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Where has my daughter gone?
The old dying mustang pulled up to the apartment complex which Maggie Donner was living in, it was a run down graffiti riddled cesspool. The homeless slept on the sidewalks with their make shifted homes and tents, the effect of the economic boom of the nation, the new poor of this generation, thirty and homeless with no where to live but the streets. “ The lengths a mother will go to find her daughter.” Peewee told Karen, staring at the apartment with heartbreak, knowing each visit ended the same, Maggie in tears, pleading for him to find Lisa , just to end the suffering that would drown her each night, Causing her to wake up from her nightmare and run to the phone, hoping her daughter would call as she always did each morning before work.
“ Okay, well, we better head up.” His voice was firm, but his will was weak, here he was with no further progress, just a bucket of false hope to ease her burden.
They exited the car and made their way inside. A few homeless folks slept in the hallways, in the stairwell was a woman tying herself off, ready to inject heroin into her veins. She eyed them from head to toe, wondering if they were cops. “ Best leave me alone, bitch, you ain’t better than me !” She screamed at them as they passed her by. “ You fucking assholes, you better keep walking.” They did nothing to set her off, it was just the natural instinct, a tick, when you were broken and defeated, everyone seemed like an enemy to you, mocking you and judging you with their eyes, pointing out the fall from grace you knew you had become. “ You don’t know my story, you don’t know the life I’ve lived.” Truth.
They reached Maggie’s apartment, before they could knock, the door opened. “ Peewee, you came!” Maggie cradled her cell phone in her hands. “ Come in, who is she?” She was taken back by Karen‘s tattooed arms.
“ She’s my associate. Karen, this is Maggie, Maggie this is Karen.” He introduced one another.
Karen had seen the photos of Maggie, she had long blonde hair, a face that never seem to age. That drastically changed with the months. She could tell Maggie wasn’t getting any sleep, the bags and dark circles under her eyes were proof of that. She even had lost a few pounds, her face was much thinner from past photos. The clothes she wore seem to almost barely cling on her. She wore a stain pink shirt, and baggy sweat pants. “ Come in, come in.” She opened the door, inviting them to make themselves at home. The entire apartment was a pigsty, It was litter with garbage and old news papers, insects crawled at the corner of the living room, and the stench of old food roamed in the air. Karen could see the deteriorating of Maggie Donner mind over her missing daughter. The old photos of Lisa as a child were littered around the house, Maggie was clinging on to the past, unable to come to terms with a future without her only daughter. Karen wondered if any news they brought would ease this woman’s already cracked psyche.
Both Peewee and Karen took a seat on a couple of boxes as Maggie sat on a wooden creaky chair. “ How’s everything, Mag?” Peewee spoke to her as an old friend.
“ Everything is fine,” She glanced constantly at the cell phone in her hand. “ just been working, trying to pay the bills.”
“ Do you need any money?” He asked her.
“ No, I’m doing fine, hon.” Peewee had loaned Maggie some money the last time he was here, she felt bad for not being able to pay him back. Her husband was the bread winner, but he refused for his wife to carry on the search. He like the others, thought Lisa had ran away out of her own free will.“
You just didn’t allow her to live her own life, you always kept hovering over her, why do you think she moved to New York, to escape you!” Maggie flinched in the seat, as her husband words replayed in her head, it was on the night he tossed away Lisa’s clothes in the fireplace, “ She’s not coming back, so stop all this right now!” No matter how hard she cried, he was willing to accept his daughter was never coming back, so he destroyed every last thing that used to be her.
“ I would offer you something to eat, but, I haven’t had time to head to the grocery store.” Maggie bit on her finger nails.
“ It’s alright, you texted me.” Peewee tried to keep Maggie focused. “ I’m guessing you wanted to know about the case?”
“ Do you know where she is?” Her voice was mixed with anticipation and fear.
“ Maggie, we think whatever happened to Lisa, is happening to other women as well.” Peewee cleared his throat.
“ Are you saying someone’s taking other girls, like my Lisa?” Karen could see it in the eyes of the poor woman, nothing was really sinking in, her mind just seem to wonder back to her old life. “ I wonder if this phone works.” Maggie stared at the cell in her hand, losing focus on what was in front of her.
Peewee carried on. “ Another girl, went missing, her name was Janet Morales.”
Karen interrupted Peewee to ask her own question, something that would keep Maggie Donner with them. “ How would you describe your daughter, Mrs. Donner?”
Peewee looked over to Karen. “ What are you doing?” She never answered.
“ She was a sweet girl,” Maggie began to smile. “ everyone loved her, she could make you laugh, she would just love you with open arms.”
“ How was Lisa’s past relationships?”
“ They were good.” Maggie darted her eyes to the floor.
