An apology before I start--for some unknown reason, Blogspot is not allowing me to post a picture (the cover art), nor to put anything (thoughts, for instance) in italics.
Just in case this is your first time reading and you didn't know, previous chapters were posted on previous Fridays.
Paul kept in touch with either Lieutenant Jones or Sergeant Willis each day, but still nothing had been heard or found. It had been a week now. Although Paul went in to work, he functioned by rote. So many people expressed their concern that he began to dread talking to anyone. Probably in particular Maureen. I’m so incredibly glad I didn’t go to that party with Maureen that night—the cops would have been dead certain I made my wife disappear. Not to mention, I feel guilty enough without adding that mess to my mind.
Maureen’s sympathy seemed positively syrupy. She made countless attempts to console Paul with more offers to listen to him talk than anyone else—the offer usually including a drink after work. He was growing weary of dodging her.
Paul decided one afternoon he’d take the same route home that Sarah probably took to go to work that morning. The police probably thoroughly checked the road already, but I’m still going to do it—take my time and stop anywhere there is the least possibility she could’ve gone off the road and the car be hidden by brush or whatever. I’ll leave at noon, he decided, cancel class this afternoon. Or leave an assignment, which would probably be better. One thing nice about college, usually the students there want to learn, unlike some high school students who have to be there and could care less about learning.
After his last class in the morning, he wrote the afternoon class’s assignment on the board with a note that he wouldn’t be there. As he left for the parking lot, he mentally went over the road in his mind, thinking of any places that had brush or gullies, rocks, other places that could hide a car.
Paul drove slowly. I’m probably irritating vast numbers of drivers behind me. On the freeway, it’s not so bad, they could pass me pretty easy, but once I get onto Carefree Highway, they might not be so tolerant. A few of them might “wave” as they drive past me. Frankly, right now I don’t care. I want to be able to make note of anywhere a car might go off the road and be hidden from view.
When he got home, he called Sergeant Willis with his notes.
“Mr. Johnson, we’ve had the same thoughts, and we’ve had a patrol car go along the same route you just went on, with the game goal in mind. She even got out of the car and checked for tire marks in places where she thought a car might have been able to get off the highway and be hidden from view.”
“Oh,” Paul said, deflated. “I thought I was coming up with new thoughts that might help.”
“Please don’t stop doing that, Mr. Johnson. Just because this time we had the same thought doesn’t mean you might not think of something we haven’t. After all, you knew—know—her much better than we do.”
“It’s just that I feel so helpless. I don’t know what to do. I feel like I’ve got to do something, but nothing I’ve done has come even brought me one step closer to finding Sarah. To tell the truth, I want to blame it all on you all at the sheriff’s office. And I don’t want to accept any blame, yet I find myself blaming myself more and more every day.”
“I think somewhere in our notes, Mr. Johnson, it says you’ve been in therapy. Have you been to see him—or her—since your wife disappeared?”
“No. Maybe I should. Sounds like it, doesn’t it?”
“It might help, and it can’t hurt, can it?”
“It might. Sounds like maybe you might make a good one, too, Sergeant.”
“Thanks, Mr. Johnson, that’s the nicest thing anyone has said to me all day. Come to think of it, all week!”
“Yeah. Well, I’m glad I made someone’s day.”
“Take care, Mr. Johnson.”
Paul sat slumped by the phone for several minutes. With a sigh, he picked up the phone and dialed the therapist’s number.
“Hello, Nellie? Does Dr. Howard have any openings in the near future?”