missing

Sam headed straight for the shower and stood underneath the hot spray for at least 15 minutes until finally the hot water supply began to dwindle and the water started to turn cold.

Her keen mind and sharp analytical skills were in overdrive trying to fathom the events of the previous 36 hours when she and David began the argument that ended up so tragically and mysteriously. Sam had to admit that her story to the police did not “stack up”. Where the hell does someone like David get hold of a gun? And if there was no record of him taking a flight to Edinburgh, where did he speak to her from? Another question that puzzled her: whatever hotel room he was in when he committed suicide, how come the hotel did not report the incident to the police?

Sam could only speculate at this stage and she needed full and proper answers very quickly. She was now technically a widow and David had his own family and friends who very soon will wonder what’s become of him. To make matters more urgent Sam was certain the police would be investigating this matter and they could at any time arrest her for inciting her husband’s suicide. In short, she had to act fast.

The only question she could even begin to investigate was the second one regarding David’s whereabouts at the time of the suicide. She put on her bathrobe, wrapped her long brown hair in a towel and reached for her mobile phone. She rang David’s company Global Software and after going through an auto-answer machine, two actual people, and being put on hold for eternity, the PA to the CEO grudgingly put her through to Steve McGill.

Steve: Hi Samantha, is everything okay?

Sam: Not really Steve, I am calling to find out where you sent David yesterday if it wasn’t Edinburgh

Steve: Why would I send David to Edinburgh or anywhere else for that matter?

Sam: Excuse me? If you didn’t send him you must at least know if and why he went to Edinburgh or anywhere else

Steve: Samantha, I have no idea what you are talking about

Sam: Don’t you know where your senior executives go? Jesus what kind of a CEO are you?

Steve: I assure you I know where all of my executives and managers are but I have no idea whatsoever where David was or is

Sam: Why not, for fuck sake?

Steve: Samantha, let me explain something very simple to you, which you seem to have forgotten. David hasn’t been working at Global Software for over 3 months

Sam: What the hell are you talking about Steve? Of course he works for Global Software, where else has he been going every morning?

Steve: Are you telling me you didn’t know he left us 3 months ago?

Sam: Of course not! Would I be calling you if I did? How come then our bank account shows a monthly salary paid by your company?

Steve: It was part of his severance settlement that we pay him his dues on monthly basis for 6 months; that was his expressed wish

Sam: I don’t believe this! Why did he leave?

Steve: Well, to be perfectly honest, we had to let him go, he wasn’t really up to the Sales Director standard I hoped he would reach

Sam: You fired him, didn’t you?

Steve: Well, I don’t really like to use such words, let’s just say, we encouraged him to pursue an alternative career

Sam: Oh shove your management speak, Steve! My husband is lying in a pool of blood in some obscure hotel room because you encouraged him to pursue an alternative career, you sweaty fat bastard!

Steve: There is no need for such language Samantha. I don’t understand what you are talking about with pools of blood and hotel rooms but we are ready to help in any way we can. I will speak to HR to speak with you and see how we can help

Sam: You can stick your HR in your AH, have a miserable day

*****

Sam’s blood was boiling and her brain totally confused. David had been pretending to be employed by Global Software for 3 months and she didn’t know it! How dumb can she be? He must have travelled (or claimed to have travelled) a dozen times during those three months. Where was he going? Did he have a mistress? Her attempt at answering the original question sent her down a dark alley and created a new set of questions.

She sat on the edge of her bed for a few minutes thinking then she got up and fetched her laptop from the lounge where she had left it the night before. She went on line and checked their joint bank account statements for the last 3 months or so. What she discovered as she went through the 20 or so pages of transactions was startling. David had not used his bankcard except while at home in London. However, he seemed to have developed a new habit, he was withdrawing unusually large amounts on the dates that coincided with the times he was supposed to be traveling out of London. Also, he was getting the usual monthly salary on the last Friday of each month but, there were no additional payments for expenses incurred while traveling to settle meals and hotel bills, as used to be the case in the past, confirming what Steve had told her that David did leave Global Software some time ago.

So, the bank statements stopped showing hotel bills because David must have paid them in cash, if indeed he has been staying in hotels. But what would be the point of withdrawing large sums of cash? Sam was getting nowhere fast. It was approaching midday by now and she suddenly felt hungry having not eaten for almost 24 hours by now.

She sat at the kitchen table and ate her omelette without much enthusiasm but she needed something to boost her energy levels. As she picked at the omelette, Sam looked out of the kitchen window and traced the outline of a cloud with an imaginary pencil; she had done this ever since she was a little girl, tracing shapes of trees, clouds, planes, and buildings with her imaginary pencil. She fantasised about being a famous artist and thought this exercise would help her master the art of drawing, but to her disappointment, it never did.

Suddenly, she sat upright and with wide-open eyes, she remembered David’s recorded message. She had called David a couple of days ago and he did not pick up so, she waited for his recorded message to leave him a short reminder she was going to be late that day. When she called him from the taxi this morning there was something different about his message but; she couldn’t quite work it out. So, she called him again and waited.

