Lex’s Story (Part 1)
“The Captain wants to see you, Thomas,” Hal said. Vince Thomas shook off his coat. He was tired from an afternoon of getting in and out of his vehicle for the various demands in the aftermath of the snow storm. Brutal unseasonal temperatures followed the blizzard and caused even wider array of problems.
"Locked in and locked out; so there aren't many to lock up."
“I know what you mean, it's like they all forgot how to drive out there. What a mess.”
Thomas entered the opened door of the Captain’s office without knocking. Owen Davis sat behind a neat desk. He had a phone to his ear and gestured for Thomas to sit down. Davis was formerly with the Waukesaw City Police Department. He had been recruited by the current Sheriff to run the new Crimes Against Persons Bureau. He was highly respected by his officers. He had achieved some popular recognition for his work in solving what came to be known as the Paintball Shootings. Nearing forty he wore his gray flecked hair short. His was a serious demeanor and he was a tough taskmaster, however he was known among his employees for fairness. He conducted his administrative duties in much the same manner as his street presence – firm, but pleasant.
He placed the phone down. “You were able to get that missing person report from out on 17?”
“Yes, I took the information. I talked to the mother of the missing girl. This girl has run away before, so the mother was prepared for what we needed. She wrote it all down before I got there.”
“You still have to stick to procedure. Did you get a look at the girl’s room while you were there?”
“Well, no sir, I interviewed the mother and the aunt at the aunt’s apartment. I filled out the initial report for the investigator to follow-up on.”
“That’s why I wanted to talk to you. I want you to be the Team Lead on this investigation. You have some familiarity with the subjects and, frankly, I want to see how you handle yourself. You’re interested in promotion, as we’ve discussed. This could be a chance to get some on-the-job prep for you.”
“Thomas, these types of things can be a little tricky. Chances are that she might be at a friend’s apartment right there at the complex. But you can’t assume. Go there; look around the kid’s room, with the parent’s permission, of course. Don’t forget to do the small things. Sometimes these folks will leave a note on the fridge or a phone message that no one listened to. Check the answering machine.”
“I’ll head right back there, sir. There’s a potential boyfriend that I need to find; that could be where she’s at.”
“There’s another issue to watch. There’s an Adam Zanneletti at that complex.”
“I’ve heard that name come up already.”
“Look, if there is any reason to go in to his place or really, anything involving that individual, I want you to call me directly. Obviously, if the young girl is in some danger, act with your best judgment. But if anything else comes up, you should call me. There is need for extra caution with that guy and his associates.”
“I understand, and thank you for the opportunity, sir.”
“You’re welcome. Be careful and ask good questions.”
Thomas called ahead to Marilyn figuring correctly Jeannette would still be there. He pulled into a scene of great activity - shovels scraped out small paths, brooms stirred up snow clouds from buried vehicles and the white panting breaths of the straining workers hung in the blue, cold air.
He found Jeannette, “Turns out the case has been assigned to me. Could we should take a look at your apartment?” The deputy followed the young woman up the two half flights. “May I look around her room?” he asked.
“Yes.” Jeannette clicked on the TV, a local newscast – Storm News Central 5.
The place was tidy, furnished sparely with a few soft touches - throw pillows, Afghans and paintings of flowers on the walls. Thomas could detect a slight cat smell. He made his way past a hall decorated with pictures of Brie through the years. He was struck by a large picture of Brie as a toddler; her bright blue eyes peered into the camera. She wore a blue flower-patterned dress that highlighted the eyes. Her white blond hair was clipped on the sides and cascaded around her neck and shoulders.
The bedroom was the typical pink child’s room that was being encroached upon by the bric-a-brac of a budding teenager. Posters of rock stars festooned the wall above her bed. On the bed was the requisite menagerie of stuffed animals. Sure enough, at the foot of the bed there was a small neatly folded baby blue blanket. Thomas was startled by the feeling of loss he felt looking at the unused blanket. He called back to Jeannette.
“Does she have a diary in here? Have you read through it if she does?”
