Missing Boy

Standing in the middle of Evan Fischer’s bedroom, Jackson Tyler spoke softly into the recorder in his phone. “Either these sheets are brand new, or Evan doesn’t sleep here every night.” The bed was unmade, as he expected. What he did not expect was the absent traces of sweat and other teen aged boy emissions.

He dusted the bedside table and the lamp switch. There was one good print on the edge next to the bed. He pulled it. He opened the drawer. Inside was a half pack of cigarettes and a lighter. He stood up and sniffed the air. The room didn’t smell like stale smoke. He walked to the closet and smelled the clothes hanging there. They smelled fresh.

He lifted a dirty shirt off the floor. It smelled like boy, but not cigarettes. A teddy bear stuffed into a corner of the room under the window didn’t smell of smoke either. Whose cigarettes were these?

He looked out the only window at a featureless brick wall. It was  not screened. A nimble young man could sit on the wide ledge and drag a cigarette, but the sill was free of ash stain. He leaned out the window. The alleyway below was clear of smoker trash, although he supposed he wouldn’t see ash from two stories up. Evan Fischer didn’t smoke here if they were his.

He dusted the window’s sill and the latch on the window frame.

His phone buzzed. “Tyler.”

“It’s Maureen. Where are you?”

The flash of a match or lighter caught his eye. Was someone watching the window?

“Tyler, you there?”

“Yeah, sorry Maureen. Still at the Fischer apartment.” Whoever was at the end of the alley had moved away. Maybe someone had paused to light up.

“How long?”


“How long will you be there? I want to meet up to share notes.”

“I’m pulling prints from a window in the kid’s bedroom. Maybe ten minutes by the time I explain a BOLO to the grandmother.”

“Okay. I’m at the Ninth. Meet me there?”

“Got it.”

“Okay, out.” Maureen hung up.

Maureen’s voice sounded as tired as he felt. At some point, he would have to get some sleep before he sat with Tomi.

He pulled the prints and walked back to the small living room. Grandma Fischer was quietly sitting in her chair, reading from her Bible. When Jack stepped into the room, she shut the Book, set it on the oval table next to her, and looked at him expectantly.

Jack held up the bag with the cigarette pack and lighter. “Ms. Fischer, are these your grandson’s?”

“I’ve never seen those. He doesn’t smoke.”

“Do any of his friends?”

“I don’t know. I guess one of them could have left those here.”

Jack put the bag into the evidence kit attached to his belt. “I am going to initiate a BOLO. That means we will ask all of our officers to be looking for Evan.”

“Oh, thank goodness. I thought for sure you were going to tell me I had to wait twenty-four hours.”

“No.” He smiled. “That is never the case in real life. We always take a missing person’s report very seriously. I will call you to keep you informed about our investigation.”

“Thank you so much,” said Claudine Fischer.

Jack handed her his card. “Call if you think of anything else, no matter how trivial. Call the second he comes back, no matter the time.”

“You think he will? You think Evan will come home?”

“I’m hoping he lost track of time, overslept at a friend’s house, and will show up at work. He’ll be begging for forgiveness over dinner.”

“The Lord says we should all forgive each other.”

“Yes Ma’am.”


In the basement of the Ninth, Jack stood next to Maureen and stared at the body on the cold metal table. The coroner had confirmed that they were looking at a Taiwanese national, probably transported specifically to fight. These particular boys had the reputation of being fierce and unbeatable. They were worth a lot of money on the market. If the build on this one was an indication of his prowess, someone had lost a fortune.

The bright light above him outlined each bruise that littered his torso, arms, and legs. His colorful injuries on his battle-crushed face were surreal, almost fluid, like the melting watches in a Salvador Dali painting.

As he calculated the type of strike it would take to create the particularly nasty bruise on his right cheek, a wave of dizziness hit Jack as a vision obliterated reality. Another boy’s face superimposed over the disfigured face at which he was staring. A sweet face, asleep on a pillow…

…dark colored, softly curled hair. Evan. His face looked as battle scarred as the young Taiwanese on the slab.

Jack couldn’t breathe. Maureen was instantly by his side, rubbing his back. “Blow it out, Jack. Just blow and relax.” She rubbed harder.

Jack understood her orders, but he had trouble making his body comply. He pursed his lips and blew. Suddenly he gasped, inhaled a gallon of air, and bent over, panting.

“For Heaven’s sake, you’re not going to throw up, are you?” said Maureen.

“Oh, my god,” he mumbled. “No.”

“Then what happened?”

“I think Evan’s been fighting.”

“A vision?” she said.

Jack shook his head. “Maybe I am tired and projecting my fears. I saw a boy, Evan’s face, uhn.”

Maureen patted his back. “Just breathe. Is this what Tomi deals with?”

“Unfortunately,” said Jack, grimacing. Through whose eyes was he seeing this? “If I am tripping out again, and actually seeing Evan, he was asleep, not dead.”

“Thank God,” said Maureen.

“It’s not usually God I attribute this to,” Jack mumbled. He shook his arms. “It feels like my arms and legs weigh a thousand pounds each. I am so tired.” He stretched his eyes open, trying to make sense of the multi-sensory vision.

Maureen turned to the tech. “I think we’re done here for now.”

He nodded and covered the body.

To Jack she said, “Let’s grab something from the vending machine and find a place to talk a few minutes.”


Maureen and Jack sat at a small table in the break room.

Jack said, “One more thing before we wrap this up. It may be related, it may not, but a group of street kids was creating a ruckus in front of the building when I arrived. The tenants were yelling at them to shut up and go home. They may have been practicing mixed martial arts. I counted five boys, three girls. Kind of hoped the missing kid was one of them, but that was before I talked to Ms. Fischer. When they saw me, they all ran, except for a bear of a kid named Phillip. Calls himself “Rat Snatcher.”

Maureen huffed. “Rat Snatcher. Sounds obscene.”

“Yeah.” Jack chuckled.

“You think we should check into him?”

“I do.”

“I’ll contact Balmario.”

“He’s back to work so soon?”

“Same as you. As needed. What are your plans for today?”

“Sleep, for one thing. I want to sit with Tom for a while.”

She said, “I need some sleep. Need to make amends with Larry.”

“Geez. That’s so hard,” said Jack, thinking about how his work affected his marriage that dissolved so long ago. “I think I should follow up at the Walgreens where Evan Fischer works. They may know more about his social life than his grandmother does.”

“Fair enough. Let’s call it quits for tonight,” said Maureen.

“Excellent. I’ll check in tomorrow.”

“Goodnight, Jack.”

He rapped his knuckles on the table twice as he stood. “Goodnight, Maureen.” Then he turned and strode out the door.


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