Written by Jason Wright and Cheryl Sheppard

The consequences of Rebecca's decision to leave home so quickly.

Monday, May 29, 2000. Somewhere in E-Town.

It was a three-story office building built 1970, the brick a faded red. The front door was of the double variety, and just inside a small black and white display listed the inhabitants of the building. One in particular, on the third floor, seemed out of place from the other telemarketing services and small businesses.

The third floor wasn't particularly well lit, only one bulb still worked and the walls that were once white offered up a dingy yellow. At the end of the hall was a single door with a large glass pane at the top. Black stenciled letterings read — Miles Hudson: Private Dick.

"Well shit. I can't believe that fuckin' shit worked."

Miles Hudson was 30 years old, 5'9, and fighting a losing battle with his receding brown hair. His brown eyes were expressive and could drop into any expression he needed from wide-eyed innocence to steel eyed, take no shit stare down. He had been nursing a five o'clock shadow for the last 10 years, ever since Miami Vice. He wore a cheap polyester suit of a dark brown color, topping the outfit with scruffy tennis shoes.

The office was small, containing a desk for the secretary/girl Friday. A door behind her opened into a slightly larger office that contained desk covered in peeling dark brown paint, and a beat-up filing cabinet with one side singed black and slightly caved in. Off to the side of the desk was the only new piece of equipment–a computer, always on, perched precariously along with its peripherals on some rickety milk crates.

A young woman leaned against the desk watching her boss count $200 in small bills. Her name was Vicky Leads. She had worked for Miles Hudson going on four years now and he could still surprise her with how low he could stoop–and the fact that she always ended up going there with him.

"Can I get out of this stuff now?"

"What? And deprive my desk of the most action it's had in two days?" Miles grinned at her. She was dressed as a two-dollar hooker, complete with navel ring. He shook his head. "I still can't believe that shit worked. Imagine someone believing that I was Vice."

Vicky grunted and stuck her wad of gum in the middle of the money stack. "Until you get someone who may have actually seen The Long Kiss Goodnight." She pushed off the desk and sauntered into the reception area to snag the ringing phone.

"Miles Hudson — Private Dick, how can we be of assistance?"

She listened for a few moments. "Please hold and I will see if Mr. Hudson is available." Vicky stuck her head in the door. "Boss, a live one."

"That's good," Miles answered as he read a newspaper that he picked up (off the same guy that had just paid off the vice squad this morning), "because our last client now is a dead one. The guy I sent those pictures to? Suicide. You did put that guy on hold, right?"

Vicky ignored her boss's last statement. "One Niclos Weiser, lost his wife and daughter sometime last night. Referral from Lou Davis, case file 1284."

"Ah yes, Lou and his ewe. Baah-d man." Miles had already called up the file on the computer. In a different world he would have been a computer programmer. Or a guy that hacked into the defense department's missile codes.

"Name's familiar." Vicky thought for a few moments. "Try Island News, 1994, May 4th. And maybe the W File."

"Let's see, now I know why he's so familiar. The Lieberman stock scandal. No evidence found against individuals, company shut down. I remember that week, I had a lot of work. People to follow, documents to photocopy then shred, lives to rebuild then destroy. And I never even went to college."

"When you get back from Nirvana, you do have a distraught client on line 1."

"Of course. Just let me get into my concerned mode." Teri Hatcher is a lesbian, Teri Hatcher is a lesbian. "Ok, I feel pretty grave." His voice was almost cracking with emotion.

Taking a deep breath, Miles punched up the W file, a little surprised that he already had three Weisers. Making a new file, he picked up the phone, slammed the line one button with his elbow, and typed in Niclos Weiser, reference Island News, May 4th, 1994.

"Miles Hudson here, I understand that you have some missing family members? How may I aid you in this difficult time?" Must muster up more emotion. Baywatch has been canceled. I just might cry. From the doorway, Vicky made gagging motions and then wandered back to the front desk.

Niclos Weiser started a bit as the voice spoke in his ear. He sat in his den, staring blurry eyed at the gin and tonic in front of him. "Um. Yes. Lou said you might be able to help me locate them. Gina, that's my wife, isn't at any of her usual haunts and has even missed a hair appointment."

"When did Gina go missing and where was she last seen?" If compassion was a cologne, Miles would reek of it. Granted, a very cheap cologne. He typed Gina's name under relatives making the notation for wife, possibly estranged.

"Um. First, how much is this going to cost?"

"Sir, I can't believe that you would think that I would even consider charging for such a service. Your wife and your daughter are lost in a city, one that I'm sorry to say isn't safe." Especially while I'm in it. "Please sir, the information, while there's still time."

"You mean you are not going to charge me anything?" Niclos asked incredulously, almost spilling his drink as he sat up.

