I’ve been participating in some writer challenges lately. Last year I joined the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge and plan to participate this year. This is the second and last story from 2015. 

The Prompt: 

Genre: Mystery
Location: A junkyard
Object: A coupon

Synopsis: A man is missing and Richard Moore knows more than he is telling the police. But will he solve the mystery before they do?

Richard Moore sat in his office, trying to notice anything out of the ordinary, searching for a sign. He was glad that his wife wasn’t there to scold him. She had always given him crap for the way he kept the place. It was a junkyard for Pete’s sake, not a bank, he told her. But it didn’t matter. No, his office was full of too many things, she said. Too cluttered to be taken seriously.

He reminded her that he ran a junkyard, not a magazine. People didn’t come to him expecting his office to be neat. They just needed him to do his job. Now from what he knew about the night before, he was sure it was the mess that Billy had needed from him. He just knew it. Now, he just needed to figure out what to look for.

The cops had been questioning everyone within a three mile radius all day. It was a big deal. The mayor’s son, John Miller, had gone missing. From what Richard had heard, the mayor was putting a lot of pressure on the police force to find John.

Richard rubbed his jaw, trying to ease the tension. He had been questioned too, but not having much to go on, the cops moved on. They didn’t have much. They knew John was a mean drunk and liked beating on his girls. The man drove around town like he owned the place, enjoying the fruits of his daddy’s labor. He had already crashed his car twice but had never been arrested, instead spent his time in rehab or some sort of resort until the outrage died down.

The cops knew John spent all of his time at the bars and had probably been in one the night before. They knew John had many enemies and not nearly as many friends, fancying himself a lone wolf, too complex to tame.

What they didn’t know, Richard realized, was that John was beating on one particular girl over the last couple of weeks. The same girl Billy had been sweet on all of his life. Everyone knew John was no prize. Even the girl had tried her best to keep away from him. But rumor had it that when John wanted something, he got it, and that was that. Richard didn’t know what happened, but he had seen first-hand how crushed Billy had been…

Richard sighed. He needed a cigarette.

The cops also didn’t seem to know that Billy had been in town the night before. They didn’t seem to know the connection between the two, in fact. If they did, Richard was sure they’d been crawling around this place in full force.

It was why, if there was even the slimmest chance that Billy had come to this place, Richard hard to find whatever evidence the boy left behind and make sure it was destroyed. He had already noticed a few things that had been moved when he went into work that morning.

He took the carton of cigarettes out of their hiding place and opened the lid. And then he stopped. Folded inside the carton was a piece of paper that had not been there before.

He put the carton down and unfolded the piece of paper. It was a dealership coupon, one of the couple of dozen he had piled up on his desk, mixed with the mail. On it was a handwritten note.

“I love her. 57RMC.”

Richard ran outside. He recognized the shorthand. 57RMC was Billy’s code for ’57 Red Monte Carlo, the kind of car, Richard knew, Billy pictured himself someday driving. And Richard knew exactly where he had a forgotten shell of one. He ran through the junkyard like a man much younger than his age, trying to reach that car before anyone else figured out what it contained.

As he got closer, Richard could already tell something was wrong. The grass underneath was too dark, wet. The Monte Carlo looked like it had been moved, and all of the cars around it looked like they were ready to collapse. He had work to do.

He looked up at the sky. It would be hours before dawn. He had work to do. As he looked closer at the trunk, sure that there were signs of blood and chipped nail polish, he only hopes that Billy was absolutely sure it was worth it.