Legal Property

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Fiction Friday - One More Time, Chapter 3E

[Previous chapters on previous Fridays]
“Do you know who any of these e-mails are from?” The Lieutenant scrolled down through the email list.
Paul leaned in and scanned the email names. “Not many of them. A lot look like ads or spam to me. Looks like there some forwarded jokes, but I don’t know who the people are—except this one, dotpierce. That has to be from her college roommate, I think. The rest of the user names look unfamiliar to me. I never got on her account because it felt as if I’m snooping in her personal mail, just not the right thing to do.”
“Sergeant Willis said you contacted everyone you could think of. Would you please go over that list for me? I’d also like their telephone numbers.”
Paul gave him the list and numbers, and then offered Bart a cup of coffee. Bart accepted and asked for milk and sugar.
Paul rubbed his chin. “I’m sorry, I should’ve thought about this when I asked if you wanted any. My brain is just not functioning, I guess. We do have some flavored creamer and some sugar, but I think the regular milk is out of date.”
“The creamer’s fine then—but skip the sugar.”
Paul went to make some coffee, telling the officer to make himself at home and look through the computer as much as he wanted. He brought the coffee back and found the officer headed for the bedroom.
“Have you noticed whether any of her clothes are gone, or a suitcase? I’m assuming her purse is not here.”
“I thought of that and did check. The suitcases are all here, and her dresser and closet are full of clothes, so I don’t think she was thinking about taking a trip. Her purse isn’t here.”
“Do you have a list of her credit cards? We can check to see if they have been used anywhere.”
“Yes, I think so. There should be a list on the computer of both our credit cards.”
Paul frowned. “There is one thing I didn’t mention before. Six months ago, our three-year-old daughter died, and Sarah is having a particularly tough time with it. I mean, we both did and both of us are in therapy, but it seems like Sarah is just not getting any better. For instance, she always used to be a pretty spiffy dresser, and even though the rest of her office dressed pretty casual, she always wore pressed slacks or a skirt and blouse, sometimes a suit if she had to meet with a client. Now she just throws on whatever’s easiest, usually jeans and a tee shirt. She never did wear much makeup, but now she wears none. In other words, she acts depressed.”
“You say she was—is—in therapy. Who is her therapist?”
“A Dr. Howard, same one I’m seeing.” Paul got him the office name and telephone number, and the Lieutenant continued to the bedroom. Paul followed him in, wondering what he wanted.
“What’s this stain here on the carpet?” he asked, pointing to a brownish stain.
“Oh—that’s coffee. I spilled some this morning, and didn’t clean it up. Guess I should do that,” Paul said, heading for the closet where the cleaners were.
“Never mind—we will need to test that stain before you do anything with it.”
“Test it?”
“Paul, in any disappearance like this of a person, we always have to check out people close to the victim—if she is a victim,” he added quickly. “That includes testing any stains on the rugs, furniture, etc., that might turn out to be blood.”
“Blood? You think I’d hurt Sarah?”
“Mr. Johnson—Paul—I never met you before today, and even if I knew you well and could swear that you were a terrific guy, I’d still have to test this stain. We’ll need to look over your car, too. It’s just procedure, sir.”
“Oh, yeah, I suppose. I didn’t think of that. I guess I’ve heard that the spouse often winds up being the culprit who’s the cause of the disappearance.”
“Do you have other children?”
“No, we just had the one.”
“Does Mrs. Johnson have siblings, parents still alive?”
“No, neither. Sarah was a late-life surprise to her parents. They never intended to have children, and her mother was in her mid-forties when Sarah was born. Her father was about 10 years older. Her mother died of cancer when Sarah was a teenager, and her father died two years ago. He was about 80 years old when he had a stroke which left him a vegetable for a couple of years. He died a week after Tamara was born. She doesn’t have any brothers or sisters, but she has a couple of cousins she’s close to—the names and numbers are on the list I gave you.”
“All right. I’ll look over the car, and then I’ll get out of your hair for tonight,” Bart said. “Where’s your car? Do you have a garage?”
“Yes, follow me.” Paul led him through the cooking area and opened the door into the garage, turning on the light.
Bart walked around Paul’s blue Lexus, and he noticed the dent on the left front bumper. “What’s this? It looks recent.”
“Yeah, it is. Last week, I came home one night late and bumped Sarah’s car when I pulled the car into the garage. I think her car was a little too close to the middle, but I’ve got to tell you, she really gave me hell about that!” Paul said, chuckling and shaking his head.
“Had you been drinking?”
“No, just bone tired.”
Bart’s eyes narrowed, but he made no comment. He opened up the car doors one at a time and shined the light into the front and back seats, repeating the search in the trunk.
“Well, that’s all I have for tonight. I suggest you try to get some sleep, and also that you go ahead and go to work tomorrow. We’ll keep looking for Mrs. Johnson, of course, and keep you informed.”
“I was thinking I would—go back to work, that is. Today took forever. Maybe time will go faster if I keep busy.”

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