Tuesday glanced between the hotel phone number and the keypad. It rang twice before someone picked up.
“Hello, can I be connected to Room 117 please?”
“Just a moment.” Thirty seconds passed by. Tuesday thought this was taking a long time to press a few buttons.
“Hello? Still there?”
“Uh, ma’am, there’s no registered to Room 117.”
“Really? There should be. Can you just try connecting me anyway?”
“One moment.” There were some clicks. Then a male voice answered.
“Is this… Rion?”
“Tuesday?” he said, elated.
“Hey, how’re you doing?”
“Um, pretty good. All things considered.”
“That’s good to know.”
“Did you find out anything?”
“Yeah, sorta. Well, no.” Tuesday fingered at the pink pullover on her desk. “Here’s the sitch. I sent your sweater down to the lab for tests. Couldn’t find any fingerprints, obviously, but there’s a good chance we’ll get some DNA. It’s not attached to a case file though, so it might take a long time before I get any results back. Murders and such take priority, you know.”
“Yeah, I understand.”
“There’s no one in the missing person’s database matching your description. The problem is you’re eighteen, and most missing children don’t get reported past the age of fourteen.”
“Well, because they think they’re adults by then. They go out, party for two or three days, then come back home. The parents report them once or twice, then get sick of it when they turn up hungover the next day.”
“Yeah, there’s other reasons too. The kid runs away to spite the parents. Sometimes parents tell us to arrest them to teach them a lesson. Kinda sad actually. Interferes with the real missing kids. The other reason is that until you’re missing for twenty-four hours, you aren’t considered ‘officially missing’.”
“Yeah, it’s another safeguard for taxpayer money. You said you ‘woke up’ the evening before last, right?”
“So someone might not realize you’re gone yet.”
Rion sighed. “Great, so I know I’m lost, but nobody else does yet.”
Tuesday laughed. “Exactly. Ironic, huh?”
“Yeah,” Rion groaned.
Tuesday looked down at her desk calendar and grimaced. “Hey, sorry. I didn’t mean that. Listen, I talked to some people today. I think the best bet for you right now is to get you to a hospital to get treated for amnesia. I talked to some med-techs at St. Martin’s. They’ve got a good neuro unit there.”
“Wow, you did talk to a lot of people.”
“Sure, I just told them how cute you were.” Rion knew she was joking. “They said amnesia could be triggered by a toxic substance, physical injury, or an emotional event.”
“Hmm,” Rion nodded. “How do they treat it?”
“Well, depends on what caused it. If it’s physical, they’ll probably take some x-rays or a tox screening. If they don’t find anything there, they might try hypnosis or therapy, try and coax the memories back.”
“You sure about that?” Rion said with brightness in his voice.
“Oh, yeah, they’re all experts down here.”
“But I don’t know how to get to the hospital. I don’t have any transportation or money.”
“I thought you said you had fifty bucks.”
“I, uh… I spent it.”
“Don’t really want to talk about it.”
Tuesday furrowed her brows. “You didn’t do anything stupid, did you?”
“No, no… I, uh, it’s all right. Nothing really happened. I got what I wanted.” She could hear a measure of sadness. “I don’t need to stay here anymore.”
“All right, as long as you didn’t blow it all on blackjack and hookers.”
“Can you hang out at the hotel until three o’clock?” Tuesday said. “I can pick you up and take you to the hospital.”
“Yeah, that should be fine.”
“All right. You sit tight there. I’ll pick you up at the main entrance.”
“Bye. See you at three.”
Tuesday hung up her phone, and tapped her pencil on her desk. She didn’t like having unanswered questions, but her instincts said to trust him. Besides, if he’d done something, he wouldn’t be so willing to accompany a cop.
Shadows appeared over her desk. One was her boss, Jerry Jenkins. The other two were men in black suits wearing sunglasses indoors.
“Hey, chief,” she said.
“I told you not to call me that.”
“Whatever you say, chief,” she grinned.
Chief rolled his eyes. “This is Bob and Tom. They’re from Northwestern Security.”
