It’s time for chapter 9 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 9 – Missing Puzzle Pieces
The next day, Milton quietly scarfed down his lunch at home. Hannah had seemed so excited about his mysterious note. He had basically scoured all of his household garbage to retrieve it for her, embarrassed himself in front of his dad (he would never hear the end of that), and Hannah didn’t even take time to say, “thank you.” She hadn’t texted him or said anything since he sent her the pictures the night before. He tried to push it out of his mind.
He had also texted the pictures to Hudson, and Hudson had a few of his own ideas. He told Milton in a text that morning he was going to call the company that the receipt came from, Taylor Sons & Co. Commercial Construction, and try to figure out what the invoice was for. Milton and Hudson agreed to arrive early before soccer practice that afternoon to compare notes. They met in the parking lot.
“So what did you find out? Did they tell you anything?” Milton asked skeptically. He still felt a little stupid about investigating the mysterious note.
“Ah man, it was so easy,” said Hudson in his carefree way. “I thought maybe I would have to pretend I was an actual customer, but the receptionist didn’t seem to care. She looked up the invoice and said it was a rental for, get this, of all things commercial grade work lights.”
“Work lights?” repeated Milton. “What do you mean?”
“You know, when you drive past a construction site at night, they have those big floodlights out so they can work when it’s dark,” Hudson explained. “They are insanely bright.”
“Oh yeah, OK. I guess that makes sense. Maybe that kid’s dad works for a construction company?” Milton guessed.
“Maybe,” said Hudson. Then he stepped closer to Milton, with a serious look in his eyes, and lowered his voice, “Except for the fact that the rental was scheduled for last week. Friday to Saturday. The same night the truck disappeared.”
Milton stared at Hudson in stunned disbelief. Hudson continued, “It was returned early Saturday morning by your reporter friend.”
“What? Warren Kramer?” Milton gasped.
“One and the same,” said Hudson. “The secretary knew who he was, of course, so she mentioned it without me asking. I wouldn’t have known otherwise, because Kramer didn’t pay for it.”
“Who paid for it?” asked Milton, still in disbelief.
“Some guy named Marcus Sanchez. I have no idea who that guy is, but the important thing is this Kramer connection. He clearly knows more than he’s letting on.” Hudson glanced around, then said, “So we’ve found some of the puzzle pieces. But I think we’re still missing a really important one.”
“What is it?” Milton asked.
“It’s Hannah. She didn’t come to school today,” Hudson replied.
“Really?” said Milton, frowning. “That’s not good. The last time I heard from her was yesterday. I texted her the pictures of the note just before I texted you. She hasn’t texted me since.”
“And she hasn’t texted anyone else, either,” Hudson replied. “Some of the girls tried to get information out of the principle or the teachers, but they must have had a meeting this morning. None of them will talk. They just said Hannah had been ‘excused from class today.’”
Milton put his hands on his head and let out a low whistle. This was all his fault. He hoped Hannah was OK, but he had no way of knowing. The coach blew his whistle to start practice. The two friends glanced at each other with the same look of concern.
“Text me if you hear anything,” Milton said.
“K,” said Hudson.