Being Inspired, maybe - 103

A picture paints ... well, as many words as you like.  For instance:


And, then, the words:


It was dark, the curtains had been closed, but even in that light, we could see the flat was a peculiar feel to it. 

Emily went in first, then I followed.  She switched on the light, and that feeling we had, that was the product of one or more people systematically searching for something, and whilst everything looked normal, there were signs that it was not as neat as it looked.

Emily didn't understand what she was looking at, “Does it look to you like she left in a hurry?"  She had seen what I'd seen, the dirty dishes left on the kitchen bench.

I made a closer inspection of the room.  None of the furniture, none of which was back in exactly the right place, showed signs of there being a fight, as there was no blood anywhere.  If she had left before the visitors, or even after it, she had not been physically assaulted.

I was not sure if that was a consolation.

Emily returned.  "Just the same everywhere else.  I should probably call the police.  Dad gave me a number to call."  She pulled out her mobile phone, and then searched for the note with the number, going into the other room.

That was the moment there was a knock on the door.  It wouldn't be Cecile knocking on her own door, but hopefully, someone who knew her.

I opened the door to see a middle-aged woman who looked like she had rushed to get here.

Before I could get a word in, she asked, "Are you James Bentley?"

How could she possibly know who I was?  I nodded.

"Then this is for you."  She rummaged in her bag and pulled out a letter-size envelope and held it out.

"Did you know her?"  It was possible she might be able to help us find her.

"No.  Two days ago, she pounded on my door and gave me that letter and said a man of your description would arrive within three days.  Here you are, and here it is."  She shoved the envelope in my hand.  "That's all I know, don't bother me again."

With that, she was gone, perhaps going back to a downstairs flat.  I closed the door.

"Who was that?" Emily asked, coming back from the other room, phone call finished.

"A woman with a letter from Cecile."  I held it up.

"Did she have anything else to say?"

"Just that giving me the letter was the extent of her involvement.  I'm guessing by her manner; she was scared of doing even that.  It just reinforces the notion that Cecile was in serious trouble.  What did the police have to say?"

"He's sending a couple of people to look into the mess, and that we shouldn't touch anything.  You should read the letter."

I opened the envelope and took out the single page and unfolded it.  It had been haphazardly folded in haste, and the writing that I could see was hers, and had been written in haste.  The paper had been ripped crookedly off a pad.  I looked around the room and saw the pad on the floor, near the table where the phone had sat.

I picked it up off the floor and kept it to one side, thinking it might have something useful hidden on the top page, a trick I'd learned from watching TV.

Emily was waiting impatiently for me to read the letter, and I could see her restraining herself from snatching it out of my hand.

It said, and reading it out aloud for Emily,


Jimmy,

If you are reading this then it’s the worst possible scenario.

I began to suspect Jake was not what he seemed to be about a month ago, and then, one night, he came home, bleeding from a bullet wound.  He said it was not serious and refused to go to a hospital.

He left two days later and didn't come back.

I then went looking for him, only to discover he didn't work where he said he did, his parents were not who he said they were, and none of his friends would say anything.

Two days ago, some men came to the door and told me, quite emphatically, to stop asking questions.

Or else.

After they left, I am writing this in case something happens to me.

I will be packing an overnight bag and going to the hotel you and I once said we would stay at if we ever came to London.  I will leave another note there if I'm able.  Just ask at the front desk.

I will try to send a text if I get into a serious situation.

Cee


So, text sent, it was a serious situation.  And, I noted, she had called me Jimmy, knowing how much I hated being called that.

Emily fired the first question, "What the name of this hotel?"

"We will be going there, right after we deal with the police when they arrive."

"We have to go now, while the trail is still hot."

"Patience.  The fact she texted us tells me that she will not be at the hotel, and there might not be another letter waiting.  And, if there is, it's not likely to help us much, unless she gives us the name and details of this Jake character.  Perhaps the police might know something about him.  Whatever the case may be, we will have to report her as missing."

Emily, I knew from the past, wasn’t the most patient of people, and Cecile often said she often ventured where others feared to tread.  I was going to have two battles on my hands, the first, trying to find Cecile, the second, curbing Emily's self-destructive streak.

Fortunately, there was another knock on the door.

At last, the police.



© Charles Heath 2020

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