"Sir, in my line of work, its rare to be able to perform a humanitarian act such as this. Usually it's jealous husbands wanting me to discourage their wife's lovers, a task I do well, but without enjoyment." My God, I was telling the truth until that last bit.

Niclos relaxed a little. "Well, sometime last night, I think."

Such precision. No wonder you went bankrupt. "Exactly when sir? Precision is vital in these cases, for the safety of those concerned."

Vicky entered the room, spraying potpourri. She struggled to open the window and slipped him a note. "Daughter, Rebecca — School: Cookston Jr. High, not there yet."

On the other end of the phone, Niclos's mouth dropped open. Safety? "That's just it, I'm not exactly sure. I was out driving around till this morning. Our housekeeper doesn't know either. Only overnight bags were packed."

"Hmmm," he said, apparently thoughtful, as he checked out the New London Sunshine girl on page 3. Miles actually was lost in thought for a moment, but not about this case. "What is your address sir? And did your wife take the car?"

Miles typed in the address. Two programs started up almost simultaneously. One checked incoming and outgoing phone calls from the address and the other checked with the cab companies for any fare's picked up in a block radius.

"No. I had the car," Niclos replied just as the phone record came up. One call — London Carriages Cab Company. And sure enough, Cab 32. Picked up a fare at 12:01, no destination logged. Mmmm, Miles thought, didn't give an address right away, I wonder why…

"Mr. Weiser," Miles continued, snapping his fingers at Vicky, "here's where we go from here. I'll do some preliminary work and, God willing, I'll be able to bring them home to you by tomorrow. Don't worry, I'll make this case my first, no, no, my ONLY priority." It being my only case… "I will call you the second I know anything."

Miles hung up the phone and grabbed his jacket, stuffing the two hundred dollars in his pants pocket. Vicky held up a piece of paper with the name of the driver of Cab 32. As Miles closed the door, Vicky shot after him, "So I take it you'll never be calling Mr. Weiser back?"

"Good secretaries are so hard to find. I wish I was able to afford one," he fired back.

"So do I."

I hate it when she gets the last word.

An hour later, Miles paid for the meal and waited for Angelo Marsteni to settle down a bit.

"So, tell me about this… unusual fare you had last night." It must have been weird when he hasn't hit me up for money, he wants to get this off his chest.

"Man, weird isn't the word. I mean I've seen some crazy stuff but… This is the way it went down. I pull up to house and out comes a mother and her daughter. At least I think they were mother and daughter. The little girl seemed to be in control, couldn't have been more then 13. So they climb into the cab. The girl tells me to drive towards the middle of town."

Angelo leaned into the table, really getting into his story. Miles could tell he had told it several times already. "Now the mother, she was all dolled up and sporting a nicely developing hand print on the side of her face. Reminded me of picking up female fares in Hamilton after they had given attitude to their pimp. And the little girl was spaced out or something. Crazy little bitch even jumped out of my cab before I had come to a complete stop. Can you imagine what that would have done to my insurance?"

"Then she jumps back into the car and gives me directions in this far away voice. Turn right here, go two blocks, turn left here. That sort of shit. Through the whole thing her mother doesn't say a bloody word. Weird huh? Here's the weirdest part. I swear that a few times, her mother looked frightened of the girl. I wasn't too happy about having her in my cab either, but I think her mother was afraid of her."

Miles could see the story form in his mind. Niclos Weiser, a man who has fallen on hard times, but still perseveres. His family, on the other hand, falls into the terrible pit of drug addiction. A mere child of 13, and her mother, victims of her pimp/lover/pusher, but more on him/her/it later. This night, Niclos could take no more. He snapped and committed the most horrible act he could conceive of, so horrible that he purged it from his mind. He struck his wife. Brief pause for effect, perhaps a tear from Niclos. It would play great in court, especially if Miles got his brother to do the case. His wife and daughter, one on valium the other on LSD, flee to the arms of their monster lover who lives at…

Miles shook his head as he threw his jacket on his desk and sat down to run the address through his computer. If only all my cases were this easy. Hello, Mr. Nathaniel Hawkins. English citizenship. A brief call to his contact at immigrations revealed that Mr. Hawkins was working on landed immigrant status. Currently on a work visa. Single. No known sexual deviations. He was an untenured professor of Humanities at the University of New London. Safe for the University, not for him, especially in the face of a scandal. A half hour later, Miles had a pretty accurate picture of the life of Nathaniel Hawkins. His unremarkable dissertation from his trip to Egypt, his unremarkable academic career. He glanced over at the picture of him. He has a thing for turtlenecks, but young and good looking. So I am sure that his class lists are gold mines. But first…

Miles Hudson picked up the phone and made a call to his cousin Arnie at BC Power. Mr. Hawkins, your power bills are about to go into arrears. And that's just the beginning, air conditioning can be a real bitch. God, I love my job.

"Vicky, run this list for me, okay?"