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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/2177426
Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Mystery · #2177426
Solving one mystery reveals another.
“He’s dead, then.”

“He is,” Decklan said. “The police matched your description to the body found in the woods off the Interstate yesterday.” He spread his hands. “Of course, it’s an assumption since I discovered that the name and social security number you gave in the missing person’s report matched to somebody who died in 1957.”

Cailey stared at the trees swaying outside of the detective’s office in the approaching storm. “I knew he’d run when he stormed out of that restaurant on me last month, but I didn’t think it would end like this.”

Decklan reached across the desk to take Cailey’s hand. “I’m sorry.”

She snatched her hand back. “Don’t be. Everybody knew he stormed out because we argued about him wanting to move again. I moved with him three times over the two years we were together, and I told him enough was enough. Him and that mother of his –“

“She wasn’t his mother. Her identity was forged, too.”

Casey shook her head, her brown hair swaying beside her thin face. “Then who was she?”

Decklan leaned back and scratched his head, mussing his short, blonde hair. “That’s another mystery. She’s a suspect in your boyfriend’s death, but she also might have run from fear of whoever got him. Or she could be dead too, and they haven’t found her body yet. Whatever the case, she knew what was happening when he disappeared, because she fell off the grid thirty six hours later.”

Casey’s green eyes widened. “Am I a suspect?”

Decklan shrugged. “Not a strong one. The police will probably call you to identify the body and to give a follow up statement once they process him. Expect that call any time now.”

Casey paled. “Do I have to talk to the police about him again?”

“I’m sorry; you’re the only one they can call for that, since he had no other family or friends.”

“Which tends to happen when your identity is stolen.”

“You’ll need to authorize them to close out the missing person’s report. Identifying the body is the best way to do that. It’s in your best interest to follow it through properly.”

“I suppose it would look suspicious if I quit caring as soon as his body turned up.” Casey sighed. “Solving one mystery creates another one.”

“That’s often how it goes,” Decklan said. “Double lives get complicated. We don’t even know what he and his so-called mother were involved in.” He stared at Cailey. “Do you have any idea?”

“None. That’s why I called you. Now we don’t know where he’s been for a month, or why he’s dead.”

“Those are the next questions to pursue,” Decklan pulled his laptop between them on the desk. “The first priority is to –“

Cailey reached across the desk and closed the laptop. “Stop.”

Decklan stared at Cailey with alarm in his pale blue eyes. “What do you mean?”

“I hired you to find out why my boyfriend went missing. You did. There’s nothing else I can do for him except identify him, and move on.”

“Don’t you want to know why you had that final argument? Or why he disappeared after it? Or where he’s been for the past month? Those are important questions.”

Cailey’s eyes flared. “They’re important questions to the police, now. He lied to me. He wasn’t who I thought he was.”

“Which is exactly why you need to find out who he was! You could be in danger. Whoever killed him might come after you if they think you knew what he was involved in.”

“It seems they would have come for me by now.”

Decklan raised an eyebrow. “Nothing has happened since he went missing?”

Cailey shook her head.

Decklan leaned back. “That’s interesting. Then whatever it is, they knew that you aren’t involved.”

She shrugged. “Or they don’t care about me, which is fine. A librarian in a mid-size city is hardly a threat to anybody. If nobody else cares, why should I?”

“You’re scared.”

“I’m more angry than scared,” Cailey said. “Thank you for taking this case. I know what I want to know. He had a double life, and now he’s died for it. I don’t want any more part in it. Let the police handle it. Bill me for your hours, and close the case.”

“The truth can set you free. Don’t you want that?”

“So can letting go. The truth will come out in time. Let others handle it. I’m done putting my life on hold for this.” Cailey stood. “I’ll identify him. I’ll answer what questions I can with the police, which will amount to nothing since he lied to me about everything for two years. It won’t help, but I’ll tell them as many times as they want to hear it. I’ll testify at a trial if they catch his killer and I’m subpoenaed. But that’s it. This isn’t my mystery to solve. I want my nice, dull life back.”

Decklan stood and shook Cailey’s hand. “Maybe you’re right. Eventually you’ll have to let him go.”

Cailey squeezed his hand. “I figure it’s better to do it sooner rather than later.”

He returned to his desk as Cailey walked out of the office and closed the door softly behind her. One part of him was disappointed and wanted to pursue the rest of the story, but another was relieved to see a client easily satisfied and willing to let the past go. Maybe she was right. Sometimes, it’s best to accept the answer you find and let fate take it’s course. He sighed as he opened his laptop to mark the case closed, but he did flag it for updates.

Just in case.
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