Read Time: 5 mins | Crime | Investigation | Serial Fiction | Part 1
Her eyes had pleaded for me to come to her rescue. And regrettably, I smiled and wagged my finger at her. I thought she was just a child throwing a tantrum. The face staring back at me from the morning paper, however, with haunting eyes that scoured my soul, brown hair, and a birth mark on her left hand, belonged to her. Yesterday I could have been her hero, but today she was a nightmare I couldn’t bring myself to live with.
The officer took my statement. Very thorough and detailed. It’s how my mind works. Somebody once told me that I should get assessed for Asperger’s, as they reckon, I might be on the spectrum. I reckon they ought to mind their business. I step into the frigid wind of an autumn afternoon behind Wembley Stadium. It’s raining, and the sidewalk is slippery, and my shoes drink every ounce of water like a sponge. My timing is perfect, as the bus will arrive at 2:17 and it is just a quarter past two. I could see the old double decker, inching its way along with the traffic.
I don’t like crowds, and I stand just a few steps away from the bus stop. People always stare at me funny but there is nothing to see here. I wear the same outfit every day, blue sweater, blue slacks, and black soft soled shoes as I walk a lot. And I always cut my hair in the same style every second Thursday of the month at old Mr. Ryan’s Barbershop. He gives all the kids free chocolate. Says I’m just a big kid. There is nothing exceptional about me, yet they continue to stare, and I turn away after swearing at them with my inner voice.
I can remember the car he had taken her into. A beige Ford Escort Mk 2. Old school, clean as a whistle. Perhaps this is the wrong simile, as there are too many germs in a whistle. But the car was in mint condition, as he obviously appreciated the classics. It had a Scooby-Doo air freshener hanging from the mirror, and a small picture of the virgin. He was probably religious. But I never saw the license plate. Maybe there was none. But I would have remembered that.
At the rate the bus was going, I would be home in twenty minutes. The passenger next to me turned up his nose and chose another seat.
“You smell like piss, mate.” He said it loud enough so everyone else could hear him.
I already knew that. I couldn’t find a fresh pair of slacks this morning. So, I chose the one I fell asleep wearing. And I couldn’t bloody well come to the station in me undies, they’d think I was weird. But I needed to tell the police what I had seen. She would have been missing for an entire day now, give or take a few minutes. I ignore him.
I was hungry. But McDonald’s had banned me from all their franchises. “All of them?” I had asked the officer at the time. It was so silly, as I had been to McDonald’s every day since then and not one manager ever recognized me. I never bought anything. I would do it just to see how committed the legal system was. All I had done was wet myself waiting in line for a cheeseburger. I needed to pee so badly, but I had to watch them prepare my sandwich every step of the way. And I had explained that very reason quite clearly when they accosted me. I had heard horror stories, just like everyone else. But they got angry, and it led to a fight. I came in a close second, and I’m immensely proud of that. And then I got arrested and charged with assault. So much for a fair legal system.
I hopped off the moving bus as it slowed near Greggs Bakery, after deciding that I wanted a donut; the one with the strawberry jelly, that spills and stains every one of my blue sweaters. The manager knows me, and prepares one for me as he sees me walking in.
“Evening Kelly.” He always smiles when he sees me. He was a friend. I have known him as long as I’ve known my barber, Mr. Ryan.
“It won’t be evening for another three hours and fourteen minutes. Thank you, Mr. Kelly.”
I know he prepares the donuts so that I don’t have to be around his customers for too long. It’s not my fault I wet the bed. Sometimes getting up to go to the bathroom is a problem. But I understand, and so does Mr. Kelly. I’d give him gambling tips for the races in Tokyo as payment. He says I have a good eye for horses. I could never understand his addiction to gambling. If he had said he was addicted to the Magical World of Harry Potter, I would understand. But spending money on horses? To each their own.
Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw him. Strawberry jelly spilled all over my hands and I hurriedly stuffed the remaining donut into my mouth. Wiping the back of my hand on my sweater as I drifted closer. It was him. The same guy, who had driven off in the beige MK2. He was wearing the same clothes as well. Unbelievable.
He was placing a notice in the window of the small bookshop run by Mrs. Craddock. But he was in a wheelchair, which had the name of a local restaurant embroidered into the back rest. Maybe I was wrong. There was a woman with him, handing him additional flyers, which he stapled to every lamp post they encountered. She even handed some out to the school kids. I followed them all the way to the handicap parking spot behind the Woolworths and watched as he hauled himself up into the driver seat. The lady then folded the wheelchair and placed it into the boot of the car. There was the same Scooby-Doo air freshener, and the same picture of the weeping Madonna. It was him. Maybe I was mistaken and maybe it was not the same child that was reported missing.
As he drove off, he dumped the remaining flyers out the window, and the evening wind took them to random destinations. I followed the green piece of paper as fate brought one directly to my soggy soft-soled shoes.
“Help Wanted. One hour Per week. Call the number listed.” I read it aloud.
This had to be the wrong man.
To be continued…
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