Derek the hound had the scent. I followed him with a torch through the copse of trees behind the Leary household. Mr. Leary had vanished two days before. Mrs. Leary said her husband had run away with the car and the cash from the safe underneath the bed. We’d found the car the day before. It was empty. Bashed up, but empty. Smashed windows, but no Mr. Leary, no blood, no cash.
We’d seen this before. He fakes it – doesn’t tell the children, who are six and eight in this case, and runs away from a woman he doesn’t love, a house he doesn’t like and a life he wants to change. Leave the car by the side of the road. Could burn it, but that sometimes gets attention too quickly; someone out with their bike sees the smoke, calls the police. You know. Sometimes it was kids burning tyres in the woods, an old hobo making some beans, or maybe it was the smoking husk of a runaway husband’s car. It’s always best to check. We’ve had good experiences with cyclists.
This time we weren’t so sure. The new detective ran some checks. He was keen to show us how he worked. Mr. Leary didn’t fit our blueprint. Young (ish), happy children, no attempted suicides, well-paid job, nice neighbourhood and no history of alcoholic violence; it seemed his wife was quick to judge him, that was maybe a clue to his nature, but I could see it was her narrative, something she’d constructed, him running away like that. I think it’s because she didn’t want to think about it. What might’ve actually happened to Mr. Leary.
Nor did I.
Then Derek stopped at my side in the copse of trees.
I asked what it was.
He sniffed the ground. Tugged.
I lifted the torch, and protruding from the ground was a hand with curled fingers, dirtied by the earth.
From their window I knew the children were watching. I quietly radioed the boys at the car and I told to bring a shovel and a bag.
I dropped Derek a treat from my pocket.
Good old dog.
Via the Daily Prompt: Scent
Really should try and write something cheery for one of these prompts.
You can check out my other prompt responses below.