Detective Elmer Layton pushed the pot of coffee towards the kid. He was reasonably sure that Jake Thackeray was telling the truth. After all, he was the one who had reported his girlfriend missing. The picture of Emmy on Jake’s cell phone was blurry; apart from the large nose, it could have been anyone. He passed his card over to Jake. “I have to ask. It’s standard procedure, sorry.”
The kid poured a refill. “Well OK but why you keep asking me questions when you should be out there looking for her? Am I a suspect or something?”
“Look son, we’re trying to eliminate you from our enquiry, that’s all. As I said it’s standard procedure.”
“Well you got a funny way of doing it.”
Elmer shifted tack. “Anything else missing?”
The kid shrugged. “Some of her photo gear, a camera, maybe. She must have taken it with her when she went out.”
“Why’d she do that?”
“How the hell should I know? She’s a photographer.”
“Ok, we’ll have a look at what’s left, maybe there’s something there that’ll help us. Where you staying son?” asked the detective.
“We got a motel room down the road, Lazybones it’s called.”
“Don’t leave the state son; I’ll get back to you when I finish my enquiries.”
Jake gulped down his coffee. “Yeah, well, I can go now?” he asked.
The detective nodded.
“We need you to identify a body,” said Elmer Layton. “A young woman was found dead in the park. The body’s over at the morgue. Are you ok with this?”
“Not really.” Jake looked nervous, fingers trembling. “Nothing like this has happened to me before.”
“We’ll try and make it easy for you son.”
“How do you make it easy for me, if it’s Emmy? You think I’m going to sleep nights and have sweet dreams or something?”
“Sorry son, it’s standard procedure.”
“It’s not Emmy.” Jake looked away. Started gulping.
“Of course I’m fucking sure. You think I can’t recognize my girlfriend?”
The detective was patient. First time the kid had seen a dead body. Maybe because the smell in the morgue was nauseating. “Do you know who she is?”
Jake looked again, more closely, but shook his head. “Sorry, no idea.” He put a hand over his mouth to stifle a gagging reaction, but then ran over to the sink and threw up.
Elmer waited until Jake cleared up the bowl. “Ok thanks son, we’ll drop you back at the motel.”
“Where’s your girlfriend. She sick or something?” asked the waitress, pouring Jake another coffee.
He put down the paper. “Don’t know, she’s missing,” replied Jake. “As far as I know she could be dead.”
The girl looked at Jake real hard. “You’re joking, right?”
“She’s under the table hiding from this damn awful coffee. Does it look like I’m joking?”
“Just being polite and all.” She slapped the bill on the table and walked away.
Jake counted out his money. Well it was her money really; he had found a small stash in her underwear drawer. The black panties provided the stimulation he needed now that the weed was all used up. Fifty seven bucks, less coffee and toast.
One more week went by and no news from the police. He was feeling despondent. And he was running out of money. He really needed to pull himself together, start being pro-active for a change. He called the detective a few times, but the man was still trying to trace the dead girl. No luck there either.
What had happened to Emmy? He had relied on her for so long that he had been cocooned from reality. Now that he was off the weed, he could focus more clearly on what he wanted to do. His hobby was crime investigation work; time to move on with his life. Go and talk to people, obtain information and possible leads, solve the case, and locate her. Ask her why she left him, that’s if she was still alive. He needed to prove he was good at something, even if he and Emmy split up down the line.