SERIES: NO PLACE LEFT TO GO | BY THOMAS ELSON (EPISODE 4)

Jacoby stood against the wall and tapped the back of Seán’s metal chair. He took aim and scuffed the back leg of the chair with his right foot. Seán lurched forward, then turned so fast that his head whipped back over his shoulders, and faced Jacoby.
“Yes, Mr. Tyler. Somethin’ you wish to add to your denial?”

“Why? Why the questions? Have you made any progress in locating my wife?” 

Thompson slapped his open palm on the tabletop. “Buddy, have we.” Seán flashed his head forward at Thompson. “What progress?” 

“I think we’ll just point that out to you tomorrow,” he sat silent for a moment, then, “Mr. Tyler, we are done for today.” Jacoby hit the table two times – the first a quick slap, the second came after a pause. The metal door opened, a uniformed guard entered. 

When Seán stood, Jacoby threw out more questions.  “Mr. Tyler, where is your pistol?” Waited for Seán’s answer, then said, “You don’t own a pistol? Never owned one?” 

Response. 

“I see, you did own one, but you sold it a month ago? What kind was it?” 

Response. 

“A .22 what? 

Response.

“Pistol, is that correct?” Jacoby balled up his hands and took one step forward, Who’dya you sell it to? Where did you sell it?”  

Responses.

“The town of Ravanna? You shittin’ me?” Jacoby leaned against the wall glaring. He walked over to the table, just to Seán’s right side. “What roads did you take to Ravanna? I-70 past Yocemento or to Augustine?”

“No, that’s too long, and out of the way. I took Highways 40 and 283. More direct,” said Seán.

Jacoby pressed his left hand close to Sean ’s shoulder. “Mr. Tyler, are you telling me that you owned a .22 pistol, but you don’t anymore? Because you sold it to a Mexican in a parking lot in Ravanna, over 200 miles away, on a Saturday afternoon? Is that really what you’re saying?” He paused, then spoke slowly. “That story’s too damn convenient. Interesting, but still too damn convenient.”

Jacoby continued. “Just out of curiosity, what were you doing in Ravanna? Looking for a more upscale shopping experience?” Jacoby looked at Thompson smirked and rolled his eyes. 

 Thompson smiled at Jacoby who said to the guard, “Officer, escort this man out.”

“Is he being booked?”

Thompson shook his head from right to left. 

Seán’s eyes almost met Thompson’s. Detective, why won’t you answer my questions?” 

“We will. We will, buddy. We will.”

Out the first locked metal door, clanging, slamming, grating of metal against metal, grinding of time. Up the stairs with locked doors. More locked doors. They waited for the next guard to unlock and slide open the next metal door, then stood inside an enclosed closet-sized room between the fifth and sixth doors. The sixth door opened. 

Seán tried once more to elicit an answer. 

He heard only, “You’ll be advised.” Or, “They will inform you”. More unresponsive answers. 

As Seán exited the seventh locked door, a uniformed guard said, “If I were you, I’d call Detective Anderson,” then shoved the door closed. 
Bring him in, establish a bond, appear to abandon him, place in a hostile environment with two other men, have an armed guard silently escort him out, and deliver a message.
Once home, Seán called Anderson. Seven rings. Voice mail. Left message. 

Within minutes, two rings. “Seán, this is Jeremy Anderson, I got your message. Sorry, I was called away. My boss. You know bosses. Always ‘do it now. Right now.’ Couldn’t make it back. Anyway, how are you? How did it go after I left?”

Seán emptied his concerns onto Anderson, who listened, emitted the requisite sounds, “Seán, don’t let ‘em worry you. That’s their way. Let’s you and I work this out together. We can help each other through this. Okay? Lunch tomorrow? When’s a good time for us to meet? Your choice. You choose the place. I’m buying. Russell’s Diner by the highway. Okay. About 1:00 p.m. See you there.” 

As if holding in air for days, Seán exhaled and dipped his chest to his knees repeatedly as if doing emotional pushups. In search of a safe harbor, he needed an anchor. His knuckles turned white, then red. Then tears.

#

Friday at 1:00 p.m. When Seán arrived at Russell’s Diner, Anderson was seated in the back by an open kitchen door. He stood and waved. Anderson extended his hand, presented a ceramic smile, pulled out a chair.

“Here.” With a dramatic pause, Anderson adopted a more serious look. “Sit,” then with an air of authority, said, “Let’s get some food in us.” Anderson motioned to the waiter, tilted his head toward Seán, “Order some lunch, and tell me everything.”

Seán detailed his entire time inside the police interrogation room. His eyes watered as he tried to explain his treatment by Thompson and Jacoby. “I thought I’d get some information and help. All I’ve received are questions. I don’t know any more today than I did when I first called you.”

Anderson leaned forward, and tapped his finger on the table. “I’m sorry you were treated that way. I’ll talk with ‘em about it. You’ll be okay.”

Seán looked at Anderson, nodded his head in agreement, pushed his lower lip toward his upper to simulate a smile. 

The waiter arranged the plates on the table, asked if there was anything else they needed, thanked them, reminded them of his name, took a second glance at Anderson, brought his head down ever so slightly, then backed away.  

“I looked over the search warrant. There doesn’t appear to be anything serious. Wish they had told me about it before yesterday. I’da told you.”
Divert, then veer toward trust.
Anderson did not wait for Seán to speak. “It’s just a formality. To eliminate you. You know, wife missing. Husband is always the first suspect.” He smiled and Seán returned the smile. “Don’t worry.” He patted Seán ’s shoulder, then pushed him gently as if they were team members.

The lunch ended, Seán’s blood sugar was level, he was hydrated, his breathing had steadied. As they left the restaurant, he thanked Anderson. 

“I promise I’ll call you, or stop by, as soon as we learn anything new.” Anderson said as he walked toward his car. “If not, I’ll call or see you tomorrow anyway.” 

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