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My father takes a seat at the wooden table. “I suppose you were never going to tell me about Kathy, were you?” he asks, calm and cool, as usual. There’s a strange look in his eyes, despite his predicable stoic disposition. I’ve never seen it before, but if I had to guess, he’s furious, or at least furious enough that it’s noticeable. Which makes sense: his best friend (who was also his partner for decades) is dead, that same best friend’s son is missing and now his wife is dead. I’m at the center of two of those three things. “Simona?” Dad asks again, almost demanding a response.
I glance at him and then around the room. Even though I’m sitting, my knees buckle. “I-I, Dad, I…”
“Use your words, Mona,” Dad says, crossing his arms. His black Hawaiian t-shirt contrasts the straw hat in front of him, making him look like a mob boss. After some extended silence, Dad sighs and pushes his chair against the table. He clasps his hands together and puts his head down. Dad inhales and exhales, then pounds his fists on the table. “Are you going to say something? Jacob goes missing and Kathy dies and you’re here in Montana doing god knows what with this man in this hotel room!” he yells. Cannen pulls out a notepad, but Dad yells again before Cannen can scribble anything. “Not now, Detective.“
Cannen and I quickly look at each other. Then, Cannen motions for the door. “Nope. Stay here,” Dad says, without so much as glancing in the detective’s direction. “You’re part of this. You were helping my daughter with something, and as much as I want probe you, I know about your inability to communicate and your alliance with Fandellia’s underground gang. We can skip to the part where Simona tells me from her own mouth everything that’s transpired in the past few weeks.” Dad fixes his eyes on me. His impatience seeps into the air like fog, getting thicker and thicker as time passes. “Well, Simona, this is the last time I will ask you. Can you tell me everything that happened?”
His question, once again is met with silence and my fumbling fingers.
“For your mother’s sake, Simona, please. Tell me what the hell happened,” Dad says, taking another deep breath.
“For Mom’s sake? What do you mean?”
Dad grips his clasped hands and shakes them as if preventing himself from roaring with rage. “You don’t get to ask that. I need to know what happened with Jacob and Kathy. Your mother helps with my detective work and what happened to Jacob and Kathy is crucial, Simona. Something happened to your mother and I suspect that it’s all related. That’s all I can share until I know more.”
“But, Dad, I – -“
“Simona, information is a give and take. I asked you to give and so far you’ve refused. I gave a little and you’re trying to take more. I need to know, what the-”
Cannen slides a notebook in Dad’s direction. Dad looks at him, his face still and unreadable. “Hmm,” Dad says under his breath. He glances at me, then at Cannen and back at the notebook. “Thank you, Detective Cannen,” he mutters, thumbing through pages of pristine handwriting with pictures paperclipped to some of them. “This fills in some of the blanks. So, Jacob’s missing. Completely missing with no indication of where he is, except for some random Twitter user who probably knows nothing. And, then there’s Kathy, which your notes don’t fully account for since I’m assuming Simona hasn’t shared enough with you. Is that correct?”
Cannen nods. He scribbles in his notepad, “Yessir. I heard from Simona when she was on her way here. Saw Fandellia together. All I know.”
Dad sighs. “Thanks, Detective. I see. The word-consuming beings… shit.” Dad shakes his head and groans. I put my hand on his forearm, but my attempt to comfort him is met with a silent glare. “So, you knew you were being tailed. You knew that you put your mother and Kathy at risk. You ignored the warnings and just went about your merry way. I don’t know where to start, Simona. Cowardice isn’t something that should affect you. We are strong, reasonable and intelligent.”
“I don’t know, Dad. I didn’t know what to do. Jacob and I moved to Louisville determined to make a fresh start and leave the City. Then, things just blew up. He disappeared, I met Cannen and Fandellia, and I just broke. I ran home and you, Mom and Kathy showed up. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to do!” I shriek, sobbing. I plant my face into my folded arms and weep into the table. Dad puts a hand on my shoulder.
“I understand, Simona. I’m not angry. I’m just confused and concerned. Your mother was determined to help you, even though I said we should stay out of it. We have a few major clients as it is and our team is overwhelmed. We couldn’t ask them to help look for Jacob, so your mom took it upon herself to do so,” Dad reveals, solemn and defeated. He clears his throat and fiddles with his fedora. “She said she found something, but needed to look further into it. Then, this morning, she disappeared.”
“What do you mean disappeared?” I ask, regaining my composure.
“She’s gone,” Dad responds. “Vanished. Poof,” he adds, gesturing with his large hands. “She found Jacob, or at least that’s what she made it sound like. Then, she didn’t wake up.”
My brain nearly oozes out of my ears. “Wait, so she didn’t wake up or she disappeared, Dad? I don’t understand.”
Dad looks at Cannen, who for some reason appears to understand what my dad means. “It’s a long story, Mona, but to keep it simple, let’s just say your mom’s sleuthing is something that requires travelling in her sleep. As a former high ranking official of the CIA, my mind is shielded from communicating out or inviting anyone into my dreams. I can’t find her, let alone track her, but I do know that finding her will lead us to Philip’s son,” Dad says, speaking to both Cannen and I. He pauses and examines me. “What’s wrong?”
“It’s strange, I actually just dreamt about Mom about two hours ago,” I respond. “I heard her voice, like she was calling out to me.” I stand up and pace toward the window. For some reason, I pull the curtain and look outside. It’s a beautiful, but windy day. Dark clouds on the horizon surround the mountains around Missoula. “I don’t understand, Dad. How exactly does Mom help you with your detective work and how is she suddenly the key to helping me find Jacob?”
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