The apartment manager was a short, round man who had clearly ingested hundreds of pounds of garlic in the last twenty-four hours. His scent was rather ethnic, to say the least.. “You must be Nathaniel Gray,” he said, reaching to shake my hand. “Like I said on the phone, your brother didn’t make rent this month. You’re on his list of emergency contacts. You even co-signed on the lease."

“Tell me something I don't know," I said, motioning for him to open the door. "Let me in to his place."

He unlocked the door. “Thing is, your brother is normally very consistent with his rent.”

“News to me. He’s never been very responsible.”

“Look, man. He pays four or five days late every month. I like him; I look the other way. Don’t charge a late fee. That’s why I’m so disturbed. It has been three weeks now.”

“I’ll pay his rent first thing tomorrow morning. As for now, could I have some privacy?”

"You're not a real people person, are you?"

"Not in the slightest."

"It's $750," he paused before slowly ambling away like a pregnant penguin. "And I expect it by nine AM."

I scanned the apartment for clues. If Joshua really was missing, perhaps something here would help me find him.

The place was a mess, a trail of clothing strewn upon the floor leading the way to the bedroom. Inside, I found a bookcase filled to the brim with books, magazines and DVDs, but  ignored it and headed straight for the desk.

The desk was covered with clutter, and a laptop. If one thing was for certain, Josh was quite friendly with call-girls, or street-walkers, as I like to call them. The battery on the laptop was dead. I searched for the cord and plugged it into the wall and started sifting through his files, hoping to find some useful information.


I opened Internet Explorer only to find his broadband was no longer in service. It probably wouldn’t have been any good anyway, even if I knew his handles, it would have been nearly impossible to hack his passwords.

I walked toward the bookcase and started a careful examination of the books and magazines, but eventually I got frustrated and started fanning the pages, hoping for a miracle.

A photograph fell to the floor. I examined it, hoping something would stand out. Damn it, Joshua. What have you gotten yourself into?

The End

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