"You've reached Simon. Leave a message."
I don't know why I tried again. I'd already left two messages. I put the phone down and, seeing Sergeant Morris headed for her office, I grabbed the file folder I had just made and walked over to catch up.
"Got a minute, Betty?" I asked, walking quickly up behind her.
"For what?" she asked, turning into her office.
I paused at her door, but she motioned me in. "This Montagne thing," I answered. "The guy who came in with the missing wife and daughter?"
"The Monte Carlo bulletin?" she asked, taking her seat.
"Right," I said, sitting across from her. "I checked out the Monte Carlo over at the Texaco off Chapin. The manager says it's been parked there since yesterday." I filled her in on the details.
"What exactly are we investigating here, Al?" she asked. "Kidnapping? Have we established that these two are, in fact, missing?"
"Well, I don't really know," I said. "The mother hasn't been to work for two days now, and the story is that no one at the shop has heard from her. Same with the girl's school."
"So, they're playing hooky for a couple of days. It happens," she said. "What else do you have?"
"Well, according to the husband, the door to the house was wide open when he got there."
"Any signs of struggle?" she asked.
"Not that I know of."
"Well, it could be something, sure. But, it's not much. What do you have on the car owner?"
"Nothing," I said. "Clean record. He's some kind of repairman or something, according to his card."
"Like a maintenance man?"
"I don't know. Odd jobs," I said, repeating the words from the card. "I called his number and left a message, but no reply."
"It's not much to go on, Al," she said, turning her attention to her computer. "What are you thinking? Are you wanting to move forward? Search the house? What?"
"I don't know," I muttered. "I just...," I paused, not wanting to say what was about to come out of my mouth. "I got a feeling about this, Betty," I said. "And I don't get feelings all the time. I don't. This one..." I shook my head.
"Don't tell me about feelings, Al. I can't do anything about feelings," she sighed. "What do you want to do?"
"Do we have enough to get into the house?" I asked.
"What about the husband? Can he get you in? I don't know if we're in warrant territory yet."
"Well, he doesn't live there," I said. "I'll just ask him and see what he says."
"Sounds like a next step," she said, and she dove into typing an email.
When I got back to my desk, I thumbed through the folder and found the notes I'd taken from Louis Montagne, including his phone number. I picked up my phone and dialed the number, but it was disconnected. I must have written it down wrong. I called information, but there was no current listing for Louis Montagne. So, I turned to the DPS database. There was one listing for Louis Montagne. The last known address was the address he had given for Darla Montagne. He must not have updated his license. 'Damn,' I muttered, and I flipped up the details screen to see what other information we had listed.
The bad feeling that had been weighing on me for the last few hours deepened as I looked at the picture on the screen. "If this is Louis Montagne," I wondered aloud, "then who the hell did I talk to this morning?" The man on the screen was a tall, fair-skinned, blond man. He was much younger than the man I had spoken to.
And, if the computer was right, he was also dead.