Jeannette joined him in the small room. “Not that I’ve seen. She writes some poems and thing in that book.” She lifted a spiral notebook from a small white desk. There was a 4 x 6 silver framed picture of a man with hair slicked back and spilling onto his shoulders. He proudly held a young Brie on his lap.
“The father?” Thomas asked.
“Did you check for phone messages yet?”
“I don’t use an answering machine.”
“I’m sure you would have told me, but is she under any medication that she would need to have?”
“No, she was on Ritalin for a little while. I pulled her off that.”
They had moved back to the living room. They stood wordless a moment. The news droned:
And in an even more compelling comparison to the legendary Armistice Day Blizzard a pair of brothers were rescued from a duck blind on an island in the Waukesaw River where they had been stranded since Sunday morning. Emergency watercraft found the young men in what officials are calling extreme stages of hypothermia, brought them off the island, and heliported them to County General. The brothers identified as Alexander and Stephen Berglin of Waukesaw City, are said to be in critical condition. One of the victims has spoken to family members. Around the region there have been several reports of hypothermia victims as the storm sprung it ugly surprise.
“Wait,” Thomas touched her arm, “did he just say, Alexander Berglin?”
“I wasn’t paying attention.” She allowed his hand to linger a moment.
Thomas flipped through his notes. “Jeannette,” he said distractedly, “I have to get in touch with the office. We will keep you up to date on news as we hear it.”
He caught Hal Gorman at the office on the radio in the truck. “Yes, he’s the same age as your subject. Could be a coincidence, but I would take a look anyway. The roads are what they’re gonna be for the next few days.”
“Thanks, Hal. I’m going over there.”
“Don’t wear yourself out on this. Remember, this ain’t her first occasion. We’re going to need you in good shape for the broomball team.”
“OK, roger on that.”
Thomas parked in a lot reserved for police and emergency personnel. He saw an EMT he knew. The man dressed in full winter garb cupped a smoke from the wind. “Hey. Busy day I bet?”
“Some heart attacks. Guys trying to move mountains out there. Slips and falls too.”
“Say, do you know where they took those guys they pulled out of the duck blind?”
“Third floor, Critical. One of them is bad off, the other one seems to be OK. He’s a little shaky, but he’s sitting with the parents. I heard he’s a cocky bastard; he was up and about almost as soon as they got them here. They’re thawing the other one out; he took off his clothes in the storm they said. Funny, how hypothermia can work on two people in different ways like that. Weird stuff happens in these storms. Looks like I have to go,” he said as he field-stripped the butt and pocketed it. “Like I said, they’re on the third floor. Stephanie’s on the desk.”
Stephanie, a young bright blond dressed in purple scrubs, looked up from her computer screen as the tall, handsome deputy strode up to the receptionist desk. “Well, hello, Deputy Thomas, how can I help you today?”
“Hi, Stephanie, I need to talk to the Berglin family, the ones that were rescued from the river. Know where they might be?”
“Sure, there’s a small waiting room just down that hall, off to the right.”
In the waiting room Thomas saw an older nicely dressed couple sitting on a sofa holding hands. To the left of the woman was a haggard looking young man who blanched at the appearance of the officer.
“Excuse me for intruding on you, I’m working on a missing persons case and I need to ask a couple of questions. I’ll be brief as I know you have a lot on your mind right now,” Thomas said to the three of them. Directing his gaze at the young man he asked, “Sir, is your name Alexander Berglin?”
The man muttered an assent.
“That’s his name. What’s this all about?” said the older man.
Ignoring the question Thomas asked, “Do you reside at the Sylvan View Apartments?”
“Yes, he does. What is this?”
“Mr. Berglin,” he said to Alexander, “May I see you in private?”
“Can’t you see we’re in the hospital for our son, his brother...” the elder Berglin’s face reddened. His wife reached for his arm.
“Dad, Dad, don’t worry. Let me see what this is all about. I’ll let you know,” he spoke in a surly manner.
“Folks, I’ll only need him for a couple of minutes. He'll be right back.”
He followed the officer into the hall where they found a quiet corner.
“Mr. Berglin, are you also known as Lex?”
Next: Chapter 8 (Part 2)
Daniel E. Walsh 2010