It’s time for chapter 6 of my youth mystery novel, What Was Lost. If you are wondering why I am suddenly writing youth fiction, please read the explanation by clicking here.
Chapter 6 – Forget It
The next day was Sunday, and Milton woke up late. He could hear his parents bustling about downstairs, getting ready to go to church. Groggily, he rolled out of bed, grabbed the mysterious paper, and hurried to get dressed.
He walked into Sunday school that morning with Hudson and saw Hannah across the room. She glanced over to see who was coming in and waved. He waved back. It was good to at least be on waving terms again. He took his seat with the other guys. Milton was so tired he had a hard time concentrating that morning, but for the lesson the youth pastor had them turn to Psalm 78.
“This is a long Psalm, 72 verses total,” his pastor began. “It’s really a piece of wisdom literature, kind of like a proverb, that God intends for us to take to heart so we can become wise. Wisdom is taking knowledge and skillfully applying it to life. For instance, think about that truck that disappeared this week on I-25. Wasn’t that close to your house, Milton?”
Up to this point Milton had been dozing off, but suddenly he sat bolt upright. He knew his youth pastor had asked him on purpose to wake him up, and it worked.
“Uh, yeah,” he replied. Now he was wide awake.
“It’s a pretty crazy story,” his pastor continued, “the facts from eyewitnesses alone will not solve this mystery. Investigators need wisdom to figure out, based on the facts, what happened and who is to blame. The same is true for us. We need wisdom to figure out, based on the facts, what is the best way to live our Christian life. So the Psalm writer talks about the history of Israel, and how the people in that nation could have applied wisdom in their own lives but failed. What did they do wrong? Well the Israelites were supposed to teach their children God’s law, as verse 5 tells us, and verse 6 tells us why,
‘that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments;’
And here in these first few verses we see the problem. The Israelites were to tell the truth to their children, the next generation, so they would ‘not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.’ The whole Psalm is riddled with this problem of forgetting. Look at verse 11, “They forgot his works and the wonders that he had shown them.” Then again in verse 42, ‘They did not remember his power or the day when he redeemed them from the foe.’ Over and over again Israel tested God. He disciplines them as a loving father, so that they would remember what he has told them. But they kept forgetting the truth…”
Milton’s mind wandered as the pastor continued. The initial shock of being called out in class had worn off, and he was still zoned. He started thinking about that paper with the mysterious information. Perhaps, like his youth pastor had just said, investigators needed more facts to help them figure out the mystery. Perhaps his paper held the answers. Who should he talk to?
Then his mind lit up with an idea—what was the name of that reporter he saw on the computer that night? He put his hand in his pocket and felt the paper crinkle. It was still there. He had some research to do when he got home.
Back at home that afternoon, after lunch, Milton hopped on the computer to dig up the old video. He remembered it was a local news station, but that video clip was old. He hoped he could find it. After about 20 minutes of clicking through endless videos, he suddenly recognized the scene. Same man, same well-groomed look, same dark highway. Bingo! He hit play.
“Good morning, I’m Warren Kramer with 9 News—” Milton hit pause. Warren Kramer with 9 News. He googled the name and station and found a page with a link that said, “Someone specific: If you’d like to connect directly with an individual member of our team, you can find them all here.” There he was, Warren Kramer, cell phone and all. Milton dialed the number as he walked upstairs to his room.
It rang twice, three times, then four. Milton was getting ready to leave a voicemail when, to his surprise, an energetic voice answered, “Warren Kramer, 9 News.”
“Oh, hey! Uh, well, hi!” Milton stumbled over his words. He hadn’t actually thought about what he was going to say next. “My name’s Milton.”
“Hey Milton, what can I do for you?” Warren responded.
“Well I had seen your report on the missing truck online, I just happened to be up late that night, and I thought it was fascinating.” Milton said.
“Yes, it’s a pretty incredible story. I’m glad you are following along. It seems to have made quite a stir. Not every day someone loses a semi-truck,” Kramer replied.
“Well that’s actually what I wanted to talk to you about,” said Milton, collecting his thoughts. “I think I may have stumbled on some information that could help police figure things out.”
“What kind of information are you referring to?” Kramer replied.
“Well I happened to run into a random kid at a park. I don’t live that far from where the truck disappeared. Anyway, this kid dropped a piece of paper. I tried to return it to him, but he ran away. It had ‘Amazon, PDL – 663’ written on the back of it.”
“Did it have anything else written on it?” Kramer asked. He seemed interested.
“Uh, well, I’m having a hard time understanding what it says. A lot of it seems like random letters and numbers. But the note is written on the back of a receipt for a construction company, Taylor Sons & Co. Commercial Construction. Oh, and here’s an address for a furniture store.”
Kramer coughed, “Ah, well, seems random. Listen, kid, that’s interesting and all, but I wouldn’t read too much into it. A lot of kids write things down for who knows what reason—you know, imagination, role play, pretending to solve mysteries. We deal with that kind of stuff all the time as reporters. I’m glad you found it, Mr., uh, what did you say your name was again?”
“Milton, Milton Maxwell,” Milton replied. He could feel his face turning red.
“Mr. Maxwell, yeah. Well hey, Milton, I appreciate the lead, but I’m going to have to pass on it this time. Nothing against you, but I’d just forget about it until we have something more substantial to go off of. Police department doesn’t like us wasting their time. Be sure to keep in touch, though, and let me know if you find any good leads. I’d be happy to help.” Kramer ended his last sentence in a tone of voice that told Milton the conversation was over.
“Ok, thanks for your time,” Milton said miserably.
“Sure thing. Have a good one, kid.” Kramer hung up.
Now Milton felt embarrassed and stupid. Here he had called a news reporter to give him information, only to feel like an idiot. Milton stared hard at the paper, crumpled it up, and threw it in his trash can.
Click here to read chapter 7.