“This can’t be good, Harlan. Paul’s calling.  You should be the one here to take this one.”  Alma said to the empty room, as much to Harlan’s spirit.
Paul had thought about the next call in the back of his mind since he heard T.J. tell Harlan’s body was missing.  It went in the long list of calls he didn’t want to make but had to.  It was right up there with the worst.  Not only telling someone their loved one’s body was missing, but it being Alma?  She’d taught him at Sunday school.  Close friends with her oldest boy all his life,  Paul knew she’d be gracious, understanding, sympathetic to his having to tell her.  She wouldn’t show to everyone how it hurt, whatever it was.  Though over the years, being around the house, he’d noticed that Miss Alma didn’t always let on how things really affected her.  They’d had a talk about that when he had first become a police officer.  The putting aside of your own feelings to do the job at hand.  It’s why he didn’t call her son, his friend first.  He wanted to let her have some freedom to just react, for once.
He debated on whether in person or on the phone would give her the most room.  This was not going to be easy to say, much less take.  He took Alma and Harlan’s advice, straight forward and in person.  Not only was that the right way, it was also the best way as far as investigative work went, to see that initial reaction.  In most every case, everyone one is always suspect, even family.
Paul saw to it the investigation was started and decided he wasn’t going to get another call letting him know the body had been found.  Harlan had been officially dead now for two hours.  It was time, he couldn’t put it off any longer.


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