The Memory House

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72 Hours

Berkshire, Massachusetts

He splashed cold water on his face several times, exhaling a breath each time. Blindly, with water still dripping on his face, he turned the water off and reached for the paper towels. Drying his face with a single swipe, he then wadded the paper in his hand and braced himself on either side of the standalone sink. Under the harsh fluorescent light, he stared into the mirror, glaring at his own reflection.

His perfectly round, brown eyes were accentuated by strong features; prominent jawline, cheekbones and nose, bushy eyebrows heavy set over his eyes. He scratched at his scruffy face, unfamiliar with the feeling, and judged himself with a disgusted look.

A knock at the door caused him to blink but he didn’t look away from his face, as though he wasn’t done glaring at his reflection. “What.” He called to the door.

“Tim,” A voice called from the other side, as though confirming it really was him.

“Yeah, Al. What?” he finally stepped away from the sink and tossed the wadded paper towel into the trashcan, his thin lips drawn in even thinner with distress.

“We think we have something.”

Tim huffed and stepped over to the door and unlocked it as he swiftly opened it, revealing the bustle of the building’s lobby. Men and women dressed in suits and pencil skirts walked briskly through the marbled lobby with briefcases in hand and phones in their ears. Neither man paid them any mind as they stood in the doorway of the male restroom.

“Think or know?” His brows knitted with concentration as he slicked back his short, military-cut style hair.

Al, a heavy set but muscular man, stood in front of Tim and adjusted his oval shaped glasses on his nose. “Think, but isn’t that better than nothing?” He asked and put his hands on his hips.

“Depends.” Tim pushed by the other man but Al grabbed Tim by the forearm and effectively stopped him just as they were side by side.

“We’ll find her, Francis....” Al called him by his last name, turning his head to look him in the eye. “We will.” A man passed by them, nodding as a silent greeting to the two men and they both nodded politely in return.

“It’s been 72 hours since she officially went missing- Hold the door?” Tim called after the man who’d passed by them to summon the elevator. Both men walked quickly to the elevator where the man had effectively stopped the doors from shutting by placing a hand over the pocket doors. “-and who knows if she’d been missing the entire time she’d been on ‘vacation’… no one can find Jackson either.” He muttered dejectedly though his eyes were still set with cold determination. Tim stepped onto the elevator, behind Al, and just as he turned back to face the front of the cab, the doors closed.

Al nodded his thanks to the third man in the elevator, “She’s a tough girl, we’ll get her. –Four, please.” He encouraged then replied to the familiar man, who pressed 7 then 4 on the panel of buttons.

Tim Francis nodded once curtly as though afraid to reply whether in disagreement or agreement.

The elevator doors opened at the 3rd floor and they stepped to the side to make room for the two business women to step on.

“You look like you could use some rest.” Al added quietly as the elevator doors re-closed, the bigger man was smashed up against the left corner of the cab now that the elevator was filled with five people.

“I could use some peace of mind.” Tim rubbed his eye as though the mention of ‘rest’ made him realize how exhausted he really was.

“Well you look like shit.” He commented bluntly.

Tim blinked in mock shock then grunted in response- disheartened by the bleak situation.

The bell dinged its arrival to the 4th floor and the two men squeezed their way to the front of the cab and together stepped from the elevator into the main hall. The elevator doors closed and Tim moved to step forward, towards the double glass doors that separated the corridor from the main office.

Together, they each pushed open a door that led into an active office, where several people were running around waving papers in the air, comparing notes, and pointing at computer screens- despite their business they all, at one point or another, looked up to give Tim a sympathetic look.

“Why do they keep looking at me like that?” He grumbled and looked at Al with his peripheral vision.

“It’s not every day we lose one of our own…” Al replied with just as low a tone.

Tim swallowed with difficulty and turned towards his desk, not bothering to reply, while Al went to his office.

The US Marshall Emblem that hung on the wall by the door went overlooked by all in the office.


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