Chapter 3: (Sunday, September 12th, AM)
After going through all the materials on the most recent abduction cases, Victor proposed that they work on the most recent case first while the witnesses’ memory was still fresh. Jack agreed.
While they were planning strategies for the investigation, Chris rushed in to tell them that a guy who identified himself as Daniel Anderson had just called concerning Timothy Bryant, the eighth and latest missing child. The man who worked at one of the newsstands downtown reported that he saw Timothy before he had disappeared. Victor and Jack obtained the address of the newsstand from Chris and rushed downtown to interview the caller.
The newsstand was located on a busy corner. Victor and Jack approached a short stocky man wearing a blue baseball cap and was handing a magazine to a customer and taking his money. Victor waited for a moment and then pulled his LAPD badge from his pocket.
“Mr. Anderson?” Victor asked.
The man turned around to see Victor and answered with a hint of annoyance as he handed some change to the customer.
“My name is Victor Peterson and this is Jack Boyd. We’re detectives from LAPD.”
The tone of the man’s voice quickly changed when he saw Victor’s badge.
“Well… good morning officers. I’m Daniel Anderson. Uh, but you can call me Danny.”
“Could we talk for a few minutes, please?”
“What can I do you for?” Danny said sheepishly as he rubbed the back of his neck.
“You’re the person who called our office this morning about Timothy Bryant, isn’t that right?” Victor asked.
“Timothy Bryant. He’s the boy who disappeared last Friday. You reported to the police that you saw him that afternoon.”
Victor shouted over the noise of a bus that was pulling away from the bus stop nearby.
“Oh yeah. The missing boy.” Danny said slightly embarrassed. He saw the boy on the news night before, but he never paid attention to the name of the boy.
“Do you remember the time you saw the boy?” Jack asked.
“I saw him just about 1:30 in the afternoon on Friday.”
“1:30? Did you check your watch when you saw Timothy?” Victor asked as Danny took information down in his notebook.
“No.” Danny answered.
“Then how do you know it was 1:30?” Victor asked.
Danny saw a puzzled expression on Victor and Jack’s face and began to explain.
“When you stand here every day for many years, you start noticing the rhythm of the downtown office workers. See that restaurant over there?”
Danny pointed at a nearby restaurant while taking money from a customer who had taken a magazine. Victor and Jack turned and looked toward the direction of the restaurant. It was nestled in the corner space of a tall office building that stood on the other side of the street. Through the glass walls and doors, they could see a long counter with stools along the left side of the restaurant. Behind the counter, some cooks were busily serving customers. On the right side of the restaurant, there was a single line of small tables all the way to the end of the dining room. The place began to fill as lunch time was approaching.
Danny continued taking money and returning change with his customers. He looked at Victor and said:
“That restaurant is a favorite joint for many office workers around here. Service is quick and the price is right, you know? As soon as 11:30 hits, the place gets full. Then by 1:30, all the office people rush to get back to work. So the place becomes almost empty. It’s like clockwork. It happens every day.”
“Of course.” Jack nodded wondering what it had to do with the question.
“When the boy, uh, Timothy passed this newsstand I saw a bunch of people leaving that restaurant to go back to their offices after lunch. A few minutes later, the restaurant was less crowded. Thus, it was just about 1:30 in the afternoon.” He looked at the detectives, implying what he felt was the obvious. The detectives went along with it to keep Danny moving with his recollection of the events.
“Did you talk to the boy?
“Yeah, but it was more like me making a comment.”
“A comment?” Victor asked curiously.
“Yeah. I said, ‘Don’t you have to be at school?’” Danny grinned and continued.
“He’s just a kid, you know. He should have been at school like all the other kids. I have two of my own, hoping like hell that they’re not skipping their classes while I’m working here like a dog. They need a good education, you know? That guarantees that they won’t have to work 16 hours a day like me.”
“Did Timothy say anything to you?” Victor asked Dan.
“He said, ‘Mind your own eff’en business!’ and then walked away.”
“Was he with anyone?” Jack asked.
“No. I don’t think so.” Said Danny.
“Which way did he go?” Victor asked.
“Toward that building..,”
Again, Victor and Jack turned around and their eyes followed the direction of Danny’s index finger as he pointed to a different building across the street.
“And the kid always turns into the alleyway.” Danny said.
“Always turned into the alleyway? You mean you saw him before yesterday afternoon?” Victor asked excitedly.
“Yeah, a few times.”
“Always the same time?” Asked Victor.
“Just about. That’s another reason why I know it was 1:30 in the afternoon.”
“Because he should be at school, right?” Jack commented.
“Right.” Danny answered with annoyance while nodding a hello to a man passing by.
“Always alone?” Victor asked.
“Yeah. Usually I see him going back in the other direction, too. But not yesterday. Unless I was too busy with customers and I didn’t notice him.”
“Apparently, Timothy attends the middle school nearby. So my assumption is that he always skipped class around 1:30, walked to that alleyway and then, naturally, he would walk back to his school.
“But you are saying he may not have returned to the school yesterday, right?” Victor said.
“He’s such a punk. I pay a little more attention to a kid like that, you know. Some of them try stealing a magazine for kicks when I’m busy. As I said, I don’t remember seeing him walking back.” Danny confirmed.
“Thank you very much, Mr. Anderson. Your information was helpful. If you remember anything else, please contact us at this number.”
After handing him a business card with his phone number, Victor left the newsstand with Jack and walked toward the alleyway Danny had pointed out.
***** Chapter 4 will be uploaded on Tuesday, June 10th. *****