Part 2: The Precinct
Detective Martinez strode elegantly down a hallway; everything felt more intense as the cardboard boxes lining the halls looked more disheveled. They turned many corners before approaching a thin wooden door fitted with the kind of glass that you can hear rattle in the frame when the door is slammed shut. Slapped over the room’s official nameplate was a hastily-made sign, a torn piece of printer paper; written in bold, chiseled Sharpie: Robbie Redteeth.
As they entered the room, Roger saw a map of the Ludwig Industrial Park on the near wall. Two big circles highlighted an old foundry warehouse. He remembered the silhouette, smoke stacks against the sunset, driving his forklift five miles an hour against the oranges and purples and reds. Oxycontin and late night halogen pumped through his veins and corneas. Why was that map significant among the hundred maps wallpapering the room? Roger worked there. Was he a suspect? Suddenly, sweat. He was blind to the rest of the people in the room.
“I demand to know what’s going on,” Roger proclaimed, a last grasp at control, out of nowhere.
His eyes snapped to focus on a woman in the far corner of the room, standing beside a tall Green Bay Packers fan. The jersey gave it away. How sad for everyone involved that it happened to have “Rodgers” expertly stitched into the back above a prominent “12.” There was too much symbolism for the room to hold before the gasket popped.
“What the FUCK is he doing here?” the man snapped.
“Hello Deborah,” Roger said sheepishly.
The tall man in the jersey almost popped a blood vessel in his eye at the sight of his new wife’s ex.
“I don’t want him in here.” Kevin coughed up. Deborah had been crying. A tissue graveyard surrounded her, a crumpled Kleenex mandala.
Roger endlessly stared at his shoes.
“I said I never wanted to see his fucking face again,” Kevin blurted to his wife.
She spoke through tears. “Sweetheart, listen for five minutes. Roger is here to help us get Samantha back and then he’s leaving again for good, right Roger?” Deborah stared at her new husband, only angering him more.
Detective Martinez slit the tension in the room across the throat. “Mr. Caufield, if you are not able to control yourself in my briefing room then I will ask you to leave.” She’d had enough of Kevin Caufield for the night.
“He probably has something to do with Samantha being taken. He probably knows the guy, all these fucking perverts.” Kevin exited the briefing room through the opposite door, slapping away his wife’s comforting hand and a pleading gaze. The door slammed shut.
“Where is my daughter? What’s happened?” Roger spoke between heartbeats. Deborah blankly stared into nothing. Her little girl was in danger.
Detective Martinez moved towards Roger holding a blue folder.
“We are not at liberty to discuss the specifics of the ongoing investigation, but earlier today during your daughter’s fifteenth birthday party, she was abducted by a man who subdued and murdered the two adult chaperones present and evaded police pursuit. You daughter’s cell phone was left at the location with suspicious text messages from an unknown recipient she’s been in contact with for the past week named Bradley, no recorded last name. We have reason to believe that the man who kidnapped your daughter once worked at or is somehow linked to the industrial park where you currently are employed. Your wife also believes that you may have some information pertinent to finding Samantha, and we are working on a short clock.”
“Absolutely… I… I understand… but I’m not sure that I have the information you’re looking for. I’ve only worked the park a few months or so.” Roger was suddenly very confused. His hands instinctively parted the folder open.
“Do you have any idea where your daughter is Mr. Lauds?” The detective was getting forceful for no reason.
“I’m… I’m in the dark here.”
“Have you been in contact with Samantha at all in the past two weeks outside of the jurisdiction of the court orders currently against you?”
“Never would I jeopardize the time I have with my daughter in such a way,” Roger lied.
Roons, a notably chisel-jawed detective, entered the room with more folders, adding them to the piles and retaking his empty seat near Martinez. Roger knew he probably got laid more than he did, an effortless inconvenience, and for some reason that hurt, and during the worst time in his life he felt even worse.
They locked eyes for a second, buts Roons dissolved into nothingness as Roger finally focused on some of the photos plastered across the walls. Blood. Splatters. Human hair. The teeth were particularly appalling, white powder remnants of shattered, dental horrors. Stretched skin. Brutality on horrendous display. He looked down at the folder. Girls. Samantha’s age, he knew. It wasn’t a pretty sight.
