In The Midnight Of His Heart
By AL BRUNO III
August 27, 1993
The police station was a squat building situated across the street from one of the area's better colleges. Marked and unmarked cruisers glided in and out of the parking lot, sometimes leaving with sirens ablaze, other times simply heading out to begin a routine patrol. One room in the building also doubled as a traffic court for dealing with speeding tickets and other minor infractions, John passed it on his way through the door that led to a shadowy stairwell. Two flights later he found himself where he needed to be.
The detectives shared a collective office on the third floor, the bustle of activity on the ground floor diminished here. The room was wide and full of desks, some occupied, some not. The detectives were all notable by their prim style of dress and the holsters on their belts or shoulders. A few were taking statements from suspects and witnesses, others were talking on the phone or chatting casually with their peers.
Police Detective Howard Connelly's desk was near the center of the room. John found him sitting there, engrossed in a paperback novel, a hint of a smile on his lips. His features were slender and gentle, he wore a pair of bifocals. There was a wedding ring on his finger. He didn't look up at his visitor until he finished reading the page he was on, “You must be John.”
“Good to meet you.” John sat down in the chair that was offered to him.
He folded over a page and shoved the book into a drawer, “How's Phil doing these days?”
“Not so well I'm afraid. Zara's had a stroke.”
“I didn't even know he was married.” the detective pulled a pen from his shirt pocket and began tapping it rhythmically into the palm of his other hand, “How's he taking it?”
“As well as could be expected.”
“I should call him.”
John had a hard time keeping his calm demeanor, everything else he wanted hinged on success here, “I was glad you agreed to help me.”
“Just remember this is all in an unofficial capacity.”
“I appreciate it nonetheless, I mean you don't even know me from Adam.”
“Phil's told me so much about you I could have picked you out of a line up.” he tapped a few other things with the pen, his coffee cup, the name plate on his desk.
“Really?” John returned the detective's infectious smile, “Usually he tells everyone that he's the one who shaved my back and taught me how to eat with a fork.”
They laughed briefly. “So,” Howard began, “who is this person you're looking for?”
“She disappeared about two months ago from her apartment.”
“Disappeared?” the smile faded as Howard pulled the notepad from his shirt pocket and began writing, “What was her name?”
“How old is she?”
“Twenty... I think.”
“Where was she living?”
“Willet Apartments, number twenty-one.”
“I don't know.”
“When was the last time you saw her?” Howard asked.
“Sometime in the middle of May.”
“Do you have a date?”
John shook his head, “No.”
“What is she to you?”
Howard leaned forward, “Why do you want to find her?”
“I'm worried about her.”
“Isn't there someone else you can contact, her friends or family?”
“I don't know either.”
“What is your relationship with Angela Delvecco?”
“She's was a waitress at my favorite restaurant.” John traced patterns on the floor with the tip of his cane.
“So you met outside of the restaurant?”
Howard cocked an eyebrow, “John...”
“Well... we intended to.”
“Lie to me again and you're out of here,” all traces of levity left Howard's face, “got it?”
“I just want to know where she is.”
“Because after they fired her she just vanished, one day she and her boyfriend were living at twenty-one Willet and the next they're gone.”
“I'm worried sick.”
Howard leaned back in his chair, John knew he was being scrutinized, “It's just that I don't want to be giving information to a stalker. Maybe Miss Delvecco doesn't want you to find her.”
“Listen, if you think I've got some kind of a... some kind of a fixation on her, think again.” John met the detective's gaze, “I have no family, aside from her, Phil and Zara are my only friends. What I had with her may not seem like much, but she means a lot to me.”
“John, I'm sorry if you-”
“She's in danger, I just know it. You're a detective, you know what real instinct feels like, how it can gnaw at you.”
“Listen then, I don't care where she is. Just tell me she's all right.” John pleaded, “Just tell me she's all right and I won't bother you or her or anyone else again.”
The detective sighed heavily, “All right.”
“Thank you.” John stood and offered his hand.
Howard shook it, “I'll see what I can dig up, call me in a few days.”