Fatal Introductions Chapter 21

           chapter 21 factory

         The moment Sienna had signed up for the internet dating site she had encountered her share of less desirable men.  She was tired of kissing frogs.  Harold seemed to be passing all the tests she put in front of him.  He did not have a job but he did find a way to make an income.  He seemed smarter than his past would dictate.  Harold was always a gentleman.  She ventured the thought of bringing him home to her kids.  That test would help her see if that would scare him off.  The single mother never introduced her kids to a date.  She did not want to create any confusion in their lives. They had already gone through so much strife.

            Work was a boring night with the challenge of fighting off sleep.  Armed with her cup of coffee and the radio on music loud enough to help her stay awake the security guard faced her shift. Sienna kept her attention on the monitors.  Her eyes had watched the lack of action for so long she had grown complacent.  All of the officers were convinced nothing would ever happen.  She did not think that the pallets or crates would break into a dance number, though secretly she craved it. Not even a mouse or bird would be in the area on the cameras.  The lack of activity gave her plenty of time to think about Harold.  He had his faults but was growing on her.  Besides, faults were what made someone an individual.  At least the man knew how to treat her.

            She had invited him to the office but was unsure if he would come.  Knowing it was against regulations, she would have to cross that bridge when she came to it.  It was a regulation written by someone who never had to do third shift.  The night shift was lonely. Her supervisor was never suffering through it with her.  He was using the very liberal computer policy to keep himself entertained. 

            Watching the monitors, she had seen an image of someone.  This was new to her, as her mind craved the activity.  Sienna zoomed in to the image of a woman looking directly at the camera.  The thought she had seen this woman before but, could not place where. The woman must have been passed in some background of an activity she and her kids had been attending.  What was she doing in the warehouse though?  What was she writing with? It appeared to be an old style quill pen.  That was odd.  Sienna had heard of new supervisors taking inventory when a shift ended, she was not aware of any new supervisor.

            Turning away for a moment, she called her supervisor in to verify and see what to do next.  She finally had something to report in her log.  Finally, there was something to break the monotony.  Turning back the woman was gone. She switched through camera to camera to find her, but to no avail.  When her supervisor arrived, she could not show him the image of the woman.

            “Rewind the tape let’s see what the system caught.”  He appeared to be as craving the excitement as she was.  He did not give her credit for finding it, and that annoyed her a bit.  The system he thought was more important than the people who ran it. 

            Sienna rewound the recording back to where the image should have been visible.  Still the guard could not find it.  The computer did not even register movement in the system.  She was becoming worried that she had just cried wolf.  It did not take much not to be believed in the future. 

            “I think you have had too much coffee or can see ghosts.”  He said with a mocking laugh.  “Call me or ghostbusters if you see it again.”  He departed not giving her a chance to explain the incident further.

            The single mother hated being taken for granted. This job made her hate more than others.  She knew what she had seen.  It was clear. So where did it go?  She reviewed the footage over and over. Sienna’s eyes still did not find it.  She thought for sure she was losing her mind.    She was lost in thought for a moment.  The moment and the thought passed, just in time for Sienna to notice Harold chiming the visitor bell at the lobby. The memory of the woman had passed. 

            Dressed in what she had grown to realize were his good clothes.  He held two cups of coffee from the fancy coffee chain down the street.  Under his arm, was tucked a rolled up brown paper bag.  Tired eyes needed company; she needed a break from the mindless numbing of the monitors.  There he stood her prince-charming-to-be.

            Harold waited patiently for what seemed like an eternity for Sienna to come out.  He had hoped it would be her at least.  He knew she was not the only officer who worked that shift.  He had to gain access to the monitors. Too much time had already been spent waiting.  He had to strike again before it was dismissed from the timeline. 

            She greeted him at the doors with a hug and a kiss.  Harold was barely an active participant.  Single for too long, Sienna was slightly disappointed that their kiss was not more passionate.  Harold had other things on his mind besides romance.  There was a plan. He still needed to gather the intelligence.  She had a plan as well. She still needed to gather her information.  The kiss was not spectacular. Sienna felt he was probably out of practice. That could be fixed.

            Parts of Sienna wished it was a real date as she guided them into the break room.  She was excited that he had brought her something.  It was minor in the grand scheme of things. The experience she had in romance taught her little acts of kindness lead to bigger and better presents.  She was just glad to be spending time with him. That feeling was even happier when he pulled out a chair for her.  She was not used to this type of treatment.  Finally, she knew what it meant to be treated like a lady. 

            The conversation became long and without any major revelations but it was still conversation.  Soon her break time expired; her company would have to depart.  She thought for a moment.  Perhaps, it did not have to end this way.  Perhaps she could get him to stay and maybe with time permitting, get another shot at making that kiss right.

            “Do you have some place to be?”  She asked him with slight puppy dog eyes attempting to appeal to his sense of sympathy.

            “Not really, just sleep, and time with you trumps that every time.” A coy smile crossed his face.

            “I am not supposed to do this, but if you promise not to touch anything or tell anyone you were there, I don’t see the harm.”  Sienna weighed his facial expression to see if there was any sign of distrust.  There was always a fear he would try to flee. 

            “I can behave.”  He passed a wink in her direction as he completed his statement, “can you?”

***

            One of the worst parts of his job was to tell parents of a lost child.  Clemmons went out of his way not to have this discussion with a stranger.  Tonight, it would not be a stranger’s door he was knocking on.  The young boy found murdered at the bar was from the burly veteran officer’s street.  Taking his hat off his head, Clemmons gathered his breath.  Short but hard rasping on the blue painted wood door meant the time to gather his nerves had expired.  Four knocks had to be repeated again until Clemmons noticed a light turn on in the front room. 

            Wrapped in her robe, the mother of the latest victim opened the door.  The last time the woman had opened the door for Clemmons it was to go to homecoming so long ago.  Memories of that night were much more pleasant than this would be.  Delores was about to join a sad sisterhood. Clemmons did not want to be the one to send her the invitation.  The compassion and empathy it would require; he knew he would be the one for the job.

            A screen door flew open as the robed woman clung tight to Clemmons.  She knew exactly why he was there.  There was no dance to go to this time.  When the initial shock wore off, she pushed him away and began to scream.  “You are not here!  This is not happening! Bring him home to me now! This is not happening!”  The police officer had heard that phrase over and over again his entire career.  There was no getting numb to it.  Secretly, he hoped he never would. 

            His large frame moved closer to her.  His arms engulfed her short but thick frame.  “Please come with me.”  Words to the mother formed with difficulty.  A difficulty Clemmons had never experienced before.  The sense he and his brethren were failing the city hit home with the death of the one young man.  He wanted to make a vow to prevent this from happening again.  The woman had just lost her youngest son.  Comfort was all he could provide to her.  “We are going to help you.”  Despite the internal turmoil, Clemmons kept a calm composure. 

            The two stood on that porch for a long time.  Frozen in grief both of them were afraid to move.  Clemmons took an oath to protect the city, and in turn his home.  He felt failure as he held the woman, a failure that had to be made right.

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