16 April 2010

"You Have One New Message"

By Curtis C. Chen


Hi, Paul. It's Jenny, from the bar last night. I was there with my girlfriends. You bought us a round of Maker's before I left?

Anyway. The reason I'm calling is because I swiped your wallet. Sorry about that. I figured you'd get your credit card back from the bartender when you settled your tab, and you'd still be able to pay for a cab.

Okay, you know what? Hell with it. I know you got home okay because I saw you. I tailed you from the bar. So I know you went home with Amber, and I know she didn't leave this morning, and you did.

I'm not sure what's going on, but I'm giving you a chance to explain. Call back and leave a message.


Amber. Jen. Where the hell are you? Call me.


Hello, Paul, it's Jenny again. Don't threaten me. You do not want to fuck with me. Lifting wallets and finding unlisted phone numbers are the least of what I can do.

And don't lie to me. I know there's no back door to your place. I know Amber hasn't come home or gone to work since the night she met you.

Listen... I'm sure this is all just some crazy mix-up, right? Let's meet back at the bar, have a drink, and you can explain everything and we can all have a good laugh about it. You've got my number. Call me.


Amber, this is not what I meant when I said you had more leash. You're off the reservation. Report in before I have to notify the station chief.


Paul! Jenny. I underestimated you. That won't happen again.

Lucky for both of you, the officer who walked into your booby trap is still alive. So the only thing we're warranted for is assault.

I'm only going to say this once. We are more concerned with Amber's safety than we are with nailing you. Just tell us where she is, and you can skip town—hell, leave the country. Let Amber go, and we can look the other way on this. Just don't do anything stupid.


Agent Jennifer Carlyle. Field report. Case number five-eight-one-alpha.

Suspect Paul Nevins was apprehended with minimal injury and limited property damage at sixteen-oh-six today. Firearms discharged. No civilian casualties.

We found partially burned human remains in the trunk of Nevins' vehicle. I made a preliminary ID from Agent Brandt's necklace and earrings. City coroner is matching dental records.

The good news is, Nevins had no idea who Amber was. Repeat, no breach. It was pure dumb luck that she picked a psychopath to go home with that night. Our cover is still intact.

And, for the record—I want this on the record—Amber put up a fight before she died. Nevins already had a broken jaw and a fractured wrist before we cuffed him. Her training didn't fail her. We did. I did.

I'm taking some time off, Gordon. I think I've earned it. Maybe a week, maybe longer.

Don't call me.



Photo: telephone at Pittock Mansion, December, 2009