David awoke with a start. He glanced groggily at the clock. As his vision cleared he saw that it read 11:28 a.m. His night insomnia and sheer dread had caused him to sleep deeply into the late hours of the morning. David put two feet over the side of the bed and groaned. It was a good thing he and scheduled a 12:30 p.m. appointment with the investigator. He wouldn’t have been able to handle anything earlier. He struggled into his bathrobe, everything in him wanted to go back to the safety of slumber, but David knew he must press on and face the day. He chose the relative safety of his shower. As the warm water made its way across his body, he felt the tension in his muscles ease, but only slightly. When he was finished with the soap, David reached for the shampoo so that he might wash his hair. In doing so, David knocked the bar of soap off the ledge, where it traditionally sat waiting to be used, back into the tub. No matter, David thought, he would pick it up later. Rinsing his hair, David stood in the spray of the shower and thought about how he would go about the rest of the day.
As it turned out, thinking was not the best thing for David to do at the present moment. The voice which David dreaded most made its unwelcome return.
“Hey David!” said the voice. “What are you going to do about the Richard situation? You know you have to solve it. He could be about to die out there in the wilderness for all we know. Are you sure you can find him in time? What if he’s already dead.”
“Would you be quiet for a second?” David firmly inquired of the voice.
“No! I’m going to talk to you as much as I want!” The voice retorted.
Furious over something he had no power to control or rationalize with, David turned on his heel intending to turn off the flow of water from the shower head and step out of the tub.
Unfortunately, the moment David chose to turn around, the bar of soap had mad its way underfoot, sending David crashing toward the front of the shower. As he went down, his upper lip caught awkwardly on the faucet shower switch. Due to the location of the cut, blood began to flow quickly.
David calmly stepped out of the tub. Quickly finding the roll of toilet paper he applied pressure to the freshly opened wound and proceeded to dry himself off.
“That’s quite the cut, David,” said the voice. “And that fall, so embarrassing. Too bad nobody else saw it except me! No matter, You and I can reminisce about it whenever I want! How could you have been so stupid? Didn’t you ever hear the phrase Safety First? Pay attention, Man!”
“Leave me alone!” David screamed at the voice. Suddenly blessed with the ever so temporary gift of silence once more, David redressed his wound more permanently. The high tension of the previous conversation had caused new blood to seep through the toilet paper.
David then proceeded to dress the rest of himself and head to the kitchen. He made himself a Western Omelette for breakfast and followed that with a copious amount of fresh spring water. He was determined to be focused for this meeting in spite of the showering setbacks.
As he finished his breakfast, David heard a knock at the door.
He opened the door and greeted a man of average height and weight whose hair was cut so short that it was difficult to tell its shade without getting uncomfortably close to the trench coat wearing man.
“Greetings David, my name is Gerald Hogan. We spoke on the phone early this morning?”
“Yes, I remember now,” replied David.
“I thought I’d come handle this inquiry myself to give you some sort of consistency. I have to ask some questions of you that may be hard to answer,” said Gerald.
“That’s fine. I’ll do whatever it takes to find my brother,” said David.
“That’s a fantastic attitude to have in this difficult situation,” noted Gerald.
David led Gerald to the sitting area and the official inquiry began.
“How would you describe your relationship with your brother?” Gerald asked.
“We always got along growing up. Sure we had fights and disagreements but nothing that would make us not want to see each other ever again,” replied David.
“I see,” said Gerald. He pulled a pad of paper out of an oversized pocket in his trench coat and began quickly scrawling notes.
“Is Richard older or younger than you?” Gerald questioned.
“He’s a year and a half younger than me” replied David.
“Were you a protective older brother?” Gerald asked.
At this point the flood gates opened.
“I had to be. Richard was bookish and spent most of his time growing up indoors. He works for a large library in the city. I hadn’t seen him for two years prior to our current visit. I was so happy when he agreed to come hang out with me in the wilderness for a weekend. I thought I’d get to teach him some new skills and we would get to improve our relationship. It wasn’t at all bad to begin with, but who doesn’t like another chance to bond?” David replied.
“I see what you’re getting at, but I’ll ask the questions here!” Gerald laughed. “Where were you when you last saw Richard?”
“I asked him to get my tools for me, which were under his bed. I went out to inspect the roof, which I had planned to fix. I waited twenty minutes before I went back to check on him in case he was still having trouble finding them. I walked into the room, it was evident that Richard had found the tool box, but Richard himself was nowhere to be seen. I wandered around the woods searching for him. He is not the best person to be left alone in the wilderness. He had also been involved in a notable accident when we went to Peggy’s Cove on Friday night. If he was still hurting from that, I didn’t want him to be alone and uncomfortable for too long. As you can see, I still haven’t found him by myself, which is why I called the Missing Person’s Hotline and talked to you,” said David. The desperation was rising in his voice. “I would do anything to have been there the moment Richard disappeared! Maybe I could have stopped him! I could have encouraged him to make some other decision perhaps.”
“David, we are going to do whatever we can to help you find your brother,” said Gerald as reassuringly as he could. “I’m going to spread the word around among my many contacts. You should do the same. We will be in touch often.”
The two exchanged cellphone numbers and David showed Gerald out of the cabin. David was once again surrounded in eerie silence.
“Why hello David!” The voice was back. “What on earth are you going to tell your parents? They’re going to be so upset when you find out that you lost their only local son. Who will take care of them when they get old now. Certainly not you. Mr. full of himself David has an important life of his own on the other side of the country! Are you going to own up to it and tell them it’s all your fault?”
“Yes,” said David. “Anything that will cause you to lay off of me ever so temporarily.”
“You should really just give up,” snarled the voice.
“If it really is all my fault, and it probably is, then I should try even harder to find my brother. Don’t you think?” Replied David.
It was the hardest call David had needed to make in quite some time. His parents lived in a condo overlooking the Bedford Basin. They needed to know the situation. Richard was their son after all. The more people who knew, the better the chance of finding Richard.
David’s next call would be to his employer in order to request a leave of absence. David would need to stay in the area. He was a key witness to Richard and his tendencies and would be the first to be called upon if anyone had any questions or possible leads. David then placed calls to every friend and relative he could think of, explaining the situation, and encouraging them to spread the word and keep an eye open for Richard.
The rest of the day went along quickly with only water for sustenance. David was too anxious and depressed to eat anything. Time wasted eating was time he could be using to contact relatives.
As night fell, David retired to his room much earlier than the previous night. Tired, hoarse, and tear stained David longed for sleep, but thoughts kept assaulting him until sweet exhaustion finally set in.