He could barely speak, and held back new tears.
“Where is my daughter?”
Detective Roons finally spoke. “That’s why you’re here to help us, Mr. Lauds.” He sounded like a bull horn. His baritone cut through Roger like a samurai sword.
Roons leaned into the question, hard. “Your daughter arranged for delivery and purchase of oxycontin from a dealer named Slater LaMuer, to be brought to her exact birthday party’s location. Have you heard this man’s name before?”
“No.” The lies came quicker and easier.
“Do you know the name of any dealers your daughter has previously contacted or conducted business with to procure oxycontin?”
“No.” The room began to spin. Gurgling in Roger’s stomach began to churn against it’s delicate lining.
“Who is Bradley? Why does your daughter text Bradley constantly?”
“I don’t know.”
Detective Roons closed his eyes and got up out of his chair. He took a long breath.
“Mr. Lauds, you’re not in trouble. Frankly, I don’t know what else I could do to you that would be anything more miserable or destructive to you than you’ve done to yourself. So I’m not going to pretend like we have time to fuck around or poke you for information.”
Detective Martinez finally moved for the door. Roons opened his eyes.
“Do you want me to find your daughter before a madman takes her from you?”
“Then tell me if you’ve ever purchased oxycontin from a man named Slater LaMuer.”
Roons hated liars.
Martinez began to clock her head around, listening intently.
“I have never bought from Slater. But I know he sells to some others at Ludwig and operates out of the Sheraton off 55.” It was easy to let the truth out. Felt like therapy. Was this what redemption was like? Was all salvation this painful and embarrassing?
“Did you introduce your daughter to Bradley?” This is where Roons left off. He caught a quick glance of Martinez, lost in her own thoughts.
Roger’s heart sank. Bile flooded his stomach, a virulent shame gurgling in his gut. In front of all of these people. Not now.
“Tell us about Bradley,” Martinez quickly interjected.
Roger suddenly couldn’t breathe. Deborah sat uncomfortably watching the sweat pour from her ex-husband’s balding scalp, the pit stains growing before their eyes, sweaty stenches minutes from suffocating the room. She reflexively threw him a lifeline.
“Bradley is Samantha’s online boyfriend or something. She talks to him practically every night, and this sicko knows him. I know it.” Deborah was particularly mean-spirited tonight, but she had every reason to be.
Roger slunk into himself. He could die now; no pain could be worse. Shame gripped his heart. Is this the end?
It finally hit him, why Roger had been summoned to that precinct, with everyone staring at him. Not because of his shame. He wasn’t a suspect. It was worse. Nobody gave a shit about Roger. He possessed the key piece of information in finding his daughter.
Wheels locked and clanged in the back of his brain. His decision was made. He could be her hero again.
“Bradley’s…. Bradley runs for Slater at the warehouse. He must have took her to the Sheraton...” Roger’s oxy-addled brain snapped together puzzle pieces, slowly, deliberately. The Ludwig maps were incomplete. Where was the construction expansion near Dellavue? It’s too easy to hide at Ludwig.
“Have you been fucking listening at all,” Deborah blurted.
Martinez stared at Roger, pitiful, limp, barely alive in the chair. She shot her eyes to Detective Roons, already throwing on his coat. “Take your task force to the Sheraton. We’ve already got squad cars en route to Ludwig.”
They rushed out the doors. Officers entered the room to tend to Deborah.
Roger had more questions, but his brain wouldn’t let him concentrate on them, and nobody cared. Heat stroke hit Roger from a sun hours from rising. Everything set in incredibly quickly. Ludwig was close, only thirty minutes out. He could make it.
Kevin left his keys on the desk.
Deborah got up to use the bathroom. She wouldn’t even acknowledge Roger. The room was empty. No one cared about him any more. She cried into her palms.
Roger snatched the car keys from the table top and slammed the door shut. The small precinct buzzed with activity. He saw a fire axe hanging off the wall and grabbed it as he slipped out of the station and started up the truck.
Continued in 3.