(x) Days of Photography is a photography/ flash fiction collaboration with Austin Andrews of Disposable Words. This is Day Three.

Traffic Lanes (Austin Andrews)

‘I would like to report a person missing.’
‘A missing person,’ says the young policeman sitting at his desk.

Like every other cat she chose her company with the utmost fuss but would selfishly slink into a car with a stranger. She did this on that night and became acquainted with a gentleman murderer.

‘He has lost his routine — we can be sure of that.’
‘That may well be true, but…’
She waits for him to continue. He takes some paperwork to the shredder and feeds the machine one out-of-date report at a time.

Speeding through the city streets in a black sedan the cat felt uneasy.

‘He has been missing three days. I was sure he would return.’
He enters data into the computer, and without looking up says, ‘True.’

Her chauffer chewed on the heavy stubble of his top lip as he drove through narrow alleys, coming to dead-ends regularly, reversing, grunting as he crunched gears.

‘You needn’t worry; I’ve thought it over beyond surprise. Not a tear on my cheek will you see. Not a word in broken tune will you hear. If it overwhelms others it is because knowing nothing draws on the same resources as knowing everything.’
He looks up at from the computer: ‘Do you think you could you put that on this blue form, and again on this yellow form. They’re for different departments, so please keep the same specifics for cross-referencing purposes?’

This was not his part of town, thought the cat.

‘But, I am family.’
‘Feel free to state your relationship with the applicant on the yellow form. But not the blue form; different departments.’

She was familiar with this man in a past life, she was sure. He had thick, gentle fingers and seemed to enjoy rubbing her behind her ears.

‘For all I know he is stressed, or drunk, or both.’
‘With all due respect…’
She waits for him to continue.

They had parked in plain view of three boisterous drunks climbing the steps of a basement bar, when a car came up behind them with its lights dimmed and slowed to a stop right beside them.

‘I have waited on the very sound of his breath–‘
‘–be that as it may…’
He turns back to the computer and smiles.
‘Oh, sorry, the blue and yellows forms,’ and he hands them to her over the desk.

Her gentleman murderer, yet to commit his crime, leaned out the window and received a piece of paper in the palm of his hand. The other car moved on down the street and picked up all three of the drunk men who know spoke in sharp whispers.

She returns to with forms in hand: ‘Here.’
‘True,’ he says, scanning the yellow form, ‘and the same name on the blue form. He was reported missing three days ago.’

She couldn’t read the piece of paper as she had never learnt the human alphabet, but could tell by her gentleman’s pinched eyes and now the bite of his bottom lip that it concerned a man he knew.

‘By whom?’
‘I wish I could tell you…’
‘– No, you don’t.’
‘…but it’s possible that we’ve already found him.’

(to be continued)

Photo Copyright ©2008 Austin Andrews