The Porter house was a fifties tract house papered in faded wallpaper and jammed full of thick silence pierced by the steady beat of Steve’s sobs as he sat in a lumpy chair, looking out the front window at the night. Strickland knew he didn’t see the neighbors’ twinkling Christmas lights and he didn’t see the full moon. He doubted he saw anything but the dark. It’s all he had left. He’d told Donnelly, Nava and Canon everything he remembered about that day, then he shut down. Strickland turned to Rhea.
“Anything else you remember?” he asked the panicked, gangly teen trying to disappear into the wall she cowered against. “Any one in Joe’s seem unusual or maybe they were gone when you noticed Aggie gone, too?”
Rhea shook her head and briefly looked him in the eye, “I don’t think so—“
“Jesus!” Stel screamed at her, “Think! You had to see something besides the fucking food–!”
Rhea froze, immobilized by Stel’s rage and her own guilt. The pain in her eyes was heartbreaking to Strickland. That pain was why, at thirty seven, Strickland still didn’t have kids. His ex-wife was sure she could talk him into it or at least fuck him into it. She came close, too but then he made the Exploited Kids Division and he saw what people did to them. He saw the bodies. He saw the damage. And every single time it broke him. He couldn’t imagine if one was his own. He looked at the pictures Stel had given him. In one, Aggie looked right at him, her half smile seemed to say, “I’m lost forever.” He shoved it to the bottom of the stack of five.
“I’ll get these photos back to you soon as we make copies—”
He looked back at Rhea, wanting to talk to her but Stel held on to him.
“You’ll find her.” She said.
He wanted to say, “Don’t get your hopes up.” But he knew, until a body was found, there would always be hope. And that was not a good thing.
“We’ll try our best, Mrs. Porter.”
He handed Rhea a little rainbow notepad note-pad and pen, wrote down his number and told her to write down anything she remembered and to call him, “Anytime.”