Quiet Lost is a story of betrayal, murder, love and lost love. It will require several chapters to tell Neil’s story.
Tuesday morning, September 15
Brad set a tray loaded with hotel-style breakfast food on the bedside table and felt around for the remote amongst the tangled bed clothes. Hunger assured the semi-warm congealed scrambled eggs would go down with no protest. He turned on the TV, flipping through the channels, settled on the local KUSA station. He slid the tray onto his lap and ate like the food was good.
When he had finally crawled out from under the covers earlier (hoping it was still the middle of the night), and looked at the clock, he was furious at himself for sleeping till almost noon. He’d pulled his clothes on and ran down to the front desk to see if the room was available for another night and had made it to the buffet line just in time to load a plate before all was packed up.
The noon news came on, and Neil’s face filled the screen. Brad set his tray aside and slumped down on the bed, staring in bewilderment at the pretty reporter.
Where are you, Neil? If the police don’t know…
He was totally confused. Neil had to have run into the police last night when he got home. Unless…
His chest heaved, and he sat bolt upright. Oh no, what if those guys have Neil? Oh my God, they’ll kill him… if they haven’t already. His heart beat loud and fast. He would have NO ONE; Mom and Dad gone since he was a kid – Neil and Granny finished raising him – or at least tried (he did all he could to prevent it). Neil’s family and life now destroyed, thanks to his own selfishness. Calista not trustworthy; he twice had to face bodily harm to finally understand that fact.
Cassie, sweet Cassie… but what if she loses both her parents? How screwed up can life be – she’ll end up like me.
He jumped off the bed pacing up and down the room, chewing on his already mangled fingers. Why didn’t I get a smoking room? God, I’ll quit smoking if you’ll bring me Neil. Make him safe, please…
Rinnng, Rinnng. A spasm of nerves caused him to jump at the sound of his cell phone. The caller ID showed a number he didn’t recognize: 720.587.9978. A few moments later the voice mail ding sounded. Any other time, he would have ignored, but anxiety was threatening his sanity; desperation begged him to hear another voice; divert his attention.
“Brad,” his brother’s voice sounded in his ear. He backed up and sat clumsily on the edge of the bed. “I don’t know where you are or if you have any idea what has happened. I hope you’re ok. Have you seen the local news? Hell, it may be national news by now.
“I know you’re not in my car any more. It’s terrible…, I can’t…” Neil’s voice faded into silence. Brad wondered if he had hung up, but Neil continued, his words almost desperate, “I’ll call back from this number in a few minutes. If you’re listening, please answer. Please.”
Brad hung up and held the phone in front of his face, willing it to ring from the same number that he had already committed to memory.
The wait wasn’t long. “Neil, you OK? I thought they got you.”
“Huh? … No…, how would you know …” Neil’s voice was low as if it was an effort to speak.
“Where are you?” Brad’s impatient words cut off Neil’s thought.
“I’m southeast of town…, driving…”
“You still in my truck?”
“Come to the Boulder East Suites; I have a room. It’s up highway 287, almost to Longmont. Room 305.”
The line was silent for several seconds. “Neil, you still there?”
“Yeah, I’ll be there in a few minutes.”
“I’m sorry for my life and for everything,” Brad’s voice cracked.
Another silence hung in Brad’s ear and then a whispered, “Me too.”
“Neil? I love you.” But the line was dead.
Click on Quiet Lost: Chapter 14 to the right.