Gone for Good Page 16

A fresh wave of sadness pulled me under.

In the end, I knew that I had to act. I had to do something. And this, calling Sheila’s parents, was all I could come up with.

A woman answered on the third ring. “Hello?”

I cleared my throat. “Mrs. Rogers?”

There was a pause. “Yes?”

“My name is Will Klein.”

I waited, seeing if the name meant anything to her. If it did, she wasn’t letting me know.

“I’m a friend of your daughter’s.”

“Which daughter?”

“Sheila,” I said.

“I see,” the woman said. “I understand she’s been in New York.”

“Yes,” I said.

“Is that where you’re calling from?”


“What can I do for you, Mr. Klein?”

That was a good question. I didn’t really know myself, so I started with the obvious. “Do you have any idea where she is?”


“You haven’t seen or spoken to her?”

In a tired voice, she said, “I haven’t seen or spoken to Sheila in years.”

I opened my mouth, closed it, tried to see a route to take, kept running into roadblocks. “Are you aware that she’s missing?”

“The authorities have been in touch with us, yes.”

I switched hands and brought the receiver up to my other ear. “Could you tell them anything useful?”


“Do you have any idea where she might have gone? Where she’d run away to? A friend or a relative who might help?”

“Mr. Klein?”


“Sheila has not been a part of our life for a long time.”

“Why not?”

I just blurted that out. I imagined a rebuke, of course, a big, fat none-of-your-business. But again she fell into silence. I tried to wait her out, but she was better at that than I.

“It’s just that”—I could hear myself begin to stammer—“she’s a wonderful person.”

“You’re more than a friend, aren’t you, Mr. Klein?”


“The authorities. They mentioned that Sheila was living with a man. I assume they were talking about you?”

“We’ve been together about a year,” I said.

“You sound as though you’re worried about her.”

“I am.”

“You love her, then?”

“Very much.”

“But she’s never told you about her past.”

I wasn’t sure how to respond to that one, though the answer was obvious. “I’m trying to understand,” I said.

“It’s not like that,” she said. “I don’t even understand.”

My neighbor picked now to blast his new stereo with quadraphonic speakers. The bass shook the wall. I was on the portable phone, so I moved toward the far end of the apartment.

“I want to help her,” I said.

“Let me ask you something, Mr. Klein.”

Her tone made my grip on the receiver tighten.

“The federal agent who came by,” she went on. “He said they don’t know anything about it.”

“About what?” I asked.

“About Carly,” Mrs. Rogers said. “About where she is.”

I was confused. “Who’s Carly?”

There was another long pause. “May I give you a word of advice, Mr. Klein?”

“Who’s Carly?” I asked again.

“Get on with your life. Forget you ever knew my daughter.”

And then she hung up.


I grabbed a Brooklyn Lager from the fridge and slid open the glass door. I stepped out onto what my Realtor had optimistically dubbed a “veranda.” It was the approximate size of a baby crib. One person, perhaps two, if they stood very still, could stand on it at one time. There were, of course, no chairs, and being on the third floor, not much of a view. But it was air and night and I still liked it.

At night, New York is well lit and unreal, filled with a blue-black glow. This may be the city that never sleeps, but if my street was an indication, it could sneak in a serious nap. Parked cars sat crammed along the curb, bumper grinding bumper, seemingly jockeying for position long after their owners had abandoned them. Night sounds throbbed and hummed. I heard music. I heard clatter from the pizza place across the street. I heard the steady whooshing from the West Side Highway, gentle now, Manhattan’s lullaby.

My brain slipped into numb. I didn’t know what was happening. I didn’t know what to do next. My call to Sheila’s mother raised more questions than it answered. Melissa’s words still stung, but she’d raised an interesting point: Now that I knew Ken was alive, what was I prepared to do about it?

I wanted to find him, of course.

I wanted to find him very badly. But so what? Forget the fact that I wasn’t a detective or up to the task. If Ken wanted to be found, he’d come to me. Searching him out could only lead to disaster.

And maybe I had another priority.

First my brother had run off. Now my lover vanishes into thin air. I frowned. It was a good thing I didn’t have a dog.

I was raising the bottle to my lip when I noticed him.

He stood on the corner, maybe fifty yards from my building. He wore a trench coat and what might have been a fedora, his hands in his pockets. His face from this distance looked like a white orb shining against a dark backdrop, featureless and too round. I couldn’t see his eyes, but I knew he was looking at me. I could feel it, the weight of his stare. It was palpable.

The man didn’t move.

There weren’t many pedestrians on the street, but the ones who were there, they, well, they moved. That was what New Yorkers did. They moved. They walked. They walked with purpose. Even when they stood for a light or passing car, they bounced, always at the ready. New Yorkers moved. There was no still in them.

But this man stood like stone. Staring at me. I blinked hard. He was still there. I turned away and then looked back. He was still there, unmoving. And one more thing.

Something about him was familiar.

I didn’t want to take that too far. We were at a pretty good distance and it was nighttime and my vision is not the best, especially in streetlight. But the hair on the back of my neck rose like on an animal sensing terrible danger.

I decided to stare back, see how he reacted. He didn’t move. I don’t know how long we stood there like that. I could feel the blood leaving my fingertips. Cold settled in near the edges, but something at my center gathered strength. I didn’t look away. And neither did the featureless face.

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