the case of the four women (part four)

This story started here.

My employer leaned back in her chair. "Miss Tumolo initiated this, she should probably start."

She nodded without enthusiasm. "My name is Susan Tumolo. I was Mike Sheldon's secretary when he was the mayor. Since his disappearance, I've lived in U-town, where I'm working as a teacher."

I didn't know Susan Tumolo at all well, but I knew her well enough to have some idea how much was being left unsaid in those few sentences. She'd left out everything she felt about her former boss, and everything she felt about U-town, the school, and her students. The ironic part was that I was sure Stu already knew the few facts she had told him. Not much happened around city politics that Stuart Anson didn't know, before or after the founding of U-town.

"I still have friends who work at City Hall," she continued, "and I was having lunch with two of them yesterday. It has been kept out of the papers, so far, but Mr. Prescott's son has vanished. He has been missing for about a week. There is some evidence that he is in U-town, but nobody knows for sure."

"He's in college, if I'm not mistaken," Stu said.

She shook her head. "He was, but he came home at the end of the fall semester, and I don't know why."

"Please continue."

"The story I heard is that Mr. Prescott has ordered an investigation, but his son has not been found. Now he's getting impatient, and he's thinking of moving into U-town in force. A move that his superiors probably wouldn't endorse, but he's not asking them. If he did, they'd tell him no. He functions as a mayor, but he's a federal administrator. He wasn't elected, he has no mandate." She didn't mention that her former boss, "Uncle" Mike Sheldon, had handled his office somewhat differently, but she didn't have to.

"I've seen Miss Sleet solve two cases now, and I suggested they ask her to help. It seemed to everybody's benefit to find him quickly and quietly. If that's possible."

Stu nodded slowly. "Do we know what the evidence is? Why do they think he's in U-town?"

"I have no idea. I asked my friends, but they didn't know."

My employer's lips thinned and I knew she was thinking of all the ways that missing-person cases can end up being unrewarding.

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About Anthony Lee Collins

I write.
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