My short story entry for the writers cramp daily contest.
Outside, a calm summer breeze swayed the pine tree in front of John Tillings’ house. Inside, the word “calm” didn’t exist. John was in his living room, pacing back and forth in front of the TV, cell phone in his right hand. He glanced up at the clock on his wall, 10:01pm. Exactly one minute ago he’d tried calling his wife Karen’s cell phone, only to be met with her voice mail. This was the fifth failed attempt to reach her in the past two hours.
John stopped pacing and started dialing the phone again. This time he called a different number. A gruff voice answered, “Police Department, Sergeant Keller speaking.”
“Ah yes, hi,” John begun, with an obvious anxiety in his voice. “My wife left the house over three hours ago to run to the store and hasn’t returned. I think something might have happened to her.”
“Sir, three hours is not a long enough amount of time to declare someone missing.”
“Please officer,” John begged. “She only ran to the corner store for some milk. It shouldn’t have taken more than ten minutes.” John felt his eyes well up as his voice became shaky, “please help.”
“Alrite sir,” the Sergeant responded. “I’ll send someone over to take a statement.”
“Thank you so much.” John pressed the “End” button on his cell phone after giving the Sergeant his information. As he waited for the patrol car to show up he began pacing again. His mind sped feverishly through every possible scenario. Was he wrong in calling the cops? Should he just wait? Should he leave? The list of questions and second guesses could’ve gone on forever.
About fifteen minutes later there was a knock at the door. John opened it and welcomed in Officer Drake. Drake was a young guy, couldn’t have been more then twenty two years old. He walked into John’s house carrying a clipboard with various papers attached.
John motioned to Officer Drake to have a seat on the couch. The Officer accepted, sat down, and began taking John’s statement.
“Like I said on the phone to your Sergeant,” John said. “It was around 7 o’clock. My wife Karen started to make dinner,” He motioned towards the kitchen where Officer Drake could see various pots and bowls on the counter. Some were empty, some were filled with ingredients. “Halfway through she realized she didn’t have milk. I heard her say she was running to the store quick to get some, but I barely even looked away from the TV long enough to acknowledge her.” John paused for a minute, looked down at the floor and began to cry. “I didn’t even say goodbye."
Officer Drake sat quietly, scribbling notes on his clipboard as he listened to John’s story. When John was finished the Officer began a series of typical questions, exactly the types of questions John knew would be asked of him. What store did she go to? What does she look like? What car does she drive? Etc etc. John answered every question as best he could, hoping his answers would bring some happy ending to all of this.
The two men finished their business and John escorted the young Officer to the door. He was left with a business card and a guarentee that the police deptartment would do everything they could to find Karen. John stood in the window and watched Officer Drake as he got into his cruiser, backed out of the driveway, and took off up the quiet street.
John turned and looked around the room. Had he done everything right? He tried calling Karen five times tonight, he remembered. Should he call a sixth? Was calling the police so soon the right thing to do? John didn’t have the answers to these questions yet, but it was too late now. All he could do was wait.
Walking into his kitchen John looked at the pots and bowls on his counter. John had never cooked a meal in his life, his only reference to what a used kitchen might look like were from shows on TV. Still he was confident in the way that he had laid those pots and bowls out earlier today. “Chef Johnny,” he said out loud, snickering to himself. He turned and opened a nearby door revealing stairs that led into the basement.
John stepped down and entered his basement. He walked over to a nearby freezer and picked up a picture frame that lay on top of it. It was a picture of John and Karen on their wedding day. “Oh Karen,” he said out loud, gazing at the happy image. “They’re looking for you.” He placed the framed picture down on the floor and opened the freezer. Karen Tillings' lifeless eyes stared up at him, her mangled body a mess from being carelessly stuffed inside, a red gash open across her throat. “But they’ll never find you.”