Hi, this is David Conway, I am sorry I cannot answer your call right now, please leave a short message and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

“Come on Sam, think!” she urged herself. She called him again and listened to the message two more times. It finally dawned on her, “Global Software!” David always said: Hi, this is David Conway of Global Software but not in the new recording. Not only that, when she called him a couple of days earlier, she was certain he had “Global Software” in his message. If her observation was correct then David must have changed his recording sometime after the last time she called him and just before he shot himself. Sam felt this was a break through of sorts but; how could it help in solving the mystery? Further, why would David bother changing his phone message just before killing himself?

Sam called her lawyer Richard Hall and shared her thoughts with him but all Richard was interested in was facts and trying to keep Sam out of prison so, he advised her to keep her thoughts to herself and sit tight. He continued advising about being careful, keeping busy at work, blah, blah, blah. He lost her at “sit tight” and she finally ended the conversation resolving to handle matters her way.

Sam’s thinking was straightforward: as long as David or his body is missing, she has nothing to fear except perhaps getting charged for wasting police time and if they wanted to do this they would have done it by now. The moment David was found dead or injured then she would start being careful about what she says and does. Deep down, she felt she did nothing wrong and she was determined to find David and get some answers to her many questions. Until then, she wasn’t going to allow herself to be bullied or even grieve for her husband whom she felt she still loved in spite of their recent marital problems.

With it being Tuesday, she decided to take the rest of the week off and the hell with work for now. She tidied her hair, put on enough make up to look reasonable and dressed in comfortable baggy top and green trousers. She grabbed her handbag and stepped into the main road, hailed a taxi and said: Shepherd’s Bush Police Station please.

*****

Chief Inspector Hilary Jones: Usually, we bring suspects in but you seem to like doing it the other way around. How can I help you Mrs Conway?

Sam: I didn’t know I was a suspect Chief Inspector

Jones: Technically, you are not since we have no victim at this stage. Still, you came to see me so presumably; you have some information you want to share with me

Sam: Yes. Something is puzzling me about my husband’s suicide

Jones: You keep saying that but we haven’t found his body yet

Sam: My husband’s disappearance then. The thing is, he told me he was going on a business trip to Edinburgh and I had no reason to doubt him

Jones: Mrs Conway, I am really very busy and at this stage your story hardly amounts to a “disappearing person” case but; why don’t you go to the front desk and report your husband as a missing person. There are hundreds of cases like this everyday of every week of every month in this country.

Sam: Wait Mrs Jones, sorry Chief Inspector Jones. There is something else. When I left the police station this morning, I called his office and his boss told me David had been sacked over 3 months ago. Now, I am not an airhead, I know my husband very well and we always had an open and honest relationship. For him to hide the fact that he was sacked for so long and continue to pretend to be still working is very strange indeed, don’t you think?

Jones: It is strange I agree but, men do funny things and…

Sam: I agree and I can accept that as a possibility. Now, here is another funny thing: My husband clearly maintained the pretence of having a job for 3 months and managed to fool me that long, to the extent of keeping his mobile phone recorded message that refers to the company he worked for. But, when I left the police station this morning, I called him and his message came on but this time, his company name was no longer there! Doesn’t this strike you as weird?

Jones: Wait a minute! If your husband committed suicide as you insist on maintaining, why the hell would you be calling him on his mobile?

Sam: In the 1-million-to-one hope that someone at the hotel or the local police where he died answer the phone up and give me a clue as to where he was and what might have happened to him

Jones: Okay, I will accept that. Are you sure his message had been changed?

Sam: Absolutely positive

Jones: And when was the last time you heard the old message with his company name included?

Sam: Two days ago

Jones: Maybe he finally decided to come clean and tell you the truth about his job

Sam: By changing his recorded message? Please Chief Inspector Jones, help me out, I am confused, lost, frightened and have no idea which way to head. I swear to you I told you the absolute truth and what you said earlier about me conducting a scam is totally untrue. I am happy to give you all my contacts, including my company and you can run all the checks you want on me. I even came to you without a lawyer this time, for goodness sake!

Jones: Okay Mrs Conway, I believe you but here is my problem: as far as we can tell, no crime was committed and no apparent law broken therefore, the matter is not a police matter, pure and simple. The moment we find evidence of a crime or attempted suicide, I will be more than happy to get involved

Sam: So, what do you suggest I do?

Jones: It is not something I like doing and I hold no responsibility for your future actions but, there is a private detective who used to be my colleague in the police force, his name is Robert Daley and he is an outstanding investigator. I am happy to give you his phone number if you wish to retain his services.

*****

Jones: Rob, it’s Hilary, how are you doing old-timer?

Daley: Hello Hilary! Good to hear your voice, to what do I owe the pleasure of your call?

Jones: I have given your name to a woman called Samantha Conway, she has an interesting story to tell and I believe it

Daley: For a minute I thought you missed me. So, what’s the matter, are you short of staff?

Jones: No to both your thought and the question. The thing is, no law was broken yet so, I couldn’t handle the case. But I have a feeling there is something wrong in this instance and the lady needs your help

Daley: What’s her name again?

Jones: Samantha Conway. And I would appreciate it if you keep me informed if anything interesting develops

Daley: I couldn’t possibly divulge confidential information between my client and me

Jones: Don’t give me that Crap Rob; I am serious!

*****

Sam was about to dial the number Chief Inspector Hilary Jones gave her when she noticed she had a missed call on her iPhone. She remembered that she put her phone on silent before she walked in to the Chief Inspector’s office. She checked the missed call and her mouth dropped open; the missed call came from David’s phone!

To be continued…