Thursday, November 01, 2007

Chapter Two

At seven o’clock Harold had been angry. By eight he was furious. At nine o’clock the fury turned to concern. And now, at almost midnight he was in full panic mode. He had called all of Fanny’s friends, her mother – he even called their son Pete at UVA to see if he had heard from her.

“Sorry to worry you, son, but this just isn’t like your mother. She’s never done anything like this.”

“Did she seem okay this morning, Pop? Has anything happened that might disturb her?

Harold almost smiled in spite of his concern. His son the psych major was responding true to form with reason and composure.

“Nothing out of the ordinary, Pete. She was just waking up when I left for work. I think she said she had some shopping to do and then she was going to try to get some bulbs planted if the rain held off.”

“Have you called the police – or the hospitals? Maybe she was in an accident.”

“Her car is in the garage.” Even as he said it, he knew Pete was right. He needed to call the police. He had hesitated because taking that step made it impossible to deny that something had happened to Fanny. “I’m going to call them now. You’re right. I should have called them before. I don’t know what I was thinking.”

“Do you want me to come home, Pop? Are you okay?”

“I’ll be fine. You just wait there until you hear from me. I’m sure there is a logical explanation for this.”

As he hung up the phone Harold knew in his gut there wasn’t a plausible explanation for his wife’s absence. He took a deep breath and called 911.

“Sir, how long has your wife been missing?”

“I saw her last about seven thirty this morning. She wasn’t here when I got home from work at six.”

“Does your wife have any mental or physical impairment which might subject her or others to danger?

“No. Nothing like that. She’s just an ordinary housewife.” Harold instantly regretted characterizing Fanny as ordinary but before he could correct himself the officer continued.

“Is there any indication that your wife’s absence is not voluntary?”

“No. It’s just not like Fanny to be out late by herself. Something has happened to her. I know it.” Harold realized he was about to cry. “You have to find her. Please.”

“Unfortunately, under the circumstances – with no impairment and no evidence that the absence is involuntary – at this time we can only take a report. We will check with the hospitals to see if anyone matching your wife’s description has been admitted. Right now the best advice I can give you, Mr. Britt, is to try to get some rest. Most of the time, the missing party shows up with a perfectly valid explanation. There is nothing you can do tonight. We’ll call you if we hear anything at all.”

Harold returned the phone to its cradle and walked to the living room in a daze. Everything looked so ordinary. Ordinary. He had called her an “ordinary housewife”. There was nothing commonplace about his Fanny. She was extraordinary. Harold sank down onto the couch buried his face in his hands and sobbed.



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