This is Chapter 3 of “Waltzing in the Snow” — my experiment in serialized fiction. If you missed chapters 1 & 2, scroll down to catch up!
Chapter 3: To Catch the Conscience of the Playwright
Detective Morgan called Amanda Sommer as soon as he heard about the young woman’s body.
“Ms. Sommer, it’s John Morgan. I know it’s been a while…”
“Detective Morgan, please call me Amanda. I cried on your shoulder over thirty years ago. I think that qualifies as a bonding moment.”
The detective laughed.
“We may have found her.”
“Candace? Now? Really?”
“I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but the barrette — the pink crystal and silver barrette — the one you described was found with the body, holding a clump, of long, dark hair.”
“Oh my God! It’s Candace!”
“We still have to do more tests. I know we never got a set of dental records, but…”
“There must be DNA, skin cells or hairs or whatever. I gave you everything you asked for in 1981.”
“But the science was less sophisticated then. My hope is that the items we collected, in the hope of finding fingerprints, will net us some DNA for comparison. The remains are, superficially, very much like your friend. Same height, long, dark hair, jeans…”
“Where was she found?”
“A warehouse in Long Beach, Nassau County. It was a construction site in 1981. There was another body there too.”
“They are busy making an ID right now. We have dental records so the work should go fast on this one — provided we’re right.”
“Who do you think it is? Detective, who?”
“Why do I know that name?”
“He was a Russian mobster.”
“Candace spoke Russian. Her parents were Russian. She worked as a waitress at a Russian restaurant in the East Village. “
“I know. I wanted to talk to you before you read about it. We won’t know anything for a while, but…. I also wanted to know how things are going with the foundation.”
“It’s slow going. Some progress with a few cases — more than a few runaways identified, but so many young women simply disappear into the void. So many are like Candace. We won’t find them until a body turns up.”
“I know. It’s a harsh world.”
“Add the human trafficking…”
“Ms. … er Amanda, I’ve been meaning to connect you to the human trafficking task force. Some good people in charge — I’ll email you tomorrow.”
“Thanks, Detective, and keep me posted.”
Amanda thought about the pink crystal barrette she’d given Candace as a birthday present and cried. Her friend had died wearing it.
Daniel had a second drink and bought a round of Irish coffees for the young Highline couple before heading back home to his desk. He didn’t even notice that he had phone messages until he reached for his landline to call his agent. He wanted to leave her a message and tell her that even his bartender had seen his appearance on Theater Rap.
Mr. Blake, this is Detective Morgan. We met in 1981 when we spoke to you about your missing friend, Candace Gregore. There’s been a break in the case, or we think there is and… we’d like to talk to you…
Daniel remembered meeting Detective Morgan. In 1981 he was the junior partner in a duo of plainclothes cops. Barron, the senior partner, had been dismissive of everything Daniel and Amanda told him, but Morgan seemed to really listen. Now, Morgan was likely on his way to retirement. Daniel returned the call and got the detective’s voicemail. He left a message with his mobile number and said he hoped to hear from the detective as soon as possible.
Daniel made a few notes on the dialog and then started to clean the kitchen. He felt guilty. He’d felt guilty since the day that Candace disappeared and the success of his book had only made him feel worse. Candace had called him that night. He was writing and, instead of picking up the phone, he’d let her leave a message on his old answering machine. He wound up giving the tape to Detective Morgan. He didn’t need it to remember what she had said.
It’s a beautiful night, Dan, come out and play with me! I’m going to take a long walk in the moonlight. Remember when we waltzed in the snow. It’s going to be better than that. Pick up the phone. Oh well, I’ll dance in the moonlight alone.