This is the fifth part of a fiction serial, in 1067 words.
“What? What have you found out?” Anita was leaning across the coffee table, almost tipping it over with her knees. Sergeant Dawes consulted her notes. “Your husband’s car has been traced. It was towed away at lunchtime yesterday, illegally parked close to the ferry port terminal in Portsmouth. I contacted the Immigration Service there, and they tell me that nobody used Mike’s passport to board a ship. She assured me that she will examine all CCTV records to see if anyone matching his description can be seen, but a recent photograph would obviously be helpful”.
Anita stood up. “Passport? Mike wouldn’t have his passport. We keep them in the drawer here”. She knelt down on the floor in front of the huge flat-screen television. At the bottom of the unit supporting it, she slid out a narrow drawer, and stood up holding a leather folder that looked like a large wallet. “We keep them in here, so we always know where to find them”. Unzipping the folder, her face fell. “My one is here, but Mike’s has gone. I don’t know why he would take it. I have a photo on my phone that I took the other day. Tell me your number, and I will send it to you now”.
The house phone rang, making them both jump. It was Jill, responding to her sister’s message. Anita was rather abrupt. “Jill, Mike has gone missing. I have the police here now, can I call you back?” Her sister told her not to bother, she would come round in an hour.
They sorted out the photo, and Sergeant Dawes forwarded it to her contact at Ports Immigration, Cathy Cade. As she waited for it to send, she tried to reassure Anita. “I have some of my team on this. One of them is staying on late, checking all the hospitals in southern England, and waiting to hear back from the airports side of Immigration too. She’s young but keen, Constable Soni. If anyone will make sure to cover all the bases, it’s Richa”. Something seemed to dawn on her. “Didn’t you say your in-laws were coming down? Have they gone out? I would like to talk to them”. Anita shrugged. “They didn’t show up, and they are not answering their phones. Either they changed their minds, or left a lot later than expected”.
Sitting back down on the sofa, Anita spoke in a serious tone. “Jane, what can you tell me? Do you think something bad has happened? I can take the truth you know. I would sooner be told now, than find out later”. The detective leaned back in the armchair, feeling as if she could easily drop off to sleep. Closing her notebook, she clasped her hands together. “Anita, may I call you Anita?” A nod. “In all honesty, there is usually another woman involved. The man almost always comes back with his tail between his legs, and it’s panic over. But finding Mike’s car at Portsmouth has confused me, to be honest. Why there? And why dump it somewhere it will get towed away? There were no keys in it, and no personal effects. Did he usually have a laptop, as well as his phone?”
Nodding furiously, Anita replied. “Yeah, he had a work laptop, and a work i-pad. There’s another laptop in the bedroom that he used sometimes, his own one. I just have this”. She held up her i-pad. The sergeant opened her notebook again. “I would like to take his laptop, if that’s okay with you. We have requested his mobile phone records from the provider, and if you agree, we will get your home phone records too. I would also like to have a look through any recent paperwork, you know, bills, letters, anything that he might have left around”.
Anita stood up to go and get the laptop. “You can have anything you need, Jane, with my blessing. Anything that will help to find Mike, just let me know what you want”. When she came back down with the laptop and a small stack of papers, Jane took some plastic gloves from her shoulder bag and put them on before she took them from her. “I will be requesting information from Mike’s bank too. Use of credit cards, debit cards, cash machine transactions, the usual stuff. Do you two have a joint account?” Anita shook her head. “No, Mike deals with all the finances. When I was still working, I used to transfer a set amount each month into his account from mine. He does all his banking online, I’m sure.”
Jane Dawes stood up. “That’s about all we can do for now. Keep trying his friends and relatives, and yours. You never know who he might decide to ring. I checked with his employer today, and they say they have heard nothing, so I have to believe them for now. I will send you a receipt for this laptop, we will need it for a couple of days. Here is my card, feel free to call me on the mobile number, as well as the office one. If you have a light bulb moment, and think of something, let me know”. Anita saw her to the door, and thanked her.
Jill turned up twenty minutes later. Anita was pleased to see that she was clutching two bottles of Chablis. She had held them up as the front door opened. “One each, sis. Tell me all about it”. They sat drinking wine for an hour, as Jill was filled in on everything that was known so far. Only then did they both realise that they had hardly eaten anything. Jill offered to order a takeaway, using an app on her phone. Anita shook her head. “Leave that. I have a delicious meal in the fridge. It will only take twenty-five minutes to warm through”.
After they had tucked into the chicken kiev and vegetables, Jill opened the second bottle of wine. She hovered the neck of the bottle over Anita’s glass, suggesting a top-up. “Why the hell not” she grinned, lifting the glass. When the doorbell went at well after ten, Anita almost fell over in her urgency to get to the door. It was Jane, the police sergeant. She looked exhausted, and was wearing casual clothes under her coat. Her expression was grim.
“I have to come in, Anita. Something terrible has happened”.