He was an officer.
That was a relief. Well, it was, until she caught the wary tone in his voice
while he increased the distance and shifted back against his seat. She must’ve
looked like a complete stalker. Great. Even worse, he didn’t know who she was
talking about which made it even worse. He was looking at her as though he had
no idea who they were, and that was likely because of course he didn’t. Ford and Irvine
were two of the more well-known chiefs in the department, or at least the most
social, but obviously not everybody knew them. It wasn’t that small a town. Cassie was about to apologize and cut her loses
with some lukewarm fries and maybe a coffee, or several back at her table. Then
he spoke again and mentioned Dell’s. At least she’d been right about that. Maybe
it hadn’t been during any kind of night out, must’ve just been in passing in
the tavern crowd one night. It was a small town so it had been likely that
everybody old enough to drink would have been there at some point. He leaned
forward on the table and then after a few beats spoke again and her attention
snapped back when he mentioned the Captain.
Now it was her turn to be confused. Captain Maynard? There
was no Captain Maynard, at least she didn’t think there was. Cassie frowned and
tried to think who he meant, she went through most of the department in her
head to see if the name rang a bell but came up empty. Must’ve been new. Did he
take over from Captain Chalmers? Did he retire already? Cassie shook her head
slightly. “I was just looking for them,” after a beat she continued, “I was
supposed to meet them a while ago, but my phone’s busted, so no calls or texts.”
She tucked the phone further into her pocket and looked at the clock for a
moment, “but looks they’re a no show anyway.”
“I used to work with them but I left a while ago so I’m not
down there anymore since I moved. I work
over in dispatches now so I don’t see them at work anymore and.” Cassie didn’t
finish that sentence. He was being friendly, but he really didn’t need her
whole life story.
He asked her what she needed and had offered to call them,
which was unexpectedly nice, but Maynard wouldn’t know her and she doubted any
message she sent through would even get passed on. They didn’t exactly do
social calls, or visits.
Cassie shook her head, stopped and shifted her stance. “It’s
alright, it’s not urgent.” She gripped the sauce bottle a little tighter and
sighed inaudibly. “Think I might be getting ghosted here.” She gave a half-hearted
eye roll. A few people walked behind her to take seats and she could see the waiter
hovering around trying to get orders out. What are you doing? “Sorry, I’m bothering you,” she apologized. Maybe if
she got the check she could go back to Dell’s and finish the night with a
drink and maybe see a band play if they were on so it wasn’t a total loss.
What she said and the slight ways she moved raised pity inside of Reed. The last thing he wanted was for anyone to ever feel as if they were inconveniencing him or getting in the way. There had to be a solution to whatever was going on. He listened to her situation with a great deal of concentration and focus like it was the most important thing to him at that moment. And it was, in a roundabout way. Immediately his posture opened up with an eagerness to offer his assistance in any way he knew how. “Hey, wait— Don’t apologize. Let me help—” Reed reached into his jean pocket then offered his phone to her after unlocking it, “If you have their numbers memorized, you can call them.” Otherwise Google would know or someone at the station’s front desk, if she didn’t. It was better than using a payphone at least.
That still didn’t change the fact he didn’t know who either Chief Ford or Captain Irvine were however, but there were still options available to make use of before he thought about giving up. Then he noticed the pick up in foot traffic in the background around them. Patrons and wait staff shuffled by, muttering courtesies under their breaths. It was becoming busier. So he gestured with his other arm and said, “You can sit down, if you want.” Before he scooted back his chair, stood and perked up, “Or! I can stand and we go look for them if the rest fails?”
Something in his gut told him they wouldn’t be successful but it was a worth a try. It was better to know than to not and put wandering minds at ease, in his opinion.
When he surveyed the diner again, Reed noticed a lone table that looked out of place compared to the pick up. There was a basket of fries and a coffee but no one sat there. A glance back at her then down at the condiment bottle in her hand, Reed connected the dots in his mind and assumed that table was hers. Or theirs, considering she had been expecting a party of people to meet her here. He frowned sympathetically. Ghosted. Stood up. How long had she been sat there, waiting? She said it wasn’t urgent, but there was some level of importance for her to have waited then reach out to someone else in hopes of some kind of answer. Right? She seemed let down, if not a little frustrated by it.
Reed dug around more in his brain, considering everything she said so far. Dispatch, Dell’s, fire department. With a half shrug, he suggested, “They might’ve found a new place to hang out at and the memo didn’t reach everyone…” Lots of new locations sprang up out of nowhere overnight months ago, that was for sure.