Chapter 21: Missing
It was Tuesday morning, but it felt more like a Monday, at least to Juliet. Shawn never really had a grasp on what day of the week it was. Juliet stayed home the day before with Avery to help her get settled and recover from the scary events of the last few days. Now it was time for her to return to work and for Avery to return to school. Life had to go on.
Juliet’s Beetle, driven by Shawn, pulled up to the SBPD headquarters. Juliet kissed Shawn and reminded him of her excitement for their ultrasound – in only a few hours they would know whether they were expecting a baby boy or girl!
“10:45, remember. The appointment is at 11:00. I don’t want to be late.”
“Don’t worry Jules. I’m so excited, I’ll probably be here by 10:30! See ya later Doodlepumpkin!”
Juliet got out of the passenger door and at the same time Avery got out from the backseat so that she could replace Juliet’s position in the front.
“Pssst!” said Shawn trying to get Juliet’s attention while Avery was out of the car and out of earshot. Juliet leaned into the passenger window to listen to what he had to say. “Remember to keep an eye on Trout and the others for any suspicious behavior,” and then with extra worry in his voice. “I don’t like this.” He sighed. He meant that he didn’t like the idea of Juliet working just paces away from a potential arsonurder, and Juliet knew that.
“Don’t worry. I’ll be fine. I’ll see you in a little bit.”
Juliet opened the door and allowed Avery to sit in the front seat. “Have a good day at school, Avery.”
“Bye, Juliet,” said Avery. Shawn watched uneasily as Juliet hobbled up the steps into the station and when she was out of sight he put the car in gear and headed towards Avery’s school.
“Sooo, what did you find out about the fire yesterday?” asked Avery as the Beetle turned onto Main St.
Shawn hesitated. He was hoping she wouldn’t ask. He didn’t want to tell her that he suspected the Chief of Police of covering up an arson, and maybe even setting fire, to her own house.
He didn’t want to believe it himself but he couldn’t deny that the man he saw slinking behind the bushes that night fit the description of Trout. Even if it was a vague enough description to have been almost any muscular, blonde-haired man, something about it just made him feel like his suspicions were correct, and somehow he felt like it shouldn’t be something that he should share with Avery. He didn’t want her to be scared. She had been through enough already. He had to tell her something, though, to put her mind at ease and let her know the he was on her side.
“Well, Avery, I believe you that it wasn’t an accident, but it’s still hard to say who might have done it. I’m doing my best to find out though.”
It occurred to him that if Trout was the creepy man at her house the other night, then he was probably the same creepy man that she saw at the marina two months earlier. She seemed to believe that it was the same man, anyway. The evidence was screaming to Shawn that Trout was up to something no good and he was willing to bet that it had something to do with those mysterious phone calls to his mother, or whoever it was that he was calling, which also meant that Wallace and Crofton were in on it too. He was thanking God that Juliet was on desk duty now and not working in the field with these guys. He made a mental note to go back to the marina and try to determine what they might have been up to that night, but doubted that he would be able to find evidence of something that happened two months ago. He looked to his right to see Avery looking at him impatiently with her arms crossed.
“What?” he asked.
“Come on son!” said Avery imitating Shawn and Gus. “I’m not stupid. I know you have some idea who the creepy guy is and you’re not telling me.”
“Wow, Jules wasn’t lying when she said you were perceptive. Look, Avery, I think it’s just safer for you if you didn’t know.”
“But you have to tell me! I hired you on this case and if you don’t tell me…I’ll fire you!” said Avery getting upset.
“Ha! You know that threat only works for people who are paying me, and seeing as you are a teenager without a job and staying in my house and eating my food, then technically I am paying you. Well, technically Jules is paying you mostly…”
“Who says I wasn’t going to pay you?!” argued Avery, “My dad is rich, remember, I can pay you your full rate and reimburse you for any costs I accumulate while staying with you.”
“You are not going to pay me.”
“You are not paying me and that’s final!”
“That’s not f-ing fair! I’ll investigate on my own then!” said Avery in full teenage rebellion.
“Hey! Just for that language, missy, you are grounded! Try investigating now!” Shawn was unaware of how father-y he was starting to sound.
“You can’t ground me! I’m not even your kid!”
“You think so? Well, guess what? As long as you are living under my roof, I make the rules, which means you are grounded! So there! ...Holy shit! What is happening to me?”
