detective fletcher had seen people like oliver before, people who came in to the station to offer to help the police find missing children - usually a particular missing child whose story was in the media, but sometimes, like oliver, just offering general help.
she suspected that many such people must be child abusers and abductors themselves, and she never turned them away, but always spoke to them personally.
so far she had never found anyone who showed definite signs of being such of person, but she always questioned them closely, and had their backgrounds checked as thoroughly as she could.
fletcher had become a police person primarily because she wished to track down and apprehend such persons. people who she believed were part of a vast network of pedophiles and child pornographers that not only existed just below the surface of civilized society but whose members ruled the world.
her experience in the domestic violence unit had been mostly with drunken and drug-addicted lowlifes and not with the kind of powerful white men she sought to expose.
she had had herself transferred to the homicide unit, where she thought herself more likely to encounter such persons, whose existence she was more convinced of than ever.
but she continued to take an interest in anything that might lead her to the powerful ones, and also to people like oliver when they showed up.
her first impression of oliver was that he was the most unlikely candidate she had ever seen come in.
although he professed to have watched a great deal of television and read stories in the newspapers and national magazines about missing children, he hardly seemed to know what a missing child was. he talked about them as if he were talking about lost cats and dogs who could not find their way home.
at the same time, fletcher’s suspicious nature was aroused. oliver couldn’t be as vacant as he appeared to be - could he?
she decided to look into his background herself if she could find the time. big if, with the homicides piling up, including a few that looked like they would never be solved.
after letting oliver talk a while she gave him the standard speech.
she told him that his good intentions were appreciated, but that in most cases the tracking down of missing and abused children and the apprehension and prosecution of their tormentors was best left to professionals.
oliver protested mildly that he had read of cases where volunteers assisted in “widespread searches” of missing children. was there not a list he could be put on, to be called in such cases?
fletcher explained that there was no such list but that if he saw in the media of any particular case where the police were looking for volunteers he could offer his services “at that point in time”.
and with that she took down his name, address, and e-mail - oliver seemed to see no contradiction in this - and politely sent him on his way.
she added his name to a list she was keeping of people to check on. she noticed the list was getting a little long and resolved to stay late that night and work on it.
as always, she felt a pang of frustration on looking at her list, because it reminded her that she had never found anything on any really rich or powerful person.
the state of nebraska had a governor and two united states senators and five accredited billionaires.
surely at least two or three of them were members of the world wide child abuse cabal!
disappointed but not crushed - nothing ever really affected him much - oliver wandered out of the police station into the sunlight.
there was a mcdonalds across the street. he decided to treat himself to a burger and some fries.
seated in the window of the mcdonalds, morley had seen the man he called “gorbachev” exit the police station.
morley put his half-eaten crispy chicken sandwich down. he started to get up, so that he would be outside when gorbachev made his move, to the parking lot or the bus stop or just walking away.
but he quickly sat back down when gorbachev turned and headed straight for the mcdonalds.
that he would do this had not crossed morley’s mind!
morley just caught himself from staring too obviously at gorbachev when he entered.
oliver went to the counter and quickly ordered a big mac, small fries, and a coke.
he was always slightly bewildered by the large number of choices and ordered the simplest things.
morley felt like he was dreaming when gorbachev took his tray and moved to an unoccupied table right beside morley’s!
morley glanced around. the place was somewhat crowded, and the table gorbachev had chosen was one of the few empty ones. so there was nothing suspicious there.
but - he was close enough that morley could speak to him. and they were facing in opposite directions so that neither would have to turn completely around to speak to the other.
was this fate? was this morley’s chance?
should he just wait and follow gorbachev out when he finished? that would be a little riskier now that the guy had probably seen him and might recognize him.
or should morley try to start some sort of conversation? about what?
should he lean over and say something like “hey, pal, blah blah…” ?
people only did that in the movies and tv - morley had never seen anybody do it in real life.
but this might be the chance of a lifetime!
seen up even closer than he had been in the station, gorbachev looked creepier than ever.
and also like a guy capable of just sitting there and staring into space for a while…
what to do?
life was like that.
it just went along, and went along, and went along. and then suddenly you were faced with a decision that you never saw coming… and no time to think it through...