"Okay, let's go." He sweeps up his keys. She takes a thin folder with Jamie's picture stapled to it, reports and forms protruding slightly from the bottom, and they leave.
The station bustles around them as the Gabriels sit stonelike on their bench outside of Captain Pomeroy's office. Across the room the concerned patrolman who took their statement so long ago looks over at them. He snaps off the sad look and turns away guiltily. Paul and Carol sit inches apart, but it may as well be light-years. They dwell in private capsules now, each alone, unable to reach out for the other. The only thing they share now is great failure.
They can see Pomeroy in his office, feet up on his desk, conversing with a colleague. The colleague is not a cop, at least he wears no gun, and when he notices the time, he gets up. Pomeroy shows him to the door, and as it opens, his hearty laugh escapes into the waiting area. The Gabriels eye him accusatorily; they haven't laughed like that in some time. Upon seeing the Gabriels, Pomeroy claps up.
"Okay, Jase, we'll finish this later. Mr. and Mrs. Gabriel, how are you? Come on in, let's review."
They enter his office. Paul and Carol take seats and Pomeroy plunks himself down, wearily now, behind his desk, sighing deeply. "I tell you, things are not quiet around here. Never too quiet."
He riffles through several manila folders and comes up with his copy of the file with a picture of Jamie Gabriel stapled to the cover. Pomeroy dons a pair of plastic-rimmed reading glasses and skims the case much like a merchant reviewing an account. His lips skip and mumble along with his eyes, his volume low. "Case estab'd Oct. 24 . . . Fourteen months . . . Last seen, night before...No evidence struggle. Area disappearance: Auburn Manor neighborhood, Wayne T'ship. Exact unknown. Listed: Miss Pers Bureau, Nat Cent of Missing and Exploited ...Children of Night...Proj Shelter . . . Runaway Hotline . . . Angel Find ...Cross-listed with State Police, Sheriff's Dept., and Federal Bureau"
"Do you have any new information? Anything?"
Pomeroy doesn't acknowledge hearing the question and continues to scan for another moment. He pushes up his glasses and gives a finger massage to the bridge of his nose. "As you can see by your copy of the report, we haven't been able to develop any hard leads yet."
"What are you people doing about it currently?"
"I want to assure you, the case is still active. In these situations, missing youths, runaways . . ."
"He's not a runaway." Carol's words come out weak, nearly exhausted. Only thin anger fuels them along. "Can't you just understand that? All you've done is send his picture to shelters. He knows his way home if he had run away. But he can't get home, because somebody took him. He's been taken." The last word still cuts through Paul like a dentist's drill finding a nerve.
"We haven't found evidence to suggest that. Neither has the Federal Bureau. Yes, it is a possibility. A probability. These things happen, but often these youths don't want to be found."
"Bullshit," Paul says. He can't believe he's said it aloud to a policeman.
Pomeroy looks at him in surprise. Behind Carol's pain-glazed eyes there is a stirring as she looks at her husband, a spark. She glimpses what she's been missing for so long. But it fades too quickly.
"Look, Captain Pomeroy, I'm sorry....I know you've been working on it, it's just . . ." Paul runs out of what to say.
Pomeroy's mouth spreads into a sickly crescent as his customary control drifts back across the desk to his side.
"I understand what you're going through. We're using best efforts to" He is cut off by a female detective poking her head in.
"Scuse me, Captain, A-2 task force needs you to sign off on this watch so they can go home."
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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