phone number, and things like that to this email address.” He handed the man a plain white card with black lettering that had his information on it. The man took it and looked down at it for a moment. Ernie bit his lip and then continued. “I’ll also need the picture.”
The man looked up and nodded slowly and with a bit of hesitation let it go. Ernie took the picture and placed it on his desk. He then locked eyes with the man. “I’m sorry. I wish I could do more for you. Maybe give you guys a bit more comfort, but I will do what I can to get you some kind of information, good or bad.”
“Thanks,” the man replied, and helped his wife stand up. She was still unable to talk.
“I promise I’ll do my best,” Ernie replied, shaking the man’s hand.
“That’s all we want.” He turned to his wife. “Come on Martha. Let’s get home. Nothing else we can do here.”
“Daniel, is he going to find Fred?”
“I hope so,” Daniel replied, and he and his wife exited the room without looking back at Ernie.
When they were gone, Ernie walked over to the front desk. “Hey Jack, can I see the report that couple filed?”
Jack, fat and unfit, looking fifty instead of forty, on the verge of a heart attack if he didn’t lose weight, dug out the report and handed it to Ernie. “What do you think?”
“It isn’t going to be a happy Christmas for them. But I hope I’m wrong.”
“Your instincts have rarely been wrong,” Jack replied.
“That’s what I’m afraid of.” Ernie looked down at the report and then back to Jack. “My day is open. I think I’ll get started on this.”
“Cold one today, better bundle up.”
“Will do. Thanks,” Ernie replied. He grabbed his coat and made his exit.
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Thanks again for all the support. I promise Poetry and Haiku as much as I can, but I hope you stick with me each Wednesday as I branch off into something a bit different. And if you missed a page look for the story underneath the Hump Day Promotions category. You are now free to move around the blog.