Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Writer's Life (05/13/10)
TITLE: Missing in Action
By Terry R A Eissfeldt
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My detective senses were in full swing. I knew something was up.
He entered the office at 10:00 a.m.
Well dressed, blue on blue pinstriped suit, white shirt, precisely pressed, muted red tie, polished black shoes.
Mildred, my mild mannered secretary, introduced him as Mr. Wicket.
“My wife’s missing.” He said succinctly.
Rising from behind the dark cherrywood desk, with eyes narrowed, I approached him.
“Where and when was the last time you saw her?” I crossed my arms and leaned back on the desk.
“Halloween” He didn’t meet my gaze but rather glanced around the tiny fourth floor office. He seemed to fixate on the framed certificate indicating my professional detective status.
“Mr. Wicket,” I sighed, “It’s the tenth of November. Why did you wait so long to report your wife missing?” I tucked the rebellious long straight brown hair behind my ears, “Have you been to the police?”
Finally some fire burned in his baby blues. “I can’t go to the police!” He turned on his heel as if to leave then stopped abruptly and finally met my gaze.
“This has happened the last three years. The police don’t take my concerns seriously.” His shoulders fell and the fight dissipated from his tortured mind. “I have to go to work. Will you take the case or not?”
I always was a sucker for hopeless cases.
“Yes,” I led him to a black leather club chair.
“Tell me everything.”
He poured out a torrid tale of abandonment and misunderstanding.
His wife, Cynthia was a content housewife. She had stayed home and raised their two children. The youngest left for university three years ago. The same time the Fall Phenomenon first occurred.
“November first, I came home from work, but everything was different. No dinner. No bed made. Cynthia was in front of her computer typing furiously. She was unresponsive.” Confusion was clear in his eyes. “I had to raise my voice to get her attention. But it was like something had taken over her mind. She eventually stopped typing. I took her out for dinner - obviously something had stressed her out and, well,” he rubbed the back of his neck, “I did yell at her. By the end of dinner she seemed to recover but the next morning she was gone. So was her laptop.”
“And the police never found her?”
“No, and when she showed up December first, with no explanation, they figured she left to clear her head.” He sighed heavily. “They blamed me for driving her away.”
“And last year?”
“She was gone November first.”
“She showed up again December first?”
“Yes, again with no explanation.” He buried his head in his hands, “I don’t think I can go on. She must have a lover.”
“Mr. Wicket, take courage.” I placed my hand firmly on his shoulder. “You say she takes her laptop with her?”
“I’ll find her.” I promised.
It didn’t take me long to track Mrs. Wicket down. With access to her IP address I locked onto her signal.
Just as I suspected. A local hotel. I jumped into my rusty Mustang and found the seedy site.
After showing a picture of Mrs. Wicket to the front clerk, I jimmied the door open to room 102.
All the tell tale signs were before me; classical music, empty take-out containers, coffee cups distributed haphazardly, and a women dressed in a housecoat, furiously typing on a laptop. She didn’t notice when I entered nor when I left.
I met Mr. Wicket in his uptown office.
“First of all,” I stated firmly, “Your wife is not with another man.”
His relief was palatable.
“Secondly, she will return December first.”
“Thirdly, if you want to break her pattern of disappearing you’re going to have to come to terms with a few things.”
He waited with baited breath.
“Your wife is a suppressed writer that has found an outlet - November is a dedicated month all across the globe for writing a novel. She’s addicted.”
He looked concerned.
“No worries. It’s not fatal. But if you want to keep your wife at home next November, I suggest you clear out one of the empty bedrooms, create a space for her to work in, and then, come next November, let her be. Just make sure she eats better.” I paused to emphasize the point, “Take out can be a killer.”
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