The Nowhere Inn was the best deal in town. Jacob could have gotten a cheaper room of course but he didn’t really want to sleep with roaches, plus this place had free WiFi. He sat at a coffee shop inside the hotel with Jerry. Over a raisin bagel and a cup of coffee, Jacob started the conversation.
“Two Hundred, plus expenses.”
“What?” Jerry asked.
“You asked how much it would cost. Can you afford that?”
“I don’t understand.”
“Two hundred a day plus expenses. Meals, equipment, room, gas whatever I decide to put on the bill. Payable when I send you the bill. It shouldn’t be too much because I’m leaving when the roads open.”
“Sounds fair. I can pay it.”
“What do you do for a living Mr. Murphy?”
“I’m an engineer at a local factory, I do okay I guess. They have been pretty understandable about the whole ordeal. I’ve missed a lot of work and they haven’t said anything. I moved here right out of college and met Haley’s mom.”
“Where is she? I haven‘t seen her with you, does she help with the flyers?”
“I don’t know Detective Collins, she left when Haley was two and I haven’t spoken to her since. She didn’t want to have anything to do with Haley or me. So I let her go, thinking she would someday come back, that was thirteen years ago.” He took a long drink on his coffee. “I doubt she even knows Haley’s missing, or would care either way.”
“I’m sorry. And you can call me Nathan. As I said, I’m no detective anymore.”
“Nathan, I quit caring about Carol a long time ago.”
Jacob looked at his watch and at Barista behind the counter. “Would you like one more coffee Jerry?”
“When I get back I want you to tell me about the day when Haley went missing. Everything you can remember.”
It took Jacob about five minutes to get the two lattes. When he returned to his seat Jerry had his wallet out on the table with a picture of Haley he kept inside. It was the picture from the flyer.
“Friday, August the twelfth, seven thirty a.m. Catalpa Park. She had her book bag and her journal, like always.” Jerry started, not looking up from the picture.
“What happened at the park?”
“I dropped her off just like every morning before school.”
Jacob looked puzzled. “Why did you drop her off at the park?”
“She liked to go for a jog in the morning before school and kept up the habit through the summer. I was proud of her for that, I don’t have that kind of discipline. She would write in her journal by Bledsoe Pond. Something else I was proud of her for. She started writing in that thing when she was twelve and for the last three years, she would everyday.”
“Okay. Go on.”
“I don’t think I said goodbye.”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“Or that I loved her.”
“I’m sure she knew, Jerry. But tell me what happened.”
“She got out of the car and started jogging into the woods toward the pond and I pulled away and headed to work.”
“Anything that stood out as odd that day? Cars in the parking lot you hadn’t noticed before? People hanging around that seemed suspect?”
“Nothing. I didn’t really look, you know. I had no idea that I wouldn’t see her again. I thought she would be home making supper when I got off work, just like always. It was Friday so it was taco night. I’d always stop and pick up a couple movies. One for her and one for me and we eat dinner and watch movies until we fall asleep on the couch. We do it every Friday.”
“Sounds nice. She never went out? She was fifteen.”
“Saturday was her night with her friend, shopping, or sleepovers or whatever they did, but Friday was our night.”
Jacob took out a small notebook that he kept in his pocket and jotted down a few things. She seemed really devoted to making her father happy, and he the same for her. If only Jacob had that relationship with his daughter someday.
“Did she make it to school that day?”
“School wasn’t scheduled to start for another two weeks. But she had orientation and was supposed to pick up her books. They called work and said she never showed for homeroom. It wasn’t like Haley to miss school, even something like that. I planned on talking to her when I got home. She is responsible, Nathan, she would never ditch school for no good reason. She had been cramping pretty bad the night before so I assumed she had went home after her jog and perhaps fell asleep and missed it.”
He looked up and Jacob saw a sadness in his face, the one thing that truly bothered him was there in his glassy eyes.
“I don’t know.”
The not knowing was the toughest thing for him. For now.
“What did the police say?”
“They said that they looked through the park and talked to some cab drivers. They found nothing that said she went home or was abducted from the park. No witnesses have come forward saying anything. No one has saw anything. It‘s like she just vanished.”
“That’s why they think she ran away?”
“Yeah, they say that she is a teenager and probably going through something that I didn’t know about.”
“Is that true?”
“I don’t think so. She told me everything. EVERYTHING. Sometimes too much.”
Jacob chuckled, he thought it was sweet. They were true Brady’s. “Like what?”
“She had a boyfriend that was a little older than her. He was seventeen and a senior. He was ready to have sex. She wasn’t, so she said. I told her to do what she thought was right and not to give in to him if that’s what she felt. She said she didn’t. He broke up with her the next week to date the head cheerleader, the complete opposite personality of Haley. It killed her. She didn’t come out of her room for a month. That was fourth of July weekend.”
“One month before she disappeared?”
“Yep. She was doing a lot better though. Starting to hang out with her friend more. I was glad to see it.”
“Who are some of her friends?”
“She has one friend. Had her since daycare. They were inseparable. Jordyn Kennedy.”
“What is this ex-boyfriends name?”
“Sid, Seth…” he thought for a moment, “Seth Franklin. I thought he was a pretty good kid. You know, always polite around me, called me mister, and said please and thank you. His parents own a grocery store chain in the area, three I think.” He sighed and took another swig of his latte finishing it off. “It really came as a surprise to me.”
“Have you seen or talked to Seth since Haley’s disappearance?”
“He came by about a week after and told me how sorry he was and that he somehow blamed himself for Haley running away. He said he was stupid and he would give anything to have her back.”
Jacob couldn’t imagine the strength it would have took not to kick the kids teeth in. No matter how genuine his feelings were.
“I just thanked him and sent him on his way. A couple days later some things of Haley’s showed up on the doorstep in a box. I assumed he dropped them off, too embarrassed to talk again.”
“What kind of things?”
“Nothing really, a couple cd’s and a movie. I think there was a necklace in there as well. And some flip flops. Nothing that really meant anything to me.”
“It was stuff I didn’t even know she had.”
After listening to Jerry talk about his daughter Jacob had to agree with him. He didn’t think she would have run away at least for four months. But years of experience told him that this was just the beginning. Something was bound to change.
- New Man Part 6 Jerry and the Rainbow (hughiegibson.wordpress.com)
- New Man Part 5 Biscuits and an Old Friend (hughiegibson.wordpress.com)
- New Man Part 1: Death of Jacob Mallory (hughiegibson.wordpress.com)