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Where Are You?

message machine

By Mark GagnonPublished 2 months ago 5 min read
Where Are You?
Photo by Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash

John Morgan glared at the answering machine as it played the pre-recorded message once more.

Hi, this is Cindy. I’m not here to take your call right now, but if you leave a message, I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Detective Morgan scanned the small lower west side apartment, hoping to find an overlooked clue as to the whereabouts of Cindy Morgan, his kid sister. They were scheduled to meet for supper two days ago, but she never showed up. He wasn’t concerned at first. Her job as an investigative reporter always came first. Suppers with her brother always took second place to a hot lead.

Cindy was a rising star in the news industry, with several above-the-fold stories to her credit. She was adept at using her good looks, relaxed demeanor, and disarming smile to coax her interviewee into saying things they may later regret. Her last big story was used to help convict a notorious cartel kingpin. It was great for her career, but risky for staying alive.

John stood in the doorway and hesitated. What was it that her answering machine message reminded him of? The memory hit him like a Mack truck. When they were kids, their favorite game was Hide and Seek. Growing up on a farm offered them ample places to hide. When it was Cindy’s turn to hide, she would write messages on the walls or floors in chalk just to annoy her brother. I’m not here, wrong place, still can’t find me, were some of her favorite phrases.

Morgan went back to the answering machine and picked it up. A small piece of folded paper was taped to the bottom. He carefully detached it and unfolded the message.

John, I hoped you would remember our game of Hide and Seek. If you’re reading this, it means I’ve been taken by the cartel. I’ll try to leave you clues as to my location when I can. You know where they hang out. Just one more game for us to play.

Detective Morgan placed the note in his pocket and headed for Spanish Harlem. While on the way, he called his friend detective Garza, who worked in the gang unit. Carlos Garza had informants in several local cartel-affiliated gangs, which made him a valuable asset. John described the situation to Carlos and together they devised a strategy. The two men joined forces at the bus stop on 2nd Avenue and 109th Street. Shortly after arriving, a third man joined them. Just three guys waiting for a bus.

“Hey Carlos, your friend might as well have 5-0 stamped on his forehead. You trying to jam me up with my boys?”

The heavily inked Hispanic man staring coldly at the two detectives was the contact Carlos had called.

“We don’t have time for games, Ramone. My friend’s sister is missing and we think your competitors have her. What have you heard?”

“A lot of talk about a reporter lady being forced to change her testimony. They say she was in the basement of that building across the street. Gone now, though. Don’t know where. This info’s worth something, right, man?”

John reached into his pocket and pulled out sixty dollars and a card with only a phone number printed on it. “If you hear anything, call that number day or night. Is that building unlocked?”

“Ain’t no locks cause there ain’t no doors.”

The detectives left Ramone and headed for the building. The man wasn’t lying. There were no doors. They searched through the trash-filled basement looking for clues. That’s when John saw it. The words Gone now were scratched into a mold-covered wall, along with an arrow pointing straight up.

“So, she’s up on one of those floors,” said Carlos, heading for the stairs.

“She isn’t up there. The arrow is telling me they took her uptown to the boss’s place. It’s the symbol we used as kids, meaning move up to the next hiding spot. Reyes has a place at the Dakota. That’s where we’re heading.”

The detectives walked up to the building’s doorman and flashed their badges.

“What floor is Reyes on?”

“He has the penthouse. I’ll call up to announce you.”

John gave the doorman a daggered stare. “Touch that phone and I’ll arrest you for interfering in a police investigation. Understand? Now let us in.”

While riding in the elevator, Carlos shook his head. “Do you trust that doorman?”

“Not in the least. He was on the house phone as soon as we were out of sight. I’m sure we’re expected.”

The detectives exited the elevator, walked down a short hall, knocked on the door, and stood aside. A hail of bullets turned the wooden door into toothpicks in a matter of seconds. Unfortunately for the cartel members, firing all those rounds meant they had to reload. The door no longer offered any cover. John and Carlos had clear shots and took their attackers out.

Now the search for Cindy began. The men split up, going from room to room, calling out, “Not Here,” as they cleared each position. John was about to give up when he spotted what looked like a laundry chute. He opened the door and there, bound and gagged, was Cindy stuffed inside. John pulled his sister to freedom and untied her. She smiled at him. “I knew you’d find me. You always did.”


About the Creator

Mark Gagnon

I have spent most of my life traveling around the US and the globe. Now it's time to draw on these experiences and create what I hope are interesting fictional stories. Only you, the reader, can tell me if I've achieved my goal.

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Comments (1)

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  • JD Pernoste and Anneliese Dahl2 months ago

    Interesting story, but it needs to be at least 2X longer, to give it more time to breathe life into your characters. Quite compelling and interesting!! - Anneliese🧡

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