Imperfections of Sleep (Part 2 of 6)

samhillImperfections of Sleep
Part 2 of 6

Bang. Bang. Bang.

“What the hell?”

Sam Hill raised up from the Army cot he called a bed, tucked into the backroom of his office. Glancing at the clock in the corner, next to the coffee pot and hot plate, he read 8:03am.

Bang. Bang. Bang.

He was still dressed from the night before: rumbled dress pants and suspenders, wife-beater t-shirt. He slid his feet into his worn pair of Balmorals, snatched a cigarette from the apple crate he used for a nightstand and lit it with the snap of his fingers.

Gutter magic had its uses.

Bang. Bang. Bang.

“Christ on a stick,” he muttered, rising off the cot and opening the door to his office. He could make out the silhouette of the morning’s intruder through the frosted glass of the front door, the inverse lettering — Sam Hill: Private Investigator — hanging like a black stain against their grey shape.

Bang. Bang. Bang.

“Keep your knickers on,” he yelled, crossing the room. His head was pounding. How much Bourbon had he drank last night at Purgatory? Some questions, he decided, were better left unanswered.

He reached the door just as Estelle Davis was about to pound again. Her Buick was still running, pulled up to the curb out front. Hill could make out her husband sitting behind the wheel, arm up over the passenger seat, staring back at the detective’s modest digs. He’d never much cared for Bill Davis. He was a self-righteous ass. But then Wabash was full of that sort. Estelle on the other hand was a fine looking woman, who’d married far below her station, as far as Hill was concerned.

“Morning, Estelle,” Hill managed, “what’s got you all fired up?”

“It’s my niece,” she blurted out, frantic. Hill noticed then her state of dress, her unkempt hair. She was still wearing her night clothes, a long coat barely disguising the fact. “Cassidy,” she continued, “she was staying with us last night. She’s gone.”

“Slow down,” Hill said. He placed a comforting hand on her shoulder and led her inside. “Give it too me, nice a calm like.” He looked into her eyes, capturing her attention, then made a subtle hand gesture. He saw the weight slide off her, her shoulders relaxed, the worry eased from her face. “That’s a girl.”

“I was watching my niece while my sister and her husband, Dave Martin, dealt with the death of their sons,” she began, her voice almost monotone.

“Yes, I read all about it in the Plain Dealer.” Hill made another hand gesture. “Go on.”

“This morning, Cassidy was gone and so was Todd’s bike.”

“Give me a time frame, Estelle,” Hill said. “What time did you last see her? What time did you discover her missing?”

“We put her to bed at 9:30,” Estelle said calmly. “I went to wake her at 7:30 and Todd’s bed was empty.”

“I see,” Hill said. “And your son Todd is…?”

“Away at basketball camp.”

“Got it,” another had gesture tweaked the fabric of reality. “Tell me, Estelle, what were your actions since discovering Cassidy wasn’t in your home?”

“I called the State Police, but they said we’d have to wait 24 hours to file a missing persons report. I then called Susan, but got her answering machine. Bill and I drove around town, then I thought to come here.”

“You did fine,” Hill said, soothingly. “How old is Cassidy?”

“Ten, I think,” she said.

“And you didn’t relate this to the police, I take it.”

“No,” she replied. “I guess I panicked and hung up.”

“That’s fine, dear,” he said. Hill made a final gesture of the hand and the world came crushing back down on Estelle Davis.

“Oh my god,” she gasped. “Cassidy…”

“Estelle,” Hill began, reaching out and taking her hands, “you did the right thing coming to me. I’m going to find your niece. Believe me. I’m going to make a call and then my colleague and I will meet you back at your house.”

“Colleague?” she stammered. “Who…?”

“Landon Connors.”

to be continued

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