Seth Franklin sat outside on the perfectly manicured lawn, his two hundred and fifty dollar North Face coat glistened from the water that it collected from the damp air. Clouds of mist left his mouth as he sat on the porch swing. Then Jacob saw him raise his hand to his mouth and take a deep breath in when his hand left his mouth another large cloud left again, Jacob realized that he was smoking a cigarette. He slowly pulled the Prius into the drive which lay covered in a thick sheet of ice. His car made it about two feet up before it stopped and slid back to the bottom of the hill.
The three story brick home had probably been built in the late eighties or early nineties. It had more peeks and gables than Jacob cared to count. When Seth caught notice of the car sliding down the hill he tossed the cigarette and starting to make his way to the bottom of the hill. He was wearing his expensive work boots and two hundred dollar jeans.
“Excuse sir, can I help you?” he asked tossing his head and flipping his hair from his face.
“Yes actually you can.” Jacob said getting out of the car. He caught a whiff something that he hadn’t smelled in quite sometime. It was a burning leaves and herbal smell. Jacob knew that the kid wasn‘t smoking a cigarette.
“My name is Nathan Collins.”
He held out his hand when he met Jacob at the bottom of the hill. The pictures did not do him justice, he was tall, athletic and a handsome young man. As Jacob took the boys hand he noticed that he had a firm grip, not overbearing, some men find it necessary to overcompensate by squeezing the shit out of your hand. But not Seth, someone was working with this kid, grooming him for something.
“How can I help you Mr. Collins?”
“Well Jerry Murphy has retained my services to find his daughter, Haley.”
The boys face regressed in age and maturity by about four years at the sound of the name.
“I understand she was your girl-friend,” he said, more of a statement than a question.
“Ex-girlfriend, sorry. When was the last time you saw Haley?”
“It was the weekend of the fourth.”
“That’s the weekend you broke up with her?”
“It was a mutual agreement.”
Jacob looked into the boys eyes, he was scared of something. It was humorous that this big tall muscular young man would be afraid of anything. But then again he was just a kid.
Jacob did a half frown and nodded. “Sure.”
“It was. We were headed in different directions. I mean career wise.”
“Sure, I don’t see her going into the NBA, a little short.”
“That’s not what I mean. I needed to focus on my basketball this season and couldn’t really be distracted by her. And she was focused on her music.”
“Sure I know what you mean.” Jacob played the kid. “What you average a game?”
“Thirty points, ten rebounds, ten assists.”
“You seriously average a triple double every game?”
“It’s just high school Mr. Collins, the real test will be college. That was what I had to focus on. If I’m gonna make it in the NBA I had to make sure that nothing distracted me.”
“Excuse me, sir?” It was thirty nine degrees outside but he had beads of sweat forming on his forehead.
Jacob leaned against the fender of the Prius and patted next to him. Seth plopped down next to him and drew a long sigh.
“I miss her you know?”
“You cared about her didn’t you? I could tell by the pictures in her room. It looked as though she cared for you as well.”
“She did.” He let out a small cough.
“You should lay off the pot if you wanna make pro. Shit will kill your lungs, and make you lazy.”
“I didn’t start ‘til after Haley disappeared. She was a true friend. Please don’t tell Coach. I’d be off the team and my dad’s dreams and mine will be crushed.”
Jacob shook his head at Seth, “I have no interest in getting you kicked off the team, I was just passing along some helpful advice, that’s all.” He took a deep breath. “So if you don’t mind me asking, why did you break up if not about sex. You ran to that cheerleader awful quick.” Jacob looked away from Seth and turned his eye to the sky. It was turning grey and dark clouds were beginning to roll in.
“Justine? That was a joke. Dad sat that up for my image.” he chuckled to himself. “Dads just don’t understand.”
“Parents just don’t understand.”
“Fresh Prince, huh, classic.”
“Thank you, thank you.”
“She kept my secret. We live in a small town Mr. Collins.”
“You don’t have to say it Seth. Not to me, I’m nobody.” He looked at Jacob and his eyes softened. “Did you see her that day she disappeared?”
“No, I told you it was the weekend of the fourth. I wouldn’t lie about that.”
“So why did you break up?”
“She wanted more. I didn’t.”
“So she was the one that wanted sex?”
“Something like that.”
Jacob got off of his car and walked to the drivers door. “You know who she was seeing when she disappeared?”
“She was having problems with someone and confiding in someone in a chat room, named Musicman28. You know who either might be?”
Seth stood off of the car and took out a pack of smokes, Marlboro Reds. He pounded one from the pack and took out a Memphis Grizzlies Zippo lighter and lit the cigarette.
His mouth was turned down in a frown. “No I’m sorry I can’t help you. She played a lot of music with her friend Jordyn Kennedy and a guy named Graham Wilson.”
Jacob left Seth standing on the ice covered lawn. Snow began to fall from the grey sky and that was going to make the roads even slicker. He thought of the what the old timer at the grocery store had said.
Greased owl shit.