“Now, who’s using the bad language?”
Just as those words exited Avery’s mouth, Shawn saw a black SUV pull out in front of him. He stepped on the brake and turned the wheel as far as he could to the right. The Beetle made a full circle and stopped halfway on the sidewalk, knocking over a parking meter.
“Are you ok?” said Shawn after he overcame the initial shock.
“Fine,” said Avery who was still clutching onto the passenger door with her right hand and the center console with her left.
Just then, Shawn saw a black-gloved hand reach in through the open passenger’s side window and cover Avery’s mouth. Before he could say or do anything, though, he felt something hit him on the back of the head and his vision went black.
Juliet looked at the clock. It was 10:50. Shawn was five minutes late. At this point they were barely going to make it to the ultrasound on time. She waited a few more minutes and then pulled out her cell phone and selected Shawn’s speed dial. She waited again as it rang five times and then went to voicemail.
“Shawn, it’s almost 11:00. Where are you?” she spoke into the phone. “We are going to be late. Either get here, or call me back ASAP!” She waited a few more minutes staring at the phone and willing it to ring. When it didn’t, she picked it up texted an even angrier message.
The clock struck 11:00. She and Shawn should already be sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, but she was still here sitting at her desk at the station waiting for him to pick her up.
Remembering that Trout didn’t want Shawn inside the station anymore, she thought he might be waiting outside. Maybe he left his phone somewhere again and that’s why he wasn’t answering. She got up and peeked outside, but Shawn and her green Beetle were nowhere to be seen, so she went back to her desk.
From across the station, Lassiter noticed Juliet tapping her pencil on the desk anxiously and first looking to make sure that Crofton, Wallace, or Trout were not watching him, went to see what was agitating her.
“O’Hara, what’s wrong?” he said, approaching her desk and pulling up a chair beside her.
“Oh. Shawn’s late picking me up for our ultrasound. If we miss this, I am going to kill him!”
“Please do,” said Lassiter. These kind of statements directed towards Spencer were almost instinctual by now. Still Juliet was noticeably annoyed by it.
“Hey,” defended Lassiter. “I’m just saying, I would never do this to Marlowe if it were the two of us waiting to find out the sex of our baby.”
Juliet’s eyes widened in interest. “Wait! Carlton, are you saying that you and Marlowe are…”
“No. No. I’m not saying that. It’s just hypothetical. I still haven’t knocked her up yet.”
“A word of advice, Carlton, women don’t like it when you say ‘knocked up’”
“Yeah. Yeah,” said Lassiter as his head began turning in all directions, looking around the station.
“What are you doing, Carlton?” asked Juliet.
“Uh. Don’t you think it’s a little weird that Trout hasn’t interrupted us yet?”
“Uh…yeah…” she agreed. “Where is he, anyway?”
“I’m not sure. I haven’t seen him in a while. For that matter, I haven’t seen Crofton, either…or Wallace…” He stood up and continued to look about the station for signs of any of them, but they were nowhere to be found.
Juliet’s anger over Shawn’s lateness was starting to turn into worry. “How long have they been gone? Didn’t you see them leave? I thought you were supposed to be keeping an eye on them!”
“You were too, O’Hara.”
“But you know you have a better view of them from your desk…and I’ve been too anxious today to worry about any of that…Oh my God! Where is Shawn?” By this time Juliet was on her feet, pacing and looking around the station.
“O’Hara, calm down. Just call him and find out where he is.”
“I did! He’s not answering!”
Even Lassiter was now getting noticeably nervous. He grabbed Juliet’s arms to keep her from pacing and to try to calm her. “Ok. I’ll call Henry. You call Gus. We’ll see if either of them have seen or heard from him today.” The both dialed the respective numbers and spoke to the men on the other line.
“So?” questioned Juliet, as Lassiter hung up his phone.
“Henry hasn’t seen him.”
“Neither has Gus.”
Juliet pulled out her phone again and started dialing.
“Who are you calling now?” asked Lassiter.
“Avery’s school. Shawn drove her to school this morning.”
While she was on phone, Lassiter began asking others around the station about the last time they saw Trout, Wallace, or Crofton. No one could recall seeing any of them since early that morning.
He stood in front of Juliet as she finished her phone call. All of the color had drained out of her face. “Avery never made it to school today.”