Pomeroy leaps up, grateful for the interruption. "I'm sorry, folks, this will just take a minute." He follows the detective out into the main squad room.
As he exits, Carol looks after him and then gets up and goes behind his desk. This makes Paul nervous.
"What are you doing?"
She opens Pomeroy's file on Jamie and starts looking through it.
"Carol, honey, what if he sees you?"
"I don't care. I want to know what they're really doing."
She looks up, raw. "He's our son. Do you remember him?"
He doesn't respond to this, anger freezing his face.
Her head drops down as she reads the file. Then she looks up again. "Oh, god."
"What is it?" he asks, glancing out to see if Pomeroy is on his way back.
She doesn't answer, but as she reads her face contorts, as if she's suffering deep internal bleeding.
"There's some kind of man-hour log in his file. Work hasn't been done on the case in weeksweeks. Oh, god . . ." Her finger scans the page. The door swings open and Captain Pomeroy steps back into the office. Moving hurriedly behind his desk, he takes the file out of Carol's hands.
"Excuse me, Mrs. Gabriel, but this is department property. And confidential."
She holds up her own version of the Jamie file. "What the hell is this, then?" She slams it down on the desk. "A joke apparently"
"That's a copy of certain information that you requested, a request that we granted, although we didn't have to. It's not our policy to do so."
Paul moves in his seat. He feels the weakness of his position. If this man harbors ill will against them, then nothing will be done. He attempts to defuse the situation.
"Car, you know we have to be patient. An investigation like this is difficult."
"Exactly," Pomeroy says, retaking his seat in a territorial manner. "You know that from your private efforts. And we know it because the FBI's skunked, too."
"Time? Time?" Carol shouts, starting to unravel. "There have been twenty-two and a half man-hours logged on the case, total. Not even two hours for every month he's been gone."
This stops Paul cold. "What?" he bleats.
Pomeroy looks embarrassed.
All the calculations start to add up for them: Jamie's age when he disappeared. How old he would be now. How little time has been spent looking for him.
"Read it for yourself," she croaks. Carol grabs the folder out of Pomeroy's hands and flings it across the office to her husband.
Papers fill the air and then settle.
Pomeroy pulls himself up. "Mrs. Gabriel, you may not want to accept it, but there are other cases that this department is dealing with. Right now, for instance, I have"
At this, Carol loses her composure and rushes out of the office, slamming the door loudly behind her and running through the squad room.
The men look at each other. Pomeroy shrugs. If the guy didn't have a gun on to show he was a cop, he couldn't sell you on the idea, Paul thinks.
Paul takes his copy of the Jamie file and exits after his wife.
Patrolman Carriero glanced up at the sound of the door slamming. His heavy brows knit in concern at the sight of a slight, bent woman rushing from Captain Pomeroy's office. He recognized her but couldn't grab her name. A moment later the husband came out. Tall guy. Worried looking. Gabriel. He'd taken their statement ...a long damn time ago. Missing kid. He sat on their house the first night and remembered it was a nonevent, no ransom call, no nothing. He'd hoped, as he always did, that it'd turn out to be a medical. That the boy had fallen and hit his head, been knocked down by a car, or had taken ill and become disoriented. Then he'd turn up in an emergency room days, or even weeks, later and they'd unravel who he was and return him home. That was the best you could hope for, Carriero had learned in his seven years in uniform. He'd done an initial canvass and a followup that hadn't yielded much, and then he'd been pulled off and put on a string of burglaries.
Published by Doubleday. Copyright © 2008 by Levien Works, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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