photo by 123rf.com©️Fernando Cortés
I was a zombie in school most of the day when I first realized the connection between the photos and the missing girls, one my youngest sister Ellie.
It was hard to concentrate anyhow with Ellie missing. It had been a month since she had disappeared. The police had checked out Big Red and gave him a warning about harassing people.
I still couldn’t understand how someone with such a messed up mind could be out walking the streets.
I resigned that there was still no connection to him and my missing sister. My parents had taken it the worst, they started going to church every Sunday, and my dad went even on days there wasn’t church to pray. He had never been religious before Ellie disappeared. I guess everyone deals with grief differently.
Brianna stayed in her room, barely leaving except to eat, and even then, she barely did that. She lost weight, and before Ellie’s disappearance, she had already been overly thin.
My way of grieving was playing detective. I had always been the practical one — the only son of three children, and the eldest. I took things harder, I think, because I felt a sense of responsibility for my younger siblings. I knew I had to be strong.
That afternoon I began my own investigation into the disappearances of both Ellie and the other girl whose name was Amanda Kline. Both had been missing after posting Lost Dog posters. I wondered if the police had figured it out. For now, I’d keep my theories to myself.
One thing I did wonder was if, like in the case of Pete, if Amanda Kline’s dog had also been found. Maybe she had a stalker who took her dog to pretend to be the hero who found it. I thought if that day, Ellie was being watched by the creeper in the old station wagon.
I had a lot of questions. That day after school, I took Bri home because I didn’t want her to know what I was up to, and then I left to go back to that corner where Amanda Kline’s lost dog flyer was hanging.
I pulled up a short distance from the corner, so I wasn’t blocking traffic. I got out of my car and walked up to the poster. It was still there, and I took a snapshot of it with my phone.
I decided to take it down and take it with me. I pulled it off the pole, which was hard to do. It was up there with four large nails.
I finally got it down, and another paper fell out from behind it. I picked up the other paper. It was another flyer, but it was for a free couch. I tucked it inside my pocket because it wasn’t anything important.
I decided to do something that could be a bit stupid. I called the number on Amanda Kline’s poster.
I figured if it were a cellular phone that belonged to her, no one would even answer.
It rang once, and then a woman answered. She sounded young.
“Hello, um, I was calling to see if your dog had been found. I saw a dog that looked very similar in my neighbor’s yard, and I just thought you might want to know.”
“Really?” The young woman asked, confused.
“Um, yeah. I wasn’t sure if your dog had been found.”
“What?” I said, not sure what she meant.
“His name is Buttons. He belonged to my sister.”
“Oh, well, I wanted someone to know.” I had no idea why I was keeping up the lie. I felt like a jerk.
“What’s your name?” She asked
“Jack.” For once in the last two minutes, I didn’t lie. I should have.
“Thank you for your call, Jack. Can you tell me where exactly you saw Buttons? It’s imperative.”
Did her sister suspect what I did that there was a connection between her sister’s lost dog and her sister going missing?
I lied again. I felt shitty, but all I wanted to know was if her damn dog had been found. Just answer me, lady!
“Corner of Mead and Main Street. Running through the yard.”
“Oh, well, Buttons was hit by a car. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it, but thank you for your call, Jack.” And she hung up.
Why all the weird questions? I knew there was still a connection. There was something off about the woman over the phone too. Maybe she was a zombie also.
I drove home, disappointed. My lead went nowhere. I went to my room and sat down for a moment, and then there was a knock at the door.
It was my mom.
“Jack a detective is here to see you.”
“A detective? Why?”
“I don’t know, he says he needs to ask you some questions.”
I had explained everything before what new news could I have to offer?
I went into the living room, and the detective stood by our front door. He was a large man and had a stern look on his face.
My mother stood in the doorway, and the detective asked her if he could speak to me alone because I was 18. My mom was concerned but nodded. She went into the kitchen and began doing dishes, which seemed odd to me. I guessed it helped keep her mind off what was going on.
“Hello Jack, my name is Officer Phelps, missing person unit with APD. I came to ask you a few questions.”
“How do you know Amanda Kline?”
Detective Phelps wasted no time getting to the point. It wasn’t like on television. I didn’t know her. Why was he asking me about her?
“I don’t, sir.”
“Can you explain then why her cellphone, which had been turned off for the last two months finally pinged to a cell tower near here. The number it was connected to was yours.”
That was strange. How did he know?
“I called the number on a missing dog flyer.”
He seemed genuinely confused.
“What missing flyer?”
I still had the poster in my room. I asked for permission to retrieve it. I came back and handed it to him.
“I was trying to see if there was a connection to her and my sister.”
“What would that be?”
“Well, as you can see Amanda Kline, is on this flyer with her lost dog. My sister went missing after we hung up the flyers about our dog. I was curious to see if Buttons had been found just like Pete had. I guess it was stupid. The cases aren’t similar at all.”
“How did you come to that conclusion?” He asked me.
“Buttons was run over by a car.”
“Who told you that?”
“Amanda Kline’s sister.”
“Interesting. Because Amanda Kline doesn’t have a sister, nor did she ever own the dog in this picture. Where did you obtain this flyer?”
I was dumbfounded.
“Main Street at the corner of Mead.”
“Young man, did you get the name of the woman who answered the phone?”
“No, I didn’t think to.”
“From now on, let the police do the detective work. If, for some reason, you get a call from that number, call me.”
Detective Phelps handed me his card and gave me a long look over. Then he left.
I had no idea if he believed my story, but one thing was for sure. I may have helped the police with a lead to the disappearance of Amanda Kline.
Ellie was still missing, and there was a part of me that was now lost. If there wasn’t a connection to the missing girls, did that mean she was gone forever?
I didn’t want to think about it.
The rest of the week was uneventful considering.
Then on Friday night, shortly after eleven, I was lying in bed when my phone buzzed. I looked at my phone. Caller ID said “Potential Spam,” which generally meant a telemarketer. Not likely at eleven at night.
I didn’t think about it, I just answered it.
“Hi, Jack. Did you find Ellie? I saw her running at the corner of Mead and Main Street.”
The caller sounded a lot like the woman I had spoken to earlier in the week. The only thing was the voice was high pitched, almost mocking.
“Who the Hell is this?”
“Just a good citizen.” She laughed.
“Amanda?” I asked
“Don’t ever call me that again.” the caller hung up.