“ That’s a lie.” Karen shot at Maggie.
“ What are you doing?” Peewee asked once more.
“ She was too good for them.” Maggie spat out angrily. “ Those little fuckers never could love her, they just used her, they used my angel.”
“ Maggie,” Karen voice began to soften as she saw Maggie returning back to the present, stepping away from the past. “ the last phone call you received from Lisa, what did you two talk about?”
“ I could have told you.” Peewee pulled on her arm.
“ I want to hear it for myself.” She moved Peewee’s hand away. “ Tell me what you two talked about.”
“ She would always call me before heading to work, she asked me how everything was back home, I filled her in on everything, then she told me about him.” She let a out scream of pain, she couldn’t relieve that moment again, the last time she heard her daughter’s voice.
“ Cool it.” Peewee demanded. “ All Lisa told her, was that she met a guy.”
“ What was his name?” Karen asked, she cold see the hate in Peewee’s eyes, the last thing he wanted to do was bring harm to this woman, make her relieve that agony. “ Maggie, if you want us to help you, you have to remember every little detail.”
“ His name was Gerard,” She sobbed. “ She told me they met a few weeks ago, and that she felt he could be the one.”
“ Where did they meet?” Karen asked.
“ The metropolitan museum of art.”
“ Why would Lisa go there,” Peewee stood silent, he was wondering where Karen was going with this. “ was she a fan of art?”
“ She liked paintings at a young age, she even drew some masterful ones.”
“ Did she even describe Gerard to you?”
“ Yes,” Peewee was in utter disbelief, not once did Maggie tell him a description of the charming man. “ He was tall, he had dark hair, she said she was handsome.”
“ What does that say?” Peewee asked Karen.
“ It means he either was stalking her before they met, getting to know everything about her or he enjoys art himself, I‘m willing to place my bet on the second.” Karen bit on her lip, thinking of the description given from Maggie and the waitress at the Midnight Heat “ The description we have don’t match.”
“ So, what, the Midnight Heat is not our guy.” Peewee slumped in his chair.
“ No,” Peewee was puzzled as Karen spoke. “ It means he’s careful.”
“ Disguises?” There was doubt in Peewee’s voice, even he felt that to be a stretch. “ Impossible.”
“ He’s not stupid, Peewee, if he’s taken more girls, he’s not going to walk out in the streets looking like himself.” Karen looked back at Maggie who was still cleaning the tears from her eyes. “ Maggie, did you guys ever check Lisa’s phone calls from her cell phone provider?”
“ No,” She shook her head. “ The fake letter came in days before the cops could look any further.”
“ Why didn’t you check it?” Karen asked Peewee.
“ Not as simple.” He said.
“ I’m sure we’ll find a way to get that info.” She smiled at him.
“ Yes ma’am.” It was refreshing to see that old fighting spirit return back to his friend, that was the girl he fell head over heels for, that’s the one he needed now, the one Maggie deserved.
“ Why aren’t the cops doing anything?” Maggie said.
“ There’s no body, mag.” Peewee told her.
“ What about the dead girl you told me about, you said they found DNA?”
“ I was ahead of myself, Mag‘s. They found the guy behind that, he‘s dead.” There were times when Peewee couldn’t take the look of disappointment on Maggie’s face, every time he let her down there was a blow to his heart, she put so much faith into him and still he had brought her nothing.
“ Will you ever find him?” Maggie said to them.
Karen interrupted Peewee before he could utter a single word. “ Of course, you‘ve given us a lot to go on, before you know it, we‘ll have the son of bitch in our hands.”
Maggie blew a sigh of relief, it was a comforting notion, knowing retribution would be paid. “Just, be careful.” Maggie knew as they did as well, the risk of hunting down a serial killer. There could be repercussions.
“ He’ll never see us coming, Maggie.” Peewee reassured her by holding on to her hand, he smiled at her with that boyish smile.
“ Thank you.” She squeezed his hand back.
Even though they were complete strangers, they both had formed a bound that seem to be mother and son like, though they didn’t share the affection as openly as others, it was evident in the way they spoke to each other and the small grasps of affection. It made Peewee think of his own mother and how he should visit her more often. Perhaps when the case was over and when he could hang a good deed around his neck, in the mean time he had a promise to keep. “ If you need anything, call me. I’ll be here.”
After all the goodbyes, they were back in the car, driving home ready to pour a few more hours trying to figure the what, when and where. “ What was all that about?” Peewee asked, still upset with the way Karen forced herself on Maggie.
“ I had to shake her out of whatever hole she was in, “ She turned over to Peewee. “ I know the last thing you want to bring to her is pain, but sometimes you have to shake people out of the lie they’re living in, for better or worse, or they‘ll just end up running away their entire life.”