A Father’s Love

He was tired.

In fact, he could barely keep his eyes open.  But while there was still hope, no matter how slim, he knew that he had to press on, no matter how much his eyes burned.

The trail had gone cold, and they say that after 48 hours it was already too late.  Usually after a day with no contact, everyone already knows it’s a lost cause.  Kidnappers always contact within a day.  When they don’t, it isn’t good.  It had been 46 hours.  No contact.  No ransom.

“Go home, Peter.”

“Hm?”

Peter’s head had started sinking forward towards his keyboard.  Karina’s voice had startled him out of his descent into sleep.

“I said go home, Peter.”  She shook her head sadly.  “It’s over.  You’re a mess.  Go get some rest, go have a good cry, call up that brother of yours, but for goodness sake, quit torturing yourself here.”

Peter blinked his bloodshot eyes and shook his head to rouse himself, refocusing on the streams of data in front of him once again.  The footage blurred as his eyes tried to close, but with a force of will, he kept them open and watched.

“I won’t,” he said gruffly, watching the screen.  “They had to pass through this intersection.  We have a vehicle description.”

“And ninety-five cars matching that description, Pete!  It was a White Camry for goodness sake.”

“We can cross reference the matching cars and pull up data from the DMV’s records.”

“That’s what we’ve been doing for the past twelve hours.  Too much time has passed, even if you figure out which car was theirs.”  Karina sighed in frustration and exhaustion, rubbing her temple as her expression and her demeanor softened.  “It’s too late, Peter.  Go home.”

“There could be a picture, an image of the kidnapper, some clue that will lead us to her.  I have to keep watching.”

“Peter…”

“You could get me some coffee,” he said, holding out his styrofoam cup behind him.

“Let the police do this.  The police who are still actively serving.”

“Can’t do that,” Peter replied tersely.  Endless lines of cars passed across his screen, stopping and going in waves at the stoplight his footage portrayed.  If only they had a smaller time frame…

“Why not?  This is their job.”

“And this is my life.  I have more invested in her.”

“Peter, she’s dead.”

As soon as the words came out of her mouth, Karina regretted them.  And yet they were true.  It had been too long, and there had been no contact.  The circumstances surrounding the abduction had been suspicious to begin with, but now there could be little doubt.

Peter’s shoulders tensed and he hovered his pointer finger above the spacebar a moment, finally letting it fall, pausing the video.  The clacking sound of the spacebar engaging and the whirring of the computer fan seemed a hundred times louder in that uncomfortable silence.

For the first time in hours, Peter turned away from the computer screen and turned around to face her.  his face drooped with fatigue and with worry.  He seemed pale in the room’s dim light, and his countenance was heavy.

“You couldn’t understand, Karina.  You don’t have children.  You don’t understand that even at the age of thirty-four, Melissa is still my baby girl and I’m still her father, her protector.  And if you’re right, and she has passed away, then I’ll make sure that the ones responsible are brought to justice and are unable to harm anyone else’s baby girls.  But we don’t know that she’s dead yet.  Not till I see a friggin’ body.”

Peter turned in his chair and faced the computer screen once more.  The spacebar engaged, and the two occupants of the department’s headquarters went back to work in silence.

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