Copyright © Kate Kelsen 2020. All Rights Reserved
Holding a stack of papers in one arm, Jasem laid one page face down in the photocopier, and waited as the machine hummed and beeped its way through the copying process. Gordon appeared with an even bigger stack of manila folders containing more papers.
‘I need all of these processed today, Jasem,’ he said, a hint of exacerbation to his voice as he placed the stack on top of the one Jasem was already holding. ‘Get to them as soon as you can.’
Jasem retrieved the piece of paper from the photocopier, trying to balance the stack in his arms as he placed the next sheet down in the machine.
Detective David Cohen sat on the opposite side of the table to Anthony Quintero, who was slouched in his chair with his arms crossed. Senior Sergeant Kevin Gittins stood leaning against the wall.
‘Was there any reason you can think of that Rocco might have been upset that day?’ asked David.
‘He wasn’t upset,’ Anthony insisted.
‘Let’s go back to the white van. Did you see anyone else who might be connected to it?’
‘I told you, I didn’t see anyone else. When we got there, there was a white van parked in the car park. It was the only other car parked there.’
‘And you didn’t see anyone else that might be connected to it?’
‘Well, there must have been someone else…’
‘Yeah, there must have been, because Rocco wouldn’t run away from me like that. He just wouldn’t.’
‘Exactly. Maybe he didn’t.’
Antony looked curiously at David.
‘What do you mean by that?’
David sat back.
‘You and Rocco’s mother are separated, is that right?’
‘Yes,’ Anthony confirmed.
‘And Pearl is in a relationship with your best friend. And she’s pregnant.’
Anthony said nothing.
‘Is this correct, Anthony?’
‘Yes,’ Anthony muttered.
David nodded, pressing his pen to his pad of paper.
‘What was Rocco wearing again?’
Anthony sighed impatiently.
‘A grey cardigan, a purple shirt, denim shorts, blue socks, and rain boots.’
The midday news bulletin played on the television set mounted on the wall in the cafeteria as Jasem ate his lunch.
‘The search continues for Rocco Quintero, an eight-year-old boy who was last seen at a picnic spot in Elysian Park three days ago. An emotional appeal has been made by his parents this morning. They’re asking for anyone who may have information to contact police.’
A man and a woman appeared on the screen; they stood together, but comfortably apart.
‘Our son Rocco is only eight years old,’ said the woman, her voice quivering. ‘We need everyone’s help to try to find him. He is a beautiful, sweet, loving boy…’
Her words trailed off as she deteriorated into tears, and the man took over speaking.
‘Please, if someone has him, whatever you do, don’t hurt him. Please return him to us. Give him a chance to live. I swear, if you do, we’ll try to help you out. Please, just give him back to us.’ He looked right down the lens of the camera. ‘Son, if you see this, I’m sorry. We’ll find you, I promise.’
Jasem looked to his right, where there sat a little boy sat next to him, watching the television intently with troubled eyes. He turned his head to look at Jasem, and Jasem could see scratches on his face, and red markings around his neck.
Josef held the phone to his ear, his heart thumping with every trill of the dial tone, leaping into his throat at the sound of Mrs. Martin’s voice.
‘Mrs. Martin, its Jasem.’
‘Jasem! Oh, how wonderful to hear from you! How is college? Your father tells me
you got an internship at the DA’s Office!’
‘Mrs. Martin, I called because I need your help with something.’
‘Oh, of course, Jasem.’ The excited flutter in her voice calmed to concern. ‘Is everything alright?’
‘Did you hear about the little boy that went missing down here in LA a few days ago?’
‘Yes, as a matter of fact I did. I saw it on the news…’
‘Well, he appeared to me.’
‘He came to me. He told me where his body was.’
‘I don’t know what to do. I know how it sounds, and I’m scared if I tell the police, they might think I’m responsible. But I want to do the right thing. What do you think I should do?’
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for another excerpt tomorrow!