It was a foggy morning at the Hudson River Diner. Sam and Jimmy stared out at street light halos; sipped cups of Joe until their nerves were jangled. Jimmy’s newspaper lay on the table unopened and unread.
Over the years Sam mellowed. He now wore glasses most of the time. Warned of an impending myocardial event–Sam gave up unfiltered Camel cigarettes. Shots of Irish whiskey, before bedtime, he refused to relinquish. He’d just as soon be dead.
Jimmy’s boss, Sam, cradled his electronic cigarette between thumb and forefinger. Sam ran a semi-successful private detective agency on the Lower East Side. Smoke vapor curled from his lips to the ceiling like incense in a sacred temple.
Jimmy drummed his fingers on the Formica table top. “What’s the scuttlebutt, Chief?” Jimmy asked. “You’ve got something on your mind–might as well come out with it; rather than sit and stew about it all morning.”
A well-worn Yankees baseball cap with a curled bill perched on Jimmy’s head. Jimmy lifted it for a brief moment, ran stubby fingers through thinning salt-and-pepper hair, waited for an answer.
“People keep coming up to me. They’re getting pretty sore about their friends disappearing. Right out of the blue–they’re gone and never heard from again.” Sam’s forehead wrinkled in deep thought. He stroked day-old chin whiskers, rested an elbow on the table.
“Why don’t they call the police?” They could fill out a missing person’s report?” Jimmy asked. “That’s what happens on TV detective shows.”
“You’re right Jimmy. On TV shows, there’s never enough evidence–they won’t do anything for 48 hours. By that time somebody’s dead; returned from the dead; kidnapped, or smuggled out of the country. By the time a dead body shows up, it’s always too late. The really sad part–life is even messier than that.”
“Come to think of it, Sam, I haven’t heard from Alvin lately. He could, at least have said, so long or something. I thought we were pals. That’s not the way friends treat each other.”
“That doesn’t mean he’s been bumped off,” Sam answered. “Maybe he’s going through a rough patch–doesn’t want to talk about it? Maybe, and I hate to say it; he doesn’t want to be pestered by you?”
Sam was one of the last holdouts–carried a pager, (kept on vibrate), and a flip-phone, as concessions of the digital age. Most of his clients did business in cash. Sam knew there’d always be those that prized discretion.
What he lacked in technical savvy, he made up for with toughness. Jimmy handled technical issues; served as foil to Sam’s abrasive charm.
“I know, Jimmy, and that’s what’s killing me; there’s got to be more to this story. Didn’t Alvin write for one of those blog things on the world-wide web?”
“Yes, he did, along with myself, and a lot of other people. We’re in the same group of blog writers–exchange ideas, opinions, stories, experiences,” Jimmy answered.
“Either someone doesn’t like what’s being said, or choices being made–regarding friends. I don’t know about you, Jimmy–my friends are my business.”
Sam had never sent an e-mail in his life. He was right. People didn’t just disappear into the blogosphere. Blogging platforms were controlled by people. If this were a technical glitch; why did it happen to random people?
I was one of the unlucky ones–had my shorts in a bunch when a blog I’d been following (and liked) disappeared. I blamed my own ineptitude. From other accounts, I may have been another “victim” in the “Great Disappearing Blog Mystery.”
Old-time detectives saw things in terms of black and white–wrong and right. They helped the downtrodden stand up against the powerful–sometimes at great risk. I see some of that same spirit of fair play practiced by some bloggers; that have been more vocal about this issue, than I.
Meanwhile–the story continued at the diner.
Sam adjusted his brown fedora, grabbed up the ticket, headed for the register. “I got this one–you can get it next time,” He said to Jimmy.
“A little bit of truth goes a long way.” Sam’s mantra and favorite saying.