‘Northwestern Security’ sounded exactly like a private security firm, and the fact that she didn’t recognize the name meant their benefactor was undisclosable–either the government or some big corporation.
Jenkins said, “They want to ask you some questions about the Super Motel bust.”
Tuesday frowned. “Really? But nothing’s happened.”
Jenkins shrugged. “Just talk to them, they’ve got jurisdiction.” He grumbled back to his desk.
Tuesday gave the two men a once over. Expensive suits, faces as expressionless as Buckingham guards, trying to be as intimidating as possible. You could find these types skulking all around police stations these days, since they had jurisdiction under certain laws. They had bigger budgets, but less authority, so they tried to seem as threatening as possible. Tuesday wanted to sneak up and tickle them, just to see what would happen.
Tuesday said, “So how you boys doing?”
“You were at the Super Motel on Fifth Street yesterday,” Bob or Tom said, not as a question.
“Are you telling me? Don’t you think I know?” Tuesday said.
“Is my previous statement correct?” said the one who looked like a Bob.
Tuesday rolled her eyes. “Yes.”
“Why did you leave?”
Tuesday gave him a cute smirk. “Because my shift was up, silly.”
The two didn’t move. “Are you aware of a man named Paul Gravey?”
“Nope. Can’t say I knew anyone there.”
The one who hadn’t spoken yet reached into his suit and pulled out a large photograph of a face with a twisted snarl, covered in blood. “Eww, beauty contest winner?” Tuesday said.
“He was admitted to the local emergency room at Lucent Hospital early this morning. He had internal injuries, and is currently in a coma. He may or may not be brain-dead.”
“What, you can’t tell?” she smiled.
“No. We cannot,” Bob said.
Tom said, “The doctors cannot find a cause of injury. No signs of stroke, radiation, or genetic disorder. No weapons or tools were used.”
“Okey-dokey. And I care becaaaause…”
Bob looked at Tom, then at her. “You care because we are searching for an individual who may be capable of such acts. A boy, who looks eighteen years of age.”
He handed her another photograph. It was a picture of Rion against a white background. Codes and numbers bordered the image.
Tuesday nodded. “Haven’t you filed a missing persons report?” she waved the photograph. “They’re all the rage these days.”
“The person in question has been queried against your database. However, his capture is not considered a priority by your staff.”
“Oh? Why’s that?”
“Classified information!?” she repeated as if she was talking to a five-year old playing ‘Secret Agent’. “What’s so classified about it?”
They paused. “Did you see the individual as described at this hotel?”
“Nope,” she said immediately.
“May I remind you that as a law enforcement officer you are legally obligated to confer any and all information pertaining to matters of security to individuals or companies certified as a safety or defense firm, under the Interior Security Act. And that any attempted obfuscation of such information is punishable under federal law?”
Tuesday sat back and smiled. “I bet you say that to all the pretty girls you meet.”
They waited for a proper response.
Tuesday sighed. “No, I’m not falsifying information or any of that crap. I’ve never seen him before. Is that all you came to ask me?”
“Did you observe any suspicious behavior during your time span?”
“I had the night shift at a cheap hotel. I did nothing but observe suspicious behavior.”
“Any relating to the aforementioned information?”
“You sure use a lot of big words. No, I didn’t see anything like what you’re talking about.”
Bob and Tom looked at each other. “Thank you for your time, ma’am.” They turned their backs and left.
“Y’all come back now, y’hear?” she said, grinning ear-to-ear.
Tuesday’s gaze flicked to the telephone. Should she call Rion back? What for? To ask him? To warn him? She had no desire to help those pretentious pricks, but she didn’t know what to think of Rion now. Was he one of the good guys or the bad guys?
She held her hand over the phone.
“Hey, Tuesday?” Jenkins’s gruff voice called out. She straightened up and dropped her arm. “Are you coming to the debrief or you gonna stare into space?”
“Aren’t they one and the same?”
“Get your ass in here. God, every time… that girl…” he muttered as he returned to the conference room.
Grinning, Tuesday stood up and followed him in. She loved it when he muttered.