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Inspector Kaminski was housed in the detached house in suburban Manhattan belonging to the Williams family: the parents and brother of Patricia, who disappeared on May 26, 1990. He preferred to use a cab to travel to the appointment.
They seated him in the living room in an armchair across from an adjacent 4-seater sofa. To the inspector’s left was seated on the sofa the head of the family Robert Williams, next to him his wife Grace, then a vacant seat, and to the right his son David. It seemed as if that seat was purposely vacated by the parents and second son, as if they were waiting, at any moment, for Patricia’s unexpected return home.
Mr. Williams never uttered a word, except politely greeting Kamiński by shaking his hand at the entrance and exit of his abode, always keeping a sad facial expression and dull eyes. He merely listened and observed his wife, who was the only one who answered the inspector’s questions. Young David also did not speak like his father, except to greet the law enforcement man with a simple and desolate smile. The host and the second son had the same flat face and recoiffed nose except that the former had sand-colored hair, while the latter had blond hair. However, both of them with short, close-cropped haircuts. Kamiński made a slight facial expression somewhat disgusted, as there came to his sense of smell an acrid odor of aftershave that definitely came from the head of the family; the seventeen-year-old son still had a paciar face with red cheeks, typical of the teenager who did not yet know what beard hair was.
Grace, on the other hand, looked just like her missing daughter Patricia: light brown hair, brown eyes, thin lips, and a short arched nose.
Although it was a very sunny day, the living room environment was funereal: one window had the shutters half-closed, while the other, with the blinds wide open, had the space entirely covered by thick beige curtains.
The inspector was dressed in the ever-present blue suit and light blue shirt, without a tie.
<<If I do not cause a disturbance, I will ask you questions with an audio recorder…>>, Kamiński said and thought:
“Good thing I have this little gizmo because if I had brought a notepad, to write I would have had to ask them to open the window wide or make them turn on the light, destabilizing their funereal quiet.”
<<No problem, just ask me the questions inspector.>>
Mrs. Williams replied in a strange childlike voice, and the policeman made an astonished expression with a slight smile; so he tried to empathize with the woman’s suffering so that she would avoid an inappropriate attitude at that moment.
<<Had Patricia worked elsewhere before the Fast Food? >>
<<No inspector, it was her first occupation to support her studies.>>
<<When she finished work, did she come straight home or did she stay at some club with friends, girlfriends, did she have a boyfriend?>>
<<She did not have a boyfriend that she hung out with but only friends mostly from the college inner circle. Anyway she used to come straight home from work on the M10 Bus and she always had a regular schedule except sometimes some delays of the transport, but it was ten, fifteen minutes maximum.
<<Do you remember if in the days before you last saw Patricia, was there anything strange about her?>>
Kamiński also observed the missing girl’s father and brother and saw that both of them had their heads bowed and shook it in denial.
<<Was he doing well in his studies? >>
<<Yes, quite a bit, he was able to reconcile the same and work. He did not have very high grades in his subjects, however he was doing well in his studies.>>
<<Did he practice sports?>>
<<Swimming, sometimes with friends in the indoor pool in winter and jogging alone, especially in the spring and summer season.>>
<<Could I kindly have ma’am the names of the friends and acquaintances your daughter hung out with? I guess Patricia had an agenda with their home phone numbers.>>
<<Of course, I will go to her room to get it.>>
Kamiński jumped at the chance:
<<Could I follow you to see your daughter’s room?>>
<<Yes, please follow me.>>
The inspector entered with Grace the environment in which Patricia lived until her disappearance. Before she could scan the entire room she perceived to her sense of smell the smell of paper, magazines and school supplies, typical of a small room inhabited by a young girl, certainly not a 20-year-old. So much so that in the very large space, she saw that on the desk was a large open notebook and various colored pencils and pens, all scattered around the same.
“Strange that a 22-year-old woman was still passionate about writing and drawing as a young girl. Evidently those objects were purposely placed by the mother on the table, to keep an ‘atmosphere that reminded her of her daughter, even younger than when she never saw her again.”
The man also noticed the pink-colored cabinets and somewhat disheveled shelves on which were laid colorful pencil cases, still pens and pencils, school books, paper and magazine clippings, colorful wallets, watches, bracelets.
A disarray, misplaced items left like this that represented a bit of Patricia’s character.
And indeed Grace, as she searched the cabinet drawers for her daughter’s diary said to Kaminsky:
<<Don’t mind the clutter inspector, Patricia was a bit of an introvert and a bit shy with strangers and probably also afraid of seeming in the eyes of others unpleasant and lonely. It was a reserve of hers that hid the most beautiful parts of her character. When the girl understood that a person could be trusted, she became more lively and a little crazy.>>
The woman found the diary and also pulled another object out of the drawer: a frog.
Still in a childlike but very moved voice she said:
<<You see, this little green soft plastic animal if you squeeze it starts to sing and play. I had given it to Patricia when she was four years old and I remember when I brought it home, she ran to hug me. Since then this frog has always been in the drawer next to this diary. Here…>>
Grace held out her daughter’s diary to Kaminsky.
The poor mother still wanted to show something of her daughter’s memories
and confirmed the thesis the inspector was thinking:
<<My husband and I have made several sacrifices to buy this house we live in, but at least my children can live comfortably in separate rooms and so I can keep this little room intact, with all the memories of my beloved child.>>
The woman opened a cabinet door and took two large posters from inside. She unrolled them both on the bed and said smiling but with tear-filled eyes:
<<I took these posters off the walls and put them away for better storage while waiting for Patricia to return. Then I will hang them up again, of course because she loved them. You see, this one features Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran, and this one features Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet. My little girl liked the former because he was wild and sexy, while the latter because he was sweet and gentle.>>
The woman carefully rolled them up again and answered them in the cabinet.
<<I’ll show you one last thing now inspector.>>
Grace opened another cabinet door and took from inside a pink-colored box. She placed it still on the bed, opened it showing it to the man and took out some small objects.
<<See, these are the mementos that have become very precious to me that I keep of Patricia: of Barbapapa, there is the whole family and Barbies and also VHS of her favorite cartoons.>>
Then the poor little girl burst out crying her eyes out.
Kaminsky became tender, approached the woman and, resting his hand on her shoulder, offered her one of his cotton handkerchiefs to wipe her tears.
<<No, thank you inspector, I have my own handkerchief, thank you.>>
<<I’d say that’s enough Mrs. Williams, I’ll give you back this diary in a few days. I can go now.>>
<<All right, I’ll see you out now.>>
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